And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.…
Infants are all saved.
1. Our remarks apply exclusively to children who are not yet arrived at years of accountability; that is, who are not yet capable of employing the appointed means of salvation.
2. It is not said that the children of believers and of unbelievers are in all respects in the same case; on the contrary the relative holiness of the children of believers is an important blessing; their circumstances are more favourable to the formation of a religious character; their means of salvation are more direct. But the child of a believer has no other claim on the mercy of God than that may be put in by any infant.
I. STATE THE ARGUMENT IN FAVOUR OF INFANT SALVATION. Considerations which may suggest this hope.
1. They are not accountable. They are incapable of moral obligation, hence are not condemned: free from personal guilt. Does it comport with the Divine Justice or mercy, to suppose that such are not saved whose only guilt is their unavoidable connection with a broken covenant? The benevolence of the Divine character suggests the hope of their salvation; and embraces infants in the redeeming purpose. The rectitude of the Divine government suggests their salvation; they cannot be healed according to their deeds who have neither done good nor evil. There are many general expressions of Divine favour towards infants; God contemplates their advantage in the blessings He confers on mankind (Psalm 78:5, 6; Deuteronomy 12:28; Jeremiah 19:3, 9). He spared Nineveh for their sake (Jonah 4:11).
2. There are gracious declarations of the Word of God which imply this truth (Matthew 18:1, 14). That infants are capable of receiving the principle of faith is plain; Jeremiah and John Baptist have been sanctified from the womb. The Jewish children were accounted worshippers of the true God, even from their infancy (Deuteronomy 29:10, 13; Deuteronomy 5:3; 2 Chronicles 20:13; Joel 2:15, 16). And so under the Christian dispensation children are viewed as believers, because visibly connected with the dispensation, and continue to be so accounted till they renounce it as their religion. Christ would not recognize as subjects of His kingdom here, those whom He did not regard as heirs of His kingdom hereafter. "Of such is the kingdom of God." Romans 5:12, 19 appears to involve this truth. It places in contrast the dispensations under which God has governed man; one at creation, the other at redemption. The curse of the broken covenant included the children; the saving benefit provided by Christ extends to them. "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive again."
3. There are some recorded instances of faith in this truth, which support the conclusion (2 Samuel 12:22, 23; 2 Kings 4:1).
II. EXAMINE SOME OF THE DIFFICULTIES WHICH APPEAR TO LIE IN THE WAY OF ADOPTING THIS CONCLUSION.
1. The imputation of Adam's sin. The doctrine of infant salvation does not deny this, but declares that the grace of God frees from the curse, and bestows the capacity for celestial happiness, through the mediation of Christ.
2. The temporal sufferings and death of infants. Because they suffer some of the effects of the curse it by no means follows that they suffer all. Actual believers suffer in this world.
3. The destruction of the children of the ungodly along with their parents. The case of Korah.
4. The declared necessity of faith in order to salvation. A new heart is the qualification for heaven, and may as easily be given to an infant as to an adult.
5. The early indications of sinfulness in infants. It is not easy to determine how far these are the result of animal propensities or deliberate choice. It is not said that infants are free from tendency to evil, or even apparent acts of sin; but are saved through Christ whose sacrifice puts away sin.
6. The silence of scripture.
III. THE PRACTICAL INFLUENCE OF THIS TRUTH.
1. Let it be viewed generally in its aspect on the moral government of God.
(1) It relieves the difficulty connected with the permission of sin.
(2) It reflects the glory of Divine grace.
(3) It illustrates the declared importance of the mediation of Christ.
2. Let this truth be viewed in its aspect on the religious education of children. No excuse for the neglect of it.
3. Let this doctrine he viewed in its aspect on the seriousness of bereaved parents.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.