Sunday, March 16, 2008

So you "agree" with Spurgeon?



"I do not know an error which causes the damnation of more souls than that at the present time. . . . Sacramental efficacy and baptismal regeneration, ALL SPRING FROM THE FIRST ERROR OF INFANT BAPTISM" (New Park Street Pulpit, Volume 6, page 168).

rev. said:

I'm a huge fan of Spurgeon, and agree with him on the issue of baptism/paedobaptism.

Then maybe you will enjoy reading more of what C. H. Spurgeon published and/or said about the Pedobaptists (baby sprinklers). Here are a few items with which you will no doubt agree:

C. H. Spurgeon's magazine, The Sword and the Trowel, March 1887 issue, carried the initial article which kick-started what quickly became known as the Downgrade Controversy. The article was written by R. H. Shindler, and alleged that the baby baptizing Presbyterians and their practice of enlisting infants as church members was one of the major causes of downgradism. Here are his words, quoted from pages 123 and 126:

The Presbyterians were the first to get on the down line. They paid more attention to classical attainments and other branches of learning in their ministry than the Independents, while the Baptists had no academical institution of any kind. It would be an easy step in the wrong direction to pay increased attention to academical attainments in their ministers, and less to spiritual qualifications; and to set a higher value on scholarship and oratory, than on evangelical zeal and ability to rightly divide the word of truth. . . .

The principal cause of the quicker descent on "the down grade" among the Presbyterians than among other Nonconformists, may be traced, not so much to their more scholarly ministry, nor altogether to their renunciation of Puritan habits, but to their rule of admitting to the privileges of Church membership. Of course their children received the rite of baptism, according to their views of baptism, in infancy. They were thereby received—so the ministers taught, and so the people believed—into covenant with God, and had a right to the Lord's table, without any other qualification than a moral life. Many such children grew up unregenerate, and strangers to the work of renewing grace; yet they claimed to be Christians, and to be admitted to all the privileges of the church, and their claim was not disallowed.

To such the earnest appeals of faithful ministers of Christ would be irksome and unpalatable. The broader road and easier way of the "men of reason and culture," which admitted of laxity of discipline and pliancy of sentiments and habits, was far more agreeable to their tastes and ideas, while the homage paid to reason and understanding, at the expense of revelation, gratified their pride, and left them free to walk after their own hearts in things pertaining to religion. Thus they chose them pastors after their own hearts, men who could, and would, and did, cry "Peace, peace," when the only way of peace was ignored or denied.


Where did the errors of the church of Rome come from? Were they all born in a day? No, they came by slow degrees. It happened thus:—I will trace but one error, against which as a denomination we always bear our protest, and I only take that as a specimen of the whole.

Among the early Christians, it was the practice to baptize those who believed in Christ Jesus, by immersing them in the water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Well, the first wrong doctrine that started up, was the idea that perhaps there was some efficacy in the water.

Next it followed that when a man was dying who had never been baptized he would perhaps profess faith in Christ, and ask that he might be baptized; but as he was dying they could not lift him from his bed, they therefore adopted sprinkling as being an easier method by which they might satisfy the conscience by the application of water.

That done, there was but a step to the taking of little children into the church—children, unconscious infants, who were received as being members of Christ's body; and thus infant sprinkling was adopted.

The error came in by slow degrees—not all at once. It would have been too glaring for the church to receive, if it had shown its head at one time with all its horns upon it. But it entered slowly and gradually, till it came to be inducted into the church.

I do not know, an error which causes the damnation of more souls than that at the present-time. There are thousands of people who firmly believe that they shall go to heaven because they were sprinkled in infancy, have been confirmed, and have taken the Sacrament. Sacramental efficacy and baptismal regeneration, all spring from the first error of infant baptism.

Had they kept to the Scripture, had the church always required faith before baptism, that error could not have sprung up. It must have died before the light of the truth, it could not have breathed, it could not have had a foothold in the Christian church.

But one error must lead to another—you never need doubt that. If you tamper with one truth of Scripture, he that tempts you to meddle with one, will tempt you to tamper with another, and there will be no end to it, till, at last, you will want a new Bible, a new Testament, and a new God. There is no telling where you will end when you have begun. -- New Park Street Pulpit, Sermon #307, page 168.


Some imagine that faith comes by hereditary descent, and they act upon the supposition. Hence, in certain churches, birthright membership is thought to be a proper practice, and the child of a Christian is thought to be a Christian.

In some other churches, though the theory would not be stated in so many words, yet it is practically accepted, and children of pious parents are regarded as scarcely needing conversion. The text is forgotten which saith that the heirs of salvation are born, "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God."

The typical covenant secured outward privileges to the children born after the flesh, but under the covenant of grace the blessing is secured to the spiritual and not to the natural seed. "He who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise." (Galatians 4:23). That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and nothing more: the new-born nature is not transmissible from father to son like a natural temperament or a cast of countenance.

I know the answer will be that "the promise is to us and to our children," but it will be well for the objector to reply to himself by completing the quotation—"even to as many as the Lord your God shall call."

The fact is, that nothing spiritual is inherited by carnal generation. Our children, even if we are far advanced in grace, will still be "shapen in iniquity." No matter how high the sainthood of the professing Christian, his child (when capable of understanding) must for himself become a personal believer in Jesus.

It appears to be thought possible to infuse grace by sacraments. There are persons yet alive who teach that a babe may be regenerated by certain aqueous processes, and be thereby placed in "a state of salvation." But is not faith a perpetual concomitant of regeneration? and what is that regeneration worth which leaves a person an unbeliever, and, consequently, "condemned already, because he hath not believed on the Son of God?"

Rest assured, that as faith does not come by descent, neither can it be produced by any rite which recognizes that descent: it comes in one way, and in one way only in every case, and that is, by the hearing of the word. To every person, whoever he may be, though nursed in the bosom of the church, and introduced to that church by the most solemn ritual, we are bound to say, you must hear as well as others, and you must believe as the result of that hearing as well as others, or else you will remain short of saving grace.

Faith is not a mystery juggled into us by the postures, genuflexions, and mumblings of priests. We have heard a great deal about sacramental efficacy, but I think a man must have extraordinary hardihood who would say that either baptism, or the so-called Eucharist, are the sure creators of faith; yet see I not what saving service these forms can render to unbelieving men if they leave them in an unbelieving condition, and, consequently, in a state of condemnation.

Seeing that without faith it is impossible to please God, the grace supposed to be conveyed by the mere participation in sacraments is of small value, it cannot give the cardinal requisite for acceptance before God. Faith cannot be washed into us by immersion, nor sprinkled upon us in christening; it is not to be poured into us from a chalice, nor generated in us by a consecrated piece of bread. There is no magic about it; it comes by hearing the word of God, and by that way only. -- Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Sermon #1031, page 39.


We love to see the children of godly parents brought into Church membership, but we would avoid, above all things, anything like hereditary profession or inherited religion. It must be personal in each individual or it is not worth a gnat. I believe that the idea of birthright membership has tended materially to weaken the strength of that most respectable and once powerful denomination, the Society of Friends. Believing that their children have an inward Light which they ought to follow, I do fear they often teach their children to follow inward darkness rather than light. Forgetting the necessity of the Holy Spirit, which is infinitely superior to ordinary light of conscience, their children have grown up to attend meetings and to wear a particular garb without receiving the Spirit—certainly without that grand enthusiasm which honored their sires in bygone days.

We must not adulterate our membership by the reception of the children of godly parents unless we have clear proof that they, themselves, are converted to God. Your children need the Holy Spirit quite as much as the offspring of the Hottentot or the Kaffir. They are born in sin and shapen in iniquity—in sin do the best of mothers conceive their children, and, however well you may train them, you cannot take the stone out of the heart nor turn it into flesh. To give a new heart and a right spirit is the work of the Holy Spirit and of the Holy Spirit alone.

In the second place, the source of the mercy which God will give. “I will pour out My Spirit.” It was the work of the Spirit which transformed their fathers—it is that which must transform them. The Word may come to them and not be blessed. We may be silly enough to take them to baby-Baptism and they would not be blessed. We may persuade them to come to the Lord’s Table, but they would not be blessed. But when the Spirit of God comes upon them, then it is all done. Now comes the broken heart! Now comes the humble spirit! Now is breathed the earnest prayer! Now love to Christ flames forth and trust is built upon Him! Do pray, dear Friends, for your children, that God will pour His Spirit upon them. -- Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Sermon #564, pages 212, 213.


The Scriptures which speak of baptism, recording its appointment, its practice, its nature, design, or benefit, are those from which its divinely approved subjects can be learned. These speak of confession of sin, repentance, faith in Christ, discipleship, a good conscience, as characteristic of the baptized. Not a word is recorded respecting parents or others as proxies for "the child's personal engagement" . . . .

The obtaining by infants, through baptism, of entrance into the church, of "a right sealed to the ordinances," that is, to the Lord's Supper, etc., and of "the tutelage of angels to be the infant's lifeguard," may be in the imagination of Paedobaptists; but these are not in the word of God, any more than that baptism is to elected infants "a 'seal of the righteousness of faith,' a layer of regeneration, and a badge of adoption."

. . . Every record of baptisms in Holy Writ, and every reference to baptism, is a confirmation of believers' baptism as the "one baptism" for parents and children, for every generation, and for all alike, to the end of time. . . .
The baptism of believers, we believe to be a reasonable, scriptural, and profitable service, calculated to strengthen and perpetuate every right feeling and conduct. But in whatever esteem we hold the erring Paedobaptist, and however cordially we say, and hope ever to say, "Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity," we are obliged to think and speak of infant baptism according to a writer before quoted:

"In it there is no conscience, no will, no reasonable service. It allies persons without their consent, or even their intelligence, to a religious creed; it forces upon them an unreasoning and unwilling service; it imposes upon them an unconscious profession; it anticipates the conduct of riper years to a degree which both nature and Scripture condemn; and is therefore a violation of their just rights." -- From Spurgeon's Appendix to Thomas Watson's Body of Divinity, pages 649, 650. The entire Appendix is available at:


At Monday, March 17, 2008 8:41:00 AM, Blogger Rick said...

Spurgeon had a need to separate or "cast out" any movement that wasn't his so he made these comments and these are then re-echoed today. That doesn't make them scriptural or valid.

But you know what?

Nobody cares today.

Let the 5-pointers slam all the other movements all they want. It only makes them look wanting themselves.

At Friday, March 21, 2008 9:53:00 PM, Blogger John said...

Spurgeon was most definitely a Calvinist, hence his "Defence of Calvinism."

I'm not sure what to make of this site. I always assumed that Pilgrim publications was run by people who hold to the doctrines grace.

Spurgeon did not believe in infant baptism. That's why he was a reformed Baptist. But he was still a Baptist that held to the five points. Just as Wayne Grudem and John MacArthur.

How can you swat Calvinists and quote Spurgeon?

At Sunday, March 23, 2008 11:47:00 AM, Blogger Bob L. Ross said...


John said...

How can you swat Calvinists and quote Spurgeon?

If you will read the top of the blog, it refers to "flies produced by the Calvinist blososphere," not "Calvinists" per se. We are opposing aberrant forms of Reformed Calvinism which are non-creedal and are hybrids.

If you have not read this blog for long, perhaps you should consult the Archives.

Spurgeon himself objected to the same type of "Calvinism" to which we object. See --

"Are You Sure You Lke Spurgeon?"


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