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A Censure Upon a Dialogue of the Anabaptists - Henry Ainsworth (Part 6)

In this sixth part of the series we arrive at Rev Ainsworth's treatment of objections raised on two oft cited scriptures in the disputation with the Anabaptists, namely Acts 2:38, 39 and 1 Cor 7:14.

The Puritan Family - "As it were a little church"

Note: The writer has updated the spelling, grammar and language of the original work and it is sincerely hoped that such revisions have not detracted from the intent or meaning.


Objection: Act. 2:38, 39

Against Peter’s doctrine in Act. 2:38, 39, where he says, the promise is made to you and to your children; they cavill thus, Whereas many stumble at the word Children, conceiving that it is meant of Infants, it is here and elsewhere used often in the Scriptures for men of understanding: Act. 3:25, &c.


How struggle these men against the light! It is true, that the word Children often means men of understanding: but mean it not infants also? The word seed, used in Gen. 17, often implies old persons also: will they therefore infer, that the promise and seal thereof to Abraham’s seed, belonged not to his seed in their infancy? So neither is there any reason to think that the promise to the Jews and their children mentioned in Act 2, is meant only of men of understanding, and not also of their children in infancy. For when the Apostle speaks of the promise to them and to their children, concerning Christ and remission of sins by him, and sealing the same by Baptism: he has evident reference to the promise made of old to Abraham, which concerned the same things, and was sealed by circumcision: as appears by comparing Luke 1:54, 55, 72, 73 &c. Gal. 3:8, 16.

Objection: 1 Cor. 7:14 (1)

Whereas the Apostle in 1 Cor. 7.14, calls a believer’s children holy; these men expound him thus: If your children in your own judgement be holy, and you do not put them away when you are converted to the faith, but use them still as your children, &c. then may you keep your wives being holy, they being of a nearer natural bond than your children, and use them still as your wives &c. Their reason of this interpretation is; Because holiness sometime signifies when a person or thing is set apart or sanctified to the believer, 1. Timothy 4:5, Titus 1:15. Thus is the unbelieving wife holy, and thus are the children holy, and not otherwise.


That children are thus sanctified to the believer is true: but in saying, and not otherwise, they do violence to the Apostle’s doctrine, and the truth is not in them.

For first he means not the children to be holy in the parents judgements; but tells them his own judgement, they are holy; and uses it as a reason to confirm his former doctrine.

Secondly, he means not in respect of putting the children away from civil use as children; for so no more should be said for the children of the faithful, then for their infidel servants: for Philemon might and did retain Onesimus for civil use as a servant, before he was converted to Christ, Phil v. 10.11, &c. and believing servants might dwell and converse civily with unbelieving masters, 1 Tim 6:1, 2, Yea misbegotten children and bastards were not to be put away in respect of civil use: for who should nourish or bring them up, rather then their own parents? 2 Sam 11:4, 5, & 12:14, 15 &c.

Thirdly, they corrupt the Apostle’s reason, which is not to this effect, If you may keep your children, then you may keep your wives: But thus, your unbelieving wives you may keep, for they are sanctified unto you, because the children which you beget of them are holy: and so the holiness of the children is an argument and proof that they might still retain their unbelieving wives.

Fourthly, they change the Apostle’s word amiss: he says not of unbelieving wives that they are holy, but sanctified to the believing husbands; but the children were holy.

Fifthly, the sanctification of meats, & purity of other things, mentioned in 1 Tim.4:5, Tit. 1:15, is not meant of religious sanctification, but for civil uses: whereas the children of believers are otherwise holy, namely, in respect of the covenant of grace and Church of God, as is abundantly proved before, by Rom. 5, where, as they have naturally sin and unrighteousness by Adam, so they have holiness and righteousnesse by the grace of God in Christ. Also by Gen. 17, compared with Rom. 4:11, where Abraham’s (and all faithful men’s) children, are with their parents in the covenant of grace, and have the seal of the righteousness of faith. And upon this ground doth Paul strongly prove the believers might keep their unbelieving wives, because the children which they had by such, were (by reason that one parent was a Christian) holy, to wit, with holines of the covenant made with the faithful and their seed. And in this respect the children of those that are in the covenant, are said to be born unto the Lord, and to be his children, Ezek. 16:8, 20, 21. Wheras in the other respect, all children in the world are the Lords, Exod. 19:5. And so the children of the Church are called the holy seed, differing herein from the seed of other peoples, Ezra 9:1, 2, which if these opposites had understood, they could not thus have stumbled at the Apostle’s words, and wrested his meaning.

Objection: 1 Cor. 7:14 (2)

But they plead further, that the Apostle says not, else were your Infants, but else were your Children unclean, but now they are holy: so that all the children of unbelievers are as holy by this place as infants, &c. and so must be baptised.


Herein they seek to pervert the straight ways of God. As if they should say: God (when he made with Abraham that everlasting covenant which Circumcision was a seal of) said not that he would be a God unto him and to his Infants after him, but unto his seed, Gen. 17:7, so that all the seed of Abraham (Ismaelites, Edomites &c.) were as holy, and as well within the covenant of grace and to be circumcised, as the Israelites which were the generation of Isaac. But they should observe that the covenant of mercy passes from the fathers to the children from age to age, even to the thousand generation, if they love God, and keep his commandments: whereas if they turn away and hate him, he visits their iniquity, Exod. 20:5, 6, Ezek. 18:9, 10, 13. Children of believers when they are born of their parents, (and all are born infant) are all in the covenant with their parents; and were of old to be circumcised, are now to be baptized. If the children be of years when their parents enter into the covenant, either they assent and enter into covenant with them, or they dissent and enter not. So Ishmael Abraham’s child, being taught of his father to keep the way of the Lord (Gen 18:19.) and not disobeying, he was with his father circumcised at thirteen years of age, Gen. 17:25. Likewise all children now assenting unto and walking in the faith with their parents are to be baptised at what age soever. But when Ishmael fell from his obedience, then was he cast out of Abraham’s house, and was no longer counted for Abraham’s seed, but in Isaac was his seed called, Gen. 21:10, 12. Ishmael was still Abraham’s seed and child in nature, according to the flesh; but he continued not still the child of the covenant, Gal. 4:29, 30, nor Abraham’s seed according to the promise. Even so, if children of believers now being of understanding, do refuse the faith of Christ, or fall from it, they are to be kept out of the Church or cast out from it: and so the seal of grace and salvation belongeth not unto them, (Ezek. 18:24, 2 Chro. 15:2, Matt 3:7, 9, 10,) as it belongs to all the infants of the faithful, and to all their children (of what age so ever) that receive the faith of Christ, and abide in it with them. And these men greatly mistake if they think we hold children are to be baptised, or are holy, because they are our children by nature, (for so they are children of wrath, Eph. 2:3,) but they are holy, and to have the seal of salvation, because God hath graciously accepted them into his covenant with ourselves: and keeps them in it, untill they fall from faith and obedience of Christ; even as we ourselves continue in the covenant, while we continue in the Christian faith, and no longer, 2 Tim. 2:12. As we are the children of the first Adam, we are all sinners, disobedient, unrighteous and under condemnation: but as we are the children of the second Adam (Christ) we are all holy, made obedient, righteous; and heirs of salvation, according to the Apostles doctrine in Rom. 5:12-21.

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