11. The final objection I wish to consider is this. Our opponents say, “If baptism takes the place of circumcision, and if the church is the same in substance now as it was when circumcision was its initiating zeal, then why isn’t baptism as universal in the New Testament church is circumcision was in the Old Testament church? Why isn’t every child under the light of the gospel baptized as every Israelite child was circumcised?”
All I can say in response to this objection is that this undoubtedly should be the case. All parents wherever the gospel prospers ought to be true believers, and therefore ought to be true members of the church of Christ themselves. Hence, they ought to dedicate their children to God in baptism. God’s command requires it, and if the parents were what they ought to be they would be only too happy and prepared to do what they should.
Under the Old Testament administration of the covenant of grace, all those who belonged to the covenant people were obliged to be holy. This was signified, first and foremost by submission to the rite of circumcision. Anyone who refused was to be cut off from their people. The obligation was universal and the penalty was universal. There is no doubt that many parents who presented their children to God in the sacrament of circumcision, did so without true faith; yet they attended to all the requirements of ceremonial cleanness and this rendered the circumcision authorized and regular, i.e., valid. The same is true in the New Testament church. Like Old Testament Israel, the Church is a body called out from the rest of mankind. Within this spiritual community baptism ought to be as universal as circumcision was in Israel. Parents who profess faith in Christ, in obedience to Him, ought to present their children in baptism. There is, no doubt, reason to fear that many adult members may present their children to God in the sacrament of baptism without true faith. But just like in the case of the Jewish parent who lacked true faith, because the parents attend to all the external requirements of church membership, their children’s baptism is to be considered authorized and regular, i.e., valid.