Home > baptism, John Owen, theology, Uncategorized > Hodge on Owen’s Influence Over American Presbyterians

Hodge on Owen’s Influence Over American Presbyterians

Writing in 1863, Hodge notes

The Puritan or Independent theory of the Church, that it consists exclusively of those who are deemed regenerate, and their minor children, has unfortunately gained ascendency over many of our ministers and members. This is to be attributed partly to the general familiarity with the writings of Owen and other English Independents, but especially to the all-prevailing influence of the ideas and principles of the New England Congregationalists.

Church Polity (244)

Compare with an 1857 essay in the Princeton Review titled “The Neglect of Infant Baptism.”

[W]hat most concerns us, we have often known it to be said, that in the Presbyterian Church there has been, for some time, a growing disregard for the baptism of children. Indeed, we have heard it boldly and publicly asserted, that this doctrine is fast becoming “a dead letter” in many parts of our Church…

[A]dverse influences were more and more operating on the minds of parents, and gradually destroying their regard for this seal of the covenant; thus producing increasing neglect of the ordinance from year to year.

It is our opinion that the decrease of infant baptism has really been caused by increased neglect. And, after carefully considering the subject – after conversing with brethren in all parts of the Church, and observing the proportion of baptism to members in many Churches; and after no only examining our own General Assembly’s early and later statistics, but also the statistics of baptisms in Churches in old and new settlements, 30, 40, and 50 years ago; we are with pain inevitably driven to the conclusion, that there cannot be less than one infant subject of baptism for every six members of the whole Church. And consequently we must conclude that whilst there were but 205,041 children reported as baptized during the last 20 years, the reports should have amounted to 618,339, leaving not less than 413,298 unbaptized.

neglect-of-infant-baptism-table

What causes have been at work to produce such extensive neglect of infant baptism?

1. We may mention the greatly increased and very extraordinary efforts of the various anti-Pedobaptist bodies, to disseminate their sentiments within the past thirty-five years.

The careful student of history cannot fail noticing a connection between the history of those efforts and the variations of the tables given above.

Compare with Ron Baines’ excellent essay SEPARATING GOD’S TWO KINGDOMS: Two Kingdom Theology among New England Baptists in the Early Republic in JIRBS 2014, as well as Presbyterian vs Congregationalist vs Baptist Sacramentology and The Evolution of Reformed Paedobaptism, as well as 1689 Federalism & America’s Founding.

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