Should young children be baptized?

Ought children who say they are saved and ask for baptism, to be baptized and received into fellowship without delay, or ought they to be asked to wait for a time?

The Scriptures teach the baptism, not of adult believers, but of believers—”He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). “Manyof the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). “When they believed Philip preaching. . . they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12). It is true that children are not mentioned here, only “men and women”—but this, I think, merely emphasises the fact that both sexes were baptised, or perhaps there was no child believer on the occasion. But the fact that we never read of children as such being baptised, merely arises from the fact that it is not the age of a candidate that is in question, but the faith.

Can a child of thirteen believe the Gospel? Undoubtedly it can; and many such have been brought to faith, confession, baptism and fellowship, and have stood well. We do not know if there were children in the households of Lydia and the Philippian jailor, etc., but if so, they were old enough to hear the Word, believe, and be baptized. On the other hand, children are easily impressed and are apt to follow the example of their elders, and I am afraid it is a fact that few would contest, that some children have been too lightly received as believers and baptized, and their after-history has not been encouraging, but has rather cast doubt on the reality of their confession of faith. Is not then the evident lesson that no rule can possibly be made? Each case must stand on its own merits. If the parents and elder brethren, whose advice may well be asked, are satisfied, let them go forward in faith and count on God! But if there be not unamity of judgment, further waiting would be indicated. At the same time, there is a danger of discouraging true faith and putting the child back from a step, which might under God’s blessing be a deciding factor in its whole future. The word, “saved,” in Mark 16:"16 goes further than “forgiven” or “justified,” it seems to include the thought of deliverance, which is connected so closely with the truth of death and resurrection, in baptism, and it would be sad to deprive a real believer, be it young or grown-up, of this help in the Christian life.

Some parents who have perhaps too easily encouraged their children to be baptized have later on regretted it, and some who have discouraged their children have lived to regret it, too. We are cast upon God for each case, and if we definitely wait on Him, He will surely give oneness
of mind to those concerned.

W.H.