As we Baptists say, the Presbyterians did all the hard work putting together the excellent Westminster Standards, we just made a few improvements. Unfortunately one blemish (in my opinion) remained in the 1689 BCF (removed in some later recensions). Ch10 par3 “elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit……..” It seems to me that the clause “elect” is unnecessary and unhelpful. Here are some reasons why I believe we can assume that all deceased infants are elect and saved.
• Judgement is based upon a person’s behaviour: while it is true that we are imputed with Adam’s guilt from the moment of conception and need to be justified (Psalm 51:5), it is our own personal guilt which God actually condemns. All who have consciously committed sin and not sought after God will experience His judgment. But what of those incapable of deliberate sin and seeking after God?
• Children are described in terms of innocence: God looks upon little ones as practically innocent and not deserving of punishment. Jonah 4:11, “And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left (little children)—and much livestock?” If God is concerned with the welfare of animals which have not sinned against Him, how much more so infants made in His image!
• God is merciful and just in character: He is big with mercy and does not delight in the death of the wicked. Judgement is His strange work. Why would God not elect, regenerate and justify all those people He has chosen to remove from the world at such tender ages? To save them is consistent with His character.
The Bible does not explicitly state that babies go to heaven; neither does Jesus directly say that He is God. They are doctrines however which can be soundly deduced. Ambiguity in this issue is unfortunate because it relates to the character of God – not to mention grieving parents. To my mind revised later versions of the 1689 are preferable, “Infants [meaning all] dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit……..” It is consistent with the God who abounds with lovingkindness and is righteous in all His ways.