Charles Hodge on infant salvation

My comments interspersed below in black (Hodge's comments are in blue).

"A. What the Scriptures teach as to the Salvation of Men. Salvation of Infants.

What the Scriptures teach on this subject, according to the common doctrine of evangelical Protestants is first: —

1. All who die in infancy are saved. This is inferred from what the Bible teaches of the analogy between Adam and Christ. 'As by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many (οἱ πολλοί = πάντες) were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many (οἱ πολλοί = πάντες) be made righteous.' (Rom. v. 18, 19.) We have no right to put any limit on these general terms, except what the Bible itself places upon them. The Scriptures nowhere exclude any class of infants, baptized or unbaptized, born in Christian or in heathen lands, of believing or unbelieving parents, from the benefits of the redemption of Christ. All the descendants of Adam, except Christ, are under condemnation; all the descendants of Adam, except those of whom it is expressly revealed that they cannot inherit the kingdom of God, are saved. This appears to be the clear meaning of the Apostle, and therefore he does not hesitate to say that where sin abounded, grace has much more abounded, that the benefits of redemption far exceed the evils of the fall; that the number of the saved far exceeds the number of the lost."

It is true that Romans 5:18-19 teaches that ALL whom Christ represented in His life, death, and resurrection will receive justification of life and will be counted or constituted righteous. Hodge's assumption that ALL infants without exception are necessarily represented by Christ is not warranted. The fact that grace MUCH MORE ABOUNDS is found in the EFFICACY of Christ's atoning work on the cross. If Adam's sin imputed brought death to ALL whom he represented, then HOW MUCH MORE will Christ's obedience bring the gift of righteousness and eternal life to ALL whom He represented (see Romans 5:17-21).

"This is not inconsistent with the declaration of our Lord, in Matthew vii. 14, that only a few enter the gate which leadeth unto life. This is to be understood of adults. What the Bible says is intended for those in all ages, to whom it is addressed. But it is addressed to those who can either read or hear. It tells them what they are to believe and do. It would be an entire perversion of its meaning to make it apply to those to whom and of whom it does not speak. When it is said, 'He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him' (John iii. 36), no one understands this to preclude the possibility of the salvation of infants."

Charles Hodge assumes, without Biblical warrant, that infants cannot understand and believe the gospel. The infant John the Baptist did leap for joy (or exultation) out of an understanding of something. And what was that "something"?

"And [she] entered into the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the babe in her womb leaped, and Elizabeth was filled of the Holy Spirit. And [she] cried out with a loud voice and said, You [are] being blessed among women and blessed [is] the fruit of your womb! And why [is] this to me that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For behold, as the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped in exultation" (Luke 1:40-44). 

Charles Hodge is deriving his theology of infant salvation from somewhere other than the Bible. Being filled with God the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth said that John leaped in exultation because he DID HEAR AND UNDERSTAND that the voice was Mary's and that the fruit of her womb was the Lord (for further information on infant salvation click here).

"Not only, however, does the comparison, which the Apostle makes between Adam and Christ, lead to the conclusion that as all are condemned for the sin of the one, so all are saved by the righteousness of the other, those only excepted whom the Scriptures except; but the principle assumed throughout the whole discussion teaches the same doctrine. That principle is that it is more congenial with the nature of God to bless than to curse, to save than to destroy. If the race fell in Adam, much more shall it be restored in Christ. If death reigned by one, much more shall grace reign by one. This 'much more' is repeated over and over. The Bible everywhere teaches that God delighteth not in the death of the wicked; that judgment is his strange work. It is, therefore, contrary not only to the argument of the Apostle, but to the whole spirit of the passage (Romans v. 12-21), to exclude infants from 'the all' who are made alive in Christ.

The conduct and language of our Lord in reference to children are not to be regarded as matters of sentiment, or simply expressive of kindly feeling. He evidently looked upon them as the lambs of the flock for which, as the good Shepherd, He laid down his life, and of whom He said they shall never perish, and no man could pluck them out of his hands. Of such He tells us is the kingdom of heaven, as though heaven was, in great measure, composed of the souls of redeemed infants. It is, therefore, the general belief of Protestants, contrary to the doctrine of Romanists and Romanizers, that all who die in infancy are saved" (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Volume One, pp. 26-27).

This architect of destruction comes to the text of Scripture with his false premise (assumption) regarding the hearing and mental capacity of infants. Hodge asserts that infants cannot believe due to their alleged lack of mental capacity or to the "fact" that infants cannot hear, understand, or believe anything while inside their mother's womb. But Jesus Christ Himself obliterates this pseudo-scientific-psychological nonsense by saying that infants and/or little children ARE ABLE TO RECEIVE the kingdom of God (see Luke 18:15-17; cf. Luke 1:40-44).