Now it is indeed true that especially through the labors of the late Dr. A. Kuyper, Sr., the theory of presupposed regeneration (the view that all the children of the covenant must be supposed to be regenerated, and that only on the ground of such a presupposition may Holy Baptism be administered to the seed of the church), has again been on the foreground in recent years.
Now it is our conviction that we cannot arrive at a correct view of the seed of the covenant as long as we hesitate to accept the clear teaching of the Word of God that it is not all Israel that is called Israel, that not all the children born in the historical manifestation of God’s covenant on earth are also actually children of the promise, but that the line of election and reprobation also cuts right through the visible manifestation of the covenant and makes separation, always and again separating between Israel according to the flesh and Israel according...
In order to arrive at a correct conception of believers and their seed it is highly necessary, first of all, that we give our attention to the meaning and significance of God’s covenant. It is exactly in regard to this doctrine of the covenant that we as Reformed people differ from Anabaptists and Baptists of every shade.
The essence of the covenant, therefore, is not to be sought in a promise, and that, too, a promise in the sense of a certain general offer to the children of believers, as Prof. Heyns would have it. Neither is it to be sought in the idea that the covenant is a certain way, or manner, of salvation by which God would make us partakers of everlasting glory, as many others describe the covenant, thereby actually denying that God’s covenant is eternal.
In our discussion of the question whether all that is called Israel is also truly Israel in the spiritual sense of the word, we arrived at the conclusion that we must maintain the organic view of God’s covenant people as they become manifest in this world. The people of God in this world, as they concretely exist and develop in the line of successive generations, may not be viewed and treated as a mixed multitude. Neither may the view be tolerated that we may presuppose that all in the church are elect and regenerated.
But besides, also the latter is not a valid conclusion. It is very much a question whether this child was so young that he had not already manifested in his life that good which was found in him before the Lord. We get the opposite impression when we read that all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him. We would much rather say, therefore, that this child had already reached the age at which he plainly revealed that by his piety he distinguished himself from the house of Jeroboam.
Thus, finally, we also understand the fact that the apostles repeatedly address the congregations as the church of Christ. A congregation may appear to be never so bad, but the Apostle Paul addresses it as the church of Christ, as beloved in the Lord, as brethren in Him. That congregation may be divided by party-strife; it may be guilty of drunkenness and adultery; it may even deny or doubt the truth of the resurrection of the dead; it continues to be the church of Christ to which the apostle writes.
To begin with the last question, it may be observed that there certainly can be no doubt whether there is indeed a certain influence of God’s covenant upon the children of the kingdom who are cast out. All Scripture reveals this very clearly.
Hence, rather commonly an entirely different consideration is adduced, namely, the fact that the Lord takes such children away in their early childhood. Not so much the covenant as the fact that they are taken away in infancy is then the ground upon which they wish to assume that such children are saved. Now there is indeed a certain validity in this consideration.