George Müller believed and advocated child baptism in his early years of ministry. While preaching at Sedmouth he was challenged by three sisters regarding what he believed on baptism. As a result he carefully studied his Bible to discover what the Bible taught on the subject. Finding that baptism was reserved for adults, he adopted the teaching and was promptly baptized.
About the beginning of April I went to preach at Sidmouth. While I was staying there, three sisters in the Lord had, in my presence, a conversation about baptism, one of whom had been baptized after she had believed. When they had conversed a little on the subject, I was asked to give my opinion concerning it. My reply was, "I do not think ,that I need to be baptized again." I was then asked by the sister who bad been baptized, "But have you been baptized?" I answered, "Yes, when I was a child." She then replied, "Have you ever read the Scriptures, and prayed with reference to this subject?" I answered, "No." "Then," she said, "I entreat you, never to speak any more about it till you have done so." It pleased the Lord to show me the importance of this remark; for whilst at that very time I was exhorting every one to receive nothing which could not be proved by the word of God, I had repeatedly spoken against believers' baptism, without having ever earnestly examined the Scriptures, or prayed concerning it; and now I determined, if God would help me, to examine that subject also, and if infant baptism were found to be scriptural, I would earnestly defend it; and if believers' baptism were right, I would as strenuously defend that, and be baptized.
As soon as I had time, I set about examining the subject. The mode I adopted was as follows : I repeatedly asked God to teach me concerning it, and I read the New Testament from the beginning, with a particular reference to this point. But now, when I earnestly set about the matter, a number of objections presented themselves to my mind.
1. Since many holy and enlightened men have been divided in opinion concerning this point, does this not prove, that it is not to be expected we should come to a satisfactory conclusion about this question in the present imperfect state of the church? -This question was thus removed: If this ordinance is revealed in the Bible, why may I not know it, as the Holy Spirit is the teacher in the church of Christ now as well as formerly? 2. There have been but few of my friends baptized, and the greater part of them are opposed to believers' baptism, and they will turn their backs on me. Answer: Though all men should forsake me, if the Lord Jesus takes me up, I shall be happy. 3. You will be sure to lose one half of your income if you are baptized. Answer: As long as I desire to be faithful to the Lord, He will not suffer me to want. 4. People will call you a baptist, and you will be reckoned among that body, and you cannot approve of all that is going on among them. Answer: It does not follow that I must in all points go along with all those who hold believers' baptism, although I should be baptized. 5. You have been preaching for some years, and you will have thus publicly to confess, that you have been in an error, should you be led to see that believers' baptism is right. Answer: It is much better to confess that I have been in error concerning that point than to continue in it. 6. Even if believers' baptism should be right, yet it is now too late to attend to it, as you ought to have been baptized immediately on believing. Answer: It is better to fulfill a commandment of the Lord Jesus ever so late, than to continue in the neglect of it.
It had pleased God, in his abundant mercy, to bring my mind into such a state, that I was willing to carry out into my life whatever I should find in the Scriptures concerning this ordinance, either the one way or the other. I could say, " I will do His will," and it was on that account, I believe, that I soon saw which "doctrine is of God," whether infant baptism or believers' baptism. And I would observe here, by the way, that the passage to which I have just now alluded, John vii. 17, has been a most remarkable comment to me on many doctrines and precepts of our most holy faith. For instance: "Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Matthew v. 39-44. "Sell that ye have, and give alms." Luke xii. 33. "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another." Rom. xiii. 8. It may be said, surely these passages cannot be taken literally, for how then would the people of God be able to pass through the world. The state of mind enjoined in John vii. 17, will cause such objections to vanish. Whosoever is WILLING To ACT OUT these commandments of the Lord LITERALLY, will, I believe, be led with me to see that, to take them LITERALLY, is the will of God. -Those who do so take them will doubtless often be brought into difficulties, hard to the flesh to bear, but these will have a tendency to make them constantly feel that they are strangers and pilgrims here, that this world is not their home, and thus to throw them more upon God, who will assuredly help us through any difficulty into which we may be brought by seeking to act in obedience to His word.
As soon as I was brought into this state of heart, I saw from the Scriptures that believers ONLY are the proper subjects for baptism, and that immersion is the only true Scriptural mode, in which it ought to be attended to. The passage which particularly convinced me of the former, is Acts viii. 36-38, and of the latter, Rom. vi. 3-5. Some time after, I was baptized. I had much peace in doing so, and never have I for one single moment regretted it.- Before I leave this point, I would just say a few words concerning the result of this matter, so far as it regards some of the objections which occurred to my mind when I was about to examine the Scriptures concerning baptism.
1. Concerning the first objection, my conviction now is, that of all revealed truths not on is more clearly revealed in the Scriptures, not even the doctrine of justification by faith, and that the subject has only become obscured by men not having been willing to take the Scriptures alone to decide the point.
2. Not one of my true friends in the Lord has turned his back on me, as I supposed, and almost all of them have been themselves baptized since.
3. Though in one way I lost money in consequence of being baptized, yet the Lord did not suffer me to be really a loser, even as it regards temporal things; for He made up the loss most bountifully. In conclusion, my example has been the means of leading many to examine the question of baptism, and to submit, from conviction, to this ordinance and seeing this truth I have been led to speak on it as well as on other truths; and during the forty-five years that I have now resided in Bristol, more than three thousand believers have been baptized among us.