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writeth upon the sixth to the Romans, "That the Church received the custom of baptising infants from the apostles." Neither do we think that this custom is only an idle ceremony, but that the infants are then indeed received and sanctified of God, because that then they are grafted into the Church, and the promise pertaineth to such. And of this matter there be many things written and published in our Churches, whereby the anabaptists are refuted."
The Confession of Wirtemberg.
"We acknowledge that Baptism is to be ministered as well to infants as to those that are grown to full age, and that it is to be used in the Church, even to the end of this world, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, according to Christ his institution," &c.
-" Moreover we teach, that he which is baptised in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is sprinkled with a spiritual anointing, that is, is made a member of Christ through faith; and endued with the Holy Ghost, that the ears of his mind may be opened, and the eyes of his heart lightened, to receive and understand heavenly things," &c.
The Confession of Sueveland.
"And seeing that Baptism is a sacrament of
that covenant, which God hath made with those that be his, promising that he will be their God, and the God of their seed, and that he will be a revenger of wrongs and take them for his people; to conclude, seeing it is a token of the renewing of the Spirit, which is wrought by Christ: therefore our Preachers do teach, that it is to be given to Infants also, as well as that in times past under Moses they were circumcised: for we are indeed the children of Abraham, and therefore that promise, "I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed," doth no less pertain unto us, than it did to that ancient people."
To the above I add the following extracts from the Articles of Religion of the United Church of England and Ireland.
Of the Sacraments.
"Sacraments ordained of Christ, be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession; but rather, they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God's good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our faith in him."
"Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened; but it is also a sign of Regeneration, or New
234 SENTIMENTS OF THE REFORMERS.
Birth, whereby as an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly, are grafted into the Church; the promises of forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The Baptism of young children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ."
From the above extracts it
Secondly, That Baptism is the sign and seal of the faith which the child possesses in virtue of the election of grace.
Thirdly, That Christian Baptism is but Jewish Circumcision expressed under another outward and visible sign, "For the which cause Paul calleth Baptism the Circumcision of Christ."1
Lastly, That no doubt should be entertained as to the child's condition: he is an adopted child of God, and should be esteemed and educated as such.
Compare these particulars with the letter and spirit of our Baptism and its kindred formularies, and how exactly do they agree!
1 Confession of Belgia.
MIGHT BE EXPECTED TO
ARISE FROM THE ABOVE INTERPRETATION OF OUR BAPTISMAL SERVICE.
THE advantages which might be expected to arise from the practical adoption of the above interpretation of our Baptismal Service, are neither few nor doubtful: the practice will amply vindicate the principle, for as we BELIEVE, so will it appear that we shall be ESTABLISHED.
The FIRST ADVANTAGE arising from the above interpretation of our Baptismal Service is, that
-IT RENDERS ALL OUR FORMULARIES INTELLIGIBLE.
It puts a sense and a meaning into them fully equal to their expressions and while it gives those expressions their plain and natural meaning, it justifies them from the charge of being too strong and intense; since, after all, they do but inadequately convey the unquestionable privileges, and "unsearchable riches" of the Gospel of Christ.
It is vain to dissemble, My Dear Friend, that
we have ourselves found considerable difficulty in reconciling the several formularies of our Church with each other; and that we have for years been accustomed to hear a variety of complaints and doubts as to the consistency of our Liturgy. What various interpretations have been given of the Baptismal Service! To what difficulties have those been reduced, who, teaching that our salvation depends on our strict obedience to the Law, would bend the letter of the Catechism and the Confirmation Service, to the support of this mistaken system? And how many have been confounded, that our Liturgy, in its various Services, assumes all who use it to be real believers in Christ Jesus, and that it makes no provision for neutral characters, or for any but penitent and believing sinners! The Service for "the Visitation of the Sick" has been constantly reproached as inapplicable to the great proportion of cases, which the minister, in the discharge of his duty, is called upon to attend ; and the Burial Service has been the repeated theme of complaint, both with friends and foes, that it can with propriety be read over real believers alone. And have not good and intelligent ministers of our Church been driven to such distress of mind by these doubts and perplexities, as to hesitate, whether they could, consistently with the claims of a safe conscience, continue to minister her Services? If you, My Dear Friend, have been happily exempt from