« IndietroContinua »
sons rather for the benefit of others, than for the furtherance of their own salvation.
7. Q. How many parts are there in a sacrament?
A. Two: the outward and visible sign, and the inward and spiritual grace.
Sect. XLIII. Of Baptism, and the several ways of administering
of it. 1. Q. What is the first sacrament of the New Testament?
A. It is baptism.
A. It is the sacrament of our new and spiritual birth. John, jii. 4, 5. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
The seal of our adoption: Rom. iv. 11. And, he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised.
And the solemn means of our admission into the communion of the Christian church. Acts, ii. 41. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
By the outward washing whereof, our inward washing from our sins, by the blood, and spirit of Christ, is both clearly exhibited, and certainly sealed to us.
Acts, ii. 38, 39. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unlo you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, eren as many as the Lord our God shall call. Tit. iii. 5. Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. Compare Heb. ix. 13, 14. For if the blood of bulls and of goals, and the ashes of an heiser, sprinkling the unclean, sanctificth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
3. Q. How is baptism performed ?
A. By dipping in, pouring on, of, or sprinkling with, water; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
PROOFS SUBJOINED.- Nub. viii. 7. And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean. Ezekiel, xxxvi. 25. Then will I sprinkle clean wuler upon you, and ye shall be clean : from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. Mark, vii. 4. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. Heb. ix. 14. As above. Heb. x. 10, 21. By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.- An having an high-priest over the house of God, lei us draw neur with a true heart, in a full assurance of faith, haring our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
4. Q. In which of these was this sacrament administered at the beginning?
A. To aged and healthful persons, in that hot country in which our Saviour lived, it was for the most part adininistered by dipping, or plunging, the person who was baptized into the water : according to the common custom, among the Jews, of receiving proselytes with the very same ceremony; and from which our Saviour seems to have taken occasion to institute this sacrament.
ProofS SUBJOINED.—Matt. iii. 6, 16. And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water : and, lo! the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. John, iii. 23. And John also was baptizing in Ænon, near to Salem, because there was much water there; and they came, and were baptized. Acts, viii. 38. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch ; and baptized him.
5. Q. Were any baptized otherwise at the beginning?
A. It cannot be doubted but that as all who embraced the gospel were baptized, so many of these could not be dipped in water. Such were very old and sick persons ; and it may be all, at the first, when three and five thousand, at a time, believed, and were baptized; very likely in a private house, where it would have been difficult to have gotten
water enough, and endless to have dipped them all. Acts, ii. 41. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. ix. 18. And immediately there fell from his eyes, as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose and was baptized. X. 47, 48. Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baplized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.
6. Q. What are the necessary parts of this sacrament?
A. Water and the word: the one to represent our spiritual washing and cleansing by the blood of Christ; the other to declare the faith into which we are baptized, and by which we hope to be saved; namely, of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
7. Q. How came the custom of dipping to be so universally left off in the church.
A. Chiefly upon the ground of charily; because when the Gospel became every where received, and the persons to be baptized were for the most part, the children of believing parents; many of which in these cold countries, (for a great part of the year,) could not be dipped in water without the hazard of their lives; it was necessary either to sprinkle them only with water, or not to baptize them at all.
8. Q. What ground had the church to admit of sprinkling, as sufficient to answer the design of this sacrament?
A. The example of the purifications under the lau', which were made as well by sprinkling's as washing's. Heb. ix. 13, 19. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean,
sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?- For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people, according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people.
The application of this made by St. Paul, to the spiritual cleansing of us from our sins. Heb. x. 22, 29. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace.
And by St. Peter to the same purpose. i Pet. i. 2. Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. • The analogy between the sprinkling of the water in baptism, and that sprinkling of the blood of Christ, by which we are cleansed from our sins : all these, as they left a sufficient latitude to the church to administer this sacrament in any of these ways, so the law of charity required that the church should make choice of sprinkling rather than of a total immersion; and we cannot doubt, but that the God of charity does approve of it. Matt. ix. 13. But go ye and