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§ 54. Of Baptism.

Of the two Sacraments, Baptism precedes the Lord’s Supper. [1] We are to treat of the nature of Baptism, the form in which it is to be administered, and the design of its institution.

1. Baptism is an act enjoined by the Lord, and accompanied with a promise, Matt. 28:19. Hence we have in Baptism not merely water, and not common water, but also the Word of God. But there is superadded to this a higher efficacy than exists in mere natural water, [2] and it is this which, by means of the water, effects saving grace. [3]

2. But if we expect such a result from Baptism, it must be 537administered precisely according to the instructions of the Lord. The consecration must be according to His will, and the act itself administered to the baptized person agreeably to the prescribed mode. [4] If all this be done, then the Baptism is to be regarded as valid, whether the officiating minister be a believer or not, or whether the person baptized believe in the Sacrament or not. [5]

3. The immediate design of Baptism is, finally, to work saving grace in man. [6] But also the Word of God has the like effect, Baptism is intended to produce this result only in such cases in which it is applied at an earlier period than the Word; this is the case with infants who are not yet susceptible to the preaching of the Gospel. [7] But in adults who, with their already developed reason, can understand the preaching of the Gospel, the Word has precedence, and produces its results before the Sacrament. But, in such instances, Baptism serves to seal and establish the gracious result already accomplished by the Word. [8] Hence in the case of adults, who are yet to be baptized, faith must be demanded as the condition on which the ordinance effects this blessed end. [9] This cannot be expected of infants; but it does not follow that they are for that reason to be deprived of Baptism, for they need grace as well as adults, and are invited to it by God. It is, therefore, God’s will that they be baptized, and Baptism serves also to create in them this faith. [10] The efficacy of Baptism is not limited to the moment of its administration, but it continues to confer strength upon its subject. Nor is this efficacy lost if, in its administration, the intended result, because of some hindrance on man’s part, be not immediately produced; for still, if the ordinance were properly administered, a covenant has been entered into with God, and thereby there is forever established a disposition on God’s part to produce the gracious effect to its full extent, when the individual no longer strives against it. [11] At the same time, in repentance man still has the means to appropriate to himself the blessed efficacy of Baptism, of which he has hitherto by his own neglect been deprived; for repentance is nothing else than a continuation or renewal of that which was symbolically indicated in Baptism, namely, crucifying the old man within 538us, so that in repentance we can recover that which was neglected on man’s part in Baptism. [12] On this ground, also, the repetition of Baptism is as unnecessary as it is inadmissible. [13]

Finally, Baptism is necessary, because it is commanded by God; but, as God can save us through other means also, we hope that the children of Christian parents who, without their own fault, are prevented from being baptized, will not be lost. [14]

As Baptism, at the same time, distinguishes us from the great mass of those who do not belong to the Church, and imposes on us the obligation to be faithful to our baptismal covenant, the following may be considered as secondary designs of Baptism: (1) The distinction between Christians and Gentiles, and the union of the former with the Church, 1 Cor. 12:12. (2) The obligation to true faith and a godly life, 1 Pet. 3:21. [15]

[1] GRH. (IX, 67): “The Sacrament of Baptism must be considered first, as it precedes the Lord’s Supper in (1) the time of its institution, for it was divinely established in the very commencement of the New Testament dispensation; (2) in administration, for John and the disciples of Christ baptized before the Lord’s Supper was instituted; (3) in order, for Baptism is the first portal to grace, the Sacrament of initiation; the Lord’s Supper is the Sacrament of confirmation. By Baptism we are regenerated; by the Lord’s Supper we are fed and nourished to eternal life. As therefore in nature, so also in grace, we must be born before we are fed; we must be begotten before we can grow. By Baptism we are received into the covenant of God; by the Lord’s Supper we are preserved in it. By Baptism faith and the other gifts of the Spirit are excited in us; by the Lord’s Supper they are increased and confirmed. Baptism was prefigured by circumcision; the Lord’s Supper, by the paschal lamb. No one can have access to the Lord’s Supper unless he has been baptized; as in the Old Testament none but the circumcised were permitted to eat the paschal lamb.”

The Dogmaticians have extensively discussed the question, What relation did John’s Baptism sustain to that of Christ? CHMN. (Ex. C. Trid., II, 66): “The same difference that exists between the Word concerning Christ to come, Christ coming, and Christ offered [to men in the preaching of the Gospel], exists also between 539circumcision, the Baptism of John, and the Baptism of Christ. But although as to the mode of the publication of the doctrine concerning Christ there may be some difference, yet as to its substance it has been the same and has had the same effects on believers in every age. As it is then with the Word, so also is it with circumcision, the Baptism of John, and of the apostles. Nor are these to be too nicely discriminated. For if these subtleties be allowed, in this way we can also establish the difference between the Baptism performed by the apostles before the passion and resurrection of Christ, and that which they administered afterwards.” The question, Whether it was necessary for those who were baptized by John to receive afterwards the Baptism of Christ? CHMN. leaves undetermined. All the Dogmaticians agree in not referring the words “fire and spirit,” in Matt. 3:11 to actual Baptism, because Christ, Acts 1:5 long after Baptism was administered, refers their fulfilment to the later period; but they understand them as relating to the effusion of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost and the gifts of the Sprit connected with it.

[2] CAT. MAJ. (IV, 14): “If you be asked, What is Baptism? answer, that it is not mere water, but such as is comprehended and included in the Word and command of God, and sanctified by them, so that it is nothing else than a water of God, or a divine water; not that it is in itself of more value than other water, but that God’s Word and commandment are added to it.” (See ART. SMALCALD, V, 2, 3.) The earlier Dogmaticians were satisfied with this simple expression, and hence designate, as the substance of the Sacrament, the external element of water and the Word of the institution and promise. (CHMN. (Loc. c. Th., III, 161): “The distinction is to be retained, viz., that the substance of Baptism consists in the act and in the words, ‘I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’”) But the later writers (see Of the Sacraments in General, note 6, p. 544 sq.) speak of a double matter in Baptism: the earthly object, which is natural, pure water, everywhere at hand; and the heavenly object, by which they designate that which they suppose is super-added by the words of the consecration. This most of them consider to be the whole Trinity, others the Holy Spirit, and others the blood of Christ. These different views arise from the fact that some of them regard the heavenly object as indicated in the baptismal formula, others in John 3:5, and others again in 1 John 5:6. But there is as little contradiction in these different views of the heavenly object as there is in the passages just cited. (QUEN. (IV, 110): “The opinions of the orthodox of the heavenly object 540are indeed diverse, but not contradictory, only subordinate and may easy be harmonized.”) The sense in which the heavenly object is by some regarded as the whole Trinity, by others as the Holy Spirit, and by others as the blood of Christ, is thus explained by GRH. (concerning the presence of the Trinity) (IX, 133 sq): “As the name of God is nothing else than God Himself, and the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is, according to the institution of Christ, joined with the water of Baptism, it hence follows that the whole Trinity is present by His grace in Baptism, and by the water of Baptism is efficacious to the salvation of men; . . . therefore the other substantial part of Baptism is the name of the whole adorable Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that is, the infinite majesty, the ineffable sanctity, the unspeakable goodness, the admirable virtue and grace of the whole Trinity, which, with all its virtue and the benefits of grace, are efficacious by water united to and sanctified by the Word.” (Concerning the presence of the Holy Spirit): “As the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, and as Baptism is administered not only in the name of the Father and the Son, but also of the Holy Spirit, it follows that the Sprit acts efficaciously in, with and by the water of Baptism, works faith, regeneration, and renovation in those who do not strive against God, and seals the covenant of grace in the hearts of the baptized. (The Holy Spirit is named alone, because regeneration is attributed to Him as His peculiar work. He makes the water of Baptism a salutary means of regeneration, not as though the other persons were excluded, for the works of the Trinity ad extra are undivided, yet with the order and distinction of persons preserved.) As the Holy Spirit was supernaturally and peculiarly united with the dove in which He descended on Christ at His Baptism, so even at the present day is He supernaturally and peculiarly united with the water of Baptism.” (Concerning the presence of the blood of Christ): “As the Son of God in the fulness of time assumed true human nature, and personally and inseparably united it to Himself, it follows that Christ is present in Baptism, not only according to His divine nature, but also in His human nature, and hence that the blood of Christ is by no means to be excluded from Baptism.” But GRH. (IX, 137) adds: “Although Christ the God-man is present in Baptism, and by His blood, through the medium of faith, washes us from our sins, yet the most distinguished theologians maintain that the blood of Christ cannot very well be called the other material part of Baptism.” The most of the Dogmaticians agree in saying, “the heavenly object of Baptism is analogically called the whole sacred Trinity, 541 but peculiarly and terminatively the Holy Spirit. (HOLL., 1085.)” CALOV. (IX, 166) attempts to combine the three expressions: “The heavenly object, considered as a whole, is the most holy Trinity, namely, the Father, the Son of God . . . (to whose entireness, not the divine nature alone, but also the human nature contributes, as that to which alone also the blood belongs, and of which He became a partaker for our sake), and also the Holy Spirit; and this [i.e., the most holy Trinity] in one expression is called the Word and the name of God, i.e., God Himself, threefold and one, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, according to the well-known rule handed down from Augustine: ‘The Word is joined to the element and it becomes a Sacrament.’ This Word of the institution is found in Matt. 28:19.” The fluctuation of the Dogmaticians in these definitions is also manifest in this, that some suppose the expression, “the heavenly object is the whole Trinity,” signifies nothing more than the other earlier one, viz., “the second essential part [of Baptism] is the Word,” since in the Word God is included; while the others (HUTT., for instance) expressly maintain that the Word is not a substantial part, but only the active (ποιητικον) principle of Baptism, which, from this point of view, appears the more correct. It is from this diversity of views that the difference in the expression of the earlier and later Dogmaticians, as noticed in the previous section, note 6, proceeds. The opposition of BR. to this mode of expression we have mentioned in the preceding section. In relation to Baptism, he says (683): “When it is acknowledged (1) that the words of the institution, besides the water, belong to the substance of Baptism; and (2) from the force of these words it is further acknowledged that the Holy Sprit and the whole Trinity are the author of this Sacrament as a means of grace; and when (3) it is acknowledged that the Holy Spirit and the triune God, wherever and whenever Baptism is rightly administered, is present in the same way, by virtue of His measureless essence; and (4) is present by His grace in such a manner that, being present, He not only seriously offers spiritual benefits through this Sacrament, and (5) enters into the covenant of grace, with the person baptized, never to be broken on His part, and seals it through Baptism; but also (6) in the person baptized who does not resist the divine grace accomplishes, in this act itself, the work of regeneration and renovation through this Sacrament in such a manner that, (7) not by a separate and peculiar action, but jointly with the water of Baptism, and through it by one undivided action, He enkindles and confirms faith; and that (8) on account of the merit of the God-man, Christ, truly present as to 542both natures, and on account of His blood shed for our sins (for, (9) since faith is conferred by baptism, by this also the blood of Christ is sprinkled, as far as His merit is applied by faith), when, I say, these things are acknowledged and maintained, we may well, as far as the rest is concerned, with the more ancient theologians, be silent about the name, heavenly object, and its almost inexplicable nature, and rather confess a cautious ignorance than profess false knowledge.” The assumption of a heavenly object involves that of a “sacramental union, which is the union of true water with the Holy Trinity, and therefore not only with the Father, but also with the incarnate Son and with the Holy Sprit. For, neither is the water given or received without the most Holy Trinity, or without the Holy Spirit;, nor the latter or the former without the water; because these two are most closely united in the sacramental act, nor can one be a Sacrament without the other. And this union is not relative only, or figurative, or typical, such as it was in the Sacraments of the Old Testament, but it tenders the celestial object, and is really and truly present; whence water, in its sacramental form, is not to be regarded as mere water, but the laver of regeneration in the Word, and as united with the most Holy Trinity in an ineffable manner, John 3:5; Eph. 5:26; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 John 1:7.” QUEN. (IV, 112).

[3] BR. (693): “Baptism may be defined as a sacred action, instituted by Christ, by which men are washed with water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and are thus regenerated and renewed, that they may secure eternal life.”

ART. SMALCALD (V, 1): “Baptism is nothing else than the Word of God with washing in water, according to His institution and command; or, as Paul says, Eph. 5:26, the washing of water by the Word.”

HOLL. (1080): “Baptism is a sacred and solemn action divinely instituted, by which sinful men, living and actually born,2727[This is in opposition to the baptism infantum nondum in lucem editorum. See GERHARD, IX, 209: “Those not yet born, cannot be born again.”] without distinction of sex and age, are washed in water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that by this washing of water divine grace, promised in the Gospel, may be applied, conferred upon, and sealed to them.”

[4] GRH. (IX, 137): “The form of Baptism consists in the action, that is, in the mersion of the person baptized into water, or, what is just as well, in the affusion of water, and in the recitation of the words of the institution: ‘I baptize thee in the name of the Father,’ etc.; so that there are, in general, three substantial parts 543of Baptism to be maintained, which cannot be separated or changed, viz., water, the Word, and the action, which latter embraces mersion of the person into water, or the aspersion of water, and the recitation of the words of the institution . . . . We do not ascribe to the external recitation of the Word any magical or secret power, when we assert that there would be no Baptism unless it be done in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; but by this we teach and assert that it is incumbent on the true disciples of Christ to adhere with godly simplicity to His Word, and observe His institution with inviolable accuracy.”

The signification of the words of the institution employed in the administration of Baptism is thus explained by GRH. (IX, 132): “When the Officiating minister says: ‘I baptize thee,’ etc., the words are to be taken in this sense: (1) That Baptism is not a ceremony devised by man, but an ordinance of the true God, and a holy Sacrament divinely instituted . . . . (2) That he does not administer this Sacrament of his own private will, but in the place of God, the dispenser of whose mysteries and whose minister he is . . . . (3) That on this water of Baptism the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the one true God, is invoked, that in this action, commanded by Him, He may be present, according to His promise, and receive the baptized person into favor . . . . (4) That the water of Baptism is no longer simply and merely water, but water through which the whole blessed Trinity desires to be efficacious to the salvation of the subject baptized, and therefore through which the Trinity, in this very action of the baptizing minister, operates efficaciously according to His promise, ‘I baptize thee,’ etc., i.e., I testify that by this Sacrament thou art received into the covenant of grace, that the Father accepts thee as his child, that the Son washes thee from thy sins bin His blood and clothes thee with the garment of righteousness, that the Holy Spirit regenerates and renews thee to eternal life, so that in this way thou mayest become a child of God the Father forever . . . . (5) That the person baptized, being thus received by His Sacrament into the covenant of grace, is obligated to know the one true God through His Word, to supplicate, worship, and serve Him alone.” . . .

To the act, as above described, there is added a series of ceremonies and usages more or less important, all of which are, however, not essential to Baptism, but are intended only to render the act more solemn. GRH. (IX, 308, sq.) specifies these as usual in our Church: “The admonition concerning original sin [since John admonished those coming to his baptism, of the fruitlessness of their lives, Matt. 3:10], the giving of the name [as in circumcision, 544Luke 1:59], the minor exorcism, the sign of the cross [“to testify that the infant’s reception into grace occurs only by the merit of Christ crucified”], prayers [after our Lord’s example, Matt. 19:14; Mark 10:14], recitation of the Gospel, the imposition of hands, recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, the use of sponsors.” Here belongs also the renunciation of Satan (“by which those who are to be baptized solemnly and in express words renounce Satan and all his pomp”). Concerning exorcism, GERHARD (ib. (310) says: “It is a testimony: 1. Of the spiritual captivity of infants in the kingdom of Satan, because of sin. 2. Of the fact that the Messiah has come, and of the redemption wrought by His work; that the strong man armed is overcome, and the spoils are distributed through Word and Sacraments. 3. Of the divine efficacy belonging to baptism, whereby infants are transferred from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s Son. 4. Of the chief end of the ministerial office, consisting not only in the application of the benefits of Christ to believers, but also in unceasing warfare against Satan. 5. It is a public confession of the Church against the errors of Pelagians, Anabaptists, Zwinglians. It is approved by the testimonies of the primitive Church. But our exorcism differs from that of the Papists: 1. Ours rests on human authority, and is an adiaphoron, and of free observance; that of the Papists pretends to rest on apostolic authority. 2. Ours is emblematic, signifying original sin and deliverance therefrom by Christ; to that of the Papists efficacious operation is ascribed.” CHMN. (Loc. c. Th., III, 161): “Those who omit or reject exorcism with the opinion of and for the same reason as the Anabaptists and Sacramentarians, because they think that infants either have no sins, and therefore are not by nature the children of wrath, or under the power of Satan; or that they, although born in sin, yet on account of their birth according to the flesh from believing parents, even before Baptism and without Baptism, are not out of the kingdom of heaven or under the power of darkness, indeed deserve to be rebuked and blamed . . . . But if this doctrine of original sin, of the power and kingdom of Satan and the efficacy of Baptism, be granted by an open confession, the substance, integrity, and efficacy of Baptism are not dependent on that prescribed rite of the words of exorcism; but the Church has the liberty of propounding and explaining that doctrine in other words more agreeable to the Scriptures.” The formula in the ancient Church was this: “I adjure thee, thou unclean spirit, that thou come out of this servant of Jesus Christ, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” BR. (6092), however, observes: 545“The words have, it is true, the form of a command, but they are to be taken in the sense of a prayer to God, with confidence, and with innate animosity hence begotten against the enemy to be expelled.”

[5] CAT. MAJ. (IV, 53): “If the Word is connected with the water, Baptism must be regarded as proper and valid, even if faith be not connected with it. For my faith does not constitute Baptism, but it receives and apprehends it. Baptism is not vitiated or corrupted by men abusing it or not properly receiving it; for it is not bound to our faith, but to the Word of God.”

The same is true with regard to the state of mind of the person who administers it, and Baptism even by a heretic is not invalid. HOLL. (1084): “If Baptism be administered by a heretic, who retains the substantials of the ordinance, we must not doubt its efficacy. But if it may be administered in a flourishing church, where an orthodox minister can be procured, it is a great sin to ask it of a heretic. But in a church under oppression, in a case of urgent necessity, it may be asked for and received without blame from a heretic who uses the customary formula of Baptism; but then a protest must be added that the infant is not to be bound by this Baptism to embrace false doctrine.” Baptism by others than ministers, in case of necessity (Noth-taufe), is also valid. HOLL. (1081) says: “Ordinarily, ministers of the Church, legitimately called and ordained, orthodox, and of a blameless life, administer Baptism. Extraordinarily, however, and in case of necessity, any godly Christian, skilled in sacred rites, whether male or female, can administer the ordinance.”

[6] CAT. MAJ. (IV, 24): . . . ”Hence, conceive of the whole thing as simply as possible, namely, that the power, work, fruit and end of Baptism is to save men . . . . But to be saved, we know, is nothing else than to be delivered from the tyranny of sin, death, and the devil, to be transferred into the kingdom of Christ, and to dwell with Him forever.” GRH. (IX, 148, 157): “As Baptism is not simply water, but water comprehended in, sanctified by, and united to the Word of God, it is not therefore used to wash away the impurity of the body, but it is a divine and salutary means and organ by which the whole sacred Trinity efficaciously operates for the salvation of man. Although the effects of Baptism are various and multiform, yet, following the apostle, Tit. 3:5, we reduce them all to these two heads: that Baptism is the washing of regeneration (John 3:5), which embraces the gift of faith (Tit. 3:5), the remission of sins (Luke 3:3; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3), reception into the 546covenant of grace (1 Peter 3:21), adoption as the sons of God (Gal. 3:26), the putting on of Christ (Gal. 3:27), deliverance from the power of Satan and the possession of eternal life (Col. 1:13, 14; Mark 16:16); and renewal (Tit. 3:5), that is, the Holy Spirit is given to him, who begins to renew the intellect, the will, and all the powers of the soul, so that the lost image of God may begin to be restored in him, that the inner man may be renewed (2 Cor. 4:16) that the old man may be put off, and the new one put on (Col. 3:10), that the Spirit may oppose the flesh and rule over it, so that sin may not obtain dominion in the body.”

HOLL., more generally (1095): “The primary design of Baptism is the offering application, conferring, and sealing of evangelical grace.” HFRFFR. (497): “The fruit or effect of Baptism is regeneration and the remission of sins (John 3:5; Tit. 3:5; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Eph. 5:26), salvation and participation in all the benefits of Christ, into whom we are ingrafted by Baptism (Tit. 3:5; 1 Pet. 3:21; Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27; 1 Cor. 12:13), a good conscience toward God, or the assurance of faith as to the forgiveness of sins (1 Pet. 3:21; 2 Cor. 1:21), newness of life (Rom. 6:3; Col. 2:11).”

In opposition to the assertion of the Papal Church, that “sin is destroyed by Baptism, so that it no longer exists,” the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins by Baptism is thus more particularly defined: “The guilt and dominion of sin is taken away by Baptism, but not the root or incentive (fomes) of sin.” (HOLL., 1096) AP. CONF. (I, 35): “(Luther) always thus wrote, that Baptism removes the guilt of original sin, although the material of sin, as they call it, may remain, i.e., concupiscence. He also affirmed of this material, that the Holy Spirit, given by Baptism, begins to mortify concupiscence and creates new emotions in man. Augustine speaks to the same effect when he says: ‘Sin is forgiven in Baptism, not that it does not exist, but that it is not imputed.’”

[7] GRH. (IX, 236): “There is no other ordinary means of regeneration than the Word and the Sacrament of Baptism. By the Word infants cannot be influenced, but only adults, who have come to years of discretion. It remains, therefore, that they are regenerated, cleansed from the contagion of original sin, and made partakers of eternal life, through Baptism.”

[8] BR. (690): “But here, as regards the immediate design [of Baptism] a diversity exists in respect to the different subjects. For faith is at first conferred upon and sealed to all infants alike by Baptism, and by this faith the merit of Christ is applied to them. But adults, who receive faith from hearing the Word before their 547Baptism, are only sealed and confirmed in their faith by it. (Examples, Acts 2:41; 8:12, 36-38; 16:14, 15, 31, 33; 18:8.) And not only now, when Baptism is received, but afterwards, and throughout their whole life, it efficaciously contributes to the confirmation of their faith and further renewal.”

GRH. (IX, 169): “To infants Baptism is, primarily, the ordinary means of regeneration and purification from sin; . . . secondarily, it is the seal of righteousness and the confirmation of faith. To adult believers it serves principally as a seal and testimony of the grace of God, sonship and eternal life; but in a less principal sense it increases renovation and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Infants by Baptism receive the first fruits of the Spirit and of faith; adults, who through the Word have received the first fruits of faith and of the Holy Spirit, procure an increase of these gifts by Baptism.”

HFRFFR. (5000): “But what? Suppose one is regenerated by the Word. Has he need of Baptism also? And can Baptism be said to be to him the laver of regeneration? Answer: Both. For believers, too, ought to be baptized, unless they be excluded by a case of necessity. And when they are baptized, Baptism is truly to them the laver of regeneration, because it augments regeneration, wrought by the Word, by a wonderful addition; because, also, the sacramental act seals the regeneration of faith to absolute certainty.”

[9] “Although Baptism, where it is rightly performed, is a Sacrament and offers saving grace, without any respect to the faith of the recipient, yet it is also true that, in the case of adults, a beneficial result follows only where Baptism is received by faith. The question: Is a hypocrite, therefore, also regenerated, if he receives Baptism? is thus answered by HFRFFR. (499): “In such a case we must distinguish between the substance of Baptism and its fruits. For a hypocrite, if he be baptized, receives indeed true Baptism, as to its substance, which consists in the legitimate administration of the Sacrament according to the words of the institution and in the promise of divine grace. But as long as he perseveres in his hypocrisy and infidelity, he is destitute of its salutary fruits and effects, which only believers experience. Therefore, God really offers His grace and forgiveness of sins to him who is baptized, and desires on His part to preserve that covenant perpetually firm and entire without any change, so that the grace promised in the covenant may always be accessible to him who is baptized, and that he may enjoy it as soon as he repents; but as long as he remains a hypocrite and impenitent, he is destitute of it.” QUEN. (IV, 117): “Even to all hypocrites Baptism offers spiritual gifts, 548as regeneration and whatever is comprehended under it, the gift of faith, remission of sins, etc.,  . . . but some adults, by actual impenitence, hypocrisy, and obstinacy, defraud themselves of the saving efficacy of Baptism; and hence, although these gifts be offered to them, they are not actually conferred: yet, in the meantime, it is and remains in itself a salutary organ and means of regeneration, since the deprival of the first act does not follow from the deprival of the second act through some fault of the subject.” CAT. MAJ. (IV, 33): “Faith alone makes the person worthy to receive profitably this salutary and divine water. For, as this is offered and promised to us in the words together with the water, it cannot be received otherwise than by cordially believing it. Without faith, Baptism profits nothing; although it cannot be denied that in itself it is a heavenly and inestimable treasure.”

From this follows the antithesis against the Romanists, who maintain: “That Baptism confers grace ex opere operato, i.e., by virtue of the sacramental action itself, so that faith is excluded by the efficiency of sacramental grace.”

[10] BR. (696): “That infants are to be baptized, is plain from the testimony of John 3:5, and Mark 10:14, taken together, thus: 1. Whom Christ desires to come to Him for salvation, but who cannot attain to eternal life in the ordinary way except through the medium of Baptism, upon these Baptism should be conferred, as the ordinary means, and to them it should not be denied. But, Christ desires infants to be saved (Mark 10:14), who cannot attain to eternal life in the ordinary way unless through the medium of Baptism (by virtue of the general assertion, John 3:5). Therefore, etc. 2. Whom Christ desires to be brought to Himself, that they may enjoy His spiritual blessings, they are to be brought to Him by Baptism as the ordinary means. But Christ desires infants to be brought to Him, that they may enjoy a spiritual blessing (Mark 10:14). Therefore, etc. 3. The command, Matt. 28:19, to baptize all nations, is properly extended to infants also, who constitute a portion of the nations. 4. The examples which show that whole families were baptized, e.g., Acts 15:14, 33; 18:8; 1 Cor. 1:16, are properly believed to embrace infants, who doubtless constituted a part of the families. 5. Add also the analogy of circumcision, which was administered to infants; and, 6. That, as the promise of the covenant of grace, Acts 2:39, belongs to infants, so also does the seal of the covenant, which is Baptism. Finally, 7. As the whole Church is cleansed by the washing of water through the Word (Eph. 5:26), this properly refers to infants also, for they too, although unclean by nature, are nevertheless to be engrafted into the Church.”


CAT. MAJ. (IV, 49): “That the Baptism of infants is pleasing and grateful to Christ is abundantly manifest from what He Himself has done, viz., because God has sanctified, and made partakers of the Holy Spirit, many of those who were baptized immediately after their birth. But there are many also, at the present day, of whom we perceive that they have the Holy Spirit, as they give certain proof of this, both in doctrine and life; just as by the grace of God there is granted to us the ability to interpret the Scriptures and know Christ, which very one knows to be impossible without the aid of the Holy Spirit . . . . But if the Baptism of children were not pleasing to Christ, He would not give to any of them the Holy Spirit, nor even a particle of it; and, that I may say in a word what I think, there would not have been among men a single Christian through all the ages that have elapsed until the present day.”

The objection of the opponents, viz., “The Sacraments are of no advantage without faith, but infants have no faith,” is considered untenable; for faith is taken into the account only in the case of adults, who are already capable of being influenced by the Word. Stated generally, however, the proposition, “that the Sacraments are operative only when faith is present,” is false; for the Sacrament, as a means of salvation and as the visible Word, is designed, just as the audible Word, to produce faith, and really produces it when there is no hindrance opposed to it on the part of man, which is the case in children. BR. (690) says: “Infants, on account of their age, cannot put any hindrance in the way of divine grace, or maliciously oppose it, and hence they immediately obtain grace by the use of the constituted and unimpeded means.” GRH. (IX, 246): “We therefore invert the argument: Infants have no faith, viz., with respect to their corrupt nature, because, on account of their carnal generation from their parents, they are flesh; therefore, they are to be baptized, that they may secure faith and salvation.” The Dogmaticians accordingly maintain most positively, upon the authority of Tit. 3:5, that faith is produced in children through Baptism (GRH. (IX, 246): “Baptism is the washing of regeneration; but regeneration cannot take place without faith”), although they confess that they cannot clearly understand what kind of faith this is. GRH. (IX, 275): “We are not solicitous about the mode of this faith, but we simply acquiesce in the fact that infants really believe.” [CHEMNITZ, Formula 1567, quoted by GRH. (IX, 273): “When we say that infants believe or have faith, it must not be imagined that infants understand or perceive the movements of faith; but the error of those is rejected who imagine 550that baptized infants please God and are saved, without any action, within them, of the Holy Spirit, while Christ clearly says: ‘Except a man be born,’” etc. “The Holy Spirit also is always given with the remission of sins, nor can any one, without the Holy Spirit, please God, Rom. 8. Since, therefore, it is certain that baptized infants are members of the Church, and please God, it is also certain that the Holy Spirit is efficacious within them, and that, too, in such a way that they can receive the kingdom of heaven, i.e., the grace of God, and the forgiveness of sins. Although we neither understand nor can explain in words of what are baptized, nevertheless, from the Word of God it is certain that this occurs. This action or operation of the Holy Spirit in infants we call faith, and say that infants believe. For the means or instrument whereby the kingdom of God, offered in the Word and Sacrament, is received, Scripture calls faith, and says that believers receive the kingdom of God.”] . . .

QUEN. (IV, 153) calls attention to a difference between the primary and immediate act or operation of justifying faith, “by which it reposes in Christ the Mediator and apprehends His benefits by the operation of the Holy Spirit, which is the internal and formal faith which we attribute to children; and the secondary and mediate, by which faith is drawn out externally towards our neighbors in acts of charity, which we deny to infants.” . . . The objection, that infants are incapable of faith because their reason is not developed, he opposes with the distinction “between an intelligent and rational soul, and its operation and use. Faith requires an intelligent and rational soul as its subject, and hence faith cannot be excited in brutes; yet this faith does not depend on the operation and use of the same.”

CHMN. (Loc. c. Th., III, 160): “We by no means grant that infants who are baptized are either without faith or are baptized on the faith of others. The faith of others, indeed, that is, of parents or those offering them, leads children to Christ in Baptism, Mark 10:13, and prays that they may be endowed with faith of their own. But there is no doubt that, through the washing of water by the Word, Christ operates by His Spirit in children who are baptized, and causes their reception into the kingdom of God, although we do not understand in what manner this is done. For Baptism is the laver of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, who is poured out upon those baptized, that, being justified, they may become heirs of eternal life, Tit. 3:5; Matt. 10:15; and this is called the faith of infants. For, as the circumcision of children, 551in the Old Testament, was the seal of the righteousness of faith, so, because in the New Testament baptized infants please God and are saved, they cannot and ought not to be cast out among unbelievers, but are properly reckoned among believers; though faith cometh of hearing in another way in intelligent, sensible, willing adults, than in infants, not yet having the use of their reason.” BR. (690) adds to this: “It is not to be supposed that the actual benefit of regeneration, or the production of faith in infants, is to be deferred to years of discretion, and that they meanwhile are in no way received into grace.” Hence Confirmation cannot be considered the completion of Infant Baptism. The AP. CONF. (VII, 6) says of it only this: “Confirmation and extreme unction are rites received from the fathers, which, however, the Church never requires as necessary to salvation, because they are not commanded by God.” CHMN. (Ex. C. Trid., II, 113): “Our theologians have often shown that the rite of confirmation, when the useless, superstitious, and unscriptural traditions respecting it have been laid aside, may be used piously and to the edification of the Church in this way: viz., that those who were baptized in infancy, when they come to years of discretion, should be diligently instructed by a clear and simple setting forth of the doctrines of the Church; and, when they seem moderately grounded in the rudiments, they should be presented before the bishop2828[The “REFORMATION OF COLOGNE,” prepared by Bucer, Melanchthon, Sarcerius, etc., in 1543, says: “It is not the prerogative of bishops so that no one else may administer it, since Baptism, which is far higher, is administered by ordinary ministers, yea, in case of necessity, by any Christian. It is assigned to bishops only that they may learn to know their people.” So the MARK-BRANDENBURG AGENDE of 1540: “Since, thank God, the population in our lands is great, and since the bishops are few, so that there will be too many for them to hear and instruct individually, they may commit this to their pastors.”] and the church; and then the child, having been baptized in infancy, should first be admonished in a short and simple address concerning his Baptism . . . . Secondly. The child itself should make a personal and public profession of this doctrine and faith. Thirdly. He should be questioned concerning the principal doctrines of the Christian religion . . . . Fourthly. He should be reminded, and should show by his profession, that he differs from all heathen opinions. Fifthly. A serious and solemn exhortation should be added . . . . Sixthly. Public prayer should be made for these children; . . . to which prayer, without superstition, the imposition of hands may be added. Nor would such prayer be fruitless, for it is supported by the promises concerning the gifts of perseverance and the grace of confirmation.”

[11] BR. (690): “Baptism efficaciously contributes to the confirmation 552of the faith of believers and their further renovation, not only when it is received, but throughout their whole life. (For the covenant of grace, of which Baptism is the seal, will continue firm and ratified forever on the part of God.)”

CHEMNITZ (Examen, Preuss. ed., p. 276): “Christ Himself affirms that the action of Baptism respects not merely either the past or the present, but He uses the future in Mark 16:16. It is noteworthy how Scripture extends the efficacy of Baptism for believers to all times, present (1 Pet. 3:21), past (Tit. 3:5), and future (Mark 16:16; Eph. 5:25, 27). The purifying and sanctifying virtue, efficacy and operation of Baptism, therefore, according to Scripture, remain and work throughout the entire life of the Christian; as Paul clearly teaches in many words, Rom. 6. The compact of grace and covenant of peace which God makes in Baptism is not merely for the past, or for that moment; but it is an eternal covenant, as He says in Is. 54:10. For the covenant was not made upon the condition that, if we should fall from it by sin, it would be so broken that, even though we should return to it in true repentance by faith, God would no longer keep it. For see Rom. 3:3; 2 Tim. 2:13, and that most charming description, Jer. 3:1 sqq. That this comfort is rightly applied to Baptism, is shown by the marriage illustration in Eph. 5. Lest there might still be doubt, Paul recalls the Galatians who had fallen after Baptism to the promise mad e in their Baptism, Gal. 3:27, as he also did the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 12:13 . . . . Baptism is the solemn seal and perpetual attestation that communion and participation in Christ’s blessings are presented and given us if we believe; ‘for he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.’ But there is true faith, not only when in the very action of Baptism one apprehends the promise of grace, but even when after Baptism he retains it; yea, when after a fall he again in repentance lays hold of it, the faith is true, and what Christ says, remains true, viz., ‘He that believeth,’ etc.”

CAT. MAJ. (IV, 76): “In Baptism, grace, the Spirit, and the power are given to the baptized, to subdue the old man in us, that the new man may come forth and be strengthened. Hence Baptism always remains the same; and, although any one driven by the storms of sin may fall away from it, yet the way of access to it is always open, that we may again subject the old man under the yoke of repentance. But it is not necessary to be again sprinkled with water; for, if we were immersed in water one hundred times, yet it would be only one Baptism. But the work and the signification continues and is permanent.”


HOLL. (1097): “Baptism is of such wonderful efficacy, in consequence of its divine appointment, that God, on His part, in view of the baptismal covenant, recalls the sinner to Himself and forgives his offences, if he be penitent; and the contrite sinner, on his part, panting after the grace of God, can encourage himself by the remembrance of his Baptism.”

HFRFFR. (497): “But ‘Do we not often sin again after Baptism?’ True, but that requires no repetition of Baptism; for God, who, in this ordinance enters into a covenant of grace with us, is unchangeable in His will and promises, and on His part seriously and earnestly desires to preserve it perpetually inviolate, firm, and unbroken. Only let us return by repentance to Him who in Baptism has promised us grace and forgiveness of sins; and thus, in the newness of life we shall finally enjoy the fruits of Baptism, of which we have in the meanwhile been deprived by impenitence.”

[12] CAT. MAJ. (IV, 64): “Finally, we must not omit to mention, or fail to understand, what is signified by Baptism, and why God has commanded this Sacrament, whereby we are first admitted to the Christian communion, to be administered with such external signs and acts. The work, moreover, or act, is, that we who are to be baptized are plunged into water, by which we are covered, and, after having been immersed, we are again drawn forth. These two things, to be plunged into the water and to come out of it again, signify the power and efficacy of Baptism, which are nothing else than the destruction of the old Adam and the resurrection of the new man. These two things are to be unceasingly practiced by us throughout our whole life; so that the Christian life is nothing else than a daily Baptism, begun indeed once, but continually perpetuated.” (74): “From this you see very clearly that Baptism, both by its efficacy and its signification, embraces also the third Sacrament, which they are accustomed to call penance, which really is nothing else than Baptism, or its exercise. For what is penitence, unless it be earnestly to attack the old man, that his lusts may be subdued, and to put on the new man? Wherefore, if you are living in penitence, you are living in Baptism, which not only signifies this new life, but also produces it, both beginning and carrying it on.” (79): “So that repentance or penitence is nothing else than a return and re-approach to Baptism, that what had before been begun, but negligently intermitted, may again be sought and practiced.”

[13] QUEN. (IV, 117): “Baptism, properly administered, is not to be repeated and reiterated: (1) because it is the Sacrament of 554initiation, for, as we are born but once, so also we are but once born again; (2) because there is no precept, no promise, no example, in Holy Scripture for such repetition; (3) because the fruit of Baptism is perpetual, and the unbelief of man does not make the faith of God of no effect.” CHEMNITZ, Examen, Preuss, p. 279: “This doctrine concerning the non-repetition of Baptism, has been given, not only that we should dispute that it should not be repeated but that the sources of consolation might be shown, so that even after a fall, when again converted, we have re-access to the covenant of peace, made and sealed unto us in our Baptism.”

[14] GRH. (IX, 282): “(We teach) that Baptism, as the ordinary Sacrament of initiation, and the means of regeneration, is necessary for regeneration and salvation to all without exception, even to the children of believers; yet, meanwhile, that, in case of deprivation or of impossibility, the children of Christians may be saved through an extraordinary and peculiar divine dispensation. For the necessity of Baptism is not absolute, but ordinate. On our part, we are bound to receive Baptism; yet an extraordinary act of God is not to be denied in the case of infants brought to Christ by godly parents and the Church through prayer, and dying before the blessing of Baptism could be brought to them, since God will not so bind His grace and saving efficacy to Baptism, but that He is both willing and able to exert the same extraordinarily in case of deprivation . . . . We neither can, nor ought to, rashly condemn those infants that die either in their mother’s womb, or suddenly for any cause before receiving Baptism; we should rather conclude that the prayers of godly parents, or, if the parents in this matter are neglectful, the prayers of the Church, poured out before God for these infants, are mercifully heard, and that they are received into favor and life by God.”

HOLL. (1098): “Baptism is necessary, through the necessity of precept and means, i.e., through an ordinate and not an absolute necessity; inasmuch as we believe that the children of Christians dying without Baptism are saved.”

[15] KG. (244) this compendiously states the designs of Baptism: “There is a supreme design of Baptism, and an intermediate one. The supreme design is either absolutely supreme, viz., the glory of the divine wisdom and goodness; or secondarily supreme, viz., the salvation of souls. The intermediate design is either primary or secondary. The primary, in infants, is the conferring of faith and of covenant grace; in adult believers, the confirmation and sealing of faith and grace; with respect to all kinds of candidates for Baptism, the offer of faith and grace, and the spiritual 555blessings belonging thereto. The secondary design is (1) the distinguishing of Christians from the assemblies of the Gentiles; (2) an admonition with respect to natural depravity; (3) the commemoration of the love of Christ; (4) an exhortation to newness of life.”

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