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4. This connexion between faith and baptism for remission of sins, nay, of salvation itself, was, indeed, first announced by the Lord in person, in giving the commission after his resurrection—“Preach the gospel to every creature." "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Mark xvi. 16.
5. Ananias sent specially to Saul of Tarsus by the Lord, preaches after the same manner, when he says, Acts xxii. 16, “Arise, brother Saul, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling upon the name of the Lord.”
6. Bucer, the great Protestant reformer, on this verse, remarks: “In these words there is ascribed to baptism the effect of remitting or washing of sins." So spake the student of Luther and the com: panion of Zuinglius.
7. Wesley, the founder of Methodism, on the same passage, deposeth—“Baptism administered to a real penitent, is both & means and a seal of pardon. Nor did God ordinarily, in the primitive church, bestow this on any, unless through this means. " On Acts xxii. 16.
8. Cornelius, the centurion, on hearing Peter, was hearing words by which an angel told him, “he and his family should be saved.” And when these words were announced, Peter commanded him and all present, forthwith to be baptized.” Acts x.
9. We shall hear Luther, the great Reformer--“This is not done by changing of a garment, or by any laws or works, but by a new birth, and by the renewing of the inward man, which is done in baptism, as Panl saith, ‘All ye that are baptized have put on Christ.'— Also, 'According to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. Tit. iii. 5. For besides that they who are baptized, are regenerated and renewed by the Holy Ghost to a heavenly righteousness, and to eternal life, there riseth in them also a new light and a new flame; there riseth in them new and holy affections, as the fear of God, true faith, and assured hopes, &c. There beginneth in them also a new will, and this is to put on Christ truly and according to the gospel.
Therefore, the righteousness of the law, or of our own works, is not given unto us in baptism; but Christ himself is our garment. Now Christ is no law, no law-giver, no works, but a divine and an inestimable gift, whom God hath given unto us, that he might be our justifier, our Saviour, and our Redeemer. Wherefore to be appareled with Christ according to the gospel, is not to be appareled with the law or with works, but with an incomparable gift; that is, with remission of sins, righteousness, peace, consolation, joy of spirit, salvation, life, and Christ himself."--Luther on Galatians: Phila. 1801, 8vo. p. 302.
10. We shall next hear Calvin-
“From baptism our faith derives three advantages, which require to be distinctly considered. The first is, that it is proposed to us by
the Lord as a symbol and token of our purification; or to express my meaning more fully, it resembles a legal instrument properly attesied, by which he assures us that all our sins are cancelled, effaced, and obliterated, so that they will never appear in his sight, or come into his remembrance, or be imputed to us. For he commands all who believe, to be baptized for the remission of their sins. Therefore, those who have imagined that baptism is nothing more than a mark or sign by which we profess our religion before men, as soldiers wear the insignia of their sovereign as a mark of their profession, have not considered that which was the principal thing in baptism; which is, that we ought to receive it with this promise, 'He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved, Mark xvi. 16.
2. In this sense we are to understand what is said by Paul, that Christ sanctifieth and cleanseth the church with the washing of the water by the word,' Ephes. v. 26; and in another place, that 'according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,' Tit. iii. 5; and by Peter, that 'baptism doth save us,' i Pet. iii. 21. For it was not the intention of Paul to signify that our ablution and salvation are completed by the water, or that water contains in itself the virtue to purify, regenerate, and renew; nor did Peter mean that it was the cause of salvation, but only that the knowledge and assurance of it is received in this sacrament: which is sufficiently evident from the words they have used. For Paul connects together the word of life' and 'the baptism of water;' as if he had said, that our ablution and sanctification are announced to us by the gospel, and by baptism this message is confirmed. And Peter, after having said that 'baptism doth save us,' immediately adds, that it is ‘not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God,' which proceeds from faith. But on the contrary, baptism promises us no other purification than by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ; which is emblematically represented by water, on account of its resemblance to washing and cleansing. Who, then, can pretend that we are cleansed by that water, which clearly testifies the blood of Christ to be our true and only ablution? So that, to refer the error of those who refer all to the virtue of the water, no better argument could be found, than in the signification of baptism itself, which abstracts us as well from that visible element, which is placed before our eyes, as from all other means of salvation, that it may fix our minds on Christ alone.
3. Nor must it be supposed that baptism is administered only for the time past, so that for sins into which we fall after baptism, it would be necessary to seek other new remedies of expiation in I know not what other sacraments, as if the virtue of baptism were become obsolete. In consequence of this error, it happened in former ages, that some persons would not be baptized except at the close of their life, and almost in the moment of their death, so that they might obtain pardon for their whole life; a preposterous caution, which is frequently censured in the writings of the ancient bishops. But we ought to conclude, that at whatever time we are baptized, we are washed and purified for the whole of life. Whenever we have fallen, therefore, we must recur to the remembrance
of baptism, and arm our minds with the consideration of it, that we may be always certified and assured of the remission of our sins.For though, when it has been once administered, it appears to be past, yet it is not abolished by subsequent sins. For the purity of Christ is offered to us in it; and that always retains its virtue, is never overcome by any blemishes, but purities and obliterates all our defilements."
11. Timothy Dwight, President of Yale, says:
“To be born of water here means baptism, and in my view it is as necessary to our admission into the visible church; as to be born of the Spirit is to our admission into the invisible kingdom.” “It is to be observed, that he who understands the authority of this institution, and refuses to obey it, will never enter into either the visible or the invisible kingdom.”
12. Dr. Thomas Scott, author of the Commentary, says:
“Men and brethren, what shall we do?'— To this the Apostle replied, by exhorting them to repent of all their sins, and openly to avow their firm belief that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, by being baptized in his name. In thus professing their faith in him, all who truly believed would receive a full remission of their sins for his sake, as well as a participation of the sanctifying and comforting graces of the Holy Spirit.”—Scott's Commentary on Acts ii. 38.
13. Witsius, on the Economy of the Covenants, London, 1837; 2 vols. p. 429, says:
“Thus far concerning the rites of immersion and emersion. Let us now consider the ablution or washing, which is the effect of the water applied to the body. In external baptism there is the putting away the filth of the flesh,' i Peter iii. 21, which represents the ablution or washing away the filth of the soul contracted by sin; Acts xxii. 16, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.' But the filth of sin may be considered either with respect to the guilt, which is annexed to the filth or stain, and so it is removed by remission, which is a part of justification; or with respect to the stain itself, or spiritual deformity and dissimilitude to the image of God, and so it is taken away by the grace of the sanctifying Spirit; and both are sealed by baptism. Of the former Peter speaks, Acts ii. 38, 'Be haptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins.' Concerning the latter, Paul writes, Ephes. v. 25, 26, ‘Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.' And they are laid before us both together, 1 Cor. vi. 11, 'But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ve are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
So speaks one of the most learned and influential of the great Continental Doctors, in his work on the Economy of the Covenants.
14. Rev. James McCord, one of the most popular and learned Presbyterian ministers of Kentucky, of the present century, said some years ago:-
SERIES IIJ.-Vol. VI.
“You will not, therefore, deem it an unreasonable statement, that there is no ordinary possibility of salvation without the precincts of the Christian church, if once we can clearly make it out to you, that the church is the great mean of effecting man's salvation.
This is not one of those questions that are only to be settled by long and difficult argument. It is a question of fact; and you
will find the decision written as with a sunbeam, in every page of Scripture. When the Saviour gave commandment to his Apostles to proclaim his great salvation to all people under heaven, what was the declaration that accompanied this commandment? 'He that believe eth and is baptized shall be saved.' When those Apostles made the first proof their ministry, in the city of Jerusalem, on the memorable day of Pentecost, what was their answer to the agonized multitudes who felt convicted of the sin of crucifying God's own Messiah, and cried out in horror, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?' '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. This was their answer to the eager inquiry. When the Apostles went abroad among the gentile nations, what other prescription did they ever give for attaining to God's salvation? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ:' 'believe and be baptized:' 'the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart--that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.'”—Last Appeal, p. 165, 166.
15. And that this is all consistent with certain declarations of the Westminster Catechism and Confession of Faith, the following extracts show:
“Q. 165. What is baptism?
A. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ bath ordained the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself; of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit; of adoption, and resurrection unto everlasting life; and whereby the parties baptized are solemnly admitted into the visible church, and enter into an open and professed engagement to be wholly and only the Lord's.”
The doctrine of the Confession is more fully declared in chap. 28, sec. 1;—to which we invite attention. It is in the words following:
“Baptism is a scrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of gtace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of liie: which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in his church until the end of the world."
16. To the same effect speaks other Confessions of Faith, such
17. Episcopalian.-The clergy are ordered, before proceeding to baptize, to make the following prayer:
“Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy great mercy, didst save Noah and his family in the Ark from perishing by water; and also didst safely lead the children of Israel, thy people, through the Red Sea; figuring thereby thy holy baptism; and by the baptism of thy well-beloved Son Jesus Christ in the river Jordan, didst sanctisy the element water, to the mystical washing away of sin; we beseech thee, for thine infinite mercies, that thou wilt mercifully look upon these thy servants; wash them and sanctify them with the Holy Ghost; that they, being delivered from thy wrath, may be received into the Ark of Christ's church; and being steadfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in charity, may so pass the waves of this troublesome world, that finally they may come to the land of everlasting lise; there to reign with thee, world without end, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
After reading a part of the discourse with Nicodemus, they are ordered to make the following exhortation:
"Beloved, ye hear in this gospel the express words of our Saviour Christ, that except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Whereby ye may perceive the great necessity of this sacrament, where it may be had. Likewise, immediately before his ascension into heaven, (as we read in the Jest chapter of St. Mark's Gospel,) he gave command to his disciples, saying, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned. Which also showeth unto us the great benefit we reap thereby. For which cause St. Peter the Apostle, when upon his first preaching of the gospel many were pricked at the heart, and said to him and the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethreu, what shall we do? replied, and said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost: for the promise is to you and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words exhorted he them, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. For, as the same Apostle testifieth in another place, even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Doubt ye not, therefore, but earnestly believe at he will favorably receive these present persons, truly repenting, and coming unto him by faith; that he will grant them remission of their sins, and bestow upon them the Holy Ghost; that he will give them the blessing of eternal life, and make them partakers of his everlasting kingdom.”
18. The Methodist Creed says
•Dearly beloved, forasmuch as all men are conceived and born in sin, (and that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and they that are in the flesh cannot please God, but live in sin, committing many actual transgressions:) and that our Saviour Christ saith, None shåll enter * Common Prayer, p. 165.
+ Page 165.