Book 4 - Chapter 16: Of Baptism - by Herman WitsiusThe Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man by Herman Witsius
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Herman Witsius (1636-1708)
Arguably known for the best work on Covenant Theology in print (at least in the top 5).
Herman Witsius (1636-1708) was Professor of Divinity in the Universities of Franeker, Utrecht, and Leyden. A brilliant and devout student, he was fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew by the age of fifteen, when he entered the University of Utrecht. He was ordained at twenty-one and served in several pastorates, filling both the pulpit and the academic chair over the course of his life.
This, his magnum opus, is a reflection of some of the most fruitful and mature thinking on federal theology during the seventeenth century, and still holds a preeminent place in our own day.
Chapter XVI: Of Baptism
I. THE ordinary sacraments of the New Testament are only two; baptism, and the Lord’s supper. These are signalized by the express institution of our king. These were made use of by our Lord himself, to set us an example, and by this use they were consecrated to the elect. These are recommended to the Corinthians, as excellent privileges of the New Testament church, and two like them, but of an extraordinary nature, were granted to Israel in the wilderness, 1 Cor. 10:1–4. These are held forth by the apostle, 1 Cor. 12:13, as sacred seals of the union and communion of believers, both with Christ, and with one another; and if there were any more of the kind, the apostle, according to his usual accuracy and diligence, would not have passed them over in silence. These, in short, are sufficient to signify and seal the fulness of grace we have in Christ. For, as two things are requisite to complete our happiness: first, our being absolved from our sins, and washed from our pollution, that we may be regenerated by the communication of the Spirit of Christ to a new life of grace: and then nourished in that life of grace, that is, sustained, strengthened, and increased therein, until we be promoted to the life of glory; both these are sufficiently confirmed to us by these two sacraments. Our first engrafting into Christ, and our regeneration by his Spirit, are set forth by baptism, and the nourishment of our spiritual life by the holy supper.
II. Concerning both these sacraments of the New Testament, we are to observe that something corresponding to them, but only of ecclesiastical use, not of divine institution, was practised by the ancient Israelites. And herein the Lord Jesus discovers his exceeding great wisdom and goodness, that he would not discompose the weak minds of his people by too much innovation, but retained the ancient rites, established them by his own authority, and rendered them more illustrious, by their signifying the most noble and mystical things, which depended wholly on his own institution.
III. And with respect to baptism, of which we are first to speak, it appears that there was a two-fold baptism in use among the Jews; the one of which they called טבילת נדה, the baptism of uncleanness, or of Lustration, whereby legal uncleanness was washed away; the other טבילת נדוח, the baptism of Proselytism or initiation, whereby those of the Gentiles, who were converted to Judaism, were initiated into the church of Israel. Omitting the former, which is not so material to the present subject, we shall mention a few things concerning the latter.
IV. When a Gentile was received into the Israelitish covenant, and as the Jews speak became a Proselyte of righteousness, three ceremonies of initiation were used, without which even the Israelites themselves, according to their received notion, could not enter into that covenant; to wit, מילה טבילה וקרבן, circumcision, baptism, and sacrifice. And the Jewish masters have fixed it as a law, that this baptism is so necessary, that without it, as much as without circumcision, there can be no proselytism; but this along with sacrifice is all the initiation that is necessary in the case of a female Proselyte.
V. The manner of baptism among the Israelites was this. 1st. They examined the proselyte, who was to be initiated, with respect to the sincerity of his conversion to Judaism: whether he desired to make a profession thereof, from the hopes of riches or honours in a flourishing republic; or from fear; or from affection for an Israelitess; or any other such like motive that was not good. And after he declared that his motive was the alone regard he had for God, and an unfeigned love to the divine law, they instructed him in the several articles thereof; as concerning the unity of God, the abominable nature of idolatry, the reward of obedience, and concerning the future world, and other heads of their divinity. Which after he solemnly professed to receive, without the least exception, he was directly circumcised. 2dly. After the wound of circumcision was perfectly healed, he was led to baptism; which was not performed, but in the presence of Triumvirs, or three men, who were the disciples of the wise כשרים לדון, who could exercise judgments, that is, Israelites of the purest blood. It was their business not only to take care that every thing was duly performed, and to testify concerning this due performance, according to the practice of their ancestors; but further to instruct the person to be baptized, and already placed in the water, concerning some more, and some less, important precepts of the law. Such Triumvirs are generally in Scripture called Elohim. Christ in like manner declares, that in the baptism of the New Testament, the Elohim are present, Matt. 28:19, who are called the three witnesses in heaven. 1 John 5:7. 3dly. It was unlawful to administer baptism but in טקוה מים, a natural current, or collection of waters; as a river, lake, fountain: because, according to them, none could be duly baptized in water fetched from any place, and received in artificial receptacles. 4thly. The entire body was to be plunged at once: for if but the tip of a finger was undipt, such a person was accounted to remain still in his uncleanness. Yet it was not necessary that the person to be baptized should put off all his clothes, provided they were such, as the water could easily penetrate. 5thly. But we are especially to observe, that even little children were baptized, generally at the same time with their parents. For thus it is said in Talmud. Babylon. Tit. Erub. fol. 11, c. 1. “They baptize the little young proselyte in consequence of the mind of the Sanhedrim.”
VI. The effect of this initiation was, 1st. That the person so baptized, being taken out from among the body of the Gentiles, was accounted בן ברית a son of the covenant, who was permitted to come, and have a safe retreat, under the wings of the Divine Majesty. 2dly. He was looked upon as one that was new born. Hence that common saying in the Talmud, “Whenever one becomes a proselyte, he is accounted an infant newly born.” For they suppose that some new soul, instead of his Gentile soul, is sent down from some palace in heaven, into the body of the proselyte, after he is once come under the wings of the Divine Majesty, and honoured with his kiss. Assertions, which either have no meaning, or enigmatically signify regeneration by the Spirit of God. 3dly. The consequence of this regeneration was a new kindred; so that he was not to look upon his former relatives (as brothers, sisters, parents, children) as belonging to him; nay, after this regeneration, he was to have no more any heathen kindred, or stand related to those born in the time of Gentilism; just as, by the imperial law, all servile relation ceased upon manumission. Hence Tacitus says, Hist. lib. v. “Nor do they entertain any notion more than that of making no account of their parents, children, brethren.” With which may be compared Luke 14:26.
VII. They make the first practice of this baptism to be very ancient. Some ascribe it to the patriarch Jacob, when he received into his family and domestic church the Shechemite young women and other Gentiles, who resided with him: because it is said, Gen. 35:2, “Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, הטהרו, and be clean, and change your garments.” Where Aben Ezra explains the words, be clean, by the washing of the body. Others derive the first testimony, or practice of this baptism, from what is said to Moses, Exod. 19:20: “Go unto the people, and sanctify them to-day and to-morrow, and let them wash their clothes.” And again, ver. 14, “And he sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes.” Thus they would have the washing of the persons to be included in, or set forth by, the washing of their clothes. But these things are uncertain. They would have spoken more to the purpose, had they observed with Paul, that the “Israelites were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea,” 1 Cor. 10:1, 2, of which we have formerly spoken at large. It is more probable, what they say elsewhere, that in the time of David and Solomon, when the republic of Israel was in its most flourishing state, a great number of proselytes were initiated by baptism. Whoever would know more of this baptism, and learn the testimonies of the Jews themselves, may consult Selden, de jure Nat. and Gent. lib. 2, cap. 2 and 4; as also de Successionibus ad leges Hebræor. c. 26. And again de Synedriis lib. 1. c. 3; and Lightfoot on Matt. 3:6. Also Altingii dissertat. de Proselytis, Thes. 27 seq.
VIII. But whatever be the case as to the antiquity of that rite, no divine institution can be assigned for it prior to John, the harbinger of Christ, who was sent by God to baptize. For this was expressly given him in charge, “the word of the Lord came unto John.” Luke 3:2, John 1:33. From this, however, it appears whence it arose that the Scribes and Pharisees are never said to have found fault with John for his baptism, but that they only asked him, by what and whose authority, he baptized? John 1:25: hence also it was that such numbers of people flocked to his baptism: for he was celebrated both for his piety and doctrine; nor did he use a new rite; he taught that the kingdom of heaven, which was ardently longed for and expected by all at that time, was at hand; exhorted every one that came to him, to suffer himself to be initiated therein, as it was now at the door, by taking upon him his baptism, and by a profession of repentance. From that time baptism was of divine institution among the Jews.
IX. But it was not yet a sacrament of the New Testament: for as the whole of John’s ministry was, as it were, something intermediate between both Testaments, and tended to prepare the way for the Lord, the author and herald of the New Testament: so in like manner his baptism initiated the penitent and believing into the kingdom of heaven; which indeed was near, but not yet actually come. Mark 1:2–8. Hence Tertullian, adversus Marcionem, lib. 4. c. 33, calls John “the boundary set between the Old and New, at which Judaism should terminate, and from which Christianity should begin.” Nazianzenus also, Orat. 39, quæ est in Sancta lumina, calls him “the middle person between the Old and New Testaments.” Yet his ministry belonged rather to the New, than to the Old Testament: as a forerunner is rightly judged to be of and with that king, whom he precedes. Whence the baptism of John is by the author of Quest. ad Orthodoxos, which we have in Justin Martyr’s works, Quest. 37, called the prelude or introduction to the gospel of grace. To which that baptism came nearest, which John administered unto the faith of the Messiah, now present, and manifesting himself to Israel. John 1:29, 31.
X. I take the first baptism of the New Testament to have been that which was administered by Christ’s disciples, at the command of their master, for a confession of the presence of the Messiah. John 3:22. Yet at that time it was confined for the most part to the Jews. But it was made a sacrament of the universal church, after the New Testament was sealed by Christ’s blood, and confirmed by his resurrection, to be preached all over the world by the apostles, who were very soon to be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Matt. 28:19.
XI. John’s baptism differed from that administered by Christ’s disciples, not in essence, but in circumstances only. For 1st. Both were from heaven, and grounded on God’s command: which we are sure of with respect to Christ’s baptism, and as to John’s appears from John 1:33, Luke 7:30, Matt. 21:25. 2dly. In both there was a dipping in water, Matt. 3:11. Acts 8:36. 3dly. Both administered into the faith and confession of Christ. Acts 19:4, 5. 4thly. Both were a sign and seal of the remission of sins. Matt. 3:6, Luke 3:3, Acts 2:38. 5thly. In the participation of both, there was an obligation to repentance on the person: see the last text. Nevertheless they differ, 1st. In that John’s baptism was indeed from God, but not from Christ, as the incarnate mediator, acting as the king of his church. 2dly. In that, as we have said, it was rather a preparation for, than a sacrament of the New Testament. Basil in his treatise quomodo baptizetur aliquis baptismate, quod est in Evangelio Domini nostri Jesu Christi, How a person is baptized with the baptism which is in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, distinguishing between John’s and Christ’s baptism, ingeniously writes, “the baptism of the former was introductory, or initiatory; that of the latter, perfective.” 3dly. In that God communicated therein a more sparing measure of the Spirit; whereas in the beginning of the Gospel, the gift of tongues and prophecy, which in Scripture comes under the appellation Spirit, was conferred on very many who were baptized with Christ’s baptism.
XII. But we are principally to treat concerning this baptism which has Christ for its author. For the fuller understanding of which we are distinctly to explain, 1. The external sign. 2. The spiritual thing signified. In the sign we are to distinguish between the element and the ceremony, or sacred rite employed about the element. The element here to be used is true, plain, natural water: such as John baptized with, Matt. 3:6, 16, John 3:23; the apostles and others, as Acts 8:28, and Acts 10:40. Accordingly, Eph. 5:26, it is called “the washing of water.” The sacred rite consists. 1. In the application of the water to the body of the person to be baptized. 2. In pronouncing a certain form of words.
XIII. Concerning the former it is queried, whether baptism may be duly administered by immersion only, or also by effusion of the water out of a vessel, or by aspersion or sprinkling? To which we answer in the following positions. 1st, It is certain, that both John and the disciples of Christ ordinarily used dipping; whose example was followed by the ancient church, as Vossius, Disput. 1. de baptismo, Thes. 6, and Hoornbeck de baptismo Veterum, sect. iv. have shown from many testimonies both of the Greeks and Latins. 2dly, It cannot be denied, but the native signification of the words, βάπτειν and βαπτιζειν, is to plunge or dip; so as to be altogether something more than ἐπιπολάζειν, to float on the surface; but less than δύνειν, to go to the bottom and perish, as Vossius remarks, Thes. 1. ibid. However, I have observed, that the term κατάδύσις, going to the bottom, is frequently used by the ancients in the matter of baptism. Athanasius, quest. 94, “τὸ καταδύσαι τὸ παιδιόν ἐν τῆ κολυμβήθρα, &c. the going down or dipping of the child in the bath.” And Sozomen, lib. vi. c. xxvi. has charged Eunomius with heresy, for teaching that “the sacrament of baptism ought to be performed by once dipping.” Similar examples are everywhere to be met with. Salmasius, in his observations on Sulpicius Severus, de Vita Martini, c. xv. has made the following observation, “Βάπτειν, from which Βαπτὶζειν, signifies immersion, not aspersion; nor did the ancients baptize any but by dipping, either once or thrice, except clinicks, or persons confined to a sick bed, because these were baptized in a manner they could bear; not in an entire font, as they who put their head under water, but their body was sprinkled all over,” Cypr. iv. epist. vii. “Thus when Novatus, in his sickness, received baptism, he was but sprinkled all over,” Euseb. vi. Hist. c. xliii. Nor are we to conceal, 3dly, That there is a greater copiousness of signification, and a fuller similitude, between the sign and the thing signified in immersion, as we shall show when we come to that point. 4thly, Nay, that immersion may be performed in cold countries, without any great danger of health and life, appears from the example of the Russians, who plunge the children that are to be baptized three times all over; not believing, that baptism can be duly performed any other way, and never use lukewarm water but for persons infirm; as the Muscovite writers relate at large, in Georgiis Fenlavii, Annotationes ad Enchiridion Christophori Angeli de Statu hodiernorum Græcorum, p. 470, seq. 5thly, But, that if cold water should be thought more inconvenient or dangerous, it may be warmed, which the said Christophorus Angelus testifies, c. xxiv. is done among the Greeks. “The Greeks (says he) keep in their churches a kind of large vessels called baptisteries, that is, vessels so large as are sufficient to admit the infant to be plunged all over therein. When therefore any child is to be dipped in this font, ‘the relations of the infant first of all warm the water with some odoriferous herbs.’ And if the water was in like manner warmed in our climate, there would seem to be no such great hazard in the dipping of persons to be baptized.”
XIV. 6thly, But then we are not to imagine, that immersion is so necessary to baptism, as that it cannot be duly performed by pouring water all over, or by aspersion; for, both the method of pouring, and that of aspersion, are not without arguments for them. 1st, Though we find the apostles dipped, it does not follow they always observed this method. It is more probable, the three thousand who were baptized in one day, Acts 2:41, had the water poured or sprinkled on them, rather than that they were dipped. For it is not likely, that men who were so much employed in preaching as the apostles were, could have leisure for so tedious an immersion of so many thousands. Nor is it probable, that Cornelius, Lydia, and the jailer, who were baptized in private houses with their families, had baptistries at hand in which they could be plunged all over. Instances of pouring the water over persons are brought from antiquity by Vossius, Disput. 1. de Baptis. Th. 9. which Joshuah Arndius, without mentioning Vossius, has inserted in the same order in his Lexicon Antiquitat. Ecclesiast. p. 66. 2dly, Though βαπτὶζειν, properly signifies to plunge or dip, yet it is also more generally used for any washing, as Luke 11:38. Well therefore says Dominicus a Soto, Distinct. 3. Quest. un. Art. 7: “In baptism there is something essential, as the washing, according to Eph. 5:26, where the apostle calls baptism, ‘the washing of water,’ something accidental, namely, the washing in this or the other manner.” 3dly, The thing signified by baptism is explained both in the Old and New Testament by the terms of pouring water over, and of aspersion: concerning pouring water over, see Isa. 44:3: concerning aspersion, Isa. 52:15; Ezek. 36:25. Heb. 12:24; 1 Peter. 1:2. I deny not, that in these quotations, there is an allusion to the Levitical sprinklings; yet from them it appears, that the application of the blood and Spirit of Christ which believers of the New Testament enjoy, is properly shadowed forth by the rite of aspersion. To this the apostle leads us in express terms, Heb. 9:13, 14: “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ purge your conscience from dead works?” 4thly, We add, that the whole nature of the New Testament, which is wholly made up of mildness and liberty, frees the tender age of infants to be baptized, especially in northernly climates, from the necessity of being stripped naked and plunged all over. Though that possibly might be done without hazard of life, yet not without some other inconvenience. 5thly, Others add, that in ancient times, in which candour and simplicity flourished more, the persons to be baptized were, without any indecency, stripped naked; yet afterwards, as the lewdness of others, so of those on whom it was incumbent to administer baptism increased, experience clearly testifying it to the whole world, this could no longer be done with decency; and therefore, for five centuries back, that custom has been gradually discontinued almost all over the west. See Vossius in the place already quoted, who has this from Josephus Vicecomes, de ritibus Baptismi, lib. iv. c. x, 15: to whom, however, Gisbert Voetius, a divine of immortal memory, opposes his learned considerations, Polit. Eccles. t. p. 690, proving, by no contemptible arguments against Vicecomes and Vossius, that the baptism of persons half naked did not obtain in the ancient church. But though this act of stripping should be more reserved and modest than is usually represented by painters; yet on account of the depravity of men, the rite of affusion or aspersion seems safer, for which no such naked exposure of the body is requisite. From all which we conclude, that the Latins were very unkindly, and therefore without reason, called by some Greeks in the council of Florence anabaptists, because they did not go into the water and were plunged. See the history of that council, sect. xi. c. xi.
XV. Whether immersion or aspersion be done once or thrice, I take not to be material, as we have no precept of our Lord concerning this. Yet the trine immersion was more usual among the ancients, who also therein placed some mystery. For thereby they would have it to signify, 1st, A confession of the adorable Trinity, in whose name baptism was submitted to. 2dly, “The death and resurrection of Christ after three days,” as Athanasius speaks, quest. 94. 3dly, Ambrose adds a third reason but of less weight, lib. ii. de Sacram. c. vii.: “Thou hast plunged for the third time, that the third confession might wipe away the manifold failures of thy former life.” But afterwards in Spain, while the Arians numbered the immersions, in order to divide the divinity, Leander, bishop of Seville, consulted Gregory II. bishop of Rome, about the question concerning the trine or single immersion, who answered, that though the church of Rome dipped thrice, yet the church of Spain would rather be content with a single immersion; and it was decreed in the fourth council of Toledo, in the year 633, that it should be so; where Canon v. or according to another edition, Canon vi. “both is accounted right, and both irreprovable in the holy church of God.” Yet the mystery of this simple sacrament is preferable; that every one may see the unity of the Godhead, and the trinity of persons therein. “The unity, when we dip once; the Trinity, while we baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost:” See Vossius, Disput. 2. de Baptis.; and Forbes, lib. x. c. v. § 48, seq.
XVI. Indeed, it is not proper to administer baptism without some words, by which the mystery of it may be briefly explained, according to that well known saying of Augustine, “Take away the word, and what is the water, but water only?” Yet we are far from thinking, that Christ prescribed a form of words, which all were to make use of at all times and in all places. Christ indeed commanded to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but not precisely to say, I baptize thee in the name of the Father, &c. The apostles are said “to have baptized in the name of Jesus,” Acts 2:38; 8:16; 19:5; and yet it does not follow, that they used this form, “I baptize thee in the name of Jesus.” But as baptism ought by all means to be performed in the name of the Sacred Trinity, to whose obedience and worship we are consecrated by the washing of water, it also seems necessary in the administration of it, to make either an explicit or at least an implicit mention of the Trinity. Nor is it to be doubted, but he maintains some mischievous error, who refuses to follow a custom received by all the Christian world, and probably derived from apostolic example. But I dare not absolutely condemn the baptism administered and received in the name of Christ, without any mention of the Father and the Holy Spirit, both because the baptism of the apostles is described in those words by Luke, and because, as Basil has ingeniously observed, de Spiritu Sancto, “To name Christ is to confess the whole Trinity; for this sets forth both God who anoints, the Son who is anointed, and the unction, even the Holy Ghost.” We have something like this in Ambrose, de Spir. Sancta, lib. i. c. iii. quoted also by Peter Lombard, Sentent. lib. iv. distinct. iii. where he treats of the form of baptism. Neither is it an improper observation, that there is some difference in the case of baptized persons, who, from Judaism, and of those who from Gentilism, embraced Christianity; for is it proper that the Gentiles, who are converted from idols to the true God, to that God, I say, who by the distinction of the three persons in one essence, is discriminated from those that are not gods, should be baptized into the express confession of the Trinity; but as the God of the ancient Israelites and of the Christians is one and the same, the professing the Lord Jesus seems to have been sufficient in the baptism of the Israelites. And it is possibly for this reason enjoined Matt. 28, that the Gentiles should be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; but the Jews, either such by birth, or formerly become such by professing the Jewish religion, are said to be baptized in the name of Jesus.
XVII. Peter, 1 Eph. 3:21, gives us to know that baptism is a kind of type or figure, which signifies to commemorate and teach something more heavenly and sublime. And therefore having explained what is external and sensible, we are now to treat of the spiritual thing signified, which may be considered either generally or particularly.
XVIII. The thing signified by baptism in general, is the reception into the covenant of grace, as administered under the New Testament. As circumcision was the sign and seal of the Old Testament, Gen. 17:11, so baptism, which succeeds circumcision, Col. 2:11, is the sign of the new covenant, and, as Basil speaks, the inviolable seal thereof. Moreover that reception into the covenant of grace imports two things. 1st. Communion with Christ and his mystical body, and consequently a participation of all his benefits. 2dly. An engagement to incumbent duty. Both are signified and sealed by baptism. In respect of the former, we are said “to be baptized into one body,” 1 Cor. 12:13, and “saved by baptism,” Tit. 3:5, 1 Pet. 3:21. With respect to the latter, baptism is called συνειδήσεως ἀγαθῆς ἐπερώτημα ἐις Θεόν, “the answer of a good conscience towards God,” 1 Pet. 3:21.
XIX. A passage certainly that merits an accurate explication. Therefore we shall first show what is a good conscience; then what ἐπερώτημα, answer, imports; lastly to what the words ἐις Θεον, towards God, are to be referred, whether to επερώτημα, answer, or to a good conscience. A conscience is good in a two-fold respect: 1st. Sincerely good, when it faithfully, in God’s name, lays before a man what is to be done and what to be avoided, and continually excites him to the careful practice of holiness. 2dly. Cheerfully good, when it makes him joyful, by giving him the testimony of a sincere holiness. And therefore to have a good conscience, as our apostle speaks. ver. 16, is to live according to the dictates of the mind in such a manner, that you may be assured that you do well and please God. This Paul calls ἀπροσκὸπος συνείδησις, a conscience void of offence, Acts 24:16.
XX. The word ἐπερώτημα (which we translate answer) is variously explained by the learned. Œcumenius explains it by ἀῤῥαβών, ἐνεχυρον, and ἀποδειξις; earnest, pledge, and demonstration. Which the celebrated Cocceius has adopted, who generally insists, that ἐπερώτημα denotes an argument, a ground of asking God as a Father; and a sign and seal which we may use with boldness, and when we draw near to God may beg his saving graces without fear. But this explication does not seem to agree with the origin of the word; and I doubt, whether any example of such a signification can be produced from any approved author. Vossius, in my opinion, observes much better, that ἐπερώτημα does not simply signify an interrogation, but that which is answered to another interrogation. For the persons to be baptized ask of God whether he will be their God; and God, on the other hand, asks and restipulates, whether they themselves will maintain a good conscience towards him. Grotius’s annotations here are very learned; he observes, that ἐπερώτημα is a law term, and generally used in Theophilus, and the other Greek interpreters of the Roman law, for a stipulation; as also in the Glossary, ἐπερωτῶ, I stipulate. But adds, that by a metonomy, as is often the case in the law, an answer or promise is comprehended under the name stipulation. Hence in the same Glossary, ἐπερωτῶμαι, I promise, I engage. If Beza had attended to this, possibly he would not have said that it was harsh to translate επερωτᾶν, to answer, as Erasmus has done.
XXI. But which of these significations, whether that of stipulating or of promising, should here take place, depends very much on the construing the words towards God. Which may either be so connected, as that a good conscience may be said to be towards God, that is before God, or respecting him in all its actions, as Acts 24:16; or so, that ἐπερώτνμα may be said to be towards God. If the former, it seems more agreeable to translate ἐπερώτημα, stipulation, as Beza has learnedly done. For it is God who stipulates with, or requires of the Christian, that he maintain a good conscience towards him. But should the latter be more agreeable, and the conscience itself or the Christian considered as ἐπερὼτῶν, giving an answer to God concerning a good conscience; it is plain answer or promise is the more proper signification. And both so beautifully agree with the apostle’s design, that I can scarce tell which to prefer.
XXII. For there are these two things in baptism. God stipulates or requires a good conscience towards himself; and the conscience answers and promises to God that it will endeavour to be so; or, which seems more plain, man engages to keep a good conscience. Formerly the bishop, or some other person in his name, interrogated thus, or which is the same thing, stipulated, Λποτὰσση τω Σατανᾶ, Dost thou renounce the devil? The person to be baptized made answer, Αποτασσομαι, I do renounce. Again being asked, Dost thou consent to Christ? He answered, I do consent. Tertullian de Baptismo calls this the engagement of salvation. And De Resurrectione Carnis says, “The soul is established, not by washing, but by the answer.” Cyprian called it the interrogation of baptism, Epist. 76 and 80. To the very same purpose are the words of Peter; for it is probable, that if not the very same, yet at least a similar form of asking and engaging, and of the same import, was used in the susception of baptism even from the days of the apostles. And though there had been no express form of this, yet baptism, being the first entering into covenant, virtually contains such a stipulation and engagement.
XXIII. But we are likewise more particularly to explain: first, what may be signified by the water in baptism; and then what by the rites, commonly used about the water. And the water certainly denotes both the blood and Spirit of Christ. It is plain such effects are in the sacred writings ascribed to these, as to the mystical water, that signify and seal the communication of them by baptism; namely, to the blood, as the impetrating cause; to the Spirit, as the applying cause. Paul, Heb. 12:24, and Peter 1 Epist 1:2, speak of the blood of Christ, with which we are sprinkled. But the Spirit is expressly represented by the term water, Isa. 44:3, Ezek. 36:25–27.
XXIV. The analogy or signification of this sacrament principally consists in these three things: 1st. Water is of all things most proper, either from the nitre, with which it is replete, or from some other quality, to wash away the filth of the body. But the blood of Christ washes the soul from all the pollution of sin, 1 John 1:7; because by his sufferings he certainly merited, that we should be presented pure before God, Eph. 5:25, 26. And the Spirit of Christ, who applies the merits of his blood, actually cleanses us, 1 Cor. 6:11. 2dly. Water also has a power to drown and to suffocate; the same efficacy is exerted by the blood and Spirit of Christ, for the mortification of the old man; of which we shall hear more presently, and on this account Gregory Nanzianzen called baptism the deluge of sin. With which Ambrose agrees, de Initiandis, c. 3, “the water is that in which the flesh is drowned, in order to wash away all sin.” 3dly. Water is the principle of very many living things, and in their creation the Spirit brooded on the waters, Gen. 1:3. The earth scarce produces any living thing, either of the vegetable or reptile kind, unless impregnated with water, Psa. 65:10. The very generation of the human fœtus is said to be from water, Isa. 48:1, Psa. 68:27. Thus in like manner, the blood and Spirit of Christ, as the mystical water, are the principles of our regeneration and new creation, John 3:5. And as that is signified by the water of baptism, so baptism itself is called, Tit. 3:4, “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
XXV. With respect to the ceremonies in the administration, we are distinctly to take notice, I. Of the immersion into the water, and the washing that is the consequence of it. II. The continuing under the water. III. The emersion out of the water. These rites referred either to the remembrance of those things which Christ underwent, or signify the benefits which Christ bestows upon us, or put us in mind of our duty.
XXVI. First therefore, the immersion into the water, represents to us that tremendous abyss of divine justice, in which Christ was plunged for a time, in some measure, in consequence of his undertaking for our sins; as he complained under the type of David, Psa. 69:2: “I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.” But more particularly an immersion of this kind deprives us of the benefit of the light, and the other enjoyments of this world; so it is a very fit representation of the death of Christ. The continuing how short soever under the water, represents his burial, and the lowest degree of humiliation, when he was thought to be wholly cut off while in the grave, that was both sealed and guarded. The emersion, or coming out of the water, gives us some resemblance of his resurrection, or victory, obtained in his death over death, which he vanquished within its inmost recesses, even the grave: all these particulars the apostle intimates, Rom. 6:3, 4.
XXVII. Moreover, baptism also signifies those benefits, which believers obtain in Christ; and these are either present or future. Among the present, the principal is fellowship in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; and the consequence of it, viz. the mortification and burying of our old man, and the raising of the new, by the efficacy of the blood and Spirit of Christ. For, the immersion into the water represents the death of the old man, even in such a manner that it can neither stand in judgment to our condemnation, nor exercise dominion over our bodies, that we should serve it in the lusts thereof. In the former respect, the death of the old man appertains to justification; in the latter, to sanctification. The continuing under the water, represents the burying of the body of sin, whereby all hopes of a revival are cut off; so that after this, it is neither able to condemn nor rule over the elect. For, as in burying, the dead body, which is covered over with earth, is removed from the sight of men, and so weighed down by the earth thrown upon it, that should we suppose some life to have remained in the buried person to be bestowed upon him anew by a miracle, yet it cannot fail to be stifled by the load of earth lying upon it, nor recover to any degree of permanence. In the same manner, when in baptism the person, sunk under the water, is for some time detained therein; this signifies and seals to us, that our sins are removed from the view of the divine justice, never to be imputed to our condemnation; or, as Micah speaks, chap. 7:19, “he will subdue our iniquities, and cast all our sins into the depth of the sea:” likewise that the power of sin is so depressed and weakened, that it can no longer drive us at its pleasure, or hinder our salvation, or be able to resume the power which it has once lost, in order to bring us again under its dominion. The emersion out of the water is a symbol of the revival of the new man, after our sins are now sunk, to a spiritual life by the resurrection of Christ. And this also the apostle declares, Rom. 6:3–6, and Col. 2:11, 12, where he intimates that our baptism is such a memorial of the things that happened to Christ, as at the same time to seal our communion with him in all these things, and our union as it were into one plant.
XXVIII. But future blessings are also signified by baptism. For as in baptism, after we are immersed in the water, we directly come out of it in safety; so in like manner it shall be, that though we may be pressed with afflictions in this life, yet we shall not be overwhelmed by them, but being at last delivered from them, shall be translated into everlasting joys. That calamities in scripture are compared to waters, appears from many passages, as Psa. 18:4, Psa. 32:6, Psa. 42:7, Psa. 144:7. And afflictions are sometimes called by the name of baptism, Matt. 20:22, Mark 10:32, Luke 12:30. Therefore the coming out of the water, or the wiping off the water signifies, that we shall happily surmount all the difficulties of this life. See 1 Pet. 3:20, 21: “Wherein (in the ark of Noah) few, that is eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto, even baptism, doth also now save us.” And as the Israelites when they entered the Red Sea, under great apprehensions of danger, were, upon the Egyptians being drowned, amazed that at length they came safe to land; so in like manner believers, having surmounted all the miseries of this life, and standing on the sea of glass, shall sing “the song of the Lamb,” Rev. 15:3, saying, “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings,” Psa. 40:2.
XXIX. Moreover, as in baptism are set forth the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; and his resurrection is a pledge of our glorious resurrection; we may learn from our baptism, that after being buried, as it were in the water, we directly rise out of it, so at the last day we shall be raised out of our graves to eternal life. Hence Theodoret says of baptism: “It is an earnest of good things to come, a type of the future resurrection, a communion in the sufferings, and a participation of the resurrection of our Lord.” Agreeably to the words of Christ, Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.”
XXX. From what we have said, it appears that the rite of immersion into the water, upon which emersion follows, as was generally the practice among the ancients, has some significancy and analogy to represent both the effect and the cause of that effect: yet we are not to imagine that all analogy is destroyed by the practice of aspersion, or pouring on the water. For the pouring out or aspersion of the water, answers to the immersion into it, and perhaps it would be better, if it was so copious, as to run over the whole face, and as it were cover it; by which means, the emersion out of the water would be answered by the dissipation of it. But the face and head represent, as it were, the whole person; so that what things are done in that part, may be accounted as done in the whole body; and as the face is covered with the water, the whole person may seem to be immersed; and with the running off of the water on every side, the whole person may be accounted as taken out of it; and the communion in the thing signified, should not be rated by the quantity of the external sign. A very small portion of water may no less seal the abundance of the divine grace in baptism, than a small morsel of bread, and a more sparing draught of wine, in the holy supper.
XXXI. 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,” 1 Pet. 3:21, which represents the ablution, or washing away the filth of the soul contracted by sin, Acts 22:16, “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 2:38: “Be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins.” Concerning the latter, Paul writes, Eph. 5:25, 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. 6:11, “but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Ye are washed sacramentally in baptism, which washing is a symbol of the mystical washing: but the mystical washing comprehends both justification and sanctification, both which are performed in the name of the Lord Jesus, that is by the efficacy of his merits, and by the Spirit of our God, which effectually applies the merits of Christ to the elect.
XXXII. But because we who, while polluted with sins, were plunged in the water, come out cleansed, and encompassed with the light of the Holy Spirit, as with a shining garment; we are said, in that baptism, to put on Christ, Gal. 3:26, 27, “for we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus; for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.” This putting on of Christ may be explained two ways; either as by the Spirit we are ingrafted into Christ, and so by this our union with the only begotten and natural Son of God, we become the sons of God by grace; or as by the Spirit of God we are inwardly renewed to a new life, and therewith encompassed as with a shining garment, so that the native stains and wrinkles of the old man may be covered, and, instead of them, piety and holiness shine forth in our conversation and lives. Thus the baptized are “like a flock of sheep, that are even shorn, which come up from the washing,” Cant. 4:2. And their case is the same, as was formerly that of Joshua the priest, whose filthy garments were, at the command of God, changed for splendid raiment, adding, “Behold I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee,” Zech. 3:3–5. In token of this, the newly baptized, among the ancients, put on white garments, which they wore the whole week after baptism, and did not put them off till the eighth day after Easter or Whitsuntide; which was therefore called Dominica in Albis, as the candidates, or those in white, were called Albati. Most of what we have said, Basil, bishop of Cæsarea, has emphatically and briefly comprised in Exhortatione ad Baptismum, where he calls baptism, “the remission of our debts, the death of sin, the regeneration of the soul, the shining garment, the inviolable seal, the chariot conveying up to heaven, the procurement of the kingdom, the grace of adoption.”
XXXIII. There now remains the third signification of baptism, which is to admonish us of our duty: and that is threefold, towards God and Christ, ourselves, and our neighbour.
XXXIV. And as we are baptized in the name, so we are consecrated to the worship and service of the Holy Trinity, and renouncing the devil, the world, and the lusts of the flesh, are taught to devote ourselves wholly to God. Hence these things are joined together, Matt. 28:19, 20, “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
XXXV. And as we are especially baptized into Christ, we are also commanded to acknowledge him for our Lord, husband and head, and to frame the whole of our lives in such a manner, that we may not be found a disgrace to him, with whom we are so closely united, nor to his Spirit, the bond of that union: but, on the contrary, that the sanctifying efficacy both of his blood and Spirit, may appear in the whole tenour of our conversation. In fine, as we are most especially baptized into the communion of the death and resurrection of Christ, in both an extraordinary pattern is set before us, to the likeness of which we should be conformed. For as Christ, when he suffered death, was deprived of the enjoyment of the light, and of the function of his senses, and of all the other operations of life, and thus was broke off from all commerce with the world, that he might have nothing farther to do with it; so it behoveth us, if we would have any true union with Christ, to cease from all those works, to which we were formerly addicted, and to renounce the world, almost as if we were dead. And as Christ, when he arose, commenced a new kind of life, quite different from that natural life, which he enjoyed in this world before his death; so it becomes us, if we would have any communion with him in his resurrection, to rise to a new life, and altogether different from that life which was corrupted and stained with sin, to which we were devoted before our calling: as those things are urged by the apostle, Rom. 6:3–6.
XXXVI. As to ourselves, we are reminded in baptism, that being once washed, we do not again pollute ourselves with the filth of sins; nor, being baptized into Christ, we do not again mix with, or immerse ourselves in the world, lest it should happen unto us, according to the true proverb, “the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire,” 2 Pet. 2:22.
XXXVII. Besides, seeing “by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body,” 1 Cor. 12:13, we are also reminded, as members of one body, to love one another, and keep up brotherly concord; being careful to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace: for there is one baptism, Eph. 4:3, 5. In a word, as baptism is the seal of God’s covenant, by the susception thereof we bind ourselves to that holiness of life which becomes God’s covenant people.
XXXVIII. To all these things, very great weight is added, in that baptism it is administered in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. For thereby God the Father promises to those who are truly baptized, that, with respect to them, he will suffer nothing to be wanting, which they can reasonably expect from a most affectionate Father: God the Son, in like manner, promises to execute in their behalf all the offices of a most perfect Saviour: the Holy Ghost, likewise, appoints for them, both sanctification, consolation, indwelling, and perpetual conservation. And they who are thus baptized, not only profess their faith in the mystery of a Trinity, which we have treated of more fully elsewhere; but also bind themselves to filial obedience to God the Father; give up themselves to Christ, as a Prophet, to be his disciples; as a King, to serve him; and as a Priest, for the expiation of their sins. In fine, they bind themselves to the Holy Spirit, not to grieve him, but reverently to obey all his inspiration, and motions.
XXXIX. What we have thus far said concerning the signification of baptism, we have borrowed for the most part from Vossius’s disputations, which we have already often commended, as I, likewise, observe others have done before me. Things also similar to these, and sometimes almost in the very same words, I find in Gomarus’ Theses; but which of these learned men first led the way to such very accurate and solid conceptions, I cannot now say. The other usual disputes about baptism have been fully discussed by our writers, and are generally to be met with in their Loci Communes, and unnecessary to be repeated here. Should any be desirous to know the rites of the ancient church about baptism, they may consult Josephi Vicecomitis Observationes Ecclesiasticæ de Antiquis baptismi ritibus: and among our writers, Vossius, and Voetius’s Polit. Eccl. p. 1, lib. ii. tr. 2, Forbesius, lib. x. and Hoornbeck in Disput. de babtismo Veterum. Georgius Fehlavius ad cap. 24. Christophorus Angelus de Statu hodiernorum Græcorum, has collected from different authors the ceremonies used by the Greeks and Muscovites in baptism.
XL. There is one thing that, I think, ought not to be omitted here, seeing it is of very great moment to our consolation; namely, that baptism is, by the will of God, to be administered, not only to adult believers, but also to their children. The grounds for this, and those beyond all exceptions, are to be met with in Scripture: so that there is no necessity, with the Papists, who shamefully prevaricate in a good cause, to have recourse in this matter to unwritten tradition.
XLI. We readily acknowledge that there is no express and special command of God, or of Christ, concerning infant baptism: yet there are general commands from which this special command is deduced by evident consequence. For, to begin with what is most general, God declared to Abraham, that it was his constant and unchangeable will, that the sign of the covenant should not be denied to those in covenant with him, when he said, Gen. 17:13, “And my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” By these words he commands the sign of his covenant to be in the flesh of all the posterity of Abraham, with which he had entered into a covenant of grace. From this general injunction he infers, ver. 14, the necessity of circumcision, because he then gave it as a sign of the covenant. When therefore, upon the change of the economy, he substituted in the place of circumcision, another sign of the covenant, in consequence of that general command all those in covenant are bound to take upon them the new sign. Moreover, believers under the New Testament belong to the spiritual posterity of Abraham, and are, if we consider its substance, partakers of the same gracious covenant, Rom. 4:16, 17; not adults only but also their children, as we shall presently show. Whence it follows, that the sign of the covenant in their body, is not to be denied to the young children of believers, any more than to believers themselves.
XLII. There is another command of Christ, Mat. 28:19, “Go ye, therefore, and μαθητεύσατε, disciple all nations, baptizing them,” &c. There Christ commands disciples to be gathered into his school, and sealed, as persons in covenant with him, with the seal of baptism. But it is evident, when parents become the disciples of Christ, their children are also accounted in the number of disciples. Just as among the Jews, together with the proselyte parents, their young children were initiated in the Jewish rites. It was not therefore necessary that Christ should expressly mention the baptism of infants. For as it was a received custom among the Jews that, together with the parents, who gave up their names to the God of Israel, their young children should be baptized (as we have shown above), the apostles being sent to baptize the nations, and accustomed to the rites of their own country, could not but think that, together with the parents, who made a profession of the faith of Christ, they ought to baptize their infants, unless Christ had repealed the received custom by a contrary command. Which as we nowhere read he did, we are absolutely to conclude that what we have now explained was our Lord’s intention.
XLIII. Peter supplies us with another argument, Acts 2:38, 39, “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 unto you, and to your children,” &c. Where the apostle argues thus: they to whom the promise of grace was made are to be baptized. We add, but the promise of grace was made, not only to parents, but also to their children: it therefore follows, that not only parents but also their children are to be baptized. Both propositions are the apostle Peter’s. Now the whole difficulty consists in this, who are we here to understand by the children who partake of the promise of grace: whether adults only actually called, who are capable of making a profession of their faith; or also younger children and infants? The Orthodox justly affirm the last; not only because mention simply is made of children, without distinction of age; but also because God expressly promised to Abraham, to be the God of his seed, which he applies to an infant eight days old. Gen. 17:7, 12. We add that Christ permitted little children to come to him, laid his hands upon them, and declared that of such was the kingdom of heaven. Matt. 16:13–15. But whom Matthew calls παίδια, little children, Luke, chap. 18:15, calls βρέφῆ, infants; which word, according to Eustathius, properly signifies a new-born child at the breast. Hence also Peter says, “ὡς ἀρτιγεννητα βρεφη, as new-born babes, 1 Pet. 2:2. And here it appears we are, by all means, to keep to the propriety of the terms, both in the noun βρεφος, and the verb προσφἐρειν; when it is said, προσεφερον δὲ αὐνὧ τὰ βρὲφη, and they brought unto him also infants, they appear to have been carried in arms. It is therefore evident, that to infants are also made the promises of grace and salvation.
XLIV. Let the fourth argument stand thus: it is unjustifiable to exclude from baptism those who are made partakers of the Holy Spirit: for thus Peter, Acts 10:47, “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” True indeed it is that the Holy Spirit discovered himself in those, of whom Peter there speaks, by some extraordinary gifts, which of themselves were not saving: yet the principal argument for the right to baptism cannot be drawn from hence. The apostle therefore considers those extraordinary gifts as the effects of the sanctifying Spirit bestowed on all the elect, and as special indications of the divine bounty towards them: whereby the truth of the gospel was sealed in them, and the sincerity of their faith adorned; compare Gal. 3:2; and thence, as from the thing signified, he argues to the participation of the sign. We moreover subsume, even the children of believers have received the Holy Spirit. For otherwise they could neither be holy, which yet Paul declares them to be, 1 Cor. 7:14; nor be Christ’s, to whom none belongs who has not his Spirit, Rom. 8:9; nor see the kingdom of heaven, to which none is admitted but he who is born of water and of the Spirit. John 3:5. Whence it follows that water cannot be forbid, that infants should not be baptized.
XLV. Fifthly. They who belong to the church of God have a right to baptism. The reason is, because baptism is the sign of association with, and seal of initiation into the church, Acts 2:41, “they were baptized, and the same day there were added, (namely to the church) about there thousand souls.” And then it is represented as the privilege of the whole church, that she is “cleansed by Christ with the washing of water, by the word.” Eph. 5:26. But that infants belong to the church appears from this, that when God commanded his church to be gathered together he did not suffer their “little ones, and those that sucked the breasts to be absent,” Deut. 29:10, 11, Joel 2:16, and protests that “they were born unto him.” Ezek. 16:20.
XVI. Sixthly. We argue from this, that baptism has succeeded in the room of circumcision. The apostle declares this, Col. 2:11, 12, where he proves the abrogation of the ceremonial law, and especially of circumcision with respect to believers of the New Testament, from this consideration, that the spiritual thing formerly signified and sealed by circumcision, is now signified and sealed by baptism; intimating that what circumcision was to the Old Testament church, the same now is baptism to the New, and indeed in a far more eminent and perfect manner, because baptism is an introduction at once into the liberty and grace of the New Testament, whereas circumcision contained the profession of a bondage and yoke. But it is evident that circumcision was administered to infants: it therefore follows that we are to have the same sentiment concerning baptism. And indeed nothing can be advanced against the baptism of infants which may not equally militate against their circumcision.
XLVII. Here certainly appears the extraordinary love of our God, in that as soon as we are born, and just as we come from our mother, he hath commanded us to be solemnly brought from her bosom as it were into his own arms, that he should bestow upon us, in the very cradle, the tokens of our dignity and future kingdom; that he should put that song in our mouth, “Thou didst make me hope, when I was upon my mother’s breast: I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly,” Psa. 22:9, 10, that, in a word, he should join us to himself in the most solemn covenant from our most tender years: the remembrance of which, as it is glorious and full of consolation to us, so in like manner it tends to promote Christian virtues, and the strictest holiness, through the whole course of our lives.
XLVIII. Nothing ought to be dearer to us than to keep sacred and inviolable that covenant of our youth, that first and most solemn engagement, that was made to God in our name. Nor is it any objection that we were first bound in that covenant without our knowledge. For no adult person, when he is informed of the excellency of that holy sacrament which was bestowed in infancy, can be offended that, according to the will of God, he was devoted so early by his pious parents to the Supreme Being; unless at the same time, he is resolved to renounce entirely the name of a Christian, and all his hopes of eternal salvation.
XLIX. It cannot also fail to be very delightful to godly parents, to present to God and his Christ their dearest pledges, just began to enjoy the light, and consecrated in the water of the mystical font, or, as Dionysius the Pseudareopagite elegantly expressed it, “in the divine symbols of a divine birth,” and recommended to the grace of God by the prayer of the whole church. Let this be the first care of their piety. Gregory Nazianzene, Orat. 40, in sanctum baptisma, speaks as follows: “Hast thou a child? give not time to vice to gain upon him: let him be sanctified from a child, and consecrated to the Spirit from his tender years.” And certainly, if no other benefit accrued from infant baptism, every prudent person will own it to be very great, that it lays the most inviolable necessity on parents, carefully to train up their children, which they have so early devoted to God, in the mysteries of the Christian religion, and the practice of true piety, both by instruction, admonition and good example. “They incur the guilt of an infamous robber or thief,” as Bucer has gravely observed, de Regno Christi, lib. ii. c. 9, “who are not at the greatest pains to bring up and form those they have consecrated by baptism to the Lord Christ, to the obedience of Christ. For by this neglect, as much as in them lies, they again rob God of the children they gave up to him, betray and enslave them to the devil.” See what we have more fully written on Infant-baptism in a particular dissertation.
L. And therefore it was a very laudable practice of the Bohemian brethren, who were wont to present their children at about twelve years old, in the church to the pastor, in order to make a public profession of their faith, and to show whether the parents had done their duty in instructing them, to which they had bound themselves at the baptism of their children, as Lasitius relates, de Moribus et Institutis Fratrum Bohemorum, c. 12. §. 28, 29. Which, with the solemnity they usually performed this, is related at large in Ratione disciplinæ Ordin. Trat. Bohem. p. 46 Calvin, Instit. lib. 4. c. 19. §. 4, has hinted that a like practice obtained in the ancient church, and that from hence, in latter times, arose the imaginary sacrament of Confirmation. And Durel, in Vindiciis Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ, observes, that the like custom is still retained in the church of England.