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Westminster Confession of Faith. Of Baptism
1. Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ (Matt 28:19; Mark 16:16†[TR]), not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church (1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27-28†); but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace (Rom 4:11; Col 2:11-12), or his ingrafting into Christ (Gal 3:27; Rom 6:5), of regeneration (John 3:5†; Tit 3:5), of remission of sins (Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38†; 22:16†), and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-4). Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his church until the end of the world (Matt 28:19-20).
2. The outward element to be used in this sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the gospel, lawfully called thereunto (Matt 3:11; John 1:33; Acts 10:47†; 8:36, 38†; Matt 28:19-20).
3. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring, or sprinkling water upon the person (Heb 9:10, 19-22; Acts 2:41; 16:33; Mark 7:4; Luke 11:38†).
4. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ (Mark 16:15-16 [TR]; Acts 2:41†; 8:12–13†; 8:37–38 [TR]; 16:14–15†), but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized (Gen 17:7, 9; Gal 3:9, 14; Col 2:11-12; Acts 2:38-39; Rom 4:11-12; 1 Cor 7:14; Matt 19:13†; 28:19; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15; Acts 16:14-15, 33†).
5. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance (Gen 17:14†; Matt 28:19†; Luke 7:30; Exod 4:24-26; Acts 2:38†), yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it (Rom 4:11; Acts 10:2, 4, 22, 31, 45, 47): or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated (Acts 8:13, 23).
6. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered (John 3:5, 8); yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time (Rom 6:3-6†; Gal 3:27; Tit 3:5; Eph 5:25-26; 1 Pet 3:21†; Acts 2:38, 41).
Westminster Larger Catechism
- Q. 165. What is Baptism?
- A. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ hath ordained the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matt 28:19), to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself (Gal 3:27; Rom 6:3†), of remission of sins by his blood (Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38†; 22:16†; 1 Pet 3:21†; Rev 1:5), and regeneration by his Spirit (John 3:5†; Acts 2:38†; Tit 3:5; Eph 5:26); of adoption (Gal 3:26-27), and resurrection unto everlasting life (1 Cor 15:29; Rom 6:5); and whereby the parties baptized are solemnly admitted into the visible church (1 Cor 12:13; Acts 2:41†), and enter into an open and professed engagement to be wholly and only the Lord’s (Rom 6:4; Acts 2:38-42†).
- Q. 166. Unto whom is baptism to be administered?
- A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him (Acts 8:36-37 [TR]; 2:38; 16:15†), but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized (Gen 17:7, 9; Gal 3:9, 14; Col 2:11-12; Acts 2:38-39; Rom 4:11-12; 1 Cor 7:14; Matt 28:19; Luke 18:15-16; Rom 11:16).
- Q. 167. How is our baptism to be improved by us?
- A. The needful but much neglected duty of improving our baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others (Ps 22:10-11†; Col 2:11-12; Rom 6:4, 6, 11); by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein (Rom 6:3-5; 1 Pet 3:21†); by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements (1 Cor 1:11-13; Rom 6:2-3; Gal 3:1†); by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament (Rom 4:11-12; 6:4-7, 22†; Phil 3:7, 10-11†; 1 Pet 3:21; Rom 5:1-2†; Jer 33:8†); by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace (Rom 6:3-5); and by endeavouring to live by faith (Gal 3:26-27), to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness (Rom 6:22), as those that have therein given up their names to Christ (Acts 2:38; Gal 2:20†; Rev 2:17†); and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body (1 Cor 12:13, 25-27).
Westminster Shorter Catechism
- Q. 94. What is baptism?
- A. Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matt 28:19), doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s (Acts 2:28-42†; 22:16†; Rom 6:4; Gal 3:27; 1 Pet 3:21†)
- Q. 95. To whom is baptism to be administered?
- A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him (Acts 2:38; 8:36-37; 18:8†); but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized (Gen 17:10; Acts 2:38-39; 16:32-33†; Col 2:11-12; 1 Cor 7:14).