William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

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Baptism


By William Ames


1. The sacraments of the New Testament follow from its nature. They
are few in number, easy to prepare and observe, and very clear in
their meaning.

2. They were sanctified and instituted by Christ himself. Although
the one sacrament was first used by John the Baptist yet by that
very fact he became the forerunner of Christ so that he might show
that it did not become an ordered institution by the ministry of
John but through the institution of Christ himself.

3. The sacraments are baptism and the Lord's Supper. No other
sacraments or sacramental signs were delivered to the church by
Christ or his apostles, nor can others be appointed by men in the
church.

4. Because of God's institution it is of greatest necessity for
believers to use these sacraments diligently and devoutly. But they
are not so necessary to salvation that the absence or mere lack of
them deprives one of salvation. Given the institution, they are not
to be celebrated by any who are not lawful ministers or who are
outside of a church assembly.

5. Baptism is the sacrament of initiation or regeneration.
6. Although it seals the whole covenant of grace to all believers,
when it is specially made our own, it represents and confirms our
very ingrafting into Christ. Rom. 6:3, 5, We have been baptized into
Christ Jesus . . . being planted together with him; 1 Cor. 12:13, We
have been baptized into one body.

7. From the time of our first ingrafting into Christ by faith a
relationship of justification and adoption is entered into. As the
sacrament of that ingrafting, baptism stands for the remission of
sins, Mark 1:4. And it stands, also, for adoption in that we are
consecrated by it to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whose names
are pronounced over the baptized.

8. And because holiness always comes from Christ into whom we are
ingrafted, to all the faithful, baptism is also the seal of
sanctification. Titus 3:5, He has saved us ... by the washing of
regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit; Rom. 6:4-6.

9. And since glorification cannot be separated from true holiness it
is at the same time the seal of eternal glory, Titus 3:7, That we
mightbe made heirs, according to the hope of eternal life; Rom.
6:8, If we are dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live
together with him.

10. Because those benefits are sealed by initiation in baptism, it
should be noted, first, that baptism is only to be administered
once. There is only one beginning of spiritual life by rebirth as
there is but one beginning of natural life by birth.

11. Second, baptism ought to be administered to all those in the
covenant of grace, because it is the first sealing of the covenant
now first entered into.

12. The infants of believers are not to be forbidden this sacrament.
First, because, if they are partakers of any grace, it is by virtue
of the covenant of grace and so both the covenant and the first seal
of the covenant belong to them. Second, the covenant in which the
faithful are now included is clearly the same as the covenant made
with Abraham, Rom. 4:11; Gal. 3:7-9and this expressly applied to
infants. Third, the covenant as now administered to believers brings
greater and fuller consolation than it once could, before the coming
of Christ. But if it pertained only to them and not to their
infants, the grace of God and their consolation would be narrower
and more contracted after Christ's appearing than before. Fourth,
baptism supplants circumcision. Col. 2:11, 12; it belongs as much
to the children of believers as circumcision once did. Fifth, in the
very beginning of regeneration, whereof baptism is a seal, man is
merely passive. Therefore, no outward action is required of a man
when he is baptized or circumcised (unlike other sacraments); but
only a passive receiving. Infants are, therefore, as capable of
participation in this sacrament, so far as its chief benefit is
concerned, as adults.

13. Faith and repentance no more constitute the covenant of God now
than in the time of Abraham, who was the father of the faithful.
Therefore, the lack of these ought not to prevent infants from being
baptized any more than it prevented them from being circumcised then.



 

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