« PreviousContinue »
THEM, WHICH BE EFFECTUAL BECAUSE OF CHRIST'S INSTITUTION AND PROMISE, AL
THOUGH THEY BE MINISTERED BY EVIL MEN.
The sacraments are foederal acts which it pleased our Saviour to institute, and to the due receiving of which he has annexed certain benefits; but it is no where said in Scripture, nor is it agreeable to reason, that the efficacy of these holy ordinances should in any degree depend upon the worthiness of those who administer them. If the faults of ministers vitiate the Sacraments, no one can tell whether he has received the Lord's Supper, or whether he was baptized or not.
Though the church of Rome agrees with us in the doctrine of this article, yet it maintains that the intention of the minister is essential to a Sacrament; that is, if a minister goes through all the forms of administering Baptism or the Lord's Supper, and does not in his own mind intend to administer it, it is in fact no Sacrament. This is expressly asserted both in the councils of Florence and Trent; but it is an opinion so manifestly absurd, that it is unnecessary to say any thing in refutation of it.
NEVERTHELESS IT APPERTAINETH TO THE DISCIPLINE OF THE CHURCH, THAT ENQUIRY BE MADE OF EVIL MINISTERS, AND THAT THEY BE ACCUSED OF THOSE THAT HAVE KNOWLEDGE
LEDGE OF THEIR OFFENCES; AND FINALLY BEING FOUND GUILTY, BY JUST JUDGMENT
BE DEPOSED. When ministers, who ought to be patterns of righteousness, become examples of sin, the church has power to enquire into their conduct and it is incumbent on those who are competent to it, to give testimony against them: and if the nature of their offence shall require it, the church may depose them from their sacred office. An authority of this kind has been from the earliest times vested in the church, and it is absolutely necessary for its good government and well-being. There is no one point in which the interest of religion is more deeply concerned, than in the morals and conduct of its ministers.
ARTICLE THE TWENTY-SEVENTH.
BAPTISM IS NOT ONLY A SIGN OF PROFESSION AND MARK OF DIFFERENCE, WHEREBY CHRISTIAN MEN ARE DISCERNED FROM OTHERS THAT BE NOT CHRISTENED; BUT IT IS ALSO A SIGN OF REGENERATION OR NEWBIRTH, WHEREBY, AS BY AN INSTRUMENT, THEY THAT RECEIVE BAPTISM RIGHTLY ARE GRAFTED INTO THE CHURCH; THE PROMISES OF THE FORGIVENESS OF SIN, AND OF OUR ADOPTION TO BE THE SONS OF GOD BY THE HOLY GHOST, ARE VISIBLY SIGNED AND SEALED; FAITH IS CONFIRMED; AND GRACE ENCREASED by VIRTUE OF PRAYER UNTO
GOD. THE BAPTISM OF YOUNG CHILDREN
"BAPTISM is derived from the Greek word Banτw, which signifies to wash. Washing, as a religious rite, is not confined to Christianity; it was in use both among the Heathen and the Jews, and from the universality of the practice we may conclude that it is founded in the natural principles of
of the human constitution (a)." Bodily cleanliness has ever been in esteem among civilized nations; and the ablutions and lustrations, which have prevailed in the different systems of paganism, are to be considered as emblematical of internal purity. Tertullian says, that the heathen used baptism in the mysteries of Apollo and Ceres, "in regenerationem et impunitatem perjuriorum suorum (b);" and Grotius, from Josephus, mentions a practice, which was very common among Gentiles, of washing their bodies, after they had formed a determination to lead a virtuous life, under a persuasion that such an ablution washed away the effect of their former sins (c). The Jews do not baptize those who are Jews by birth, it being a maxim with them, "Filium baptizati pro baptizato habere;" but from the earliest period of their history, they have constantly baptized all who have been converted to their
(a) Dr. Hey.
(b) De Baptismo, cap. 5.
(c) Josephus, ut Joannis Baptistæ ablutionem a gentium ablutionibus discerneret, quæ aquâ marinâ, aut etiam vivo flumine, culpas suas elui, animosque purgari a delictorum conscientiâ existimabant, de quibus poeta, O nimium faciles, qui tristia crimina cædis Tolli flumineâ posse putatis aquâ,
ait, illo authore, mentibus primum justæ vitæ propósito purgatis, usurpatam deinde aquam, quæ corpora ablueret. Grot.
their religion (c). Proud of their own distinction as the peculiar people of God, they have always believed the rest of mankind to be in an unclean state, and incapable of entering into the covenant of the children of Abraham, without a washing to denote purification from former uncleanness. The Jews represent this baptism as derived from the law of Moses; and upon the authority of the following passage assert, that the Israelites themselves were baptized in the wilderness previous to their admission into covenant with God: "And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto all the people, and sanctify them to-day and tomorrow; and let them wash their cloaths, and be ready against the third day; for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai (d)." By the command to sanctify the people, the Jews understand that Moses was to cause all the people to be washed, and their rabbis and commentators (e) produce many passages in the Pentateuch where the
(c) Hammond on Matt. c. 3. v. 19 and 23. Selden de Jure Nat. et Gent. juxta Hebræos. Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. in Matt. 3. and John 3.
(d) Exod. c. 19. v. 10 and 11.
(e) Vide Wall's Introduction to Infant Baptism, and the Authors quoted by him. Wall has also proved that the antient Christian fathers used the word sanctify for baptize, c. 11. part 1.