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461 of baptism which prescribed affusion. Our present rubrick directs that the minister, "if they shall certify him that the child may well endure it, shall dip it in the water; but if they certify that the child is weak, it shall suffice to pour water upon it :" however, no certificate or enquiry has for a long time been made upon this subject; but for these last two hundred years it has been the general practice in this country, perhaps with some exceptions at the beginning of that period, to baptize children by sprinkling them once with water. Immersion was left off in most of the western churches much earlier than in England, but it still continues the universal custom among the Christians of the East.
No particular direction being given in Scripture concerning the manner in which water is to be applied in baptism, we may allow immersion, affusion, or aspersion, and whether it be performed three times or once, to be equally valid. Immersion, that is, burying, as it were, the person baptized in the water, and raising him out of it again, may be considered as representing the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and our being dead and buried to sin, and rising again to a life of piety and virtue. "We are buried," says St. Paul, "with him by baptism unto death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the
glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (o)." But pouring or sprinkling of water may likewise sufficiently express our purification from the guilt of past sins, and our obligation to keep ourselves in future unspotted by those things which defile the inner man. This mode of baptism, moreover, represents that "sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (p)," to which we owe our salvation; and the use of it seems not only to be foretold by the prophet Isaiah, who says of our Saviour, that " "he shall sprinkle many nations (q)," that is, many shall receive his baptism; and by the prophet Ezekiel, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean (r);" but to be had in view also by the Apostle, where he speaks of our having "our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water (s)."
Another practice in baptism, common among early Christians, and adopted by our church, is, signing the forehead with the sign of the cross. Indeed the use of the cross was very frequent in the primitive times: "At every setting out," says Tertullian," or entry upon business, when
(0) Rom. c. 6. v. 4.
(p) 1 Pet. c. 1. V. 2.
ever we come into, or go out from, any place, when we dress for a journey, when we go into a bath, when we go to meat, when the candles are brought in, when we lie down or sit down, and whatever business we have, we make on our foreheads the sign of the cross (t);" and upon another occasion, in speaking of baptism, he says, "the flesh is signed, that the soul may be fortified (u)." The same practice is mentioned by many other writers as invariably used whenever a person was baptized; and it was done, as is expressed in our form of baptism, "in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner against sin, the world, and the devil, and to continue Christ's faithful soldier and servant unto his life's end."
In antient times a mixture of milk and honey was given immediately after baptism, and a white garment was put upon the persons baptized, as emblematical of the purity which they had now acquired; and from these white garments the day of Pentecost, which was one of the stated times for baptism, was called White-sunday or Whit-sunday.
We now proceed to explain more particularly the
(t) De Cor. Mil. cap. 2.
(u) De Bapt.
the different parts of the article, which first declares that 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 NEW-BIRTH. All men being, through the disobedience of our first parents, subject to death, the right of baptism, by which we are admitted into the religion of Jesus, "who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light (v)," is with great propriety, called “a sign of regeneration." The original corruption of our nature is thus washed away, and we are born again to new hopes and new prospects, as is represented in the passage just now quoted from St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, in which he says, that "we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (w).” And to Titus he says, "According to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost (a)."-By baptism we become "dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (y).”
(v) 2 Tim. c. 1. v. 10. (x) Tit. c. 3. v. 5.
(w) Rom. c. 6. v. 4. (y) Rom. c.6. v. 11.
"We put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (z)."-Thus is the inward effect of baptism constantly asserted in Scripture. We are said to be "born again of water and the spirit," which are frequently mentioned together, the one applied externally, and the other operating internally. Baptism, therefore, is not a mere external badge or token of our being Christians; it is a new birth from the death of sin, and a regeneration to a new life in Christ; it is a change and renovation of nature by the spirit and grace of God; it is an infusion of spiritual life into the soul, by which it is made capable of performing spiritual actions, and of living unto God.
WHEREBY THEY THAT RECEIVE BAPTISM RIGHTLY ARE GRAFTED INTO THE CHURCH. For" by one spirit we are all baptized into one body (a)." Every baptism is to be considered as a right baptism, which is administered with water, by persons duly authorized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and all they who are so baptized become members of one body in Christ, and are united in one holy Catholic church.
THE PROMISES OF THE FORGIVENESS OF SIN,
(z) Col. c. 3. v. 9 & 10.
(a) 1 Cor. c. 12. v. 13.