A Short Catechism about Baptism
by John Tombes, B.D.
Many are the things at this day charged on Antipoaedobaptists in their Doctrine and Practise, which have been proved to be unjustly imputed to them, by many large Treatises extant in print. For a more facile understanding of the truth than by reading larger Tracts, is this Compendium, in a manner of a catechism composed and published in this time, wherein others of different judgment, have thought fit to declare their way to the world, which is done, not because the disagreement in other things is either small, or of particular persons (whose cause is to be severed from that which is commonly held) and therefore requires not a distinct Confession or Declaration from that which is by others published.
Which I have thought necessary to be done because of the importance of restoring right baptism, the Doctrine of which is one article of the foundation of Christianity, Heb. 6.2. whereby we put on Christ, Gal. 6.27. united to his Members, Ephes. 4.5. conformed to Christ, Col. 2.12. Rom. 6.3,4,5. required with faith to salvation, Mark 16.26. with repentance to remission of sins, Acts 2.38. with express profession of the Baptized's faith required, Acts 8.37. upon manifestation of conversion, Acts 10.47. Acts 11.17. as the duty of the Baptized, and not a meer Priviledge, Acts 22.16. most solemly administered in the Primitive times, with strict examination and greatest engagement of persons baptized, accounted the chief evidence of Christianity, of as much or more moment than the Lords Supper; insomuch that some conceived from Heb. 6.4. that falling away after it irreparable.
But the pretended Baptism of Infants, as now used slightly and profanely done, quite different from Christ's Institution and the Apostles practise by Ministers and people in so wholy and carnal manner as that, it is upon and with gross untruths and perverting of holy Scripture, obtruded on unwary souls with a pretence of a Baptismal Vow, which is a meer fiction, and so many ill consequents both in Christian conversation and communion and church-constitution and Goverment, that were men sensible to their evil as they should be, they would tremble at such mockery of God, and abuse of so holy an Ordinance of God's worship and men's souls by it, and with such arrogant presumption in avowing such a manifest invention of men as God's precept.
And to speak truth, if the History of this corruption were fully cleared, it would be found that the undue Ministration of this Ordinance was the inlet to the Antichristian darkness and tyranny which overspread and oppressed the Christian Churches. The aim of the composer of it is the manifestation of the truth, wherein doth he rejoyce, and desires thou mayest rejoyce with him. His motion is that of the Apostle, Phil. 3.15,16. As many of us be perfect let us be thus minded, and if ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless whereunto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
Baptism with Water is an Ordinance of Christ, which is to be continued by his Disciples till the end of the World; as appears by his command, Mat. 28.19,20. Mark 16.15,16. it is to be joined with Preaching of the Gospel, and making Disciples, by Preaching, and teaching them to observe all that Christ commands; and so to be continued while these are to continue, which is proved to be till the end of the world, by Christs promise of his being with them till then, which were vain, if the things appointed were not to be done so long.
It appeas that Matthew means by the end of the World, the last time, or day, wherein there will be a separation of good and bad, the one to be burned with fire, and the other to shine as the Sun, in that in the places wherein Matthew, useth the self-same form of speech (to wit Mat. 13.39,40,49. Mat. 24.3.) he canot be understood to mean any other.
The Baptism there, must needs be understood of Baptism by Water, sith Baptizing, where ever it is made of John Baptists, or the Disciples Act, which they did or were to do, is meant of Baptizing with Water, as John 4.1,2 and in many other places it appears; and the Apostles by their practise and command, Acts 2.38,41. Acts 10.47,48. shew that they so understood Christ's appointment, Matt. 28.19. Mark 16.16.
It canot be so understood, sith Baptizing with the Spirit is no where ascribed to any other than Christ, Mat 3.11. Luke 3.16. Nor is baptism with the Spirit a duty for us to do, but a free gift of Christ; not common to all Disciples of Christ, but peculiar to some: and to appoint them the baptizing by affliction had been to make the Apostles persecutors.
Not because he was not appointed at all to Baptize, for if so, he would not have Baptized those he did Baptize, 1 Cor. 1.14.16. etc. But because it was not the chief thing he was to do, as when the washing of Water is said not to save, 1 Pet. 3.21. because it is not the only, or principal means of saving.
The Baptizing appointed by Jesus Christ, is the dipping of the Whole Body in water in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as is manifest from the term Baptizing, and the use of going into and coming up out of water, Mat. 3.16. Acts 8.38,39. the use of much water, John 3.23. The resembling, by the Baptism used, the burial and Resurrection of Christ, Rom. 6.4. Col. 2.12. and the testimonies of the Ancients of the first Ages.
Neither the Scripture, nor any other antient author call sprinkling, or pouring water on the Face, Baptism, nor any use of it in the primitive times doth countenance it, and therefore such sprinkling or pouring water is not the Baptism which Christ appointed.
It is not to baptize only with the naming of those persons, but into the profession of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as our Master or Teacher, as appears by the words of Paul, 1 Cor. 1.13. Which shew that if the Corinthians had been baptized into the name of Paul, they had professed him to be their master.
They are, it being all one to Baptize into the name of Jesus Christ, and to baptize into the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as appears by the precept, Acts 2.38. and practice, Acts 10.48. Acts 19.5. Though the expression of each person be convenient.
No: For Baptism is their duty required of them as well as the Baptizer, Acts 2.38. and Paul is commanded to arise and be baptized, and wash away his sins calling on the name of the Lord, Acts 22.16.
They who are appointed to preach the Gospel, Matth. 28.19. Mark 16.15,16.
Those who repent of sin, believe in Christ Jesus, and are his Disciples, Matth. 28.19. Mark 16.16. Acts 2.38. Acts 8.37.
No: For it appears not there were any infants in the houses, and the Texts shew they were not baptized, sith the word was spoken to all in the house, ver. 32. and all the house rejoyced believing God. ver 34. and elsewhere the whole house is said to do that which Infants could not do, Acts 18.8. Acts 10.2. 1 Cor. 16.15. compared with 1 Cor. 1.16. John 4.53.
No: but an Argument against it, sith Christ did neither baptize, nor appoint those little children to be baptized.
The reason why Male Infants were to be Circumcised, was a particular Command of God to Abrahams house for special ends belonging to the time before Christ, which Baptism hath not, nor is there any Command to use Baptism according to the rule of Circumcision.
The Apostles words import not that our Baptism came in the room of the Jews Circumcision; there is no mention of any bodily Circumcision but Christ's, which our baptism cannot be said to suceed to, as there it is made the cause of Spiritual Circumcision, without arrogating that to it which belongs to Christ alone, and Baptism is mentioned with faith, as the means whereby we are in Christ, and compleat in him.
Our compleatness is in that we have not Ordinances as the Jews had, but we are compleat in that we have all in Christ without them, Col. 2.8,9,10.
No: For Circumcision was a priviledge only for a time, and comparitively to the estate of the Gentiles who knew not God; but of itself was a heavy yoke, Acts 15.10. Gal. 5.1,2,3.
Because they too much esteemed the Law, and knew not their liberty by the Gospel.
The want of Baptism to Infants was never any grievance to Believers in the New Testament, nor were they thereby put out of the Covenant of Grace.
The end of Circumcision was indeed to be a token of the whole Covenant made with Abraham, Gen. 17.4,5,6,7,8. not only the promise, ver. 7. But the formal proper distinguishing reason why some were to be Circumcised, and others not, was God's Comand alone, not the interest in the Covenant; sith Ishmael who was not a Childe of promise, Gen. 17.20.21. Rom. 9.6,7,8,9. and those who were in Abrahams house, though not of his Seed, were Circumcised, but no Females, nor Males under eight days old.
It was, according to the hidden meaning of the Holy Ghost, the Evangelical Covenant, Gal. 3.16. But according to the open sense of the words, a Covenant of special benefits to Abrahams inheriting natural posterity, and therefore not a pure Gospel Covenant.
No: unless they become Abrahams seed according to Election of Grace by Faith.
That text speaks not of any ones Circumcision but Abrahams, which sealed the righteousness of faith he had before Circumcision, and assured thereby righteousness to all, though uncircumcised, who should believe as he did.
The Scripture doth nowhere so call them, nor doth it mention this as their end and use.
Those he then spake to were not then Believers; and therefore the words, Acts 2.39. Cannot be understood of a promise to Believers and their Children as such, but the promise is to all, Fathers and Children as called of God; nor are any exhorted to Baptism without fore-going repentance: nor is the promise alledged as conferring right to Baptism, but as a motive to encourage them and hope for pardon, though they wished Christs blood to be on them and their Children. Matth. 27.25. In like sort as Joseph did, Gen. 50.19,20,21.
There is nothing there ascribed to the faith of the Believer, but to the Marriage-relation, which was the only reason of their lawful living together, and of which alone it is true that all the Children of those Parents, whereof one is sanctified to the other, are holy, the rest unclean, that is, illegitimate.
The ingraffing there is by giving Faith according to Election; and therefore not meant of Parents and Children by an outward Ordinance into the visible Church.
No: For the Disciples there are only such as are made by Preaching the Gospel to them, nor are any termed Disciples, but those who have heard and learned: and the putting the yoke, Acts 15.10. was by teaching Brethren, ver. 1 and therefore the Disciples, ver. 10. not Infants.
There is no such Ordinance or Law extant in Scripture, or deducible from the Law of Nature, nor are Infants any where reckoned as visible members of the Christian Church in the New Testament.
The promise doth not pertain to any believers seed but Abrahams, who are, Heb. 6.12,13,14, Gal. 3.8,9. Acts 3.25. expounded to be Christ and true believers only, who are to be baptiszed, not their Infants, till they themselves believe in their own persons.
If the Jewish Baptism had been the pattern for Christians, the Apostles would have so practised, but their not so doing, shews they understood not it to be Christ's mind.
It is not a sufficient discharge of their obedience to Christ's command, which requires each Person to be Baptized after his own Repentance and believing in Christ, Mark 16.16. Mat. 28. 19. Acts 2.38. Ephes. 4.5.
To testifie the Repentance, Faith, Hope, Love, and Resolution of the Baptized to follow Christ, Gal. 3.27. Rom. 6.3,4. 1 Cor. 15.29. calling upon the Name of the Lord, Acts 22.16.
As Infant-communion came from mistake of John 6.53. So Infant-baptism began about the third Age of the Christian Church, from mistake of John 3.5. the opinion of its giving Grace, and the necessity of it to save the Infant dying from perishing, and after Augustin's time became common, which before was not so frequent.
Infant-baptism tends much to harden People in presumption, as if they were Christians afore they know Christ, and hinders much the Reformation of Christian Churches, by filling them with ignorant and scandalous members, besides the great sin of profaning God's Ordinance.
Blessed be God, experience proves the contrary, though some here to fore proved seditious, and entertained great errors.
Yes, For thereby they would be solemnly engaged to adhere to Christ, which is a strong tye on the Consciences, when it is done by a Person understandingly, according to Christ's mind, besides the assurance thereby of Union and Conformity to Christ, and Righteousness and life by him, Rom. 6.3,4. Gal. 3.26. 1 Pet. 3.21.
To associate together in Church-Communion, and to walk according to their engagement, in obedience to them, who are over them in the Lord.
No, Unless the evil be such in Faith, Worship, or Discipline, as is not consistent with Christianity, or the estate of a visible Church, or is intolerable oppression, maintained with obstinacy, after endeavours to cure them, to which end each member should keep and act in his station.
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