The Value and Virtue of Baptism in which:
The dignity and duty of Baptism
The due right of infants to Baptism
And their right above that of grown persons by Baptism
The degrading and destructive principles and practices of Baptism
Catechetically propounded, plainly preached and now published as an Antidote against all Baptism despising dictates by Rev Zach Crofton 1663.
Q. What is your name ?
A. My name is…
Q. Who gave you this name?
A. My Parents the natural authors of my being, and instruments of my interest in the Covenant of God.
Q. When did they give you this name?
A. At my Baptism, when I was dedicated to God, and by the washing of my body in pure water fitted for approach to him.
Q. What is Baptism?
A. It is a solemn and religious application of water by the hand of a lawful Minister to fit subjects to signify the blood of Christ, and Seal of the Covenant of Grace.
Q: What is the outward sign in Baptism?
A. Water, in opposition to all other elements; and pure water without any mixture or composition; for so Christ did appoint, and his appointment doth stamp dignity on that despicable element.
Q: What is the inward grace in Baptism?
A. The blood of Jesus Christ with its properties and effects, the remission of sin, and regeneration of the soul.
Q. Is Baptism only a sign to represent these things to our minds?
A. No, but also a seal to ratify them to our soul; and therefore a right unto the Promise is the ground of baptism, and baptism a reason of our faith in the Promise to be pleaded in prayer for obtainment.
Q. What is the form of Baptism?
A. The application of water, by dipping, or sprinkling: for the manner is of no moment so it be done solemnly and religiously, as a sacred Ordinance by divine institution, with prayer to God, and a dedication of the person baptised, unto the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Q. Who is to administer Baptism?
A. A lawful, and none but a lawful Minister; for Baptism is an act of Office and argument of faith; therefore to be applied by authority; and then the baptism of women, and private men is void and null.
Q. Who are fit subjects as to be baptized?
A. Such, all such, and only such as are in covenant with God; for the qualification that must guide the Church in applying Baptism, must be interest in the Covenants and these are two sorts. 1. Infidels converted to the faith. 2. The Infants of one or both Christian parents.
Q . By what must Infidels converted to the Faith be judged within the Covenant, and fit subjects to be baptized.
A. By making a profession of saving faith, which may be done by men in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity; not by a saving profession of faith, importing sincerity of grace, nor by a well ordered conversation; for God’s Ministers must judge by a present visible sign, and they cannot search the heart: and plants are to be set in the Church before we look for fruit; Baptism is a bond unto amendment of life.
Q. How can it be proved that the infants of Christian Parents are within the Covenant, and to be baptized?
A. During the administration of the Covenant in the times of the Old Testament, the natural issue of God’s people, before they acted their faith, even as soon as they were born, were within the Covenant. The form of the promise is, I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed: Circumcision the seal of the righteousness of faith, was set in their flesh at eight days old. God claims the natural issue of his Covenant people as his own, when he calls them out of Egypt, Exod. 5.1; Chargeth them with duty, Deut. 14.2; Complaineth of idolatry, Ephes. 16.21; Chastiseth their sin, Amos 3. 2. And Christ calls the Jews natural, the Children of his Kingdom, and placeth in them the right to the mercies he bought, whilst the Gentles were dogs licking up the crumbs.
Q. But what is the interest of infants in the Old Testament to us under the New?
A. Very much; for whilst we see they have been in Covenant, it will direct us to see a very clear reversal of their right, and plain limitation of the Covenant before we part with such a birth right and privileges; for common justice will not suffer us with out good warrant to change a freehold granted to our selves and heirs, for a lease for term of life; and we need a clear reason to convert the Jews from the old Covenant, whereby they begot an holy seed to God, unto a straiter Covenant, that provides for the parent, but leaves the child profane, and estranged to God. The enemies of our Baptism, cry for an express command to baptise infants; but instead of hewing any, we think we have good reason to say, we as such infants, have by a long tenure an interest in the Covenant; shew us a clear Gospel Writ of Ejection, if you think now to dispossess us.
Q. But have you any good ground in the New Testament, on which infants, as the natural issue of believing parents may claim an interest in the Covenant?
A. Yes, very much, when we confider little sucking babes brought in arms to be received by the Lord Jesus to be blessed by him, to be declared members of the Kingdom of Heaven, propounded as such who ought to be received in his name, as his disciples, and not to be offended all which are the blessings of the Covenant: and that the Apostle affirms of the Gentiles engrafted in, as well as the Jews cut off, in Rom. 9. That is the first-fruits, then the whole lump is holy; if the root, then the branches are holy and the branches do partake of the fatness of the olive: we must castaway our reason if we see not infants interest in the Covenant.
Q. But have you not yet some plainer Scriptures to prove their title?
A. Yes, the Apostle doth expressly say the infants of one Christian Parent is holy, 1 Cor. 7.14. of real holiness none understand it, and natural holiness, taking away the blot of bastardy, supposing faith essential to marriage, is too ridiculous to be received; it must needs then mean a federal holiness by the extent of the Covenant, and in the esteem of the Church, in Acts 2.38. the Apostle saith expressly, The promise is to you, and to your children: This promise cannot be of extraordinary gifts, because it is extended to all that shall be called, nor is it to children when called, for that were not to them as children: the Holy Ghost doth not speak nonsense, and express personal qualifications by terms of relation, but tells the believer, his children as his children have a privilege in the Covenant above other men’s children so that it is plain such infants are within the Covenant, and according to their capacity to enjoy the seals and privileges thereof.
Q. But they are not capable of being baptized, because they can act nothing in the Ordinance, nor can they make a profession of faith and repentance.
A. Nor is such capacity needful; for profession gives no right to Baptism, but as an evidence of Covenant interest and their right to the Covenant, manifested by their descent from such Parents is as good a reason for their Baptism: and the subjects of the initiating Seal do not act anything, as if God would thereby dictate, inability to action shall be no bar to Baptism.
Q. But those we read of in scripture that were baptized were at grown years?
A. So were those who were first circumcised; but that was occasional and circumstantial: the Church is founded in grown trees, but is to be edified by infant branches.
Q. But there is no institution for Infant Baptism.
A. That Baptism is instituted, cannot be denied: Age or infancy are only directions to whom to apply it and thereof the qualification of Covenant interest is according to Scripture the clear direction: Moreover infants may be disciples, bearing on them the name of Christ, and are members of nations, and so the institution, directing the baptizing of discipled nations, is to them extended.
Q. But all you urge for Infants Baptism, is by way of inference and consequence.
A. Scripture inference is God’s word, binding man’s conscience: it was the way of Christ convincing the Sadducees of the resurrection; and of Paul’s preaching at Athens; and is your only way to warrant women’s communion at the Lord’s Table, and shall it not be of force to Infants Baptism?
Q. What benefit do you receive by your Baptism?
A. Much, as I am baptised, and enjoy that Ordinance of God; and much as I was baptized in infancy by the early enjoyment of it.
Q . What is your benefit received by the Ordinance it self?
A. A fit qualification to draw nigh to God with confidence.
Q: What do you mean by drawing nigh to God?
A. Not only the possession of heavenly glory when I die; which I deny not, but such may enjoy whom the providence of God cuts off before they can be baptized. Nor only the private and personal acts of the soul, which may be presented (though not with so much confidence) acceptably to God before a man can be baptized after his conversion; be not living in contempt or wilful neglect of Baptism; but I mean an approach to God in the Assemblies of his people, to worship before him, as a member of his Church, and one of his peculiar people, to bear his name in the World, and of his Royal Priesthood, to offer up acceptable sacrifice, and enjoy all his Ordinances; all which I do in assurance, having my body washed with pure water.
Q. Is then Baptism the necessary qualification for approach to God?
A. Yes, it is so necessary that the unbaptized may not appear in the Assemblies of his people: The way of Christ his appearance in his Church, as the Messiah, was prepared by Baptism; therefore John the promised Elias is called John the Baptist. Baptism prepared Christ for his work of Mediatorship; he neither prayed (that we read of) nor was tempted, nor preached, not received the testimony from Heaven till he was baptized; and if the head were thus sanctified, much more must the members. Moreover circumcision did sanctify such as might come nigh to the Sanctuary; and baptism hath succeeded in the room, signifies and seals the same grace, and in all things serve to the same end in the Christian Church that circumcision did to the Jews.
Q. What is the use of Baptism that it should so qualify with confidence in access to God?
A. By baptism I am visibly interested in Jesus Christ, Gal. 3.27; incorporated into his Church, 1 Cor. 12.13; made a member of the household of faith, and Commonwealth of Israel, consecrated unto God, Eph. 5.26; having holiness stamped on my flesh, being sanctified by the washing of water by the word; And in Covenant with God, having the seal of the promise, whereby God is become mine, and I am dedicated to be his, in faith and obedience to God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: all which are clear grounds of faith, to be improved unto my encouragement in approach unto God.
Q. Are all that are baptized partakers of these privileges?
A. All that are baptized enjoy these privileges visibly and sacramentally in the judgement of the Church, by whose just censure they may be deprived of them; but not savingly and sincerely: for to some the inward grace is withheld from God’s outward Ordinance, according to God’s holy purpose: And many not acting faith to claim lose the privileges sealed: Baptism is in its nature and efficacy the same to all, but by reason of the incapacity of some it is not always a like effectual.
Q: What principles or practices are to be condemned as contrary to this use of Baptism?
A. Many, as such as dictate to the unbaptised, a liberty of access to God; teaching that baptism is not the ground of Communion with the Church visible, but real grace, the answer of a good conscience, and thereon do tender all the Ordinances to the unbaptised which is directly opposite to this use of the Ordinance, and inverts the order of the Gospel, giving God cause to complain, as once in Israel, Ezek 44.7. Ye have defiled my Sanctuary, by admitting into my Sanctuary the unbaptized in flesh and in spirit.
Q: Who are further to be condemned as contrary to this consecrating nature of Baptism?
A. Such as disown their baptism, in drawing nigh to God, as do some Familists; who deny all outward Ordinances and pretend to serve God altogether in Spirit, as if divided man could draw nigh to God, or the Lord would not be adored by the body he hath redeemed; or true grace could admit a contempt of any divine ordinance; or the Anabaptists who are so irrational as to renounce their baptism, because received in infancy, as if a corruption in circumstance (if this were one) had destroyed the essence of the Ordinance; but indeed they do it out of ignorance, or obstinacy, deeming God’s institution, superstition, and so run into the sin of sacrilege.
Q. Is the denial of Infant Baptism sacrilege?
A. Whilst it robs God of the children to him begotten, the Church of members to her born, believing parents of a ground of faith, and reason of hope, and the infants of their undoubted interest in the Covenant, I cannot but judge it sacrilege.
Q . Who else are to be blamed as repugnant to this consecrating nature of Baptism?
A. Such as disregard baptism in its application to others; as do Parents who pass over their Children’s baptism as a civil complement, and mere formality to please friends, but never compose themselves to it as an act of Religion, and Ordinance of God; pray, not for a blessing on it, nor praise God for the blessing of it; nor instruct their baptized children in the benefit and use of it: and people who attend with some shew of reverence on other Ordinances, but rudely rush out of the Congregation when baptism is administered, as if it were some idle action; and as if the sanctifying of a soul to God, the sealing of the Covenant, and admission of a member into the Church were of no use to them, nor worth their attendance.
Q. Who else are to be blamed as contrary to the nature of Baptism?
A. Such as disesteem their own baptism, neither improving it against sin; nor arguing to themselves the duty or dignity of their baptism; so as to make baptism an engagement against sin to holiness; and encouragement of their spirits in holy duties.
Q: Who else are to be blamed as contrary to the consecrating nature of Baptism?
A. Such as deny the Baptized the liberty of access to God in the Assemblies of his people; as do the independents, who gather churches out of churches rightly constituted; and call the Baptized in Church way, as if they were out of it, and prescribe a covenant of their own, whereby to admit Church members and affect to distinguish themselves from others baptized, by the term of Saints, Brethren, Church, and the like, and deny to communicate with them; as if Baptism did not incorporate into Christ his body, and prepare for communion with him in his Ordinance.
Q. To what course of life doth your Baptism bind you?
A. To depart from all iniquity; to devote my self, wholly to the faith and service of one God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, to whom I am dedicated, and all my days to mark myself as a member of Christ his Church, one in Covenant with God, on whom holiness is stamped; and that is sanctified for approach to him.
Q. You speak of some benefit you reaped by your being baptised in infancy, is the early enjoyment of this Ordinance of any advantage?
A. Yes, very much in many things to be preferred before baptism of grown persons, where in it is more profitable.
Q. What is the first benefit of Infant Baptism?
A. Infant baptism expresseth clearly the sin of nature; and engageth against it: in that we are washed, it is evident we are unclean, but being so soon baptized doth witness our very nature is defiled; for infancy did never admit us to be stained with personal guilt as are men at years and so infant baptism is an unanswerable argument of our inbred corruption against which we are bound to fight, being baptized before it had spread it self into actual sin.
Q. What is the second benefit of Infant Baptism?
A. It explaineth the method, and order of transmitting the Covenant, and affecteth us with the benefit of relation to a believing Parent. That we are baptized speaks us in Covenant; but that we are so soon baptized before we have in ourselves any qualification for it shews us as branches, we partake of the fatness of the olive, and are of the same kind with our Parents. God hath graciously become the God of the believer and his seed, and made grace to run through nature’s channel, otherwise we had never enjoyed this privilege.
Q. What is the third benefit of Infant Baptism?
A. It enlargeth the bounds, and establisheth the being of the Church. Baptism is the band of union, and Ordinance of ingrafting into the Church: but Infant Baptism doth scatter the holy seed, and send forth sprouting branches, which succeed into the room of old perishing stocks, doth not only increase the number of the Church’s members, but defend it from the wasting annihilating breaches of time.
Q. What is the fourth benefit of Infant Baptism?
A. It exciteth repentance, representing sin in its root and original, the gravity of nature, and its gracious object, the God of our fathers, and the God of our youth against whom we have offended.
Q. What is the fifth benefit of Infant Baptism?
A. It enforceth faith, not only in the sealing, but also the extending of the Covenant to the seed of believers, a ground of parental prayer for posterity, and an early seizure of our souls, before Satan could possess us, or our own corrupt nature could betray us unto him.
Q. What is the sixth benefit of Infant Baptism?
A. It engageth duty; Parents to Christian education and instruction of those, who by their authority are dedicated to the service of the true God; Children to the obedience of the God of their father, and of their youth, who extended to them the Covenant, and so soon set the seal of it in their flesh.
Q. What is the seventh benefit of Infant Baptism?
A. It encourages under death, the knowledge of the Covenant extended unto believers and their seed, hath prepared young children unto martyrdom; and interest in the Covenant can be the only ground of hope to the Parents under the death of their infants, who are born the children of wrath, but by baptism are put into the ark of salvation; such as let go this must cheat themselves by a dream of children’s immunity from all guilt, and so cannot be damned: or a Popish Limbus Infantum, or some unusual way of comfort the Scripture doth not warrant.
Q. May not these benefits redound to such as are baptized in grown years?
A. No, in nowise, for such see not the extent of the Covenant to believers and their seed; nor the serviceableness of relation natural in business of salvation; nor do they enjoy the same; and therefore it is our great happiness, that we are not only baptized, but baptized in infancy, under all the advantages that either Ordinance or season can afford us.