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Tit. 3. 5.
SERM. to part them: He that would be born of the Spirit, must be V. born of water too.
This is that which the Apostle also teacheth us, where He saith, that God our Saviour, according to His mercy, saves us by “the washing of regeneration, and by the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” By the washing with water, as the sign of our regeneration, and by the renewing of the Holy Ghost, as the thing signified; which is the same in effect, with our being born “of water, and of the Spirit,” and a clear explication of it.
But how we come to be born of water and of the Spirit together in the Sacrament of Baptism, appears most clearly
from the commission which our Lord gave for the adminisMatt.28.19. tration of it, saying to His Apostles, “ Go ye therefore and
make all nations disciples, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” So the words in the original plainly signify, and ought to be translated. I know that our own, and other European translations, render the words, “Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them,” &c., which gave the first occasion to the sect of the Anabaptists : for ignorant people imagining that our Saviour here commanded, that all nations should be first taught, and then baptized, from thence concluded, that none ought to be baptized, till they are first taught the principles of the Christian Religion; but the original word
Naconteúouts will bear no such sense; for it never signifies to [cf. Serm. teach, but only to be, or to make disciples, as Matt. xxvii. 57;
ch. xiii. 52; Acts xiv. 21. And so it is constantly translated in all the Oriental versions; and therefore we never heard of any Anabaptists in the Eastern Churches: and there would have been none among us, if people did but rightly understand the Scriptures, and particularly these words of our Saviour; in which He is so far from requiring it as necessary, that people should be taught before they are baptized, that He requires that to be done afterwards, saying, in the words following, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."
But whosoever understands and consults the original words in this text, will plainly see, that our Saviour's mean
Gal. 3. 27.
ing is, that not only Jews, but all nations should be made His disciples, by being “baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost :” and, by consequence, that this is the way whereby to be “ born of water, and of the Spirit,” as He speaks in my text. For as baptizing necessarily implies the use of water, so our being made thereby disciples of Christ, as necessarily implies our partaking of His Spirit: for all that are baptized, and so made the disciples of Christ, are thereby made the members of His body; and are therefore said to be “ baptized into Rom. 6. 3; Christ.” But they who are in Christ, members of His body, must needs partake of the Spirit that is in Him their Head. Neither doth the Spirit of Christ only follow upon, but certainly accompanies the Sacrament of Baptism, when duly administered according to His institution. For, as St. Paul saith, “ By one Spirit we are all baptized into one iCor. 12.13. body.” So that in the very act of Baptism, the Spirit unites us unto Christ, and makes us members of His body; and if of His body, then of His Church and Kingdom, that being all His body. And therefore all who are rightly baptized with water, being at the same time baptized also with the Holy Ghost, and so born both of water and the Spirit, they are, ipso facto, admitted into the Kingdom of God, established upon earth; and if it be not their own fault, will as certainly attain to that which is in Heaven.
Now from these words of our blessed Saviour, thus briefly explained from what He Himself and His Apostles have taught us in other places of the Holy Scripture, many inferences may be raised, which are of great use, and much to be observed, especially in our days, wherein ignorant people are seduced by the Devil and his agents, into so many erroneous and dangerous opinions about the Holy Sacrament of Baptism. I shall instance only in those which are most proper to convince such of their error, and confirm others in the truth. From hence therefore, we may first observe, how necessary Baptism is to our entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, seeing He, by whom alone it is possible for any man to enter in, hath so positively affirmed, that “none can enter in, except they be baptized,” or “ born of water and the Spirit:" which St. Peter was so sensible of,
SERM. that when some asked him, and the rest of the Apostles,
-“What they should do to be saved ?” he answered roundly, Acts 2. 38. “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the Name of
Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive. the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Whereby he doth not only assure them in the Name of God, that upon their being baptized, they should infallibly receive the Holy Ghost to sanctify and regenerate them; but this is the first and great thing which he adviseth every one to, as without which, not one of them could ever enter into the Kingdom of God, and be saved.
And the same Apostle, when upon his first preaching to the Gentiles, the Holy Ghost fell on them, so that they immediately spake with tongues, although some might have thought, there had been no need of baptizing them who had already received the Holy Ghost; yet he considering that this gift of the Holy Ghost was only to enable them to speak with tongues, not to regenerate them, he inferred
from thence, that they ought the rather to be baptized : Acts 10. 47. “ Can any man,” said he, “ forbid water, that these should
not be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” And therefore “ commanded them to be baptized in the Name of the Lord.” Which he would never have done, if it was not necessary for them to be born of water and of the Spirit. And though our Lord Himself appeared to Saul, as he was going to Damascus, and called him with
His own mouth, yet he also must be baptized, before he Acts 9. 17, could be filled with the Holy Ghost, and so made a disciple, 18:22. 16. much less an Apostle, to Him who had called him.
There are many such places of Scripture, which shew the great necessity of Baptism, where it may be had; but I shall
add only these remarkable words, which our Saviour spake Mark 16.16. to His Apostles after His resurrection : “ He that believeth,
and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.” Where we see, that He, by whom alone it is possible for any man to be saved, makes Baptisin necessary to Salvation, as well as faith : He saith indeed, “He that believeth not, shall be damned :” but He doth not say, “He that believeth, shall be saved,” whether he be baptized or no; “ but he that believeth, and is baptized :” as all to be
sure, are, or at least desire to be, who truly believe in Him. For all who truly believe in Christ for their Salvation, must believe what He hath said to be true, and accordingly do whatsoever He requires in order to it. But He requires all that would be saved by Him, to be first baptized into Him; and as plainly asserts in my text, that “except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God:” and therefore it is in vain to expect it.
This I would desire all here present to take special notice of, that you may not be deceived by a sort of people risen up anong us, who being led, as they pretend, by the light within them, are fallen into such horrid darkness, and damnable Heresies, that they have quite laid aside the Sacrament of Baptism, and affirm, in flat contradiction to our Saviour's words, that they may be saved without it. I pray God to open their eyes, that they may not go blindfold into eternal damnation. And I advise you all, as you desire not to apostatize from the Christian religion, and as you tender your Eternal Salvation, take heed that you be never seduced by them, under any pretence whatsoever; but rather, if you be acquainted with any of them, do what you can to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God again; that they may receive forgiveness of their sins, and inheritance among them who are sanctified by faith in Him, who said, " Except a man be born of water,” &c.
Not only a man, in contradiction to a child, or a woman, but as it is in the original, 'Eáv ren tis, 'Except any one,' any human creature whatsoever, man, woman, or child,“ except he be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” So that our Lord is so far from excluding children from Baptism, that He plainly includes them; speaking in such general terms, on purpose that we may know, that no sort of people, old or young, can ever be saved without it. And so He doth too, where He commands, as was observed before, that “all nations should be made disciples, by being baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" for, under all nations, children must needs be comprehended, which make a great, if not the greatest part of all nations. And although SERM. these general expressions be sufficient to demonstrate the XXXV. [2 Pet. 3.
— necessity of infant-baptism, yet foreseeing that ignorant and 16.] unlearned people would be apt to wrest the Scriptures to
their own destruction, He elsewhere commands children Mark 10.14. particularly to be brought unto Him, saying, “Suffer the
little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not; for of such is the Kingdom of God.” But if the Kingdom of God consist of children, as well as other people, they must of necessity be baptized, or born of water and the Spirit; for otherwise, He Himself saith, “they cannot enter the Kingdom.”
Hence it is, that we find the Apostles often baptizing whole families, children, if any, as well as others : and the whole Catholic Church, in all places and ages ever since, hath constantly admitted the children of believing parents into the Church, by baptizing them according to the institution and command of our Saviour; none ever making any question of it, but all Christians, all the world over, taking it for granted, that it ought to be done, till of late years.
But of late years, there is a sect sprung up among us, who, contrary to Christ's command, forbid little children to be brought unto Him by Baptism, the only way whereby it is possible for them to come to Him; and so make the children of Christian parents in a worse condition than the Jewish were; and the Law more favourable than the Gospel. How they will answer it at the Last Day, I know not: but I know, that it greatly behoves all that have any care of their
own, or their children's good, to take heed of this sort of 2 Tim. 3. 6. people, “ Who creep into houses, and lead captive silly Rom. 16.18. women, laden with sins, led away with divers lusts;” “ And
by good words and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple.” But they must be very simple indeed, who suffer themselves to be deceived by them, who so directly contradict our Saviour's words, and deny that to children, without which He Himself hath said, “ they cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”
It is to be farther observed, that our Lord here saith, “Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit:” of water in general, without specifying how much or how little, or how to be applied, whether by dipping, or washing, or