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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
of the Westminster Assembly
Explained and Proved
from Scripture

by
Thomas Vincent


XCIV. Ques. What is baptism?
Ans.
Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord's.

Q. 1. What is the outward sign or element in baptism?
A. The outward sign or element in baptism is water, and that pure water; so that the addition thereunto of oil, salt, and spittle, by the Papists in baptism, is an abominable profanation of the ordinance. "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized ?"— Acts 10:47. "Our bodies washed with pure water."— Heb 10:22.

Q. 2. What is the thing signified by water in baptism?
A. The thing signified by water in baptism, is the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Q. 3. What is the outward action in baptism?
A. The outward action in baptism, is washing of the body with water; which is all that the word baptism doth signify, and which may be fitly done by pouring water upon the face, to represent Christ's blood poured out for us; or by sprinkling water upon the face to represent the blood of spnnkling, with which the heart is sprinkled. having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."— Heb. 10:22.

Q. 4. Is it not necessary to dip or plunge the body in the water in baptism, when the Scripture telleth us of several that went down into the water when they were baptized; and we are to be buried with Christ in baptism, arid therefore plunged and covered with water in baptism, as Christ was covered with earth in the grave?
A. It is not necessary that the body should be dipped or plunged all over in baptism: For— 1. When we read of some that went down into the water when they were baptized, we do not read that they were dipped or plunged over head and ears; they might be baptized by pouring or sprinkling the water upon their faces; yea, in some places where, the Scripture telleth us, persons were baptized, travellers tell us they were but ankle-deep, in which it was impossible they could be plunged all over; and Aenon, where it is said there was much water, the original words do not signify deep waters, but many streams, which are known to be shallow, and not fit to plunge the body into. 2. Though some went down in to the water when they were baptized, yet the Scripture doth not say that all did so but most probably water was brought into the house, when the jailer and all his household were baptized in the night; and not that he suffered the apostles (then prisoners) to go forth, and that he with them should go out with all his household, and leave all the other prisoners alone, to seek some river to be baptized and plunged into. 3. The burying with Christ by baptism, doth signify the buryinmg of sin in the soul, by the baptism of the Spirit; and not the burying of the body, and covering it all over in the baptism of water. There is a baptizing or washing, as was said, in pouring or sprinkling water on the body; and as our Saviotir told Peter, when he would have been washed all over by him, that the washing of the feet was sufficient, so the washing of the face is sufficient, especially for infants, who, in our colder climates, cannot be plunged in a river without manifest hazard of their lives, which none can prove by Scripture to be necessary.

Q. 5. What doth the washing of the body with water represent and signify?
A. The washing of the body with water in baptism doh represent and signify the washing of the soul from sin by the blood of Jesus Christ. "That loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood."— Rev. 1:5.

Q. 6. In whose name are persons to be baptized?
A. Persons are to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."— Matt. 28:19.

Q. 7. What is to be understood by the baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost?
A. By baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost is to be understood, not only a naming of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but a baptizing in the authority, and into the faith, profession, and obedience of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Q. 8. What are signified, sealed, and engaged on God's part, by our being baptized in his name?
A. There are signified, and sealed, and engaged on God's part, by our being baptized in his name— 1. His ingrafting us into Christ. 2. His making us partakers of the benefits of the new covenant. "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death?"— Rom. 6:3.

Q. 9. What is meant by our ingrafting in to Christ?
A. By our ingrafting into Christ, is meant our being cut off from our old stock of nature, and being joined unto Jesus Christ, whereby we come to draw virtue from him as our root, that we may grow up in him, and bring forth fruit unto him. "I am the vine, ye are the branches."— John 15:5. "Thou being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree."— Rom. 11:17.

Q. 10. What are the benefits of the covenant of grace, which by baptism we are made partakers of?
A. The benefits of the covenant of grace, which by baptism we are made partakers of, are— 1. Admission into the visible Church. "Go, teach all natious, baptizing them," &c. Matt. 28:19. 2. Remission of sins by Christ's blood. "Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins."— Acts 2:38. 3. Regeneration and sanctification by Christ's Spirit. "According to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." — Titus 3:5. 4. Adoption, together with our union unto Christ. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus: for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."— Gal. 3:26, 27. 5. Resurrection to ever-lasting life. " If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?"— 1 Cor. 15:29. "We are buried with him by baptism into death," &c. "If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection."— Rom. 6:4, 5.

Q. 11. What is sealed and engaged on our part, by being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?
A. By our being baptized in the name of the Father Son, aud Holy Ghost, is sealed and engaged on our part, that we will be the Lord's: and that—1, Wholly; soul and body, with all our powers, faculties, and members, are to be employed by him as instruments of righteousness and new obedience. And, 2. Only the Lord's; and therefore we engage to renounce the service of the devil, and the flesh, and the world, and to fight under Christ's banner against these enemies of the Lord and of our souls. "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. Reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God. Let not sin, therefore, reign, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof: neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead; and your members as iristruments of righteousness unto God." — Rom. 6:4, 11-13.

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