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AN ADMONITION ADDRESSED TO THE SCORNERS OF THE WORD
We well know, beloved reader, that there are many unprofitable talkers, who teach from the letters of the Scriptures, that infants should not be baptized, but only Christian believers; nevertheless they say: Why my beloved, what can water avail us? We have been once baptized in the name of God. Had we only the new life, it would suffice us. O dear Lord! thus is thy precious word every where esteemed of this vicious world as fables of Æsop; as if Omnipotent Majesty, the Eternal Wisdom and Truth had taught and commanded some things to no purpose. No, my good reader, no; his name is the Sovereign Lord; his word is his will; his command is eternal life. All things which he has taught and commanded us, he will undoubtedly have us to observe; if we do not, woe to us. Christ says, "Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever. I command you," John 15:14. "My counsel," says the prophet, "shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure," Isa. 46:10. Therefore, O Creature, do not longer fight against God. Give ear to him and obey his voice, for it is his divine counsel, word and will. Who are you, that you would contend with God? Christ's sheep hear his voice. True Christians believe and obey. Are you a sincere Christian, born of God? Then why do you dread baptism; which is among the least that God commanded you? It has always been a difficult and important command to love your enemy; to do good to those who hate you; to pray in spirit and in truth, for those who persecute you; to crucify your wicked and ungodly flesh, with its impure lusts and desires; to subdue your arrogant pride; your avariciousness; your offensive unchastity; your bloody hatred; your eating and drinking to excess; to renounce your accursed idolatry; to desist from your envious revilings; to curb your slanderous tongue; to govern your heart, and flesh; to love and fear with all your heart, your Lord and God, your Creator and Redeemer; and in all things to submit his holy word, and serve your neighbor in sincere and unfeigned love, with all your powers, with all your possessions, with your counsel, with your labor, yea, if required with your death and blood; with a sincere heart to suffer misery, disdain, and the oppressive cross of Christ for the Lord's word; and to confess Christ Jesus before lords and princes, in prison and bonds, by words and deeds, unto death.
We think that these, and the like commands, are more painful and difficult to perverse flesh, which is naturally so prone to follow its own way, than to have a hand full of water applied; and a sincere Christian must at all times be ready to do all this; if not, he is not born of God; for the regenerated are of one mind with Christ Jesus.
All who, by the grace of God, have been translated from Adam into Christ, and become partakers of the divine nature, and are baptized of God, with the Spirit and fire of heavenly love, will not contend so deridingly with the Lord, and says: My beloved, what can water avail? But they say, with trembling Paul, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" And with the penitents on the day of Pentecost, "Men and brethren, what shall we do? "They will renounce their own wisdom, and willingly obey the word of the Lord, for they are influenced by his Spirit, and through faith, with willing, obedient hearts perform all things commanded them of the Lord.
But as long as their minds are not renewed, and they are not of the same mind with Christ; are not washed in the inner man with clean water, from the living fountain of God, they may well say, What can water avail us? For as long as they are earthly and sensually minded, the whole ocean would not cleanse them.
My faithful reader, think not that we put great stress upon the elements and rites. I tell you the truth in Christ, and lie not. If any one were to come to me, even the emperor, or the king, and world desire to be 38baptized, still walking in the unclean, ungodly lusts of the flesh, and were he not unblamable, penitent and regenerated, I hope by the grace of God, I would rather die than to baptize such an impenitent and sensual man. For where there is no renewing, regenerating faith, leading to obedience, there is no baptism.1111There can be no scriptural baptism administered. Even as Philip said to the Eunuch, "If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest." But nevertheless, you ought to know, should the subject for baptism come with a hypocritical heart, under semblance of faith, that his hypocrisy would not be imputed to the baptizer as a sin, but to the dissembler; for no man knows the heart of man, save the spirit of man which is in him, 1 Cor. 2:11.
It appears to me, that you may readily conclude from the language which we have used that we desire no other water, than that which the word of the Lord has commanded. For since we believe that Christ is the true Messiah, to whom the law and the prophets pointed, whom all the righteous fathers and patriarchs desired; that he came from heaven and testified to the truth, and that his command is eternal life, we must, therefore, hear his voice and obey his word; if not, we actually show that we do not believe, but that we reject his counsel and word, and are ungrateful towards him, for his love.
I know well, that many of you will say, We were once baptized in the name of God, and with that we are satisfied. To which we reply: If you fear God with all your heart, and acknowledge that his word and ordinances are just and good, you must decide that you are not baptized in the name of God, but contrary to it. It is true that the adorable, exalted name of God was pronounced over you, but not otherwise than it is pronounced over church‑bells, churches, altars, consecrated water, tapers and palms. All anti‑Christian idolatry and abominations, alas, are performed under the semblance of the divine name; although they are not done by virtue of, but against his name, for they are done contrary to his word and will.
My dear reader, reflect well upon these words and judge them by the word of God, and you will find that the baptism which you have received is without the command of God's word; that it originated through selfrighteousness, and was invented by man, and therefore it must be accursed of God, who alone will reign and rule in his church. Would you rejoice in the promise and be partakers of the church of Christ, you must believe the word of the Lord, be obedient to, and follow his counsel, will and ordinances. But if you refuse, and follow your own, and not the Lord's counsel and will, you cannot comfort yourselves with any scriptural promise, for "he that believeth not," says Christ, "is condemned already."
Therefore, do no longer comfort yourselves with such vain comfort, and say, We have been once baptized; for at heart you are yet entirely unbelieving; yea, rebellious, and unclean. Your whole life is earthly and carnal, your baptism anti‑Christian, and without the sanction of the word of God. Therefore, awaken, repent, believe in Christ, seek, fear and love God with all your heart, then the word of the Lord and his unction will teach you what is proper for you to do or not to do, in this matter. And say not, as some do, I will renounce the church and idolatry; I will serve my neighbor, &c.; but I do not wish to be baptized.
O you blind men! Do you think that the Lord is pleased with your staying away from the church, or with your alms, or any thing of the kind, if you reject his counsel and word? No! no!! He desires your obedience, but not sacrifice. He desires the whole heart, the entire man. With him, neither church nor alms will avail, neither words nor deeds, as long as you do not manifest a new heart and life. "For in Christ Jesus," says Paul, "neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love, a new creature, and the keeping of the commandments of God," Gal. 5:6; 6:15; 1 Cor. 7:19.
And whosoever is renewed in Christ and born of God, he liveth no more, as Paul says, but Christ Jesus liveth in him. In all his ways he conforms to the word of the Lord, for that powerful, active faith constrains him to all obedience, and to every good work. But where this new life is not, 39there fair words may indeed be, but in truth, there is only unbelief, disobedience, wantonness, presumption, and perverseness.
I hereby entreat and admonish you, beloved reader, not to be so obstinate against the Lord, and say, What can water avail us? But do reflect that Christ Jesus himself was baptized, Matt. 3:13, although he was without sin, neither was guile found in his mouth, 1 Pet. 2:22; yea, who was himself righteousness, the way, the truth, and the life. Tell us then, what could water avail Christ, who was all in all things? The disciples also at Ephesus were re‑baptized of Paul, because they knew nothing of the Holy Ghost, although they had been baptized with the baptism of John. If Christ himself was baptized, who was without sin, and others were re‑baptized of Paul, who had been baptized with the baptism of John, which was also from heaven, Why do you then despise the Lord's baptism, you who are poor, miserable sinners, who were baptized without knowledge and faith, with the baptism of the dragon and the beast?
Cyprian, the Martyr, with his entire council in Africa, resolved that those who were baptized of heretics, should be re‑baptized with the christian baptism, and this for the reason, that they maintained that the baptism of heretics could not be the baptism of Christ. Reflect a little, kind reader, who they were that baptized you; by whom they were sent; what kind of faith they had; what kind of lives they led; with what doctrine and practices you were baptized. If you will seriously reflect thereon, I hope by the grace of God, if you desire true peace and liberty of conscience, you will soon be aware that you never knew either the external or internal baptism, much less received it.
Behold, beloved reader, here you have the true foundation and scriptural instructions of the baptism of Christ, and an explanation of the baptism of anti‑christ.
Pray the Lord, the Most High, for a sound and clear understanding, that you may sincerely know the right and blessed truth, believe, and in the fear of the Lord, faithfully observe it. Cease from all useless disputing and gainsaying; for whosoever will dispute and gainsay with the determination to remain in the broad way, will ruin his soul, never walk with a good and sure conscience before God, and always find occasion to dispute and wrangle.
Therefore, do examine, believe, and obey the word of God with a sincere and devout heart, and be not deceived by being led into the appearance of godliness, by fair speeches, and you will certainly obtain the sure doctrine of the saving truth, and the consoling promise of grace. The Lord Jesus Christ grant you his grace, Amen.
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