[The controversy of the so-called clergy the cause, in this century, that the Anabaptists increased the more, which forms the beginning of this account.
In the meantime, the difference is shown, between the old Waldenses and the apostate Hussites, respecting the article of holy baptism.
The Waldenses in Hungary were now, in the year 1507, greatly persecuted; concerning whom it is stated, that they led an innocent life; and it is also declared that in their confession, which they delivered this year, as well as in their defense, in the year 1508, nothing at all is said about infant baptism.
Ludovicus Vives is introduced, for the year 1521, who, commenting on Augustine, says: That formerly the adults alone were admitted to baptism, and that even in his time said practice was still maintained in some cities of Italy.
Two articles of the old Waldenses are related, one of which is against the pope, the other on holy baptism.
For the year 1540, mention is made of the churches in Thessalonica, who were said to have remained unchanged in faith from the time of the apostles, and agree with the Anabaptists. From two different authors particulars corroborating the matter of said Thessalonian churches are given; from the testimony of other writers and credible memoirs.
In a note it is shown, that in Thessalonica alone the Christians have more than thirty churches, or meetinghouses, while the Turks have only three.
D. Vicecomes mentions the time when the Thessalonian Christians administered baptism.
We then proceed to some confessors who lived and were put to death in the time of our fathers; some good and wholesome testimonies regarding this article, left by them as Thomas van Imbrmck, A. D. 1558; Jacob de Roore, A. D. 1569; John Wouters van Kuyck, A. D. 1572, Christian Gastayger, A. D. 1586; Bartholomew Panten, A. D. 1592. Finally, about A. D. 1600, an entire confession of faith follows, such as has been believed and practiced for many years, by those called Mennists.
With this we conclude the whole account of holy baptism and Christian worship in those times.]
It is now our purpose to fulfill the promise we made in the preceding part, and to this end have come here, namely, to show also in this century, that the distinguishing mark of the believers, that is, baptism according to the institution of Christ, was at this time also correctly taught, practiced and maintained, by those who may be called orthodox believers; notwithstanding said article had to suffer much opposition, violence and molestation, and this not only from the papists (who, however, have nearly always opposed it), but also from other persuasions who had abhorred the doctrine of the papists in many other points, and with fear and terror
had fled from the Roman church, as from a confused Babel.
However, all this, instead of obscuring the truth, tended only to illuminate and glorify it the more, just as gold when contrasted with copper, the mountain's height with the deep valley, and the light of day with the darkness of night, can be distinguished the more plainly; also the praiseworthy commended, and the contemptible contemned. This was the case at that time, not only with the assailed truth, but also with those who defended it, as shall be related and proven in the sequel.
Jacob Mehrning's History of Baptism, making mention of the sixteenth century, that is the time from A. D. 1500 until A. D. 1600, begins with these words: Page 772"At this time there arose, principally in Germany, a most severe persecution against the old Waldenses and .their followers, through the violent controversy of the, so-called clergy, and the disputations waged against them by the pens of the learned." [The Waldenses] in consequence of this, however, gained far more Anabaptists (namely Baptists); than there had ever before, in any country, been seen.
This indicates that the old orthodox Waldenses, notwithstanding the severe persecutions, existed also at this time, yea, insomuch that now they increased more than ever before.
But this was also the century in .whichLuther in Germany, Zwingli in Switzerland, and afterwards Calvin in France, began to reform the Roman chLr,-h; and to deny, oppose and contend with the authority of God's holy Word against the supposed power of the Roman Pope, and many papal superstitions, however, in order to avoid too great dissatisfaction, as it seems, they remained in the matter of infant baptism, in agreement with the Roman church, though they abandoned many incidents which the papists observe at the baptism of infants, such as the salt, spittle, exorcism, and the like.
They also have retained with the papists, the swearing of oaths, the office of secular authority, war against enemies, and sometimes also against each other, etc., of which things the old Waldenses had purified themselves, and would have no communion with any who would practice these things. Hence, we will leave them, and turn to our fellow believers.
It is true, that already before the beginning of this century, some of the Waldenses had united with the Hussites, apparently in the confidence, that with the doctrine, these would also follow the meekness of their former teacher, John Huss. But when said Hussites would retain infant baptism, and avenge the death of their teacher, yea, began to wage a bloody war against those who had put him to death, those who had united with them found themselves greatly deceived, and left them, not daring to trust their salvation with such people; some, however, though few, remained with them. Thus the Waldenses returned for the most part to their old brethren, but the Hussites were received by the Lutherans, Zwinglians and Calvinists, who, with them approved of infant baptism and war.
But since, some Waldenses had united with the Hussites before the apostasy of the latter, and some though few, .had still remained with them, it came that said Hussites received, though erroneously, the name of Waldenses. Hence it originated, that they had a mixed confession of faith, which was partly conformable to the old confession of the Waldenses, and party adulterated with innovations or human institutions. For example, the article of the holy baptism of these Hussites reads as follows, "The faith which God has given us, constrains us to believe and confess such things respecting baptism, which is the first sacrament
Whoever, now, in adult age, has become believing through the hearing of the Word of God, by which he; being regenerated and enlightened in his soul, has received power, such an one is bound to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, into the unity of the holy church, by an external washing of water, in token of his inward purification obtained through faith."
(So far this article accords with the confession of,the old Waldenses; ,but what follows it, is held to have been added by said Hussites. ), "This our confession extends also to infants, who, according to the command of the apostles, as Dionysius writes, must be baptized, and afterwards, through the wise direction of their sponsors, who are taught in the law of Christ, be guided, or urged and trained to the life of faith, that is, to worthily practice the faith."
We see here, a great departure of these Hussites, who have added to the old rule of the Waldenses, which is confirmed by the authority of holy Scripture (namely, to baptize upon faith), a new rule, namely, to baptize also infants, and for proof of this, adduce not the testimony of Christ or His holy apostles, but of one Dionysius, who never was an apostle or teacher of Christ, but a fallible man.
And still, the preacher Mellinus would make the readers of his book believe, 2d book, page 614, Col: 3, that this last part was also the confession of the Waldenses; but the contrary is evident, as previously stated; yea, according to his own account, fol: 446, col. 1, the Waldenses, A. D. 1544, forty years after the Hussites, whom he calls Bohemian brethren, made the above article, issued a confession and delivered it in the parliament of the King of France, in. which, where speaking of baptism, they make no mention at all of any baptizing of infants; but the work of the Hussites, according to the account of said preacher, is said to have originated A. D. 1504. Compare fol. 611, col. 1, with f al. 614, Col. 3.
A. D. 1507-"In this year," writes P. J. Twisck,"the Vaudois, Waldenses, or believers were cruelly persecuted in Hungary, and delivered the confession of their faith, together with an apology, to
Uladislaus, King of Bohemia, refuting the calumnies of their enemies, and proving that they had not separated from the Roman church without good reasons. Of these people, papistic writers themselves confess, that they led an innocent and pious life, though they nevertheless cruelly sought to kill and exterminate them." Chron., page 930, col. 2, from Henr. Boxh., fol. 27.
NOTE.--Touching the confession which the afore-mentioned Waldenses, A. D. 1507, delivered to King Uladislaus, as well as their defense which they delivered A. D. 1508, nothing at all is therein said of infant baptism, though that would have been the proper time to explain themselves in this respect. See A. Mell., fol. 616, col. 1-4, and fol. 617, col. 1-3. As to their confession of the year 1504, which was corrupted or adulterated with human institutions, by the Hussites, we have already spoken.
A. D. 1521.-One Ludovicus Vives, of Valencia, commenting on the words of Augustine, in the 27th chapter of the 1st book of the City of God: With what admonition we address the baptized, says"That no one be misled by this passage, [I would state, that] no one was formerly admitted to holy baptism, save he who had attained his years, and understood himself what the holy water signified, and desired to be washed with it; yea, when he desired it a second time or oftener."
Said Vives, in the same place, further declares, "I understand that in some cities of Italy the ancient custom is, to a great extent, still observed."
By this he indicates, that at, as well as before his time, many there did not practice infant baptism; which is the purpose for which we have adduced this passage., "These apparently were," says H. Montanus, who has noted this,"a remnant from the Waldenses, who were also scattered into different parts of Italy." Nietigh., page 89.
He then states, that in the year 1544 they delivered their confession of faith to Francis I, King of France, but that the following year, said king, through Minerius, miserably fell upon and exterminated them, in accordance with the sentence pronounced against them five years previously, at Aix, in the court of Provence, not far from Italy.
Their faith is further thus described, "That they, according to their ancient custom, did not ,recognize the Pope of Rome, and had always had a pure religion."
Concerning baptism, they professed, "That it is an external visible sign, which signifies to us the renewing of the Spirit, and the mortifying of the members." This confession, in substance, fully agrees with the one which we previously related from jean Paul Perrin, as also, with what Reinerius admonishes, among the articles of their confession, as these were in his time, saying, "That they deemed infant baptism useless." Mont., Nietigh., page 90. We could expatiate and give more particulars, touching the Waldenses, in confirmation of the faith which they had in common with us, as also, that they confessed said faith until the times of the last martyrs, yea, also, that some of those martyrs proceeded from them; but as it is not our purpose fro fill this book with words, but only to give the pith of the matter, which we think we have done, we will leave it as it is referring it to the judgment of the intelligent and impartial reader.
Before we leave this, we would state that mention is made, in this century, not only of the Waldenses, but also of certain churches in Thessalonica, in Greece, which are declared to have remained unchanged in faith from the time of Christ, and to agree in faith and practice with the Anabaptistic churches, in Switzerland. I will quote the account verbatim, which I have found in regard to this; in a certain tract entitled: The Spectacles, by which the Anabaptists of one faith may see, etc., by a lover of the truth, J. S., printed at Harlem, by Hans Passchiers, van Wesbusch, A. D. 1630.
In the preface, page 10, we read, "Since, my beloved, all the truly pious have a sincere joy and the greatest delight [to know], that many pious people are found upon earth, it has seemed good to me, to acquaint you with a brief testimony that has fallen into my hands:How, in the year 1540, or a little before, certain persons were brought captive by the Turks, from Moravia, to Thessalonica, in Turkey, and sold as slaves; which slaves there became acquainted with the (Thessalonian) Christians. Observing their life and conversation, they said to these Thessalonians, that in Moravia there lived a people who were like them in life and conversation, and were called Anabaptists; which kindled in the Thessalonians a zeal to examine the truth of the matter; and it further happened, as the testimony states," etc.
NOTE.-Besides what we have noted concerning the churches at Thessalonica, Balthasar Lydius gives this account, "We will first speak of the Greek churches, who, in great numbers, are under the dominion of the Grand Turk; for in the city of Thessalonica, by the Turks now called Salonick, the Christians or Greeks have more than thirty churches, while the Turks, on the other hand, have only three; and so it is in other places in the vicinity. These churches do not recognize the pope as the general head of the church. This appears from the book of Nilus. Balth 4ydii, 3. Tract. of the Waldenses, ¢. 33, eol. 1. Nilus de Primatu Papa, p. 48, 51 edit., Wechel, A. D., 1608.
On page 42 of the book referred to above, we read: Brief account how through some Moravians who had been captured by the Turks, and had come to Thessalonica, in Turkey, the Christians at Thessaloniea obtained information that in Moravia there lived fellow believers of theirs, who were there called Anabaptists; and how, in order to as-
certain the truth of the matter, they sent three of their brethren to Moravia, in Germany., "I, the undersigned, testify that in Moravia there lived with me, for the space of three years, a man of our brethren, about a hundred years old named Leonard Knar, who related to me that in his time, when he was a servant in the common house of the common church at Popitz, under the stewart, Hans Fuhrman, three brethren of the church of Thessalonica were sent to Germany to inquire after their fellow believers, who, as they had learned from the prisoners, as stated above, were living in Moravia., "They first came to Nickelsburg, on the frontier of Hungary, where they went to a priest and inquired after this people. He entered a carriage and rode with these three men to Pausrom, to those who are there called Hutterites, and in the Netherlands, Moravians., "Having well examined their life and conversation, they discussed with them, in the Latin language, in which they were well versed all the articles of the faith, but found that in three principal articles they did not accord; namely, first in shunning, as this article was maintained by the Hutterites; secondly, in the community of goods, which virtually consists with them more in dominion and servitude, than in equality; thirdly, that they withhold from those who fall away from their communion and leave them the property which they brought in, on account of which these three men parted from them with tears in their eyes, because they had performed such a difficult and laborious journey in vain., "The same priest then brought them in same place (Pausrom), to the Schwitzer church, who derive their name from Hans Schwitzer, who, through one of their brethren, named John Peck (who, with Hans Fuhrman and twelve other persons, had lain in prison for nine years, in the castle Passau on the Danube, in Bavaria, for the testimony of the faith), discussed in Latin all the articles of their faith. They agreed well in all points, on account of which they being mutually filled with great joy, acknowledged each other as dear brethren, and in token thereof, commemorated together the Lord's Supper, with great gladness, confessing themselves the true church of God. They stated further that the church of God at Thessalonica had remained unchanged in faith from the time of the apostles, and that they still preserved in good condition the letters which the apostle Paul wrote to them with his own hands., "All this having taken place, they parted in peace, and having commended each other with tears and the kiss of love, into the keeping of the Lord, the brethren journeyed back to Thessalonica., "One of them who was a tailor by trade, left his shears as a memento in the church at Pausrom., "This history is not only known to me, but is generally known, not only in Moravia, but also in the upper Palatinate." he father of this Leonard Knar, who saw and related all this; was elder among the Anabaptists there who now consist of two principal divisions, namely the Hutterites, here in the Netherlands called Moravians, and the Schwitzers here in the Netherlands called Germans, but who were then yet one people. This Elder Leonard Knar ministered to these people in baptism, the Supper and intercessions according to the doctrine of the apostles.
As Leonard was well acquainted with John Peck, the latter orally related to Leonard all that he had discussed with the brethren from Thessalonica.
We mentioned before, that Hans Fuhrman and John Peck, together with twelve other persons, lay imprisoned for nine years in the castle of Passau. From this long confinement they were released through bail furnished by a certain lord of Jamits, who traveled thirty-six leagues to release the prisoners by becoming bondsman for them. He had in his town Jamits, a large society of these people living under his protection.
To the above account the following testimony is given, subscribed to .in these words:, "By me, Jacob Meyster, resident at Amsterdam, fled from Moravia, to Poland, A. D. 1620; thence A. D. 1626, to Stettin, in Pomerania, and in the year 1627, to Amsterdam. I acknowledge that this account of Leonard Knar is as related."
Of these things, Jacob Mehrning, of Holstein, gives this account, "Thus we have information, that even at the present day there are brethren and Christians at Thessalonica, who agree with the Mennists in all articles of religion, also in baptism, two of whom were yet in the time of our fathers, with the brethren in Moravia, and then also in the Netherlands, and communed with the brethren, who expressly declared that they still preserved in good condition, at Thessalonica, the originals of St. Paul's two epistles to the Thessalonians. Likewise, that many of their brethren were still living, scattered here and there in Ethiopia, Greece and other oriental countries, as well as other Christians, who, like them, were preserved by God, and remained in the same doctrine, and the. true practice of baptism, constantly from the beginning of the apostles to this time. Bapt. Hist., p. 739.
D. Vicecomes, lib. 1, cap. 23, quotes from Nicephorus Callistus, that in Thessalia baptism was administered only at Easter; on which account many died without baptism.
This harmonizes quite well with the foregoing; namely, that the Thessalonian churches were not accustomed, or at least did not deem it necessary to baptize infants, seeing they waited with baptism a whole year; on the other hand, those who consider infant baptism necessary, frequently dare not postpone it one month,- one week, yea, sometimes not one day, on account of the uncertainty of the infant's life; so that they appoint no definite time for infant baptism, as also, if necessity require it, no
definite persons; so much that the papists as also the Lutherans allow not only priests or teachers, but also laymen, yea, women to baptize, so that no child may die unbaptized. Anthon. Jac. Babel der Kinderdoopers, printed A. D. 1626, p. 107, 8th chapter, quest. 5, from Bellarm de Baptism, col. 307.
But that the Thessalonian churches had the custom of baptizing only on Easter, that is, once a year came as may be inferred, because they deemed it necessary first to instruct the persons for a long time, almost a year, and to teach them the faith, before they might be baptized; as has been shown from Rupert Tuiciensis, for the year 1124.
NOTE.-Notwithstanding we might herewith close our account of Holy Baptism, since not only this article, but all that further belongs to it, has been sufficiently shown, and the known martyrs of our faith and their confessions have been plainly presented in our old book of the martyrs long before this time; yea, already in the year 1524, we nevertheless, in order to satisfy, if this be possible, the critical, will proceed to bring this article to the end of this century, in which the confessions of the martyrs will render us no small service, as will appear.
A. D. 1558.-At this time a God-fearing and pious hero of Jesus Christ, named Thomas van Imbroeck, made a most excellent and explicit confession of Holy Baptism, as also a refutation of the opponents, which he delivered to the lords of Cologne, where he was imprisoned for the faith. It reads as follows:.
I believe and confess that there is a Christian baptism, which must take place externally and internally; internally with the Holy Ghost and with fire, externally with water; in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Internal baptism is imparted by Christ to the penitent, as John the Baptist said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I; whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8.
Christ confirms these words when He says to His disciples,"That they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." And this promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. Acts 1:4, 5; 2, etc.
Thus was also the house of Cornelius baptized when they believed what Peter spake: they received the Holy Ghost, and all spake with tongues, and magnified God. Acts 10:44, 46.
But the external baptism of water, which is a witness of the spiritual baptism, and indication of rue repentance, and a sign of faith in Jesus Christ, is administered, by the command of the Almighty Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, and in the name of the only God, by a true servant of the Lord, to those who have repented and reformed, believe the Gospel,* confess their faith and desire baptism;, willingly offer themselves up to God, and yield themselves servants unto righteousness, yea, to the service of God, and the communion of Jesus Christ and all the saints.
This is fully comprehended and contained in the words which Christ speaks to His disciples, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Matt. 28:19, 20. In Mark we read thus, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:15, 16.
These words of Christ fully comprise the ordination and institution of the Christian baptism, and all that pertains to it; for Christ, who is the eternal wisdom of the Father, has expressly and completely thus commanded it. Now, as He is the Light and the Saviour of the world, we find in this command, that teaching and believing must precede baptism. John 8:12; 3:17.
The Scriptures cannot be broken, neither are we to take away from, or add to, the Word of God; nay, not even the smallest tittle or letter of the Gospel may be changed. Hence, the ordinance of the Lord, respecting baptism must remain unaltered; for it is the Word of God, which abideth for ever. Deut. 4:2; Matt. 5:18; John 10:35.
Hence, the words of Christ declare, that teaching must take place before and after baptism, in order that the person baptized may use diligence to observe, after baptism, the Gospel (which was presented to him before baptism), and all things commanded him; for he is no more lord over himself; but, as a bride surrenders herself to her bridegroom, so he, after receiving baptism, surrenders himself to Christ, and loses his will, is resigned in all things, without name, without will, but leaving the name to Christ, and letting Him reign in him. For this is the signification of baptism, that the Christian's life is nothing but pure dying and suffering; because we are like unto the image of Christ, and baptized with Him, must die and suffer, if we would reign and live with Him. Rom. 6:4.
With this ordinance of Christ, accord also the apostles, as faithful stewards and dispensers of the manifold grace of God; for thus did Peter and the other disciples preach the Gospel at Jerusalem, and they that heard it, were pricked in their heart by the Word, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles;"Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them: 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" (Acts 2:37, 38). Thus did also Philip, when he expounded the Scripture to the eunuch. And the latter, when he had accepted it, said, "What doth hinder me to be baptized? Philip answered: If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." Acts 8:35-37. Thus also those of Samaria were baptized, when they believed the words of Philip. Verse 12.
Again, when Peter preached Christ to the house of Cornelius, and spake the word of life, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word."Then said Peter: Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." Acts 10:44, 47, 48.
Thus, Paul also found certain disciples at Ephesus, to whom he said, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost, since ye believed? They answered: We have not so much as heard whether.there be any Holy Ghost. Then said Paul: Unto what then were ye baptized? They said: Unto John's baptism. Paul said: John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, " So we read in the 19th chapter of Acts.
Thus also Paul himself, when he had been prostrated on the way, by the Lord, and had heard at Damascus, by the command of the Lord, from Ananias, what he should do; had again received his sight, and was filled with the Holy Ghost, in short, had become a chosen vessel and fit instrument, was baptized, and called upon the name of the Lord; as Luke writes, Acts 9:18.
From these and other passages it is evident, that the apostles first taught, and that from teaching follow repentance and faith. For, how shall they believe, says Paul, without hearing. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Rom. 10:17. Hence, penitent faith is confessed and, so to speak, sealed by Christian baptism. For, after baptism, a constantly good and godly life should follow;* this is the true ordinance of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His apostles, as you may read everywhere throughout the Acts of the Apostles.
Lastly, as the apostles established the church of God through the Gospel, so they all unanimously declare in their epistles the aforesaid foundation of Christ. For, thus says Paul to the Romans, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore 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. For if we have been
knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin" (Rom. 6:3-7).
With these words, Paul tells us what the baptism of believers signifies, namely, the dying of the flesh, or mortifying of the old Adam, the burying of sin, the putting off of the sinful flesh, and the resurrection of the new man and life; and this for this reason: since Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead for our justification, and we, through the spirit of faith, have been incorporated or grafted into Him, and hence, have become entitled to the merits of His death, yea, are made partakers of all that is His, and thus, in and through hope, are confirmed in His fellowship (unto which we are called through grace); therefore we must also, for His name's sake, die unto sin,* bury it, and live unto righteousness, that we may be a true branch on the vine.
In this manner the apostle Paul speaks also to the Colossians, "Ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body, of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him." Chap. 2, verses 10-13, compared with Eph. 2:4-6.
These words, in the first place, declare, that circumcision is not a figure of baptism, but of the circumcision of Christ, Which is not done on the foreskin of the flesh, but on that of the heart, not with hands, nor with a knife of stone, but without hands, through the Word of God, in the Spirit.
These words of Paul sufficiently indicate, that in baptism the past life must be buried with Christ, and, through faith, rise to a new life; for the outward sign alone is of no value in the sight of God but faith, the new birth, a true Christian life-by these, man is united with God, incorporated into Christ Jesus, and becomes a partaker of the Holy Ghost.
Hence, external baptism does not conduce tc salvation, if the internal baptism is wanting, name ly, the transformation and renewing of the mind Once more Paul says to the Galatians, "For ye arf 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).
I hope that my lords will reflect a little on then excellent and explicit words; for when viewer aright, they are easily comprehended. Even as
man that is naked, hides himself and would not b~ seen because he is ashamed of his nakedness; bu
when he has covered his shame, he comes forth without hesitation. So it was also with Adam; when God called him, he hid himself, and said, "Lord, I am naked." Nevertheless, he had covered himself with a fig-leaf; but it availed him nothing; for the Lord could well see his shame, that is, his sin. Gen. 3.
But when he knew himself, God clothed him with skins, which signified the sign of .grace of Christ. Now when he had on the skin, his nakedness was no longer seen. So it is also with Christians; when they have put on the coat of skins (Christ), our sin is seen no longer, and the garment which we have on is manifest to all. Compare Gen. 3:21 with Gal. 3:27. Therefore, he that is baptized aright, has put on Christ, and nothing is seen on him, but Christ and the life of Christ. Thus Paul says to the Ephesians, "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:25, 26).
Here we plainly perceive, that the washing of water is joined to the word; for no one is cleansed by the washing of water, but by the word; as the Lord says, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" (John 15:3) .
In another place, Paul calls baptism a washing of regeneration, Tit. 3:5, because baptism represents regeneration; even as circumcision is called a covenant, because it represented a covenant. Thus also, the paschal lamb is called pascha, that is, a passing over, though it was simply a memorial of the passover. Thus, is baptism called a washing of regeneration, because it belongs to the regenerated children of God, who are born of incorruptible seed, namely, the living Word of God, or, as James says, "Who are regenerated by the will of God, by the word of truth." I Pet. 1:23; James 1:18.
Still another point is also to be considered here -that the apostles say, We must be regenerated by the Word, that is, through the preaching of the Gospel. But by what will those who say that children are regenerated, prove this? since neither preaching nor word obtains with them.
Finall~1, Peter says also in his epistle, "When once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 3:20, 21) .
From the words of Peter we perceive, that baptism is represented by the flood, through which God punished the whole world; but Noah, with his house, whom God deemed righteous, was preserved in the ark from the water; even as Israel passed dry-shod through the Red Sea, and were thus delivered from their enemies; but Pharaoh with his entire host, was drowned in it, so that not a single one escaped. I Cor. 10:1, 2.
Thus it is with all the works of God; that which is life for the pious, is death for the ungodly, as Paul testifies with these words, "We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life" (II Cor. 2:15, 16).
But in order rightly to understand the figure of the flood, we must consider Noah as the antitype of Christ; his house the antitype of believers; the ark, of the church; and the flood, of baptism. For, even as Noah, in his time, was a preacher of righteousness, so also Christ was a true preacher of righteousness, who proceeded from God, and came into the world. And as Noah prepared the ark, to preserve his household, so Christ prepared the spiritual ark, namely His church, built by the apostles, as wise master builders, to preserve His children and His household, of whom He Himself says, "Behold, I and the children which God hath given me." And as through the flood all flesh was destroyed and perished, so must also, through baptism, all carnal lusts and desires be destroyed and perish. And as only few, that is, eight souls, were preserved in the time of Noah, so it is also with men at this present time. Though it is proclaimed unto them, and the light shines forth clearly, still they love darkness rather than light; hence there are so few who truly believe, and are translated from the past life into a spiritual life, that they may enter into the church of Christ, and thus be baptized unto the dying of the flesh, and the resurrection to a new life.
For Christ Himself says, that there are but few who find the true way;"for many are called, but few chosen;" few believe, and few shall be saved. Luke 1-3:24; Matt. 20:16. As also Luke says, "Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8).
For, noble sir, and servant of God, I appeal to you, whether it is not now as it was in the time of Noah? They build; they plant; they buy one field after another; they feast; they drink; they marry, and are given in marriage; and all this without the fear of God; and they who do this are well known, yea, all corners of the world are full of abominations and idolatry. May the Lord convert them ail, Amen. Luke 17:26, 27; Matt. 24:37, 38.
The reason why they live without the fear of God, and without care, is, that they have no example. They console themselves only with this, namely: I am a Christian; for 1 am baptized. Thus they speak, thinking that it is sufficient if one is only baptized; but they know little what baptism signifies; for they have not yet drank of the living fountain, of which Jeremiah speaks; but they drink of the wells which they have digged themselves;"For they have forsaken the true fountain, says the Lord" (Jer. 2:13) .
So it is now also with baptism, as I have sufficiently shown above, that believers only are to be baptized. But now the command of Christ is ignored, and those who dig or devise a well, or baptism, of their own, are received; and thus is fulfilled what Christ says, "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none erect by your tradition" (Matt. 15:6).
Still more might be shown from the Scriptures; for Paul writes very clearly to the Hebrews, concerning the preparation of Christians, declaring that those who would receive this Christian ordinance, must first learn the principles of the Christian doctrine, namely, repentance f rom dead works, then faith in God, and then baptism. Heb. 6:1.
I fear it might become tedious to my noble lord and servant of God; hence I will make it as brief as possible.
Now, since there are many who believe that children that die without baptism are damned, as also the priests maintain, we will, by the grace of God, give a brief answer to our opponents, so that my lords may be relieved on this point
In the first place, our opponents say, it is writ- ten, "Suffer little children to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.. 19:14). Now, if they have the promise, why should they not also receive baptism, which is less than the promise?
Answer.-We believe and, confess that infants are saved on account of the promise; but that salvation depends on baptism, we do not confess; for when Christ promised the children the kingdom of God, they were not baptized, nor did He baptize them, but He embraced them, and spoke kindly to, or blessed, them. Mark 9:36, 37. Christ also states the reason why the children are acceptable to God, since He sets them as examples for adults, and admonishes us, that we should be like them, for thus He says to His disciples, "Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little, children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the , kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3, 4) .
Hence, since we are admonished to become as children, it is incontrovertible, that as long as they remain in a state of innocence, God holds them guiltless, and no sin is imputed to them; and although they are of a sinful nature, partaking of the nature of Adam, there still remains something in them which is pleasing to God, namely, innocence and humility; however, they are saved only through the grace of Christ.
But if some condemn infants, if they die without baptism, it is a despising of the blood of Christ; for the sin of Adam and of the whole world, is reconciled through the sacrifice of Christ, and no sin from Adam is imputed to children; how then can children be damned?
Who will accuse the children, for whom Christ shed His blood? Who will condemn them, to whom Christ has promised the kingdom of God? Who will deny the holy Scriptures, which declare so emphatically, that the sin of Adam and of the whole world has been taken away; the handwriting of the law, which was against us, blotted out, and nailed to the cross, and that grace has abounded over sin, and.the life of Christ conquered death?
Hence, he who says that children are condemned, or accuses them on account of original sin, denies the death and blood of Christ. For, if the children are condemned because of Adam's death, then Christ died in vain, Adam's guilt is still upon us, and not reconciled through Christ, and grace has not abounded over sin through Christ. God forbid.
For the grace of God has richly appeared to all men. Tit. 2:11; Rom. 5:18. All malediction, curse, and the sin of the whole world have been taken away through Christ,.. and as adults are saved through faith, so children.are saved through their innocence; 'but all through grace.
An answer, then, remains yet to be given, why, if they are saved, they should not be baptized.
In the first place, because we have no command from Christ for it. Abraham had received a command from the Lord, to circumcize all males on the eighth day. Now, he had received no command respecting females, nor did he follow his own opinion, but, according to the, command of God, caused only the male children to be circumcised; and circumcision was the sign of the covenant which God had established with Abraham; and still, the women were included in the covenant as well as the men.
And afterwards, when Israel was in the wilderness, and had grossly signed against the Lord, so that God said, they should not enter into the promised land, and this on account of their unbelief, He (the Lord) said: But your children which now know neither good nor evil, they shall possess it.
Now, if the children, whom the Lord had commanded to be circumcised on the eighth day,* obtained mercy from Him, and He promised to give them the land, and that they should possess it, how much more should now His grace be upon the children for whom Christ died?
In the second place, our, opponents say, that the Lord said to Nicodemus;"Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5) . From this, they say, it follows, that no one can enter into the kingdom of God, except he be baptized with water.
Answer.-These words of Christ must not be understood with reference to children; for the passage which the Lord spake to Nicodemus, namely: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be
born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God, declares differently; for here we hear that Christ presented to Nicodemus regeneration, which takes place only through the Word of God, as has above, in my confession, been sufficiently explained; and then Nicodemus said: How can a man, when he is old, enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born again?
Mark, he says, when he is old;* from which we well perceive, that the Lord did not speak of children. And thereupon Christ says, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
That this is not spoken of children, the following words prove, namely, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."**
By these words Christ indicates that the regenerated man becomes spiritual, and is born of the Spirit, and of a spiritual nature; as Peter says, "We are become partakers of the divine nature, if we flee the corruptible lusts of this world." By this everyone may know whether he is born of the Spirit, namely, if he has the nature of the Spirit, even as one that is born of the flesh, has the nature of the flesh, each in his order. Birds have their peculiar nature; so also wild animals; likewise man; each is minded like him of whom he is born.***
Thus, he that is born of the Spirit, is also spiritually minded; hence Paul says, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
Finally Christ says to Nicodemus, "If I have told you earthly things, and ye cannot comprehend or believe, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?"
Here the Lord deems it greater to comprehend heavenly things, than earthly things; but children comprehend nothing of earthly things, how much less of heavenly.
Hence Paul says: Be not children in understanding; howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. For, faith cannot be comprehended without understanding, even as Paul says to the .Hebrews, "Faith is a sure confidence of things hoped for, and conforms itself to things not seen; so that faith has such power in itself, that it always conforms to heavenly things, and seeks those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."
God can easily give children this faith. So say I; and not only faith, but also understanding, by which faith is comprehended; yea, even language to confess it; but what sort of faith children have, they show by their life and fruits. But though God is almighty, and does according to His will, which none can resist, He nevertheless observes order in all His works, according to His pleasure. Hence, let everyone see well to it, that he do not prescribe to God according to his own opinion; for He has made all things well. To Him be eternal praise and honor. Amen.
Since these are the most important passages* with which it is sought to prove infant baptism, I have, in my weakness and simplicity, answered them. But that you, my noble sirs, may not become weary of my long writing, I will conclude; nevertheless, if my noble sirs desire a fuller answer, I am willing and ready to answer, as much as lies in my power. May God give His grace to us all. Amen. Your humble servant,
THOMAS VAN IMBROECK.
A. D. 1569.-Now when the papists sat in such darkness, that they immediately put to death those who, having been baptized in infancy, were, when arriving at riper years and' understanding, baptized upon faith, a God-fearing teacher of the church of Jesus Christ, named Jacob de Roore, did nevertheless not hesitate to make, with regard to this matter, a salutary and good confession, writing in his bonds and imprisonment at Bruges, in Flanders, the following words, "Furthermore, I confess a Christian baptism, according to the tenor of the Word of God, as Christ commanded His apostles, saying, "Go, and teach all nations, baptizing them," etc.
Afterwards he relates how the apostles executed this command of Christ, saying, "Thus did the apostles, according to their Lord's command," etc.
Continuing, he explains the words of Peter, Acts 2:39;"For the promise is unto you, and to your children," etc.; from which the opponents were frequently wont to prove (in their manner) infant baptism, or at least, to give it some plausibility. Thereupon he says as follows, "By this the apostle shows that the gift of the Holy Ghost was to be given, not only to the Jews and their children, but also to the Gentiles, who were far from the kingdom of God, and whom God should also call, as the prophet Joel had foretold.**
Thus, he says finally, baptism must be received upon faith, for a burial of sin, a washing of regeneration, a covenant of the Christian life, a putting on of the body of Christ, an ingrafting into the true olive tree and vine of Christ, an entrance into the
spiritual ark of Noah, of which Christ is the true householder, as is written of Him (this He says of His church), "Behold, here am I, and the children (the true believers) which thou hast given me." See in Martyrs Mirror, page 537, col. 2, 3, and afterwards, in the Account of the Martyrs, for the year 1569.
It is not necessary here to say anything more; since the views of this man, regarding this matter, are well known and in the memory of almost everyone. Hence we will conclude this, and proceed to others of like confession.
A. D. 1572.-At this time there was imprisoned at Dort, in Holland, a man of great virtue and piety, named John Wouterss van Kuyck, who, in a letter written to his wife, relates what happened to him in prison on account of the faith. Among other things he speaks of what the bailiff, in his presence, demanded of the judges, namely: That pursuant to the decree of the king, he should be burnt alive at the stake; because he had departed from the Roman Catholic faith, and had (as he said), been rebaptized by the Anabaptists.
Thereupon this pious witness of Jesus answered as he further writes, saying, "Then I replied: I have never departed from the Christian faith; and I know no Anabaptists. I have been baptized only once upon my faith; infant baptism I do not consider a baptism; and when I was a child, I did as a child, as my parents led me. See in the last-mentioned Martyrs' Mirror, page 692, col. 2, also in the following account of the martyrs, for the year 1572.
In another letter delivered by him to the bailiff and the council of said city, he makes this confession of his own baptism, "Faith and inward baptism constrained me to obedience toward His word, to fulfill His righteousness. Hence I confess, that I was baptized upon my faith, and this on my request, according to the command of Christ, renouncing the devil, the world, etc." Sane book, page 701.
Thus, this witness of Jesus openly, boldly, and unfeignedly declared the truth of God in this matter, according to the testimony of the Word of God, and his conscience; to show which has here been our sole aim.
A. D. 1586.-At Ingolstadt, in Bavaria, one Christian Gasteiger, after suffering . much onset and opposition from the Jesuits, was, among other things, also assailed in regard to his belief respecting baptism; since he held that it should be administered to none but the believing and penitent. On a certain day, therefore, there came to him, where he was imprisoned, two of that order, saying: That a child had to be baptized or it would be damned. But he contradicted them with arguments and the authority of the holy Scriptures. This belief he held fast to the end, since he died thereupon, as shall appear more fully in the account of the martyrs, regarding his death, for he year 1586. Also, in Mart. Mir., page 886, col. 2.
A. D. 1592-We find, that besides a disputation held against some papists who maintained infant baptism, Bartholomew Panten, a pious brother, also left, before his departure from this world, a testament, as a last farewell, to his little daughter; in which he, among other things, admonishes her, how she, when arriving at maturity, should act with regard to this matter, saying, "My dear child, take this to heart, and when you attain your understanding, my paternal request to you is, to join those who fear God, who are by far the least among all people, but who are nevertheless the true congregation and church of God; who practice their rule according to the ordinance of the Lord, and the practice of the apostles, namely, a baptism which is founded upon faith, and must be received as Christ has commanded, and as is written in Matthew."
Then; treating of the words of the holy evangelists, respecting the unprepared condition in which the Pharisees came to the baptism of John, and that the latter rebuked them, saying, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance," he says by way of explanation, "Here it is to be well understood, that confession is not sufficient, but that also sorrow of heart, and good works, must be evinced. For; all outward actions, without renewing the spirit, cannot please God." See the before-mentioned Mart. Mirr., p. 924, col. 1. This matter will be shown more circumstantially in the account of his martyrdom, for the year 1592.
NOTE.-We could have filled this century with a very great number of salutary confessors respecting this article, had we not deemed this unnecessary and to no purpose; for no one who has but a little experience in history, will doubt it; since this was not one of the least points, on account of which an almost countless number of persons lost their lives in the last persecution, early in this century, and throughout to the close.