I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ,(a) not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church;(b) but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace,(c) of his ingrafting into Christ,(d) of regeneration,(e) of remission of sins,(f) and of his giving up unto God through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life.(g) Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world.(h)
II. The outward element to be used in this sacrament is water, wherewith the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the Gospel, lawfully called thereunto.(i)
III. Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but Baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person.(k)
IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ,(l) but also the infants of one or both believing parents, are to be baptized.(m)
V. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance,(n) yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it;(o) or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.(p)
VI. The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered;(q) yet notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.(r)
VII. The sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered unto any person.(s)
(s) Titus 3:5 .
Of the Lord’s Supper.
I. Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein He was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of His body and blood, called the Lord’s Supper, to be observed in His Church, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of Himself in His death; the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in Him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto Him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with Him, and with each other, as members of His mystical body.(a)
(a) I Cor. 11:23, 24, 25, 26; I Cor. 10:16, 17, 21; I Cor. 12:13.
II. In this sacrament, Christ is not offered up to His Father; nor any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sins of the quick or dead;(b) but only a commemoration of that one offering up of Himself, by Himself, upon the cross, once for all: and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God for the same:(c) so that the Popish sacrifice of the mass (as they call it) is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one, only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of His elect.(d)
III. The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed His ministers to declare His word of institution to the people; to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to a holy use; and to take and break the bread, to take the cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the communicants;(e) but to none who are not then present in the congregation.(f)
IV. Private masses, or receiving this sacrament by a priest or any other alone;(g) as likewise, the denial of the cup to the people,(h) worshipping the elements, the lifting them up or carrying them about for adoration, and the reserving them for any pretended religious use; are all contrary to the nature of this sacrament, and to the institution of Christ.(i)
V. The outward elements in this sacrament, duly set apart to the uses ordained by Christ, have such relation to Him crucified, as that, truly, yet sacramentally only, they are sometimes called by the name of the things they represent, to wit, the body and blood of Christ;(k) albeit in substance and nature they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before.(l)
VI. That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of Christ’s body and blood (commonly called transubstantiation) by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense and reason; overthroweth the nature of the sacrament, and hath been, and is the cause of manifold superstitions; yea, of gross idolatries.(m)
VII. Worthy receivers outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this sacrament,(n) do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually, receive and feed upon Christ crucified, and all benefits of His death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.(o)
(n) I Cor. 11:28.
(o) I Cor. 10:16.
VIII. Although ignorant and wicked men receive the outward elements in this sacrament: yet they receive not the thing signified thereby, but by their unworthy coming thereunto are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord to their own damnation. Wherefore, all ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with Him, so are they unworthy of the Lord’s table; and cannot, without great sin against Christ while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries,(p) or be admitted thereunto.(q)
(p) I Cor. 11:27, 28, 29; II Cor. 6:14, 15, 16.
(q) I Cor. 5:6, 7, 13; II Thess. 3:6, 14, 15; Matt. 7:6.
Of Church Censures.
I. The Lord Jesus, as King and Head of His Church, hath therein appointed a government, in the hand of Church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate.(a)
II. To these officers the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed: by virtue whereof, they have power respectively to retain, and remit sins; to shut that kingdom against the impenitent, both by the Word and censures; and to open it unto penitent sinners, by the ministry of the Gospel, and by absolution from censures, as occasion shall require.(b)
III. Church censures are necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren, for deterring of others from the like offences, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honour of Christ, and the holy profession of the Gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer His covenant and the seals thereof to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.(c)
(c) I Cor. 5 chap.; I Tim. 5:20; Matt. 7:6 ; I Tim. 1:20; I Cor. 11:27 to the end, with Jude ver. 23.
IV. For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the Church are to proceed by admonition; suspension from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a season; and by excommunication from the Church; according to the nature of the crime, and demerit of the person.(d)
Of Synods and Councils.
I. For the better government, and further edification of the Church, there ought to be such assemblies as are commonly called synods or councils.(a)
(a) Acts 15:2 , 4, 6.
II. As magistrates may lawfully call a synod of ministers, and other fit persons, to consult and advise with, about matters of religion;(b) so, if magistrates be open enemies to the Church, the ministers of Christ of themselves, by virtue of their office, or they, with other fit persons upon delegation from their Churches, may meet together in such assemblies.(c)
III. It belongs to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in His Word.(d)
III. All synods or councils, since the Apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.(e)
IV. Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude, nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth; unless by way of humble petition, in cases extraordinary; or by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.(f)
Of the State of Man After Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead.
I. The bodies of men, after death, return to dust and see corruption:(a) but their souls (which neither die nor sleep) having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them:(b) the souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God, in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies.(c) And the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day.(d) Beside these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.
II. At the last day, such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed:(e) and all the dead shall be raised up, with the selfsame bodies, and none other, although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls for ever.(f)
(e) I Thess. 4:17; I Cor. 15:51, 52.
(f) Job 19:26 , 27; I Cor. 15:42, 43, 44.
III. The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonour: the bodies of the just, by His Spirit, unto honour; and be made conformable to His own glorious body.(g)
Of the Last Judgment.
I. God hath appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ,(a) to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father.(b) In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged,(c) but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.(d)
II. The end of God’s appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of His mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of His justice, in the damnation of the reprobate who are wicked and disobedient. For then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fulness of joy and refreshing, which shall come from the presence of the Lord: but the wicked who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.(e)
III. As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin, and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity;(f) so will He have that day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come; and may be ever prepared to say, Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly, Amen.(g)