putting a crown on one?s head makes him a king. Zwingle held to a symbolic interpretation of the Lord?s Supper but he clung to the sacramental conception of Baptism. E. H. Johnson, Uses and Abuses of Ordinances, 33, claims that, while baptism is not a justifying or regenerating ordinance, it is a sanctifying ordinance, sanctifying, in the sense of setting apart. Yes, we reply, but only as church going and prayer are sanctifying; the efficacy is not in the outward act but in the spirit which accompanies it. To make it signify more is to admit the sacramental principle.
In the Roman Catholic Church the baptism of bells and of rosaries shows how infant baptism has induced the belief that grace can be communicated to irrational and even material things. In Mexico people bring caged birds, cats, rabbits, donkeys and pigs for baptism. The priest kneels before the altar in prayer, reads a few words in Latin then sprinkles the creature with holy water. The sprinkling is supposed to drive out any evil spirit that may have vexed the bird or beast. In Key West, Florida, a town of 22,000 inhabitants, infant baptism has a stronger hold than anywhere else does at the South. Baptist parents had sometimes gone to the Methodist preachers to have their children baptized. To prevent this, the Baptist pastors established the custom of laying their hands upon the heads of infants in the congregation, and ?blessing? them, i.e ., asking God?s blessing to rest upon them. But this custom came to be confounded with christening and was called such. Now the Baptist pastors are having a hard struggle to explain and limit the custom, which they themselves have introduced. Perverse human nature will take advantage of even the slightest additions to N. T. prescriptions and will bring out of the germs of false doctrine a fearful harvest of evil. Obsta principiis ? ?Resist beginnings.?
Thirdly, in obscuring and corrupting Christian truth with regard to the sufficiency of Scripture, the connection of the ordinances and the inconsistency of an impenitent life with church membership.
Infant baptism in England is followed by confirmation, as a matter of course whether there has been any conscious abandonment of sin or not. In Germany, a man is always understood to be a Christian unless he expressly states to the contrary. In fact, he feels insulted if his Christianity is questioned. At the funerals even of infidels and debauchees the pall used may be inscribed with the words: ?Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.? Confidence in one?s Christianity and hopes of heaven based only on the fact of baptism in infancy are a great obstacle to evangelical preaching and to the progress of true religion.
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