The Ten Commandments by Thomas Watson
4. THE WAY OF SALVATION
'Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching
them,' &c. Matt xxviii 19.
I. The way whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of
redemptions, is, in the use of the sacraments.
What are the sacraments in general?
They are visible signs of invisible grace.
Is not the word of God sufficient to salvation? What need then
is there of sacraments?
We must not be wise above what is written. It is God's will
that his church should have sacraments; and it is God's goodness
thus to condescend to weak capacities. 'Except ye see signs, ye will
not believe.' John iv 48. To strengthen our faith, God confirms the
covenant of grace, not only by promises but by sacramental signs.
What are the sacraments of the New Testament?
Two: Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Are there no more? The Papists tell us of five more, viz.,
confirmation, penance, matrimony, orders, and the extreme unction.
(1) There were but two sacraments under the law, therefore
there are no more now. I Cor x 2, 3, 4.
(2) These two sacraments are sufficient; the one signifying our
entrance into Christ, and the other, our growth and perseverance in
II. The first sacrament is baptism. 'Go ye, therefore, and
teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of
the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them,' &c. 'Go, teach all
nations;' the Greek word is 'Make disciples of all nations.' If it
be asked, how should we make them disciples? It follows, 'Baptising
them and teaching them.' In a heathen nation, first teach, and then
baptise them; but in a Christian church, first baptise, and then
What is baptism?
In general, it is a matriculation, or visible admission of
children into the congregation of Christ's flock. More particularly,
'Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing or sprinkling with
water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, does 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.'
What is meant by the parent when he presents his child to be
The parent, in presenting the child to be baptised, (1) Makes a
public acknowledgement of original sin; that the soul of his child
is polluted, therefore needs washing from sin by Christ's blood and
Spirit; both which washings are signified by the sprinkling of water
in baptism. (2) The parent by bringing his child to be baptised,
solemnly devotes it to the Lord, and enrols it in God's family; and
truly it is a great satisfaction to a religious parent to have given
up his child to the Lord in baptism. How can a parent look with
comfort on that child who was never dedicated to God?
What is the benefit of baptism?
The party baptised has, (1) An entrance into the visible body
of the church. (2) He has a right sealed to the ordinances, which is
a privilege full of glory. Rom ix 4. (3) The child baptised is under
a more special providential care of Christ, who appoints the
tutelage of angels to be the infant's life-guard.
Is this all the benefit?
No! To such as belong to the election, baptism is a 'seal of
the righteousness of faith,' a laver of regeneration, and a badge of
adoption. Rom iv 11.
How does it appear that children have a right to baptism?
Children are parties in the covenant of grace. The covenant was
made with them. 'I will establish my covenant between me and thee,
and thy seed after thee, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God
unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.' Gen xvii 7. 'The promise is
to you and to your children.' Acts ii 39. The covenant of grace may
be considered either, (1) More strictly, as an absolute promise to
give saving grace; and so none but the elect are in covenant with
God. Or, (2) More largely, as a covenant containing in it many
outward glorious privileges, in which respects the children of
believers do belong to the covenant of grace. The promise is to you
and to your seed. The infant seed of believers may as well lay a
claim to the covenant of grace as their parents; and having a right
to the covenant, they cannot justly be denied baptism, which is its
seal. It is certain the children of believers were once visibly in
covenant with God, and received the seal of their admission into the
church; where now do we find this covenant interest, or church
membership of infants, repealed or made void? Certainly Jesus Christ
did not come to put believers and their children into a worse
condition than they were in before. If the children of believers
should not be baptised, they are in worse condition now than they
were in before Christ's coming.
 Objections. The Scripture is silent herein and does not
mention infant baptism.
Though the word infant baptism is not in Scripture, yet the
thing is. Mention is not made in Scripture of woman's receiving the
sacrament; but who doubts but the command, 'Take, eat, this is my
body,' concerns them? Does not their faith need strengthening as
well as others? So the word Trinity is not to be found in Scripture,
but there is that which is equivalent to it. 'There are Three that
bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and
these Three are one.' I John v 7. So, though the word infant
baptism is not mentioned in Scripture, the practice of baptising
infants may be drawn from Scripture by undeniable consequence.
How is that proved?
The Scripture mentions whole families baptised; as the
household of Lydia, Crispus, and the jailer. 'He was baptised, he
and all his.' Acts xvi 33. Wherein we must rationally imagine there
were some little children. If it be said, there is no mention here
made of children; I answer, neither are servants named; and yet it
cannot be supposed but that, in so great a family, there were some
But infants are not capable of the end of baptism; for baptism
signifies the washing away of sin by the blood of Christ. Infants
cannot understand this; therefore what benefit can baptism be to
Neither could the child that was to be circumcised understand
circumcision; yet the ordinance of circumcision was not to be
omitted or deferred. Though an infant understand not the meaning of
baptism it may partake of the blessing of baptism. The little
children that Christ took in his arms, understood not Christ's
meaning, but they had Christ's blessing. 'He put his hands upon them
and blessed them.' Mark x 16.
But what benefit can the child have of baptism if it understand
not the nature of baptism?
It may have a right to the promise sealed up, which it shall
have an actual interest in when it comes to have faith. A legacy may
be of use to the child in the cradle; though it now understand not
the legacy, yet when it is grown up to years, it is fully possessed
of it. But it may be further objected: -
The party to be baptised is to be engaged to God; but how can
the child enter into such an engagement?
The parents can engage for it, which God is pleased to accept
as equivalent to the child's personal engagement.
If baptism comes in the room of circumcisions, and the males
only were circumcised, what warrant is there for baptising females?
Gen xvii 10.
Females were included, and were virtually circumcised in the
males. What is done to the head is done to the body; the man being
the head of the woman. I Cor xi 3. What was done to the male sex
was interpretatively done to the female.
 Having answered these objections, I come now to prove by
argument, infant baptism.
(1) If children during their infancy are capable of grace, they
are capable of baptism; but children in their infancy are capable of
grace, therefore they are capable of baptism. I prove the minor,
that they are capable of grace, thus: if children in their infancy
may be saved, then they are capable of grace; but children in their
infancy may be saved; which is thus proved: that if the kingdom of
heaven belongs to them, they may be saved; but the kingdom of heaven
may belong to them, as it is clear from, 'Of such is the kingdom of
God' (Mark x 14); who then can forbid that the seal of baptism
should be applied to them?
(2) If infants may be among the number of God's servants, there
is no reason why they should be shut out of God's family; but
infants may be in the number of God's servants, because God calls
them his servants. 'He shall depart from thee, and his children with
him, for they are my servants.' Lev xxv 4I. Therefore children in
their infancy, being God's servants, why should they not have
baptism, which is the tessera, the mark or seal which God sets upon
(3) 'But now are they (your children) holy.' I Cor vii 14.
Children are not called holy, as if they were free from original
sin; but in the judgement of charity they are to be esteemed holy,
and true members of the church of God, because their parents are
believers. Hence that excellent divine, Mr Hildersam, says, 'that
the children of the faithful as soon as they are born, have a
covenant holiness, and so a right and title to baptism, which is the
token of the covenant.'
(4) From the opinion of the fathers and the practice of the
church. The ancient fathers were strong asserters of infant baptism,
as Irenaeus, Basil, Lactantius, Cyprian, and Augustine. It was the
practice of the Greek church to baptise her infants. Erasmus says
that infant baptism has been used in the church of God for above
fourteen hundred years. And Augustine, in his book against Pelagius,
affirms that it has been the custom of the church in all ages to
baptise infants. Yea, it was an apostolic practice. Paul affirms
that he baptised the whole house of Stephanus. I Cor i 16.
Having seen Scripture arguments for infant baptism, let us
consider whether the practice of those who delay the baptising of
children till riper years, be warrantable. For my part, I cannot
gather it from Scripture. Though we read of adult persons, and grown
up to years of discretion, in the apostles' times, being baptised,
yet they were such as were converted from heathenish idolatry to the
true orthodox faith; but that in a Christian church the children of
believers should be kept unbaptised for several years, I know
neither precept nor example for it in Scripture, but it is wholly
apocryphal. The baptising of persons, grown up to maturity, we may
argue against ab effectu, from the ill consequence of it. They dip
the persons they baptise over head and ears in cold water, and
naked; which, as it is indecent, so it is dangerous, and has often
been the occasion of chronic disease, yea, and of death itself; and
so is a plain breach of the sixth commandment. How far God has given
up many persons, who are for deferring baptism, to other vile
opinions and vicious practices, is evident, if we consult history;
especially if we read the doings of the Anabaptists in Germany.
See the riches of God's goodness, who will not only be
the God of believers, but takes their seed into covenant with them.
'I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed
after thee, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed.' Gen xvii 7. A
father counts it a great privilege, not only to have his own name,
but his child's name put in a will.
Those parents are to be blamed who forbid little
children to be brought to Christ; and withhold from them this
ordinance. By denying their infants baptism, they exclude them from
membership in the visible church, so that their infants are sucking
pagans. Such as deny their children baptism, make God's institutions
under the law more full of kindness and grace to children than they
are under the gospel; which, how strange a paradox it is, I leave
you to judge.
For exhortation. (1) Let us who are baptised, labour
to find the blessed fruits of it in our own souls; not only to have
the signs of the covenant, but the grace of the covenant. Many glory
in their baptism. The Jews gloried in their circumcision, because of
their royal privileges; to them belonged the adoption, and the
glory, and the covenants. Rom ix 4. But many of them were a shame
and reproach to their circumcision. 'For the name of God is
blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.' Rom ii 24. The
scandalous Jews, though circumcised, were, in God's account, as
heathens. 'Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians to me? saith the
Lord.' Amos ix 7. Alas! what is it to have the name of Christ, and
want his image? What is baptism of water without the baptism of the
Spirit? Many baptised Christians are no better than heathens. O let
us labour to find the fruits of baptism, that Christ is formed in us
(Gal iv 19); that our nature is changed; that we are made holy and
heavenly. This is to be baptised into Jesus. Rom vi 3. Such as live
unsuitable to their baptism, may go with baptismal-water on their
faces, and sacramental bread in their mouths, to hell.
(2) Let us labour to make a right use of our baptism. Let us
use it as a shield against temptations. Satan, I have given up
myself to God by a sacred vow in baptism; I am not my own, I am
Christ's; therefore I cannot yield to thy temptations, for I should
break my oath of allegiance which I made to God in baptism. Luther
tells us of a pious woman, who, when the devil tempted her to sin,
answered, Satan, baptizata sum, 'I am baptised;' and so beat back
Let us use it as a spur to holiness. By remembering our
baptism, let us be stirred up to make good our baptismal
engagements; renouncing the world, flesh, and devil, let us devote
ourselves to God and his service. To be baptised into the name of
the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, implies a solemn dedication of
ourselves to the service of all the Three Persons in the Trinity. It
is not enough that our parents dedicate us to God in baptism, but we
must dedicate ourselves to him; this is called living to the Lord.
Rom xiv 8. Our life should be spent in worshipping God, in loving
God, in exalting God; we should walk as becomes the gospel. Phil i
27. We should shine as stars in the world, and live as earthly
Let us use it as an argument to courage. We should be ready to
confess that Holy Trinity, into whose name we were baptised. With
the conversion of the heart must go the confession of the tongue.
'Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man
also confess before the angels of God.' Luke xii 8. Peter openly
confessed Christ crucified. Acts iv 10. Cyprian, a man of a brave
spirit, was like a rock, whom no waves could shake; like an adamant,
whom no sword could cut. He confessed Christ before the pro-consul,
and suffered himself to be proscribed; yea, chose death rather than
betray the truths of Christ. He that dare not confess the Holy
Trinity, shames his baptism, and God will be ashamed to own him at
the day of judgement.
See the fearfulness of the sin of apostasy! It is
renouncing our baptism. It is damnable perjury to go away from God
after a solemn vow. 'Demas has forsaken me.' 2 Tim iv 10. He turned
renegado, and afterwards became a priest in an idol-temple, says
Dorotheus. Julia the apostate, Gregory Nazianzen observes, bathed
himself in the blood of beasts offered in sacrifice to heathen gods;
and so, as much as in him lay, washed off his former baptism. The
case of such as fall away after baptism is dreadful. 'If any man
draw back.' Heb x 38. The Greek word to draw back, alludes to a
soldier that steals away from his colours; so, if any man steal away
from Christ, and run over to the devil's side, 'my soul shall have
no pleasure in him;' that is, I will be severely avenged on him; I
will make my arrows drunk with his blood. If all the plagues in the
Bible can make that man miserable, he shall be so.