Gleanings - Baptismal Regeneration?
Thomas Cranmer opposed that doctrine commonly called "baptismal regeneration" in which some believe that salvation is conferred upon a man and the Holy Ghost conjoined simply by a priest applying "holy" water while speaking the name of God.
Baptism is a token to the believer that upon three things he has received regeneration by the Holy Ghost; belief in Christ, love for the Gospel and eagerness to hear God's Word.
Wherefore you shall thank God with all your heart which hath brought you to baptism. And when you believe in the name of Christ, and love the Gospel, and are glad and diligent to hear the same, then this is a sure token that by the Gospel you have received the Holy Ghost.
Resting in the imputed righteousness of Christ, baptism points to the overcoming of sin.
Furthermore, he that is a sinner, and not baptized, although he had the Holy Ghost to this effect, to help him to fight against sin, yet oftentimes he is overcome and falleth to sin. And although he doth oftentimes overcome sin, yet this is a great unperfectness that he doth it not willingly, but that this fight against sin is tedious and grievous unto him. Wherefore he is ever in peril, lest he be overcome of sin. And in case he doth manfully withstand sin, yet he seeth that his justice and obedience be too weak and imperfect to stand before the judgment of God (as indeed no man, not the holiest, is able to stand before the judgment of God by his own righteousness). But when in baptism the righteousness of Christ is given and imputed to him, then he is delivered from all those perils. For he knoweth for a surety, that he hath put upon him Christ, and that his weakness and imperfection is covered and hid with the perfect righteousness and holiness of Christ.
To consider one's baptism is to consider the righteousness of Christ alone as the cause of improvement in both outward behavior and inward sentiment.
Wherefore after baptism he doth not trust in his own righteousness, but in Christ only. And he is no more pensive or doubtful considering his own weakness, but he is joyful, because he considereth that he is made partaker of Christ's righteousness. And this again is a great alteration and renewing of the inward man.
Baptism marks the beginning of one's Christian life, but the end is already in view, when the kingdom of sin and death is utterly destroyed by regeneration which is the Resurrection.
These new affections and spiritual motions are in the souls of such as are born again by baptism, but they are unknown to worldly men and such as be not led by the Spirit of God. And when they, that believe and be baptized, do continue in this their faith to the end of their lives, then God shall raise them up from death to life, that they may be immortal and live everlastingly with Christ. And then when sin and the kingdom of death are utterly abolished and destroyed, we shall be perfectly holy and righteous both in body and soul. And for this cause our Saviour Christ doth call in the Gospel the rising again, from death, a regeneration or a second begetting. All these things doth baptism work in us, when we believe in Christ. And therefore Christ saith, " He that will believe and be baptized shall be saved, but he that will not believe shall be damned." Wherefore, good children, learn diligently, I pray you, the fruit and operation of baptism. For it worketh forgiveness of sin, it delivereth from death and power of the devil, it giveth salvation and everlasting life to all them that believe, as the words of Christ's promise do evidently witness.
Baptism does not regenerate apart from its being joined to God's Word and to faith.
Thirdly, if a man ask you how can water bring to pass so great things ? ye shall answer, Verily, the water worketh not these things, but the word of God which is joined to the water, and faith which doth believe the word of God. For without the word of God, water is water and not baptism, but when the word of the living God is joined to the water, then it is baptism, and water of wonderful wholesomeness, and the bath of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, whom he poured upon us plenteously by Jesus Christ, our Saviour, that we, being made righteous by his grace, may be heirs of everlasting life.
From the 39 Articles:
XXVII. Of Baptism.
Baptism is the mark of membership in the visible Church which points to the invisible Church and its requirement of rebirth.
BAPTISM is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christian men are discerned from other that be not christened, but is also a sign of regeneration or new birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the Church;
Baptism is a sign of God's promise to the visible Church that He confers grace... by faith through prayer.
The promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God, by the Holy Ghost are visibly signed and sealed; faith is confirmed, and grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.
Children, if received as members of the visible Church by baptism are promised the same grace as others... by faith through prayer.
The baptism of young children is in any wise to be retained in the Church as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.