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Andreas Hyperius (1511-1564) On the Efficacy of Baptism

June 5, 2009


1) 4. These constestations and promises being thus solemnly made on both parts, you were baptized, that is to say, you were were dipped or sprinkled with water, and therewithal the Word of God was pronounced forth, having virtue after a marvelous sort to wash and take away your sins by the bloodshed of Christ. The Word was added to the Element, and so was it made in you a Sacrament and Seal of the righteousness of faith. Of that faith (I say)which you even a little while afore did profess; and of what righteousness, which God promised unto you. And it is (as it were) an Indenture of Covenants, or mutual hand-writing obligatory between God and you. For in this action of your baptism there passes a certain mutual bond or obligation between you ; even much like as between Barterers and Bargainers: but most aptly, properly, and specially, between the husband and the wife, [Eph. 5.]. For, the covenant, promised and bond here made, is not for any short while, but even for the whole space of your life: and so long as you continue in this world, the memory of this promise and covenant by you made, ought surely to be imprinted in your mind: yea still, even so long as your life lasts, it behooves you (all that ever you can) to endeavor yourself to accomplish and perform your promised covenants. You are now in this sort engrafted into his holy congregation, being the Church, and you are received into the number and fellowship of the faithful [Rom. 6:4; Eph. 2:13.].

5. Moreover very the form, manner and customable rite of Baptism itself is a perpetual witness of your vowed promise, and admonishes thee of thy duty all the days of your life. Namely first, when was put down into the Font, dipped into the water, or sprinkled therewith, there was signified unto you, the mortification of your self and all your members, in that you did there openly and solemnly profess, that you would die unto sin. Again, your raising and lifting up again out of the water, betokened your resurrection and rising again to newness and amendment of life. And it did represent unto you, that like as Christ died, was buried and raised up from the dead for you, so should you continually walk in righteousness [Rom. 6:4.].

6. Call further to remembrance what great benefits yo have received in Baptism, as well in being thereby assured of the good promises of God there and then made unto you, as also in bring thereby the more encouraged and stirred up to perform such things as you for your part there did promise and undertake. First, your sins all and some, both original, actual and accessory, were there freely remitted and forgiven you. Sin ceased there to be imputed unto you, and a new righteousness even the righteousness of Jesus Christ was bestowed upon you, [1. Cor. 6:11; Tit. 3:5.]. The force and strength of that sin which naturally dwelt in you, is broken and vanquished that now it should not be able (as afore) “to rain any more in thy mortal body, neither that thou should obey the lusts thereof,” [Rom. 6:12.]. Our old man is crucified with him that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For, indeed, sin is in Baptism remitted and done away, but not so, as that we should for ever after be clear and void of it, but that it should not be any more laid to our charge, or imputed unto us, and that it should not reign in us, or bear sovereign rule and domination over us. As Augustine does very well note in his Epistle to Julian, and in his exposition in exposition of the 102 Psalm: but most excellently and plainly is it set out and explained by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans: “I delight in the law of God concerning the inner man: but I see an other law in my mind, and leading me captive unto the law of sin, which is in my members,” &c, [Rom. 5, and 7:22.].

There is also the Holy Ghost given unto you in Baptism, and that partly to be (as it were) an earnest-penny of undoubted assurance to thy conscience, for all those good and special benefits which you are to receive, specially after this life [Rom. 8:16; Eph. 1:14, and 5:26.]: and partly to be (as it were), a cooperator in their sanctification, and to assist us in resisting all the evil suggestions of the wicked spirit, and of sin naturally bred in us. “The Spirit,” (says Paul) “helps our infirmities,” [Rom. 8:26.]. For it cannot otherwise be, but that whosoever receives the Holy Ghost, receives also many other most singular gifts and excellent blessings. For as he is a gift himself, so is he likewise a bountiful bestower, and a liberal disposer of gifts heavenly and spiritual. He strengthens our faith, he enkindles in us love, he fosters hope, he stirs us up to show the fruits of good works, and (to be short), he sanctifies and directs the whole man.

These six most notable and excellent things, were at the time when you did receive Baptism fully concluded, effectually professed, and authentically sealed, party in you, and partly through and by you: and ought therefore of you to be born in memory, and never to slide out of your daily and hourly remembrance.

Now does it stand thee upon, yea it is your bounden duty, and an especial part of your chief care, diligently to consider in what case you stand: you must (I say), now enter into your own Conscience, and there make a true survey of all your dealings, how you are, how you have been in life and actions answerable unto the same, and after what sort you have performed your promise, and observed these your sealed covenants. God for his part does (doubtless) stand to his promise: for he is true and faithful, and never starts from his word, nor changes his purpose. And therefore gave he to you then, and from that time forth, his full promise and assured good-will towards you. Andreas Hyperius, The Trve Tryall and Examination of a Mans Owne Selfe, (Imprinted at London by Iohn Wendet, at the signe of the White Beare in Adling streate, neer Bayenards Castell, 1587), 16-21. [Marginal references cited inline, some references not readable; some spelling modernized; some reformatting; underlining mine.]

2) Go to now therefore, whosoever you are, and by this that we have already spoken of the law of the Lord, learn to examine your conscience, and to make perfect trial and survey of yourself. Doubtless, when you have a little while continued and gone forward in this way and course which we have here shown, and attentively considered such things as have been declared, I doubt not, but that you will by and by, and without delay, even with sighs and tears, burst out into this confession, “O heavenly Father, I have sinned against heaven, and against thee: I am not worthy to be called thy son, I am not worthy to lift up mine eyes toward heaven.” Look how much I being once in Baptism purged from my sins in the blood of your Son, and sanctified by receiving the Holy Ghost, did in the same please you: so much, again, must I needs by reason of my manifold sins, since committed displease you.    Andreas Hyperius, The Trve Tryall and Examination of a Mans Owne Selfe, (Imprinted at London by Iohn Wendet, at the signe of the White Beare in Adling streate, neer Bayenards Castell, 1587), 163-164.  [Some spelling modernized; some reformatting; underlining mine.]

[Note: I post this not because I necessarily agree with this classic Calvinist view of baptism, but for the sake of historical interest.]

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