Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A thought for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord from Cardinal Newman

"By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body." 1 Cor. xii. 13.

As there is One Holy Ghost, so there is one only visible Body of Christians which Almighty God "knows by name," and one Baptism which admits men into it. This is implied in the text, which is nearly parallel to St. Paul's words to the Ephesians: "there is one Body, and one Spirit, one Baptism." But more than this is taught us in it; not only that the Holy Ghost is in the Church, and that Baptism admits into it, but that the Holy Ghost admits by means of Baptism, that the Holy Ghost baptizes; in other words, that each individual member receives the gift of the Holy Ghost as a preliminary step, a condition, or means of his being incorporated into the Church; or, in our Saviour's words, that no one can enter, except he be regenerated in order to enter it.
Now, this is much more than many men are willing to grant, their utmost concession being, that the Church has the presence of the Holy Spirit in it, and therefore, to be in the Church is to be in that which has the presence of the Holy Spirit; that is, to be in the way of the Spirit (so to speak), which cannot but be a state of favour and privilege; but, that the Holy Spirit is given to infants, one by one, on their Baptism, this they will not admit. Yet, one would think words could not be plainer than the text in proof of it; however, they do not admit it.
This defective view of the Sacrament of Baptism, for so I must not shrink from calling it, shall now be considered, and considered in its connection with a popular argument for the Baptism of infants, which, most true as it is in its proper place, yet is scarcely profitable for these times, as seeming to countenance the error in question. I mean, the assumed parallel between Baptism and Circumcision.

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