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Witsius: Baptism Belongs Only to the Elect

VI. In the meantime, let it be observed that if we take the strictest view of baptism, it is in its true nature and in the judgment of God suited only to the elect, because it is always agreeable to truth. For since baptism is a sign and seal of that covenant in which God has made over to his covenanted people the benefits of saving grace and whatever has a sure connection with eternal life, it follows that those who neither have nor ever will have any right to the benefits of the covenant, in like manner have no right before God’s tribunal to the seal of the covenant. The ministers of religion, indeed, who, in regard to individuals, must be guided by the judgment of charity, cannot distinguish elect from non-elect, and thus they do not sin although they should occasionally sprinkle with the baptismal water those whom in strictness they ought not. To such persons, however, baptism conveys nothing that is truly good—no grace, no salvation does it signify and seal any more than a piece of wax impressed, perhaps, with beautiful characters and appended to fair paper on which nothing is written or to be written, or, if you please, appended to paper all over stained with foul blots so that nothing good can be written on it. The whole efficacy of baptism therefore—the whole of its saving use—is to be sought for in elect infants. Robert Abbot, Bishop of Salisbury, writing against Richard Thomson, chap. 7, finely remarks: “Even as the sacraments are the seals of grace, so do they exert their spiritual efficacy in those only who are the children of the promise and the heirs of grace.”

ON THE EFFICACY AND UTILITY OF BAPTISMIN THE CASE OF ELECT INFANTS WHOSE PARENTSARE UNDER THE COVENANT (131)

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