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IV. Of Baptism
We have now finished the three chief parts of the common Christian doctrine.
Besides these we have yet to speak of our two Sacraments instituted by Christ,
of which also every Christian ought to have at least an ordinary, brief instruction,
because without them there can be no Christian; although, alas! hitherto no
instruction concerning them has been given. But, in the first place, we take up
Baptism, by which we are first received into the Christian Church. However, in
order that it may be readily understood we will treat of it in an orderly manner,
and keep only to that which it is necessary for us to know. For how it is to be
maintained and defended against heretics and sects we will commend to the
In the first place, we must above all things know well the words upon which
Baptism is founded, and to which everything refers that is to be said on the
subject, namely, where the Lord Christ speaks in the last chapter of Matthew, v.
Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Likewise in St. Mark, the last chapter, v. 16:
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall
be damned .
In these words you must note, in the first place, that here stand God's
commandment and institution, lest we doubt that Baptism is divine, not devised
nor invented by men. For as truly as I can say, No man has spun the Ten
Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer out of his head, but they are
revealed and given by God Himself, so also I can boast that Baptism is no
human trifle, but instituted by God Himself, moreover, that it is most solemnly and
strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved, lest any
one regard it as a trifling matter, like putting on a new red coat. For it is of the
greatest importance that we esteem Baptism excellent, glorious, and exalted, for
which we contend and fight chiefly, because the world is now so full of sects
clamoring that Baptism is an external thing, and that external things are of no
benefit. But let it be ever so much an external thing here stand God's Word and
command which institute, establish, and confirm Baptism. But what God institutes
and commands cannot be a vain, but must be a most precious thing, though in
appearance it were of less value than a straw. If hitherto people could consider it
a great thing when the Pope with his letters and bulls dispensed indulgences and
confirmed altars and churches, solely because of the letters and seals, we ought