Rome, we noted in our preceding article, contends that, whereas the Protestant conception of the sacrament of baptism is superficial, its own conception of this sacrament is rich and profound. The Canons of the Council of Trent on the subject of baptism are brief and comprehensive. The Canons anathematize those who teach that Christian baptism has no superior efficacy to that of John the Baptist; that true, natural water is not essential in the administration of this sacrament, or that the language of our Lord in John 3:5, “Except a man be born of water, etc.,” is to be understood metaphorically; that heretical baptism if performed in the right way and with the intention of doing what the Church does is not valid; that baptism is a matter of indifference, and not necessary to salvation; and also those who deny the propriety, necessity, or efficacy of infant baptism.
Rome believes that baptism is absolutely necessary unto salvation. In fact, it renders the efficacy of the cross of Calvary and the blood of the Lamb of God as dependent upon this sacrament. Of interest, in this connection, is what the Fathers Rumble and Carty have to say about the significance of Christ’s redemptive work upon the cross. In answer to Question 807 in Volume III of their Radio Replies, “Was Christ’s death for the remissions of sins useless?,” they answer as follows: “NO.” That is evident from the fact that some are saved through that death who would not otherwise be saved. Here let me explain the character of Christ’s redemptive work. By his sin, Adam forfeited for himself and all his posterity any right to heaven. And we are all born in spiritual bankruptcy as far as our inheritance of eternal supernatural happiness is concerned. Now Christ died to atone for the sin of Adam, and make it possible for men to recover their right to heaven. But He Himself laid down the conditions by which our souls would benefit by His death. And one of the necessary conditions He declared to be Baptism. If an infant dies without Baptism, therefore, it lacks the application to itself of Christ’s merits. But that does not mean that His death was useless in itself. The soul in whose case the conditions appointed by Christ are not verified, fails to benefit by the all-sufficient price He has paid.” Hence, Christ merely died to make it possible for men to recover their right to heaven. But He Himself laid down the conditions by which souls would benefit by His death. And one of the necessary conditions He declared to be baptism. So, if an infant dies without baptism, it lacks the application to itself of the benefits of Christ. And the possibility remains, therefore, that a person for whom Christ died may never be saved.
According to Rome, the sacrament of baptism is the sacrament of regeneration. In this connection we wish to quote what Rome has set forth in the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent in its fifth session concerning original sin, under the heading: Decree Concerning Original Sin.
That our Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God (notice, please, how Rome here distorts the text of Heb. 11:6. Rome speaks here of Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God, whereas Heb. 11:6 simply speaks of faith without which we cannot please God—H.V.), may, errors being purged away, continue in its own perfect and spotless integrity, and that the Christian people may not be carried about with every wind of doctrine; whereas that old serpent, the perpetual enemy of mankind, amongst the very many evils with which the Church of God is in these our times troubled, has also stirred up not only new, but even old, dissensions touching original sin, and the remedy thereof; the sacred and holy, ecumenical and general Synod of Trent—lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the three same legates of the Apostolic See presiding therein—wishing now to come to the reclaiming of the erring, and the confirming of the wavering—following the testimonies of the sacred Scriptures, of the holy Fathers, of the most approved councils, and the judgment and consent of the Church itself, ordains, confesses, and declares these things touching the said original sin:
1. If any one does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and that he incurred, through the offense of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforthhad the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through that offense of prevarication, was changed, in body and soul, for the worse; let him be anathema.
2. If any one asserts, that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also; for that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death and pains of the body into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul; let him be anathema: —whereas he contradicts the apostle who says: By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.
3. If any one asserts, that this sin of Adam—which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propagation, not by imitation, is in each one as his own—is taken away either by the powers of human nature, or by any other remedy than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath reconciled us to God in his own blood, being made unto us justice, sanctification, and redemption; or if he denies that the said merit of Jesus Christ is applied, both to adults and to infants, by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the Church; let him be anathema: For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved. Whence that voice: Behold the lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sins of the world; and that other: As many as have been baptized, have put on Christ.
4. If any one denies, that infants, newly born from their mothers’ wombs, even though they be sprung from baptized parents, are to be baptized; or says that they are baptized indeed for the remission of sins, but that they derive nothing of original sin from Adam, which has need of being expiated by the laver of regeneration for obtaining life everlasting—whence it follows as a consequence, that in them the form of baptism,for the remission of sins, is understood to be not true, but false—let him be anathema. For that which the apostle has said, By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned, is not to be understood otherwise than as the Catholic Church spread everywhere hath always understood it. For, by reason of this rule of faith, from a tradition of the apostles, even infants, who could not as yet commit any sin of themselves, are for this cause truly baptized for the remission of sins, that in them that may be cleansed away by regeneration, which they have contracted by generation. For, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he can not enter into the kingdom of God.
5. If any one denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted; or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away; but says that it is only rased, or not imputed; let him be anathema. For, in those who are born again, there is nothing that God hates; because, There is no condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism into death; who walk not according to the flesh, but, putting of the old man, and putting on the new who is created according to God, are made innocent, immaculate, pure, harmless, and beloved of God,heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ; so that there is nothing whatever to retard their entrance into heaven. But this holy synod confesses there remains concupiscence, or an incentive (to sin); which, whereas it is left for our exercise, can not injure those who consent not, but resist manfully by the grace of Jesus Christ; yea, he who shall have striven lawfully shall be crowned. This concupiscence, which the apostle sometimes calls sin, the holy Synod declares that the Catholic Church has never understood it to be called sin, as being truly and properly sin in thoseborn again, but because it is of sin, and inclines to sin. And if any one is of a contrary sentiment, let him be anathema.
This same holy Synod doth nevertheless declare, that it is not its intention to include in this decree, where original sin is treated of, the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, the mother of God; but that the constitutions of Pope Sixtus IV, of happy memory, are to be observed, under the pains contained in the said constitutions, which it renews.
The last paragraph of this quotation from the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent is certainly contrary to all the teachings of Holy Writ and also in conflict with other decrees as set forth by this council. The synod’s doctrine on original sin does not apply to the virgin Mary. But, why not? Elsewhere, in these decrees and canons, the Romish Church declares that children born of parents who have been baptized and are therefore delivered from original sin are not therefore free from original sin. Upon what possible basis can it be true that Mary should be exempt from this original sin? We know, of course, that there is not the slightest Scriptural proof to substantiate this position of Rome.
Secondly, in many of these decrees and canons the Roman Catholic church refers to Scriptures that speak of baptism. Again and again they quote John 5:3 which speaks of a man being born of water and blood. And invariably the Romish Church interprets this “water” or “baptism” as referring to the sacrament of baptism. With this, as such, we have no dispute. We will concede that, when the Scriptures speak of baptism, there is a reference to the sacrament of baptism. But we surely maintain that the sacrament is meant only because it is a symbol of the real and true baptism which takes place upon the cross of Calvary and through the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. In support of this we wish to quote one passage from the Scriptures, Romans 6:3-4: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” That this text refers primarily to Christ’s death upon the cross and that we were baptized then into His death surely is evident from verse 4. Notice, please, that our being buried with Him by baptism into death precedes what we read concerning His being raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. Hence, this baptism precedes His resurrection, and took place, therefore, at His death.