Baptism is a sacrament ordained by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a sign and seal of the inclusion of the person who is baptized in the covenant of grace. Teaching that we and our children are conceived and born in sin, it witnesses and seals unto us the remission of sins and the bestowal of all the gifts of salvation through union with Christ. Baptism with water signifies and seals cleansing from sin by the blood and the Spirit of Christ, together with our death unto sin and our resurrection unto newness of life by virtue of the death and resurrection of Christ. Since these gifts of salvation are the gracious provision of the triune God, who is pleased to claim us as his very own, we are baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. And since baptized persons are called upon to assume the obligations of the covenant, baptism summons us to renounce the devil, the world and the flesh and to walk humbly with our God in devotion to his commandments.
Although our young children do not yet understand these things, they are covenantally holy before baptism, and therefore are to be baptized. For the promise of the covenant is made to believers and to their seed, as God declared unto Abraham: And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. In the new dispensation, no less than in the old, the seed of the faithful, born within the church, have, by virtue of their birth, interest in the covenant and right to the seal of it and to the outward privileges of the church. For the covenant of grace is the same in substance under both dispensations, and the grace of God for the consolation of believers is even more fully manifested in the new dispensation. Moreover, our Savior admitted little children into his presence, embracing and blessing them, and saying, Of such is the kingdom of God. So the children of the covenant are by baptism distinguished from the world and solemnly received into the visible church.
By virtue of being born of believing parents children are, because of Gods covenant ordinance, made members of the church, but this is not sufficient to make them continue members of the church. When they have reached the age of discretion they become subject to the obligations of the covenant: faith, repentance and obedience. They then must make public confession of their faith in Christ or become covenant breakers, subject to the discipline of the church.
(To the parents) Do you acknowledge that, although our children are conceived and born in sin and therefore are subject to condemnation, they are holy in Christ, and as members of his church ought to be baptized?
Do you promise to instruct your child in the principles of our holy religion as revealed in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and as summarized in the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this church; and do you promise to pray with and for your child, to set an example of piety and godliness before him, and to endeavor by all the means of Gods appointment to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
(To the congregation) Do you as a congregation undertake the responsibility of assisting the parents in the Christian nurture of this child?
(Prayer for the presence and blessing of the triune God, that the grace signified and sealed by holy baptism may be abundantly realized.)
, I baptize thee into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
(As the minister pronounces these words, he is to baptize the child with water, by pouring or sprinkling it on the head of the child, without adding any other ceremony; and the whole shall be concluded with prayer.)