April 19: School & Family Catechist, WSC Q. 95

by Rev .William Smith (1834)
“An Explication of the Westminster Shorter Catechism”

Q. 95. To whom is baptism to be administered?

A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but the infants of such are as members of the visible church are to be baptized.


Administered to any. –Performed, given, or dispensed, to any one.

Visible church. –The church on earth, as seen by men, which comprehends, or contains within its bounds, all those who openly profess the true religion with their lips, and who practise the outward duties thereof, in their lives. This is called the visible church, not only because it is seen by men, but also to distinguish it from the church invisible, of which those only are members, who have true religion in heart as well as in life, and who can only be seen and known by God himself.

Till they profess their faith in Christ. –Till those who are out of the visible church, such as Jews and heathens, &c. openly acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the only Saviour of sinners, and declare their belief of the whole of the doctrines of his religion.

Till they profess obedience to him. –That is, till they show an outward subjection to all his ordinances, and leave off the practice of those sins which his Word and Gospel forbid.


There are, in this answer, three things taught:

1. That baptism ought not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church. –Acts ii. 41. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized.

2. That all those who process their faith in Christ, and declare their obedience or subjection to him, may be baptized. –Acts viii. 36, 37. And the Eunuch said, –What  doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest. Acts ii. 33. Repent and be baptized. 3. That the infants of members of the visible church are to be baptized. –Gen. xvii. 10. This is my covenant which ye shall keep between me and you, and thy seed after thee; Every man-child among you shall be circumcised. Acts ii. 39. The promise is unto you and to your children. 1 Cor. vii. 14. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.


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