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  • WORKS OF MARTIN LUTHER -
    THE ORDER OF BAPTISM


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    TRANSLATED INTO GERMAN BY MARTIN LUTHER WITTEMBERG

    The administrator blows three times under the childís eyes and says:

    Depart thou unclean spirit and give room to the Holy Spirit. f270 Then he signs him with a cross on his forehead and breast, and says: Receive the sign of the holy cross both on thy forehead and breast. f271 Let us pray. f272 O Almighty, Eternal God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: Look upon this N. ó Thy servant, whom Thou hast called to instruction in the faith; drive away from him all the blindness of his heart; tear loose all the devilís shackles with which he is bound; open to him, Lord, the door of Thy grace, so that marked with the sign of Thy wisdom he may be free of the stench of all evil lusts and serve Thee joyfully according to the sweet odor of Thy commandments in Thy Church and grow daily and be made meet to come to the grace of Thy baptism to receive the healing unto life; through Christ our Lord. Amen. f273 Let us pray again. f274 O God, Thou deathless Comfort of all who need, Savior of all who cry to Thee and Peace of all who pray to Thee, Life of the believers, Resurrection of the dead: I cry to Thee for this N. ó , Thy servant, who prays for the gift of Thy baptism and desires Thy eternal grace through spiritual regeneration; receive him, Lord, and as Thou hast said, Ask and ye shall receive; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you: so give now the reward to him that asketh and open the door to him that knocketh so that he may obtain the eternal blessing of this heavenly bath and receive the promised kingdom of Thy grace; through Christ our Lord.

    Amen. He now takes the child and puts salt into his mouth, and says: N. ó , receive the salt of wisdom: may it aid thee to eternal life. Amen.

    Peace to thee. f276 Let us pray. f277 Almighty, Eternal God, Who, according to Thy righteous judgment, didst condemn the unbelieving world through the flood and, in Thy great mercy, didst preserve believing Noah and his family; and Who didst drown hardhearted Pharaoh with all his host in the Red Sea and didst lead Thy people Israel through the same on dry ground, thereby prefiguring this bath of Thy baptism; and Who, through the baptism of Thy dear Child, our Lord Jesus Christ, hast consecrated and set apart the Jordan and all water as a salutary flood and a rich and full washing away of sins: We pray through the same Thy groundless mercy, that Thou wilt graciously behold this N. ó and bless him with true faith in spirit, that by means of this saving flood all that has been born in him from Adam and which he himself has added thereto may be drowned in him and engulfed, and that he may be sundered from the number of the unbelieving, preserved dry and secure in the Holy Ark of Christendom, serve Thy Name at all times fervent in spirit and joyful in hope, so that with all believers he may be made worthy to attain eternal life according to Thy promise; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Therefore thou malign, detestable devil, acknowledge thy judgment, and give glory to the true and living God; give glory to His Son Jesus Christ and to the Holy Ghost; and depart from this N. ó , His servant: for God and our Lord Jesus Christ has, of His goodness, called him to His holy grace and blessing, and to the fountain of baptism so that thou mayest never dare disturb this sign of the holy cross which we make on his forehead; through Him Who cometh again to judge, etc. f278 So hearken now, thou miserable devil, adjured by the Name of the Eternal God and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and depart trembling and groaning together with thy hatred, conquered, so that thou wilt have nothing to do with the servant of God who now seeks that which is heavenly and renounces thee and thy world, and who shall live in blessed immortality.

    Give glory therefore, now, to the Holy Ghost Who cometh and descendeth from the loftiest height of heaven to destroy thy deceit and treachery; and, having cleansed the heart with the divine fountain, to make it ready as a holy temple and dwelling place of God, so that this servant of God, freed from all guilt of the former evil, may always give thanks to the eternal God and praise His Name everlastingly. Amen.

    I adjure thee, thou unclean spirit, by the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, that thou come out of and depart from this servant of God, N. ó , for He commands thee, thou miserable one ó He Who walked upon the sea and stretched forth His hand to sinking Peter. f279 Let us pray. f280 Lord, Holy Father, Almighty Eternal God, from Whom cometh all the light of truth, we beseech Thine eternal and most tender goodness that Thou wilt shed Thy blessing upon this N. ó , Thy servant, and enlighten him with the light of Thy knowledge; cleanse and sanctify him; give him right understanding that he may be made worthy to come to the grace of Thy baptism; that he may hold fast to a sure hope, true counsel, and holy teaching, and be made meet for the grace of Thy baptism; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    The Lord be with you.

    Answer: And with thy spirit.

    The Gospel of Saint Mark.

    Response: Glory be to Thee, Lord.

    At that time they brought little children to Jesus, that He should touch them. But the disciples threatened those that brought them. When Jesus saw this, it annoyed and grieved Him, and He spoke to them: Let the little children come to me, and do not prevent them, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Truly, I tell you, he who does not accept the kingdom of God as a little child, will not enter into it. And He took them to His heart and laid hands on them and blessed them.

    Then the priest lays his hand on the head of the child and prays the Our Father together with the sponsors who have knelt. f281 Then he takes spittal with his finger and touches the right ear therewith and says: f282 Ephthah, that is, Be thou opened! Then the nose and the left ear.

    But thou, devil, flee, for Godís judgment cometh speedily. f283

    Then the child is led into the church, and the priest says: f284

    The Lord preserve thy coming in and thy going out from now on to eternity. Then the priest requires the child to renounce the devil through his sponsors, and says:

    N.

    ó , dost thou renounce the devil?

    Response: Yes.

    And all his works?

    Response: Yes.

    And all his ways?

    Response: Yes. Then he asks: f286 Dost thou believe on God the Almighty Father, Creator of heaven and earth?

    Response: Yes.

    Dost thou believe on Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, born and suffered?

    Response: Yes.

    Dost thou believe on the Holy Ghost, a holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and after death an eternal life?

    Response: Yes. Then he anoints the child on the breast and between the shoulders with holy oil, and says: f287 And I anoint thee with healing oil in Jesus Christ our Lord. And asks: f288 Dost thou desire to be baptized?

    Response: Yes. Then he takes the child and dips him in the font, and says: And I baptize thee in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. f290 Then the sponsors shall hold the little child in the font and the priest signs him with a cross with the oil on the crown of his head, and says: f292 The Almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath regenerated thee through water and the Holy Ghost, and hath forgiven thee all thy sin, anoint thee with the salutary oil to eternal life. Amen.

    Peace be with thee.

    Response: And with thy spirit. While the sponsors continue to hold the child in the font, the priest shall put on him the christening hood, and say: Receive the white, holy, and spotless robe which thou shalt bring without spot before the judgment seat of Christ so that thou mayest receive eternal life. Peace with thee. f294 Then he is lifted from the font and the priest puts a candle in his hand.

    Receive this burning torch and preserve thy baptism blameless, so that when the Lord cometh to the wedding thou mayest go to meet Him and enter with the saints into the heavenly mansion and receive eternal life.

    Amen. f295

    MARTIN LUTHER TO ALL CHRISTIAN READERS, GRACE AND PEACE IN CHRIST OUR LORD F296

    MARTINUS LUTHER

    Since I see and hear daily with what indolence and little earnestness, ó I will not say, with frivolity, ó the high, holy and comforting sacrament of baptism is administered to little children, ó I think one reason for this is that those who are there present do not understand anything of what is said and done, ó because of this state of affairs I have thought it would not only be profitable but that it is also necessary to administer this Sacrament in the German language. And I have therefore begun to do in German what was heretofore performed in Latin, namely, to baptize in German, in order that the sponsors and others present may be incited the more to faith and earnest devotion, and the priests who administer the baptism show more concern for the good of the hearers.

    In all Christian earnestness I ask all those who administer baptism, who hold the children, or witness it, to take to heart this admirable work and its great seriousness and solemnity. For here in the words of this prayer you hear how plaintively, pitifully, and earnestly the Christian Church concerns itself about the little child, and confesses before God in straightforward words, which cannot be doubted, that he is possessed by the devil and is a child of sin and disfavor, and prays so diligently for help and for grace through baptism so that he may become a child of God.

    Therefore please remember that it is by no means a light matter or a bit of fun to take sides against the devil and not only to drive him away from the little child but to load on his little shoulders such a mighty and life-long enemy. Remember, too, that it is very necessary to aid the poor child with all your heart and strong faith; to intercede for him earnestly, that God, in accordance with this prayer, will not only loose him from the power of the devil, but also strengthen him, so that like a good knight he may resist him in life and death. And I suspect that the reason why people turn out so badly after baptism is that our concern about them has been so indifferent and careless and that at their baptism we interceded for them with but little earnestness.

    Now remember, too, that in baptism the external things are the least important; such as, blowing under the eyes, signing with the cross, putting salt into the mouth, putting spittal and clay in the ears and nose; anointing the breast and shoulders with oil, signing the crown of the head with the chrism, drawing on the christening-robe, and placing a burning candle in the hand, and whatever else has been added thereto by man to beautify the (office of) baptism. For most assuredly baptism can be performed without all these and they are not the sort of devices and practices from which the devil shrinks or flees. He sneers at greater things than these! There must be real earnestness here.

    Rather make this your concern, to be present in true faith, and to hear Godís Word and unite earnestly in the prayer. For when the priest says, Let us pray, he is exhorting you to unite with him in the prayer. And all sponsors and the others present should repeat with him the words of his prayer in their hearts to God. For this reason the priest should say this prayer very clearly and slowly so that the sponsors may hear and comprehend it and also pray with him with one accord in their hearts, carrying the little childís need before God most earnestly, setting themselves against the devil with all their strength on behalf of the child, and conducting themselves most earnestly, ó because this is no light matter as far as the devil is concerned.

    For this reason it is quite right and proper not to allow drunken and coarse priests to baptize, or to accept loose persons as sponsors, but choose excellent, moral, earnest, pious priests and sponsors of whom one is assured that they will administer the matter solemnly and in true faith, so that the holy sacrament is not made a mockery of the devil and a dishonor to God who in this showers upon us the superabundant and infinite riches of His grace, which He Himself calls a new birth, and through which we are freed from all the devilís tyranny, loosed from sin, death, and hell, become children of life and heirs of all Godís possessions and Godís own children and Christís brethren. Ah, dear Christians, let us not value and administer such an unspeakable gift so indolently and indifferently; for baptism is our only comfort, and entrance into all godly blessings and all holy intercourse. God help us. Amen.

    As yet I have not desired to make any marked changes in the Order of Baptism. As much as I might be willing to endure it, it could have been better prepared, for it had careless masters whom the glory of baptism itself did not inspire sufficiently. But in order not to frighten weak consciences, I allow it to remain quite as it was, in order that they do not complain that I want to institute a new baptism, and criticize those who were baptized in the past as persons not properly baptized. For, as I have said, there is not much value in the human additions; the important thing is to be concerned about the baptism itself, together with Godís Word, proper faith and earnest prayer. Herewith the matter is committed to God.

    Amen.

    DAS TAUFBUECHLEIN AUFS NEUE ZUGERICHTET

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