Few ceremonies have been left us by Christ—two or three, baptism, the eucharist and the laying on of hands. The first belongs in general to all who are of Christ's church. The second to those only who can interrogate themselves upon their certitude of faith. For the apostle says: Let a man prove himself. The third only to a few, those who superintend the ministry of the word. Now since these ceremonies have clear methods of performance they are improperly said to be done of love when they are done of precept, even though whatever God commands is most pleasing to you because of your piety. So when it is said: Go and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is here the form of law as much as in "Let every male be circumcised." What the law orders cannot be ascribed to indulgence, but that is done of indulgence when at the celebration of the eucharist certain weak ones are spared, and would be so done if the habit of baptizing infants were being restored and certain weak ones were spared from being compelled to baptize infants after the custom and rite. This, I say, would be done of love. The eucharist therefore is not celebrated from love in this way, but it is stopped out of love by many. So it would be with baptism. I warn you here, dearest brethren, to weigh again and again my opinion, for some seem to wish to cover up with their astuteness of words the mouth of your simplicity.
The second necessary inference of the second pair. Whether the Catabaptists or others receive or not my opinion on election, predestination, calling and faith—which assuredly is not mine, but the apostle Paul’s, nay, that of God himself, if you estimate carefully the providence of God—still baptism is not at all to be denied infants on account of God’s election or reprobation, for neither to Esau or any other who was rejected was circumcision denied. So I regard the whole Catabaptist argument as now overturned, and it is demonstrated that election is above baptism, circumcision, faith and preaching.
Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.