John Wesley’s Ritual for Infant Baptism

The following ritual for “The Ministration of Baptism to Infants” is from “The Sunday service of the Methodists in North America” (pp. 139–143). It is lightly edited (e.g., “Holy Ghost” is changed to “Holy Spirit”; “thou,” “thy,” etc. is changed to “you,” “your,” etc., except in the Lord’s Prayer).

The Minister coming to the Font, which is to be filled with pure Water, shall say,

Dearly beloved, forasmuch as all men are conceived and born in sin, and that our Savior Christ says, “None can enter into the kingdom of God, except he be regenerate and born anew of water and of the Holy Spirit; I beseech you to call upon God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that of his bounteous mercy he will grant to this Child that which by nature he cannot have; that he may be baptized with water and the Holy Spirit, and received into Christ’s holy Church, and be made a lively member of the same.

Then the Minister shall say,

Let us pray

Almighty and everlasting God, who of your great mercy did save Noah and his family in the ark from perishing by water; and also did safely lead the children of Israel, your people, through the Red Sea, figuring thereby your holy Baptism; and by the Baptism of your well beloved Son Jesus Christ in the river Jordan, did sanctify water to the mystical washing away of sin, We beseech you, for your infinite mercies, that you will look upon this Child; wash him and sanctify him with the Holy Spirit; that he being delivered from your wrath, may be received into the ark of Christ’s Church; and being steadfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in charity, may so pass the waves of this troublesome world, that finally he may come to the land of everlasting life; there to reign with you, world without end, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty and immortal God, the aid of all that need, the helper of all that flee to thee for succour [assistance or help], the life of them that believe, and the resurrection of the dead, we call upon you for this Infant, that he, coming to your holy Baptism, may receive remission of his sins by spiritual regeneration. Receive him, O Lord, as you have promised by your well-beloved Son, saying, “Ask, and you shall have; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”: So give now unto us that ask; let us that seek find; open the gate unto us that knock; that this Infant may enjoy the everlasting benediction of your heavenly washing, and may come to the eternal kingdom which you have promised by Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then shall the People stand up; and the Minister shall say,

Hear the words of the Gospel written by Saint Mark, in the Tenth Chapter, at the Thirteenth Verse.

“They brought the young children to Christ, that he should touch them. And his disciples rebuked those that brought them; but when Jesus saw it he was much displeased, and said unto them, ‘Suffer [allow] the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily, I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.’ And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”

Then shall the Minister say,

Almighty and everlasting God, heavenly Father, we give you humble thanks, that you have vouchsafed [granted] to call us to the knowledge of your grace, and faith in you: Increase this knowledge, and confirm this faith in us evermore. Give your Holy Spirit to this Infant, that he may be born again, and be made an heir of everlasting salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and with the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

O merciful God grant that the old Adam in this Child may be so buried, that the new man may be raised up in him. Amen.

Grant that all carnal affections may die in him, and that all things belonging to the Spirit may live and grow in him. Amen.

Grant that he may have power and strength to have victory, and to triumph against the devil, the world, and the flesh. Amen.

Grant that whosoever is dedicated to you by our office and ministry, may also be endued with heavenly virtues, and everlastingly rewarded, through your mercy, O blessed Lord God, who does live and govern all things, world without end. Amen.

Almighty and everliving God, whose most dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of our sins, did shed out of his most precious side both water and blood, and gave commandment to his disciples, that they should go teach all nations, and baptize them, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Regard, we beseech you, the supplications of your congregation; sanctify this water to the mystical washing away of sin; and grant that this Child, now to be baptized, may receive the fulness of your grace, and ever remain in the number of your faithful and elect children, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then the Minister shall take the Child into his Hands, and say to the Friends of the Child,

Name this Child.

And then, naming it after them, he shall dip it in the Water, or sprinkle it with therewith, saying,

N [Child’s Name]. I baptize you, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Then the Minister shall say,

We receive this Child into the Congregation of Christ’s flock, and * sign him with the sign of the Cross; in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner against sin, the world and the devil; and to continue Christ’s faithful soldier and fervent unto his life’s end. Amen.

* Here the Minister shall make a Cross upon the Child’s forehead.

Then shall the Minister say,

Seeing now, dearly beloved brethren, that this Child is grafted into the body of Christ’s Church, let us give thanks unto Almighty God for these benefits, and with one accord make our prayers unto him, that this Child may lead the rest of his life according to the beginning.

Then shall be said, all kneeling,

Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven: Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil. Amen.

Then shall the Minister say,

We yield you hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it has pleased you to receive this Infant for your own Child by adoption, and to incorporate him into your holy Church. And humbly we beseech you to grant, that he, being dead unto sin, and living unto righteousness, and being buried with Christ in his death, may crucify the old man, and utterly abolish the whole body of sin; and that, as he is made partaker of the death of your Son, he may also be partaker of his resurrection; so that finally, with the residue of your holy Church, he may be an inheritor of your everlasting kingdom, through Christ our Lord. Amen.