In Calvin’s Strasbourg catechism, he asks the student “How do you know yourself to be a son of God in fact as well as in name?” The answer is “Because I am baptized in the name of God the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” In his Geneva catechism, he asks, “Is baptism nothing more than a mere symbol [i.e., picture] of cleansing?” The answer: “I think it to be such a symbol that the reality is attached to it. For God does not disappoint us when he promises us his gifts. Hence, both pardon of sins and newness of life are certainly offered and received by us in baptism.”
In his discussion on baptism in the Institutes (IV.3), Calvin claims, “We must realize that at whatever time we are baptized, we are once for all washed and purged for our whole life. Therefore, as often as we fall away, we ought to recall the memory of our baptism and fortify our mind with it, that we may always be sure and confident of the forgiveness of sins.” Elsewhere, Calvin wrote, “It is a thing out of all controversy true, that we put on Christ in baptism, and were baptized on this very ground, that we should be one with him”
In his response to the Anabaptists he explains his understanding of the significance of baptism: “But as baptism is a solemn recognition by which God introduces his children in to the possession of life, a true and effectual sealing of the promise, a pledge of sacred union with Christ, it is justly said to be the entrance and reception into the Church. And as the instruments of the Holy Spirit are not dead, God truly performs and effects by baptism what He figures.” (Calvin’s Second Defense of the Faith Concerning the Sacraments in Answer to Joachim Westphal , quoted in Willem Balke’s Calvin and the Anabaptists Radicals, 222)
Martin Bucer, Calvin’s mentor, wrote the following in his 1537 liturgy for infant baptism: “Almighty God, heavenly Father, we give you eternal praise and thanks, that you have granted and bestowed upon this child your fellowship, that you have born him again to yourself through holy baptism, that he has been incorporated into your beloved son, our only savior, and is now your child and heir...”
In a similar vein, the French Reformed liturgy included the pastor speaking these words to the newly baptized infant (I spoke these words to the infants I baptised every time and meant them): “Little child, for you Jesus Christ has come, he has fought, he has suffered. For you he entered into the shadows of Gethsemane and the terror of Calvary; for you he uttered the cry ‘it is finished.’ For you he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, and there for you he intercedes. For you, even though you do not yet know it, little child, but in this way the Word of the Gospel is made true, ‘We love him because he first loved us.’”
Thomas Cranmer’s prayers in the Book of Common Prayer to accompany the baptism of an infant: “Grant that this child now to be baptized, may receive the fullness of thy grace and ever remain in the number of thy faithful and elect children through Jesus Christ our Lord ....[Then, following the baptism:] Seeing now, dearly beloved, that this child is regenerate and grafted into the body of Christ’s church, let us give thanks unto God Almighty for these benefits, and with one accord make our prayers unto him, that this child may lead the rest of his life according to this beginning...We yield hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it has pleased thee to regenerate this infant with thy Holy Spirit, to receive him as thine own child by adoption, and to incorporate him into thy holy church...”
Reformed Anglican, Richard Hooker: “Baptism both declares and makes us Christians.” “In baptism, besides the hand seen that casts the water, is the virtue of the Holy Ghost there, working, without hands, what here was wrought.”
The French Confession makes the same point: “We acknowledge only two sacraments, common to the whole church, the former whereof is baptism, given unto us to witness to our adoption, for by it we are grafted into the body of Christ, that being washed with his blood we might be renewed by his Spirit unto holiness of life...[I]n baptism, God gives us really and in fact that which he there sets before us; and that consequently with these signs is given true possession and enjoyment of that which they present to us.”
WCF 28.1 “Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ,[Matt. 28:19] not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church;[I Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27-28] but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace,[Rom. 4:11; Col. 2:11-12] of his ingrafting into Christ,[Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:5] of regeneration,[John 3:5; Tit. 3:5] of remission of sins,[Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38; 22:16] and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life.[Rom. 6:3-4]” This is their prooftexts! Those miscreants!
Calvin's Strasbourg catechism (cited in Old 207):
Q. Are you, my son, a Christian in fact as well as in name?
A. Yes, my father.
Q. How do you know yourself to be?
A. Because I am baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Bucer's Church Order of Cassel (cited in Old 211):
Q. Are you a Christian?
Q. How do you know?
A. Because I have been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
A bit later in the Church Order of Cassel:
Q. Are you in the Church and fellowship of Christ?A. Yes.
Q. How did you enter?
A. Through holy Baptism.
The Scots Confession (1530, John Knox):
“These sacraments, both of the Old Testament and of the New, were instituted by God not only to make a visible distinction between his people and those who were without the Covenant, but also to exercise the faith of his children and, by participation of these sacraments, to seal in their hearts the assurance of his promise, and of that most blessed conjuction, union, and society, which the chosen have with their Head, Christ Jesus. And so we utterly condemn the vanity of those who affirm the sacraments to be nothing else than naked and bare signs. No, we assuredly believe that by Baptism we are engrafted into Christ Jesus, to be made partakers of his righteousness, by which our sins are covered and remitted. . .” (Chapter 21)
Martin Bucer’s Strasbourg Baptismal Liturgy (1537). After baptism, the minister is to pray:
“Almighty God, Heavenly Father, we give you eternal praise and thanks, that you have granted and bestowed upon this child your fellowship, that you have born him again to yourself through your holy baptism, that he has been incorporated into your beloved Son, our only Savior, and is now your children and heir. Grant, most loving and faithful Father, that we in the whole course of our lives might prove our thankfulness for your great grace, faithfully bring up this your child through all the situations of life and that we with this child as well, might more and more die unto the world, and joined to the life of your Son, our Lord Jesus, daily grow in grace, that we might ever praise your and be a blessing to our neighbor, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.” (From, Old, The Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the Sixteenth Century, p. 167)
The Second Helvetic Confession (1566)
“Now to be baptized in the name of Christ is to be enrolled, entered, and received into the covenant and family, and so into the inheritance of the sons of God; yes, and in this life to be called after the name of God; that is to say, to be called a son of God; to be cleansed also from the filthiness of sins, and to be granted the manifold grace of God, in order to lead a new and innocent life. Baptism, therefore, calls to mind and renews the great favor God has shown to the race of mortal men. For we are all born in the pollution of sin and are the children of wrath. But God, who is rich in mercy, freely cleanses us from our sins by the blood of his Son, and in him adopts us to be his sons, and by a holy covenant joins us to himself, and enriches us with various gifts, that we might live a new life. All these things are assured by baptism. For inwardly we are regenerated, purified, and renewed by God through the Holy Spirit; and outwardly we receive the assurance of the greatest gifts in the water, by which also those great benefits are represented, and, as it were, set before our eyes to be beheld.” (Chapter 20)
The 39 Articles (1571)
“Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.” (Article 26)