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In the Church of England Book of Common Prayer the following statement is made:

It is certain by God's Word, that children which are baptized, dying before they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly saved.

How, according to Anglicanism, is it certain?

Please note, while this is a Biblical Basis Question, it is more about the C of E's biblical basis. The ideal answer will show that Cranmer or the other Reformers held this view.

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Section 5.) Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance,(1) yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated or saved, without it;(2) or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.(3) (1) Lk 7:30 with Ex 4:24-26 (2) Ro 4:11; Ac 10:2,4,22,31,45,47 (3) Ac 8:13,23

Section 6.) The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered;(1) yet, not withstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in His appointed time.(2) (1) Jn 3:5,8 (2) Gal 3:27; Tit 3:5; Eph 5:25,26; Ac 2:38,41

Westminster Confession Chapter 28 Of Baptism

According to the above statements of Section 5 and 6 - especially the parts I have emboldened - the other statement (as quoted in the question from the Book of Common Prayer) is in accord.

However the texts listed are not expounded upon, they are just mentioned without explanation. Nor could I find any more full discussion regarding the question of the transition of a child from the stated state of 'regeneration' to an alternative state by the act of committing a sin.

I had hoped for more detail on this from the Shorter Catechism but I have not been able to find any, only the bare statement of :

Q: What is baptism? A: Baptism is a sacrament, wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, (1) doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, (2) and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, (3) and our engagement to be the Lord's. (4)

Again, the texts are not expounded, just listed, so there are many questions (in my own mind) regarding the logic of what is being presented by the three Anglican sources (viz. The Book of Common Prayer, The Shorter Catechism and the Westminster Confession) as an explanation of the content of The Holy Bible.

As the question indicates, I suspect a more full explanation is only forthcoming from individuals within Anglicanism (as stated, 'Cranmer' or other 'Reformers') but that will only express their own position and will not be, per se, the overall stance of the Church of England.


EDIT AFTER COMMENT

With thanks to the OP for comment, I also looked at the Thirty Nine Articles and found no precise explanation. :

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 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.

The Thirty Nine Articles - XXVII Of Baptism

The wording stresses 'grafting into the church' and that 'baptising children (sic)' is 'agreeable to the institution of Christ' but does not expand on what 'institution' might mean.

Also baptism is called a 'sign' of regeneration but is not overtly stated to be regeneration in and of itself.

So it still appears to me that there is a distinct lack of substantial explanation of the Anglican doctrine of baptism, despite sufficient documentation regarding the actual practice of it.

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  • Neither the Shorter Catechism nor the Westminster Confession are Anglican. They are official in the Church of Scotland, and accepted in numerous private denominations also. They are not accepted inthe Church of England, despite the name Westminster, as they were repealed following the Restoration circa 1660. The statement in the BCP is official English doctrine, however, be that as it may, my question is not about attitudes or beliefs in general, but about the quoted statement in particular. I ask the basis for this particular statement, in the eyes of those who first put it in. – davidlol Jun 11 at 7:48
  • My original question referred specifically to England, but I see it has been edited. – davidlol Jun 11 at 7:50
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    @davidlol Thank you for that information. I was unaware of the repeal in 1660 and I am grateful for you pointing that out. Perhaps my answer will be down-voted or even moderated to deletion, in that case. If it is down-voted heavily, I will delete it myself. I was born and brought up in Scotland and although I have lived all my adult life in England I have only sat in a C of E pew a few times. It shows how much there is to know and that still one has much to learn. Regards. – Nigel J Jun 11 at 8:52
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    Thanks @NigelJ Please don't delete your answer. I am sure many will find it useful. Like you I don't think there is any explanation in the Anglican formularies. The phrase in the Prayer Book must I suppose have been jusified at the time perhaps in a debate or letter. I am currently interested in learning the origin of this phrase and how Cranmer (assuming it was he) justified it, if indeed he did. Sorry my question is perhaps not clear. – davidlol Jun 11 at 15:47
  • @davidlol Noted and thank you. – Nigel J Jun 12 at 7:14

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