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viewing admired and adored, the gracious, stupendous, but mysterious design, with ineffable gratitude; while he was inspired to teach all succeeding Christians, that the angelic hosts joined in this admiration and adoration. But, if no such regeneration be needful; nothing but what always attends baptism ; (let the lives of baptized persons in general declare what that is ;) then our other doctrines lose much of their support; an opposite system may have semblance of truth; and, as far as I can judge, in this case Christianity must degenerate into dead faith, dead works, and formal worship.
THE DOCTRINE OF BAPTISM AND REGENERATION AS
DELIVERED IN THE WRITINGS OF THE CHURCH.
Remarks on the Fathers.
'The word Regeneration is in scripture solely and exclusively applied to the one immediate effect of baptism once administered ; and is never ' used as synonymous to the repentance or refor'mation of a Christian ; or to express any operation of the Holy Ghost upon the human mind subsequent to baptism. And the Christians did 'in all ancient times continue the use of this name ' for baptism ; so as that they never use the word
regenerate, or born again, but that they mean or denote by it baptism.'!
I trust, it has been demonstrated that both “ re“ generation,” and “ born again,” and “ born of “ God,” are used in scripture in a meaning distinct and remote from the one immediate effect
of baptism :' and, though not 'synonymous to 'the repentance and reformation of a Christian ;'
Ref. 86, 87. and Wall in Ref.
as the cause is not the same as the effect; or imparting life is not synonymous to the subsequent activity, enjoyment, or suffering ;-yet they imply an operation of the Holy Ghost upon the human ‘mind' separable from baptism, and in many cases subsequent to it: unless all, in every age, who have been baptized on a formal or hypocritical profession of faith, are to be consigned to hopeless perdition, as the enemies of God, whatever evidence they may have afterwards given of repentance, faith, and holiness.
The latter part of this quotation, (by which his Lordship unites the two parts of the subject.) is taken from Wall's History of infant-baptism, and may properly introduce the subject of the present section. The use of the words ' regenerate' and
born again ’ is allowedly of great antiquity in the Christian church: but the clause ' continue the
use of it'is not correct, because the language of the sacred writers is far from sanctioning it. In no one instance is it at all intimated in the New Testament, when the baptism of converts is recorded, that they were then regenerated. The two subjects are kept entirely distinct; except as in two or three instances the outward sign is alluded to in speaking of 'regeneration. From what source the language of the early fathers originated is a distinct question : but it is certain that we cannot at the same time “ speak accord“ ing to the oracles of God," and according to the phraseology of Justin Martyr. For instance: * Whoever are persuaded, and believe, that those
things which are taught and said by us are true, ' and engage that they can live agreeably to them, are directed to fast and pray, and intreat from God forgiveness of their former sins; we praying and fasting with them. Afterwards they are conducted by us to a place where there is water; and they are regenerated, according to the same mode of regeneration by which we ourselves were regenerated : for they are then washed with water in the name of the Father of the universe and the
Lord God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and Fof the Holy Ghost. For Christ said, “ Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the king
dom of heaven.”' Can this language be paralleled from any record of baptism in the New Testament? s. 1"
Yet, in fact, it is far more guarded than many statements in modern divines are. The previous profession required, and the prayers and fasting which preceded their baptism, all implying, that the right reception, and not merely the right administration, was considered as essential to the blessing: and in fact Justin' himself, in another passage, in good measure avows this. What advantage is there in that baptism which makes clean flesh and body only? Wash your souls
from wrath, and from covetousness, from envy, ' from hatred ; and behold the body is pure.'3_ This at least clearly shews, that in Justin's opinion baptism might be rightly administered, and yet be of no advantage,' if not rightly received.
It has been the opinion of persons, eminent for wisdom, learning, and piety, both in the church of England, and elsewhere, that the reformers from
? Ref. 83, 85.
* Ref. 298.
popery in general, by appealing to fathers and councils of the first four centuries as authority, and not decidedly and consistently adhering to their own grand principle as stated in our Article ; 1 gave their opponents an immense advantage, in all the subsequent controversies with papists; as it still does to such as oppose their doctrine, though called protestants. An amiable humility, and a deference to characters of established reputation in the church in former ages; a fear of needlessly innovating, and some remaining prejudices of education ; very reasonably account for this, without deducting in the least from the high veneration in which they should be held for wisdom and piety. But if, even in the apostle's days, “ the “ mystery of iniquity did already work,” it may well be supposed, that in four centuries, and indeed in far less time, it made rapid and destructive, but silent, progress.
In respect of the quotations from the fathers, in the Refutation, (the remarks on which I do not mean, in general, to republish ;) I shall intreat the reader's candid attention to the following thoughts on their character, writings, and authority.
Our Article maintains, that ' holy scripture con'taineth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary unto salvation.'? There is no truth or doctrine necessary for our justification and everlasting salvation, but that
* Art, vi.