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is against our tenets; but disclaiming all human authority, I decline attempting any evidence from the fathers on the other side of the question. Some .. have done it, and in their hands I leave it."
When the reformers had made the concession above stated, by which the subsequent controversies were involved in perplexities and intricacies that by no means belonged to them while the appeal was exclusively to the word of God; and which invalidated, or threw a doubt and hesitation on many of their deductions, and casta shade upon the honour of their triumphs; it might have been expected that more evident traces of its effects would have been visible in their authoritative books. And it is truly wonderful that our reformers especially, who seemed in some respects more compliant than those of other countries, have preserved the Articles and liturgy, in general, so free from bias derived from that source as we actually find them. Indeed in many things, which hasty and superficial controvertists have charged with deviation from the sacred oracles to human traditions, a careful investigation of each word and clause, and of the connexion in which it stands, with the guards put around it, will convince the impartial inquirer, that the charge is unfounded; and will lead him
Milner's Ecclesiastical History.
to admire the depth of 'acquaintance with the holy scriptures discernible in these venerable writings. In respect however of baptism, a few exceptions to the general rule occur ; and the language customary in the church for many ages seems to have induced the compilers to use expressions not strictly scriptural. Yet I trust it will appear that the words employed on this subject, taken together, and compared with each other, by no means imply that baptism and regeneration are synonymous; or that baptism, when rightly administered, is always accompanied with regeneration.
The Case of Infants.
It is assumed that the parents and sponsors, who, as members of the church, bring infants to baptism, are themselves true Christians; and that they really desire and pray, both previously and at the time when baptism is administered, that the inward and spiritual grace of that sacrament may accompany or follow the outward and visible sign, thus imitating those who brought their young children to “ Christ, that he should lay his hands “ on them, and pray for them.”] It is also assumed that, when baptism is publicly administered, the congregation likewise unite in fervent prayer for the same blessing along with the officiating minister; and that God does indeed hear and answer these prayers and on these grounds all parties unite in thanking God for so doing. ?
Matt. xix. 13.
Collect immediately preceding Baptism.
Viewing the proceeding in this light, many of those called evangelical clergymen suppose some gracious effect generally to attend the due administration of this sacrament of regeneration ; though they do not think baptism synonymous with regeneration, or inseparable from it: and thus they are satisfied in using the words, · We ‘yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father,
that it hath pleased thee to regenerate this in‘fant with thy Holy Spirit,' &c. Probably far too much is assumed in this case ; at least, far more than accords to the present state of things.
“We shall find this word used exactly in the same manner in our Liturgy, Articles, and Homilies. In the beginning of the service of Public Baptism of infants, we pray that the infant brought to be baptized may be washed and sanc* tified with the Holy Ghost; may receive remis
sion of his sins by spiritual regeneration; may be born again ; and that the old Adam may be so buried, that the new man may be raised up in him.'?
If baptism be regeneration, or inseparable from it, why should we pray in this manner? We • beseech thee, for thine infinite mercies, that • thou wilt mercifully look upon this child; wash him and sanctify him with the Holy Ghost; that he, being delivered from thy wrath, may be received into the ark of Christ's Church:'-—'We *call upon thee for this infant, that he, coming to • thy holy baptism, may receive remission of sins
2 Ref. 87.
* by spiritual regeneration—that this infant may receive the everlasting benediction of thy heavenly washing.' 'Give thy HOLY SPIRIT to this
infant, that he may be born again.' _The prayers themselves clearly distinguish between baptizing with water, which is the act of man; and spiritual regeneration, being “ born again,” which is the gift and work of God by his Holy Spirit. But, on the supposition of our opponents, all concerned ought indeed to pray that the bishop, priest, or deacon, may rightly administer the sacrament; for on that every thing depends ; and they have no need to pray for any thing further, because all the rest, at least as far as regeneration is concerned, follows by necessary consequence.
* Seeing now that this child is regenerate and ‘grafted into the body of Christ's church.' And in the concluding prayer, the priest returns " thanks to God that it hath pleased him to re
generate this infant with the Holy Spirit, and to receive him for his own child by adoption, and
to incorporate him into his holy church ;' and it is added, that God for his part will most surely
keep and perform his promise,' of 'releasing him ' from his sins, sanctifying him with the Holy Ghost, and giving him the kingdom of heaven and everlasting life.
The supposition, that the blessing is vouchsafed in answer to the prayers before offered, shews most evidently, that it is not effected by the mere
'Prayers in Baptismal service.
opus operatum ; nor is a necessary consequence of the right administration of baptism by the minister; who may do this rightly, though himself a wicked man.' The words here quoted refer to the preceding exhortation, 'Doubt ye not there
fore, but earnestly believe, that he will likewise ' favourably receive this present infant;'? and to the prayer grounded on it, ' Regard, we beseech thee, the supplications of thy congregation: sanctify this water to the mystical washing away
of sin ; and grant that this child, now to be bap- tized therein, may receive the fulness of thy
grace,' &c.3. If then faith, and the prayer of faith be entirely wanting, surely there is no ground in this office to expect that the inward and spiritual grace of baptism will accompany the outward administration. The baptism is valid ; but, even according to the charitable hope expressed in the office, regeneration does not necessarily accompany it; and the thanksgiving is rendered as unmeaning, or hypocritical, as the rest of the service.
In respect of the peculiar form in which the . public baptism of infants is administered ; and
that profession of repentance and faith which is made by their sureties in their name, and the real doctrine of the church of England in this respect; I shall content myself with referring to the work of one nearly related to me, in which it is
Art. xxvi. • Exhortation after the gospel.
• Collect before baptism. VOL. VII.