« EdellinenJatka »
Doctrine of the Catechism concerning Baptism.
* In the Catechism it is said, that the inward and spiritual grace of baptism is ' a death unto
sin, and a new birth unto righteousness; for, : being by nature born in sin, and the children of • wrath, we are hereby made the children of grace."'1
This quotation is all which is advanced in the Refutation, as referring to the Church Catechism : but the doctrine taught in that formulary requires a little further consideration.
Qu. How many sacraments hath Christ ordained in his church? Ans. Two only, as generally necessary to salvation ; that is to say, • baptism, and the supper of the Lord.'— These are generally necessary to salvation,' not universally: but regeneration is universally necessary, as it has been unanswerably shewn from our Lord's own words.2_Qu. What meanest thou by this ! word sacrament? Ans. I mean an outward and
visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, ! given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby. we receive the same, and a
pledge to assure us thereof.'-The outward sacrament then is 'a sign, a means, a pledge ;' and nothing more. In this both baptism and the Lord's supper are alike included. — Qu. What is the outward visible sign or form in baptism?
Ans. Water, wherein the person is baptized, “ in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and
of the Holy Ghost.” Qu. What is the inward and spiritual grace? Ans. A death unto sin,
and a new birth unto righteousness; for, being " by nature born in sin, and the children of wrath, "we are hereby made the children of grace.'Here observe, that this benefit is annexed to the (inward and spiritual grace,' and not to the outward and visible sign. He that had only the outward sign, without the inward grace, had only the exterior of the sacrament, and the shadow of the blessing: but he, who had the thing signified, had the substantial blessing itself, even if not partaker of the outward sign. And, however it might be assumed that in most cases the outward sign and the inward grace went together; that is not here said, nor so much as clearly intimated.Qu. What is required of persons to be baptized ? Ans. Repentance, whereby they forsake sin, and faith, whereby they steadfastly believe the promises of God made to them in that sacrament.' But supposing an adult should receive baptism, rightly as to the external administration, yet without repentance and faith : would he have the blessing? Let the question and answer concerning the Lord's supper resolve this inquiry.- Qu. What is the inward part, or thing signified? Ans. The body and blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received by the 'faithful in the Lord's supper. But if the recipient be not a believer: then, verily, he eats and drinks his own condemnation. And what reason can be assigned, that there should be any difference, in this respect, between adult-baptism and receiving the Lord's supper? — Qu. Why then are infants baptized, when by reason of their tender age they cannot perform them? Ans. Because they promise them both by their sure
ties, which promise, when they come to age, .themselves are bound to perform.'-This answer
has already been noticed, in the remarks on the Offices of baptism: I shall therefore only add, that it seems to imply that, if the infants thus promising by their sureties do not, when they come to age, perform the promise as they are bound to do; they are not to be regarded as having obtained any share in the blessings above stated, as the inward and spiritual grace of bap• tism.' And, in this too common case, of what use can it be to persuade them that they have actually received the blessing, while it is obvious that they do not perform the promise, on account of which they were admitted to baptism?-Here at least is no ground for concluding it to be the doctrine of our church, that baptism and regeneration are synonymous or inseparable.
'In the Office of Confirmation, the Bishop, after the renewal of the baptismal vow, but previous to the laying on of hands, prays thus : Almighty and everliving God, who hast vouchsafed to re
generate these thy servants by water and the * Holy Ghost, and hast given unto them forgiveness of all their sins,' evidently referring to the rite of baptism.''
If the last clause, quoted fronı this prayer, 'refers to the rite of baptism,' then all the sins com
mitted by the person confirmed, even after baptism, till the time of his confirmation, were forgiven when he was baptized ; and thus forgiven before they were committed !-an absurd tenet, of which Papists on the one hand, and Antinomian Calvinists on the other, have made most pernicious use.
-But let it be noticed, how the prayer is introduced: “ Then shall the Bishop say, 'Do ye here,
in the presence of God and of this congregation, renew the solemn promise and vow, that was 'made in your name at your baptism : ratifying and confirming the same in your own persons ; and acknowledging yourselves bound to believe and to do all those things, which your godfathers and godmothers then undertook for you - And
every one shall audibly answer, I do.'1 On this most solemn, and explicit, and public profession, they are received and acknowledged as true believers; and prayer is made to God for them in these words, “ Almighty and everliving God, who
hast vouchsafed to regenerate these thy servants ' by water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given
unto them forgiveness of all their sins; strengthen ' them, we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost the Comforter, and daily increase in them
thy manifold gifts of grace,' &c.-The sincerity of their personal profession being assumed, it is supposed that the profession made by them through their sureties in baptism was sincere also; according to that general charitable supposition which runs through all these offices, and indeed through other parts of the liturgy. On this ground it is
likewise assumed, that the inward and spiritual grace of baptism attended the outward and visible sign, (or at least followed it,) and that they have been regenerated, not only by water,' but by the ' Holy Ghost;' and that, as true believers, all their
sins committed since baptism are, on this their so· lemn renewal and ratification of the baptismal vow, forgiven them :' and that, being already partakers of the 'manifold gifts of grace,' they only need to be confirmed and increased in them.
-But, supposing this profession, made at confirmation, to be insincere, formal, and hypocritical ; (as Simon Magus's at baptism ;) and will any teacher of the Christian church say, that the persons who make this profession are, not only' re'generated by the Holy Ghost,' but also forgiven
all their sins?' In how many instances, amidst the multitudes of young persons often confirmed in a few hours, this profession is at least unmeaning ; let those who are most conversant with such subjects and scenes determine for themselves. But, except the profession be sincerely made, indisputably pardon of sin is not granted : otherwise confirmation must be supposed even more efficacious than the sacrament of baptism itself; for few will maintain, that a wicked man is pardoned, receiving baptism on a hypocritical profession of faith and repentance."
"1 Pet. iii. 21.