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< English church,' I shall annex two passages, of a very different kind, from the fathers' more generally so called.
“Giving his disciples the power of regeneration to God, he said to them, Go, and teach all na* tions, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.'.
Let us listen to the sacred oracles in appreciating this quotation : “ I indeed,” says John the Baptist, “baptize you with water, unto repent“ance :--He shall baptize you with the Holy “ Ghost and with fire.”2 « Ye,” saith Christ, “ shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not « many days hence.”3 “ By one Spirit,” saith St. Paul, “ we are baptized into one body:"4 and, “ According to his mercy he” (God) “ saved us, “ by the washing of regeneration, and renewing “ of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abun“ dantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour,"5 “ Of his own will,” saith James, “ begat he us by “ the word of truth."6 And Peter says, “ Blessed “ be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, “ who, according to his abundant mercy, hath be“ gotten us again.” “Being born again, not of “ corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the “ word of God.”? And again : “ The like figure “ whereunto, even baptism, doth now save us; “ not the washing away the filth of the flesh, but “ the answer of a good conscience towards God.”8 Is nothing here spoken of, except what man can do by administering baptism? If there be, are we
Irenæus, Ref. 301. • Matt. iii. 11. Acts i. 5. * 1 Cor. xii. 12.
Tit. iii. 4—7. Jam. i. 18. ? 1 Pet. i. 3, 23. , • 1 Pet. iii. 21.
to adhere to “ the oracles of God,” or to correct our scriptural sentiments, on the authority of
Irenæus ? · "There are two births, one is of the earth, the
other of heaven; one is of the flesh, the other of the Spirit; one is of mortality, the other of eternity; one is of male and female, the other of God and the church. But each of these two 'takes place only once; neither the one nor the other can be repeated. Nicodemus rightly understood the birth of the flesh. Do you also so understand the birth of the Spirit, as Nicodemus understood the birth of the flesh. What did Nico* demus understand? “Can a man enter a second
time into his mother's womb, and be born?” • Whoever shall say to you, that you may be born a second time spiritually, answer him what Nicodemus said, “ Can a man enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born?” I am
already born of Adam ; Adam cannot generate 'me a second time; I am already born of Christ;
Christ cannot generate me a second time. As * the natural birth cannot be repeated, so neither can baptism.''
The words printed in Italics are, I suppose, considered as very opposite to the tenets of Calvinism. But no Calvinist thinks that any one ought to be twice baptized, or can be twice regenerated. Some indeed consider infant-baptism as a nullity, and so baptize adults, though they have been baptized in infancy. Their opponents call them Anabaptists, or Rebaptizers, taking their own side of the ques
Augustine, Ref. 421.
tion as undeniable; they at present call themselves Baptists, or Baptizers, as if none else baptized, -taking the other side of the question for granted : the more impartial name however is Antipædobaptists, or persons who are against infant-baptism. But even these do not suppose that baptism, at first rightly administered, should be repeated. On the other hand, they who consider all the impenitent, unbelieving, and ungodly, among baptized persons, as needing regeneration, are decidedly of opinion, that they never were regenerated; so that they never think of a second regeneration. Probably, Augustine meant merely baptismal regeneration.-'That, which at this day,
in the church, is generally called a sacrifice, is
the sign of the true sacrifice.' The Lord's supper was here meant, which was called a sacrifice, as baptism was called regeneration. But, if it was a sign or representation of the true sacrifice, it was not the true sacrifice itself. If the sacraments
had not a certain similitude of those things of ' which they are sacraments, they would be no 'sacraments at all : now it is for the similitude or
resemblance that they often bear the names of 'the things themselves. These quotations from this ancient father, which were overlooked by his Lordship, give the true reason, why baptism was called regeneration; namely, because it was an outward sign of regeneration. But as the Lord's supper, being in this, perhaps at first well meant, but incautious, way called a sacrifice, soon was considered as a real propitiatory sacrifice for the
‘sins of the living and of the dead :' so, baptism, in the same way, having been called regeneration, being the outward sign of regeneration, soon became the only regeneration which was thought requisite, and is now by some protestant divines considered as such ; nay, by one as the only 're* generation possible in this world !'1 Thus men have substituted the sacrifice of the mass for the propitiation of Christ, as crucified for us; and the outward administration of baptism, the mere opus operatum, for the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. In both, the priests were highly gratified, by the dignity thus conferred upon them. Their words could convert the wafer into a true object of religious adoration, even Christ, “God manifest in “ the flesh ;” and their actions could make atonement for the sins of the living and the dead; and change at once “ the children of wrath,” and “ of “ the devil," into children of God, and heirs of heaven. The people also “ loved to have it so :" because some external forms, with a moderate expense, according to their circumstances, saved them all trouble and uneasiness about other things in religion ; and left them, with quiet stupid consciences, to live according to the course of the world, and the lusts of their own hearts.
I conclude this part of the present publication with one more quotation from a work lately published, to which I have already referred.— I take 'my stand in this entire argument, as pleading * the cause of holiness and practical religion against (an error which threatens the subversion of both. I contend, if not against “ a faith without works," ‘yet against a regeneration without effects. Very ' seldom, I fear, is the regeneration, of which we ' now hear so much, seen to exert any salutary influence on the heart and life: but, whether it do or not, men, it seems, are to be taught great practical reliance on it. Yet what can be more
* Mant's Tracts, page 32.