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Jife, to the glory and praise of God: And so perseveryng, to enjoye the fruite of life everlastyng. And we againe upon our part, ought moste diligently to remembre and keepe the promise, that we in Baptisme have made to almyghtye god, that is to beleve onely in hym, onely to serve and obeie hym, to forsake all synne, and the woorkes of Satan, to mortifie our affections of the fleshe, and to lyve after the spirite in a new lyfe.-P. 65.
Cranmer's Catechism :
Beware you fal not to sinne againe, have no delite in synne, nor synne not wyllyngly. But be godly and holy, and suffer gladly such afflictions, as God shall lay upon your backes, and yf' yon do thus, then your baptisme shal be auailable unto you, and God shall worke in you by his holy Spirit, and shall fynyshe in you all those thinges which by baptisme he hath begon.—P. 76.
This view of the subject (says Mr. Fallow) is further confirmed by the questions and answers in the Church Catechism which treat of the requirements of persons to be baptised. Before the revision in A.D. 1661, these questions and answers stood thus :
“What is required of persons to be baptised ?
Ans. Repentance, whereby they forsake sin; and faith, whereby they stedfastly believe the promises of God.
Why then are infants baptised, when, by reason of their tender age, they cannot perform them?
Ans. Yes, they do perform them by their sureties, who promise and vow then both in their names.
This last answer was objected to by the Nonconformist divines at the Savoy Conference: “We desire," as they state their objection, “that the entering of infants into God's covenant may be more warily expressed, and that the words may not seem to found their baptism upon a real actual faith and repentance of their own.
And we desire that a promise may not be taken for a performance of such faith and repentance; especially that it be not asserted that they perform them by the promise of their sureties; it being to the seed of believers that the covenant of God is made, and not (that we can find) to all that have such believing sureties, who are neither parents nor pro-parents of their children.”
This exception drew from the Bishops the following reply, which may be regarded as a summary of the view of the Church on this part of the subject.
“ The effect of children's baptism depends neither upon their own present actual faith and repentance, which the Catechism saith expressly they eannot perform, nor upon the faith and repentance of their natural parents or proparents, or of their godfathers or godmothers, but upon the ordinance and institution of Christ: but it is requisite that when they come to age, they should perform these conditions of faith and repentance, for which also their godfathers and godmothers charitably undertook on their behalf. And what they do for the infant in this case, the infant himself is truly said to do: as in the courts of this kingdom daily the infant does answer by his guardian; and it is usual for to do homage by proxy, and for princes to marry by proxy.”— Introduction. Pp. xvii. xviii.
On this fæderal character of Baptism depend the use and duties of sponsors. Their two-fold office is to answer for the child, and to undertake that it shall be so brought up, as to be enabled to perform its promises. In their former character of respondents for the child, it was always intended by the Church that they should be persons of sound faith, and consistent lives. It is an error, indeed, and apparently * an
* At least, if this is the meaning of the author of Resp. ad Orthodox., attributed to Justin Martyr;-'Αξιούνται δε των δια του βαπτίσματος αγαθών τη πίστει των προσφερόντων αυτώ (i. e. τα βρέφη) τώ βαπτίσματι. Quest. et Respons. ad Orthod. Quæst. LVI. in Oper. Justin. p. 330.
old one, to suppose that infants are haptised on the faith of their sponsors, or even on that of the Church, though they are offered in faith and prayer by the Church.* They are baptised on their own faith promised for them by their sponsors. Still it would be a glaring inconsistency to admit persons to promise for others what they do not believe or do themselves; and therefore St. Augustin declares that he would refuse baptism to a child whose sponsors he thought were themselves insincere.f Herman, accordingly, in his Liturgy, provides that wicked and unrepentant persons shall be exhorted not to be present at the administration of baptism, (p. 30); and urges all parents and sponsors to be communicants, (p. 31.) This latter condition is now made imperative in the case of sponsors by the 29th canon of our Church, though, in practice, the law is unhappily neglected.
The other office of sponsors, that of taking care that the child shall be brought up in such a manner as to be put in the way of performing his baptismal vow, is put in its right light in Herman's Liturgy. Sponsors cannot in any degree exonerate parents from their duties. Originally, indeed, parents seem most usually to have been sponsors themselves. Afterwards, the Church saw the wisdom of taking additional securities, and providing the child with a double set of spiritual parents. Fathers and mothers are even forbidden by our canons to answer as sponsors for their children. Still, godfathers and godmothers are to be considered subsidiary to parents in the work of instruction-guarantees to the Church that the child shall be taught, though the parents should die, or neglect their charge. The question is thus put to them in Herman's Liturgy :
Wyll ye then be godfathers to thys infante, and compte hym for a verie sonne of God, a brother and membre of Christe, and as sone as He cometh to the use of reason,
if peraventure he shall leese hys parentes, or, if they shal be negligente in thys behalfe, wyll ye take the charge of hym, that he may learne the Ten Commaundementes, &c.-P. 41.
In turning over these pages one can hardly fail to be struck with the public and congregational character the baptismal offices uniformly bear, contrasting strongly, as it does, with the manner in which the sacrament is too generally administered. This is a crying evil in the practice, though not in the theory, of our Church ; and we can scarcely expect the rite to be regarded of its due importance, while the sponsorial replies are made, audibly at least, only by the clerk, and the whole congregation is composed of the parents, and the wildered or inattentive sponsors. On this point, the directions in Herman's Liturgy run thus :
Amonge the ancient fathers Baptisme was openly ministred onely at two tymes in the yere, at Ester, and Witsontyde, whiche constitution, because it
*.“ Offerantur quidem parvuli (writes S. Augustin) ad percipiendam spiritualem gratiam, non tam ab iis quorum gestantur manibus, quam ab universa societate sanctorum atque fidelium.” And this is, perhaps, al! Mr. Fallow means, when he says that, "the introductory and principal part of the service is addressed to the congregation, being framed on the principle, that infants are offered in the faith of the Church ;' in other words, are presented to Christ for baptism, by the faith of the congregation, and not by that of the sponsors only.”—P. xxi.
+ " Ego quidem, si eum contra hæc sentire existimarem, nec ad sacramenta cum parvulo intrare permitterem.” S. Aug. de Peccat. Meritis. Lib. I. c. 34.- Apud Bingham,
shoulde be harde perchaunce to renue, we wyll that Baptisme be ministred onely upon the Sondayes and holye dayes, when the whole Congregation is wonte to come togyther.-P. 29. And it is used as a necessary and admitted principle on which to ground an inference :
For seinge that Baptisme muste be ministered in an high administration, when al the Church is gathered togither.-P. 32.
The “Censura” of Bucer is very urgent on this subject, (pp. 85, 86); and the 1st book of Edward VI. had a long rubric, enjoining
The people are to bee admonished, that it is moste convenient that Baptisme should not bee ministered but upon Sondaies, and other holy daies, when the moste nombre of people maie come together.-P. 97.
On this point, however, our Liturgy is sufficiently explicit; the fault is not in the rule, but the observance. There is, no doubt, a difficulty in restoring the sacrament to its proper place in the public service, arising from the unwillingness of the laity" to exhibit themselves in the church,” contrary to the usual custom. But this objection must give way, as the custom is altered; and as men are taught to feel the truth of the statement in our Articles, that, in baptism, “ faith is confirmed, and grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God."
On one subject we could wish Mr. Fallow's language slightly altered. In his Introduction he writes :,
It appears, then, from these instructions and prayers, as well as from her express assertions in the article "on sin after baptism," that after having received the Holy Ghost, they may "depart from grace given, and fall into sin.” And such, it is to be feared, is the condition of the great majority of Christians. But notwithstanding that they have forfeited the blessings of bap. tism by deadly sin, and have fallen into a state of greater condemnation than those who have never been baptised, their restoration, though difficult, is not impracticable, and their guilt, though great, is not irremissible. Baptism is still a pledge to each of them that those blessings will be restored on his repentance; for the Almighty, in baptism, makes special his general promises of mercy and forgiveness to penitents. “ Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after baptism;" and they are to be condemned " which deny the place of forgiveness to such as repent." - Introduction. Pp. xxvi. xxvii.
Now, we do not deny that sin after baptism has a higher degree of guilt than that of a heathen, or a catechumen, because it has been committed, notwithstanding greater privileges, and in opposition to greater grace. But we doubt the correctness of instituting a sort of tacit comparison between the “difficulty" of obtaining pardon in the two cases. Repentance and faith, the conditions of forgiveness, are always difficult, -to unassisted man, impossible ; but where these are imparted by the Holy Spirit, we know not any passage in Scripture which makes pardon, for Jesus Christ's sake, more difficult to be attained by the baptised penitent, than by him who has yet to be laved in the waters of the cleansing font. Most unintentionally, as we believe, Mr. Fallow has seemed to lean towards the theology expressed by the phrase "the baptism of tears," words which, however admissible as a bold trope for sincere repentance, and sanctioned by the authority of the great Athanasius, are surely, when used as if to express a doctrine, unscriptural and unsafe. Tears, however bitter, have no sacramental virtue. We much prefer the language of Luther, rendered more remarkable by being a recantation, and that of our own homily, “ of the Salva tion of Mankind,” both of which passages Mr. Fallow quotes :
Verum, ut iterum aqua perfundamur, non est operæ pretium, nam et si centies in aquam mergeremur, non tamen nisi unus baptismus est. Cæterum opus et significatio durat et permanet. Ita resipiscentia aut poenitentia nihil aliud est, quam regressus quidam et reditus ad baptismum, ut illud iterum petatur et exerceatur, quod ante inceptum est, et tamen intermissum negligentia.
Hæc ideo a me dicta sunt, ne in eam opinionem descendamus, in qua per multos jam annos fuimus, opinati baptismum jam completum esse, ut eo amplius uti nequeamus, posteaquam iterum in peccata prolapsi sumus.-Luther. Oper. Vit. 1554, toin. v. p. 639.— Introduction. P. xxvii.
Insomuch that infants, being baptised, and dying in their infancy, are by this sacrifice washed from their sins, brought to God's favour, and made his children, and inheritors of his kingdom of heaven. And they, which in act or deed do ein after their baptism, when they turn again to God unfeignedly, they are likewise washed by this sacrifice from their sins, in such sort, that there remaineth not any spot of sin that shall be imputed to their damnation.”Ibid. P. xxviii.
We must not conclude our notice without thanking Mr. Fallow for a compilation, which enables us, as it were, to anatomize our own baptismal offices, and observe the origin, direction, and tendency, of their component parts. We trust it may be made useful in assisting to settle doubting minds, and in bringing the members of our Church to unity of faith and feeling on this important subject.
Art. IV.— The Correspondence of William Wilberforce. Edited by his
Sons, Robert Isaac WILBERFORCE, M.A, Vicar of East Farleigh, late Fellow of Oriel College, und Samuel WILBERBERFORCE, M.A. Archdeacon of Surrey, and Rector of Brighstone. London: Murray.
1840. 2 vols. 8vo. The authors of the “Life of Wilberforce” have, by the publication of these volumes, completed that arduous task which filial duty imposed upon them, and have richly earned the gratitude of all admirers of their father's character. This is the point of view from which we would regard this work. If any one opens it with the expectation--not unnaturally raised by knowing the terms of intimacy which subsisted between Mr. Wilberforce and his great contemporaries—that it will throw much light on the political events and parliamentary struggles of his day, this expectation will, to a great extent, remain unsatisfied. But as a supplement to the “Life,” as giving a pleasing and graceful expression to the portrait there drawn of a great and good man, these letters are highly interesting and instructive. Indeed, in one respect we question whether the impressions with which most readers will rise from a perusal of the “Life" will be as vivid and true, as faithfully characteristic of Mr. Wilberforce, as those which the work before us is calculated to convey. In the five volumes of the “Life” the authors furnish, in minute and elaborate detail, an account of the various public measures and private benevolent undertakings in which their father was engaged;
they relate the friendly cooperation, the adverse influences which he experienced in the prosecution of these plans;- they place before us the anxieties and turmoil and interruptions in which he lived ;—they place before us also the record of his successful strivings to preserve his own spirit unsullied and unruffled by the tempestuous atmosphere with which he was surrounded. A most valuable example this to men whose daily duty lies in that world which is not their portion, who would fain learn how to devote themselves energetically and perseveringly to the service of their Church and country, cultivating all the while cheerful and beneficent relations with their fellow men, and maintaining a spirit of recollection and devotion in the secret chamber of their own hearts. But, great as is the value of these details, they are unavoidably somewhat wearisome to common readers; they tend to distract our attention from the chief character in the scene, and to fatigue and deafen us with the marchings to and fro, the drums and trumpets of his followers. In this mood we long to break away from the “crowded breakfast-table" at Kensington Gore, and to enjoy half an hour's quiet converse with the master of the house in the retreat to which he has himself withdrawn.
To such communion these volumes admit us; those who had not the happiness and privilege of intimacy with bim on earth may now listen to him as he unburthens to his bosom friends his hopes and fears, his sentiments and wishes, or may imbibe and appropriate to themselves the tender and winning lessons of holiness which he addresses to his children. It is in this Correspondence, for which, in the multiplicity of his pressing avocations, he still found time, and the writing of which seems to have been very refreshing and tranquillizing to his mind, that the most beautiful as well as the most distinctive features of Mr. Wilberforce's character are brought into prominence; and this is more particularly the case in his letters of religious admonition and advice. In his execution of this most difficult task there is such practical reality, such thorough good taste, such a liberal and charitable confidence that those to whom he writes are, in the main, wishing and striving to do right, yet at the same time such a quick perception and faithful exposure of their faults and deficiencies. Moreover, all this stands in forcible contrast with the unnatural solemnity of manner, the sentimental unmeaning phraseology, the severity of judgment adopted in similar cases by a school of religionists at the present day, who would probably claim fellowship with Mr. Wilberforce themselves, that, -as well for the intrinsic value of the letters themselves, as for the sake of vindicating for venerated names an immunity from the pharisaic trammels in which those who profess (at least) to follow them have been entangled,—all the space we can afford for extracts shall be devoted to those which are of this character.
The first that shall be selected is an early letter to his mother, then advanced in years.
Wakefield, June 16, 1796. MY DEAREST Mother, I am about to do that which, on the first view, might almost seem a breach of filial respect; but on serious reflection, as in the presence of God, I am clear that I am right, and therefore I persevere. That cannot be disrespectful which is the result of affection; and under an idea of honouring, to abstain from that which might benefit a parent, must be deemed at least a weakness to which one ought not in duty to give way. My eyes are