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is born of God overcometh the world “Whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”2 From these statements I gather, that “the being born of God,” or, in other words, “the being spiritually regenerate,” is invariably connected with the renunciation of sin, with faith in Jesus and victory over the world; and what are these but the evidences and tokens of genuine conversion ? Such, then, is spiritual regeneration; it will be marked by these effects wherever it exists. And now I have only to ask,—Does every baptized person exhibit these fruits ? and if not, how or by what possible mode of interpretation can the truth of God's word be reconciled with the doctrine that every baptized person is spiritually regenerate? I have never yet met with any one who could fairly dispose of this argument; and to my own mind it 1 ] John v. 4.
? 1 John, v. 18.
has all the weight of an unanswerable demonstration. It seems to me conclusively to prove that spiritual regeneration is no necessary or inseparable consequence of baptism, however correctly that rite may be administered.
Neither is baptism the only instrumentality through which spiritual regeneration is ordinarily produced ; spiritual regeneration is attributed in Scripture to other agencies. “As many as received Him," writes the Evangelist, “to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name : which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Is there any allusion here to baptism ? Baptism had not been instituted at the period to which these words relate. Is not the adoption to sonship ascribed to the will of God, acting through faith upon Jesus, and that faith itself the result of Divine grace ? Again,
1 John, i. 12.
does not Peter address his converts as those who had been “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever?” Again, is it not undeniable that in a number of instances all the signs and marks of spiritual regeneration have been presented anterior to the rite of baptism being administered? Was not Paul spiritually regenerated before he was baptized ? Was not the eunuch, whom Philip baptized ?— was not the gaoler?—were not Cornelius and his household, respecting whom Peter affirmed,“ Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?”.
Is there an intelligent missionary at the present day who would dream of baptizing a fresh convert from amongst the heathen, unless thoroughly satisfied first of his being in deed and truth a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus ?
1 Pet. i. 23.
2 Acts, x. 47.
We conclude, then, that notwithstanding the warrant which there is to believe that baptism, being an ordinance of Christ's appointment, may be, and perhaps frequently is, honoured as an instrument for the spiritual regeneration of the recipient; yet to maintain either that baptism is the only instrumentality for effecting this indispe nable change, or that spiritual regeneration is the invariable consequence of baptism, is to maintain a tenet which is neither in agreement with common experience nor yet with the testimony of revelation itself.
The Scriptures attribute spiritual regeneration to other instrumental causes besides baptism; and daily experience proves that a person may be a baptized Christian and yet practically a heathen
a heathen- a servant of Christ by profession, and yet the bond-slave of sin and Satan.
Let me endeavour, before concluding, to point out the practical use which we may each individually make of baptism, as a help
to personal growth in grace. Let it not be said, that in making the foregoing statement I am teaching doctrine opposed to that which the Church of England holds. Many persons at the present day display the keenest sensitiveness if a syllable is uttered which appears to contradict the Prayer-book. Do not let us run into the error of idolising the Book of Common Prayer. I believe that, upon the whole, a purer, more comprehensive, more devotional, more scriptural Liturgy than that which the Church of England possesses never has been compiled. It possesses all the gold of antiquity, with little or none of its dross and imperfection. At the same time the Prayer-book is a human compilation, and the Bible is God's word. We are not to interpret the Bible by the Prayerbook; on the contrary, we are to bring the Prayer-book up to the test of Scripture. There are expressions in that Prayer-book, the strength of which may perhaps be regretted, but the explanation of which is