« PreviousContinue »
out subsequent regeneration, they" cannot enter “ into the kingdom of God.”
Then follow the questions proposed to the persons to be baptized; and he, who can answer them sincerely and intelligently, has “the answer of a
good conscience towards God:” he who can only answer them hypocritically or ignorantly, has no more than “ the washing away of the filth of “ the flesh.”
After the adults have been baptized, it is added, Seeing that these persons are regenerate, and · grafted into the body of Christ.' Upon the supposition that they approached to baptism truly ' repenting, and coming unto him by faith,' no doubt they are regenerate : but it is not said that they were regenerated in baptism. The expression
being now born again' does not necessarily imply that this was effected at the very moment of their baptism : any more than the text, “being now * justified by his blood,” (quoted by his Lordship,') means that the justification spoken of had just then taken place : but that now, at the time when the thanksgiving is offered, they are numbered among the regenerate. The language is so general, that persons of rather different sentiments máy use it without scruple: it is certain, however, that this office does not say that baptism is regeneration, or uniformly attended by it.
! Ref. 100.
The Doctrine of the Articles, as it relates to
The subject of baptism as administered to adults having been thus far considered, it
proper to examine, in this place, the doctrine of our Articles respecting baptism.
. In the ninth Article, those that are regenerated,' and those that believe and are baptized,'
are mentioned as the same persons. The 15th · Article speaks of all Christians, as being bap' tized and born again in Christ.' And the 27th * Article says that' baptism is a sign of regenera' tion, or new birth ;' meaning that the external ' form is a sign of the internal effect. These are the only instances, in which the word regeneration, or any expression of the same import, occurs in the Articles.' ]
Doubtless those that believe and are baptized' are regenerated;' but it does not follow, by any sound logic, that all who are baptized are regenerated, whether they believe or not. This Article determines nothing concerning regeneration as attending infant-baptism ; but, by connecting the exemption from condemnation with those who ' believe and are baptized,' is rather unfavourable to that opinion: and, as to adults receiving baptism without believing, or true faith, it evidently leaves them under condemnation. In the fifteenth Article, ‘ baptized, and born again in Christ,' are spoken of as distinct things : so that a man may be baptized, who is not born again, and born
again, who is not baptized. Else why are both mentioned? Had they been deemed inseparable, or synonymous, this would have hardly been done. -The twenty-seventh Article requires a more particular consideration. But let the general explanation of the meaning of the word SACRAMENTS be first noticed. · Sacraments, ordained of Christ, be not only badges and tokens of Christian 'men's profession ; but rather they be certain 'sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and 'God's good will towards us; by the which he * doth invisibly work in us, and doth not only
quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our · faith in him.'' Nostramque fidem in se non solum excitat, verum etiam confirmat. If then there be no faith in him, who receives either of the sacraments, the invisible operation of God in them can neither quicken nor confirm faith: and the words, convey grace and faith, would more aptly have expressed the meaning insisted on by his Lordship. Whatever may be said as to the case of infants receiving baptism, no imaginable reason can be assigned, why the case of adults should be concluded, by the doctrine of our church, not the same as to the one sacrament as to the other ; especially after this general explication, which equally applies to both.
* Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened : * but it is also a sign of regeneration, or new birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive
baptism rightly are grafted into the church; the promises of forgiveness of sins, and of our adop* tion to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, • are visibly signed and sealed ; faith is confirmed,
and grace increased by virtue of prayer unto · God.-The baptism of young children is in any wise to be retained in the church, as most agree
able with the institution of Christ.'? It is evident that the whole of this Article, except the concluding sentence, refers to the baptism of adults. Baptism is said to be a sign of regeneration ;' but the sign and the thing signified cannot be the same; nor are they even inseparably connected. • The promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of
our adoption, are visibly signed and sealed, not efficaciously conveyed. The expression, they that receive baptism rightly,' refers not to the right administration of baptism by the priest, but to the right reception of it by the baptized person. As faith is,' in this case, 'confirmed and grace
increased,' faith and grace must have been previously possessed by those who receive baptism rightly:' for, if they had no faith or grace, the one could not be ' confirmed, nor the otherin
creased.' And this is, not by the opus operatum, or even by the efficacious conveying of baptism, but' by virtue of prayer unto God.'
Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken away by their wickedness,' (that of the priests,) ‘nor the grace of God's gifts diminished from ' such, as by faith, and rightly do receive the sacraments ministered unto them.'2 The dis
| Art. xxvii.
tinction is here clearly made, between the ministering, and the receiving of the sacraments aright;' and the receiving aright is confined to those who do it by faith. To those, then, who have not faith they are null and void, as to the blessings before mentioned, or any thing beyond admission of the persons concerned into the visible church. The case of infants is distinctly spoken of in other places : but why should not faith be as necessary in adults, to a right receiving of baptism, as to a right receiving of the Lord's supper? ‘And, in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation : but they that -receive them' (baptism and the Lord's supper) unworthily, purchase to themselves dainnation.'1 Does this make baptism and regeneration one and the same, or inseparably connected ?
* The supper of the Lord is not only a sign of · the love that Christians ought to have among
themselves, one to another; but rather is a sa'crament of our redemption by Christ's death :
insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and ' with faith receive the same, the bread which we • break is a partaking of the body of Christ; and
likewise the cup of blessing, is a partaking of the blood of Christ. The receiving rightly, worthily, and with faith, not the external orderly administration, is connected inseparably with the benefit: and, as far as adults are concerned, why should it not be so in baptism?
Art. xxv. of thc Sacraments.
2 Art. xxviii.