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Doctrine of the Collects and Homilies concerning
Baptism and Regeneration.
* In the collect for Christmas-day, again in allusion to our Christian baptism, and to a passage of Scripture already quoted, we pray to Almighty God, that 'we, being regenerate and made his * children by adoption and grace, may daily be re'newed by his Holy Spirit. Here, ' being regen
erate' is a translation of regenerati, having been regenerated by baptism.
This collect indeed supposes, that the persons, who use it as the desire of their hearts in prayer, have been regenerated and made the children of • God by adoption and grace :' neither do I consider it as ' a prayer for regeneration,' as some do, and as even the prayer books circulated by the
Society for promoting Christian knowledge' did a few years since ; 2 though this has been lately changed. The collect is, however, totally silent as to the time when, and the means by which, they who use it were regenerated and adopted. Baptism is not so much as alluded to; and something subsequent to baptism, and of a more spiritual nature than any external observance, may be and probably was intended,
Whence we may conclude that our reformers, 'who were perhaps more accurately acquainted 'with the doctrines and language of the New
Ref. 90. -prayer for it.
2 Table of Collects. Collect for Christmas day,
Testament, than the divines of
age 'or country since the days of the apostles, did not * think it consistent with the principles of the
gospel to require regeneration from those who 'were already baptized. Nor do they ever apply • the word regeneration to any operation of the * Holy Ghost except at the time of baptism.''
The eulogium on our venerable reformers has from me at least unqualified approbation : but surely the quotations already made from some of them, and other quotations which will shortly be made, shew that the subsequent propositions are far too large and general ; nay, as to many of the reformers, and those of peculiar eminence in the company, directly contrary to their most express statements and instructions !
* In the Homilies, we find the following passages : in speaking of churches, wherein be ministered the sacraments and mysteries of our redemption, it is said, “The fountain of our re‘generation is there presented unto us; the par'taking of the body and blood of our Saviour • Christ is there offered unto us :' (signifying bap
tism and the Lord's supper :) ‘Our Saviour Christ * altered and changed the same [the practice of ' frequent washing among the Jews] in his church ' into a profitable sacrament, the sacrament of our
regeneration or new birth’ (that is, baptism). " He saved us by the fountain of the new birth, ' and by the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which 'he poured on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ 'our Saviour, that we, being once justified by his
i Ref. 91.
grace, should be heirs of eternal life, through hope and faith in his blood.'
There is nothing in these quotations, at all different from the sentiments of those who allow baptism with water to be the sacrament of regenera
tion,' or the outward pledge, or recognition, or means of it; but not regeneration itself, or inseparably connected with it. May it not be inferred from the first of these quotations, that the foun‘tain of our regeneration is presented to us,' in the one sacrament, only in the same manner as the
partaking of the body and blood of our Saviour “Christ'is offered to us in the other? But, in the latter case, the Articles expressly teach us that the benefit is confined to those who receive the sacrament with faith. —Why then are the two sacraments placed on such different grounds, that the one should necessarily convey grace, while the other is only the means of conveying it to those who rightly and by faith receive it? Baptism is not at all mentioned in the last of the quotations, but merely the fountain of the new 'birth.'? It is remarkable, and indeed much to be regretted, that there is no Homily expressly on the subject of baptism: and it does not appear on what account this was omitted.
The Homily, however, for Whitsunday contains the following passage.- Where the Holy Ghost ' worketh, there nothing is impossible, as may fur'ther also appear by the inward regeneration and sanctification of mankind. When Christ said to Nicodemus; “ Unless a man be born anew, of
3. Tit. iii. 446.
' water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” he was greatly amazed in his mind, and began to reason with Christ, demand“ing how a man might be born which was old. C“ Can he enter,” saith he, “ into his mother's womb again, and so be born anew?” Behold a lively pattern of a fleshly and carnal man. He had little or no intelligence of the Holy Ghost, and therefore he goeth bluntly to work, and * asketh how this thing were possible to be true: 'whereas otherwise, if he had known the great
power of the Holy Ghost in this behalf, that it is 'he which inwardly worketh the regeneration, and new-birth of mankind, he would never have marvelled at Christ's words, but would have rather taken occasion thereby to praise and glorify God. - The Father to create, the Son to redeem, the Holy Ghost to sanctify and regenerate : whereof the last, the more it is hid from our understanding, the more it ought to move all men to wonder at * the secret and mighty working of God's Holy Spirit, which is within us. For it is the Holy Ghost, and no other thing, that doth quicken the minds of men, stirring up good and godly motions ' in their hearts, which are agreeable to the will and commandment of God; such as otherwise of their own crooked and perverse nature they should never have. “ That which is born of the flesh,” saith Christ, “is flesh, and that which is ' born of the Spirit is spirit.” As who should
say, Man of his own nature is fleshly and carnal, cor‘rupt and naught, sinful and disobedient to God, ' without any spark of goodness in him, without any virtuous or godly motion, only given to
' evil thoughts and wicked deeds. As for the works ' of the Spirit, the fruits of faith, charitable and 'godly motions, if he have any at all in him, they proceed only of the Holy Ghost, who is the only worker of our sanctification, and maketh us new men in Christ Jesus. Did not God's
Holy Spirit miraculously work in the child * David, when of a poor shepherd he became a ' princely prophet. Did not God's Holy Spirit miraculously work in Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom, when of a proud publican he • became a humble and lowly evangelist? And • who can choose but marvel to consider that Peter
should become, of a simple fisher, a chief and mighty apostle ? Paul, of a cruel and bloody persecutor, a faithful disciple of Christ, to teach * the gentiles? Such is the power of the Holy
Spirit to regenerate men, and, as it were, to bring them forth anew, so that they shall be nothing · like the men that they were before. Neither doth he think it sufficient inwardly to work the spiritual and new birth of man, unless he do also * dwell and abide in him. In this long quotation, baptism is not once mentioned; nor yet in the context: nor indeed in the whole Homily, except as the baptism of Christ by John, with the descent of the Holy Ghost, and the voice from heaven, and the form of Christian baptism, are adduced, in proof of the doctrine of the Trinity.
'Though inculcating perpetually, that without ““holiness no man shall see the Lord,” is indis‘ pensably needful; yet preaching the necessity of being regenerated, as a thing still absolutely