Images de page

whereas, confessedly, Regeneration is in Scripture connected with Baptism, it no where is disconnected from it. Baptism is spoken of as the source of our spiritual birth, as no other cause is-save GOD: we are not said, namely, to be regenerated by faith, or love, or prayer, or any grace which God worketh in us, but to be 'born of water and the Spirit' in contrast to our birth of flesh; to be saved by the washing of the regeneration, or the new-birth, in like manner as we are said to be born of GOD, or of incorruptible seed. Other causes are indeed mentioned as connected with the new-birth, or rather that one comprehensive cause, the whole dispensation of mercy in the Gospel, as, 'born of seed incorruptible through the Word of GOD, which liveth and abideth for ever,' 'in JESUS CHRIST have I begotten you through the Gospel,' of His own will begat He us by the word of truth;' but no other instrument is spoken of as having the same relation to our heavenly birth as this of Water. Had it even been otherwise, the mention of any other instrument in our regeneration, could not of course have excluded the operation of Baptism: as indeed in Baptism itself, two very different causes are combined, the one, GOD Himself, the other a creature which He has thought fit to hallow to this end. For then, as Christ's merits, and the workings of the Holy Spirit, and faith, and obedience, operate in very different ways to the final salvation of our souls, so the mention of faith, or of the preaching of the Gospel as means of our regeneration would not have excluded the necessity of Baptism thereto, although mentioned in but one passage of Holy Scripture. But now, as if to exclude all idea of human agency in this our spiritual creation, to shut out all human co-operation or boasting, as though we had in any way contributed to our own birth, and were not wholly the creatures of His hands, no loop-hole has been left us, no other instrument named; our birth (when its direct means are spoken of) is attributed to the Baptism of Water and of the Spirit, and to that only. Had

our new birth in one passage only been connected with Baptism, and no intimation been given to shew that it was to be detached from it, this had alone been a weighty argument with any one who was wishing for intimations of God's will; but now, besides this, God has so ordered His word that it does speak of the connection of Baptism, and does not speak of any other cause, in the like close union with it.*"-No. 67.

[ocr errors]

p. 12.

In the preceding passage it is affirmed that "Regeneration is in Scripture connected with baptism, and no where disconnected from it." A great ambiguity seems to lurk in the second clause in this sentence. If it be meant that it is no where asserted that regeneration never takes place in baptism, it is presumed that few could be found who would have the hardihood to assert that it was thus "disconnected from it." But if it be intended to convey the idea of no other mean ever being employed to impart the gift of regeneration, then the onus probandi" lay upon the writer, to reconcile such an idea with two of the texts which he has cited, viz. James i. 18. and 1 Pet. i. 23. It is further added, that "baptism is spoken of as the source of our spiritual birth, as no other cause is save God." This seems to imply that the initial sacrament of baptism is not, agreeably to the language of the 17th. Article-an ordinance, "whereby, AS BY AN INSTRUMENT, they that received baptism rightly are grafted into the Church, &c." but, a CAUSE of our spiritual birth, co-ordinate with God.. The writer then advances a singular truism. He asserts that we are not said to be regenerated by faith, or love, or prayer, 1 * γεννηθῆ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ Πνεύματος. John iii. 5.


2 τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τῆς σαρκός. ν. 6.

3 οἳ οὐκ ἐξ αἱμάτων—ἀλλ ̓ ἐκ Θεοῦ ἐγεννήθησαν. i. 13

4 ἀναγεγεννημένοι οὐκ ἐκ σπορᾶς φθαρτῆς, ἀλλά ἀφθάρτου. 1 Pet. i. 23.

5 διὰ λόγου ζῶντος Θεοῦ καὶ μένοντος εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.

6 ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ἐγὼ ὑμᾶς ἐγέννησα. 1 Cor. v. 15.

7 βουληθεὶς ἀπεκύησεν ἡμᾶς λόγῳ ἀληθείας. James i. 18.


or any grace which God worketh in us.” He must indeed be a sciolist in theology who mistakes the fruits and evidences of regeneration, for its cause. What is the language of St. John? Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born

of God. Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. So again, with regard to love, this is specifically mentioned by the same Apostle, as an evidence of regeneration; beloved, says he, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

But what construction is to be put upon the sentence which begins-" Other causes, &c." especially when compared with the note which is quoted from Hooker?-The "judicious " author of the "Ecclesiastical Polity," with that precision of language which is so peculiarly characteristic of his immortal work, distinguishes between the "inward cause" and the "outward mean." The sole, exclusive "inward cause" of our new birth is unquestionably the Holy Spirit. But does this Almighty Agent effect this great change only in the ordinance of baptism? Such was not the opinion of Hooker, as is clearly shewn by the following passage, which occurs in one of his sermons, and which was addressed to those who had been already baptized:

"It is as easy a matter for the spirit within you to tell whose ye are, as for the eyes of your body to judge where you sit, or in what place you stand. For what saith the Scripture? 'Ye which were in times past strangers and enemies, because your minds were set on evil works, Christ hath now reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to make you holy, and unblameable, and without fault in his sight; if you continue grounded and established in the faith, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel,' Col. i. And in the third to the Colossians, 'Ye know, that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of that inheritance; for ye serve

the Lord Christ.' If we can make this account with ourselves, I was in times past dead in trespasses and sins, I walked after the prince that ruleth in the air, and after the Spirit that worketh in the children of disobedience; but God, who is rich in mercy, through his great love, wherewith he loved me, even when I was dead, hath quickened me in Christ. I was fierce, heady, proud, high-minded; but God hath made me like the child that is newly weaned. I loved pleasures more than God, I followed greedily the joys of this present world; I esteemed him that erected a stage or theatre, more than Solomon, which built a temple to the Lord; the harp, viol, timbrel, and pipe, men singers and women singers were at my feast; it was my felicity to see my children dance before me; I said of every kind of vanity, O how sweet art thou to my soul! All which things now are crucified to me, and I to them: now I hate the pride of life, and pomp of this world; now I take as great delight in the way of thy testimonies, O Lord, as in all riches; now I find more joy of heart in my Lord and Saviour, than the worldly-minded man, when his wheat and oil do much abound: now I taste nothing sweet but the bread which came down from heaven, to give life unto the world; now mine eyes see nothing but Jesus rising from the dead; now my ears refuse all kind of melody, to hear the song of them that have gotten victory of the beast, and of his image, and of his mark, and of the number of his name, that stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God, and singing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty, just and true are thy ways, O King of saints. Surely, if the Spirit have been thus effectual in the secret work of our regeneration unto newness of life; if we endeavour thus to frame ourselves anew; then we say boldly with the blessed Apostle in the tenth to the Hebrews, 'We are not of them which withdraw ourselves to perdition, but which follow faith to the conserva

tion of the soul,' For they which fall away from the grace of God, and separate themselves unto perdition, they are fleshly and carnal, they have not God's Holy Spirit. But unto you, because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, to the end ye might know that Christ hath built you upon a rock unmoveable; that he hath registered your names in the book of life; that he hath bound himself in sure and everlasting covenant to be your God, and the God of your children after you; that he hath suffered as much, groaned as oft, prayed as heartily for you, as for Peter, 'O Father, keep them in thy name, O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee, but I have known thee, and these have known thee that thou hast sent me. I have declared thy name unto them, and will declare it, that the love, wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them.' The Lord of his infinite mercy give us ears plentifully fraught with the treasure of this blessed assurance of faith unto the end."Hooker's Works, p. 541. Fol. edition.

Through what instrumentality, then, or by what means is this transformation of character, which is thus eloquently described, ordinarily produced?-This question may be satisfactorily answered by the passage which has already been cited (in the Charge) from the same incomparable author, viewed in connexion with the texts to which reference is made in the margin." It is on both sides confest, that the Word of God outwardly administered, (his Spirit inwardly concurring therewith) CONVERTETH, EDIFIETH, AND SAVETH SOULS."

I will here insert the texts themselves; because they pour such a flood of light upon 1 Pet. i. 23. and James i. 18. as well as upon the important question concerning the most effectual means of gaining a right knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures. I will only premise that I have substituted John vi. 45. for vi. 46. being convinced that there must be a typographical error in my copy of Hooker, since the

« PrécédentContinuer »