Page images
[ocr errors]

*[the exhibited favour] and power [i. e. obligation] of baptism ; not bringing a deluge upon • the world, [i. e. this is not its design] as • formerly, but purifying every one from his

sins, and entirely removing the obstructions 'or spots which are caused by wickedness.

[This is what it sacramentally exhibits, and * this is the obligation under which it lays us.] • To speak in few words, we are to consider the power [i. e. the obliging force) of baptism as a contract with God for a second [i. e. a holy] • life, and a more pure conversation-there being no second regeneration." ** It seems to me plain, that GREGORY does not treat of Baptism as the mere act of washing, or of any effect of it ex opere operato, but of what it sacramentally exhibits, and what is the obligation resulting from it; baptized Christians being considered by him, by virtue of “a contract with God," as under an explicit obligation to live a life becoming their profession, “and a more pure conversation” than they were before accustomed to. And as to the concluding clause, “ there being no second regeneration,” we admit it as a truth, whether the term “regeneration” be taken for the sign, or for the thing signified; that is, for baptism, or for a spiritual renoyation: As there is no divinely instituted

* Refut. p. 374.

repetition of the sign, so neither is there a secondbirth of the Holy Spirit: there being in the appointment of God, but one baptism,” 'either sacramentally or spiritually considered. At the same time we profess, that millions beside Simon Magus may have been baptized with water, without being baptized with the Holy Spirit: and consequently, that baptismal regeneration and spiritual regeneration ought not to be confounded. For my own part, I would not be solicitous about the term “ regeneration,” provided the idea, or scriptural truth which we mean to express by it, be allowed. We are not so fond of controversy as to contend about verbal minutiæ--to keep up

" a strife of words."

§ 36. Closely related to the last quotation is the following from Justin MARTYR, with whichi, if it be taken as it was evidently intended by this Father, we fully accord. The difference is merely verbal. ““ Whoever are persuaded and ' believe, that those things which are taught (and said by us are true, and engage that they ' can live agreeably to them, are directed to fast and pray,

and entreat from God forgiveness of * their former sins, we praying and fasting with

them. Afterwards they are conducted by us 'to a place where there is water, and they are

regenerated [i. e. baptized with water, which ' is the sacramental sign of a new birth unto

righteousness), according to the same mode of regeneration [baptism] by which we ourselves were regenerated [baptized], for they are then washed with water in the name of the Father of the universe and the Lord God, and of our

Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost. · For Christ said, “Except ye be born again, ye

shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.""* On this passage his Lordship remarks, that it

decidedly proves what was the doctrine of re'generation in the primitive church of Christ.' With due deference to his Lordship, I must also remark upon it, that this passage only proves how Justin used the term regeneration” in this connexion, but not the doctrine. It is indeed agreeable to our Lord's words, that without baptism there is no entering into his kingdom, the church; and it is equally true, that no one shall enter into the spirituality of that kingdom without being “born of the Spirit.”

§ 37. It is worthy of remark that JUSTIN does not confine the term “regeneration," or being “born again,” to the ordinance of baptism. In his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, he observes : “ Jesus commanded us to love even our enemies : which Isaiah also declared in many words, (εν οις και το μυστηριον παλιν της γενεσεως)

* Refut. p. 297.

in which (words of Isaiah) is the mystery of our regeneration, and in like manner [the regeneration) of all those who expected Christ's appearance in the [celestial] Jerusalem, and who had laboured to please him by their works."* The words to which he alludes are in Isa. Ivi.

5 11. Neither in Isaiah nor in JUSTIN is there any allusion to baptism, but a totally different kind of regeneration, even a spiritual renovation ; a regeneration of which they were partakers who had gone to heaven, from age to age, prior to Christ's ascension. betodo

$ 38. There is one passage in JEROME which, at first sight, seems to militate against our view of election, but in truth, when properly understood, accords with our sentiments.“ Paul a

servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ,

according to the faith of God's elect; that is, of those who are not only called, but elected.

There is also a great difference in the elect themselves, according to the variety of works, sentiments, and words. Nor does it follow " that the elect of God either possesses faith according (in equal proportion] to election, or has

the knowledge of truth according to [proportioned * to the reality of] faith. Whence our Saviour

said to the Jews who had believed in him, If

[ocr errors]

'ye continue in my word, ye shall know the

truth, and the truth shall make you free. The evangelist testifies that he spoke these things to those who did believe, but who did not know 'the truth, which they would have in their power to obtain, if they would remain in his word, and being made free, they would cease 'to be slaves."'* The whole drift of this passage clearly shews, that what JEROME intended to assert, was simply this,—that among God's elect there are different degrees of faith, and among believers there are different degrees of knowledge. Is there any Calvinist to be found who would dispute this ?

§ 39. I am unwilling to prosecute this exposure of his Lordship’s misconceptions farther lest my readers should begin to complain of weariness. At the same time they must bear in mind that the catalogue is by no means complete. It would be easy, indeed, to produce several scores of pages out of those very quotations, which the Bishop has triumphantly brought forward as opposed to the tenets of Calvinism,' which, if fairly examined, have no real opposition to our sentiments, and which derive even the semblance of opposition from a peculiarity of expressions and phrases familiar

* Refut. p. 407,

« PreviousContinue »