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opinions on these subjects on certain principles relating to the heart and spirit of man. Whether they were good logicians in linking together these premises with these conclusions is a point upon which you and I may differ, and upon which I may have occasion to speak hereafter. But this at least is certain, that they never for one moment severed in their minds the results from the principles. You are well aware, that in their mere hatred of episcopacy, and of all the ecclesiastical institutions that had been connected with it, they would have found allies and abettors enough among the Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists, of the age in which they arose. Yet you know that they acknowledged no fellowship with these men, but denounced their doctrinalism in language as merciless as that which they used against our forms; and that in turn they endured persecutions from them, at least as severe as any which they suffered from us after the Restoration. Why do I say these things ? not with a design, which would be much more foolish than cunning, (and for my purpose quite unnecessary), of leading you to dread and dislike those who bear these names in the present day—but to show you, that they have no actual ground of sympathy with you, merely because they agree with you in detesting a third party. The reasons and principles upon which your Friends based their opposition to our priesthood and liturgy, are those very reasons and principles which Dr. Wardlaw and the Eclectic Reviewers would persuade you are utterly false and heretical, and inconsistent with Christianity.
Now here is the point on which I join issue with them. I say these principles were not false and heretical, and inconsistent with Christianity: , A number of phrases and notions may have been appended to these principles, of which I utterly disapprove. In support of these principles, your friends may have declared themselves at war with everybody, and everybody at war with them. With this conviction on their minds, they may have denounced opinions as inconsistent with theirs, to which I most inwardly and heartily subscribe. They inay have used language respecting the persons who maintained these opinions, which I think most extravagant and unreasonable ; and a sense of the necessary connexion between their doctrines and their denunciations, will have become stronger in their minds in proportion as their opponents identified the two together, and considered themselves as much bound to deny what the Friends asserted, as to assert what they denied. But through all this confusion, I perceive certain great truths maintained by these Friends, with a power and vigour which have scarcely been surpassed, and for the sake of which, I, for my part, can well forgive all the hard language used by them against institutions that I believe to be not only of incalculable benefit, but of divine appointment. Nor do I take any credit for this forgiveness. Every right-minded man must feel that one, who, from a sound and honest heart, directing a somewhat less sound understanding, curses him or that which he supposes to be him, is at all times to be loved rather than disliked. In such days as these, he will find it not only very pleasant, but very useful to compare such men with those who rave at him on no principle at all, or with those, still more odious, who, with a simpering face and civil compliments, are seeking to undermine him, because he is a witness for principles which they hate. But this is not all
. I maintain, that those truths which your early Friends asserted, lie at the foundation of the institutions which I love. In recognising those truths, I believe that I am upholding those institutions, and showing on what an immovable basis they rest. It is nothing to me that Fox and Penn did not perceive this; it is nothing to me, that those who fought for these institu. tions against them, did not perceive it. Such contradictions and perplexities are not new. All history, -ecclesiastical bistory most especially; -is full of them. One set of men is busy in maintaining certain great and permanent bulwarks for truth, which, if they were taken away, the truth would be left without power, and without a witness. This is their task; they do not perceive exactly what they are defending, or why they are defending it. They often, therefore, fight ignorantly, blindly, passionately; but they do God's work, and future generations have reason to bless them.
On the other hand, it is given to some to perceive with great power the truth, or at least a portion of it, which is the secret foundation of those institutions, which is the living principle embodied and expressed in them. Such men often conceive a furious rage against the institutions themselves, as if it was they which kept the truth from manifesting itself to men—as if there were no way to exhibit it but to tear them away. For a long while this strife continues; one party doggedly upholding forms, the other vehemently asserting the Spirit independent of these forms. At length a time arrives, which is marked out by evident indications of Providence, for the termination of the controversy. Those who had been so diligent in upholding forms wax faint and feeble; they begin to think, that, after all, it does not so much signify to maintain this thing or that; concessions are very desirable ; a little must be given up to keep the rest. On their side every thing is weak, flimsy, temporising; you see that they had no reason for defending that which they are now willing to abandon ; you suspect (not unjustly or uncharitably), that they have exceedingly little reason for defending that which they wish to maintain.
Meanwhile, how fares it with the other party? Are the Spiritualists become more spiritual, now that the defenders of forms have begun to care less about them? I have told the truth respecting us-you will not wish me to disguise it respecting you. You will not say that the Friends of this generation are as spiritual as those of the first age. You will not contend—I think none of your Society will contend—that there is as clear a perception of the meaning of the words by which you describe your faith, as there was among those who first gave these words currency. Do you not feel that the coin has been damaged, and defaced, and depreciated; and when you pass it, is it not with a melancholy thought, that it had a real value once, only a conventional value now? I find these acknowledgments in the writings of Friends of all your parties, each, according to their different temper or tendency, expressing them differently, Your moderate party laments that there is not the spirit of peace and unity among you that there once was; the more decided of
orthodox friends say, that there is not the submission to the voice of the Spirit, the humbleness, the waiting, the self-annihilation that there used to be ; Mr. Howitt says you have lost all your boldness and zeal; the Hicksites say you know nothing of the sentiments of your early friends; the Seceders say you know nothing of the doctrines of the gospel. I should not myself have ventured to say one of these things; but I find them written and printed, and supported by the testimony of persons who can be found lo agree on no other point. If, then, it be true, that there has been a decay in the spiritual life of those who assert that which is purely and nakedly spiritual, coincident with a growing indifference to forms, among those who esteem forms, have we not reason to suppose, that a crisis is approaching? What if this state of things should continue? What if all outward witness should disappear from the world, just at the moment that the inward witness is most weak and ready to die? You have at once the millennium of infidelity, that to which every man who wishes for the misery of his species-who wishes to see men changed into brutes—is looking forward with prophetic hope and exultation.-Pp. 1-11.
We think this able writer has thrown great light on the question of baptism; which, we fear, has been obscured by the violence of recent controversies. Our quotation is long, but it will amply repay the time bestowed on its perusal.
I now turn to the High Church view of Baptism, against which, 1 hope, you may feel somewhat less prejudice than you did when I commenced the discussion. You will, I think, be inclined to believe that those who hold this view may not be "all (with possibly a few exceptions,) open sinners, self-righteous Pharisees and dead formalists,” as Mr. Philpot, late of Worcester College, kindly reports of them; or in the more gentle and humane language of the Record
newspaper, (though it, I believe, does not acknowledge the possibility of any exceptions,) “soul-destroyers." This is all I desire ; for, as I told you in the beginning of my letter, I am not about to set up their notion as the true and exclusive one. "I mean to show you wherein I think it inconsistent with itself and with the idea of the Church, and how that inconsistency must be removed from it before it can be reconciled with the views of the other parties, and can contribute an element to that grand idea of Baptism which will, I believe, result from their union.
The doctrines of this party, which are nowhere so ably and so eloquently expressed as in the tracts of Dr. Pusey, (published the year before last,) entitled "Scripture views of Baptism," turn, as I have said, mainly upon the principle that God, of his free will and mere grace, does, by the operation of the Spirit, in the act of Baptism, change the nature of the person partaking that ordinance, and thereby constitute him his child, the member of Christ, the heir of heaven. If you read Dr. Pusey's tracts, you will see at once, that no other notion of regeneration except that which is implied in the words Change of Nature, has ever struck him as even possible; or if it has, that he has at once rejected it as inadequate. This is the point which I wish now to examine.
In older and simpler times every thoughtful man felt deep thankfulness to our Lord for the wonderful blessing which he conferred on us by teaching us the phrase New Birth, or Birth from above. To be taken out of the region of abstractions, to be presented with a fact of every day occurrence, yet still amazing and mysterious, as a key to this deeper mystery,--to be able to translate words into life,-this was exacily what every man who knew his wants felt that he needed. It was a fulfilment of the promise, that the Lord would teach his people a pure language, a language which they might interpret, not by a dictionary, but by another part of his own scheme, a part of it known to all tribes of the earth, to rich and poor, learned and unlearned alike. Therefore, understanding this to be the intent of Christ, they meditated on the obvious facts of ordinary birth, and thus they felt
that their minds became clearer respecting the more transcendent truth. That the body passes from the dark night of the womb into the light of ordinary day, was the simplest view of physical birth ; that the spirit comes out of the womb of nature into the light of the Sun of Righteousuess, was the corresponding view of the New Birth. Now, in the full belief that God, by baptism, takes the child into covenant with himself; that he adopts it into Christ's holy body; that he bestows on it his Spirit;-it was most just and reasonable that the word porto eis should be applied to the baptized man. If he did not afterwards walk in the light, and seek fellowship with the light, he would die in his sin. But still the light is come into the world; the man is brought into the light; God himself has brought him into it; and any sinking hereafter into the dark flesh,--the womb out of which he has been brought, is the voluntary abdication of a glorious privilege. Such is the view, I conceive, most present to the 'mind of the fathers of the Church : and to this view, you perceive, there is nothing hostile in any of those facts respecting a passage from darkness to light in mature age, on which the Evangelical party dwell; on the contrary, one assertion rightly understood, sustains the other.
Neither is there anything contrary to what God had been previously teaching man respecting his own condition. For he had been teaching him to know that he was a spiritual creature, and that he had a nature; he had been teaching that his spirit was united to the Divine Word, that his flesh was chained to earth; he had been teaching him, lastly, that the Divine Word had claimed a union with him, and had gotten the victory over his enemies. If, then, it pleased God to claim the man as a spiritual creature united to Christ, and by baptism to stamp him as such, it is pure mercy and grace indeed; but it is mercy and grace according to a Divine order; it is a mystery, but it is a mystery into the fellowship of which, God, with infinite wisdom and prudence, has been all along conducting his saints. But if for the words, New Birth,' you put * Change of Nature, Christ's beautiful analogy, which he has with such pains and love made known to us, is altogether set aside ; for no man in his
VOL. XXII. NO. III.
senses can find anything like a change of nature in ordinary birth. Again, the order of God is violated; he does not deal with man as he hath been doing with him; he has been preparing man, hitherto, by a wonderful process, for the kingdom of his Son, and now he sets up that kingdom on a principle of which he had given no hint before hand. Baptism is not the consummation of a foregone scheme; it satisfies no wants previously excited, it makes useless all former dispensations. But it is a graver fault still, that by this notion, the idea of a sacrament is destroyed; for in the idea of sacrament is necessarily implied, that all the virtue and life of the creature consists in its union with a Being above itself. It is dead of itself; it lives in him. Suppose nature, as such, to become anything pure, or holy, or righteous, by virtue of any change wrought in it; or suppose a new nature to be communicated as an endowment to the man, this idea is sacrificed altogether.
I would earnestly entreat Dr. Pusey and his friends, to consider whether by this phrase they are not getting rid of a mystery for the sake of introducing a mystification ; whether they are not departing from the text of Scripture, in those passages to which they most appeal, in order to steal a notion from their opponents which of right belongs to them, and to the stage of life which they deal with ;-(for the idea of a change of heart, where heart is taken for affections and desires, and when change is taken to be the turning these desires from a wrong object to which they have been conformed, to a right object to which they are meant to be conformed, is surely a legitimate idea, and one not at all at variance with the idea of baptism as a covenant, but the fulfilment of its intent and the fruit of its promises ; and change of nature in any other sense than this, no Evangelical who understands himself supposes to take place at conversion or any other period ;)—whether they are not forcing themselves into a series of consequences which actually set at nought the truth they are so eager to defend. For, first, no persons are more anxious to assert the dignity and glory of the church than they,—to upset the notion that it is composed of a number of individual atoms, instead of being a Divine constitution into which men, from age to age, are brought; and yet, by representing baptism as that which confers a portion of grace on each particular child, and not as that which brings him out of his selfish and individual condition, into the holy and perfect body, they do very much, as I think, to destroy the idea of the church, and to introduce a Genevan, individualizing notion in place of it. Secondly, no men are more anxious than they to assert the truth, that the Holy Ghost actually dwells with each baptized person ; and yet, by supposing the essence of baptism to consist in a change of nature, they make something which happens at a particular instant or crisis to the child, and not the constant presence of a Friend, and Guide, and Teacher, to uphold the spirit in its battles with the flesh, to train it in the knowledge of itself and of God, to comfort it in its sorrows, to guide it into all truth and love, -the gift and blessing of baptism. *
Again, it is still more mortifying to find that men to whom, besides great learning and diligence, God has given a higher grace, the willingness, I mean, to make sacrifices that their poorer brethren, in this corrupt metropolis especially, may hear the gospel, and enjoy christian ordinances, should, by their theories, defeat the effects of their own bounty, and well nigh close the lips of the preachers whom they are so anxious to provide with churches. Yet this is actually the case ; for they, looking at baptism as an act done in an instant, and accomplishing its purpose in an instant, and not rather as the witness of an eternal truth, the sacrament of constant union, the assurance of a continual living presence, are driven to this conclusion,—that the moment after it has been performed is a period of ideal purity and excellence, from which the future life even of a saint is a deflection, and which those who have wandered far into sin cannot hope to recover ;- these must be content, by much prayer and fasting, to seek for God's mercy, which may perhaps, though there is no certain promise to uphold the flattering expectation, once again redeem them out of sin and hell.
Where is the minister of Christ in London, Birmingham, or Manchester, whom such a doctrine, heartily and inwardly entertained, would not drive to madness? He is sent to preach the gospel. What gospel ? Of all the thousands whom he addresses, he cannot venture to believe that there are ten who, in Dr. Pusey's sense, retain their baptismal purity. All he can do, therefore, is to tell wretched creatures, who spend eighteen hours out of the twenty-four in close factories and bitter toil, corrupting and being corrupted, that if they spend the remaining six in prayer,—he need not add fasting,--they may possibly be sayed. How can we insult God and torment man with such mockery? But who urge us to take that course? The very men to whom we, --mere journeymnen,-appointed to live in the noise and hurry of the world, not in the quiet of colleges, looked for deliverance from the Calvinistic theology, by which we were pressed out of measure, so that we despaired even of life. When we were feeling the intense, the intolerable misery of being obliged to treat these poor people as outcasts from God's mercy, of whom one or two might find their way to the waters of healing, if an angel first went down and troubled them; when we were tormented with the horrible contradiction of having to say, in one breath, Believe ;' in the next, “ You cannot believe ;' now, “You ought to look upon God as a gracious and loving Lord ;' then, We have no proofs that you are some of the elect chiļdren whom he loves ;' first, Christ's death is the only means of salvation to you, believe in it or perish ;' by and by, 'But we cannot have the least certainty that he died for any of you ;'-when, I say, we were almost in despair, because we must either speak those inconsistencies, or at least keep them in our hearts, and infect all our preaching with them; these kind doctors told us, or seemed to our ignorant and longing minds to tell us, of a catholic theology which taught that our people were still under the covenant of God's holy baptism; that the love of God was brooding over them; that the grace of Christ was given to them; that the energy of the Spirit was with them, to put them in possession of true righteousness. Now all this comfort is taken from us; and if we believe our instructors, we have a worse message to deliver than before. But, although we be άνθρωποι άγραμματοι και ιδιώται, only picking up snatches of knowledge here and there, and thankful that a race of men has been provided, of larger capacities and greater leisure, who may impart to us what little we are fitted to receive; yet we also have the forms of the Church, and the Word of God, and a holy commission, and the Holy Spirit, and so long as these are continued to us, we will not, in this solemn matter, give place to these doctors in subjection, no not for an hour. We will assert that the covenant of baptism encompasses the publicans and harlots to whom we preach, let them have as little of baptismal purity as they may,—we will preach repentance to them on this ground, and on no other—that they have a father, and that they may arise and go to him; that they have a Saviour, and that he will deliver them from all their enemies ; that they have a Spirit given to them, and that he is willing and able to cleanse them from their sins, and to endow them with the blessings wbich they need, righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. By God's help we will do this, though the Calvinistic party, and the Catholic party,-CATHOLIC party! here lies the contradiction, which is the seed of all others-unite to condemn us; and we invite all who desire a moral and God-fearing population in the land, to look on and say whether our course or theirs is most honoured to produce that unspeakable blessing.
. In this case, as in the former, I am endeavouring, you see, to defend able, and accomplished, and excellent men against themselves, or rather against the accursed spirit of party, which has set them at war with themselves. I do not require a ghost to tell me, that of all tasks this is the most thankless. If you will but take a good, kind man's side, in opposition to his neighbours, he will forgive you very considerable differences on points of his actual belief; and will account you his dear friend and fellow-labourer. If you suggest a compromise between two warriors, though you will not get either of them to love you, yet the bystanders, who care nothing at all about the question, will call you very fair, and liberal, and will "swear a prayer," after their fashion, that if all the world were such as you, every thing would proceed so quietly. But if you at