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tuting "relative" or "external regeneration" for the regeneration of Scripture, as taught by our church, it manifestly follows, that the premises from which these inadmissible consequences flow, are certainly erroneous; and, that this external separation and dedication are not the separation and sanctification required by the Scriptures and by our church.
II. This external dedication will not accord with the official character of baptism.
External dedication, it is asserted, is effected "by men.” But it seems to be overlooked that this is assuming what is gratuitous and without foundation. There is no testimony that God effects one regeneration and man another. When, therefore, it is asserted "that baptism is an ordinary means appointed by Christ, for the real and effectual sanctification of his church," it cannot be intended to imply that when this real and effectual sanctification takes place, on the part "of God," that an additional sanctification is effected "by man." The whole is one concern, one spiritual object; all of which belongs to God. Ministers can do nothing but for Him, and as his stewards. They are ambassadors for Christ. They preach his word, enlist in his cause, instruct in his truth, baptise in his name. They act entirely under the authority of the Most High. They are his substitutes. All they do is of God. The cause is His cause, His ordinances, house, success. When ministers, therefore, introduce persons into the church, this external introduction is not the ultimate or final end. The true design of baptism is not an introduction into the "external church," but to God. This is the direct end in all God's institutions: and the minister can make no change in His appointments or in their design. Art. 26. Whenever, therefore, he performs the office, it is for the ends and purposes for which God has appointed it. The minister, then, ought not to be considered as doing one thing and God another. He is the instrument of the Holy Ghost, who works through him and by him. He does not baptise in his own name, or in the name of the church; nor does he introduce the baptised into the church, excepting as it is the church of Christ. Therefore, in our office," being regenerate,' and "being grafted into the body of Christ's church"-are virtually one and the same thing, and are announced at the same
instant-both being declared immediately after the reception of baptism. In all this the priest has no external" duties to perform-the whole is of a spiritual import and intention.
THE EXTERNAL concern is of another character. It is awfully true that many are only external worshippers; but from what does this arise? clearly from the hypocrisy or self-deception of the person baptised. It cannot fairly be ascribed to God-to his ordinances-or to his ministers. For God has no where prescribed a merely 66 external" service,-nor appointed any ordinance for admission to it, nor ever shewn his approbation of it. All good certainly comes from God. Defectiveness is inherent in human nature. Where man falls short, he falls short of what God has prescribed. His minister does not produce or cause this defectiveness; he performs the same office towards all who are baptised :-baptism requires and symbolizes the same holy affection in all. When men, therefore, come short of what God has prescribed and required in baptism, such persons are not the "saints of God," holy and regenerate. They are called saints, as we shall by and by see, from their profession of a religion of a higher and spiritual order.
If it be true, as it is contended, that "baptism is an ordinary means appointed by Christ for the real and effectual sanctification of his church," it must be allowed that our church uses baptism with the same design. If, however, "real and effectual sanctification" be aimed at by our church in baptism, it is evident that these ideas must enter into her description of doctrine; and that real and effectual sanctification, as we have already proved, is included in the church doctrine of regeneration. Then, also, it undeniably follows, that "only a relative sanctity, not real," is not the doctrine of our church.
III. External dedication will not explain those passages of Scripture, for the exposition of which it was primarily invented. His lordship especially refers to the prophet Isaiah; and quotes from chapter i. "My people is foolish they have not known me. My people doth not consider. Ah! sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers!" The Bishop then adds, "Yet they are still God's people." p. 420.
1. Our first enquiry here must be; namely,-Does this
"relative," this "external," this "ecclesiastical" regeneration meet and explain these and similar cases? And is the appointment of "baptism for man's immediate and relative sanctification unto God," satisfied, and duly fulfilled in these examples? If it be so, it must be admitted as very portentous. What! has God instituted an ordinance-a sacrament of circumcision-which requires no more of these professors? And has our Saviour Christ appointed baptism upon the same principle? Does it allow professors to be "sinful" and "laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers ?"-to be "children that are corrupters?" What! is Christ's holy baptism appointed for this end? And is Christ, then, indeed become the "minister of sin?" Must we admit that our Saviour's sacred ordinance is thus ecclesiastically profane!! If, however, all this is to be abhorred, we instantly perceive that the cases are not met,-the difficulty is not removed,-the hypothesis, therefore, does not apply: the evil still remains. Then no advantage is gained by it.
2. If, however, as must be admitted, and probably will be contended for, this "ecclesiastical" baptism requires more than these and other wicked professors afford it, the hypothesis is given up.-The purpose for which it was devised is not answered.-The Scriptures remain unexplained by it. It is, therefore, vain and nugatory. If, then, as is evident, more be required than these mere formalists afforded, we must inquire how much more was demanded? Surely, all that is required in any case :— all, that is necessary for God's honour, and the soul's salvation. That is to say, it must, and does, now merge into our interpretation, for there is no other. Baptism must (and there is but "one baptism") require, prescribe, symbolise, and seal, "real regeneration," "real purity of heart," and true spirituality of mind. Indeed, if we examine only these very cases, which are above referred to, we shall learn the truth of all we contend for; namely,-1. That mere external ecclesiastical service is not approved of God, much less appointed by Him; for he says, My soul hateth" it: and he loathes the idea of supposing that He had prescribed an ordinance of this description: He demands, "who hath required this at your hands?"-2. That, even of these very men God required the heart; as is evident from this language,
"wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doing from before mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do well." And from the promise which he makes on the supposition of this being done, "Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isaiah i. 14. 16. 18. It is plain, that nothing short of "holiness in the inward parts," was either prescribed, appointed, or approved by God, in such passages of Scripture as those which our right reverend author has adduced the hypothesis of "relative or external regeneration," on purpose to explain.
We have already, as we trust, satisfactorily proved that the true, genuine, and primary idea of dedication to God in baptism, implies a real spiritual devotedness, or holiness of heart, which holiness must of necessity destroy the hypothesis of "relative regeneration," in the sense which we have been opposing. While we retain, therefore, the phrase, "relative regeneration," as a nient and expressive language, we shall use it in a sense essentially different from the one which we decline. It may, therefore, be considered desirable that we should explain how regeneration is to be understood with regard to those passages of Scripture which appear to admit of a lower meaning of the words holiness, &c.: and such a meaning as is applied to all professors; yea, to a whole "nation:" and how, moreover, we are to understand the Church of England, wherein, as Bishop Hopkins, &c. have largely contended, she appears to allow of all such persons as being "regenerate," who have been baptised: and, whether any light can be thrown upon the meaning of the terms Baptism and Regeneration, as almost indifferently used for the same thing by the Fathers of the primitive church? which are points particularly insisted on by Archbishop Lawrence, Bishops Bethell and Mant, and Professor Pusey, &c.
The full examination of every point branching out of
these various subjects, would require more time and space than we can afford; if, therefore, we can give any thing like a suitable and consistent Key to the whole matter, we hope the reader will be satisfied. That remarkable passage contained in our Lord's interview with Nicodemus, in the 3rd chapter of St. John's Gospel, must be reserved for special notice in a future number.
I. We shall explain what we mean by relative regene
That God himself calls those "saints and sanctified who are members of the church of Christ, and thereby federally or relatively holy," 421; and that in all the Epistles, as well as in the Old Testament, the apostles address their churches as "saints and faithful brethren," without exception; though some of these professors were far from being spiritually holy; and could, therefore, be viewed only as persons" relatively" holy, or relatively regenerated.
We fully admit the above statement; and acknowledge that all the circumcised Jews, and all the baptised Christian church were called "saints and faithful brethren." The only difference between us is, the ground or reason why they were so called. The hypothesis we have rejected considers that there are two ideas of regeneration-one, external-another, spiritual: and that the "external regeneration," or mere act of baptism, entitles persons to be called saints, &c., though another-even a "real regeneration"-is necessary to salvation. We, on the other hand, consider that persons are called saints, &c., not because they have been "externally regenerated," but because
They PROFESS a truly spiritual and internal regeneration. God requires of all professors true holiness, and nothing less; all, therefore, though very many come short, profess true repentance, true faith, and real spiritual regeneration, in their baptism. We shall hereafter see that they venant" with God; make " oath," as it were, to Him; and "avouch" God to be their God; and God avouches them to be his people. This PROFESSION made, this "holy covenant" solemnly entered into, includes every thing we have contended for, both on the part of God and man. God's part, grace and salvation; on man's, fidelity and spiritual regeneration. But spiritual and relative mercies