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the relation and office which he sustains, and in no way peculiar to our author's system.

But what we disapprove is the desire of leading people in general to think so much of their baptismal privileges,-to consider baptismal regeneration, as the sound principle of spirituality, by which a life of religion, and reformation of morals are to be expected in our church, by merging a whole audience, without "nice distinctions," into one body as a real communion of saints; while at the same time it is admitted that there may be among them (how many it is not said) baptised sensualists, extortioners and infidels !

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Much labour is not necessary to refute a notion so extraordinary. History is here the best testimony. What has been, for more than a century after the restoration of Charles the Second, the doctrine of our pulpits on those points? Has it not been the doctrine so highly extolled by this author? And is he not old enough to remember the time, when preaching the necessity of regeneration to persons who have been baptized, or to such as were professors of Christianity in common,' was a rare thing? Yea, does he forget, that the two tracts on regeneration and conversion, by Dr. Mant, were sent round the land by "the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge," as the most hopeful way of putting a stop to the regeneration heresy? And was not regeneration, about twenty years ago, denounced as the watchword of a certain sect? And can he believe that the loss of his interpretation of baptism is now a general thing? And will he not admit, that when baptismal regeneration" was the general doctrine of our pulpits, all spirituality had well nigh disappeared from our church? Would he then have that semi-popish mode of preaching to become again general in our Protestant land? And what! shall we have this deteriorating and demoralizing mode of preaching introduced again into our churches by those very men, whose piety, diligence, and spirituality have raised the tone of religion and morals throughout our country? And if it has been raised, and we maintain that it has, how very extraordinary it is, that spirituality should advance in the inverse ratio of the means for promoting it!—But we admit, that this reference to history will not be sufficient, if we are required by our church to pursue a different course; then


The SECOND question is,-whether the hypothetical cha


racter of our church's doctrine of regeneration either requires or justifies the method of instruction already mentioned ?

On this subject we consider our author to have gone beyond the Scriptures, beyond the church, and beyond the truth. Though our church, throughout all her rituals, official and devotional, takes for granted that her members are spiritual; yet, in her articles of doctrine, and in her homilies of instruction, she distinguishes, after the example of Christ and His Apostles, between the righteous and the wicked, between the wheat and the tares; or, in other words, between the regenerate and the unregenerate, though baptised into the same religion, and all professing the same faith. And here it is that we deem this author vulnerable; and the difficulty of his system has betrayed him into some unfairness on this point. The following question, in his Catechism, is of this description:

"And are we to esteem a baptised person as a heathen, till, by a sound conversion, we behold his life of faith, in Christ Jesus, in him?”

If the writer, as we suppose in this case, has an opponent in view, this question to his opponent is unfair. Who, engaged in this controversy, would allow his view of baptised persons to be thus designated? It is unfair also to the catechuman, who is hereby led to think, that there is no middle character between a child of God and a heathen. And if so, all the writer's "unconverted" Christians are heathens, by his own testimony. The answer is this:By no means: the promise having been sealed to him by baptism, he is, in the judgment of faith and charity, a member of Christ, and as such, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven."


"And how are we to act to such an one?"

"We are not to doubt, but earnestly believe, that he is a child of God by promise: we must wait the calling according to God's purpose, by his Spirit working in due time." He is a child of God by promise, it seems, and not by regeneration enjoyed!

These sentences show us the difficulty involved in this subject, and the danger we are in, either of diminishing the value and importance of the sacrament of baptism, or of betraying and deluding the souls of our fellow-creatures. Now, the real gist of the subject requires an answer to

such a question as the following, and not to such an unfair one as we have just noticed :

"Are we to esteem a baptised person to be truly regenerate, till, by a sound conversion, we behold this life of faith in him?"

To say in answer, that "he is regenerate in the judgment of faith and charity," and that we are earnestly to believe that he is " a child of God by promise," may do in the celebration of ordinances, because of the impossibility of adopting any other mode of proceeding: but, will this be sufficient or suitable, when we come to the personal application of the blessings claimed ? We believe not. The very hinge of the question seems to be this,in the admission of members the church must be content with the profession; but if any one claims the spiritual privileges and blessings attached to real membership, we must of necessity insist upon character. Spiritual blessings do not properly belong to profession, but to character. If, then, we even allow baptised persons, who have no Christian evidence of a renewed heart to assume, in virtue of their baptism, that its spiritual blessings belong to them, what is it that we do? We help forward their deception, we shield their consciences from conviction, and to no small extent we contribute to their undoing. If it be replied, that we only allow this "in the judgment of charity," and say only, that he is "a child of God by promise;" then we must ask, what do these expressions mean? In this connexion they can have no meaning whatever, being wholly misapplied. In the application of spiritual blessings to individuals, what has the judgment of charity to do? What is required here is judgment according to truth. It must be an award according to the truth and facts of the individual case. If the same characters were to come before us as came before Christ, and claim their relationship to Abraham, or to Christ by baptism, should we be justified in speaking to them about the judgment of charity, and of our belief, that they were the children of God by promise, when their character evidenced them to be of their "father, the Devil?" Surely not.

To exhibit this subject more plainly, we may use the logical terms, ABSTRACT and CONCRETE. The first we may apply to the church, when she administers her ordinances, in which administration the profession is accepted

as evidence of the intention of the heart, and of the incipient formation of a gracious character. To this transaction "the judgment of faith and charity" duly applies: we give the professor credit, and thus hypothetically acknowledge and treat him as a child of God.

But now this person having been admitted among the people of God, by the solemn pledge of "repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ," must be dealt with in a different way: the transaction now passes into the CONCRETE, where nothing can be allowed but character, for character is always supposed to be attached to the profession made. If a person asks, "What doth hinder me to be baptised? and what doth hinder me to go to heaven?" the answer will be the same in both cases: "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." He replies, "I believe that Jesus is the Son of God." On this profession we baptise him, and were he to die in the very act of being baptised, we should have the same hope of his salvation as we have of the sincerity of his faith. But if he should live, grow up to maturity, and live, like a vast mass of professing Christians, in the sinful indulgences both of flesh and spirit, are we to allow him to consider himself a regenerate character, and are we to deal with him as such? And yet, according to the notion of this writer, we see not how this can be avoided.

There seems to be no remedy for this evil, which presses hard on both sides, but to resort to the HYPOTHETICAL character of regeneration in baptism. "The judgment of charity," itself is in reality hypothetical: it is in fact the very thing itself. For what does charity, in this case refer to? Doubtless to the profession made, to the repentance and faith pledged by the candidate; or, in other words, to the existence of that spirituality of principle which is always included in true faith in Christ Jesus. As such the church receives him, and accordingly pronounces, that he is numbered among the children of God and heirs of salvation, But suppose, this baptised person were to show afterwards such anti-christian spirit as Simon Magus did, we should, in such case, instantly perceive that our hypothesis was erroneous, that our charity was misplaced, and the pronunciation of our Christian benedictions misapplied, that in fact, they do not belong to such a character: he has "neither part nor

lot in the matter," that he is no child of God, no member of Christ, and is not an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven. If it be asserted, that even such a person as Simon Magus, having been baptised, must be viewed and treated 66 as a child of God by promise," so long as he remains a professed member of Christ's church: to this we reply, that we are not now speaking of excommunication, but of the truth of his regeneration, that is, whether his self-deceived profession, as it now appears to be, was really attended by true spiritual regeneration. We are now supposing ourselves to be standing as ambassadors for Christ; and in such a situation we must deal with men according to their character. We must judge charitably, indeed; but if our charity does not turn upon character, but on assumed privileges, in right of baptism, we betray our trust and contribute to the ruin of men's souls.

A stand, therefore, ought to be made, we are convinced, against such a system; as the mischief that it is calculated to do is tremendous. Men are aided (however, the design may be otherwise) in their delusion! An idea, awful beyond measure! Human nature itself leads to the deception. It is fond of it. And every mode of instruction, which opens a way to spiritual privileges, without a Christian character in the claimant, is resorted to as an opiate —a balm, which will not break his heart, but compose his fears and feelings, and induce him to trust, even without evidence, that all is well.

But if we duly regard the hypothetical character of baptismal regeneration and baptismal privileges, and endeavour to manage this matter wisely, we shall find that we are not in "bondage" in this case, as it respects our instruction and addresses to our people. BAPTISM ITSELF demands and implicitly enforces the necessity of a Christian character. It is all spiritual character throughout the service. But if so, it must be character, then and there PROFESSED, which is all that can be proceeded upon; and on this account, it becomes supposed or hypothetical. But is not character in this view every thing in baptism? What is "that repentance whereby we forsake sin, and faith, whereby we steadfastly believe the promises of God made to us in that sacrament?" Do we not find here the root and foundation of all holiness and Christian character? And what is that "godly and Christian life,"

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