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true and visible members of Christ, cannot scripturally be denied. Repentance and faith admit into the one community; and baptism, with a profession of these two prerequisites, admits into the other. The real kingdom of God consists of men" born of water and of the Spirit."

The early Christian Fathers, however, though they did not wholly deny the distinction, yet made so little of it, and spoke so fervidly of the introduction into the visible church, that many of our modern divines have been led by their representations to deny this essential distinction altogether. One reason why the Fathers spoke in such ambiguous language, was their peculiar situation. The Christian church was young; the nations were grossly idolatrous and lying in wickedness; the glory and mercies of the church of Christ appeared infinitely great; there were strong temptations therefore for persons under conviction of the truth and necessity of believing the Christian religion, to conceal their belief and defer their baptism;-these and many other things concurred in making the Fathers so warm and so peremptory on the subject of visible communion, that they scarcely could admit the possibility of salvation without baptism.

It must therefore be allowed that the Fathers had strong ground for insisting on the necessity of baptism to salvation, though they appear to have been over-rigorous in this respect. But a much greater evil has been very unfairly drawn out of the language with which they described the efficacy of baptism. The baptised-the regenerate-the saved, have modernly become nearly synonymous phrases, and things of almost equal import. By this awful error the visible church is made the sole church of Christ; and every member admitted into it by baptism is viewed, of course, as nearly alike, regenerate and saved. The soft and tardy exceptions made to this sweeping assumption become nearly evanescent amidst a crowd of unconditional attestations.

It is true that the visible church cannot in practice allow the sanction of her authority, and the pronunciation of her blessing, to persons who do not by baptism enter her communion. Still it could never be wholly overlooked by the early church, that many spiritually minded catechumens, and others who never were of their order, must have been truly in union with Christ by faith,

before they were baptised. Nor could it escape any really discerning person, that those who came to baptism, (as all were required to do,) not only professing, but also possessing faith and repentance, must have been in a safe state for heaven before their baptism: though that admission could not be made till after it, nor at all to those who declined baptism. But it scarcely appears that the Fathers withheld the admission only of regeneration and salvation from persons having faith and repentance without baptism; they withheld regeneration and salvation itself. And they appear to have considered baptism as a part of regeneration, or as necessarily productive of it. So that faith and repentance were not themselves viewed as the new birth, but faith, repentance, and baptism.

Our church does not pronounce persons to be regenerate before, but after they are baptised. Yet she most decidedly considers the first beginning of salvation to consist in repentance and faith: and she clearly withholds all admission of spiritual regeneration from all unholy members of the professing body.

The primitive baptism, according to Christ's constitution, signed, sealed, testified, and represented the coming from Satan's kingdom into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Darkness and death occupied their former state and habitation; but now light, holiness, and salvation. The visible turning point in this glorious transition, was baptism. All their blessings therefore were viewed as included in this ordinance; and every thing was figuratively ascribed unto it. It was therefore garnished, as we saw in our second Tract, with all the names and titles used in the New Testament to designate and describe the character, the security, and the privileges of God's children, even as far as salvation itself. And, indeed, when we consider that their light was heavenly, their joy divine, their holiness pure, and their prospect assured salvation and eternal glory,-and that they justly looked upon their baptism as the pledge of their spiritual marriage, as the token of their union with Christ, as the seal of their salvation, and the key to the kingdom of heaven,-when we consider all these circumstances, we may well forgive them for using, in this connexion, "fervid words," as Professor Pasey calls them, and for expressing "thoughts that burn." Truly were persons in

such a situation to "hold their peace," we might almost "the stones would cry out."


In order to understand more accurately the language of the Fathers, and more correctly to comprehend the nature, importance, and efficacy, as well as the general necessity of baptism, as appointed by our Lord, and practised in the primitive church, we will introduce a modern illustration of a baptism of exactly the same description as those of early times. We who are brought up under the visible banners of divine protection, and who have the cloud of the Almighty's presence continually over our tabernacle, can appreciate but very imperfectly the fearful distance and awful state of the heathens, while "without hope and without God in the world:" nor can we fully enter into their peace and joy when suddenly "called out of darkness into marvellous light." But let us look at Gentile baptisms in India now, and we shall easily perceive how the ancient Fathers were led into the habit of speaking of baptism as regeneration, without supposing them to have mistaken or misunderstood the real difference between them; though mistakes on this important subject had very soon become the offspring of their incautious language.

When persons like ourselves see baptism daily administered without perceiving any visible effects flowing from it, they are extremely liable to undervalue baptism, and lose sight of its character as originally intended.* Now let us view a recent baptism under circumstances of a more primitive nature; and this will carry us back to the apostles' "washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost."-Respecting the public baptism of a Musselman, at Gurrackpore, the Rev. Mr. Wilkinson writes thus:

"I hope he was baptised from above with the Holy

* We have the impression on our minds, that the late celebrated Robert Hall considered, that baptism in certain cases might be dispensed with altogether, inasmuch as God's covenant blessings may be considered as virtually ratified and enjoyed in the constant attendance on Christian ordinances and open profession of the Christian name, without the visible symbol of Christ's church being received. Though we cannot think on this point with the renowned author of this opinion, it yet enables us to perceive how circumstances and situations may change men's views of the efficacy and importance of positive institutions.

Ghost. It is extraordinary to observe the effect of this sacred ordinance on the mind in this country, compared with what we witness in England, even at the baptism of adults. Here it is really a translation from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God's dear Son; and the subjects of the ordinance, so far as they are under right influences, seem really to feel it as such. It was remarkably so in the case of the person in question. His own expressions of what his views and feelings were, can alone convey a proper idea. The mind carried back-then resting on the present-connexions to be broken-old habits to be given up-new connexions to be formed-new habits to be acquired-and a hundred circumstances connected with the past, present, and the future, do not operate slightly on a sensitive mind."

Would not this aged Musselman, all his life after, look back to and consider his baptism as the time of his conversion and regeneration, and this with a great degree of reason, though it is plain that his faith, and repentance, and spiritual state of soul were believed to be real and Christian before his baptism. Now had this man in the state supposed died (as two native Christians who gave "long and decided proofs" of their piety did last year in New Zealand) before he was baptised, would he not have been saved? Doubtless he would. Then did he not enjoy spiritual regeneration? Most certainly he did, else he could not be saved. This is what he must have understood, if his faith was firm and his Christian instruction good; and yet he could not be content without baptism, and could not under his circumstances fairly consider himself in covenant with God, and properly classed among his people, till he had separated himself from his former connexions, ratified his engagements with God, and put on the livery and public character of Jesus Christ. He had not entered into the kingdom of God until he was baptised.

It is not only possible, but very likely, and we doubt not, very common in early times, that persons, emerging from a state of heathen darkness into the marvellous light of the Gospel, did enjoy at their baptism a high degree of divine light and spiritual consolation, by which Christianity was distinguished from false religions, and by which its open profession was distinguished and "sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise." When Christ went up out of

the water, "the heavens were opened, and the Spirit of God descended and abode on him." What was this but anointing the head for the sake of the future members, and God setting his seal of approbation upon his Son's willing obedience to his divine command. And is not Christ herein our example? though he needed it not for his own sake, he yet did submit to it for us on whose behalf he stood.

The process, as in the foregoing instance, which results in baptism, is properly but one process, of which baptism is a part: and by using a very strong figure, the whole may be called regeneration; but most evidently it is a very strong figure-the result for the means. All the previous instruction sealed, confirmed, and terminating in baptism, and the instating of this follower of Mahomet among the disciples of Christ, were divine means, by which this man's soul was renewed and saved. But still they were but means and not the effect, and no part of the effect. That was the regeneration of the soul; these were instruction and baptism. The instruction was blessed to the renewal of the soul in righteousness, and baptism sealed, confirmed, and probably increased and gladdened the whole.

Had this taken place in England instead of India, how could the matter have been practically viewed otherwise than as a baptism in conformity with the usage of the English church. He would have been received as a pious soul, as a brother beloved; but he could not have been so declared and so esteemed before his baptism and his public exchange of Mahometanism for Christianity. Could he have been acknowledged and called regenerate, before he was publicly introduced as a member of Christ's church? At least could any regular appointment in a church be made to look towards him with such an aspect? His baptism would not indeed be called a 66 part of his regeneration:" but it would be considered as necessary to the public recognition and admission of it. If then such a person were truly pious before baptism, but only acknowledged such, and pronounced regenerate after baptism, it is manifest, that it is not real piety that is called, in such a case, regeneration, but the assumption and public recognition of a new character, thus evidencing and attesting his regeneration, which before this the church could not properly acknowledge.

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