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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 inAuences, 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
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 "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.
The covenant made with Abraham and sealed by circumcision, and the same covenant made by Christ and sealed by baptism, require, and imply both on the part
of God and on the part of man, all that can be required in any covenant.
When spiritual persons enter by faith into covenant with God in Christ Jesus, and thus seal their engagements to be his faithful servants, they do that, and only that, which is required of every one who is baptised in his name, and which every one in his baptism professes and engages to do “ with all his heart.”
We make the foregoing remark, because this subject, the turning point, in one respect, in this controversy, seems to be very imperfectly understood. Bishop Bethell, aware that when the spiritual blessings of God's covenant are legitimately applied, the covenant must be sealed on man's part, if it be considered as a mutual compact, has endeavoured to evade this sealing on the part of man, and refers the matter of baptism wholly to God. General View, pp. 46, 47, 81, 82. That God does set his mark
upon the soul, is very true. But then, whenever this is done, man also " sets to his seal that God is true.”
There is no genuine, that is, no beneficial covenant between God and man, until man complies ; until then it is not a covenant conveying blessings. When man believes, which he professes to do, and is enjoined to do in this ordinance, he seals his covenant with God. Man is as truly a party in the covenant as God is. Not indeed in forming it or enjoining the obligation to unite in it, but in its operative character. God has appointed the covenant and prescribed its terms “ without asking any one's consent,” whether it shall be so or not. But God does require, and also asks man's consent and approbation of the covenant thus appointed, both in his word and by his ministers ; and he does so in the most tender and engaging terms: and man's approbation of the Almighty's claim and favours is in itself a
setting to his seal that God is true.' And the covenant is no covenant, God is not his God, man is not of the number of his people, divine blessings cannot pass oyer to him, until his consent
and approbation are given, and so the sealing be effected. A covenant does not answer its ends and purposes till both parties unite. No blessings can be transmitted to man, until God and he accord : and no curse can follow, but on their disagreement.
Men are not, indeed, forced to comply; but they are laid under very powerful and urgent motives to receive the seal of this covenant. If they choose to risk death, they may rebel, and refuse to believe and be baptised. But consent is required. The seal is no seal, to answer the scripture purpose, but as a “token ” of man's consent of heart with God. “ It shall be," said God to Abraham, “a token of the covenant between me and you.” It is exceedingly difficult to ascertain the real ideas of Dr. Pusey on this subject. For though he labours very hard to prove that the early Christian Fathers were in the right when they spoke so much about persons being “ sealed” in baptism ; he does not appear to recognize the part which righteous persons perform in their setting to their “seal that God is true.” Nay, indeed, he takes pains to prove that in the case of baptismal regeneration he is wholly inactive. He writes thus :
“ But now, as if to exclude all idea of human agency in this our spiritual creation, to shut out all human cooperation and boasting, as though we had in any way contributed to our own birth, and were not wholly the creatures of His hands, no loop-hole has been left us, no other instrument named ; our birth (when its direct means are spoken of) is attributed to the baptism of water, and of the Spirit, and to that only.” 13. “ Faith, and love, and prayer" are here excluded. 12.
We shall not now anticipate the discussion of any future proof that the above assertion of Dr. Pusey is highly inconsistent with other statements in the same publication, and especially with the following sentiments of Bishop Bethell, whose " theory of regeneration” is such as does not "exclude the voluntary agency of man from any share-in the conversion of the soul to holiness."
P'RINTED BY STEWART AND MURRAY, OLD BAILEY.
FOR CRITICAL TIMES;
ON THE IMPORTANT SUBJECTS OF
BAPTISM AND REGENERATION,
WITH AN ESPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE
BAPTISM OF ADULTS AND INFANTS,
ACCORDING TO THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
(PUSEY, BETHELL, AND LAWRENCE.)
BY A UNION OF CLERGYMEN.
PUBLISHED BY SMITH, ELDER AND CO. CORNHILL.