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AUGUSTINE, quoted by Dr. Pusey, and commented upon by him. It seems somewhat extraordinary that our author, while he directly attacks every person who would limit the universal regeneration of mankind in baptism, under the instruction of the Fathers-does, nevertheless, himself adduce, from the Fathers, whole "classes" of per sons who are baptized, and who yet" miss of the grace of baptism;" but he tells us from Augustine, that there are but "two classes." "Often then, as St. Augustine speaks of those who miss of baptismal grace, they are always these two classes, those that are wanting in faith or love, hypocrites or heretics." He might have added "schismatics" also. (276.)
He argues, a little lower in the same page, thus: "If then, innumerably often as he specifies these classes, he names no others, one should infer, on this ground alone, that St. Augustine held, that all baptized persons, of whatever age, received the benefits of baptism, those excepted who placed a bar of unbelief in heart or life against it. Even these St. Augustine maintained to have received real baptism, [qry., regeneration?] (since it could not be repeated,) and that its benefits, lay as it were, in them, then to be realized, whenever they should, in heart and mind, turn to God."-(Ibid.)
Dr. Pusey argues as above for the sake of rescuing St. Augustine's exceptions from being applied to infants, who, he says, cannot place a bar of unbelief against it." But the Professor's opinion on this point, if correct, will go further than he intends it, and will make the "benefits of baptism" to "lay," not in infants only,* but in “them” who have in "heart or life," "placed a bar of unbelief against" their admission.
If this be the truth, and if Dr. Pusey and St. Augustine be correct, it certainly is very extraordinary. For even a "bar of unbelief in heart or life" cannot, according to the above instruction, prevent the benefits of baptism, (that is, pardon of sin, and regeneration) from making their entrance, and remaining, too, in every person who is baptized !!!
* "Infants only."-"This grace of baptism-remained in them— as their powers of thought or reasoning do."-150.
"A seminal regeneration (or initial, or potential), or again, an habitual (as opposed to active) principle of grace."—151.
The Professor gives a very large extract from St. Augustine, of a very extraordinary character. The following is the substance of it.
"God does not give that perseverance to some of his sons. For there are some, who by us, are called sons of God, on account of their having admitted grace, if but for a time; but they are not so in God's sight; of whom John says, 'they went out from us, for they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us.' They were not of the number of sons, even when they were in the faith of sons." (277.) True faith, he means.
Dr. Pusey's remark here, that Augustine's "Predestination did not involve the doctrine of the indefectibility of grace," is like most of his other remarks, calculated to mislead. Augustine's "Predestination" did involve the doctrine of the "indefectibility of grace" in the elect. And Calvin himself never held perseverance in the non-elect. St. Augustine held an opinion very peculiar, namely, the opinion, That God gave the grace of holiness and regeneration to some, to whom he does "not give that perseverance which leads to salvation." To such he says, we give the name of sons, but God does not; but only to them who "" were of those predestinated and called according to his purpose, who are truly the sons of the promise." (277.)
This extraordinary and unscriptural notion of Augustine discovers a very imperfect and inconsistent view of divine truth; and it arose from his unwarrantable ascription of regeneration to all that are baptized.
1. He considers, contrary to the Scriptures, in the above case, that regeneration, i. e. ("admitted grace"), does not make persons to be the true sons of God, but that "predestination" makes them so, in connexion with regeneration. That doubless is the cause, but the new and divine nature is what truly constitutes " sons of God."
2. He is unscriptural again, in admitting that God gives holiness to some, so that they have the same nature as "his true sons," from whom he still withholds grace to persevere therein. But he has given no reason why the Allwise gives grace to sinners to make them holy, and yet withholds grace from them when they are holy.
These anomalous circumstances, must, however, convince us, that respecting even the most renowned of the
Fathers, we need a great deal of liberality and wisdom so to interpret them as to make them at all consistent either with the Scripture or with themselves.
Dr. Pusey in the same place quotes from Prosper of Aquitaine, a sentiment still more absurd. He says of all baptized, their sins are remitted, and that some fall; yet (he says of him who falleth) he doth not fall back into that which was remitted, nor will he be condemned in original sin; but for his last sins, he will receive that death, which was due to him for those which were forgiven him." Alas! for such authors! they have need that one "teach them again what be the first principles of the oracles of God!!" Dr. Pusey adds,
Augustine writes "And yet the grace of baptism is not alike to all, for heretics have the same baptism, and false brethren in the communion of the Catholic name." (276,) and again,
"Augustine, most excellently do the Punic Christians. entitle baptism itself no other than salvation. And the sacrament of the body of Christ no other than life. Whence, except from an old and, as I deem, apostolical tradition by which they hold it inserted in the church of Christ, that without baptism and the participation of the Lord's table, no man can arrive either at the kingdom of God, or salvation and life eternal. This, as we have said, is what the Scripture testifies, i. e. saves us as by washing, &c." Tit. iii. 5; 1 Pet. iii. 21.
No man, we presume, not wedded to the worst corruptions of popery, would ever understand in a literal sense, what Augustine informs us was excellently said by the African Christians: i. e." that baptism itself is salvation," and the Lord's supper, 66 life." For in such case, every person baptized, or partaking of the holy communion would have life and salvation;" which the foregoing extracts about apostacy, from the same author, positively contradict. " Baptism," &c., here must mean repentance, faith and holiness, into which persons by baptism profess to enter, and at the Lord's Supper, renew their covenant. Then the whole becomes scriptural, intelligible, and consistent; otherwise it is perfectly heretical; for many are saved without either baptism or the Lord's Supper, &c. Augustine owns this; and many, as he also allows, "miss of salvation," who enjoy them both.
The same candour of interpretation must be allowed to the short extract before this, where Augustine says, "the grace of baptism is not alike to all." But why? If baptism conveys the grace of regeneration; i. e. "pardon of sin, and a new life," it must be alike to all; for none can have more. Here, again, therefore, it is perfectly certain that the mind makes the difference.
BINGHAM.-We have transcribed numerous cases from this author. We give a sample.
Augustine's answer to Boniface's query, "how could it be said with truth that a child believed, renounced the devil, or turned to God, who had no thought or apprehension of these things; or if any, yet secret and unknown to us;" is very remarkable, and demonstrates beyond the possibility of fair contradiction that the Fathers did not take a clear, consistent, or wise measure of baptism and regeneration. Augustine answers by saying,
"That the child is only said to believe, because he receives the sacraments of faith and conversion, which entitles to the name of believer. For the sacraments, because of the resemblance between them and the things represented by them, do carry the name of the things represented. Christ was but once offered in himself, and yet he is offered, not only at the annual solemnity of the passover, but every day by the people and no one tells a lie who says he is offered." Yet surely, if men speak without explanation what necessarily leads an honest attentive hearer to "believe a lie," they must be said in fact, that is, in truth, to " tell a lie."
What is meant here by "the sacrament of Christ's body," which the "people offer every day." Surely this is explaining one mystery by another mystery; and thus turning all things into mysticism and confusion: what do the people offer? When he says, "after a certain manner," it is his body we suppose he must mean that it figures forth or represents, his body.-True; but out of unguarded language like this the worst corruptions of popery, in after ages, had their origin. These pompous words to men's performances, have always a pernicious tendency. They produce, and were intended to produce, ideas which language stating only the simple truth will not convey.
"As therefore, the sacrament of Christ's body, after a certain manner, is called his body; and the sacrament of his blood, is called his blood; so the sacrament of faith is (called) faith. And upon this account, when it is answered, that an infant believes, who has not yet any knowledge or habit of faith, the meaning of the answer is, that he hath faith because of the sacrament of faith, and is converted to God because of the sacrament of conversion. For these answers appertain to the sacrament.'
Bingham observes on this; "so that according to St. Augustine, when an infant is said to have faith, the meaning is only, that he receives the sacrament of faith, which faith he is bound to embrace when he comes to understand it." (Bing. Ant. i. p. 511.)
Bingham having quoted the opinion of Hincmar respecting the salvation of many infants who died unbaptized, through the perverseness of some bishop who had denied them baptism; adds,
1." It cannot be denied but that infants may be martyrs as well as adults, as those were whom Herod slew.
2. "Parents may likewise desire baptism for their children, vowing faith and repentance in their name, where some extreme necessity and not any culpable neglect hinders the obtaining of it."
"If we thus interpret the sense of the ancients with Hincmar, then all those passages which condemn infants dying without baptism, must be understood not of the bare want of baptism, when it could not be had, but of the parents' contempt or neglect when it was in their power." (437.)
Professor Pusey recites with approbation the following expressions of Augustine:
"He is healed by the words of another, since he was wounded by the sin of another: it is asked 'does he believe in Jesus Christ?' it is answered,' he does believe.' The answer is made for him who speaks not: but is silent and weeps, and by weeping begs, in a manner, for help."
1. We here remark that the "sacrament" of regeneration was often spoken of as synonymous with regeneration itself. A " new life" was then and there professed, either personally or by substitute, and the profession in those early days was not so frequently, as now, belied