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“ born of water and of the Spirit.” This is the case with every real member of the true church; he is baptised, he is regenerate. The theory and the fact agree with respect to all such members. God spake to Abraham of circumcision, (and Christ speaks the same respecting baptism,) “this is my covenant, my covenant is with thee;' that is, the sign for the thing signified by the sign, the “ token” of the covenant.
2. The early fathers, according to St. Augustine, denominated sacraments in this way. “ Sacraments,” he says, " are holy signs," that is, signs of holy things, of the new birth, of the election of God, of his true church. And as we have observed, the fact, as well as the theory, respecting this spiritual church, is true. They are all baptised; they are all born again, though not spiritually born by baptism, but before they were baptised. Yet as the true church is the holy church, no mischief could arise, in a practical shape, from speaking of their baptism as their regeneration, because in every member of this church both were united.*
3. Our baptismal offices, and indeed all the offices of our fiturgy, were made for this true, believing, holy church; as circumcision and baptism were made, as appointed by God, for the same. 'They legitimately belong to this church and to no other. Christ Jesus, strictly speaking, has no other church. Let not the reader be startled at this declaration ; let him thoroughly consider so as to understand the matter, and he will soon see its truth. There can be no other church strictly belonging to Christ but the true one. Hence it is, that every office in our liturgy is full of holy petitions, prayers, thanksgivings, expectations, and assurances; for they scarcely stop at hope. Regeneration and baptism, though not identified, are yet in Christ's church connected : and in “ the kingdom of God” they are, as we have seen, connected in scripture.
Every male child shall be circumcised.” Every one that “entereth into the kingdom of God," must be “ born of water and of the Spirit.”
Having these scriptural truths firmly riveted in our
* As Mr. Miller, in his History has observed-No great evil could arise in Cyprian's time from confounding regeneration with baptism, because, generally speaking, they were then both united ; but in our day it becomes a poisonous error,
minds, we shall be able to see what would otherwise be very mysterious, namely, the true ground and reason why our offices speak in the way they do. And though we may not wholly consider every phrase as perfectly uniform and consistent, (for some of them have a gentle touch of the ambiguous language of the fathers,) yet we shall not fail to observe how nearly they correspond with wbat would naturally arise in a pious mind from such considerations as have been stated respecting the true, the holy, the only “ kingdom of God.” We shall also further perceive the extreme difficulty of constructing offices for this holy church in any way that differs essentially from our own; or indeed at all, except in a few words or phrases.
Secondly. The professing church.
Were all who profess Christ's holy religion, holy persons, no difficulty would arise, because there would be no confusion. But the evil as well as the difficulty, has now become very great. There is a professing church which is not a church, though called by that name. There are those who profess to be, and call themselves Christians, who are not Christians; and yet they bear that name both in the church and in the scripture. God, as we have heard, calls such in numerous places“ his people,” who were not bis people, according to his own definition, but had only the name of being
If the reader asks, why does the scripture call persons by names which their character does not indicate? we shall not answer him by saying, “Who art thou that repliest against God;" but we shall request him to think out the case. And we shall also ask him another question,Why is any person called in scripture, or in any other document, a Christian ? and why were any baptised into the church by the apostles, as Christians ? God did not say of each of them, “He is a chosen vessel unto me." On what ground, then, were they baptised ? Clearly on the ground of their PROFESSION, accompanied with the appearance of a new heart which they at the time exhibited. This is the only ground on which men can judge of the hearts of men, till farther experience develope them; it is on the ground of a creditable profession. "Man judgeth according to the outward appearance.” God does not blame him for this; for he has no other way of judging. This correctly corresponds with our remarks on “ Ministerial Instruction,” in the Second Number.
Every one, therefore, who appears to believe the religion of Christ, and professes to do so, is baptised in his name, and must be so baptised as an allowedly sincere convert. And in the very act of baptising, as there is but one baptism, and that the baptism of the true church, he must be admitted as a truly regenerate person, into the holy society of regenerate men; because in no other character can he be admitted. Christ has not two churches, or two baptisms, but one church and one baptism. All persons, then, who are baptised and admitted into the Christian church must, in some way, be called Christians, and allowed to be so, though they may not be Christians indeed. And this arises from the unavoidable imperfection of human knowledge. The church does not know men's hearts, though the allwise God does; and a settlement will take place in due time, but this he reserves to himself.
There is no inconsistency in this; it is no arbitrary arrangement, but the necessity of the case. The ordinances of Christ are for godly persons, and for none else. But some that are not godly seek a name and admission by them, though they have no authority from Him for doing
Christ requires a holy heart, and all pretend to it; all therefore are admitted on the same ground, though all are not his people. The Saviour forms his church after his own heart, and knows it. But the rest, though they assume His name, yet, having not the Spirit of Christ, are
none of His.” He says himself, in allusion to these tares among the wheat, “ An enemy hath done this.” How is this, then, remedied in scripture ? We answer, as have answered before in the case of Mr. Budd, not by ordinances, which deal with all alike, but by doctrine, by description of character. Men, from the imperfection of our knowledge, must be admitted and designated according to their profession and appearance. But the scripture explicitly says, “ Let no man deceive himself; he that doeth righteousness is righteous :” and he only is righteous, whatever name he may bear. What, therefore, are we to think, if we find men professing to be “new creatures,' and still lead a sinful life? Have we any reason to say, on scripture ground, that they have lost their regeneration, or that they pretended, like Simon Magus, to what they never had ? “They went out from us; but they were not of us," is St. John's solution of the question, and it should be ours. [See note at the end, p. 35.]
which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree.” Rom. xi. 24. " Their own olive tree;"clearly not the Mosaic dispensation; they will not return to that, but to the covenant of Abraham, and to its blessings,--the pardon and salvation, to which the Old Testament believers were entitled.
Saint Peter, also, makes the salvation into which baptism brings us, “ in a figure” to result to us, not from baptism, or “ the washing away the filth of the flesh,' but from “ the answer of a good conscience towards God.” i Pet. iii. 21. We proceed now to shew,
2. That the blessings which baptism represents are always connected with salvation.
It appears little less than miraculous that our Professor should assert, as he does, that we are regenerate in baptism, and not without it. Baptism," he says, “ is spoken of as the source of our spiritual birth as no other cause is, save God: we are not d, namely, to be regenerated by faith, or love, or prayer, or any grace which God worketh in us.” (p. 12.) Not regenerated" by faith, or love, or prayer!" Our author might as well have said, that we are not regenerated by regeneration. Faith, love, and prayer, are each and every one of them, the appropriate graces of all the regenerate, and have ever been found peculiar to the saints of God, in all ages. It is characteristic of the divine covenant, that “ he that calleth on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” And of “ faith," and public acknowledgment of Christ, St. Paul says, “ If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart, that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Rom. x. 13. And with respect to “ love,” it is the brightest of all the Christian graces, and the most like to God of any thing:
“ Faith, hope, and charity; but the greatest of these is charity.” 1 Cor. xiii. 13. • Love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”“ Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” 1 John iv. 6; v. 1. The same may be said of every christian grace. Matt, v. 3—12.
Hence we see that the Professor has inverted the scriptural account of all this matter, Salvation is promised to every grace of the believing or regenerate mind; and baptism is without value when such graces are absent. “ Faith, love, and prayer,” are spiritual" graces which God worketh in us :' and wherever such graces exist, there exist the “regenerate” and “elect people of God. "
From what has been advanced, therefore, the scriptural import, or the design and nature of baptism, may be pretty clearly discerned :
Baptism represents regeneneration, and is its image.
We do not object to the Professor's idea, that the divine image, both in holiness and holy joy, might very often in primitive times, be " sealed” on the souls of those who forsook all for Christ's sake, and in baptism publicly "put on Christ," in confession and spirituality; for it accords with Christ's promise, 6. He that honoureth me,” or, " he that confesseth me before men, him will I confess before the angels of God.” Only we must be careful not to confine the sealing of the Holy Spirit to baptism. All the promises of God, which he has made to his spiritual Israel—to the kingdom of God, the members of which are all “ born of water and of the Spirit,” may be considered as included in, and sealed by baptism. But, then, we must mark, with invincible firmness, the true ground, as already particularly noticed, on which all the promises are made to us at baptism. It is not baptism simply, to which any promise is made, or to which any spiritual blessing whatever is “ annexed;" but to “ faith" -to “repentance"—to a spiritual disposition of mind, issuing in, and confessing Christ at baptism. And there is not a single promise, we believe, in all the word of God, made to baptism, unless in connexion with some spiritual and holy principle.
When, therefore, we “ acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins,” we particularly need to understand, that “ faith and repentance” are always to be implied. To them that “ believe and are baptised,” is remission of sins promised; and to those who ®“ repent and are baptised,” is forgiveness promised. But we cannot find one promise made to baptism simply. It would have been safer, therefore, to express the article in the creed, as the 'baptism of repentance for the remission of sins," as it is