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it be an hypothetical sense or not. Under these three conditions we do not object to the fitness of it. In the office for Visiting the Sick, the case of an individual is in view, and the absolution in that office is hypothetical, that is to say, upon the assumption of the sincere faith and penitence of the sick person, previously demanded, and previously declared, the absolution is positive and valid; upon the supposed absence of them, the absolution is neither valid, nor possible to be so understood; for the church could not mean to affirm that which is contrary to her own known belief: and we know her belief, absolute, universal and undisguised, that to remission of sins faith and penitence are so needful in all persons capable of them, that without them there is neither hope nor promise of it. Secondiy, in the office for the Burial of the Dead, the case of the individual is spoken of in a language which is so far hypothetical in sense as it expresses no more than a hope of his present happy state. Such phrase, however, really falls short of an hypothetical proposition: it is manifestly and in terms no more than the hope of Christian charity: It is impossible to be mistaken for firm belief. Thirdly, the service of Baptism for those who are of Maturer Age, we have granted to be framed in part upon an hypothetical sense, and in such a structure there can be no ambiguity; inasmuch as the intention of the Liturgy is broadly and fully declared to the person coming for Baptism, by specific citations of Scripture, which join faith and repentance with Baptism, and by the demands of personal qualifications actually pressed upon him. His insincerity and prevarication therefore, if they exist, being in himself, and after hav. ing warning given, must naturally be understood to intercept the moral and spiritual benefit of the rite.
But all these circumstances, which account to our easy comprehension for the conditional tenor of the services to which we have just now adverted, do, in our judgment, entirely lose their application to the baptism of infants. The church is in this instance fully aware of the present state and condition of the subject to whom the rite is to be applied. The infant is born in a state of sin, and it is incapable of believing and repenting. It is confessedly incapable of any moral act whereby to seek its recovery; not merely incapable in that sense whereby human nature is generally incapable of doing any thing to its restoration, without the aid of grace from above, but by a stronger degree of incapacity, incapable of even seeing its own wants, and feeling its weakness, or knowing how they may be removed. Its cries are full of weakness, but they are not expressive of any moral desire: its whole imbecility is uninformed by any purpose of heart or determination of thought. This state, which we suppose no one denies, is not unknown to the cburch, nor, since it pertains at the same time to the application
of the office to be administered, can it be disregarded by the church in that office. The possible reasons of exception, therefore, which might exist in the other cases, can have no place here : and since the actual subject is so definitely and universally known, the language of the service cannot havea concealed reserve in regard to any such reasons of exception. Tacit reserve, without a hint of condition, or without a known ground of possible exception, as against the party to whom any promise of benefit is assured, seems to us unintelligible in reason, and intolerable in good faith. We suspect no such dealing in the offices of our church: we rest therefore in this conclusion, that, since the church, with an entire knowledge of the present state of the individual, and with a strict attention to it, receives an infant into communion, by Baptism, and declares the infant to receive a regeneration to life in that baptism, her sense is as simple as her language, and that all honest subterfuge of supposition by which that which is in terms absolute should be made precarious, and that which is universal in the obvious meaning should be made limited in the true meaning, is, in this present question, necessarily excluded. Moreover we apprehend that to depart from this direct admission of the obvious meaning of words which carry in them a kind of importunate perspicuity, is to introduce a principle of universal and incurable scepticism into the interpretation of doctrines; insomuch that if it were admitted, we should despair for our own part of ever being able to say that any words could ever express a certain and fixed doctrine, or that any doctrine could ever be expressed in intelligible words.
Hitherto we have endeavoured simply to state the doctrine of the church on the question of Baptismal Regeneration, as interpreters of it, and to draw our interpretation from the public formularies of our Liturgy, pertaining to the rite of Baptism itself
. The persons whose works have occasioned these remarks are all members of our church, who profess to hold no new opinions of their own, nor any not conformable, as they think, to the public national creed. It seems therefore that the question between them either resolves itself into the strict interpretation of our public doctrine; or at least, if that interpretation should be well made out, that the question, in its present shape, between them, would virtually be ended. We have intended therefore, to offer our opinion in a way conformable to the need of the occasion, and to confine it closely to the actual range of inquiry. And further, since we think the public formularies of our Liturgy give the most authentic account of those solemn rites which are to be administered in our service, the sacraments are best explained by the offices appointed for them; and since plain and explicit and reiterated words do not need to be made plainer by any comment from without, we shall think that we
have now satisfied, in scope at least, the first end which we proposa ed, in extracting from the offices of Baptism the doctrine of the church as to its value.
We are aware that authorities are much sought for'; that the Judgment of divines are collected, and precedents of interpretation arranged, with more or less skill, on one side and the other. The force of such authorities cannot be denied. But we wish earnestly to insist upon the prudence of consulting the original record itself. If it speak a plain sense of its own, its own authority is the most competent to deliver that sense, and its perspicuity is the best pledge to us that we understand it. Other writings can hardly be said either to confirm or to explain it. The habitual reverence, however, which we feel towards great names, will always draw us to a leaning upon their authority; so that, without their concurrence, we shall scarcely trust the most sound and necessary conclusions of our own understanding. The divines of the Church of England, we apprehend, claim this kind of deference to them as justly as any leading men ever had a right to claim it of their profession, their church, or their country. In research, in ability, in luminous communication by their writings, they have set themselves as high among the learned of every age, as we believe they have set the standard of sound protestant doctrine in their country among the other churches of the Christian world. To such highly gifted men, we do not refuse any fair appeal'; it being premised, however, that in the subject before us, the appeal to them is made only for gratuitous inquiry. For we repeat it, that our principles of judgment would be turned adrift, if we thought the point was one still reserved to be decided by their comment up
Our divines are a library in themselves, various in kind, in learn ing, and in subject. It would be idle to consult them either very largely or at a venture. For, besides the anomalies of style, or the different characters and occasions of their works, we must be aware : that the very liberty of the Protestant spirit has the effect of giving more fulness than uniformity to their writings, and that under such freedom, variously used, and according to the discretion of the writer, with a general agreement of doctrine, there may be, there must be, a great diversity in the complexion of their works, and, in the detail of them, great latitude in the way of putting particular clauses and portions of doctrine. To proceed properly towards our object, we must make some selection among them.
The writers most worthy to be selected as witnesses to the doctrine of our church are those who combine these two recommendations ; viz. who have been themselves most distinguished by the confidence and veneration shown to them by their inferior brethren,
and who have also written professedly upon the subject in questions The first qualification gives weight to their evidence, the second gives it what may be called authenticity. For no man's casual observation is to be put on a par with his distinct proposition; nor is one man's proposition as good as another's.
Had all the serious and learned divines of our church to give their voice in favour of the one man whom they would hold forth as the greatest light of the Reformation,-as the person whose mind had most fully comprehended and laboured upon the whole compass of Reformed truth, and whose writings do still preserve the most highly sanctioned memorial of it; we know not whether they would name any other than him, who, having received from the great fathers of the Reformation the office of unfolding, complete in all its parts, that truth which they with their faithful voice had proclaimed among us, first reduced and recorded our whole national creed with its illustration and evidence-Bishop Jewel. He, with a more leisurely survey of the bearing of every doctrine than could be taken even by the leading reformers themselves, who, in the first effort and agony of their work, with rude and noble simplicity, threw down the fabric of error, and hewed the granite from the quarry, and brought it for the building, he, coming in the close of their labours, united and perfected all that they had pres pared or done, as much as any one man can be said to have done it. To the theological inquirer, he is a master builder of the system of our doctrine. His formal and deliberate judgment, therefore, is of the greatest value.
The doctrine of the sacraments, as our readers know, was one which the reformers found among the most corrupted. The gross notions of the Romanists respecting them, disguised under the name of mystery, bad compounded an ostentatious ceremonial and a faith in the power of the church, into a superstition which had nearly devoured the very soul of that religion which should teach the worship of God in spirit and in truth. The refutation of error so gross was easy; but at the same time it was hazardous, as not unlikely, by the provocation of the extreme folly to be set aside, to have driven the reform into the opposite extreme, that of stripping the two sacraments, that really were such, of too much of their spiritual nature. In some churches, if we are rightly informed, the change of doctrine bas been so carried to excess, that the temptation to it was strong. But we may admire, in this respect, the temper of argument wherewith our own patrons treated their subject. To make up their creed, they canvassed, compared, and adjusted. Under the leading infallible testimonies of scripture, they took reason and antiquity to their aid; and made good their ground by a.. progressive analysis in their inquiries, instead of plunging into the
fallacy which would persuade them that the flat reverse of error is the truth. They reasoned as they proceeded for that which they assumed, as well as against that which they rejected. This is eminently the method of Bishop Jewel; and the method was favoured in no small degree both in him and others, by the steady and leisurely march of the actual course of events, in our Reformation, which, under Providence, seems to have added to the fulness no less than to the moderation of our entire scheme of doctrine.
Individually he wrote much against the Romanists, on the sacra mental question. And if such a service was likely to have made him think too low rather than too high of the sacraments, there is a force on the safe side, in his assertion of their value. The following are extracts from his works :
“We confess and evermore have taught that in the sacrament of bapa tism, by the death and blood of Christ, is given remission of all manner of sinnes ; and that not in half or in part, or by way of imagination, or by fansie, but full, whole, and perfect of all together; so that now, as St. Paul saith, there is no amnation unto then that be in Christ Jesus.'--Defense of the Apologie of the Church of England, p. 219.*
• It is granted of all, without contradiction, that one end of all sacraments is to join us unto God, as Dionysius saith here of the Holy Commun ion, and Paul likewise of the sacrament of Baptism: ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ; for as many of you as are baptised in Christ, have put on Christ.'--p. 20 of Private Masse.
* When in baptism our bodies are washed with water, we are taught that our souls are washed in the blood of Christ. The outward wasbing or sprinkling doth represent the washing and sprinkling which is wrought within us : the water doth signify the blood of Christ. If we were noe thing else but soule, he would give us his grace barely and alone, without joining it to any creature, as he doth to his angels; but seeing our spirit is drowned in our body, and our flesh doth make our understanding dull, therefore we receive his grace by sensible things.'-p. 262, Treatise of the Sacraments.- What! are they nothing else but bare and naked signs? God forbid! They are the seales of God, heavenly tokens, and signs of the grace, and righteousness, and mercie given and imputed to us. They are not oare signs ; it were blasphemie soʻto say: The grace of God doth alway work with his sacraments.
Chrysostom saith,-in nobis non simplex aqua operatur : sed cum accepit gratiam Spiritus abluit omnia peccata. So saith Ambrose also, -Spiritus Sanctus descendit, et consecrat aquam.--So saith Cyril.
-So said Leo, sometime a Bishop of Rome,--Dedit aquæ quod dedit Matri. Virtus enim Altissimi et obumbratio Spiritus Sancti quæ fecit ut Maria pareret Salvatorem, eadem fecit ut regeneret unda credentem. p. 263, ibid.
I will pow speak briefly of the sacraments in severall, and leave all Idle and Tain questions, and only lay open so much as is needful and
* In the edition of his works, folio. London. 1609.