« AnteriorContinuar »
profitable for you to know. Baptism, therefore, is our regeneration or new birth, whereby we are born anew in Christ, and are made the sons of God, and heires of the kingdom of heaven, &c.
For this cause are infants baptised, because they are born in sin, and cannot become spiritual, but by this new birth of water and the spirit.They are the heires of the promise ; the covenant of God's favour is made with them.'
Infants are a part of the Church of God; they are the sheep of Christ, and belong to his flock. Why should they not beare the marke of Christ? They have the promise of salvation : why should they not receive the seale whereby it is confirmed unto them? They are of the fellowship of the faithful ; Augustine saith-ubi ponis parvulos non baptizatos? profecto in numero credentium. Why then should not they be partakers of the sacrament, together with the faithful ?—p 265.
• Christ, saith the Apostle, loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water through the word. Again, according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of the new birth, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. For this cause is baptism called salvation, life, regeneration, the forgivenesse of sins, the power of God to resurrection, the weed of immortality. And yet are złot these things wrought by the water; for then what need had we of Christ? what good did his Passion ? what doth the Holy Ghost work in our hearts ? what power or force is left to the word of God ?-p. 266.
Not different in kind or in force from the explanations of Bishop Jewel are those of Hooker, another divine of the same family and order among us.
Did we know any more highly esteemed, we should apply to them first; since we do not, we shall take these writers for our guides, till greater can be found. Hooker too has written professedly on the sacraments, in his memorable work, the Ecclesiastical Polity ;-that work which having been composed to defend the fabric of our church, both without and within, its doctrine, as well as its order, may now instruct us what it is that we have to defend. Our extracts from this author shall be shorter, as his work is more generally known and read. Those who may wish to see the whole of his very copious dissertation on the subject will find it in the fifth book of the Eccles. Polit. cap. 57 to 66.-After specifying some other kinds of use in the sacraments, he adds,
< But their chiefest force and virtue consisteth not herein, so much as in that they are heavenly ceremonies which God hath sanctified and ordained to be administered in his church. First, as marks whereby to know when God doth impart the vital and saving grace of Christ to all that are capable thereof; and secondly, as means conditional which God requireth in them unto whom he imparteth grace.
• It may be hereby both understood that sacraments are necessary, and that the manner of their necessity to life supernatural is not in all respects as food unto natural life, because they contain in themselves ne vital force or efácacy--- they are not physical but moral instruments
of salvation ; duties of service and worship; which unless we perform, as the Author of grace requireth, they are unprofitable. For all receive not the grace of God, which receive the sacraments of his grace. Neither is it ordinarily his will to bestow the grace of sacraments on any, but by the sacraments, which grace also they that receive by sacraments or with sacraments, receive it from him, and not from them.
• Yet then doth baptism challenge to itself but the inchoation of those graces, the consummation whereof dependeth upon mysteries ensuing ?'
6. We answer, that the fruit of baptism dependeth only upon the corenant which God hath made; that God by covenant requireth in the clder sort faith and baptism ; in children, the sacrament of baptism alone, whereunto he hath also given them right, by special privilege of birth, within the bosom of the holy church ;-that infants, therefore, which have received baptism complete, as touching the mystical perfection thereof, ere, by virtue of his own covenant and promise, cleansed from all sin--p. 285.--Baptism, wherein the mysteries of our regeneration is wrought-p. 287. And till, we come [from infancy] to actual belief, the very sacrament of faith is a shield as strong as after this, the faith of the sacrament, against all contrary infernal powers; which whosoever doth think impossible, is undoubtedly farther off from Christian belief, though he be baptised, than are these innocents, which, at their baptisın, although they have no conceit or cogitation of faith, are notwithstanding pure, and free from all opposite cogitations; whereas the other is not free. If therefore, without any fear or scruple, we may account them and term them believers only for their outward profession's sake, which inwardly are farther from faith than infants, why not infants much more at the time of their solemn initiation by baptism, the sacrament of faith, whereunto they not only conceive nothing opposite, but have also that grace given them, which is the first and most effectual cause out of which our betief groweth ?-p. 292.--For when we know how Christ in general hath said, that of such is the kingdom of heaven, which kingdom is the inheritance of God's elect, and do withal behold how his providence bath called them unto the first beginnings of eternal life, and presented them at the well-spring of new birth, wherein original sin is purged; besides which sin, there is no hinderance of their salvation known unto us, as themselves will grant; bard it were, &c. p. 293.-The ancient custom of the church was, after they had baptised, to add thereunto imposition of bands, with effectual prayer for the illumination of God's most Holy Spirit, to confirm and perfect that which the grace of the same Spirit had already begun in baptism.'-p. 302.
Ilammond has written in form upon the subject of infant bap. tism. Speaking of the reasons of it, he says,
• One sort of those reasons I suppose myself to know, viz. that by the promises of God, signed to them in that sacrament, they may be more solemnly secured of a right in the inward assistance of the Spirit of Christ, &c. To these I may farther add, that as baptism is to infants an institution of Christ, so it gives a virtue to the external act and
words pronounced of the minister, so far as to make them members of Christ, and children of God, and heirs of his kingdom ; and this hath been the doctrine of the Church of God.'-p. 618. vol. i. of his works, ed. 1684.
The admirable Bishop Taylor has given a full and precise treatise upon it in his Life of Christ.
Infants receive many benefits by the susception of baptism. 1. The first effect of baptism is, that in it we are admitted to the kingdom of Christ, offered, and presented to him. 2. Children may be adopted into the covenant of the gospel, that is, made partakers of the communion of Saints. 3. In baptism we are born again. 4. Baptism takes off the evil of original sin. 5. The baptism of infants does to them the greatest part of that benefit which belongs to remission of sins. 6. The next great effect of baptism which children can have is the spirit of sanctification: and if they can be baptised with water and the Holy Spirit, it will be sacrilege to rob them of so holy treasures. 7. That baptism, which doth consign men and women to an holy resurrection doth also equally consign infants, hath nothing, that I know of, pretended against it. 8. And after all this, if baptism be that means which God hath appointed to save us, it would be well if we would do our parts towards infants' final interest.'
This author has enlarged on each of these heads with his usual exuberance of thought and matter. Let us recollect that he is the author, who, above all others, has made theology practical : every doctrine with him is a homily, every speculation with him ends in piety, and prayer, and the personal interests of a holy life. Let us recollect on the other hand that he is the author of The Liberty of Prophesying,' a work which shows what were his high principles of theological inquiry: A man so intent upon practical ho. liness, and the energy of a right faith in every action of life, and, at the same time, who had so absolute and independent a grasp of protestant principles, is not soon to be suspected of laying more stress upon the virtue of any rite, than his church, or the reason of the thing, required.
Barrow's testimony to the general consent of the Catholic church, in believing that every Christian is a partaker of grace, as a consequent of baptism, is as follows.
In fine, whatever some few persons, or some petty sects, (as the Pe. lagians of old, the Socinians now,) may have deemed, it hath been the doctrine constantly, and with very general consent, delivered in the Catholic church, that to all persons by the holy mystery of baptism duly initiated to Christianity, or admitted into the communion of Christ's body, the grace of God's Holy Spirit certainly is bestowed, enabling them to perfórn the conditions then underlaken by them.'-Sermon 45, vol. iii.
There can be no doubt, we suppose, that, in ascribing this docVOL. XV. NO, XXX.
trine to the Catholic church, he meant strongly to affirm, that it is also the doctrine of our own.
We believe also that, generally, the most learned of our divines. for a century after the Reformation, in treating either of regeneration or baptism, considered internal and spiritual regeneration to be so connected with baptism, so to spring from it, and to be communicated in it, as well as be signified by it, that, unhesitatingly, and without any argument, when they are simply stating their creed, they assume this connexion as a principle of their divinity, and proceed to justify it only when they are writing to meet the objections of persons without the church. Within the pale of their communion, it is, as far as we are acquainted with the best writers of our church, an acknowledged article. As the great body of Christians to whom they wrote, and of whom they wrote, were such as had been baptised in infancy, it follows that their theology did not leave infants who had been brought to baptism in an unregenerate state. The rite is spoken of by them as the fountain of Christian life, not partially, but in unrestricted terms. Its value was both comprehensive and spiritual: it was the beginning of a new life, that new life a Christian one, and the beginning of that new life to all. As an example of this prompt and immediate reference of regeneration to baptism, without any question or suspicion as if the point needed to be made out, we shall quote a passage, among many others, which inight be taken from other eminent writers, from the learned and accurate Joseph Mede. In a discourse upon these words, do λουτρού παλιγγενεσίας και ανακαινώσεως πνεύματος αγίου, Titus iii. 5, he begins, "These words, as it is easie to conceive upon the first heur. ing, are spoken of baptism.'--Works, folio, p. 62.*
The writers whom we have hitherto quoted are all subsequent to the Reformation. Since they wrote after the time when the Liturgy and Articles were published, they are the most fair expositors of the sense of what was published. In this view, they are to be preferred to the first reformers themselves : for it is not every thing which those reformers wrote, or maintained, that passed into the formularies of the church. They made some changes in their separate opinions; and it is not to be believed that ultimately they were in absolute agreement, on every single point, with each other. But that which, with joint consent, and by authority, they framed and published as the standard of our national faith, that is the thing we have to examine. And since a text must be written and fixed, before it can be expounded, we consider the most severe and exact of the divines, who wrote with the text of the church doctrine before them, immediately after the final promulgation of the Liturgy and
* The object of the discourse is to show that the arriscozo, or thing signified by wa. ter in baptism, is the Holy Spirit, and not the blood of Christ.
Articles, and who were entirely in the confidence of the cause, (such were Jewel and Hooker, the one the defender of it against those whom we had left, the other those who left us,) as the most distinct and best informed expositors of that which had previously been promulgated.
The promulgation to which we refer was that made at the beginning of Elizabeth's reign by the Act of Uniformity, when the Book of Common Prayer was set forth, revised, and improved, including the Office of Infant Baptism, and the Catechism, as they now stand, excepting that, in the Catechism, the part which treats separately of the sacraments was not then compiled, but was added after the conference at Hampton Court, in the reign of James 1.* The Common Prayer was set forth in the first year of Elizabeth's reign, anno 1559. Jewel's Apologie was published in 1562,1 in Latin. In 1564, in English, (by a translator worthy to be classed with the excellent Lady Jane Grey.) It was a work originally undertaken at the request of Archbishop Parker and his colleagues ; was reviewed by them, and came out, as Strype says, 'to the abundant establishment of this reformed church upon antiquity-Fathers and Councils, and the word of God.' The Defence of it, from which we have quoted, was published within a few years after, and this Defence may be reckoned, perhaps, the most accurately digested system of reformned doctrine, as far as it goes, the most scrupulously and deliberately worded, which our church produced in its debate with the Church of Rome. His treatise on the Sa craments was gathered out of sermons delivered by him from the year 1559, in his cathedral. The exactness of Hooker, as a competent witness to the meaning of our church, needs not to be insisted on. With these two may be joined another writer, contemporary with each of them, and equally worthy of our confidence as an explainer of our authorized doctrine, Alexander Nowel. His Catechism, published in 1570, had the express sanction of convocation.
* The Office of Baptism for those of Riper Years was added after the Restoration, in 1661.
+ The Articles were agreed upon by the Synod of 1562, and published in the following year. Jewel's Apologie was written therefore and published just before them. But his Defence of the Apologie, which is a more extended commentary upon his former work, and a vindication of it, came out a few years after the Articles. His first work is concurrent in time with the Articles, and approved by those persons who digested the Articles; his second is a commentary upon
both, Burnet in his History of the Reformation places the publication of this work in the year 1560. See his account of that year, vol. iii. p. 211. But this is an oversight, as may be seen by consulting Jewel's own letter in the records, and Strype's Life of Archbishop Parker, p. 99.
Strype says of it, But now in June, in this year, (viz. 1570,) by the diligence of the archbishop, such a catechism (a Latin one) came forth, dedicated, for the more countenance of it, to the archbisbops and bishops of the realm. The author was a very