« AnteriorContinuar »
What were the sentiments of this divine may be seen by these
'Aqua-Effigies quidem est, sed minime inanis, aut fallax, ut cui rerum ipsarum veritas adjuncta sit atque annexa. Nam sicuti Deus peccatorum condonationem et vita novitatem nobis vere in baptismo offert, ita a nobis certo recipiuntur. Absit enim ut Deum vanis nos imaginibus ludere atque frustrari putemus.
M. An gratiam hanc omnes communiter et promiscue consequuntur ? A. Soli fideles hunc fructum percipiunt.
M. Quum infantes hæc, quæ commemoras prætare non possunt, qui fit ut illi baptizentur?
A. Ut fides et pænitentia baptismum præcedant, tantum in adultis, qui per ætatem sunt utriusque capaces, exigitur, infantibus vero promissio ecclesiæ facta per Christum, in cujus fide baptizantur, in præsens satis erit, &c. &c.
'M. Perge adhuc.
A. Cum infantes nostros vim et quasi substantiam baptismi communem nobiscum habere certum sit, illis injuria fieret, si signum quod veritate est inferius ipsis negaretur, &c. Itaque æquissimum est ut parvulis nostris divinæ gratiæ atque salutis fidelium semini promissæ, hæredes se esse, baptismo, impresso quasi sigillo, testatum fiat.'-p. 142-145. ed. 1570. p. 214-218. ed. Oxon. in Enchirid. Theol. 12mo.
It has been with the wish of taking such testimony only as is most in point, and most precise, that we have selected writers who came immediately after the Reformation was established: and we have selected for that purpose the three who are confessedly the most distinguished and the best accredited writers of that age.
The appeal to writers preceding that era would not give us an evidence quite so conclusive. The great earlier fathers of the English Church do, however, agree very much, as far as we have examined the detail of their works, in speaking the same sentiments as those we have already adduced. They say the same thing, only with more strength of language, which is their manner. Cranmer in his Catechism of 1548.
The first of the sacraments is baptism, by which we be born again to a new and heavenly life, and be received into God's church and congregation, which is the foundation and pillar of truth.
2d. Without the word of God water is water and not baptism. But when the word of the living God is added and joined to the water, then it is the bath of regeneration and baptism water, and the living spring learned man, viz. Alexander Nowel, Dean of St. Paul's, London. It had passed through the review and correction of that Synod, and had their full approbation. The Dean sent the copy at first to Secretary Cecil, to whom he had dedicated it; and in his hands it lay till it was offered into the bishops, assembled in the said convocation, as men most meet to judge and allow, or disallow such matters. They allowed it, and so did the Lower House, who subscribed it, as Nowel himself writ, in a letter to the said secretary, when he sent him the Catechism printed.'-Life of Archbishop Parker, p. 301.
of eternal salvation, and a bath that washeth our souls by the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul calleth it, saying, God hath saved us through his mercy by the bath of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, &c.'
1st. And the second birth is by the water of baptism, which Paul calleth the bath of regeneration, because our sins be forgiven us in baptism, and the Holy Ghost is poured into us as into God's beloved children, so that by the power and working of the Holy Ghost we be born again spiritually and be made new creatures. And so by baptism we enter into the kingdom of God, and shall be saved for ever, if we continue to our lives end in the faith of Christ.-Sermon on baptism in the Catechism, p. 291, Octavo. London. 1809.
Lancelot Ridley in his Commentary on the Ephesians is equally strong and explicit.-chap. v. 25-27.
Bradford, although some of his opinions may sound another way, yet says,Now to the question: a man regenerate, (which we ought to believe of ourselves, I mean that we are so by our baptism,) the sacrament thereof requiring no less faith,' &c.
We are aware at the same time that among the earliest Protestant teachers in our country, there are some who do not treat of this subject in the same manner; but their separate opinions are not binding upon us, and so far as those opinions differ from other doctrines actually incorporated into the Liturgy, and Articles, they are not only null in authority, but must be considered, in our present inquiry, as erroneous.
We shall conclude this part of our statement, respecting the belief expressed by our church of the spiritual value of baptism, by a brief notice of those words subjoined to the baptismal office. It is certain by God's word that children who are baptised, dying before they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly saved.' Now if they are undoubtedly saved, it should seem, prima facie, that they are undoubtedly regenerate. For although it be possible that some shall be saved who are not regenerate, (as infants not brought to baptism, or within the covenant,) yet to affirm as an undoubted truth, that baptised infants will be saved presupposes a certainty of their present state being essentially different from that of infants in general. If they are unbaptised they may be saved: if they are baptised, and freed from the evil of original sin, they may be saved. But to make it impossible that they should not be saved, all our divinity would lead us to suppose they have the entire gift of that renovated being, which is not only absolved from sin, but quickened to eternal life.
The rigorous certainty of this inference may be questioned: and we wish not to rely upon subtilties of explanation. We put it therefore only as a fair and probable one, to be accepted or not as any one may choose.
By way of corollary to this part, we shall add a few extracts from the Confessions of some of the foreign reformed churches., It is unnecessary for us to say that we do this neither to show what the doctrine of our Church is, nor to place it upon a stronger ground of authority. We do not require any foreign aid either to ascertain or uphold our own belief. It may be natural to ask how other churches have thought, or determined, on any given point: but the inquiry is one of a reasonable curiosity, and nothing more. The communication of our own reformers with foreign divines might have a great influence in making up their mind on many questions. We know also that some parts of our earliest books of public reformed instruction were copied from works adopted abroad. Still, it is the actual decision, put into form, and established by authority among us, that is the one exclusive standard of our uniformity. Who would venture to judge of the meaning of any man's distinct affirmation, by collecting what other persons had said to him before he made it? And we speak of the creeds of foreign churches under this reserve, not because of any great discrepancy between theirs and ours on the subject now before us, but simply to assign to them their proper place, which is a very retired one, when we are inquiring into the sense of our own tenets. They are members of the universal church, and they have the substance of reformed truth among them. On that account they deserve to be held in esteem among us. Many of them were in the truth of Christ before us: on that account, too, they must always be mentioned with honour. They instructed our infant church, and they gave a home to its dispersed members, in persecution and exile. This is another claim to them upon our grateful memory. Far from wishing to undervalue them, we have cause to thank the Giver of all truth for those exertions which they made to restore the purity of the Gospel among themselves, and for the services of support, counsel, instruction, and encouragement which they afforded to us while labouring in the same cause. But this kind of regard does not lead us to accept them as arbiters or witnesses in our own doctrine.
One of the most venerable of the foreign creeds is that which was presented by the Protestant German Princes and States to the Emperor Charles V. in the year 1530, at Augsburg, drawn up by Melancthon, in their joint name; and commonly called the Confession of Augsburg. One article of it is this:-Ecclesiæ magno consensu apud nos (which is the common formula prefixed to all the articles) ix. De Baptismo docent, quod necessarius sit ad salutem, tanquam ceremonia a Christo instituta. Et quod per baptismum offeratur gratia Dei: et quod infantes sint baptizandi: et quod infantes per baptismum Deo commendati, recipiantur in
gratiam Dei, et fiant filii Dei, sicut Christus testatur, loquens de parvulis in Ecclesia, Matt. xviii. Non est voluntas Patris vestri qui in cœlis est, ut pereat unus ex parvulis istis.
Damnant Anabaptistas qui improbant Baptismum infantum, et affirmant infantes sine Baptismo et extra Ecclesiam Christi salvos fieri.
In the Saxon Confession, the Article XIV. de Baptismo is long: the last clause of it is as follows.
Retinemus et infantum baptismum: quia certissimum est, promissionem gratiæ etiam ad infantes pertinere et ad eos tantùm qui Ecclesiæ inseruntur. Quia de his dictum est; Sinite parvulos ad me venire, quia talium est regnum cœlorum. Et origenes scribit in 6 cap. ad Rom. Ecclesiam ab Apostolis accepisse morem baptizandi infantes. Nec judicamus hunc morem tantùm otiosam cæremoniam esse, sed vere tunc a Dev recipi et sanctificari infantes; quia tunc inseruntur Ecclesiæ, et ad tales promissio pertinet. Extant autem de hac re multa scripta in nostris Ecclesiis edita, quibus refutantur Anabaptistæ. This confession was presented in the name of the Saxon Churches, at the Council of Trent, in the year 1552.
The Heidelberg Catechism: art. 73. Cur ergo Spiritus Sanctus Baptismum appellat lavacrum regenerationis, et ablutionem peccatorum?
Deus non sine gravi causa sic loquitur: videlicet, non solum ut nos doceat, quemadmodum sordes corporis aqua purgantur, sic peccata nostra, sanguine et Spiritu Christi expiari: verum multo magis, ut nobis hoc divino symbolo ac pignore certum faciat, nos non minus vere a peccatis nostris interna lotione ablui, quam externa et visibili aqua abluti sumus.
274. Sunt ne etiam infantes baptizandi?
Omnino. Nam cum æque atque adulti ad foedus et ecclesiam Dei pertineant, cumque eis per sanguinem Christi, remissio peccatorum, et Spiritus Sanctus fidei effector, non minus quam adultis promittatur, per baptismum discernendi, itidem ut in veteri fœdere per circumcisionem fiebat, cui in novo foedere substitutus est baptismus.
The *Helvetic Confession, published in 1556, concludes its article De Sancto Baptismo, thus: Damnamus Anabaptistas, qui negant baptizandos esse infantulos recens natos a fidelibus. Nam juxta doctrinam Evangelicam, horum est regnum Dei et sunt in fædere Dei: cur itaque non daretur eis signum fœderis Dei? Cur non per sanctum baptisma initiarentur, qui sunt peculium et in Ecclesia Dei?
*It expressed the consent of the ministers of the following churches: Zurich, Berne, Schaffhausen, St. Gall, the Grisons, Milhausen, and Bienne; to which was added, that of Geneva,
These several Confessions present to us a very general agreement with our own. The preface to the last of them adverts to this agreement.
Last of all, we ought perhaps, in this train of secondary illus-.. tration, to add some part of the evidence of agreement between our church and the primitive fathers on the same head. But this we shall decline: we have been too prolix already. The theological reader (if any such should look at these pages) who may desire to see that evidence, will have no great trouble in finding it -it is both abundant and clear. Perhaps he may think their language rather too strong. He certainly will have no cause to think that the Church of England, in asserting spiritual regeneration by baptism, has said more than they have done.
We have hitherto not entered into any consideration of the scriptural grounds upon which this doctrine is maintained by our church, and we shall not now do it, because we have no desire on this occasion to do more than ascertain and state the doctrine itself. The debate upon it has been between members of our communion; and unless a question be raised of the truth and soundness of the Baptismal service, the argument does not require that those grounds should now be considered and defended: and if it did, it were a service worthy of a more dignified vindication than could be given to it in our fugitive journal. Some light, however, on this distinct subject also, may be had in those stores of theological learning to which we have already referred-the works of Jewel, Hooker, and Taylor; or in the older works of Cranmer, Philpott, and L. Ridley, reformers. To a fair and candid person, who wishes for the simplest and not least satisfactory information, without creating controversy either to himself or others, we should beg to recommend a perusal of the Baptismal Office. Without presuming to say that he must see in that office a sound scriptural character, or ought to see it, we yet shall hope that such may be his conviction. We have observed that in the course of the agitation of this question, two or three causes of doubt have occurred to some who perhaps would never have doubted what was the sense of the Service, had they considered it by itself, and not adverted to those surmises of objection from without. We profess not to attempt the regular investigation of them; yet a most sincere desire to contribute, if by our hasty remarks we could contribute any thing to the satisfaction of any single person's mind on such a subject, induces us to bestow a few words upon them: addressing our
*Colligent itaque et illud (sc. æqui lectores) nos a sanctis Christi Ecclesiis, Germaniæ, Galliæ, Angliæ, aliarumque in orbe Christiano nationum, nefario schismate, non sejungere, at que abrumpere: sed cum ipsis omnibus et singulis in hac confesse veritate Christiana, probe consentire, ipsasque charitate syncera compleçti.