« AnteriorContinuar »
of regeneration is common to all that are baptised in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ; but the grace itself, bèlonging to the sacrament, by which the members of the body of Christ are reyenerate with their head, is not common to afl.-*
“ St. Chrysostom observes, Many are baptised with water, who are not baptized with the Holy Ghost; they seem to be the sons of God in respect of their baptism, but, indeed, they are not the sons of God, because they are not baptized with the Holy Ghost.'t
" St. Jerome has a similar passage, in his Commentary on the third chapter of the Galatians.
6 The remark of Hooker, is very justly and powerfully expressed : “ They (the sacraments) contain in themselves no vital force or efficacy; 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 sacrament of his grace.'I There are other passages, where he speaks very strongly of the grace consequent on the use of the sacraments, but he is always to be understood as limiting their application to the persons of believers. Nay, so explicit is he in annexing the promise of the grace to the fulfilment of the required conditions, that he does not scruple, in another part, to declare, ‘he which is not a Christian before he come to receive baptism, cannot be made a Christian by baptism; which is only the seal of the grace of God before received." "S
To the above quotations might be added, a very conclusive remark from Bishop Latimer, one of the Reformers.
66 Christ saith,” he observes, except a man be born again from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.' He must have a regeneration : and what is this regeneration? It is not to be christened in water (as these firebrands expound it,) and nothing else. How is it to be expounded then ? St. Peter sheweth, that one place of Scripture declareth another. It is the circumstance and collation of places that make Scripture plain. St. Peter
* Omnes eundem potum spiritualem biberunt, sed non in omnibus bene placitum est Deo : et cum essent omnia communia sacramenta, non communis erat omnibus gratia, quæ sacramentorum virtus est. Sicut et nunc, jam revelata fide quæ tunc velabatur, omnibus innomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti baptizatis commune est lavacrum regenerationis, sed ipsa gratia, cujus sunt sacramenta quâ membra corporis Christi cum suo copite regenerala sunt, non communis est omnibus.
# See his fifth Homily on St. Matthew.
Ibid, p. 276.
saith,' we be born again. How? Not by a mortal seed, but by an immortal.'. What is this immortal seed? By the word of the living God, by the word of God preached and opened : thus cometh in our new birth."*
Latimer here attributes regeneration to its true source, to the efficacy of God's word on the heart and conscience; and, by his sarcastic remark, evidently considers the doctrine of a baptismal and spiritual regeneration as a Popish error, the opus operatum of the Church of Rome.
The part of Mr. Daubeny's work, in which he most discovers the error of his doctrinal sentiments, is, where he asserts that the faith which justifies, is neither naturally nor necessarily productive of good works, and that there may be even a firm belief in Christ, as the whole and sole cause of salvation," which may convey to the professing party his original interest in the merits of Christ ; and which, nevertheless, may be unfruitful and inoperative.
In reference to this remark, Mr. Richmond observes, “on a right understanding of this doctrine, and of its real efficacy on the heart of the believer, stands the very foundation of pure and undefiled religion. No point can be more clearly laid down by our Reformers and early divines, than that it is one and the same faith, which unites us to Christ—which justifies—which saves—which gives to the penitent and believing sinner his title to the heavenly inheritance-and which purifies and renders him meet for the possession of it.” To prove that the faith which justifies is not inoperative, he then refers largely to the book of Homilies, from which we select the following passages.
“ The right and true Christian faith is, not only to believe that holy Scripture, and all the aforesaid articles of our faith, are true; but also to have a sure trust and confidence in God's merciful promises, to be saved from everlasting damnation by Christ: whereof doth follow a loving heart, to obey his commandments.
“ Faith doth not lie dead in the heart, but is lively and fruita ful, in bringing forth good works. S
“ As the light cannot be hid, but will shew forth itself, at one place or other; so a true faith cannot be kept secret; but, when occasion is offered, it will break out, and shew itself by good works.
* Fathers of the English Church, vol. 2, p. 654. | Vindiciæ Ecclesiæ
Anglicanæ, p. 350. | Homily on Salvation, p. 25.
Homily on Faith, first part, p. 29. See also the Homily on Faith and Good Works for all the subsequent quotations.
so There be two kinds of faith : a dead and unfruitful faith ; and a faith lively, that worketh by charity. The first is unprofitable: the second necessary for the obtaining of our salvation : the which faith hath charity always joined unto it; and is fruitful, and bring eth forth all good works.
“ The true, lively, and Christian faith, is no dead, vain, or unfruitful thing; but a thing of perfect virtue, of wonderful operation or working, and strength, bringing forth all good motions and good works.
“Now, forasmuch as he that believeth in Christ hath everlasting life, it must needs, consequently, follow, that he that hath this faith, must have also good works, and be studious to observe God's commandments obediently.
“ As soon as a man hath faith, anon he shall flourish in good works; for faith of itself is full of good works, and nothing is good without faith.
In the works of Tindal the reformer, there is the following description of the true, justifying faith, as contra-distinguished from a mere notional and professional faith.
Right faith is a thing wrought by the Holy Ghost in us, which changeth us, turneth us into a new nature, and begetteth us anew in God, and maketh us the sons of God; and killeth the old Adam, and maketh us altogether new in the heart, mind, will, lust, and in all other affections and powers of the soul: the Holy Ghost ever accompanying her, and ruling the heart. Faith is a lively thing : mighty in working, valiant and strong; ever doing, ever fruitful; so that it is impossible that he, which is endued therewith, should not work always good works, without ceasing."*
Without multiplying quotations from Cranmer, Jewell, Hooker, and others, we shall only add the testimony borne by the 12th Article. “ Albeit that good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God's judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith ; insomuch, that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known, as a tree discerned by the fruit."
We close these extracts with the following scriptural authorities :-" Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world ; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” — 1 John v. 4, 5. “Purifying their hearts by faith.”-Acts xv. 9. “Faith, which worketh by love.”—Gal. v. 6. Many other passages might be quoted : see John i. 12, 13; iii. 36 ; v. 24; Heb. xi.
* See Fathers of the English Church, vol. i. p. 51.
We should not have indulged in these lengthened remarks, were it not from the conviction that the doctrinal errors, which have been specified, are far from being confined to the name of the late Archdeacon Daubeny (whom we would here wish to mention with all the tenderness of respect due to his character and virtues ;) but that they still exist to no inconsiderable extent. It is impossible not to admit, that on the subject of faith and works, there is a great indistinctness and ambiguity of language; much misconception as to their order and precedence, and that the nature and properties of a justifying faith are not sufficiently distinguished from a mere notional faith, or speculative assent of the understanding unaccompanied by any of its genuine effects on the heart and life. Yet if this doctrine, as it has been asserted by one of its inost celebrated champions,* be the " articulus stantis vel cadentis Ecclesiæ," that important article of faith, on the right understanding of which every church must stand or fall, how can we contemplate the existence of so fundamental an error, in any of the ministers of our own church, without the most anxious forebodings as to its ultimate consequences ?
Again, if we are told that in baptism all are regenerated, though we see thousands who have been baptized exhibiting no traces of a renewed heart or holy life, how can we reconcile the contrariety of the fact with the existence of the principle, or with the positive déclaration of Scripture, “ whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him ; and he cannot sin (that is to say, cannot wilfully and habitually sin,) because he is born of God?”—1 John iii. 9. To refer the members of the visible church to regeneration at baptism, as alone sufficient to accredit their pretensions to the Christian character, is, in the judgment of Mr. Richmond, and of the writer of this memoir, to present a fatal opiate to their consciences, and to nullify a most solemn and necessary admonition (given, let it be observed, to the baptized,)“ Examine yourselves, whether
be in the faith."-2 Cor. xiii. 5. It is much to be lamented that Mr. Richmond never undertook the exposure of these errors, and of others that might be mentioned, on a more extended scale ; fitted as he was for the task, by his extensive research, his matured experience, his ac
knowledged powers, and the benignity of his character. We cannot furnish a stronger evidence of the Christian spirit, divested of all party feeling, that would have influenced him in the execution of such a work, than in laying before the reader the concluding passages of his Review. After having vindicated the construction, attributed by Mr. Overton to the Articles of the Church of England, of a modified Calvinism, remote from all objectionable extremes, he bursts forth into the following animated and Christian strain.
“ Are then the doctrines of the Church of England to be considered as Calvinistic ?—Certainly not; if by that expression the assertion of all Calvin's peculiarities is intended. Are they then Arminian ?-No, by no means; if a similar mode of defining that term is to be employed. But are we hence to infer that none are to be admitted within the pale of the church, who think either with the one or the other of these eminent divines, on the points at issue between them? This would be a very unfounded conclusion. The qualifications requisite to form a sound member of the Church of England do not by any means turn on the avowal or rejection of the peculiar dogmas of Calvin or Arminius. Who, may we not ask, is Calvin ? or, who is Arminjus? Were they crucified for us, or were we baptized in their name? We have only one master, to whom we owe subjection, even Christ.
Do we believe and rely on him as our only Saviour? Are we humbled before God, under a deep sense of our sinfulness, and of our innumerable transgressions of his law? Conscious of merited wrath, are we making Jesus Christ our sole refuge; and is our every hope of pardon, acceptance, and final salvation, founded on his obedience, sacrifice, mediation, and intercession ? Conscious of our natural ignorance and weakness, are we exercising an habitual dependence on the Holy Spirit for light and strength? Through his power, are we striving to be delivered from all sin, and to obtain the renewal of our hearts to holiness after the image of God? Are we living as those ought to do, who are looking for death and judgment, and who are candidates for a heavenly crown? obeying Christ as our supreme Lord? Is love to God the
predominant affection of our souls; and does it produce the fruit of cheerful, unremitting, and unreserved obedience ? Do we feel the force of gratitude to our God and Saviour inciting us to the cultivation of all holy, heavenly, and devout affections; and to the performance of every civil, social and relative duty ? Are we at the same time diligently using the means which God has instituted in his church for our growth in grace, and advance