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years that something better is now found out, which will answer the purpose without it-I mean a new birth. That there is a new birth in the Scripture, and that it is necessary to Salvation, no man can deny; for, saith our Saviour, "except a man be born again of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven *.” There is then a new birth of the spirit; but as water is mentioned with it, it must mean the new birth in Christian Baptism. There is also a Regeneration spoken of by St. Paul t: but as it is called the washing of Regeneration, this also must refer to the water of Baptism. The Church of England follows this doctrine of the Scripture, and understands Regeneration as the gift of God in Baptism; for this is the language of the Church in the office: “We yield Thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased Thee to regenerate this infant with thy Holy Spirit.” Regeneration therefore is the work of the Holy Spirit in Baptism : and neither the Scripture nor the Church give us any encouragement to believe, that Christians are ever baptized by the hearing of a Sermon. If it be said that the presence
* John iii. 5.
+ Titus iii 5
of the Spirit of God cannot be without the effect of Regeneration ; and that every person who has the Spirit of God, must be born of God; this is not accurate Divinity; even allowing them to have the Spirit as they say. For the gift of the Spirit may be one thing, and Regeneration may be another.
be another. When the Holy Ghost fell on them that heard the word, this was the effect of preaching: but the Apostle commanded those very persons to be baptised with water, although they had received the Holy Ghost * Therefore the receiving of the Holy Ghøst, so far as this is the effect of preaching, is different from what is done in Baptism, and is not what is meant by Regeneration, or the New Birth. If it can be shewn, that the Gospel any where
promises a New Birth, independent of Baptism, we will believe it : but as the Church could never find it, we never shall; and they that teach it, and say there is experience for it, have no warrant from the Scripture.
A famous Preacher of late times, who believed, and pleaded for, all the extraordinary symptoms of a New Birth, refers us for the reality of it to numbers of people who
* Acts X. 47.
had experience of it. “ Ask them,” says he, “ they will not deceive you. But supposing they are deceived themselves, they will in that case deceive us also ; and it is no wonder if they should; for most men are inclined to repeat a story which magnifies themselves; and their teachers are willing that they should repeat it, for it magnifies them too * These. facts, whether true or false, are attended with a mistake. The conversion of the mind to a sober and goldy life is here confounded with a New Birth ; and the tendency of this is to depreciate the means of Grace'; which enthusiasm never fails to do: but Conversion and Regeneration are never confounded in the Scripture : they are different things, and the one may
be without the other. Infants are subjects of Regeneration in Baptism; but they are not capable of Conversion : nor do they want it, being already in that simple unas
* The like wonders were boasted of by the Puritans of the last century; whose ministry, as it is noted by Merick Casaubon, produced in their followers “ first desperation, or somewhat very near to it; then grounded upon it. That this is the only way is an in. vention of their own, which I think hath more of policy in it, in the first inventors and abettors, than of ignorance." Casaubon on Credulity and Incredulity, p. 193.
suming suming state of mind, to which grown persons are to be converted, and become as little children * Baptism is one of the necessary means of Grace: it is the gift of God: no man can make it, or substitute any thing else in the place of it: but if he wishes to raise a party, and make a Church of his own, he will depreciate Baptism, and teach you how you may do without it, by finding a sort of conversion, which will answer the same end. He will lead you from outward means to inward testimonies: texts will be misapplied ; and the evidences of Christianity will all be reduced to personal experience; of which experience another person knows nothing, and in which the person himself
be grossly mistaken. The consequences are very bad; for some think they have this experience, and proceed with confidence to farther errors: others wish for it in vain, and not being able to perceive it, fall into despair, and sometimes into distraction; they are left without the witness which they are taught to expect, and therefore think they are lost. But the witness which the Scripture teaches, is that of faith and a good conscience : faith is the witness to
ourselves; and obedience, which is the fruit of it, is the witness to others. In this doctrine there is no danger.
Before I conclude, let me forewarn you, that good people are in danger (perhaps in most danger) of being imposed upon by strange appearances; supposing them to be new, when they are not. Above two hundred years ago, the party that began to trouble this kingdom, and at length completed its ruin, began with setting up the spirit, and decrying the order and authority both of Church and State. The people that troubled the Christian Church, in its earliest days, were always of the same fashion : they never failed to despise government, and taught their followers to do the same*. They boasted of superior gifts in praying, preaching, and converting: but the Apostle seitled that argument for ever with the Church of Corinth. They were disputing, and dividing themselves into parties, upon the reputation of their gifts: but he shewed them, that although it was a good thing to have good gifts, there was a more excellent way of salvation, the way of peace and charity; without which all their
2 Pet. ii. 10. Jude 8.