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baptism are under the wrath of God, until they be. come also the subjects of a succeeding conversion; it may be proper to state the scriptural meaning of this substantive, and of its correlative verb-to convert."

Neither of them is used in the New Testament, otherwise than as applied to a change either from heathenism to Christianity; or from a sinful state of mind or conduct, to its opposite. The substan: tive appears only in acts, xv. 3; where we read of St. Paul and Śt. Barnabas, that they passed through Phænicia and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles." The verb, in its various inflections, is used in four passages-Matt. xiv. 15. -Matt. xviii. 3.*--Luke, xxxii. 32.-James, v. 19, 20. Doubtless, the true sense of these texts is contained in many others, under a variety of expression; and especially in all those, which call sinners to repentance. But such texts are not usually misapplied, to the support of the sentiment here rejected.

In the lecture, the primitive Church was mentioned, as testifying to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. That the fathers of the Church uniformly make use of language to this effect, is so generally conceded, as to dispense with the neces. sity of reciting passages from their works. The present author does not recollect a single instance of the opposite opinion, ascribed to any early writer; until, on reading Dr. Doddridge's postscript to his Sermons on Regeneration, he found this worthy and learned man acknowledging, that the fathers from about the middle of the second century, speak as here represented; but denying that this is universally the case. The only instance, however, which he alleges to the contrary, is from Clement

• The repetitions in the other evangelists and in the Acts, of the passage of the Old Testament there quoted, are con. sidered as making one with this place.

of Alexandria; * who, speaking of a sinful woman, holds out the hope of salvation to her, in the event of her being regenerated. Great was the surprise, at learning this solitary exception to the sense of antiquity; until, on consultation of the work of the Greek Father, he was perceived evidently to be speaking not of a baptized, but of a Jewish wo. man: which it is here supposed will be seen to be the mcaning of Clement, on a reference to the place.it

When the language of the fathers is spoken of as uniform to the present point, it must be under. stood with the exception of their applying of the term “Regeneration," to the renewal of the visible universe; conformably to the use of the same word in Mart. xix. 28, as explained above. And the ex. planation which has been given of that text derives considerable weight from the passages now referred to, in the writings of the fathers.

So incorporated was the doctrine with the creed of the primitive Church; that when St. Austin introduced into theology some doctrines confessedly not taught by the fathers who went before him, he hesitated to pursue them into their consequences, in reference to the present subject, and at the expense of what he must have known to have been held always and every where. Under the pressure

* Stromata, lib. ii.

+ Why should Dr. Doddridge have taken his stand froin the middle of the second century? Justin, who wrote rather before that date, cannot be denied to have been express to the point, in his Apology: which, considering the reputation of the work, ought to be considered, not so much the ex.pression of the sense of an individual, as of that of the Church through him. Even of the scanty remains of authors between the apo tles and Justin, there are not wanting expressions to the same effect: and as for any thing militating with the sentiment, no such matter has ever been alleged.

In any mention which may be made of the aforesaid work of Dr. Doddridge, it is not intended to deny, that there is therein much edifying malter; nor to lessen the weight of it on any person's mind.

of this difficulty, he started the singular notion, that in baptism, God

gave

all

grace except the grace of perseverance.

Some Christian divines, finding the current of antiquity to be against them in this particular, have set up the distinction, that what may have been proper language in the prior days of the primitive Church, is full of danger in the present; because of the great number of baptized infidels, and of evil livers among professing Christians. But there were no times, in which lamentations were not made over the many, who violated their baptismal covenant. The most remarkable complaints of this sort, relate to the latter half of the third century: and a mournful specimen of them may be seen in the first chapter of the eighth book of the History of Eusebius. But within this term, piety abounded also: and its interests were not held to be injured by a continuance of the language, which had been always applied to baptism.

In the lecture, the Catechism was considered as unequivocally teaching the doctrine here illustrated. But it may be proper, in further evidence of the sense of the Church, to cite other of her institutions.

In the office for the baptism of infants, there is put up a prayer. “ for the sanctifying of the water to the mystical washing away of sin:” after the affusion, the congregation are addressed in the words “Seeing now that this child is regenerate and grafted into the body of Christ's Church:” and thanks are offered to Almighty God—" that it hath pleased him to regenerate this infant with his Holy Spirit.” The sentiment is also sustained, in the office for the baptism of adults. And in like manner, the office for confirmation recognizes the subjects of it, as having been regenerated in baptism. And in the visitation of the sick, the address of the minister is predicated on the supposition of a state of grace, unless the person addressed have fallen from it: in which case, there is an exhortation to repentance and a turning to God; but there is no call to regeneration.

Of the Articles, the Twenty-fifth and the Twenty: seventh are to the purpose: the former defining Sacraments to be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace: and the latter defining baptism, not only a sign of profession and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are dis. cerned from others that are not christened; but also a sign of regeneration or new birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly, are grafted into the Church: the promise of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God, are visibly signed and sealed.” That this strong language could not have been exclu. sively designed of adults, appears in the Article's going on to affirm the baptism of young children to be agreeable to the word of God: thus applying to them all that had gone before.

Of the Homilies, there shall be referred to only that entitled “Of Salvation:" Part the Third. The said Homily, in opening the important doctrine of justifieation, uses the words “justified” and “ baptized," as synonymous.

From the Common Prayers, also, one instance shall suffice. It is in the Collect for Christmas day; in which we pray to God, that “ being made his children by adoption and grace, we may daily be renewed by his Holy Spirit.” To suppose this a prayer for regeneration, would be contrary not only to grammar, but to common sense. Such a prayer would be unsuitable, to Christian people; all of whom would be thus implied to be in an unre. generate state. Therefore the words must be construed, as having first a retrospect to grace receiv- . ed in baptism; and then, a prospective view to daily renewal: agreeably to what is said “our inward man is renewed day by day."*

* 2 Cor. iv. 16.

The present subject is the more important, as it enters into the grounds on which infant baptism should be defended. Many who consider the Abra. hamick and the Mosaick covenants as involving spi. ritual promises, and who extol this as an immense benefit to the infant subjects of the ordinance of circumcision, are obliged by their systems to confine the benefit to the putting of them in the way of future conversion or regeneration.

On this ground, it is difficult to perceive wherein the benefit consisted; since uncircumcised infants might have been furnished with religious instruction, and with any other probable mean of becom. ing in future the objects of divine approbation.

So, in regard to baptized infants; there seems, on these principles, to attach no benefit to the claim made on their behalf, to the rite of baptism. For a religious denier of infant baptism may say, that his children will have the benefit of needful instruction, no less than if he had stipulated to bestow it on them, before the Church; and that if, by his instructions or by any other mean, their minds should become impressed by religious sentiment, the door of conversion is not the less open to them, because of their not having been subjected in infancy to the transaction in question; whether it be an unauthorized ceremony, or a divinely instituted rite. Accordingly, whatever importance may be attached to the controversy concerning infant baptism, because of the authority on which it is affirmed to rest; it makes nothing to the other point, of benefit said to accrue from it to the infant.

But to revert to the subject of the Abrahamick Covenant: it may be well to consider, whether the promise-"I will be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee,” can be said to have involved any spiritual benefit; unless this extended to the favour of God- not to be forfeited without a future life of sin. The promise is still more inconsistent with the contrary theory; when it involves a saving grace,

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