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Roman Catholics, in teaching the pernicious heresy of baptismal regeneration.
"The true baptism" is an instructive institution of our Lord Jesus Christ, for believers of his gospel and their children. In this ordinance, the washing of the body with water, by pouring, bathing, or sprinkling, indicates the necessity of spiritual purification, and universal holiness of life, through the grace of the Holy Spirit. The "divers washings," (Heb. ix. 10,) and "doctrine of baptisms," (vi. 2,) among the Israelites, had the same general design as instituted by Moses. And thus "John did baptise in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins," Mark i. 4: thus, also, the apostles taught the typical design of the evangelical ceremony, that " baptism doth now save us, not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ," 1 Pet.
Christian ordinances have, however, been grievously corrupted from their original simplicity, even by the professed ministers of the gospel. For, early in the second century, many of them assuming, perhaps innocently at first, the character of priests, as succeeding to the order of Aaron, pretended, with a view to magnify their anti-Christian office, that the institutions, especially of baptism and the Lord's supper, were mysteries and sacraments, possessing, in the hands of the priesthood, a vital power inherent in them, or necessarily attached to them. With this delusion they imposed upon the people; but the same is now pretended concerning these or
dinances and their administrators, in the churches of Rome and of England.
Priestly authority and sacramental efficacy formed the two main pillars of popery; they were supported by the "traditions of the Fathers," but not by the New Testament; and these popish institutions having been retained in the Church of England, all its ministers, except the purer part of those who are evangelical in their doctrines, are now promulgating these heresies with extraordinary zeal, denying the ministerial character of all other Protestant pastors, and the virtue of Christian ordinances, as administered by them, particularly in this country.
Dr. Pusey, one of the chief leaders of the anti-evangelical clergy, who now zo zealously inculcate these heresies, declares: "Our justification is imputed to us, not through our feelings, but through baptism.”—“ The water sanctified is the womb of our new birth."-" Baptism is the mark of God upon us."-" Baptism is the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost."
Dr. Hales, one of the most eminent divines of the church, affirms: Baptism once administered, is effectual unto regeneration on God's part, and need not be repeated. The grant of regeneration subsists in force after baptism. Hence, our church rightly considers the baptized, whether infants or adults, immediately after the ceremony is performed, as regenerate, and grafted into the body of Christ's church."
Dr. Hales, and all high Churchmen, plead, in supporting this heresy of baptismal regeneration, the offices of their Liturgy; and all the tracts relating to baptism, published by the "So
ciety for Promoting Christian Knowledge," which is supported by the great body of the clergy and nobility, are perfectly conformable to them in this anti-scriptural principle.
Dr. Bloomfield, bishop of London, takes the ground of Dr. Pusey, regarding this revived popish heresy; and he declares, in his late "charge" to his clergy, "That regeneration does actually take place in baptism is most undoubtedly the doctrine of the Church of England. The doctrine of our church as to the Christian's spiritual life, has always appeared to me to be this: justification begins in baptism, when the children of wrath are regenerated by water and the Holy Ghost, and are made children of God."
Reflecting men, some of whom have yet been inclined to admit that unscriptural doctrine, have objected, that this sacramental virtue would be vitiated in the administration by an unholy minister; but the papists affirm, that the wickedness of the priests by no means prevents the efficacy of the sacraments. And this shocking principle has also been adopted as necessary to her priesthood, by the Church of England, whose Twenty-sixth Article, therefore, declares: "Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken away by their [ministers'] wickedness, nor the grace of God's gifts diminished from such as by faith rightly receive the sacraments."
of sacramental religion would render nugatory the Divine" ministry of reconciliation" in the preaching of "the glorious gospel of the blessed God." While, therefore, High Churchmen declare, that our ministers, not being episcopally ordained to a priesthood, in their pretended "apostolical suc cession," have no authority to baptize or to preach: we deny altogether their priestly assumptions as unscriptural; and confidently appeal, in justification of our ministerial office, and of our church practices, to the testimony of God in the New Testament, the only and infallible law of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Baptism, as instituted by our Saviour, as practised by his apostles, and as observed by the first Christians, was an emblem or representation of the purification of our souls by the grace of the Holy Spirit. "The true baptism" with water, indicated the saving baptism by the Spirit,-the necessity of spiritual regeneration, effected by means of the precious doctrine of the gospel; which, being plainly preached, and received by faith, enlightens the mind and sanctifies the heart, as the instrument of the Holy Spirit. Thus the apostle declares, that "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the word," Eph. v. 25, 26. Thus, through the ministry of the gospel, as made
Against all these priestly assump-effectual by the Spirit, "God hath tions, and sacramental perversions of the simple ordinances of Jesus Christ, Dissenters solemnly protest, declaring them to be no part of Christianity; they have no sanction in the teaching of the apostles; they are corruptions derived from popery. Such a system
saved us according to his mercy, by the washing of regeneration," not of baptism," and renewing of the Holy Ghost," Tit. iii. 5. Thus, also, the once abominable Corinthians: “And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye
are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God," 1 Cor. vi. 11.
Belief of the gospel, as the good seed of the word of God, the proper medium by which the Divine Spirit acts on the human mind, is the only means of regeneration and salvation, as taught in the Scriptures: hence our Saviour declares, without the least reference to water baptism, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life," John tii. 36. Hence Paul says; "The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth," Rom. i. 16. "In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel," 1 Cor. iv. 15. James teaches: "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth," James i. 18; and Peter: " Being born again, not of corruptible seed," as water, "but of incorruptible, by the word of God," 1 Pet. i. 23.
Divine truth, by the power of the Holy Ghost, regenerates and sanctifies the believing soul; and hence John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, "sent to baptize with water," insisted chiefly on the teaching of his Lord, and the more important baptism of the soul with the Divine influence; declaring, with all solemnity, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire," Matt. iii. 11. This heavenly oracle our Saviour confirmed on the memorable day of his ascension: "For John truly baptized with water," saith Christ; "but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence," Acts i. 5. And we see how gloriously this prophetical assurance was fulfilled on the great day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost fell upon the apostles, enlightening
and purifying, not only the minds of those ambassadors of Christ for their important ministry, but also of the thousands of converts, by means of their word. Thus they were prepared to submit to " baptism with water," as indicating their spiritual regeneration already received, by the word and Spirit of God; rejoicing that he had
delivered them from the power of darkness, and translated them into the kingdom of his dear Son."
Sincere believers of the gospel of Christ in every age succeeding that of the apostles, and in every part of the world, whether baptized or not with water, have been partakers of the saving baptism of the Holy Ghost. But water baptism, though an ordinance of the Redeemer, was regarded by the apostles as of far less account than it is by modern priests, pretending to sacraments, and their efficacy in the ceremonies; for while the chief of those inspired men of God was labouring with extraordinary success in his Lord's work, he was directed to write to the Corinthian Church: "I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; for Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel," 1 Cor. i. 14, 17. At the same time he wrote that heavenly oracle concerning the better baptism: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit," xii. 13.
This heavenly baptism of the Spirit, as here taught by the apostle, is common to all Christians, whatever their condition or rank in life; it depends not on the observance of any ceremony, even of the Divine appointment, but
on the belief of the gospel, on receiv- their souls, pray for and receive the ing the record which God has given of blessed baptism of the Holy Ghost. his Son. This alone produces regene- In this way they will experience the ration and sanctification; its blessed reality of that delightful "fruit of the fruit is true holiness in heart and life, Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, long a oneness of mind and spirit with all suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, believers, to the glory of our Lord and and temperance, against which there is Saviour. Happy they who, using the no law," Gal. v. 22, 23. And thus will ceremony of "the free baptism" with they manifestly prove themselves to be water, according to their Lord's inti- the children of God, and become fitted mation, as a symbol of the Divine to inherit his eternal kingdom and grace, which renews and sanctifies glory.
The Letter Box.
PLAIN TRUTHS FOR PIOUS CHURCHMEN.
FELLOW CHRISTIANS,-The Bible says: | faith, your church attributes to the or"Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God"-" Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven"-" Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish""Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved"-" He that believeth shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." This language is explicit, universal, absolute; so plain, that no honest mind needs to doubt its meaning; so comprehensive, that no responsible man is exempted; so absolute, as to be set aside by no possible contingencies. Its simple testimony is,-that no unregenerated man, no unconverted man, no impenitent man, no unbeliever in Christ, has any part in the kingdom of God on earth, or will have admission to his kingdom in heaven.
dinance of baptism. When any one of your ministers has baptized a child, he says, respecting that child, to the bystanders: "Seeing now, dearly beloved, that this child is regenerate," &c. In prayer he thus addresses Almighty God: "We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate this infant with thy Holy Spirit, to receive him for thine own child by adoption, and to incorporate him into thy holy Church."
What the Bible thus attributes to regeneration, conversion, repentance,
It is a well-known fact, that the expressions used in this service present to many a man of enlightened mind and tender conscience, when about to enter holy orders, a cross almost too difficult to be taken up. Interpretations as numerous as the colours of the rainbow, are had recourse to in order to strain them into harmony with God's Word. It may not be known to all of you, that in the year 1842 a meeting
of the clergy was held at the Rev. D. Wilson's, Islington, when this subject was discussed. Nearly a hundred clergymen were present at the meeting and Archdeacon Hoare took the chair. The subject for discussion was thus announced:-" The baptismal service, and the doctrine of regeneration as connected with that rite." Four of the best-instructed ministers of the church had received some weeks notice of the meeting, and each had been requested to come prepared to give his sentiments on the question. The four gentlemen selected for this purpose were the Rev. Messrs. Cunningham, Burgess, C. Bridges, and Venn. The result was, THEY ALL DIFFERED; no two of them took the same view of the meaning of the terms employed.* The history of this clerical meeting; the struggles which many of the best men in the church have to go through before they can bring their minds to use the words prescribed; the tortuous and unnatural construction that must be put upon them to make them come anywhere near to a harmony with Scripture ;-all clearly prove, either that the Bible and the Prayer-book must not be interpreted on the same principles, or else that the one contradicts the other.
Which of these alternatives do you, my fellow Christians, adopt? Do you interpret the words of the Prayer-book in the same way as you do the words of the Bible, and believe them really to mean what they say? If so, how can you reconcile the two? The Bible says, a man must be converted, or he cannot belong to Christ's kingdom; the
Prayer-book says, that when he is baptized he becomes a member of that kingdom. The Bible represents adoption into the family of God as one of the peculiar privileges of genuine believers in Christ; the Prayer-book says, that every one who is baptized is re ceived by God as his own child by adoption. The Bible teaches us, that regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit; that it is one of the distinctive privileges of the heirs of salvation; that the time when it takes place is determined by the Spirit's good pleasure; and that the instrumentality through which it is effected is the Word of God, (1 Pet. i. 23 ;)-the Prayerbook teaches, that it is granted to all who are baptized; granted, in all cases, at the precise time of baptism; and effected, not through the word of God, but through the administration of that rite. Can any two oracles give a more discordant response? If you interpret the two on the same principle, then it is evident that the one flatly contradicts the other. Which do you believe
the Bible, the word of the infallible God; or the Prayer-book, the word of sinful and erring man?
But you probably adopt the other alternative, and interpret the language of the Prayer-book in what Mr. Ward would call "a non-natural sense." You see that the character of tens of thousands of baptized persons forms a perfect contrast to the character of the regenerated man of the Bible; that their lives are altogether different from what the Bible describes as the life of the adopted child of God; and hence you conclude, that "regeneration," 'adoption into God's family," "being members of Christ's Church, and heirs of his everlasting kingdom," must mean