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There are, I am aware, some who are offended by this connection of Justification with Baptism, as though it contradicted the doctrine that we are justified by faith only, with which in truth it no more interferes than does the declaration that we are justified by the merits of Christ only. The truth, as I understand it to be taught by the Church of England, is, that Justification, or the being accounted righteous before God, is the free gift of God, procured by the merits of Christ, conveyed ordinarily by Baptism, and, when faith is able to act, embraced by faith, or suspended, perhaps ultimately lost, for lack of it. Of such objectors we might ask in our turn, whether the Church of England could possibly apply the term unjustified to those of whom she has declared, that, “ being born in original sin, they are now, by the laver of regeneration in Baptism, received into the number of the children of God and heirs of everlasting life :” that they are “regenerated with God's Holy Spirit:" that they have been made, in and by Baptism, “ children of grace,” “members of Christ, children of God, inheritors of the kingdom of heaven.” The arguments, by which some persuade themselves that the use of this language does not imply a belief that it truly describes the case of every infant duly baptized, are, it is to be presumed, satisfactory to those who act upon them. For my own part, as I can see in it nothing equivocal, nothing hypothetical, nothing
of reservation or qualification, nothing which can reduce it to a mere expression of charitable hope, nothing, in short, but a simple declaration of positive faith, I have no hesitation in saying that I could not conscientiously utter the words if I did not believe that they were strictly applicable in every case in which I utter them. With respect to Sanctification in the case of infants, an argument ex absurdo is often raised, and we are challenged to say whether a child, who grows up without the knowledge or the fruits of true religion, is not thereby proved not to have been sanctified at his baptism by the Holy Spirit of God. I would ask in return, whether a child, who should receive in infancy such an injury to the brain as to be reduced to a 'state of utter idiotcy, would be thereby proved never to have been gifted with reason: or, to take a more strictly analogous case, whether an infant, who should die without committing, or even showing a disposition to sin, would be thereby proved to have been born without sin. A principle may surely be implanted without being afterwards actively developed. A seed is not the less sown, because, through neglect of the soil, it withers instead of vegetating. The truth is, that the whole difficulty, which is felt with respect to these expressions in our Prayer Book, arises from the impossibility of reconciling them with the doctrine of what is called the indefectibility of grace: an impossibility, which is to my mind
a satisfactory proof that the Church of England does not intend to teach that doctrine, but the reverse of it.
Long as this note has been, I cannot refrain from adding a few passages, bearing immediately on the subject of it, from the pen of a pious and learned prelate of the present day.
“The example of St. Paul,” says the present Bishop of Chester, “authorizes us to believe and argue that grace sufficient to salvation is given to all who are dedicated to Christ in baptism."-Apostolical Preaching, p. 146.
-“ Another practical evil of the doctrine of special grace is the necessity which it implies of some test of God's favour, and of the reconcilement of Christians to Him, beyond and subsequent to the covenant of baptism. St. Paul, it has been seen, insists upon the necessity of regeneration : he declares that the natural man is at enmity with God, and cannot receive the things of God:' he calls the heathen nationsáchildren of wrath,' and sinners of the Gentiles:' he speaks of the old man as being corrupt according to the deceitful lusts ;' in short, he expresses, under a variety of terms, the assertion of our Saviour, that 'except a man be born again, of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”—John iii. 5.
“ With equal clearness he intimates, that the Christians he addresses were thus regenerate: as having put off the old man with its deeds ;' and having become the temple of the Holy Ghost,' and the members of Christ ;' as having the spiritual
circumcision, and being buried with Christ in baptism;' Rom. vi. 3. Col. ii. 12: as having received the spirit of adoption,' Rom. viii. 15; and as being washed, sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.' To the Galatians, “bewitched,' as he says they were, that they should not obey the truth,' he still writes, · Ye are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Gal. iii. 26. These addresses and exhortations are founded on the principle, that the disciples, by their dedication to God in baptism, had been brought into a state of reconcilement with Him, had been admitted to privileges, which the apostle calls on them to improve. On the authority of this example, and on the undeniable practice of the first ages of Christianity, our Church considers baptism as conveying regeneration ; instructing us to pray, before baptism, that the infant may be born again, and made an heir of everlasting salvation ;' and to return thanks, after baptism, that it hath pleased God to regenerate the infant with his Holy Spirit, and receive him for his own child by adoption.”—Ibid, p. 153.
“ Happily for our Church, the framers of its rituals took their doctrine from the general tenour and promises of Scripture; and, by a providential care, extending over a Church so framed, the succeeding believers in Calvin were never allowed to introduce their subtleties into her intelligible and rational formularies. Therefore we are instructed to declare, that those who are devoted to Christ as infants by baptism, are regenerate; i.e. “are accepted of God in the Beloved,' and 'dying without actual sin, are undoubtedly saved. And, therefore, we hold, that those who grow up, may or may not fall from this state of grace; and that those who have fallen may or may not recover, and be finally saved.” -Ibid, p. 162.
“ It is indeed a sufficient confutation of the doctrine of special grace, that it absolutely nullifies the sacrament of baptism. It reduces it to an empty rite, an external mark of admission into the visible Church, attended with no real grace, and therefore conveying no real benefit, nor advancing a person one step towards salvation. But if baptism is not accompanied with such an effusion of the Holy Spirit towards the inward renewing of the heart, that the person baptized, who of himself and of his own nature could do no good thing,' by this amendment or regeneration of his nature, is enabled to bring forth fruit, “thirty, or sixty, or an hundred fold;' giving ‘all diligence to make his calling and election sure;-if the effect, I say, of baptism is less than this, what becomes of the distinction made by John,