Obrazy na stronie

middle, and last, are equally at variance with each other, and among themselves, their followers in the present age may, perhaps, be contented to accept the solution of these perplexities that has lately been offered them in the theory of “ development,” a system which will 'smooth all difficulties and set at rest all doubts.

The Church of England, rejecting all but the written word of God as the authority for her faith, lays down her deductions from the express declarations of that sacred word, on the great truths of Christianity and the disputed points of faith on which the Church has at various times been agitated with controversies, as the rule by which she expects her children to be guided. But where Scripture is silent, or appeared to her open to different views, there she is equally so. She receives even the three Creeds, only because she believes they may be “proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture.” She is not therefore likely to require of her members the belief of what she does not suppose may be similarly proved.

So far as she has definitely spoken, there all who have subscribed her Formularies and minister in her communion are bound, so long as they remain in her service, to abide by and maintain her determinations. Rather should I say, they are found in her communion because they conscientiously believe her determinations to be right.

There are vital and fundamental points on which she has spoken definitely and expressly, so as to forbid the slightest deviation from one precise line to the right hand or to the left. There are important points, such as that discussed in the following work, on which she has laid down certain limits on both sides,

Quos ultra citraque nequit consistere rectum. That those limits have been transgressed, fearfully transgressed, by some among us, I should be the last to deny. The following pages may perhaps tend to show, by whom they have been transgressed; and such transgression I should be the last to justify

The great point in dispute in our Church at the present time, is brietly this, Whether the full baptismal blessing is, in the


case of infants, under all circumstances, invariably and universally bestowed ; whether, in fact, God has pledged himself, whenever an infant is baptized, apart from all consideration of every other circumstance except the mere act of baptism, to give that child, in the act, the full blessing of spiritual regeneration.

And though, in prosecuting the inquiry, what is the doctrine of our Church upon the subject, it has been necessary to show the theological school to which our Reformers and early Divines were attached, in order more fully to illustrate the meaning of the Formularies they drew up, the determination of the doctrine of our Church on the question at issue does not depend upon our connecting the theology of our Church with one particular system. Men of very different schools among us have agreed in taking the negative view on the point in controversy. But certainly when the theology of our early divines is taken into account in the matter, the statement that the universal and unconditional efficacy of baptism in the case of infants is the doctrine of our Church, is one which carries its own condemnation on the face of it.

The contrast between such a doctrine and the theological system of our early divines, reduces it to an absurdity.

In the face of the testimonies produced in the following work, I am at a loss to understand what ground there is left for the maintenance of such an assertion.

I have shown, that the testimony of our Archbishops, Bishops, and the Divinity Professors of our Universities, at and for a long period after the Reformation, is wholly opposed to the notion of spiritual regeneration being always conferred upon infants in their baptism, and that they were followed at a later period by divines who, though of a different school, agreed with them on the main point of the controversy ;-I have shown that the Services of our Prayer Book upon which the assertion that this is the doctrine of our Church is almost wholly rested, were submitted to the judgment of Peter Martyr and Bucer, whose sentiments were notoriously opposed to such a doctrine, and that they fully approved of them, with exceptions no way touching the point now in question ; I have shown that Bucer himself drew up Services of a precisely similar kind to our own, and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

from which our own are confessed to have been "freely borrowed,
when bolding sentiments which render it necessary for those
Services to be interpreted on the hypothetical principle ;-I have
shown that the earliest (and those publicly authorized) Expo-
sitions of our Articles and Catechism support the same view ; —
I ask, then, what remains wanting for the establishment of a
complete and perfect proof, that this doctrine is not the doctrine
of our Church, but, on the contrary, is opposed to it?

And I cannot help remarking, how completely the case before us proves the untitness of Liturgical forms to answer the purpose of a dogmatical standard of faith; and the errors and absurdities which men might fall into when deducing doctrine, inferentially, from devotional phrases occurring in a Book of Prayer,

It remains only for me to remark, that the following work has been written and passed through the press, not merely within a much shorter period than I could have wished to have given to it, but amidst the pressure of numerous other engagements. The circumstances of the times, however, forbade delay. And I make the remark, not as pleading guilty to any ill-consi- . dered statements, or hasty conclusions, or the citation of authorities which will not stand the most searching scrutiny, (so far as my imperfect powers qualify me for the task undertaken)-on the contrary, the work is the result of much previous labour, undertaken in the hope of being prepared for the vindication of truth when the titting occasion presented itself—but from the feeling that I have scarcely had the opportunity to do the subjeet full justice.

As it is, I present it to the reader in the humble hope that it may tend to clear the real character of the doctrine of our Church on the subject diseussed ; and thus remove the misapprehensions, and retute the misrepresentations, that are current respecting it. And I pray the great Head of the Church that His blessing may rest upon it just so far as it is caleulated to promote the cause of truth.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


31. Charterbouse Square,

Mureb 21, INS.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

The kindness with which the former Edition of this work has been received, and the early call for another Edition, render it unnecessary for the Author to offer more than

a very few remarks in this place. He desires, however, to express his thankfulness at the reception given to the Work, as it encourages him to hope that it may be of use, with God's blessing, for the promotion of the cause of truth, and the manifestation of the true doctrine of the Church of England, on the momentous subject of which it treats.

Late events in our Church have given the long-standing controversy among us on this point a more than ordinary degree of importance. The attempt has been made to force upon the Church, as a standard of faith, an interpretation of her Services which would place them in direct antagonism to the doctrine of

very men who drew them up, and to eject from her ministry all who hold a different view. It was quite time, therefore, that the claims of such an interpretation should be fully investigated, and the true doctrine of our Church set forth and proved. To do this, is the object of the following Work. And while it fully investigates the important and conclusive internal evidence afforded on the subject by our Formularies themselves, the Author has more especially directed his attention to what may be called the historical part of the argument. Nothing can more fully show the weakness of the claim set up by those who call themselves “ High Churchmen” among us, to the exclusive admissibility of their interpretation of our Book of Common Prayer, than the fact of its contrariety to the doctrine of our Reformers and early divines. To say nothing of the sentiments of those who drew up the Prayer Book of Edward VI., the notorious facts that the compilers of the Elizabethan Prayer Book (which, with a few alterations not affecting the present question, is that now in use) were, of what is called the “Calvinistic" School, and that the Primate who first issued and earnestly pressed the Canon for subscription to the Prayer Book was a High " Calvinist” (Archbishop Whitgift), ought to silence forever the assertion that a “Calvinist ” cannot consistently subscribe to that Book. And if a “Calvinist” can without difficulty subscribe to it, then certainly it does not assert that spiritual regeneration is the universal and unconditional effect of Baptism in all infants.


And here lies the importance of the historical argument in elucidating the meaning of our Formularies. We do not point to the “Calvinism” of our early divines as showing that a Calvinistic interpretation must be given to our Formularies, or as identifying a denial of the “ High Church” doctrine as to the effects of Baptism with Calvinistic views,--for Arminians are found equally denying it,—but we adduce the fact of the “Calvinistic” doctrine of those to whom we are indebted for our Formularies as irrefragable evidence against the attempt made to fix upon those Formularies an exclusive interpretation, framed by men of a directly opposite school.

a Apart from any consideration of the peculiar circumstances under which the subject is now discussed in our Church, it is impossible to overrate its importance as connected with sound views of doctrine on other points. False views as to the effects of Baptism in the case of infants introduce confusion and error into the whole system of doctrine connected with them. If it is supposed that the Clergy can dispense God's grace and the best blessing of the Gospel Covenant to anybody they please in infancy, there is an end to all sound theology. The doctrines of the necessity of God's gist of prevenient grace, and justification by faith, as laid down in our 10th and 11th Articles, are almost nullified. And the whole scheme of doctripe embraced, partakes of the consequences of this primary false principle on which it is built.

One offect however may result from the present controversy, and the consequence be of great benefit, if it please God, to the interents of truth in our Church, namely, that the minds of men will be more drawn to the importance of sound and clear views on this subject.

The present Edition of this Work has been carefully revised throughout. I must add, however, that I have certainly found no t'v**on at present, from any remarks made on the Work, to withdraw or alter a single position, argument or authority, advanced in it. A few additional remarks and authorities will be to interspersed here and there ; and a translation has been Miten of the Latin quotations. The latter forms the major part But the matter added.

It remains only for the Author again to commend it to the inne blessing

W. GOODE. Lil Chamfer llouse Square,

Den 1819

« PoprzedniaDalej »