Obrazy na stronie



which not unnaturally arises from this text, now that people undertake to solve all points of Scripture for themselves; "do all the "promises and descriptions of Baptism apply to Infant Baptism?" Certainly, unless they did in effect, Infant Baptism were wrong; for so we should be depriving our children of whatever benefits it were supposed that Adult Baptism conferred, and Infant Baptism was incapable of. But, since Infant Baptism is right, then must it confer, in effect and in the rudiments, all the benefits of Adult Baptism, to be developed hereafter. Moreover, where the language of Holy Scripture is unlimited, we are not to restrain it. But Holy Scripture speaks universally; it says, "the washing of regeneration and of the renewing of the HOLY "GHOST," "born of the water and the SPIRIT;" how, then, are we to say, that because our infants are not in like way decayed through actual sin, as were those adults to whom St. Paul wrote, therefore they are not regenerated and renewed? This would involve the very error of Pelagius, that they needed no renewal, no "new birth," having no "birth-sin." Holy Scripture speaks indeed incidentally of some effects of "the washing "of regeneration, and of the renewal of the HOLY GHOST," relatively to particular adults; since the greater the decay, the greater the renewal thereby effected not the seed only of corruption, which (if no remedy were applied) would surely spread decay through the whole living being, but the decayed and corrupted wreck, wherein the disease had wrought its full work, was thereby made sound. Yet is the remedy the same, the cure the same, although in one the actual corruption be remedied, in the other checked; in the one the healing antidote is infused, when the poison has spread through the whole frame, and through the whole frame arrests; in the other, it is imparted, ere yet the latent poison has begun to work. But the same Scripture pronounces Baptism absolutely to be "the wash"ing of regeneration and renewal by the HOLY GHOST;" and what Scripture calls it, it must remain, at all times, and however applied, to infants as to adults. In all, their Maker's image was defaced; all are renewed after that image in Him, and by being in Him, Who is the brightness of HIS FATHER'S

glory, and the express image of His Person, God blessed for ever. "He came," are the well-known and weighty words of St. Irenæus1, "sanctifying every age by its relation to Himself. "For He came to save all by Himself: all, who by Him are "reborn to GoD: infants and little ones, and children, and youths, "and elders. So He came in every age; and to infants was "made an infant, sanctifying infants; among little children a "little child, sanctifyiug those of this age, and made also to "them an example of piety, and righteousness, and subjection;

among young men, a young man, becoming an example to young "men, and sanctifying them to the LORD." But now, in these Liturgies we have not our private judgment only, but the voice of the Church, applying to our infants particularly, the promises, which God annexes to Baptism, and which, since He has not restrained, we should have thought beforehand were not to be limited. The combined Liturgies are an authoritative because a Catholic exposition; how should they, East and West, be thus combined, except by a true and separate tradition?

These two (St. John iii. 5. Tit. iii. 4-6.) are the only passages of the Holy Scriptures in which the first origin of regeneration (so to speak) is marked out, and the circumstances under which it takes place are at all hinted at. And surely this ought, to any careful Christian, to be of great moment; and instead of longing, as the habit of some is, for more evidence, he will thank GOD, that the evidence is so clear, that all Christians of old times confidently relied upon it, and transmitted it to us.

For this is the way of God's dealing throughout Scripture: He gives us, whether as a rule of life or doctrine, certain plain statements; and then, in His other communications, intersperses allusions to these same truths, not in themselves perhaps altogether definite, certainly not satisfying to a captious, or unwilling hearer, but blending and harmonising with those broader statements. And when persons are disposed to believe, they often appeal to these incidental allusions, as more forcible even than direct statements. For the very fact of repeatedly introducing

[ocr errors]

1 ii. 22. 24.




one subject, when we are mainly employed in speaking upon or inculcating others, shows how deeply the subject, which we so introduce, is impressed upon our own minds. And so also (as far as it has pleased GOD to convey His inspired wisdom after the manner of human thoughts) we infer, and rightly, from similar appearances in Holy Scripture, how deeply He had impressed upon the souls of His Apostles the truths which thus, as it were, burst forth in the midst of other teaching. Thus, when St. Paul wisheth himself accursed for his kinsmen, and enumerates all which God had done for them, and the marks of His love, “the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of "the law, and the service of God, and the promises, and the "fathers," we should not, amidst this catalogue of the glories of the Old Testament, have expected beforehand, to find the Divinity of our LORD; and so we are the more impressed when the rising list of God's loving-kindnesses at last ends in, "of whom, as concerning the flesh, CHRIST came, who is over all, GoD "Blessed for ever." We continue to be awed, as often as we read it; for the feeling abides or increases, "how awfully must "he have thought of the Divinity of our LORD, who thus wrote." This and the like unexpected references seem to us the more to indicate what was the mind of GOD, because they are unexpected; they bring their own impression of Divinity, because they are not human; they are not what the mind of man would have conceived. I mean not, that we should argue in this way, as if we were judges of the matter, for we are not; but that these flashes, so to speak, out of the cloud, impress us often even more with God's Presence than the noon-day brightness. Of course, a very perverted use might be made of this feeling, if persons were to look out for passages which should thus strike them, or so prefer them as to lose out of sight the depth of God's direct teaching; if, e. g. one were to look out for these scattered notices of the Divinity of our LORD, and neglect to meditate on the enunciation of St. John, before which all Christian Antiquity bowed, "in the 'beginning was the Word, and the Word was with GOD, and the "Word was God." And this is rather the defect of our age, in those doctrines or views which it wishes to have proved. Still VOL. II. P. II.-No. 67.



our nature.

this very perversion is a witness to the inherent feeling of Here, then, so far from regarding it as a diminution to the evidence of a doctrine, that it is incidentally mentioned, we are even the more impressed with it. And if others are not, (as we know that the unhappy persons, who dispute against our Blessed LORD's Divinity, would, on that very account, explain one text away, or declare the stress laid upon another to be fanciful,) this disturbs us not; they see not, because they have not eyes to see. Apply we this to the present case; the "doc"trine of Baptism" (Heb. vi. 2.) is declared as explicitly, as incidentally, and as variously, as that of our Blessed LORD's Divinity or the saving truth of the Holy Trinity, with which its administration is inseparably blended, the belief in which it very chiefly upholds. For both, we have the same uniform testimony of the Church Catholic; in both cases alike, those who have refused to listen to the Church, have failed to find the truth in Holy Scripture; there is then as little reason to be moved, that others do not see what we see, in the one case as in the other; and if any see not the Church's doctrine of Baptism in Scripture, they have no reason thence to conclude that it is not there, because they see it not. The force done to Scripture has not been in any way greater in one case than in the other. They who say that "water and the Spirit" means "the Spirit only," or that "the "washing of regeneration" means "spiritual regeneration" independent of any actual "washing," however they may commiserate the misguided people, who assail other Catholic truth, have nothing assuredly to allege against them for forced interpretations of Holy Scripture. It was in their own school that those systems of interpretation were learnt.

The object then in producing some other chief passages of Holy Scripture, wherein Baptism is mentioned or alluded to, is not to prove any thing further with respect to that Sacrament, or to increase the evidence for what has been alleged; for our LORD's words, when rightly unfolded, of course contain all; and they who hear not Him, as His Church has from the first transmitted the meaning of His words, will not hear His disciples. "The servant is not greater than his LORD." (St. John xv. 20.)


The object will be, not to prove any thing, but from the mode in which Baptism is spoken of in Holy Scripture, to illustrate the wide difference between the character of mind which that teaching implies and would foster, and that which modern notions imply and reproduce. Each text is only an item, an indication of a difference existing between modern habits of mind and Scripture teaching. And this, one would fain hope, might startle some, who, because they have never seen the Catholic system, or its bearings upon Scripture, developed, at present oppose it. It seems to us strange how any errors which we do not share should prevail about Scriptural doctrine. We marvel how the Jewish doctors could have reconciled with the plain letter of the law, their permission to a child to dedicate to God what its parent needed; we marvel, how the Romanist can reconcile his inculcation of image-worship, with the same law: in either case men have thus far "made the word of God of none effect through "their traditions;" in either case, through traditions not de“livered to their fathers," but the "inventions of men." Let those then, who, with respect to Baptism, embrace a tradition, whose origin is but as it were of yesterday, consider earnestly whether they may not be in the like case; whether their traditional exposition of the Gospel, derived from the one or other individual in these "latter days," may not be as little consonant with the real meaning of Holy Scripture, as those by which the Pharisees justified their abuse of the "Corban," or the Romanists their image-worship; whether they too may not be " making the "word of God of none effect through their traditions;" whether they may not "have left the fountain of living waters, to hew out "broken cisterns which will hold no water."


At least, their conviction of the contrary is no more argument in their behalf, than the persuasion of the Jewish Rabbis, the Romanist, the Socinian, or any sectarian, in favour of their traditions; all alike have taken and handed down a modern, opposed to the ancient way of explaining the Word of God; and "they are their own witnesses." The ancient system, while it claims to be consonant to that Word, appeals not to one school, but to


F 2

« PoprzedniaDalej »