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the evidence of regeneration, wherever it is possessed, which the church has given us, we shall collect two ideas very important in this discussions the one, that regeneration is not made by our church co-extensive with baptism: and secondly, we shall here learn, from the church herself, how far her language of charity in the baptismal office, is intended to be applied. We shall see, not only that she intends to limit its application, but to what extent she does so. We shall be able to judge, so far as hier: marks and evidences are visible, how far, in any period of the church, they do apply; and also how far she intended they should be applied. This is manifest: for if she gives marks of regeneration, in order that we may know it, she carinot intend us, in our instruction, to apply it where those marks are not found ; or if she inforns us what it is not, or what it is inconsistent with, she cannot wish us to speak of, and treat those as regenerate, who shew marks of their being unregenerate. Then, if it should, froia the peculiar corruption of any age, appear that many present themselves at her sacraments with such dispositions and characters as she did not contemplate, (nor prescribe a service for,) in forming those rites, all that we can say is, that her language is too clut-ritable for such vicious times.
I hope these quotations will be considered as: à direct, and sufficient proof of the point for which we produce them; namely, that marks and evidences of regeneration, or true piety, are by our church evermore expected to be exhibited, before she will allow any one, whatever his external privileges, pre tensions, or habits may be, to be considered as a
holy or righteous person, or in a safe state for eternal life.
We have seen how she positively denies any unholy person to have faith, repentance, love to God, or love to man: how she denies any wicked person to be a child of God, to have the Holy Ghost, (or regeneration, or to be an heir of everlasting life. We have seen how she continually insists upon
the fruits of righteousness and good works, to evidence and shew forth their faith and piety, before she will allow for a moment any pretensions to them to be real. We have seen how she considers faith to be an absolute and necessary ingredient in all our outward attendance upon saeraments, ordinances, and appointments of God, if we expect the fruits and effects of them to be enjoyed. We have seen how she exhorts all persons diligently to try and examine themselves whether they be in the faith }; whether the “Holy Ghost' “ dwell in them,” work in them, and bring forth the fruits of righteousness and salvation in them. We have scen how she considers the Holy Spirit to be given, for the very purpose of making known our adoption and sonship into God's family, both to ourselves and others; and that without we have this evidence, and can shew these fruits of faith, that our pretensions are vain,
are yet in our sins." No clergyman, or body of clergymen, that I am acquainted with, do more than this in all their preaching for which they are blamed; they do not wish to do more; yea, they cannot do more than the church bas done for them, and in which she has set them the examples. We have seen, moreover,
that it is not a name only, that is, regeneration, which is objected to in us; it is the thing. It is such a faith and such a profession as give evidence of salvation : it is the separating mankind into two classes : the righteous and the wicked,---the converted and the unconverted; or as we sometimes say, the regenerate and the unregenerate, which is objected to. 63. And if Dr. M.'s ideas of baptismal regeneration be correct, I conceive we shall be found false witnesses for God; we shall be fairly proved accusers of the brethren, and abusers of mankind. But so long as the doctrine of the scriptures, and of our truly venerable and apostolical church, is “
grafted in our hearts,” is ever upon our tongue, and is constantly flowing from our pens, we stand upon an immovable foundation.
Whher, therefore, we are or are not fairly justifiable in preaching regeneration to persons who have been baptised, let the pious and judicious judge. We are not nice about terms. Our church, we have abundantly shewn (and a volume might have been copied in addition) beyond all dispute, requires evidence of a change of heart, or else she allows no man's claims to the character of a child of God, or to a title of everlasting salvation. We are wearied by disputes about words without meaning. Only preach in our ears, and suffer us to preach in the ears of our congregations, such a faith, and such a regeneration (or such a state of heart and mind, by whatever name you chuse to call it) as shall afford evidence of the possessor's being NOW in a state of salvation, and we wish no more.
Dr. M. notwithstanding the title and design of his second tract; namely, a special and instantane
ous conversion not necessary for christians, says of the Apostles, respecting repentance, reformation, renovation, or conversion," that they are perpetually exhorting their christian converts to changes such as these." Very well; only allow us, without offence, and without “ limitation (46) to exercise the same liberty, and we are satisfied.
Baptism as the Sign or Evidence of Regencration.
THIS proposition is a fair infereuce from the considerations previously stated as the doctrine of our church. And notwithstanding this point makes no essential branch of, and may be true or false withoạt affecting our main design, (which was simply and chiefly to prove, thst Dr. M.'s notions are utterly inconsistent with the Spirit, the scope, and even the letter of our church,) we still mean to pay some re
spect to it.
By regeneration, I understand, as we have before shewn, the beginning of a new principle of spiritual life, which implies “ a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness. Dr. M. calls it the “ infusing a new principle of life.” By baptism, as an evidence of regeneration, I do not, with our opponent, mean any thing necessarily connected with it, either as cause or effect; but as that which is appointed of God, and received by our church as a moral testimony or public declaration of the faith of the baptised.
She examines and instructs them, and obtains their confession of faith ; first, in a retrospective view, as it regards their previous dispositions, feelings, and habits in repentance; secondly, their present sentiments of divine truth, and their confidence in it, by faith ; and thirdly, their pledge of continuing “ Christ's faithful soldiers and servants to their lives end."
This pledge is all the baptised can give, and all the evidence of sincerity which the church can reccive. She admits this, then, as evidence.* This we have largely proved; but let me enquire, as evi. dence of what? Manifest.y, of the sincerity of profession in the person coming to be baptised. But when the profession is sincere, then it is evidence of the thing for which it is received as evidence.
But then I ask again : supposing the sincerity of the person to be baptised, ishat state of mind does this sincerity imply? Can this sincerity be in a person who is unregenerate? I think not. I am quite of opinion that the disposition of mind required and here supposed to exist, is itself either regeneration
* Do not let Dr. M. here acciuse me of inconsistency in rejecting, under his hands, baptism, as evidence of regeneration, and assuming it as evidence on the part of the church, for there are two essential points of difference in the case.
1. Dr. M. makes baptism, as it goes before regeneratiou, to be evidence; we suppose it here to come after.
II. Dr. M. makes it an absolute evidence, like a natur al cause pro ducing its necessary effect; we only suppose it to be a fair test of the moral state of the professor, which, however, in our day, is very frequently fallacious; though in early times, when professing the faith of Christ, could not readily be made without great sacrifice, it might reason. ably be presumed to be an evidence of regeneration. “ Whosoever be lievcth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.-1 John iv. y. 1.