Page images

We only need now, I humbly presume, to produce an instance from other parts of the documents of the church, to justify, most fully, the interpretation we have given of the baptismal office.

We have seen that the office is not without precedent in the word of God. We will now produce á quotation or two, which will distinctly demonstrate that the same parallel is found in the bosom of the church herself.

In the Homily on alms' deeds, there is this very remarkable discussion; speaking of Christ instructing the Jews,* it is declared “ he teacheth them, that to be merciful and charitable in helping the poor, is the means to keep the soul pure and clean in the sight of God. We are taught, therefore, by this, that merciful almsdealing is profitable to purge the srul from the infection and filthy spots of sin. " Mercifulness and almsgiving purge from til sin: that as water quencheth burning fire, even 80 mercy and almıs resisteth and reconcileti sins.” And Cyprian is quoted as teaching, that by almsgiving we may purge. Oulr sins, and heal our Counded souls." But yet some will say unto me, if almsgiving and our charitable works towards the poor be able to wash away sins, to reconcile us to Coll, io deliver us from the peril of damnation, and make us the sons and heirs of Gods kingdom, then are Christ's merits deficed, and his blood shed in vain; then are we justified by works, and by our deeds may we merit heaven; then do we iy vain believe that Christ died for to put away our sins, and that he rose for our justification, as St. Paul'


[ocr errors]

• Luke 11.

teacheth. But ye shall understand, dearly beloved, - that ncither those places of the scripture before al

ledged, neither the doctrine of the blessed martyr Cyprian, neither any other godly and learned man, when they, in extolling the dignity, profit, fruit, and effect of virtuous and liberal alms, do say that it washeth away sins and bringeth us to the favour of God, do MEAN, that our works and charitable deeds is the original canse of our acceptation before God, or that for the dignity or worthiness thereof, our sins may be washed away, and we purged and cleansed of all the spots of our iniquity, for that were indeed to deface Christ, and to defraud him of his glory. But they mcan this, and this is the understanding of those and such like sayings, that God of his mercy and special favour towards them whom he has appointed to everlasting salvation, bath so offered his grace especially, and they have so received it fruitfully, that although by reason of their sinful living outwardly, they seemed before to have been the children of wrath and perdition, yet now the Spirit of God, mightily working in them anto obedience to God's will and commandments, they DECLARE, by their outward deeds aud life, in the shewing of mercy and charity, which cannot come but of the Spirit of God, and his especial grace, that they ARE the undoubted CHILDREN of God, appointed unto everlasting life. And so as by their wickedness and ungodly living, they shewed, themselves, according to the judgment of men, which follow the outward appearance to be reprobates and cast-aways; so now, by their obedience to God's holy will, and by their mércifulness and tender pity, (wherein they shew themselves to be like unto God,

who is the Fountain and Spring of all mercy,) they DECLARE openly and manifestly unto the sight of nian, that they are the sons of God, and elect of him unto salvation; for as the good fruit is not the cause that the tree is good, but the tree must first be good before it can bring forth good fruit, so the good deeds of man are not the cause that maketh man good, but he is first made good by the Spirit and grace of God, that efectually worketh in him, and afierwarıls he bringeth forth good fruits. And then, as the good fruit doth argue the goodness of the tree, so doth the good and merciful deed of the man argue, and CERTAINLY PROVE the goodness of him that doth it."

The Sermon on the Resurrection hath (as well as St. Paul) a metonymy of the same nature, namely, the evidence put for the thing. St. Paul says, " Christ died for our sins, and rose again for our justification.” And the Homily says, “ This is the mighty power of the Lord, whom we believe on. By his death he hath wrought for us this victory, and by his RESURRECTION hath he PURCHASED evertasting life and righteousness for us.” And again, thus hath his resurrection wrought for us life and righteousness.” But it would appear that the great work of redemption and “purchase," was “ finishedupon


What does this mean then? I suppose, what the same page seems to explain it to mean; viz. 'That Christ's conquest over death and hell was

openly proved," and made manifest,” by his “victorious and raliant resurrection;" which was apparently intended to “declarethe thirg.

In the last place, (Homily on Sac.) it is said,




in our coming worthily to the Communion, we MAKE ourse!res living me übers of Christ's body.But this can only mean the evidenưe of our being living members of Christ. * For it is the Holy Ghost, and no other thing, that doth quicken the minds of mea." Homily ou Whitsunday .

This long extract from the Uomily on alus-deeds, &c. is exactly to our purpose.

We see how the thing is repeatedly declared, that alms do "purge the soul-sparge from all sins---reconcile sins---wipe and wash awuy diseases,” &c. Can more be said of baptism, than that it washeth away sin, or regenerates the soul? I suppose pot.

Yet when the mat. ter is explained, we perceive that the literal meaning is not to be adopted ; nor do the authors INTEND us so to unibersiand them. Alms-deeds, when explained, are not made the cause or condition, or so much as the means of obtaining forgiveness of sin. What then do they effect after all ? When done from a right motive, and to right ends, they declare, by their outward deeds and life, ihat they are the undoubted children of God; they declare openly and manifestly, unto the sight of men, that they are the sons of God: they prove the goodness of him that doeth it."

We see then that they are fair moral testimonies or evidences of forgiveness of sins. Yet not even this directly; but they evidence the disposition, as “the tree is known by the fruits :" then, as an inference, they prove the sins forgiven, and the per sons who do them, to be sons of God.

Precisely thus we suppose, at baptism, the disposition is fairly tried and proved ; and when it is real, it is evidence of regeneration, or their being

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

the children of God. These quotations might be indefinitely extended, but that would be useless.

The conclusion, then, from all this is, that the Church, by regeneration in baptism, means the evidence, testimony, or public sign" and seal of regeneration,

I. That she cannot be understood to mean strictly, that regeneration is effected by baptism, because,

1. She (as well as the Scriptures) requires “faith, repentance, and plighted obedience, (that is, vital religion) in order to baptism."

2. But vitul godliness cau never be before regeneration.

3. Therefore regeneration must go before baptism.

II. That with respect to the liberty supposed to be taken with the language of baptism in the interpretation :

1. We have seen that the Scriptures contain the same form of construction.

2. And that other parts of the Church documents corroborate, both by express and implied construction, the same interpretation.

[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »