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Though this is pretty strongly marked in the pre
ceding pages, we would pay a separate attention to it, as we consider the moral tendency to mark
the doctrine. I. The general bad moral tendency of Baptismal
Regeneration, as treated by Dr. Mant.
IF our system has indeed the bad efects ascribed to it by Dr. M. (48, 53) we ought to be jealous of adopting it. For though people may not always be able to unravel the subtleties of disputants, they will generally be ingenious enough to see the moral tendency of their doctrines, and be ready to take advantage of it. I am quite of opinion that the Dri's system is not only liable to be abused, but has a direct tendency to much moral cvil.
We have seen that no condition or qualification can be expected, on his principles, to enter into the way of salvation, but baptis:n. Nay, not only is no condition of a moral nature required, but if it were présent, it would be useless. Baptism, according to him, - works its own ellects in all subjects; and the same effects ; namely, regeneration, adoption, and heirs of heaven. Now, though we know and acknowledge that the Almighty does bestow his grace freely and without qualification in man, in the first instince; though he does regenerate and change. their hearts, and form them anew after his own image, by working in their minds faith and repentance, as both the church and the scriptures assure us; yet we do not allow any person to claim any promise of the gospel; or make pretensions to regeneration or a change of heart, unless he produce evidence of his possessihg that character to which the promise is made, and demonstrate by his works the new birth to which he pretends. The promises of God are universally made to character; and the
new nature” is ever proved by a new life.” Thus no person can fairly misimprove the doctrines of
f grace, as thus stated. If any pretend to religion, we rejoice; but our first question is, where is your evidence? We are commonly charged with preaching faith without works; and so we do for justification. But we require evidence of faith, before we allow it : “ by works is faith made perfect.” But Dr. M.'s system, in its natural and necessary consequences, lays the ax at the root of all morality. It has a direct lendency to generate formality, and indifference in religion. What were the great evils of the Romish religion from which we separated ? Were they not greatly in this, that the sacraments worked their end, rather as a charm, than as evidencing, or producing a moral change, and visible and manifest effect ?
II. It has a tendency to make persons rest in external religion.
The scriptures every where warn us against a mere form“ of godlivess." They declare “ he is
Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that
of the heurt in the spirit and not in the letter."** But circumcision, (that is, baptism,) according to Dr. M.'s system, is circumcision, although it be outward in the flesh; for no qualification is required either to regeneration being obtainéd, or preserved; because all who are baptised are regenerate, and they cannot “ be born again a second time.” And as the Lord's Supper stands upon the same ground, no qualification can be necessary to receive it worthily. Dr. M. asks, “ if the spiritual part of baptism be denied, why should bread and wine be spiritually the body and blood of Christ ?" (61.) If they are so, all persons inust eat the body of Christ in the
use of the Lord's Supper.” Bat can any thing be conceived more awful than this? All internal religion is at once destroyed. A man may become a direct and most determined formalist on principle, and may nevertheless feel at peace, yea, quite satisfied about his salvation,
III. The most desperate Antinomianism will be directly encouraged by such a system.
The person who literally believes, that lie possesses regeneration, (and of course salvation, for they are always joined together) without pretending to any fruits or works as connected with, or arising out of it : may justly claim Dr. M. as his spiritual adviser. He would be perhaps, (in connexion with the enthusiast) the most consistent and genuine son of such a father. You may endeavour to convince such an one of his error, in vain, while he retains his principles. He will plead, “ I have been regenerate and saved, and I know I shall be saved for ever." If we ask, how do you
• Rom. ii. 28, 29
it is a
been regenerate. “Why, I have been baptised, and that is evidence, the only evidence of regeneration.” But may you not have lost your regeneration, or the salvation to which it introduced you? .I cunnot lose it; for it was given me without con. dition, requisition, or qualification : and that wbich is suspended on no condition, common sense sssures me cannot be lost.” But are you sure that you possess regeneration? As you are not cautious about your moral conduct, may you not be mistaken? “ It is impossible I can be mistaken; I hare been baptised, and certainly therefore regenerate:” and
• blessing onee obtained, and not to be repeated.” But does not Dr. M. say, that
you must be moral, in order to be saved at last? He does. But this is quite absurd, and inconsistent with the principles he has instilled. Morality has nothing to do with the matter : it was neither required of me in order to baptism, nor taught me as any evidence of regeneration. Regeneration, therefore, neither requires morality to build upon, nor at all necessarily produces it; or is connected with it as any effect, evidence, concomitunt, or consequence. Morality! Sir, morality is neither the cause or condition of regeneration; neither regeneration itself, or any necessary accompanyment: neither is the want of it any evidence against regeneration ; nor its presence any proof or effect of regeneration. I therefore defy any man to shake ту confidence,
foundation ; I am as sure of salvation, as the saints in lieaven !!!" And who can say that this is visionary, and unlikely to occur? Alas, there are thousands who act thus, and on this very principle.
IV. Enthusiasm, as well as Antinomianism, has its root and branch lere.
A sudden and instantaneous regeneration effected by baptism, (in adults, suppose, for Dr. M. makes no distinction between adults and infants) unattend. ed, as it must be, it all possess it, by any real conCurrence of heart, or any true change of conduct, to distinguish the real from the false pretender; is the inost undisguised enthusiasm that can well be conceived. Regeneration and salvation instantaneously effected, without any concurring disposition in the baptised, and unaccompanied with any moral evidence to distinguish it!! No person can well suppose any pretensions of the wildest fanatics, that are more truly gratuitous, and void of foundation. It is the very essence of enthusiasm, to claim privileges without qualification, and to possess them without evidence. On this principle, may not a visionary pretend to any thing whatever, that his wild fancy, lively “feelings," and roving“ imagination,” may dictate ? And suppose he should call this regeneration, and add the unanswerable argument that he received it in his baptism; how would Dr. M. answer such a self-deceiver on his principles? He could not answer him. Indeed, I am persuaded that no person “ using curious arts , in the execution of his mysterious profession, ever pretended to any thing more devoid of reason and common sense than this doctrine manifestly is. Suppose (as is not uncommon) in the midst of his admiring audience, he was to draw his magic circle, take his abracadabra from the Bible, (I am awfully grave and serious in this) and profess to cause a mysterious change to pass upon the spectators, to