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be simply this. “Simon Magus is baptised, and therefore of course regenerate ; but his “heart is not right," his sins are not pardoned, his soul is not penitent, his state is damnable.. Of what essential use then, let me ask, is such a state and disposition as this? He is a mere professor of religion ; but has no title to heaven, nor any meetness for its services or enjoyments. If this is all the regeneration contended for, we have no controversy about it. Such persons may indeed “be born of water, but it would be strange indeed to insist that they are " born of the Spirit” likewise. There is no room here to evade the conclusion; namely, that regeneration is not necessarily connected with baptism, by saying that they had “fallen from grace," and lost the “privileges of their adoption by disobedience or unbelief, and become as though they had not been born again.” (46). If they lost the privileges of adoption, they lost what they never can be proved to have had. If these persons conduct does not prove that from the beginning they were both hypocritical, and rejected of God, it will be impossible to prove any thing from the word of truth. When we consider that but a very short time had elapsed between these persons professing religion, and the discovery of their hypocrisy; it would be most extravagant to contend that they had fallen away from grace. Besides they were all the time under the immediate instruction and inspection of the Deacon Philip, and of the Apostles of Christ : under the constant observance of, and eye-witness to, their miracles. Simon continued with Philip, “and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done." Simon's conversion, therefore, is easily accounted
for upon principles of worldly policy. He had been a kind of God to this people. “ To whom they all gave
heed from the least to the greatest, saying this man is the great power of God." “But when they believed Philip, and were baptised both men and women; then Simon believed also.” He was evidently convinced of Philip's superior power of performing wonders, and doubtless hoped to enter into the secret of performing them: and therefore when he saw no other way left, he oíïered the Apostle Peter money to confer his art of working miracles
Dr. M. rightly supposes that haptism, under the christian dispensation, has succeeded the rite of circumcision under the jewish dispensation; and that they are both intended for the same purposes.”
· Upon the introduction of the new covenant in Christ, he observes, God was pleased to institute a new ceremony; whereby mankind at large were to be admitted into covenant with him, as the Jews had been by the rite of circumcision. For this purpose Christ adopted baptism, and ordained it as a right, by which those, who believed in him, should be admitted to the privileges of his religion.” (7.) I take for granted that Dr. M. will admit, that our Lord, in his instruction to Nicodemus, meant to include that Jewish Rabbi among the persons, who could not see the kingdom of God without “ being born again." (If he deny this, there is an end of all reasoning with him.) Our homilies certainly teach this. (On Whitsunday,) But if so, Dr. M. will be embarrassed. Nicodemus had been circumcised, and, of course, (by Dr. M.'s reasoning), born again ; and could not possibly “ be born again a second time.” (47.). To teach, therefore, the necessity of the new birth, or the possibility of it, to such a person so circumstanced, would, upon the supposition of his being born again already, be highly incongruous, and calculated to mislead ; unless there was reason to doubt its reality. Yet our Saviour does, most solemnly, and repeatedly, teach the necessity of it to him. Yea, he states his concern at his ignorance of it, and unacqnaintance with it. Indeed, upon Dr. Mant's principles, it is utterly impossible that any circumcised Jew could be born again in baptism. If they were all regenerate by circumcision, and could not be born of God “ than once,” they could not be born again in baptismi. But Christassures them they must be born again. Dr. M. therefore, is left to solve this difficulty. Should he, however, for the sake of avoiding this dilemma, deny to the Jew's regeneration, before baptism, then he would of course deny their possibility of salvation. For regeneration was as necessary to the Jews before our Saviour's time as after; and indeed was evidently taught in their scriptures. Had this doctrine not been found there, a naster of Israel would not have been to blame for not discovering it there. Dr. M. would also, in denying the Jews to be born again by circumcision, contradict himself, and wholly overthrow his fundamental principle, which is, that a sacrament does of necessity convey the thing signified by the outward sign. So that, turn which way he will, his principles destroy themselves,
* Acts viii, 10, 12, 13, 18.
Regeneration necessarily connected with Baptism,
contrary to the general experience of fuct. Those who are scripturally acquainted with the doctrine of regeneration, too well perceive that numbers of persons who are baptised, by no means can be considered as being born again. Persons of all ages are baptised; adults as well as infants. But who does not know how little piety is apparent after their baptism as well as before? If, as Dr. M. acknowledges, that we receive in regeneration a "new principle of life," a death unto sin and new birth unto righteousness; this change would be so great that we could not mistake it, if it actually took place. Beside, on Dr. M.'s principles this change would be very remarkable. If the “ new principle of life' was infused in baptism, there could be no new life before baptism. Before regeneration, the soul is “dead in trespasses and sins.” And if we are re. generate in baptism, then previous to baptism, the soul is “ dead in trespasses and sins.”
Bat if the soul is dead in sin before baptism, and made alive to God by baptism, the change would, in adults, be infallibly seen. If a person (on Dr. M.'s principles) went to be baptised as wicked as Simon Magus, he must nevertheless return holy and devoted. But this is quite contrary to matter of fact. We dont perceive any such effects produced by baptism. And indeed, I am greatly mistaken, should any person, baptised at riper years, profess to have experienced such effects in baptism, if Dr. M,
would not consider it delusire and enthusiastic. But yet on his own ground he ought to expect it. Ihare myself baptised persons of almost all ages, from a day old to 20 years. And I most frankly confess I have not usually seen such effects, as Dr. M.'s system would seem to imply, produced by baptism. And though I may not have been without hope of some of them being religious characters : yet this change of heart and character appeared to have been produced by the previous instruction, and was as apparent before, as it was after baptism. And indeed, we shall soon see that this change is expected and required by our church before she will even permit persous to be baptised.
It is very manifest, too, from the early corruption shewn by children, that they are not always regenerate by baptism. Their passion, jealousy, discontent, deceit, &c. prove how true the psalmists language is. " As soon as they are born, they go astray, speaking lies.” But these evil tempers are changed and done away (very greatly) in regeneration. And in those who are sanctified from the womb, these affections are evidently from that time subdued. There would, moreover, be no apparent propriety in the scriptures specifying such cases as the child Samuel, the Prophet Jeremiah, and John the Baptist, as being “ strong in the spirit," and “ sanctified from the womb."* If all were sanctified in circumcision which was performed on the eighth day, as there would be no opportunity for the operation of original sin before circumsion.
* Jeremiah i. 5. . Luke i, 80.