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consent. The parties (I speak with solemnity an! reverence) thus, before the church bind themselves to a due fulfilment of all its obligations. The Almighty las made a covenant: revealed its privileges, blessings, enjoyments, promises; and makes, as it were, public declaration by the preached word, that he is willing to be “reconciled" to guilty and ruined men.
But let it be observed : till men individually believe this report, ; till they individually approve the design of the covenant; till they heartily embrace it as it is proposed in the gospel, they have
no part or lot” in this covenant. Till this consent is fully obtained on man's part, he has no peculiar claim; no right or enjoyment.----Before this agreement of the heart of any individual with God, the covenant is not particular, but general. Previous to faith in the message, it is only a public promulgation of God's good will towards men. But when any one believes with the heart the things spoken, and approves in sincerity the proposal made by God, the covenant consent is obtained; the design is now mutual; the covenant and its blessings become par. ticular ; the individual is now become a party in it.
Now then, to slew the reality of this consent and the genuine piety of the soul in its profession: the person, enters by this legal docuinant into a solemn engagment with God.---- The visible elements of the sacrament, are “ tokens aud pledges” on God's part, and the persons reception of them are a visible testimony of consent, and approbation, on his. This makes baptism become an - instrument," or public bond of agreement between the soul and God.
That this solemn rite, may have all the nature of a lawful instrument, and all the eficacy tliat it can be
supposed to possess, a very regular and formal process is established by or church. The persoa to be baptized, not only makes this pie Ige of his faith in God, and devotedness to him; but witnesses are chosen by him, as assessor's and bondsmen. They not only stand as evidences of this public act of the baptism, but are (as far as can be) responsible for the fulfilment of his engagements. They witness his thus subscribing with his hand unto the Lord;” and are to “reinind him," and call upon him, to fulfil the awful engagement he has inade, and as far as possible see to the performance of it.
Here then we perceive the true nature and genuine import of this “instrument” which our article inakes use of.----The Minister, so to speak, negociates this federal contract, or covenant engagement; he testifies on the part of God that he will perform his part of the covenant; the baptized person publicly plights his whole soul to God, to be his faithful soldier and servant, and thus gives (as the word sacrament imports) solemn oath, to this engagement; his
“chosen wiinesses” are joined in, and evidence to this sacred transaction; and thus the person is admitted into covenant with God; the treaty is “ratified and confirmed;" and his ado;tion into God's family, "visibly signed and scaled."
We shall here make an observation or two before we proceed any further.
First, That what we have stated, as to the “ nant” implying mutual agreement and co ent in order to its being truly eniered into, and enjoyed, is manifestly the true notion of our church on this head: this will be particularly demonstrated and more fully proved hereafter. Second, that the
“instrument" of baptism by which we are " grafted" into the church, is clearly the public declaration and signature of this agreenient and consent 0:1 thie part of the baptized, and is expec:e:l to embrace and imply the real subscription as it were of the heart in order to the blessing being enjoye:l. Third, The very notion of the covenant, and the instrument by which we enter into covenant implying consent of heart, in orler to the spiritual blessings being possessed by the persons receiving it, will prove to a demonstration that Dr. M.'s notion of baptism, as absolutely, universally, and exclusively conveying regeneration and salvation, is certainly erroneous and untrue. Because, first, in theory it is absurd : No person ca: be sure of the inward disposition of another. Second, in practice it is not real. For in all contracts, deceit and hypocrisy are found, and we have before she wed that it has been found in persons baptized.
CHAPTER III. The Inseparable Connexion of Baptism and Regeneration' inconsistent with
inconsistent with Baptismul Engagements.
DR. M. most unequivocally, expressly, and repeatedly declares, that baptism and regeneration are always united. He says that, “ indeed to deny the regenerating influences of baptism, is to deny its sacramental character; to strip it of that which makes it most valuable; and to reduce it to a mere beggarly element," a form without the substance, a body without the spirit, a sign without the signification. (36). Again, “ that baptism is a sacrament; and as such, of course consisting of the outward visible sign, and the inward spiritual grace. (15.) (and pages 21, 23, 27, 33, 40, 41.)
Let it then be noted once for all, that this inseparable character of the outward sign, and the inward spiritual grace, is what we controvert.---- This is what we undertake to prove, is contrary to the doctrine of our church. If we do not demonstrate this, we do nothing. Dr. M. has possession of the field, unless we prove positively and clearly that regeneration and baptism do not always go together. This then we engage to do.
Dr. M. has doubtless slewn (and we no way deny it) that, in the ofhces of baptism, the church surposes regeneration to have taken place. The whole consideration then with regard to his doctrine of baptism and regeneration, will turn upon the deci. sion of the following question, namely: upon what supposition or ground, does the church admit of the baptized being regenerate? Is it upon a ground, which will secure the end ? Or is it upon a consideration which may nevertheless be frustrated ? Is it, for instance, a matter of doctrinal certainty? (as faith and justification;) Or an admission of charitable hope ? like St. Paul's. " It is meet for me to think this of
all.” There appear to be only two ways of answering the question. The one is that of the church of Rome, (which Dr. M. appears to have taken) namely that the very administration of the sacrament of baptism necessarily conveys grace, and regeneration, "ex opore operato."----Or secondly, that some consideration is pre-supposed upon which it is admitted. We take the laiter ground, and not. withstanding the language she holds in baptism, we shall prove that the church instructs us that, haptism and regeneration may be separated, have been separated, and are separated.
We shall particularly see that she holds the ad ministration of baptism to be inefficacious, except the person baptised receive it “rightly." That is, with “repentance and faith.” Our answer to the question then is this, It is upon the supposition, (and upon that only) that the person to be baptised is rightly disposed in the engagement he makes on receiving baptism, that the church acknowledges his regenieration.
Two things are here necessary to be proved. First, that the person to be baptized, is previously required to profess his faith, &c. and that he does profess it.
Second, that the charitable hope that this profession is real, is the true ground upon which she admits regeneration.
That the person to be baptised, is previously
required to profess his faith, and that he does profess it. This is his federal contract, or covenant engagement.* To undertake a formal proof of a stipulation
* What the church specifically means by persons rightly baptised, being regenerate in baptism, we shall consider in a future chapter, at present we have no right, (as fair disputants,) to assume that she meano any thing but what at first sight she seems to mean.