Page images
PDF
EPUB

evident that a right disposition is required to the due effect of baptism.

It will manifestly follow from this, that, as the good is suspended upon the disposition of the heart; wherever the heart is not right, i. e. does not engage, does not comply with God, there no good effect can be possessed. Where the disposition is not, the effect is not.

Now it is very certain that all baptised persons are not rightly disposed on receiving baptism. Such then cannot be regenerate.

They have professed their faith its true, and pledged their fidelity. But they have no fuith, have no fidelity. They deceive themselves.---They deceive the church. They lay the usual marks of sincerity before the church (as a traitor makes his oath, and subscribes his name.) She judges by these, and allows the effect. But the marks prove to have been deceitful; then the blessing certainly was not conveyed. For let it be remembered, that though the church admits the evidence (not knowing the heart) “God, who sees the heart,does not : and it is not the church who gives the blessing, but God. Though man then is deceived, God is not deceived;

" Man looketh on the outward appearance" (it is all he has to guide his decision, “but God looketh on the heart."

Again----It being the disposition to which the blessing is promised, the disposition being found real, the effeet would certainly follow, whether baptism could be had or not.

This, Mr. Wheatley gives, as his opinion, and states it (as we shall just now prove) as the doctrino of our church. He tells us that lay baptism was founded upon an error, which our reformers had imbibed in the Romish church, concerning the impossibility of salvation without the sacrament of baptism." (379.) (Query, whence has Dr. M. derived this same error?) He adds that they afterwards camie to have clearer notions of the sacraments, and perceived how absurd it was to confine the mercies of God to outward means.”

Their doubting of the efficacy of clinic !o: sick persons) baptism, proves beyond a doubt, that the primitive church was of our opinion as to the disposition of the persons baptised. They went upon the supposition that the profession of faith, and desire of baptism extorted by the fear of death, could not be depended upon as voluntary and real, without subsequent and strong evidence.

Bishop Burnet also writes thus, we “ (of the church of England, in opposition to the church of Rome)” look on all sacramental actions, as acceptable to God only with regard to the temper and inward acts of the persons to whom they are applied :'---

Baptism without this profession is no baptisın, but seems to be used as a charm ; unless it is said, that this answer or profession is implied, whenever baptism is desired. When a person of age desires baptism, he must make those answers and sponsions, otherwise he is not truly haptised; and though this outward making of them, being all that can come under human cognizance, he who does that, must be held to be truly baptised, and all the outward privileges of a baptised person must belong to him; yet as to the effect of baptism on the soul of him who is' baptised, without doubt that depends upon the sincerity of the profession and vows made by him. The wills of infants are by the law of nature and notions in their parents, and are transferred by them to their sureties; the sponsions that are made on their behalf are considered as made by themselves.” (27th Article,) “ The salvation that we christians have by baptism, is effected by that federation into which we enter, when upon the demands that are made of our rebouncing the devil, the world, and the flesh, and of our believing in Christ, and our repentance, we make such answers from a good conscience as agree with the end and design of baptism: then by our coming into covenant with God, we are saved by baptism. So that the salvation by baptism is given by reason of the federal compact that is made in it. Now this being made outwardly, according to the rules that are prescribed, that must make the baptism good among men, as to all the outward and visible effects of it: but since it is the answer of a good conscience only that saves, that an answer from a bad conscience, from a hypocritical person, who does not inwardly think or purpose according to what lie professes outwardly, cannot save; but does on the contrary aggravate his damnation."

This extract states very justly, the church doctrine upon this subject. We here perceive, that regeneration may be without baptism; and baptism may be without regeneration. We may expect then that (notwithstanding the charity of her language; and though she pay great respect and allow much to the office of baptism duly received, as the instrument and sign of regeneration, yet the church does not, as Dr. M. does, make them always go together: we may expect I say, that she

will some where inform us of this. Which is the thing we find in reality she does. This we must now a little further illustrate.

The second source of evidence, proving that the church suspends the eífects of baptisın on the disposition of the receiver, is derived from her positive declarations to that effect.

We shall prove the disagreement of Dr. M. with the church in these two respects.

First, That the charch neither makes baptisin absolutely necessary to salvation : Nor,

Secondly, When rightly administered, ncccssarily productive of it.

In the first place she very evidently and designedly expunges the notion of the absolute and universal necessity of baptism to salvation; and this she does in the office of baptism itself. In the exhortation to the baptism of adults, after reading the conversation of Christ with Nicodemus,* and addressing the persons in these words, “ Beloved, ye hear in this gospel the express words of our Saviour Christ, that except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingolom of God:” They use this remarkable and excepting clause: “Whereby ye may perceive the great necessity of this sacrament, where it may be ha:l." We shall make a few remarks

this sentence. First, it expressly and particularly implies that there are circumstances where this sacrament niay not be had.----Secondly, it also as undoubtedly implies, that under these circumstances, baptism is not necessary to salvation----is not neoessary to regeneration.

upon

• John jták

.

/

Now there are very many situations in which baptism may not "be had." In the first place it can not at any time be commanded. As Bishop Burnet rightly observes, it depends upon the “ will of others.We cannot baptise ourselves. We might wish and seek to be baptised, without being able at the time, to obtain it. Children can in no case insure baptism; because this always depends upon the will of two parties, their friends, and the minister. Secondly, persons may, through error, without any design, omit to be baptised. And our Churchi, under private baptism, expressly admits that "

some things essential to this sacrament may happen to be omitted through fear, or haste in such times." If, however, any thing cssential to baptism was omitted, that child would not be baptised. And it might never be brought to the church afterwards, as thousands never are, whether they die soon after private baptism or not. The omission also might never be discovered by the minister if it was brought to church, through forgetfulness of the parties, or mistake in the minister not making accurate enquiries, In such cases, their salvation or damnation, would depend upon an error, an omission; if baptism “ rightly administered” were absolutely necessary to salvation : our church therefore, has wisely abstained from confining baptism to regeneration.

Many adults have died, before baptism could be had; as the Emperor Justinian. And many more have been eminently pious and holy characters for years, as St. Austin, and St. Ambrose"; (who was Bishop of Milan before he was baptised). Now I should exceedingly like to see Dr. M.'s answer to

1

« PreviousContinue »