Imatges de pàgina
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without reference to the context. His assertion in point of fact respects, not the spiritual character of Christian Baptism in opposition to a material Baptism, but the mode in which that Baptism becomes a Baptism into one body, namely, by the operation of one Spirit. It is upon the unity of the body, into which we are baptized, as the result of the oneness of the Spirit, by which the effect of Baptism is produced, that he is discoursing. And what renders the testimony thus borne to the concomitancy of the gift of the Spirit with Baptism, peculiarly valuable to our purpose is, that it occurs in the course of a discussion, not upon Baptism, but upon the operations of the Spirit; which, it seems, would have been incomplete without some reference to its agency in the sacraments.

Towards the close of this Epistle a passage occurs, which has much perplexed the commentators on the New Testament. I allude to St. Paul's mention of certain persons as having been baptized for the dead'. Into the particular meaning of the expression, I do not inquire; but from the manner in which the practice is alluded to, I do feel entitled to contend, that some important benefit, and that, intimately connected with our hopes of eternal life, was in the earliest and purest age of the church, and by the admission of St. Paul, looked for from Baptism. It might indeed, from the line of argument pursued by the Apostle, be not improbably conjectured, that that benefit consisted in the implanting of the seed of a new life; to which there is also an apparent allusion in the early part of St. Peter's first Epistle" For St. Paul's appeal to the Corinthians rests altogether on the necessity of the resurrection to give effect to the Baptism of which he speaks: he contends, that the resurrection must take place, unless that Baptism was vain and unprofitable; a supposition which he obviously considers to be too absurd to need either comment or refutation. But whether or not this be admitted as a just description of the specific grace referred to by St. Paul on the occasion in question, as annexed to

il Cor. xv. 29.

k 1 Pet. i. 23.

the observance; that some substantial benefit was anticipated from it, must, it would seem, be conceded to a fair consideration of his words.

In the next passage I shall quote, from the Epistle to the Galatians, a new and important result of Baptism is obtained : Ye are all, says St. Paul to those to whom he is writing, the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ: for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ'.

That in Baptism, therefore, we are made the children of God, and admitted to the privileges of that filiation, is the distinct and intelligible doctrine of St. Paul. It has indeed been endeavoured to refer this to faith alone. But the answer already given to a similar attempt to appropriate to repentance the promises made to Baptism, in St. Peter's address to the multitude on the day of Pentecost, will, it would appear, mutatis mutandis, apply to the present case also.

That without faith in Christ, the consequence or the motive of that repentance, by which they were led to abandon Judaism and idolatry for the religion of the Gospel, no adult person (and these it is whom St. Paul is addressing) would in those early ages of Christianity have been baptized in his name, is sufficiently evident. But that it is through Baptism, in which we put on Christ, that we actually become the children of God, appears not less clearly from the

i Gal. iii. 26, 27.

very form of words used, and the obvious construction of the sentence, in which it is asserted. The having been baptized is the reason assigned for our filiation. And the difficulties which have been raised, with respect to this the simplest interpretation of this and other passages, in which our being born to God in Baptism is asserted or implied, in truth have their origin, not in any serious doubt as to the construction of the places in question, but in some supposed inconsistency of its admission with other parts of Christian doctrine. The whole question respecting regeneration, has been of late so fully, and in the work of a learned prelateTM

Bishop Bethel, in his General View of the doctrine of Regeneration in Baptism. Rivingtons. 8vo. 1821.

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of the sister university, so satisfactorily discussed, that I have no wish to revive the controversy concerning it. I will only observe, in reference to the passage more immediately before us, that the whole reasoning in the latter part of the chapter in which the text occurs, and in the beginning of the next, turns upon the incontrovertible certainty of that filiation and adoption, of which those who embrace the religion of Jesus Christ receive the assurance; without reference to the internal qualification, which may be necessary to reap the ultimate benefit of their adoption. The putting on Christ, in the passage before us, though apparently a cognate expression to that in the Epistle to the Ephesians, of putting on the new man", has reference in reality to an entirely different view of the subject. In the

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work, which, having been put forth when the storm of controversy on the subject was nearly blown over, has obtained perhaps less notice than it deserved; but which cannot be too strongly recommended to those, who wish to obtain clear and just ideas upon the whole question, for the soundness of its statements, and the candour and ability with which they are enforced.

Ephes. iv. 24.

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