Imatges de pàgina
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baptism the "sign" of regeneration, it cannot be "regeneration" itself. But the word "sign" this article employs as synonymous with instrument. The word "sign" is also thus used, as signifying a mean or instrument, in the catechism, where a sacrament is defined as "an outward and visible sign of an inward or spiritual grace, which sign is ordained by Christ himself as a mean whereby we receive the same." By baptism, By baptism," the sign of regeneration, or new birth," the article states, "as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly," receive certain privileges; and these privileges the article proceeds to enumerate-" they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the church: the promises of the forgiveness of sins, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed: faith is confirmed, and grace increased, by virtue of prayer unto God." These privileges, to which by nature we have no title, are conferred upon us by baptism, which, translating us into a new state, where we enjoy privileges not previously enjoyed, is styled regeneration; and a regenerate state is that state in which we are placed by baptism.

It is necessary, however, that I should again remind you, that the full and complete enjoyment of these privileges of baptism are suspended on the conditions of "repentance, whereby we forsake sin, and faith, whereby we steadfastly believe the promises of God;" infants "promising repentance and faith by their sureties, which promise, when they come of age, themselves are bound to perform."

From the above detail it appears that our church considers baptism as calling persons into a state of salvation; from being children of wrath, that is,

without any covenant title to mercy, making them children of grace; conveying to them the Holy Ghost, that is, a certain portion of his divine influences, and the forgiveness of their sins; in fine, making them members of Christ, children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. This new state is very properly considered as a regenerate state; and baptism, the instrument by which we are brought into this regenerate state, is styled regeneration.

II. This doctrine of baptismal regeneration, held by our church, is a doctrine of Scripture, and of the primitive church; and it may be defended by the authorities of the reformed churches, and of various distinguished divines of the Church of England.

The Scripture asserts that baptism is regenera

tion.

The word regeneration occurs but twice in Scripture. In one of these places,* our Lord applies it to denote that new dispensation of grace and mercy into which he had introduced his disciples; and in the other place,† it most unequivocally denotes baptism, which the apostle styles "the washing of regeneration." The application of this term to baptism is also warranted by our Lord himself, who declares-" Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."‡

The privileges of the Gospel covenant, which are implied in this term regeneration, are conferred in baptism. Baptism incorporates us into the

Matt. xix. 28.

Titus iii. 5.

John iii. 5.

church, makes us members of Christ. "By one Spirit," saith the apostle,* "we are all baptized into one body."

Baptism confers the remission of sins. "Arise, and be baptized," said St. Paul to Ananias,† "and wash away thy sins." " Repent, and be baptized," said St. Peter to the Jews, "every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins."

Baptism confers the gift of God's Holy Spirit. "Be baptized," said St. Peter, "and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost." "We," saith the apostle Paul,§ "being baptized into one body, have been made all to drink of one Spirit." The Spirit of Christ animates his body the church, and of this Spirit the members of his body necessarily par

take.

Baptism makes us children of God and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. "Ye are all the children of God," saith the apostle, "by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ."|| "And if children, then heirs: heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ."I Those who, in their natural state, having no title to the favour of God and the happiness of heaven, are styled "aliens," "strangers,'

97**

66

foreigners," when baptized into the body of Christ, are considered as in a state of covenant with God, and styled "fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God," "children

* 1 Cor. xii. 13.

§ 1 Cor. xii. 13. ** Eph. ii. 12.

† Acts xxii. 16.
|| Gal. iii. 26, 27.
tt Eph. ii. 19.

Acts ii. 38. ¶Rom. viii. 17. ‡‡ Eph. ii. 19.

of God,' ,"*"sons of God," and "joint-heits with Christ" of "an eternal inheritance."

The apostles uniformly address the whole body of believers, in the various churches to which they directed their epistles, as translated by baptism into the kingdom of Christ, and thus entitled to all the privileges of that kingdom-the forgiveness of sins, the favour of God, the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, the heavenly inheritance.

That the primitive church considered baptism as regeneration, and applied to this sacrament the same terms now applied to it by our church, there can be the fullest proof.

Justin Martyr, whose able apologies for Christianity were presented to the emperor and senate of Rome but a few years after the age of the apostles, describing the mode of baptism, observes"We bring them to some place where there is water, and they are regenerated by the same way of regeneration by which we are regenerated; for they are washed with water, in the name of God the Father and Lord of all things, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost."

Irenæus, the bishop of Lyons, in the second century, in the following passage styles the commission of baptism which our Lord gave his disciples, the commission of regeneration. "And again, when he gave his disciples the commission of regenerating unto God, he said unto them, 'Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.' "§ Origen, a celebrated father of the second century,

Gal. iii. 26.
Rom. viii. 17; Heb. ix. 15.

+1 John iii. 1.

Ire. adv. Hær. 1. ii. c. 39.

observes*" Infants are baptized for the forgive ness of sins. Of what sins? or when have they sinned?" He then goes on to observe, that by baptism the original corruption of nature in infants is washed away; and in another homily† he had observed" Whereas the baptism of the church is given for forgiveness of sins, infants also are, by the usage of the church, baptized; when, if there were nothing in infants that wanted forgiveness and mercy, the grace of baptism would be needless

to them."

Cyprian, the celebrated bishop of Carthage, in the third century, observes in one of his epistlest"The same spiritual grace which is equally distributed in baptism among believers, may afterwards be either diminished or increased in our acts and conversation."

St. Basil, of the fourth century, styles baptism "the regeneration of the soul, the grace of adoption."§

Theodoret, a celebrated commentator of the same century, observes" In our regeneration, the words of God, spoken by the priest, form and regenerate him who is baptized."||

St. Chrysostom, the eloquent father of the same century, holds similar language. The persons who are to be baptized are brought to the water, and there they are regenerated in the same manner in which we were regenerated."I

In the fifth century, the celebrated St. Austin, in controverting the errors of the Pelagians, who

*Hom. in Lucam. c. xiv. Ep. lxxvi.

Theodoret on Psalm xviii.

In Levit. c. xii.

Basil in Exhort. ad Bapt
Chrysostom on Gal. iv.

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