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nected with it, can be exclusively meant; unless all, who are baptized with water; are “ so dead to sin,” and so " buried” from it, as not to walk any longer therein.New converts professed these things, at their baptism; and if, with the washing of water, there was also “ the " answer of a good conscience towards God;" they would " thenceforth walk in newness of life:” but not otherwise. “ For if we have been planted together in “ the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the like. “ ness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old “ man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be
destroyed; that henceforth we should not serve sin."* E true Christians need exhorting to act consistently with their profession; and much more, collective bodies: so that the subsequent exhortations do not at all invalidate this conclusion, which is drawn by the apostle in the most decided language. When the apostle said, “ As many of you, as have been baptized unto Christ " have put on Christ:"_" for ye are all one in Christ “ Jesus;" “ And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abra“ ham's seed, and heirs according to the promise;"'+ did he mean that hypocrites, receiving outward baptism, became one with Christ, the children of believing Abraham, and heirs of the promised blessings? or did he not rather intend to express the same; as when he said,
By one Spirit we are baptized into one body?” The outward baptism admits men into the visible church: but the baptism of the Spirit alone constitutes them liv. ing members of the body of Christ in heaven.
It scarcely admits of a doubt, but that circumcision was the initiatory ordinance, or sacrament, of the old dispensation, from the days of Abraham, till the coming of Christ, in the same general sense, that baptism now is; with only circumstantial differences. Circumcision was a recognition, or confession, that men, as the natural offspring of fallen Adam, were born in sin, and unclean in the sight of God: it showed, that the old man, the depraved nature, must be mortified and put off, by all who were admitted into covenant with God. * It was evidently the outward sign of regeneration, or a new creation unto holiness.f It was a profession of faith in the God of Abraham, and in his promised Seed: as baptism is of our faith in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And it was “the scal of the righteousness of " faith:”I that is, they who had the inward and spiritual grace, of which circumcision was the outward sign, had the seal of God to their faith, as genuine and justifying. If then, all baptized persons are regenerate; and if they need no other regeneration; than either baptism, or that which inseparably accompanies it: by parity of reason, all circumcised persons, so long as circumcision continued the initiatory sacrament, were regenerate, and needed no other regeneration. Let any man show the fallacy of this reasoning, if there be any flaw in it. Yet it is as sure, as the testimony of God can make it, that immense multitudes of circumcised persons continued unregenerate, and uncircumcised in heart. | Indeed Nicodemus himself, and all the scribes and Pharisees, to whom John Baptist addressed himself, with such solemn warnings, and all to whom Christ and his apostles at first preached, were circumcised persons. They had, according to the dispensation, under which they lived, received the sacrament of regeneration;' as much as Christians at present have: yet they were constantly ad. dressed, as needing regeneration, and distinguished from those, who were born of God.
• Rom. vj. 5, 6.
t Gal. ïi. 27–29.
• Jer. iv. 4. Col. ii. 11. + Deut. x. 16. xxx. Rom. ii. 28, 29. Phil. üi. 3. * Rom. iv. 11. Jer. ix, 26. & Lev. xxvi. 41. Jer. vi 10. ix. 25, 26. Ez. iliv. 7. Acta vii. 51,
I shall here conclude my argument from Scripture, concerning regeneration; though the subject is by no means exhausted. I have laboured it the more, as I consider it, in some respects, the most important point, in contest, between the evangelical clergy and their opponents; as in other subjects of prime importance, in some respects more concessions are made to them, than in this; especially in the publication, on which I venture to make these remarks: and because, it appears to me, that this is the very hinge on which the whole argument turns. If such a regeneration, as has been stated, be needful, man must be wholly dead in sin, altogether depraved; salvation must be wholly by grace in Christ, through faith alone, and that the work and gift of God, “ who worketh all things according to the counsel of his “own will.". But if no such regeneration be needful, the whole system of our opponents may, at least, have the
appearance of truth and reality.--I trust it has been demonstrated, that both, regeneration, and the other terms equivalent to that word, are used in far different senses, than 'as applied to the one immediate effect of
baptism:' and, though not 'synonymous to the repen'tance and reformation of a christian;' any more, than the cause is synonymous with the effect; or life, with activity, and pleasure, and pain; yet, they are used to
express' an operation on the human mind and heart ' subsequent,' in many instances, 'to baptism:' unless all, in every age, who have been baptized adult, on a formal or hypocritical profession of faith, are to be consigned, without hope, to perish with the enemies of God.—This will, however, appear more clearly, in what next follows.
The DOCTRINE OF BAPTISM AND REGENERATION,
AS CONTAINED IN THE LITURGY, ARTICLES, AND HOMILIES OF THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH.
P. lxxxvii. 1. 1. • The Christians, &c."* On this quotation from Wall's History of Infant Baptism;' it may
be observed, that the use of the words regenerate * or born again,' to 'denote baptism,' is certanly of great antiquity in the christian church; but the term, con
tinue the use of it,' is not correct: because it has been shown, that the language of the sacred writers does not sanction it. In no one instance, in which the baptizing of any persons is recorded in the New Testament, is the least intimation given, that they were then regenerated. The two subjects are kept entirely separate; except, as in two or three passages, containing instructions and exhortations, baptism, as the outward sign and seal of regeneration is alluded to; but it is never called regeneration. From what source the difference between the early fathers, and that of the sacred writers originated, is another question: but it is certain, that we cannot at the same time both “speak according to the oracles of “God;" and according to the language of Justin Martyr, for instance: “They are conducted by us, to a place * where there is water, and regenerated, according to the * same mode of regeneration, by which we ourselves
were regenerated.'t Now, whether the sentiment be scriptural or not; the language cannot be paralleled from any narrative of baptism in the new Testament.
It has been the opinion of many persons, eminent for
• The christians did in all antient times continue the use of this name * for baptism; so as that they never use the word regenerate or born again, • but that they mean or denote by it baptism.'
See page 297, Refutation,
wisdom and abilities, as well in the church of Eng. land as elsewhere, that the Reformers from Popery in general, by appealing to the fathers and councils of the first four centuries, as authority, not clearly distinguish. ed from that of Scripture, gave their opponents a great advantage against them, in all the controversies which followed. An amiable humility, and deference to characters of established reputation; a fear of needlessly innovating, and some remaining prejudice of education, very reasonably account for this, without deducting in the least from their reputation for wisdom and piety.-But, as in the apostle's days, “The mystery of iniquity did " already work;"* so, in the course of four centuries, and indeed in far less time, it had made great, though silent, progress.
When this concession, made by several of our reformers, (not indeed in the articles, and authentick docu. ments, but in their controversial writings,) is considered; it is truly wonderful that so very little appears in our liturgy, which seems, even in language to vary from the sacred oracles. A deep acquaintance with the scriptures, and an abundance of heavenly wisdom and grace, preserved the venerable compilers of our liturgy and articles, so free from the different deviations found in the ancient writings, whose authority they still in some res. pects allowed: that very few expressions seem to have been taken, or retained from them, which do not accord with those of the sacred writers. Yet, in the case of baptism there are a few exceptions to this general rule; and the custom of the church, during very many centuries, in which baptism and regeneration were generally confounded; and indeed the opus operatum considered as the grand, if not the only, concern; seems to have in
2 Thes. ii. 7.