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may be shewn, for a long succession to convince; and while these authoof ages, that the word regeneration rities are reglected or disputed, had one definitive meaning, and that there is occasion for the labour and the words of our Lord, John jii. 5. the learning of other writers to folhad one unvarying interpretation. low up their investigations, to gjve This meaning may be traced to the the air of novelty to an argumeut, primitive fathers, of whose opinions which is already exbausted, aod thus there can be no doubt; it can be to confirm the opinions of such as shewn, by a comparison of things are settled in the faith, and to afford spiritual with spiritual, to be the new opportunities of conviction to doctrine of the Scriptures; it wus
such as need it. known before the Scriptures of the
The Dean of Chichester is known New Testament were written, and
to have borne a considerable share corresponds with the received phra-' in the controversy upon Regeneraseology of the Jews, who lived in tion, which was agitated on the pub. the time of our Saviour and the lication of Bishop Mant's two SerApostles, and who understood their mons, under the sanction of the words in po other sense. The Cal- Society for Promoting Christian vinistic doctrine of regeneration is Knowledge. The Dean, however, of modern date, unsupported by any upon the present occasion, takes ancient authority; the doctrine laid but little notice of that controversy, down by the Church of England, or of the writers who were engaged and professed by the great body of in it, with the exception of Dr. Lauthe clergy, is catholic, primitive, and rence; and in the General View" apostolical.
which he now takes or of the Doc. At the same time, it is no occa trine of Regeneration in Baptism," siou of surprize, that many
he directs his attention chiefly to day have been misled by the con
the antient doctrine, the scriptural stancy with which the opposite doctrine, the doctrine of the Church scheme of doctrine has been pro- of England, and the doctrine of Cal. posed, by the pertinacity with which vin and his followers, exhibiting the it has been defended, and by the grounds of the respective theories, industry with which it has been and examiniug the objections, to forced into circulation. If scriptural which they are severally liable. and historical authorities could liave In the Preface he states the ja. decided the controversy, it would tention with which he writes, and have been already decided. The lays down the plan which be means investigations of Doctor Laurence to pursue, and to which be faithfully have established the sense of our
adheres in the course of his argupublie formularies; Wall, in the ment: History of Infant Baptism, has left “ My intcotion is to take a larger and no doubt of the doctrine of the pri more compreliensive view of the subject mitive church; and Selden, Wotion, than has hitiierto fallev in my way. After and other Hebraists, have, by their
pienising some remarks (Chapter 1.) ou quotations from Jewish writings,
the obvious advantages of adhering as much determined ihe only sense in which
as possible to the strict and determinate the Jews could understand the term.
ụsage of words in theological controversies
and inquiries, I shall lay before my readers As a summary of the doctrine, the
(Chap. II.) a statement of the opinions of discourse of Waterland remains un tlie anticnt Cbristians on the subject of answered, for the best reason, that Regeneration, and of the principles (Clap. it is unanswerable. There is, never III.) on which their usage of the word theless, a large and numerous party
seems to depend. After this I shall set in the Church, from whom these
forth (Chap. IV.) the scriptoral gr-ands authorities have þeen studiously
on which this doctrine of Regenerationis
founded, and (Chap. V.) examine the concealed, or whom they have failed scriptural objections which have been
taked to it. I shall then point out (Chap. baptism, in magnitude and importance. VI.) the strict conformity between the At the time of the Reformation, the view of the antient Christians and our word was commonly used in a more loose own Charch on this head of doctrine, and and popular way, to signify sometimes shall notice (Chap. VII.) the attempts justification, sometimes conversion, or the which have been made to extract a differ. turning from sinful courses, sometimes reent opinion from the public writings of our pentance, or that gradual change of heart Churetu... Afterwards I shall enquire (Chap. and life, which is likewise styled renova. VII.) more at large into the theory of tion. Hence, in popular language, it came this doctrine, the principal variations to signify a great aud general reformation (Chap. IX.) which have been made from of habits and character, and the words it, and the theory (Chap. X. XI.) wliich regenerate and unregenerate,' were sub., bas been opposed to it with the greatest stituted for the words converted and unconfidence. In conclusion (Chap. XII.) converted, renewed and unrenewed, righI shall make a few remarks upon the har. teons and wicked. But, in the hands of mony of this doctripe with the drift and the systematic Calvinist, the word passed principles of revealed religion, and its from the popular to a strict and determiconsistency with the internal evidence and nate meaning, and they pronounced regemoral tendencies of the Christian dispen- neration to be an infusion of a habit of sation.
grace, or a radical change of all the parts • It will be seen, from this sketch of and faculties of the soul, taking place at the my intentions, that I shall be obliged to decisive moment of the effcctual call. state my dissent from some opinions, From hence the transition to a sensible which have obtained much currency and change was easy and natural; and what favour in our own times. But I trust that was a theological speculation in the system I shall do this candidly and openly, with of the scholastic divines, became, in the out departing from the spirit of fair and hands of less subdued and less calculating liberal controversy. The inquiry will like. spirits, the strong hold of enthusiasm." wise insolve some questions of moment in P.7. divinity, -I mean, the nature and proce. dure of the ordinary operations of the
It is of high importance to notice Holy Ghost, the condition to which man the assertion made in this extract, is redoeed by the Fall, and the extent and that in the few passages of the anmalignity of that infection of our nature, tient writers, in which the word rewhich is usually called Original Sin.” generation does not mean the grace .
of baptism, it is used in a figurative
Few as these In the first chapter, upon the and secondary sense. advantages of adhering to the right passages are, they have been freuse and meaning of words in theolo- quently and confidently alleged as gical controversies, Dr. Bethell il- lar signification of the word, and
testimonies of the modern and popuTustrates his position by referring to the various senses which have been the citation of some of these pas
Dr. Bethell has usefully shewn, by attached to the words law and rege sages in the notes, that the secondneration. Of the latter he justly ary sense is, of necessity, implied in
the context, when it is not actually * No reasonable doubt can be enter- expressed, and that tained that it was appropriated to that grace, whatever may be its nature, which
“ Passages of this kind are very rare, is bestowed on us in the sacrament of bap- and so evidently rhetorical, using the words tism; including perhaps occasionally by a
in question in an improper and metapliocommon figure of speech, its proper and
that they do not at all invalilegitimate effects considered in conjunc. date the assertion of learned divines, that cion with it, from the beginnings of Chris. the word regeneration is constantly used tianity to do very distant æra of ecclesias. by the antient Christians to signify bap. tical history. In those few passages of the tism and its effects.” antient Christian writers, where it bears
The conclusion of this chapter is another signification, it is evidently used
a figurative and secondary manner, to very extraordinary, and it is necess express such a change as seemed to bear sary to protest against a concessioz, some analogy to the change effected in altogether' gratuitous, inconsistent
with the drift of the author's argu-' tion. From these authorities it is ment; "and dangerous in its issues to demonstrably shewn what is the the cause of peace and unity of opinion of those divines, who vidend truth :
tify Baptism with Regeneration; and
that they have the sanction of the “ But though there is an obvious connection between the right use of words whole body of the primitive writers, and sonnd doctrine, it is not the word, for distinguishing regeneration from but the doctrine implied in it, on which I conversion or renovation...\n Au. would principally insist. Let it be allowed gastine's controversy with the Pea that such a cliange as we denote by this Jagians, the regeneration of all bapo word does actually take place in baptism, tized infants, without exception, was and it is of inferior consequence by what
“ assumed as a point universally acname it may be called. Let it be allowed that that change of heart and manpers, knowledged, and formed one of the whose necessity is universally acknow bases of his argumeut;" and, upor ledged, is not such as the scholastic Cal. another occasion, be maintained vinists or the Enthusiasts contend for, but “1. That adults, though converted, more conformable to the moral nature and are not regenerated without bapreasonable faculties of man, and no great tism; and, 2. That baptised infants, mischief will arise from its being styled in though regenerated, are not com: a popular way of speaking, and in compli verted or changed in heart." ance with the usage of many of our divines, Regeneration.'” P. 10.
The proper distinction between
this regeneration and the renewal ing There is, happily, no difficulty in heart, which is the object of prayer ascertaining the sense in which the in various passages of the Scriptures, word has been improperly used by is, that regeneration is "entirely the the older divines, or in shewing that work of Christ and the Holy Spirit, the inaccuracy of their language but renovation “is the joint work does not involve the soundness of of God or the Holy Spirit, and of their doctrine; but it is by no means man himself:” the latter is a change expedient that this misuse of lan “ in a religious and moral point of guage should be perpetuated, or view;" the former is “a distinct . that the controversialists of a future change of condition, a passage; if I age should have the specious advan- may so express myself, from one tage of quoting high authorities for state of existence to another." In this the improper or doubtful use of a
sense the primitive Christians under: word, of which the present contro- stood the word; in the same sensei versy has defined the meaning. It' it was einployed by the Romans, 10 is very true that the doctrine is the denote the act of initiation into their principal object of concern, but it mysteries, and the alteration of the is equally true that the doctrine is circumstances of a slave
his implied in the name, and that the manumission; and in the same sense people will apprehend the truth and the Pharisees interpreted it, as a the meaning of our public offices, token of entrance into a new state's according to the terms which are of life, and wew, professions and ens) used in popular discourses from the gagements of a religious nalure.'). pulpit and the press,
The spirit and force with which The laborious investigations of these observations are conducted,' Wall have rendered it unnecessary leave yo doubt of the primitive to recite the expressions of the an- meaning of the word; and in pro•c. cient fathers, and in stating their ceeding to examine the seripar opinions Dr. Bethell is content to tural authority, on which the door!! refer to the History of Infant Bap. trine of regeneration in baptism isi tism, and to present to his readers a grounded," the author arranges the suecinct analysis of the Discourse principal passages of Scripture to, of Dr. Waterland upon Regenera- der the following hads : 12
** 1. Those which speak of this change be saved, and to be born again, are by the name of regeneration, and connect parallel expressions ; nor will it be it with water apd baptism. t» ** 4. Those which speak of it in parallel of Saint John to contradict the doc
prétended, that it was the intention and corresponding expressions, with an evident allusion to the same ceremony.
trine, or derogate from the institu*" 3. Those which attribute it simply tion of his Divine Master, or that to washing and baptism.
when our Lord has said, “ He that -$44. Those which describe this change believeth and is baptized shall be in other figures and phrases not parallel saved,” Saint John bas proposed to the former.". P, 32.
the opposite opinion, that he that This arrangement affords oppor believeth is regenerate, whether he tunity of taking a clear and distinct is or is not baptized. This is a view of the principal texts which reasonable presunuption, which Dr. treat of regeneration, and upon Bethell confirms, by entering into which the Dean offers a clear and the drift of the Apostle's argument. luminous commentary. But as the
“ 'Though we cannot, perhaps, exactly selection is not altogether original, determine, what persons and opinions the and the argument is familiar to all po was combating, it appears cerwho have studied the doctrine in tain, to use the words of an eminent di. question, we may be permitted to
vine, that he has written a large part
of his first Epistle, to confute some men pass to the more important chapter, in which the author discusses “the' had been born of God, while they took
of his own time, who boasted that they principal objections which have
no care to maintain good works ; 'men' been taken to this doctrine, from who perverted the received and orthodox passages in Scripture.”
notions of regeneration to the worst pur.' The principal passages from which poses, and laid claim to the privileges and objections are drawn to the doctrine blessings of the Gospel covenant, while of regeneration in baptism, are those
they were dispensing with its obligations,
and despising its sanctions. which speak of circumcision ; those
“ Little doubt can, I think, be enterin wbich Christians are called chil.
tained, that this is a true statement of the dren of God; and those in St. general drift of the Apostle's letter, and John's first Epistle, in which he that what he has said on this particular speaks of persons born of God. subject was intended to correct a dangeFrom the analogy of other Scrip
roas misconstruction of a current and potures, more full and explicit, it is pular opinion.. But if Christ and his A pos
tles had taught that regeneration is a radishewn; that when the phrases of
cal and entire change of the mind and “ sons of God," or to be “ born moral nature, and consequently, that in of God," &c. oceur, without men the eye of reason and the nature of things, tion of baptism, baptism is implied a sound faith and habitual holiness, are the and virtually contained. In one only evidences of a new birth, the miscon
struction would have been almost iniposcorresponding text, which is overlooked by, Dr. Betbell, Gal. iii. 26, futed and condemned itself. If, on the
sible, and the heresy would have con27. the title of children of God is, other hand, their doctrine was the same, actually connected with baptism, which we find in the writings of the early although, from an improper punc. Christians, men of corrupt minds would tuation, the copoexion may not be be easily induced to separate the grace observed, “Ye are all the children and privileges of baptism, from the qualiof God by faith in Christ Jesus, for
tications which' they presuppose, and the as many as have been baptized They would endeavour to persuade thiem
duties and obligations which they imply. into Christ' have put on Christ.” selves and their fellow Christians, that he Here the baptism is expressed ; in who has been opce nıystically 'grafted into other fexts it is implied; "the merely Christ, will abide in Christ for ever; that negative argument is absolutely of he who has once known God, will know no value.” It will hardly be denied, that to
* Dr, Waterland.
him to the end intimately and vitally sand ing the doctrine of regevleration in Bapthat he who has been born of God in a sa- tism, that they imply and presuppose it, cramental and mysterious manner, will and seem to confirm its reception as an never cease to be the child of God. established article of faith in the days of
“ The Apostle, therefore, secures the the Apostle. sound part of his converts against the in " Upon the whole then we may confection of this heresy, by carrying their clude, 1. That the phrases to be born thorights from the blessings and privileges again, to be born of God, and the cof. to the duties and obligations of Christianity, responding expressions, are psed in their and insisting on their inseparable union. primary, and appropriate sense, when ap. To have fellowship with the Father and plied to the Sacrament of Baptism, both the Son, to abide in the lighi, tv abide in as a sign and as a mean or instrument of the Father and the Son, to know Christ, grace, symbolical of our mystical death to have, to see, to knore the Father, and and resurrection, and actually conveyiug to be the sons of Gol, are different phrases over to us our spiritual nativity, the parwhich express in significant language, the don of sin, and the mysterious eardest of great privilege of our religion; a myste. the Holy Ghost. rious union with the Deity, and a spiri “ 2. That there is nothing in the Apos tual relationship to God and Christ. But tle's words wbich can allow us to separate since this union in plies and requires a mo, regeneration froin baptism, or to affirin of ral resemblance, it will necessarily go any living disciple of Christ, that he has decay and expire without the exercise of been born again, born of God, or born of the corresponding duties. These are, a The Spirit, previously to this Sacramenti sincere faith in Jesiis as the Christ and the “ 3. Tirat in the passages which have Son of God, and a resolute confession of been examined, the phrase to have beetti the Father and the Son ; a stedfast at., born of God, is used in an enlarged sense tachment to the word of truth, love in fel- to signify the continuance, as well as the lowship with each other, walking as Christ commencement, of the spiritual life, in walked, in unfeigned obedience to the order to confute the pernicious tenets commandments of God and Christ, and a which had been grafted on the doctrine of life of righteousness and purity.
regeneration, and to fix the attention of As, therefore, the whole tenour of the the disciples on the duties and obligations Epistle shews, that Saint Jobn is vot teach- of their baptismal covenant.”. P. 89.240. ing us how we are to acquire our Christian The two first positions are very privileges, but how we are to preserve satisfactorily establislied, and there them, so it will satisfy an attentive reader, is no doubt that the word regenera." that in the passages wbich bear upon this question, he is not pointing out to us the tion is applied in its primary and tests of regeneration, but the criterions appropriate sense, to the sacratnent by which we must learn, whether we are of baptism, and that there is no indeed God's children in a practical point text of Saint John which can justify of view, walking in the light, avd abiding the separation of regeneration from in the Father and the Son. With this clue baptism, or the supposition, that to our enquiry we shall find, that these passages are so far from contradicting the
any man is born again previously to doctrine of baptismal regeneration, that or independently of that sacrament
: they evidently imply and presuppose it.” It is, however, very questionable, P, 80.
whether it is necessary to understand
the phrase "born of God," as length, and it is shewn, that the equivalent to " abiding;” whether length, and it is shewn, that the it is necessary to enlarge its mear chief point upon which the Apostle ing so as to comprehend the coninsists in the texts in question, is tinuance as well as the commented the substance of the Baptismal engagements, and that the same ef of restricting it to the primary act
ment of the spiritual life," instead fects which are attributed to being of initiation into the Church. The born of God, are connected with analogy of the word in other pasi other expressions. The inquiry is coneluded by a brief examination of sages should be considered, "and 'it these passages of Scripture :
should be remembered, 'that al
though the expression is of most " And they are so far from contradict- frequent occurrence in the writings