« הקודםהמשך »
which, as a means and a pledge, derives its efficacy from the institution of Christ. This point however having been controverted, it will be proper to adduce some authorities in its support, and they shall be such as are generally allowed to have some weight upon subjects of this kind. Archbishop Cranmer, the leader of the reformation in our own country, in his Catechism explains the effects of baptism in these words, “ Now learn, I pray you, what God worketh in us by baptism, and what benefits he giveth us in the same; for baptism is not water alone, but it is the water of God, and hath its strength by the word of God, and is a seal of God's promise, wherefore it doth work in us all those things whereunto God hath ordained it. Wherefore we ought not to have an eye only to the water, but to God rather, which did ordain the baptism of water, and commanded it to be done in his name, For he is almighty, and able to work in us by baptism forgiveness of our sins, and all those wonderful effects and operations for which he hath ordained the same, although man's reason is not able to conceive the same. Therefore consider the great treasures and benefits whereof God makes us partakers, when we are baptized; which be these. The first is, that in baptism our sins be forgiven us. The second, that the Holy Ghost is given to Us, which doth shed abroad the love of God in our heart. The third is, that by baptism the whole righteousnessd of Christ is given to us, that we may claim the same as our own. Fourthly, by baptism we die with Christ, and are buried as it were into bis death, that we should suffer afflictions and death as Christ himself hath suffered. By which, I trust, you understand wherefore baptism is called the bath of regeneration, and how in baptism we be born again and made new creatures in Christ."
Bishop Jewel also, that illustrious champion of the catholic faith against popery, expresses bimself to the same purpose : “ As princes? seals confirm and warrant their deeds and charters, so do the sacraments witness to our conscience that God's promises are true, and shall continue for ever. They are not bare signs, it were blasphemy so to say: the grace of God doth always work with his sacraments; but we are taught not to seek that grace in the sign, but to assure ourselves, by receiving the
These words were probably intended to express our entire justification by the pardon of all our sins: we are not bound to take them in the full extent of “ an imputed righteousness,” implying a perfect obedience, instead of faith. Compare Rom. iv. 5, 11, 25.
sign, that it is given us by the thing signified, We are not washed from our sins by the water we are not fed to eternal life by the bread and wine, but by the precious blood of our Saviour Christ which lieth bid in these sacraments. The sacrament maketh not a Christian, but is a seal and assurance to all that receive it of the grace of God, unless they make themselves unworthy thereof; and that no man may despise this holy ordinance, and keep back his infants from baptism.” Such it appears was the doctrine held at the time of the Reforma. tion. On examining the Articles, Homilies, Baptismal and Confirmation services, we are led to the very same conclusion; and the above quotations will serve to shew that these formularies were not drawn up hastily, but that they express the deliberate sentiments of their compilers, who evidently considered baptism as the initiatory rite by which we are formally invested with all our privileges as believers in Christ: for to be effectual signs they must not only represent, but testify the presence of, the thing signified. Of the baptismal service in particular this may be affirmed: there we find the greatest anxiety displayed by them for enforcing their point, and every form of expression made use of for that purpose; not satisfied with simply asserting it, they have proceeded to make it the ground work of inferences and exhortations, the subject too of previous supplication to God, and, what is still more remarkable, of subsequent solemo thanksgiving as for a blessing actually bestowed, which it is not to be supposed that men of such acknowledged piety and judgment would have done, but under the fullest conviction entertained by themselves of its certainty,
We should nevertheless be scarcely doing justice to this subject, were we to pass over in silence the grand objection which bas been urged, occasionally with unseemly triumph, against this statement, and wbich indeed at first sight seems materially to affect it.
It is objected, that we do not in general find, that corresponding and suitable effects are produced in those who are baptized. We yield the point, but deny the intended inference; for it should be remembered, that we do not mean to assert that the grace of baptism operates upon us necessarily, as upon inanimate and unresisting matter, or that it will at all excuse us from using our own exertions. We are not uninstructed, that if our talent be retained by us unoccupied, we cannot expect to restore it to the owner with increase, but rather to be deprived of it, and that deservedly. That “ God worketh in us both to will and to do, for the sake of his own good pleasure!" -S0 far from being an excuse for indolence, is our very motive and encouragement to exertion, and that with diligence, or rather," with fear and trembling.". It is manifest folly to expect the end if we do not use the means. The initiatory sacrament must be followed up by a course of religious instruction; for how can any one be expected to stir up the gift that is in him, or to call into exercise the powers imparted from above, whilst he is uninformed of their existence. The low estimation in wbich baptism is held, forgetfulness of the blessings conferred by it, and a want of faith in God's promise, have moreover deprived the parent of his greatest encouragement, to proceed with confidence, in the work of instruction: and, putting aside cases of wilful depravity in youth, the mere neglect of such instruction is sufficient to explain, why there is frequently so little advantage derived, from the ordinance in question. A feeling of the truth and importance of these points in the minds of parents, would call forth earnest prayer to