« הקודםהמשך »
springing from faith in Christ, love to his name, and zeal for his glory. • Men, who fancy they have received this second birth, consider themselves full
of divine grace,' while they are regardless both of . the laws of God and man, &c. ;' are doubtless deluded and dangerous enthusiasts: and, it may boldly be said, that no part of the clergy morc steadily oppose these enthusiastical delusions, than those, who preach the necessity of regeneration to baptized or unbaptized persons, who are not proving that they are regenerate, by the substantial fruits of a holy life. Regeneration is like the grafting of the tree: and if it take place, either before, or at, or after,' baptism, it will be shewn by its holy fruits. Miraturque novas frondes, et non sua poma. But if it be fancy and delusion, for a man, on account of some inward feelings, to think himself born again, and new-created unto good works, while
guilty of the grossést immoralities :' we think it also fancy and mistake, to suppose persons regenerate, who are living in the practice of gross wickedness, or an ungodly life, in any form, merely because they were baptized in infancy.
If a nurseryman should be introduced into an inclosure, planted with crab-trees, covered with their worthless fruit, and having not one apple or pear on any of them ; and be told, that they had all been grafted, when young plants, and needed no other grafting : he * would say, It is plain, the graft did not take ; and
it is evident, they must be grafted in a more effica:..cious manner, or they will still remain crab-trees ;
without this, pruning, and digging, and manuring. will do nothing. The application to our views is obvious. After having been informed, that John Baptist “ should be filled with the Holy Ghost even “ from his mother's womb;"! we should not expect to read, that he lived in a dissipated, sensual, ungodly, and worldly course, during the former years of his life: we should suppose, on the contrary, that even his childhood and youth would be stamped with piety, purity, and love to God and man; and, in short, that as “the child grew, he would wax
strong in Spirit,” and bring forth “ the fruits of “the Spirit.” Birth introduces life; but if life be speedily extinct, the birth seems in yain; and if regeneration always accompanies infant-baptism; but far more frequently is lost, than retained; the spiritual life must be restored, by the same life giving Spirit, who first gaye it; or the persons concerned must continue “ dead in sin," and at length “ in their sins, and be lost for ever."
* Regeneration, &c."? ? By means of
1 Luke i. 15.
Regeneration then in its true sense signifies an inward effeot produced by the Holy Ghost through the means of baptism, • whereby the person baptized exchanges his natural state in • Adam for a spiritual state in Christ. Water applied outwardly ' to the body, together with the grace of the Holy Ghost applied
inwardly to the soul, regenerates the man ; or, in other words, the Holy Ghost, in and by the use of water-baptism, causes the new-birth. And the words regeneration and new-birth are
never used in the New Testament, or in the writings of our • church, as equivalent to conversion or repentance, independent
of baptism. The instantaneous conversion of persons already • baptized, by the resistless and perceptible power of the Holy
Ghost, and their being placed in a state of salvation from which
* baptism,' or by the word of truth.' “Being " born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incor« ruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and
abideth for ever." —Regeneration is the cause, and repentance and conversion are the effects. Regeneration imparts life; and where life is, there will be feeling and activity. Regeneration takes away
the heart of stone, and gives the heart of Aesh ;' which is susceptible of holy fear, godly sorrow, ingenuous shame, 'remorse, contrition, hatred of sin, humiliation þefore God, longing after holiness, love, gratitude, enlarged pure benevolence, and all holy affections: but neither in Scripture, nor in the writ. ings of Calvinists in general, are the cause and the effects confounded. Almighty and everlasting God, • who dost forgive the sins of all them that are peni. tent, create and make in us new and contrite • hearts, that we worthily lanienting our sins, and
it is impossible for them to fall, are unfounded and mischievous • tenets, utterly irreconcilable with Scripture and the doctrines * of the church of England. The design of Christianity is in• deed to remedy ite corruption and depravity of human nature,
and to restore it to that image of God in which Adam waś • created, and which by transgression be lost-but this is not • done by sudden and violent impulses of the Spirit :-it must be,
as I observed in the former chapter, the progressive result of • calm and serious reflection, firm resolution, zealous exertion, and constant vigilance, aided by the co-operation of divine
grace. The frame and temper of the mind will thus be grà. dually improved; the force of sinful temptations will grow less
and less ; we shall : daily proceed in all virtue and godliness of • living,
;"" till we come unto a perfect man, upto the measure of o the stature of the fulness of Christ."
James i. 18. 1 Pet. i. 23.
acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Regeneration, as giving spiritual life to the dead, may, nay, must, be instantaneous; though the person regenerated is seldom, perhaps never, at the moment, aware of what has taken place: but conversion may be more or less gradual, according to various cir. cumstances; and indeed we must be converted more and more, or, turned more and more from sin to God and holiness, till we become perfectly holy; and especially if any turn aside, they must again be converted from the evil of their ways. Being placed
in a state of salvation, from which it is impossible for them to fall,' belongs to another part of the work, and will there be fully examined. Except the words, resistless," violent impulses,' the remainder of the quotation is excellent; but the disposition to this calm and serious reflection,' here described, is the effect of the special grace of God preventing us.
I might here close this part of my remarks on regeneration : but, aware of the misconstruction, which is often put upon the words of those, who maintain, that baptism is not regeneration by the Holy Spirit, nor always attended with it; I deem it proper to add, that this sentiment is not accompanied with any hesitation, as to the propriety and scriptural authority of infant-baptism. It appears to me, as much the christian parent's duty to present his child to God, in baptism ; as it was that of Abraham and his descendants, to devote their male offspring to God by circumcision. The blessing of God must be expected, in the way of obedience to his command, ments, and observance of his ordinances : and when all concerned in the baptism of infants, conscientiously attend to their several duties, and unite in their fervent prayers, that the children may have
1 Col. Ash Wednesday, Jam, v. 19.
* Matt. xyiii, 3. Luke xxii. 32.
the inward and spiritual grace of baptism ;' and when the parents and others concerned, endeavour to "train up their children in the nurture and adıno“nition of the Lord;" there is good ground for hope, that the blessing will be vouchsafed, either at the time, or afterwards, if the children live. And, in respect to those, who die, before they commit actual sin; it is a comfort to the parents to reflect, that they brought their children to the Saviour, and sought his blessing, according to his own appointment. But we must not add, that those who die unbaptized, whether by the mistake or fault of the parents, or not, die unregenerate; and so “ cannot
enter the kingdom of God;" for this would not only inflict a cruel wound on the afflicted mind of the parents; but would imply a reflection on the mercy and goodness of God, to his ancient church, to the unoffending offspring of believing Abraham, to whom he said, “ Į will be a God to thee and to " thy seed.” Infants were not to be circumcised till the eighth day; no doubt numbers died before the eighth day; and if “ the circumcision of the "! heart by the Spirit,” were inseparable from that of the body; they must die among the uncircumcised