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one inwardly, and baptism is that of the heart, “ in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise “ is not of men, but of God."1
Now, if this be admitted, (and on what grounds can it be denied ?) all the exhortations, both of the ancient prophets, and of John the Baptist, and of our Lord and his apostles, before the public establishment of Christianity, were addressed to persons precisely circumstanced in this respect as nominal Christians are. They were by profession, and by circumcision, the people of God; and had all that benefit, whatever it were, or however termed, which inseparably attended circumcision.
But, except as these ancient instructors grounded their arguments and exhortations to Jews on the oracles of God which were committed to them, in what respect do their addresses to Jews, when calling them to repentance, to conversion, and holiness, differ from their addresses to gentiles on the same subjects ? Why then should we, in our exhortations, make
any distinction between the baptized and the unbaptized.?
Rom. ii. 28, 29. ii. 1, 2. * Circumcision is expressly called • a sacrament' in our Homilies. * And so was circumcision a sacrament, which'&c.— Hom. of Com. Prayer and Sacraments.-J.S.
SCRIPTURES WHICH SPEAK OF REGENERATION, OR
IMPLY IT, DISTINCTLY CONSIDERED.
I SHALL now proceed to consider the several passages in the New Testament, which relate to this subject; and to examine the connexion in which they stand.
The word regeneration (Tansyysvecia) occurs in the gospel of St. Matthew, probably with relation to another subject. In the day of the great restora'tion of all things, when the elect shall enter on
a new life of unspeakable glory, even in that great ' and dreadful day, when the son of man shall sit upon the throne of his majesty to judge the quick and dead, &c.'2_The following explanation also is worthy of notice: ‘By which is there understood, 'the perfect renovation and restoration of our • whole nature ; the complete abolition of sin and
death.'3 The same word occurs in St. Paul's Epistle to Titus, in a passage which will shortly receive a particular consideration : 4 but it is found no where else in the New Testament; nor are there any words, corresponding to the English terms regenerate, unregenerate, or regenerated.
The expressions, “born of God,” “begotten of “God,” “ born of the Spirit,” “ born again,” are generally allowed to convey the same meaning, as
i Matt. xix. 28.
· Bp. Hall.
• Tit. iii. 5.
regenerate or regenerated; and are adduced in the argument by those engaged on one side, as well as the other, in this controversy. None of them occur in any part of the first three Gospels, but they are frequently used in the writings of St. John.-Speaking of “THE WORD,” he says, “ He “ came to his own, and his own received him not : “ but as many as received him, to them gave he
power to become the sons of God, even to them “ that believe in his name ; which were born, not “ of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the “ will of man, but of God.”] It is evident that external baptism was not here intended by being “born of God :" for the most remote intimation concerning it had not been given ; and, in fact, it is “of the will of man," either that of the baptized person himself, or of him that presents an infant for baptism, and of him who in either case admits the person to be baptized, and administers the sacrament to him. Something originating from a higher source, and effected by a divine power, must be meant.?
Similar language is used by this evangelist in a connexion, and with circumstances, suited to render it peculiarly interesting and impressive. Nicodemus, a Pharisee, a ruler and teacher of Israel, one of the great council of the nation, and a man of learning and distinction, convinced by our Lord's miracles that he was “a teacher come from God," came for the express purpose of conversing with him on the subject of religion. Yet, aware of the opprobrium to which this, if known, might expose
John Hi. 8. 1 Cor. iii, 6, 7.
John i. 11-13. VOL. VII.
him, he came to him by night. Doubtless he fully expected to receive some momentous and appropriate instruction from this “ teacher come from “ God ;” and the manner in which the words of our Lord, and the answers and conduct of Nicodemus, are recorded by the evangelists, combine to shew that it was in the highest degree important, and to Nicodemus entirely new: but, if baptism, or any thing inseparably connected with baptism, were exclusively intended, what was there in it so peculiar and important; especially to one well acquainted with the“ divers baptisms”? in use among the Jews, and fully informed concerning the baptism and ministry of John ?
The words with which our Lord, with apparent abruptness, introduced his first instruction, are used by none but himself. He “the Amen, the “ true and faithful witness,"3 alone says, “ VERILY, “VERILY," ("Aperiy, eusiv) “ I say unto you;” and he only on most important occasions, and in respect of essential truths, not generally believed. This solemnity of introduction leads the reader to expect something peculiarly momentous ; something far remote from mere pharisaical instruction, and of a far higher and more spiritual nature. But let the words be rendered according to the sentiment that baptism is synonymous with regeneration : let them be read, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ex“cept a man be baptized, he cannot see the king“dom of God;" and to what do they amount beyond pharisaical instruction ?
2 Heb, ix. 10. διαφόροις ξαπλισμοις.
Judg. vi. 27. » Rev. iii. 14.
The divers baptisms of the law, with those superadded by “the traditions of the elders," and the baptism of John, were well known at that time : but Christian baptism, “in the name of the Father, “and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” had not been instituted. Had Nicodemus therefore supposed that our Lord spoke of baptism exclusively, or indeed at all; his thoughts must necessarily have been led to some of these existing baptisms, and to the nature, necessity, and meaning of them; especially of John's baptism : and, as it is highly probable that he had been baptized by John, he might have been led to answer, All these I have attended to: “What lack I yet?" But how different an impression was made upon his mind will ere long be considered.
The words, “He cannot see the kingdom of “ God," must relate to something wholly inapplicable to baptism.-By “ the kingdom of God,” it is generally agreed that the kingdom of the Messiah was intended. This kingdom a man cannot “see,” (e dúvalas idžlv,)“ except he be born again.” Buť do not all who enter the Christian church by baptism, on an intelligent, and credible, and sincere profession of “repentance toward God, and faith “ toward our Lord Jesus Christ," see the kingdom of God before they are baptized : Do none “ see
and enter into the kingdom of God,” by genuine faith and conversion to God, who yet on one'account or other die unbaptized ? Must all be excluded from the kingdom of God in heaven, however in other respects entitled to it and made meet for it,