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The Case of Adults.
The case of the few, who in the established church receive baptism as adults, requires a distinct consideration. In general, either they are previously true believers; and then their baptism is a profession, and seal of their faith, and a public recognition of their regeneration : or they are mere formalists. Let the reader then judge for himself, whether it can be supposed, that God uniformly renders a formaland insincere profession, (not to say, a directly hypocritical receiving of this holy sacrament,) effectual to the conversion of such characters. But let the office for adult baptism speak for itself.
• The service of baptism of such as are of riper years begins thus : ‘Forasmuch as all men are conceived and born in sin, and that which is born ' of the flesh is flesh, and they that are in the flesh
cannot please God, but live in sin, committing many actual transgressions; and that our Saviour *Christ saith, None can enter into the kingdom of God, except he be regenerate and born anew of water and of the Holy Ghost ; I beseech you to
God the Father, through our Lord Jesus * Christ, that of his bounteous goodness he will grant to these persons, that which by nature they cannot have; that they may be baptized with ' water and the Holy Ghost, and received into • Christ's holy church, and be made lively members of the same.' And, after the baptismal " words are pronounced, the persons baptized
are declared to be regenerate and new-born again."
The quotation, here adduced, is taken from the introductory exhortations. The prayers are nearly the same, as in the office for infant baptism. But the gospel appointed to be read is our Lord's discourse with Nicodemus concerning regeneration : and on this is grounded an exhortation : ‘Beloved,
ye hear in this gospel the express words of our * Saviour Christ that “except a man be born of 'water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the ' kingdom of God.” Whereby ye may perceive the ' great necessity of this sacrament, where it may 'be had. Likewise, immediately before his ascension into heaven, (as we read in the last chapter of St. Mark's gospel, he gave command to his disciples, saying, “ Go ye into all the world, and 'preach the gospel to every creature; he that be• lieveth and is baptized shall be saved; but he
that believeth not shall be damned :" which also ‘sheweth the great benefit we reap thereby. For ' which cause St. Peter the apostle, when upon the ' first preaching of the gospel many were pricked ' at the heart, and said to him and to the rest of the apostles, " Men and brethren, what shall we do?" replied and said unto them, “Repent, and be ' baptized every one of you, for the remission of ' sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy • Ghost: for the promise is to you and your children, ' and to all that are afar off, even as many as the ‘Lord our God shall call. And with many other ' words exhorted he them, saying, Save yourselves
1 Ref. 89.
" from this untoward generation.” For (as the ' same apostle testifieth in another place,)“ even 'baptism doth now save us, (not the putting away
the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God,) by the resurrection of ‘Jesus Christ.” Doubt ye not therefore, but earn"estly believe, that he will favourably receive these present persons, truly repenting, and com
ing unto him by faith ; that he will grant them remission of their sins, and bestow upon them the Holy Ghosts that he will give them the blessing of eternal life, and make them partakers of his everlasting kingdom.!--The portions of scripture introduced into this exhortation have already been considered, and certainly are highly appropriate. Baptism as being “ born of water,” is very
necessary, where it may be had :' but being “ born of the Spirit," is indispensably necessary. The great benefit derived to adults by baptism, is spoken of as connected with their truly re" penting, and coming unto the Lord by faith ;' but, if they do not 'truly repent, and come unto him by faith ; if they be..hypocrites, or have only a dead faith; are we not to doubt that he favourably receives thein, and not only at present, 'grants them remission of sins, and bestows on "them the Holy Ghost;' but that he will give “them the blessing of eternal life, and make them
partakers of his everlasting kingdom ?? They who come to baptism in this manner beyond all controversy, were not previously regenerate : no intimation concerning baptismal regeneration is given in the address to them; and hence it may be fairly concluded that, if they live and die with
out subsequent regeneration, they “ cannot enter “ into the kingdom of God.”.
Then follow the questions proposed to the persons to be baptized; and he, who can answer them sincerely and intelligently, has “the answer of a
good conscience towards God:” he who can only answer them hypocritically or ignorantly, has no more than “ the washing away of the filth of “ the flesh."
After the adults have been baptized, it is added, “Seeing that these persons are regenerate, and
grafted into the body of Christ.' Upon the supposition that they approached to baptism truly “ repenting, and coming unto him by faith,' no doubt they are regenerate : but it is not said that they were regenerated in baptism. The expression * being now born again' does not necessarily imply that this was effected at the very moment of their baptism : any more than the text, “ being now
justified by his blood,” (quoted by his Lordship,') means that the justification spoken of had just then taken place : but that now, at the time when the thanksgiving is offered, they are numbered among the regenerate. The language is so general, that persons of rather different sentiments may use it without scruple: it is certain, however, that this office does not say that baptism is regeneration, or uniformly attended by it.
1 Ref. 100.
The Doctrine of the Articles, as it relates to
The subject of baptism as administered to adults having been thus far considered, it may be proper to examine, in this place, the doctrine of our Articles respecting baptism.
· In the ninth Article, those that are regene* rated,' and those that believe and are baptized,'
are mentioned as the same persons. The 15th * Article speaks of all Christians, as being bap' tized and born again in Christ.' And the 27th · Article says that baptism is a sign of regenera
tion, or new birth ;' meaning that the external ' form is a sign of the internal effect. These are
the only instances, in which the word regenera'tion, or any expression of the same import, occurs in the Articles.')
Doubtless those that believe and are baptized' are regenerated ;' but it does not follow, by any sound logic, that all who are baptized are regenerated, whether they believe or not. This Article determines nothing concerning regeneration as attending infant-baptism ; but, by connecting the exemption from condemnation with those who ' believe and are baptized, is rather unfavourable to that opinion : and, as to adults receiving baptism without believing, or true faith, it evidently leaves them under condemnation.-In the fifteenth Article,“ baptized, and born again in Christ,' are spoken of as distinct things : so that a inan may be baptized, who is not born again, and born
1 Ref. 91.