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pressly promised to fulfil, he can have no claim 'to its privileges and benefits. But, if he repents, ' and returns to a true and lively faith in the merits of Christ, his sins are pardoned, and his justification is renewed.'1
*These adults simply professing faith, &c. and promising obedience—are then baptized, and by ‘this spiritual regeneration they receive remission ' of all their former sins, both original and actual.' Is then the simple profession, though ignorant or insincere, and the promise of future obedience however formal and unmeaning, sufficient to ensure the forgiveness of all past sins ? Is the outward sign of baptism, even if administered to hypocrites, spiritual regeneration?' I can hardly conceive that this was diliberately intended : but the language marks no distinction between a sincere and an insincere profession and promise ; and certainly leads to the conclusion that all, even if concealed Jews, or infidels, or atheists, who make the profession and promise are, by the opus operatum, spiritually regenerated and actually pardoned! I only mean, by these remarks, to shew that in matters of such vast importance, on which everlasting happiness or misery is suspended, more distinguishing and cautious language is needful. It has been shewn that they who are baptized on a sincere profession of faith have previously been regenerated and justified. Let any man who thinks himself able attempt to answer the argument there used. It is observable that justification when lost may be renewed,' though regeneration
Ref. 143, 144.
cannot: but they who have sinned away regeneration must still be addressed as regenerate! I can see no reason for this distinction, unless the opus operatum of baptism is actually regeneration.
Repentance and faith are the only things required for baptism or justification.'1 In the former chapter it was 'baptism or regeneration;' here it is, 'baptism, or justification.' Is then baptism not only regeneration, but justification also ? The answer in the catechism, on which this is grounded, says no such thing. 'Question. What is required of persons to be baptized? Answer. Repentance, whereby they forsake sin, and faith, whereby they stead'fastly believe the promises of God made to them
in that sacrament.' There is not a word about justification, nor even concerning regeneration.
As by baptism, says Bishop Bull, all sins committed before the grace of the gospel is received are washed away ; so in the Lord's
so in the Lord's supper the remission of all sins, which are committed after ' baptism and regeneration, is sealed to those who are truly penitent.'?
Why not sealed'in baptism, as well as in the Lord's supper? Baptism, says our article, “is also a sign of regeneration, or new birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the church ; the promises
of the forgiveness of our sins, and of our adop* tion to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, ‘ are visibly signed and sealed.3 Is remission of
3 Art. xxvii.
sins in adults more inseparably connected with baptism than with the Lord's Supper? If hypocrites, coming to the Lord's Supper, eat and drink their own condemnation; do hypocrites, coming to baptism, receive salvation ? Surely both are signs and seals: they are signs and seals to the believer, but not to the unbeliever whatever be his profession. It “is sealed to those who are truly
penitent:' then it is not so much as sealed to the impenitent. But suppose a believer who had fallen into sin, now truly penitent, yet so circumstanced that he could not receive the Lord's Supper; or even so mistaken that he thought himself not required, or allowed, to do it; would he not be pardoned, though he did not receive the outward pledge and seal of his forgiveness?
• Our church, in the beginning of its daily service, calls upon its members to confess their ‘sins, and assures them that God pardoneth and • absolveth all them that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy gospel. Wherefore 'we pray and beseech him to grant us true re'pentance, and his Holy Spirit, &c.'1
This certainly proves that our church considers repentance and faith as needful in order to pardon and justification; and a holy life for the rest of our days as needful to final salvation : and it also implies that true repentance and faith, and all the holy fruits of repentance and faith, are the gift of God; else why do we pray for them every time we meet in public worship?
· It is the doctrine of our church, that baptism duly administered confers justification.''
Baptism, rightly received, seals justification ; as Abraham's circumcision “ sealed to him the right
eousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised :" but God alone ' confers justication,' and faith alone receives it. If our church does indeed teach, ‘that baptism duly adminis‘tered confers justification ;' we should be glad to know in what part of her liturgy, articles, and homilies, this is found.
· Let us attend to the words of this Article 2 in • the Latin, which is much clearer than the En‘glish: Tantum propter meritum Domini ac
Servatoris nostri, Jesu Christi, per fidem, non propter opera, et merita nostra, justi coram Deo reputamur : observe, that faith is not opposed to
works, but the merit of Christ is opposed to the merit of our works-propter meritum Christinon propter opera et merita nostra-and it is per fidem, not propter fidem. We are here said to ' be justified on account of the merit of Christ,
through our own faith, and not on account of 'our own works or deservings. Our works never can have any merit towards procuring pardon of our sins, from their own intrinsic worth ; they cannot justify, or tend to justify us. Nor has our faith any merit of this kind; we are not said to be justified propter meritum fidei, or propter 'fidem, but per fidem. The blood of our Lord • and Saviour Jesus Christ is the meritorious cause
2 Art. xi.
of our justification ; but it operates through our
faith, and through our faith only. If faith be 'wanting in those to whom the gospel is made
known, the merits of Christ are of no avail to *them; and, if they have faith, no other pre• vious condition is required. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of justification."'1
I quote this passage as conveying our sentiments. But, if we be justified by faith only, and
if no previous condition be required ;' how can 'baptism confer justification' on those who have previously believed, and consequently been justified ?
* This is the only reference in the thirty-nine Articles; and the compilers of them seem to have been aware that the doctrine of justification by faith alone, though founded in scripture, and necessary to be maintained in opposition to Papists, was yet liable to misinterpretation, and required further explanation, than is consistent ' with the brief declarations used in Articles of religion. They therefore send us to the Homily, in which the subject of justification by ' faith is treated at large; and in which the true doctrine concerning the unworthiness of man, ' and the worthiness of Christ, is clearly and strongly expressed.'2 After this introduction, his Lordship quotes a
Ref. 147, 148. Comp. Ref. 112.
? Ref. 149.