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<lawfully used ; and that they themselves would use the form • in the said books prescribed in public prayer, and administra
tion of the Sacraments, and no other.' With this, it was foreseen, the principles of many of the clergy would not admit of their yielding compliance; and one of the reasons assigned by the ejected ministers for their refusing to sign this declaration, is this, “That the book of Common Prayer teaches the doctrine . of real baptismal regeneration, and certain salvation consequent
thereupon. This was not a solitary objection, but it assumes a prominent place among their reasons for nonconformity; and proves that in their apprehension there was no room to doubt that the doctrine of the formularies they were called upon to subscribe, was that of real baptismal regeneration in the sense now contended for by Dr. Mant, as the doctrine of the Church of England.
As these good men had the best opportunities for ascertaining in what light the subject was viewed both by those who imposed, and those who subscribed to the declaration, which so specifically refers to the administration of the Sacraments, and as they had no rational inducement to quit their stations in the Church, but the reasons that forbade their compliance with this authoritative requisition, it would seem very strange that they should be under any mistake as to the real import of the language of the Church in the prescribed ritual. And if they were, it was still more strange that no benevolent attempt was made to convince them of their error by those who could so easily have removed at least this objection, by simply denying the assertion on which it rested. It is, however, not a little remarkable, that after the lapse of a hundred and fifty years, the validity of this reason, assigned by those pious clergymen for their nonconformity, should be virtually called in question by ministers of the very Church from which the former were ejected; and that one of those very doctrines, for objecting to which they became Nonconformists, should now be denied to be the doctrine of the Church of England. So then, all parties have laboured under a mere mistake; for the formularies of the Church involve no such notion as the majority, to say the least, of her dignitaries and officiating ministers, have during this period been subscribing to, and persisting in, and promulgating both from the font and the pulpit, in almost every parish throughout the kingdom. And the mode of reasoning by which it is attempted to establish this singular fact, is not less remarkable. The arguments by which Dr. Mant's quotations and statements are met by Mr. Biddulpli and Mr. Scott, may, without any intentional misrepresentation, be stated thus : "1. The doctrine contended for by Dr. Mant, is not the doctrine of the Bible ergo, it cannot be the doctrine of the Church of England. 2.
The doctrine of Dr. Mant is not fairly deducible from the articles of the Church, and the Church cannot be inconsistent with itself: ergo, it cannot be the real meaning, unequivocal as the language may be, of her ritual. 3. The doctrine of Dr. Mant is inconsistent with the sentiments of Bishops, Martyrs, and Reformers of the Church, as well as with our own belief who have subscribed our ex animo assent and consent to all and every thing in the Book of Common Prayer: therefore and Oh that those misguided nonconformists had reasoned thus !-it cannot be the doctrine of the Church of England.
Mr. Biddulph alleges, as a further objection to Dr. Mant's doctrine, as he terms it, that'he considers it to have a very dan
gerous tendency.' So did the Nonconforinists; but what has this to do, in determining either the truth of a doctrine or the question of fact, as to its being the doctrine of the Prayer book? Dr. Mant considers Mr. Biddulph's sentiments as no less dangerous in their tendency. Let the doctrine, however, be shewa to be agreeable to the dictates of Divine truth, and its tendency cannot be dangerous. But the doctrine may be both untrue and pernicious, and yet --we speak as of hypothetic possibilities it may nevertlueless be the doctrine of the Church of England, What then is the state of the question, as matter of fact?
The office for the ministration of public baptism, to which we naturally refer for a declaration of the sentiments of the Church on this point, opens with an admonition to the people to pray, that the child may be baptized with water and the Holy Ghost,
and received into Christ's holy Church. The second prayer has the following words : We call upon Thee for this infunt, • that he coming to the holy Baptism, may receive remission of
his sins by spiritual regeneration. The address immediately following the baptismal rite, calls upon the people to give thanks : Seeing nor that this child is regenerate, and grafted
into the body of Christ's Church.' The subsequent prayer contains expressions of thanksgiving, that it hath pleased God to regenerate this Infant' with his Holy Spirit, to receive ' him for his own child by udoption, and to incorporate him' into His . holy Church.' And the petition
And the petition which immediately ensues, is, that as the child is made partaker of the death of
thy Son, he may also be partaker of his resurrection.' Wheatley informs us, that by the first Common Prayer of King Edward, after the child was baptized, the Priest, according to an ancient custom, was to anoint the Infant upon the head, saying, ' Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who - hath regenerated thee by water and the Holy Ghost, and
hath given unto thee Remission of all thy sins ; He vouchsafe to anoint thee with the Unction of his Holy Spirit, and
• bring thee to the inheritance of everlasting life. Amen." Wheatley's Rational Illustration of the Book of Common Prayer. 8vo. p. 361.
In the office for the ministration of private baptism, it is ordained, that if the child afterwards live, it is to be brought inte the Church, that the Congregation may be certified of its legitimate baptism. The words which the Minister is ordered to use on the occasion, are the following: 'I certify you, that in
this case all is well done, and according unto due order, concerning the baptizing of this child; who being born in original sin, and in the wrath of God, is now by the laver of re
generation in Baptism, received into the number of the chil(dren of God and heirs of everlasting life.'
In perfect accordance with this language, the Catechism, which is entitled, 'An Instruction to be learned of every person • before lie be brought to be confirmed by the Bishop,' directs the child to answer the question, by affirming that in baptism he
was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an in* heritor of the kingdom of heaven.' To words so expressive and unequivocal as these, no figurative meaning, one would think, could be attached. The Catechism was framed for children; for the instruction of the uninformed and unintelligent; for those who, unable to appreciate nice distinctions or to dive into remote meanings, can receive words only in their obvious import. For these persons it was originally designed by its authors and its imposers. And in this, the simple and natural sense of those words, has the answer uniformly been given by thousands and tens of thousands of ignorant, wretched beings, during the two hundred and fifty years that the Catechism has been enforced by law. And thus has the delusion been sarctioned, that they were, in consequence of baptism, ' members of « Cbrist, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of
heaven,'-- in fact, Christians ;-entitled, as such, and in consequence of their baptismal regeneration, to have the burial service read over their bodies at their interment, which declares their death to be a deliverance from the miseries of this sinful ' world, and that God,'
of his great mercy,' hath taken their souls' unto Himself. For the Rubric directs, that the burial service is not to be read over any that die unbaptized, which has been thought to furnish sufficient evidence as to the light in which the Church of England views the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Yet, according to Mr. Scott and Mr. Biddulph, this fatal delusion arises after all from mere mistake, owing to the words in the Ritual being rather too strongly figurative, or founded upon the charitable hypothesis, that the baptized members of the Church were really regenerate persons; and if these poor ereatures had but examined the Articles, or consulted Bishop Bradford, they would have found out their mistake Irefore Eternity discovered it. But they never heard of the hypothesis ; never met with, or never read, Bishop Bradford's Tract; and so they understood the language of the Church as the ejected clergymen understood it, though they reasoned differently upon it: and thus, like Dr. Mant, they were led to believe that Baptismal Regeneration is the doctrine of the Bible; and to be, no less than he is,' sure', that at any rate it is the doctrine of the • Church of England.'
Can the Evangelical clergy, while disclaiming this doctrine, and vainly attempting to reconcile the 'popish liturgy', as Lord Chatham' termed it, of the Prayer-book, with a Calvinistic 'creed,' —can they reflect without shuddering, on the fact of the multitudes that have been misled, finally misled, and sealed up in impenitence, by the supposed misconstruction of the Ritual of the Church to which they belong? Is there any evil to be apprehended from the prevalence of Sectarianism, that can vie in fearful magnitude of accumulation and extent, with this secret but damning mischief? Do they not know what a fatal advantage the ecclesiastical“ hireling" derives from the countenance and authority thus at least seemingly given to the pernicious fallacies with wbich, in the language of the Church he serves, he smooths the pillows of the dying? And can they conscientiously maintain, that this is no reason for Nonconformity ?
It is no part of our object in entering upon the controversy, to determine the doctrine of the Bible, on the subject of Regeneration. Among the Nonconforinist divines, that has never been an obscure or a disputed point. Nor will it be necessary to follow Mr. Scott or Mr. Biddulph, through all the quotations from ecclesiastical authorities, which are adduced to disprove the truth of Dr. Mant's positions. Whatever those good and great men believed to be the truth, or whatever they understood to be the doctrine of their Church, we cannot admit them as evidence, in determining the fact of the obvious and generally received meaning of the language of that Church, both in the very office for administering the rite of Baptism, and in that popular form of instruction in which she more especially addresses herself to the capacities of the young, and of the lower classes.
Among Dissenters, there exists no controversy on the subject of Regeneration : that controversy is wholly confined to the Establishment. In our opinion, Dr. Mant completely proves his assertion, that the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration, as explained by the Bishop of Lincoln*, is the doctrine of the Church of England. Mr. Scott and Mr. Biddulph are equally successful
*. Those who are baptized, are immediately translated from the curse of Adam to the grace of Christ : the original guilt which Vol. V, N. S.
in proving that it is not the doctrine of the Bible. We must leave them to explain how the different parties, holding doctrines so opposite, and of so essential importance in their bearing upon Christian holiness and Christian hope, can conscientiously agree to unite in the same ecclesiastical establishment, the very principle and purpose of which, is perfect uniformity in matters of faith.
The Church,' it is well known,'hath power to decide the controversy : but no Dissenter can cherish the wish, that the present Head of that Church should, at the suggestion of any mitred anti-Calvinist, re-invest the Convocation with legislative functions, and enforce peace upon the Bartlett's Buildings Society, by expounding the doctrine, and terminating the discussion by authority. We rejoice unfeignedly that the days of Convocations are past; and in this respect we rejoice not less in their security as Churchmen, than in our own liberty as Dissenters.
In congratulating Dr. Mant's opponents, on their security, rather than on their consistency, as ministers of the Establishment, we shall not, we trust, be understood as insinuating, in the remotest manner, a suspicion that the Evangelical clergy are not sincerely persuaded that their representation of the doctrine of the Church is correct. Their own explanation of the confessedly strong language of the Ritual and of the Catechism, is, we have no doubt, quite sufficient to reconcile them to the necessity they are under of perpetually using it. They certainly believe, that what they explain that language to mean, was really intended by the Church; although they concede, that it is a very different question' whether her mode of expression is best cal
culated to convey that intention. We may, indeed, be allowed to wonder that they can be of this opinion; and we are led to account for it, partly on the ground of a natural indisposition after vows to make enquiry,' which places them in the most unfavourable circumstances for coming to an unbiassed decision, and partly by their attachment to the National Church, which leads them anxiously to wish to identify its doctrines on all points with Scripture. Were their assent and consent to the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration, as explained by Dr. Mant, to be peremptorily required as a condition of remaining in the Establishment, it would be unwarrantable to suppose that numbers of the pious clergy,would not resign, how reluctantly soever,
• they brought into the world is mystically washed away; and they • receive forgiveness of the actual sins which they may themselves . have committed ; they become reconciled to God, partakers of the • Holy Ghost, and heirs of eternal happiness.' Refutation of Cal. vinism, p. 83. See Scott on the Effect of Baptism, p. 81.