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Title: Baptism as taught in the Bible and the Prayer Book
Author: Hoare, Edward N.
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1865 Hatchard & Co. edition by David Price, email

                               AS TAUGHT IN
                      The Bible and the Prayer Book.

                                * * * * *

                           EDWARD HOARE, M.A.,

                                * * * * *

    “_Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts_; _and be ready always to give
    an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is
    in you_, _with meekness and fear_; _having a good conscience_.”—1
    Peter iii. 15, 16.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                              SIXTH EDITION.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

               LONDON: HATCHARD & CO., 187, PICCADILLY, W.
               Booksellers to H.R.H. the Princess of Wales.

                                * * * * *


                           EDWARD HOARE, M.A.,

FEW subjects have occasioned greater controversy than that of baptism,
and few have been discussed with greater eagerness.  The baptismal
service of the Church of England has been a stumbling-block to many
without her pale, and been made the basis of the extreme views
entertained by many of those within.  Some have thought it unscriptural,
and have resolved in consequence upon separation from our Church; while
others have regarded it as containing the Church’s principles more
distinctly than the Articles, and have founded upon it the doctrine of
spiritual regeneration as invariably connected with the sacrament.  The
object of the present tract is to compare the Prayer Book with the Bible:
in doing which it will be needless to attempt any statement of the
various opinions expressed upon the subject; our simpler and safer course
will be to turn at once to the books themselves.


of course must claim precedence, and our endeavour will be to ascertain

I.  What is the inward and spiritual blessing connected with the
sacrament of baptism in Scripture?

II.  What is the nature of the connexion?

I.  That there are certain high and rich gifts connected with baptism in
sacred Scripture must be acknowledged by all who study it in a childlike
spirit.  Men may entertain different opinions as to the connexion, and
even as to the nature of the gifts, but that there are such gifts it is
surely impossible to deny.  Few words may suffice to shew that the sum
and substance of these gifts is a saving union with our Lord Jesus
Christ.  In 1 Cor. xii. 13, it is written, “For by one Spirit are we all
baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be
bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”  That
these words apply to the inward and spiritual grace of which baptism is a
sign and means, lies on their very surface.  They are plainly speaking of
an inward and spiritual work, for they ascribe it to the agency of the
Holy Ghost himself—“By one Spirit are ye all baptized;” while the use of
the word “baptized” is proof of a connexion between this inward change
and the outward sacrament.  The inward grace is the subject of the
passage, and this grace is connected by the language with the outward
sign.  We are, therefore, fully warranted in employing this text as a
description of that blessing with which baptism is connected.  It does
not teach us the nature of the connection, but it does teach us the
nature of the gift.  And what is this blessing?  The formation of a union
with Christ Jesus; an engrafting into the living vine; an incorporation
amongst the members of His body.  The agent who forms this union is the
Holy Ghost.  “By one Spirit.”  And the body with which the union is
established is the mystical body of the Lord Jesus Christ; the body of
which the Apostle speaks when he says, “And gave Him to be the Head over
all things to the Church, which is His body.” (Eph. i. 22, 23.)

It is of the utmost importance that all should bear in mind that this is
the great, grand gift to be sought in baptism.  The Bible says not a word
of the implanting of a principle which may or may not grow in after life;
it speaks of nothing short of a union with our Lord in its highest,
holiest, and most efficacious sense.  If the grace be really given, in
the fullest sense in which the words can be used we are made members of
the body of our Lord.  The same appears from many other passages.  In
Gal. iii. 26, 27, we read, “For ye are all the children of God by faith
in Jesus Christ.  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ
have put on Christ.”  And again, Rom. vi 3, 4, “Know ye not, that so many
of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?
Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death.”  These words are
sometimes thought to apply simply to the profession made.  As we are not
now inquiring into the nature of the connexion, we need not pause to
discuss that question: our only object at present is to shew that a union
with Christ is the inward blessing with which baptism is connected in
Scripture.  And this appears plainly in both passages, for the words are,
“Ye have put on Christ.”  “Ye are baptized into Jesus Christ.”

If this be plain, the remainder of our present inquiry will be easy: for
there are two changes immediately produced when this union with Christ is
formed, viz., a change of condition and a change of heart.


No sooner is a union with Christ established, than there is a complete
change in our position before God.  When a man is not in Christ, he
stands alone, and bears the whole weight of sin, both original and
actual.  He is like the manslayer outside the city of refuge, or like
those who saw the waters of the flood arising, but were themselves
outside the ark.  Those that are “without Christ” are “without hope,” for
it is written, (Eph. ii. 12,) “That at that time ye were without Christ”
(separate from Christ, not in union with Him), “being aliens from the
commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise,
having no hope, and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus,
ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
Nothing can be plainer than the contrast here drawn between men without
Christ and men in Christ.  Those without Him are strangers from the
covenant; but those in Him are reconciled, or made nigh by His blood.  In
Christ they are justified from all things.  They are no longer under the
curse, because His atonement has removed it from their head.  “In Him we
have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Coloss. i.
14.)  They are no more regarded as sinners, for as their sin has been
laid on Christ, so His righteousness is imputed unto them.  “He hath made
Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the
righteousness of God in Him.”


But there will also be a change of heart.  It is wholly impossible that
there should be a union so close, so intimate, so rich in gifts as this
is, without the likeness of our Lord being formed in the heart of Him
that is so united to him.  The member of Christ must be like Him.  This
seems so obvious as scarcely to require proof.  If we be so made one with
Christ as to be accepted in Him, to share the love shewn Him, to be
regarded in all respects as members of His body, we must be moulded after
His likeness, and changed by the Holy Ghost after His image.  The words
of St. Paul, “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit,” set this
question at rest at once.  They shew that there must be a change of heart
whenever there is a union with the Lord.  The same appears from 2 Cor. v,
17, 18, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, &c.”
The change here spoken of is not one of condition, or of covenant
relationship with God; but a new creation of the soul, a renovation of
the habit of the mind, of the thoughts, of the affections, of the whole
bearing of the new created spirit.  “Old things are passed away, behold
all things are become new.”

None, therefore, can claim a union with Christ in whom no such change has
taken place.  The careless, thoughtless, prayerless professor may be in
outward fellowship with the Church; but he is not, he cannot be, partaker
of a union with Jesus.  No system of man can dethrone from their
sovereign authority those awakening words of sacred Scripture, “If any
man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.”

A union with Christ, therefore, involves invariably a change of condition
and a change of nature; it only remains that we examine whether these
change are connected in the word of God with baptism.  If our first
conclusion were correct, that a union with Christ is the blessing
connected with the sacrament, it ought to follow that these two gifts are
connected with it likewise.

What then saith the Scripture respecting the change of condition, or the
pardon of our sins?  In Acts ii. 38, we read, “Repent and be baptized
every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,
and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  And in Acts xxii 16,
“Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of
the Lord.”  Can anything be clearer than that there is a connexion in
these passages between baptism and forgiveness?

A similar connexion may be observed between baptism and a change of

In John iii 5, believers are said to be “born of water and of the
Spirit.”  In the passage above referred to, Acts ii. 38, the gift of the
Holy Ghost is described as a gift consequent on baptism.  “Ye shall
receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  In Eph. v. 26, there is a clear
connexion between baptism and the cleansing power of the word.  “That He
might sanctify it with the washing of water by the word.” (See also Rom.

The whole of Scripture, therefore, is harmonious.  The great, grand,
primary gift is a union with Jesus; and as this is inseparably connected
with forgiveness of sin and renewal of heart, so these two blessings are
connected with the sacrament of baptism.  This is the sense in which
throughout the following pages we employ the term “regeneration.”

It is important that this definition should be borne in mind, for, if we
are not agreed as to the meaning of terms, there can be no hope of
agreement in our conclusions.  When, therefore, the word regeneration is
used in this tract it is in the higher sense just described.  It is not
used for that admission into the visible church with all its privileges
and responsibilities which invariably takes place at baptism; nor is it
spoken of as the sowing of a certain seed, which may or may not grow in
after life; but it is employed to express the commencement of a new life
in the Lord Jesus Christ invariably accompanied by justification and
change of heart.  I am anxious that there should be no mistake on this
point; for those who do not believe in the invariability of baptismal
grace are sometimes said to take low views of the sacrament of baptism.
But nothing can be further from the fact, for it is just because we take
high views of the spiritual grace connected with it that we believe that
spiritual grace to be incompatible with the ungodly lives of too many of
the baptized.

We have thus far spoken of these spiritual blessings without attempting
to define their connexion with the outward sign.  Our only concern,
hitherto, has been to shew that there is such a connexion clearly pointed
out in the word of God.  It now behoves us to examine—

II.  Into the nature of that connexion.

1.  And first we may remark, that the connexion is of such a character as
to lead the Apostles when addressing their converts to assume the
spiritual gift to have been received wherever the outward sacrament had
been administered.  The language of St. Paul to the Corinthians may
illustrate what we mean.  He is addressing a body of professing
Christians, of persons baptized in the name of Jesus, and he assumes
without the least caution or qualification that they were really what
they professed to be, true, devoted, regenerate believers.  “Unto the
church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ
Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the
name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” (1 Cor. i. 2.)  So
also, as baptism was the visible act of union, he assumes that the Holy
Spirit had been pleased to accompany it, and that they had been really
united to their Lord; as, for example, when he says “By one Spirit are ye
all baptized into one body.”  The same remark may be made of almost every
passage in which mention is made to believers of their baptism.  The
Apostles gave free scope to their affectionate and hopeful interest; they
addressed professors on the assumption that they were in fact what they
were in profession; that they had received the gift of which they had
received the sign and seal.

2.  But secondly we may remark, that in the doctrinal statements of the
Word of God the spiritual grace is proved to be separable from the
outward sign.

As there are some passages where baptized believers are addressed, so
there are others in which the doctrines of the gospel are defined and
taught.  The former correspond to the Liturgy, the latter to the Articles
of our Church.  It is very important to observe this distinction; for in
the different classes of passages different modes of expression must be
expected.  Of course the whole of sacred Scripture, being inspired by the
same Spirit, speaks the same truth; but it is one of the perfections of
the Bible that it conveys truth in every form both of statement and
application.  We are bound, therefore, to study these various forms; and
without doing so, we can never hope either to receive or convey the mind
of God.  Now it is obvious we should naturally look for the principle of
assumption in that class of passages in which our baptismal privileges
are made the subject of personal appeal.  If regeneration were not
assumed, the appeal would be altogether powerless.  If the writer were to
pause to fence in his argument, and check himself by his expository
cautions, the whole address would be stripped of force and interest.
When St. Paul, _e.g._, with an overflowing heart, writes to the
Colossians, “Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved,
bowels of mercies, &c.,” he cannot stop to caution them against
presumption, or to point out the necessary signs of their election.  Just
so in addressing baptized persons, he appeals to them as regenerate
without destroying the force of his address by cautions as to the nature
of regeneration.  Such cautions are given in the doctrinal passages of
the Scriptures.  To these, therefore, we must turn for exact and
dogmatical statements of Christian truth.  Now, as in the hortatory
addresses of the Apostles, regeneration is invariably assumed until sad
facts prove the contrary; so in the doctrinal statements of the Bible
invariable grace is no less explicitly denied.

(1.)  In such passages it is laid down as a general law of God’s kingdom
that no outward ordinances whatever can invariably convey divine grace.
It is our privilege, as believers, to expect His presence while in the
way of His judgments we wait for His blessing; but “God is a Spirit and
they that worship must worship Him in spirit and in truth,” nor are we
anywhere warranted in asserting that any act on man’s part is invariably
accompanied with any gift on God’s part.  He does not bind His gifts to
our actions, even if those actions be hallowed by His own authority.
Only examine his language respecting all His appointed ordinances.

_Circumcision_.  “He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is
that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew, which
is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit,
and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Rom. ii.
28, 29.)

_Sacrifice_.  Great blessings were attached to sacrifices, but not
invariably; for “The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much
more when he bringeth it with a wicked mind.” (Prov. xxi. 27.)

_Prayer_.  We know the rich promises attached by God to prayer; but
prayer itself may be powerless; for “He that turneth away his ear from
hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” (Prov. xxviii.

_Preaching_.  There is scarcely any ordinance to which such language is
applied as is used of preaching.  It is “the power of God” (1 Cor. i.
18); the channel by which “faith cometh” (Rom x. 17); an instrument of
the new birth (1 Peter i. 23, 25); and nothing less than a means of
salvation to the hearer (1 Tim. iv. 16).  Yet we must not argue even from
this that the personal benefit is invariable; for “The preaching of the
cross is to them that perish foolishness.” (1 Cor. i. 18.)

But are not the two _sacraments_ an exception?  Certainly not that of the
Lord’s Supper.  The blessing connected with this sacrament is the highest
and choicest of which the Christian soul is capable, even the communion
of the body and blood of Christ our Saviour.  But this is not invariably
given, for in some cases the communion is a curse and not a blessing.
“For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh
damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” (1 Cor. xi. 29.)

We should gather, therefore, from the harmony of God’s dealings, that the
spiritual grace was not invariably attached to the outward sign in
Baptism.  We find that under every dispensation He attached certain moral
conditions, such as faith and repentance, which were pre-requisites, to
any special grace conveyed by His ordinances.  If Baptism be an exception
to this general law we should expect to find some statement to this
effect in sacred Scripture.  If there be any deviation from God’s wonted
principles of religious government we should naturally expect to find the
deviation explicitly taught.  We might reasonably look for some
dogmatical passage in which it is declared that every baptized person is
invariably made one with Christ.  But it we look in vain for such a
passage.  There are texts in which the connexion is assumed, but we may
safely assert that there is not one single passage in which, as a matter
of doctrine, invariability is either taught or proved.  If, however, it
be an exception to the general law, it must be so from one of two causes.
Either there must be something peculiar in its nature as a sacrament,
which makes the connexion sacramentally invariable without reference to
moral character, or there must be something in the moral character of the
recipient which invariably insures the blessing.

That there is nothing peculiar in its nature as a sacrament is amply
proved by the language of St. Peter.  “The like figure whereunto baptism
doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh,
but the answer of a good conscience towards God), by the resurrection of
Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet iii. 21).  A certain character is here asserted to
be needful in the recipient: the blessing is not given unless there be
the answer of a good conscience towards God; and there is no sacramental
peculiarity which excepts Baptism from the general law, and attaches the
gift invariably to the sign.

It is argued, however, that infants oppose no obstacle to the operation
of Divine grace, and, therefore that in their case the moral character of
the recipient invariably insures the blessing.  We are not about to
discuss this question, for it is not amongst “the things that are
written.”  There is not a word upon the subject in the Scriptures, and,
therefore, we can only expect to be perplexed and led astray when we
attempt to define and to determine.  This, only, we would remark—that
there is no argument drawn from the moral innocence of infants to prove
their invariable regeneration, which would not equally prove that Esau
was as much a child of God as Jacob.  They were born on the same day, and
of the same parents; they were circumcised by the same persons under the
same circumstances, and we leave it to those who believe God’s gifts to
become invariable through the moral innocence of infants to explain the
words of God himself, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” (Rom.
ix. 13.)

(2.)  Again, In all the doctrinal passages of Scripture the new birth is
said to be invariably accompanied by holiness of personal character.

Only refer to the first epistle of St. John, “Whosoever is born of God
doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin,
because he is born of God.  In this the children of God are manifest, and
the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of
God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” (1 John iii. 9, 10.)
“Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth
not, knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John iv. 7, 8.)  “Whatsoever
is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that
overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John v. 4.)  “We know that
whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God
keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” (1 John v. 18.)

There are some acknowledged difficulties in these passages; but we make a
fearless appeal to any unprejudiced mind: do they not teach beyond the
possibility of controversy that the man without faith and without love is
not born of God, and that we have no scriptural warrant for calling those
regenerate who grow up in sin, who spend their strength in sin, and who
go to the grave with the curse of unrepented sin upon their heads?

(3.)  The practice of the Apostles accords with these doctrinal
statements.  They always assumed regeneration in baptized professors
until sad facts proved the contrary; but there was a limit to this
assumption.  And when these sad facts occurred, they declared in language
the most explicit that such characters were not regenerate by God.

The language of St. Peter to Simon Magus in Acts viii, 21, is not
addressed to him as to a regenerate man in a state of inconsistency; but
to an unregenerate man in a state of false profession.  In one sense
Simon had believed.  Like the devils he had been convinced, but he had no
union with his Saviour either before his baptism or after it; and though
on the principle of assumption the inspired Apostle had sanctioned his
baptism on his profession, on the principle of Christian truth he
pronounced him reprobate on the manifestation of his sin.  “Thou hast
neither part nor lot in this matter; for thy heart is not right in the
sight of God.”

The language of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians is of the same
character.  In 2 Cor. xiii, 5, he says, “Examine yourselves, whether ye
be in the faith; prove your own selves.  Know ye not your own selves, how
that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”  The word here
rendered “reprobate” is the word which would be applied to false coinage
when tested and found wanting.  Those, therefore, who were not in the
faith were regarded by St. Paul not as regenerate persons who were
inconsistent, but as base metal; persons who bore the outward sign of
Christianity, but who were not really regenerate, and were, therefore,
enjoying no real union with the Lord Jesus.

Just so St. John wrote of those who had apostatized from the faith. (1
John ii, 19.)  “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if
they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they
went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
In these words there are three things carefully to be observed.  First:
The persons alluded to must have been baptized professors, who at one
time had been in fellowship with the Apostles, for it is quite impossible
to suppose them unbaptized at the time when they were “with us,” _i.e._
in union and communion with the Church.  Secondly: These persons had
broken off from this communion, and were openly antichristian in their
principles.  Thirdly: St. John explains their conduct upon the principle
that they had never been what they had professed to be, and describes
their desertion of the truth as a manifestation of their real, though
previously hidden, character.  On the principle of assumption they had
been received into the fellowship of the Church of God; but they were
condemned as reprobates as soon as sad facts made manifest the falsehood
of their profession.  We should not fear to rest the whole question of
invariable regeneration in baptism upon this one single text.  It is
impossible to suppose them unbaptized, and with the inspired Word before
us it is equally impossible to regard them as regenerate.

While, therefore, in their hortatory addresses the inspired Apostles
always assumed the gift to have been imparted whenever the sacrament had
been received, in their doctrinal statements of Divine truth they taught
plainly that baptized unbelievers are not to be regarded as regenerate,
and that in accordance with the general law of God’s kingdom the outward
sign of Baptism may be unaccompanied by the inward gift.

We proceed, then, to our next subject of inquiry, namely, the teaching of
the Church of England.

As Churchmen we cannot fail to be most deeply interested in the truth and
consistency of our Church’s system; and when we see it attacked on the
one hand, and misapplied on the other, it is truly refreshing to the
spirit to be able to bring it fearlessly to the test of God’s unerring
word.  By the Bible, then, let us boldly try the


In such an inquiry it is our first duty to ascertain what the Prayer Book
itself teaches.  We care not what men say, write, or think respecting it;
our business is with the real doctrine of the book itself, “in the plain
and full meaning thereof.”  We will adopt the same arrangement as before,
and endeavour to ascertain

I.  What is the gift connected by the Church with the sacrament of

II.  What is the nature of the connection?

I.  As in the Scriptures, so in the Prayer Book, the gift connected is
said to be a saving union with out Lord Jesus Christ.

“Wherein I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an
inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.”—_Catechism_.

“And humbly we beseech Thee to grant, that he, being dead unto sin, and
living unto righteous, and being buried with Christ in his death (taken
from Rom. vi.), may crucify the old man, &c.”—_Baptismal Service_.

As in the Scriptures, so in the Prayer Book, this union with Christ in
supposed to lead invariably to the two changes above stated, viz., a
change of condition, and a change heart.


“They that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the
promises of forgiveness of sin, and of an adoption to be the sons of God,
by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed: Faith is confirmed, and
grace increased by virtue of prayer to God.”—_Art._ 27.

“Regard, we beseech Thee, the supplications of thy congregation, sanctify
this water to the mystical washing away of sin (from Acts xxii. 16), and
grant that this child now to be baptized therein may receive the fulness
of Thy grace, and ever remain in the number of Thy faithful and elect
children, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”—_Baptismal Service_.

“We give Thee thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased Thee to
regenerate this infant with Thy Holy Spirit, to receive him for Thine own
child by adoption, and to incorporate him into Thy holy
Church.”—_Baptismal Service_.


“What is the inward and spiritual grace?

“A death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness; for, being by
nature born in sin and the children of wrath, we are hereby made the
children of grace.”—_Catechism_.

“O merciful God, grant that the old Adam in this child may be so buried
that the new man may be raised up in him.”

“Grant that all carnal affections may die in him, and that all things
belonging to the Spirit may live and grow in him.”—_Baptismal Service_.

There is nowhere In the Prayer Book, any more than in the Bible, the
smallest allusion to the idea of a certain spiritual seed being implanted
at Baptism, which may or may not grow in after life.  Both agree in
looking for the highest gifts, and the highest gifts alone.  We do not
pray that the child may be put merely into a new position, which he may
use or not, as it may happen, but that he “may be born again, and be made
an heir of everlasting salvation.”  We look for a permanent, lasting,
saving change; viz., adoption into God’s family, regeneration by the Holy

And as for the idea that the Church looks for baptismal justification
without a change of heart as its necessary and invariable accompaniment,
we would only ask the advocates of such a theory to explain, if they can,
the language of the Catechism, which says that “the inward and spiritual
grace is a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness.”  Never,
surely, does the Church of England teach that there can be such a death
and such a life without an inward and sanctifying change by the Holy

II.  As to the gift itself, therefore, there is complete agreement.  The
great subject of discussion, however, is the connexion.  By some it is
thought invariable, at least in the case of infants; _i.e._, it is
maintained that every baptized infant is there and then, ipso facto,
regenerate.  Our present object is to shew that such a theory is at
variance with the teaching of the Church, for that the inward gift,
though assumed upon profession, is explicitly taught to be separable from
the outward sign.

1.  The spiritual gift is assumed to have been received whenever the
outward sacrament has been administered.  The whole of our services are
constructed upon this principle.  We are all baptized upon a profession
of our faith, and all meet in the house of God in the character of
baptized believers; the Church, therefore, as a public body, is bound to
assume our profession real.  This it does in all its services; so that
there is not a single prayer throughout the Liturgy which is not drawn up
on the principle of assumption.  Upon this principle persons are supposed
at their burial to have been believers, as they are assumed in their
confessions to be repentant, and at their baptism to be regenerate.
Indeed it may be laid down as a general rule that whenever there is
anything personal in the bearing of a passage, the person affected is
always assumed to be in fact what he is in profession.

This principle of assumption appears as plainly in the Catechism as the
Liturgy.  There is a great distinction to be observed between the
language of the Articles and the Catechism.  The Articles teach truth
abstractedly—the Catechism in its personal application to the individual
who employs the words.  In the Catechism, therefore, grace is always
assumed.  The child is assumed to be a true believer and to be living in
the constant habit of thankful prayer, as for example in the words, “I
heartily thank our heavenly Father, that He hath called me to this state
of salvation, through Jesus Christ our Saviour: And I pray unto God to
give me His grace that I may continue in the same unto my life’s end.”

Upon the same principle he is assumed in the second answer to have been
made in baptism “a member of Christ,” &c.  The fourth answer is
manifestly drawn up on the principle of assumption; it declares what
ought to be, and assumes that it is, the child’s character.  The second
answer must, in common consistency, mean the same; and it would be just
as reasonable to maintain that the Church teaches the invariable
prayerfulness of every child who repeats the Catechism, as the invariable
regeneration of even child received into its fold by baptism.

Now this principle of assumption is exactly that which we discover in the
addresses of the Apostle.  Thus far, therefore, there is agreement
between the Bible and the Prayer Book.

2.  As a matter of doctrine, the Prayer Book teaches, like the Bible,
that the spiritual gift is not invariably given in connexion with the
outward sign.

Upon such a subject our chief reference should obviously be to the
Articles.  They correspond to the doctrinal teaching of the Scriptures,
the Liturgy to the devotional and hortatory addresses.  In the Articles
alone there is no personal application, and, therefore, they alone are
free from the principle of assumption.  As we have before remarked, they
deal with abstract truth; and contain a scheme of theology carefully
drawn up for the security of the Church.  To them, therefore, we are
bound in common sense to refer for all dogmatical assertions as to the
doctrinal principles of our Church.

Now it is quite impossible for any language to be simpler and clearer
than that of the Articles.

Of both sacraments it is said, Art. 25, “In such only as worthily receive
the same they have a wholesome effect and operation; for they that
receive them unworthily purchase to themselves damnation, as St. Paul
saith.”  And of Baptism, Art. 27, “It is a sign of regeneration or new
birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly
are grafted into the Church.”

The doctrine of these passages exactly corresponds with that of
Scripture.  They deny in the plainest possible language the invariability
of the connexion; they define the two sacraments by the same conditions;
they make not the most distant allusion to any sacramental peculiarity in
baptism; but assert of both with the most positive distinctness, that in
such only as worthily receive the same they have a wholesome effect and

Nor is there any exception in the case of infants.  Our Reformers in
framing the Articles adhered most resolutely to their Bibles, and when
the word of God was silent they were silent also.  There is no exception
respecting infants in the Scriptures; there is none therefore in the
Articles.  They state as much as, and no more than, the word of God
itself instructs them.  Nay more, it is plain, both from the Catechism
and the Baptismal Service, that no such distinction is recognized.  The
Catechism does not set aside the necessity of faith and repentance in the
case of infancy, but supposes it satisfied by the promise of the
sureties.  So, also, in the Baptismal Service, the same questions are
asked as are asked of adults.  There is not the least distinction in
respect of infancy; nor the least hint at invariable moral qualification,
setting aside the necessity of a positive declaration of the Christian
faith.  Of course there are difficulties connected with the baptism of
unconscious children, but these have nothing to do with our present
subject.  All that we are now concerned with is the fact that our Church
makes no distinction in their favour, but that in every instant she
requires a certain confession, and thereby in every instance denies the
invariability of the connexion between the inward gift and the outward
sign. {29}

Again, therefore, we find complete and exact agreement between the Prayer
Book and the Bible.  In all personal passages the connexion is assumed.
In doctrinal statements moral conditions are required, and the
invariability of the connexion is denied.

This distinction is the simple key to the two passages in the Baptismal
Service which have occasioned so much discussion.  “Seeing, now, dearly
beloved, that this child is regenerate.”  “We yield Thee hearty thanks,
most merciful Father, that it hath pleased Thee to regenerate this infant
with Thy Holy Spirit, to receive him for Thine own child by adoption, and
to incorporate him into Thy holy Church.”

If the preceding argument be correct, the question with reference to
these passages is obviously reduced to this: Are they the language of
strong faith assuming the gift given when the outward act had been duly
performed?  Or, are they a dogmatical statement of the doctrine that
every baptized infant is by that act regenerate by the Holy Ghost?

It can scarcely be denied that the prayer is drawn up in the spirit of
assumption; we may confine the question, therefore, to the declaration.
Now, if there be any truth in the rule that where there is anything
personal in a passage, the person affected is always assumed to be in
fact what he is in profession, it must apply to these words which are
pre-eminently personal in their character.  Earnest prayer has just been
offered; the Church has done her utmost to arouse the spirit of repenting
faith; a declaration of faith and repentance has just been made; and the
sole object of the sentence is to move the congregation to united
thanksgiving and prayer.  Assumption, therefore, is absolutely necessary
to the construction of the service; thanksgiving would be impossible
without it; and if, in such circumstances, the Church did not assume the
gift, she must be compelled to stop the mouth of God’s faithful children,
when they would pour forth the gratitude of a hopeful and overflowing

This view of the passage is confirmed by the similar assumption in the
corresponding prayer after the reception of the other sacrament “Almighty
and everliving God, we most heartily thank Thee, for that Thou dost
vouchsafe to feed us, who have duly received these holy mysteries with
the spiritual food of the most precious body and blood of Thy Son our
Saviour Jesus Christ,” &c.  Here are two assumptions—1st, That all the
communicants have received the sacrament duly; and 2nd, That they have
all been fed with the spiritual grace of which it is a sign.  But no one
with the Articles before him can suppose that the Church intended to
teach that every communicant invariably feeds on the most precious body
and blood of Christ.

At the same time it may be proved, with the certainty of mathematical
demonstration, that these words are not the language of assertion.  It
cannot be believed, with the 25th and 27th Articles before us, that our
Church asserts the invariability of regeneration in all adults who are
baptized.  No language could be more decisive or distinct than theirs.
“In such only as worthily receive the same they have a wholesome effect
and operation.”  But on turning to the Service of Baptism for Adults, we
find the very same words used as are employed for infants, “Now that this
person is regenerate.”  It must be obvious to any man, that if these
words are to be understood as a positive doctrinal assertion of
invariable regeneration in adults, they are in flat contradiction to the
Articles.  If they are intended to assert the doctrine that every
baptized adult is regenerate, they are in exact and direct opposition to
the passages quoted above, which teach most carefully that every baptized
adult is not regenerate.  If this be the real meaning of our Service, the
Prayer Book, in this matter, flatly contradicts itself.  If, on the other
hand, the passage in the Baptismal Service be the language of assumption,
all is harmonious.  In its statement of doctrine, the Church gives the
caution; in its application to the individual, it confidently and
unreservedly assumes the gift.  In the case of adults, therefore, the
language must be that of assumption, not assertion.  But there is an
exact identity between the words used for infants and adults.  In this
respect there is not a shade of difference between the two offices.  “Now
that this child is regenerate,” says the one; “Now that this person is
regenerate,” says the other.  Is it consistent, is it logical, is it
common sense, to say that one thing is meant in one passage, and another
thing in another?  That one thing is meant on the 81st page, and a
totally different thing by the same words on the 84th page of the same
book?  That one is assertion, while the other is admitted to be
assumption?  Common sense demands that in the same book, the same words
should mean the same thing.  The two passages must therefore be either
both assumption or both assertion.  Assertion is impossible in the one,
and, therefore, assumption is logically necessary in both.

There is, therefore, throughout the Prayer Book a beautiful agreement
with the Bible.  They both, in hortatory passages, assume regeneration
where faith has been professed, and the sacrament administered.  They
both in doctrinal statements teach distinctly that baptized persons are
not all regenerate.  The Churchman needs no more than this agreement for
the satisfaction of his conscience.  There may be one or two expressions
which he may wish could be so modified as to make clear at a glance the
Church’s meaning without the necessity of comparing them with the
Articles.  But still, on the great Protestant principle of the sovereign
supremacy of the Bible it is enough for him that the Liturgy is
scriptural, and that the Word of God has supplied the model for its
construction.  It is scriptural in its silence, in its assumptions, in
its assertions.  It says nothing where the Bible gives no guide, and
therefore makes no distinction between adults and infants; it assumes
where the Bible assumes, and therefore speaks of all baptized persons as
regenerate; and with the Bible as its authority, it asserts, in language
the most unequivocal and explicit, that baptized persons are not
invariably regenerate, for that the gifts of divine grace are not
invariably connected with either of the sacraments which God has
appointed in His Church.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

                      J. FLETCHER, PRINTER, NORWICH.

                                * * * * *



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               LONDON: HATCHARD & CO., 187, PICCADILLY, W.
                MRS. HASTING, Pew Office, Tunbridge Wells.


{29}  The rubric at the close of the baptismal service is sometimes
quoted in opposition to the above statements.  “It is certain from God’s
word, that children which are baptized, dying before they commit actual
sin, are undoubtedly saved.”  From this it is argued, that the Church
does enter into the particular case of infants, and teach their
invariable regeneration.  “If saved,” it is said, “they must be
justified—and if justified regenerate.  Hence, as the Church declares all
dying children to be saved, she teaches thereby that all baptized
children are regenerate.”  The unsoundness of such an argument is best
seen by following it to its conclusions: for it would be quite as sound
reasoning to say that if justified they must be believers, and if
believers, possessed of judgment and responsibility.  The fallacy lies in
this: it is taken for granted that God applies the saving blood of Christ
in the same way, and the same way alone, to unconscious infants and
responsible adults.  As there is no foundation for this in Scripture, the
whole argument falls to the ground.  Would that churchmen were content to
follow the example of our Church, to accept the assurance of infant
salvation without straining it into a system, or attempting to define
what God has left unrevealed!

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