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« Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom * of God;' by which words,” says he, “ the advocates for regeneration by baptism think their argument completed, and they say, What God hath joined together let no man put asunder; and yet those who maintain the opposite opinion may fairly adopt the same language, acknowledging, as they needs must, that God hath often in practice as well as in the passage last read, and in the text, joined regeneration and baptism together, and devoutly wishing, that what he hath so joined, men would not, as they too often do, by their apostacy, disobedience, and carnal mind, put asunder. It is undoubtedly his will, who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth, that all baptized persons, all, who receive the water, should be born of the Spirit; and it is man only who effects a divorce between them. The separation, however, in numerous or rather innumerable instances, is too certain. It is a matter of universal observation, and is exemplified in all to whom it has happened, according to the true proverb, The sow that was washed, is turned again to her wallowing in the mire.”
* « By water and the Spirit,” says Hooker, “ we are in that place to understand, as some imagine, no more than if the Spirit alone had been mentioned, and water not spoken of. Which they think is plain, because elsewhere it is not improbable that the • Holy Ghost and fire' do but signify the Holy Ghost in operation resembling fire. Whereupon they conclude, that seeing fire in one place may be, therefore water in another place is but a metaphor ; Spirit, the interpretation thereof; and so the words do only mean, That unless a man be born again of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. I hold it for a most infallible rule in expositions of sacred Scripture, that where a literal construction will stand, the farthest from the letter is commonly the worst. There is nothing more dangerous than this licentious and deluding art, which changeth the meaning of words, as alchymy doth or would do the substance of metals: maketh of any thing what it listeth; and bringeth in the end all truth to nothing, or howsoever such voluntary exercise of wit might be borne with otherwise, yet in places, which usually serve, as this doth, concerning regeneration by water and the Holy Ghost, to be alledged for grounds and principles, less is permitted.” Ecc. Pol. v. 59.
We beg to impress the advice of this venerable sage on Mr. M, and to recommend to his serious consideration, from the 57th to the 64th section inclusive of the 5th book of Ecclesiastical Polity. Let him give an honest answer to these questions in the 60th Section.
« Unless as the Spirit is a necessary inward cause, so water were a necessary outward mean to our regeneration, what con. struction should we give to those words wherein we are said to be
In this passage, the nature of baptism is strangely confounded with the subsequent conduct of a baptized person. But to pass over this inaccuracy, let us consider the doctrine which Mr. M. here openly avows. It is evident that in his opinion, bap. tism is no sacrament. He does not believe when repentance, faith, and obedience, have been proinised in the nanie of any infant, and he has been solemnly dedicated to the service of the Holy Trinity, (according to our Lord's institution, Matt. xxviji. 19.) that be then becomes a “member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven." It is strange indeed, that a man who holds this opinion, should not at once reject infant baptism ; for if no inward and spiritual grace is conferred by it,-if, in imumerable instances, the sign arrd the thing signified are separated, for what porpose is the ordinance retained? It loses its sacramental character, and is indeed re. duced to a beggarly element of religion, unworthy of a place in the Gospel dispensation. Such is the necessary consequence of Mr. M.'s doctrine. We see then how directly it tends to encourage fanaticisin, and to give advantage to all those who decry and vilify the instituted means of grace. · Having thus virtually denied that baptism is a sacrament, and endeavoured to pervert the language of Scripture to his purpose, Mr. M. proceeds to defend his opinions on the authority of our Church! It is indeed a proof of the venerable character of the Church of England, that many uf those who dissent from her, are yet anxious, if possible, to shelter themselves under her protection. Never perhaps was this attempt inore absurdly · made than in the present case. If there is any point on which · our formularies are more explicit than another, it is upon the jdentity of baptism and regeneration. When the ceremony of baptism has been performed, the minister is directed to say, & Seeing now, dearly beloved, that this child is regenerate, let us give thanks unto Almighty God for this benefit." Is it not evident, that the new birth,--the translation from the natural state in Adam to the spiritual staie in Christ, is supposed to have been effected by the rite just administered ? “ And yet even this inference,” says Mr. M., "docs not appear to be correct." It is astonishing that a man of understanding can bazard such an assertion. Mr. Simeon himself did not venture so far as this. He allowed, if we remember right, that in the opinion of our Reformers, “regeneration does accompany baptism," and that, consequently, divines of his own stamp cannot use the new born, and that it üdata, even of water? Why are we taught that with water God doth purify and cleanse his Church? Wherefore do the Apostles of Christ term baptism a bath of regenera. zion ? &c. &c.
liturgy without a “burthen upon their minds *." This at least is ingenuous. But Mr. M., in spite of all her declarations to the contrary, will not allow the Church of England to profess her own tenets.
* That our Church,” says he, “ does not absolutely identify regeneration with baptism, and consequently that she could not design the preceding description to be applied to all her members indifferently, though she did not herself feel entitled to make the discrimination, is proved by the prayers in the same service, that the infant, coming to God's holy baptism, may receive remission of his sins by spiritual regeneration, and that God would give his holy Spirit, which blessing is implored without even naming the water, that so he may be born again."
Mr. M's argument most effectually confutes himself. At what time do we pray that the infant coming to God's holy baptism, may receive remission of his sins by spiritual regeneration? Is it not when we stand before the laver of regeneration, in which he is about to be baptized ? Do we not, in the same manner, and upon the same principle, immediately before we receive the other sacrament, implore the Almighty, that “we may so eat the flesh of his Sou, and drink his blood, that we may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood;" and again, that “ we receiving his creatures of bread and wine, according to our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers. of his most blessed body and blood." The cases are precisely parallel. In both instances, an inward and spiritual grace is about to be conveyed through an outward and visible sign. But as the conveyance of this grace is an act of mercy on the part of God, it becomes his unworthy creatures to pray for it with all humility. Our Church, therefore, in using this prayer in her Baptismal Office, does not declare (as Mr. M. would have it,) that baptism is not regeneration, but merely prays that God will bestow a blessing on his own ordinance, and make it an effectual mean of grace and salvation. Mr. M.'s argument, therefore, is reduced to this :--because we pray that the inward grace, which by God's ordinance is annexed to a sacrament, may be duly imparted thereby, therefore the grace is not annexed to it; because we pray that the infant may, by his future conduct, improve the privileges now conferred upon him, to the purposes of his final salvation, therefore the privileges are pot conferred.
We leave Mr. M, in full possession of all the benefit which can be derived from such an argument; well convinced
may so entade clean blood; ne, ac
* See Article III, in the British Critic for March, 1814.
that all those who are inclined to give the subject a fair consideration, and to admit the plain meaning of language, will join with us in reprobating his unworthy treatment of the Church of England. The doctrine which she holds on the subject of baptism, is in direct opposition to the whole tenor of his discourse, She maintains that “water applied outwardly to the body, together with the grace of the Spirit applied inwardly to the soul, regenerates the man; or, in other words, the Holy Spirit; in and by the use of water baptism, causes the new birth.” “ This change carries with it many blessings and privileges; all of which may be forfeited, or finally lost, if the per. son revolts from God, either for a time, or for ever.” If he persist in faith and obedience, these privileges remain in full force; if he rebel, they are suspended, with respect to their saving effects. If again he repent of his sins, and return to the path of duty, he will not in such case be regenerated, but renewed in the spirit of his miud. There is not a single passage of Scripture in which Christians are exhorted to become re. generate (for Nicodemus we must remember was a Jew); but they are perpetually called upon to be “ transformed in the renewing of their mind,”—to be “renewed in the spirit of their mind." The inward man is " said to be renewed day by day." Renovation is constantly required throughout the course of the spiritual life; regeneration is the entrance into that life, when the first portion of sanctifying grace is conveyed through the medium of baptism.
Such is the doctrine of our Church, which Mr. M. so totally misrepresents in this laboured discourse. We have not time to unravel all the sophistry which remains unnoticed; but we cannot take our leave of the author, without addressing a brief word of expostulation to his conscience. We doubt not that he is a man of right feeling and integrity; who would not deliberately violate his plighted faith. Allowing him this merit, will he permit us to ask, whether he has not repeatedly subscribed to the Articles of the Church of England, and promised to conform to its Liturgy? Is he not conscious (we are persuaded he must be,) that if this Sermon had been published bea fore he was ordained, it would have precluded him from ordination? For an honest witness could not then have affirmed, that, to the best of his knowledge, Mr. M. had never “ written or maintained any thing contrary to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England." It is for him to settle these points with his own conscience; we are wholly at a loss to couceive under what plea he can stand acquitted.
We cannot too seriously express our regret, that this Serinon was ever delivered before an English university; or that its au. thor has thought fit to proclaim his errors to the world. With
himself we have no more to do than as a preacher of unsound doctrine; but for the honour and interests of the University we are deeply concerned. Upon referring to the Oxford calendar, we are happy to find that Mr. M. no longer retains the station of a select preacher; and after this specimen of his theological opinions, we do trust tbat he will never again be permitted to fill that important post. He is indeed competent to perform its duties, but he is misled by false views of some fundamental articles of religion, and seems to be infected with the same spirit by which the most eminent of his fellow-labourers are distinguished.
Art. II. Poems by William Cowper, 3d Vol. by his Kinsman
John Johnson, LL.D. Rivingtons. 1815. FEW poets have hitherto obtained so large a portion of posthumous fame from a numerous and peculiar class of admirers as Cowper: and there is scarcely any one whose genius during life was more frequently impelled to exertion, animated and cherished, as it generally was, by a society of amiable and devoted friends. With the exception of his Homer, there is not perhaps a single poem, written with an immediate view to public inspection, or even destined by its modest and trembling author to encounter either the applause or censure of the world, whose pursuits and opinions, and even whose very gaze he had habitually and sedulously avoided. He yielded, however, to the pressing remonstrauces of his friends, who deemed the productions of his pen a novel and fit subject for the press: and towards the close of the last century the poetical world was presented with a variety of compositions, many of which indeed were of a light and sentimental nature, but a material part being of a satirical or contemplative kind, seemed to fix the basis upon which Cowper's fame was first to be raised, and upon which the applause or censure of the world was ultimately to be established. During the period which preceded the reception of his poetry, a change of feeling had manifested itself, and the public taste which had gradually recoiled from the keen and elegant couplets of Pope, and the brilliant jeux d'esprit of Prior, or had been excited for a time to an admiration of the pathetic and philosophical genius of Goldsmith, the ardent but unchastised spirit of Mason, the fairy fabric of the ingenious Warton, and the elaborate melodies of Gray's “ deep and awe ful lyre,” experienced a change favorable to a species of highly moral and religious sentiments conveyed through the medium of & satirical and didactic measure, and uttered in a language, which though too often flat and prosaic, still breathed a devout