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VIII.

CHIAP. of the very same men? It was not a denial of

grace, and of the spiritual realities of the Christian life, but a putting foremost, and a talking most of, the rite, as a rite. The very men who were accustomed to use the words sanctity, and virginity, continence, and celibacy, as synonymous terms, or as equivalents, did also con. stantly speak of baptism, and of the eucharist, as intrin. sically holy, and as conveying holiness ; or, at the best, they so held up these rites before the people, as led them to pay a superstitious and fatally exclusive regard to the ceremony, while moral and spiritual qualities, or states of the heart, were lost sight of. The very man who thinks himself as holy as Gabriel, because a virgin, and who reckons so many hours' fasting to be worth a certain quantum of expiatory merit, is he who attributes a justifying and sanctifying efficacy to baptismal water, and believes that the swallowing, or the carrying about with him, a consecrated wafer, shall get him admitted into heaven. Is there then no oneness of principle in these several notions? But if the analogy be admitted, then, to be consistent, we should either admit the ascetic along with the sacramental doctrine, both springing, as they do, from the same principle; or else, rejecting that

principle, disallow both of its consequences.”_ Connection It is to be presumed that pædobaptist divines, in their of the

recent crusade against nunneries, were not aware that doctrines

their particular friend Cyprian had so high an opinion tices with of them. That both the number of these “virgins," infant bap

(nuns,) were greater, and their moral character vastly worse, than at almost any time since, might be proved in ten lines, if I dare offend the delicacy of my readers by quoting them; and that the circumstances in which Cy

ascetic

and prac:

tism.

c Ancient Christianity, p. 530—32, 535.

prian was placed, surrounded by virgins, for whom he SECT.

1. says “the church had often to weep,” on account of " the horrid tales which got abroad,” rendered him a zealous advocate for the baptism of babes, is not at all marvellous ; the lives of infants introduced into the world in the circumstances alluded to, being peculiarly uncertain, and baptism necessary to their salvation, his benevolent feelings naturally indicated such a course. It is believed that in those evil times, in which the lives of certain infants have been cut very short, the monks did not fail to make them a children of God and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven,” by baptism, before they were caused to exchange worlds ! d

Much more, and that immediately to the purpose, might be adduced respecting the connection of this doctrinal mark of the apostacy (" forbidding to marry,") with corrupt notions of the sacraments, but I forbear. In the following section I shall notice more particularly the leading doctrinal errors relating directly to baptism itself, which clearly rendered infant baptism necessary to those by whom they were believed, and evidently laid the foundation for its general adoption.

The author would regret to have it rendered necessary that he should, on a future occasion, enter into further particulars as to the moral condition of the church when the practice of infant baptism is first found to exist.

26*

SECTION 11.

DOCTRINES OF THE NECESSITY AND EFFICACY OF BAPTISM

TO REGENERATION, AND REMISSION OF ORIGINAL SIN.

С НА Р. The first doctrinal error which very early infected the VIII.

Fathers of the Christian church, was that of identifying the Doctrine of outward ordinance with the impartation of regenerating baptismal

grace, instead of permitting it to preserve its Scriptural poregeneration,

sition, of being a sign of grace already possessed. The doctrine of the fathers of infant baptism was, that the soul was regenerated in the act of baptism. When it came to be believed that regeneration could, except in very particular cases, (of which infancy was not deemed one,) be had only in baptism, it became clearly an act alike of duty and benevolence to baptize babes, and in cases of danger, at the earliest possible opportunity.

Basil. “Baptism is the soul regenerated.”

AMBROSE. “Who regenerated thee of the water, and the Holy Spirit.”

CHRYSOSTOM. “Baptism is the cleansing of the sins by the Holy Spirit.”

AUGUSTINE. “Baptism washes the body, and signifies what is done in the soul.”

That the doctrine of the regeneration of the soul by baptism, in the case of infants especially, was held by all the Fathers from the third century, is too well known to admit of a doubt; and the evidence that these Fathers considered baptismal regeneration an undoubted apostolic doctrine, is inconceivably more complete than that they considered infant baptism an apostolic tradition.

The next error in doctrine which facilitated the in.

troduction of infant baptism, was its assumed necessity SECT. to the removal of Adam's sin, in which these Fathers

JI. supposed infants were implicated.

The necessity of washing away original sin by bap- Origen's tism is thus affirmed by Origen, if indeed this passage washing

doctrine of be genuine; “and it is for that reason, because by the away origi. sacrament of baptism the pollution of our birth is taken away, that infants are baptized." The whole passage has been already quoted in Chap. VII. Sect. vi. p. 260.

The same sentiment is distinctly stated by Cyprian, (who, it will be remembered, gives us the first certain information of the practice of infant baptism ;)

“If any thing could be an obstacle to persons against their obtaining the grace, the adult, and the grown and the elder men, would be rather hindered by their more grievous sins. If then the greatest offenders, and they that have grievously sinned against God before, have, when they afterward come to believe, forgiveness of their sins, and no person is kept off from baptism and the grace-how much less reason is there to refuse an infant, who being newly born, has no sins save that being descended from Adam, according to the flesh, he from his very birth contracted the contagion of the death anciently threatened! who comes for this reason more easily to receive forgiveness of sins, because they are not his own but others' sins that are forgiven him.”. Gregory Nazianzen, after he has given his opinion Gregory

Nazianzen that for children in good health it is better they should

deems bapwait till they are three years old, says: “ Yet by reason tism needof these sudden assaults of danger, that are by no fants. endeavour to be prevented, it is by all means necessary that they be secured by the laver (of baptism].”

The following is a singular specimen of the combination of the style of the heathen philosophers with Chris

ful to in

С НАР. tian theology. Jerome, however, seems to think that VIII.

the consequences of the neglect of baptism will fall Jerome's rather on the parent than on the child, which is a much notions on parental re

more reasonable idea than most of the Fathers entertain. sponsibility “ And how then is it true, you will say, that the sins

of the fathers are not imputed to the children, nor those of the children to the fathers, but the soul that sinneth it shall die ?'

- This is said of those who have understanding, of such as he was of whom it is written in the gospels, He is of age, let him speak for himself; but he that is a child and thinks as a child, (till such time as he comes at years of discretion, and Pythagoras's letter I do bring him to the place where the road parts into two,) his good deeds as well as his evil deeds, are imputed to his parents. Unless

you will think that the children of Christians are themselves only under the guilt of the sin, if they do not receive baptism; and that the wickedness is not imputed to those also who would not give it them, especially at that time when they that were to receive it could make no opposition against the receiving it. As also, on the other side, (or as also in the kingdom of life,) the salvation of infants is the advantage of their

parents." Doctrine of “ The object of infant baptism in particular, was, in Augustine

his view,respecting

says Dr. Wiggers, in his able work on Au. the remis gustinism and Pelagianism, s to free from the imputation ginal sin.

of original sin and from the power of the devil, into which man came by Adam's sin. According to the church formulary, children were baptized for the remission of sins.' Actual sin (peccatum proprium) new-born children could not commit. It is, therefore, original sin which they are

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a St. Jerome's Letter to Leta.

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