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ciples of the Gospel, Mr. Scott reasons as follows:
“While we give up the words irresistible and resistless; it may be observed, that the idea, conveyed by them, would not be repugnant, either to the principles of the Gospel, or to sound philosophy, provided the irresistible, or invincible, power, were exerted merely to produce a disposition to good, a moral ability, in rational creatures wholly indisposed to good. Such intelligent agents must be able and disposed to resist this influence; but it is impossible, that they should voluntarily concur with it, previously to a change of heart ordisposition. The entire aversion from good, and propensity to evil, must be overcome, not by itself, or by any thing, in men, of another kind, (which is allowed not to be in them;) but by the power of almighty God new creating the soul, and raising it ‘from the death of sin, to the life of righteousness' . Th" the inclination to what is truly good, being Poduced by special grace, against which all the resistance of depraved nature has been ineffectual; and being daily strengthened by supplies of divine grace; the persons thus influenced, most willingly oppose all their evil propensities and habits. They are no ionger enslaved to sin; but the grace of God both disposes and enables them, to be active and diligent in every duty. If we said that invincible grace, instead of rendering men willing to repent, believe, and obey; coinpelled them to an involuntary semblance of repentance, faith, and obedience; it would be repugnant, both to Christianity and common sense. A clock, which had stopped." gone wrong, but by the skill of the mechanick, was made to go regularly, might, with more propriety, be said to “repent and do works meet for repentance; for, at least, it would not resist the power, which attempted to rectify its motions. But, when the Holy Spirit strives with the sinner, to shew him the wickedness and consequence of his conduct; he is always of himself disposed to resist this conviction. In numberless instances, the conviction and alarm are not only resisted, but ex pelled, and finally banished from the heart and conscience. In some, however, this resistance is overcoine, and a cordial efficacious willingness to “obey the call' of God, takes place; and the man, astonished at the change which he has experienced in his views, judgment, and inclinations, exclaims, with the prophet, “O Lord, thou art strouger than I, and hast prevailed.' This is undeniable fact, but we are unable to explain all things relating to it; or to deter
mine, how it is, that, intrational treatures,
equally, “wanting the disposition, and conse" quently the ability, for what is good, in the sight of God, convictions, alarms, and hopeful appearances, should terminate so differently. It is manifest, that special grace, though not irresistible, proves eventually vietorious, in those who are converted. “Few men, it may be supposed, would expressly say, that almighty God could not, if he pleased, change the nature, or moral disposition, of fallen angels. None will say: that in them there is any thing, which could co-operate with the divine power exerted for that purpose. All must allow, that every thing, in their nature, would oppose it. The creation of a new and holy disposition, in them, must be absolutely the work of Omnipotence conquering all opposition. Their free agency was before exerted, only in choosing evil: the act of Omnipotence, giving a new bias to the will, would not interfere with their free agency, nor be sensibly perceived, except in its effects; and their free agency would, from that time, be exercised, in choing most willingly and decidedly that which is good before God. The only imaginable difference, in this respect, between fallen angels, and fallen men, must consist, in the latter having some disposition to what is good before God, remaining in their nature, and the former having none; but ‘man has * the disposition, and consequently not the ability to do what in the sight of God is good, till he is influenced by the Spirit of God.' “Suppose a man in the dark, approaching the brink of a tremendous precipice. of which he is not at all aware; or regardless of any warnings given to him. There would, in this case, be two methods of rescuing" from destruction: Either by seizing "P" him, and forcibly dragging him *y from the precipice; which would be evidently inconsistent with his free agency, in that * stance: or by hastening to the spot with torches, and clearly shewing him his immiment danger, which before he did not perceive, or would not believe; and so inducing him of his owu accord to turn away from it; which would not all interfere with his free agency. The willing mind to what is good, in fallen man, is indeed produced, not merely by illuminating the mind, to ** objects as they really are, and not as they appear to him, when scen through the medium ef his corrupt passions, and so exciting convictions, fears and hopes; but by changing the heart, and purifying the affection* ;—iuduring the love of what is good, and the abhorrence of what is evil. It, however, renders him willing to forsake evil and do good; and he acts with as much freedom from con
straint, or compulsion, as he did before, in choosing the evil and refusing the good.” Wol. i. Pp. 124–128. Various other arguments and illustrations, relative to this fundamental doctrine, occur in the “Remarks” of Mr. Scott ; to which, however, we can only generally refer. We regret, too, that we can do nothing more than strongly recommend to the consideration of our readers, his truly solid and judicious observations, in reply to the objections and misrepresentations of the Bishop of Lincoln, on the subject of “internal feelings,” “experiences,” and “religious distresses.” They are, we think, amply sufficient to rescue those subjects from the mistatements and the abuse which they have undergone, and are admirably calculated to convey the most important instructions concerning them. Throughout his remarks on this first chapter of the “Refutation,” Mr. Scott has also taken occasion to defend himself, and those of his clerical brethren, who are the objects of so much reproach as Calvinists, from the various charges, which are either more or less directly brought against them in that publication. But as these charges pervade every part of it, and are as frequently replied to, we shall reserve any notice of them to the conclusion of this article. In proceeding to Mr. Scott's remarks on the second chapter of the Refutation, the subject of which is “Regeneration,” we are stopt, as usual, in limine, by the characteristic inaccuracy of the Bishop of Lincoln, in representing the Calvinistic doctrine. He speaks of “instantaneous conversion,” as one of “ the favourite tenets of modern Calvinists;” when it is well known, to all who are acquainted wins the sentiments of religious sects aunong us, that this is a doctrine peculiarly avowed by the Arminian Methodists. It is remarkable, also, that those very religionists who speak the most of instantaneous conversion, decidedly oppose the doctrine of “indefectible grace;” which, according to the BiCheist. Observ. No. 120.
shop of Lincoln, is, under this head, the favourite associated tenet of modern Calvinists, though even in this, he does not accurately express their sentiments: so that, with whomsoever the truth lies, the two doctrines have no essential connection. We mention these, and other instances of the Bishop's imperfect knowledge of the subjects on which he has written with so much confidence, simply for the purpose of pointing out the degree of weight which ought to be attached to his statements. In a secular controversy, a very small part of this inaccuracy would be quite sufficient, in the estimation of all competent judges, to place such an assailant hors de combat. If the notice of these failures should tend to diminish his Lordship's authority in this contest, it is precisely the effect which they ought to produce. We agree with Mr. Scott, in considering Regeneration as, in some respects, the most important point in contest, between those who are called the evangelical clergy, and their opponents; not, however, because, as Mr. Scott appears to believe, the Calvinistic tenet of predestination is necessarily involved in the view which he has given of Regeneration; for we certainly think that this by no means follows; but on account of the important practical consequences which flow from the different opimions that are held on the doctrine in question. The Bishop of Lincoln, as we had occasion to observe in noticing his Lordship's work, strenuously maintains that the word Regeneration, and other similar terms used in Scripture, are solely and exclusively applied to the one immediate effect of Baptism once administered, and are never used to express an operation on the human mind subsequent to the administration of that ordinance. To this opus operatum of Baptism, the Bishop attributes, in every instance, the most distinguished privileges and blessings of the Gospel", * Justification, as well as Regeneration, is
frequently attributed by his Lordship to Bap3 B
and, by thus positively identifying Baptism with Regeneration, and quoting our Lord's solemn declaration to Nicodemus as solely referring to Baptism, tacitly excludes all who die unbaptised from the kingdom of heaven. Now, whatever view of this important, and in some respects difficult, subject is the right one, we are thoroughly convinced that the Bishop of Lincoln's is erroneous. It is contrary to the whole genius of Christianity, to express testimonies of Scripture, to the evidence of fact and experience, and to the doctrine of the Church of England. We have already expressed our opinion *, as to the very few passages in which the word “regeneration” occurs in the New Testament; and in addition to our own observations on that point, we beg leave to refer our readers to the able criticism on the texts in question in the postscript to the Preface to Dr. Doddridge's Sermons on Regeneration. That excellent writer, to whom the Bishop of Lincoln himself is fond of referring, admits, as every one must, who is acquainted with the phraseology of Christian antiquity, that the fathers, from about the middle of the second century, frequently, though by no means uniformly, use language which appears to authorise the conclusion that they considered baptism and regeneration as synonimous terms. And under the circumstances of that early period of the Christian church, when the greater number of converts were adults, and sincere in their profession of repentance, faith, and obedience, nothing could be more natural than such an interchange of terms. Nor, considering the propensity of mankind to j the letter and the spirit in every subject, is it at all wonderful, that in process of time, when infant baptism began to be tism. See various passages in the 3d chapter of the “Refutation,” and in Mr. Scott's “Remarks" on that part of the Bishop's work. * See our Review of the “Refutation of Calvinism,” before referred to.
more generally prevalent; or to speak more correctly, when the baptism of adults became less frequent; that the sign should be substituted for the thing signified, and the baptised, in all cases, be considered as truly regenerate; especially as the same form of administration, and the same expressions in respect to the baptised person, would be likely to be used in the case of infants, which had been customary in the case of adults. But what does all this prove? The identity of Baptism and Regeneration ? and that whatever is in Scripture predicated of those who are said to be born of the Spirit, and born of God, may be also predicated of every individual who is baptised 2 Can any thing be more illogical, or more inconsistent with the genius of Christianity; a religion not of forms but of realties, not of shadows but of substance, not of words but of things; than such reasonings as these? Besides this objection to the view of regeneration which the Bishop of Lincoln has so confidently supported., it is liable to the insuperable difficulty of proving too much, of asserting the very error which he charges upon his opponents, and of leading to consequences which we cannot but believe he would shrink from maintaining. For, in the first place, if the mere act of baptism really produces in every individual, all the effects which the Bishop of Lincoln, quoting many of the phrases in the New Testament which he admits to be synonimous with regeneration, asserts that it does, then are all, who are baptised, truly renewed in the spirit of their minds, accepted with God, and meet for the kingdom of heaven, which is mani. festly co y to the fact; then, also, is theohange which takes place in every baptised person as instantaneous, as the greatest fanatic whom his Lordship is opposing ever maintained, . respect to his view of regeneration. Again, if our Lord, in his discourse with Nicodemus, intended thus solemnly to declare, that except a man be baptised, he cannot
see, cannot enter into, the kingdom of God; then must the multitudes in all ages (for the primitive times of Christianity must by no means be excepted) who have lived and died unbaptised, whatever may have been their knowledge of Christian doctrines or their practice of Christian duties, be peremptorily excluded from heaven, and finally perish in their sins. Consequences these, as Mr. Scott justly observes, “more repugnant to all our ideas of the Divine inercy, than any thing, that either the most zealous opposers of Calvinism have charged upon that system; or the most rigid and wild enthusiast, who disgraced the name of Calvinist, ever advanced on the subject.” Besides this, we should be glad to know from the Bishop of Lincoln, whether, in the opinions he has promulgated on this subject, he limits his view of the beneficial consequences of the mere act of baptism to the Church of England, or whether he extends it to all churches who baptise in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: and if he does not so extend it, what principles of distinction will he apply which shall determine what church can efficaciously baptise its members, and what church has not this privilege? ls it to be regarded as confined to established churches; or may it be enjoyed by all such dissenters from those churches as use the prescript form of baptism? We wish that the Bishop would afford us some light on these points: we should then be better able to appreciate the value of the system which he labours to establish. The most decisive argument, however, against that view of regeneration which is common to the Bishop of Lincoln and many other writers, is to be derived from the numerous passages of Scripture relating to that subject, which it is altogether impossible to interpret as referring to the mere act of baptism. Of these Mr. Scott has given a very full and able exposition; and here his sound
and extensive scriptural knowledge is successfully j. The number of these passages is very considerable; and yet, out of the whole, two only, viz. John iii. 5. and Tit. iii. 3–7. and these not exclusively, have any direct allusion to baptism. All the rest, and these also when rightly interpreted, relate to an inward change wrought by the Spirit of God, the practical effects of which are variously expressed; and which are all, in principle, and actual experience, though in different degrees, essential to salvation. We shall notice a few of these passages with reference to the subject in question. In the first chapter of St. John's Gospel, ver. 11—13, those to whom the privilege is given of becoming the sons of God, in consequence of their receiving Christ, and believing in him, are said to be “born of God.
Here, says Mr. Scott, it seems absolutely certain, that external baptism cannot be meant, since the most remote hint of that ordinance had not been previously given.—On the famous passage in the third chapter of this Gospel, Mr. Scott's observations are peculiarly convincing. The solemn introduction, he thinks, - can scarcely be referred to any thing so plain and simple, as that external Christian baptism which was not yet instituted.—The exposition of our Lord's first declaration to Nicodemus, eam only be understood as referring to regeneration by the Holy Spirit, of which the baptism by water was constituted the symbol. The explanation of his meaning, given by our Saviour in these words, “that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit: marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again,” is only intelligible on the ground that a change of the radical principle in the heart of man is the grand object and effect of true regeneration: and the illustration borrowed from the wind, can only be interpreted with the same reference: to the administration of external baptism, it has manifestly no similitude or relation. When St. James declares, “of his own will begat he us with the word of truth,” did the apostle, Mr. Scottasks, mean baptism, or the communication of a new and divine life 2 What could St. Peter, also, mean, when he speaks of true Christians as being “ born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever;” but that this divine word, either publicly preached, or used in private, taught to children or others, or read by individuals, is the seed of regeneration ? But the language of St. John upon this subject is the most frequent and the most decisive. In his epistles, regeneration is spoken of as evidently to be known by its efjects; even the habitual, uniform, righteous conduct of the regenerate. “Ye know,” says the apostle, “that every one that doeth righteousness, is born of God.” And again: “whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin: for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin,” i.e. wilfully and habitually, as others do, “because he is born of God.” But can this, with any degree of truth or propriety, be said of all that are baptised ? Again, St. John declares, that “every one that believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.” Now, says Mr. Scott, if every true believer in Christ has been born of God, is it not clear, that, in the case of the Ethiopian who was baptised by Philip, on his profession of faith in Christ, regeneration preceded baptism? And is it not, we may add, equally clear, from what Bishop Hopkins justly calls “the famous and uncontrollable instance” of Simon Magus, that regeneration does not invariably accompany baptism 2 For, to use the words of that nervous prelate, “he was as much a blackInoor when he came out of the laver, as he was before he entered into it *.” How then can baptism be identified, or inseparably connected, with regeneration? The same reasoning may be ap* Treatise on Baptism,
plied to the declarations of the Apostle, that all who are born of God love him, and his children keep his commandments, and overcome the world, which cannot certainly be said of all who are baptised. On the passage, “this is he that came by water and by blood; not by water only, but by water and blood,” Mr. Scott remarks; “if the water here mean no more than outward baptism, then the blood means no more than outwardly receiving the Lord's Supper: and thus the atonement, and faith in that atonement, as signified in one sacrament; as well as regeneration by the Holy Spirit, as signified in the other sacrament, become a mere opus operatum.” Unquestionably they do; and the reasoning in both cases is unanswerable. After reviewing these, and other similar passages, in St. John's epistles, Mr. Scott refers to those synonimous expressions of St. Paul, respecting the death in sin, the burial with Christ in baptism, and the renewed life through a faith of the operation of God: and closes his argument from Scripture, by pointing out the analogy between circumcision and baptism, as the initiatory ordinances of the two dispensations; maintaining, that if all baptised persons are regenerate, and if they need no other regeneration than either baptism, or that which inseparably accompanies it; by parity of reason, all circumcised persons, so long as circumcision continued the initiatory sacrament, were regenerate, and needed no other regeneration:—yet, it is as sure as the testimony of God can make it, that immense multitudes of circumcised persons continued unregenerate, and uncircumčised in heart.
“I trust it has now been demonstrated," says Mr. Scott," that both regeneration, and the other terms equivalent to that word, are used in far different senses, than "as applied to the one immediate effect of baptism;’ and, though not synonimous to the repentance and resormation of a Christian; any more than the cause is synonimous with the effect,