An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles – Article XXVII (Part 2)

Section III. — History.

IT has generally been considered, that on the doctrine of baptismal grace the testimony of primitive antiquity is more than ordinarily clear, uniform, and consentient. A very high esteem of the Sacraments pervades the writings of all the fathers, and is especially apparent in their respect for baptism. The controversies of later days, of course, had never arisen. Many of the early writers were rather eloquent rhetoricians, than accurate reasoners. We may therefore expect to find extreme and exaggerated statements. Yet such language (allow what you will for it) is the index to something more solid than itself. It would never have been used concerning things of little moment, or low estimation.[1]

The most obvious example of this is to be found in the fact, that the fathers ordinarily call the Sacraments themselves by the name of the grace of the Sacraments. Thus baptism is perpetually called regeneration or illumination; not the Sacrament of regeneration, but simply regeneration. So the Eucharist is called the Body and Blood of Christ. And again, to be regenerated is used for to be baptized. All this is without qualification. And if these expressions stood alone, we should naturally infer that the primitive Christians believed the grace of the Sacraments to be inseparably tied to the Sacraments, and to be wrought by them ex opere operato. Happily, however, abundant testimonies exist, to prove that they esteemed unworthy recipients partakers of the Sacrament, but not partakers of its life-giving power. This has already appeared by what was said on the subject under Article XXV. It is very difficult to convey a correct impression of the teaching of four or five centuries on such a subject as this, by the quotation of a few isolated passages. I will endeavour to exhibit it, as well and as honestly as I can, in the small space which must necessarily be allotted to it. And, I believe, we shall see every reason to conclude tbat the fathers held that conversion of heart did not accompany baptism, when unworthily received, or not duly profited by; but that they did hold that remission of sins and the grace of the Spirit were promised to accompany baptism, and that that grace, if yielded to and cultivated, would regenerate and new create the soul. Hence, they assigned the name of regeneration to the Sacrament to which regenerating grace was promised; and sometimes, no doubt, they spoke as if regeneration were tied to that Sacrament. Yet still we shall see that, when they explained themselves accurately, it always appeared that the Sacrament did not work ex opere operato; but that the effect was to be attributed to God’s Spirit acting, according to covenant, on the soul, when the soul did not harden itself against His grace.

We may remember then, that Ignatius calls baptism the Christian’s arms,[2] meaning probably, that, as the Christian at baptism enlists as Christ’s soldier, so then he is furnished with armour from above to fight in His service. We may remember also the strong statement of Barnabas, or the writer under his name: “We descend into the water full of sins and pollutions, and ascend out of it full of good fruits.”[3] So Hermas speaks of our “life being saved by water;”[4] and again he says, “Before a man receives the Name of the Son of God, he is destined to death; but when he receives that seal, he is freed from death, and delivered to life. That seal is water, into which men descend bound over to death, but ascend out of it assigned to life.”[5] Justin Martyr, professing to give to the heathen emperors an account of the Sacraments and ordinances of the Christian Church, thus describes to them the rite of baptism: “As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach is true, and undertake to lead lives agreeable to the same, are brought by us to a place where there is water, and are regenerated, after the same manner of regeneration in which we ourselves were regenerated; for they are washed in the water, in the name of the Father and Lord of the Universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost.”[6] The reason of this, he says, is that, as in our first birth we, without our own knowledge, and of necessity, were born in sin, “so we should no longer remain children of necessity and ignorance, but become children of choice and knowledge, and should receive in the water remission of all our former sins.”[7]

Irenæus, in like manner, puts regeneration as a synonyme of baptism, — “baptism, which is regeneration to God.”[8] So, when speaking of the commission given by our Lord to baptize, he says, “Committing to His disciples the power of regeneration, He said to them, Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them,”[9] &c. Accordingly, he speaks of infants as born anew by Christ to God.[10] Yet, on the other hand, he appears not to have esteemed the mere reception of baptism as a proof that there would be newness of life. It was the Sacrament of regeneration, but it would be life-giving, only if its grace was cultivated, and so productive of faith. Therefore he describes the Christian as by nature like a wild olive-branch, which is grafted into a good olive; not losing the nature of the flesh, but suffering a transmutation from the carnal to the spiritual man. But the good olive, neglected, becomes wild; so the negligent Christian ceases to be fruitful, and returns to his old condition of a mere natural man. He, who does not by faith obtain and keep the grafting in of the Spirit, will be but flesh and blood, not capable of inheriting the kingdom of God.[11]

In the time of Irenæus some Gnostic heretics had rejected Sacraments on the ground that they were material, and that all matter was impure.[12] Soon after, we find Tertullian ascribing this error to the Cainites.[13] Against them he wrote his treatise De Baptismo. He begins it thus: “Happy the Sacrament of our water, whereby being cleansed from the sins of our former blindness we are made free unto eternal life! . . . . We, as lesser fish, after our ΙΧΘΥΣ, Jesus Christ, are born in water, nor are we safe, except we abide in the water.”[14] “Water first brought forth that which had life; so that there may be no wonder if in baptism the waters should be life-giving.”[15] “Thus the nature of water, sanctified by the Holy One, itself also received the power of sanctifying.”[16] “Wherefore all waters obtain, after prayer to God, the Sacrament of sanctification. For the Spirit straightway cometh down from the Heavens above, and is over the waters, sanctifying them from Himself; and they so sanctified acquire the power of sanctifying.”[17] He shortly afterwards explains his belief, that the Spirit is not given in the water, but that in the water the angel cleanses and purifies, and prepares for the Holy Spirit, to be given in the imposition of hands, which anciently formed a part of the baptismal ordinance.[18] So, speaking of water flowing from the Rock, he says, “If that Rock was Christ, without doubt we see baptism blessed by the water in Christ. How great is the grace of water for the confirmation of baptism before God and His Christ! Never is Christ without water, forasmuch as He Himself is washed in water.”[19] Again he calls baptism “the most holy laver of new birth ;”[20] and declares that none can be saved without baptism.[21]

Yet, on the other hand, very strong as these expressions appear, we must judge that Tertullian did not teach the opus operatum; for we find him exhorting the candidates for haptism to prepare for it with the most earnest and frequent prayers, fastings, and watchings, and with confession of all past sins; evidently, that they might not miss the grace to be expected in it.[22] And to unworthy receivers he believed that the Sacrament would be, not the fountain of life, but the sign of death.[23]

The doctrine of Clement, Tertullian’s great contemporary at Alexandria, and of Clement’s still more illustrious pupil and successor, Origen, seems to have been just the same. “The Pædagogue,” i. e. Christ, says St. Clement, “forms man from the dust, regenerates him with water, gives him increase by the Spirit, and instructs him by the Word.”[24] “Being baptized, we are illuminated; being illuminated, we are adopted as sons; being adopted, we are perfected; being perfect, we are rendered immortal . . . . This work (i. e. baptism) is called by many names, grace, illumination, that which is perfect, and the laver. Laver, because by it we are washed from sins; grace, because the punishment due to our sins is remitted; illumination, because by it we see that holy and sav ing light, i. e. by it we are clear-sighted to behold the Divine; that which is perfect, for what is lacking to him who knoweth God?”[25] “Our sins are remitted by one sovereign remedy, baptism according to the word (λογικῷ βαπτίσματι). We are washed from all our sins, and at once are no longer evil. This is one grace of illumination,[26] that a man is no longer the same in manners as before he was washed. For knowledge rises along with illumination, shining around the mind; and immediately we, who were unlearned, are called learners (μαθηταὶ); this learning having at some former time been conferred on us; for it is not possible to name the precise time:[27] for catechetical teaching leads to faith, and faith, at the very time of baptism, is instructed by the Spirit.”[28]

It may be remembered that, under Article XXV., Origen waa quoted as saying, that some, who receive baptism unworthily, receive not the Spirit of God with it; as Simon Magus, “not being baptized to salvation, received water, but not the Spirit of God.”[29] Yet Origen distinctly asserted that baptism was ordained for remission of sins and spiritual regeneration. “Children,” says he, “are baptized for the remission of sins . . . . By the sacrament of baptism the uncleanness of our birth is put away; and therefore even infants are baptized . . . . In the regeneration of baptism, the Sacrament is received, that, as Jesus, according to the dispensation of the flesh, was purified after His birth by an oblation, so we should be purified by spiritual regeneration.”[30] We have already spoken of the error, into which Origen fell, of believing that deadly sin after baptism was the sin against the Holy Ghost.[31] Such a notion would have been impossible, had not a very high esteem of the blessings of baptism been prevalent when he wrote.

This brings us to the age of Cyprian. Thenceforth it would be far easier to convict the fathers of holding the opus operatum, than of doubting that grace was given in baptism. Cyprian himself says, “All who come to the Divine laver, by the sanctification of baptism put off the old man by grace of the saving laver, and being renewed by the Holy Spirit, are purged of the filth of the old contagion by a second birth.”[32] “Thence begins the origin of all faith, and a salutary entrance to hope of eternal life.”[33] His own experience of the blessings of baptism he sets forth in the enthusiastic language of a young convert.[34] We perhaps need not attribute very much weight to such a glowing picture; for the passage was written soon after his baptism; and Augustine has expressed his opinion, that it was in the taste of a young writer, not of a matured divine.[35] Cyprian appears to have followed Tertullian in considering chrism, or the imposition of hands, essential to the completion of the grace of baptism.[36]

From Cyprian we may pass to the great Athanasius. A few words will express his doctrine. “He who is baptized, puts off the old man, and is renewed, being born again of the grace of the Spirit.”[37]

It is natural, on this subject, to turn with much interest to the works of St. Cyril of Jerusalem; whose Catechetical Lectures were addressed to catechumens preparing for baptism. His prefatory lecture sets forth at once the great blessings of baptismal grace, and the great need of duly preparing the mind of the adult recipient, lest by unbelief or hypocrisy he should miss the benefit. To those who were training for it he says, that already “the savour of blessedness was upon them, and they were gathering spiritual flowers, to wreathe heavenly crowns. The blossoms of the trees have budded; may the fruit be brought to perfection.” But he adds, that an honest intention was necessary to blessing; “for though the body be present, yet if the mind be absent, it is of no avail.”[38] He then goes on to speak of Simon Magus, as brought to baptism, but not enlightened; “dipping his body in the water, but not permitting the Spirit to illuminate him.”[39] He therefore bids his catechumen to look, “not on the bare water, but to salvation from the working of the Spirit.”[40] The blessings, however, of the Sacrament, if duly accepted, he rates at the highest value. “Great is the baptism which is set before you. Liberty to the captives; remission of sins; death of sins; regeneration of the soul; garment of light; holy seal, indissoluble; chariot to heaven; delight of Paradise; procuring for us the kingdom; the free gift of the adoption of sons.”[41] ” Jesus sanctified baptism by being Himself baptized.”[42] “By baptism the sting of death is destroyed.”[43] “Thou descendest into the waters dead in sins; thou risest again quickened in righteousness.”[44]

Gregory Nazianzen sums up the blessings of baptism in words which bear a striking resemblance to those above quoted from Cyril. “Baptism (τὸ ϕώτισμα) is the splendour of souls, the change of life, the answer of the conscience to God. It is the aid of our infirmity, the putting off of the flesh, the following the Spirit, the participation of the word, the correction of images (πλασμάτων ἐπανόρθωσις), the drowning of sin, the participation of light, the destruction of darkness, the chariot of God, the travelling with Christ, the confirmation of faith, the perfecting of the mind, the key of the kingdom, the change of life, the destruction of slavery, the loosing of chains, the conversion of the constitution (συνθέσεως μεταποίησις), the most beautiful and glorious of the gifts of God . . . . It is illumination, more holy than all other illuminations . . . . It is called gift, charisma, baptism, unction, illumination, the clothing of incorruption, the bath of regeneration, the seal,”[45] &c. &c. Elsewhere he speaks, like Cyril, of the need of diligent preparation, and counsels: “Let the laver wash, not thy body only, but thine image.”[46] And, in one place, he seems to consider, that all the graces of baptism might possibly, though not probably, be given before the reception of the Sacrament, to which the Sacrament itself would then be the seal; for of his sister Gorgonia he says, that “to her almost alone baptism was not the gift of grace, but the seal only.”[47]

St. Ambrose in the West, contemporary with St. Gregory in the East, calls the dividing of the waters of Jordan by Elijah (whereby some of the water must have flowed back to its source) “a type of the Sacrament of salutary laver; by which infants, who have been baptized, are reformed from a state of wretchedness, to the primitive state, in which they were created.”[48]

One word more from St. Chrysostom. Comparing God’s pardon to us with the pardon granted to criminals by earthly rulers, he says, that, if kings were to pardon, and even to invest their offending subjects with their own royalty, they still could not free them from their sins. “It is God only who does this; which He will accomplish in the laver of regeneration. For His grace touches the soul, and eradicates its sins” . . . . “As when iron or gold is recast, it is made pure and new again; so the Holy Spirit, recasting the soul in baptism, as in a furnace, consumes its sins, and makes it shine with more purity than the purest gold.”[49]

If we stopped here, might we not conclude, that the fathers uno ore affirm that baptism, rightly administered and duly received, is an ordinance appointed by God, in which He promises to receive the sinner to Himself, to give Him for Christ’s sake pardon of his sins, and to bestow upon him the gift of the Spirit? And, although some rhetorical language may obscure their meaning, is it not yet clear, that this grace is not to be looked for from baptism, as though it worked as a charm, but that baptism is to be diligently prepared for, and its grace made use of; and that the unbelieving and the hypocrite may receive the water without receiving the Spirit of God, enhancing his condemnation, rather than obtaining remission of his sins?

We have yet to consider the views of St. Augustine. No one speaks more fully, no one has a juster claim to be heard. Perhaps the greatest of uninspired divines, he has influenced, more than any, the opinions of all succeeding generations. The reformers especially drank deeply from the fountain of his thoughts. He writes, not with the rhetoric of an orator, but with the logic of a thoughtful reasoner, and yet with the eloquence of an earnest and devoted Christian.

His predestinarian sentiments may, doubtless, have affected his views of baptismal grace. It has been asserted that, in one point only, he materially differed from Calvin. Both believed that God’s predestination was irrespective of individuals, and to eternal life. But Calvin held, that once regenerate a person could never finally fall; and so taught that none but those elect to glory could receive regeneration in baptism. Augustine, on the contrary, held that all infants are regenerate in baptism; and therefore, that the regenerate may fall away. It has, however, been said that this difference is not real, but apparent only; for that, by regeneration Calvin meant a moral change of disposition, but Augustine meant only a beneficial federal change of relative condition.[50]

If we remember what was said of Augustine’s predestinarianism (under Arts. XVI. XVII.), we shall see that this statement falls short of the truth. We there saw, that St. Augustine distinctly taught, not only that persons regenerate in baptism might finally fail of salvation, but even that persons might believe, and live for some years in a state of piety and godliness, and yet fall away and be lost. He distinguished between predestination to grace, and predestination to perseverance. He said indeed, that persons could not with the strictest propriety be called elect who had not the gift of perseverance; but yet that persons might be baptized, regenerate, believing, and for a time persevere — “that a man might live for ten years and persevere for five, and yet for the last five fall away and be lost.”[51] “We call those elect,” he writes, “and Christ’s disciples, and children of God, because they are to be so called, whom we see having been regenerated, living piously; but then only are they truly to be called so, if they continue in that for which they so are called.”[52] “They were then in a good state, but because they did not continue in it, i. e. did not persevere unto the end, therefore the Apostle says, they were not of us, even when they were with us, that is, they were not of the number of sons, even when they had the faith of sons,”[53] &c. He takes the case of two godly men: to one perseverance is given, to the other not. This is God’s inscrutable decree (inscrutabiliora sunt judicia Dei). One, no doubt, was of the predestinated; the other, not. “Yet were not both created by God, born of Adam, made out of the earth, and received souls of like nature? Nay! had not both been called, and had followed Him that called them? Had not both been justified, though before ungodly, and both by the laver of regeneration made new creatures?” (utrique ex iniquis justificati, et per lavacrum regenerationis utrique renovati). “Whence then,” he asks, “this distinction?” and he resolves it into the decree of God.[54]

Now here is the great difference between Augustine and Calvin. Whatever the latter may have held, the former certainly did not hold, that grace inevitably leads to glory.

With respect to the meaning which Augustine attached to the term regeneration as applied to baptism, it is, perhaps, not incorrect to say that he held that it was not conversion of heart or “a moral change of disposition,” but rather, “a beneficial federal change of relative condition.” His own words clearly prove that he did not believe the necessary consequences of baptism to be conversion of heart, nay, that in infants conversion of heart could not be the immediate consequence of baptism.[55] Yet we may venture to say, that he was too profound a thinker and too sound a divine to have believed that baptism admitted us into a new federal relation with God, or, in plainer words, that it brought us into a new covenant of grace, without also believing that it made us partakers of the blessings of that covenant. He could never have taught, that, under the dispensation of the Gospel, God would bring us into a covenanted relationship with Himself, thereby saddling us with fresh obligations to obey Him, without also bestowing upon us the power which would enable us to fulfil those obligations.

The view which he takes of the difference between baptized and unbaptized infants, clearly shows his high estimation of baptismal blessing. We need not herein follow his teaching, but it is quite certain that he held that all unbaptized infants, if they died in infancy, would perish everlastingly; and, on the other hand, he clearly held that if they died in infancy, having been baptized, they passed at once into eternal life.[56] The distinction between the state of the baptized and the unbaptized infant he thus clearly marks: “In infants, born but not baptized, Adam may be recognized; in infants, born and baptized, and hence born again, Christ may be recognized.”[57] He identifies baptized with believing infants (fidelibus infantibus, id est, in Christo baptizatis); and says of them, that, “though infants, they are members of Christ, partakers of His Sacraments, that they may have in them life.”[58] When they are baptized, nothing less is done than that they are incorporated into the Church, that is, are joined to the Body and members of Christ; and this, he says, is so important, that without it they would be damned.[59] However holy their parents may have been, they themselves cannot be free from the taint of original sin, but by baptism.[60] But in baptism it is effected by God’s grace, that all original sin is made void. Yet it is not so made void, that concupiscence is also destroyed with it, but only so that, if the child dies, it shall not operate to his destruction. If, however, the infant lives, and grows to an age of understanding and responsibility, he will have need to fight against that concupiscence, and, by God’s help, he may overcome it, unless he have received God’s grace in vain.[61] Those then, who are baptized, receive remission of all their sins.[62] Infants cannot believe, when they are baptized, nor make responses and stipulations for themselves. Therefore the response of others is sufficient for their consecration.[63] In Cornelius, spiritual sanctification preceded the Sacrament of regeneration; but in baptized infants the Sacrament of regeneration precedes; and if they hold fast Christian piety, conversion in heart will follow, the Sacrament of which preceded in body.[64] But how is such conversion of heart to follow? If baptism be a mere outward change, nothing in it could give hope of future conversion of heart. Accordingly, St. Augustine teaches that, “in baptized infants, though they know it not, the Spirit of God dwelleth.”[65] And again, that “a power is given them, by which, from the sons of this world, they may become the sons of God.”[66]

I believe these quotations give a faithful representation of the general teaching of St. Augustine on baptism. They are not garbled extracts; but, on the contrary, if consulted at length, will be found to give only more fully the same impression of the writer’s meaning. Is it not plain then, that his meaning is, as nearly as possible, coincident with the doctrine laid down in the two preceding sections?

He teaches, that baptism is not in itself conversion of heart; and of adults he says, that a person may be baptized with water, but not born of the Spirit.[67] In infants also, he says, that the Sacrament of regeneration precedes conversion of heart. He considers that the regeneration of baptism consists in a grafting into the Church, the body of Christ; a remission of all original sin, so that baptized infants dying in infancy are sure of salvation; and, moreover, in an assured presence of the Holy Spirit, which, if not obeyed, will profit them nothing; but which, if held fast, and not received in vain, will lead, with the opening reason, to that faith and conversion in heart, of which, in unconscious infancy, they had been incapable. Accordingly, he uses the term “child of God” in a twofold signification. At one time, he speaks of all the baptized as regenerate in Christ, and made children of God, by virtue of that Sacrament. At another time, he speaks of baptismal grace as rather enabling them to become, than as actually constituting them God’s children; and says that, in the higher and stricter sense, persons are not to be called sons of God unless they have the grace of perseverance, and walk in the love of God.[68]

It has very justly been observed, concerning this teaching of St. Augustine, that over and above the great value of his own judgment and testimony, he appeals to the uniform voice of antiquity, and declares that, in his baptismal doctrine, he proceeds upon principles which from the earliest ages have been admitted in the Church.[69]

It is needless to trace the chain of fathers beyond St. Augustine. The scholastic discussions too may have had a sufficient interest in themselves, but we have neither need of, nor space for them here, and must at once pass to the period of the Reformation.

The Council of Trent declared that in baptism not only remission of original sin was given, but also all, which properly has the nature of sin, is cut off. In the regenerate there is nothing which God hates. Concupiscence indeed remains; but has not the nature of sin, and will never hurt those who fight against it.[70] As a general principle, the Council decided (Sess. VII. can. VIII.), that the Sacraments confer grace ex opere operate.

Luther and the Lutheran reformers are clear and express in their assertion of baptismal grace. Luther lays great stress on Gal. iii. 27; which he says “is much to be observed against fanatical spirits, who lower the dignity of baptism, and speak impiously concerning it. St. Paul, on the contrary, adorns it with glorious titles, calling it the laver of regeneration and of the renewing of the Holy Ghost. And here, he says, all baptized persons have put on Christ; as though he would say, Ye received not by baptism a sign or watchword (tesseram), by which you were enlisted into the number of Christians, as many fanatics of our day think, who make baptism a mere watchword, i. e. a short and empty sign. ‘But as many,’ he says, ‘as have been baptized have put on Christ,’ that is, Ye have been snatched from the Law into a new nativity, which was effected in baptism. Therefore ye are no longer under the Law, but are clothed with a new garment, i. e. Christ’s righteousness. St. Paul therefore teaches that baptism is not a sign, but a clothing in Christ, yea, that Christ Himself is our clothing. Wherefore baptism is a most potent and efficacious rite.”[71] “To be baptized in God’s name, is not to be baptized by man, but by God. Wherefore, though it be done by man’s hands, we must believe and hold that it is the work of God.”[72] “God Himself honours baptism with His Name, and confirms it with His own power (sua virtute).”[73] “Separated from the Word, it is but water. Joined with the Word, it is Christ’s Sacrament.”[74] “The effect of baptism is remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.”[75] Some had urged, that to ascribe such blessings to baptism was to attribute salvation, not to faith, but to works. Luther replies, that one of the objects of faith, and one of those things on which faith rests, is the grace of God in baptism. Besides, baptism is not our work, but God’s. On God’s work we rely for salvation, not on men’s. And baptism is not the work of the bather, but of God.[76]

He denies that, in the case of infants, there is any need of faith. God’s work is not rendered ineffectual, because they have no power to believe.[77] The work of God is then begun in the soul; but the effect of baptism is a thing which remains through the whole of life.[78] For the mortification of the body of sin, which is part of the grace proper to baptism, is a work which we are constantly to experience through life, till the sin be altogether abolished, and we rise and reign with Christ.[79] “This life therefore is a perpetual spiritual baptism, till we die.”[80] “Baptism is the deluge of grace; as Noah’s deluge was the deluge of wrath.”[81] Baptism does not take away sin. “But in it God makes a covenant with you.” “Immediately from your baptism God begins to renew you. He bestows on you His Spirit, and the Spirit begins immediately to mortify your nature and sins, and so to prepare you for death and resurrection.” “God pledges Himself not to impute to you the remains of sin, which still cleave to you, nor to condemn you on their account.”[82] A baptized person may therefore humbly say: “I know my works to be impure and defiled; but I am baptized, and I know that God, who cannot lie, has bound Himself to me in baptism, not to impute my sins to me, but rather to mortify them in me and abolish them.”[83] All this, however, on God’s part, Luther considers to involve a corresponding obligation on ours, to use the grace so assured to us, and to mortify by its help the deeds of the body.[84]

Zuinglius took a view the exact opposite to Luther’s, on this Sacrament, as on Sacraments in general. He begins by stating, that almost all, whoever went before him, from the very times of the Apostles, have erred concerning baptism.[85] He states his own opinion to be, that a person who is signed by the sign of baptism, promises that he will be a hearer and disciple of God, and that he will obey His laws. “If,” he says, ” the Sacraments were the things they signified, then could they not be signs. For the sign and the thing signified cannot be the same. Baptism therefore is the sign which binds and initiates us to Jesus Christ.”[86] “External baptism with water contributes nothing to the washing away of sin.”[87] To get rid of a difficulty which naturally presented itself, he says that “Original sin does not deserve damnation, if a person have believing parents. . . . Original sin is a disease, which yet is not blameworthy in itself, nor can bring with it the pain of damnation . . . . until a person, corrupted by its contagion, transgresses God’s law; which then mostly happens, when he sees and understands that law.”[88] Accordingly, he argues for the undoubted salvation of infants, baptized or unbaptized.[89]

Calvin, in his general view of Sacraments, was in accord neither with Luther nor Zuinglius. It is by no means easy to define his doctrine of baptism. Inconsistency is very little his character; yet on baptism he appears to have been somewhat inconsistent with himself. His peculiar predestinarian system made it difficult for him to believe that infants received grace; because, according to him, grace given was always effectual, not to be resisted, never to be lost. Yet his sacramental system led him to teach, that Sacraments were effectual means of grace, by which God acted on the recipient, unless the recipient opposed an impenitent and unbelieving heart. If we took only his famous work, the Institutes, (which was a youthful production, but from the general principles of which he never departed,) we might think his views of baptism scarcely higher than Zuingle’s. He argues, indeed, against the Anabaptists, that infants must be proper recipients of baptism, because they can be saved, and can only be saved by being regenerate: and therefore they must be fit to receive the Sacrament of regeneration.[90] He objects to the statement, that baptism is a mere badge or watchword (tessera), whereby Christians, like soldiers, may be distinguished among men.[91] Yet he seems to make baptism little more than a figure or sign of an inward blessing; not a means also, whereby that blessing may be conferred. “Baptism is a sign of our initiation, whereby we are admitted into the society of the Church; that being grafted into Christ, we may be counted among the sons of God. Moreover, it was given us, that it might serve for our faith with Him, and for our confession before men.”[92] We must not suppose that water can wash away our sins. St Paul connects the word of life and baptism of water together (Eph. v. 26), signifying that the promise of our ablution and sanctification is brought by the word, and sealed by baptism.[93] Still, he says that those who receive baptism with a right faith, perceive the efficacy of Christ’s death in mortifying their flesh, and of His resurrection in renewal of the spirit; as the branch derives nourishment from the stock into which it is grafted.[94] Original sin, which of itself would bring certain damnation, is by no means abolished by baptism; but the elect and believers are assured by baptism, that the guilt of original sin will not condemn them.[95] Ananias, when he exhorted Saul to “arise and be baptized, and wash away his sins” (Acts xxii. 16), did not mean that in baptism, or by virtue of baptism, sins were remitted; but that by baptism he might have testimony and assurance, that his sins had already been remitted.[96] As regards infants: the children of faithful parents, dying before the age of reason, are certainly saved, whether baptized or not baptized. Therefore the children of faithful parents are not baptized, that they may then first become sons of God, but rather are by a solemn sign then received into the Church, because by virtue of the promise they already belonged to the body of Christ.[97] He denies that John iii. 5, has any reference to baptism;[98] and, on the whole, seems to teach, that elect children (among whom are all children of the faithful dying before the age of reason) receive from God the grace of remission and regeneration, and therefore are sealed with the seal of baptism, the effect of which is not to be confined to the period of baptism, but endures throughout life.[99]

Here, then, notwithstanding some difference of expression, and a material difference about the guilt of original sin,[100] there is no considerable disagreement between Calvin and Zuinglius on the grace of baptism. I do not know that Calvin ever retracted any of the opinions which he thus expressed. I will not say, that he ever materially modified them. Perhaps other expressions, which he used afterwards, may be reconciled with all that has just been referred to. Yet certainly, in some of his later works, he speaks much more favourably of the grace of baptism; as though, when off his favourite system, he were constrained, by the evidence of Scripture, to attach more importance to it. In the Catechism which he composed for the children of the Church of Geneva, (which bears date A. D. 1545,) he teaches it to be “certain that pardon of sins and newness of life are offered to us in baptism.”[101] It is possible enough, that this Catechism was itself designed for the use of (presumed) elect children. It must therefore be read with some allowance. Yet, in other of his works, somewhat similar statements may be found. In his commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (in Acts ii. 38), he says, that we cannot indeed receive miraculous gifts, as the Apostles; yet the promise, “Ye shall receive the Holy Ghost,” applies to all ages of the Church, in a more exalted sense than any promise of mere miraculous gifts. “To baptism therefore the grace of the Spirit will ever be annexed, unless an impediment from us occurs.”[102] Again he says, “We must take notice, that no mere figure is proposed to us in baptism, but that an exhibition of the thing signified is annexed to it; for God never fallaciously promises, but really fulfils, what he signifies by figure. But then again, we must take heed not to tie God’s grace to the Sacraments; for the administration of baptism profits nothing, except where God thinks fit.”[103] In another place, after bidding us direct our minds in baptism, not to the water, but to Christ, he adds: “But if any one, relying on this, should make baptism a mere frigid spectacle, and void of all grace of the Spirit, he will be much deceived.”[104] And again he tells us, that in Sacraments the sign is joined with the word; and then there is grace received by the faithful. “So Christ breathed on His Apostles. They received, not only the breathing, but the Spirit too. Why? Because of Christ’s promise. So in baptism, we put on Christ, are washed with His blood; our old man is crucified, and God’s righteousness reigns in us . . . . Whence so great a power, but from Christ’s promise, who effects and makes good by His Spirit what He witnesses by His word!”[105]

Notwithstanding these statements, which are certainly very different from those of Zuingle, it is probable that Calvin limited the reception of sacramental grace to the elect. There can be little doubt that he was not always consistent on this head; yet I think it cannot be denied that he did believe some grace to be promised in baptism. But then God’s promises he limited to the elect. Hence, he probably believed that the elect received an accomplishment of these promises, and therefore remission of sins, and God’s Spirit in baptism; but that the non-elect received the sign only, without the grace.[106]

The followers of Calvin have, for the most part, been purely Zuinglian in their views of baptism: not indeed all predestinarians since Calvin’s time; but those who have expressly adopted Calvin’s predestinarianism. It may be added, that the Arminians, who sprang from the Calvinists, though on one point at least widely separated from them, not only agreed with them in their Zuinglian view of baptism, but far more decidedly repudiated baptismal grace than the Calvinists themselves, calling baptism by the name to which Calvin had specially objected, a mere watchword, or badge of profession (Tessera).[107]

Our own English reformers seem to speak very strongly and plainly. It has been said of late, that it is impossible they could hold the doctrine that infants uniformly receive remission of sins and the assured help of God’s Spirit in baptism, because they were all Calvinists. It cannot be meant that they were, in all respects, followers of Calvin; for such an assertion would be obviously and notoriously untrue. The statement probably implies no more than that they were predestinarians, i. e. believers in an absolute and irrespective predestination of individuals to eternal glory. There is very slight, if any, foundation, even for this. Yet allowing it to be true, it is by no means a consequence, that Cranmer and Ridley must have followed out to its natural conclusions this doctrine of irrespective decrees. Calvin did, no doubt, though even he appears to have had some misgivings about baptism. But much greater men than Calvin held the same doctrine of irrespective personal election to glory, but did not follow it out to what may seem its inevitable consequences, — for instance, St. Augustine and Luther; though the latter appears ultimately to have shunned all discussions on predestination. If the English reformers were absolute predestinarians, it is quite certain that they took Augustine’s, not Calvin’s view. Now Augustine’s, as has been shown, did not in any way influence his baptismal doctrines. There can therefore be no propriety in disposing at once of the opinions of the Anglican reformers, by saying that they were predestinarians, and that they therefore could not but have coincided with Calvin on baptism.

Here, as elsewhere, Cranmer and Ridley must be our great authorities, because they were the chief compilers both of the Articles and the Liturgy. It was their genius which directed the Reformation, and their spirit which is infused into its formularies.

Cranmer, in 1548, published his Catechism, translated and modified from the Latin of a Lutheran divine, Justus Jonas. In that Catechism the statements are remarkably like Luther’s. It is said, that “without the word of God water is water, and not baptism; but when the word of the living God is joined to the water, then it is baptism, and water of wonderful wholesomeness, and the bath of regeneration, as St. Paul writeth.”[108] Again, “We ought not to have an eye only to the water, but to God rather, which did ordain the baptism of water, and commanded it to be done in His name. For He is Almighty, and able to work in us by baptism, forgiveness of our sins, and all those wonderful effects and operations for the which He ordained the same, though man’s reason is not able to conceive the same. Therefore, consider, good children, the great treasures and benefits whereof God maketh us partakers, when we are baptized, which be these. The first is, that in baptism our sins be forgiven us, as St. Peter witnesseth. Let every one of you be baptized for the forgiveness of his sins. The second is, that the Holy Ghost is given us . . . . according to this saying of St. Peter, Let every one of you be baptized in the name of Christ, and then ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The third is, that by baptism the whole righteousness of Christ is given us . . . . Fourthly, by baptism we die with Christ.”[109] It is then said, that before baptism we cannot have peace or quietness of conscience. “But, after our sins in baptism be forgiven us, and we believe the promise of God, and so by our faith be justified, then our consciences be quieted.”[110] A sinner that is not baptized, “although he had the Holy Ghost to this effect to help him to fight against sin, yet oftentimes he is overcome and falleth into sin. . . . . But when in baptism the righteousness of Christ is given and imputed to him, then he is delivered from all those perils. For he knoweth for a surety that he hath put upon him Christ, and that his weakness and imperfection is covered and hid with the perfect righteousness and holiness of Christ.”[111] Once more, “The second birth is by the water of baptism, which Paul calls the bath of regeneration, because our sins be forgiven us in baptism, and the Holy Ghost is poured into us as God’s beloved children.”[112] “He that is baptized may assuredly say thus, I am not now in the wavering opinion that I only suppose myself to be a Christian man, but I am in a sure belief that I am made a Christian man; for I know for a surety that I am baptized, and I am sure also that baptism was ordained of God . . . . and the Holy Ghost doth witness that he which is baptized hath put on him Christ.”[113]

So completely is this Luther’s language, that similar statements, word for word, may be taken from all parts of his writings. But it nevertheless appears exactly to exhibit the sentiments of Cranmer, who adopted it; for the same tone pervades all his subsequent writings; and I know of no single contrary statement, though I have carefully read and noted all his remains, with special reference to this doctrine. He attributes no holiness to the water itself;[114] denies the grace of baptism to those who come feignedly, “who be washed with sacramental water, but be not washed with the Holy Ghost, and clothed with Christ.”[115] But as to others (infants or worthily receiving adults) he teaches, that “Through baptism in this world the body is washed and the soul is washed: the body outwardly, the soul inwardly; the work is one;”[116] and that “that doctrine is not to be suffered in the Church which teacheth that we are not joined to Christ by baptism.”[117] “As in baptism we must think that, as the priest putteth his hand to the child outwardly, and washeth him with water; so must we think that God putteth to His hand inwardly, and washeth the infant with His Holy Spirit, and moreover, that Christ Himself cometh down upon the child, and apparelleth him with His own self.”[118]

His great friend and contemporary, Bishop Ridley, calls baptism by the name of “regeneration;”[119] says that “the water in baptism is sacramentally changed into the fountain of regeneration;”[120] that “the water in baptism hath grace promised, and by that grace the Holy Spirit is given; not that grace is included in water, but that grace cometh by water.”[121]

There was little dispute in England at the time of the Reformation about baptism. Most of the passages above cited occur in controversy with Romanist divines; and it is truly remarkable that Cranmer, instead of maintaining lower ground than the Romanists on baptismal grace, maintains rather higher ground; for the Romanist divines were inclined to derogate from the dignity of baptism, in order the more to elevate the importance of the Communion.[122] The most systematic statements are to be found in Cranmer’s Catechism, which, as noticed above, uses the very language of Luther. Luther appears exactly to have followed, on this head, his great master, St. Augustine. We may therefore naturally infer, that the sentiments of Cranmer and Ridley were nearly those of Augustine. Certain it is, they were not those of Zuinglius nor of Calvin. A few quotations can never bring out the full force of an author’s meaning. The works of Cranmer are readily to be obtained. In the notes I have put a considerable number of references. It is easy to turn to them, and each reader may convince himself whether the context does not fully bear out the impression which the extracts convey.

If from the reformers who first drew up our services and Articles, we turn to those of the reign of Elizabeth, who adopted and slightly modified them, we shall find no different language. Jewel’s Apology says, that “Baptism is the Sacrament of remission of sins, and of our washing in the Blood of Christ.”[123] “We assert, that Christ exhibits Himself truly present in His Sacraments: in baptism, that we may put Him on,”[124] &c. In Nowell’s Catechism, a work like Jewel’s Apology, to be esteemed semi-authoritative, the child is taught thus: “M. what is the hidden and spiritual grace in baptism? A. It is twofold: namely, remission of sins and regeneration . . . . M. You seem to make the water only a certain figure of divine things? A. A figure indeed it is, but by no means empty and fallacious; but such, that to it the verity of the things themselves is joined and tied. For, as God truly offers to us in baptism pardon of sins and newness of life, so are they certainly received by us. Far be it from us to suppose that God would mock us with vain images! M. Do we then receive remission of sins by mere outward washing and sprinkling? A. By no means! For Christ alone washes off the stains of our souls with His own Blood. It were impious to attribute this honour to an outward element,”[125] &c.

If we pass to the formularies themselves, we may begin with the Articles agreed on between the Anglican and Lutheran divines in 1538. In them it is said, that “in baptism remission of sins and the grace of Christ is offered to infants and adults . . . . that infants in baptism attain remission of sins and grace, and become children of God, because the promise of grace and life eternal extends not only to adults but also to infants . . . . But because infants are born with original sin, they need remission of that sin, and this is so remitted that its imputation is taken away. Howbeit the corruption of nature or concupiscence remains in this life, although it begins to be healed, because the Holy Spirit, even in infants, is efficacious and cleanses them.”[126] If we refer to the Articles of 1536, the Bishops’ Book, A. D. 1537, and the King’s Book, A. D. 1543, we shall find them all agreeing to teach, that “infants by the Sacrament of baptism receive remission of sins, the grace and favour of God, and be made thereby very sons and children of God;”[127] that “the effect and virtue of this Sacrament is forgiveness of sins and grace of the Holy Ghost;”[128] that infants, “being offered in the faith of the Church, receive forgiveness of their sins, and such grace of the Holy Ghost, that, if they die in the state of their infancy, they shall thereby undoubtedly be saved.”[129]

The First Book of Homilies is the earliest public document of the reign of Edw. VI. In the “Homily of Salvation” (Part I.) it is stated, “that infants, being baptized and dying in their infancy, are by this sacrifice washed from their sins, brought to God’s favour, and made His children, and inheritors of His kingdom of heaven;” and that “we must trust only in God’s mercy and the sacrifice … offered on the cross, to obtain thereby God’s grace and remission, as well of our original sin in baptism, as of all actual sin committed after our baptism, if we truly repent.”

The Second Book of Homilies was not published till the reign of Elizabeth, yet it now is united with the First; and we may therefore quote them together. In a former Article we saw that baptism and the Supper of the Lord were described as the two Sacraments having “visible signs, whereunto is annexed the promise of free forgiveness of our sins, and of our holiness and joining in Christ.”[130] The “Homily of repairing of Churches” says of the Church, that “The fountain of our regeneration is there presented unto us.” The “Homily of the Passion,” that “We be therefore washed in our baptism from the filthiness of sin, that we should live afterward in the pureness of life.”

The next authoritative document, after the First Book of Homilies, was the First Service Book of Edw. VI. This was compiled in the same year (1548) that Cranmer’s Catechism was put forth. The Baptismal Service in that Book differs from our present service for infant baptism, in that the latter lacks some of the ceremonies which were retained in the former. The doctrinal statements (if prayers can be said to contain statements) are the same. It is, however, desirable to postpone the consideration of these till the last. Yet one portion of the First Service Book we must not omit. It is the Catechism. Here we have (drawn up by Cranmer and set forth in the same year with his larger Catechism already cited) all the portion of our present Church Catechism, down to the end of the Lord’s Prayer. The latter part, concerning the Sacraments, was not added till after the Hampton Court Controversy, in the reign of James I., more than fifty years later. The teaching in the earliest questions, however, was, as it still continues: “Who gave you that name? My godfathers and godmothers in my baptism, wherein I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” The child is taught to call this “a state of salvation,” and to speak of himself as “sanctified by God the Holy Ghost,” like “all the elect people of God.”

Immediately before the Catechism in the First Service Book there is a rubric, which now stands in the baptismal service, to the following purport: “It is certain by God’s word, that children being baptized, if they depart out of this life in their infancy, are undoubtedly saved.”[131] These were the principal public documents put forth at the period of the Reformation, in which baptism is treated of, with the exception of the Articles, and the services for Infant Baptism. Let us then next take the Articles. These were published A. D. 1552, four years after the First Service Book and Cranmer’s Catechism, and the same year as the Second Service Book. Those Articles which treat on baptism, were not altered in the reign of Elizabeth.

Besides the Article on Baptism itself, one or two expressions occur in the earlier Articles. Thus, in that on original sin (now the IXth), we read in the English, “although there is no condemnation to them that believe and are baptized.” In the Latin the word rendered “baptized” is renatis, “born again.” And the Article “Of Christ alone without sin” (now the XVth) says: “All we the rest, although baptized and born again in Christ.” In both these there appears an identification of baptism and regeneration.

To proceed to our present Article, the XXVIIth. It is difficult to find any exact model on which it is framed. It bears little resemblance to any former Article, in any other confession, either English or foreign. It is evidently penned with considerable caution. It begins with a denial of the Zuinglian notion, that “baptism is a mere sign of profession or mark of difference.” It continues, that it is “a sign of regeneration or new birth.” So far, however, its statement is not much more than Zuinglius’s. But then it adds, “whereby, as by an instrument, they, who receive baptism rightly, are grafted into the church; the promises of forgiveness of sin and of our adoption to be the sons of God, by the Holy Ghost are visibly signed and sealed.” The concluding words of the paragraph contain considerable difficulty. “Faith is confirmed and grace increased by virtue of prayer to God,” vi divinæ invocationis. The Latin and the English do not correspond, and appear to convey different ideas. The former would indicate that the invocation of God, which accompanies the act of baptism, confirms faith and increases grace. The latter would imply, that the prayers of the congregation might, over and above the ordinance of God, be blessed to the recipient’s soul, so that, whereas he might receive grace by God’s appointment, whether prayer accompanied baptism or not; yet the addition of prayer was calculated to bring down more grace and to confirm faith. Whence the confusion sprang, if such it were, it may be hard to say. The Latin and English have both authority; but one does not explain the other. Perhaps they rather supply than explain each other.

The Articles then speak the same language as the other formularies of our Church, on the subject of baptismal grace. Yet it has been truly observed, that the Article which expressly treats of baptism speaks less distinctly than any other authorized document, and is more easily explained away. Why this should have been is not apparent. The primate, and his coadjutor Ridley, perpetually, both before and after the publication of the Articles, expressed their own views in strong and unmistakable language. It is certain that the bishops and clergy in general were not more disposed to Zuinglian doctrines than the primate; but, on the contrary, were rather more favourable to Romanism and doctrines verging on Romanism. The Article could not therefore have been softened to please them. It is not impossible, that the king himself, young as he was, may have had some leaning to the Swiss reformers, and that to please him, and perhaps to satisfy some foreign divines, a certain degree of ambiguity may have been admitted.

We must remember, that the office for Infant Baptism was put out nearly at the same time with the Articles, that it was enjoined by the same authority, that it is of equal obligation on the clergy, and of still greater interest to the laity of the Church. Its meaning has been a fertile source of trouble in the present century. Yet, if fairly considered, its sense can scarcely be ambiguous.

It perhaps would be conceded that, if the sentiments of the reformers were clearly known and fully established, the natural sense of the service would be no longer doubtful. We have had copious extracts from their works; and their own doctrine has been given in their own words. Most of their statements must have concerned infant baptism; for so little was adult baptism known in their day, that no office for adult baptism was appointed till nearly a hundred years after them. We know that they speak of infants as regenerated in baptism. The only questions which can occur are these: Did they believe all baptized infants to be regenerated, or only some? And, if so, what did they mean by regeneration?

A considerable number of men, whose piety forbids us to doubt their honesty, suppose that the reformers believed some, but not all, infants to be regenerated in baptism. Such persons therefore say, that the well-known strong expressions in the baptismal service must be interpreted with some reservation. They adopt the notion of a charitable hypothesis. The Church charitably hopes that a particular child may be regenerate, and therefore fearlessly expresses its conviction that he is regenerate. In special confirmation of this theory, they adduce the office for Adult Baptism, where nearly the same expressions are used, and where it is impossible to be sure that regeneration is bestowed; for confessedly to adults grace is given only when there is sincerity and faith. To this they add the Burial Service; where we give God thanks for taking our departed brother out of this world, evidently on the charitable supposition that he is fit for a better.

Now it is quite plain that the office for Adult Baptism cannot explain the office for Infant Baptism; for this reason. The office for Adult Baptism was not drawn up till a hundred years after that for Infant Baptism, i. e. in the reign of Charles II. It was so worded as to be as like as possible to the more ancient office for infants; and as few alterations as could be were adopted. An office drawn up A. D. 1661 cannot interpret one drawn up in 1552. Or if it be supposed that the bishops of 1661 were likely to under stand the language of their predecessors in 1552, then we may listen to their explanation of the office for Infant Baptism, the strong terms of which were objected to by the puritans. “Seeing,” say these very bishops, who compiled the office of Adult Baptism, “that God’s Sacraments have their effects, where the receiver doth not ponere obicem, put any bar against them (which children cannot do), we may say in faith of every child that is baptized, that it is regenerated by God’s Holy Spirit; and the denial of it tends to anabaptism,”[132] &c.

The Burial Service does not seem a case in point. There is there no positive assertion of the certainty of the individual’s bliss, as there is of the certainty of the infant’s regeneration in the baptismal service. Concerning the individual, we indeed give thanks that God has “been pleased to deliver him from the miseries of this sinful world.” But, as regards his resting in Christ, we only say, “as our hope is this our brother doth.” The expression, “in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life,” is a general proposition, affecting all men, and not specially the individual. The very words then of the Burial Service express plainly a charitable and comfortable hope. Those of the baptismal service, on the contrary, contain a positive assertion, and a consequent thanksgiving. The one therefore cannot explain the other.

But is it in any manner likely that the reformers should have intended a charitable hope, where they express an undoubting confidence? The belief that some were regenerate in baptism, and others were not, was, to say the most of it, a perfectly new notion in their day. The fathers believed all infants to be regenerate; so did the schoolmen; so did the whole mediæval Church; so did Luther and the Lutherans. Zuingle and the Zuinglians, on the contrary, believed that no one was regenerate in baptism; with them baptism was a mere outward sign. With Calvin and his followers originated the idea that the elect might receive grace, but the non-elect be left unblessed, in the Sacrament of baptism. It is quite certain that, early in their career, our reformers could have known nothing of this theory. It was not until late, that they had any connection whatever with the Calvinistic divines. But if, at any period in their lives, they obtained from Geneva a perfectly new light on the subject of infants receiving baptismal grace, is it not most strange that their writings should exhibit no trace of this? From 1536 to 1555 we have their documents and disputations. The same tone and statements, concerning baptism and the grace of baptism, prevail from first to last. In the Articles of 1536, in the Bishops’ Book of 1537, in the Articles of 1538, in the King’s Book of 1543, in Cranmer’s Catechism, the Baptismal Service, the Church Catechism of 1548, in the Second Service Book and the Articles of 1552, in the Answer to Gardiner 1551, and the Disputation with Chedsey 1554, exactly the same general assertions occur. There is nothing said about all infants, still less is anything said about excluding any. Unworthy adults are excluded, but infants never. Is it not most probable that the utter silence concerning the inclusion of all, or the exclusion of some, resulted from the fact that Calvin’s theory, which is not very apparent even in his own published works, had never been brought to their notice? that they therefore used the ordinary language of those who went before them, speaking in the general of infants as the subjects of the grace of God, and not caring to specify all, because not dreaming that some could be excluded?[133] In fact, their own sentiments, to any one who will fairly examine their writings, must seem plainly to have been these. All men, infants as well as elders, are subject to original sin, and as such, subject to the wrath of God. But all too are subjects of the redeeming love of God. He would have all to be saved. He freely offers pardon and grace to all. Thus, even of unbaptized infants we may hope that they shall share the blessings of the atonement, and dying in infancy, shall be saved from the curse of sin. But baptism is God’s special ordinance for bringing them into covenant with Him. Of those infants therefore who have been baptized, we do not hope, but we know, that as they are partakers of the covenant of grace, so they are partakers of the assurance of pardon, and moreover have a right to those graces of the Holy Spirit, which, if cultivated, as they grow up, will surely new-create in them a sanctified nature, mortifying and destroying their old and corrupt nature, and making them sons of God indeed. Hence, as they are by baptism entitled to regenerating grace, we do not scruple to use the language of Scripture and antiquity, and to call them, regenerate in baptism. Yet we do not thereby intend that original corruption is quenched in them, or that their whole moral disposition is changed; but only, that they are new-born into the Church, that their sin of nature is not imputed to them, and that they have an assurance of that spiritual aid, which, if not hindered, will renew, convert, and restore them.

It will be no small confirmation to the belief that this was their sentiment concerning baptism, if we learn that the model on which their baptismal services were formed was not Calvinistic, nor Zuinglian, but Lutheran. Archbishop Laurence has shown that, on the subject of our formularies in general, there was much correspondence between the English and the Lutheran divines.[134] But it has been proved, beyond the possibility of doubt, that the sources of our present office for Infant Baptism were, first, the Service in common use in the mediæval Church, and still in the Church of Rome; secondly, a formulary adopted by Luther for his own followers in Germany; thirdly, a Service composed by Melancthon and Bucer for the use of the Archbishop of Cologne, which was itself adapted from the ancient Liturgy of Nuremburg.[135] This fact directly associates our own formularies with those, first of the ancient Church, secondly, of the Lutheran reformers. The parts of the more ancient services which were deemed superstitious, such as chrism and exorcism, were omitted. But the doctrine involved is evidently the same as that held by Luther and Melancthon; who, it has been seen, followed and symbolized with St. Augustine.

Section IV. — Infant Baptism.

SO much space has been occupied on the earlier part of this Article, that the latter part must be very briefly considered; especially as some of what has been already said may bear on the question of infant baptism.

We have already traced the analogy between circumcision and baptism. The latter indeed excels the former, as the new covenant excels the old; but both were alike initiatory rites, the means of entering into covenant with God, and the seal of that covenant. If children could be admitted into the covenant of works, why not, a fortiori, into the covenant of grace? If, before they knew good from evil, they were capable of being bound by an obligation to do good and to renounce evil, and that without the assurance of quickening grace, how can they be incapable of admission to the promises of pardon, to the offer of life eternal, to the mercy and love of Him “who came to seek and to save that which was lost?” In that case, the blessings of the old covenant, instead of being more limited, must have been more extended than those of the new; and the Law, which was given by Moses, must have been more merciful than the grace and truth, which came by Jesus Christ. The parallel too is the more exact, if we remember, that to adults circumcision was “the seal of the righteousness of faith” (Rom. iv. 11); and so was not given to Abraham, till he had believed. But this prerequisite in adults was no prerequisite in infants. The infant children of the Israelites, and of the converts to Judaism, were all circumcised, though they could have no faith to qualify them.

We saw, in a former Section, that not only circumcision, but baptism, was practised among the Jews; and that, when they admitted proselytes into their communion, they not only circumcised all the males, but baptized all, male and female, infant and adult.[136] When therefore our Lord sent out His disciples to “make proselytes of all nations by baptizing them” (μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνηβαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς, Matt. xxviii. 19), He addresses persons, who had been ever used to the mode of proselyting, or admitting of proselytes, which He commanded; and, as they had always seen infants, as well as adults, baptized for such proselytism, they could only have understood that they too were to practise infant baptism. Unless therefore there were a special bar put upon such a practice, our Lord’s words naturally implied that the practice was according to His will. The omission to specify infants is only analogous to the omission of commands to perform other obvious duties which were well understood before, and which the first teachers of Christianity took naturally for granted.

The necessity of baptism has constantly been inferred from our Lord’s declaration, “Except a man[137] be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John iii. 5). But the same supreme authority declared too concerning infants, that “of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark x. 14). If so, they must be capable of baptism, both by water and the Spirit. Otherwise, one would think, they cannot be capable of entering into that kingdom, which is said specially to appertain to them. The whole of our Lord’s teaching, on that occasion, when infants were brought to Him, seems to show, as plainly as possible, the propriety of infant baptism. If young children ought to be brought to Christ, and He has peculiar pleasure in and love for them, then can there be no possible reason why we should keep them from the Sacrament of His love. It may be said that we thereby bind them, without their own consent, to obligations which they might be unwilling to contract. But every human being, created by God, and redeemed by Christ, is, baptized or unbaptized, bound to believe, to love, to obey Him; and hence, whether acknowledged or not, the obligation exists. And, moreover, if in baptism responsibility is undertaken, far greater is the blessing than the responsibility: for let it ever be remembered, that it is admission not to a covenant of works and to a bargain, “This do, and thou shalt live;” but that it is to a covenant of grace, to pardon, and mercy, and spiritual aid, and the promise of eternal life. Great therefore are the blessings of baptism; and, though of course there are consequent obligations, yet they are only such as, more or less, would exist for the unbaptized.

Again, the statement of St. Paul, that the children of Christian parents are holy (1 Cor. vii. 14), is fairly alleged as a proof that Christians’ children are fit recipients of the first Christian Sacrament. The other Sacrament, which is a renewal of the covenant made in the first, may be fitter for the adult and intelligent; but there can be nothing to keep the infant from the first. If it be said that he has original sin, this, so far from keeping him from baptism, is his very reason for needing it. For though we may hope that, under the Gospel of the grace of God, sin will not be imputed where it has not been actual and wilful; yet baptism is “for the remission of sin” (Mark i. 4); and there is no way, but baptism, whereby we can place the infant in formal covenant with God, and therefore within the terms of the covenant, and having the assurance that his sins shall not be imputed to him, and that, if he go hence, his soul shall be safe.

The words of St. Peter, again, sound much like an encouragement to bring the young to baptism. For when he had exhorted those who asked what they should do, to be “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,” and assured them that then they should “receive the Holy Ghost;” he added, “For the promise is to you and to your children” (Acts ii. 38, 39).

Lastly, though it is true that we read nothing of infants being baptized by any of the Apostles, it being on every account far more likely that we should hear of the baptism of adults, yet we do find that whole households were baptized by them, in more cases than one (Acts xvi. 15, 33; 1 Cor. i. 16); and in households it is most likely that there must have been children.

If we consult the records of antiquity, we shall find every reason to believe that the practice of infant baptism prevailed from the very first. Justin Martyr wrote his Second Apology about A. D. 148 (i. e. 48 years after the death of the last Apostle). He there speaks of persons 60 and 70 years old, who had been made disciples to Christ in their infancy.[138] How can infants be made disciples, but by baptism? And if these had been baptized in their infancy, it must have been during the lifetimes of the Apostle St. John, and of other apostolic men. Irenæus, next in succession to Justin, says: “Christ came to save all by Himself; all, that is, who by Him are regenerated to God, — infants and little ones, and boys and youths and old men. Therefore He went through every age, being made an infant for infants, that He might sanctify infants,”[139] &c. If we consider that Irenæus, like other of the fathers, commonly calls baptism by the name of regeneration, this passage will seem conclusive of the custom and doctrine in his day.

Tertullian is an important, though unwilling witness. He shows that in his day (about a century from the Apostles) the custom of baptizing infants prevailed, and that sponsors were wont to answer for them; but he himself advocated a delay in baptism; for he thought the innocent age of infants could scarcely need the haste of bringing them to baptism; he thought also that sponsors might, from death or other causes, be unable to fulfil their duties, and he considered it better to seek remission of sins later in life, when temptations were less likely to make men fall away.[140] This was his own reasoning against the custom of the Church, showing what that custom of the Church, against which he reasoned, was. His own view arose from his fear of the heinousness of sin after baptism, which we have already considered.

Origen, a few years later, bears ample testimony to the custom of infant baptism. “Infants,” he says, “are baptized for the remission of sins;” and he gives the reason, that “none is free from pollution, though his life be but of one day on the earth.”[141] He tells us also, that “the Church received a custom handed down from the Apostles, to give baptism even to infants.”[142] Origen, it is observed by Wall, was born about 85 years after the Apostles, and his family had long been Christian.

The next father of note is Cyprian. In his day (circ. A. D. 250) there arose a question as to what day a child should be baptized. Fidus, an African bishop, wrote to him to inquire whether baptism, like circumcision, should be always deferred till the eighth day; or whether, if need required, it might be administered at once. An answer was returned by Cyprian and a council of sixty-six bishops. The unanimous judgment of the council was, that there was no need of such delay, for “the mercy and grace of God is to be denied to none that is born.”[143] If anything could be an obstacle to persons obtaining the grace of baptism, they argue, adults would be rather hindered by their grievous sins. But if no one is so kept from baptism, how much less infants, who have no sins but such as they derived by inheritance from Adam.[144]

The foregoing testimonies all occur in the first century and a half from the Apostles. It would be easy, but in this brief sketch it is unnecessary, to carry the chain further down. For a moment we may notice the view taken by Gregory Nazianzen, as it seems remarkable and indeed unaccountable. He gives his judgment, that, in case of danger, baptism ought to be administered without delay; but if there be no danger, he advises that it be deferred for about three years.[145] Why deferred at all, if to be deferred but three years, he does not explain.

That, among the later fathers, baptism was not so universally administered in infancy as amongst ourselves, there does indeed seem reason to conjecture. The great potency which many attached to it, and the fear of the contraction of heinous sin after it, appear to have induced some to delay its administration. Thus Constantine was not baptized till he was dying.[146] St. Augustine, though his mother was a Christian, did not receive baptism in his infancy. He himself deplores the delay, but says it was owing to his mother’s fear of the great temptations which seemed impending over his boyhood, to which she thought it better “to expose the clay, whence her son might afterwards be moulded, than the cast when made.”[147]

Such instances, resulting from peculiar scruples, are no proofs that the custom of baptizing in infancy did not prevail from the first. Augustine himself clearly asserts, that the Church both held the custom, and believed the efficacy of infant baptism, from all times, and so universally, that it could only have received it from the Apostles.[148]


  1. I have been induced to enter more fully into the question of the patristic doctrine of Baptism than I should otherwise have done, owing to the doubts which have lately been thrown upon it by various writers, and especially by Mr. Faber, in his Primitive Doctrine of Regeneration. Whatever comes from Mr. Faber deserves consideration. There is one argument which appears of weight in his treatise, namely, that the fathers ever identify baptism with circumcision. Yet the careful reader will observe that every passage from the father which Mr. Faber adduces to this purpose, speaks of circumcision as a type of baptism, not as identical with baptism. We have already seen that the fathers distinguished between the Sacraments of the old Testament and those of the new. “The sacraments of the new Testament give salvation; those of the old Testament promise a Saviour” (August. In Ps. lxxiii. Tom. IV. p. 769, quoted under Art. XXV.) The same distinction is constantly referred to: “The former carnal circumcision is made void; and a second spiritual is assigned” (Cyprian. Testimon. I. 8.) “No other advantage attended on circumcision, except that by it the Jews were distinguished from other nations. But our circumcision, I mean the grace of baptism, has a healing free from pain, procures us myriads of good things, and fills us with the grace of the Holy Spirit” (Chrysostom, Homil. XL. in Genesin. quoted by Bishop Beveridge on this Article). It may well be doubted whether one single passage from the fathers can be found, in which circumcision is made of the same force as baptism, or in which any legal ordinance is placed on a level with the Sacraments of the Gospel.
  2. Ad. Polyc. c. 6, quoted under Art. XXV.
  3. Epist. Barnab. c. 11; also quoted, Art. XXV.
  4. Hermas, Lib. I.; Vision. III. c. 3.
  5. Lib. III. Similitud. IX. c. 15.
  6. ἔπειτα ἄγονται ὑϕ’ ἡμῶν ἔνθα ὔδωρ ἐστὶ, καὶ τρόπον ἀναγεννήσεως, ὅν καὶ ἡμεῖς αὐτοὶ ἀνεγεννήθημεν, ἀναγεννῶνται, κ. τ. λ. — Apolog. I. p. 93.
  7. ἀϕέσεως τε ἁμαρτιῶν ὑπὲρ ὧν προημάρτομεν τύχωμεν ἐν τῷ ὕδατι. — Apolog. I. p. 94.
  8. τοῦ βαπτίσματος τῆς εἰς Θεὸν ἀναγεννήσεως. — Lib. I. c. 18. Edit. Grabe, p. 88.
  9. “Et iterum potestatem regenerationis in Deum demandans discipulis, dicebat eis, Euntes docete gentes, baptizantes eos,” &c. — Lib. III. c. 19, p. 243.
  10. “Omnes enim venit per semetipsum salvare; omnes, inquam, qui per eum renascuntur in Deum, infantes et parvulos, et juvenes, et seniores.” — Lib. II. c. 39, p. 160.
  11. See at length, Lib. V. c. 10, p. 413.
  12. Irenæus, Lib. I. c. 18, p. 91.
  13. De Baptismo, c. 1, 13.
  14. Ibid. c. 1. See under Art. XXV.
  15. c. 3.
  16. c. 4.
  17. De Baptismo.
  18. “Non quod in aquis Spiritum Sanctum consequamur; sed in aqua emundati per angelum, Spiritui Sancto præparamur.” — c. 6, conf. c. 7. Of the imposition of hands following immediately on baptism, and considered as a part of it, see under Art. XXV. Mr. Faber quotes this passage thush: “Not that we obtain the Holy Spirit in the mere water, but, being cleansed under the angel in the water, we are prepared by the Holy Spirit.” — Primitive Doctrine of Regeneration, p. 138. There is nothing about mere water in Tertullian. What he means is obvious enough. Alluding to the stirring of the pool of Bethesda by the angel, he considered that water-baptism was appointed for remission of sins; but that the grace of the Holy Spirit did not come upon the recipient until the bishop had laid his hands on him.
  19. Ibid. c. 9.
  20. “Sanctissimo lavacro novi natalis.” — c. 20, comp. De Anima, c. 41; Cont. Marcion. Lib. I. c. 28; De Pœnitentia, c. 6.
  21. “Præscribitur nemini sine baptismo competere salutem, ex illa, maxime, pronunciatione Domini, qui ait, Nisi natus ex aqua quis erit, non habet vitam.” — De Baptismo, c. 10.
  22. c. 20.
  23. “Symbolum mortis.” — De Pœnitentia, c. 6. See above, Art. XXV. Tertullian’s inclination to deny remission to deadly sins after baptism (see on Art. XVI. sect. I.) originated partly from his high esteem for baptism, partly from his own highly ascetic temper.
  24. Pædogog. Lib. I. c. 12, p. 156, line 18.
  25. Ibid. Lib. I. c. 6, p. 113, line 27.
  26. ϕωτίσματος — this is a common name for baptism among all the fathers.
  27. οὐ γὰρ ἂν ἔχοις εἰπεῖν τὸν χρόνον. Mr. Faber (Prim. Doct. of Regeneration, pp. 131, 144) puts this clause in capitals, and cites it as proving that Clement did not hold God’s grace to be given in baptism, but at any time before, in, or after baptism. The force of his argument, however, entirely depends on his having dissociated the passage from its context; for the context in which it stands exactly disproves his position. Clement is explaining the great blessings of baptism; but he also explains that catechumens were regularly trained for it, and that they had reason to expect that their previous preparation, with which they came to the Sacrament, would be specially blessed, and their faith instructed, ἅμα τῷ βαπτίσματι, “at the very moment of baptism.” Bishop Bethell has some good remarks in reply to this argument of Mr. Faber. Bethell, On Regeneration, pp. 254‒260. Fifth edition.
  28. Pædogog. Lib. I. c. 6, p. 116, line 13.
  29. In Numeros, Homil. III. num. I.; In Ezechiel. Hom. VI. num. V. cited under Art. XXV.
  30. “Parvuli baptizantur in remissionem peccatorum. . . . . Et quia per baptismi sacramentum nativitatis sordes deponuntur, propterea baptizantur et parvuli. . . . In regeneratione baptismi assumitur sacramentum et quomodo Jesus secundum dispensationem carnis oblatione purgatus est, ita etiam nos spiritali regeneratione purgamur.” — Homil. XIV. in Lucam.
  31. See under Art. XVI. sect. I.
  32. De Habitu Virginum. Oxf. 1682, p. 103.
  33. Epistol. LXXIII. p. 203.
  34. Ad Donatum de Gratia Dei, circ. init. p. 2.
  35. Augustine, De Doctr. Christ. IV. 14. The passage from Cyprian is quoted by Bishop Bethell. — Fifth edit. p. 127.
  36. See Ep. LXXII. p. 196; Epist. LXXIII. p. 207, quoted under Art. XXV. Mr. Faber quotes, as of great consequence to his own theory, the former of these passages: “Tum demum plene sanctificari et esse filii Dei possunt, si sacramento utroque nascantur, cum scriptum sit, Nisi quis renatus fuerit ex aqua et Spiritu,” &c. — Prim. Doct. of Regener. p. 68. He strangely infers that Cyprian held water to be one sacrament, and the Spirit the other; as though any Divine could really call God’s Holy Spirit a Sacrament: i. e. an outward sign of an inward grace. So common a book as Bingham’s Antiquities will tell us that the two sacraments by which Tertullian and Cyprian believed regeneration to be bestowed upon us, were water and imposition of hands, both then considered parts of baptism. — See Bingham, XII. i. 1, 4.
  37. δὲ βαπτιζόμενος τὸν μὲν παλαιὸν ἀποδιδύσκεται · ἀνακαινίζεται δὲ ἄνωθεν γεννηθεὶς τῇ τοῦ Πνεύματος χάριτι.Epist. IV. ad Serapion. 13. The passage is given more at length by Bishop Bethell, p. 311.
  38. Præfat. Catech. 1.
  39. Ibid.
  40. Μὴ τῷ ψιλῷ τοῦ ὕδατος πρόσεχε, ἀλλὰ τῂ τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος ἐνεργείᾳ τὴν σωτηρίαν ἐνδέχου. — Catech. III. 2. See Beveridge on this Article.
  41. Μέγα τὸ προκείμενον βάπτισμα. αἰχμαλώτοις λύτον · ἁμαρτημάτων ἅϕεσις · θάνατος ἁμαρτίας · παλιγγενεσία ψυχῆς · ἔνδυμα ϕωτεινόν · σϕραγὶς ἁγία ἀκατάλυτος · ὄχημα πρὸς οὐρανόν · παραδείσου τρυϕὴ · βασιλείας πρόξνον · υἱοθεσίας χάρισμα. — Catech. Præfat. 10. St. Basil has almost word for word the same sentence. — Exhortat. ad Baptism. Tom. I. p. 413.
  42. Catech. III. 8.
  43. Ibid.
  44. Catech. III. 9; νεκρὸς ἐν ἁμαρτίαις καταβὰς, ἀναβαίνεις ζωοποιηθεὶς ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ. — Comp. Catech. XX. 4, 5.
  45. Greg. Naz. Orat. XI. Opp. Tom. I. p. 638. Colon.
  46. Ibid. p. 661.
  47. καὶ μόνῃ σχεδὸν, ἵν’ εἴπω τόλμησος, σϕραγὶς ἀλλ’ οὐ χάρισμα ἦν τὸ μυστήριον. — Orat. XI. Tom. I. p. 188.
  48. “Significat salutaris lavacri futura mysteria; per quæ in primordia naturæ suæ qui baptizati fuerint parvuli a malitia reformantur.” — Comment. in Evangel. Luc. Lib. I. § 37. The passage is given more at length by Wall, Infant Baptism, pt. I. c. 13.
  49. Chrysost. Homil. in 1 Epist. ad Corinth. Homil. XL.
  50. Faber, Prim. Doct. of Election, Bk. I. ch. VII. p. 81, &c.
  51. See quotations and references under Art. XVI. sect. I. Art. XVII. sect. I.; especially De Corrept. et Grat. §§ 16, 20, 22; De Dono Persev. 1, 19, 21, 32, 33.
  52. De Corrept. et Grat. § 22, p. 762.
  53. Ibid. § 20, p. 761.
  54. De Dono Persev. § 21, Tom. X. p. 831.
  55. “Quibus rebus omnibus ostenditur aliud esse sacramentum baptismi, aliud conversionem cordis, sed salutem hominis ex utroque compleri; nec si unum horum defuerit, ideo putare debemus consequens esse ut et alterum desit; quia et illud sine isto potest esse in infante, et hoc sine illo potuit esse in latrone, complente Deo sive in illo, sive in isto, quod non ex voluntate defuisset; cum vero ex voluntate alterum horum defuerit, reatu hominem involvi. Et baptismus quidem potest inesse, ubi conversio cordis defuerit: conversio autem cordis potest quidem inesse non percepto baptismo, sed contempto non potest.” — De Baptismo contra Donatistas, Lib. IV. c. XXV. § 32, Tom. IX. p. 141.
  56. “Absit ut causam parvulorum sic relinquamus, ut esse nobis dicamus incertum, utrum in Christo regenerati si moriantur parvuli, transeant in æternam salutem, non regenerati autem transeant in mortem secundam.” — De Dono Persever. § 30, Tom. X. p . 837. “Cum videant alios parvulos non regeneratos ad æternam mortem, alios autem regeneratos ad æternam vitam tolli de hac vita.” — Ibid. § 32. “Cum moriuntur infantes, aut merito regenerationis transeunt ex malis ad bona, aut merito originis transeunt ex malis ad mala.” — De Prædestinat. § 24, Tom. X. p. 806. “Quia parvulus non baptizatus non intrat in regnum cœlorum, et tu dicis et ego.” — Serm. 294, c. 7, Tom. V. p.1186.
  57. “In parvulis natis et nondum baptizatis agnoscatur Adam: in parvulis natis et baptizati et ob hoc renatis agnoscatur Christus.” — Serm. 174, c. 8, Tom. V. p. 834.
  58. “Infantes sunt, sed membra ejus sunt. Infantes sunt, sed sacramenta accipiunt. Infantes sunt, sed mensæ Ejus participes fiunt, ut habeant in se vitam.” — Ibid. c. 6.
  59. De Peccat. Merit. et Remiss. Lib. III. c. 4, Tom. X. p. 78.
  60. Ibid. c. 12, p. 83.
  61. “In parvulis certe gratia Dei per baptismum … id agitur ut evacuetur caro peccati. Evacuatur autem non ut in ipsa vivente carne concupiscentia conspersa et innata repente absumatur et non sit; sed ne obsit mortuo, quæ inerat nato. Nam si post baptismum vixerit, atque ad ætatem capacem præcepti pervenire potuerit, ibi habet cum qua pugnet, eamque adjuvante Deo superet, si non in vacuum gratiam Ejus susceperit, si reprobatus esse noluerit.” — De Peccat. Meritis et Remiss. Lib. I. c. 39, Tom. X. p. 39.
  62. De Civit. Dei, Lib. I. c. 27, Tom. VII. p. 25.
  63. De Baptismo c. Donatist. Lib. IV. c. 24, Tom. IX. p. 141.
  64. “Ita in baptizatis infantibus præcedit regenerationis sacramentum; et si Christianam tenuerint pietatem, sequetur etiam in corde conversio; cujus mysterium præcessit in corpore.” — Ibid. p. 140.
  65. “Dicimus ergo in baptizatis parvulis, quamvis id nesciunt, habitare Spiritum Sanctum.” — Epist. 187 ad Dardan c. VIII. Tom. II. p. 586. So also, “Ad templum Dei pertinent parvuli, sanctificati sacramento Christi, regenerati Spiritu Sancto.” — Ibid. c. VI. 684.
  66. “Frustrata potestate captivatoris sui, et data potestate qua fiant ex fil is hujus sæculi filii Dei.” — De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia, Lib. I. c. 22, Tom. X. p. 292.
  67. He asserts that one of two things must be determined: either that adults receiving unworthily, like Simon Magus, are born of water and of the Spirit, but to their destruction, not to their salvation; or else that the hypocritical, and those not converted in heart, must be esteemed to have been baptized, but not born of the Spirit. — De Baptismo c. Donatist. Lib. VI. c. 12, Tom. IX. p. 169.
  68. See the passages quoted above. See also In Epistol. Johann. c. 3, Tract. VI. 6, 7, Tom. III. par. II. pp. 859, 860, where he argues that though a man may have received the Sacrament of baptism, so great a thing that it makes a new man by remission of all his sins (“ut novum hominem faciat dimissione omnium peccatorum”); yet if he have not charity, he must not say that he is born of God. (“Habeat caritatem: aliter non se dicat natum ex Deo.”) The sons of God are distinguished from the children of the devil only by charity. Those who have charity are born of God. Those who have not charity are not born of God.
  69. “Quod universa tenet Ecclesia, nec conciliis institutum, sed semper retentum est, non nisi authoritate Apostolica traditum, rectissime creditur.” — Lib. IV. c. 24, Tom. IX. p. 140. On this Mr. Faber remarks: “Thus by this remarkable attestation he becomes as it were a host of witnesses in himself.” (Prim. Doct. of Regeneration, p. 324.) I am much pained at being obliged to express decided dissent from some of the positions of Mr. Faber, a writer for whom I entertain much respect, and in whose writings I have taken great interest. I believe that his view of the subject cannot be so different from that which I have taken above, as might at first appear. His great argument is that the fathers did not believe moral renovation or conversion of heart to be the necessary concomitant of baptism. Of this I think there can be no doubt. Mr. Faber himself fully admits that “all sin is pardoned in baptism” (p. 321). He also holds that God’s predestination, as revealed to us in Scripture, is not, as Arminians teach, ex prævisi meritis; nor yet, as Calvinists teach, to eternal glory; but, as the fathers teach, to baptismal blessing; and that all baptized persons may, if they will, become elect to glory. (See Prim. Doct. of Election, passim.) Surely, then, he must consistently hold that all baptized persons are entitled to the aid of God’s Holy Spirit. I am therefore quite at a loss to understand him, when I find him stating that infants, from original sin, “cannot be worthy recipients of baptism . . . .without an antecedent operation to make them worthy” (p. 345). Surely original sin is not a bar to God’s pardoning mercy in Christ, nor to the grace of His Spirit, to quicken us from such sin. And how to believe that an antecedent operation is necessary to make them worthy, except on Arminian or Calvinistic principles, I cannot imagine.
  70. Sess. V. De Pecc. Origin. See also under Art. IX. pp. 244, 245.
  71. Luther In III. ad Galat. Tom. V. p. 370.
  72. Catechismus Major, Tom. V. p. 657.
  73. Ibid.
  74. Ibid.
  75. Ibid.
  76. Ibid. p. 638.
  77. Ibid. p. 639.
  78. Ibid.
  79. Præfat. in Epist. ad Romanos Tom. V. p. 100.
  80. De Sacramento Baptism. Tom. I. p. 72.
  81. Ibid. p. 72.
  82. Ibid. p. 74.
  83. Ibid.
  84. De Sacramento Baptism. Tom. I. p. 73. Melancthon speaks exactly like Luther: “Quod Deus approbat baptismum parvulorum, hoc ostendit, quod Deus dat Spiritum Sanctum sic baptizatis.” — Melancthon. Opp. Tom. I. p. 61. “Sentimus eos (h. e. parvulos) in baptismo fieri filios Dei, accipere Spiritum Sanctum, et manere in gratia tamdiu, quoad non effundant eam peccatis actualibus ea ætate, quæ jam dicitur rationis compos.” — Tom. IV. pp. 664. See Bethell, On Regeneration, p. 155; Laurence, Doctrine of the Church of England on Baptism. Third edit. p. 89.
  85. “Illud mihi ingenue circa libri initium dicendum est: fere omnes eos, quotquot ab ipsis Apostolorum temporibus de baptismo scribere instituerunt, non in paucis (quod pace omnium hominum dictum esse velim) a scopo aberravisse.” — Zuinglius, De Baptismo Oper. pars 2, Tigur. 1581, Tom. I. fol. 60.
  86. Ibid.
  87. “Externus baptismus ergo qui aqua constat, ad peccatorum ablutionem nihil facit.” — Ibid. fol. 71.
  88. “Peccatum ergo originale damnationem non meretur, si modo quis parentes fideles nactus fuerit. . . . Unde colligimus peccatum originale morbum quidem esse, qui tamen per se culpabilis non est, nec damnationis pœnam inferre potest . . . . donec homo contagione hac corruptus legem Domini transgreditur, quod tum demum fieri consuevit, cum legem sibi positam videt et intelligit.” — Tom. I. fol. 90.
  89. Compare his De Peccato Originali Declaratio, Tom. I. fol. 116, seq.
  90. Instit. IV. xvi. 17.
  91. Ibid. IV. xv. 1.
  92. Ibid.
  93. IV. xv. 2.
  94. IV. xv. 5.
  95. IV. xv. 10.
  96. IV. xv. 15.
  97. “Unde sequitur, non ideo baptizari fidelium liberos, ut filii Dei tunc primum fiant, qui ante alieni fuerunt ab ecclesia; sed solenni potius signo ideo recipi in ecclesiam, quia promissionis beneficio jam ante ad Christi corpus pertinebant.” — Instit. IV. xv. 22. Comp. Epist. 193.
  98. IV. xvi. 25.
  99. See IV. xv. xvi. passim; especially xvi. 22, xv. 3, &c. Comp. III. iii. 9.
  100. Zuinglius held that original sin would not damn any in whom it had not broken out in actual sin. Hence that all infants, dying in infancy, were saved. Calvin held that it was, of its own nature, fraught with damnation; but that, in the case of elect infants, the curse was reversed.
  101. M. Verum, annon aliud aquæ tribuis, nisi ut ablutionis tantum sit figura? “P. Sic figuram ese sentio, ut simul annexa sit veritas. Neque enim, sua nobis dona pollicendo, nos Deus frustratur. Proinde et peccatorum veniam et vitæ novitatem offerri nobis in baptismo et recipi a nobis certum est. “M. Quomodo per baptismum nobis hæc bona conferuntur? “P. Quia nisi promissiones illic nobis oblatas respuendo infructuosas reddimus, vestimur Christo, Ejusque Spiritu donamur.” — Catechismus Ecclesiæ Genevensis, J. Calvino Authore. Calvini Opuscula, Genevæ. 1552.
  102. “Baptismo igitur semper annexa erit Spiritus gratia, nisi a nobis impedimentum occurrat.” — J. Calvin. Commentar. in Act. Apostol. c. ii. v. 38.
  103. Ibid. in c. xxii. 16.
  104. Ibid. c. xi. 16.
  105. “Flat Christus in Apostolos: hi non flatum modo, sed Spiritum quoque recipiunt. Cur? nisi quia illis Christus promittit? Similiter in baptismo Christum induimus, abluimur Ejus sanguine, crucifigitur vetus homo noster, ut regnet in nobis Dei justitia. In sacra Cœna spiritualiter Christi Carne et Sanguine pascimur. Unde tanta vis, nisi ex Christi promissione, qui Spiritu suo efficit se præstat, quod verbo testatur?” — J. Calv. In Johann. c. xx. 22.
  106. “Neque enim quicquam prodest externa baptismi administratio, nisi ubi ita Deo visum est.” — In Act. Apostol. xxii. 16.
  107. “Baptismus ritus est, quo fideles tanquam sacra tessera confirmantur de gratiosa Dei erga ipsos voluntate.” — Limborch. Theol. Lib. IV. c. 67, § 5. “Baptismum non esse lavacrum regenerationis satis . . . . constare potest.” — Ibid. § 10. See Bishop Bethell, p. 171, seq.
  108. Cranmer’s Catechism, pp. 191, 192.
  109. Ibid. p. 186.
  110. Ibid. p. 187.
  111. Ibid. pp. 188, 189.
  112. Ibid. p. 182.
  113. Cranmer’s Catechism, p. 184.
  114. Works, III. p. 490.
  115. Ibid. II. p. 439. See also III. pp. 322, 323.
  116. IV. p. 39.
  117. Ibid. p. 42.
  118. Ibid. III. p. 553. See also II. pp. 302, 340; III. pp. 65, 118, 171, 276, 490, 534, 553: IV. pp. 39‒44, 55, &c.
  119. Works, Park. Soc. p. 57.
  120. Ibid. p. 12.
  121. Ibid. p. 240.
  122. See this especially in the “Disputation with Chedsey,” Cranmer’s Works, IV. pp. 41, 42. Latimer has been much referred to, as having in one passage denied the connection between baptism and regeneration. Archbp. Laurence (Doctrine of the Church of England on Baptism, Third Edition, pp. 43‒45) has shown that Latimer’s general teacing coincided with Cranmer’s. I have not quoted Bp. Latimer, because there is nothing to connect him with the drawing up either of the Articles or the Liturgy; and therefore his testimony is no more important than that of any other divine of the period.
  123. Juelli Apologia, Enchirid. Theolog. p. 127.
  124. Ibid. p. 129.
  125. Noelli Catechismus Enchirid. Theolog. pp. 314, 315; cf. p. 321.
  126. “Et quod per baptismum offerantur remissio peccatorum et gratia Christi, infantibus et adultis . . . .et quod infantes per baptismum consequantur remissionem peccatorum et gratiam, et sint filii Dei, quia promissio gratiæ et vitæ æternæ pertinet non solum ad adultos, sed etiam ad infantes . . . . Quia vero infantes nascuntur cum peccato originis, habent opus remissione illius peccati, et illud ita remittitur ut reatus tollatur, licet corruptio naturæ seu concupiscentia manet in hac vita, etsi incipit sanari, quia Spiritus Sanctus in ipsis etiam infantibus est efficax et eos mundat.” — See Cranmer’s Works, IV. pp. 279, 280.
  127. Formularies in the Reign of Henry VIII. pp. xix. 7, 93.
  128. Ibid. p. 253.
  129. Ibid. p. 254.
  130. Hom. of Common Prayer and Sacraments.
  131. Archbishop Laurence (Doctrine of Church of England on Baptism, p. 98) quotes a passage from the Reformatio Legum, a document drawn up by Cranmer, which most satisfactorily shows that the English reformers by no means adopted the opinions of the later fathers and of the schoolmen, that all unbaptized infants must inevitably perish. “Quod longe secus habere judicamus,” are the words used. See also Laurence, B. L. p. 70.
  132. Cardwell’s Hist. of Conferences, p. 356.
  133. It will be remembered that Calvin’s difficulty was this. His theory was, that grace was never given but irresistibly, and once given, never was withdrawn. Hence, if given to an infant, it must, sooner or later, renew his nature, and save his soul. Hence, again, if grace was given in baptism, the child must be saved. The predestinarians before him had not this idea. Augustine, and probably all predestinarians from him to Calvin, held that grace might be bestowed, but not profited by. Hence God’s Spirit and aid might be given to an infant, but he never grow up the holier for it, because he resisted and quenched the Spirit; and even if he were renewed at first, if not predestinated to perseverance, he might fall away. Unless it can be proved, that our reformers had adopted Calvin’s theory of irresistible grace and final perseverance, it cannot be probable that they should have entertained his difficulties about baptism.
  134. See Laurence’s Bampton Lectures, passim.
  135. Appendix to Laurence’s Doctrine of the Church of England on Baptism.
  136. See Lightfoot on Matt. iii.; Wall, Infant Baptism, Introduction, quoted in sect. II.
  137. τὶς, any one.
  138. πολλοί τινες καὶ πολλαὶ ἑξηκοντοῦται καὶ ἑβδομηκοντοῦται, οἱ ἐκ παίδων ἐμαθητευθήσαν τῷ Χριστῷ, ἄϕθοροι διαμένουσι. — Justin. Apol. II. p. 62.
  139. “Omnes venit per semetipsum salvare; omnes, inquam, qui per Eum renascuntur in Deum; infantes et parvulos, et pueros, et juvenes, et seniores,” &c. — Irenæus, Lib. II. c. 39, p. 160.
  140. De Baptismo, c. 18.
  141. Origen, In Luc. Homil. XIV.
  142. “Pro hoc (i. e. propter peccatum originis) Ecclesia ab Apostolis traditionem suscepit etiam parvulis baptismum dare.” — Origen. In Epist. ad Roman. Lib. V. 9.
  143. “Universi potius judicavimus nulli homini nato misericordiam Dei et gratiam denegandam.” — Cyprian, Epist. 64 ad Fidum.
  144. Ibid. See this part of the passage quoted under Art. IX. p. 240, note 4.
  145. Greg. Naz. Orat. XL. Tom. I. p. 658, A.
  146. Euseb. Vita Constantin. Lib. IV. c. 62.
  147. August. Confess. Lib. I. c. 11.
  148. De Baptismo, c. Donatistas, Lib. IV. c. 24, Tom. IX. p. 140, cited in the last section.


E. Harold Browne

(Edward) Harold Browne was an English bishop, born at Aylesbury and educated at Eton and Cambridge. He was ordained in 1836, and two years later was elected senior tutor of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. From 1843 to 1849 he was vice-principal of St David’s College, Lampeter, and in 1854 was appointed Norrisian professor of divinity at Cambridge. His best-known book is the Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles (vol. i., Cambridge, 1850; vol. ii., London, 1853), which remained for many years a standard work on the subject and is still beloved today. In 1864 he was consecrated bishop of Ely.

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