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A review of the baptismal controversy online

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REVIEW



BAPTISMAL CONTROVERSY



BY



J. B. MOZLEY, D.D.



LATK CANON OF CHRIST CHURCH, AND REGIUS PROFESSOR OF DIVINITV
IN THE UNIVERSITY OP OXFORD



SECOND EDITION



RIVINGTONS
WATERLOO PLACE, LONDON



MDCCCLXXXIII



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PEEFACE.

The Baptismal Controversy was the controversy of the
first half of this century. It prodaced treatises from
a snccession of writers, — ^Archbishop Laurence, Bishop
Mant, Mr. Biddulph, Mr. Faber, Bishop Bethell, Dr.
Pusey, Dr. Goode, Archdeacon Wilberforce, and others.
It came to a head in the Grorham trial, and has since
dropped. A review of a field of past controversy, and an
attempt to arrive at a judgment upon it, may not be
without use to the theological reader.

A controversy, if we collect the strong points and
reasonable admissions of the different writers in it, has
sometimes a force and value as a whole beyond the sepa-
rate works of which it is composed ; the different works
taken together tending to establish a conclusion which
is not proved in any one of them singly. In the present
controversy Archbishop Laurence and Bishop Bethell, on
the one hand, admit that all inputs are not regenerate in
baptism in the sense, claimed for that term, of actual good-
ness. On the other hand. Dr. Pusey and Mr. Faber, both
disciples of antiquity, claim that sense for this term. If
these conclusions are both of them correct, as agreeing, the
one with common sense and experience, the other with

A 2

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iv Preface.

the natural meaning of Scripture, we have the direction
of this controversy as a whole, and the issue to which it
tends.

I have, however, in the present treatise, confined my-
self to two positions : one, that the doctrine of the re-
generation of all infants in baptism is not an article of
the faith ; the other, that the formularies of our Church
do not impose it. Moderate and needful fulness, in the
proof of main positions, will lead a writer unavoidably
into questions not identical with those positions ; but a
candid reader will distinguish between suck coUateral
questions, and the main positions which it is the object
of a treatise to prove.

These two positions, which occupy respectively the two
Parts of the present Treatise, have this connexion, that if
the one is proved, the way is favourably prepared for the
proof of the other. We cannot, indeed, considering all
the objects which a Christian Church has in view, insist
on limiting its safeguards to fundamentals; but thus
much must be allowed, that, if a particular doctrine is
not an article of the faith, there is no special reason for
expecting that the formularies of our Church will be
found to impose it ; and, in entering upon the exami-
nation of this latter question, we are saved that anxiety
which we should feel, supposing the subject-matter of the
question were a fundamental.

The construction which has been put upon our Formu-
laries in this treatise is the same which, judging from



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Preface. v

their practice, was put upon them by our School of Stan-
dard Divines. The division of opinion on this question
was as patent a fact in their day as it is in our own.
Had they regarded, therefore, one of these opinions as
contradictory to our Formularies, they would have ar-
raigned the public maintainers of it. But in no one
instance did they do so. The attempt which was made
ten years ago to convert a difference into a ground of
exclusion, however sincere the convictions from which it
proceeded, was wholly new and unprecedented. The late
learned Bishop Kaye defended the Gorham Judgment
upon this ground, that it represented the tradition of the
English Church, denying that it " sanctioned any inno-
vation in the doctrine of the Church respecting the efficacy
of infant baptism.'^ * The Bishop of St. David^s defended
the Judgment upon the same ground, viz. that those who
pronounced it " wished to leave the doctrine of the
Church precisely as they found it, not to erect but to
prevent the erection of any new barrier to the exercise of
the ministry within her communion.'^ ^ The Bishop of
Oxford has supported the Judgment, by the statement

' "Volume of Charges, p. 448. One of equal learning, who aided
the Tractarian movement by his laborious life and singular and
saintly simplicity of character, wrote : ** If Mr. Gorham himself
would set up his defence strictly upon the ground of this writer, we
might allow it to be probable that the unfettered Church would
bear with him." Eeview of " Augustinian Doctrine of Predestina-
tion," by the late Mr. Charles Marriott. Literary Churchman,
June 30, 1865. « Charge in 1851.



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vi Preface.

that '' the Prayer Book is the common standing-place ''
and ^' common statement of truth/' for both parties in
the Church.'

The attempt^ therefore^ made on that occasion in the
direction of exclusion, may be retired from without any
surrender of our historical Church Standard. It may
happen to religious parties, as it does to political, that
they may sometimes in the warmth of zeal make a mis-
taken move, and commit themselves to a claim for which
there is not sufficient ground. But there is nothing in
the Gorham Judgment which involves any departure from
Anglican principles, and the acceptance of it need not
rank as a party badge, or be exposed to the reproach of
unsound Churchmanship.

' Speech in Convocation, Febmary, 1858, and Charge in 1861.



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CONTENTS.



PART I.

CHAPTBS PAGE

I. Proof prom Scripture 1

II. The Doctrine op Baptism so par as contained in

Scripture 20

in. The Baptismal Character 39

lY. Begeneration considered as Bemission op Sin 51

Y. Scriptural sense op Begeneration .... 59

VI. Patristic sense op Begeneration .... 82

VII. Scholastic sense op Begeneration .... 100

Vin. Calvinistic sense op Begeneration .... 120

IX. Begeneration op Adults in Baptism . . . 126

X. Begeneration op Inpants in Baptism . . . 147

XL Secondary and Incorrect senses op Begeneration. 162

Xn. The Patristic assertion op the Begeneration op all

Inpants in Baptism 177

Xni. AUGUSTINLANISM 194

XIV. Conclusion 220



PART II.



I. Introduction . . . .
n. The Inpant Baptismal Service
m. The Catechism . . . .



227
235
252



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viii Contents,

CUAPTKR PAGR

IV. Rule op Literal Interpretation considered . . 271

y. Articles and Prater Book considered in connexion 284

VI. Documentary Sources 296

VII. Baptismal Language op Calvinism .... 321

VIII. Argument op Precedent . .... 337
IX. Relations op time between the Grace and the

Sacrament 357

X. Conclusion 362

NOTES 369



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i



PABT I

CHAPTER I

PEOOF PEOM 8CBIPTURB

Ths question of Fondamentals to whicli so mucli difficulty
attaches^ only enters^ to a very limited extent^ into the
argument of this Treatise.

No rule has been laid down for determining Funda-
mentals which will bear a strictly logical test of
adequacy.^ The Roman test, besides being one which
we do not admit, is hardly so much a test of Funda-
mentals, as of simple obedience to Church authority.
For though it leaves a distinction still standing between
certain questions which are open, and others which are
decided, the decision of such a multitude of points great
and small, all without distinction under anathema, practi-
cally ignores intrinsic distinctions of rank in doctrines,
and only tests ecclesiastical obedience. Of the two rules
which our own divines acknowledge, the first, that no
doctrine shall be held necessary to be believed which
cannot be proved by Scripture, is not in its very terms a
rule for deciding what is a fundamental, but for deciding
what is not one ; the second, or the Vincentian rule of

^ '' It is the masterpiece of all the divines of Christendom to say
what is fundamental in Christianity and what is not." Thorn-
dike, " Principles of Christian Truth," b. i. c. 22, s. 2.

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2 Proof front Scripture. [Part I.

quod semper, quod ubique, quod ah omnibus, rests upon no
logical basis, for no valid reason can be given why some
things not necessary to be believed may not yet in matter
of fact have been universally believed in the first ages of
the Church.

Some divines have attempted, in the absence of definite
external test, to lay down an intrinsic criterion, and have
formed systems of fandamentals by selecting certain
central and cardinal truths singled out as such by our
religious sense and feeling, and their own evident rank in
Scripture." Such a criterion, failing as it does in defi-
niteness and precision, has still great and just weight,
from the circumstance that we cannot help ourselves
being judges as to what is essential or not to the religion
to which we ourselves belong; our hearts naturally fix on
certain truths which appear the most deep and central
ones ; nor, perhaps, however argumentatively defective,
is there any criterion which does such practical service in

^ See "Waterland's Eationale of Fundamentals," vol. v. p. 79:
'' Such doctrines as are found to be intrmsical or eaaentiaJ to the
Christian covenant are fundamental truths, and such as are plainly
and directly subversive of it are fundamental errors." No parti-
cular doctrine as to the Sacraments figures in his scheme as a
fundamental, but only the general acknowledgment of the two
sacraments as means of grace. ''The discarding the two sacra-
ments, or either of them, and the denying their use or necessity, is
erring fundamentally," p. 82. StiUingfleet's criterion is an appeal
to the reason of Christians : " No rational man who considers the
nature of the Christian religion, but must assert the profession of
all these things to be necessary to all such who own the Christian
religion to be true." " Vindication," vol. i. p. 88. Sherlock's is
the same. " A fundamental doctrine is such a doctrine as is in
strict sense of the essence of Christianity, without which the whole
building and superstructure must fall; the belief of which is
necessary to the very being of Christianity, like the first principles
of any art or science." "Vindication of Def. of Stillingfleet,"
p. 256.



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Chap. I.] Proof from Scripture. 3

producing substantial agreement among Christians. But
I leave this informal criterion^ and confine myself to the
two recognized tests mentioned.

1 . The rule '' quodi semper/^ &c., must be taken in such
a sense as to render it capable of application. If a given
doctrine has literally been held semper , and 06 ommbus^
it was held by all the Apostles, but we can have no
evidence of this literal semper y &o., except the writings of
the New Testament, and to go to this evidence is to
supersede the Yincentian rule by merging it in proof
from Scripture. The rule then must be understood in a
modified sense as appealing to no more than general early
consent. But thus modified, this test of an article of the
faith is defective in ground of reason, because no reason
can be given why some things not necessary to the Faith
may not yet from an early date have been in matter of
fact believed. We cannot limit even this universal belief
to necessary subject-matter, so that it may not com-
prehend something extra. The Vincentian rule is thus
a rough kind of test, getting at what is necessary by a
process which carries along with it what is extraneous,
and imposing the whole corpus of de facto received
opinion, that it may secure the substance of the Faith.
The rule presupposes, for its reasonable application,
something added to the mere external fact of general
acceptance; it leaves something for the judgment to
decide with respect to the intrinsic qualification of the
received point for the rank of an article of the faith.
Thus coupled and conjoined with other rules it is of
weight; but it cannot be pretended that every single
piece of belief entertained in the first ages, — however
obviously secondary, as regards the matter of it, and
below the intrinsic criterion of a fundamental, — is still a
fundamental, by virtue of the simple fact of having been
generally received.

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4 Proof from Scripture. [Part I.

Indeed^ for the purpose of proving articles of faith,
this rule has not been turned by our divines to any great
practical account. The real use of the rule has fallen a
good deal short of its professed use; and, in the actual
application of it, it has not been made to serve as a test
of doctrine beyond the Hmit of such doctrines as Scripture
itself proves without its aid. Some writers have hinted
at a deficiency of Scripture proof on some points of ne-
cessary belief to be supplied by antiquity, but these hints
are not followed up or moulded into argumentative form ;
and those who have most respected the Yincentian rule
have practically made the plain sense of Scripture the
basis of articles of faith.

The purpose to which the Vincentian rule has been
practicidly applied has been, first, the defence of the
Church's external polity, as the guarantee for the true
existence of a Church, and, secondly, the proof of the
nature and character of the two Sacraments. The evidence
supplied by antiquity on these points has been much
insisted on, — ^not for the purpose, however, of enforcing
heUef; the facts being treated as essential, but not the
belief in the &cts. It was necessary for the Christian
atoMiB of a person that he should he in a Church thus
organized, and should receive true Sacraments; but it
was not necessary that he should believe in the necessity
of this Church organization, or in the true nature of the
Sacraments. "The Sixth Article," says Mr. Keble,
"leaves ample scope for the province which Bishop Taylor
assigned principally to tradition : practical rules relating
to the Church of Christ. For anything stated in this
Article such rule might be both divine and generally*
necessary to salvation, and yet not be contained in Scrip-
ture; hut the doctrines or propositions concerning them
would not he necessary : it would be wrong to insert them
as Articles of the Creed. For instance, St. Ignatius



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Chap. I.] Proof from Scripture. 5

writes as follows : ' Let that Eucharist be accounted valid
which is under the Bishop^ or some one commissioned by
him/ Wherein te lays down the rule, which we know
was universally received in the Primitive Church, that
consecration by apostolical authority is essential to the
participation of the Eucharist, and so far generally neces-
sary to salvation. Now, supposing this could not be at
all proved from Scripture . . . still it might be accepted,
on the above evidence, as a necessary rule of Church
Communion, without infringing on our Sixth Article:
but it eovXA not be turned into a proposition, and put into
the Creed, because that would make not only the rule
itself, as observed by the Church, but the knowledge of
it by the individual necessary to salvation ; and it may ba
thankfully admitted that knowledge of the true nature of
Sacraments is nowhere required in Holy Scripture as a
condition of our receiving the grace they impart/' *

The Yincentian rule then, or the test of consent of an-
tiquity, has not been practically applied by writers of our
Church to determine articles of the faith, but only to
prove points of necessary observance as distinguished
from belief : the very points which are necessary to be
observed not being considered to carry with them the
obligation to believe that they are thus necessary to be
observed.

2. The second rule, that nothing is to be regarded as
an article of the faith or necessary to be believed, but
what may be proved by Scripture, is founded partly upon
the authority of antiquity, partly upon a natural assump-
tion respecting Scripture. If a revelation is accompanied
by a series of inspired writings, obviously containing a
general account of that revelation, and designed by God
for the use of all ages, the natural inference from such a

' Poatflcript to Sermon on Tradition, p. 351.

»

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6 Proof from Scripture. [Paet I.

facfe is that these writmgs contain at any rate the funda-
mental truths of that revelation. It may be said that
they were addressed, in the first instance, to Christians
already acquainted with the truths of their religion j but
when certain writings are distinguished from all other
writings by the fact of being inspired ; when they possess
thus a special character, and fulfil a special design of
God, extending to the remotest ages of the world, we
are not at liberty to consider only the accidental circum-
stances of their original communication, to whom they
were addressed in the first instance, and what temporary
occasions and objects called them out ; nor have we a
right to look upon each of these writings wholly apart
from the others, as if they were a collection of scattered
documents to which the collector alone gave unity and
the appearance of a whole ; but the common character-
istic of plenary inspiration gives them of itself a unity
and wholeness, possessing as they do this remarkable
attribute for a particular Divine object, viz. for the mani-
festation of this religion to successive ages of the world,
and instruction of mankind in it. Looking upon them
in this light, though there is no reason why each book of
Scripture separately should contain all the f undfimaental
truths of Christianity, we naturally assume that all the
books together do; i.e. that all having this common
attribute of inspiration for the specific purpose mentioned,
and being constructed under this special Divine provi-
dence for this purpose, should be so constructed as one
with another to contain all the fundamental truths of the
religion, for the unfolding, enforcing, and explaining of
which they are thus inspired ; one book of the whole
providential series fulfilling what may be wanting in
another ; just as in the whole production of some human
author, it is not necessary that the fundamental principles
or objects of the work should appear in every chapter or



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Chap. I.] Proof from Scripture. 7

portion of it, while there is certainly a very strong reason
why they should appear in the work as a whole. It may
be true that Protestants are apt to look upon the Bible
too much as one book ; but so far as the whole of it is
the production of One Inspiring Mind, dictating all the
writings successively for one great object, this popular
idea of it is just, and represents, though it may be want-
ing in critical discrimination, an important truth : for we
ought not to allow ourselves so to dwell upon the accidental
manner and circumstances of the original appearance of
the various writings which compose the Bible, as to
supersede that unity of Authorship which belongs to it,
so far as the Divine Inspirer is concerned, and which is
not the least interfered with by any amount of what is
accidental in the outward form and occasion of these
writings, their separate and scattered character as they
first came out ; all which irregularity may be as simply
instrumental to one Divine purpose working underneath
as the greatest regularity of outward construction.*

The doctrine of plenary inspiration then being supposed,
the assumption that Holy Scripture contains all the
fundamental truths of Christianity, is a natural and
reasonable assumption; and when we say ''contains"
them, we mean of course that it contains them in such a
way as that we can, with proper attention, see them so
contained, as having been stated for that purpose. We
cannot do altogether without assumptions in religion;
what we have to look to is the kind of assumptions we
make, that they should be moderate and natural ones.
The Boman assumption of the necessity of a constant
In&Uible Judge in the Church, is not wrong because
it is an assumption, but because it is an unnatural and

* See some able remarks in Chapter v. of " Scepticism and
Bevelation," by the Kev. H. Hams.



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8 Proof from Scripture. [Part I.

violent one^ opposed to the whole analogy of Grod's
providence.

This second test, then, viz. that of proof from Scripture,
though a negative test only, deciding what is no^ an article
of the faith, not what i»^ is for its professed purpose a
more logical criterion than the other, standing on the
sound rational ground which has been just explained. It
is moreover a test which has been formally adopted by
our Church, and is therefore strictly binding upon us, the
Yincentian having only the recommendation which the
authority of antiquity gives. I will add that it is the
only test with which the argument of this treatise is
concerned ; for a negative test is sufficient for a negative
conclusion.

With respect to the interpretation, then, of this rule or
canon, three points are to be observed: first, that by
Scripture proving a doctrine is meant more than Scripture
admitting of being interpreted ^in consistency with it ;
secondly, that there is implied in this proof from Scripture
an ultimate appeal to our reason as the judge of it ;
thirdly, that we are concerned in this Canon with the/ac^
of the presence or absence of such proof, as distinguished
from any explanations of this fact.

I. When proof from Scripture, then, is in this Canon
laid down as a condition of an article of the faith, by



Online LibraryJames Bowling MozleyA review of the baptismal controversy → online text (page 1 of 38)