James Bowling Mozley.

A review of the baptismal controversy online

. (page 10 of 38)
Online LibraryJames Bowling MozleyA review of the baptismal controversy → online text (page 10 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

puts him into a state of perfect readiness and promptness
for virtuous action, that with this admirable facility
already formed in him, he may be moved instantaneously
by the final touch.' But if, in accordance with a secret
eternal decree, the final touch is withheld, this whole
Divine creation lies motionless and unproductive, habit
just stops short of action, and the regenerate being, amid
the fullest endowments of virtue, is left in the mass of
orginal corruption, and perishes in his sins.

Here was the explanation, then, of the important diffi-

^ " Axudliam Dei vere safficiens adfnisse noimalliB, qui tamen
reipsa conversi non sunt, ac per hoc aimliain iUud effico/x nonfuiaae
.... qoibosdam concedi efficax aimlium." De Grat. et Lib. Arb.
1. i. c. 11.

The ** aaxilitun sufficiens" of Bellarmine however was a mockery :
— " Nam tanqnam pie credamus omnibas dari pro loco et tempore
anxilinm snfficiens, quo posaint credere ; tamen Scriptura docet
reipaa non credere, nisi iUos qui habent anxilium efficax." Ibid.
1. ii c. 12.

3 " Infnndit aHqnas formas sen qoalitates natnrales secundum
quaa suaviter et prompte ab ipso moveantur." See Note 16.

Digitized by


no Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. [Part I.

culty of habits possessed, and not at all shown by action ;
the bold explanation^ viz. that it was fundamentally un-
necessary that habits should act at all ; because the agent
could not act according to his habit without '^ special
motions/' which special motions he might never have.
Another reason which was alleged to explain this diffi-
culty was substantially the same, and only differently
expressed. Inasmuch as in the absence of special motives
to make him act^ the agent fell back under the dominion
of concupiscence as his practical impulse^ it was alleged
that habits were prevented from acting hy concupiscence,'
Human nature^ it was said^ was in a peculiar condition as
an agent, and was not to be judged of by ordinary tests.
A deep and radical principle of evil, called concupiscence,
resided in it^ by which the internal action of the machine
was disordered, and the natural operation of these habits
was obstructed; so that when it came to the point of
actually doing or not doing something, concupiscence
stepped into the seat of habit, and possessed itself of the
spring of action in the soul. It was the continual repeti-
tion of this process which produced the case which was to
be explained, viz. that of an individual who never acted
according to his habit. A man indulged in perpetual
malice, or was the slave of avarice, or rioted in gluttony
and drunkenness, for his whole life ; the reason was not
that he did not possess the habits of temperance, gene-
rosity, and love, which he had by infusion, but that there
was, so to speak, a hitch in the operation of the habits,
something wrong in their executive and administrative
functions ; it was habit in an abnormal and exceptional

There was for this reason, then, no objection to be

3 " DifBlcultas ad bonam et pronitas ad maltun inveniantur in
baptizatis non propter defectum, hahitus virhUum, sed propter con*
cupiscentiamJ* Aquioas, Sum. Theol. P. 3, Q. 69, A. 4.

Digitized by


Chap. VIL] Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. 1 1 1

alleged on the score of fact to the nniversal infusion of
these habits in baptism^ because at no stage of their
existence was it necessary that these habits should produce
action. They could not act in the infant on account of
immaturity; they need not act in the adult on account of
concupiscence. The habits were there, but the man
might be wholly different from them, and to all practical
purposes the same as if he were without them.

The mistake in this whole train of reasoning is ap-
parent, and would not be worth pointing out were it not
that there is a use in noticing what structures of words
ingenious men will raise in order to maintain an hypo -
thesis. It is quite true that a habit does not necessarily
produce action at any given time, and on any given
occasion. A man does not always act accordmg to his
habit; one habitually meek may conmiit a violent act,
and one habitually brave a cowardly one. But though a
good habit ireed not produce right acts on this particular
occasion or on that, it must produce right acts on the
whole. It is not hahit otherwise, for what we mean by a
habit is a disposition which on the whole produces action
in this or that direction. The Scholastic theory gives a
man the habit of liberality, which he cannot exert on
account of the love of money ; and the habit of sobriety,
of which he cannot avail himself on account of the desire
to drink. But in our very meaning of habit we imply the
general fact of overcoming a contrary inclination.

Such is the Scholastic doctrine of ''Infused Habits" —
a tenable doctrine, so far as it only asserts — what we see
exemplied in nature — the Divine power of implanting
habits f which are thus infused as distinguished from
acquired habits; an inconsistent, artificial, and absurd
doctrine, so far as it erects a class of habits which are real
habits without producing action. A perfect Church was
thus, by the mere force of theory, erected in the world.

Digitized by


1 1 2 Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. [Part I-

and renewed by the inexhaustible fertility of the bap-
tismal font, which sent up a perpetual succession of souls
divinely fashioned and armed in the full panoply of
Christian virtue ; this miraculous metamorphosis of sinful
into virtuous and just beings was a perpetual process
going on under the dispensation of grace ; but theory
could, after all, only produce an illusory creation which
eluded all grasp, and vanished at the first contact with
the waking senses; the whole erection was ideal and
fictitious, and before the eye could fasten on it, melted
into space.

The boldness of Roman theology is at the same time
joined to a considerable fiexibleness in this speculation.
The character of the formed Christian combines the true
habit of virtue with the diimnution of concupiscence ; the
two, indeed, are but different aspects of one change, for
in proportion as habit strengthens, concupiscence decays,
and exerts a less imperious yoke. The baptismal gift
then, as embodying the true habit of virtue, reduced
concupiscence in the Scholastic system to that tenuity
which was consistent with that habit, — to a principle of
corruption which, just felt, but deprived of all force, *' had
not the nature of sin.*' But while a weakened and only
just not extinct concupiscence was wanted on one side of
the theory to combine with the infused habit of virtue, a
strong one was wanted on the other as a counteracting
principle to account for that habitus unproductiveness,
and being wanted was asserted. The Scholastic system
thus bent concupiscence to its own convenience, and made
it strong or weak, in accordance with its own needs.

But without criticizing the boldness or the misapplied
ingenuity of the Scholastic doctrine of baptism, or follow-
ing the evolutions of mediaeval theological science, it is
enough to observe the fact for the saJce of which this
examination was entered upon, viz. a fundamental inter-

Digitized by


Chap. Vll.] Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. 1 1 3

pretation of regeneration as implying actual goodness.
It is true that Scholasticism^ having laid down its
baptismal formula^ endeavours by logiccJ artifice to escape
the consequences of it ; but the formula itself is no less
positive^ and the interpretation contained in it no less

Before quitting this baptismal theory, however, it is
proper we should append to it its correct theological
name. The doctrine which has been described, then, in
this chapter is the Roman doctrine of Justification which,
after a long reign in the Schools, had the finishing stroke
of authority put to it in the decree of the Council of Trent,
which lays down as the formal cause of (ie. that which
constitutes) justification, '' the righteousness of God, not
that whereby He is righteous, but that by which He makes
U8 righieoua; being endued with which, we are renewed in
the spirit of our minds, and not only are accounted, but
are truly called, and a/re righteous ;" for that '' in justifi-
cation, together with remission of sin, faith, hope, and
charity are infused into us/' ^ The Anglican doctrine of
justification* lays down some real goodness as necessary
to justification, but it maintains it as the condition of, and
not as the contents and material of, the gift. Understood
in a forensic sense as a declaratory act of God accounting
us righteous, justification presupposes as the ground of
this imputation the goodness of faith and repentance in
us, but does not itself insert or implant this goodness.

* Note 17. • Note 18.

* " Notate actum Dei hominem justom SBstimautis, non jostom
facientis." Boll, Harmonia, Dissert. Prior, c. 1. Thomdike,
Covenant of Grace, b. ii. c. 30, s. 21.

Bishop Forbes inclines to the Boman view, <<.... ita nt post
jnstilicationem nihil macnlsB peccati mortalis et gravioris maneat
in anima peccatoris, qaod nnnquam ordinarie fit absque infnsione
inhffirentis gratise." De Just. 1. ii. c. 4. Anglo-Cath. Ed. v. 1,
p. 166.


Digitized by VjOOQIC

114 Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. [Paet I.

Bat the Roman justification^ while it requires^ with the
Anglican^ conditions in the shape of certain preparatoiy
workings of the heart, is not Uke the Anglican^ only a
forensic and imputative act^ but an act by which God
literally infuses habitual righteousness into the soul^ which
has only experienced good motions before^ inserting in it
the habits of faith, hope^ and charity. Justification is
thus^ in the Roman sense, . the making a man actually
good^ and is^ indeed, identical with sanctification ; for
sanctification is also this endowing of the soul with actually
good and holy afiections^ habits^ and dispositions. And
being such^ justification is the grace of baptism^ and is
thus identical withy and stamps this whole meaning upon,
regeneration; which state of regeneration^ therefore,
inTolves actual goodness in' the Roman sense.' And it
will be observed that this question has nothing to do with
the correctness or incorrectness of the Roman sense of
justificaMon : that is a matter of controversy: but,
whether the Roman sense of justification is right or
wrong, the Roman sense of regeneration or the grace of
baptism, as identical tuith justification, is alike fixed by it.
It is remarkable indeed, that as we leave the Fathers,
and enter upon Scholastic ground, the term " regenera-
tion,'^ to a great extent, disappears, and the term ^' justi-

7 " The ancient moralists," says Bishop Bethell, " make a just
and reasonable distinction between Unities or dispositions and
habits. Faculties or dispositions are potential principles of action,
which must be elicited by education or opportunities, and formed
into habits by use and exercise. Habits are the same principles in
a state of activity, and of readiness and aptness for use. But
according to the doctrine of the Scholastic divines, those principles
whicb'are said to be infused into the soul when it is regenerated, do
not follow the order of moral causes, but are at once in a state of
activity, and produce free acts, as soon as they have the oppor-
tunity of exerting themsekes." Treatise on Baptismal Biegenera-
tion, p. 164.

Digitized by


Chap. VII.] Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. 115

fication '' rises in its place, to express the rea sacramenti
of baptism.^ The great Patristic term was taken up
again, after the lapse of centuries, by the Anglican divines,
who professed a recurrence to the Fathers, but it suffered
a long intermediate obscuration. The reason of the sub-
stitution may have been that regeneration is a metaphor,
and that as theology became more scientific, it became
impatient of the metaphor, and chose a term which seemed
etymologically to express the fact involved m regenera-
tion,— the being made just or righteous.

JustificatioQ, indeed, as the baptismal gift, and con-
nected specially with the new dispensation, carried with
it a privilege which previous to Christian baptism it
did not. As the baptismal gift and identical with regene-
ration, it was the apertio jcmuce cmlestis, which it was not
before. The door of heaven opened forthwith to the
Christian saint, while the justified fathers of the Old
Covenant, who were justified without being regenerated,
reposed in a separate realm allotted to them, and were
restricted for a preliminary period to the peaceful, though
longing, expectation of the Visio Dei.^

" " Bes ergo hnjus sacramenti jnstificatio est." Lombard, 1. iv.
dist. 8, s. 12.

" Interior jnstificatio qnas est res hnjns sacramenti." Aqninas,
S. T., p. 3, Q. 66, A. 1.

** Ees sacramenti scilicet gratia cnm virtatibns.'' Bonaventnre
in Lorab. iv. p. 64.

Bellarmine makes more nse of the term regeneration, bnt stiU
only as subordinate to the other term. ** Jnstificatio est regenera-
tio et renovatio per lavacmm baptismi in nobis facta. Hanc antem
regenerationem, qnsB est ipsa jnstificatio, fieri per aliqnod donnm
inhserens probari potest ex ipsa natnra et ratione regenerationis ;
neqne enim intelligi potest qnemadmodnm regeneretnr aliqnis sine
nlla sni mntatione .... Eegeneratio aliquid in ipso homine ponit,
ob qnod filins Dei nominetnr et sit . . . primarinm donnm qnod est
charitas." Be Jnstificatione, 1. 2, c. 3.

* " lUi [Sancti Fatres] habebant carentiam yisionis cnm ezpeota-

I 2

Digitized by VjOOQIC

1 1 6 Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. [Pabt I.

Bat while Christian justification, ie. regeneration, was
thus distinguished from the justification of the patriarchs
and saints of the Old Covenant, the distinction was no more
than this ; it was one of reward or privilege, not of sub-
stance of spiritual condition; appendant and temporary, not
intrinsic. Both the Fathers and Schoolmen, indeed, acknow-
ledge more fellowship and common ground with the Old
Testament saint,^ than do some modem divines who repre-
sent this interval between sanctification and regeneration,
as if it divided two radically different conditions of the
human soul, and as if the ancient saints did not partake
of the same grace of which baptized Christians did. This
is a new and an unauthorized depreciation of the spiritual
rank of the old patriarchs, whom ancient theology describes
as justified and sanctified by the same grace by which
Christians are, and one flowing from the same Incarnation,
though in the one case prior, in the other posterior, in time
to that event. There has been but one fundamental
dispensation in the world since its creation, viz. that of the
Gospel, the consummation of which was prospective to the
older saint, retrospective to the later, but was, whether
looked forward to or looked back to, the object and source
of the same essentially Christian faith; nor do the
Fathers scruple to call the saints of the Old Testament

A great advantage undoubtedly attaches to the later
stage of this great inclusive dispensation, as compared
with the earlier one ; and an advantage to which natural

tione, et ideo qtiia visionem Dei expectabant non taatnm in limbo.
Bed in sinn Abrahsa dicebantar esse . . . Sinus autem AbrahaB in
bonnm quia est ibi reqnies." Bonaventure in Lomb. iv. p. 582.
See Mr. Owen's " Introduction to the Study of Dogmatic Theology,"
chap. xvi.

^ And were freer too in their concessions to the sacraments of
the old Law. Note 19. « Note 19.

Digitized by


Chap. VII.] Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. 117

reason as well as formal theology testifies. Christianity
has given a wonderfol stimnlns and expansion to oar
moral nature^ and has produced a character superior in
power^ freedom^ and comprehensiveness to that of the
saint of the Old Testament. Even the intellectual
enlightenment of the Christian, his superior insight into
many sublime truths, and the largeness of his field of
sympathy, are a great excitement to his moral powers.
The true test of character^ however, is the root rather
than the expansion; whether we attend to the cautions of
common sense, or whether we take our standard from
poetry, which, impatient of the outer organization and
framework of human character, pierces to its core, in
order to find that sterling truth of nature, which makes
the man according to the design of God. The mind of
the poet penetrates within to reach the centre, the sub-
stance of the uncorrupted heart, which may be more or
less richly and largely developed according to circum-
stances, but of which the true worth is itself. High and
refined knowledge is indeed in an especial way penetrated
by this reactionary test, which dismisses form and outer
growth to recur to the foundation, and grasp the root of
sincerity in man. It is thus that the highest civilization
fosters the poetical aspect of the poor, because in the midst
of growth and development, the craving more especially
arises for the native rudiments, — ^those elementary forms
of character which witness to their own truth, and which
have the purity and strength of primordial substance.
Half-formed thoughts, unconnected words, ejaculations,
and mere looks, are prized above the most complete
manifestations of the educated mind, as glimpses of a world
of truth, escapings from the fountain-head, and fragments
of a genuine original.

The Christian character thus existed in its root in the
patriarch and saint of the Old Testament ; it had not that

Digitized by


1 18 Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. [Part I.

developmont indeed which a later stage of the dispensation
gave to it, but the whole greatness of the foundation was
there, — ^the faith which, dim in the aepprehension of its
object, certain of itself, led the way and made the
wonderful beginning; performed the first great act of
foresight, and cast the first fixed look out of visible nature;
drew the rough outline of futurity, and beheld afar off* the
city whose builder and maker is God. The patriarchal
character is thus essentially a spiritual and a Christian
one, the type and exemplar to which the Church still
appeals as containing the whole substance of Grospel faith
and sanctity. And, as such, it is the creation of the same
Divine grace which works in the Christian Church.

It may indeed help us to see how the substance of the
Christian character could exist in the ancient patriarch
without the expansion, that, vice versd, in the Christian
there is sometimes seen the expansion without the sub-
stance. The history of character under Christianity has
its mysteries ; the greatness of the revelations made to
man has sometimes not abased him, but the contrary ;
and he has used Christianity, as Alcibiades used Socrates,
for the power which its truths have given him over others,
rather than for the profit of them to himself. The large-
ness which they have given to our field of view, the new
world which they have opened, furnish him with a fulcrum
for moving the feeUug^ and controlling the wills of others,
with which the whole of ancient philosophy had nothing
to be compared. He has seen his advantage, and he has
availed himself of it without scruple. And thus it is that
the marvellous gift of a rich religious imagination, and an
outer ethical formation, even upon a transcendental
pattern, have sometimes not excluded in the Christian
teacher and man of power an inner eye to vanity, a regard
to a fleeting unsubstantial end. We see a want of simplicity
and singleness in the fundamental aim of a soul desiring

Digitized by


Chap. VII.] Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. 1 1 9

dominion over men^s minds^ and pursuing a carnal great-
ness even in the sphere of spiritual things. We see that
something is grasped at which is external to the Divine
law^ and which therefore must involve a subtle self-seeking.
Yet this inner unsoundness is surrounded with an outer
depth of idea and feelings with brilliant aspirations^ and
the signs of powerfully realized Christian truth. The
expansion is perfect and admirable^ but the mind within
is not the mind of Christ.' Vice versa, the patriarchal
mind was the mind of Christy but without the advantage
of expausion. Its religious greatness consisted not in
any beautiful diversity of outer ethical growth, but in an
inward singleness of mind — ^that strong stock of truth
upon which, as upon its native stay, the rising Church
leaned undoubtedly, turning thenceforward and for ever
to it, as to the original exemplar and type of faith. Such
was the justification and sanctification of the saints of the
Old Testament, the gift of the same Holy Spirit which
descended on the day of Pentecost, and the work of the
same Divine grace which now sanctifies the elect people
of God.

* " Si habnerit yirtntem magnam et devotionem nimis ardentem, .
adhao mxdtnm sibi deest . . . scilicet tmiim nt se relinquat." De
Imitatione Christi. *' S'ils vous ont doim6 Dien pour objet, ce n'a
4it6 que pour exercer votre superbe." Pascal

Digitized by




The testimony of the Galvinistic School on the question
now before us will perhaps be considered by some not to
deserve much attention, but notwithstanding the partial
and rigid character of this system^ we cannot with fairness
put out of court a school which can show so many great
theological features^ and whose learning and intellectual
power and acuteness have been combined with the deepest
faith. It need not be said then that regeneration involves
actual goodness in the Galvinistic definition. Nor^ asthe
preceding chapters have shown^ was this definition any
innovation on the part of the Calvinists. "We are apt to
represent this school as having supplanted an old estab-
lished sense of regeneration by a new one of its own^ but^
by the admission of Bishop Bethell himself^ the Calvinists
found the idea of regeneration ^^ as a radical change of
hearty and an implantation of a new character and dispo-
sition^'^ already established in the Schools before them ;
nor, in adopting it, did they do more than follow the lead
of recognized theology.

The tendency of Calvinism, however, as a popular sys-
tem, has been to fix as the date of this great inward
change, not baptism, but the moment of the effectual call,
when God, by a sovereign act of grace, transfers the sin-
ner from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan
to God, implanting in him new affections and inclinations.
Up to this time the elect have indeed been the subjects of

Digitized by


Calvinistic Sense of Regeneration. 121

a Divine decree predestinating them to everlasting life,
but nothing has been done to pat this decree in execu-
tion^ and the internal condition of the elect has been the
same as that of the sinfnl mass ; but at the call they are
actually separated by a change of internal condition from
the latter^ and are endowed with a spiritual habit and
disposition of mind.

Bishop Bethel thus decides that the Schoolmen and the
Calvinists define regeneration substantially alike. ''Ac-
cording to the Schoolmen^ man is endowed with the habit
of justifying grace^ containing in it the habits of faith^
hope, and charity, when he is baptized ; the Scholastic
Calvinists asserted that regeneration consists in such a
habit of grace bestowed upon the elect at the moment of
the effectiuil calV^ * But both Schools, he observed,
agree in maintaining '^ that habits of belief and holiness
are implanted in the soul by a literal creation or miraculous
action of Divine power," ^ in the act of regeneration ; both
identify regeneration with '^ a change of afiections and
inward feelings,'' with " an infiision of particular virtues," '
with " the renewal of the wtole inward frame, and a
radical change in all the parts and faculties of the soul" *
Though in recognizing the fact of this substantial agree-
ment of two different Schools in a particular definition,
Bishop Bethell hardly seems to give it the weight which
is due to it — to the concordant testimony of two such
opposite and independent witnesses to one meaning of
regeneration as the true one.

The Calvinistic definition, however, added to the sense
of regeneration as actual goodness, and farther extended
it. A temporary habit of goodness is not enough in the
opinion of the Calvinist to constitute so high a privilege
as that of being a son of God ; for which privilege some

Online LibraryJames Bowling MozleyA review of the baptismal controversy → online text (page 10 of 38)