James Bowling Mozley.

A review of the baptismal controversy online

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I may conclude by observing that the whole weight of
Anglican authority is against the regeneration of all
infants in baptism in the sense of an implantation of
actual goodness in them.*^ Bishop Bethell, who may be

• See Chapter iv. ' Note 23.

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1 60 Regeneration of Infants [Pabt I.

taken as a legitimate representative of the English School^
pointedly repudiates the idea that any ^' change of affec-
4)ions or inward feelings^ or creation or infasion of moral
habits or virtues^" ® is implied in baptismal regeneration ;
and allows that, if it were, the doctrine of the regenera-
tion of all infants in baptism would be untenable, and
contrary to experience. " If it were," he says, "a self-
evident truth that regeneration is an implantation of a
habit of grace, containing in it the habits of all Christian
graces and virtues, or that it is a radical change of all
the parts and faculties of the soul, it might be absurd to
suppose that those infants who, as they grow up, exhibit
no signs of spiritual habits or dispositions, have been rege-
nerated in baptism." But, he adds, '^ that sound masculine
theology which our Church has adopted, knows nothing
of these speculations, which are inconsistent with Scrip-
tural truth and simplicity, the experience of human nature,
and the frame and constitution of the human soul :" * and
he defines regeneration as the " potential principle of a
new life, independently of its moral operations and legi-
timate effects,^^ combined with " forgiveness of sin." *

Bishop BethelVs argument so far diflFers, then, from my
own, that he denies first that regeneration itself implies
actual goodness, even in its true and Scriptural sense, in
which I think he is mistaken ; and secondly, that he ap-
pears to assert that the implantation of the actual habit of
goodness in the creature by Divine grace, is " contrary to
the frame and constitution of the human soul ;" in which
also I think him mistaken ; ' but his argument entirely

' Treatise on Eegeneration, p. 165. Pref. p. 30.

» Ibid. 124, 127. » Ibid. 120.

• Bp. Bethell, as a disciple of the Fathers, could hardly have
remembered when he laid down this principle, that the Fathers
always represent Adam as created in goodness, i e. as commencing
existence with the habit already created in him.

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Chap. X.] in Baptism. i6i

agrees with that of this chapter upon the qaestion of fact
which is at issae in it, viz. whether regeneration in the
sense of actual goodness is conferred npon all infants in
baptism ; deciding positively that it is not, and that it
would be contrary to experience to assert that it was.*

* Another authority on this subject, Mr. Davison, in arguing
for the universal regeneration of infants in baptism, is also par-
ticular in telling us in what sense he understands the word in this
assertion ; that he does not " conceive of regeneration as either
inducing a present habit of moral holiness, or as determining the
formation of it afterwards " — as " including the conversion of the
man to Christian principles in act or habit," but as " a state of
grace, with promise of pardon for sin, and aid of heavenly power."
Bemains, pp. 323, 346, 327.


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We have only dealt hitherto with the true sense of the
term regenerate, but the term in the hands of theologians
contracted^ in course of time^ secondary and incorrect
senses, which deserve attention. By a secondary sense I
mean a sense which^ while it claims a right of use^ pro-
fesses to be a secondary and not the true sense ; by an
incorrect sense I mean a sense which is incorrect, with the
profession of being true. I will take these two classes of
untrue senses in order, and first notice the secondary
senses of the term.

1. A technical or conventional sense of regenerate early
grew up in the Church, according to which it simply stood
for the visible fact of being baptized, as where it was said
that Constantine was regenerated, and Constantius was
not regenerated, and the like. Whether or not such a
sense rose out of the recognized language of supposition
in use in the New Testament, according to which all the
baptized were presumed to be regenerate in heart and
life, it is of common use in early writings. It is well
known that this term was in Jewish use before it was
adopted by the new dispensation, and that as a Jewish
term it contracted a technical meaning, and stood for the
admission of a proselyte, which took plsice by baptism.
"The common phrase/' says Wall, "was to call the
baptism of a proselyte his regeneration or new birth/^ * It
» Oxford Ed. voL i p. 31.

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Secondary and Incorrect Senses^ &c. 163

contracted the same conventional sense in the Christian
Church, which " appropriated/' as Wall says, " the word
regeneration as much to signify baptism as we do the
word christening/' ' i. e. as a convertible term for it.

2. A tendency existed in the Cyprianic and Donatist
controversies to create a use of the term " regenerate '* in
a secondary sense, as standing for the baptismal character.
The nature of the baptismal character has been explained
in a previous chapter/ viz. that it is a certain universal
and irremoveable effect of baptism, belonging to it as a
sacrament which call only be administered once, and does
not admit of repetition, — a title which it confers once for
all upon every baptized person to the grace of the sacra-
ment, upon fulfilling the conditions ; admitting hini to the
grace upon subsequent fulfilment, even when he did not
receive it at the time he was baptized from the absence
of frilfilment ; and reinstating him in the grace upon the
return of fulfilment, even when he has lost it by the
cessation of fulfilment. It was this conditional title to
grace as distinguished from grace itself. When this
particular effect of baptism was brought out prominently,
as it was by the controversies just mentioned, various
names were employed to denote and express it — integri-
tas sacramenti — Veritas sacramenti — visibilis sanctificatio,
and others. St. Augustine, however, occasionally goes
further, and though he never calls it regeneration, applies
to it terms somewhat like and parallel. The Church, he
says, '* brings forth all by baptism — omnes per bapti^mum
pariY— either out of her own womb or out of another's,'' *
i. e. in her own or a schismatical communion. Even a
schismatical communion produces sons — generat JUioa — by
baptism, though not as schismatical, but as having a bond
of union with the true Church, '^ non ex hoc generat unde

2 Vol. i. p. 69. » Chapter iii.

^ De Bapt. contra Donat. L L c. 15.

M 2

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1 64 Secondary and Incorrect [Part I.

separata est/' but '' ex hoc nude conjuncta est/* ' When
wicked men receive baptism within the Chnrch, ilie Church
brings them forth as Rebecca bronght forth Esan ; when
they receive baptism ontside of the Church they are
" generated in God's people from Sarah, but through Agar,
— tales in Dei populo generantur Sara quidem, aed per
Agar/' • Here baptism in a state of sin and in a state of
schism, in neither of which cases the regenerating grace
of it is received, is still spoken of as a kind of spiritual
birth ; though, in the nature of the case, this is using the
expression in a secondary sense, inasmuch as in its true
sense it necessarily implies present grace/

» De Bapt. contra Donat. 1. 1 c. 10. • Ibid. o. 16.

' The establishment of the validity of schismatical baptism has
been supposed to have a tendency in the direction of ecclesiastioal
comprehensiveness. It only admits however the spiritual instru-
mentality of a schismatical communion on one point, viz. the
bestowal of the baptismal character ; this is an effect which dis-
tinctly stops short of grace ; and it is the being a channel of grace
which decides that a communion belongs to the Church. Augas-
tine says, " Ecclesia omnes per baptismum parit, sive apitd se, sive
extra se." This implies some common ground between schismatical
bodies and the Church, but uot such a common ground as makes
them parts of the Church. He allows a common baptismal charac-
ter; but this does not test a Church, because it is not grace.
When the baptized person has abandoned his state of schism, his
baptism operates as an instrument of grace, but not before, because
the communion in which he was before was not part of the Church.
Thus the same law of baptism which implied something in common
between schismatical bodies and the Church, implied also complete
separation in the ecclesiastical sense, i. e. that the former were not
parts of the Church. St. Augustine, it is true, calls the Donatists
** brethren " — " Fratrea nostri estis," but not in the sense of their
belonging to the Church, which he guards specially against, but of
confessing one Christ — ** unum Christum confitemur, in una cor-
pore, sub uno capite esse debenvus." (In B. 32.) Any common
ground of whatever kind, and to whatever extent, is, of course, so
far union, and sometimes favours, and has a tendency to promote
that point of view ; and Augustine's language is evidently affected

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Chap. XI.] Senses of Regeneration. 165

3. The term regenerate is used in a secondary sense by
the Galvinistic School. Generally preferring to understand
the regeneration co-extensive with baptism as hypothetical^
the Calvinists of the Reformation still acknowledged a
universal literal '* sacramental regeneration/' or regenera-
tion Sacramento tenus, in baptism.

TJnddt this head^ however, we may notice the more subtle
and higher secondary sense which the modified Calvinism
of Ward and Davenant devised for the term. These two
divines diverged from the established language of the
School, so far as to construct a regeneration which con-
sisted simply in remission of original sin, unaccompanied
by sufficient grace for the future life of the individual.
The object of which distinction was to give them a ground
for calling baptism in some sense beneficial to all infants,
even to the non-elect, in opposition to the ordinary
Galvinistic view, which limited the benefit to the elect.

Ward and Davenant maintained this sense of " regene-
rate/' in its application to all infants, as being the
AugttsUnian sense of the term in that application. And
this interpretation of Augustine is favoured by his lan-
guage so far as this, — that the anti-Pelagian treatises,
which are the chief repository of Augustinian testimony
to infant regeneration and furnish the principal supply of
catenas, are occupied with regeneration exclusively in the
light of remission of original sin. The object of these
treatises is to prove the existence of original sin against

by the consideration of the common gronnd involved in the law of
baptism. The primary motive however to this strong defence of
the validity of schismatical baptism was not that of ecclesiastical
comprehensiveness, so mnch as that of the security of baptism ;
which it was necessary to vindicate by relieving it of impediments,
and reducing it to as simple a test as possible — ^the matter and the
words ; so as not to expose people, when baptism could not be re-
peated, to donbt and uncertainty as to the validity of their own

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1 66 Secondary and Incorrect [Part I.

the Pelagian who denied it, and for this object the writer
insists constantly on the Catholic practice of infant
baptism; the argament being that baptism conveyed
remission of sin, that therefore infants received remission
of sin in baptism, that infants, however, had not personal
sin to be remitted, that therefore the sin which was
remitted in their case must be original. This b£ng the
exclusive object then of the anti-Pelagian treatises, the
argument of these treatises has only to do with regenera-
tion in the aspect of remission of original sin. Nor is it
concerned with this grace as connected with power for the
future, but only as forgiveness of the past j for though we
naturally associate the two together, still remission of the
past does not in the bare idea of it involve power for the
future, and to be freed from the guilt of original con-
cupiscence is not the same thing with being enabled to
conquer the growing strength of it. So that the promi-
nent sense in which regeneration figures in the anti-
Pelagian treatises is a partial and incomplete one,
representing one side only of the gift to the exclusion of
the other.

But this whole contrivance of Ward and Davenant was
in truth but a verbal artifice without solid meaning. These
divines were rigid Calvinists at the bottom, who could
not, in consistency with their own system, afford a iruB
regeneration to all baptized infants ; the majority of whom
they regarded as cut off, by an eternal decree antecedent
to all action of their own, from the possibility of attaining
salvation. The benefit thus conferred then upon non-
etect infants was a benefit in name only ; for the remission
of original sin, if it is taken in its natural connexion as
accompanied by admission generally to the favour of God
and His enabling grace, is a benefit undoubtedly ; but
if it is artificially separated from these, what possible
advantage can it be to a man to be forgiven his original

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Chap. XI. ] Senses of Regeneration. 1 6 7

sin, if he is certain to be eternally punished for his actual/
which he has not the power given him to avoid ? If the
non-elect, as Dr. Ward admits, '^nev^come to be justified
by a true and lively faith, nor ever are by that bond
mystically united to Christ,^' • i. e. if, inasmuch as uni-
formity proves a law^ this state is unattainable by them,
the remission of original sin in such a case becomes a mere
barren theological technicality. This '^ temporary ordina-
tion to life without the benefit of election/' * was perfectly
useless for the purpose of salvation, if election was
necessa/ry for that purpose, and these divines held firmly
that it was.

The baptismal scheme, then, of these two divines,
though it has been sometimes referred to * as evidence
that Calvinism can be held consistently with the true
regeneration of all infants in baptism, proves no such
conclusion; because the regeneration which was made
co-extensive in this scheme with infant baptism, was not

* Ward and Davenant had, as Galviniste, to meet the objection
that, inasmach as some of the baptized body perished finally, by
allowing remission of original sin to all the baptized, they allowed
a grace which was lost ; — a concession which was against the Gal-
vinistic doctrine of the indefectibility of grace. They replied that
the non-elect always retained the forgiveness of their original sin,
and were only condemned on account of their actnaL " Etsi asse-
ram paimlos non-electos et finaliter peritnros a reatn originalis
peccati baptismo Hberari, atqne adeo jastificari ; tamen simid assero
taliter justificatos nimqaam excedere ab ilia jnstitia, nee in id quod
remissnm est recedere, nee in originaH peccato damnari, Bed propter
postrema crimma rnarte afficL** Yindicisd Grati» Sacramentalis,
p. 127.

• Parr's Life of Usher, p. 486.

1 « Temporanea ordinatio ad vitam abeqne beneficio electionis."
Davenantii Epistola, p. 13. " Hsbc sola remissio originalis pec-
cati non snfficit ut idem snfficienter ordinetnr ad vitam pro
statu adolti.'' Ward's Determinations, p. 195.
, * Wilberforce's Doctrine of Holy Baptism, p. 268. Dodgson's
Controversy of Faith, p. 83.

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1 68 Secondary and Incorrect [Paet I.

a regeneration which gave the power to attain salvation ;
and therefore it was not a true regeneration. These
divines admitted this themselves. They confessed that it
differed in Icind from adalt regeneration ; * and that it was
no gift peculiar to the new dispensation^ bat only the
same which circumcision had conferred under the old law.*
They maintained everywhere as an impregnable truth,
that real regeneration involved in its very nature final
perseverance and ultimate salvation, whereas this infantine
regeneration was by the supposition a gift which consisted
with final reprobation. And, lastly, they called the latter
expressly '* regenerationem Sacramentalem parvulis re-
generandis idoneam,^" whereas true regeneration they
defined as ^^ conversionem sive novi cordis creationem,
quflB proprie regeneratio dicenda est.*' •

From the secondary senses of '' regenerate,'^ which
profess to be such, we turn now to an incorrect sense of
the term, which has obtained wide acceptance within our
own Church, under the profession of being a true and
adequate sense.

One true sense of the term "regenerate*' has hitherto
occupied the ground, descending from the New Testament
to the Fathers, from the Fathers to the Schoolmen, and
from the Schoolmen to the Calvinistic divines, viz. that

* " Neo qoae dicittu* regeneratio parvnli est ejnsdem speciei cam
hac nova creatione, sive spiritnali renascentia adoltorom." Yin-
dicisB Grat Sacr., p. 19.

* " Ipse ritus circumcidendi praaputiuin parvnlomm in V. T. a
Deo prsBBCriptns Gren. xvii. 10, non obscnre innnit imo plane docet
ante actnm circnmciidonis, nbi potest haberi et adhibetnr, ipsnin
reatnm originalem manere et parvnlis impntari ; et post drcnm-
cisionem anferri et non impntari. Id qaod pariter pronnnciandnm
de baptismali ablntione ; qxue ibidem denotat ante ablntionem
reatnm originalem manere et impntari parrolo, post ablntionem
anferri, nee amplins impntari." Yindioise, p. 135. Ghitaker, p. 26,
136. » Ep. Dav., p. 20. • Ibid. p. 8.

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Chap. XI. ] Senses of Regeneration, 1 69

implying actual goodness. One difficulty has indeed
accompanied this sense, viz. how to reconcile it with the
truth of the assertion that all infants are regenerate in
baptism ; but that difficulty has not as yet affected the
sense of the term. The Fathers combine the sense with
this baptismal assertion without explanation ; the School-
men combine the two with a fallacious explanation ; the
Calvinist retains the sense at the cost of this baptismal

But now another and a different sense of the term
appears for the first time in theology. For ordinary
purposes indeed the Anglican School uses the term re-
generate in its natural and Scriptural sense, viz. that of
actual goodness and conversion of heart. This sense is of
regular and &miliar occurrence, used with perfect free-
dom, and without the least apology, as any reader of
Hammond, Jeremy Taylor, Bull, South, Beveridge, and
Bishop Wilson, may observe for himself. These writers
do not only, as has been asserted, occasionally slide into
it as a confessed incorrect and informal, or, as it is called,
tropological sense ; but employ it habitually as its natural,
legitimate, and correct ona

But this being the case, how could the term " regene-
rate " be applied to all baptized infants P The Anglican
divines had more respect for antiquity than the Calvinists,
and more consideration for facts than the Schoolmen.
While they maintained, therefore, the assertion of anti-
quity that all infants were regenerate in baptism, they
could not but see the difficulty of reconciling buch an
assertion with the plain facts of experience, if the term
was to continue bearing this sense of actual goodness.
The Scholastic theory of infused good habits which need
not produce action, was not likely to satisfy the practical
judgment and common sense of this School. The Angli-
can divines then surmounted the difficulty by constructing

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1 70 Secondary and Incorrect [Part I.

a new and special sense of the term " regenerate " as used
in connexion with baptism ; employing the term, in this
connexion^ to denote only an implanted faculty for the
attainment of goodness and holiness, — a capacity to be
improved, a power to be cultivated, an assisting grace to
be used. '' The new birth," says Hammond, " is not the
actnal forsaking of sin, for this is the consequent task of
him that makes a right use of the grace of baptism. This
grace of baptism is the strength of Christ, of super-
natural ability to forsake sin and live godly. We have in
baptism that strength given us by Christ that will enable
us to get out of a servile and dangerous state.^^ ' '^ We
conceive,'' says Thomdike, '^ the regeneration of infants
that are baptized to consist in the habitual assistance of
God's Spirit ; the effects whereof are to appear in making
them able to perform that which their Christianity requires
at their hands, so soon as they shall understand them-
selves to be obliged by if * It would be easy to quote
much more to the same purpose, but the Anglican sense
of regeneration in connexion with baptism is too familiar
and well known to require large citations; and Bishop
Bethell only sums up the ordinary language of the School,
when he defines regeneration as the *' potential principle
of a new life, independently of its moral operation and
legitimate eflTects." •

Here then is certainly a new sense of the term '^ regene-
rate," which it has never yet expressly borne in the page
of theology. Following the history of the term from its
appearsihce in Scripture to this date, we see only one
continuous apparent sense of it as implying acTtual good-
ness. It was altogether, then, a new definition of it, to
describe it as ^' a potential principle " only. It was a new

7 Practical Catechism, p. 351.

• Laws of the Church, book iii. c. viii. § 25.

* Treatise on Regeneration, p. 120.

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Chap. XL] Senses of Regeneration. 1 7 1

arrangement, for which there was no authority hitherto
in the language of theology, to constraot a special sense
of the term "regenerate/^ as connected with baptism,
opposed to its ordinary sense. The Fathers make* no
distinctions in their application of the term to baptism, as
if they cancelled any portion of its ordinary sense in this
connexion; they institute no special reduced sense in
this connexion ; no accommodation to suit a special case.
But the Anglican divines using the term ordinarily in its
natural sense as implying actual goodness, institute a
different sense, in which it stands for a power or capacity
only, in connexion with baptism.

Though a secondary sense of " regenerate,'^ then, was
not unprecedented, the Anglican double sense was an
innovation in theology, the term never having been used
in two different true senses befora And we note the
new definition, to suit theological convenience, as we
should any new theory or explanation in science or history.
Endowed with great sagacity, reasoning power, and read-
ing grasp, the Anglican School has yet not been without
failings, one of which has been to invent new meanings
of words in Scripture, when they were wanted for theo-
logical convenience. Some important Scriptural terms
and phrases change their meaning in Anglican use;
" Salvation " meaning power to attain salvation ; " death
to sin/' power to forsake sin ; " putting on Christ/' the
power of putting on, and '^circumcision in the Spirit"
the power of cutting off ; '^ a new creature/' one endowed
with the power of becoming a new creature; '' predesti-
nated to be conformed to Christ's image," predestinated
to the power of being conformed to it ; and " the elect,"
those who are admitted to Christian privileges. The great
Schools have, under the pressure of the need of theological
adjustment, adopted different expedients according to
their respective characters ; and the practical sagacity of

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172 Secondary and Incorrect [Part I.

the Anglican School preferred the awkward apparatus of a
double sense of regeneration to a collision with the facts of
experience, which the compact but bold Scholastic theory
of t>aptismally ''infused'^ goodness seriously challenged.
But while the Anglican divines institute a new sense
of '' regenerate/' they use it with considerable scruple
and hesitation as to its heing a true sense ; and wield the
theological instrument of their own contriving, with a
divided and faltering arm. Those whose peculiar task
leads them to compare these two senses together, and
distinguish the rank of the two, do not scruple to speak
of the former of these two as the true sense, and the latter
as a secondary one. Bishop Nicholson, for example,
explains the synonym for regenerate or child of God, —

Online LibraryJames Bowling MozleyA review of the baptismal controversy → online text (page 14 of 38)