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A review of the baptismal controversy online

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of the Adult's regeneration hypothetically . Why ? Be-
cause the whole Church holds that the regeneration of
adults is conditional. A portion of the Church interprets
the statement of the Infant's regeneration hypothetically.
Why ? Because a portion holds that the regeneration of

a Part I. Chapter v. » Part I. Chapter x.

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250 The Infant Baptismal Service. [Part II.

infants is conditional. If the doctrine of the conditional
regeneration of infants then is not prohibited^ those who
hold it, whatever proportion of the Church they may be,
have as much right to interpret the statement hypotheti-
cally in the case of infants, as the whole Church has to
do so in the case of adults/

The ground on which some cases of hypothetical inter-
pretation rest is unquestionably a ground in which there
is universal agreement; the literal interpretation being
opposed to something which is universally admitted,
whether fact of common sense or article of belief. The
implicit statement in the Prayer Book, that the reign*
ing sovereign is always a '' religious and gracious''
person, would, literally interpreted, contradict a fact of
experience. The statement in every case of the regene-
ration of the adult would, literally interpreted, be opposed
to a universally admitted doctrine, viz. that the regenera-
tion of the adult is conditional upon faith and repentance.
But it would be an arbitrary and untenable restriction of
the right and use of hypothetical interpretation to confine
it to cases in which there was universal agreement.
Because, even if the necessity for such an interpretation
arises not from any universally admitted fact or truth,
but from the tenet or doctrine of a school ; still, if the
Church allows the doctrine in consequence of which the
interpretation is necessary, she allows the interpretation.

The argument for the necessity of the interpretation
of the statement in the Infant Baptismal Service has thus
broken down in both of the two stages into which it is
divided. As a broad and downright argument, that a
literal statement must have a literal meaning, it was
refuted by the obvious facts of the Prayer Book. As
an .argument which distinguishes between Infants and

* Note 29.

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Chap. II.] The Infant Baptismal Service. 251

Adults, on the ground of conditions, it has given way
because it assumes, without any right, the important
point that the regeneration of infants is without

The truth is then, this statement in the Infant Baptis-
mal Service has not been properly understood with
respect to its place in our formularies, and has been in
consequence incorrectly estimated for argumentative pur-
poses. Because it is in form literal, it has been taken
simply as a dogmatic statement, and been relied upon as
such ; and exactly the same force has been given to it as
if it had been made in one of the Thirty-nine Articles.
No difference has been acknowledged between a situation
in a service and a situation in a formulary of faith. It
has been appealed to therefore as, without need of further
inquiry, containing its own evidence of a necessarily
literal meaning belonging to it. It has been conse-
quently taken as of itself deciding the doctrine of our
Church on this question. But this whole estimate of this
statement is refuted by an appeal to the simplest liturgical
facts. This statement, in the place in which it stands, is
of itself open either to a literal or an hypothetical inter-
pretation. This statement, therefore, does not interpret
the general teaching of the Church, but, on the contrary,
the general teaching of the Church must interpret this
statement. Does the Church pronounce that infant
regeneration in baptism is unconditional? Then she
imposes the literal interpretation of this statement.
Does she pronounce that it is conditional 7 Then she
imposes the hypothetical interpretation of it. Does she
allow us to hold either view 7 Then she allows us to
interpret this statement either way.

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The same argument which decides the interpretation of
the Baptismal Service decides also the interpretation of
the Catechism. The definition of the grace of baptism in
the latter part of the Catechism does not determine any-
thing as to the recipients of that grace^ or therefore as to
all infants receiving it. But in the first part of the
Catechism, there is a statement, put into every child's
mouth, that *^ he was made in baptism a child of God.'* '
Here then is undoubtedly a literal statement that the
child was regenerate in baptism, and the only question is
whether a literal meaning is necessary.

To what class of documents then does the Catechism
belong ? Does it belong to the class which admits of
hypothetical statements (i. e. in form literal, but with an

* With reference to another statement : " Who redeemed me and
all mankind :" it mnst be observed that this redemption does not
involve the bestowal of grace, inasmuch as all mankind are not
even converted to Christianity, or brought within the Christian
covenant. Calvinists thus admit the doctrine of universal redemp-
tion. ** In the new law Christ hath truly given Himself with a
conditional pardon, justification, and conditional rights of salvation
to all men in the world without exception .... Elect and non-elect
therefore have an equal right to Christ till believing difference
them .... But though Christ died equally for all in the aforesaid
law senses as He satisfied the offended legislator, and as giving
Himself to all alike in the conditional covenant, yet He never pro*
perly intended or purposed the actual justification or saving of alL"
Baxter on Universal Redemption, pp. 55, 58, 63.

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The Catechism. 253

hypotHetical meaning) or not ? If it does^ then all the
argoment of the last chapter applies to this statement in
it; and need not be repeated.

A distinction has been drawn then between a Catechism
and a Service which would, if true, prevent the argument
which was applied in the last chapter to the Service, from
being applicable to the Catechism. For, it is said, " a
Catechism is not at any rate, whatever a Service may be,
a document which admits of statements to be taken in
an hypothetical meaning. A Catechism is a formulary
drawn up for the purpose of instruction, and for teaching
the child what are the truths and doctrines of Christianity,
and therefore all the statements made in a Catechism
must be statements of actual truths, admitting in the
nature of the case only of a literal meaning.'* If this
account then of the nature and character of a Catechism
as a Church formulary is correct, then that characteristic
which formed the basis of the argument relating to the
Baptismal Service, is wanting in the Catechism, and
therefore the conclusion which was arrived at with
respect to the Service, would not apply to the Catechism.
But it will be found, I think, upon examination that this
account of the character and nature of a Catechism, and
the class of document to which it belongs, is not correct;
but that on the contrary a Catechism is a kind of formu-
lary which admits of presumptive statements, i. e. that
are literal in form, but hypothetical in meaning.

It must be observed then that though a Catechism is a
formulary of instruction, and is drawn up for the purpose
of teachhig doctrinal truth, it is a formulary of a parti-
cular structure, and is made upon a particular plan and
arrangement, viz. that of question and answer. A dog-
matic formulary is simply a series of statements, standing
by themselves, without the introduction of any person-
ages in the shape of catechist and child, or machinery in

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254 ^^ Catechism. [Part II.

the shape of qneation and answer to elicit these state-
ments. Bat a Catechism is a departure from the structure
of a dogmatic formulary, in this respect, that it introduces
this personal machinery with the alternation of question
and answer. And this being the plan of the formulary,
we find in the next place that this plan leads to a result
which bears immediately upon the question before us.
The child, being introduced, is presumed to be in the
spiritual condition in which a Christian child ought to be,
and to have the wishes, aims, and resolutions proper to
his calling. Thus when he is asked, *^Dost thou not
think that thou art bound to believe and to do as they
[the godfathers and godmothers] have promised for
thee ? " he answers, *' Yes, verily, and by God's help so
I will ; and I heartily thank our heavenly Father that He
hath called me to this state of salvation, through Jesus
Christ our Saviour. And I pray unto God to give me
His grace, that I may continue in the same unto my life's
end." Here is a set of statements put into the child's
mouth, by which he is made to declare that he intends to
believe and to do as his godfathers and godmothers have
promised for him, that he thanks his heavenly Father for
spiritual blessings already received, and prays to Him that
those blessings may be continued. These are literal
statements made in one of the child's answers in the
Catechism, respecting the religious intentions, wishes,
and heartfelt thankfulness of the child. But it cannot
be supposed that they have a literal meaning, and are
intended to assert categorically that every child who is
catechized has these intentions, wishes, and feelings of
thankfulness. They are obviously put into the child's
mouth upon the presumptive principle, because it is
assumed that he is in the spiritual condition of mind in
which a Christian child ought to be, and they are
intended to be and must be understood hypothetically.

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Chap. III.] The Catechism. 255

And the same interpretation must be applied to
another statement^ not of a parenthetical kind like the
last one, bat relating to an important and fundamental
doctrine, that of the sanctifying influence of the Holy
Spirit. The answer in which the child asserts the sanc-
tifying influence of the Holy Spirit, states that doctrinal
truth in such a way, and in such a form, as to include
the child himself in the number of those who are sancti-
fied hy this influence, that is to say, among the sanctified
and the elect — '^ Who san ctifieth me and all the elect people
of Grod.*' By saying this the child was made by the framers
of our Catechism to include himself among the elect, who
will finally be saved ; — a statement which evidently could
not be understood otherwise than hypothetically.

Considerable controversy has indeed arisen about the
meaning of this statement, that is to say, about the mean-
ing of the term '^ elect ^^ in it; many maintaining that
the term '^ elect ^* here does not mean elect to eternal
life, but only chosen for admission into the Visible
Church, elect to Christian privileges and means of grace.'

' When onr Lord says that '' God shall send His angels, and
they shall gather together His elect from the four winds " (Matt,
xxiv. 31) ; and when He asks whether " God shall not avenge His
own elect ** (Luke xviii. 7) ; and when He says again of a certain
season of terrible trial, that " there shall arise false Christs and false
prophets who, if it were possible, shall deceive the very elect,'* and
that " except those days shonld be shortened there should no flesh
be saved : bnt for the elect's sake those days 'shall be shortened "
(Matt. xxiv. 24, 22) ; and when St. Panl asks " Who shall lay any-
thing to the charge of God's elect" (Bom. viii 33); and when St.
Peter writes to the " elect according to the foreknowledge of God
the Father nnto obedience " (1 Pet. i. 2); the elect who in these
passages are avenged by God, and are guarded against the possi-
bility of deception, and against whom the accuser is challenged to
prove anything, and who are at the end of the world gathered by
the holy angels from the four comers of the earth, are certainly
God's saints. What would be the force of the expression that " if

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256 The Catechism. [Part IL

But the object of this inquiry being simply to ascertain
the nature of a Catechism as a formulary, and whether it
admits of a certain class of statements or not^ all that we
are concerned with in the present case^ is a question of
fact ; viz. what was the current and received meaning of
the term " elect ^' at the time of the construction of our
Catechism ? We are not, for the purpose of this inquiry,
at liberty to affix our own meaning to terms and state-
ments in the Catechism, even though that meaning may
be an allowed one, but we must take them in the meaning
which they bore, according to general use and acceptation,
at the time of their insertion in the Catiechism. If this
particular statement in our Catechism — " Who sanctitieth
me and all the elect people of God," had at the time of
its insertion — in consequence of the received meaning of
the term *' elect " at that time — such a meaning, as that
it could only then by possibility be understood hypo-
thetically, that is at once a proof of the nature of a
Catechism as a formulary, viz. that it admits of that kind
of statement which is literal in form, but in meaning

What was the current and received meaning then of
the term '* elect " at the time of the construction of our
Catechism ? The answer is, that as understood by the
whole Church of that day, and as employed by divines of

it were possible they sbonld deceive the very elect," if the elect
only meant those who were chosen for admission to Christian
privileges, i e. all members of the Visible Church P Many of these
are men whose deception need create no surprise at all, mnch less
be an impossible supposition. It is tme that whole Churches are
addressed in the Epistles as elect, but this appUcaMon of the term
" elect " no more affects the mea/ning of the term " elect,'* than the
same application of the term " sainfc " affects the meaning of the
term '* saint :" '* saint '* being a holy man, and the " elect " mean-
ing those who will be saved, although whole bodies are supposed to
be " saints " and " elect,*' and addressed on that supposition.

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Chap. III.] The Catechism, 257

both sides, Protestant and Roman, it had but one mean-
ing, viz. those who would out of the whole mass of man*
kind be ultimately saved. " Election " attended with an
express qualification, such as '' outward election,^* " tem-
poral election,^^ was indeed employed to express an
election into the Visible Church, and to the participation
of the visible means of grace. But the term, "the
elect/^ simple and naked, in its general use and accepta-
tion among divines, meant the elect to eternal life, those
who would finally be saved. That was the sense of
Melancthon,* Luther, Erasmus, Calvin, Bellarmine,
Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, Nowell, Jewell, and Hooker.*

» Note 30.

^ *' Semper in hoc coetti sunt eUdi aliqui, i. e. hseredes SBtemsB
vitsB, etiamsi simnlhis admLxti sunt mnlti non sancti et nou elect!.**
Melancthon, Op. iv. p. 158. " Omnes salvandi decii sunt, et ita
sunt electi nt agnoscant Filiom et ad earn confngiant." Ibid,
p. 161. '^In hac (visibili ecclesia) tantnm siint eledi, propter qnos
et hie visibilis coetus a Deo colligitur et conservatur." p. 159.

** Propter electos ista vnlgaiitar, ut iato modo hcuniliati et in
nihilum redacti salvi fiant.** Lntber, Op. t. ii. p. 431.

" Omnes electi certo salvantar.*' Bellarmine, De Grat. et Lib.
Arb. 1. ii. c. 10.

'* The penitent must conceive certain hope and faifch that God
will forgive him his sins, and repute him justified and of the
number of His eled; children." ** Institution of a Christian Man."
** The book lately devised by me [Cranmer] and other Bishops of
this realm.** Strype*s Cranmer, vol. i. p. 73.

*' In all ages G^ hath had His own manner after His unsearch-
able wisdom to use Hia elect, sometimes to deliver them and to
keep them safe, and sometimes to suffer them to drink of Christ's

cup, that is, to feel the smart and to feel the whip Here He

doth but respite them to another time, and leaveth them in danger
to fall in like peril again : there He maketh them perfect, to be
without pain or peril for evermore." Ridley, Parker Soc. Ed.
p. 75.

" All the eled shall be gathered to Him, and there shall they see
the judgment ; but they themselves shall not be judged, but shall

be like as judges with them No heart can comprehend the


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258 The Catechism. [Paet !!•

It was the sense of the Tliirty-nine Articles^ and of the
Confession of Trent.' Nor even did Arminins and the

great felicity that dod hath prepared for His elect '^ Latimer,
Serm. zlii.

" T/r ryxaXco-f I Korh. ^KkfKT&v rov Btov ; i. e. qtds aocnsabit aat
qnis crimen intendet adverauB electos Dei . . . Sensas Pauli mani-
festns est neminem ansumm criminari eos qnos Deus non solum
Tocavit, sed etiam elegit." Erasmi Annotationes, p. 276.

" Good's election is snre for ever. The Lord knoweth them who
are His . . . 70a shall not fall for ever, you shall not perish ....
But how may we see this election P Or how may we feel it P The
Apostle saith ' through sanctification and the faith of the truth.' "
Jewell on 2 Thess. ii. 13.

" Cur Sanctus (Sanctus Spiritus) appellaturP Non tantum ob
suam ipsius sanctitatem, sed quod per eum electi Dei et membra
Christi sancta efEiciuntur . . . Qui sunt in fide firmi, stabiles atque
constantes, hi eUdi atque designati et prsedestinati erant ad hanc
tantam felicitatem ante posita mundi fundamenta." Nowell*s
Catechism, pp. 52, 53.

" Perpetuity of inward grace belongeth unto none but eternally
foreseen elect .... Such is that grace which the elect find."
Hooker, vol. ii. p. 750.

"Certe nemo unquam dizerit (credo) fidem in eledis finaliter
ezcidere." Bp. Andrewes on Lambeth Articles.

** The reward of the elect and the punishment of the reprobate
becomes the means of God's glory in regard that, God having pro-
posed a law .... the one have observed it, the others not." Thorn-
dike, Covenant of Grace, b. ii. c. 26, § 8.

" And ever remain in the number of Thy f aithf al and elect chil-
dren." Baptismal Service. " Shortly accomplish the number of
Thine elect,** Burial Service.

* " Nemo quamdiu in hac mortalitate vivitur, preesumere debet
ut certo statuat se omnino esse in numero proedestinatorum . . .
Nam nisi ex speoialirevelatione scirinon potest quos Deus sibi eh'
g&rit,** Cone. Tridenl Sess. vi. c. 12. " (Deus) oonstanter decrevit
eos, quos in Christo elegit ezhominum genere, a maledicto et ezitio
liberare atque, ut vasa in honorem ficta, per Christum ad aetemam
salutem adducere. Unde qui tam prseclaro Dei beneficio sunt donati
. . . pertingunt ad sempiternam felicitatem." Seventeenth Article.
According to the grammatical construction of the Article, God has
decreed to bring the elect— quos elegit — to eternal life : L e. the

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Chap. III.] The Catechism. 259

Remonstrants afterwards interfere with this sense ; they
differed from the Calvinists as to the causey but they
agreed with them as to the nature of election. Calvin
said that the cause of election was the arbitrary will of
God, Arminius, that it was the foreseen goodness of
man; but both Calvin and Arminius meant by ^Hhe
elect,'^ those who were elected to eternal glory, those
who would finally be saved. Calvinism and Arminianism
concurred in one sense of the term ''elect,'* although
upon one theory man's righteousness preceded his elec-
tion, on the other, man's election preceded and was the
cause of his righteousness.

According to the correct and received meaning then
of the term '' elect '' at the time of the construction of
our Catechism, the statement — '' Who sanctifieth me and
all the elect people of God,'' could not have been under-
stood then but as an hypothetical statement ; and there-
fore the character of the Catechism as a formulary is
ascertained in this respect, viz. that it admits of this
kind of statement. We are met, however, now by a
distinction which is drawn between *' the elect " and the
" elect people of God,*' which is the phrase used in the
Catechism. It has been maintained that, though ''the
elect '' means those who are elected to eternal life, the
•' elect people of God '' means those who are elected to
Christian privileges and means of grace. This distinction,
however, has to begin with an arbitrary appearance ; for
certainly any plain man would say that "the elect '' and
" the elect people of God '' meant the same thing : nor
does it bear examination. The only reason which can be
assigned why '*the elect" should change its meaning
when it becomes " the elect people of God'* is, that " the

elect will be saved. Nor does the Arminian deny this sense of the
Article, but only assigns as the canse of this certain salvation of
the elect, the foreseen goodness of the elect. Burnet on Art. XYII.

8 2

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26o The Catechism. [Part II.

elect ^' figure in the first phrase as a number of persons,
or a simple plural; in the second, as one body, or a
people. But this is no reason for a change of the mean-
ing of the word *^ elect/' It has been always usual, and
Scripture sets the example of this double point of view,
to look upon the saints and servants of God in the world
in two aspects, as a number of individuals, and as a holy
body or community or people. There is a number of
persons who are zealous of good works, and there is '' a
peculiar people zealous of good works.'' There is a rest
laid up for every man of God, and " there remaineth a
rest for the people of God." There are those '' whom
God did foreknow,*' and there is " His people whom He
foreknew," and did '' not cast away." The men who are
zealous of good works, those for whom a rest remaineth,
and those who are foreknown, do not become diflTerent
but remain the same persons, regarded as individuals and
regarded as a people. The saints are the same persons,
with the same character, whether considered as a number
of individuals, or as united in the ^'Communion of

Nor, in the same way, do the " elect" become different
persons with different characteristics when they are re-
garded as '^ the elect people of God," but are the same
persons with the same characteristics, only viewed as a
number of single persons in the one phrase, as a people
or body in the other. St. Paul calls the same persons
both " the elect," which is plural, and '' the election," 17
ikXoyq^ which is singular, or a unity ; and the " glorious
Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but
holy and without blemish," must be the Church of the
elect, or the elect considered as one body or Church.
The *' Civitas Dei" of Augustine is the society or body

• Rom. xi. 7.

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Chap. III.] The Catechism. 261

of the elect, who are even now to the Divine eye separated
from the world and form one spiritual community. '^ I
divide/' he says> '^ the human race into two kinds ; one
of which lives according to man, the other according to
God, and I mystically call them two cities — i.e. two
human societies— of which one is predestined to reign
eternally with God, the other to suflTer eternal punishment
with the devil." '

But the language of contemporary theology shows
beyond dispute that " the elect " and the '^ elect people
of God *' meant exactly the same thing, and that the only
difference was one of aspect, whether the same persons
were regarded as a body or as a number of individuals.
The theology of the Reformation is full of the aspect of
" the elect,'* as one people, one society, one body in the
eye of God; an aspect which was expressed by the
" unum corpus electorum ** of Calvin ; the *' congregatio
Christianorum et sanctorum hominum ^* of Luther ; the
"Electa Ecclesia,*^ the "Ecclesia sanctorum,^' the "Popu-
lus Spiritualis,'^ the " Populus Dei Sanctus,'' the " Verus
populus Dei renatus," of Melancthon ; the " Body mystical
collective " of Hooker ; the " Invisible Church '' of all
Protestant divinity*

"There exists for ever in the world," says Luther,
" this holy Christian multitude in which Christ is effica-
cious. . . . This holy Christian Church, and holy Chris-
tian people of God."® "St. Paul,'^ says Melancthon,
" distinguishes the elect Church from the other multitude
which has the title and boasts its carnal propagation or
ordinary succession of external government. St. Paul

Online LibraryJames Bowling MozleyA review of the baptismal controversy → online text (page 21 of 38)