James Bowling Mozley.

A review of the baptismal controversy online

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distinguishes the true Church from the false . . . He
gives the sweet consolation that there shall always be a
certain elect Church, Ecclesia Electa propter Filium ; and

' De Civ. Dei, 1. xv. c. 1.

^ Not«8 VeraB EccleaiaB. Op. torn. vii. pp. 148, 162.

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262 The Catechism. [Part II.

that though the greater part will perish, a remnant or
small part will be converted to God, . . . and this elect
Charch is justified, and shall be adorned with eternal
glory/" — ^'This Church is alone called the body of
Christ, which Christ renews, sanctifies, and rules by His
Spirit, as Paul says, ' And He gave Him to be head over
all things to the Church, which is His body.' ''^ "The
Church of Christ/' says the Seventh Article of the Con-
fession of Augsburgh, '^ is properly (proprie) the congre-
gation of the members of Christ, i. e. of holy men, who
truly believe in and obey Christ, though in this life there
are mixed with this congregation many evil men and
hypocrites." "After Christ," says the Homily on the
Nativity, " was once come down from heaven, and had
taken our frail nature upon Him, He made all them that
would believe Him truly and receive His word good trees
and good ground, fruitful and pleasant branches, children
of light, citizens of heaven, sheep of His fold, members
of His body, heirs of His kingdom. His true friends and
brethren, sweet and holy bread, the elect a/nd chosen people
of Ood" " Let us trust,'' says the Homily on the Pas-
sion, "that Christ may receive us into His heavenly
kingdom, and place us in the number of His elect and
chosen people" " The Church of Christ,*' says Hooker,
" which we properly term His body mystical, can be but
one ; neither can that one be sensibly discerned by any
man, inasmuch as the parts thereof are some in heaven
already with Christ, and the rest that are on earth (albeit
their natural persons be visible) we do not discern under
this property whereby they are truly and infallibly of that
body. Only our minds by intellectual conceit are able to
apprehend that such a real body there is ; a body collec-
tive, because it oontaineth a huge multitude — a body
mystical, because the mystery of their conjunction is
» Op. torn. iv. pp. 162, 163, 164. ^ Op. torn. L p. 80.

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Chap. III.] The Catechism. 263

removed from our sense. Whatsoever we read in Scrip-
ture concerning the endless love and the saving mercy
which God showeth towards His Church, the very proper
subject thereof is this Church. Concerning this flock it
is that our Lord and Saviour hath promised : — ^ I give
unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish;
neither shall any pluck them out of my hands.' They
who are of this society have such marks and notes of
distinction from all others, as are not object unto our
sense ; only unto God who seeth their hearts and under-
standeth all their secret cogitations, unto Him they are
clear and manifest.*' ^ " The Church of the elect," says
Laud, '^ is in the Church of them that are called,*and the
invisible Church in the visible. That the invisible Church
of the elect is in the visible is manifest out of St. Augus-
tine : ' Ipsa est Ecclesia quss intra sagenam Dominicam
cum malis piscibus natat.' '^ ' ^' The general or outward
Church of God is visible," says Jewell, '^ but the very
true Church of God^s elect is invisible, and cannot be seen
or discerned by man, but is only known to God alone.'* *
'^ The Church may be called holy," says Bishop Pearson,
" in regard the end of constituting a Church in God was
for the purchasing a holy and precious people." '

We find this aspect of ^' the elect '* — viz. as one people
and one society — dominant in the Catechisms and Ex-
positions of belief of that day. In the '^ Institution of a
Christian Man," which was an exposition of the Christian
faith, published by the authority of the Bishops in 1 536,
was called the Bishops* Book, and was composed by a
commission, of which Cranmer was the head; the person
who makes the confession of his belief in the articles of
the Christian faith is made to say : '^ I believe assuredly
in my heart, and with my mouth I do profess and acknow-

' Eccl. PoL b. iii. 0. 1, § 2. • Conference with Fisher, sect. xxi.
* Defence of Apology, c. iv. div. 2. * On Article IX.

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264 The Catechism. [Part II.

ledge that there is and hath been, even from the beginning
of the world, and so shall endure and continue for ever,
one certain number, society, communion of ihe elect and
faithful people of Ood; of which number our Saviour
Jesus Christ is the only Head and Governor ; and the
members of the same be all those holy saints which be
now in heaven, and also all the faithful people of God
which be now on life, or that ever heretofore have lived,
or shall live here in this world, from the beginning to the
end of the same, and be ordained for their true faith and
obedience unto the will of God, to be saved and to enjoy
everlasting life in heaven. And I believe assuredly that
this congregation according as it is called in Scripture,
so it is in very deed the city of heavenly Jerusalem, the
mother of all tlte elect people of Ood, the only dove, and
the only beloved of God, in perfect and everlasting charity,
the holy Catholic Church. • • . And I believe and trust
assuredly that I am one of the members of this Catholic
Church, and that God of His own mercy hath not only
chosen and called me thereunto by His Holy Spirit, and
by the efficacy of His Word and Sacraments, and hath
inserted and united me into this universal body or flock,
and hath made me His son and inheritor of His kingdom ;
but also that He shall, of His like goodness and by the
operation of the Holy Ghost, justify me here in this
world, and finally glorify me in heaven.*' •

In this declaration, which is indeed only the short de-
claration of the child in our own Catechism, '' Who sanc-
tifieth me and all the elect people of God," rhetorically
drawn out and expanded ; the phrase, *' the elect people
of G^d," means exactly the same thing as the phrase,
'^ the elect ;" i. e. they are those who will finally be saved.
The phrase denotes the same number of individuals, only
regarded as a society. We have the same aspect of " the
• Pormalaries of Faith. Ed. by Bishop Lloyd, pp. 52, 56.

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Chap. III.] The Catechism. 265

elect ** in NowelFs Catechism : " Before the heaven and
the earth were made God foreordained a most lovely king-
dom and a most holy commonwealth, which the Apostles
call the Church, or congregation. Into this common-
wealth hath God enrolled an infinite multitade of men, who
all follow Christ as their King ; all obey His word, and
commend themselves to His guardianship. To this com-
monwealth belong as many as truly fear, honour, and
worship God, applying their minds to holy and pious
living, placing all their hope and confidence in God, and
expecting most certainly a blessed eternity. Whosoever
are firm, stable, and constant in this faith, these are the
eled and the sealed, predestined to this felicity before the
foundation of the world, and having the Spirit of Christ
for an inward witness to this election.^' *' And,*' proceeds
the child, '^ I do most certainly assure myself that I my-
self am, by the free gift of God in Christ, made a member
of this blessed commonwealth." In the Heidelberg Cate-
chism, the child, in answer to the question, " What dost
thou believe concerning the Holy Catholic Church of
Christ ?'' says, — "I believe that the Son of God doth,
from the beginning to the end of this world, gather,
defend, and preserve unto Himself, by His word and
Spirit, out of the whole race of mankind, a company
elected unto eternal life, and that I am a living member
of that company, and shall so remain for ever.'*' The
child is made to assert the same assurance in the Cologne
Catechism, Bucer's composition: — " I believe that through
His word and sacraments God will confirm and increase
the same [sanctification] in me, so that I shall study con-
tinually to sanctify His name, and to serve His congre-
gation with all manner of good works, till He take me
out of this world unto heavenly joys and the blessed

' Sylloge Confess, p. 37a

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266 The Catechism. [Part II.

Resurrection/^ * And the declaration respecting liimself,
and his own sanctification^ and final salvation, is repeated
by the professor of the Christian faith in the '' Institution
of a Christian Man'* : — '' I do believe that I am so clearly
rid of all the guilt of my said ofFences, and from the ever-
lasting pain due to the same^ that neither sin^ nor deaths
nor hell shall be able or have any power to hurt me or to
let me^ but that after this transitory life I shall ascend
into heaven, there to reign with my Saviour Christ per-
petually in glory and felicity." •

It must be observed that the aspect of the elect as one
body, which prevails in these extracts, does not supersede
the existence of another body, viz. the mixed or visible
Church. There were divines, indeed, who refused the
title or name of Church to any body but the Church of
the elect ; but this was no necessary consequence of the
aspect of the elect as a body, which, though a body and a
society, was still planted by the general judgment of
divines within another body, viz. the visible Church.
The full recognition of the Church, as a visible body, was
thus perfectly consistent with regarding the elect who
were within that Church as a bodyj an inner society
within an outward one, an invisible commonwealth within
a visible one, a pure communion within a mixed one.
Melancthon recognized a visible Church, which he called
a " vera Ecclesia," and a '^ populus Dei," but added, " in
quo Deus vere coUigit coetum cui dat remissionem pecca-
torum, et justitiam, et salutem aetemam." *

We have then full evidence that '' the elect " meant, in
the general use and acceptation of the term at the time
of the construction of our Catechism, those who would
finally be saved ; and we have also very full evidence that
the " elect people of God ^' meant the same as '^ the elect.*'

* Offices, published by Hermann, Archbp. of Cologne, fol. 80.
» Formularies of Faith, p. 36. * Tom. i. p. 319.

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Chap. III.] The Catechism. 267

Bat in this state of the case the conclusion is inevitable
that the statement^ '^ Who sanctifieth me and all the elect
people of God/' mast^ at the date of onr Catechism, have
been understood hypothetically.

It is to be admitted, indeed^ that, the term '^ elect "
being applied in the Epistles on the hypothetical prin-
ciple to all the members of Christian Churches, this pre-
sumptive applicoHon of the term has been converted into
another sense of the term by one section of divines, with
whom it means those elected to Christian privileges and
a place in the visible Church ; that the use of this latter
as a secondary meaning of the term is to be seen occa-
sionally in earlier writers of our Church ; and that a later
school adopted and defended it as the true meaning of the
term ; Bishop Tomline defining " the predestinated and
elect " as '* those to whom the Gospel was made known
according to the foreseen purpose of God." * It must be
admitted, I say, that the term '^ the elect " has contracted
this gloss, and that this gloss has obtained a wide re-
ception and a sanctioned place in our theology ; but when
we are engaged in ascertaining the meaning of a par-
ticular statement in the Catechism, as a criterion of the
kind of formulary a Catechism is, and the sort of state-
ments it admits of ; and when the meaning of that state-
ment depends on the meaning of a particular term in it ;
in this case, we are not at liberty to take a gloss upon
that tei*m, but we must take the term in its general use
and acceptation at the time of the construction of the
Catechism. And there is full evidence of what this general
use and acceptation was ; and that the term meant those
who would finally be saved.

The objection is raised indeed that, with this meaning
of '^ elect," this assertion of the child in the Catechism
becomes a most rash and presumptuous one, and the
» On Article XVII.

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268 Tfu Catechism. [Paet II.

authority of Jackson is cited, who says : — ^^ Can any man
be persuaded that it was any part of our Churches mean-
ing to teach children, when they first make profession of
their faith, to believe that they are of the number of the
elect ; that is, of such as cannot finally perish ? This were
to teach them their faith backwards, and to seek the king**
dom of heaven, not aacendendo but descendendo from it." '
Without wishing to detract, however, from the merits of
Jackson, I must be allowed to say that, as a one-sided
writer, he is not always a safe guide to trust to. It was
open to him, as it is open to every one now, to criticize
the propriety of putting such a statement into the mouth
of a child, but such criticism cannot alter the facts of the
case. It cannot alter the fact of what was the regular
and received meaning of the term "elect" and "the
elect people of God " at the time of the construction of
our Catechism ; or the fact that, with this meaning, a
statement, which included the speaker among the elect
people of God, was put into the mouth of the child in
the Catechism ; or the fact, which has appeared in the
citations above made, that this statement of the child
respecting himself runs through the Catechisms and
similar formularies of that day. It is, however, not only
a too rigid, but a wholly untrue interpretation of this
statement to convert it, as Jackson does, into the serious
and literal assertion of a fact. It was presumed in all
these formularies that the child was a true Christian, and
had all that appertains to one, sanctification and election
included ; and, in accordance with this presumption, he
was made to declare that he was thus sanctified and thus

We have then before us, first, a whole class of Pro-
testant Catechisms, or formularies of that class, of about
the same date as our own, and we are able to ascertain
• Commentary on Creed, b. ». c. 17.

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Chap. III.] The Catechism. 269

clearly enough from them what sort of a formulary a
Catechism is, with respect to the particular point now
under consideration. Because we find that these Cate-
chisms contain statements which cannot possibly be un-
derstood otherwise than hypothetically ; viz. the child's
assertion of his own sanctification^ future perseverance,
and final salvation. And, secondly, with this general
evidence before us of the character of a Catechism in
this respect, we come to our own Catechism, and find
that our own is of this character too from plain internal
evidence — the child's assertion of his own pious resolu-
tions, wishes, thankful feelings, sanctification, and lastly

The character of our Catechism on this head then being
decided, viz. that it admits of statements literal in form
but hypothetical in meaning, we come to the particular
statement in it with which this treatise is concerned :
'' Wherein I was made a child of God,'' &c. This state-
ment then, after the above proof of the character of a
Catechism as a formulary, comes legitimately under the
argument of the last chapter. Our Church lays down no
specific doctrine of infant regeneration, and nowhere
defines the meaning of the term, " child of God." But
if the Church allows conditions of infant regeneration
and the sense of actual goodness, and the sense of inde-
fectible goodness for this term, she allows the hypotheti-
cal construction of this statement, because the allowance
of conditions and of the sense is, ipso facto, the allowance
of the construction.

Can it be denied that the Church, at any rate, allows
the statement, ^'Who sanctifieth me and all the elect
people of God," to be construed hypothetically? To
deny this would be to deny to persons now the bare and
simple right to understand the phrase, '' the elect people
of God," in that sense which was, as a matter of fact, its

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270 The Catechism.

regular and received sense at the date of the oonstmction
of our Catechism. But if i)d% statement may be under-
stood hypothetically, what valid reason can be given why
the other also may not be ? *

* In the " Institution of a Christian Man," "child of God" is
synonymous with one of the elect. " I believe that I am GrO(2'« own
son by adoption and grace, and the right inheritor of His kingdom
.... one of the members of His Catholic Church." ** Which
Church/' he adds, " is the society of the elect people of God, the
saints which are now in heaven, and also be now on life." For-
mularies, pp. 31, 62, 66.

Dr. John Mayer's Exposition of the Church Catechism ** published
by command " in the earlier part of the seventeenth century, while it
allows every baptized child to be a '' member of Christ and a child
of God," literally in a " sacramental " sense, yet in " the real and
true sense *' of those terms explains this whole statement hypo-
thetically. "If it be further demanded, how can it be said of all
baptized that they are members of Christ, I answer that our Church
doth not usurp the gift of prophecy, to take upon her to discern
which of her children belong to God's unsearchable election, but
in the judgment of charity embraceth them all, as God's inheritance;
and hereby teacheth every one of us so to believe of ourselves by
faith, and of others by charity. St. Paul in his salutations styleth
the whole visible Churches to whom he writes by the title of saints,
and yet it is likely that by his extraordinary discerning spirit he
could have differenced the goats of his flock from the sheep. How
much more ought we, with our blessed mother the Church of
England, at all christenings to presume that sacramental grace
doth like a soul enquicken the body of the outward element, and
receive those for our true fellow-members of Christ, who have
been made partakers of the same laver of regeneration." Dr. John
Mayer's Exposition of the Catechism, pp. 5 — 7.

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The case which was proved in the two last chapters was
that of a statement which had literally interpreted one
meanings but which turned out upon examination to be
susceptible of another..

It is, of course, to be admitted on one side that the
literal meaning of this statement is its pHma facie
meaning : ^ indeed this is a truism ; for by a prima fade
meaning we understand that meaning which a statement
has by the plain force of its grammatical construction, and
which it carries to any person who has no other data
beyond that for knowing its meaning. But while this
admission must be made on the one side, the error on
the other side lies in vastly overrating the weight of a
prima facie meaning. For for a prima fade meaning,
known and acknowledged, to be corrected upon examina-
tion, is one of the commonest occurrences in language.
Indeed, what is the primal fa/yie meaning of the statement
in the Adult Baptismal Service ? To any one who had
only its literal and grammatical sense to go by without a
previous acquaintance with the doctrine of adult bap-
tism,' this statement would mean simply what it says,

^ Lord Macanlay's expression (Hist, iii p. 472) that " the words
[of the statement in the Infant Baptismal Service] to all minds
unsophisticated appea/r to assert," &c., only affirms what every-
body would allow, ^ prima fade meaning.

' It is alleged that the evidence of the hypothetical meaning of
the statement in the Adnlt Seryice is incorporated in the service,

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272 Rule of L iteral [Part II.

i. e. state a positive fact. Bat we all set aside that literal
meaning for an hypothetical.

Generally speaking the literal meanings of statements
are their true meanings^ and are also the only meanings
which they legitimately bear^ because this clearness and
unity is the general aim of language^ and an aim in which
it succeeds in the majority of cases. But there are large
exceptions^ and there are few things with which we are
more familiar than the supplanting of a prima fcuyie
meaning by another which has the advantage of more
knowledge and acquaintance with the facts of the case,
whether the style of a writer, or the phraseology of a
particular department of science or learning, or the con-
struction of language generally. For there are over and
above the former special class of reasons, reasons of a
deeper kind, lying in the very nature and construction
of human language as an instrument of expression,
which often issue in prima fade meanings which
have afterwards to be corrected; for instance, there
is the necessity of compression, which produces the
summary form of statement made without the mention
of proper conditions, which are left to be supplied by the

In such revision and correction then of the sense of
language it sometimes happens that the literal meaning
of a statement is wholly set aside, and that another
meaning which is not the literal one is substituted as the
only true meaning. It would be tedious to quote exam-

by virtue of the expressions in the exhortation — " truly repenting
and coming nnto Him by faith.'* Bat if snch an inference is to
be drawn &om these expressions in the Adnlt Service, might not a
like inference be drawn from the sponsorial statements in the
Infant Service P The truth is, it is the doctrine of Adult Baptism
which definitively settles the meaning of the statement in the
Adnlt Service, and not any expressions in the service itself.

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Chap. IV.] Interpretation considered, 273

pies, but persons who are conversant with the usages of
language will be able to recall many forms of expression
and modes of statement which no rational man can un-
derstand in their literal and grammatical sense. There
are other cases again in which the literal meaning is not
wholly set aside, but another meaning besides the literal
one is found to be admissible. We arrive at a class of
statements which admit of both interpretations, one
being the best in one man's opinion, the other in an-
other's, but both admitting of being held by reasonable
and intelligent men. Thus the precepts in Scripture,
"Eesist not evil,'' and " Swear not at all," admit both of
a literal and a non-literal interpretation. Christians are
at liberty to take such precepts in their literal sense, and
many intelligent Christians do so interpret them ; but the
great majority still set aside this literal sense and adopt
the other.

It is impossible to deny that the meaning in which the
Nonjurors understood the Oath of Allegiance, abandoning
all their offices in Church and State, and submitting them-
selves to the greatest sacrifices for it, was the literal and
prima facie meaning of that oath, and that the oath cer-
tainly admitted of being taken in that meaning. The
terms of it were plain and direct, viz. that the person
taking it '^ would be true and faithful to the king and
his heirs, and not know or hear of any ill or damage
intended him, without defending him therefrom." But
although the literal meaning of this oath was so obvious,
an immense majority, both in Church and State, includ-
ing men who were as conscientious as the Nonjurors, did
not so understand it. They admitted what was unques-
tionable, that this was its literal meaning, but they denied
that its literal meaning was the true one ; urging that
there was an unexpressed condition in the oath, viz. that
the allegiance sworn in it only applied to the king so long


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2 74 i?/^/<? of Literal [Part II.

as he wojB king, so long as he was de facto the ruler and
sovereign of the country.'

Let us apply then this corrective principle, of such
constant use in language generally, to the interpretation
of the Prayer Book. In the first place, we find there
cases of the former, or total kind of correction, in which
the literal meaning is altogether set aside, and another or
non-literal meaning put in its place as the true one. In
the prayer for Parliament the literal meaning of the
statement, implicitly made, that the reigning monarch is
always '^ a religious and gracious person '* is wholly set
aside, and an hypothetical meaning put in its place. In
the Burial Service, the statement that *^ it hath pleased

Online LibraryJames Bowling MozleyA review of the baptismal controversy → online text (page 22 of 38)