James Bowling Mozley.

A review of the baptismal controversy online

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statements are made by her in places outside of the
Articles. But the ground on which this argument rests
is not omission in the Articles simply, but omission with
design. It is agreed on all sides that it is not by accident
or without a purpose that the Articles make neutral
statements on many subjects, which can be accepted by
different parties in the Church, and are as comprehensive
and inclusive as they are; but that this is done with
design, and with the aim of including different parties in
the Church within the limits of the Church's formularies.



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288 Articles and Prayer Book [Part II.

It is admitted that the Article on Baptism is thas neutral
and inclusive designedly/ But if the comprehensiveness
of the Articles in general^ and of this Article along with
the restj is designed ; and if the Church abstains from
making a statement upon a controverted point in this
Article because the insertion would be unacceptable to
one portion of the Church ; it is then altogether contrary
to such a design that the statement in question should be
made as a dogmatic statement in another place. And to
attribute such an arrangement to the Church is to attri-
bute to her a mode of proceeding which is wholly in-
comprehensible and irrational.

Two answers, however, may be made to this appeal to
the unity and consistency of design in the Articles and
the Prayer Book. One is a denial of the inconsistency in
the present instance, upon the ground that, the publication
of the Prayer Book having preceded that of the Articles,
the omission in the Articles of the statement of the
regeneration of all infants in baptism was not owing to a
design to make the Article comprehensive, but only to
the fact that the statement had been already made in the
service, and that therefore there was no need to make it
again in the Articles. But this is obviously an insufficient
explanation of such an omission. The Prayer Book
throughout contains and is founded upon various doc-
trines ; but this does not prevent those doctrines firom
being formally stated in the Articles, which is the proper
place for the formal statement of them. Nor therefore,
were a certain doctrine contained in the Baptismal

^ Mr. Fisher admits " the palpable ambiguity of the Article on
Baptism in particular." Revision of the Liturgy, p. 213. Pro-
fessor Harold Browne admits the designed ambigui^ of the Article,
though he attributes it to the king's " leaning to the Swiss Be-
formers/' as well as to the desire of the compilers " to satisfy some
foreign divines." Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, p. 667.



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Chap. V.] cotisidered in connexion. 289

Services, would that be any reason why that doctrine
should not be stated in the Article on Baptism, which
was the proper place for the formal statement of it. But
the truth is, no conclusion can be drawn from any minute
diflTerence in the date of the publication of the Articles
and the Prayer Book ; because, though in the reconstruc-
tion of the formularies of a Church, everything cannot be
done at once, and therefore one part comes out before
another, the publication of these two sets of formularies
is practically simultaneous if they come out as near one
another as convenience permits. Though it may be
mentioned, if the fact is of any importance, that the
construction of the second book, i. e. our present Book of
Common Prayer and the construction of the Articles, were
going on in the same year.* Indeed, this argument is
undermined by the very admission which is made on all
sides that the Article on Baptism is designedly ambiguous
and neutral.

The more common answer, however, is the broad and
frank acceptance of the conclusion, which has been
urged above as a reductio ad alsurdum. It is con-
sidered by some that the design of the Articles and that
of the Prayer Book are contradictory, and conflict with
each other. It is a common statement that the theology
of the Articles is contrary to the theology of the Prayer
Book, which latter is alleged to be inconsistent with
Calvinism. If this is the case then, I observe first that

* " In 1651 the king and the Privy Ootmcil ordered the Arch-
bishop to frame a book of Articles of Religion." Archbishop Wake,
qnoted by Cardwell, Synodalia, vol. i. p. 2. " The Commissioners
appear to have completed their revision of the Book of Common
Prayer before the end of the year 1651." Cardwell, Preface to the
Two Litnrgies, p. 29. " The new service book was put forth in
1652 . . . The same year saw the publication of the Forty -two
Articles of Religion." Professor H. Browne's Exposition of the
Thirty -nine Articles, Introduction, p. 6.

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290 Articles and Prayer Book [Part TI.

the contradiction is inexplicable^ because the two sets of
formularies issued from the hands of the same responsible
compilers at the same time^ to supply two concordant
objects of faith and worship for the same Church. It
may be said that our Reformers intended a compromise,
and that this compromise was efEected by constructing
two sets of formularies in contradiction to each other ;
the Articles to please the Calvinists, and the Prayer Book
to please the older school. But a compromise^ if it is
carried to the extent of contradiction^ is suicidal^ and
defeats its own object; because one side then cannot
accept the set of formularies made for the other side and
against itself. The Reformers, therefore, could not have
intended a contradiction between the Articles and the
Prayer Book, and the whole history of the reception of
the Prayer Book disagrees with such a notion ; for the
Prayer Book was accepted by the most rigid Calvinists,
who indeed became the stout and zealous defenders of it
against the Puritans.

That the Articles and the Prayer Book, therefore,
should be in contradiction to each other is inexplicable,
but it is much more important to observe, as I do in the
next place, that on comparing the two sets of formularies
together we do not, as a matter of fact, see any such con-
tradiction as is here alleged. The notion of a contradic-
tion between the Articles and the Prayer Book appears
to have arisen, in the first place, from the circumstance
that the Prayer Book was taken from ancient documen-
tary sources, being a compilation from the old rituals
hitherto in use ; whereas the Articles were a new docu-
ment of the day. It is inferred from this that the
doctrine of the Prayer Book is the old doctrine, and that
of the Articles the new, and that the two sets of formu-
laries are thus in conflict with each other. But a little
reflection is enough to show the incorrectness of such an



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Chap. V.] considered in connexion. 291

inference as this ; because a compiler is in no way bound
or committed to an adhesion to all the doctrine of the
ancient formularies from which he compiles, or obliged
to adopt it at all further than agrees with the doctrinal
basis, whatever that may be, of his own Church.' And
therefore if, in the construction of a new Prayer Book, he
prefers remodelling old material to making a fresh book
altogether, not only for convenience sake, but from a
respect to antiquity, and because cceieria paribus he pre-
fers ancient language and forms to new ; that is no reason
why the compilation should contain any doctrine different
from what the book would have contained had it been a
fresh composition altogether. Nor is that a circumstance
which at all affects the theological basis of our Prayer
Book.

This ground then for supposing a contradiction between
the Articles and the Prayer Book being wholly insuflScient,
we come next to the actual language of the Prayer Book,
and we find that the language of the Prayer Book is the
natural language of mankind, implying voluntary action
and moral responsibility. But the Calvinistic hypothesis
is no more inconsistent with this language as used in the
Prayer Book than it is with the same language as used
in the ordinary intercourse of man with man. And
therefore if the right is conceded, as it is, to the Calvinist
to use this mode of speaking on ordinary occasions and
in the business of life, it must be conceded to him also
in his devotions, private or public. Indeed, there is

^ Archbishop Lanrence excludes the Calvinist from the xise of
the prayer in the Burial Service : " Suffer us not at our last hour
for any fear of death to /oZ/ ^om thee:'' and upon the Calvinist
explaining that he admits the phenomenon of fall from goodness,
only denying that goodness which is finally fallen away from can
be true and real, tells him that " the original " of the prayer does
not admit of that meaning. B. L. p 381.

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292 Articles and Prayer Book [Paet IT.

nothing in this langnage, as nsed either in common life
or a Prayer Book^ which is inconsistent with the Calvin-
istic hypothesis; for all that is necessarily implied in
this language is the existence of the will in man ; the
mode in which this will is moved, whether by itself or by
an external caose^ not being decided by it^ but left open.
Thus, if I say, ''I will do so and so/' or '^I will endea-
vour, or have endeavoured to do so and so," that phrase
implies a motion of the will, but is consistent with either
hypothesis of the cause of that motion; the Calvinistic,
that it is external to the will, or the Armiuian, that it is
the will itself. And, for the same reason, the phrases
which are used in human language to express the idea of
moral responsibility are common to the Calvinistic and
Arminian hypothesis, because they only imply, as the
condition of moral responsibility, voluntary action, which
is admitted on both sides. Both theories hold human
language as their common ground. There is, indeed,
involved in the case of the Prayer Book the special act of
prayer; but the act of prayer is not inconsistent with the
Calvinistic hypothesis, because the circumstance of the
end being foreordained is not inconsistent with the
necessity of the means, of which means prayer may be
one. Nor, if the Calvinistic hypothesis is consistent with
prayer in general, is there anything in the forms of
prayer in the Prayer Book to prevent a Calvinist from
using them in particular.

We come then to another, and the only remaining
ground upon which the notion that the Calvinistic hypo-
thesis is inconsistent with the language of the Prayer
Book has arisen, viz. the Sacramental language of the
Prayer Book. But there is nothing in the general doc-
trine of sacramental grace which is inconsistent with the
Calvinistic hypothesis, because, as has been just said,
the circumstance that the end is foreordained does not



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Chap. V.] considered in connexion. , 293

supersede the necessity of means; and if means are
necessary^ there is no reason why the Sacraments should
not be among those means ; nor is it the doctrine of
Calvinism that the Sacraments have not grace, but only
that the elect alone are partakers of that grace. The
whole proof of the assertion that Calvinism is inconsistent
with the language of the Prayer Book thus falls back
upon the single statement in the Infant Baptismal Ser-
vice^ made over the child baptized^ that it is regenerate ;
but this ground assumes the necessity of the literal
interpretation of that statement, which has been shown
to be an incorrect assumption.

The statement, therefore, that the Calvinistic hypo-
thesis is inconsistent with the language of the Prayer
Book is an ill-considered statement, reflecting only a
rough off-hand impression, which proper reflection would
correct. It has obtained currency because it has appealed
to this ofi*-liand impression, but an act of thought at once
reveals its groundlessness. For if we admit that a
Calvinist can be a religious man, can pray, wish, resolve,
aspire, love, fear, reverence, and worship as religious men
do, why should he not do all this in the language of the
Prayer Book f What is there in that language that he
cannot use f Let a man only ask himself that question,
and this dictum at once falls to the ground. The Prayer
Book was submitted to the criticism of Calvinists after it
was compiled ; it was afterwards protected by Calvinists
when it was attacked ; it has been used quite naturally
by thousands of pious and devout Calvinists of every
generation from the Reformation to the present day.
The great battle of the sixteenth century, in defence of the
Prayer Book, was conducted by two Calvinists; for
Whitgift was the author of the ''Lambeth Articles,*'
and Hooker held the doctrine of the indefectibility of
grace. Even if it be denied that Hooker was himself a



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294 Articles and Prayer Book consider ed^ &c.

Calvinist, the " Ecclesiastical Polity '^ is throughout a
defence of the Prayer Book, upon the argumentative
assumption of the truth of the Calvinistic hypothesis.
Hooker then, at any rate, saw no opposition between
the Prayer Book and the Calvinistic hypothesis,
even if Lord Chatham did.^ Indeed, this notion has
arisen principally from persons not knowing what the
Calvinistic hypothesis is, and going to their own imagi-
nations for their conception of it.

The very construction and evident design of oar
Articles thus constitute a standing witness to the parti-
cular value of the statement in the Baptismal Service,
viz. to the fact that^ as occurring in a service, it is not a
dogmatic statement, but admits of an hypothetical con-
struction ; because, upon any other supposition, we have
a contradiction between the design of the Prayer Book
and the evident design of the Articled, which is altogether
unaccountable. We should have to believe that, upon a
controverted point, the Reformers laid down a decisive
position as framers of a service, which they designedly
omitted as framers of an article ; but as we cannot sup-
pose this, the only alternative is that the statement in the
Infant Baptismal Service is not dogmatic, but admits of
being construed hypothetically.

* The great currency of the not very wise saying, that " the
Church of England has Calvinistic Articles, a Popish Liturgy, and
a Latitudinarian Clergy/* is a good instance of the popalao* habit
of resting in the general fame of the author of a remark, without
the slightest consideration of the only relevant point, viz. whether
he was acquainted with the suhject-matter of remark. .



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CHAPTER VI

BOCUMENTABT SOUBCES

In the controversy about the interpretation of the Infant
Baptismal Service great stress has been laid upon the
documentary sources from which the service is derived,
viz. the Lutheran baptismal o££ces, and, through them,
the Ancient baptismal offices; the principle being first
assumed that the derived formulary must be interpreted
by the formulary from which it is derived ; the /oc^ being
assumed next, that* both in the Lutheran and Ancient
Offices the statement that the baptized infant is rege^
nerate is dogmatic ; and then the conclusion being drawn
that it is equally a dogmatic statement in our own. Even
supposing then the state of fact with regard to the origi-
nal formularies, Lutheran and Ancient, to be as is here
described, we have still to consider the claim and pre-
tension of this documentary principle of interpretation.
But, first of all, what is the state of the fact with regard
to the Lutheran and Ancient Offices? and first, with
regard to the Lutheran f

It is admitted, then, that at the date of the construe- #
tion of the Lutheran offices, containing this statement,
the theology of the Lutheran Church was rigidly Cal-
vinistic. I say Calvinistic, because, though the use of
that term in the present case is an anachronism, it is cor-
rect for the purpose of describing the actual doctrine of
the Lutherans at that time. The first Lutheran Bap-
tismal office came out in 1528, and a revised form of it



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296 Documentary Sources^ [Part !!•

followed in 1524; while Luther's treatise, De Servo
Arbitrio, bears the date of 1525^ and the first edition of
Melancthon's Loci Theologici that of 1521. The above
formularies then, and the above works, may be regarded
as contemporaries, while the latter, as the productions of
such authors, must be allowed to represent the theology
of the Lutheran communion at that time ; the author of
the De Servo Arbitrio being also himself the compiler of
the Baptismal offices. What are the doctrines then of
the De Servo Arbitrio, and of the Loci Theologici ? The
book, De Servo Arbitrio, is an unqualified exposition of
the doctrine of irresistible grace, teaching that the human
will is after the fall incapable of moving itself in whole
or in part to good, and that all good action is the pure
effect of an irresistible motion communicated to it by a
Sovereign power, in whose hands it is as clay in the hands
of the potter. ''The human will is like a beast of
burden ; if Qod sits on it, it wills and goes where God
wills ; if Satan sits on it, it wills and goes where Satan
wills j nor is it in its power to choose which sitter to run
to, but the very sitters contend for the possession of it.*' *
''In the things pertaining to salvation or damnation,
man has not free will, but is a captive subject and slave
either of the will of God or of the will of Satan.'* ' " Our
salvation depends entirely on the work of God, in the
absence of which work all that we do is evil, and we do
this necessarily ; necessarily, I say, though not by force
^ or violence, as if we were dragged by the neck.** • " The
human will does what it does, whether good or ill, as if
it were truly free ; but yet the immutable will of God
governs oar mutable will. The mind of the reader must
supply what the term itself does not of itself express ;
and understand by necessity, the immutability of the will

> Op. torn. ii. p. 431. « Ibid. p. 432. « Ibid. p. 431*

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Chap. VL] Documentary Sources. 297

of God, and the impotence of our own evil will/' * " If
God works in us, the will wills and acts, not as if by
force, but willingly and spontaneously, so that no oppo-
sition can change, or the very gates of hell conquer it ;
but it goes on willing, liking, and loving good — 'fergit
volendo amando et lubendo honum — as before it willed,
liked, and loved evil; so that there is no free will or
liberty of turning elsewhere or willing anything else, so
long as the Spirit and grace of God remain in man/' *
" If free will had any power, John would not have re-
jected the 'will of man,' and sent man to faith and rege-
neration alone. * • • I would have all the defenders of
free will know that while they assert free will they deny
Christ. • . . Whatsoever is not Christ is not the way
but error, not the truth but a lie, not life but death, but
free will is not Christ or in Christ : it comes, therefore,
under the head of error, falsehood, and death. Where
then and whence is had that middle and neutral thing
called the power of free will ? " • The Lod Theologid of
Melancthon contain the same doctrine : — '* Quandoqui-
dem omnia quad eveniunt juxtadivinamprsadestinationem
eveniunt, nulla est voluntatis nostrse libertas." Arch-
bishop Laurence admits, that '^ at the commencement of
the Beformation both Melancthon and Luther held the
harsh doctrine of a philosophical necessity ;" ' and that
" the idea of a pure passivity in conversion, the idea that
the human will, though not idle, contributed nothing
toward the formation of the act itself," was the original
doctrine of the Lutherans, to which, he says, after a
change of opinion in the body as a whole, some divines
''reverted/'*

But the doctrine of the regeneration of all infants in
baptism is based upon the principle of free will ; and the

* Tom. ii. p. 426. » Ibid. p. 431. • Ibid. pp. 478, 479. \

' ' Bampton Lectures, p. 248. • Ibid. p. 292.



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tgS Documentary Sources. [Part II.

event itself shows that irresistible grace — the only grace
recognized hitherto in Lutheran divinity — ^for producing
holiness and goodness^ is not given to all in&nts in bap-
tism. The doctrine of the Lutherans then was in total
contradiction to this statement in the Baptismal Services
of the Lutherans, at the very time of its insertion, on the
supposition that this statement was dogmatic. And this
is strong evidence for concluding that this statement was
not intended to be dogmatic. As a statement in a ser-
vice it does not necessarily bear that character, be-
cause the same statement is applied to adults; and
there is the reason just given for concluding that it did
not.

It is urged, indeed, that both Luther and Melancthon
subsequently recanted this extreme doctrine. Of Melanc-
thon this assertion is true ; of Luther it cannot be proved.
Luther's subsequent works contain strong protests against
the abuse of this doctrine of grace which had been great
among some sectaries, who had perverted it into a licence
for immorality, using the well-known fallacy, that if the
end was preordained, the means were not necessary, and
therefore that it did not signify in the interim whether
they lived in holiness or sin. But these protests against
the abuse of the doctrine do not imply any abandonment
of the doctrine itself ; these warnings and cautions are
what the most rigid Calvinist would not object to, but
would himself use in dealing with Antinomianism and
with vulgar mistakes about, and false inferences from, the
Calvinistic doctrine. Luther is denouncing those who
argued thus : '^ Quos Deus eligit necessario salvantur, e
contra vero quos non eligit, quicquid etiam fecerint, quale-
cunque pietatis studium prsastent, tamen exitium declinare
non poterunt, neque salutem consequentur. Proinde ergo
me necessitati non opponam. Si ita destinatum est ut
salver, salvabor ; sin minus, irritum erit quicquid conatns



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Chap. VI.] Documentary Sources. 299

fuero/' * But such a doctrine as this is plainly not the
doctrine of Predestination, but a gross perversion of it,
the coarse mistake of vulgar minds confounding a pre-
ordained with an unconditional issue, and inferring that if
Gk>d created man^s goodness. He did not require or insist
upon such goodness. And therefore when Archbishop
Laurence quotes Luther's protests against such opinions
as evidence that Luther had given up the doctrine of the
Be Servo ArbitriOf he is quoting what is plainly not to
the purpose.*

It is true also that Luther in his subsequent writings
draws a strong distinction between God as He is revealed
to us, and God as He exists in Himself and in His own
inscrutable essence, between the Deiuf Revelatus and the
Deus Absconditus ; urging that we have to do with God
only as a revealed, and not as an unknown God. And this
distinction is drawn for a practical purpose, to take men
away from curious inquiries into the Divine predestina-
tion, and fix them upon action and duty. But this
distinction is no abandonment of the doctrine of grace
taught in the De Servo Arbitrio, because the doctrine
taught there is plainly taught as a part of revelation, and
not as a part of the hidden and unknown truth of the
Divine nature. It is proclaimed as the certain and con-
spicuous doctrine of Scripture, which cannot be denied
without denjdng the plain sense of Scripture, and tamper-
ing with the express word of God. The reasons why God
dispenses this irresistible grace in the way He does,
imparting it only to a few and leaving the rest of mankind,
in the absence of it, to perish in their sins, — these reasons
are unknown, and belong to the Dens AbscondUtis : but
the fact that His grace is irresistible is known from
Scripture, and that belongs to the Dens Revelatus. It

* Postilla Domestica, p. 57, qnotcd by Jjaurence, B. L. 160.
* Note 31.



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300 Documentary Sources. [Part II.

woald^ indeed^ have been very inoonsistent in a writer to
have been setting forth throughout a whole treatise a
truth which he himself at the same time declared to be
unknown; but Luther does no such thing; he insists
upon the doctrine of irresistible grace as a published and
revealed doctrine. Why it has been published and
revealed we are not presumptuously to inquire : *^ Deus
voluit ea vulgcuri, voluntatis vero Divinae rationem quesren-
dam non essa'^ * He gives this as a sufficient answer to
Erasmus^ who thinks that there was no use in revealing a
doctrine^ even if true, which must so inevitably be made



Online LibraryJames Bowling MozleyA review of the baptismal controversy → online text (page 24 of 38)