James Bowling Mozley.

A review of the baptismal controversy online

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bad use of. But he adds that we may see good reasons
for the revelation of it. One is to provide a testing truth,
the acceptance or rejection of which will distinguish the
elect from the reprobate, — ''Propter Electos ista vulr
gantur, ut isto modo humiliati et in nihilum redacti salvi
fiant. CaBteri resistent humiliationi huic.^^' Another
reason is a kindred one, to give room for the exercise of
faith, — '' Hie est fidei summus gradus credere ilium esse
clementem qui tam paucos salvat, tam multos damnat;
credere justum qui sua voluntate nos necessario damna^
biles f acit.'' *

It is true that Luther draws men away from apeeulationa
upon grace to those conditions and means of grace which
are revealed in Scripture ; and to the idle objection, —
" Oportet fieri quod Deus praBfinivit, igitur incerta et
inanis est omnis cura de religione aut de salute anima-
rum,^' replies, " Atqui tibi non est commissum ut feras
sententiam quae est impervestigabilis. Quorsum enim
attinebat mittere Filium ut pateretur et crucifigeretur
pro nobis f Quid proderat instituere sacramenta, si incerta
sunt aut irrita prorsus ad nostram salutemf Alioqui
enim si quis fuerit praadestinatus, absque fide et absque

* De Servo Arbitrio, Op. torn. ii. p. 431. • Ibid. * Ibid.

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Chap. VL] Documentary Sources. 301

Bacramentis ant Scriptora sacra esset salvatus' « , • . Dens
revelat nobis yolnntatem snam per Christnm et Evan-
geUnm /^ * Bnt to draw men from speculations npon grace
was not to retract his teaching as to the fact of it. Calvin
makes the same distinction : — " Mnlta scripsi et in variis
disputationum generibos me Dominns ezercuit. Si ex
meis Incnbrationibns sjUabam proferat^ nbi doceam a
Praedestinatione exordium fieri debere ad petendam salntis
certitudinem^ obmutescere non recnso. Arcanas electionis
mentio obiter a me facta est, fateor, sed quorsum ? An
ut pias mentes vel a promissionis auditn, yel a signorum
intuitu abducerem ? Atqui nihil mihi majori cursB fuit^
quam eas prorsus in verbo retinere. Quid ? dum toties
inculco sacramentis offerri gratiam, an non ad petendam
inde salutis su89 obsignationem eos invito f '' ^

Indeed, the chief and most prominent reason which
Luther gives against curious inquiries into Predestination
is that speculations upon election tend immediately to
disturb the assurance of the individual that he is one
of the elect. In the mere exercise of curiosity the soul
fastened upon nothing, but was carried into a region of
darkness and a whirl of endless questions, in the midst of
which it lost its hold upon the truth of its own election.
The inevitable issue of mere speculation was uncertainty,
because unknown truth could not be grasped, and the
whole search must end in a void and a blank ; whereas, if
the revealed truth itself of God^s election and sovereign
grace was laid hold of, by fastening upon that, the indi-
vidual appropriated that election to himself, and attained
the assurance of his own salvation. Of these attempts
then, penetrare profunditatem divinitatis, he says, " Sunt
hae prestigiee diaboli, quibus conatur nos dubios et incertos
reddere, cum Christus ideo venerit in mundum ut faceret

» Op. torn, vi p. 363. * « Ibid. p. 865.

' Tract. Theol. p. 684. '



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302 Documentary Sources. [Part II.

nos certisaimos.'^ " These kind of thoughts issue in mere
emptiness and perplexity. '' Ejusmodi cogitationes quae
aut supra aut extra revelationem Dei sublimius aliquid
rimantur^ prorsus diabo]ic8B sunt^ quibns nihil amplius
proficitur quam ut nos ipsos in exitium prascipitemus^
quia objiciunt objectum impervestigabile, videlicet Deum
non revelatum. . . . Ibi nulla fides^ nullum verbum^ neque
ulla cognitio est^ quia est invisibilis Deus^ quern tu non
facies visibilem." But was this the design of God?
*' Promulgando legem et Evangelium, mittendis Apostolis
hoc voluit tantum^ ut essemvs incerti et dubitaremtis, utrum
simus salvandi an vero damnandi ? '' That was not His
purpose, but the very contrary : '^ Initio quidem statim
voluit Deus occurrere huic curiositati : sic enim suam
voluntatem et consilium proposuit : Ego tibi prasscientiam
et prasdestinationem egregie manifestabo, sed non ista via
rationis et sapiential carnalis sicut tu imaginaris. Sic
faciam : ex Deo non revelato fiam revelatus, et tamen idem
Deus manebo. Ego incarnabor vel mittam Filium meum.
Hie morietur pro tuis peccatis, et resurget a mortuis.
Atque ita implebo desiderium tuum utpossis scire an s^is
prcedesiinatus an non. . . . Deus enim non de coelo de-:
scendit ut faceret te incertum de proedestinatione, ut doceret
te contemnere sacramenta, absolutionem et reliquas ordi-
nationes divinas. Imo ideo instituit ut redderet te certis-
simuni, et auferret marhum dubitationis ex animo tuo,"
Cease speculating then, he says : '^ Omitte speculationem
de Deo Abscondito^ et desine fmstra contendere ad
videndam f aciem Dei. Alioqui perpetuo tibi in inoreduli-
tate et damnatione ha^rendum, quia qui dubitat non
credit. . . . Intuere vulnera Christi, et sanguinem pro
te profusum. Ex istis fulgebit praadestinatio. Audiendus
est Filius Dei^ qui missus est in carnem et ideo apparuit

* Op. torn. vi. p. 354.

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Chap. VI.] Documentary Sources. 303

at hoc opns diabolicum dissolvat, ei certum te fadat de
prcedesiinatione/* •

Luthei^s distinction^ then^ between the Dev^ Bevelatvs
and Deris Ahsconditus involves no recantation of the
doctrine of the De Servo Arhitrio ; indeed^ he expressly
presents this distinction^ when he does present it, in his
subsequent writings, not as a new one, but as the very
distinction which he had drawn in the De Servo Arhitrio
itself. " H»c studiose et accurate sic monere et tradere
volui. Quia post meam mortem multi meos libros pro-
ferent in medium, et inde omnis generis errores et deliria
sua confirmabunt. Scripsi autem inter reliqua, esse
omnia absoluta et necessaria; sed simul addidi quod
aspidendus sit Deus revelatus. Sed istos locos onmes
transibunt, et eos tantum accipient de Deo Abscondito.'^ *
Archbishop Laurence, indeed, quotes this passage as an
implicit retractation of the De Servo Arldtrio,^ but Luther,
on the contrary, expressly identifies himself here with
that book, referring to it as containing the same doctrine
of grace, with the same practical cautions to go along
with it, which he holds now.

There is no proof then that Luther ever abandoned
the doctrine of the De Servo Arhitrio. He never re-
tracted the book : he referred to it even with satisfaction
in his latest writings as a work which would be made a
wrong use of by some, but which contained its own pro-
test against such wrong use, and he inserted it at the
close of his life in the collection of his works. But, for
the purpose of the present argument, it must be observed
that the question of a recantation is irrelevant. For no
subsequent change of mind can undo the fact of what
the doctrine of Luther was, when he constructed the
Lutheran Baptismal Office ; or alter the contradiction of

» Op. torn. vi. p. 364. » Ibid, p. 355.

- Bampton Lectures, p. 250.



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304 Documentary Sources. [Part IT,

that doctrine to that office^ if the latter^s assertion of the
infant's regeneration was dogmatic. We find that at the
time of the construction of this office the whole theology
of the Lutheran Church was Galvinistic ; but^ the prin-
ciple being acknowledged that a statement in a service
is not necessarily doctrinal^ such a contemporary state
of doctrine in the communion must interpret a statement
in a service of that communion^ as not being doctrinal
in the contrary direction.

But the doctrine with which this statement in the
Lutheran baptismal offices must be mainly taken in con-
nexion, is the great Lutheran doctrine of justification by
faith. The doctrine of justification by faith, as asserted
in all the Lutheran formularies and expounded by Luther
himself and all the Lutheran divines, is the doctrine that
faith is in all cases, without exception, the instrument
and the necessary condition of justification; that the
principle of ea? cypere operato is in no case true, but that
the grace of the Sacraments always depends on some-
thing in the recipient to apprehend it, which apprehensive
faculty is faith : that faith is therefore the condition of
justification and regeneration in baptism in infants as
well as adults.' It was explained indeed, after contro-
versy, that faith in their case was a rudimental and
seminal faith, implanted by the Holy Spirit in the in-
fantine soul before it was even conscious of it. This
rudimental faith, however, was laid down as the con-
dition of infant justification, just as faith in act was laid
down as the condition of adult justification.

The regeneration of infants in baptism thus depended,
in Lutheran theology, upon the existence of something
in the infant which did not belong to the infant as such,
which did not naturally exist in him and formed no part

' Chapter ii. Part I., and Notes 4 and 32.

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Chap. VI.] Documentary Sources. 305

of his state as an infant, but was a supernataral, a
spiritual, and a later implanted gift. The regeneration
of infants was, in short, in Lutheranism conditional, and
there is only one reasonable supplement to conditional
infant regeneration. A faith, which, though it is seminal,
is the actual spiritual virtue itself, and only does not act,
on account of the immaturity of nature, is not implanted
in all infants before baptism ; because, if it was, it would
come out and show itself in all as they grew up. A con-
ditional infant regeneration is therefore a limited infant
regeneration.

And accordingly the Lutheran doctrine of infant bap-
tismal regeneration was attacked by Bellarmine as a
total departure from the doctrine of the Fathers.* The
denial of the ex opere operato in the case of infants, and
the substitution in its stead of faith as the condition of
infant justification — in a word, the reduction of infant
baptism to the same law as that of adult, was denounced
by the Roman writer as a complete revolution in doctrine ;
and the Lutherans were charged with the invention of a
new rationale of infant baptism hitherto unknown to the
Church. TJie Fathers, it was said, had uniformly main-
tained that the Sacrament of Baptism did produce its
effect, ex opere operato, in infants, who, as being incapable
of fulfilling the condition of faith, came under a special
law ; a doctrine which was now subverted, and made to
give place to a doctrine of conditional infant regenera-
tion.

There were, indeed, Lutheran divines who gave this
doctrine the contrary supplement to that which has been
mentioned as the only rational one ; who admitting the
necessity of faith for infants, used language also imply-
ing that this faith was by a special act of the Holy Spirit

* Tom. iii. p. 262.

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3o6 ' Documentary Sources. [Part II.

implanted in every in&nt before baptism ; accounting'
for its non-appearance in the majority, as they grew up,
by the supposition that it had been suppressed by the
sins of childhood and by bad education before it had
been able to manifest itself/ But this is evidently an
artificial and absurd explanatory structure to engraft
upon the Lutheran doctrine of conditional infant re-
generation, of which the only rational complement is
the further assertion of a limited infant regeneration.

But whatever turn some later and more obscure
Lutheran divines may have given to the Lutheran doc-
trine, the earlier, best known, and most recognized
representatives of that doctrine gave it a different inter-
pretation. Melancthon only acknowledges a partial re-
generation of the members of the visible Church. He
inserts this limitation in his definition of the visible Church
in the Loci Theologici : " Bcclesia visibilis est coetus
amplectentium Bvangelium Christi, et recte utentium
Sacramentis, in quo Deus per ministerium Evangelii est
efficax, et muUos ad sstemam vitam regenerat, in quo
coetu tamen multi sunt non renatV^ He repeats the
definition in the Examen Theologicum^ with the same
limitation — '^ in quo coetu Filius multos regenerat.^' ' He
repeats it in the Commentary on the Epistle to the
Bomans with the same — *' in quo coetu multoa regenerat

' The absurdity of Jacob Andrea's doctriae is transparent. This
Lutheran divine in his conference with Beza rejects the idea of
faith being only seminal in infants — semen fidei quod non ait fides,
Christ says " faith," " aperte fidem appellat," and therefore faith it
must be^^etsi nos non videmns quo modo credant." Having
thus endowed all infants about to be baptized with literal faith, he
explains that it often disappears as they grow up " negligentia
parentum aut propria petulantia." Acta Colloquii MontisbeUigar-
tensis, pp. 392—407.

« Loc. Theol. Postr. Ed. Op. torn. i. p. 228.

' Examen Theol. Op. torn, i p. 319.



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Chap. VI.] Documentary Sources. 307

dato Spiritu Sancto/' * He repeats it in the Dispatations
with the same: ''Suntque in eodem coetu in hao vita
mulii non renati." * He repeats it in the Saxon Con-
fession with the same : " MuUos ad aetemam vitam re-
generat/'* Melancthon's sense of regeneration indeed
is conversion : *' Acceptio per fidem Spiritus Sancti
vocatur regeneratio seu ccTwersio :" ^ which regeneration
or conversion is a change which follows upon justifica-
tion : '' Cum Spiritus Sanctus in ilia consolatione novos
motus et novam vitam afferat, dicitur hcee conversio re-
generatio.'^* Again: " Hac fide petente et accipiente
remissionem peccatorum (i. e. justification having taken
place) accipitur Spiritus Sanctus et fit regeneratio, et
corda in pavoribus erecta incipiunt se subjicere Deo,
invocare et diligere eum/' ^ A good life is the test of
regeneration : " In homine renato per fidem Spiritus
Sanctus inchoat obedientara.'^ ' " In renatis necesse est
esse inchoatam obedientiam, et justitiam bonse conscientiee
. . . renati nondum satisfaciunt legi, tamen sunt justi et
placent Deo." • The "Bcclesia proprie dicta/' the '^ Eccle-
sia Electa/' the '^ congregatio sanctorum," is also the
*^ renatorum Ecclesia/' ' the '' populus Dei renatiis/' ® On
the other hand, the " non renati " are the wicked and
the unconverted : " Lex est injustis posita, i. e. ad coer-
cendos non renatos.'*^ ''Mens in non renatis plena est
dubitationum de Deo, corda sunt sine vero timore Dei,
sine vera fiducia^ et habent impetus ingentes contra
legem Del" *

Melancthon does not indeed, in thus identifying re-
generation with conversion, restrict the term to adults.

» Tom. iv. p. 159. • Ibid. p. 668.

» Syll. Confess, p. 273. * Tom. i. p. 23. ' Ibid. p. 204.

• Tom. iv. p. 661. * Ibid.

• Tom. i. pp. 207, 208. ' Tom. iv. p. 636. ^ Tom. i. p. 81.

• Ibid. p. 164. » Ibid. p. 166.

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3o8 Documentary Sources. [Pabt II-

He asserts the sanctification and regeneration of infants,
^^pro eorum captu/^ * and the Angsburgh Confession lays
it down, " qnod infantes per baptismnm Deo commendati
recipiantnr in gratiam Dei, et fiant filii Dei." But his
own sense of the term as conversion, and his own express
limitation of the term to some members of the visible
Church, show that, though he opens the state to in&nts
as a class, and allows them to be capable of such an in-
ward change — i. e. of the implantation of a holy disposi-
tion and character in them— he does not extend the
inward change to all the individuals of this class, which
would be practically making the whole visible Church
regenerate. The indefinite plural '' infants " was indeed
by no means identical in Reformation theology with the
universal " all infants/' but was used even by the Cal-
vinistic divines ' to denote the admission of the class to
the privilege of regeneration, as distinct from all the
individuals of the class, which would have been in express
contradiction to the doctrine of election.

Such is Melancthon's interpretation of the Lutheran
doctrine of conditional infant regeneration. The inter-
pretation of Bucer, who ranks in Mosheim as a Lutheran
divine, was expressly Calvinistic, limiting regeneration
to the elect.* The particular Lutheran service therefore
which served as the chief model for our own — the Cologne
Baptismal Office, being the compilation of Bucer, comes
to us with a Calvinistic interpretation upon it derived
from the known doctrine of the compiler. And the
statement in that service, that the infant is regenerate,
comes to us with an hypothetical sense stamped upon it
as the sense of the compiler, who would have condemned
himself by the literal sense.

But as we pursue the examination of Lutheran lan-

« Tom. i. p. 320. • Chapter vii. Part 11. * Note 35.

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Chap. VI.] Documentary Sources. 369

goage further, and obtain a nearer view of the position
of the sacraments in Lutheran theology, we find that the
idea of them as channels and instruments disappears and
is supplanted by the idea of them as ^ns and witnesses
of reconciliation and acceptance with God. The sacra-
ments are defined by Melancthon as more indeed thatL
*'signa professionis/' which is only a human act — ^as
signs of the Divine act of justification, but no more than
signs. His later language on this subject is substantially
the same with his earlier ; and both editions of the Loci
Theologici give the same office to the sacraments, though
they differ in their theory of grace. In the earlier works
the sacraments are signs only : '' nihil signa sunt nisi
fidei exercendae fjLvr^^awa/^ — '* baptismus fidem excitat
nempe signum divinsB gratise " — *' non justificabat neque
Johannis neque Ghristi Baptismus, de signis loquor, sed
certificabat Johannis lavacrum de prsedicanda adhuc
gratia, Ghristi baptismus testabatur jam coUatam esse
gratiam. In utroque justificabat fides J^ '

In the later work the sacraments are still only signs
— ** signa voluntatis Dei erga nos^^ — "testirnonia addita
promissioni gratioB^*^ The sacraments, he says, in the
Apology for the Confession of Augsburgh, are *' signa
promissionttm/^ certain witnesses to God^s willingness
to pardon — '^ sentiat heec testimonia non esse fallacia,
sed tam certa quam si Dens novo miraculo de coelo pro-
mitteret se velle ignoscere/'^ In the Disputations
published in the maturity of his life, baptism is '' signum
promissso gratiae : vere justificat baptismus cum eo signa
excitati credimus nobis propter Christum remittipeccata.'^®
There is the same substantial account of baptism in the
later Loci Theologici, — " Baptismus proprie sacramentum
4icitur, quia promissioni additus est ut testetur promissio-

• Loci Theologici, Ed. 1621, pp. 247, 248, 251.

• Tom. i. p. 238. ^ Tom. L p. 96. » Tom. iv. p. 612.



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nem gratisB vere ad hone pertinere qai baptizatar/' ^ The
language of Lather is well known, — ^' Omnia sacramenta
ad fidem alendam sunt instituta/' ^ ^'Baptismns neminem
jastificat, nee olli prodesti sed fides in verbam promis-
sionis, h89C enim jostificat et implet id qaod baptismus
significat. . . . Mec vemm esse potest sacramentis inesse
vim efiicacem jostificationis, sen esse ea signa efficacia
gratisa/'' Baptism in Lutheran theology, then, is the
visible sign of the Divine pardon, but faith is the imebru^
ment by which that pardon is communicated to us, faith
is the channel and medium of justification.

But now we come to another remarkable element in
the Lutheran doctrine of baptism, viz. the peculiarity of
the Lutheran definition of faith. Faith was defined as
faith in the certainty of our own individual salvation.
The language of Luther on this head is so well known
that it need not be cited here, and Melancthon, though
in gentler terms, follows him : '^ When the Apostle says
' we are justified by faith,' he wishes thee to decide that
thy sins are remitted, that thou art justified, that thou
art accepted, — ' statuere quod tibi remittantur peccata,
quod Justus, i. e. acceptus repjttteris. ' " • " Terrified by
the voice of the law, let the soul hear the promise in the
Gospel and decide that its own sins are remitted — stcitucU
sibi remitti peccata gratis . . . . Why doth this voice
sound in the Church — ' Propter Filium Dei remittuntur
tibi peccata,' if thou do not assent to it ? " ^ " This
doubt manifestly fights with the doctrine of Paul ;
* Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.*
Doubt brings despair and hatred of God. What is the
difference between Paul and Atticus if both alike doubt
that they are in favour with God?'" "This is the

• Postrem. Ed. torn, i p. 236. » Op. torn. iL p. 75.
» Op. torn. ii. p. 76.

• Loc. Theol. Postrem. Ed. Op. torn. i. p. 197. * Ibid.
» Tom. i. p. 203.



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Chap. VI. ] Documentary Sources. 3 1 1

difference between Jeremiah and Cicero. Jeremiah is
certain that he is pleasing to God, statuit se Deo placere :
Cicero was plunged by calamity into doubt and dark-
ness/' • " Yet some reclaim because they do not under-
stand what faith is, and imagine that doubt whether we
are heard and accepted by God is not sin. . . . They bid
us doubt concerning our pardon ; and they bid us doubt
whether we are in grace ' — ^jubent dubitare an simus in
gratis.'*

Such being then the Lutheran definition of faith, Luther
incorporated the sacrament of baptism tn this doctrine of
faith, and converted baptism into a seal of assurance, the
outward token of the individuars own acceptance with
God and pledge of his actual salvation. The doctrine of
assurance simply was this : God has revealed pardon and
forgiveness in Scripture ; I by an act of faith appropriate
that pardon to myself, and am certain that I myself am
accepted and justified. The doctrine of assurance, with
the sacrament of baptism inserted in it, was this : God
has revealed pardon and forgiveness in Scripture :
baptism is the appointed visible sign of this pardon : I
therefore by an act of faith appropriate this sign to
myself, and I am certain that baptism is the sign of my
omi pardon and acceptance, that it is the token given
me by God, that He accounts me in particular just and
righteous, and will finally save me. Both the simple and
the baptismal doctrine of assurance rested, indeed, upon
a bare and arbitrary act of appropriation on the part of
the individual. The declaration of forgiveness of sin in
Scripture was not the declaration that he was accepted,
but he chose to regard it as such : that baptism was the
visible sign of forgiveness, did not imply that it was the
sign of his special acceptance, but he chose to give it this
special meaning. Both doctrines of assurance then rested

• Tom. i. p. 205. ' Ibid. pp. 199, 196.

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3 1 2 Documentary Sources. [Past II.

apon an arbitrary connexion in the mind of the assured
person; a conveyance to himself absolutely of a gift
offered to mankind at large^ and a conversion of a general
declaration and a general sign of pardon into a declaration
and sign of his own pardon in particular. But the
appropriation by the individual to himself of the visible
sign was no more arbitrary than his appropriation to
himself of the declaration : and if, by an act of the will,
he could resolve that the gift of remission of sin announced
in Scripture was a special gift of absolute pardon to him,
he could by the same act of the will resolve that baptism
was a special sign of that pardon ; a token communicated
to him, that he in particular was accepted and would be
saved.

Accordingly Luther engrafts the sacrament of baptism
upon the stock of the doctrine of assurance. ''Then
doth baptism obtain its virtue, and my sins are certainly
remitted to me, when I believe the word of God saying
that He does remit them to me.'' • " Then is baptism
fruitful, and as often as I am overwhelmed by the con-
sciousness of sin, I say, I am baptized; but if I am
baptized, certain it is that these are promises made to
myself that I shall enjoy a blessed immortality, — Ego
tamen baptizatus sum, quod m, baptizatus, cerium est ea
promisaa mihi data esse, me beatnmfore ac vitam immor-
talem anima et corpore possessurum/' • ''In baptism
must be observed, first of all, the Divine promise, ' He
that believeth and is baptized shall be saved :' for on this
depends all our safety. But we must so observe as to



Online LibraryJames Bowling MozleyA review of the baptismal controversy → online text (page 25 of 38)