James Bowling Mozley.

A review of the baptismal controversy online

. (page 27 of 38)
Online LibraryJames Bowling MozleyA review of the baptismal controversy → online text (page 27 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

perfection of his natural principles, by tract of time
attained, when reason puts itself into act, actual rational
life ; and we term the same life, in respect of the first
degree and principles thereof, which together with the
reasonable soul, in the first infusion thereof, it received —
initial life."^ "Christian infants," says Aynsworth,

tatis et omnium virtatam, qnas postea exerit et declarat in filiis
Dei, cum per setatem licet." Whitaker, Prselect. de Sacr. p. 284.
The Calvinistic divines objected to the actual " infused habit '* of
the Schoolmen, and preferred the " radix habitas ; " though the
two are substantially the same.

8 Explic. Epist. ad Eph. p. 222.

» Quoted by Burgess, p. 178.

' Baptismal Regeneration of Elect Infants, p. 242.

Digitized by


326 Baptismal Language of Calvinism. [Part IL

^' have the graces they speak of, though not actually or by
way of declaration to others ; yet they have, through the
work of the Spirit, the seed and beginning of faith,
virtually and by way of inclination ; so that they be not
wholly destitute of faith, regeneration, &c., though it be a
thing hid and unknown to us after what manner the Lord
worketh these in them." *

The regeneration then of infants, while infants, being
maintained by the Calvinistic* School, hem and by what
means does this regeneration take place according to the
teaching of this school ? The CaJvinistic divines then
made, in the first place, the general Statement that
regeneration was by baptism. '^Baptism is God's
orainary instrument to wash and renew us,'' says Calvin.
'^ The efficacy of the Holy Spirit is present in baptism to
cleanse and regenerate us.'" All the leading Calvinistic
divines of the Reformation make the same fundamental
statement, and we find the position formally laid down in
the Confessions of the Calvinistic Churches.^

It is true that when we enter into the particulars of the
language of these divines, and examine their explanation
of this general statement, when they are expounding their

• Censtire, p. 48.

' " Baptismtun ordinariom Dei instmmenttiiii assenmns ad nos
lavandos et renovandos." Tract. Theol. 268. "Convenit non
inanes esse fignras [sacramenta] sed re ipsa prasstari quicqaid fig-
urant. In baptismo adesse Spintus efficaciam, ut nos ablnat et
regeneret." Epist. p. 82. " Quia mortua non sunt Spiritus Sancti
organa, vere per baptismum efficit ao praestat Deus quod figurat."
Tract. TheoL p. 683. " Quaarit rursum, si sacramenta sunt organa,
quibus efficaciter agit Deus, suamque nobis gratiam testatur et
obsignat, cur negamus per baptismi lavacrum renasci homines : —
qua i hoc a nobis negari non ipse confiDgat.*' Ibid. " Quod Bap-
tismo nos ablui docet Fanlus, ideo est, quod illic nobis ablutionem
nostram testatur Deus, et simul efficit quod figurat." In Eph. v. 26.

* Note 33.

Digitized by


Chap. VII.] Baptismal Language of Calvinism. 327

doctrine at large^ we find that baptism is more generally
considered rather the seal of regeneration than the actual
instrament of it. The root of &ith and holiness which is
maintained to be prcTioasly implanted in the in&nt^ as
the condition of his regeneration in baptism is contem-
plated as being itself his regeneration really ; of which
subsequent baptism is rather regarded as the seal But
though they incline to the obsignatory view, the instru-
mental has still a large place in the language of the
Calvinistic divines, who alternate indeed from one to the
other, as if unconscious of any particular difference
between the two. ^'Baptism,'' says Calvin, as just
quoted, ^^is Gk)d's ordinary instrument to change and
regenerate us.** '' God uses such means and instruments
as He thinks fit, and as He feeds our bodies by bodily
nourishment, so He feeds our faith by the sacraments/' ^
'' God really gives in the sign what He figures by it, nor
is it a sign without an effect. These instruments do not
work by any intrinsic virtue, nor does God resign His
place to external symbols, or give up at all His own
primary operation ; the cause of justification is not held
within the sacraments, as if they were vessels, but God
performs inwardly what they figure outwardly.*' • " The
sacraments are to be esteemed as nothing but instrumental
causes of grace ... if there are any who deny that there
is contained in the sacraments the grace which they
figure, we condemn theni.' ''We take away nothing
from the efficacy of the sacraments on th6 part of God.'* '
" For unless the truth of the thing, or, what is the same,
the offer, were conjoined with the sign, this phrase would
be improper, ' Baptism is the washing of the soul. Bap-
Usmus est lavacrvm cmimce * . . . Some labour to diminish
the force of this eulogium of baptism (' That He might

• Instit iv. 14. 12. • Ibid. 16, 17.

7 Tract. Theol. pp. 256, 257.

. Digitized by


328 Baptismal Language of Calvinism. [Paet II.

cleanse it with the washing of water/ Eph. v. 26), lest too
much be given to the sign ; but they do wrongly. For
first the Apostle does not teach that it is the sign
which cleanses^ but declares that it is Grod's work. It is
Grod, therefore^ who cleanses, nor is it right that this
honour should be transposed to the sign, or shared by the
sign. But it is not absurd that God should use the sign
as an instrument, sigin/o Deum tanquam organo uti. Not
that the virtue of Grod is shut up in the sign, indusa sit
in signo : but that He imparts it to us, in accommodation
to our weakness, by such a stay. Some think that this is
taking away from the Holy Spirit that which belongs to
Him, and which Scripture everywhere vindicates. But
they are mistaken. For Grod so acts through the sign, as
that the whole efficacy of the sign still depends on the Holy
Spirit. Thus nothing more is attributed to the sign than
that it is a subordinate instrument, useless indeed in
itself, and only useful in so far as it borrows its force from
without, — aliunde vim suam mutuatur" ® " The sacra-
ments,'' says Beza, " are not naked signs. In baptism
are not only signified, but ofiered and presented, remission
of sin and regeneration, though these are not received by
all the baptized.''* ^' The sacraments," says Chamier,
" are not only signs, but pledges and instruments. A
pledge is a kind of sign indeed, but it is the most power-
ful kind of sign, because it signifies a thing to which the
receiver has a right. . . . And yet inasmuch as some
pledges do nothing but affect tlie mind of the giver and
receiver, we add that the sacraments are instruments by
which that which is signified is effected, as when Christ
breathed on the Apostles, and that breath both signified
the Spirit and gave Him . . . Inward sanctification is
the influence of the Holy Spirit upon the mind of him who

8 In Eph. V. 26. » Acta CoU. Mont. p. 372.

Digitized by VjOOQIC

Chap. VII.] Baptismal Language of Calvinism. 329

receives the sacrament^ producing a secret change of his
will and understanding * . . . We both (Protestants and
Roman Catholics) agree that the sacraments are signs,
but efficacious signs . . . though this efficacy is not primary
but instrumental, as the Grallic Confession hath it, ' God
works through them by the virtue of the Holy Spirit :' if
God works through the sacraments, the sacraments are
God's instruments, not physical indeed, but moral, not
operating in the soul by virtue inserted in the thing
itself, and yet efficacious instruments, and causes of grace
in a certain way/' ' " By baptism, as by an instrument/'
says Zanchius, '' is communicated remission, regeneration,
and admission to covenant with God . . . Baptism was
instituted to be the instrument for this purpose." ' '^ The
sacraments," says Whitaker, ^' are instruments and means
by which the Holy Spirit works grace in us . . . though
this virtue is not in the sacraments themselves, but in the
Holy Spirit acting and working through them . . . The
sacraments effect grace as means and instruments in their
way . . . We say that by sacraments, as by means and
instruments appointed by God, are applied to us the
merits of the death and passion of Christ/' * " As in
human agency,'* says Junius, ** the internal act of the
mind and the external act of the body is one human opera-
tion ; so in baptism the inward washing and the outward
are one Divine operation/' *

But while the Calvinistic divines called baptism the

1 De Sacram. in Gen. p. 13. * Ibid. pp. 25, 27, 28.

» Explic. in Ep. ad Epk pp. 217. 221.

* Praelect. de Sacr. pp. 6, 7, 64.

* Quoted by Bnrgess, p. 176. Ward's general^ remark deserves
notice. — *' Qnidni igitur dicamus hoc fieri virtnte baptismi vnstru'
mentaliier et organice, Siquidem Calvinns Buceme et alii ex nos-
tris theologis in hnnc niodum saepe loqnnntnr." Ward ap. Gataker,
De Bapt. Infant, vi et efficacia, p. 163.

Digitized by


330 Baptismal Language of Calvinism. [Part 11.

instrament of regeneration, and regarded infants as
capable of being regenerated, they diflTered widely from
other divines when it came to the question whether all
infants or only some were regenerate in baptism. The
doctrine of Election necessarily confined this benefit to
the elect ; and this condition is always understood^ and
this reserve is always made in the statements which
the Calvinistic divines give of the general doctrine, or of
the grace of the sacrament as such. Nor does Calvin on
this account justly incur the charge brought against him
by Archbishop Laurence, who attributes his general state-
ment of the grace of the sacrament to a political motive,
the wish, viz. to '^ promote unity and concord among
the Reformation divines.'* ^^ No man perhaps," he says,
'^was ever less scrupulous in the adoption of general
expressions, but perhaps no man adopted them with more
mental reservations than Calvin." ' A general acknow-
ledgment, however, of the grace of the sacrament, leaving
open the condition upon which it is received, whether that
of Election or any other, is no fallacious form of statement^
but a strictly sound and legitimate one, and one that we
cannot do without in laying down the doctrine of the

What is the position then in which a Calvinist, holding

• Bampton L. p. 375.

* Sacramentum enim definitur 60 legitimo usu et fine et baptis-
mns \ovTp6w iraXiyycyf <rtar, i e. lavacrum regenerationis dicitur ; noQ
tamen regenerantor omnes qui aqua baptismal lavantur, sed ex
parte Dei oflPerenti sic vocatur." Whitaker, PrsBlect. de Sacr. p. 10.

" EfPectam Baptismi a me in dubiam revocari dicit quia a Pne-
destinatione enm suspendo . . . Tantam dizi non promiscae in
omnibus operari Dei Spiritum, sed quemadmodum solos electos in
fidem iUuminat, sio etiam efficere ne frastra utantnr saoramentis
.... Cayillari desinat me dnbinm facere Baptismi effectom, ubi
ex fonte electionis manare ostendo, quod in sacramentis proficinnt,
quibus pecnliariter datum est" Calvin, Tractatus TheoL p. 684.

Digitized by


Chap. VII.] Baptismal Language of Calvinism. 331

the doctrine of baptismal regeneration as thus stated,
stands with respect to the statement pronounced over
every baptized infant in the Baptismal Service^ that
^' this child is regenerate '' ? His position is this. He
believes that some of the infants over whom this is pro-
nouuced really are regenerate, but not that all are. He
acknowledges a basis of actual fact upon which this
statement is made, but he does not allow the fact to be
co-extensive with the statement; and therefore as a
statement made of all baptized infants he understands
this statement hypothetically, while he does not at the
same time regard the regeneration of infants as hypothe-
tical altogether, but as true in fajct oi some. According
as he inclines, indeed, to the obsignatory or the instru-
mental view of baptism, he considers this regeneration
to have preceded baptism and been sealed in the sacra-
ment, or to have been consequent upon baptism ; but in
either case he admits a basis of fact for the statement over
every child that it " is regenerate /^ some infants, of the
whole number of which this is asserted, being believed by
him to be at that time regenerate in fact.

But for the purpose of testing the relations of Calvinism
to this statement in the Infant Baptismal Service, it is
only legitimate and just to take that form of Calvinism
which is, to use a well-understood epithet, most sacra-
mental; which attributes most efficacy to the Sacra-
ment, maintaining at the same time the complete inte-
grity of the Calvinistic doctrine. The instrumental effi-
cacy of baptism was, as has been shown, extensively
asserted by the main body of Calvinistic divines, who
however combined that language with another which was
in larger use with them, viz. the obsignatory representa-
tion of the sacrament. But there was a school of Cal-
vinists who did not divide their language, but held ex-
clusively the instrumental view of baptism. They dif-

Digitized by


332 Baptismal Language of Calvinism, [Part II.

fered from the main body of the Reformation divines in
one particular. The main body of Reformation divines
held that rationale of infant baptism which applied to the
infant the adult condition of regeneration, viz. that of a
previously implanted faith ; and, as the next step, pro-
ceeded to regard this previously implanted faith as itself
the regeneration of the infant, of which baptism was the
seal. But the school of Calvinists, to which 1 have
referred, discarded this whole machinery of accommo-
dated adult qualification, and admitted the infant to the
grace of baptism upon his own basis as an infant. Upon
this simpler plan then, there was no prevenient grace
required for the infant, and baptism was the very first
entrance into grace, before which there was nothing but
pure nature. But while this school of Calvinists main-
tained that baptism was, in Hooker's language, '' to our
sanctification here a step that hath not any before it,''
they also held that baptism was this only to the elect ;
and regarding the sacrament as the instrument of rege-
neration, wherever regeneration took place, they yet
limited the reception of this grace by the doctrine of Pre-
destination. ^' This school," says Dr. Pusey, ** made the
indefectibility of grace the rule by which they measured
the declarations of God. As many as held that none
could fall finally from grace given, were obliged to hold
that none but those who should finally be saved were
regenerated in baptism. Nor did they wish to conceal
that this was their only ground. Being fully persuaded
of the truth of their first principles, they held unhesita-
tingly that the general declarations of Holy Scripture
[they added also of the Fathers] must be limited by this
known truth. As they expressed it, all ' elect children '
received the gifts of the Holy Spirit; the rest were
washed with water only. These in some respects re-
tained the honour of the sacrament of Baptism; in

Digitized by


Chap. VII.] Baptismal Language of Calvinism. 333

another began to derogate from it. They retained it, in
that they held ihai all whoever received regeneration ordi-
narily, received it through the sacrament of Baptism. . . .
they imagined, no other entrance info the Lord's house than
the door which He had appointed. They derogated from
that sacrament in that they coald no longer consistently
hold that the benefits imparted were by virtue of oar
Saviour's institution. . . . but they were obliged to as-
cribe it to the secret counsel of God, giving effect to the
outward ordinance when and to whom He willed.' ' * Dr.
Pusey ranks as belonging to this school Daneau and
Chamier among the reformed divinps; and Archbishop
Usher, Bishop White, Taylor, Burgess, and others among
our own. ^* All elect infants,'' says Burgess, '^ do ordi-
narily receive from Christ in baptism the spirit of rege-
neration, as the soul and the first principle of spiritual
life, for the first solemn initiation unto Christ, and for
their future actual renovation in God's good time. . . .
Even in the moment of baptism all orthodox divines do
allow of some present efficacy of baptism upon infants." •
The list of divines who held this specially sacramental
form of Calvinism would not, in my own judgment, be

' Scriptural Views of Holy Baptism, Ist ed. p. 144. The writer
continues : " Most of these however were still able to use owr formu-
laries, although not in their original sense, since our baptismal
formulary was immediately derived from the Lutheran Church,
and this with the Fathers held the universal regeneration of bap-
tized infants. Yet since man could not tell who of these infants
were elect and who not, they held that these words could be used
by a sort of charity to each infant. And this excuse Hooker seems
to suggest . . . ' We speak of infants as the rule of piety alloweth,
Ac.* " K the statement here that these divines ** were *tiU dble to
use our formularies," means that they were able to do so by a fair
liberty, not by an unfair licence ; the writer is an authority in
favour of the Gorham Judgment.

« Bapt Eeg. of Elect Infants, pp. 231, 169.

Digitized by


3 34 Baptismal Language of Calvinism. [Part II.

incorrectly extended by the addition of the name of
Hooker^ who expressly holds indeed that baptism is '^ to
our sanctification here a step that hath not any before
it/' but as clearly assumes as the condition of this sanc-
tification in baptism^ not a previous inward grace in-
deed^ but a previous act of election on God's part. For
the truth that Predestination is the original condition of
life^ is assumed in the very qualification and caution that
" Predestination bringeth not to life without the grace of
external vocation wherein our baptism is implied ;" and
that election precedes sanctification in baptism is assumed
in the very doubt whether baptism is not the seal of
election.* The doctrine of the school of Calvinists to
which I have been referring was that nothing except
election preceded the baptismal grace— no previous in-
ward grace or operation of the Spirit^ but only an ante-
cedent decree of God. The language of Hooker is to the
same efiect^ and^ though vindicating the grace of bap-
tism as ihe first inward grace, before which no operation
of the Spirit has passed upon the soul^ still assumes^
as the condition of the reception of this grace> the
Divine Predestination and election of the person to eter-
nal life.

What is the position^ then^ in which the Calvinist of
the School to which I am now referring, i. e. who regards
baptism as the instrument of regeneration^ but the in-
strument of it only to the elect, stands with respect to
the statement in the Infant Baptismal Service? It is
evident that^ though he declines accepting that state-

^ Eccl. Pol. ▼. be 3. "A seal x>erhap8 to the grace of election
before received, but to oar sanctification here a step that hath not
any before it." Burgess remarks, " He makes no * perhaps * of this,
that such as partake of the grt^ce of baptism are elected ; but only
of this, that they do ' perhaps ' receive baptism as a seal of grace
of election." Bapt Beg. of Elect Infants p. 61. See Note 38.

Digitized by


Chap. V-IL] Baptismal Language of Calvinism. 335

ment literally^ the reason which prevents him from doing
so is no want of belief in the grace of the sacrament
itself, becanse he believes that it is the instrument of
regeneration to the electa just as much as oi'her% believe
that it is the instrument of regeneration to all. The
reason which prevents him from accepting this statement
literally^ is his doctrine of election alone which limits the
reception of that grace to «owe, who are yet as truly re-
generated in baptism according to his doctrine, as all are
according to another doctrine. The hypothetical inter-
pretation has a basis of fact in his mind both with regard
to the regeneration of infants, and with regard to bap-
tism as the instrument of it : and he only supposes of all
what he believes to be true of some, in consequence of a
limit, inherent in another doctrine held by him, which
prohibits the universal reception as a fact, and only allows
it as a supposition.

Ought then such a person as this to be excluded from
the ministry of the Church, on account of such hypo-
thetical interpretation of the statement in the Infant
Baptismal Service ? I have shown in a former chapter
that the Formularies of the Church do not require such
exclusion, and I have brought forward in this an informal
but still generally received and current dictum in our
Church, which confirms that conclusion. I have appealed
in this chapter to the practical consent of Churchmen as
seconding the conclusion built upon purely formulistic
grounds. I have appealed to an established standard of
orthodoxy, to a certain outline of comprehensiveness
which is in everybody's mind, expressed in the saying
of Bishop Horsley; according to which standard and
outline the Calvinistic School is not excluded from the
pale of our Church, or its ministry. Especially would it
be contrary to that standard that such a Calvinist as I
have been describing, should be excluded. Yet it must

Digitized by


336 Baptismal Language of Calvinism.

be seen that nothing short of a full and complete recogni-
tion of the hypothetical interpretation of the statement
in the Infant Baptismal Service, can effect his inclimon :
for outside he must stand so long as the literal sense of
this statement is enforced. Let him believe as strongly
as he may that baptism is the instrument of regeneration^
he cannot possibly assert that it is this to all infants,
because this assertion would be in contradiction to a
fundamental tenet of Calvinism. There is no option,
therefore, if we hold the current dictum which has been
appealed to in this chapter, but that of opening the sense
of the statement in the Infant Baptismal Service, and
allowing the hypothetical interpretation of it.

Digitized by




The weight due to precedent, i.e. to what individual
divines or schools of divines have publicly and in writinpf
maintained within the Church, without legal censure, —
the weight, I say, due to a Churches de facto toleration,
which may be called part of her practical tradition, when
it contradicts and comes into collision with a documenta/ry
test, is an important question, into which I need not
enter in the present treatise. I only appeal to precedent
as confirming a conclusion drawn from our actual formu-
laries. Because it unquestionably adds to the weight of
a result drawn from the Formularies of the Church, to
see it embodied in the uninterrupted practice of the
Church, which is a living authoritative comment upon
the formularies.

The argument of precedent divides itself into two
heads. The first is the evidence of what was the actual
force and value of the statement in the Baptismal Service,
as a piece of language^ at the time of the construction of
that Service. And this is not the argument of precedent
properly, though it figures under this general head for
convenience sake, so much as an inquiry into a question
of language. The second is the argument of precedent
properly, i. e. that a certain construction of this statement
has de facto been permitted in the Church from the date
of the compilation of our Prayer Book to the present

Digitized by


338 Argument of Precedent. [Part II.

1. First we liave the evidence of the actual value of
the statement in the Baptismal Service at the time of the
construction of that service. By value, I mean the force
of the statement, in the situation in which it occurs, as a
piece of language at the time ; and a received and recog-
nized mode of understanding it which was contemporary
with its adoption. We have the evidence of this fact
first in the obvious animus and design of the very com-
pilers of our Prayer Book.

The argument of the "sense of the compiler '' must be
distinguished from the argument of the '' sense of the
imposer.'* The argument of the animus imponentis is a
futile and nugatory argument 5 because, in order to arrive
at any conclusion by means of it, we must first find out
who the imponens is ; and the imponens, when we search
for him, vanishes into space. We cannot fix upon any
imponens but the Church herself, and the only evidences
of the animus of the Church, are her formularies. The

Online LibraryJames Bowling MozleyA review of the baptismal controversy → online text (page 27 of 38)