James Bowling Mozley.

A review of the baptismal controversy online

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Church is untenable upon any principles of orthodoxy :
and, therefore, whoever do thus systematically unite with
others disagreeing with them, must admit, in order to
their own justification, that such a disagreement is not
upon a fundamental point, and do by their conduct
implicitly admit this.

With this ascertained then, we came to the examination
of our own formularies in the second part of this treatise
in a calmer spirit, as knowing that whatever might be
the result of such examination, the question involved no
matter of fundamental orthodoxy. Indeed, with this
ascertained, there was little ground left upon which it
could be thought particularly desirable that our Church
should impose the doctrine in question. It is open to a
Church doubtless, upon grounds of general expediency,
to impose on her clergy points which are not essential ;
but still, the security of the faith being the main ground
for the imposition of doctrine, the presumption is, that
a particular doctrine being ascertained not to be an article
of the faith, the formularies of our Church will not be
found to impose it ; more especially if such doctrine was
a controverted one at the time of the construction of those
formularies ; it being admitted that our Church is disposed
to latitude on subordinate points, and aims at compre-

But though a preliminary weight attaches to general
theological considerations, still a question which relates
to a particular Judgment, interpretative of particular

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Chap. X.] Conclusion. 365

formularies, must be decided by the language of those
formularies alone. Because, even if a given doctrine is
not an article of the faith, still, if our formularies impose
it, persons have the right to protest publicly against a
Judgment which falsely affirms that they do not ; and
therefore the question is ultimately one relating entirely
to our own formularies.

The considerations, then, to which I have called
attention in the preceding chapters show that our formu-
laries do not supply an adequate ground for this Protest ;
because nothing can justify a Protest in behalf of a
particular doctrine, as a doctrine imposed by the formu-
laries of our Church, except such a statement of the
doctrine in those formularies as only admits of being
considered as a positive and dogmatic statement of it.
But no such statement of the doctrine, that all infants
are regenerate in baptism, can be found in the whole of
our formularies from beginning to end. We find, indeed,
a statement in the Infant Baptismal Service, made over
every infant after baptism, that it is regenerate, and we
find the statement put into the child's mouth in the Cate-
chism, — that in baptism he was made a child of God.
But when we examine the principles upon which Church
services and Catechisms are constructed, we find that they
admit of a class of statements which are literal in form,
but hypothetical in meaning. We find this as a known
and established usage of language in these classes of formu-
laries. The statements then now referred to, occurring
as they do in formularies of this character, have not the
force of positive and dogmatic statements. Were there
an assertion indeed in the Church's Articles of Eeligion
that all infants are regenerate in baptism, there could be
no doubt that this assertion in the Articles was dogmatic;
and in that case these statements in the Service and
Catechism, though not dogmatic of themselves, would

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366 Conclusion. [Paet IL

receive a dogmatic sense from sach assertion in the Articles.
But in the absence of any such assertion elsewhere in oar
formularies^ an assertion pronounced over the child in a
service^ or put into the child's mouth in a Catechism^ does
not possess this force.

The Prayer Book is thus proved to be inclusive in its
basis by the simple application of those rules of inter-
pretation which have been shown to apply to devotional
and catechetical formularies. And this conclusion is con-
firmed by the whole weight of precedent, and embodied in
the uninterrupted practice of the Church, from the Re-
formation to the present day. It is evident in the first
place from history, that the liberty of construction
claimed in this case is coeval with the Prayer Book ; that
the statement of the infisint's regeneration was inserted in
the Baptismal Service, at its compilation, with this liberty
of construction then attaching and belonging to it, and
that as a piece of language it was understood naturally
and as a matter of course among divines as bearing such
a construction. And in the next place we have from
that date to the present an uninterrupted acquiescence of
the Church in this liberty of construction, which was not
legally called in question till the year 1849 ; — which is to
say, that the whole practical tradition of the English
Church is on its side.

This whole evidence viewed collectively appears to me
conclusive in favour of the judgment of the Court of
Appeal, viz. that our formularies do not impose the
doctrine that all infants are regenerate in baptism. But
it is not necessary that this evidence should be absolutely
conclusive for the purpose of invalidating the grounds for
a Protest against that judgment : it is enough if it is
sufficiently strong to mtJce the grounds for that Protest
doubtful and uncertain ; if it is sufficiently strong to shake
the Protestor's conviction of the correctness of his own

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Chap. X.] Conclusion. 367

assertion^ which he makes in opposition to the decision of
the Court.

For it must be remembered that a public Protest is a
special and definite act^ requiring for its justification a
clear and undoubting conviction of the truth of the posi-
tion for which the Protest is made. An undecided
judgment upon the evidence is consistent with a bias
and preference for one particular conclusion^ but not with
a formal and solemn assertion of that conclusion^ in the
fece of the whole Church, and with the attribution of
positive error to the Court for deciding in favour of the
opposite one. It is evident that a person is not in a
condition to take these two steps, which are involved in
the solemn act of a Public Protest, unless he is fully
assured and conviced in his own mind of the truth of the
conclusion in defence of which he adopts this course of
proceeding. A Public Protest does not admit of a divided
judgment as the ground of it. It declares that the mind
of the person protesting is made up definitively, and that
he takes upon himself the responsibility of a positive
assertion in opposition to the assertion of the Court.

Does any person then, upon an estimate of the whole
bearing of our formularies on this subject, and of the
weight, whatever it may be, which is due to precedent
and the uninterrupted practice of three centuries, decide
with certainty that the Church of England imposes the
doctrine of the regeneration of all infants in baptism, and
that there is no proper room for doubt upon this question ?
He is a person qualified to protest against the judgment
of the Court of Appeal. Does he admit that there is
proper room for doubt ? He is disqualified for adopting
or continuing such a step.

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Digitized by



Note 1, p. 18.

*< Wb make three kinds of interpretation ; the first private, and so
every one may interpret the Scripture, i. e. privately with himself
conceive or deliver to other what he thinketii the meaning of it to
be : the second of public direction, and so the pastors of the Church
may publicly propose what they conceive of it : and the third of
jurisdiction, and so they that have supreme power, i e. the Bishops
assembled in a general council, may interpret the Scripture, and
by their authority suppress all them that shall gainsay such inter-
pretations, and subject every man that shall disobey such determi-
nations as they consent upon to excommunication aud censures of
a like nature.

" Bid for authenticaJinterpretcUion ofScripture^ which every man's
conscience is havmd to yield unto, it is of a higher naiwre ; neither do
we think any of these to he such^ Field on the Church, p. 367.

" Here be two obligations which sometimes may contradict one
another . . . The use of the means to determine the meaning of
the Scriptures, produceth an obligation of holding that which foV
hwethfrom U ; which obligation no man can have or ought to ima-
gine he hath, before the due use of such means, whether his estate
in the Church oblige him to use them or not. But the visible
determination of the Church obliges all that are of the Church not
to scandalize the unity thereof by professing contrary to the same.
And to both these obligations the same man may be subject, as the
matter may be, to wit, as one that hath resolved the question upon
true principles, not to believe the contrary; and as one of the
Church, that believes the Church &ileth in that for which he is
bound not to break the unity thereof, not to profess against what
the Church determineth . • . J say not thai this holds always
amd in maiiers of whaisoever concernment, nor do I take upon me
generally to resolve this, no more than what is the matter of the
rule of faith, which he that believes may be saved, he that posi-

B b

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370 Note 2.

tively belieTes it not all cannot/' Thomdike, Principles of Christian
Truth, Book i. c. 24.

Note 2, p. 22. .

The conclusion of the second Paadobaptist Controversy is thus
stated by Wall, — " Now to apply what has been said to the Psedo-
baptists and Anti-psddobaptists : the main inquiry is whether the
point in debate between them be a fundamental article of the Chris-
tian faith ; for if it be, they must indeed separate in this commu-
nion, and the guilt will lie on those who are in error. But if it be
not, there is not by the rules laid down any sufficient reason for
their separating or renouncing one another, which party soever be
in the wrong. Now I think that such a question about the age or
time of one's receiving baptism does not look like a fundamental,
nor is so reputed in the general sense of Christians. . . .

" It is a general rule that all fundamental points are in Scripture
so plainly and fairly delivered, that any man of tolerable sincerity
cannot but perceive the meaning of the holy writers to be that we
should believe them. Now baptism itself, viz. that all that enter
into Christ's Church should be baptized, is indeed plainly delivered
in Scripture ; so that we are amazed at the Quakers and Sociuians.
the one for refusing it, the other for counting it indifferent. But
at what age the children of Christians should be baptized, whether
in infancy or to stay till the age of reason, is not so clearly deli-
vered, but that it admits of a dispute that has considerable per-
plexities in it . . . This, therefore, being not set down so very plain,
does not seem by Scripture to be such a fundamental, as that we
should be bound to renounce communion with every one that is not
of the same opinion as we are about it . . . The ancient and primi-
tive Christians for certain did not reckon this point among the
fundamentals . . . For the sense of modem Christians ; first, the
Papists of modem times do confidently maintain that there is no
proof at all, direct or consequential, from the Scripture for infant
baptism. And it is certain they do not pretend there is any-
thing against it . . . It follows then from their pretence that Scrip-
ture is silent in the case. If so, then it is a thing that no
Protestant will account a fundamental, and consequently will not
deviate from it. So these men's arguments will make us both
friends, at* least so ^ as to live in communion with one
another." . . .

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Note 3. 371

'* Bat to leaye these, — the most serious and jndicioas, both of the
Psedobaptists and Anti-peedobaptistB (even those of them that have
been most engaged against each other in polemical writings, which
do commonly abate people's charity), do agree that this difference
is not in the essentials of religion. Here I might recite, if I had
not been too long already, the words of Bishop Taylor, Dr. Ham-
mond, Mr. Baxter, Mr. WiUs, <&c., on the one side, and of Mr.
Tombes, Mr. Stennet, &c., on the other. . . .

" To speak of the case of England in particnlar. They know
themselyes that it is a separation begun less than eighty years ago.
Any very ancient man may remember when there was no Society
or Church of them of that persuasion. They at first held the
opinion without separating for it . . . Mr. Tombes, who continued
an Anti- pesdobaptist to his dying day, yet, as I am told, wrote
against separation for it, and for communion with the parish
churches ... He continued in communion in the Church of Salis-
bury all the latter part of his life. Nor has that Church ever
been blamed for receiving him. On the contrary, the example has
been spoken of with commendation." History of Infant Baptism,
vol. ii. p. 647 et seq.

" Some of them do still continue to hold communion with the
established Church in the public prayers, and in the other sacra-
ment ; and in this too, as far as is consistent with their opinion,
i. e. when their children are adult and desire baptism, they advise
them to receive it in the Church at the hands of their lawful
minister." Yol. iv. p. 471.

The modified ttcm-psedobaptism of the ancients involved the neces-
sity of peedobaptismin case of extremity. "I acknowledge it is
the opinion of Tertullian, for which there is no mark upon him as
ever a whit the less Catholic, that it was not expedient to baptize
infants . . . But I deny that this was because he or anybody then
believed that they could go out of the world unbaptized and yet
be saved." ( Thorndike, Principles of Christian Truth, B. L c. 23,
§ 37.) Wall's comprehensive basis, however, includes the full doc-
trine of an^peedobaptism, which is a prohibition of psedobaptism
altogether, as tenable within the Church.

NoiB 3, p. 81.

Lord Lyttelton, in his veiy thoughtful tract on Infant Baptism,
in which however the writer is rather feeling his way than profess-

Bb 2

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372 Note 4.

ing to arriye at any positive oondaaioD, says, " This withdrawal of
the question from the region of fixed dogma I am slow to acquiesce
in, if it were only for the text in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in
which the 'dootaine of baptisms* is recited among the funda-
mentals of the Christian faith." But what U the " doctrine of bap-
tisms " contained in Scripture P Is it not a general one, which is
not affected by withdrawing from the region of fixed dogma a par-
ticular which lies beyond it P Wall thus refers to the " doctrine of
baptisms *' mentioned in this Epistle :^" The Epistle to the He-
brews, ch. vi. T. 2, speaking of some things which are styled ' prin-
ciples of the Oracles of God,* reckons amongrst them the ' doctrine
of baptisms and of laying on of hands.' Now whether the meaning
of that place be to reckon both these as things that must be believed
and owned by all that shall be saved, is a question that needs not
to be discussed here. For suppose it be ; both these parties do
own baptism ; they differ only about the time or manner of receiv-
ing it.** History of Infant Baptism, voL ii p. 549.

Note 4, p. 32.

" Dicimus ad baptismum infantes credere pei' vim verhi, quo exor-
cizabantur, et per fidem Ecclesise eos offerentis et eis fidem oratvoni^
bus mis invpetrarUia. Alioqui inera et intolerabilia essent mendacia,
quando baptizans a parvulo quserit an credat, non baptizatums,
nisi vice ejus respondeatur Credo. Ut quid interrogat an credat*
si certnm est eos non credere P TJt Cochlseus contendit. Esto
Augustinus sic aliquando dicat ; sed Cochlseo satis sit esse sic ab
homine dictum : nos volnmus hoc dictum divinis testimoniis pro-
barL Quin asserimus parvulos prorsus non esse baptizandos, H
verum est, in baptismo non credere, ne illudatur majestatis Sacra-
mentum et verbum.'* Lutherns contra Cochlsdum, apud BeUarm.,
t. iii. p. 252. " Lutherns volebat fidem in parvulisesse ante baptis-
mum ut posset vere responderi ministro baptizaturo parvulnm cre-
dere.*' Bellarmine, ibid. p. 256.

Bella r m in e himself witnesses to the difficulty of justification
without fidth : — " In&ntes non justificantur sine ulla fide, quia
Scriptura affirmat fidem esse medium ad salutem necessarium . . •
Item Rom. 3, ' Arbitramur hominem justificari per fidem :* quod
passim repetit, et inculcat Paulus. Quomodo igitur sine ulla fide
justificari et placere Deo possunt infantes P . . . Apostolus in

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Note 5> 373

eadem epistola capit. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, et 10, nihil aliud contendit
nisi jastifioationem non contingere sine fide. Qnare tribnere
panrnlis jnstifioationem sine fide . . . quid est alind nisi contra
verbam Dei fingere novam jostificationem P " Ibid. p. 256 et seq.
He decides that infants have actual faith byj^roo^ and by profession
made in the external rite: — " Parvnli actn crednnt partim reipsa
dam baptizantar, partim aliena fide " — and habitual faith really
by infusion in the Sacrament — " recipinnt infantes habitum fidei."

" Can the rw aacramenH, the fall and justifying effect, be pos-
sessed by infants without any grace of faitii in them P The doctors
of the Church felt the difficulty of so concluding, and therefore
(just as they attributed a moral nature to a child, though incapable
of moral action) they perceived and defined that the regenerated
child had the ' Habitus fidei,' as a gift from God from the first ;
which habitual faith being a heavenly gift is perfect and capable
of spiritual action in fature life. The consequences of any contrary
conclusion might, if closely pressed, be fatal to the whole doctrine
of the new birth in baptism. Baptized infants would be ' membra
Chnsti,' justified without faith, and baptized adults 'membra
Christi, fide justifi^aii,* It would be impossible even to conceive
of two such classes of members, as pertaining to one spiritual
body." A Discourse on Heresy and Open Questions, by W. J.
Irons, B.D.

While the Schoolmen, however, aclcnowledged the difficulty of
justification without faith, their scheme of infant justification in
baptism was no solution of it, because in Scripture faith precedes
justification, as the condition of it; whereas in the Scholastic
scheme the faith of the infant is the Divine gift in justification,
and does not precede but is implanted in baptism. The Divines of
the Reformation professed to solve the difficulty by the doctrine
of *' prevenient grace," which implanted &ith in the infant before

Note 6, p. 33.

St. Augustine treats the want of faith in the infant and the want
of baptism in the adult as analogous wants. " Sicut in latrone
quia per necessitatem corporaliter defuit [sanctificatio Sacramenti]
perfecta salus est quia per pietatem spiritualiter adf uit : sic et cum
ipsa pra9sto est, si per necessitatem desit quod latroni adf uit, per-
ficitur salus. Quod traditum tenet universitas Ecclesiffi cum

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374 iVi?/^ 6.

parvnli infantes baptizantur, qui certe nondum possnnt corde cre-
dere ad jnfltitiam, et ore confiteri ad salntem quod latro potoii."
Ang. de Bapt. contra Donat. 1. It. c. 23.

Dr. Pnsey, in assuming that the passages in which" St. Paul is
speaking of justification/' are passages " in which Holy Scripture
is not speaking of baptism " (though I do not see how this can be
said if justification is by baptism), witnesses to a certain difficulty
in applying justification, with its Scriptural conditions, to baptized
infants. Scriptural Yiews, p. 68.

Note 6, p. 49.

The distinction between the grace of baptism and the " cha^
racter,*' or " baptismus,** which in the Augustinian use of the word
has the same force as character, meaning a valid baptism, or one
which may be subsequently of beneficial effect, even when received
at the time without it, pervades the Anti-Donatist treatises.
" . . . Sicut perditi Catholici, quos tamen BapUeimMn sine re-
miasione peccatorum et habere et dare manifestum est." (De
£apt. contra Donat. 1. vii. c. 44.) " Qui in ipsa unitate perversi
sunt et perdite vivunt apparet remissionem peccatorum nee dare
posse neo habere ; habere tamen et dare et accipere baptismi sacra-
mentum." (Ibid. L vi c. 1.) "Characterem multi etlupiet lupis
infigunt." (D)id.) " Quo et ego sentio baptismum quidem Christi
hsareticos posse habere, sed remissionem peccatorum non habere."
(Ibid. 1. vii. c. SJ) " Consentimus hsereticos remissionem dare noa
posse, baptismum autem dare posse." (Ibid. 1. v. c 22.) *' Sub
eodem baptismate quod acceperat, ejus peccata dimittuntur prop-
ter vinculum charitatis, sub quo baptismate peccata ejus teneha/r^nr
propter sacrilegium divisionis." (Ibid. 1. vL c. 5.)

The Schoolmen invariably distinguish between the baptismal
character and the gra>ce of baptism, deciding that the grace is not
received by adults without faith and repentance, whereas the cha-
racter is.

Lombard. — ** His aliisque testimoniis aperte ostenditur, adultis
sine fide et poenitentia vera in baptismo non conferri gratiam
remissionis. ... Si quis ergo ficte accedit non habens veram
cordis contritionem, sacrament um sine re accipit." L. iv. Dist. 4^

Aquinas. — " Fictio impedit effectum baptismi ... ad hoc quod

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Note 7. 375

aUqois jtuitificetar per baptismuni, reqairitnr qaodyolxmtas hominis
amplectatar baptismxiin et baptismi efEectum. . . . Baptdzari in
Ghristo potest intelligi dupliciter : irno modo in Cliristo, i. e. in
Christi conf ormitate ; et sic qoicnnqne baptizantnr in Cliristo,
oonformati ei per fidem et charitatem, induont Ghristnm per gta^
tiam : alio modo dicnntnr aliqai baptizari in Ghristo, in qnantnm
accipiont Sacramentnm Ghristi ; et sic omnes indnnnt per confi-
.gnrationem cliaracteris, non antem per conformitatem gratisB."
Summ. TheoL P. 3. Q. 69. A. 9.

*' Dno efficinntnr in anima per baptismnm, scilicet character et
gratia," the grace being the " principalis effectns," the character
the " effectns secnndarius." S. T. P. 3. Q. 68. A. 7, and Q. 62.
The baptismal character, '* cum qnadam consecratione datnr ;" it
is " dispositio qnsddam ad gratiam," which does not act '* quamdin
in homine apparet voluntas peccandi ;" but does when the person
repents : it is an indelible effect of baptism, while grace is def ectible.
" Gharacter permanet indelebiliter, justitioatio autem permanet sed
amissibiliter." Yid. S. T. P. 3. Q. 66. A. 9. Q. 63. A. 2. Q. 68.
A. 4. Q. 66. A. 1.

Bonayenture. — ^"Ficte accedens recipit Sacramentnm et non
rem." Tom. y. p. 55. " Multi habent characterem qui nee habent
nee habuerunt, nee habebunt gratiam." Ibid. p. 76.

Bicardus de Mediayilla. — *' Ficti non gratiam sed characterem
duntaxat recipiunt. . . . Fictus est qui verbo vel signo simulat se
esse dispositum interius ad Sacramenti susceptionem, ettamen in-
dispositus est." In Lomb. iv. p. 50.

Bellarmine. — '* Baptismus ex communi sententia aliquid sacra-
mentale conf ert etiamsi detur et percipiatur sine fide : igitur aliquem
effectum Sacramentalem habet baptismus prsBter gratiam." " Manet
igitur ex baptismo effectns aliquis sacramentalis qui non est gratia,
cum gratia sine fide non detur." De Effectu Sacram. 1. ii. c. 22.
" Qui sine fide baptizantnr revera non regenerantur, tamen rebap-
tizari non possunt." Ibid.

Note 7, p. 50.

Galvin. — " TJtilitas quam ex sacramentis percipimus ad tempus
quo ea nobis administrantur, minime restringi debet . . . Nam qui
in prima infantia baptizati sunt, eos in pueritia, vel ineunte ado-
lescentia, interdum etiam in senectute regenerat Deus ... In quo
si quis nobis diseentit tum regenerationis gratiam in multis acce-

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376 Note 7.

leret necesse est, tain in reliqnom yitao cnrsum fabricet innumeros
Baptismos. Effectom baptismi qui ad tempus noUas fnit videmas
tamen emergere." Tractatos Theologici, pp. 649, 657.

Beza. — " Keqne enim baptismi efficacia ad id momentum astrin-
genda est, quo homo baptizatur, sed ipsa Ghristi in eo oblata rege-
nerationis et renovationis benefioia interdnm ilium prsBcedere ut ia
Comelio, interdum vero subsequi dicimus, in iis videlicet qui fidem •
non habent, sed suo tempore habebunt, quam ore profitentur cum^
baptizantur." Acta Colloquii Montisbelligartensis, p. 372.

'' Manet tamen yerus baptismus, etiamsi r^^neratio in reprobis

Online LibraryJames Bowling MozleyA review of the baptismal controversy → online text (page 30 of 38)