James Bowling Mozley.

A review of the baptismal controversy online

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not in making him an authority on one side; but it does not
appear to me to be made out. Hooker's baptismal statements speak
undoubtedly of the grace of the Sacraments, and of " infants " as
admitted to that grace : they do not assert, however, that all infants
receive that grace, but are consistent with the Calvinistic limita-
tion. " Baptism is a sacrament which God hath instituted in His

» Vol. iii. p. 646.

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424 Note 38.

Chnrohi to the end that they which reeeiye the same might thereby
be incorporated into Christ, and so through His most precious
merit obtain as well that saying grace of imputation which taketh
away all former guiltiness, as also that infused Divine virtue of
the Holy Ghost which giveth to the powers of the soul their first
disposition toward future newness of life." (£. P. v. 60. 2.)

Hooker only says here that " Gk>d hath instituted baptism " to
the end that they which reeei/ve the same might thereby, d^., which
is another thing from saying that all who receive tiie same are
thereby, &g. It is language which leaves ihe conditions of the
benefit open. Qnoters of Hooker assume that the " first disposition
toward future newness of life '' is a certain implanted fa,etilty,
universally implanted in baptized infants ; but a faculty common
to all is not the ordinary meaning of the term " dispoeiiion ;" * and
if we interpret Hooker by Hooker, it is not Hooker's meaning. For
why should not this ** first disposition toward future newness of
life " be the same with " the first grace " just now referred to,
" which God poureth into the hearts of them which are incor-
porated into Christ," which persons " having received do not sin
any such sin as doth quite extinguish grace '* P Why should it not
be the same with ^* the first thing infused into our hearts, whereupon
the rest of what kind soever doth infallibly ensue :" the same with
" the seed of GM, which abideth in us and doth shield us from reoeiv-
ing any irremediable wound ;" *' the seed of God, which is a sure pre-
servative " P Why should it not be the same with the " seed of faith "
of Calvin, the " root of faith " of Peter Martyr, the " seed of the
habit of faith " of Whitaker, the " habitual principle of grace " of
Davenant, and the " initial regeneration " of Burgess ; who, we may
remark, expressly affixes this Calvinistio sense to this expression
of Hooker's P " The life spiritual is peculiar to God's elect. A£r.
Hooker delivers as much, for having said that infants * receive the
Divine virtue of the Holy Ghost in baptism, which giveth to the
powers of their souls their first disposition towards future newness
of life,' he afterwards adds, * Predestination bringeth not to life

' Hooker adopts the Scholastic idea of sacramental grace, as being an
actual habit or virtue, not assisticg grace simply. " By grace we always
understand, as the word of God teaoheth, first, His flavour and undeserved
mercy toward us: secondly, the bestowing His holy Spirit which in-
wardly worketh : thirdly, the effects of that Spirit whatsoever, but espe-
cially saving virtues, such as faiths charity, <md hope : lastly, the free
and fall remission of all our sins. This is the grace which the sacraments
yield, and whereby we are all justified." App. to Book v. Eocl. Pol.,
vol. ii. p. 700.

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Note 38. 425

without the grace of external vocation wherein onr baptism is im-
plied.* " • The authority of Hooker was always appealed to by
those Calvinistic writers in onr Chnrch who held most strictly the
principle of sacramental grace, regulated by predestinarian con-

Again : " There is deliyered unto them (infants) that sacrament,
a part of the due celebration whereof consisteth in answering to
the articles of faith, because the habit of faith, which doth after-
wards come with years, is but a further building up of the same
edifice, the first foundation whereof was laid by the Sacrament of
Baptism. For that, which there we professed without any under-
standing, when we afterwards come to acknowledge, do we any-
thing else but only bring into ripeness the very seed that was sown
before P We are then believers, because we then begin to be that
which process of time doth make perfect." ^

The plurals " we " and " they," as has been already shown, are
not necessarily universals. A Calvinistic divine then could make
this statement without any difficulty, as asserting the implantation
of a seminal habit of faith in infants at baptism, which afterwards
came out in act as they grew up : the principle of election deter-
mining in what infants this took place. Burgess's whole treatise
upon the " Baptismal Begeneration of Elect Infants " is indeed but
an amplification of this statement, regeneration being a process
which is there asserted to have its beginning in baptism, and to
involve the seed of future faith and holiness ; though this took
place only in elect infants.

Again : " In sum the whole Church is a multitude of believers, all
honoured with that title, even hypocrites for their profession's sake,
as well as saints because of their inward sincere persuasion, and
infants as being in the first degree of their ghostly motion toward
the actual habit of faith : the first sort are faithful in the eye of
the world, the second faithful in the sight of God ; the last in the
ready direct way to become both, if all things after be suitable to
these their present beginnings." *

Here again, if we interpret Hooker by Hooker, why should not
the first degree of the ghostly motion toward the actual habit of
faith " be the same with " the first gprace," which persons " having
received do not sin any such sin as doth quite extinguish grace " P
the same with " the first thing infused into our hearts, whereupon
the rest of what kind soever do infallibly ensue " P the same with

* Baptismal Begeneration of Elect Infants, p. 60.
4 Bool. Pol. V. 64. a. » Ibid.

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426 Note 38.

*' the seed of God which abideth/' and " the seed of God which is
a sure preservative " P The qualification at the conclnsion, " If all
things after be suitable to their present beginnings," is more than
significant, making as it does the future issne, i. e. the final perse-
verance of the infants, the test of their having entered upon '* the
ready direct way," " the first stage of ghostly motion toward the
actual habit of faith."

Again : " When we know how Christ in general hath said that
of such is the kingdom of heaven, which kingdom is the inheritance
of Grod*s elect, and do withal behold how His providence hath
called them unto the first beginnings of eternal life, and presented
them at the well-spring of new birth wherein original sin is purged ;
besides which sin there is no hindrance of their salvation known
to us, as themselves will grant ; hard were it that, having so many
fair inducements whereupon to ground, we should not be thought to
utter at the least a truth as probable and allowable in terming
any such particular infant an elect babe, as in presuming the like
of others, whose safety nevertheless we are not absolutely able to
warrant.*' •

Hooker appeals here to the fact of a ** call " of ** Providence " to
the ** beginnings of eternal life," and to- the fact of a " presentation
at the well-spring of new birth," as a legitimate ground for tiie
charitable presumption of something more, viz. election and pre-
destination to eternal glory. A " call " however of " Providence "
is allowed in the Calvinistic scheme to those who never have the
" inward *' or effectual call. "Panci ergo electi sunt ex magno
vocatorum numero ; non tamen ea vocatione unde fidelibus dicimus
CBstimandam suam electionem." Calvin, Inst. iiL 24. 8. And a
call to " beginnings " is openly allowed in the Calvinistic scheme
to those who do not receive the grace enabling them to persevere to
the end ; — a distinction which Hooker himself made. " We must
note there is an election the grace whereof includeth th/eM" temporctry
benefit that are chosen, and there is an election that includeth their
eternal good. By temporary I do not mean any secular or worldly
blessing . . . but I mean such spiritual favours as, albeit they
tend to everlasting felicity, yet are not themselves everlastingly
continued, neither are inwardly infused, but outwardly bestowed
graces . . . This may suffice touching the outward g^race, whereby
Qod inviteth the whole world to receive wisdom, and hath opened
the gates of His visible Church unto all, thereby testifying His

• Eccl. Pol. V. 64. 8.

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Note 38. 427

^ill and purpose to haye all saved, if the let were not in themselves.^
. . . The inward means whereby His will is to bring men to eternal
life, is that grace of the Holy Spirit which hath been spoken of
. . . From whom this inward grace is either withheld altogether or
withdrawn, such being left to themselves wax hard and obdurate
in sin." Appendix to B. v. vol. ii. pp. 740, 742.

A call of Providence, then, and a call to " beginnings," are con-
sistent with the Calvinistlc scheme ; and the ** presentation " at the
well-spring of new birth is a visible fact which is> also consistent
with that scheme. The baptismal statement before us is con-
structed with evident caution, balance, and adjustment.; but the
advantage which is common to all infants in baptism, in however
favourable a light put, is still represented with a reserve, and is
consistent with the Calvinistic limitation of the inward grace to
some only of the number.

The estimate I have given of Hooker's Calvinistic statements is
the same as Mr. Keble's, who admits that Hooker's doctrine of the
indefectibility of grace is inconsistent with the doctrine of the re-
generation of all infants in baptism. '' For how could or can any
person beholding what numbers fall away after baptism, hold con-
sistently," ^ Ac. P But the estimate of Hooker's baptismal state-
ments is different. Mr. Keble assumes^that when Hooker " attri-
butes justifying or pardoning, together with the first infusion of
sanctifying grace to baptism," such a mode of speaking implies
that " he attributes it to baptism when not unworthily received,
and ther^ore in all cases to infant baptism" • But this is an
assumption for which the language itself gives no warrant For,
as has been already explained, a writer in maintaining that a grace
attaches to baptism as a sacrament, does not commit himself to a
decision upon another and a further question regarding the recipients
of such grace ; as e. g. that all infants are such recipients. Such
is not the force of this language, according to the ordinary rules
of language ; but moreover the force and meaning of this general
kind of statement is known from the language of theological
writers of the day. The most decided Calvinistic divines of that
day both asserted generally the grace of the sacrament, and also
that '' infants " received that grace ; but these were general forms

7 *'A886rimu8 nollos perire immwentes . . • impietate, nequitia, in*
gratitodine meriti simt homines.' Calvin, Instit. iii. 24. 12. . '*Non
alieno, sed sue ipsorom vitio [originali peocato] sont obstricti." Ibid.
ii. 1. 8.

' Preface, p. cii. * Ibid.

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428 Note 38.

of statement whicli were adopted by those writers because tbej
expressed as mncli as was wanted, and no more, — expressed the
doctrine of the grace of baptism, and also the doctrine that it was
given to infants ; but did not imply that it was given to all in-
fants, which would have been contrary to their whole theology.
Hooker's baptismal language is of this type, and does not, wher
we examine it, commit the writer to any position respecting the
conditions of baptismal grace which would be contrary to Cal-
vinistic doctrine.

Regarded simply as the interpretation of an author, there is this
advantage in the above estimate of Hooker's baptismal statements,
that it makes Hooker consistent with himself. Mr. Keble's esti-
mate of those statements obliges him to regard Hooker as con-
tradicting himself, for he says that " these representations cannot
be reconciled with Calvin's doctrine of the absolute perpetuity of
justifying and of the first sanctifying grace,*' which he admits to
be held and stated by Hooker. The cautious and considerate
stamp of Hooker's theology is against the supposition of self-
contradiction in Hooker, and the two sets of statements, when
compared together, do not appear to me to require it

It was the characteristic of one School of Calvinistic divines,
that they discarded the common Reformation plan of modelling
infant upon adult baptism. According to the common Reforma-
tion plan the condition of previous faith was required for the in-
fant ; prevenient grace was necessary to implant this faith ; and
by virtue of this grace he was said to be regenerate hefore receiving
the seal of baptism. This School, on the other hand, introduced
the infant, without any medium of preparation, straight from
nature to the baptismal grace ; and Hooker appears to belong to
this School. He vindicates the priority of baptismal grace, that
" it is to our sanctification here a step that hath not any before it ;"
he will have no regeneration before baptism. But r^eneration in
baptism, though it presupposes no previous inward grace, still pre-
supposes election in Hooker ; and that it takes place in aU infants
is inconsistent with his Calvinistic statements.

Mr. Keble classes the Sermons of Hooker, in which most of the
statements of the doctrine of indefectibility occur, as his " earlier
productions;" but if the date which the editor assigns to these
Sermons is the true one, ikej preceded immediately the commence-
ment of the " Ecclesiastical Polity," to which Mr. Keble gives the
date of **the summer of 1586." Nor indeed does the style or
matter of these Sermons at all correspond to the presumption

Digitized by


Note 38. 429

which the phrase "earlier productions** is calculated to raise.
They are not the crude compositions of a young preacher, express-
ing the mere results of a Calvinistic education unchecked hy his
own reflection, and taking for granted the dominant theological
ground of the day. They are mature compositions, indicating a
full consciousness of the claim which the Church, as well as his own
particular audience, had to well-weighed statements from a preacher
of the Temple ; and the author has already long thought for him-
self, and is in fact already taking an independent line, and adopt-
ing an attitude of resistance to the dominant religious temper of
the day, on the point of the indiscriminating violence against the
Church of Bome, which he endeavours to check. We see in the
Sermons in short the same balance and self-reliance, the same kind
of tempered conclusions, and the same general controversial ground,
which appear in the Ecclesiastical Polity. We must not therefore
interpose too wide a mental interval between the Sermons, and the
latter great work ; — more especially as the ** Ecclesiastical Polity "
appeals as undoubtingly to the doctrine of the indefectibility of
grace as the Sermons do.

No candid critic will of course deny a diflerence in temper between
the Calvinism of Hooker and the popular one of the day. He was
too thoughtful to like extreme statements as such, as unthinking
people do, or to be carried away by the current of an age. He
therefore states the Calvinistic ground with studied moderation, and
with a thoughtful gentleness of doctrinal logic stops short of some
harsh jwrtions of Calvinistic language. Nor is he, in the " Eccle-
siastical Polity,*' by any means profuse of Calvinistic language,
rather reserving it for special occasions, when it is necessary in
the argument that he should retire back upon it ;'* when, either
because he must make an admission to an opponent, or for some
other reason, the fitting time has come for him to bring forward
and unveil the basis of his system, instead of tacitly assuming it.
Still, what we have to consider in estimating the ground of a writer,
is not how often he says, but what he says ; which being ascertained,
it is sufficient if the rest of his language is consistent with, and not
contradictory to, the main assertion. Calvinism was the system
to which Hooker substantially attached himself ; he was brought
up in it ; his religious circle was a Calvinistic one, and the principal
patron of his mature life and authorship was Archbishop Whitgift,
to whom, after the promulgation of the Lambeth Articles, he
dedicated the fifth book of the Ecclesiastical Polity. It was
natural that a mind of solid but gentle and slow strength, reveren-

Digitized by


430 Note 38.

tial, cautious, and affectionate, should cling with some pertinacity
to the opinions which early education, long religious friendships,
and existing Church authority fostered. There is no evidence,
therefore, that he ever adopted another basis of doctrine. He may
betray in his language tendencies to another system, but in defect
of such tendencies (whether from strength of early convictions, or
deference to religious friends, or a strong perception of the true
element in Calvinism, or whatever reason) coming to a head, he is
still to be considered as never having given up the Calvinistic
scheme of the operation of the sacraments.



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Online LibraryJames Bowling MozleyA review of the baptismal controversy → online text (page 36 of 38)