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A review of the baptismal controversy online

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appeal to men to keep up an existing goodness, is the
strongest of all arguments, because it reminds them of
the rich treasure, of which the loss would be indelible
disgrace, involving as it were gratuitous suicide. The
possession of goodness is indeed the greatest and highest
of all responsibilities, the appeal to which is adapted to
stir up the whole man and awaken the most wholesome
fear and vigorous resolution.

We observe in the Fathers then a permanent use of
this latter argument. They do not in practical exhorta-
tion urge the baptized only to cultivate a faculty, but to
guard an actual goodness which they became possessed
of in baptism. It is thus that Ghrysostom, commenting
on the text, " He that is dead is freed from sin," * exhorts
the baptized: — ''If thou hast died in baptism, remain
dead, for a dead man cannot sin any longer. He lies
dead, and therefore is delivered from sinning any more.
So is it with him who has come up from baptism. He died
there to sin once : it behoves him to remain dead to it." ^
— " Baptism," he says again, " hath done this once for
us j it deadened us to sin ; but for the rest we must by
our exertions verify this constantly : so that, though sin
issue ten thousand commands, we should obey it no
longer, but remain motionless as the dead." * — " Qod
gave us the renewal of regeneration in the laver of bap-

* Rom. vi. 7. * No. 11, Note 12. • No. 7, Note 12.

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Chap. VL] Patristic Sense of Regeneration. 97

tism^ that Iiaving therein put off the old man or wicked
actions^ and having put on the new^ we may tread the
path of virtue/'' — ^'Q-ape not, therefore, after luxury
and splendid dress, for thou hast already the glory from
on high, and Christ is become everything to thee, table
and garment and house, and head and root ; for as many
of you as have been baptized unto Christ have put on
Chrisi"' — "For this is regeneration, not when the
house is rotten rebuilding it on the old foundation, but
building it up anew altogether, as He hath done to us/' •
*' Thou renouncedst sin,'* says Theodoret, '^andbecamest
dead to it, and wert buried with Christ. How then is it
possible for thee to take to sin again ? '' ^

This, as it is a comment upon, so is evidently also a
carrying on of, the same method of exhortation that we
observe in St. Paul's Epistles, in which the Apostle so
affectionately urges Chiistians as hcmng died to sin, and
having been made free from sin, and having become the
servants of righteousness, to act in consistency with this
already existing goodness and heavenly-mindedness.
The death to sin, which the mature Christian shows in
practice, is contemplated in these passages as only the
death to sin which took place in baptism continued— the
same state with it, not the contingent result of it. The
inavopdmai^ irXdcfiaTo^ of Gregory Nazianzen seems to
express the same idea, viz. that man is '^ set right " in bap-
tism, re-endowed with the habit in which he was created,
and so given a fresh start, with the advantage of being
placed again in an initial state of virtue, in which he has
only to remain and persevere, in order to obtain his final

It may be asked, indeed, how such actual goodness, as
the Fathers describe regeneration to be, is imparted by

7 No. 12, Note 12. « No. 13, Note 12.

• No. 14, Note 12. > No. 15, Note 12.

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gS Patristic Sense of Regeneration. [Paet I.

an outward rite. But we have only to do here with the
fact of the Patristic sense^ not with any ulterior question
which may follow firom it. There are interpreters, indeed,
of the Fathers who come forward with an explanation on
this point. These interpreters say that the Fathers
having principally in their minds, in their use of this
^gQ^6> tJie case of zealous and devout adults, who came
to baptism with already formed devout dispositions, are
not to be understood too literally in the assertion that such
dispositions are imparted then and there by the visible
sacrament, which is rather a mode of speaking, meaning
substantially that baptism is the climax and consumma-
tion of that whole previous process of conversion which
has produced these dispositions. I am not, however,
concerned in the present chapter with any difficulty
resulting from the Patristic sense of regeneration, or any
explanation of it, but only with the Patristic sense of
regeneration itself.

Again, the whole of this language of the Fathers has
received a particular interpretation from divines of the
Anglican school, who, maintaining the docrine of bap-
tismal regeneration upon the authority of the Fathers,
have yet explained all this language as descriptive of a
f amity only for attaining actual goodness. They have
apparently given it this sense from deciding that it was
wanted, to accommodate such language to the facts of
Christian life, which do not indicate an actual state of
goodness as uniformly derived from baptism. But when
a large mass of language lies before us, and the question
is what it means, this is a question which must be settled,
not by considering what is wanted to suit the needs of
theology, but by the natural force and signification of
the language itself, which being clear and decided, it is
not then allowable that an outside difficulty resulting
from some ulterior question should unseat this natural

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Chap. VI.] Patristic Sense of Regeneration. 99

interpretation^ and cancel the intrinsic meaning of such
langoage. Examined by this plain test^ this language
refoses the explanation just mentioned. Nowhere do
the Fathers represent regeneration as a faculty only, a
''potential principle'' as distinguished from actual
righteousness: on the contrary, they describe it, as
plainly as they can do by words, as being actual

H 2

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Wb come now from the Fathers to the baptismal langaage
of the Schools. The Scholastic sense of regeneration is,
with all the peculiarity and quaintness of the forms in
which it is expressed, a remarkable witness to the tenacity
with which the Scriptural sense has clung to the term
amid much foreign incrustation, and the growth of
artificial subtleties and refinements. The Fathers use
language to one general purport, but the more accurate
Schoolmen brought matters more to a point : and when
they had formally raised the question what regeneration
was, declared without hesitation that it involved actual
goodness and all the Christian virtues. This definition
of the baptismal gift was expressed in the formula that
^'baptism conferred grace and the virtues"^ — ^a formula
which substantially explains itself, but which, being cast
in an antiquated mould of language, not familiar to the
ear of an ordinary reader of English divinity, may require
some elucidation.

The term ''gratia^' then may at first mislead the
Anglican reader accustomed to understand that term in
the sense of assisting grace, or an imparted faculty. It
has a much higher sense in this formula, and stands for a
grace which is positively creative, not only imparting the
power but the very fact of goodness — ^the sense which it

^ ** Per baptismum conferantnr homini gratia et virtutes."
Summ. TheoL P. 3, Q. 69, A 4

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Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. i o i

apparently bears in one portion of Scripture language.
This creative sense, though not necessarily implying the
predestinarian hypothesis, was indebted for its preserva-
tion to the predestinarian school in the Patristic Churchy
in whose guardianship the deposit remained, till firom
Augustine and his followers it came down to Lombard
and Aquinas. In the theology of these two chiefs of the
schools ''grace*' figures as an actually creating and
fashioning agent, not only inserting the faculty, but the
IhCbbit of virtue in the soul, and imparting ah iniUo to it
the final spiritual mould; it figures as a cause which
brings with it simultaneously its effect in the shape of a
moral conformation then and there produced of the inner
man ; it is gratia gratum fadens, — grace which makes a
man of such a character as that God is pleased with him ;
grace which makes a man virtuous, effidens virtuoswm ;
grace which inserts goodness in the creature, ponms
honvm in creatwra; grace, ''which is a quality of the
soul of man, as beauty is a quality of the body, consti-
tuting him an object of moral love;^' g^^^^ce, "whereby
the soul is moulded into the very form and likeness of
Ood, by which likeness it is made worthy of the life
eternal;^' grace which contains and includes all the
virtues, as the abundant source and the productive root
contain the stream and the plant.'

And hence the juxtaposition of grace with the other
term, vvrtutesy which is presented to us in this formula :
the stream is given with the source, the plant with the
root. The Schoolmen draw different subtle distinctions
in defining the relation of "grace'' to the "virtues;"
Lombard considering that grace is virtue,' by which he
appears to mean that grace is that common substance of

« Note 13.

' " Ilia gratia virtus non incongrae nominatur." Lombard, 1. %

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I02 Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. [Part I.

which the yirtnes are different forms ; Aquinas^ that grace
is rather a root or substratum of the virtues, — ^a radical
habit out of which the virtues are necessarily produced
and derived. ^ " Grace is a universally directing habit/'
says Alexander Hales, '' each virtue directing to its own
act, but grace to all. Q-race is the light, virtue is the
ray ; the same in substance and differing only in relation,
because the ray is the direction of the light into this or
that part of the atmosphere, and in the same way virtue
is the manifestation of grace in this or that form in the
soul.^' • It is enough, however — for such subtle refine-
ments are wholly beside the main question — that grace
in this formula is not merely an assisting grace ; but that,
whether as a common substance containing them, or as a
radical habit de facto producing them, grace actually, and
not potentially only, includes the Christian virtues ; and
that, standing in this relation to each other, grace and
the virtues, the root and the branches together are
inserted in the soul in the act of regeneration.

Thus much for ^* grace" The "virtues'* — to turn to
the other term in this formula — are again defined with
sufficient precision as to their nature and rank. First,
they are virtues, correctly defined according to the
science of ethics, which asserts virtue to be a ''habit,*'
and a " habit " to be '' a quality difficult to remove, by
which a man acts easily and pleasantly/* * *' A habit,**

* ** Gratia est habitudo qxisddam qnaa praBsupponitur virtntibtLS
sicnt earum principiom et radix." Aquinas, S. T., Ima, 2dsB, Q.
110, A. 3. " Gratia pnrificationis aut est charitas cum tide et spe ;
aut certe est qusedam alia qualitas cum qua infallibiliter conjunctsa
sunt tres ilka yirtutes." Bellarmine, De Sacram. Bapt. L i c 11.

* Summa Theol. p. 464.

* " Virtus est habitus, ad cujus rationem pertinet quod sit qiudi-
tas difficile mohili8,per quam aUquis fttcilUer et deledahiliter opera-
tmr Sum. TheoL P. 3, Q. 69, A 4

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Chap. Vn.] Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. 103

Bays Darandns^ quoting another Aristotelian definition^
'^ is that by which a man is well or ill disposed to himself
or another : a habit is that which determines the faculty
to good or evil/' "^ " Every faculty which suffers under
difficulty in the performance of its act wants a facilitating
principle; which principle is a habit/'® Such being a
habit^ a virtue is a gooA habit. " Virtue,'' says Lombard,
quoting Augustine, " is a good quahty of the mind by
which we live aright, h(ma qimlitas mentis qua recte
vivitur"* ''Virtue," says Bonaventure, quoting the
same authority, ^ is the habit of a well-constituted mind,
hahitus mentis bene comtUutce/' ^ "The virtues" then,
which, according to this formula, are involved in re-
generation, are true and real virtues of the texture and
composition prescribed in the science of ethics.

So much for the nature of the '' virtues/' Their rank
is decided by the character of the dispensation to which
they belong. They are not the prudential or the simply
moral habits attaching to a state of nature, but they are
the transcendental and supernatural virtues of a state of
grace,' laid down in Scripture as principally three — &ith,
hope, and charity; which three "theological virtues"
therefore, to give the Scholastic name, are according to
this formula inserted in the soul in the act of regenera-

Such being, however, the fundamental formula of the
Schools, an important difference appears in the earlier

7 In Lomb. p. 198. » In Lomb. p. 252.

« L. 2, dist. 27. * Compendinm Theol. 1. v. o. 6.

' ** Virtutes theologiosB hsBC mode ordinant hominem ad beati-
tadinem supematnralem, sicut per nataralem inclinationem ordi-
natnr homo in finem sibi connataralem.*' AqninaSj 8. T., Ima,
2da9, Q. 62,A. 3. " Prffiter habitus morales acquisitos indigemus
theologicis habitibns . . . Actus quibus ordinamur ad beatitudin em
Bupematuralem procedunt ex potentiis perfectis per habitus."
Durandus in Lomb. p. 254.

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I04 Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. [PaetL

and later application of it^ and the language of Peter
Lombard invites attention as exhibiting considerable
differences from that of his saccessors in the Schools.
Lombard adopts the radical formola just mentioned, that
the thing given in baptism, i.e. regeneration, is an actual
habit of goodness — ''the deposition of vices, and the
collation of virtues/' ''It is this,'' he says, "which
constitutes the new man; abolition of sin, adornment
with the virtues : the abolition of sin ezpels foulness, the
apposition of virtues confers splendour, and this is the
res scuyramenti of baptisnu" • But while Lombard thus
defined regeneration or the grace of baptism, he hesitated
when he came to the question of infants as recipients of
this grace, and finally declined to assert that they received
the whole of it, that they had this gift of regeneration
imparted to them in its fulness and completeness. He
expresses this opinion in a celebrated passage,^ in which
having allowed infants the negative part of regeneration
or the remission of original sin, and meeting the question
whether they receive the positive — the grace, "qua ad
majorem venientes 89tatem possint velle et operari
bonum," he replies, " Videtur quod non :" because only
recognizing grace as a habit of goodness, he says that
infants cannot possess habits. " Quia gratia ilia charitas
est et fides. . . . Sed quis dixerit eos accepisse fidem et
charitatem ?"

But the limitation which Lombard attached to the
infant's reception of baptismal grace altogether dis-

• " Causa vero institationiB Baptismi est innovatio mentis, nt
homo qni per peccatum yetus fuerat, per gratiam baptismi renove-
tur, quod fit depositione vitiorum et collatione virtutum. Sic enim
fit qaisque novas homo, cum abolitis peccatis omatur virtntibus.
Abolitio peccatorom pellit foeditatem, appositio virtatom affert
decorem ; et hseo est res hujns sacramentL" L. 4, dist. 3.

* Note 14.

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Chap. VII.] Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. 105

appeared in later Scholasticism. Aquinas and the formal
mediaaval school laid it down distinctly and summarily
that '' infants in baptism receive grace and the virtues ;''
and Bellarmine only expresses a long-established decision
in asserting that '^ the habits of faith, hope, and charity
are infused into infants at baptism/' ^ The infant left
the baptismal font, endowed not only with the foculties,
but with the habits of all Christian goodness already
miraculously f onped in him : he rose out of the water
with a soul not only directed towards but already
fashioned upon the true exemplar, and moulded into the
perfect form of the spiritual man. It was true that
infants were incapable from natural immaturity of ex-
pressing these habits in action, but they still possessed
the habits: they were not yet *'able to entertain the
motions of free will,'* but they were still susceptible of
moral goodness '' by means of the Divine information of
their souls;'' i.e. by the original reception of a moral
mould and a rudimental character from the Divine

Such was the Scholastic doctrine of the regeneration

• " Pneri in baptismo gratiam et virtutes consequimttir." S. T.,
P. 8, Q. 69, A. 6.

" Infantibns in baptiamo infundnntur habitus fidei, spei, et chari-
tatis." Bellarmine, De Sacr. Bapt. L i. c. 11.

" A n ima rationalis dnobas modis dicitnr esse sasceptibilis vir-
tates, nno modo per acquisitioneiB, alio modo per inf osionem. Per
acquisitionem, parvalos manens parynlns non snscipit virtntem.
Sed per infosionem snscipit virtntem anteqnam ntatnr : sicnt
patet in Salomone, cni infusa est scientia cum dormiebat."
Alexander Alensis, Sum. Th. p. 184.

" Dantnr parvnlis habitus perfect! virtutum quamvis per illos
non operentur." Bonaventure in Lomb. iv. p. 64.

• •' Pueri non sunt capaces motus liberi arbitrii,etideomoventnr
a Deo ad justitiam per solam informationeni animsB ipsorum."
Aquinas, S. T., Ima, 2da9, Q. 113, A. 3.

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io6 Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. [Part I.

of all infants in baptism ; its fundamental characteristic
being that it did not give up but retained the Scriptural
sense of regeneration as actual goodness ; only making
that difference in the actual goodness of the infant which
his infantine age required, viz. that it was a seminal
habit^ not a habit in action. The notion of regeneration
as a mere faculty or capacity was not even entertained.
Such a scheme had to meet the difficulties attaching to
the theological application of the doctrine beyond the
hmits of Scripture, but did not tamper with the natural
meaning of a Scripture term.

The question, indeed, immediately arose upon the con-
struction of this bold baptismal scheme, how it was to be
reconciled with facts. A habit was, by its very Scho-
lastic definition, *' a quality of the mind not easily re-
movable, by which one acts easily and pleasurably.'^
How was it then that those who possessed these habits,
by the implantation of them in their souls in infancy, did
not show them as they grew up, in the usual way in
which habits are shown, by expressing them in action,
and by performing good actions with that facility and
pleasure which a habit imparts ? Instead of which we
unfortunately see the great mass of each Christian gene-
ration as it grows up, living in carelessness and sin in-
stead of virtue, and hardly any practising virtue from
the first with ease, as if they had already the habit of it.
But the tendency of the medieeval mind, in theological as
in other science, was not to allow facts to interfere with
theory. The facts were indeed too strong for denial, but
the theoretical spirit maintains its ground sometimes, not
by refusing to admit facts when they are patent, but by
not allowing them when admitted to interfere with theory,
and satisfying itself with a feeble and insufficient explana-
tion. .

So long then as the infant remained such, the expla-

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Chap. VII.] Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. 107

nation of this difficulty was easy, viz. that though the
implanted habit was in him, it was in him only in a latent
and unconscious stage, and he could not act upon it by
reason of the immaturity of nature.' But then came the
real test of the theory. The infant grows up, attains the
use of his natural faculties, and becomes a reasonable
and responsible agent ; but he still does not, and may
not for his whole life, show such habits. How was this f
The excuse of natural immaturity could now no longer
apply, and recourse was had to another and a much more
intricate and subtle one.

The explanation of the difficulty was then asserted to
lie in the fundamental nature of habits : that habits did
not move themselves, but required the free will of the
agent to put them in motion on any successive occasion
in which action was required. A man did not act in a
particular way at any given time, simply by having the
habit, but by acting according to his habit* It thus de-
pended on the prevailing motion of the agent's will at
the time, whether a habit was used, and expressed itself
in action, or whether it lay dormant and idle.* If there-
fore, in addition to these infused habits themselves^ a suc-

7 <* Yidentes pueros inhabiles ad actus yirtutam credidemnt eos
poet baptismnm nuUatenns virtatem habere. Sed ista impotentia
operandi non aocedit paeris ex defectu habitamn, sed ex impedi-
mento corporali." Aquinas, S. T., P. 3, Q. 69, A. 6. "Hie effectus
non statim inest pnero post baptismnm. Hoc antem non est prop-
ter defectum virtutis, sed propter impotentiam natnraa agentis."
Bonaventnre, Comp. Theol. 1. v. c. 3. See Note 16.

* ** Habitus non facit at operemnr, sed ut, cum operari volnmns,
facile operemnr. Scitom est apnd omnes philosophos habitnm
esse in nostra potestate, qno nti possnmns cum yolnmns, sed non
facit nt velimns, imo qniescit donee voluntas eum pro libitu exer-
ceat" Morinns, De Poen. 1. 8, c. 2.

" Non est habitus qui facit facere." Jansen, De Grat. Ghristi,
p. 186.

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1 08 Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. [Part I.

cession of special motions were given to the will to ubs
them^ either by Divine grace simply or by the will of the
agent himself conjointly with Divine grace^ the infused
habits were then brought into active use ; if these special
motions were not given^ then the habits slept and the
agent fell back under the dominion of concupiscence,
under which he indulged in sinful acts.

This is the well-known Scholastic doctnne of '^ special
grace/' as distinguished from " habitual grace/' These
infused virtues bearing, as habits imparted by grace, the
technical name of '^ habitual grace '' in Scholastic divinity,
it is a maxim in that system that a man cannot act by
'' habitual grace '' alone, but wants the addition of special
grace besides it to make him act * — in common language,
that, as a man cannot act at any given time simply by
his habit, he requires besides his habit a special motion
of the will to make him act. Habitual grace, then, thus
needing the aid of special in order to bring it out and
convert it to practical use, or, in other words, the general
habit needing a particular impulse or motion to make it
act on any given occasion, how was this special motion
given? It depended on the system of the theologian,
whether it was a motion of the independent human will
aided by grace, or whether it was a motion of sovereign
grace alone. Bellarmine makes it sometimes the one and

* " Homo ad recte viyendam duplidter anxilio Dei indiget, nno
modo qnantnin ad aliqaod habitnale donnm . . . alio modo at a
Deo moveatnr ad agendnm.*' Aquinas, S. T., Ima, 2daB, Q. 109, A. 9.

" Neque enim auziliuin speciale est habitus infusus ; sed actio
qua Deus hominem movet ad operandum, vel cum eo operatur."
Bellarmine, de Grat et Lib. Arb. L i. c. 2.

" OrcUia hahitualis non est ilia gratia qu89 facit yelle et &,cere,
qussque donat voluntatem et actionem ; nam alioquin Justus sem-
per vellet et faceret." "Necessarinm adjutorium gratia actualis
quod tunc datur quando actu volumus et operamur.'' Jansen, De
Grat Christi, pp. 186, 151.

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Chap. VII.] Scholastic Sense of Regeneration. 109

someidmes the other : ^ Aquinas makes it sovereign and
irresistible grace alone. In the "Summa Theologica/'
this whole goodness of the regenerate creature, implanted
in him at the moment of his new birth, figures, as how-
ever fixed a habit, only as the Divine formation pre-
ceding the final gift of action itself. It is the perfect
disposition for action, standing on the very edge of
proximity to it, and ready to turn into it in a moment, like
matter trembling upon the point of crystalUzation ; but
still needing this last Divine impulse to convert it into
the form of practice, and without that impulse lying
dormant and sluggish, like the inanimate machine before
the spring is touched. The Deity would have everything
prepared for Him before He takes the finishing step;
He therefore endows the creature with good habits, i.e.

Online LibraryJames Bowling MozleyA review of the baptismal controversy → online text (page 9 of 38)