To attempt a full and satisfactory treatment of the subject of Holy Baptism in a lecture of an hour's length would be to undertake what is beyond the power of man. The Oxford Movement, as it is commonly called, was an instance of the recovery of a Church from lethargy and weakness, through faith in her own divine origin, and the re-assertion of her rights as a branch of the Catholic family. That movement commenced, as was natural, with the reaffirmation of the principle of Apostolic Succession, as vital to the proof of legitimacy; it proceeded with the restatement of the doctrines of grace and their sacramental application. About the year 1835, when the movement was in successful progress, Dr. Pusey prepared what is described by Dean Church as "perhaps the most elaborate treatise on Baptism that has yet appeared in the English language." ["The Oxford Movement," p. 119.] It came out in three parts, in the "Tracts for the Times," forming, in the second edition, a volume of four hundred pages. Let a man look through that volume, crammed as it is with quotations from Holy Scripture, the Fathers, the Liturgies, and the writings of all kinds of dissenters and heretics, ancient and modern, and he will form a just idea of the breadth and importance of the subject now before us, and the impossibility of doing it justice in the time at my command. I must limit myself to saying a few things, as concisely as possible, on the first of the two great Sacraments of the Gospel, in its relation to the Incarnation, and its place in the extension of the benefits thereof to the human family.
And, first, be this observed, that Holy Baptism is declared by the Church to be "generally necessary to salvation." [Catechism in Book of Common Prayer.] The statement is made, of course, on the authority of Christ, who said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;" and "except a man be born of water and the Holy Ghost he cannot see the kingdom of God." This sacrament, as we understand the case, is the instrument whereby men are grafted into the vine, and placed in direct and personal relation to Christ, the Second Adam. In baptism they are made "members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven," relations not held before the administration of the rite. They are "buried with Christ in baptism, wherein also they are risen with Him." The moment of baptism is, for them, that of a new birth into a life in God. Where that sacrament may be had, no man is, or can be, in Christ till he be baptized. These are very simple statements; they constitute the first lessons taught to the children of the Church; they form the basis of Christian education. And yet, notwithstanding this rudimental cast, they are statements which it is all-important for us at this particular time to reiterate, and teach with diligence, because the drift of popular thought is against them. To watch that drift is the duty of the Clergy of this Church and of all who desire to educate on her lines; and I think that there is no more curious or interesting subject of consideration at present than the persistency of the tenets of Pelagius and his followers, and the fascination exerted by them on the modern mind. The Pelagian heresy has a vitality unexampled in the history of religious error; its strength to-day may be seen in the popularity of such ideas as these--that every human being, from the fact that he is man, is already in vital union with Christ, from the fact that Christ is man also; that the immediate effect of the incarnation was to make Christ immanent in all nations and in every individual of the race. This Christo-Pantheism--for it cannot be uncharitable to designate it by that title--is manifestly without support in the Scriptures; it is contradictory to the entire tenor of the teaching of the apostles, and irreconcilable with their acts; it is equally irreconcilable with what we are taught in the Church as to the need and the grace of Holy Baptism. For among the first principles of Church teaching are these, that in us is an innate fault and corruption; that men are unable by any efforts of their own to help, or raise, or save themselves out of that natural state of depression; that fallen nature has within it no recuperative power, till God touches it from outside; and that, generally, no man can be in Christ except he be born again of water and the Holy Ghost. These statements are principles of the doctrine of Christ, and a part of the foundation of the Christian Religion, and we may add, as the result of observation, that wherever they are denied the tendency soon becomes evident to change religion into a philosophy and to den}' the divine and supernatural elements which constitute its vital force.
It is proposed to consider the gifts of Holy Baptism under the three heads of
1. Forgiveness of Sins.
And, first, of the Forgiveness of Sins. That this is granted in Holy Baptism to every duly qualified recipient, is an article of the Christian faith. "I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins." And here we come at once upon the distinction between Sin Original and Sin Actual. It has been, and is, the practice of the Catholic Church to admit infants to Holy Baptism. She does this on the line of the article in the Creed, on the ground that there is in them a sin which needs and receives forgiveness; for, if it were not so, it would follow that in places where the Church was settled and dominant, and at times when adult baptism was the exception, and infant baptism the rule, the article of the Creed just referred to was without significance. The Church teaches that "all men are conceived and born in sin;" [Offices of Baptism in Book of Common Prayer] the words are the first which the minister utters in his official character whenever an infant is presented for baptism; the act of so presenting is justified and explained by the Church's estimate of the child's natural and actual condition; to speak of a sinless, spotless infant is to describe what has never existed on the earth since the hour of the Fall, save once, in Bethlehem of Judea, when Christ our Lord was born. "Original, or birth sin, is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that is naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam... and in every person born into this world it deserveth God's wrath and damnation." [Article IX.] To mend that fault is God's first work, a work which must be done before anything else can be done. It is a fault in the nature; it has nothing individual or personal in it at first; it is not to be confused with act, will, or character; the sufferer is not responsible. And yet it is a difficulty calling for serious attention--an obstacle which must be somehow disposed of. The best time to deal with it is at the birth of the child into the world, for then no bar is interposed to the act of the physician and surgeon of the soul. The state of infancy is, to the soul under treatment, what the etherized condition is to a patient undergoing an operation--the subject, when passive and unconscious, is completely under command. So with divine grace in this sacrament; the fault in our nature is the thing to be corrected, helped, or removed; wherever that fault exists the sacrament is required, and may be effectual; it will be effectual unless man place some obstacle in the way. A child, as inheritor of the trouble common to the race, is a proper subject for treatment; a child, having as yet committed no actual sin, is then best fitted for sacramental absolution as being unable by thought, word, or act to stay the effectual working of the Holy Ghost. So do we think, and so believe, of the "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins." In that sacrament original sin is forgiven, wherever it exists; in infants, of course, because there is in them none other to forgive; and if the subject be of riper years, his actual sins, committed prior to baptism, are also washed away. Thus the doctrine of Holy Baptism contains the refutation of the error of those who deny the original corruption of human nature. It is not to be regarded as a mere external washing, similar to the ablutions practised by the Jews and other ancient people; nor is it a mere initiatory rite; but it is a power of the world to come. It witnesses, first, to the absolute need of cleansing ere any one can come to the presence of God; it witnesses, secondly, to the atoning work of Christ, who, by the shedding of His precious blood, and by His application of the merits of that blood, so cleanses the soul of the sinner. With singular fitness is the sign of the Cress made in the administration of that sacrament, since baptism refers us to the death on Calvary, and derives its vitality from that sacrificial act. To deny the strength and power of sin is to take all serious meaning out of this sacrament; it seems to serve thenceforth no purpose sufficiently important to justify its retention; if retained, it is, perhaps, as a dead form from which the spirit has passed away.
Secondly, baptism is "a sign of Regeneration or new birth;" thereby, "as by an instrument, men are grafted into the Church," which is the Body of Christ. [Article XXVII.] Here again we tread on ground worn by many a bitter controversy, and deeply tracked by the feet of combatants; but it is a comfort to reflect that the battle, though long, did not terminate in a doubtful issue. There is no reasonable ground of doubt, that in the Prayer-book Offices for the Ministration of Baptism, regeneration is put foremost as a baptismal gift; the fact cannot be concealed; right or wrong, that is the teaching of the Church. The notorious Gorham case, though its immediate effect was to sustain the clique who denied regeneration in baptism, was, in its ultimate result, a blessing to the Church; as has been well observed:
"The storm of controversy raised by that case so cleared the atmosphere of the clouds by which the subject of baptismal regeneration had been obscured, as practically to put an end to all discussion about it; and a later generation wonders how such a discussion could ever have arisen when the language of Holy Scripture and of the Prayer-book is now seen to be so singularly plain and dogmatic." [Blunt's "Dictionary of Sects, Heresies, etc.," p. 198.]
The change to which we apply the name of regeneration is not to be confounded with conversion, or alteration of any kind in disposition, mind, will, or heart. It goes far deeper, down to the roots of the being; it implants a spiritual seed from which the whole spiritual life, including the spiritual body which man shall wear eternally, is to be evolved.
As Dr. Pusey says:
"One may then define Regeneration to be that act whereby God takes us out of our relation to Adam, and makes us actual members of His Son, and so His sons, as being members of His Ever-Blessed Son, and if sons, then heirs of God through Christ. (Gal. iv. 7.) This is our new birth, an actual birth of God, of water, and the Spirit, as we were actually born of our natural parents; herein then, also, are we justified, or both accounted and made righteous, since we are made members of Him who is alone righteous; freed from past sin, whether original or actual; have a new principle of life imparted to us, since, having been made members of Christ, we have a portion of His life, or of Him who is our life; herein we have also the hope of the resurrection and of immortality, because we have been made partakers of His resurrection, have risen again with Him." (Col. ii. 12.)
A man has no more to do with his second birth into Christ, regarded in its character as a divine act wrought on him, than he had to do with his birth from his mother's womb. We are here directly in front of the mystery of the Incarnation and its extension to us. There was a first Adam; there is a second. From the first we are descended carnaliter; from him, our common ancestor, we inherit that disordered constitution with which we are born into the world; in that first Adam we all die; for as his descendants we are become subject to the law of sin in our members, and to the wage and penalty of sin, which is death. But there is a Second Adam; and what we lost by descent from the first is made up to us, and more than made up, in the Second. God, by His law in grace, makes us members of the Second, as by the law of nature we are members of the first. Regeneration is God's gift to man, in the sacrament of the new birth. For then we receive the germ of a new and immortal life; we are born again, into another family and household; we come under new conditions, we enter into a new environment; we have a new Father, we are set free from the law of sin and death. The analogy between the two ancestries is complete and exact. If the descent from the earthly ancestor be a real and practical thing, not less real and practical is the relation to the heavenly Head. It is not an affair of suppositions, metaphors, and figures of speech, but a vital reality. This change in the nature--not in the individual, and in the state--not in the character, is what the Church means, in declaring of every person duly baptized that he is thereby regenerate. Regeneration would not be regeneration, if effected by ourselves; it is brought about by God the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life. It is accomplished, not by man, in the use of any power of his own; nor could it be, for the condition in which he comes into the world deprives him of the ability to make himself over on this wise; not by man, nor by blood, nor by the will of the flesh; not by wish for betterment, nor by faith in himself; not by struggle and strife and aspirations, but by the power and grace of God the Holy Ghost. To mark that fact more distinctly, and to keep the man, at the outset of this new career, on the line of his whole mundane existence, in which, as we are never to forget, life comes down from without and not from within, it is accomplished by sign and symbol, by uttered word, by mention of the name of God, the Three and One, and by the use of an element of the natural world, "sanctified to the mystical washing away of sin;" and thus human nature, as realized in the person of one poor suffering and dying creature, is brought into union with that same human nature as realized in power, glory, and eternal life, in the person of the Son of God. This is to be born anew of water and of the Spirit; and thus is the Incarnation extended to us, man by man, in the sacrament of baptism.
I believe that this doctrine is in perfect accord with the best scientific thought of the day, with sound philosophy, and with the theology of the Church, and that it will receive fresh confirmation from study in those departments.
Holy Baptism is, for the individual, the beginning, the starting-point, in his new creation; the agon, the battle, has not yet come on, nor the time when he must do for himself. The power of the sacramental system lies first in God, in nature, and in the constituted order of things before it reaches men. It is not an evolution in ourselves, nor an outcome of our effort; and nothing is more distinctly narrow and contracted than the idea that regeneration and conversion must be one and the same thing, for that is as much as to say that it is really the man who regenerates himself.
To quote again from our great master:
"No change of heart, or of the affections, no repentance, however radical, no faith, no life, no love, come up to the idea of this 'birth from above;' it takes them all in, and comprehends them all, but itself is more than all; it is not only the creation of a new heart, new affections, new desires, and, as it were, a new birth; but is an actual birth from above or from God--a gift coming down from God, and given to faith, through Baptism; yet not the work of faith, but the operation of 'water and the Holy Spirit,' the Holy Spirit giving us a new life in the fountain opened by Him, and we being born therein of Him, even as our Blessed and Incarnate Lord was, according to the flesh, born of Him in the Virgin's womb, Faith and repentance are the conditions on which God gives it; water, sanctified by our Lord's baptism, the womb of our new birth; love, good works, increasing faith, renovated affections, heavenly aspirations, conquest over the flesh, its fruits in those who persevere; but it itself is the gift of God, a gift incomprehensible, and not to be confounded with or restrained to any of its fruits (as a change of heart, or conversion), but illimitable and incomprehensible, as that great mystery from which it flows, the Incarnation of our Redeemer, the Ever-Blessed Son of God."
Science here comes to the aid of Catholic theology and confirms her statements. Life can only come by contact with life. Life must come from outside; there is no such thing as spontaneous generation. It is so with natural life; it is so with spiritual life. It is not the man who makes himself to live; who evolves himself out of matter, and so becomes the author of his own act. Even so, in the case of the soul, to make it alive, it must be touched from without with life from above. The source of that life is the glorified humanity of the Son of God. It is a free gift to us, granted complete, without cooperation or agency of ours. It is a grace, a power, a vital germ, a new force, conveyed to us by Holy Baptism, as by an instrument and channel of importation. To fail to see this, and to insist, as has been done, that the work begins in the man himself, and that spiritual life is the result of his prevenient action, is to take a position not only destructive of the leading principle in Catholic theology, but also inconsistent with the laws of life in the natural and moral spheres.
The Holy Scriptures speak of men as being buried with Christ in baptism; raised with Christ in that sacrament; then and thereby planted in the likeness of Christ's death, freed from the law of sin, made complete in Him, and seated with Him in heavenly places. These expressions indicate, apparently, the presence and action of some unknown power, some unearthly force, something out of the height, coming clown upon men, working incredible change, conveying supernatural gifts and blessings; gifts which men are competent to receive at any age, and do receive, to the good of the soul, if they place no bar in the way. Children, as has been observed, can place no bar in the way, from the very nature of the case, and therefore infant baptism is the normal and perfect illustration of our subject. Adults may hinder or prevent its operation by ignorance, by indifference, by want of due preparation; to their own part must they look, to their duty must they be urged by their spiritual guides; but the lot of the children is happier, and of such is the kingdom of heaven. Then, when the life has been imparted, the child having been extricated from the womb of its native condition and brought into the communion of the Body of Christ, we look for the fruits of the regenerating spirit in the life of faith, the turning consciously to God, the works of righteousness, the processes of conversion and progressive sanctification. These are the aftergrowth; the seed was sown by the Divine Sower, and this is the harvest. To fail to see these distinctions is a calamity. It is a fatal error to confuse God's great sacramental gift of regeneration with the conditions required of an adult who has not yet come to the holy sacrament, or with the fruits expected to follow where that prevenient grace has been shed forth upon the soul.
"Baptismal regeneration," says Dr. Pusey, "as connected with the Incarnation of our Blessed Lord, gives a depth to our Christian existence, an actualness to our union with Christ, a reality to our sonship to God, an interest in the presence of our Lord's glorified Body at God's right hand, a joyousness amid the subduing of the flesh, an overwhelming-ness to the dignity conferred on human nature, a solemnity to the communion of saints, who are the fulness of Him who filleth all in all, a substantiality to the indwelling of Christ, that to those who retain this truth the school which abandoned it must needs appear to have sold its birthright." ["Tracts for the Times," No. 67.]
There is yet a third gift to man in this first sacrament of the Gospel; it is that of Illumination. In two well-known passages in the Epistle to the Hebrews the inspired writer, referring to the baptized, styles them the illuminated. The term was constantly used in the first age of Christianity. Holy Baptism was spoken of as "the illumination," and the illuminated were the baptized. The times for baptism, and the rites and ceremonies connected with its administration, suggested the same idea. Epiphany, Easter, and Whitsuntide were deemed the seasons fittest for the great ordinance; they who came to it were clad in white and carried lighted lamps or tapers in their hands. At the baptism of the younger Theodosius, we are told, there was a splendid procession; all wore white and carried lights, so that the street appeared to be covered with snow, and the stars seemed to have left the heavens and to be moving in a flood of radiance upon the earth. The name, the symbolism and ritualism, the accessories, tell one clear story; they place the gifts of Holy Baptism before us in another aspect; they bear on the trying question of reason and faith. We cannot for a moment suppose that our ancient fathers were thus engaged in childish play and empty ceremonies; they meant something, and by those significant proceedings they declared a momentous truth.
Light is the medium of vision; by means of it objects become perceptible to the organs of sight. The organ of sight and the medium of vision are not the same; eyes are of no use without light; in the dark the most perfect eye sees nothing. So, then, light is not the thing which sees, nor is it the object seen, but a medium, a go-between, a somewhat central between the observer and the thing observed, but not to be confused with either. And illumination is the act of supplying light; the shedding abroad of that by means of which things become visible which were invisible before. When, therefore, the sacred writers and the primitive Christians called baptism illumination, and spoke of the baptized as illuminated, they expressed a profound truth in the use of that word.
We discern between material light, intellectual light, and spiritual light. There is the light of this world, with the aid whereof the bodily eye discerns the material objects around us. There is an intellectual light, derived from education and culture, by which the human reason and understanding sees and apprehends the subjects of thought. After these there is another light. It is not material light; it is not the light of reason. These avail in the natural world and in the world of intellect. But above these there is a higher world; a world inaccessible to man in his own powers; a world where things cannot be touched, investigated, or seen by the eye of the body or the eye of the mind. Light is needed before man can make out what is there, or gain any certain information concerning the mysteries and wonders of that higher sphere. The light needed for that purpose is the illumination received in Holy Baptism; a divine gift from God to the eye of the soul; a medium of vision in spiritual things by which the spirit of man, which is in him, becomes able to see the things of the Spirit of God.
The parallels appear to be complete, the analogies perfect. As a denizen of the material world man has the eye of the body, and the light whereby to use it, and thus he sees, and that is the natural light. In the intellectual sphere man has the reason, and the subjects which are apt to its powers and within its range; but the reason is useless till it be provided with its proper light--a light derived from training and study, shining all about us in modern civilization, demanding fidelity to it, and capable of increase or diminution, according to the right use or the abuse of the intellectual powers. In his relations to the spiritual world man has the reason and the understanding as before, but now he needs another light, apt to study and discovery in that higher sphere. Body, mind, and spirit, however perfect in themselves, must remain in ignorance of their proper objects, unless light be given to each whereby to see. The eye may be perfect, and yet absolutely useless for want of natural light. The mind may be acute and clear, and yet a man may live and die in ignorance, for want of knowledge and education. The spirit, though capable of seeing divine truth, and acquainting itself with God and all holy mysteries, may remain in darkness and error, like that of the pagan, heretic, and unbeliever, because it lacks, or has rejected, the illumination whereby God shows the spirit the things concerning himself. That light comes to us, not from us; it is light from a world above; it is shed abroad in the heart by God the Holy Ghost; it is conveyed to the soul, together with the remission of sin and the gift of regeneration, in the sacrament ordained to that end by Him who said: "I am the Light of the world." This is the Catholic doctrine of Holy Baptism. In it man receives a new spiritual sense given for certain purposes, for supernatural ends. He has the material senses; the intellectual powers; and now a spiritual faculty, whereby he is able to discern truths not accessible to the senses in their common use, nor to the reason in its proper action. He is thus equipped for every relation and every duty. He can know the world of nature, the world of thought, and the world of grace. He is provided with what he needs, as tenant of many spheres. But greatest of all these gifts is the last. Thereby he sees what the eye cannot see, what the car cannot hear, what the intellect cannot comprehend; things beyond the reach of touch or taste or visual perception; things more important than aught else to him as heir of immortality. And in the use of this new power he gains knowledge to be had in no other way; not by experiment, not by argument, not by logical demonstration, but a knowledge imparted through a light flashing in upon the soul he knows not how. This is the double gift to man in the illumination at the font: outside, a broad medium of revealed truth and doctrine, summed up in the Catholic creed; inside, an illuminative gift and spiritual faculty enabling him to see it and to live thereby.
It is hardly necessary to add that these faculties depend for their maintenance on proper use. Men may ruin their eyes by careless and improper exercise or neglect; they may ruin their intellectual powers by abuse; they may deprive themselves of their spiritual sight by neglect, self-conceit, moral cowardice, and sin. Nor is it necessary to observe that, in the case of adults, repentance and faith are the conditions antecedent to the right reception of this holy sacrament, and that the gift to every man shall be less or greater according to his conscientiousness in the use thereof. But it must be always remembered that the repentance, the faith, the subjective condition, are not the baptismal gift. That gift is God's; it cometh down from the Father of lights; our part is to make ready for its reception as well as we can, and, having received, to keep it thereafter safe from profanation, misuse, and loss.
I wish now to speak briefly about a remarkable phase in the office for the Ministration of Baptism: "Sanctify this water to the mystical washing away of sin." The words may recall to your minds what was said in a previous lecture on the relation of the sacramental system to the order of the visible creation. And here I wish I had time to read to you, by way of exposition of this part of my subject, that portion of Dr. Pusey's volume on Holy Baptism in which, in treating of the wonder of the Christian miracle and the simplicity of the outward sign, he has brought together, with marvellous patience and fulness, the instances in the Old and New Testaments in which this element of water has been used by Almighty God in His dealings with men, and the deductions of holy writers from these acts of divine Providence. There is a wealth, a fulness in these illustrations, of which every mind and heart imbued with the spirit of sacramental Christianity must feel the force and beauty. Beginning with that epoch of the creative day when the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters; following the course of the four rivers which went out of Eden; we come to the Old Testament types: the flood; the wells of the patriarchs, which the Philistines stopped with earth; the well of water shown to Hagar; the passage of the Red Sea; Elim, with its twelve wells and its threescore and ten palm-trees; the smitten rock; the water out of the well of Bethlehem, by the gate; the cleansing of Naaman in Jordan; the transit of Elijah through that river on his way home to God. Then we take up the prophecies, reading in Isaiah of the waters breaking out in the wilderness and streams in the desert; in Ezekiel, of his vision of the holy waters; in Zechariah, of the fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness. And so we pass through the veil into the days of Christ, and read of the well of Samaria, and the water changed to wine at Cana of Galilee, and the waters of baptism applied by John, the forerunner of the Lord, and of the water which, mingled with blood, flowed from the side of Christ. The office of the types was a great one; they prefigured the coming of an hour when to this element of water was to be imparted a sanctification which should lift it out of the order of natural substances and natural uses, and give it a mystical and miraculous efficacy. We find in the old liturgies the distinct recognition of this sanctifying and glorifying of that element which, however common and humble, has now acquired a more than natural or material force, being made an instrument to join man to the Incarnate Lord. The recognition of this mysterious power, now imparted to it by the power of the Holy Ghost, is not an individual opinion nor a fanciful notion, nor a passage in a romantic dream. It was found in the ancient Church; it is in every baptismal liturgy of the old time; it was retained among the Lutheran bodies which remained faithful to the ancient tradition; it is preserved among us inviolably by that remarkable phrase in our office. And it cannot be doubted that the thought of the strange connection between the work of God in nature and His work in grace was in the minds of the fathers, and that they found one of the clearest illustrations of it in the institution of this holy sacrament.
"There is in the ancient Church what by moderns would be condemned as realism or materialism or mysticism. Their view seems to have been of this sort. Since God had appointed the use of water for baptism, there must have been an appropriateness in it which there was in no other element; that there was an analogy between His physical and moral creation, and that not only imaginative but real; that in forming the physical, He had respect also to the purposes which He designed in His moral creation, and imparted to the physical agent properties corresponding to its moral uses; that in His earlier dispensations He had regard to the latter, and not only taught man beforehand what should be, but in a manner, by employing His creature in the subordinate office of the former, imparted to it a fitness to serve in the latter and greater. Something of this sort, as derived from the ancient Church, is acknowledged by our own, that the baptism of our Lord 'sanctified water to the washing away of sin,' i.e., at the least, our Lord's baptism in Jordan, imparted to the whole element of water a capacity of becoming the instrument of washing away sin, which, apart from His baptism, it would not have had." [Pusey on Baptism," pp. 286, 287.]
With a brief reference to the opposition made to the doctrine of Holy Baptism as held in the Catholic Church, I shall bring this lecture to an end. Why should there be such obstinate resistance to a teaching so profound, so consoling, so sublime? Why should men substitute for it the initiatory-rite theory, the bare-form notion? How shall we explain the position of the Anabaptist, who insists on immersion, but denies any spiritual efficacy or sacramental grace in the rite? What shall be thought of the disciples of the Gorham school, whose contention was, that regeneration must occur before or after baptism, but could not possibly occur at the time of administration? These phenomena are merely instances of the power of the doctrine and the force of the recoil from its claim on reverence and faith. To allege that God grants to men, in an exterior rite, remission of sin, regeneration, and illumination, is to antagonize three classes of free-thinkers on religion. That baptism confers remission of sin, original and actual, must be denied by the Pelagian, who thinks there is no such thing as original sin, and minimizes our need of divine grace. That baptism is generally necessary as a means of grafting men into the Body of Christ is denied by the nco-Pantheist, who holds that all men are already in Christ, because He has taken on Him the nature common to us all. Finally, to say that in Holy Baptism a light is given to the mind and spirit, enabling us to discern things not to be seen in our natural condition, is to affront the philosophic Rationalist, who relies on reason alone for the discovery and investigation of truth. A doctrine which thus deals its blow at a trinity of errors as old as the human race itself, must expect the reception which it meets with in the Pelagian, Pantheistic, and Rationalistic schools. No one imbued with the principles of those schools can say, sincerely, and without reservation: "I ACKNOWLEDGE ONE BAPTISM FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS."
Thirty years have passed away since the notorious Gorham controversy agitated, or it may almost be said, convulsed, the Church. The salutary effect of the clearing of the air and the settling of the mind of the community on the subject involved, has been long perceived and is gratefully acknowledged. Since that day other questions have come to the front, and the minds of men have been drawn off in other directions. But the doctrine which was then successfully vindicated, as being unquestionably that which is taught in our offices, has lost no whit of its importance; and that great sacrament is still, as always, the foundation of the Church system, and the bulwark against all heresies, old and new. With the passing of the years, the pendulum swings back along its arc, till now, amid the din of voices, the denial of sin and its results, the extravagant laudation of humanity, the determined resistance to authority, and the late claim to the natural birthright of every man to identification with Christ as a member of His Body, without the aid of rite, sacrament, or instrumental means of any sort, we have reached the point at which we see plainly the necessity of reaffirming and maintaining against all comers, the old positions regarding Holy Baptism and its threefold gift; to the end that men may be brought within the covenant of grace, and that Christ may regain His hold on the multitude who, having no faith in the Gospel, and no individual relation to His Body the Church, are as a flock scattered abroad upon the mountains, and practically without Him in the world.