« PreviousContinue »
for having boldly and unreservedly, yet without controversy or exaggeration, expressed, and placed at the entrance of his volume, his views on this deeply painful topic.
In another sermon he has stated with equal frankness and moderation, his sentiments relative to another topic much controverted among churchmen on both sides of the Atlantic-the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. It has always appeared to us, that provided persons have a clear and scriptural view of the necessity of true conversion to God, a renewal of the heart by the power of the Holy Ghost, there is no serious discrepancy, though some, including under the term regeneration that change of character which is called conversion, explicate the service of our church on the principle of its being only the language of faith and charity; while others, using the word regeneration in a lower sense, as expressive only of outward or spiritual privilege, but not including a change of character, think that in this sense of the word regeneration is properly predicated of baptism, and use other words to express spiritual renova tion. Both these classes are to be carefully distinguished from those who virtually deny the doctrine of conversion altogether, or soften it down to a mere reformation of character where there has been a life of gross vice. Among those who most strongly opposed the doctrine taught in Bishop Mant's well known tract (especially as it appeared in the earlier copies, where "rightly received" and "rightly administered" were lamentably confounded), there were found divines of both the classes which we have above specified. The majority probably of the litigants in our church (for the Dissenters said that the tract spoke the language of our services, but was contrary to the Bible) took the spiritual view of the term regeneration, and predicated it of baptism only in a judgment of faith and charity; while a highly respectable and pious class of their fellow
churchmen, as opposed as themselves to Bishop Mant's views, predicated regeneration generally of baptism, but confining the word when thus used to a lower signification, and carefully distinguishing between baptismal regeneration and spiritual; as was done in Bishop Bradford's tract, and in Mr. Biddulph's work on the subject, and in the present Bishop of Lichfield's primary Charge at Gloucester and in many other publications. Our American fellow-churchmen, and Bishop Griswold among the number, appear to incline to this view; and, as we remember, Bishop Hobart himself, who is considered as standing conspicuous as an orthodox and high churchman (we are far from using the words invidiously), quotes Bishop Ryder, as expressing his own views on the subject, and, if we understand him aright, is as strenuous an opposer of the doctrine of the present Bishop of Connor's tract as any of his brethren who most preach the doctrine of conversion. Bishop Griswold would not be very anxious to oppose the use of the particular word regeneration in connexion with baptism, provided only "a change of state," and not "a change of heart" is meant by the term; but he adds, what appears to us of great moment to be considered by those who attach to the term only this lower signification, that
66 'Even if we should allow this sense to the
word regeneration, a word which is used but twice in the Bible, still there are other born again, born of God, begotten again, words and phrases of like import, such as and born of the Spirit, which are often used in the Scriptures, and sometimes so used, that they cannot mean baptism." p. 216.
The bishop thinks it quite incorrect to suppose that our church teaches either that "there is no change of heart but what is effected in baptism," or that " no baptized person can be addressed as unregenerate." He sums up his own views as follows:
It is by Divine wisdom so ordered, that the sacrament which admits us into
the church and covenant with God, symbolizes, or represents this first resurrection or new birth. St. Paul tells the Colossians, (ii. 12,) that 'in baptism we are buried with Christ, and risen with him.' And the Romans, that we are buried with Christ by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.' Baptism signifies the remission of sins through repentance and faith in Christ's death; that we die to sin and rise to newness of life. Clearly and uniformly does the church teach the same." p. 217. "Now if baptism represents unto us our profession; if it is but the sign' of this change, of course it is not in itself the change. Baptism, strictly speaking, is not regeneration; it is rather a sacramental representation of the new birth. But it is natural, and it is authorized in the figurative use of words, to speak of this sacrament as being what it signifies or represents. It in time became common to speak of baptism as being regeneration; or rather to speak of a baptized person as being regenerate or born again. When you consider that baptism is the sacrament of regeneration; that as St. Paul says to the Galatians, As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ; that it is an ordinance appointed by our blessed Saviour, whereby, says an article, as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God, by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed;' that it represents a death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness,' and that when it is rightly received, God's sanctifying benediction attends the ministration; considering, I say, that such is the nature and design of this ordinance, there may be no great impropriety in speaking of the effects of baptism as a birth or regeneration, provided we are careful not to misapprehend the true doctrine, nor to ascribe more effects to baptism than the Scriptures authorize." pp. 217, 218.
"Baptism represents the new birth, in like manner as the Lord's supper does the body and blood of Christ; and the outward part and the thing signified, are not more necessarily connected in the one sacrament than in the other. We may come to the Lord's supper, without re
ceiving the strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the body and blood of Christ; and we may receive baptism without being truly regenerate and born of God. The washing of regeneration means then, a washing which signifies regeneration; which represents a death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness.' This inward part, or thing signified,' cannot be effected merely by the sacramental washing; it requires the operation of God's Spirit; "the renewing of the Holy Ghost."" pp. 219, 220.
"The notion that they who are born of water, are of course renewed in the spirit of their mind, is too evidently erroneous to need refutation. The renovation of the heart is represented in haptism; but as has been also shewn, we have too much reason to fear, that many who come to this sacrament in its outward ministration, do not partake of the inward part or thing signified.' Our church, in her ministrations, wisely follows where the sure word of God directs her. She also speaks of baptism as the washing of regeneration; as a religious and very solemn transaction, denoting the new birth; and without interrupting the solemnities of the sacrament with any suspicions of hypocrisy, in the language of that charity which hopeth all things and believeth all things,' she supposes that the person or child baptized possesses, or, through God's grace in a time accepted, will possess the requisite qualifications. The proper examination into the qualifications of those who are to be baptized, should be at some time previous. During the solemn service, it would be less fitting to suggest doubts about the efficacy of the sacrament, or the sincerity of those who receive it. In ancient times these things were well understood; and our church retains the language of former ages. In the present state of religion, there is, we have observed, some confusion in the use of theological terms; Christians hear them every one in his own language, and in the tongue wherein he was born.' This makes it necessary for us frequently to give these explanations. An alteration of some few expressions in our liturgy, would render these explanations less necessary, and would remove one great obstacle to the success of our labours. But till such alteration, by the permission of God and the wisdom of his church, shall be made, let us be careful rightly to understand her language, and to embrace her sound Scriptural doctrine." pp. 221, 222.
It would seem from these passages, that our excellent bishop rather considers the language of our baptismal service defensible, and, rightly understood, edifying, than as that which, under all the circumstances of the case, were an entirely new form to be adopted, would be most desirable. Without at present arguing this point, it is very clear that our church has steered far wide of the efficacious opus-operatum notion, while at the same time she equally rises beyond the mere nudum signum. The precise blessings which attach to baptism, especially to infant baptism,are very variously viewed among
the truly pious members of our church; but taking them either at the highest or the lowest estimate, we cannot see why baptism may not be conscientiously, and with much faith and edification, solemnized according to the forms of our church, whether upon the hypothesis of a distinction between spiritual and baptismal regeneration, or upon that of the service being grounded upon the construction of faith and charity. Among those who take either of these views the points to be settled are of minor consequence; but far otherwise is the question, when it in fact makes baptism proxy for conversion, and tends to build up that spirit of formalism, of self-security, of hatred to spiritual religion, and trust in outward ceremonies, which, whether in the Church of Rome or the Church of England, is the bane of all true scriptural religion.
From the foregoing allusions to our author's doctrinal sermons, combined with the one extracted entire,
and which is chiefly of an applicatory character, our readers will form a fair estimate of the whole volume. It would be unnecessary to say that Bishop Griswold is orthodox in reference to the sacrifice of Christ, justification by faith, and other fundamental topics of our holy religion on which he has distinct discourses. It is far more to say, that his reception of these doctrines is not in word, but for spiritual edification; and that his life, both as an ordinary minister and a bishop, adorns that Gospel which he professes. May the blessing of the Holy Spirit rest abundantly upon the ministrations of these our brethren in a distant land. At present they are but a comparatively small and scattered flock; may their numbers be largely increased-not by party proselytism, for this were a pitiful ambition-but by large accessions of" such as shall be saved," sinners converted from the error of their ways, and exemplary Christians built up in their holy faith.
LITERARY AND PHILOSOPHICAL INTELLIGENCE,
GREAT BRITAIN. In the press, or preparing for publication: The Imperfections of the Catholic Church, particularly in Silesia; by a Catholic Clergyman; translated from the German by the Rev. W. A. Evanson;-The Doctrines of the Church of Rome, as contained in her Decrees and Bulls, disproved; by the Rev. H. O'Donnoghue.
A clergyman, Mr. Flowers, justly lamenting the too frequent insufficiency for their office, if not worse, of a large portion of our parish clerks, proposes that they should be fairly paid with a stated salary, having previously undergone a course of instruction by the minister, or some person deputed by him, in general scriptural information, the leading doctrines of the Christian religion, and in the Liturgy and other services of the Church of England; and an examination before the rural deans, or some other ministers. The qualifications to be,-Piety, ability to read well, and
skill in singing, so as to be able to lead a tune in a plain manner. All this is so necessary and so reasonable, that we earnestly hope the subject will be seriously taken up by our bishops and clergy.
Mr. Blanco White gives the following catalogue of the relics which form the most valuable possession of the clergy in the cathedral church at Seville :-A tooth of St. Christopher; an agate cup used at mass by Pope Clement, the immediate successor of St. Peter; an arm of St. Bartholomew; a head of one of the eleven hundred virgins; portions of the body of St. Peter, St. Lawrence, St. Blaise, St. Servandus, Germanus, and St. Florentius; the Alphonsine tables, containing three hundred relics; a silver bust of St. Leander, with his bones; a thorn from our Saviour's crown; and a fragment of the true cross.
An American editor has compiled from English documents, the following table of our ecclesiastical statistics.
Total in England. 11,292,577 9,133 385 203 2,597 805 47 1,205 4,855 Wales.......
717,108 Total 12,009,685 9,133 In 1716, Neal stated the number of dissenting churches at 1,107 in England, of which 247 were Baptists, and 860 Presbyterians and Independents. In 1776, a Mr. Thomson obtained a list of 1,118, of which 391 were Baptists. In 1812, Messrs. Bogue and Bennett state as follows: Pres
A Society has been established in Paris, the object of which is stated to be to promote the advance of civilization; and to prevent the obstacles to it, arising from the efforts of sects, parties, and local
6 14 214 176 443 391 217 2,811 981 47 1,414 5,298 byterians, 252; Independents, 799; Baptists, 532; total, 1,583. In the mean time the Wesleyans have grown from nothing to the number of 2,597. The number of Episcopal churches and chapel is given at 11,042, besides the diocese of Bristol, of which the number is not stated.
interests. The society, it is added, is not to interfere with questions of religion, or party politics; but to promote social order, general instruction, and a popular acquaintance with matters of utility in the economy of nations. It purposes begin
At the feast of the third century of the Reformation in 1817, the Prussian Government convoked ecclesiastical synods, which, among other things, determined on making a new hymn-book. There were in use two old collections, rude in metre, but, we believe, correct and fervid in sentiment; and a more recent one of 1783, better becoming the reign of Frederic, misnamed the Great, than the lips of a Christian assembly. The new collection lately finished was drawn up by a committee, respectable for attainments, but mostly neologian in principle; and the result is, that the book is strongly disapproved of by the most orthodox and religious part of the community; and a warm controversy has taken place on the occasion. It has, however, been at length received in all the churches of Berlin; though the king had issued a command that it shall not be forced upon any parish where it is unwelcome.
Education is being carried on on a wide and enlightened scale in the Ionian Islands, and bids fair to extend itself into the whole of that division of Greece. The novel measure of introducing female schools, which originated with a committee of ladies in Edinburgh, has not only met with great encouragement on the part of the people, but has been strongly recommended by the Bishop of Corfu. AFRICA.
The missionaries of the Church Missionary Society in Egypt and Abyssinia have discovered, in the interior of Africa, a tribe, called the Magagine, which has never been visited by any European. They inhabit a place called Darbia, 300 miles south-west of Darfur. They have suffered greatly from the slave-traders of Darfur; their chief protection against whom is a natural fortification, a steep and lofty mountain, which if they can reach in time, they are safe from their pursuers. They do not materially suffer from want in that asylum, having good fountains and pasturage for their cattle. The siege of the mountain lasts sometimes for several months. The abodes of the people are usually pulled down by their enemies; but they do not think much of the trouble of building other houses of mud and stones in place of their former abodes. Nobody claims a property of soil, and every one cultivates as much ground CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 341.
as he pleases. The Magagine are a free people, and appreciate liberty as the greatest blessing. Slavery, therefore, is to them the greatest horror and abomination. Their liberty, however, is not without order and discipline. They have good and just laws, not many, according to which differences are adjusted. They have a headman, whom they obey: trifling quarrels are never referred to the judge, but are settled by the parties in single combat. They have an idea of a God, and believe that every person receives reward or punishment according to his merits, after this life. They have a notion of the existence of the devil. The history of the deluge is preserved in their traditions; but they believe that every living creature perished in that awful calamity, and that God created altogether new beings after the deluge. Good angels are considered as the guardians of good people. Their mode of worship appears to be simple, and is free from obscene practices; but they are still Pagans. They take great care of their children, and teach them early to obey and reverence their parents, and aged people. Their language is unknown. We heartily join in the prayer of the missionaries, that it would please God to enlighten this and all the other tribes of Africa, with the light of his blessed Gospel, and prosper the labours of his servants among them. UNITED STATES.
The legislature of Georgia has adopted a regulation which exempts women from appearing personally in courts of justice as witnesses, except in criminal cases. Commissioners are appointed to take their written depositions.
In a large stage-coach concern, on the route from Staunton to Guyandotte, nine out of eleven drivers have given a pledge that they will abstain, entirely, from the use of ardent spirits for one year, except prescribed by a physician.
All the merchants in Abingdon have bound themselves not to sell any more ardent spirits after the first of January next, in the penalty of 500 dollars for the first offence, and 1000 for the second.
The friends of Episcopacy in the United States have weekly publications in Philadelphia, Auburn, and Hartford; monthly ones in Charleston, Philadelphia, New York, and Middlebury, besides "The Protestant Episcopal Press," in the city of New York, which is employed in printing Sunday-school books, Tracts, and the periodicals of the General SundaySchool Union, and will this spring com