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ART. I.-1. The Argument of Dr. Bayford on behalf of the
Rev. G. C. Gorham, in the Arches Court of Canterbury.
March, 1849. Second edition, corrected. London: Seeleys. 2. A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Diocese of York, June,
1849, at the Primary Visitation of Thomas, Archbishop of York. Published at the request of the Clergy. Third edition. London: J. W. Parker, West Strand.
THE recent revival of the controversy upon Baptismal Regeneration, the proceedings in the Ecclesiastical Courts, the elaborate speeches of the counsel, the copious appeals on both sides to the pages of our divines, and the various publications which the agitation of the question has elicited from private quarters, appear to suggest the propriety of some general review of the present state of the argument on this doctrine, as all this recent discussion has laid it before us. In attempting such a task, indeed, within the limited space which we have at command, we cannot pretend to do more than touch on the principal and leading positions relating to this doctrine, which the recent discussion has unfolded. But thus much we shall endeavour to do in the following article; the first part of which we shall devote to the consideration of the theological reasoning which has been applied, and the second part to the consideration of the authorities of our Church which have been appealed to for the decision of the controversy.
It is evident then—and this is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of fact in which both sides agree—that as far as words and their grammatical construction are concerned, Baptismal Regeneration is asserted by our Church of every single infant which is baptized in her : for, of every single infant which is baptized in her, she says: This child is regenerate.' It is only claimed on the side of our opponents, that they have a right to take these words in a particular meaning, which they do not of themselves bear, and regard the assertion not as a categorical, NO. LXVII.-N.S.
but as an hypothetical one; as expressive of a charitable hope, that such may be, and not of the statement that such is the case. They argue that the figure of speech by which something is asserted grammatically, but is not at the same time intended to be asserted really and actually, is not an uncommon or unrecognised one, in conversation or writing: that one person,
for example, says to another in talking,-You say, you think, you walk, you stand, and the like, not meaning to assert that his companion is either speaking, or thinking, or walking, or standing, actually as he asserts him to be; but only supposing him for the sake of conversational convenience, to be doing so: that poets say repeatedly, I saw, I heard, not meaning to assert the literal fact that they saw and heard what they proceed to describe; but only supposing it for the sake of poetical convenience. Proceeding nearer home they then remark, that in the Burial Service our Church makes use of this figure, and speaks of the dead person as one of the saved, when she cannot possibly mean, because she cannot possibly know whether the person is one of the saved or not, to assert it actually of him. Proceeding nearer still, they observe next, that in the service for the baptism of adults she asserts regeneration, as far as language goes, absolutely of the baptized adult; when she cannot possibly mean, because she cannot possibly know whether the adult has fulfilled those conditions upon which alone such regeneration takes place, to do so. They draw from these analogies the conclusion that the same liberty was intended in the office of infant baptism, and that the regeneration there asserted, absolutely as far as language goes, of the baptized infant, is not intended to be asserted absolutely but only hypothetically, and as the expression of a charitable hope.
To this argument, however, there is one very short and very decisive answer. It may be conceded that the figure of speech by which a thing is expressed as actually taking place, while only a supposition is intended, is not an unusual one; and it may also be conceded that this figure is used in the Burial Service of the Church, and in the office of Adult Baptism. But whenever we pronounce this figure to be used, there must always be something in the circumstances of the case to show that the literal assertion is not intended. It is asserted by writers that Apollo built Troy; and it is also asserted by writers that Sir Christopher Wren built S. Paul's; but it would be absurd to argue that because the former was a poetical and not a literal assertion, that therefore the latter was too : because the whole circumstances of the case clearly point to a non-literal assertion in the former instance, which they do not do in the latter. A person in conversation says to you—You stand on the top of the Column and look down