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venewing of your mind." The Christian must assume a new shape or form: this metaphor reiniods one of ihose animals which take several different forms, and are successively the maggot, the chrysalis, and the insect.
I would not venture to affirm, that the passages I have now referred to speaking of the Heathen, are all addressed to Gentiles exclusively; but I think they all are intended to include Gentiles. The Apostles, in addressing converts, would allude much more frequently to incidents in Jewish History, than to particular circumstances respecting Heathens; (see John Taylor on Romans, Key, Chap. v. and vi.) but if the allusion to birth does not appear in their descriptions of the conversion of any but Jews, I cannot see what right Christians amongst us, who never were Jews, have to apply John iii. 3, 5, to themselves, in the manner they do.-It is indeed possible that' expressions may be found in holy writ which I do not rccollect; but if my doubt should prove to be wellgrounded, I think we Christians ought, in reading the New Testament, to keep up constantly a distinction between texts relating to Jews, and those relating to such as never professed the religion of Moses.--This distinction, always in our minds, would prevent a great deal of confusion, and error, and folly.
Whilst I am speaking of the manner in which the melioration of principles is described in Scripture, when the Heathen becomes a Christian, I must not leave unnoticed, an erroneous manner of applying Scriptural expressions used on such occasions, which seems in high favour amongst those who will have being born again to mean a supernatural conversion or regeneration, to be aimed at by every Christian. They represent what is said of the Heathen character in general, or of the Heathens collectively, as if it were said of every individual Heathen; nay more, of every man, though grown up to maturity in the Christian Religion. Most of the passages hitherto quoted, if not all, speak of Heathens collectively: surely then they ought to be constantly so understood, without any slipperiness, any extending of them to any other subject; and room should be allowed for an indefinite number of erceptions with regard to individuals.--I conceive, that whenever a sacred writer, particularly St. Paul, treats of the Divine Dispensations, or of God as governing. all mankind, he has in his mind bodies of men, and speaks of thein generally. It is thus that Ambassudors speak, Q2
when they make treaties, or publish manifestoes. When a war is going to break out, how much do we hear of the perfidity of the English, and the ambition of the French though every one believes, that there are thousands amongst the former who are true to their word, and as many amongst the latter who thirst for peace and tranquillity. If this distinction between bodies of men and individuals be not allowed, in studying and applying holy writ, how shall we reconcile what St. Paul says in his first chapter to the Romans, with what he says in the second chapter? In the first, the vices of the Heathens are particularly describéd, as we have lately seen; and what can be more shocking than the description But in the second chapter, the Heathens, “ the Gentiles, which have not the law,” are supposed to “do by nature the things contained in the law:” “these,” says, St. Paul, “ having not the law, are a law unto themselves, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.” (Verse 14, 15.) Nay they are supposed capable of great rewards for their virtues. “ Glory, honour, and peace,” says the eloquent Apostle, “ to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.” (Verse 11).-Without this distinction between bodies of men and individuals, how shall we reconcile that same passage in the first chapter to the Romans, with the praises bestowed on Cornelius, in the tenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles ; Did Cornelius change “ God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things;" had God given him “ up to uncleanness?” to “ vile affections?” was he “ full of envy, murder,” malignity? was he a hater of God? a covenant-breaker, implacable, unmerciful ? No; he was “a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway;” one to whom it was declared from Heaven, “ Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God;” “thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.” (Acts x. 2, 4, 31.)—In 1 Corinthians, vi. 11, St. Paul makes the distinction expressly between the body of Heathens, and some particular Heathen converts. “Neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, - shall shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were someof you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye
are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the · spirit of our God.” i bave quoted this passage the more
at length, because it affirms of all converts, or all admitted into Christianity, not only that they are washed, but that they are sanctified and jastified; so at least, I understand it.
Sometimes, then, an occasion might lead a sacred writer to declare something of Heathens collectively, and at other times the subject might be certain individual Heathens; but collective bodies should never be confounded with individuals : occasions should be accurately distinguished; and then they might be profitably compared. I must confess that it seems to me quite unworthy of any man of improved understanding, to apply what is said in general of the Heathen character, to every particular Heathen: and still more so to argue from the change in Heathens, necessary in the time of Christ, on becoming Christians, that some radical and essential change, similar to that, nay more extraordinary or supernatural, must take place at this time, in every mature Christian, before, he can hope for Christian Salvation ; a change known to that Christian to be wrought by Divine Power on his own mind, by an inward impulsė, at certain times, and and in certain manners.—No one, I think, will conceive that my meaning is to question the propriety of repentance in a mature Christian; but rational repentance is conducted on a plan far different from the efforts of the enthusiast to infiame his passions, and work himself up into a persuasion, that the spirit of God is now actually effecting a transmutation of the temper of his mind, and making him one of the elect (though that was done from all eternity), incapable of missing eternal happiness.Such efforts, and such interpretations of the warmer devout affections, strike the judgment differently at different times. In some serious moods they excite horror and indignation; but in moments of cheerfulness and vivacity, they will sometimes appear in a ridiculous light: they will bring to the imagination the chymist at his furnace, or his, retort, or the dairy-man at his churn.
.4. It might farther tend to the illustration of the opinion here maintained, concerning John iii. 3, 5, if we supposed one of the Christian Brethren from whom we differ, to persist in saying, that Christ speaking to Nico,
demus, declares it to be necessary that a Christian should be born again, not only of water, but of the Spirit ; and that such declaration must mean, that the Christian must be renovated by the Holy Spirit of God.-In construing this famous passage of Scripture we have not, by any means, endeavoured to lay the chief stress upon water, and neglect the Spirit : we have shewn how Christianity is called the Spirit, in opposition to the carnal ordinances of the Jews; because its attention is fixed upon spiritual worship, and on nourishing all the virtues of the human mind, or spirit: and all virtues are undoubtedly, with devout gratitude, to be ascribed to the assistance of God's · Holy Spirit. But with regard to baptism in particular, it may be farther remarked, that it has an outward and an inward part; water and spirit; these two together make Christian Baptism : they are specified in the text just now quoted, i Corinthians vi. 11, as also in Titus iii. 5, " according to his mercy he saved us, (admitted us into a state which will produce Christian Salvation, we doing our parts), by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”-Here the regeneration is more connected with the external part than with the internal; but all who are willing to ascribe every virtue to God's Holy Spirit, may allow whatever can be required respecting it. What follows, agrees with what has been already observed from 1 Corinthians vi. 11, that all who are admitted into Christianity, may be said to be justified ; though they have only a reasonable hope (not a certainty) of Salvation. The next verse after that which speaks of admission into Christianity by water and the spirit, says, 66 which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour:" and then the effect of admission is described : “ that being JUSTIFIED by his grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Justification, and baptism, and hope are here united; and hope implies uncertainty : nor is the heir sure of what he may reasonably hope for.
Baptism having two parts, the one external, the other internal, it is according to the custom of language, that either of them should be occasionally used to express the whole; if the scope of the discourse happens, at the time, to turn upon one or the other. If baptism be at any time expressed by washing, then the intent and signification of that washing, the privileges and obligations implied in it, must be understood; and if the rite be ex
pressed by words, denoting the meaning of the emblem:tical ceremony, then the washing must be taken for granted.
As many of those who dissent from the notion which I am endeavouring to maintain, profess a great veneration for the Church of England and its institutors, it may be proper to observe, that the office of baptism in that church uses either the word Baptism (which is literally washing, and sometimes to be so understood) to express the whole of that Sacrament, or the word Regeneration to express the whole. And those members of the Church of England who think that every man must be regenerated, in order to attain the eternal happiness of a Christian, should consider what is implied, when after the baptizing of an infant, thanks are given to God for having regenerated that infant newly baptized. Is that same Christian to be regenerated ? By baptism the in. fant is as much recited as he is regenerated ; (Rom. vi, 3. &c. &c. 13.-Eph. ii. 5,) are we then to conceive that revival is to be added to reviral? The sacred writers do not use melaphors liable to such absurdities. When our Saviour says, John iii. 5, “ Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God;" I feel no doubt of his meaning, for one thing, that Christians are to be baptized ; even those who have already been baptized as Jews. The idea which these words (considering them as addressed to Nicodemus) convey to me, is this : “ You Jews, already baptize with water ; and that practice must be, continued under Christ : but moreover, baptism must not be hereafter merely an external, carnal eeremony; it must have an internal and spiritual part.” My difficulty in adopting this sense arises from the opinion of the learned Dr. Lardner, (Works, index Baptism) that baptism; as a rite of initiation, began with John. Yet Dr. Wall, in his introduetion to his work on infant baptism, produces authorities of Rabbis to prove, that baptism was a rite of initiation amongst the Jews; Maiinonides says it was their practice in all ages. And when one considers the · nümber of their purifications, and how impure they thought a Gentile, it seems extremely probable that they might admit a proselyte into their religion by the ceremony of a purification with water.
5. The last observation which I shall make with a view of illustrating my opinion, that our Christian Brethren,