« PreviousContinue »
CATHOLIC AGREEMENT ON ST. JOHN 1. 13.
" made holy ; for captives, free; for sons of men, sons of God, " • who are born not of blood, &c., but of God.'”
This was the general interpretation of the Antient Church : these who quote the text' of Baptism, go not about to prove its reference to it; they assume it, see it; others, again, though they name not Baptism, speak of these privileges in terms which they
Te.g. S. Clem. Alex. Strom. ii. 13. p. 460. S. Chrysostom, ad loc. St. Atha. nasius, sup. S. Cyril of Jerus. (in connexion with St. John iii, 5.) Cat. xi. $ 9. S. Cyril of Alex. ad loc., and the other Greek Commentators.
se. g. St. Augustine, Serm. 121. de verb. Ev. Joh. i. § 5. uses language the same as he had employed in Joann. Tract. xi. n. 6. on our Lord's words, “ Ex
cept man be born of water and the SPIRIT," see above, p. 44. n. 1. He also, as well as Tertullian, de Orat. c. 2. explains the text of that relation of God as our FATHER, in which “ the Church is our mother;" “ The first birth is of male and “ female ; the second of God and the Church ;" and this is notoriously Baptism: Theodoret, as describing our “ regeneration in Christ,” (ad Ep. 1, ad Cor. c. 1. ult.); Jerome (adv. Jovinian, ii. 29.) as declaring us to be members of the body of Christ ; but again, they conceive of us as in Christ, members of Christ's body, by Baptism, and by that only. “Seest thou,” says St. Jerome, "that our “ being taken into the participation of His substance, is not of nature but of
grace; and He therefore loves us, because the Father loved the Son; and " the members are loved, namely in the body. “For as many as received Him,' "&c. The Word was made flesh, that we from the flesh might pass into the “ Word.” And so St. Augustine at length. The connexion with the following words he thus points out : “ So when he had said born of God,' lest we should “ marvel, and shrink from favour so great, so that it should seem incredible to
us, that men are born of God,' as if to reassure them, he adds, and the
"Word was made flesh. Why then marvellest thou, that men are born of God? “ Hearken, that God HIMSELF was born of men. • And the WORD was made
St. Irenæus (v. 18. 2.) connects it with the Incarnation (as St. Aug. above, and St. Chrye.), and so likewise Origen (Fragm. in Joann. Opp. t. iv. p. 99), and St. Hilary, de Trin. I. i. c. 10. Origen again (de Orat. § 22), and Eusebius speak of it, as something distinct from Jewish privileges. “ Joh. i. was read as a baptismal lesson in the African Church, as appears from “ S. Augustine, Serm. 119, 120.” Admon. in Serm. 8. App. ad S. Leon. t. i. p. 418. ed. Ven. see above, p. 35. note 1. In the sermon itself, the text (Joh. i. 13.) is explained of the birth in baptism, " Ye then have now been born, not of the “conception of the flesh, but begotten of God the Father. It remains that by “ a holy life and conversation, ye preserve the dignity of that holy origin.” It is quoted also in the exposition of the Lord's Prayer in the Office for Catechu. mens in the Liturgy of Gelasius, " Wherefore, most beloved, show yourselves
worthy of the Divine adoption, since it is written, 'Whoso believeth in Him, ""to them gave He power to become the sons of God.'” (Ass. i. 15.)
elsewhere use of Baptism : both on the same ground; the one need not prove it, the other need not express it, because in those days men knew of no other way whereby a man might become a son of God, than by being born in Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Who is God. Hence St. Athanasius and others employ the fact as a proof of the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Having quoted the words "who were born not, &c., but of God," he infers ', " as “ many then as were born of the Holy Spirit, were born of God; " and as many as were baptized into Christ, were baptized into “ the Father and Holy Spirit.” The very argument implies the complete identification of the two passages (St. John i. 13. iii. 5); for in the one Christians are said to be born in Baptism “ of the “SPIRIT,” in the other “of God;" therefore, St. Athanasius argues, the Holy Spirit is God'. Not only also are St. John's words so interpreted by the several Fathers of the Greek and Latin Church ; they are (as was stated) : read as the Gospel in the several branches of the Latin Church, and incorporated into the exposition of the Creed in a very antient Baptismal Liturgy“.
“ Ye then, dearly beloved, are to be re-created from the old “ into the new man; and for carnal ye begin to be spiritual, for “ earthly to be heavenly ; believe with a firm and unshaken faith " that the resurrection which took place in Christ, shall be ful“ filled in all of us; and that what went before in the Head, shall “ follow in the whole body. Inasmuch as this very Sacrament “ of Baptism, which you are about to receive, furnishes an em“blem of this hope. For there a sort of death and resurrec“ tion are enacted. The old man is laid aside, the new taken.
i De Incarnat. et cont. Arian. t. i. p. 880. he quotes the text also, after the manner of Leo, ib. § 8. p. 876, and (in connexion with the Incarnation) Orat. i. c. Arian. § 43. p. 447. Orat. ii. $ 59. p. 527. “ These are they, who having “ received the Word, received power to become children of God; for no “ otherwise could they, being by nature creatures, become sons, unless by “ receiving the Spirit of Him who is by nature and indeed The Son." Add Orat. iii. $ 19. p. 569.
2 The sort of argument is the same as we are wont to use from Acts v. 3, which follows here in St. Athanasius.
3 See above, p. 35. n. 2.
• Sacramentary of Gelasius, from Ms. of the seventh century. (Ass. i. 13.)
DIFFERENCE OF OUR LORD'S TEACHING AND HIS APOSTLES'. 53
“ He entereth a sinner, he ariseth justified; He who dragged us “to death is cast aside ; He received, Who brought us back to “ life ; through Whose free grace it is granted you, that ye should “ be sons of God, not born by the will of the flesh, but begotten “ by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Such was the exposition of the antient Church ; the difference is radical, essential ; it relates not to the exposition of a text, but to the insight, the depth, the harmony of Scripture, the greatness of what God has wrought, the unutterableness of His condescension. They formed no system, and so received everything as it fell into that which God had ordained ; moderns have formed theirs ; yet will even they venture to think that they have not lost as to all these things?
Our blessed Saviour's words declare the greatness of the mystery in itself. He Who never ceased to be in the bosom of the Father announces the exceeding and hidden mystery of our actual birth of God: the disciple who lay in His bosom, inculcates and draws out to us the yet “ dark saying.” Our Lord, Who is Love Eternal, takes on Him (what even after He has declared it, we still shrink from echoing, otherwise than as He has said it) the absolute necessity of regeneration, for the entrance into the kingdom of heaven, or our state of grace and glory, in which we live in His Church, and in which we hope to live with Him for ever; and that this regeneration is the being “ born of water and the Spirit," or by God's Spirit again moving on the face of the waters, and sanctifying them for our cleansing, and cleansing us thereby. He Who died for us ', took upon Him to scare us, or our parents for our sakes, to seek refuge in the ark, by the words, " Except a man be born of water and the “ Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God;" His disciple, St. Paul, had only to dwell on the greatness of the love herein displayed, the unmeritedness and irrespectiveness of our calling and election to this grace of Baptism and privilege of sonship.
This contrast was suggested by a like distinction in the Lyra Apostolica, no. Ixxxii. which ends
The Fount of Love His servants sends to tell
“ But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness, which we had done, but according to His mercy, He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and of the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour'." Our LORD, Himself the First Cause, declares the cause of our regeneration,“ water and the Spirit;" the servant (who of God's free mercy had been called, and experienced the transcendentness of the change thereby wrought, from the persecutor to the persecuted, from the wolf to the lamb) speaks of it chiefly in its effects, the renewal of that, which by man's disobedience was decayed. In this language, also, as a comment on that of our Lord, we should observe how closely the gift is connected with the Sacrament; as our LORD speaks of “ being born of “ water and the Spirit," so, here, His Apostle, of the “ washing " of regeneration ;" —not, (as a modern school ? has paraphrased it,)“ regeneration, which is as a birth,” or “ baptism, which “ attests or signifies regeneration,” or “ is a seal of regenera“tion, before given,” or in whatever other way men have tortured the plain words of Holy Scripture, but “the washing of regene“ ration, and of the renewing of the Holy Ghost," i. e. a Baptizing, accompanied by, or conveying a re-production, a second birth, a restoration of our decayed nature, by the new and fresh life imparted by the Holy Ghost. As before, our Blessed Saviour had respect unto the contrary tendencies of our nature, the neglect, as well as the bare acquiescence in the outward ordinance ; so here, also, the Apostle has been directed both to limit the imparting of the inward grace by the mention of the outward washing, and to raise our conceptions of the greatness of this second birth, by the addition of the spiritual grace. The gift moreover is the gift of God in and by Baptism ; every thing but God's free mercy is excluded—“ not by “ works of righteousness which we have done”—They only who believe will come to the washing of regeneration ; yet not belief alone, but “God, according to His mercy, saves them by the “ washing of regeneration ;" by faith are we saved, not by 1 Tit. iji. 5.
See Note P. at the end.
MANIFESTATION OF GOD'S FREE LOVE IN BAPTISM.
works; and by baptism we are saved, not by faith only; for so God hath said; not the necessity of preparation, but its efficiency in itself is excluded; Baptism comes neither as
grace “ of congruity," nor as an outward seal of benefits before conveyed; we are saved neither by faith only, nor by Baptism only; but faith bringing us to Baptism, and “ by Baptism God
saves us.” They are the words of God Himself. As our LORD said negatively, that without the birth “ of water and the "SPIRIT," or Baptisin, man" could not see the kingdom of God," so St. Paul, that“ by it we are saved ;" saved out of the world, and brought into the ark, if we but abide there, and become not reprobates. Lastly, as our LORD had placed the birth “ of water and the Spirit" at the threshold of His kingdom, without which men could neither enter in nor see it; so St. Paul speaks of the manifestation of the love of God therein, as distinct from and higher than all other, as what men had waited for, longed for,--and at last it dawned ; “ but when the kindness and love “of God our Saviour toward man appeared" (énepávn), shone, arose upon him. The privileges, then, of Baptism, the new birth, and renewal of the Holy Ghost therein imparted, are something different in kind, from what had been before made known; they were part of the hidden mystery, which in times past was not made known, but now at length God's goodness
I observe that Cassian makes the like remarks (de Incarn. Christi. l. 2. c. 2.): “ When he says appeared,' he expresses the dawn of this new grace " and nativity; for the gifts of this new grace thenceforward began to ' appear,' “when God appeared born in the world. So, then, by the very correspond
ence of the term he pointed out, as it were, this dawning' of a new grace. “ For that is most properly said to have' appeared,' which suddenly, as by a
sort of apparition, flashes upon us. - As in the Gospels we read that the "star. appeared to the Eastern Magi, and in Exodus . The angel appeared to " " Moses in the flame in the bush.' In all these, and other sacred visions,
Scripture thought right especially to use this word, speaking of those things, " as having' appeared,' which shone with unwonted brightness. So then the "apostle also, knowing the coming of the heavenly grace, which appeared at " the dawn of the Holy Nativity, expressed it by the term of bright appari“ . tion;' using, namely, the term ' appeared,' of that which beamed with the “glory of a new light.”