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Julian Pe- whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Jerusalem. riod, 4740. Vulgar Æra,

27.
The first
Passover.

Spirit.

5. They lay down a very plain and broad distinction between this grace of regeneration, and conversion, repentance, renovation, and such Christian virtues and changes of the inward frame, as require the concurrence of man's will and endeavours, imply degrees, and are capable of increase.

The Reformers of the Church of England, and foreign divines, afford the same testimony as is here given from Dean Bethell's admirable and conclusive treatise.

If it be said that this doctrine of baptismal regeneration is inconsistent with reason, and that it is impossible that the mere sprinkling of the human body with water, can be attended with a change so important, we may observe, that the characteristic or peculiar doctrines of Christianity are addressed exclusively to our faith.

Christ's hearers were required to believe upon the strength of those evidences that were before them, and in direct opposition to their popular prejudices and prepossessions, that he was the Messiah, or he that should come into the world. In the same manner the doctrines which relate to his person and the purposes of his mission; his Godhead and incarnation, redemption, atonement, sanctification by his spirit, the resurrection of the body, and the circumstances of the last judgement; are proposed to our faith; and the benefit which we are to derive from them depends in a great measure upon the steadfastness of our belief in their certainty. What is the exact nature of the union between God and man in our Saviour's person; how the death of Christ atones for our sins, and purges our consciences from dead works; by what physical process the Holy Ghost acts upon the human soul; are questions with which we have no concern. If the truths themselves are plainly revealed in Scripture, and Scripture contains the word of God, we must receive them with the same assurance as if we could analyze and expound them with the most minute accuracy, and penetrate into the secret parts of the divine economy. But the doctrine of regeneration in baptism stands precisely on the same footing with these weighty truths, and harmonizes with the whole scheme of revealed religion. It is proposed to our belief, and is intended to be a test and exercise of it: it demands of us the same kind of assent, which we owe to the other peculiar doctrines of Christianity, and it is our business to believe it in the simplicity with which it is taught us, without attempting to unravel God's mysterious operations on the soul, and without being offended at the meanness of the instruments, through which pardon and grace are made over to us.

But farther. Regeneration in baptism, implying this close connection between the grace bestowed and the sign which denotes it, is an act of tenderness and mercy, not less worthy of God's infinite benevolence, than analogous to the whole course of his dealings with man. Goodness indeed, I am persuaded, is the leading feature of his government, and the key to his mysterious dispensations: and those theological systems, which straiten his goodness, and depend principally on abstract views of his sovereignty and glory, will be found on investigation to have no foundation in his word, nor in the history and experience of mankind. But if man, considered as an alien from God and a child of wrath, had been left to collect the assurance of adoption into his family, and restoration to his favour, in

9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can Jerusalem. Julian Period, 4740. these things be? Vulgar Æra,

27.

The first
Passover.

the best way that he was able, without any specific form or po-
sitive consignation of these privileges and blessings; he would
have been placed, as it were, without chart or compass, in a
troubled sea of doubt, suspense, and anxiety, and would have
been tempted to resort to fanciful and absurd criterious of
sonship and reconciliation. But on the principles which the
Church deduces from Scripture, he receives in the sacrament
of baptism such comfortable assurances of God's favour and
loving kindness, as are sufficient, if duly prized and religiously
pondered, to bring peace to his mind, and to invigorate his soul
to duty. For on these principles the convert to the faith of
Christ, who receives baptism rightly, may assure himself, that
as certainly as God is true, and his promises in Christ are yea,
and amen; so surely he is released from the bond and penalty
of his sins, endowed with the earnest of the Holy Ghost, as a
principle of new life and holy endeavour, and enrolled among
the children of God, and the inheritors of the kingdom of
heaven. On the same principles the parent will "not doubt,
but earnestly believe," that his child, who was "born in sin
and in the wrath of God, is by the laver of regeneration in bap-
tism received into the number of his children, and heirs of ever-
lasting life." Here we rest on sure ground. And the very fact,
that regeneration in baptism (supposing the truth of the doc-
trine) is a strong evidence of God's goodness and conde-
scension to fallen man, forms a probable presumption of its
truth, since it proves that it is reasonable in itself, suitable to
our wants, and analogous to the general course of the divine
economy.

What is contended then is, that regeneration, according to
the language and doctrine of Scripture, and our own Church,
is a mystical change of spiritual condition, and relationship to
God, implying in capable subjects a moral, or practical change,
already begun, and requiring from all baptized persons a moral
change and improvement: and that it is not a mystical renewal
of the inward frame, a mystical or miraculous change of man's
moral nature, qualities, and habits (p).

(a) Verba Jesu non accurate cohærere cum Nicodemi alloquio, atque hunc plura protulisse, a Johanne omissa, mihi quidem cum aliis interpretibus persuasissimum est. Neque enim facile perspicitur, quà de causâ Jesus statim delatus sit in commemorationem eorum, quæ v. 3. continet, nisi Nicodemus alia quædam dixisset, et interrogasset, quæ Jesum, eo deduxissent. Attamen Langius in loc: contendit omnia bene cohærere, nihilque esse omissum; Jesum nimirum-cum videret Nicodemum, ne in collegarum invidiam et odium incurreret, noctu ad se venire, hâc-timiditate offensum nullâ morâ ei respondisse, qui non publice, suscipiendo baptismo, atque audiendâ meâ doctrina, profitetur, se esse meum sectatorem, eum non curo, non in numerum regni mei civium recipiam.-Kuinoel, comm. in lib. Hist. N. T. vol. iii. p. 196-7. (b) Nicodemus was convinced that Christ was a divine teacher, but he did not dare to confess him openly. On this account our Lord reproved him by his apparently abrupt address: he tells him that all such compliance with the opinions of men must be done away. From this commencement our Lord proceeds to declare in what manner his disciples were to be admitted into his Church. With this key we may easily pass through the several parts of this conversation, which, properly considered, will be found to have a just and regular dependance upon one another. Dr. Owen, ap. Bowyer's Conjectures, p. 264. (c) Brescith Rabba, sect. 39. fol. 38. 2. Bammidbar Rabba, sect. 2. fol. 211. 2. et Tanchuma, fol. 5. 2. Dixit R. Berachia: Deus Genes. xii. 2. non

K

Julian Pe-
riod, 4740.
Vulgar Era,
27.

The first
Passover.

10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a Jerusalem. master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

ואעשך ponam aut constituam te, sed אתנך ואשימך dicit ad Abrahamum namque ego te facio creaturam משאני ערשי אותך בריה חרשה et faciam te

novam. (d) Dixit R. Eliezer, fil. Simra ad verba Gen. xii. 5. cur hoc
loco dicitur y ¬wx vdɔn nix et animas quas fecerunt? Notandum est
illos fuisse proselytos, quos ad veram religionem adduxerunt-Obj. si
vel maxime intelligantur proselyti, cur tamen de illis dicitur y fece-
runt? Resp. Diximus exinde, quod, siquis alterum ad veram religionem
perducat, idem sit, ac si ipsum creaverit.-Schoetgenius, vol. i. p. 705.

per oleum unctionis Sacerdos factus est creatura nova. (f) Sohar Levit.

על ידי שמן המשחה נעשה הכהן ברייה חדשה .1 .105 .e) Jalkut Rubeni, fol)

בר נש דאתיליד לא אתמנא עליה רוהא דלעילא עד ויתגזר כיון .154 .fol.39. col
c. Homo recens natus non& ותגזר אתער עליה רוחא אתערותא דלעילא

statim accipit Spiritum supernum, donec circumcidatur. Cum vero
circumcisus est, Spiritus in eum effunditur effusione cœlesti. Quando
autem adolescit, et Legi operam dat major effusio in illum effundi-
tur, &c. &c. (g) Lightfoot's Works, folio, vol. i. p. 570. (h) Bing-
ham's Antiquities, vol. iv. b. 11. c. 1. Aug. de Bapt. lib. 5, c. 21,
Sacramentum Gratiæ dat Deus etiam per malos, &c. Baptismum vero,
quod est Sacramentum Remissionis Peccatorum; nulli dubium est,
habere etiam homicidas posse, &c. (i) Iladıyyeveσía vxns Cyril.
Catech. præf. n. 10. (k) "Yowp Zone. Justin Dial. p. 231. (1) Qui
natus fuerat sæculo, renascitur Spiritualiter Deo. Sic fit hominem
Pater Deus, sancta sic fit Mater Ecclesia. Optat. lib. 2. p. 52. (m)
Δῶρον καλᾶμεν, χάρισμα, βάπτισμα, χρίσμα, φώτισμα, ἀφθαρσίας,
ἔνδυμα, λετρον παλινγενεσίας, πᾶν ὅτι τίμιον. Naz. Orat. 40. de
Bapt. p. 638. (n) See Dean Bethell's statement of Waterland's argu-
ment-Treatise on Regeneration, p. 15, &c. Schoetgen. Horæ He-
braicæ, vol. i. p. 704, et p. 329. (o) Vide Waterland's Sermon on
Regeneration-Dean Bethell's General View of the Doctrine of Rege-
neration in Baptism-Scott's Bible, on John iii.-Gill's, ditto, and the
various commentators-the tracts on each side in the late controversy,
between Mr. Scott, of Hull, Archbishop Lawrence, &c. &c. and the
many publications referred to by Doddridge, in his lecture on this sub-
ject. Archbishop Lawrence, and Dean Bethell, appear to have settled
the controversy. Mr. Morgan's tract, too, is very valuable. See also
the sermons of Mr. Nolan, on the Operations of the Holy Ghost.
For the various opinions of many of the Reformers, and most learned
theologians on this subject, see Witsius, Miscellanea Sacra Ex-
ercitatio XIX. de Efficacia, et Utilitate Baptismi in Electis fœde-
ratorum parentum infantibus. Witsius considers that the children
of pious parents, who are baptized, are to be considered as elect
and holy, till they prove themselves to be otherwise, by their con-
duct in after life-eam piis parentibus fiduciam fecit Deus, ut in-
fantes suos, tanquam Dei per gratiosam adoptionem filios, intueri iis
liceat; donec provectiones facti contrariis se indiciis prodant; atque
de eorum in infantia morientium salute securi esse queant, non minus
quam olim Abrahamus, et Isaacus. Witsii Miscel. Sacra vel. ii.
p. 615. Exer. XIX.

Julian Pe

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, Jerusalem.

riod, 4740. but have eternal life.

Vulgar Æra,

27.

The first

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not Passover. perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Soon after the first Passover

SECTION VII.

John's last testimony to Christ.

JOHN iii. 22. to the end.

22 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into Judæ. the land of Judæa; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

23 And John also was baptizing in Enon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

24 For John was not yet cast into prison.

25 Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.

26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.

27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.

29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice 16: this my joy therefore is fulfilled".

16 This final address of the Baptist cannot be understood, unless we keep in view a peculiar custom which prevailed among the Jews. At every wedding two persons were selected,

Julian Period, 4740. Vulgar Æra,

27.

Soon after the first Passover.

30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is

who devoted themselves for some time to the service of the
bride and bridegroom. The offices assigned to the paranymph,
or raw, were numerous and important; and, on account of
thesc, the Baptist compares himself to the friend of the bride-
groom. The offices of the paranymph were threefold-before-
at-and after the marriage. Before the marriage of his friend
it was his duty to select a chaste virgin, and to be the medium
of communication between the parties, till the day of marriage.
At that time he continued with them during the seven days
allotted for the wedding festival, rejoicing in the happiness of
his friend, and contributing as much as possible to the hilarity
of the occasion. After the marriage, the paranymph was con-
sidered as the patron and friend of the wife and her husband,
and was called in to compose any differences that might take
place between them. As the forerunner of Christ, the Baptist
may be well compared to the paranymph of the Jewish mar-
riages.

One of the most usual comparisons adopted in Scripture to
describe the union between Christ and his Church, is that of a
marriage. The Baptist was the paranymph (a), who, by the
preaching of repentance, and faith, presented the Church as a
youthful bride and a chaste virgin to Christ. He still conti-
nued with the bridegroom, till the wedding was furnished with
guests. His joy was fulfilled when his own followers came to
inform him that Christ was increasing the number of his dis-
ciples, and that all men came unto him. This intelligence was
as the sound of the bridegroom's voice, and as the pledge that
the nuptials of heaven and earth were completed.

From this representation of John, as the paranymph; of Christ as the bridegroom, and the Church as the bride, the ministers and stewards of the Gospel of God may learn, that they also are required, by the preaching of repentance and faith, to present their hearers in all purity to the head of the Christian Church. It is for them to find their best source of joy in the blessing of the most Highest on their labours-their purest happiness in the improvement and perfecting of the Church confided to their care (b).

Smaller circumstances and coincidences sometimes demonstrate the truth of an assertion, or the authenticity of a book, more effectually than more important facts. May not one of those unimportant yet convincing coincidences be observed in this passage. The Baptist calls himself the friend of the bridegroom, without alluding to any other paranymph, or raww. As the Jews were accustomed to have two paranymphs, there seems, at first sight, to be something defective in the Baptist's comparison. But our Lord was of Galilee, and there the custom was different from that of any other part of Palestine. The Galileans had one paranymph only (c).

(a) Exemplo et vitâ, says Kuinoel, eommuni depromto Johannes Baptista ostendit, quale inter ipsum et Christum discrimen iutercedat. Se ipsum comparat cum paranympho, Christum cum sponso; quocum ipse Christus se quoque comparavit, ut patet e locis. Matt. ix. 15. and, xxv. 1. Scilicet, o piλos re vvμpís, est sponsi socius, ei peculiariter addictus, qui Græcis dicebatur apavuμpios, Matt. ix. 15. vide̟ rov vvμovos. Heb. aww, filius lætitiæ.-Com. in lib. N. T. Hist. vol. iii. p. 227. (b) Applicatio totius rei est facillima, Christus est sponsus, Ecclesia sponsa, Ministri Ecclesiæ aww, 2 Cor. xi. 2. et h. 1. quoque Johannes Baptista. Hi in eo elaborant, ut Christo virgi

Jada.

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