Baptismal Regeneration: The Council of TRENT Tested by the Word of God.
to Ritualists on their way to Rome.
THE COUNCIL OF TRENT TESTED BY THE WORD OF GOD.
In our last tract, No. 1, we described our visit to the dark hole of "The Holy Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament" in Cambridge with its images of idolatry, and the books used by the priests-associates. Its windows were carefully boarded up, and papered over. Just as we found where the light of heaven should have come in, there stood the altar of Rome; so by the books used by this Confraternity we found, where the testimony of God to the one sacrifice of Christ should have been, there stood the many sacrifices of the Mass which never can take away sins.
These books used by some two thousand six hundred priests, or would-be priests, of Rome, under the disguise of being clergymen of the Church of England -- these books are simply and wholly Romish. It is no use then treating this confederacy as merely ritualistic, but as a secret compact organization, to establish Romanism in this land. We propose then to go to the fountainhead, from which flows this stream of Ritualism, and the place to which every advancing step leads.
It is then a matter of the very utmost importance that we should understand what Romanism is. If it be of God, would it not be well, if not only these thousands of clergymen were leading the people back to it, but if we all were at once to go back to it? But if it be of God, it will be assuredly according to God's word. With an ever increasing reverence for that word, and a sincere desire to test the Roman Church by that word, we feel it will only be just to examine the doctrines and practices of Rome, as found in her own authoritative books. And as all Roman Catholics acknowledge the authority of the Council of Trent, let us test the decrees of that Council by the word of God. [The Edition used is the literal translation by T. A. Buckley, B.A. George Routledge and Co.; London, 1851.] The Garden of the Soul, and other authentic Roman Catholic books may be referred to. Let it be however distinctly understood, that we do not propose to combat Romanism by any other religious system of doctrine, but our business is solely to examine it by the word of God.
I had thought of going at once to the all-important subject of justification, but there is so much said in these decrees, about the sacrament of Baptism, as the instrumental cause of justification, that it will be well for us to examine first: --
The Decree on concerning original sin. (p. 21.)
Notice the first line of this decree -- "That our Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God," &c. This would close at a stroke all inquiry and examination. If we have not the faith set forth by these men, be it according or contrary to the word of God, no matter; for without their Catholic faith it is impossible to please God! But if you turn to Hebrews 11, the passage quoted says nothing about their Catholic faith. They have thus added to the word of God. And it is written, "if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book." (Rev. 22:18.) The Fathers of the Council made this mistake; Paul was not speaking of faith in them, but faith in God. It is not nice to pervert the scripture at starting. There is not such a thought in Hebrews 11 as "our Catholic faith."
We are perfectly agreed as to the utter ruin and sin, in which the whole race of Adam is born. "By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned." Every man on the face of the earth is a sad proof of this. By nature he is a child of wrath. He is born with a sinful nature. We are also agreed that the scriptures nowhere teach that the powers of human nature can deliver man from this evil nature of sin. But the remedy! that is the question. The Council, speaking of infants newly born, says that original sin from Adam has need to be expiated by the laver of regeneration for the obtaining life everlasting: or perhaps more distinctly, "For by reason of this rule of faith, from a tradition of the apostles, even infants, who could not as yet in themselves commit any sins, are for this cause truly baptized for the remission of sins, that in them that which they have contracted by generation, may be cleansed away by regeneration. For unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Then follows a little cursing which we will notice soon.
We never heard of this rule of faith in the scripture, no, it is from tradition. Baptismal regeneration is "from tradition." Infants are baptized for the remission of sins. What sins? "They cannot as yet commit any." Future sins? Does this Church teach that? No. Does she teach transmigration? are they sins committed before they were born? No; then here is a pretty sample of tradition! It is too bad to charge the apostles with it.
But you say the decree points to scripture. "For unless a man be born again of water," &c. (John 3:5.) Did the Fathers ever examine the context of this verse? Is there a thought in the passage of the baptism of infants for remission of sins? Certainly not one. Examine it carefully. Is there one word even about christian baptism? A ruler of the Jews came to Jesus by night, mark, before christian baptism was known or instituted. The blessed Lord speaks to him as a Jew, about the earthly things of the kingdom of God; but does not speak to him about the heavenly things of the kingdom of God. He tells him what he ought to have known that man must be born again, or wholly anew. Nicodemus is greatly perplexed. He then says, "Amen, Amen, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Nicodemus still says, How can these things be? Jesus reminds him that he ought to know these things. He said, "Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?" And again He says, "I have told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things."
These Fathers of Trent seem to have been very ignorant of scripture. They do not seed in the least to distinguish between the earthly kingdom of God, promised to the people of Israel by Jehovah -- that which the blessed Lord talked about to Nicodemus -- and the heavenly truth and glory of the church. If Jesus had meant baptism, either of infants just born, or of believers in Christ's death an resurrection, or forgiveness of sins through His blood, and baptism in His name, crucified, dead, and risen, how could this ruler of Israel have known a word about it?
But now read the word of Jehovah to Israel in Ezekiel 36:22-36. All is, as the Lord said the kingdom. They shall dwell in their own land. The waste cities shall be builded. This land that is desolate shall be like the garden of Eden. "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you and ye shall be clean from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you," &c. Therefore this ruler of the Jews ought to have understood these earthly promises, especially as so many types of the law shewed this absolute need of cleansing and holiness.
Another scripture, speaking of the same thing says, "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness." (Zech. 13:1.) And as Nicodemus ought to have understood these earthly things of the kingdom, it is proved Jesus did not speak of christian baptism in this text, "Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit," &c.
Now examine His own explanation, how this new life is communicated, in this very chapter. Does He say, "As Moses commanded the laver to be placed at the door of the tabernacle, that the priests might wash when they entered; even so every person must be washed in water, that whosoever is baptized by a priest shall not perish, but have everlasting life?" Is there such a thought in this chapter? but if baptismal regeneration were true, and the Lord meant it to Nicodemus, He would then have so put it.
Mark the contrast of all this. Indeed, we may say the law even taught the contrary: before a person could reach the laver, there was the brazen altar of burnt-offering. The blood must be shed first, the atonement first. So here the Lord teaches us, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
Whom shall I trust? The Fathers set before me baptism, as the medium by which I am to receive the new life. Jesus sets before me His own death on the cross, and faith as the medium, if I may so express it. His words are, "Whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life." The Council will not allow water here as a figure of speech; it simply refers to that which a ruler of the Jews ought to have known of the typical meaning of water in the law, and the prophets of Israel. You can say, "he that is born of the Spirit is spirit;" that is, the new nature is of the Spirit. But you could not say, "He that is born of water is water." Could these doctors have said we are no longer flesh and bone, but water?
We must conclude then, that the Council made a grave mistake of ignorance in quoting this text on which they so much rely. It could not possibly refer to baptism of new born infants for the remission of sins they had never committed. Neither could it refer to the baptism of the church at all, but to the earthly kingdom of Israel, and therefore ought to have been understood by Nicodemus. The Fathers evidently wrested it from its proper connection and meaning.
That baptism points to the same thing may be very certain. Whether of the individual, or of the future nation of Israel there must be holiness -- cleansing from all uncleanness; and by the Spirit a new, wholly new, nature. And that water is used as a figure of the word none can deny. "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word," &c. (Eph. 5:25.) The Fathers say by the priestly washing of water in baptism; Paul says, "the washing of water by the word." Did Peter understand that christian believers are born again by the sacrament of baptism? Hear what be says on this subject, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever. And this is the word which is preached unto you." (1 Pet. 1:23-25.)
Is not this remarkable that the Council should so flatly contradict scripture on this very foundation doctrine of their whole system? For it follows if this foundation is true, there needs no other. If an infant by baptism is regenerated -- made a child of God, an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven, or member of the one body of Christ -- then there is no need to preach the gospel to such, and no need to be born again by the word of God. If it be true, it thus entirely sets aside scripture: and if it be false, it proclaims a soul-destroying delusion to millions of the human race.
Let us carefully examine a little further. Not only does this canon teach baptism for the remission of sins, but also "that in them that which they have contracted by generation may be cleansed away by regeneration." And if any one asserts that all that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away, but says it is only erased, or not imputed, let him be cursed. And after a number of texts which we shall find misapplied to baptism, the baptized are spoken of as "made innocent, immaculate, pure, harmless, and beloved of God." I ask, if this were true, if baptism did all this, could Paul possibly say, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel?" What gospel could be better than baptism, if there were a shadow of truth in these Fathers' doctrines? They represent sin taken away; the person innocent, immaculate, pure, all that we contracted by generation gone. And all who assert to the contrary to this are to be accursed. The beloved John, inspired of God, denies this. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8.) These Fathers ought to have known scripture better before they cursed so freely. Their curse would rest on the beloved John himself. But John tells them they deceive themselves. I will be cursed with John, rather than be deceived with the Council of Trent.
I said we would notice the misquotations of scripture. They say, "There is therefore no condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism into death," &c. Is this ignorance, or wilfulness? Could these Fathers be so ignorant of this glorious truth, of no condemnation now to them that are in Christ Jesus -- so ignorant of the Epistle to the Romans where it is found -- as to apply this to water baptism? We will not pursue it at this moment, as we shall examine the scripture when on "Justification."
The synod then goes on, and fully admits that concupiscence still remains, but it is not sin, unless we consent to it: and further, "this concupiscence which the apostle sometimes calls sin, the holy synod declares that the Catholic Church has never understood to be called sin, as being a truly and properly sin, in those born again, but because it is of sin, and inclines to sin. And if any one is of a contrary opinion, let him be Anathema." (Page 24.) Is not this dreadful? The Catholic Church sets itself confessedly against the inspired apostle, nay, against God. Their curses would rest on the apostle for having a different opinion from themselves. God says lust is sin. They do not call it so. If any one is of a contrary opinion, let him be accursed. Christ declares the contrary. He says to lust is to commit sin in the heart. (Matt. 5:28.) Paul says, "But sin taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence;" and after full deliverance in Christ he says, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." (Rom. 7:8, 25.) The flesh in regenerate Paul is thus called sin. The apostle John, speaking of the regenerate surely, says, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8.) Well, says the Holy Synod, we do not call it sin; and if any one does, let him be accursed. Yes, God, and Christ, and Paul, and John all come under the curse by this dreadful decree. And this is called "Holy Synod!" And does not every true Christian mourn over his inward corruptions, his evil nature so prone to commit sins -- the root from which all the sins grow? And does he not confess it to God as sin, and abhor it? Holy Church says, we curse him if he does. How low had Rome sunk, when she could issue such a decree! Oh, Lord, deliver Thy people from her.
They teach there is no harm in this inbred lust if we consent not. (Page 23) Now take a case. Suppose a priest knows a decided Christian who loves the Lord and studies His word. His corrupt heart hates this man, and he lusts to take his life. For many reasons he strives hard against this dreadful desire. Of course at one time he would have had him off to the Inquisition and dispatched him quickly, and thus have been a murderer. But suppose there is no outward action, what says the scripture? "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer." (1 John 3:15.) Does not even common sense, or at least natural conscience, tell us that to desire to sin is sin? Is not the tree known by its fruit? There remains all this, they tell us, in the baptized, and yet all that has the true proper nature of sin is taken away -- nature, guilt, and all. The baptized are innocent, immaculate, pure, and harmless. Could there be greater confusion, or more daring denial of the word of God?
Let us not however judge them too harshly: the word of God was little studied in those days. Many, no doubt, were seeking truth, in the midst of this awful darkness. These Fathers entirely overlooked, in their quotation of scripture, the all-important distinction betwixt sin and sins. Many serious mistakes arose through this oversight. I will notice one. I would state that the authorised Douay translation lies before me. I will quote from it. "Behold the Lamb of God: behold him who taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29.) Now this professedly infallible Council scarcely ever quotes this scripture correctly; instead of "sin," they say "sins," which completely destroys the meaning: and is utterly opposed to all scripture. A work has been accomplished by the Lamb of God, by which sin shall be finally taken away, and the new heavens and new earth appear, where sin shall be no more. But to quote it as if the death of the Sin-bearer had taken away personally the sins of the whole world is to teach universal salvation. Where Jesus is spoken of as the propitiation, there it is for the world. The blood is on the mercy-seat: and thus mercy and forgiveness are proclaimed to all. But where Jesus is spoken of as the Substitute, actually bearing and taking away sins, it is always limited to believers. We see Him, the Sin-bearer, exhausting all judgment due to sins in Hebrews 9:27, 28. But there it is, "the sins of many." These Fathers do not seem to have had the least idea of this, neither had they ever noticed that in the Epistle to the Romans the very verse they quote begins the question of sin. The other question of sins had been fully discussed up to that very verse, or end of Romans 5:11. Now there is no thought there of being justified from sins by baptism. It is by faith, without works of law. But more of this in our next. I say baptism is not once put before these believers as the means of their justification from their sins, but the blood of Jesus. But when we are thus justified from our sins, what about sin? The root of them all, that which came by Adam? This is the main question from verse 12 to the end of chapter 7.
As to sin then, Holy Synod puts baptism before us. The Spirit puts Christ before us -- Christ in contrast to Adam. By Adam came sin and death and condemnation to all his race. By Christ came righteousness, and life, and justification, abounding over all both sin and offence -- to all in Him. We are thus justified from sins by His blood, His precious death for us. We are justified from sin by being dead with Him, and raised again. Only this is not yet accomplished, in fact, in us as to the body. But faith does so account it to be, or reckon it: "So do you also reckon that you are dead to sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 6:11, Douay.) If you read these chapters in Romans, noticing the important distinction betwixt sin and sins, it is very clear and divinely complete. Without this distinction you cannot wonder at the Fathers' mistakes.
Should baptism then be set aside? Surely not. What is it then? If it is not regeneration, what is it? Let us shew a photograph to a child. I ask the child, What is this? Is it Mr. Johnstone? No. "Yes," says the child. It is a most striking, most correct, likeness -- a picture drawn by the sun. But is it the living real person? Oh, no; but it is a good likeness. Or take another. Here is a map of an estate. How very correct: every field and tree and fence, oh, how exact! But is it the estate? Now baptism is like one of these. What a type of doctrine! what an exact picture of the passing from death to life of a believer, dead with Christ, and risen in Him. Nothing can shew more clearly how sin is gone for ever, as a thing to be charged against the believer, than being reckoned of God to be dead with Christ, and risen in Him.
You only need to read Romans 6 prayerfully in dependence on the Holy Spirit, to see the full force of this. But though you may use the photograph to describe the man, or the map to describe the estate, and baptism to describe this death and new creation in Christ Jesus, yet the photograph is not the man? The map is not the estate; and water washeth not from sin. "Without shedding of blood there is no remission." A map is very useful in describing an estate; and in the beginning baptism was evidently most expressive of the passing from death unto life. To this day a baptized Jew is looked upon by his kindred as dead. It is just the same too with a Hindoo. It was the solemn taking the place of death with Christ, in His name, for forgiveness of sins.
The prophets did not bear witness to the baptism, but "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." (Acts 10:43.) Thus on the church's birthday, the three thousand who had rejected and murdered the Lord Jesus first heard of His death, foreordained of God, and His resurrection foretold by David; and that He, whom they had crucified, was the exalted prince and Saviour. They were told to change their minds. This involved the deepest moral self-judgment, and owning their dreadful guilt; and be baptized in His name for forgiveness of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The Fathers, reading all this, have mistaken the portrait for the man, the map for the estate, the water of baptism for faith in the mighty work of redemption accomplished on the cross. They received the word and were baptized. And in answer to the jailor's cry, "What must I do to be saved," did the apostle say, Be baptized, and this will regenerate you? No; but, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house." (Acts 17:31.) He believed, was saved, and that very, night was baptized.
Let us listen to the words of Jesus as he explains so simply how this mighty change takes place, this passing from death to life. "Amen, amen, I say unto you, that he who heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath life everlasting; and cometh not into judgment, but is passed from death to life." (John. 5:24, Douay.) Oh, let those words of Jesus sink deep into your soul. What profound certainty they give! Have you heard His word, does it come, because His word, with divine authority to you? God who gave Him to die for our sins, and raised Him from among the dead for our justification? Do you believe God who sent Jesus? Oh, infinite love! Now those words, "hath life everlasting;" do you believe that sweet word "hath," and "cometh not into judgment?" all your judgment borne by Jesus? And as surely as God gives you this precious faith, so surely you have passed from death unto life.
All this divine certainty Jesus gives the believer: can the Fathers in Council give the like certainty by baptism? No, never, never, never. And yet baptism very distinctly illustrates this. Dead with Christ, risen with Christ; one with Him for ever; passed from death unto life; once in Adam, now in Christ. Oh, read those precious words of Jesus over again. They speak life to your soul. Look at His hands and His side: can you doubt Him?
But you may say, If I believe these words of Jesus, and thus know with certainty that I have life everlasting, this Council will curse me. If Jesus bless, let them curse. Oh, how sad to think that so many have been cursed, and burned, and, if it had been possible, sent to perdition by these Fathers of High Church. And for what? For believing the words of Jesus! And 2,600 clergymen of the Church of England are doing their utmost to bring these days again!
Oh, my soul, they would rob thee of the sweetest deepest joy these precious words of Jesus give. The absolute certainty that then hast life everlasting, and shalt not come into judgment; passed from death unto life. In place of this, they would thrust thee into darkness and uncertainty, crying even like a Jew before Jesus died, God be merciful to me a sinner.
But to return: not only do we find the Council of Trent in utter confusion about baptism, but they seem at utter variance with the word of God as to regeneration itself, however effected. The doctrine of Trent is that whatever has been contracted by generation is cleansed away by regeneration. And if any one asserts that all that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away, &c., let him be anathema. The idea is clearly the restoration of the original Adam-state before the fall, they "are made innocent, pure, harmless." (Page 23.) Now apart from the means by which this is effected, where is this the doctrine of scripture? Nay, they themselves contradict it over and over again. They say, "They are renewed, as the apostle says, day by day, that is, by mortifying the members of their own flesh." (Page 36.) Had Adam to mortify his members? How would you mortify innocent, immaculate, pure, harmless members? The apostle does indeed say to the faithful brethren in Christ, who have this certainty, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection; evil concupiscence, and covetousness which is idolatry." (Col. 3:4.) Can the Fathers apply all this and much more to Adam, innocent, pure, and harmless? And if any man says this evil in him is not sin, he deceives himself and the truth is not in him. (1 John 1:8.) The Council says this is not, properly speaking, sin: but all that is truly sin is taken away. Therefore the Council of Trent deceives itself, and the truth is not in it. Is this the infallibility of Rome?
I grant this is a difficult question, and no amount of human wisdom can explain it. But the scriptures of truth explain it very simply, and shew Rome to be doubly mistaken on regeneration. That which is born of God is not Adam restored to innocence; but a wholly new nature. "That which, is born of the flesh is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6.) And it is not that evil Adam nature -- call it sin or flesh, that is taken away. But in the believer "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other." (Gal. 5:17.)
That this refers to the true Christian is evident, for no other person has the Spirit. "For if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Thus, although the believer is a new creature, or new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), and not restored to mere Adam-nature, but made a partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4), yet the scriptures distinctly recognise the fact that the old sinful nature is still in him, though having been crucified, and judged in the person of the Holy One, his substitute, who was made sin for us. It is thus our privilege, and by the Spirit dwelling in us we have the power, to reckon it dead, and to overcome it. But the epistles distinctly recognise the members of this evil nature which need to be mortified and overcome. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
But strange to say, these learned Fathers were profoundly ignorant of this scriptural doctrine of two natures in the believer. And hence their gross errors in seeking to restore human nature, the flesh, by sacramental infusion. They only know man in the flesh made innocent, pure, and harmless. They have lost all knowledge of men judged in Christ, and risen in Christ, in direct contrast with the apostle. He says, "Wherefore, henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more; and if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; and, behold, all things are become new." (2 Cor. 5:16.)
The Lord had taught this Himself. He says, "Amen, amen, I say to you, Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die; itself remaineth alone. But if it die it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12:24.) Thus His holy incarnation, and spotless life in the flesh, could have been of no use whatever, unless He had died. The idea of His incarnation saving or improving man is utterly false and unscriptural. The apostle knew not Christ for any such purpose. It is just as false, as baptism restoring man in the flesh -- innocent, pure, and harmless. These are mere dreams of men, who had lost the truth of the new creation in Christ risen from the dead. With all the doctrine of Incarnation and sacraments the priests can give you, and all their assurance that these take away sins, it still remains true "that if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain: ye are yet in your sins." (1 Cor. 15:17.) But this is more directly connected with our next tract, "Justification," as taught by the Council of Trent.
Tell me, is not the experience of every Christian born of God, in keeping with the scriptural doctrine of the two natures? Have you been truly awakened to a sense of your lost guilty condition? Have you been brought to Jesus to hear His word? do you believe God who sent Him? The forgiveness preached to you in His name? Being justified by faith, have you peace with God? You say perhaps, Well, I thought I had all that; but the priest has told me that in regeneration all that can be truly called sin is taken away; and that I am so renewed that I am innocent, pure, and harmless. But I do not find it so. Do what I will, I do not find it so. I find a constant conflict with the flesh. And it is no better. I hate it, my old very self more and more. If I go into a monastery it is still there. If I fast, and flog my back until the blood runs down, I have still an evil nature. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." If I keep all the fasts and feasts of the church, my old self is still the same. I lose all confidence. How can any man be sure he is saved, and has eternal life? Ah, how many are thus plunged into despair!
Now does not the scripture distinctly recognise that, as surely as you are born of God, and have the Spirit, so surely the flesh will lust against the Spirit? Knowing the truth of all this, you also know the source of power, yea, have it, even the Holy Ghost dwelling in you; and thus you have the victory. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Every believer finds the sinful flesh still in him, but "sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under law, but grace." Truly soul-sustaining truth of God!
According to holy scripture then, a man passes from death unto life by the Holy Ghost applying the word! according to High Church and Rome, by a priest applying water in baptism. But then if this very foundation of baptismal regeneration be false and unscriptural; what becomes of confirmation? What does the bishop confirm? Well, if it is a falsehood, a lie, he can only confirm a lie. Oh, sad truth -- deceiving and being deceived! Think of the millions of people thus deceived. And shall we make no effort to reach them?
Oh, ye High Church parents, will you thus deceive your children? Dare you say your baptized children are innocent, pure, and harmless; all sin taken away by baptism? Thus, no need for them to hear the word and live. You know they have the same sinful nature that other children have; how soon it is manifested! You know your own nature was not made pure in baptism. Say no longer, I will give all honour to the priest that hath washed me from my sins in the water of baptism. Oh, that you could say, "Unto him that loveth us and hath washed us from our sins in his own blood." (Rev. 1:5.) Can you say that -- the language of every child of God on earth? Christ or the priest, light or darkness. Joy in God, or gloomy despair! Oh, escape for your life; search the scriptures; study the scriptures. God speaks to you in His word. Need you, will you, doubt it? Think of His love in giving His Son to die for our sins. Oh, cease from man and come to Jesus. He says, "Come unto me and I will give you rest." Satan may whisper, "It is enough; you have been baptized. You are pure, your sins are washed away by the priest in water; you are a child of God; you are a member of Christ; and the bishop has confirmed all this, just as I would have it. You do not need to be born again by the word of God; you do not need to come to Jesus, you do not need to hear His word; you do not need to believe God; or care to read what He says; you do not need to pass from death to life that way. It is enough for you to believe the priest, and do as he bids you. But the word of God you must not trust; it killeth."
Reader, will you thus listen to and believe the devil? You must either distrust God, and believe the devil, or, believing God, flee from all the lies of Satan. There can be no mistake about this, it is either the priest, with his sacrament of baptism, or the blood of Jesus, God's own Son, that cleanseth from sins. The Council of Trent teaches the one; the word of God declares the other.
In my inmost soul, with deepest reverence, I receive the testimony of the word of God. On this I trust for eternity. And as surely as Jesus is the Son of God, so surely all those who believe Him have passed from death unto life. It came to pass that whosoever looked at the brazen serpent lived. And Jesus says, "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." (John 6:47.)
One thing more and I close. It is most important to notice that this new life is not intended to be given to us, and still leave us the slaves of lust and iniquities. The blessed Saviour Jesus Christ "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:14.) We were once the slaves of lust, living in all evil; but "after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." Mark, this is entirely of God by the Holy Ghost, not of ourselves. The Holy Ghost not only gives us a new life, but we are brought into a new generation, a regeneration. This word only occurs once besides this place, in the New Testament, and it is there used in this sense of an entirely new state. (Matt. 19:28.) But then this new nature is holy. And thus the cleansing of a laver, or bath, is most expressive. Not only does the Holy Ghost communicate this divine life in regeneration, but He is shed abroad abundantly. Thus by the Holy Ghost, the man who was a slave of sin becomes not only possessed of a new nature, but in the development of that new holy nature, a new creature in holiness. And being justified by His grace -- God's own free grace and goodness through Jesus Christ -- he is to be careful to maintain good works. And though the flesh is still there, yet by the power of the Spirit, and ever occupied with Christ, he becomes practically a changed man in thoughts, affections, and in all his ways. It is not the old nature changed, but the Spirit giving power to the new to overcome and walk in holiness of life; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord.
We who were enemies by wicked works "hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death [not the water of baptism the type of it] to present you holy and unblameable, and unreprovable in his sight." (Col. 1:22.)
Let not the Ritualist lay aside this tract, and say, what have we to do with the false doctrine of baptismal regeneration, as taught by the church of Rome? Well, do you know that you hold this soul-destroying error? Are you not teaching thousands of children in this land, to believe this falsehood? It is not found in scripture; it is found in Rome. Yes, Rome is its source; and therefore we test it as found there by the word of God. In view of all this apostasy, the apostle says, "I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified." (Acts 20:32.)
In our next we hope to examine justification as taught in the scriptures compared with the Council of Trent.