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LETTER VIII.

ADVANTAGES WHICH MIGHT BE EXPECTED TO ARISE FROM THE ABOVE INTERPRETATION OF OUR BAPTISMAL SERVICE.

THE advantages which might be expected to arise from the practical adoption of the above interpretation of our Baptismal Service, are neither few nor doubtful: the practice will amply vindicate the principle, for as we BELIEVE, so will it appear that we shall be ESTABLISHED.

The FIRST ADVANTAGE arising from the above interpretation of our Baptismal Service is, that

-IT RENDERS ALL OUR FORMULARIES INTELLIGIBLE.

It puts a sense and a meaning into them fully equal to their expressions and while it gives those expressions their plain and natural meaning, it justifies them from the charge of being too strong and intense; since, after all, they do but inadequately convey the unquestionable privileges, and "unsearchable riches" of the Gospel of Christ.

It is vain to dissemble, My Dear Friend, that

we have ourselves found considerable difficulty in reconciling the several formularies of our Church with each other; and that we have for years been accustomed to hear a variety of complaints and doubts as to the consistency of our Liturgy. What various interpretations have been given of the Baptismal Service! To what difficulties have those been reduced, who, teaching that our salvation depends on our strict obedience to the Law, would bend the letter of the Catechism and the Confirmation Service, to the support of this mistaken system? And how many have been confounded, that our Liturgy, in its various Services, assumes all who use it to be real believers in Christ Jesus, and that it makes no provision for neutral characters, or for any but penitent and believing sinners! The Service for "the Visitation of the Sick" has been constantly reproached as inapplicable to the great proportion of cases, which the minister, in the discharge of his duty, is called upon to attend ; and the Burial Service has been the repeated theme of complaint, both with friends and foes, that it can with propriety be read over real believers alone. And have not good and intelligent ministers of our Church been driven to such distress of mind by these doubts and perplexities, as to hesitate, whether they could, consistently with the claims of a safe conscience, continue to minister her Services? If you, My Dear Friend, have been happily exempt from

the trial, I must confess, that such doubts have arisen in my own mind, and in those of some excellent men with whom I have conversed on this subject; nor were such doubts ever dissipated from my mind, till the above view of the Baptismal Service furnished a clue of interpretation, which admitted me to the meaning of every subsequent formulary, and with that meaning, displayed the beauty and consistency of the whole.

How perfectly intelligible then is our whole Liturgy viewed from the portal of Baptismal regeneration-faith in the promise covenanted to the children of believers. Fix your eye but upon this entrance, and all the beautiful edifice rises in simple integrity, and commanding majesty before you. In BAPTISM "we being persuaded of the good-will of our heavenly Father towards this Infant, declared by his Son Jesus Christ, and nothing doubting but that he favourably alloweth this charitable work of ours in bring. ing this Infant to his holy Baptism; in the CATECHISM we proceed consistently to teach him, that he was then "made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an Inheritor of the kingdom of heaven," and that the Holy Ghost even at this present "sanctifieth," or is "sanctifying him, and all the elect people of God." At his CONFIRMATION, the Bishop accepts him as a believer, as "regenerate by water and the

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Holy Ghost; as "given forgiveness of all "

his "sins; " and with the Church prays the "Lord" to "strengthen" him " with the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, and daily increase in " him "his manifold gifts of grace." In "THE COMMUNION," he is privileged to say with the Church, "We most heartily thank thee, for that thou dost assure us thereby of thy favour and goodness towards us, and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, which is the blessed company of all faithful people.—And we most humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy Grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship," &c. IN THE LITURGY, the whole language and spirit is suited to a child of God addressing a Father of mercy. In addition to the passages already adduced in page 154, the following selections from the Collects can only be pleaded by a believer, " grant that we being regenerate and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit ;" 1 "mercifully grant that we which know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead."2 And at the "solemnization of MATRIMONY," he is recognized as belonging

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1 On the Nativity.

2 On the Epiphany. See also the Collects for Good-Friday, Easter-Even, Easter-day, Ascension-day, Trinity-Sunday, and All-Saints day indeed those Collects are rather exceptions, where the expressions are not peculiar and appropriate to believers.

"We are

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to" the Communion of the Saints." gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this Congregation to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony; and the Church prays for them both in the character of believers, "O Lord, save thy servant and thy handmaid, who put their trust in thee. In "THE CHURCHING of WOMEN, the Congregation prays for "the woman who shall come into the Church," "O Lord, save this woman, thy servant; who putteth her trust in thee." IN THE VISITATION OF THE SICK the same words are repeated, and the whole office is calculated for the encouragement and spiritual establishment of the believer. And in "THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD," the crowning work of a holy assurance is accomplished over the believer by "the Communion of the Saints," when they conclude their earthly intercourse, by giving "hearty thanks for that it hath pleased thee to deliver this our Brother out of the miseries of this sinful world." From the beginning to the end of this exquisite display of order the same principle appears in active prominency, a saint is introduced into "the Communion of the Saints" at Baptism, and in this holy character he is uniformly entertained by the Church, so long as he can be a partaker of her communion, and till her means of grace have under the divine blessing perfected him for glory. I am not aware that any force is put

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