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of God in all his four kingdoms, nature, providence, grace, and glory, commends our principle, and the word of God expressly and repeatedly confirms the same. It remains only for us to trust him with the performance of his own promise; and our trust will best be evinced, in training our children, not as children of nature, but as children of grace, or that we would be consistent in practically treating them, as we teach them to call themselves, “ members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven."
And here, My Dear Friend, let me ask, do not the times, and the signs of the times, demand from us an active co-operation with the Spirit of God in carrying this principle of spiritual renewal into effect? are there any means now in action apparently adequate to this purpose ? can any reasonable man expect this renewal from our present mode of education? I own, that to me, such an expectation appears to be perfectly childish. Nor does it appear to me that after the defeated hopes of six thousand years in attempting to ameliorate mankind by the rigour of Law enforcing our corrupt nature to an impossible obedience, any thing but failure can attend our present expectations of success. We are not better than our fathers; and the Law which has failed to produce this effect in their days, will not produce a different effect in ours. Let us then try this simple mode of renovation, proposed by our Church in her best days. The experience of the last thirty years gives us ample encouragement. Which of us that looks back even for twenty years, and recollects the monthly meetings of a few friends in a private house, could then have believed that the Church Missionary Society would have attained such a pitch of expansive usefulness, as it has pleased God to confer upon it? and in the infancy of its operations who could have anticipated the spread of the Bible Society's influence over the people, and nations, and languages it embraces ? Man loves complexity ; and often impedes his own designs by the intricacy of the process he devises to effect them. God loves simplicity ; and the more simple the principle, the more is his honour advanced. And what principle is so well calculated to advance the glory of the latter day, the dawn of which perhaps our own eyes are even now beholding, as this which secures all the honour of that glory to God, while it provides at once the most simple, and the most ready mode of renovating human society, and with a Christian profession imparting a Christian spirit also. We complain of the degraded condition of Christian society; we pray that it may be improved : behold the means at hand : all is ready in the Baptismal provisions of our Church: all that we have to do is to be just to our own advantages, and true to the remedy prepared for us. Let us but trust the promise,
use the means, water them with our prayers, realise them by our faith ; and here will be a just ground of expectation that our Israel shall be an Israel of God from Dan to Beersheba ; that every parish shall exhibit a Christian communion, that dissent shall be merged in the universal blessedness of such a dispensation ; and that our land shall become what the civil magistrate designs by our Ecclesiastical Establishment, a land of vital Christians : and without doubt, at that hour, the whole earth shall call her blessed.
If an apology be demanded of me for the length to which this letter has extended, I must rest it upon the two following grounds. The first, that in tracing out the advantages resulting from the above interpretation of our Baptismal Service as applied in practice, a field of blessed. ness gradually opened to me, of the extent of which, at first, I was by no means aware ; the second, that I would speak as to wise men; and shew them the advantages of the principle recommended, before we proceed to state the means of carrying it into effect. Practical men must be convinced of the advantage of a practice before they adopt it; and, I trust, that the ADVANTAGES enumerated are so evident, that we are now prepared to enter upon the consideration of the means, which yet remain to us to advance and to secure them,
MODES HUMBLY SUGGESTED OF CARRYING THE
SAME INTO EFFECT.
The first point to be aimed at here is,
EVERY MAN BE FULLY PERSUADED IN HIS OWN
ABOVE INTERPRETATION OF OUR BAPTISMAL SERVICE IS JUST; AND THAT IF CARRIED INTO EFFECT THROUGHOUT THE LAND, BY EVERY CHURCH IN EVERY PARISH, IT WOULD WITH God's BLESSING, PRODUCE A NATIONAL REFORMATION OF MANNERS, AND CHANGE A COMMUNITY OF MERELY PROFESSING CHRISTIANS,
INTO A COMMUNION OF SAINTS EXHIBITING THE VITAL ENERGIES OF CHRISTIAN FAITH AND LOVE.
Let every man endeavour to look at the question apart from prejudice and affection; and with truly Berean ingenuousness rise above the discouragements of novelty and desuetude, and nobly pause to inquire whether these things are so. Desuetude might well discourage us; for with the loss of the above interpretation of Baptism, all spirituality had well nigh
disappeared from our Church; and our present more favourable condition presents but too formidable obstacles to our recovery to sound principles of Baptismal Regeneration. But let not the fear of novelty discourage us; for there is in fact nothing novel in the view we have given : on the contrary it is the doctrine of our sainted forefathers of the Reformation for which we plead : and it is nothing but desuetude that clothes it with the air of novelty. Let every member of our Church, especially every minister of it, consider the plain terms of the Baptismal Service, as well as its general spirit and bearing ; let him compare these with the Liturgy and each particular formulary; let him mark the harmony, and beauty, and consistency, and integrity, which this interpretation gives to the whole Book of Common Prayer : let him review the private sentiments of our Reformers, exactly harmonising with this view of their public authorised expression of them; let him superadd to this, the concurrent testimony of the Reformed Churches; let him reflect that it is unbelief alone which opposes this interpretation, while faith in the promise beholds it practicable as it is desirable; let him dwell on the manifold ADVANTAGES, which directly and necessarily flow from it--and let him then say, whether any other interpretation of our services can be conceived, so justly consentaneous both with their