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fruitfulness under the means of grace, in the same false pretence and empty form of godliness; for then he were not a saint, but a hypocrite. Thus the saints may communicate with the wicked, so they communicate not with their wickedness; and may have fellowship with sinners, so they have no fellowship with that which makes them such, that is, their sins." And by parity of reasoning, hypocrites, i. e. mere formal professors may openly and apparently communicate with the saints, but they can have no fellowship with their holiness, no communion with their graces. The Pharisee and the Publican may both go up to the same temple, but the pride of the one can have no communion with the humility of the other nor can characters so dissimilar hold the same Head, derive grace from the same source, or be influenced by the same Spirit.
As Bishop Pearson's name is deservedly venerable, and his work on the Creed is considered as a standard book, I appeal again to his authority, on this question. The following is the third reason he gives for believing the Church of Christ to be holy. "It is necessary to believe the Church of Christ to be holy, lest we should presume to obtain any happiness by being of it, without that holiness which is required in it. It is enough that the end, institution, and ad
1 Id. Article ix. p. 356.
ministration of the Church are holy; but that there may be some real and permanent advantage received by it, it is necessary that the persons abiding in the communion of it should be really and effectually sanctified. Without which holiness, the privileges of the Church prove the greatest disadvantages; and the means of salvation neglected, tend to a punishment with aggravation. It is not only vain but pernicious to attend at the marriage feast, without a wedding garment; and it is our Saviour's description of folly, to cry, "Lord, Lord, open to us," while we are without oil in our lamps. We must acknowledge a necessity of holiness, when we confess that Church alone which is holy can make us happy." 1
Here, according to the Bishop, it is presumption to think of obtaining any happiness by being of the Church, without obtaining that holiness which is required in it. "The persons abiding in the communion of it should be really and effectually sanctified." Nay he goes so far as to say, that profession without reality will prove the greatest disadvantage, and be productive of aggravated punishment. The assertion then, that "admission into the Holy Catholic Church, by the external rite of Baptism, is that internal regeneration of the heart which evi
Art. ix. 350.
dences our union with the Communion of saints," only needs a plain statement of terms to prove its fallacy. External admission into the Holy Catholic Church by the rite of water-baptism, is but part of the Sacrament, "the outward visible sign :" it is the Baptism of the Spirit, "the inward and spiritual grace" of which the water is the emblem, the means, and the pledge that constitutes that holiness, which evidences our title to the Communion of the saints, and makes the Sacrament complete.
But is it not to be expected that this very mistake should have arisen in the Church? So long as the mere natural man may be the subject of the outward dispensation, he must be expected to confound external things with things spiritual. "The natural man," however distinguished by talents or acquirements, "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God." He cannot rise above his level; which is to look " at the outward appearance: " he is a creature of sense and sight and reason, and can comprehend the things which are obvious to those faculties; but not having the super-added faculty of faith, he cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit, which faith alone can discern. Hence he necessarily confounds the outward act with the inward grace- the sign with the thing sig
1 Cor, ii. 14.
nified-the water with the Spirit-the professing Holy Catholic Church, with the spiritual Communion of the saints; and thus confounding circumstantials with essentials, all the mischiefs of delusion follow; and the Christian body, thus feeding on wind instead of wholesome nutriment, is starved, and faints, and decays.
That this is not a speculative mischief merely, is but too evident from the relaxed estimation of this privilege of Baptism, throughout the professing Christian world. Is it not much to be feared, that, in most cases, none of the parties engaged in the rite, seem to expect any spiritual advantages to flow from it? Are they not commonly content with the mere observance? Are they not satisfied that the ceremony should have been performed, without caring for the privileges which the promise imparts to the baptised? Do not Parents usually compliment away all hope of spiritual benefit to the baptised, in selecting for Sponsors, those who are related to them in nature, by the ties of friendship, or those from whose rank or wealth they encourage expectations of temporal aggrandisement for their children? Are not Sponsors usually quite reckless of the spiritual character of "the young Christian?" Is not the Child, as he increases in years and knowledge, educated in complete indifference to his Baptismal privileges and obligations? and does the Church feel any interest in the baptised, as belonging to the
Communion of the saints? Are any of these parties anxious to secure to the Child the most glorious and important privileges of being "a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven," by training him up in a constant sense of his obligations to renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil, effectually to "believe the articles of the Christian faith," and to "keep God's holy will and commandments ;" and heartily to thank his Heavenly Father, that he hath called him to so blessed a state of salvation, and that it should be the object of his fervent prayers that he may have grace to walk in the same all the days of his life? Alas! My Dear Friend, how many of us have either been the victims of this delusion of mistaking the sign for the thing signified, in our education from childhood; or have contributed to the confirmation of the same, by undertaking the office of Sponsors for others, to whom we have paid no attention after the ceremony of Baptism had been performed.
I confess that this prevailing error, in the very outset of our professing Christian course, appears to me to be the fruitful source of both the loose profession, and the fickle attachment to our Established Church, which has been so much and so feelingly lamented. If Baptism be no more than a sign, a sign is no more than a form, and a form is easily satisfied by a mere profession and if it admit us into nothing more