Where two subjects, that stand to each other in the relation of antithesis or contradistinction, are connected by a middle term common to both, the sense of this middle term is indifferently determinable by either; the preferability of the one or the other in any given case being decided by the circumstance of our more frequent experience of, or greater familiarity with, the term in this connexion. Thus, if I put hydrogen and oxygen gas, as opposite poles, the term gas is common to both; and it is a matter of indifference by which of the two bodies I ascertain the sense of the term. But if, for the conjoint purposes of connexion and contrast, I oppose transparent crystallized alumen to opaque derb or uncrystallized alumen;--it may easily happen to be far more convenient for me to shew the sense of the middle term, that is, alumen, by a piece of pipe-clay than by a saphire or ruby; especially if I should be describing the beauty and preciousness of the latter to a peasant woman, or in a district where a ruby was a rarity which the fewest only had an opportunity of seeing. This is a plain rule of common logic directed in its application by common sense.

Now let us apply this to the case in hand. The two opposites here are flesh and spirit: this in relation to Christ, that in relation to the world; and these two opposites are connected by the middle term, birth, which is of course common to both. But for the same reason, as in the instance last mentioned, the interpretation of the common term is to be ascertained from its known 262 sense, in the more familiar connexion--birth, namely, in relation to our natural life and to the organized body, by which we belong to the present world. Whatever the word signifies in this connexion, the same essentially (in kind though not in dignity and value) must be its signification in the other. How else could it be (what yet in this text it undeniably is,) the punctum indifferens, or nota communis, of the thesis, flesh or the world and the antithesis Spirit or Christ? We might therefore, upon the supposition of a writer having been speaking of river-water in distinction from rain-water, as rationally pretend that in the latter phrase the term, water, was to be understood metaphorically, as that the word, birth, is a metaphor, and means only so and so in the Gospel according to St. John.

There is, I am aware, a numerous and powerful party in our Church, so numerous and powerful as not seldom to be entitled the Church, who hold and publicly teach, that " Regeneration is only Baptism." Nay, the writer of the article on the lives of Scott and Newton, in our ablest and most respectable review, is but one among many who do not hesitate to brand the contrary opinion as heterodoxy, and schismatical superstition. I trust, that I think as seriously as most men of the evil of schism; but with every disposition to pay the utmost deference to an acknowledged majority, including, it is said, a very large proportion of the present dignitaries of our Church, I cannot but think it a sufficient reply, that if Regeneration means Baptism, Baptism must mean Regeneration; and this too, as Christ himself has declared, a regeneration in the spirit. Now I would ask these divines this simple question: Do they believingly suppose a spiritual regenerative power and agency inhering in or accompanying the sprinkling a few drops 263 of water on an infant's face? They cannot evade the question by saying that Baptism is a type or sign. For this would be to supplant their own assertion, that Regeneration means Baptism, by the contradictory admission, that Regeneration is the significatum, of which Baptism is the significant. Unless, indeed, they would incur the absurdity of saying, that Regeneration is a type of Regeneration, and Baptism a type of itself--or that Baptism only means Baptism! And this indeed is the plain consequence to which they might be driven, should they answer the above question in the negative.

But if their answer be, "Yes! we do suppose and believe this efficiency in the Baptismal act"--I have not another word to say. Only, perhaps, I might be permitted to express a hope that, for consistency's sake they would speak less slightingly of the insufflation, and extreme unction, used in the Romish Church; notwithstanding the not easily to be answered arguments of our Christian Mercury, the all-eloquent Jeremy Taylor, respecting the latter,--"which, since it is used when the man is above half dead, when he can exercise no act of understanding, it must needs be nothing. For no rational man can think, that any ceremony can make a spiritual change without a spiritual act of him that is to be changed; nor that it can work by way of nature, or by charm, but morally and after the manner of reasonable creatures."**

It is too obvious to require suggestion, that these words here quoted apply with yet greater force and propriety to the point in question; as the babe is an unconscious subject, which the dying man need not be supposed to be. My avowed convictions respecting

**Dedicat. to Holy Dying. Ed. 264 Regeneration with the spiritual Baptism, as its condition and initiative, (Luke iii, 16; Matt, i, 7; Matt, iii, 11,) and of which the sacramental rite, the Baptism of John, was appointed by Christ to remain as the sign and figure; and still more, perhaps, my belief respecting the mystery of the Eucharist, (concerning which I hold the same opinions as Bucer,** Peter Martyr, and presumably Cranmer himself--these convictions and this belief will, I doubt not, be deemed by the orthodox de more Grotii, who improve the letter of Arminius with the spirit of Socinus, sufficient data to bring me in guilty of irrational and superstitious mysticism. But I abide by a maxim which I learned at an early period of my theological studies, from Benedict Spinoza. Where the alternative lies between the absurd and the incomprehensible, no wise man can be at a loss which of the two to prefer. To be called irrational, is a trifle: to be so, and in matters of religion, is far otherwise: and whether the irrationality consists in men's believing (that is, in having persuaded themselves that they believe) against reason, or without reason, I have been early instructed to consider it as a sad and serious evil, pregnant with mischiefs, political and moral. And by none of my numerous instructors so impressively as by that great and shining light of our Church in the aera of her intellectual splendor. Bishop Jeremy Taylor: from one of whose works, and that of especial authority for the safety as well as for the importance of the principle, inasmuch as it was written expressly ad populum, I will now, both for its own intrinsic worth, and to relieve the attention, wearied, perhaps, by the length and argumentative character of the preceding discussion, interpose the following Aphorism.

**Strype--Cranmer, Append. Ed. 265

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