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“Dear and highly honourable Sir, It gratifies me to be able to enter into com munication with a man of the sentiments expressed in your kind letter, and, in the first place, I thank you sincerely for the kind feeling which you manifest towards me. In respect to your question, I have still the same opinion concerning the origin of Infant Baptism, which I have hitherto propounded in my writings. For the reasons which I have publicly expressed, I cannot deduce it from an apostolic origin. In a new edition of my Monograph on Tertullian,' I have had an opportunity to declare afresh my opinion on the subject; and in a few weeks, as soon as the new edition, now printing, is finished, I will send you a copy by the first opportunity which offers through the booksellers. I must, for myself, approve of Infant Baptism, from internal grounds, in virtue of the relation between Baptism and Regeneration, and from the stand-point of a church already established, of a Christian family life corresponding to the idea. I believe that it proceeded, not from superstition, but from the power of the Christian idea and of the feeling. I cannot, however, believe that a supernatural operation on the child in the moment of performance is connected with Infant Baptism, for the special reason that there exists as yet no susceptibility for it.
“I must, therefore, acknowledge that relatively those are right who reject Infant Baptism. The one side has the letter, the other the spirit and the idea in its favour. May we not, however, think such differences too important and forget in them the higher nature of the fellowship? The kingdom of God, to which we all belong, which we serve, for which we strive, assuredly consists not in these outward things. May the Holy Spirit increasingly unite in one bond of brotherhood all whose faith cleaves to Christ, the one foundation, and pervade their souls with one fire of glorifying love!
“I have not just now had an opportunity to speak to my friend Jacobi, but I have every reason to think that he still perfectly agrees with me the subject in question.
“ Sincerely yours, “ Berlin, Good Friday, 1849.
“A. NEANDER;" [This great Theologian and Historian died in July, 1850. For a particular notice of his character and attainments see “Kitto's Journal of Sacred Literature," for August, 1850.]
(Page clxvi.) TAE CONFESSION OF FAITH OF MR. ABRAHAM BOOTÁ, DELIVERED BY HIM ON
THE OCCASION OF HIS ORDINATION AT PRESCOTT STREET, LONDON, 1769.
As it has been customary on these solemn occasions, to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed amongst us; and, as I am now called upon, in this public manner, to make a free and open confession of my religious principles, I would look up to the Father of lights, and the Spirit of truth, that I may be enabled to make a good profession in the presence o many toitnesses was in the presence of God, of angels, and of men.
As the existence of a Supreme Being, and our dependance upon him, is the very båsis of all religion, whether natural or revealed, I therefore do, first of all, profess my firm belief of that grand fundamental truth. That there is a God all nature proclaims aloud through all her works. The countless tribes of animate and inanimate existences, from the highest to the lowest link in the vast chain of finite being, pour in their attestations to this most interesting truth. The meanest insect the smallest spire of grass, the minutest grain of sand ;-these, all these, bear the signatures of an all-wise Creator.
But, though the existence of a Supreme Being may be clearly seen by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, yet the circumstances of man. kind have ever been such as to render it'necessary that a more positive and explicit revelation of the perfections and purposes of the works and ways of the great Creator, should be given to them. Infinite wisdom saw it necessary, and divine goodness would not withhold the benefit. Such a revelation, I believe, God has in fact given. This revelation, I am fully persuaded, is contained in the writings of the Old and the New Testament, which constitute that book, which is, by way of eminence, called the Bible; rejecting all those writings which are commonly called apocryphal, as making no part of that revelation which God has given to mankind.
Many are the reasons, and various the considerations, which induce me to receive the Bible as a divine revelation ; amongst which, the following are none of the least. The sublimity and spirituality of its doctrines-the purity of its precepts—the prophecies contained in its many of which have been punctually fulfilled; especially those relating to the Mersiah, the calling of the Gentiles, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish church-state, and the dispersion of the Jews--the character of its penmen-the perfect harmony of design subsisting amongst them, and the grandeur of that design-their unreserved freedom in relating matters of fact, even when their own reputation, or the reputation of those whom they greatly revered and dearly loved, might seem to be injured by such a procedure,—and the long series of uncontrolled miracles which were wrought in proof of its doctrines being divine. When to these things I add the consideration oi that amazing success which attended the preaching of a crucified Messiah, and his resurrection from the dead, by a few' illiterate, despised fishermen of Galilee, men of little art or address, and possessed of no civil power or authority; and this notwithstanding both Jews and Gentiles had been long in possession of an established religion, of which they were tenaciously fond; in vindication of which, nd in order to crush the Christian cause in its infancy, they both agreed to use all their power and policy, all their art and sophistry, and every oppressive measnre, against the preachers and worshippers of the crucified Jesus. When I reflect upon those complicated sufferings, and continual hardships which the first preachers of the gospel underwent, and that without the least prospect of any temporal emolument for all their labours and hardships,-yet doing all, suffering all, with a meekness and patience astonishing to their very enemies,-when I consider that all these labours and sufferings were performed and undergone by them, in order to propagate a system of doctrines and practices directly opposite to all the prejudices of their own education, to all the fond hopes which they in particular, and the Jews in general, had conceived concerning their long expected Messiah, for whom they had been taught to look under the character of a secular prince, one whose kingdom should be of this world, when I consider the apostles, who were all Jews, as entirely renouncing all their national prejudices, and acting under the uniform influence of such maxims as were diametrically opposite, yet perfectly agreeable to what had been repeatedly foretold by the ancient prophéts, I receive additional confirmation. When I further consider what stupid ignorance has universally prevailed, as to the interests of religion and the important concerns of the soul, even in the most polished nations in former or latter times, where this Jewish and Christian revelation has not been at all known or regarded,,when I consider the moral state of mankind in general, and that of my own soul in particular, and compare it with those descriptions given of it in that ancient volume, together with that provision which I am informed from thence God has graciously made to supply all my spiritual wants,-finally, when I corsider the holy influence which the sincere belief of its doctrines has upon the moral conduct of all those who conscientiously adhere to its sacred dictates, and how its precepts and prohibi. tions are uniformly adapted to promote the good of civil society, and the best interests of mankind,-I say, when I attentively consider these various particulars, with others which might be mentioned, I cannot hesitate a single moment to pronounce it a divine revelation, and every way worthy its infinite Author.
The scriptures of the Old and New Testament, containing a well-attested revelation from God, my Maker, and my Sovereign, I therefore look upon and receive as the only rule of my faith and practice. This divine book, this heavenly volume, I accept with humility and gratitude from the band of my adored Creator, as a gift of inestimable value; and considering it as the grand charter of my eternal salvation, I cannot but esteem it as my indispensable duty implicitly to submit to its sacred dictates, in every affair of religious concernment. And it is because I am fully persuaded that the followin; doctrines are contained in those oracles of eternal truth, that I embrace them-as articles of my faith-as the foundation of my hope--and as the source of all my spiritual joy.
I acknowledge myself deeply indebted to the inspired volume for my clearest apprehensions and most satisfactory discoveries of the Divine Being. It is from hence I learn, with undoubted certainty, that there is but One God; that he is possessed of absolute and infinite perfection; and that he governs the world, his providence extending to all his creatures, and all their actions.
From the same source of heavenly intelligence I am informed, that in the unity of the Divine Essence there are three distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; who are all represented as bearing divine names, possessing divine attributes, performing divine works, and receiving divine honours ; consequently must be one in essence, and equal in glory, whatever inferiority there may be in respect to office in the economy of redemption. The reality of these things I firmly believe, on the authority of God's own declaration, though their particular modus greatly exceeds my feeble comprehension. I believe, wonder, and adore !
I believe, that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, with all their numerous inhabitants. Last of all, and nobly conspicuous amongst the amazingly diversified productions of his almighty power and infinite skill, being little inferior to the angels in light, he created man, and constituted him Lord of this lower world. Male and female created he them, after his own image, and in his own likeness: upright, innocent, and holy; capable of serving and glorifying their bountiful Creator.
On the same divine warrant I believe that man did not long continue in these holy and happy circumstances ; but being left to the freedom of his own wil, he transgressed the law which his Maker and Sovereign had given him: in consequence of which, he fell into a state of guilt, depravity, and ruin. And as he was not only the natural, but federal head and representative of his unborn poster ity, he sinning, all his offspring sinned in him, and fell with him, the guilt of his first sin being imputed, and a corrupt nature derived, to all who descend from him by natural generation. Hence it is that all men are by nature the children of wrath; averse to all that is spiritually good, and prone to evil; dead in sin, under the curse of the righteous law, and obnoxious to eternal vengeance. From which state of complicated misery there is no deliverance but by Jesus Christ, the second Adam.
On the authority of the unerring word I further believe, that the Eternal Sovereign, before the world began, of his own good pleasure, and to manifest the riches of his glorious grace, foreseeing the fall of man, chose a certain number of this apostate race to eternal salvation, whom he predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, according to his own sovereign will; and in pursuance of th's grand and gracious design, he entered into a covenant of grace and peace with the Son of his love on their behalf, in which a Saviour was appointed, and all spiritual blessings provided for them.
In order to accomplish these gracious purposes of infinite mercy and eternal love towards apostate miserable wretches, I believe that the Son of God, being a pointed from everlasting the Mediator of the covenant, and having engaged as surety on behalf of his people, who were become his care and charge, did, in the fulness of time, become incarnate, took upon him the form of a servant, paid the most consummate obedience to the divine law, perfectly performed the will of his Father, and finally, having all the sins of all his people imputed to him, and charged upon him, he died the ignominious, the painful and cursed death of the cross; pouring out his blood, yielding up his life, and offering his very soul a sacrifice, a vicarious atoning sacrifice, for their sins, and to expiate their innumerable and enormous crimes. In these sufferings of the Son of God on the cross I behold, in the clearest light, the infinite evil of sin displayed, and the awful wrath of God revealed against it, the law magnified, justice satisfied, and God himself well pleased.
I believe that Jesus the crucified arose from the dead the third day; by which he gave the highest possible eviaence that the debt he became responsible for was perfectly paid, -the sins for which be suffered entirely expiated,--the divine law and divine justice fully satisfied,--the powers of darkness vanquished, and death itself overcome; at the same time declaring, in a way superior to all the power of linguage, that the sleeping dust of his saints shall be raised to a state of immortal life and endless glory.
I believe, that in order to the perfect performance of the various branches of his grand undertaking, having given undeniable evidence to his selected few, that he was risen indeed, and having imparted to them the necessary instructions before his final departure, he ascended triumphant to the right hand of the Majesty on high, where he shines and reigns the Incarnate God. There he is exalted as Head over all things for the good of his church, having the reins of government in both worlds put into his hands; so that he is not only to be acknowledged as King of Zion and ruler in his church, but also as the God of providence, and governor of the world. There also, as our ascended R-deemer, our exalted Head, having entered those blissful abodes as the forerunner of his people, and taken possession of them as their representative, he ever lives to plead all his merit, to improve all his influence as a faithful intercessor, as a prevailing advocate on their behalf. Herce it is that our faith, in the time of trial, shall not entirely fail; that our prayers are heard, and our praises ascend with acceptance, before the eternal throne.
According to the same sacred canons of my faith and practice, I believe, that the justification of sinners in the sight of God, is purely, solely, entirely, by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them; without the consideration of any holy qualities wrought in them, or any works of righteousness performed by them either with or without the assistance of the Holy Spirit.
I believe the absolute necessity of regeneration in order to eternal life, and am fully persuaded, that without holiness, that is, a real love of God, producing cheerful obedience to his commands, no man, whatever his religious pretensions or professions may be, shall see the Lord.
I believe that regeneration, faith, and sanctification, are not the produce of man's free will and power, but the effects of a divine agency by the word of truth.
I believe, the certain, infallible perseverance in grace to glory, of all those who are regenerated by the Spirit of God, and justified by the obedience of Christ; they being kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.
As Jesus Christ, the great Head of the church, has instituted various ordinances to be observed by his people til his second coming, which are designed, under a divine influence, to promote their edification in all the graces and comforts of the Holy Spirit, so I believe he has appointed two positive institutions, the observation of which he has in a particular manner enjoined upon all his followers, that is Baptism, and the Lord's Supper; and the former as previvusly necessary to the latter.
I believe, that Baptism is immersion in water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and is a lively emblem of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, as the representative of his people; and of their being cleanged from sin in the fountain of his blood, their dying to it, and rising again to newness of life. The requisite qualifications for this ordinance are, Ifurther believe, faith in the Redeemer, and a profession of it. Nor does it appear, from the command of Christ, or the practice of his apostles, that we have any authority to administer this ordinance in any other way than immersion, or to any other subjects than such who appear, in a judgment of charity, to be thus qualified.
The Lord's Supper is an ordinance in which, by receiving the elements of hread and wine, according to the appointment of Christ, we sher forth his death; and is designed, I am persu ideu, to impress our minds with a lively sense of the evil of sin,—the sufferings of Jesus for it,-the benefits derived to us through those sufferings,-together with that union and communion which we have with him, and one with another.
As it is appointed for man once to die, and as in death the body is resolved into its primitive dust, so the immortal spirit returns to God who gave it. The souls of believers being dislodged from their earthly mansions, and made perfect in holiness, do, I believe, immediately enter into glory; but those of the wicked are immediately transmitted into the abodes of darkness and despair, and are reserved under everlasting chains, with apostate angels, till the judgment of the great day.
I believe that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust, and that God has appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in