Monday, August 27, 2012

Baptismal Regeneration Pernicious unto the Souls of Men (John Owen)

"This truth, in general, of an implantation into Christ, and the ensuing confirmation in grace, is universally assented unto; none can deny it without denying the whole doctrine of the gospel.  But the sense and experience of it was lost amongst them of whom we treat; yet would they not forego the profession of the principle itself,—which would have proclaimed them apostates from the grace of Christ.  

"Wherefore they formed an image of it, or images of both its distinct parts, which they could manage unto their own ends, and such as the carnal minds of men could readily comply with and rest in.  As in the other sacrament they turned the outward signs into the things signified, so in this of baptism, they make it to stand in the stead of the thing itself; which is to make it, if not an idol, yet an image of it.  The outward participation of that ordinance with them is regeneration and implantation into Christ, without any regard unto the internal grace that is signified thereby; so that which in itself is a sacred figure, is made an image to delude the souls of men.

"And that which they would impose in the room of spiritual confirmation in grace is yet more strange. The image which they set up hereof is episcopal imposition of hands. When one that hath been baptized can answer some few questions out of a catechism, though he be very ignorant, and openly vicious in his conversation, by this laying on of hands he is confirmed in grace.

"It may be some will say, there is no great matter, one way or other, in things of this sort; they may be suffered to pass at what rate they will in this world. I confess I am not so minded. If there be any thing in them but mere formality and custom,—if they are trusted unto as the things whose names they bear,—they are pernicious unto the souls of men. For if all that are outwardly baptized should thereon judge themselves implanted into Christ, without regard unto the internal washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost; and all who have had this imposition of hands should, without more ado, suppose themselves confirmed in grace,—they are in the ready way to eternal ruin."

John Owen, “The Chamber of Imagery in the Church of Rome Laid Open; An Antidote Against Popery,” in The Works of John Owen: Volume VIII, edited by the Rev. William H. Goold (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860, Digitized Oct. 10, 2008), 586, 587.


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