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290 Baptism, the Sacrament of the New Birth.
pledge, but actually the vehicle. In his mystic, as in his earlier days, it was still to him the Sacrament of Regeneration. Our baptism,' he says in this treatise, 'is to signify our seeking and obtaining a new birth ; and our being baptized in, or into, the “ name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” tells us in the plainest manner what birth it is that we seek, namely, such a new birth as may make us again what we were at first, a living, real image or offspring of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is owned on all hands that we are baptized into a renovation of some Divine birth that we had lost; and, that we may not be at a loss to know what that Divine birth is, the form in Baptism openly declares to us that it is to regain that first birth of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in our souls, which at the first made us to be truly and really images of the Holy Trinity in Unity. The form in Baptism is but very imperfectly apprehended till it is understood to have this great meaning in it. Baptism is the appointed Sacrament of this new birth; and how finely, how surprisingly, do our first and our second birth answer to and illustrate one another! At our first birth it is said thus: “Let us make man in our Image, after our own Likeness." When the Divine birth was lost, and man was to receive it again, it is said, “Be thou baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” which is saying, “Let the Divine birth be brought forth again in thee,” or “Be thou born again such an image of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as thou wast at first." !
In the following passage he shows still more clearly how he reconciles his doctrine of an universal redemption, or regeneration (for in Law's view these expressions mean the same thing), with the belief which he unquestionably retained in baptismal regeneration.' 'The mystery,' he
On the Grace of Holy Baptism.
says, 'of an inward power, of a salvation hidden in all men, has had just such degrees of obscurity and manifestation as the nature, and birth, and person of the Messiah have had ; that is, as the nature and person of Jesus Christ, as an Atonement, Saviour, and Redeemer of mankind, were for several ages of the world only obscurely pointed at and typified by the religion of the Jews, so this end of a new birth, or saving power of Christ hidden in the souls of all men, was through the same ages under the same veil and obscurity. . . . When Jesus Christ came into the world declaring the necessity of a new birth, to be owned and sought by a Baptism in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, this was not a new kind or power of salvation, but only an open declaration of the same salvation, that had been till then only typified, and veiled under cértain figures and shadows, as He Himself had been.'
In a word, if Law held clearly that 'all men had in them a seed of life that is contrary to their corrupt nature, which seed they partake of as heirs of the first grace granted to Adam in the ingrafted Word,' he also held quite as clearly that 'all Christians are in a higher and further state of regeneration by the grace of Baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity.'
This short treatise, besides giving us the clearest indication which we possess of Law's views, as a mystic, on the initial Sacrament of the Christian life, is also interesting and important as giving, in a concise form, a very complete statement of Law's mystical sentiments generally. Law himself regarded it as a sufficient exposition of his views ; for he constantly refers his reader to it in his later works,
See Works, vol. v. (2) pp. 28, 61, 64, 75, and passim. This treatise being very short, it did not seem necessary to indicate the exact page from which each quotation was made.
Value Law set on this Book.
and in one passage declares that, if he could afford it, he would have 'this little book sent gratis into all parts of the kingdom.' As the reader is already familiar with Law's views, there is no need to dwell further on this abstract of them.
See Works, vol. vi. p. 46.
'Earnest and Serious Answer to Dr. Trapp.' 293
ANSWER TO DR. TRAPP,' AND `APPEAL TO ALL THAT
As in the last two works we were reminded that we were still under the guidance of the writer of the Three Letters to the Bishop of Bangor,' so in the work now to be considered we are reminded that we are still under the guidance of the author of the Serious Call.' Law's mysticism no more changed his asceticism than it did his catholicism. It modified both; but that was all. As he was still the High Churchman in point of doctrine, so he was still the Puritan in his estimate of the Christian's relation towards the world. A discourse, therefore, on the folly, sin, and danger of being righteous overmuch,' would naturally call forth a refutation from him, even if he had not been personally attacked, as he was, by Dr. Trapp. But if on such a subject Law still held Puritan sentiments, they were entirely free from Puritan sourness. The first paragraphs of the 'Earnest and Serious Answer to Dr. Trapp'give us the true key to the understanding of the spirit in which Law
Might I,' he writes, 'follow the bent of my own mind, my pen, such as it is, should be wholly employ'd in setting forth the infinite love of God to mankind in Christ Jesus, and in endeavouring to draw all men to the belief and acknowledgment of it. ... It is so difficult to enter into controversy without being, or at least seeming, in some degree unkind to the person that one opposes, that it is
Law writes from the Heart.
with great reluctance that I have enter'd upon my present undertaking, having nothing more deeply riveted in my heart than an universal love and kindness for all mankind, and more especially for those whom God has called to be my fellow-labourers in promoting the salvation of mankind.'
There is not one word in this treatise which belies this fair profession. An earnest, tender care for the welfare of all mankind, and especially for that of his brethren in the sacred ministry, breathes through every line of it. One feels, as one reads, that every word comes from the heartand that a very large, noble, and generous heart. Above all, his appeal to the clergy on their duty in the sad state of religion which was confessed on all sides, is singularly touching and affectionate. However unwilling,' he said, ‘yet I find myself obliged to consider and lay open many grievous faults in the doctor's discourse, and to show to all Christians that the dearest interests of their souls are much endanger'd by it;' and it is manifest on the face of it that nothing but an intense conviction of the truth of this assertion would have led him to write as he did. He might have said of this, as he did of a previous work, 'My stile is the stile of love and zeal for your salvation ; and if you condemn anything but love in it, you condemn something that is not there.'
At the same time, it would be a great injustice to Dr. Trapp to judge him simply by the impression which this treatise of Law's leaves upon the mind. It has been remarked before, that Law, in spite of his temperateness, had an extraordinary knack of putting his adversary in the wrong. Perhaps it would be more correct to say 'in consequence of his temperateness'; for intemperate language
On the Plain Account, &c.,' Works, vol. v. p. 195.