Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 2.djvu/12

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vi
ADVERTISEMENT.

narian, and have suffered in consequence. Hence we have almost embraced the doctrine, that God conveys grace only through the instrumentality of the mental energies, that is, through faith, prayer, active spiritual contemplations, or (what is called) communion with God, in contradiction to the primitive view, according to which the Church and her Sacraments are the ordained and direct visible means of conveying to the soul what is in itself supernatural and unseen. For example, would not most men maintain, on the first view of the subject, that to administer the Lord's Supper to infants, or to the dying and insensible, however consistently pious and believing in their past lives, was a superstition? and yet both practices have the sanction of primitive usage. And does not this account for the prevailing indisposition to admit that Baptism conveys regeneration? Indeed, this may even be set down as the essence of Sectarian Doctrine, (however its mischief may be restrained or compensated, in the case of individuals,) to consider faith, and not the Sacraments, as the instrument of justification and other gospel gifts; instead of holding, that the grace of Christ comes to us altogether from without, (as from Him, so through externals of His ordaining,) faith being but the sine quá non, the necessary condition on our parts for duly receiving it.

It has been with the view of meeting this cardinal deficiency (as it may be termed) in the religion of the day, that the Tract on Baptism, contained in the latter half of this volume, has been inserted; which is to be regarded, not as an inquiry into one single or isolated doctrine, but as a delineation, and serious examination of a modern system of theology, of extensive popularity and great spcciousness, in its elementary and characteristic principles.


Oxford,
The Feast of All Saints, 1835.