other way.? All work of the Spirit is through the word, only through sensible means, emotions being no criterion. God is transcendent, all authority is external, enforced only by appeal to happiness, a thoroughly utilitarian system.
Isaac Erret is perhaps the most able of recent Disciples. In his tract entitled ?Our Position,? published by the Christian Publishing Company, St. Louis, he says: ?As to the design of baptism, we part company with Baptists, and find ourselves more at home on the other side of the house. Yet we cannot say that our position is just the same with that of any of them. Baptists say they baptize believers because they are forgiven and they insist that they shall have the evidence of pardon before they are baptized. But the language used in the Scriptures declaring what baptism is for, is so plain and unequivocal that the great majority of Protestants as well as the Roman Catholics admit it in their creeds to be, in some sense, for the remission of sins. The latter, however, and many of the former, attach to it the idea of regeneration, and that in baptism regeneration by the Holy Spirit is actually conferred. Even the Westminster Confession squints strongly in this direction, albeit its professed adherents of the present time attempt to explain away its meaning. We are as far from this ritualistic extreme as from the anti-rituals into which the Baptists have been driven. With us, regeneration must be so far accomplished before baptism that the subject is changed in heart and in faith and penitence must have yielded up his heart to Christ, otherwise baptism is nothing but an empty form. But forgiveness is something distinct from regeneration. Forgiveness is an act of the Sovereign, not a change of the sinner?s heart. While it is extended in view of the sinner?s faith and repentance, it needs to be offered in a sensible and tangible form, such that the sinner can seize it and appropriate it with unmistakable definiteness. In baptism he appropriates God?s promise of forgiveness, relying on the divine testimonies. ?He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved?; ?Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.? He thus lays hold of the promise of Christ and appropriates it as his own. He does not merit it nor procure it nor earn it in being baptized but he appropriates what the mercy of God has provided and offered in the gospel. We therefore teach all who are baptized that, if they bring to their baptism a heart that renounces sin and implicitly trusts the power of Christ to save, they should rely on the Savior?s own promise ? He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.??
All these utterances agree in making forgiveness chronologically distinct from regeneration, as the concluding point is distinct from the whole.
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