Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
~ Titus 3:5-6
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
~ John 3:3-8
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
~ Matthew 3:11
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
~ 1 Corinthians 6:11
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
~ Ephesians 5:26
The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
~ 1 Peter 3:21
A Letter to the Committee of the Evangelical Alliance, by Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
To the Committee of the Evangelical Alliance.
I have felt it my duty to rebuke most plainly certain brethren who, having subscribed willingly and ex animo to the statement, ‘ That the Book of Common Prayer containeth in it nothing contrary to the Word of God,’ do nevertheless believe that book to contain many erroneous expressions; and do openly confess the same, both verbally in their public teaching, and virtually by their petitions for revision. In rebuking this grievous dissimulation, I have drawn special attention to the plain teaching of the Prayer Book concerning Baptismal Regeneration, upon which question it seems to me, that the subscriptions of many Evangelical Clergymen are dishonest in the highest degree ; although I do not imagine that they are conscious of the enormity of their act, but on the contrary am hopeful that when their error is pointed out to them they will forsake it.
In my censure I did (at least in my own judgment) avoid all rash and groundless imputations. I have waited long and patiently for signs of reform in the ecclesiastical conduct of these brethren, and I have not spoken until my hopes of their spontaneous repentance have expired. Now that I have felt constrained to break my long silence, I believe that I have ground most solid, and reasons most ample that I have witnessed concerning them. I have only considered one part of their public position; I have not denied their many excellencies, or impeached their uprightness in other transactions; but upon the one point of subscription I have deliberately and with good cause upbraided them in unmistakeable terms, and I entirely deny that the former part of your rule at all touches my conduct. Of the charge of making personal imputations, I also plead not guilty. I have imputed nothing; I have merely asserted truisms of the most obvious character. I have said, and say again, that it is neither honest nor moral for men to swear one way and to believe another, and I have not imputed such conduct to the brethren in question, I have proved it, alas! too surely. If any clergyman can say that the words under dispute exactly express his own views, and that he would not wish to see them altered, I have only so far dissented from him as your own rules allow, and have, upon that point, but upon that only, even vindicated his position in the Anglican Establishment.
As to irritating allusions, I would remark that all allusions contrary to their own views or to their personal faults, will be regarded by some persons as irritating; but as I understand the rule, it is only needless and intentional irritation which is to be avoided, and here, I believe, I am wholly blameless. You will observe that I have not raked up the persecuting edicts of the past, nor rehearsed the black doings of a bygone age, such allusions might indeed irritate the most patient; nor have I imitated my faithful friend, the Hon. and Rev. B. W. Noel, by recapitulating as he has done the many abominations which cause the Establishment to reek with rottenness. I have not compiled a list of allusions such as this, which I find upon page 283 of my honourable and gentle brother’s ‘Essay on the Union of Church and State:’
“The ten thousand practical abuses within the Establishment wake no such indignant thunders,–the nomination of worldly prelates,—the exclusion of the Gospel from thousands of parishes in which by the Union ungodly ministers have the monopoly of spiritual instruction,—the easy introduction of irreligious youths into the ministry,- the awful desecration of baptism, especially in large civic parishes,—the more awful fact that sixteen thousand Anglican pastors leave some millions of the poor out of a population of only sixteen millions utterly untaught,—the hateful bigotry of the canons, which excommunicate all who recognise any other churches of Christ in England except our own,–the complete confusion of the church and the world at the Lord’s table,—the obligation upon every parish minister publicly to thank God for taking to himself the soul of every wicked person in the parish who dies without being excommunicated, the almost total neglect of scriptural church discipline,—the tyranny of the license system,–the sporting, dancing, and card-playing of many clergymen,–the Government orders to the churches of Christ to preach on what topics, and to pray in what terms, the State prescribes,—the loud and frequent denunciation of our brethren of other denominations as schismatics,—the errors of the Articles and of the Prayer Book, and the invasion of the regal prerogatives of Christ by the State supremacy,—the total absence of self-government, and therefore of all self-reformation, in the Establishment, &c. &c. &c. : all these enormous evils are tolerated and concealed.” Had I made all these irritating allusions, I might be thought to have violated your rule, but in the sermon so grievously complained of I have been as gentle and as meek as so crying an evil permitted me to be. I have not violated the union of believers, but those have done so who, knowing the truth and loving it, nevertheless lend their name, their countenance, and their subscription to a lie.
Notwithstanding, since some of those honoured brethren who are clear of this sin feel aggrieved by my witness-bearing, and consider that I have broken your regulations, I beg to submit to their evident wish, and do hereby withdraw myself from your. Alliance until such time as the brethren whom I have charged with duplicity shall clear themselves of the sin, or you shall ease yourselves of their patronage and association. I hope ever to be one in heart with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, but I must use the liberty which my withdrawal will ensure me, to choose my friends with a severer eye to godly simplicity than you may see fit to use. My soul’s desire is, that these erring brethren, so exemplary in other respects, may forsake this their great sin and minister before the Lord with clean hands. I am so far from being actuated by any personal animosities, that I solemnly avow that God alone can know how much of poignant sorrow my censures have inflicted upon my own heart, when I have thought of the many virtues of some of these offending brethren, and of all the sweet communion we have had together in days gone by: I dared not hold my tongue, or I would have been but too glad to do so. I have not said a word more than I felt bound to do, and therefore however severe the condemnations of my fellows may be, I can endure them; not, it is true, with indifference, but certainly with cheerful patience. Many will henceforth account me a bigot, an accuser of the brethren, and I know not what that is infamous; but this I must expect, and having a clear conscience and some enjoyment of consolation from the Master whom I desire to serve at all hazards, I shall not lack for support, though all men should turn from me and cast out my name as evil. What I have spoken I have spoken. After reading the many attempts at reply, and giving due weight to the expostulations of Mr. Noel, I find no reasons for retraction, but abundant cause to reassert my testimony with increased emphasis. I impeach before the bar of universal Christendom the men who knowing that Baptism does not regenerate yet declare in public that it does: if Christendom will not consider the impeachment, let it stand on record before the merciful face of the Great Head of the Church, and let Him do as seemeth Him good.
My union with the many honoured brethren of the Alliance towards whom my strictures have no bearing will, as far as I am concerned, be only nominally severed, and only severed in that sense for the most loving reason, viz., a desire to be no hindrance to their many laudable designs. Your consciences, dear brethren, permit you to enjoy comfortable beliefs, which mine has dashed to the ground; we shall subserve true union far better apart than while united by a bond which you believe me to have broken,
Yours in patient waiting for the Lord’s coming,
For the information of the public, it is well to quote in full the general Resolution of the Evangelical Alliance referred to in this letter, which Mr. Noel considers me to have broken:
“That when required by conscience to assert or defend any views or principles wherein they differ from Christian brethren who agree with them in vital truths, the members of this Alliance will aim earnestly, by the help of the Holy Spirit, to avoid all rash and groundless insinuations, personal imputations, or irritating allusions; and to maintain the meekness and gentleness of Christ, by speaking the truth only in love.’