Aitken Doctrine of Baptism

Aitken Doctrine of Baptism

Aitken Doctrine of Baptism is a 8 chapter work on baptism, looking at it from the consideration of Regeneration and Conversion.

Table of Contents

Aitken Doctrine of Baptism is an 8 chapter work on baptism, looking at it from the consideration of Regeneration and Conversion. Note that Aitken is Anglican, so getting people wet is the same for him (or about the same) as getting them saved. Water Baptism and salvation merge together in his thoughts.

The Doctrine of Baptism Mechanical or Spiritual?

Church of England Handbooks

theWord format: version 2.2

Doctrine of Baptism
Printed by Bat, lantern, Hanson & Co. At the Ballantyne Press

See My Explanation of Anglicanism, also from, their article on Anglicanism

CONTENTS  of Aitken Doctrine of Baptism

CHAPTER I Introductory
CHAPTER II The Doctrine of the Church . . . .16
CHAPTER III Regeneration and Conversion …. 32
CHAPTER IV The Gospel Revelation on the Subject of Regeneration 50
CHAPTER V A Consideration of the Conditions of Regeneration ON Man’s Side Cz
CHAPTER VI The Conditions of Regeneration, as Witnessed TO IN THE Epistles 84
CHAPTER VII Infant Baptism, considered in the Light of THESE Conclusions 97
CHAPTER VIII Regeneration of Infants, Provisional or Absolute? 109

William Hay MacDowall Hunter Aitken

AITKEN, WILLIAM HAY MACDOWALL HUNTER: Church of England; b. at Liverpool Sept. 21, 1841. He was educated at Wadham College, Oxford (B.A., 1865, M.A., 1867). He was presented to the curacy of St. Jude’s, Mildmay Park, London, in 1865, and was ordained a priest in the following year. From 1871 to 1875 he was incumbent of Christ Church, Liverpool, but resigned to become a mission preacher.[expand title="see more of Biography on Aitken"]

The next year he founded, in memory of his father, Rev. Robert Aitken, the Aitken Memorial Mission Fund, of which he was chosen general superintendent, and which later developed into the Church Parochial Missionary Society. He twice visited the United States on mission tours, first in 1886, when the noonday services for businessmen at Trinity Church, New York, were begun, and again in 1895-96.

Since 1900 he has been canon residentiary of Norwich Cathedral. Two years later he was a member of the Fulham Conference on auricular confession. He has been a member of the Victoria Institute since 1876. In theology, he is a liberal Evangelical but has never been closely identified with any party. He adheres strongly to the doctrines of grace, although he repudiates Calvinism. While not an opponent of higher criticism in itself, he exercises a prudent conservatism in accepting its conclusions. In his eschatology, he is an advocate of the theory of conditional immortality.


His Writings Include

  • Around the cross: some of the first principles of the doctrine of Christ (1844)
  • The Highway of Holiness: helps to the spiritual life (1883)
  • The Divine Ordinance of Prayer (1902)
  • Mission Sermons (3 vols., London, 1875-76)
  • What is faith?
    The School of Grace;
    expository thoughts on Titus 2:11-14 (1879)
  • The Doctrine of Baptism: mechanical and spiritual (1900)
  • The Romance of Christian Work and Experience (1898); 
  • Temptation and toil; sermons on the battle and the work of life (1895); 
  • The difficulties of the soul
  • Hymns for a parochial mission, with accompanying tunes
  • What is your Life?: Missions addresses to young men (1879)
  • The love of the father : sermons on the parable of the prodigal son and other subjects illustrative of the fatherly love of God (1887)
  • The Glory of the Gospel: mission addresses (1882)
  • Hymns for a parochial mission : with accompanying tunes : also short liturgies for mission services
  • Eastertide: thoughts on the passion and resurrection of our Lord (1889)
  • God’s Everlasting Yea (1881)
  • Life, Light, and Love: Studies on the First Epistle of St. John (1905).
  • The Revealer Revealed (1885)
  • Newness of Life (1877)
  • Girls of Yesterday and Today; The Romance of the YMCA   (1911)


See Aitken Online Books Page, see biography of Aitken in Schaff-Herzog.

theWord Modules by Aitken

[expand title=”read Preface to this work”]


Baptismal regeneration is not the question of the hour; it is rather around the other sacrament that, for the time being, the discussion is most active. Yet, since Holy Baptism is the initiatory rite of our faith, the doctrine of Baptism must need to have to do with what is fundamental in the Christian system, what-ever our theory of that system may be.
Fifty years ago, in the early days of the Oxford movement, baptismal regeneration was a ” burning question “; and it was duly threshed out in our ecclesiastical law courts, with results distinctly unfavourable to the Tractarian interpretation of our formularies. As, however, in this instance, the party of innovation was the aggressor, the adverse decision did not shake the position of its members in our Church; it only rendered it possible for those that took a different view of the Church’s teaching still to find a place within her pale.

The partial defeat carried w^th it the presage of a larger success; for it gave prominence and notoriety to a dogma which had much to commend it to those Churchmen who disliked the Evangelical Revival, chiefly because of its insistence on the necessity of definite and conscious ” conversion.” To High Churchmen, who were also dry, the doctrine was attractive, because it seemed the justification of their dryness; while more earnest men of that school regarded it as a safeguard against the extreme subjectivity of Evangelical teaching. Many sober Churchmen, in other respects suspicious of the Oxford movement, accepted the dogma out of supposed loyalty to the Prayer-book; while not a few unspiritual men rejoiced in it, as a means of escaping the claims of spirituality. So it has come to pass that, of all the tenets of the Mediaeval school, this doctrine of necessary regeneration, by the act of Baptism, exopere operato, is the most generally accepted.

Yet to accept this, in the unqualified form in which it is presented to us by teachers of this party, is to accept the principle on which the whole Mediaeval system rests; while its abandonment is the surrender of that system. For, in the first place, it is here that we meet with the most glaring substitution of the mechanical for the spiritual. And in the second place, that theory of the Church which is absolutely essential to this system, cannot be maintained, if this dogma be, even so much as modified, not to say, abandoned.

My endeavour, in this little volume, has been to examine carefully and impartially the revelation that has been made on this all-important subject. In doing so I shall have to point out wherein it differs both from the teaching of the Oxford school and from certain inexact views on the subject, which sometimes prevail amongst those who have no sympathy with that movement.

All that I ask of my readers is a painstaking and unprejudiced consideration of my argument; let it be tested by an appeal to revelation, enforced with rigorous logic, and by this let my conclusions stand or fall.
Lansdowne Road, Bedford.

Quotes from The Doctrine of Baptism Mechanical or Spiritual?

First — We affirm that one great change, and only one, is necessary in the case of fallen man, as the condition of his entering the kingdom of heaven; and that this one change is regeneration. 

Second. — That this change is, on God’s side, conditioned on redemption, by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Fifth. — That in cases where the ordinance (as in the instance of Simon Magus) is received without spiritual apprehension of the benefit of regeneration, this must be realized, if at all, at some later point in the man’s experience; when at length faith is exercised in the operation of God.

–from § 66. A Résumé of the Conclusions we have Arrived at

Comment – The author is Anglican, and he is thinking within that context. Babies are baptized in water, and there are saved, so although I would disagree with baptism regeneration by water baptism, he is pointing out that without regeneration, there is no salvation. That statement coming from an Anglican in itself is notable. Basically, their position is get the babies wet, but they don’t enter into heaven without regeneration even though they were baptized as babies.–David Cox

“the doctrine of necessary baptismal regeneration must be maintained, even in the most extreme cases, and where the ordinance is absolutely unaccompanied by sincerity or faith on the part of either officiating priest or recipient, nay, even up to the point of what I have taken leave to call “ regeneration by sacrilege.”

Comment – This is the heart of his position, without an externally visible church, and one’s membership in it, one cannot be saved. I would say that it is difficult for me to understand a person truly saved and not a member of any local church anywhere by his own choice. As a Baptist (myself), I don’t accept sacraments in general, and I do not believe getting somebody wet is going to save them, no matter their age. Only by faith after repentance is a person is saved. But his position does stir up some debate in my own mind. Neither water baptism nor church membership will save a person, but they are necessary consequences AFTER salvation (to me)[/expand]

Version Notes for 2.1

Version 2.2 Sept 2020 David Cox, reformatted.
Version 2 June 2020 David Cox, reformatted.
Version 2.1 July 2020 David Cox, more reformatting. Removed page numbering as it is corrupt. Highlighted in Bold the Sections.
-In § 46. The Condition implied by Directions given in two other Cases p80
There were handwritten notes in the left margin that ended up in the OCR as garbled text, removed. Each chapter was copied over to a Word Processor and spell checked to find OCR errors. The difference between British English and American English was not changed. It is as it was in the original work.
Editor’s Notes
-Pages 10-11 are missing in the original PDF. No other pdfs of this work available

More Works on Baptism

Doctrine of Baptism: Mechanical or Spiritual?
Doctrine of Baptism: Mechanical or Spiritual?
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