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what can the righteous do ? Ps. xi. 3. We must begin again. · I am in the next discourse, to show you the duty and necessity, of holding fast this profession without wavering; and shall consider the arguments against it; as,
First, That “it is desirable there should be « an union of all the Trinitarian, Athanasian, " Arian, and Sabellian schemes.” But let me tell you, that such a medley and jumble as that, is fitter for Babel than Zion. . Secondly, It is urged that, “ we must not “ continue to lie down in darkness; that this “ is a polite age; and thạt men will not be put " off with the notion, that a doctrine is incom
prehensible.” Such talk as that, savours of , too much arrogance and vanity.
Thirdly, It is said that the primitive “ Church and the Jewish writers take the mat" ter otherwise.” And, again, it is proposed, that men destroy the faith for the sake of charity; but I hope it is not impossible to put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.
Holding fast the doctrine, supposes that we be
lieve it to be true, upon no other evidence than that of scripture ; it is the result of an examination. The story of the Bereans told fairly. We see it, to be our own concern. We go no further than revelation, without any inquiry about the modus. We profess it, we defend it, in an unity with the saints. All errors come in, with a pretence of clearer ideas. We are willing to run all hazards, in
promoting and abounding in the faith.' I HAVE considered the great and awful trust, that is committed to us in the ordinance of baptism, and the vows of God that are upon us. We profess a faith and hope, in regard to which, our bodies are washed with pure water. The matter of this faith, the thing we profess to believe, the reason of the hope that is in us, is no other, than the doctrine of three persons in one undivided nature. When any convert took np the Christian name, the world of Jews or Heathen who were round about him, would not only know what he did, but what he believed. Their faith was spoken of throughout the whole world. Rom. i. 8.
The action of baptism was public, by which they declared their homage to the Lord Jesus. Now this would be only, to glory in a ceremony, unless the doctrine of baptism was public too. It was not the water, but the article; not washing away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience to that awful truth, which is so much above the comprehension of all created nature; that there is but one name belonging to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; that these are three, or otherwise they had never been distinguished, since if one of them is a person, then all are so; that we are given up, to each with equal devotion, dependence, and duty: and yet though they are no fewer in number than three, in nature and title, they are no more than one. We are not baptized into three names, but as the form of sound words tells us, into one and no more..
This is the faith delivered to us in the bible; the initial and principal doctrine of Christianity; and therefore engraven upon that ordinance, in which we are given up to be the Lord's. He that is baptized, professes himself in that very solemnity to be a Trinitarian. If he does not take the words in their natural sense, and as all other people do, he trifles both with God and man.
The Jews hate our baptism, not because it is managed either by sprinkling or plunging. It is not the water that gives them any offence, for they have divers washings among themselves. But that which makes it foolishness to them, is our being equally devoted to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So that it is upon the Unitarian principle, that they object against the very entrance into our religion. They stumble at that stumbling stone, which is to us a foundation. Rom. 9. ult.
In opposition to them and the Heathen too, we are baptized. That is our visible distinction from them. In this rite, we declare our faith in a doctrine which they cannot receive, an unity of nature subsisting equally in a trinity of persons. It is this that denominatęs us Christians. This is the profession of faith and hope that we made in baptism. .
II. I am now to consider the duty incumbent on us, with regard to this profession of faith; and that includes both the temper of our minds and the business of our lives. We are to hold it fast; and must do this, as I shall show you, under the third general head, without wavering; without shrinking back; leaning or inclining to the extremes of error, on the right hand, or on the left. In this affair, above all others, we are to be steady, fixed, and at a point. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to day, and for ever; therefore be not carried away with divers and strange doctrines. Heb. xiii. 8, 9.
I shall now endeavour to show you, what this holding fast of our profession means. The word zatéxw we often meet with, in the new testament ; and whatever it is applied to, it never fails to signify a resolution, a care, a full purpose of heart, not to lose what we have. It intimates a possession; and it expresses a firmness of soul to keep it. If you therefore consider, what a person owns to be his faith, when he gives up, either himself or his child to God in baptism; what the profession is which he then makes; what form of words, Christ has put in his mouth; his holding this, fast through all the toil and length of life, comprehends the following particulars.
1. It supposes that he knows from the scrip tures, the doctrine to be true.
2. That this knowledge, is the fruit of personal trial and examination.
3. That he finds the concernment of his own soul in it.
4. That he binds up himself, within the revelation that is given him. He believes neither more nor less, than the bible has told him.
5. That he will never keep it as a secret ; for we do not only hold fast our faith, but the very profession of it.
6. That he believes himself obliged, to desend it against all gain-sayers.
7. That in doing this, he preserves an unity with God's people. For the profession we hold fast, is not a private opinion, a spark of our own kindling, but a Godoyba; we speak together.
8. That he will run all hazards in his reputation and interest. The very command to kecp it, does plainly insinuate that it is no easy matter.
9. That he will spread and promote it to the uttermost.
10. That he will endeavour to be farther es tablished, abounding in every doctrine to which he has attained.
This is to hold fast the profession of faith and hope which we made in baptism; and without such a tem per of soul towards the doctrine, and such a care of life to maintain it, the