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ren, that their composures were with temper, moderation, and charity, not to gender strifes or evil surmisings. Several of our brethren, that are of another opinion, as to the mode and subjects of baptism, desired I would consider some neglects of the duty among themselves, which I have done with brotherly kindness and charity. All that know my manner of life can witness, that I never made any difference of opinion to be an article of friendship, and I see no reason it should be a term of communion : Let us receive one another as Christ has received us. And the reader will easily perceive, that with a design of such an agreement among those that love us in the faith, a great part of my sermons is directed.
But at the time that our discourses about baptism should have come into the world, the abomination that made desolate, was brought amongst us, upon a suspicion that we were not all agreed about a more substantial article, viz. The doctrine of the ever blessed Trinity. Our particular view was over-ruled by a previous dispute about scripture consequences. Whether this was done with a design to turn us aside from the main question about the truth of the doctrine, I must leave to every man's conscience; but, I confess, it was always my suspicion, from the fawning carriage of some to the troublers of Israel, and their shyness, virulence, and reproaches, to them that had fought a good fight, and kept the faith. But God has cut off those that
troubled us, men have clapped their hands at them, and hissed them out of their place,
Such a wrangle about consequences from scripture arguments, would have come out of time at the opening of Christianity; for had the apostles been called to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, (which they declared from deductions drawn out of the Old Testament) I can hardly think they would have continued the argument from morning to evening, or testified and alleged from the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
However by this artifice our design was blasted; and ever since there has been a breach of love carried on under a pretence of charity. These two sermons have been preached on the occasion of God's blessing my family with an increase of childrens' children.
The other discourse about the doctrine of baptism has been so well received at Pinners Hall, that I have had the unanimous desire of those that direct the concerns of the Tuesday's lecture to print it. Those sermons also were preached some years ago, and they come out without much alteration. As the doctrine of the Trinity is only revealed in the Bible, so it is only proved by it. I have done no more than brought it from the fountain-head: And though there is a frequent return of the same argument; yet, as that was unavoidable from the distance between one sermon and another, so it serves to keep the fundamental article of our religion always in view.
I have no more to add, than as this is what I was taught in my youth, so I hope for a comfort in it, when gray hairs are upon me. To his blessing I resign it, whose cause it pleads against all gain-sayers.
London, Sept. 18, 1749.
DUTY OF BAPTISM.
1 Pet. iii. 21. Not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the an
swer of a good conscience towards God.
The apostle does, in these words, let us see with what a long extended care, divine providence has watched over good people. We have an instance, before the ceremonial law was given; and, that is, the preservation of Noah and his family in the ark: And here is another, since it expired, that we have through baptism by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In the first, there were but few, that is, eight souls saved by water. The flood that washed away the world of the ungodly bare up the ark, and kept it from dashing upon the mountains. And it is a protection of the same kind that believers have now. They are floating in a life of temptation and danger where thousands perish eternally on every side, but they are inclosed in a covenant, and so kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
He shews us, that as we are delivered by the same goodness, that distinguished those cight persons, so there is a resemblance between the ark, which was a means of their preservation, and that ordinance which God has appointed either to convey, or to publish ours. The like figure whereunto baptism does now save us ; that is, as the ark was a divine institution, an outward visible sign of God's favour, so is baptism. They are both of them prepared for a select number, those that are the heirs of salvation. They are both designed to express and to help on the happiness of such as have a concern with them. But neither of them have this protecting virtue in themselves. The people might have been lost in the ark as well as out of it, if the tender eye of God had not remembered and watched over them there ; and so kept that swimming house from being swallowed up by the waves upon which it rode, or crushed by the vast number of trees that floated about.
And so baptism does not secure to us the salvation that it is appointed for, by any necessity, but only avails to that glorious end, by the greater things that it refers us to.
We have it by the resurrection of Jesus Christ that procured it. He made the title good, being raised again for our justification, and from the perfection that he went into, the principles of religion are sent down: And thus he is the author of eternal salvation to as many as obey him. Heb. v.9. This is what we profess in baptism, that our dependance for the happiness we are looking after, is on Him that died for us and rose again,