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Note, referred to in page 77.
IN order to observe profitably the Christian Sacraa ment of Baptism, it is necessary to observe it with the Spirit and the understanding also. “ Without faith," whatever may be our opinions, « it is impossible to please him," who will have all men to worship him in Spirit and in truth. How far piety may be consistent with misunderstanding, it is not our province to decide ; but the scriptures assure us, that ignorant devotion has no fellowship with the Father of light. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth. 1 John i. 6. If there was no danger, that any person should ever imagine, that he was truly pious, and did enjoy communion with God, while yet he practised an ignorant devotion, there would have been no need of this caution. We are therefore bound to bring to the test of the law and the testimony, every part of our religious exercises.
It is impossible that in Baptism we walk in the light as he is in the light, and have fellowship one with another, unless we understand both its peculiar nature and design. Compliance with the letter of a sacred institution, does not profit, if we be ignorant of its spirit. But this is, unquestionably, in a great measure, the case with the Anabaptists. They do not correctly understand the doctrine of Baptism as a Sacrament of the New Testament, however well meaning they may be in their practice. Mr. Bradbury discovers, indeed, the benevoience of his own disposition, in his conciliatory remarks upon the controversy about the mode and the subjects of this divine ordinance : And yet we must not conceal the fact, that the Anabaptist Churches completely misunderstand its peculiar nature and design. Its general character, and those objects which it answers, in common with every other ordinance of the Sanctuary, they appear to understand. But every divine institution has, besides its general character, a specific end to answer i
and the principle which characterizes Baptism, and renders it distinct from every other part of religious worship, cannot be understood, by those who consider as essential to it, that infants be excluded, and that a quantity of water, sufficient to cover the whole body at once, be employed in its administration.
It is of no importance that they are able to talk and to write about baptism, unless what is said or written be pertinent. That it is an ordinance of Christ, that it is of permanent obligation on the Church of God, that it is highly instructive, and that it is one of the means appointed to prepare us for the heavenly kingdom, is certainly true: but these characters equally belong to all the institutions of the Gospel. We may accordingly descant freely upon this subject, without having any knowledge whatever of its peculiar nature and design. Much truth may be uttered, in an argumentative style, without ever touching the point in dispute. In order to think correctly, however, it is necessary to consider Baptism as one of the Sacraments, and as specifically distinct, not only in the yisible act, but in the end and design, from the other sacrament. This view of the subject, no Anabaptist can consistently take.
A Sacrament differs from every other ordinance of Christian worship, in this, and in this only, that it is a sensible sign of certain spiritual benefits, applied as a seal of God's covenant with the church,' and as a mark of distinction from the world. Whoever does not know this principle, therefore, does not understand the subject; and the ignorant observance, even of a divine institution, is not worshipping the Father in Spirit and in truth. It is by this criterion we try every ordinance to ascertain whether it be a sacrament or not; and it is upon this principle that the Protestant Church rejects the five bastard Sacraments of Rome. It is upon this principle that we acknowledge there are two Sacraments of the New Testament, and only two, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. This great Protestant principle is a death-blow to the whole Anabaptist scheme.
A Sacrament, then, is the application of a sensible sign of Spiritual benefits as a seal of our covenant with God; and is accordingly the outward mark of our separation from the world. In it, God calls ys, by his name put
upon us, and we take the oath of allegiance to him. Ina violation of this principle, the Church of Rome made Ordination, Marriage, Confirmation, Penance, and Extreme Unction, Sacraments. And the reformed Churches rejected these, solely, upon the principle, that in none of them, is there an application of a sensible sign of spiritual benefits divinely appointed to seal our Covenant with God. If this principle is rejected, as it certainly is, in the writings of the Anabaptists, these five spurious Sacraments may be again restored. There is none of them destitute of all that-Anabaptists require in the case of Baptism. Precept or example is all that they demand. When we offer them arguments, every man or woman among them exclaims, give us precept or. example, without arguments. For the Ordination of Ministers, there are precepts and example in abundance; but is it therefore a Sacrament? For Marriage there are precepts and examples in abundance; and is marriage a Sacrament ? For the laying on of hands in order to confer the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost, there are precepts and examples; is confirmation therefore a permanent Christian ordinance, or a Sacrament of the Church? For Confession of Sin, and expressions of repentance, the New Testament furnishes numerous commands and examples; and shall we restore Penance to the Class of Sacraments ? Even for anointing the sick with oil, there is positive precept, James v. 14. and approved examples, Mark vi. 13. And is extreme Unction therefore to be practised as a Sacrament of the New Testament? The truth is, if the Rules of Argumentation adopted by the Anabaptist writers are to be admitted, we must, for the sake of consistency, so far return to the Church of Rome, as to adopt her five once discarded Sacraments.
But we must not suffer ourselves to be thus deceived. We must employ the understanding, with which God hath endowed us, in proving all things, that we may hold fast that which is good. We must employ arguments, and be able to render a reason of our Christian hope. We must learn to discriminate, and have our senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Let us then distinguish íemporary directions, from permanent institutions; and all other permanent institutions from the Sacra
ments of the New Testament. This cannot be done without reasoning. It cannot be done without examining the principles, upon which precepts and examples proceed. Unless the first principles be laid correctly, we cannot go on unto perfection. Heb. vi. 1.
By our definition of a Sacrament, we distinguish it from all other Christian ordinances. Let us also distinguish the one Sacrainent from the other. The Cove. nant which they both seal is one; and the Church which they both distinguish from the world is also one. The difference between them lies in the sensible object employed as the signs and in the special benefit thereby signified. And from these, all the differences, in the circumstances of administration, spring,
The elements employed as signs, are such as the Redeemer prescribes in the one, water; in the other bread and wine. Any alteration or omission, is disobedience to the commandment of Christ. We reject accordingly from Baptism, the Chrysm, and the Oil, and the Cross; and we require in the Supper, the cup as well as the bread.
There is a difference between the two Sacraments; 1, in the sign employed. In Baptism, it is water. Acts.x. 47. Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized ? In the Lord's Supper, it is bread and quine. I Cor. xi. 28. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. Mat. xxvi. 29 This fruit of the vine.
2. They differ in the special benefit signified and sealed to use In Baptism it is our entering into Covenant with God our union with Christ our Head. In the Supper, it is our communion with our Covenant God-fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. These are the appropriate objects, of the Sacraments. In each of them, we have, indeed, an exhibition of the whole system of Grace-a summary of the everlasting Gospel. But the specific object of each Sacrament, demands particular attention; because this produces the difference which should be admitted into the circumstances of their administration. This object is definitely marked in the written word. I Cor. xii. 13. For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one bodyand have been all made to drink into one Spirit. In this
text, the Apostle Paul refers, Ist, to baptism, as the sign of our union with Christ, as members of his body the Church : And, 2dly, to the Lord's supper, as signifying our communion with him in the fulness of the blessings of the Gospel. Gal. iii. 27. For as inany of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. I Cor. x. 16. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? In these words also the distinct nature and object of each sacrament are declared.
Baptism, is the act by which we put on Christ, in our profession of Christianity; it is the sign and seal of the union by which we put on, for justification, the righteousness of Christ which is unto and upon all them that believe. Rom. iii. 22. The Supper, is the visible act, by which separated from the world we sit down together and eat and drink with God; is the sign and seal of our spiritual feasting upon the blessings purchased by the sufferings of the Saviour, God manifested in the flesh.
From this difference in the special nature and end of these Sacraments, it follows, that baptism is once only applied, and the other sacrament is often administered to the same persons. Union with the Redeemer, as a covenant Head, never takes place but once with each person; therefore, the seal is once only applied: but communion with God, in the enjoyment of spiritual blessings, may be frequent; and, accordingly, the cucharistic feast, is often administered, in the Church, to the same communicants. There is in the Christian system, an inseparable connection between the principles of Grace and the exercise of Godliness; and a similar connection exists, in the exterior dispensation, be. tween correct doctrinal principle and regular practice. The fact, that Baptism is only once administered, while it confirms the Doctrine of the Saints' perseverance in Grace, proves that it is the special end of this Sacra. ment, to signify and seal our indissolvable union with the “ Lord our righteousness." Once, united to Christ by his Spirit, we are ever afterwards his members. Those who maintain the doctrine of falling from Grace, corrupt the Doctrine of baptism: And in order to be