Page images
PDF
EPUB

From these hints, I shall have my way very clear to several directions that I would give you, for a more useful engagement in the duty of baptism; and I shall range them under these three heads.

First, Some are preliminary to your concern in that ordinance.

Secondly, Some relate to the work itself, and the temper with which it ought to be performed. And

Thirdly, Some follow after, and become our duty when the solemnity is over. In all these I shall consider with an equal regard, both the case of those, who offer themselves to God, and those who bring their children. For whatever difference there may be in their opinions, I am sure there is none in their best interest.

Now, if you wouid make baptism to be more than the washing away the filth of the profession of religion. He, on the contrary, declares that “to be without it, for want of opportunity, is an unhappiness, and for want of care, a fault.' No christian will deny the truth of this declaration. The communion of saints in the visible Church, is a privilege which every man of piety sincerely desires to enjoy; and all to whom the everlasting gospel is preached, are under indispensable obligations to embrace its precious offer, and to make an explicit profession of religion by joining the church. Resistance to the outward dispensation of grace introduced in the New Testament, proceeds from the inward opposition of the sinner to the grace of God; and not to become a member of the Church, the kingdom of heaven,' is to continue in open rebellion against our almighty king. In the Church we enjoy the means of grace; but in Christ alone we have eternal life.

flesh, if in it you would find the answer of a good conscience towards God, I hope you will give your testimony to the following directions.

First, I shall begin with those which are preliminary to the duty. Though under this head I may bring in the whole practice of that religion, that is undefiled before God and our Father, yet I will mention no more than these three particulars. "

1. That your conversation becomes the gospel of Christ.

2. That those of you, who design to devote your children to God in baptism be partakers of the Lord's supper; and that such who are adult do enter upon one ordinance with a view to the other.

3. That you guard against the evil and dangerous opinions that some people have got into about the nature and design of baptism. I. shall pursue, and enlarge upon these directions in their order.

1. It is supposed, and it must be so, that those people who are, either admitted to baptism or whose children are brought to God in that ordinance, have a conversation becoming the gospel of Christ.

That is a low notion of it, that it is no more than a civil badge, to tell the world that we make a profession of the Christian religion as distinguished from others. If it is only that, it is pity we should ha e it, nor was there any occasion to deliver it from a fund of authority, that comprehends all power in heaven and in earth.

A drunkard, a swearer, a scandalous, or an ignorant man, is no better than an heathen or a publican. He has nothing to do to take the covenant into his mouth, much less to receive the seals of it. As in the Lord's supper such an one only eats and drinks damnation to himself; so baptism to him, will prove like the bitter waters that cause the curse. It is only the prostitution of an ordinance of God to the formality and profaneness of men.

There is a dreadful threatening against the man who eats of the holy things of the Lord, having his uncleanness upon him; and this obliges to the greatest care, those, who bear the vessels of the Lord that they be not partakers of other men's sins, but keep themselves: pure.

· This, I think, may be laid down as a principle, that I am to admit no child to baptism, one of whose parents I would not receive to the table of the Lord. Nor should any adulto person be allowed one ordinance, who gives sufficient ground of debarring him from the other. I cannot see any value in that objection, “ Why should the child suffer for the pa" rent's fault?” Because I consider the baptism of a child as an act of the father: it is the surrender that he makes of what God has graciously given him. Now, if his whole life declares that, he never gave himself to the Lord, it is combining with liis hypocrisy, for ine to assist him in giving of his infant.*

* In common with all the other ordinances of religious worship, sacraments are divinely appointed

We call these two institutions of the New Testament the seals of the covenant; but they never seal what you have not, nor can they seal any thing that you did not. If they are seals on God's part, it is, of his love to you in your pardon and sanctification. But how can this be, when they are the things which you despise? And if they are seals on your part, it is of your resolution to be the Lord's: whereas means of exhibiting instruction, and of promoting the edification of the saints: but there is a certain character which to them exclusively helongs. By the application of a sensible sign they actually declare our covenant connection with God in Jesus Christ, and visibly distinguish God's covenant people from others in the world. Therefore, are they called by the Church, sacraments-Oaths confirming a covenant. They are signs or visible tokens of the covenant previously agreed upon. They are seals publicly notifying this covenant to be the very deed of the parties. He, therefore, who takes the oath, and rejects the covenant perjures himself; and he who administers the oath to any one who evidently rejects the covenant is accessary to the crime. The Christian minister who admits to any sacrament a man who is not evidently in covenant with God, assists that man in profaning a holy ordinance, in offending God, and in ruining his own soul-He assists him in executing a forgery, in deceiving society, and in polluting the Church of God in which he is himself appointed a watchman. The public Notary, who should annex his seal of office to sanction an instrument of writing, of the falsity of which he had evidence lying before him, would justly forfeit the respect of the pro.. fession and the confidence of society. And is there more delicacy of moral sentiment among the men of the world, than among believers in Christ Jesus? God forbid !

Baptism is the sacrament which represents and seals our Union with Christ as members of his body the

you are resolved not to be his, but are alienated from the whole life of God, through the ig norance that is in you.

I begin with this direction; and if you do not begin there too, it is in vain either for me to add, or you to hear any more. If you are enemies to the cross of Christ, it signifies nothing offering yourselves or your infants to God in baptism. You must abstain from all filthiChurch ; and the union of an infant to the Church is in. termediately by the parent. Let either parent be a member of the body of Christ and the child is esteemed holy also. Let it be otherwise, and the child is unclean. The admission, therefore, of any parent to present a child in baptism, who would not be admitted if the application were made for himself, is as great an absurdity as it is an abuse of a holy ordinance. The parent who does not embrace the covenant for himself cannot certainly have embraced it sincerely for his child. Baptism is not merely the “act of the parent surrendering his child" to God. Itis the public sign and seal of God's promise to the Church, and through the adult inembers to their infant offspring. The promise is to you first and through you to your children. It is the act of God, because it is performed by his authority-the oath by which he confirms his covenant. It is the act of the Church of God designating the holy from the unclean, and publicly proclaiming her faith in God's promise, now displayed in each additional member, baptized in the name of Jesus. As are the parents, therefore, so must the children be esteemed, whether strangers and foreigners or fellow citizens with the saints. It is worse than trifling with the great name, pronounced at the administration of this sacrament, to baptize the children of those who are not themselves members of his Church, and then return them to these very parents, who live in the habitual neglect of religious duties, to be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Christ, is the true and living vine; and Christians are the

« EelmineJätka »