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3. That the salvation that comes by it, is owing to the regularity of the minister that performs it. :::
1. It is a base and carnal opinion to say that it is a regenerating ordinance. The papist tells you very roundly, that it washes away original sin. . If so, I suppose there would be no occasion in the New Testament to complain as David did in the old, Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me ; for which he prays, purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean, wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psal. li. 5. But, it is apparent, that the apostle Paul had no such notion of it. Ananias, indeed, bade him be baptized, and wash away his sins: but that refers to his calling on the Lord Jesus. Remission of sins comes with the sanctification that is by faith in him. It is, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, that is, the baptism that obliges to repentance, as even John's did; and the baptism that led up to the righteousness in which we are accepted and pardoned. This Saul had before his baptism. In his baptism he did no more than declare his consent to, and his dependance upon that covenant in which he was baptized.
So that as to the guilt of originalsin (and actual too) it was done away, but the remains of sin stuck by him as long as he lived; and a great while after his baptism he complains, in me, that is in my flesh, there dwells no good thing. Owretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Rom. vii. 18. That is far from being the baptism of repentance, which is advanced, with such notions as supersede the practice of repentance, No! Poor wretches are taught to think that a minister has done all that, for them, which ought to be their chief care to do for themselves. But it is plain when the grace of God comes, into the souls of men, it roots up all that the Church has planted... * We are told in the office for baptizing infants, that the child is conceived and born in sin;' then follows a prayer for sanctifying grace: and so, when he has got the water and the cross in his forehead, the priest. ventures to say, that this child is regenerated and grafted into the body of Christ's Church'. This is afterwards delivered in a prayer. “We « give thee thanks, most merciful father, that “ it has pleased thee to regenerate this infant
with thy holy spirit, and to receive him for " thine own child by adoption.” And how early are poor ignorant persons taught to say, “ that in their baptism they were made mem« bers of Christ, children of God, and inheri“ tors of the kingdom of heaven?'
But can regeneration, adoption and union to Christ mean so little in the bible as they do in that Catechism? Are children to be taught to go astray, speaking lies as soon as they are born? for either what they say is false, or if there is any way of making it true, it is not enough to be a privilege of the Church, namely, it ought to be administered to heathens, whilst heathens, that they may be regenera
ted, adopted, &c. It is a notion of the same stamp that closes the whole office; that it " is certain by the word of God, Children of which are baptized dying before they com"mit actual sin, are undoubtedly saved." As God himself has thrown a veil over this, so intruding into those things which we have not seen, only proves that we are vainly puffed up in our fleshly minds. Col. ii. 18.
But it is very bold to say that it is certain by the word of God, which the word of God has never told us a syllable of.* . * Although the language employed by the Episcopal church in the places referred to by Mr. Bradbury is by far too incautious, there is no reason to believe that the compilers of the liturgy intended to convey that meaning which he justly censures as erroneous. It is probably more just, and certainly more charitable, to allow, that they intended to instruct the youth to place their confidence in the thing signified by baptism rather than in the sign itself. , By a figure of speech which is very common in the sacred writings, the sign is used for the blessing signified; and if this mode of expression has been abused by unreasonable men to support the doctrine of transubstantiation, it would still be impious to censure the use of these expressions, This is my body this cup is the New Testament in my blood-whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life. • The salvation of sinners is entirely of grace, and it is accordingly freely offered to us. As the scriptures exclude none, as no one ought to exclude himself from applying for mercy, and as the Church in her collective capacity is represented as both redeemed and sanctified, the Churches of the reformation have with one voice in. structed their youth to appropriate the blessings offered in the holy word, and to employ the language of appro.com priation in speaking of all the doctrines and blessings of the Everlasting Gospel. The answers to the questions
Whether your children are regenerated by baptism or no, is more than we can tell. God has not said so. That they shall be sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost from their mother's womb; upon their being received in this ordinance, is making the blessing of the new covenant come by the will of men, and of the will of the flesh and not of God. But be not deceived, God is not mocked. Do not think so idly of those favours that come by bis spirit. If he does not more for you than ministers were capable of doing by baptism; if the regeneration of that ordinance, is all the regeneration you have, you are still sowing to the flesh, and must reap corruption...
2. It is another very dangerous opinion that there is no salvation without baptism. The former notion brings you into stupidity, and this into despair: but the comfort is, that there is as little ground for the one, as the other. Where has God made, either this ordinance, or any other, so needful to happiness, that persons who cannot have them, wbich is the case of many thousands, are under a necessity of perishing eternally? Why will men talk with such a confidence? As if they had in their several catechisms are usually in the first person. This is the case with the Heidelberg and the Westminster Catechisms as well as with that of the Episcopal Church; although in both the former, there is a more copious and just, exhibition of evangelical truth, and much greater precision of terms, than are to be found in the latter. The assertion respecting the state of baptized infants after death, is left to the pertinent criticism of the author. : Secret things belong only unto God, and shall not the judge of all the earth do right?
the keys of death and of the unseen world ; and could, at their own pleasure, make passes either to Heaven or Hell! Is it in this sense that they have the keys of the kingdom of heaven? We may well say, as the scripture does, upon another occasion, Wo! Wo! Wo! to the earth, because of such a plague, that happiness and damnation shall be disposed of by a selfish and peevish order of men.
But rejoice, 0 Daughter of Sion, that thự king reigns; and there is but one, of whom it is said, that he has the key of David. He opens and no man shuts, he shuts and no man can open. Do not give way to such a notion as will tear the bowels of tender parents with unquiet fears about their children that die young, Do not think that they are not in the covenant, because not received, as it is called, into the visible Church. . ;
We have one case in the bible that will shew us how good men used to think upon this head, and that is David's behaviour upon the death of that child which he had by Bathsheba. He was not to be circumcised until the eighth day. Now he died upon the seventh. But what then: Is that any torture to the Father's hopes ? No, far from it. He speaks with as much serenity as if he had lived to the ninth day, I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
I think there is a practice which pays too great a compliment to this scandalous notion; and that is hurrying on the baptism of a child because it is sick, For this I can see no show of argument, unless it springs from the root