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pains will you take to make a son know the privileges he was born to; the title and extent of his estate, and what he is like to be master of, by his relation to you. You will fit him by education, to enjoy, and perhaps to enlarge the inheritance of his father : and it is a mighty trouble, to see that the fruit of your pains, shall be a sacrifice to his folly. But, is there to be no concern, about the transaction you had for him, with the great God? have you given him up in a covenant of pardon and sanctification and is he never to hear of it?
Nay, telling your children is not all; but you are to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Your care should be to form their thoughts and inclinations, to the blessings you desire for them.- What lamentable cries have we from parents, who live to see their children despise both God and them? Then they desire ministers and christian friends, to plead the promise of the covenant, when either by their neglect or indulgence, nothing has been done to make them sensible that they were baptized at all. Whilst they are young you gratify their humours, and when they are grown up, their divers lusts and pleasures.' When you come 'to settle them, the chief inquiry is about a portion in this life. Now this is so much the reverse to the whole profession that you made in baptism, that it is no wonder the blast of God follows this shuffling and trifling temper. Instead of desiring that he should be the
God of you and your seed, you throw resa ligion out of your families by an after-bargain; you make sure of every thing else by settlements and articles; but leave the worship of God to shift for itself.
Is this training up a child in the way that he should go when he is young? Is this laying in against apostacy that when he is old he will not depart from it? It is a wonder that the Churches of Christ continue, if we reflect upon the folly, the pride and worldly minded. ness of many professors in the disposal of their children. The natural consequence of these things is, that as they are taught to cast off God, God is provoked to cast off them. Hence our assemblies are not filled with such families as they used to be; but sinners are awakened and brought in from the east, and the west, the north and the south, while the children of the kingdom are cast out.
And so it will ever be. He will be found of them that seek him not, when he is neglected by the descendants of those that used to seek his face. He will never want a people. But these degenerate plants of a noble vine, will sooner or later come to find that they want a God.
Endeavour to awake such thoughts in your children. Tell them what you have done, and what they must do. As they grow up, let them know the scriptures which are able to make them wise unto salvation; and be sure to acquaint them, that though they were passive in the ordinance of baptism, yet that they must be active in the Lord's supper. Persuade them to own that covenant in person, which they were received into by proxy, that so they may be no longer considered as descendants from you, but placed on a level with you, heirs with you of the same promise. And if parents would take some special time for this, I believe it would turn to an account.
As for example. On the birth-day of your child, instead of bloating him with vanity, and giving him a loose to riot, spend some time of that day in serious prayer both with him, and for him. We read of Job's sons that they went and feasted every one, on his day, which it is probable was the day of his birth. But when these days of feasting were gone about, Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all, for he said it may be my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. Job i.5. Thus you may have, as it were, an anniversary baptism, and give a yearly revival to the solemnity of that ordinance. Take the rule of your practice from that good word ; He has given meat unto them that fear him, he will ever be mindful of his covenant, Psal. cxi 5. Be you so too. Say as David did to Solomon his son, Know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind. For the Lord searches the heart, and understands all the imaginations of the thoughts; if thou seek him he will be found of thee, but if thou forsake him he will cast thee off for ever. Chron. xxviii. 9.
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2dly, Whether you have given up yourselves or your infants to God in this ordinance whether it be by dipping or sprinkling, do not think that you are baptized into a particular denomination. In all these little varieties, as there is but one body and one spirit, and one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, so there is but one baptism. The character that is taken from the manner in which the duty was performed, is taken very low, and looks as if I had rather be considered in my distinction from God's people, than in my union with them. From hence come strifes, railings, evil surmisings, and perverse disputings. The man that despises me, that denies me his conversation as a friend, and will not admit me to communion, as a Christian, merely because I am not baptized in the way that he thinks best, may be right in his notion, but I am sure he is wrong in his practice. .
Certainly to quarrel about this, is to forget the main design of the ordinance. The baptism of my infant, does not throw me one step from a person who thinks it unlawful to do the same by his. The reason is very plain; though there is a difference between us, yet it is a small one. There are several things in which both sides are agreed; and not only so, but with a harmony of temper, as well as principle. As for example:
Ist, It is confessed, on all hands, that a believer ought to give himself unto the Lord, and take hold of his covenant.
2dly, That we should make such a surrender
as this, of all that we have, our estates, our honours, our reputation, and indeed every thing else. Therefore,
3dly, A good man, whatever his opinion is about this ordinance, will, and does make a solemn dedication of his children to the Lord that gave them. He is prompted to it by a love to them and a zeal for God.
4thly, In this work he will plead the covenant, that is, be earnest for the blessings contained in it. He will beg the Lord to be a God both to him and his seed, that his children may be pardoned by the blood of sprinkling, and may have the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; nay,
5thly, He confesses his obligation to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And though he cannot join with some of his brethren in the ordinance of baptism, yet he heartily begs that they may join with him, in their prayers for his children, and their advice to them. These two Christians can bow the knee together to the same Lord Jesus. He is both their Lord and ours. Only here is the difference: the one thinks the motions and working of his soul about his posterity, may be expressed in baptism, and the other thinks not. So that upon the whole you may conclude,
Ist, That neither of them want a love to their children, and inward serious thoughts for their eternal welfare.. .
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