Page images


service, and by a serious address in the Sermon to parents, sponsors, and all baptized persons, concerning their obligations and duties, and their criminality, if they did not attend to them; I was led to conclude, that the publick administration of this ordinance, during divine service, (which except in cases of necessity, our Church inculcates most decidedly,) would, if generally adopted, be productive of most important advantages: and, consequently, I was induced to conclude, that the too common custom of baptizing on other days, except the Lord's day, or if on the Lord's day, after the congregation is separated, was, at least foregoing those advantages.


€ I

The Anti-podobaptists do all baptize very publickly, and this administration of baptism, according to their sentiments, is very impressive, and has a great effect in producing a favourable opinion of their mode of baptizing, in the minds of those who have not maturely weighed the subject; besides giving the minister an occasion of addressing the consciences, the judgments, the passions, or even the prejudices of the assembly. But the retired and concealed way, now generally adopted by the ministry of our Church (contrary to the rubrick undoubtedly) seems to say to the people, It is a mere form; there is no need to make it publick; no instruction can be grafted on it; it needlessly lengthens the service.' And the unchristian custom of making baptisms



[ocr errors]

an occasion of a sensual dissipated feast, which is too generally connived at, gives countenance to this conclusion, and advantage to those who administer the sacrament in another manner, less scriptural, I apprehend, in other respects, but more scriptural in that it is made a publick, serious, and religious service. Indeed I am fully convinced, that the publick administration of infant-baptism, with apposite instructions to all concerned, would do more to establish its scriptural authority than all the controversial publications which have appeared on the subject.

But this is by far the least part of what I would wish to point out. A great deal has been said of baptismal regeneration. If we say that this always and of course, takes place, however the sacrament is administered, not to adduce other objections, it is plain that we return to the opus operatum of the Papists. Yet far be it from me to deny, that regeneration may accompany baptism, and that it frequently does when properly administered. Now I was peculiarly impressed on seeing baptism administered during the service with the idea, that a considerable number of christians were, all over the congregation, uniting in prayer, that the child might be baptized by the Holy Spirit, and made an heir of eternal life. Surely, thought I, this way of administering the sacred ordinance gives the most scriptural ground to hope that the inward and spiritual grace shall accompany the

outward and visible sign: and I cannot conceive that the private mode of baptizing can afford a ground of confidence, which, either on scriptural or rational grounds, can be put in competition with it.

But, above all the opportunities that the publick administration of baptism gives to the minister of addressing all descriptions of persons in his congregation on their respective duties, and their failures in them, appear to my mind of the greatest importance; I have long complied with the general custom, and have never, for at least twenty-five years, baptized a child during divine service: but I must allow that, having once been present where a child was thus baptized, the cere*mony being followed by an appropriate address, I was then convinced, that by private baptism (in which I include baptizing in the Church, except during divine service on the Lord's day, or on some publick occasion,) many advantages of exhorting and establishing our congregations were lost; and many advantages given to those who endeavour to draw our people from us.

If these loose hints be worth inserting in the Christian Observer I shall be glad to see them there, in hopes that the subject may be more maturely handled by some other correspondent, and that the attention of the ministers of the establishment may be called to it.

Your constant reader.

[ocr errors]

To the Editor of the Christian Observer.

THE Scrious Inquirer in your number for Janu


ary last, seems to have received some instructions concerning "faith in the righteousness in Christ," which many, who are zealous for that doctrine, do not insist upon; and which are not, as they conceive, at all essential to it or indeed implied in it. Content with the language of the Apostle "we are "made the righteousness of God in him;" or that of our articles" we are accounted righteous before 'God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour 'Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own

works or deservings;' we do not say, that "we "have perfectly fulfilled all righteousness in him;" which phrase does not so well express the idea of imputation as that of personal obedience.

Perhaps your correspondent does not exactly mark the line of distinction between being accounted righteous and being made holy for if he did, he would hardly suppose, that being accounted righteous implied being really with'out spot before God;' for this expression, as understand it, signifies being perfected in holiness.'


I consider the righteousness of Christ, or his 'Eph. v. 27. Col. i. 21.

personal abedience to the divine law, apprehended by true faith, as so imputed to the believer, that it constitutes his title to eternal life, which neither oblivion of sin, nor full acceptance of duty' could do. It is the meritorious ground of his being dealt with as an heir of eternal happiness; notwithstanding all his sins and imperfections: for eternal happiness is properly the reward of perfect righteousness. But this act of God, in “justifying the ungodly," and imputing "righ፡፡ teousness without works," neither alters the rule of duty, nor the nature of a man's actions; while it increases the believer's obligations to obedience, and aggravates the guilt of his subsequent sins; and while God looks on believers as in Christ, in respect of justification; he views their character and actions in all respects as they really are in themselves. "The righteousness of God," which "is unto all and upon all that believe," is merely a provision for the honour of the divine law and justice, in making sinners heirs of that happiness, which is properly and exclusively the reward of perfect obedience. The justified believer is also adopted: he is a son and heir: and the title to his inheritance is given him, on the ground of his brother and surety's meritorious services, and for his sake. But this no more renders personal obedience or sanctification unnecessary, than the entail of an estate renders obedience to a parent, or a good state of health superfluous. In these re

« EelmineJätka »