« PreviousContinue »
In a former lecture I have remark- anxious mind, and I am confined ed, that this has been, and still is, to narrow limits, I have offered it the subject of much and ardent to you, in the hope that it may controversy, and intimated that have a similar influence on your my discussion of the point would minds. We believe that God, in not be extensive: and indeed if a transaction with Abraham, as baptism has come in place of cir- the father of the faithful to the end cumcision, as I have endeavoured of time, made this solemn declarato show, and the passage of sacred tion. (Gen, xvii. 7.) “I will esscripture just referred to is rightly tablish my covenant between me expounded by the able commenta- and thee, and thy seed after thee, tors quoted-to which a host of in their generations, for an everothers might be added—the point lasting covenant; to be a God unto is already settled, that the infant thee, and to thy seed after thee.” seed of believers are, by divine ap- We know that of this covenant pointment, to be baptized.
circumcision was the seal; and we Indeed, my young friends, al- believe that in the New Testathough volumes upon volumes have ment, there is unequivocal evidence been published on this contro- that “the blessing of Abraham has versy, yet the substance of it lies come upon the Gentiles;" that in a narrow compass, and is of a Christian believers are regarded character to be judged of by any as his spiritual seed; (Gal. iii.) candid and moderately inform- and that baptism has come in the ed Christian. Some years since, place of circumcision as the seal when called in the performance of of the covenant originally made pastoral duty to administer this with him. Now, all the evidence sacrament to an infant, in the con- which does or can exist in regard gregation which I then served, I to this subject, is contained in the introduced the administration in Bible, which we have in our own nearly these words—" Are we ask- language; and hence I have said, ed why we baptize infants? I an that every candid and moderately swer, we have the clearest evi- informed Christian can judge of it dence that by divine appointment for himself. Let him carefully, canthey were once introduced into didly, and prayerfully compare the the church of God, and there is Old Testament with the New, and not a particle of evidence that he decide for himself on the points has ever, by a subsequent order, have stated; and doing this, he deexcluded them from it; and if God cides the question at issue between has once conferred this privilege us and the Antipædo Baptists. on the children of believers, and They endeavour to set aside alhas never withdrawn it, who or most every point in the statement what is man, that he should take I have made. But the Bible, they from these little ones and from admit with us, must determine their parents, a grant which their where the truth lies; and the Bible Maker has made them?" This is open to us all; it is a popular short statement, I was well inform- book, intended for common Chrised, settled satisfactorily the ques- tians as well as for the learned; and tion in relation to infant baptism, when read and made its own interin a mind which had been labour- preter, by comparing one part ing under painful doubts on the with another, the very truth, all subject, for twenty years. Now, false reasoning notwithstanding, my young friends, here is really may be known on this, as on all the essence of the matter in con- other important subjects--protroversy; and as the brief state- vided only that there be simplicity ment I have repeated, satisfied one of purpose, diligence of research,
and prayer for divine guidance, in that must be laid to heart about the Christian inquirer. One of the end, the saving of souls; and the most specious arguments used then, 2. Shall give some advice by our Baptist brethren is, that a about the means. positive institution requires a po 1. About the end, the winning sitive precept, and is not to be of souls. This is to bring them to rested on any inferences, however God. It is not to win them to us, direct or conclusive they may or to engage them into a party, or seem; and that there is no pre to the espousal of some opinions cept in the word of God for in- and practices, supposing them to fant baptism. But this objection, be never so right, and consonant to it has been shown, must bring on the word of God. But the winning the Baptists the charge of palpable of them is, to bring them out of inconsistencies in their own prac- nature into a state of grace, that tice-shown that it will, among they may be fitted for, and in due other things, prohibit female com- time admitted into everlasting munion altogether; since there is glory. neither express precept, nor record Concerning which great end, ed example for this, in the New these few things should be laid Testament. Nor is this a solitary deeply to heart, by all that would difficulty-others, equally formida serve the Lord in being instrumenble, attend the objection; and I tal in reaching it. shall put an end to this extended 1st, The exceeding height and lecture by a short quotation, touch- excellency of this end is to be laid ing the point before us, from to heart. It is a wonder of condeRidgely's Body of Divinity—“I scendence, that the Lord will make cannot but think,” says Ridgely, use of men in promoting it. To be “that this objection would equally workers together with God in so hold good against Christ's dying great a business, is no small hofor infants, as well as others, or of nour. The great value of men's their being capable of justification, souls, the greatness of the misery regeneration, and the saving bless- they are delivered from, and of the ings of the covenant of grace; and happiness they are advanced to, it might be as well inferred from with the manifold glory of God hence that they are not to be de- shining in all, makes the work of voted to God in other instances, saving men great and excellent. besides that of baptism; or that Preaching the gospel, and sufferwe have not the least ground to ing for it, are services that angels expect their salvation; for it would are not employed in. Mean and be as hard a matter to find this low thoughts of the great end of contained in express words of the ministry, as they are dissonant Scripture, as that which is the from truth, are also great hinmatter of controversy, to wit, that drances of due endeavours after they are not to be baptized.” attaining the end.
2dly, The great difficulty of sav. ing souls must be laid to heart.
The difficulty is undoubted. To BEST WIN Souls?
attempt it, is to offer violence to (Concluded from page 436.)
men's corrupt natures; and a storm
ing of hell itself, whose captives all II. But now we come to the se sinners are.
Unless this difficulty cond thing proposed, to give some be laid to heart, ministers will be answer to this question from other confident of their own strength, things in the word.
and so miscarry, and be unfruitful. And I shall, 1. Show some things Whoever prospers in winning
BY WHAT MEANS MAY MINISTERS
souls, is first convinced that it is gospel; Gal. iv. 14. Ve received me the arm of Jehovah only can do the as an angel of God, even as Christ work.
Jesus. 3dly, The duty of winning souls 2dly, Let ministers, if they would must be laid to heart by ministers. win souls, purchase and maintain That it is their principal work, and the people's love to their persons. they are under many commands to And this is best done, by loving of endeavour it. It is a fault to look them, and dealing lovingly and on fruit only as a reward of endea- patiently with them. There should vours; so it is indeed, and a gra- be no striving with them, especialcious one: but it should be so mind- ly about worldly things; yea, meeked, as the end we should strive for, ness to them that oppose themselves, Col. i. 28, 29; which, when attain: 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25, 26. It is of great ed, is still to his praise: yet most advantage to have their love. How commonly when it is missing, it is carefully doth Paul sue for it in to our reproach and danger, when several epistles; and condescend it is (as, alas! it is often) through to intreat and make apologies, our default.
when indeed he had not wronged 4thly, The great advantage there them, but they only did imagine is to the labourer by his success, he had wronged them! 2 Cor. xi. is to be pondered. Great is the 3dly, It would further the wingain by one soul. He that winneth ning of souls, to deal particularly souls, is happy as well as wise, and personally with them; not al. Prov. xi. 30. Dan. xii. 3. Won ways nor altogether in public, Col. souls are a minister's crown, and i. 28. Acts xx. 20, 21. Great fruit glory, and joy, Phil. iv. 1. 1 Thess. hath constantly followed the conii. 20. How far is this account scientious discharge of this duty. above all others that a man can The setting of it up in Geneva, give of his ministry? These things did produce incredible fruits of fixed upon the heart, would enliven piety, as Calvin reports: when the us in all endeavours to attain this ministers, and some of the elders, excellent end.
went from house to house, and dealt 2. For advice about the means, particularly with the people's conI shall add these few, besides what sciences. And we are not without hath been said.
many instances of the fruit of this 1st, Let ministers, if they would mean in our own time, and in these win souls, procure and retain nations. Blessed be the Lord for amongst the people a persuasion the labourers, and their success. of their being sent of God; that 4thly, Ministers must pray much, they are Christ's ministers, i Cor. if they would be successful. The iv. 1. It is not confident asserting apostles spent their time this way, of it, nor justifying the lawfulness Acts vi. 4. Yea, our Lord Jesus of our ecclesiastical calling, though preached all day, and continued all there be some use of these things night alone in prayer to God. Miat some times: but it is ability, nisters should be much in prayer. painfulness, faithfulness, humility, They use to reckon how many and self-denial, and, in a word, con- hours they spend in reading and formity to our Lord Jesus in his study; it were far better both with ministry, that will constrain people ourselves and the church of God, to say, and think, that we are sent if more time were spent in prayer. of God. Nicodemus comes with Luther's spending three hours daithis impression of Christ, John iii. ly in secret prayer, Bradford's stu2. A teacher come from God. It dying on his knees, and other inis certain, that these thoughts in stances of men in our time, are people further the reception of the talked of rather than imitated. Ch. Adv.-Vol. X.
Ministers should pray much for simplicity of the gospel that rethemselves; for they have corrup- mained but a little while in the tions like other men, and have Christian church: for ceremonies temptations that none but minis- among the Jews, and sinful mixters are assaulted with. They tures of vain philosophy amongst should pray for their message. the Gentiles, Col. ii. did by degrees How sweet and easy is it for a mi So corrupt the gospel, that the nister, (and likely it is to be the mystery of iniquity ripened in the more profitable to the people), to production of Antichrist. It was bring forth that scripture as food a sad observation of the fourth cento the souls of his people, that he tury, that it became a matter of hath got opened to his own heart learning and ingenuity to be a by the power of the Holy Ghost, Christian. The meaning was, that in the exercise of faith and love in too much weight was laid on noprayer! A minister should pray for tions, and matters of opinion; and a blessing on the word; and he less regard had unto the soundness should be much in seeking God of the heart, and holiness of the particularly for the people. It may life. In the beginning of the rebe this may be the reason why formation from Popery, the worsome ministers of meaner gifts and thies whom God raised up in se
more successful, than veral countries, did excellently in some that are far above them in retrieving the simplicity of the abilities; not because they preach gospel from the Popish mixtures. better, so much as because they But that good work took a stand pray more. Many good sermons quickly, and is on the declining are lost for lack of much prayer in greatly. How little of Jesus Christ study.
is there in some pulpits! It is seen But because the ministry of the as to success, that whatever the word is the main instrument for law doth in alarming sinners, it is winning souls, I shall therefore still the gospel-voice that is the add somewhat more particularly key that opens the heart to Jesus concerning this, and that both as Christ. Would ministers win to the matter and manner of souls? Let them have more of preaching.
Jesus Christ in their dealing with 1. For the subject-matter of gos- men, and less of other things that pel-preaching, it is determined by never profit them that are exerthe apostle expressly to be Christ cised therein. crucified, 1 Cor. ii. 2. Two things 2. As for the manner of successministers have to do about him in ful preaching, I shall give it in a preaching him to them that are negative and positive, from these without. 1. To set him forth to two places. 1 Cor. i. 17, & ii. 1—4. people, Gal. iii. 1; to paint him in First, What this negative dishis love, excellency, and ability to owns, is our inquiry. The words
2. To offer him unto them are full: For Christ sent me not to freely, fully, without any limitation baptize, but to preach the gospel: not as to sinners, or their sinful state. with wisdom of words, lest the cross And then Christ's laws or will to of Christ should be made of none ef: be published to them that receive fect. Again, 1 came not to you with him, and are his, for the rule of excellency of speech, or of wisdom, their walk; and his promises, for declaring unto you the testimony of the measure and foundation of all God. Again, And my speech, and their hopes and expectations; and my preaching was not with enticing his grace and fulness, for their sup- words of man's wisdom. These ply in every case, till they be are the words of the Holy Ghost brought to heaven. This was the concerning a way of preaching
that is unprofitable: a way that is needful for converting a sinner: seems was in use and respect with and in some this thought rises on the Corinthians; and honest Paul a better account; the light of the was despised by them, for his sim- glory of God in the gospel shines ple and plain way, different from so brightly in upon their own theirs. I shall only instance in hearts, that they fall into this conthings that this scriptural nega ceit, that no man can stand before tive doth check and reprove in the that light which they can hold way of preaching
forth: Melancthon's mistake at 1. The establishing and advanc- first, till experience made him ing of divine truth upon the foun wiser. Hast thou a clear know. dation of human reason; as if there ledge of gospel mysteries, and the were some weakness and insuffi word of exhortation is with thee ciency in those methods and argu also, so that thou art qualified to ments of working on men's con- urge, beseech and plead warmly sciences, that the Holy Ghost pre with sinners on Christ's behalf? scribes. The great foundation of Take heed of this snare, lest thou all a minister hath to say, is, Thus think, that thy wisdom and gifts saith the Lord; and a grave decla can promote and carry on the gosration of the testimony of God in pel design on men. this matter, is ministers' duty, 1 3. This also is checked in the Cor. ii. 1, and will have more au- apostle's words, the setting forth thority on men's consciences, than the beauty of the gospel by human many human reasons. There is a art. The truth of the gospel rational preaching, (as it is called,) shines best in its bare proposal; wherein men do not satisfy them- and its beauty, in its simple and selves to make use of reason as a naked discovery. We may obtool and instrument, (and then its serve from the church history, that use is excellent,) but will establish stilloas soundness of doctrine, and it as a judge and dictator in all di- the power of godliness, decayed in vine matters and truth; and so in the church, the vanity of an affecteffect turn all their preaching into ed way of speaking and of writing little better things than the lec- of divine things came in. Quotatures of philosophers of old; save tions from the fathers, Latin, and that the poor Pagans were more languages, are pitiful ornaments sincere in their morals, and seri- unto preaching, if a man design ous in delivering their opinions. conversion and soul-edification.
Let a minister therefore still And yet more despicable are all think with himself, that a plain playing on words, jinglings, and Scripture testimony is his main cadences, (which things are in all argument; and accordingly let him the rules of true eloquence justly use it. When he teacheth philo- exploded); and yet some men recksophy, and when he teacheth men on much on them. But would any the will of God about salvation, he man think his friend in earnest is in distinct provinces, and his with him, that would accost him management of his work therein in any affair with such sort of lanshould be
guage and gesture 2. It is to preach with excel Secondly, The positive is, in delency of speech, and words of man's monstration of the Spirit, and of wisdom, when men think to reach power, 1 Cor. ii. 5. the gospel end on sinners by force 1. Paul preached so as gave a of even spiritual reason and per- demonstration that the Holy Ghost suasion. This corrupt thought was in him, sanctifying him. This riseth in some, from an imagina is a plain and blessed thing. Haption that moral suasion is all that py is the minister that manageth