Page images

bitual sins, think they have honoured God; No. The way The end of

to reverence God by honouring his word is not hearing a to imagine, when we have been affected with a good fermon. serinon, that the great end of hearing is fulfilled : for we must apply those good instructions and exhortations in such a manner as to enable us to conquer our most secret fins. Sins are the distempers of the soul, and God has prescribed this as a means of its cure: therefore, as no patient can hope for thecure of his bodily infirmities by talking with, or only looking upon the physician and his prescriptions and medicines; fo neither can any one hope to be released of his fins, that never applies God's word to enable him to eschew evil, and to do good. The main matter then of hearing a sermon is the putting useful instructions into practice: for, when God enlightens our minds, it is our business to walk as children of light. We must never despair of conquering our evil habits, nor be discouraged in prosecuting the convictions of our own consciences; for a mighty resolution, with the assistance of God's grace, will overcome great difficulties. Let us therefore never measure our godliness by the number of sermons, which we are present at, as if that outward mark of reverence to God was any sure mark of a good christian : But let us estimate our obedience to God, and reformation of our manners, by the quantity of the good fruit, which the dew of God's grace has, through the ministration of the word, enabled us to bring forth; without which disposition of the heart, all our hearing will only draw the heavier judgments of God upon us ; because we hear and know our master's will, and do it not. But, VII. Fifthly, The great mark of a christian's duty to God

is the honouring him in his SACŘAMENTS of to God in his baptism and the Lord's fupper; which are oute facraments. • ward visible signs of inward and spiritual grace • given unto us, ordained by Christhimself, as a means whereA facra

by we receive the same, and as a pledge to assure • us thereof.' In which description we are taught

that, to constitute a sacrament, there must be, First, some visible sign of it, apparent to our senses. Secondly, this fign must represent some spiritual grace and favour youch


Hon ur due

ment what it is.

fafed us by God. Thirdly, that outward sign must be of Christ's own institution : and, Fourthly, it must be

appointed by hiin as the means of conveying to us this inward grace, and as a seal and token of assurance, that he will bestow the one upon those who do worthily receive the other.* And we are not to doubt, but that in the right use of the outward signs of water, bread and wine, he will, by the power of his spirit, though in a manner unknown, because not necessary to be revealed to us, convey, and confirm, in baptism, and in the Lord's supper, to the worthy receivers thereof, the divine grace signified, according to his own most true promise and engagement. And therefore we must consider both these facraments under those particular properties. And, firsi, concerning baptisın.

By the sacrament of baptism we are initiated into the profession of christianity, and admitted to the terms of the christian covenant. I say, BAPTISM delivers us

Of bap!ism from the vengeance of God, by cleansing us from and its bethe guilt and power of fin ; by taking us into a nefits. · covenant of grace and favour with God; and by infufing a principle of new life into our souls, to enable us to live according to God's laws, and to attain that everlasting happiness, which is the free gift of God in Chriítt. Or, as our church-office explains it, · Baptism doth represent unto us ‘our profession, which is to follow the example of our Sa

viour Christ, and to be made like unto him, that as he died, and rose again for us, so should we, who are baptised, die • from sin, and rise again unto righteousness; continually ' mortifying all our evil and corrupt affections, and daily

proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living.' Nevertheless we must not dare to take upon us to exclude any from all hopes of God's mercy in extraordina- unbaprijed

cases, as the want of opportunity or capacity persons. of receiving it. To pronounce positively of their falvation we have no warrant: because the promises of salvation, as the gospel declares them to us (and we have no promises of salvation but in the gospel) are only made to those that believe in Jesus Christ, and enter into his covenant by baptism. E 4

On • See the 25th Article of Religion, + See the 27th Article of Religios.

The case of


On the other side, to pronounce of their damnation seems very harsh and uncharitable ; nor do I know that any in the scripture are threatened with damnation, but such as reject the Gospel after it is preached to them, or dishonour their profession, after they have embraced it, by a wicked unholy life; neither of which can be faid of those we are now speaking of. We ought therefore to leave them to the uncovenanted mercies of God, if I may fo speak. For this we are certain of, that the Judge of all the earth will do right: nor will he demand the tale of bricks where he hath allowed no straw to make them. But as the Jews were obliged, under the severest penalty, to be circumcised, and keep the passover; so our guilt and danger will be proportionably great by not receiving baptism, when it is in our power ; it being of the highest authority, and the distinguishing badge, as well as admission into our most excellent profession. And since we are the offspring of Adam, and consequently subject to death by his fall, How can we be made partakers of that redemption, which Christ hath purchased for the children of God, if we do not enjoy the advantage of that method which is alone appointed by Christ for us to become members of God's kingdom? For Jesus himself hath assured us, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdoin of God. And therefore it was the constant

custom of the primitive church to administer bap

tism to infants for the remission of fins, by and under such conditions, vows, or obligations, to which they were to consent, and according to which they were to endeavour to regulate their conduct through this world in their way to heaven. And this practice was esteemed by the best tradition to be derived from the Apostles themselves; and is therefore still retained and injoined by our church, which obliges all persons coming to be baptised, either by themselves or surețies, to promise and vow, 'That they will re‘nounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities

of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh; 'to believe all the articles of the christian faith; and to keep 'God's holy will and commandments, and to walk in the ' fame all the days of their life,'


Its vows to renounce.

The devil.

His works,

Where, by the devil, we mean all the fallen angels, of which one is chief, prince, or head ; that great enemy of Christ and his church, who, having seduced our first parents, hath ever since had, through God's permission, a great power in the world, and still seeketh our destruction, by tempting us to sin, and then accusing us to God for it. And the works of the devil are all wickednesses and vices, but in particular all idolatry, witchcraft, fortune-telling, and dependence on the creatures: and especially the crimes of which the devil is principally guilty, and tempts men; such as pride, envy, murder in fact or in the heart, lying, deceiving, and misleading, especially in matters of religion. And when we renounce the devil and all his works, we reject and withstand that usurped power and dominion, which he exercises in the world, we resist his personal temptations, and engage in no kind to be partakers of his crimes, as we would not share in his punishment.

By renouncing the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, we are to understand, not that the world, which

The world. God hath created, or any of its natural enjoyments, areevil: but that the things to be renounced are the evil customs of the world, the vicious fashions, and the corrupt practices, that prevailinit; all methods of ambition and grandeur, inconsistent with integrity and virtue ; and all such sorts of diversions and entertainments, as plainly tend to corruptgood manners. And by the vanities of the world we are to understand riches unjustly gotten, or vainly and profusely squandered away in riotous living, or pursued with insatiable covetousness, which leads men into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. Thuschristiansabsolutely renounce the yielding themselves up to all excess either in diet, sports, or apparel; and the setting their hearts upon wealth or greatness of the world, or on those customs and practices of worldiy men, which are in themselves sinful: and they so far renounce the honours and riches of the world, as not to be ambitious of the former, nor covetous of the latter; and, in general, do hereby look upon themselves debarred from having more to do, than what is necessary, with any thing in the world, which may be like to prove an occasion of fin to them, or that may probably tend to turn them from God, and draw off their mind from the other world. As to the sinful lusts of the flesh, that are thus reckoned

up; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lascivioulThe flesh.

ness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, and variance, emulation, wrath, strife, fedition, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such-like: and consequently to renounce all the sinful lusts of the flesh is to avoid adultery and fornication, rioting and drunkenness, and all that filthiness of the flesh and spirit, which is inconsistent with christian purity, and will render us unclean in God's fight. Finally, christians in their baptism absolutely renounce all desires whatsoever, which fasten upon any forbidden, and therefore unlawful object ; fo as never to give any indulgence, or consent to them, much less must they follow, or be led by them to the commission of any sinful act. By the ARTICLEs of the christian faith we are to under

stand all those doctrines of religion, for which we :be cbrifti- have the authority of Christ and his apostles; the en failh.

fundamental points whereof are summed up in that form of found words, which, because it contains the heads of the doctrine preached by the apostles, and was compiled, for the most part, in or near their times, is called the apostles creed: To which we are not only to aslent; but we are also, strictly obliged by our baptismal vow to learn them, both as to the words and meaning of them. For the nature of that faith, which we are to give to the articles of our creed, is such an assent as must be fincerely from the heart; according to that saying in the viiith chapter of Acts, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest be baptised: it must be active, and work by love, and stedfast without wavering ; not only believing the great benefits and promises of God to mankind, but gratefully accepting of the fame, by adutifulobedienceand resignation to God through Chrift: without this, it will little avail us to believe all the articles of the christian faith,


To believe

« PreviousContinue »