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toms, to which any one who fears God cannot consistently conform.
The result is this: The Baptismal Promise is hos tile to any practice of the world, which involves impiety, or cruelty, or sensuality; but it has nothing to do with a conformity to usages innocent in themselves, although liable to be made criminal-as any usage may be-by abuse. And especially if the word "pomps" should be construed as applying to appearances which custom has rendered suitable to the dif ferent spheres of different people, the sentiment is disproved by the introduction of the term as already stated, and by the sense which has been attached to it at all times. This is not said, without the recollection of its being liable to be perverted to the countenancing of levity. Had a contrary principle been inculcated, it would have been equally liable to the abuse, which one of the ancient prophets had in view, when he spoke of those who "wore a rough garment to deceive." On either of the sides of the line of rectitude, there is sin. The best way of avoiding both, will be to follow the example of the primitive Christians, as it is thus described by an intelligent author, who wrote about forty years after the death of the last of the apostles, and who finally died a martyr. Speaking of the exteriour demeanour of the professors of the faith, he says" They affected nothing fantastick, but living among Greeks and Barbarians"—that is, some among one and some among the other of these sorts of people" they followed the customs of the country"He means of the different countries which they respectively inhabited:-"and"-thus he continues" in clothes, and in diet, and in all other af fairs of outward life, they showed the excellent and admirable constitution of their discipline and conversation." Of what the Church means by the expression "the sinful lusts of the flesh," there can be no uncertainty; when they are so copiously enumerated in scripture, where it is said-"The works of the flesh are
Zach. xiii. 4. Justin Martyr's Apology.
manifest, which are these-adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, sedition, heresies, envyings, murder, drunkenness, revellings: and lest there should have been any thing omitted in the hateful list, the apostle adds "and such like; of the which"-he continues-"I tell you before, as I also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."*
Of the black catalogue of evils here enumerated, it is evident, that some are the growth of inordinate passions, the very first motions of which are sinful; while others are the excess of inward and necessary properties of our nature, in contrariety to the reasonable precept of using "the world without abusing it." In regard both to the one and to the other, the scriptural admonitions apply-" If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live:" and, "He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; and he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting "+
These three enemies, then-the devil, the world and the flesh-are what, in the Baptismal Promise, we "renounce:" on which last word it is to the purpose to remark, that there could hardly have been any stronger chosen, to express the rejection of them, not in act merely, but in affection; and not partially, but entirely, and in all their relations: a weighty work, and not to be accomplished, without the help of considerations furnished in the next step of the Catechism, to which we may now proceed.
For the catechist demanding: "Dost thou not think that thou art bound to believe and to do as they have promised for thee?" the interrogated party answers: "Yes, verily, and by God's help, so I will: and I heartily thank our heavenly Father that he hath called me to this state of salvation through Jesus
Gal. v. 19. 1 Cor. vii, 31. Rom. viii. 13.
Christ our saviour. And I pray unto God to give me his grace, that I may continue in the same unto my life's end."
"Yes, verily." There is a vehemence in these words, which seems to have influenced to the choice of them, with a view to the excitement of fervent determination. Accordingly, this succeeds-"and by God's help so I will." The resolution is well formed; but is perfected by a reference to the divine aid, without which we can do nothing. The best security for the intended improvement of that aid, is gratitude for the benefit already bestowed, of being "called into a state of salvation, through Jesus Christ our saviour." For here it may be still seen, that the party is contemplated as having been brought into the state of salvation by baptism. But in consideration of the danger of falling from that state, there is subjoined a prayer for continuance: a prayer for grace, by which alone continuance can be secured. To complete the series of sentiment, it is added-"unto my life's end:" in order to intimate, that, while life shall last, there will be still danger of a fall; which grace only, cooperating with our own watchfulness, can prevent.
As the Catechism was expected to be learned in infancy, it may seem to some useless, to put into the mouths of very young persons, words so weighty in sense, to be pronounced by them, as expressive of their own opinion and purpose. But this is a refinement, the futility of which will appear, on a comparison of the subject with the most ordinary duties, of life; which we are taught to revere, before we can comprehend the grounds of them in reason and in nature. The objection ought, however, so far to carry weight with it, as to show the necessity of calling the attention of persons, arrived at years of intelligence, to the full force of words which they have repeated, without understanding them, in their infancy; so as to give the purpose expressed in them the full weight of deliberate and rational conviction; and so as to accompany their prayers for grace, with sensibility of the need of it.
It was intimated in the beginning, that wherever our Catechism inculcates any thing contrary to the confessions of other societies of professing Christians, some proof should be given of the soundness of our faith.
One prominent property of it, is its affirming, that all persons, duly introduced into the Church of Christ by baptism-there being repentance and faith in adults, and a reasonable prospect of religious education in the case of infants-are made Christians in the true and proper sense of the terms: that they are not merely, as some say, members of the visible church; but that they are, according to a familiar phrase of known meaning, in a state of grace. The phrases full to this point, were noticed as we went along. If they could be thought ambiguous, their sense would be fixed by our baptismal services; in which the minister, before the pouring of water, prays for the regeneration of those to be baptized; and afterwards, gives thanks for the same.* It is one effect of this sentiment, that in the service of the Church of England, after the baptism of infants, there is added the declaration-"It is certain by God's word, that children which are baptized, dying before they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly saved." The Church, however much she left to private opinion and to hope, limited her decisions within the declaration of God's word: but on this ground she thought, that she might declare not her hope, but her certainty concerning baptized infants.†
How far we differ, in this respect, from some other Christian communions, may be seen in their catechisms; in which they make a distinction of "elect infants," who only arc declared to be included within the promises of salvation.
The renunciations are strongly to the same point: for although they proceed from the mouths of the sponsors; yet it is in a form, by which they personate those for whom they stand; and who, therefore, would not appear in their proper character, but on the principle here maintained.
+ It has been left out of the liturgy of the American church, perhaps unnecessarily; lest it should seem impliedly to countenance the notion that unbaptised infants are not saved.
But the opinion the most pointedly opposed to the decisions of our Church on the present subject, is that of the persons who suppose all baptized infants to remain under the condemning effects of the sin of Adam, and to be the objects of the wrath of God, until relieved from that condition by conversion. It must be perceived, that against this theory, there is a testimony born by our Church, in the institutions which have been referred to; and it is not only in them but in other offices, in the Thirty Nine Articles, in the homilies, and in many of the prayers. In short, from baptized persons, our Church demands no other conversion, than that which is from a state of sin, if they have unhappily fallen into it. Then indeed it is demanded of them, under the weight of the considerations of the sorer punishment of which they will be otherwise thought worthy; because of the benefits which they have slighted, and of the holy estate which they have abandoned.*
Some of the scriptural authorities by which the doctrine of our Church may be sustained, are as follows:
1. The terms "Regeneration" and "Born again,' are put in connexion with baptism by water. Thus, the ordinance is called "the washing," or, as it might be translated-"the laver of regeneration." And in the gospel of St. John, our Lord, after having said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God," explains himself afterwards more fully thus, "Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
2. There is the passage quoted by our baptismal service, from the tenth chapter of the gospel of St.
It is not however to be denied, that there are too few instances, in which there is not required a restoration to grace, through the door of repentance. This necessity is not in the subject; but is generally owing to the negligence and the ungodliness of parents; and of others on whom there rests the duty of using every means in their power, for the preserving of the innocency of those committed to their charge. 3 Ch. v. 3.
+ Titus 3. 5.