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[2.] Adoption into the family of God, Gal. iii. 26, 27. We are by nature out of God's family: but here God's name is called upon us, and we are visibly taken into the visible family of God; and having his Spirit dwelling in us, we are really taken into the family; which is signified and sealed by baptism.
[3.] Regeneration by the Spirit of Christ, signified by water, Tit. iii. 5. The Spirit of Christ in regeneration worketh like water, John iii
. 5. cleansing the soul from its impurities and making it holy. This is necessary to our salvation, since no unclean thing can enter the New Jerusalem; and is signified and sealed by baptism.
(4.) Resurrection unto life eternal out of the grave by the same Spirit, Rom. viii. 11. That baptism has an eye to this,'appears from 1 Cor. xv. 29. ·Else what shall they do which are baptised for the dead, if the dead rise not?' And it is represented by the water's going off the baptised, though more lively by the coming up out of it in dipping.
3. To signify and seal our engagement to be the Lord's, to be his only, wholly and for ever, Rom. vi. 4. It is a dedicating ordinance, wherein the party baptised is solemnly given up to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. His ear is bored, that he may be the Lord's servant for ever. He is listed under Christ's banner, to fight against the devil, the world, and the flesh. He renounces sin and Satan, these his old masters, as being dead to sin, that he may live in newness of life. And, in a word, it is a declared acceptance of God's covenant offered in the gospel.
IV. I come to shew, who are the subjects of baptism, those to whom baptism is to be administered. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him ; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptised.'
Negatively, (1.) Not any inanimate things, as bells, which the Papists do thereby horribly profaning the seal of God's covenant. (2.) Nor yet infidels, who are without the visible church, and so strangers from the covenants of promise, who therefore can have no right to the seals, while they continue so, Eph. ii. 12.
Positively, All those, and those only, who are within the covenant, withoạt distinction of nation, sex, or age. This is clear from the institution, of discipling all nations, and then baptising them. So whosoever they are who come into Christ's school, and are members of his visible church, are to be baptised, and none other. So,
1. Those who are of age, whatever they have been be. fore, are to be baptised, upon their making a credible profession of their faith in Christ, and obedience to him : Be. cause in that case the church is to look upon them as with. in the covenant. It is true, if they be not sincere believers, they have not a right to it before God; but their credible profession gives them a right to it before the church. Both of these are plain in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts viii. 37, 38; and Peter's hearers, Acts ii. 38.
2. The infants of believing parents, or visible churchmembers, one or both, are to be baptised: Because they are to be looked upon as within the covenant, since it runs so, I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed,' &c. Gen. xvii. 7; Acts ii. 38, 39; And the benefits of the covenant belong to them, Matth. xix. 14 ; who then can forbid them the seal of the covenant? They were circum, cised under the Old Testament, and the grace of God is not narrower now than it was then. They are comprehended under the institution, as making a part of nations, and are reckoned disciples, Acts xv. 10; And so the apostles baptised whole families, as Paul and Silas that of the gaoler, Acts xvi 15, 33; and Paul that of Stephanas, 1 Cor. i. 16; And it is sufficient if one of the parents be a churchmember, though the other be not, i Cor, vii, 14,
V. As to the efficacy of baptism, we may observe three things.
1. It consists in effectual sealing and applying Christ and his benefits to the baptised party, 1 Pet. iii. 21.
2. It is not effectual to all that receive it, as appears from the case of Simon, who after baptism remained in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity, Acts viii. 13, 23; And this the unholy lives of many baptised in their in fancy do testify. 3. It is not tied to the moment of administration, but
though not effectual in the time it is administered, may af. terwards be effectual, through the working of the Spirit, John iii. 5, 8.
VI. As to the necessity of baptism, two things are to be observed.
1. It is not of absolute necessity to salvation as if the simple want thereof could hinder salvation; for God has not made baptism and faith equally necessary, Mark xvi. 16; And circumcision was not to be administered before the eighth day, Gen. xvii. 12*;' though there is no reason to doubt but some Jewish infants died before that time.
2. It is necessary by divine precept, as an instituted means of salvation. So that the contempt of it is a sin, and a great one, that will damn men, unless it be pardoned through the blood of Christ, Luke vii, 30; but this contempt can not be ascribed to the child, before he comes to the years
* The words are, “ And he that is eight days old fhall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations." The author, in his manuscript on Genesis, renders the words thus : “ And one going on eight days; he shall be circumcised for you ; [even] every male; throughout your generations." That is, should one once be going on eight days, then he is bound by this law. Before he is of that age, he is not obligo ed to be circumcised: but on the eighth day he falls under the abliga. tion to it, which still abides on him thereafter, during his uocircum. cigion. Compare ver. 14. And every male was to be circumcised for the family of Abraham, or in their name ; see the note above, po 283 ; and this throughout their generations successively, during the whole time of the being of circumcision as a divine ordinance. By this conftitution there would be almoft a continual renewing of the seal of the covenant among them; and that respecting not only the party circumcised at the time, but the whole body of the people, men and women. Whence it appears, what ground there is for Christians im. proving the adminiftration of baptism to infants, time after time for the confirming of their own faith of the covenant. Compare with this phrase, circumcised for you, 1 Cor. xv. 29; baptised for the dead, Baptism, as often as it is administered according to Christ's inftitution, doth by his appointment feal the whole benefits of the covenant of grace, not only to the party receiver, but the whole of the body, within the covehant : the resurrection of the dead saints is a special benefit of the covenant, in virtue of it secured to them, even as remiffion of Gin to the living, Mat. xxii. 31, 32; and the church mili:ant and triumphant arę but one body, all of them together being embodied in one covenant, Eph. ir. 4. i Cor. xii. 13; therefore baptism being administered to the faithful for this end, is vain, if there is no resurrection of the dead.
of discretion, and so cannot involve him in guilt; bist unto the parents. So that Gen. xvii, 14 ; is to be understood of the child come to years
A few inferences shall conclude this subject.
Inf. 1. Baptism is not to be administered to any person oftener than one. This is plain from the nature of the ordinance, Tit. iii. 5; we being but once ingrafted and regenerated.
2. Improve your baptism agreeable to the nature of it, and the ends of its institution. It is a gross neglect, that we are not often putting the question to ourselves, Into what was I baptised ? Alas! many make no more use of their baptism rightly, than if they had never been baptised. Though ye were but once baptised, ye should be improving it all your life long, and particularly when you see others baptised.
(1.) Improve it for raising your hearts in thankfulness to God, that ever ye were sealed with the seal of God's covenant, and had liis name called on you, while many in the world are utter strangers to the covenants of promise.
* The words are, “ And the uncircumcised man-child, whose fera of his foreskin is not circumcised, that foul shall be cut off from his people ; he hath broken my covenant." The author, in the aforementioned work, thus translates and comments on the words : “ And as for an uncircum. ciled one a male; who shall not crop, even the Belh of his foreskin ;" i. e. a male, whether of Abraham's own seed, or born in the house, or acquired by money; who being come to the years of discretion (the Jews fay the thirteenth year of his age), his circumcision baving been neglected by his parents or master, shall not then fee to his own circumcifion, effe&tual. ly, he shall be liable as follows." Then in that case that person, even sbat, shall be cut off from his people whatsoever," i e.
Such a one is guilty, and of whatsoever people he be, he shall be cut off from his people, by death ; which he fhall be put to, for lủis contempt, whether by the hand of the magistrate, or otherwise. Even my covenant he hath made void, i.e. He hath thrown it away, or trampled it under foot, as refuse. The punilhment to be indicted is not more severe than the crime is atrocious. The criminal had free access to the covenant of grace, with the righteoufness of faith, and all the other benefits of it ; whether he was of Abraham's seed or not; being incorporated with Abraham's family: he was under the obligation of a law to receive the covenant per. fooally to enter into it, and in token thereof, to receive the seal of it, ver. 11, 12, 13; he is come to years, and capable of judging for himself ; and the hazard of refugng is told him. But he contemns the seal; he will not circumcise himself. Thus he makes void the covenant ; making the device of heaven for salvation useless and of none effect to himself by bis obftinacy: he contemptuously throws it away from him as empty husks, dregs, and refuse, in which there is no force nor energy, no sap, no savour; and treads it under foot. Comp. Heb. x. 28, 29.
(2.) Improve it for your strengthening against tempta. tion, considering that you are the Lord's, not your own, and are under the most solemn and awful engagement to God, to resist the devil, the world, and the flesh; and also drawing strength from the death, and resurrection of Christ, into whom ye were baptised, Rom. vi. 4.
(s.) Improve it for your humiliation under your sins and miscarriages, considering them as sins against the grace of baptism, and your engagements to God therein; remembering that sins after solemn engagements to the contrary, are highly offensive to God, and attended with more aggravating circumstances, than if you had never been baptised, and such solemn engagements entered into by you. The vows of God are upon you; break them not, and go not about after vows to make inquiry.
(4.) Improve your baptism to the strengthening of your faith and confidence in Jesus Christ, especially in downcastings under a sense of guilt; for it is a sign and seal of remission, adoption, &c. and so may answer the question to an exercised soul, How can I be put among the children?
(5.) Improve it to the vigorous exercise of, and growth in holiness, since thereby ye are engaged to newness of life, as ye are raised from the dead, Rom. vi. 4. Were ye dedicated unto God, does not that say ye should be holy in heart, lip, and life? As God is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of life and conversation; remembering that without holiness no man shall see the Lord.
(6.) Lastly, Improve it to the increase of brotherly love, even love to all the saints, who are all baptised into one body, 1 Cor. xii. 13; It is as unnatural for saints not to love one another, or to quarrel with one another, as it is for the members of the natural body to be at war with each other. Then love one another, as Christ hath loved
* See more of this subject in the author's sermons on church.com. munion, first prioted in 1737.