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They doubtless thought that His time would be better employed in teaching them, than in attending to children; that it was interfering with His usefulness. “ But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased $.” These are remarkable words : “much displeased,"—that is, He was uneasy, indignant, angry (as the Greek word may be more literally translated); and we are told “ He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them.” CHRIST, then, can bless infants, in spite of their being to all appearance as yet incapable of thought or feeling. He can, and did, bless them ; and, in the very sense in which they then were blessed, we believe they are capable of a blessing in Baptism.
3. And we may add this consideration. It is certain that children ought to be instructed in religious truth, as they can bear it, from the very first dawn of reason; clearly, they are not to be left without a Christian training till they arrive at years of maturity. Now, let it be observed, Christ seems distinctly to connect teaching with Baptism, as if He intended to convey through it a blessing upon teaching,—“Go ye and teach all the nations, baptizing them.” If children, then, are to be considered as under teaching, as learners in the school of Christ, surely they should be admitted into that school by Baptism.
These are the reasons for Infant Baptism which strike the mind, even on the first consideration of the subject; and in the absence of express information from Scripture, they are (as far as they go) satisfactory. At what age should we be baptized ? I answer, in childhood; because all children require divine pardon and grace (as our Saviour Himself implies), all are capable of His blessing (as His action shows), all are invited to His blessing, and Baptism is a pledge from Him of His favour, as His Apostles frequently declare. Since infants are to be brought to Christ, we must have invented a rite, if Baptism did not answer the purpose of a dedication. Again, I say, in childhood; because all children need Christian instruction, and Baptism is a badge and mark of a scholar in Christ's school. And moreover, I will add, because St. Paul speaks of the children of Christian parents as being "holy," in a favoured state, a state of unmerited
3 Mark x. 14.
blessing; and because he seems to have baptized at once whole families, where the head of the family was converted to the faith of the Gospel “.
To conclude. Let me beg of all who hear me, and who wish to serve God, to remember, in their ordinary prayers, their habitual thoughts, the daily business of life, that they were once baptized. If Baptism be merely a ceremony, to be observed indeed, but then at once forgotten,-a decent form, which it would neither be creditable nor for temporal reasons expedient to neglect,-it is most surely no subject for a Christian minister to speak of ; Christ's religion has no fellowship with bare forms, and no where encourages mere outward observances. If, indeed, there be
any who degrade Baptism into a mere ceremony, which has in it no spiritual promise, let such men look to it for themselves, and defend their practice of baptizing infants as they can. But for me, my brethren, I would put it before you as a true and plain pledge, without reserve, of God's grace given to the souls of those who receive it; not a mere form, but a real means and instrument of blessing verily and indeed received ; and, as being such, I warn you to remember what a talent has been committed to you. There are very many persons who do not think of Baptism in this religious point of view; who are in no sense in the habit of blessing God for it, and praying Him for His further grace to profit by the privileges given them in it; who, when even they pray for grace, do not ground their hope of being heard and answered, on the promise of blessing in Baptism made to them ; above all, who do not fear to sin after Baptism. This is of course an omission ; in many cases it is a sin. Let us set ourselves right in this respect. Nothing will remind us more forcibly both of our advantages and our duties ; for from the very nature of our minds outward signs are especially calculated (if rightly used) to strike, to affect, to subdue, to change them.
Blessed is he who makes the most of the privileges given him, who takes them for a light to his feet and a lanthorn to his path. We have had the Sign of the Cross set on us in infancy,—shall we ever forget it? It is our profession. We had the water poured on us,-it was like the blood on the door-posts, when
41 Cor. vii. 14.
Acts xvi. 15. 33.
the destroying Angel passed over.
Let us fear to sin after grace given, lest a worse thing come upon us. Let us aim at learning these two great truths :—that we can do nothing good without God's grace, yet that we can sin against that grace; and thus that it may be made the cause, on the one hand, of our gaining eternal life, and, on the other, eternal misery.
THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH.
Matt. xvi, 18.
“ And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church ; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Too many persons at this day,—in spite of what they see before them, in spite of what they read in history,—too many persons forget, or deny, or do not know, that Christ has set up a Kingdom in the world. In spite of the prophecies, in spite of the Gospels and Epistles, in spite of their eyes and their ears,whether it be their sin or their misfortune, so it is,—they do not obey Him in that way in which it is His will that He should be obeyed. They do not obey Him in His Kingdom ; they think to be His people, without being His subjects. They determine to serve Him in their own way; and though He has formed His chosen into one body, they think to separate from the body, yet to remain in the pumber of the chosen.
Far different is the doctrine suggested to us by the text. In St. Peter, who is there made the rock on which the Church is founded, we see, as in a type, its unity, stability, and permanence. It is set up in one name, not in many, to show that it is one; and that name is Peter, to show that it will last, or, as the Divine Speaker proceeds, that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” In like manner, St. Paul calls it, “ the pillar and ground of the truth ?."
11 Tim. iii. 15.
This is a subject especially brought before us at this time of year?, and it may be well now to enlarge upon it.
Now that all Christians are, in some sense or other, one, in our Lord's eyes, is plain, from various parts of the New Testament. In His mediatorial prayer for them to the Almighty FATHER, before His passion, He expressed His purpose that they should be one. St. Paul, in like manner, writing to the Corinthians, says,
As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is CHRIST.
Now ye are the Body of Christ, and members in particular.” To the Ephesians, he says, “There is one Body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling : one LORD, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all 3.”
And, further, it is to this one Body, regarded as one, that the special privileges of the Gospel are given. It is not that this man receives the blessing, and that man, but one and all, the whole body, as one man, one new spiritual man, with one accord, seeks and gains it. The Holy Church throughout the world, the Bride, the LAMB's wife,” is one, not many, and the elect souls are all elected in her, not in isolation. For instance : He is our peace who hath made both [Jews and Gentiles] one,
to make in HIMSELF of twain one new man." In the same Epistle, it is said, that all nations are “ fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and fellow-partakers of His promise in Christ;" and that we must “one and all come,” or converge, “ in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;" that as • the husband is the head of the wife,” so “ Christ is the Head of the Church,” having “loved it and given HIMSELF for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word *.” These are a few out of many passages, which connect Gospel privileges with the circumstance or condition of unity in those who receive them ; the image of CHRIST and token of their acceptance being stamped upon them then, at
2 Easter and Whitsuntide. 3 John xvii. 23. 1 Cor. xii. 12.' Eph. iv. 4-6. 4
Eph. ii. 14; iii. 6 ; iv. 13; v. 23–26.