Page images
PDF
EPUB

" understand, but the wise shall under" stand.”

I am aware how frequently this doctrine has led to enthusiastic rapture and fanatical devotion. But this observation implies no censure on the profession of the doctrine itself. That is the doctrine of scripture; it is the doctrine of the church. But neither scripture, nor the interpretation of scripture by the church, countenances extravagance of conduct. Though founded on proper principles, on such occasions the mind deviates into error. It mistakes the feelings of the man, for the ordinary, but imperceptible influences of the spirit.

" The .'' wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but cảnst not “ tell whence it cometh,' or whither it goeth : so is every one who is born of the spirit.—The wisdoin which is from above “ is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and

easy to be intreated, full of mercy ani!

good fruits, without partiality (without " wrangling or contentions) and without hypocrisy." G6

In

In discussing the superior importance of inward evidence I would not be thought to discourage the researches of the learned in developing the outward testimonies of the gospel. In a polished age it

may

be necessary to respect even the prejudices of the scholar: it may be necessary also sometimes to use the scholar's argument in replying to a lettered infidel. But the scholar himself must be satisfied how defective the acutest logic would be in converting an uninstructed Indian, or an unlettered native of Otaheite. Nay, he will be certain, that however his own understanding may be convinced by arguments of human reason, he will find his heart unaffected, till he be made sensible of the benefit of a divine Teacher. It is he, and he alone, who performs the duties of his religion, that possesses an effectual evidence within his own breast, and can distinguish the doctrines of the gospel to be the doctrines of God.

No XV. No XV.

On the Necessity and Duty of Baptism.

To his great baptism Aock'd
With awe, the regions round.-

MILTON.

To connect ourselves with that society which offers such great and precious promises to the world as that of the christian institution, must be the great object, the great delight of every person whose heart is improved by contemplation. It is impossible to peruse the early history of christianity, without perceiving that an act of introduction was considered as indispensably necessary to all those who were to be admitted into the fellowship of Christ's religion. Innmersion, or sprinkling with water, was that act of admission which our Saviour adopted, in imitation of a similar ceremony, by which proselytes were admitted to all the privileges

of

of the Jewish church. Indeed it appears to have been a well-known practice in our Saviour's time; for the Pharisees express no wonder when they behold John baptizing with water, as they certainly would have done had it been an unusual ceremony; but simply question his authority---" why

baptizest thou then, if thou be not that 66 Christ?"

An enumeration of passages to prove the necessity of baptism is needless; for every one in the primitive church who received the gospel, subniitted to this ceremony, nay, flocked, for this important purpose, from all the regions round. , With few exceptions this mode of introduction has been practised in a succession of ages by almost every description of christians. Though at some periods a discussion has arisen between the baptism of infants and of adults, still the great necessity of it was admitted by the disputants on every side: and if it were not for the progress of scepticism on the one hand, by which the present age is justly stigmatized, and for the lukewarmness of our own professors on the other, I should

not

not have thought it necessary at this time to have adopted this subject of meditation.

How, few, alas !. even of those who bring children to the font, flock with awe to this great baptism! They consider it as a family festival-a festival indeed it is, but not of dissipation. The essence of the ceremony is too frequently lost in its formality, I know not a more pathetic incident than the baptism of an infant. A human being, with its eye just opening on the world, presented, free from actual guilt, before that God who created it; dedicated to that Saviour, with, out whose benevolence it had better never been born; receiving, in so solemn a mans ner, the effusion of that Spirit which is to direct its future steps through inany ą turbulent and uneasy scene, offers to the mind a more affecting combination of circumstances than any other event of human life. At death the race is run; hope and apprehension are equally extinct. But those who know the world, are satisfied what severe difficulties and trials the yet harmless infant must necessarily encounter. Let the parent,

standing

« PreviousContinue »