« PreviousContinue »
grace. These benefits signified and sealed by baptism are,
[1.] Remission of sins by virtue of the blood of Chrift, Mark i. 4. That as the water washes away the ftains of the body, so the blood of Christ washeth off guilt, and God for the sake of his Son forgives fin. So the apostle prescribes it for the ease of the troubled fouls who were pricked and awakened by his fermon, Acts ii. 37. 38. Repent and be baptized every one of you, says he, in the rame of Jesus Christ, for the remision of fins, that so they might be assured of pardon.
12.] 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, fignified by water, Tit. iii, 5. The Spirit of Christ in regene. ration worketh like water, John iii. 5. cleansing the foul from its impurities, and making it holy. This is necessary to our salvation, since no unclean thing can enter the new Jerusalem; and is fignified and sealed by baptism.
[4.] Resurrection unto life eternal out of the grave by the fame Spirit, Rom. viii. 11. That baptism has an eye to this, appears from 1 Cor. xv. 29. Else what jhall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not? And it is represented by the water's going off the baptized, though more lively by the coming up out of it in dipping.
3. To fignity 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 baptized is folemnly given up to God the Fa:her, 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 declareu acceptance of God's covenant offered in the gospel.
IV. I come to shew who are the subjects of baptifin, those to who baptison is to be adminiitered. “ tilın is not to be administered to any that are it' “ of the visible church, till they profess their fait: in “ Christ, and obedience to hin; but the infants of • such as are members of the visible church are to be “ baptized.”
Negatively, (1.) Not any inanimate things, as bells, which the Papiits do, thereby horribly profaning the feal of God's covenant. (2.) Nor yet infidels, who are without the visible church, and so itran 'ers from the covenants of promise, who therefore can have 110 right to the seals, while they continue fo, Eph. ii. 12.
Positively, All those and those only who are within the covenant, without distinction of nation, sex, or age. This is clear from the institution, of discipling all nations, and then baptizing them. So whosoever they are who come into Christ's school, and are members of his visible church, are to be baptized, and none other. So,
1. Those who are of age, whatever they have been before, are to be baptized, upon their making a credible profeflion of their faith in Christ, and obedience to him: Because in that case the church is to look upon them as within 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 thein a
it before the church. Both of these are plain in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts viii. 37. 38. and Peter's hearers, Act ii. 38.
2. The infants of believing parents, or visible church-members, one or both, are to be baptized : Because they are to be looked upon as within the covent, fince it runs so, I will be thy God, and the God of tby feed, &c. Gen. xvii. 7. Acts iï. 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 circumcised under the Old Testament, and the grace of God is not narrower now than it was then. They are comprehended in the institution, as making a part of nations, and are reckoned disciples, Acts xv. 10. And so the apostles baptized whole families, as Paul and Silas that of the jailor, Acts xvi. 15. 33. and Paul that of Stephanas, i Cor. i. 16. And it is sufficient if one of the parents be a church-member, though the other be not, 1 Cor.
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 baptized party, 1 Pet. iii. 2 I.
2. It is not effećtual 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 baptized in their infancy do testify.
3. It is not tied to the moment of administration, but though not effectual in the time it is administered, may afterwards 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 falvation, as if the simple want thereof could hinder salvation. For God has not made baptifin and faith equally necessary, Mark xvi. 16. And circumcifion was not to be administered before the eighth day, Gen. xvii. 12*,
* The words are, And be that is eight days old shall be circumcised among ybu, every man-child in your generations. The author, in his manuícript on Genesis, renders the words thus. “ And one going on eight days; be shall be circumcised for you; [even] every male ; ubrougbo out your generations. That is, thould one cnce be going on eight days,
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 fin, and a great one, that will damn men, unless it bę pardoned through the blood of Christ, Luke vii. 30. But this contempt cannot be ascribed to the child, before he come to the years of discretion, and so cannot involve him in guilt; but unto the parents. So that Gen. xvii. 14. is to be understood of the child come to years *. then he is bound by this law, . Before he is of that age, he is not obliged to bę circumcised: but on the eighth day he falls under the obligation to it, which still abides on him thereafter, during his uncir. cumcifion. Compare ver, 14. And every male was to be circumcised for the family of Abraham, or in their name, see the note, above, P. 352. ; 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 almost 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
Whence it appears, what ground there is for Christians improving the adminiftra.ion of baptifm 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. baptized for the dead. Baptism, as often as it is adminiitered according to Christ's inititution, 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 covenant: the resurrection of the dead saints is a special benefit of the covenant, in virtue of it fecured to them, even as remiffion of fin to the living, Mar. xxii. 31. 32.; and the church militant and triumphant are but one body, all of them together being embodied in one covenant, Eph. iv. 4. i Cor. xļi. 13. : therefore, baptism being adminiltered to the faithful for this end, is vain, if there is no resurreclion of the dead."
The words are, And ihe uncircumcised man-child, whole flesh of his foreskin is not circumcijed, that soul fhall be cut off from his people : he hath broken wiy covenant, The author, in the aforementioned work, thus translates and comments on the words. “ And as for an uncircumcised onę a male; who fall not crop, even the flesh of his foreskin; i. c. a male, whether of Abraham's own feed, or born in the houle, or acquired by money; who being come to the years of dif. cretion (the jews say the thirteeoth year of his age), his circumcision having been neglected by his parents or master, thall not then fee ta his own circumcifion effcctually; he shall be liabl: as tuliows.
A few inferences shall conclude this subject.
Inf. 1. Baptism is not to be administered to any perfon oitener than once. 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 inftitution. It is a gross neglect, that we are not often putting the question to ourselves, Into what was I baptized? Alas! many make no more use of their baptismı rightly, than if they had never been baptized. Though ye were but once baptized, ye should be improving it all your life long, and particularly when ye fee others baptized.
(1.) improve it for raising your hearts in thankfulnels to God, that ever ye were sealed with the seal of God's covenant, and had his name called on you, while many in the world are utter strangers to the covenants of promise.
(2.) Iinprove it for your strengthening against temptation; considering that you are the Lord's, not your own, and are under the most folemn and awful engagement to God, to resist the devil, the world, and the flesh ; and also drawing strength from the death Then in that case that person even that, shall be cut off from his people whatsoever: i.e. Such a one is guilty, and of whattoever people he be, hr thall be cut off from his people, by death ; which he ihall be put to, for his contempt, whether by the hand of the magistrate, or otherwise. ---Even my covenant he both mode void: i. e. He hath thrown it away, or trampled it under foot, as refuse. The punishment to be in. fličied, is not more severe, than the crime is atrocious. The criminal had free access to the covenant of grace, with the righteousne's of faith, and all the her benefits of it; whether he was of Abraham's feed, or not ; being incorporated with Abraham's family; he was under the obligation of a law, to receive the covenant, personally 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 refusing is told him. But he contemns the feel; he will not circumcise himself. Thus he makes voia the covenant;, making the device of heaven for salvation, useless and of none effect to himself, by bis obftinacy: he contempluously throws it away from him, as empty kuflis, dregs, and refuje, in which there is no force nor energy, no 4,1 Du Jarcur ; and treads it undir fout. Comp. Heb. X. 28. 29: