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sacraments, which are common to baptism and the Lord's supper, the particular uses and ends of baptism are these. 1. To be a rite of solemn admission into the visible church, Matth. xxviii. 19. 1 Cor. xii. 13; and so to the visible church privileges, Rom. xi. 17. It supposes the party to have a right to these privileges before, and does not make them members of the visible church, but admits them solemnly thereto. And therefore it is neither to be called nor accounted christening, i. e, making them Christians: for the infants of believing parents are born within the covenant, and so are Christians and visible church members; and by baptism this right of theirs is acknowledged, and they are solemnly admitted to the privileges of churchmembership.
2. To signify and seal to the party saving privileges and benefits for his eternal salvation, which it actually doth in all those to whom it is effectual, though it is not effectual to all. These benefits are,
(1.) Ingrafting into Christ, or union with him, Gal. iii. 27. We are naturally branches of the old Adam, from whom we can derive nothing but sin and the curse. Christ the second Adam is the true vine into which we are ingrafted, or to whom we are united, John xv, 5. The Spirit is the ingrafter, who, by the knife of the law cuts us off from the old stock, Gal. ii. 19. and puts us into Christ, winding us up with the band of the covenant of grace, and causing us to knit with him by faith, Eph, iii. 17. This is signified and sealed by baptism, while so Christ does solemnly take possession of us, being baptised in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
(2.) Partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace. These benefits signified and sealed by baptism are,
[1.] Remission of sins by virtue of the blood of Christ, Mark i. 4. That as the water washes away the stains of the body, so the blood of Christ, washeth off guilt; and God, for the sake of his Son, forgives sin. So the apostle prescribes it for the ease of the troubled souls who were pricked and awakened by his sermon, Acts ii, 37, 38. • Repent and be baptised every one of you (says he), in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins,' that so they might be assured of pardon.
[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, without 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: 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 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, 1 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 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 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 cannot 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 manufcript on Genefis, renders the words thus: "And one going on eight days; he fhall be circumcifed for you; [even] every male; throughout your generations." That is, fhould one once be going on eight days, then he is bound by this law. Before he is of that age, he is not oblig ed to be circumcised: but on the eighth day he falls under the obliga tion to it, which still abides on him thereafter, during his uncircum. cifion. Compare ver. 14. And every male was to be circumcised for the family of Abraham, or in their name; fee the note above, p. 283; and this throughout their generations fucceffively, during the whole time of the being of circumcifion as a divine ordinance. By this conftitution there would be almoft a continual renewing of the feal of the covenant among them; and that refpecting not only the party circumcifed at the time, but the whole body of the people, men and women. Whence it appears, what ground there is for Chriftians improving the adminiftration of baptifm to infants, time after time for the confirming of their own faith of the covenant. Compare with this phrafe, circumcifed for you, 1 Cor. xv. 29; baptifed for the dead, Baptifm, as often as it is adminiftered according to Chrift'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 covenant: the refurrection of the dead faints is a special benefit of the covenant, in virtue of it secured to them, even as remiffion of fin to the living, Mat. 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. 1 Cor. xii. 13; therefore baptifm being adminiftered to the faithful for this end, is vain, if there is no refurrection of the dead.
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
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 rege, nerated.
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
The words are, " And the uncircumcifed man-child, whofe flesh of his foreskin is not circumcifed, that foul fhall be cut off from his people ; he hath broken my covenant." The author, in the aforementioned work, thus tranflates and comments on the words: "And as for an uncircum→ cifed one a male; who fhall not crop, even the flesh of his foreskin ;” i. e. a male, whether of Abraham's own feed, or born in the house, or acquired by money; who being come to the years of difcretion (the Jews fay the thirteenth year of his age), his circumcifion having been neglected by his parents or mafter, fhall not then fee to his own circumcifion, effectually, he fhall be liable as follows." Then in that cafe that perfon, even that, fhall be cut off from his people whatsoever," i e. Such a one is guilty, and of whatsoever people he be, he fhall be cut off from his people, by death; which he fhall be put to, for his contempt, whether by the hand of the magistrate, or otherwife.-Even my covenant he hath made void, i.e. He hath thrown it away, or trampled it under foot, as refufe. The punishment to be inflicted is not more severe than the crime is atrocious. The criminal had free access to the covenant of grace, with the righteoufnefs of faith, and all the other 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 per fonally to enter into it; and in token thereof, to receive the feal of it, ver. 11, 12, 13; he is come to years, and capable of judging for himself; and the hazard of refuling is told him. But he contemns the feal; he will not circumcife himself. Thus he makes void the covenant; making the device of heaven for falvation useless and of none effect to himself by his 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.