Imágenes de páginas

dren in mind of their Christian Profession, of which the Name is the outward Badge or Cognizance; and therefore is call'd the Christian Name, because we receive that and our Christianity together. So that by asking the Name here, is in effect to ask, What Religion you are of? Whofe Followers are you? Or by whofe Name are you called? Which is a sit Entrance or Beginning of a Catechetical Instruction. So that this Question is not so vain arid useless, as some may imagine or object ; being so well suited to the tender Years of .Children, and so eafy an Introduction to farther and more useful Instructions.

But for the better understanding hereof, we may observe farther, That every one beareth at least two Names:

The one is that of the Stock, Family dr Kindred, to which they belong; and this they have by Descent from their Parents, whofe Name they bear, and which is generally styl'd the Sirname.

The other is a Name of Grace and Favour, added or given in our Baptism, or Admission into the Church; and this is call'd the Christian Name. The former signisies that we are Men belonging to the Family of our Parents and Kindred; the latter, that we are Chrillians, engrafted into Christ's Family, and bear his Name.

And this may suggest the Reason, why the Christian Name is ever plac'd before the Sirname, it being a Title importing a nobler Descent and Dignity. 'Tis a higher Honour to be a Christian, than to be a Man; by the one we are miserable, by the other in a way of being happy: our spiritual Regeneration in Christ, is a matter of greater Comfort and better Hope than our natural Generation 5 and our Admission into the Church, of much greater consequence than our Entrance into the World: since by this we enter into a Valecf'Tears and Sorrow; by the other we are led there, where all T"ears shatl be wiped from our Eyes, and Sighing and Sorrow Jhall fiee away. Moreover, we are to consider

The Use of Names, which serve chiefly for these three Ends ; for Distinction, Ornament, and Instruction.

First, Names are given and used for Distinction, that Men may be known from one another: Thus the' Sirname, which we derive from our Ancestors, and receive immediately, from our natural Parents, distinguishes us from outliers of a different Stock and Family. The Christian Name that is added to it, distinguishes us ftom those of

; -the

the same House and Family, as well as others; and likewise from thofe of a different Religion: for the Name of Christian distinguishes us from Jews, Turks, and Insidels. Again,

Secondly, Names are given sometimes for Ornament: Thus all Titles of Honour, all Names of Offices and Degrees, are used not only to distinguish, but to raise and elevate some Persons above others, to adorn their Character, and procure the Respect and Veneration of Mankind: such are the Titles of Kings, Lords, Knights, and the like. And here we may note, That as the Name of Christ is above every Name, so the Name of Christian is above all other Titles whatever: for these are only earthly Glories, that will soon fade, and be laid in the Dust; whereas the other hath a mftre heavenly Rife, and will not only last, but ennoble us to all Eternity.

Lastly, Names are given likewise for Instruction: This is the Design of all great Names and Titles, namely, to mind thofe that wear them, that they act worthily and sutable to them, and to avoid all base things that may blemish or dishonour them. And this is the End of our Christian Name, as we shall have occasion to shew after.

Thus we fee the Natures End, and Use of Names, and more particularly of that which is here in the beginning of the Catechism enquir'd after. For beside the Name of our House arid Family which we have by Birth, we have another, the Christian Name, which we receive by Baptism; beting thereby, as it were, new-born, and receiv'd into the Houshold of Faith, becoming the Servants and Followers of Christ, by taking his Name, and thereby distinguish'^, from all others, who either know him not, or disown him.

But because this sacred name was not given by chance( or for nothing; 'twill be requisite to enquire into the Original, the Importance, and the Obligation of it. For the

First, The Rife and Original of this Name, our Text tells us the Time when, the Place where, and the Manner how it was given; all which are contained in these Words: ¥he Œtisciples were call'd Christians first dt Antioch. W here the Holy Ghost having thought sit to record the Time, Place, and Occasion of this memorable Action, it will not be amiss to rndeavour a right Understanding, and to make a right Use and Improvement os them. To which end 1 must enquire,

(1.) What they were call'd before.

Vol. h C (2.) What

(2.) What was the Motive or Occasion of changing the Name.

(3.) How or in what manner, this new Name was given.

(1.) The Disciples receiving a new Name, and being call'd Christians first at Antioch, leads us to enquire what they were call'd tiefore: And there were, we sind, several Names and Titles given to them in the several Ages of the Church. In the Old Testament they were sirst call'd the Sons of God, which Name continued from Adam to Abraham. After which, they were styled the Seed of Abraham, and the Faithful; which continu'd. to the days of Jacobs who being named Israel from his Prevalency with God, the twelve Tribes that descended from him were for that reason call'd Israelites. After which, the Kingdom being divided between Israel and Judah, they were call'd sometimes Jews, and sometimes Israelites; which Names continued till the coming of the Meffias. After which, they were sometimes call'd Nazarites, sometimes Galileans; at other times they were styled Brethren and'Difciples: which Names continu'd till this great Meeting of the Brethren a,nd Disciples at Antioch, where the Name of Christian was solemnlygiven to them: iorthe ^Disciples were call'd Christians first <tf Antioch. And this will lead us to consider, . (2.) The Motive and Occasion of giving them this Name Jq? Christians; which, as appears by this and the foregoing Chapter, was briefly this.

St. *Pcter, who was the Apostle of the Circumcision, and preach'd only to the. Jews, was warned of God in a Vision, not to account the Gentiles common or unclean, but freely to eat and converse with them; thereby perceiving (as himself declares) that God was no respefier of Persons, hut in every Nation, he that feareth him, andworketh Righteousness, is accented with him. ..Accordingly, sinding that Cornelius and many other of the Gentiles believ'd in the Lord Jesus, and receiv'd the Holy Ghost as well as the Jews; he preach'd to them, and commanded them to he baptized in the Name of the Lord: as we may read at large in the former Chapter.

In the beginning of this, we sind the Brethren of the Circumcision took offence,'and contended with 'Peter about this Freedom, till he had declar'd the Vision whereby his Commission wasenlarg'd, and how he was order'd, to -converse with and preach unto the Gentiles: at which they

held held their Peace, and glorify'd God who had to the Gentiles also granted Repentance unto Life. Hereupon the scatter'*! Brethren came to Antioch, where Taul and Barnabas, with many others, aflembled likewise: and when both Jews and Gentiles promilcuously receiv'd the Gofpel, and were united into one Body of the Church, they were united in one Name too, and were call'd Christians first at Antioch; where the Par tit ion-Wall between Jew and Gentile being broken down, and both admitted into one Fold, all Names of Distinction were taken away, and they became all one in Christ Jesus. This is imply'd in this new Name of Christian given to them, which Name is contiou'd to this d,y.

We sind a Prophecy in Isaiah, That when the Gentiles should come in and fee the Righteousness of God, ail Kings should behold their Glory, and they should be call'd by a nemo Name, which the Mouth of the Lord should name, Isa. 6z. z. This Prophecy is suppos'd to have been fulsil Id at this time, when the Disciples were all call'd Christians first at Antiech; at which time this new Name was given both to the Jews and Gentiles, who by this divine Signature were both mark'd up for Christ's Flock. And this will lead us to the

Next thing to be consider'd, which was the Manner how this Name was given: And that, we may well think, was not in a common or ordinary way, but by some divine Impulse and Direction ; for the new Name mention'd by Isaiah, was such as the Mouth of the Lord should name: meaning, that it should come from his Mouth, or be order'd and directed by his Holy Spirit. This some have thought to be imply'd in the Word here used in the Original, which is not ttuttSflo, but xi*t*Ar'lv,a. which signisies not an ordinary way of naming a thing, but the doing of it in a Divine and Oracular manner; and gives us to understand, that this Name of Christian was given not upon a flight Occasion, but for weighty Reasons, and by God's own Appointment.

I shall conclude this Point, by inferring two or three Things from what hath been laid upon it. And,

First, We learn hence the Dignity of this Christian Name, which is not of a human Extraction, but hath a divine Original: it was not given by the Will of Man, but of God, and had its Rife from the Direction of his Holy Spirit.

C z For

For when the Disciples were upon a great occasion met together, this Name was solemnly given to them from above; which Name is by the Grace and Favour of Heaven deriv'd down to us: the History, as well as the Mystery of which, stands here upon Record in Holy Scripture. So that this Name, by reason of the Relation it bears and gives us unto Christ, is above every Name, and far surpasses all earthly Titles whatever; which should teach us to have a due Honour and Regard tor it, and to do nothing thar may undervalue or disparage it.

Secondly, This Name of Christian being given upon the uniting of the Jew and Gentile into one Church, may put us in mind of keeping the Unity of the Spirit in the 'Bond of 'Peace: And being incorporated into one Body, we should all learn to be of one Mind. We sind it was so with the sirst Christians, upon their receiving of this Name; who continu'd stedfast in one Fellowship and Communion, and were daily in the 'Temple, with one accord bleffing and praising God. After which, when, by the Insinuation of salse Teachers, some of them began to fall into Parties and Factions, we sind the Apostle beseeching them by the Name of Christ, that they would all speak the fame thing, that there might be no ^Divisions among them, but that they would perfectly join together in the fame Mind, and the fame Judgment; i Cor. 1. 10. Where the Apostle urges the Name of Christ and Title of Christians, to engage them to Unity, and preserve them from Sects and Divisions. Again, he minds the Ephefians, who were some of these Gentile Converts, that they were all call'd into one Calling; meaning, that they were all call'd Christians: and that they all had but one Hope of this Calling; meaning, that common Salvation purchas'd by Jesus Christ: and from thence presses them to go hand in hand together in the pursuit of it, without Discord or Division, Eph- 4. 25. Moreover, we sind him pressing the Philips': an s by the Name of Christ, and all the Endearments of Christianity, to be of one accord, and one mind.

In a word, The sacred Name of Christian signifying an Owner and Follower of Christ, wills all that wear it to walk on unanimously in the way that he hath chalk'd out, and gone before them in, without deserting him, or following any other.

Lastly, From what hath been said concerning the Christian Name, all Parents and Sureties may learn to give Children

« AnteriorContinuar »