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worldly Lusts, we must deny the most sacred Vows and Promises.
Thus we fee the many and great Obligations that result from the Name of Christians, to lead holy and sutable Lives; it remains only, that I exhort you to
Answer these Obligations, and live accordingly. Let every one that calleth on, or calls himself by the Name of Christ, depart from Iniquity; let none debase that high and honourable Titl$, or wear it about as an empty insignisicant Name: remember whofe Name it is, and what it imports; and labour to live and act sutably to it. We should be very sorry not to be thought or sty I'd Christians; let us not then deceive ourselves with the bare Title, but sill up that noble Character, and make good our Profeflion, by walking worthy of, and sutable to it. To this end, consider the Fitness and Reasonableness of so doing, together with the Indecency of the contrary. What can be more agreeable to Reason and good Manners, than to be what we proseis? And what can be more absurd, than to pretend to great Matters, and perform nothing like it? He who answers the Design and Dignity of a Christian, acts like one endow'd with a Mind and Reason; but he whofe Religion is only in Name and Pretence, whose Actions give the lye to his Profession, acts of all Men the most absurdly, and lives in a direct opposition to all the Principles of Decency and Discretion. For the Heathens to wallow in Vice and Uncleanness, that serv'd Gods as bad as themselves, can be no great wonder: But for Christians to do so, that profess themselves Disciples of the Holy Jesus, who hath given the best Rules, the best Assistances, the best Encouragements, and was himself the best Example of a Holy Life; must be highly unbecoming.
Again, 2dly, To live like a Christian, is to adorn our Profession, and bring Honour to our Saviour, whofe Name we bear; whereas the contrary is the greatest Blemish and Reproach we can bring to both. When we walk by the Rules and Precepts of Christianity, we honour our Master, and credit his Religion; we set it forth to the best advantage, and recommend it to the Love and Practice of Mankind, making it look with such an amiable Countenance, as to invite others to embrace it. But a wicked and ungodly Life brings Disgrace to ourselves, and is a Scandal to our Profession: This drives others from it, and instead of making Proselytes, makes only Enemies to it; yea, this occa
sions Atheism, and make* many despise and throw off Religion, when they see no better Fruits of it in the Lives of those that pretended to- it. This causes the Name of Gott to be blasphemed, and his Ways evil spoken os: Such Men, like the Spies mention'd by Joshua, bring an e*il Repots upon the Land of Canaan ; and deal with Christ, as Simeon and Levi did with Jacob, making him to slink among theInhabitant os the Land: The most bitter Invectives that eve* were seeni'd against the Christian Religion, never wounded it half so deep, as the wicked Lives of thofe that profess it.
In a word, nothing tends more to the Ornament and Propagation of Christianity, than a Holy Life ; and nothing serves more to supplant and hinder its Progress, than an unsurable Conversation.
Lastly, To live answerably to our Profession, is a matter ofgreat Comfort here, and will bring us to a much greater Reward hereafter: for this intitles us to all the rich and precious Promises of the Gospel, and gives an undoubted Right to all that Christ hath obrain'd and purchas'd for his Church; whereas the contraty is a matter of insinite Lofs and Danger to the Soul. The true Christian that answers his.Profession and Character, shall receive the Reward of Christianity; that is, shall be made Partaker of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light; an Inheritance immortal, incorruptible, and that fadetb not a--joay, reservd in Heaven for us: Whereas the titular or nominal Christian, that only usurps the Name of Christ for bad Purpofes, and weirs, about his Profession as a Cloak to hide his evil Practices, shall have his Portion with Hypocrites and Unbelievers $ his glorious Pretences will be so far from helping him, that they will serve only to sink him into the deeper Condemnation. The Heathens, that had no knowledge of Christ, and made no Profession of him, shall fare better at the last Day than such as pretended to and abus'd both; for our Saviour himself declares, That it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, who wanted the Means of Knowledge, than for Chorazin and Bethfaida, who made a bad use of them: And St. 'Peter tells us, That 'tis better not to have known the ways of Righteousness, than having known them, to trim from the holy Commandment. Many, faith Christ, will come in my Name, and deceive many; meaning that they would not only deceive themselves with an empty Name, bat impofc upon others by their vain Pretences to it: of these he do'
elai%&, clares, Matth. 7. 22, 23. Many will fay at the last day, Lord, Lord, have we. not prophesied in thy Name? and in thy Name done many wonderful Works? who yet, for not departing from Iniquity, /hall be bid to depart from him as Workers of Iniquity.
To conclude, Let us stand upon the Dignity of our Christian Name, and do nothing that may blemish or disparage it; but rather let us adorn our Profession with the Practice of all Christian Virtues; that whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are lovely, and of good report, Sic. we may not only think on, but also do these things.
Luke i. 59.
And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the Child; and they call'd him Zaeharias, after the Name of his Father.
HAVING explain'd the sirst Question in the Catechism, and stiew'd what is necessary to be known, touching the Original and Obligation of she Christian Name; I proceed now to the Second Question ; Who gave you that Name? 'the Answer; My God-sathers and God-mothers in my Baptism, wherein I was made a Member of Christ, a Child of God, and an Inheritor of the Kingdom ot Heaven.
In which Question and Answer, Three things must be spoken to, and explain'd
I. The Parties that gave the Christian Name, Our Godfathers, &c.
II. The Time when this Christian Name is given, in our
Baptism. . . .
III. The Benesit and Privileges we receive thereby; wherein I was made a Member of Christ, a Child of God, and an Inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven. I begin at this time with the _
First of these, viz. The Parties that gave the Christian Name, and they are here said to be our God-fathers and God-mothers.
Now, tho this bean antient,useful and laudable Practice; yet because it hath been of late Years made a matter of Dispute and Contention, 'twill be requisite to speak the more fully to it: which I shall do from thele words, Jt came to pass, that on the eighth day they circumcised the Child, and call'd him Zacharias, after the Name of his Father.
The words are part of the History of the Birth and Circumcision of St. John, for which we must look back to the 57th and following Verses; where we read, That Elizabeths time being full come, she was deliver'd ofa Son; upon the News whereof, 'tis said, That her Neighbours and Cousins came and rejoic'dwith her, congratulating the great Mercy had been shew'd to her. Where, by the way, we see that the Custom of Neighbours and Friends coming together, and rejoicing at the Birth and Baptism of Infants, is very antient, and the Practice well-enough warranted, provided it be done with that Modesty, Thankfulness and Moderation that becomes such a Christian Solemnity. After which, follow the words of the Text; And it came to , pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the Child, and call'd him Zacharias, &c. Where 'tis said, that the Neighbours and Cousins gave the Name, and call'd him Zacharias, after the Name of his Father; tho that Name was afterwards, in an extraordinary way, chang'd into John.
From hence then, we fee this antient Custom of the Sureties giving the Name in Baptism sufficiently warranted: And this will give occasion to treat the more largely concerning the spiritual Relation. To which end, 'twill be requisite to consider the Name or Title of God-fathers and God-mothers here given to them, and why they are so styl'd. Next, we must enquire into the Ground and Reason of their Institution; and likewise, why the giving the Christian Name is allow'd to them. To which I shall add something
Touching the Usefulness of this Institution, or the Advantages Children may reap by these Sureties; together with
The Duty incumbent on them in that respect. After which, I shall answer an Objection or two, and clofe up with some Application of the whole.
First then, Touching the Name of the Presenters of Children «o Baptism, we may note, That as this Custom was deriv'd 6ora she Jews, so are their Names too: We 6nd thofe that presented Infants to be circumcised, or the Children of Proselytes to fee baptia'd, wore usually call'd «heir Fathers.
Someoimes they are ftyl'd Witnesses to testify their Adjaaimon, and mecord their (Reception into the Church ; <so «hey are ccaU'd, Isa. 8. z, %. where we read, That 'the Pro
!>hetess having brought forth a Son, God Almighty, for bme weighty Reasons, appointed the Name, and order'd him toibe xalf'd Maker-JJjalal-hcjhbaz; and Uriah the Priest, •nd Zachariah, were appointed ,as faithful Witnesses to re,coadit. But ibecause more is-requir'd than barely to witness ,ar record what is done for them, they are frequently sty I'd Sponfores^m TJd-entJ)br.est Suredesor .Undertakers; because ahey publicklyengage or undertake for the Infants they present to 'the Font.
But the antient and receiv'd Name, from which there is no reason to depart, is that of God-fathers and God-mothers, .or Fathers and Mothers in God; which serve to put them iin mind, what Affection they are to hear towards thofe innocent Babes for God's fake, and that they take care to bring them up in the Fear and Knowledge of God, for whofe religious 'Education they offer themselves, and the Church acaepts ihem as Pledges. And it savours not a lit— itle of the antient Piety, to retain the old accustom'd Names. iFiom the Name let us proceed to the Thing, and enquire,
Secondly, Into the Grounds and Reasons of this Institution: i. e. why the Church requires, and still continues the Use of these Godfathers and God mothers: For which we have,
(it.) The Authority of Custom, and the antient Practice both<of the Jewish .and Christian Church: for when any Children were ito'be admitted into either, by Circumcision ,or Baptism, they had always some selected Persons to pre-sent and take care^of them, who likewise gave them their Name. That this was the Practice of the early times of Christianity, Hyginus, and others of the Fathers, plainly declare; and generally all the Reform'd Churches have, and still do allow the Use of God-fathers and God-mothers, and their propounding the Name of the baptiz'd Infant: So that they who decry or neglect this laudable Practice, set 2 them