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themselves against the general Current of Antiquity, and oppose one of the most antient and receiv'd Customs of the Church.
But beside the Authority of Custom, which ought to sway much in such Matters, we have many weighty, and cogent Reasons to ground this Custom upon, and warrant this Practice among us. I shall mention some of them, the better to consirm you in the Reasonableness of this Usage. As,
First, No Body or Society whatever, will admit any as Members of it, without engaging to be faithful to it, and observant of the Laws of it: for 'tis unreasonable for any to expect the Benesits and Privileges of a Society, without promising to keep the Rules and Customs of it. The visible Church of Christ is a spiritual Society of Christians incorporated into one Body under Christ the Head: Which Body, as it hath many Privileges, so hath it many Rules and Precepts to live by; and he that will have the one, must engage to observe the other.
Now Infants being capable of Admission into this Society, as appears by their Initiation by Circumcision under the Law, and by Baptism under the Gofpel; 'tis sit that others should promise that for them, which they cannot for themselves, that they may receive this Benesit, of which, without such an Engagement, they must be utterly incapable. 'Tis (you'know,) a Matter of great Consequence ahd Advantage, that Children be receiv'd as early as possible into this Christian Society $ that so if they be taken away in their Infancy or tender Years, they may die in the Church, and depart , as the Members of Christ's Body; and being entred betimes into this sacred Community, which is the ordinary way of Salvation, they may be the rhore safe and prepar'd to live or die in it. And because Infants cannot make that Engagement in their own Persons, which is necessary to these ends, the Mercy of God, and the CharitV of the Church, allows this to be done by others in their behalf; which tendj so much to their Security and Advantage.
Again, The very Nature of this Ordinance (as one hath
,well observ'd) requires some such Persons in the solemnizing
of it: for asr Circumcision was a Covenant of old, whereby
the Jews were to keep the whole Law ; so is Baptism a
Covenant how, whereby Christians promise to observe the
Now because Infants cannot promise this for themselves^ nor be admitted into Covenant without such an Engagement; the Church very sitly requires and accepts the doing of this by others in their behalf.
Besides, Faith and Repentance are the necessary Terms and Conditions of this Covenant, which because Children cannot perform, they are admitted into it by the Faith of their Parents, and the Promises of their Sureties; which ^Promises, when they come to Jlge. , themselves are hound to perform.
Moreover, All Nations allow Children Guardians to contract for them in temporal Matters; which Contracts being for their Benesit, they are to make good when they come to riper Years: In like manner, the Church allows them spiritual Guardians to take care of their Souls, and to promise thofe things in their Name, that are necessary to bring them into a State of Salvation; which is an Office of higher Charity, and grounded upon better Reason than the other; and will be so esteem'd by all that think the Soul of more Worth than the Body, and prefer the weightier Matters of Eternity before the perishing Concerns of this Life.
In short, Children are undone out of the Covenant, into which they have no way to enter but by the Engagement of these Sureties ; for tho they want not the Grace of Baptism, yet they are unable to exercise or express that Faith and Repentance which are the necessary Conditions of it s For which reason, the Church, not without the Allowance or Approbation of God, supplies this by others that undertake for \ them; which shews both the Reason and Use ofGod-fathersandGod-mothers. And this will lead me to consider,
"Thirdly, The Usefulness and Benefit of this spiritual Relation, which may be seen in many Particulars. As,
(1.) 'Tis very much for the Benesit of Infants, in cafe of the Parents Death ; for so it may, and often does happen, that Parents are taken away in the Infancy or Minority of their Children: in which cafe, they are left to the wide World; and if they have none to undertake for them, must be abandon'd to Ignorance, and all manner of Looseness. Now, is it not much for the Advantage of such Orphans, to have three Persons (at least) solemnly engag'd, before God and the Congregation, to look aster their Education, and to see them brought up in the Nurture and Admonition
of the Lords The Law, we know, allows them Guardians* if the Parents die, to take care of their worldly Goods and Estate; and the Church hath as sitly appointed spiritual Sureties to take care of their Souls, and to mind and promote their spiritual State.
(2.) These Sureties, or Undertakers, are of great Use and Benesit to Children, in case of the Remissness and Negligence of Parents; for it sometimes may, and too frequently does come to pass, that Parents are but too unmindful of the Welfare and Education of their Children ; some thro' Inadvertence, others thro' Poverty, others again thro' too much Fondness, leaving their Children to their own Will and Ways, whereby they become headstrong and untractable; and instead of improving in Virtue, become Prosicients only in Vice and Immorality.
Now to prevent these Evils, the Church hath thought sit to join others with them, to promote their Welfare and Instruction; requiring these God-fathers and God-mothers to have an Eye and tender Regard of them, to call upon and encourage them to learn, to quicken Parents in their Duty, and to assist and join with them for their spiritual Good and Welfare. And what a great Benesit and Security is it for Children, to have those, who in cafe of the Death or Negligence of Parents, stand bound thus to take care of them? Who, that considers the Weakness of Children, and the many Dangers they are expos'd to, can blame the Prudence of this Custom ? or call in question the Usefulness of so charitable and laudable a Practice?
(3.) This is a Means of promoting mutual Love and Kindness among Neighbours, by performing this good Ofsice one for another, and concerning themselves in the Good of each other's Children. The Love and good Agreement of Neighbours is so much for the Creditof Religion, and the Convenience of Mankind, that 'tis well worth out while to embrace every thing that may tend to beget or increase it. Now, what greater Endearment, or mutual Obligation, can pass between Neighbours, than this of undertaking for the good of one another's Children, and shewing Kindness to these dearest Parts and Pledges of themselves * By this they espouse one another's Interest, and mutually concern themselves for what is most dear to each other: which is one of the strongest. Bonds of Love and Affection to hold them together. And we cannot but know seme, who, by this Spiritual Relation of God-fathers
Vol. I. D and and God-mothers to each other's Children, have ty'd such a sirm knot of Love and Friendship, that no time or Accident have been able to unloofe.
Lastly, This way of undertaking for the Education of Children, tends not only to the good of private Persons and Families, but is of great use and benesit likewise to the Publick; for the well instructing of Youth, and training them up in all divine and human Knowledge, conduces much to the Peace and Profperity of a whole Church and Kingdom. A good Man is a Prop and Pillar of his Country: yea, he is the true Atlas that bears up and supports the World: whereas the idle and profligate Person is the Bane and Burden of the Earth, and lives only on the Spoils and Ruin of his Country. Now the After-course of Men's Lives depends much on the well-principling and training 'em up in the Beginning: they that set out well at sirst, commonly keep on in the way they should go; but they that are neglected, or ill taught in the beginning, seldom act or go aright ever after. So that the well educating of Children betimes, is a matter of such great consequence, both to the private and publick Welfare, that we cannot take too great care about it.
In a word; the Benesit that Infants receive by these Undertakers, of being admitted into the Church; the Security they have of being preserv'd from Apostafy, by these Sureties; the good Counsel and Admonitions they have, or should have, from these Monitors; the lively Representation of the new Birth, by the new and spiritual Relations of God-sathers and God mothers; shew the Use of them in Baptism to be a piou*, wholesom and commendable Practice. And this will lead us,
^thirdly, To consider the Reason why the giving of the Name is usually committed to these spiritual Relations, and not to the natural Parents; the ground whereof may be briefly this. Beside the natural Birth we receive from our Parents, by virtue whereof we bear their Name, there is a new Birth we receive in Baptism, by virtue whereof we have a new Name presix'd to it. Now this latter being deriv'd not from our Parents, but from the Grace and Favour of Christ, called therefore the Christian Name; the giving of it sitly belongs to thofe who undertake for our Christianity, and engage that we shall be bred up and live like Christians; which being consirm'd by the Custom and Authority of the Church in all Ages, is abundantly
enough enough to justify the Practice, and satisfy us of the Reasonableness of it.
Thus we fee the Antiquity and Usefulness of God-sathers and God-mothers. But because the Use of them hath been impugn'd of late, either thro' the Ignorance or Negligence of such as take this Office upon them, 'twill be requisite to add something touching the Duty of these Sureties, and to stir them up to a faithful Discharge of it; which shalt be done in the next Discourse. In the mean time, from whac hath been said, we may infer these two things:
iji, The great Goodness of God towards tender Infants, in admitting them so early into Covenant with himself; and because they cannot promise or perform the Conditions in their own Persons, he is pleas'd to admit them upon the Faith of their Parents, and the Engagements of their Sureties. Our Saviour commanded young Children to be brought to him, and blam'd thofe that would have kept them from him; yea, he took them in his Arms, laid his Hands upon them, and blessed them, declaring that theirs was the Kingdom of Heaven. So that the Mouths of Babes and Sucklings, without uttering any thing,shew forth his Praise; since [he Mercy that was of old hid from the wife and prudent, is now extended unto Babes.
idly, We learn hence the Piety and Charity of our Church, in taking Infants into her Bofom, by the Promises of others; and, according to our Saviour's Command and Example, receiving them to the Grace and Mercy of the Gospel.
Luke i. 59.
And it came to pass:, that on the eighth T)ay they came to circumcise the Child, andcaWdhim Zacharias, aster the Name os his Father.
I Have already observ'd from these Words, the aritient and pious Use of God-fathers and God-mothers, who were wont to give the Christian Name to the Infants they brought to Baptism; and likewise to undertake for their breeding up, and living answerable thereunto. I proceed now