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To the Duty incumbent on these God-fathers and Godmothers, by virtue of this Engagement. This is a Matter well worthy to be known and minded; for too many enter upon this Spiritual Relation, merely out of Custom and Formality, without ever considering the Obligation they take upon themselves thereby, or minding the Duties of it. Such Persons would do well, seriously to call to mind the weight of their Engagement, or what it is they solemnly undertake in the behalf of thofe Children they present to be baptiz'd: What that is, will be more fully explains, when we come to the Baptismal Vow; in the mean time, we may sind the Duty of thofe Undertakers
Jdainly laid down in the Office of Baptism, and more particuarly in the Charge given to the Sureties at the end of it 3 where they arc bid
First, To remember that 'tis their Part and Duty, to fee that the Infants they engage for be taught, as soon as they shall be able to learn, what a Solemn Vow, Promise and Profession, they have made by them. Tis impossible for Children to keep a Vow, of which they have no Knowledge; and therefore Sureties are to give them to understand, what they promis'd for them, and upon what Terms they stand with Almighty God: and because the sirst Impressions commonly sink deep and last long, therefore they are to begin early with them, and teach them betimes what has been done for them, and lies upon them to perform. And lest these things should be forgotten, or justled out by other and lesser Matters, they are often to mind and inculcate upon them these weighty and necessary things. The
Second is, That they call upon them to hear Sermons, and bring them as soon as possible to God's House to be farther instructed: For Faith comes by Hearing, and Hearing by the Word of God, Rom. io. 7. Sermons are appointed to lead them on to greater Perfection, that have been before initiated in the sirst Principles of Religion. They that Frequent them, are commonly built up in their holy Faith; whereas they that neglect them, not only forget their Vow, but fall into Atheism and all manner of Profaneness. To prevent which, because Sermons will do but little good without laying a good Foundation, therefore Sureties are directed,
'thirdly, To teach them chiefly the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and Ten Commandments; which comprizing all
that that is necessary to be believ'd, ta be pray'd for, and to be done, contain the whole of a Christian's Duty; and being brief Epitomes of each, as they may be easily learnt, so are they carefully to be taught by all that undertake the education of Children.
Fourthly, The Sureties are directed to call upon the Parents, that the Children they engage for, may be virtuously brought up, to lead a Godly and a Christian Life. Without this, all other Knowledge or Advantage is vain and useless; and with it, a flender Measure of each will be available to their Salvation : and therefore it highly concerns these Undertakers, as to discourage Children from doing evil, so by all good ways to encourage them in welldoing; and likewise to admonish the Parents if they sind them faulty in either of thofe Ways. Again,
Fifthly, They are bid to remember them of the great End of Baptism, and the Profession made in it; which is to follow the Example of our Saviour Christ, and to be made like unto him : that is, to be real Christians, leading holy Lives, and becoming like unto Christ, into whofe Name they were baptiz'd, and whose Religion they profess. And that this may be the more effectually done, the Sureties are directed,
Lastly, To bring Children to Consirmation, when they have learnt their Catechism; at which time they solemnly ratify and renew that Vow in their own Persons, which was before made by others in their behalf; and the better to perform it, they are assisted by the Blessing and Prayers of the Bishop, to enable them thereunto. Then, and not till then, are the Sureties freed from this Obligation; which should make them as forward and earnest for the doing of this, as a Surety is to be freed from another's Debt for which he stands engaged.
But all this (fay some of our Sectaries) may be done by the Parents, none being more concern'd in the Welfare of their Children, and consequently none may be suppofed to be more ready and willing to these things than they; for which reason they take these God-fathers and God-mothers to be a vain and needless Institution.
Now the Answer to this is eafy and obvious ; for the use of God-fathers and God-mothers is not design'd to exclude the Care and Duty of Parents, but to consirm and add to it. Parents are, by the Laws of God and Nature, bound to take care of the Education of their Children, and to seek the good both of their Souls and Bodies; and there is that natural Affection commonly planted in them, which prompts them to desire and wish well to both. But yet (as was before observ'd) Parents are mortal, and may die before their Children are grown up to years of Understanding; in which ease, without some farther care, they may be left helpless and destitute of all Instruction. Again,
zdly, Others may and have been found too remiss and negligent in their Duty, to the great hazard of their Children, both as to Soul and Body ; and therefore it can be no ways repugnant to Reason or Religion, but very agreeable to both, to have some others join'd with them for their better Security, and in these and the like cases to provide for their Welfare and Instruction. And therefore it is, and always hath been the pious Wisdom of the Church, to take the best and greatest care it can of those that are receiv'd into it ; and lest any, by reasonof the Mortality or Negligence of Parents, should be left void of all the Means of Knowledge, it has ever thought sit to require Sureties to undertake for them, to provide against the worst; and in all cafes to afford their best Assistance and Encouragement to them.
And as a three-fold Cord is not easily to be broken, so it may well be presum'd, that between the natural Obligation of Parents, and the voluntary Engagement of at least three Sureties, every baptiz'd Infanr may be religiously educated in the Knowledge of God, and the Means of being happy; which is so safe, so excellent, and so laudable a Custom, that 'tis to be wonder'd, how any that tender the good of Children, should have the face to quarrel at
But nothing of this (fay they) is perform'd by these Undertakers: For* who is there that regards the educating, instructing, or consirming any they engage for? So that Godfathers and God-mothers are become rather a Matter of Formality than Use.
In answer to this, I am sorry that in our degenerate Age there should be so much of Truth in this Objection. It must be granted, tb,a't the Number of thofe is few who enter upon this Office with a due Consideration of the Weight and Business of it, or make Con-science of answering the Obligation of it. There are but too many who take this Trust upon them merely put of Compliment and Custom,
who assign over the Duty of it to the Parents, and lay aside all thoughts of the Charge committed by it; these are the evil Practices of this licentious Age, which are rather to be lamented, than to be either excus'd or deny'd.
However, this can be no Argument against so antient and pious an Institution; the Violation of a Law may argue indeed the Badness of Mens Lives, but can be no just Exception to the Goodness of the Law. Pethaps there is scarce any thing that tends more to the planting of Holiness and "Virtue in the Minds of Children, than the early Counsel and Instructions of these Monitors: for hereby they are directed betimes in the way that they should go, and are frequently call'd upon to go on and keep in it, without turning from it, either to the Right-hand or to the Left; by which means Children may grow in Grace as they do in Years, and Babes in Christ may the better arrive to the Fulness of the Stature of Men in Christ Jesus.
Now, shall some Mens neglect bring a disparagement on so wise and wholesomean Institution? Must the Abuse of a good thing take away the Use of it? Is it not much better to join together to amend and reform this Neglect, than to make it an Argument for laying aside the Thing?
In short, The Church hath taken the best care it can to prevent this Evil, by joining Three at least with the Parents in this Stipulation, that if either of them neglect their Duty, the others may supply the Defect; but if all of them should be negligent and unmindful of their Duty, they will hazard, not only the Child's but their own Souls, and will dearly rue at last for the Violation of such solemn Engagements.
I shall conclude this Point with a word or two of Advice to the Parents, the Sureties, and such as have been brought up and educated by them.
As for Parents; Let me advise them, not only to take all due care of their Children themselves, but likewise to make choice of such Sureties as are most likely to mind the Duty, and discharge the Trust repos'd in them; consulting not so much who will make the largest Presents, as who will most regard the Welsare of their Souls, and be most assistant to them in their pious Education.
To this end, Kindred and Relations may be sitly enough made choice of, from whom more may be expected than from Strangers; Nature and Blood may prompt them more powerfully to their Duty than o
D 4 thers,
thers, and lay those sacred Promises more clofely upon them.
Again, such as are nigh in their Abode and Habitation, are to be preser'd in our Choice before those that are more remote; for Distance is apt to make Men forget their Charge, or at least renders them more uncapable of performing it; whereas Neighbours and Friends, by frequent Sight and Conversation, are better minded of it, and more dispos'd to discharge it.
Moreover, Men of Age and Understanding are to be made choice of on this occasion before Minors; it being a frivolous thing to make one Child engage for another, and to put such whofe Bonds are not good in human Courts upon this weighty Office. The Promises made in Baptism are sacred and solemn things, and therefore to be made only by Persons of mature Age and Judgment, who know the Nature and Obligation of them; and not to be us'd only as Rattles to please Children, and to be play'd with.
Lastly, Men of a serious and orderly Behaviour are to be preser'd for this Office, before loose and vain Persons; for such are very unlikely to mind others of their Duty, who are too unmindful of their own; and they who shew little or no regard to their own Souls, may not reasonably be trusted with the Souls of others. The Education of Children, and the Engagements enter'd into about it, are too great and valuable Things to be committed to those, who daily shew how ready they are to break them ; and therefore Men of sober Principles and Practices are sittest to be pitch'd upon for this Undertaking; for those will be most sensible of their Duty, and most likely to make Conscience to discharge it. Such as these Parents should make choice of, to assist them in this important Charge, to supply their Place in case of Death; or if living, they should fail of their Care and Duty to their Children, they should be willing to hearken to, and attend upon the Admonition of such Supervisors.
Next, To the Sureties, two or three things are necessary to be spoken.
First, Let none rashly and inconsiderately enter upon this Office, or take this weighty Trust only as a formal and customary Matter; but let them consider what they do, and what they engage in it; how they enter as it were into Bond unto Christ and the Church, in the behalf of thofe whom.they present to Baptism 5 taking the care of them,