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it" - the Word and Sacraments being free to all that desire to have access to them ; and none but such as wilfully cut off themselves, are to be excluded from the Benesit of his Institutions. But then,
(2.) Another and greater Privilege than this, belonging to the Members of Christ's Church, is, not only freely to enjoy the Means of Grace for the Good of their Souls, but to derive Grace and Strength from Christ, to render them effectual to their Salvation. For as the Head conveys down Life, and Sense, and Motion, to the inferior Members; so does Christ derive down the Assistance of his Grace and Holy Spirit upon the Members of his Body: by which they are quicken'd and enabled to every good Word and Work. And this is done partly by our Union with Christ, the Head of the Catholick Church; partly by our Union and Subordination to the lawful Governpurs and Teachers of it ; and partly likewise by our Union with one another. For as in the natural Body there are Nerves that branch from the Head thro' the Body, and convey the animal Spirits to every Member; so in the mystical Body of the Church, there are the Ordinances of the Sacraments, of Preaching and Praying, and other holy Offices, administred by Per/pns sot apart for that purpofe, to convey thofe ordinary Supplies of Grace that are necessary to the Health and Vigour of every Part. By which means it is, that the Grace of God is sufsicient for us, and we can do all things requir'd and expected from us, thro' Christ that strengthens us. These are some of the inestimable Privileges that belong to us, as we are by Baptism made the Members of Christ. From whence we may infer,
ift, The unspeakable Danger of obstinate and scandalous Wickedness, which justly forfeits these Privileges, and causes Men to be depriv'd of them. Our Blessed Saviour hath left a Power in his Church, by Excommunication, to cut off obstinate Offenders from the Benesit and Blessings of it; he hath order'd, that such as will not hearken to the Church, or be subject to the Power he hath set up in it, be no longer accounted Christians, but as Heathens and Publicans. St. 'Paul commanded the incestuous Corinthian to be deliver'd up to Satan, and to put from among them that wicked Person.
Now, as 'tis a singular Favour to be receiv'd within the Pale of the Church, and to enjoy "the afore-mention'd Mercies and Privileges of it 3 so 'tis an unspeakable Misery
£ 3 to to be turn'd out, and to be barr'd of the forecited Blessings. And the rather, because they who are justly shut out now from the Church Militant, will be excluded likewise from the Church Triumphant hereafter; and the Sentence pronoune'd against them here on Earth, will be then ratify'd in Heaven.
2dly, We may infer from hence, the extreme Folly and Danger of Schism, whereby Men voluntarily cut themselves off from the Body of Christ,, by their own wilful and caustess Separation: and fall into thofe Sects and Divisions, which are not so much Parts of the Church, as the Excrescences and Corruptions of it. The Sin of Schism lies in breaking the Unity of the Church, and thereby dividing the one Body of Christ. The Folly of it lies in falling off from the one Communion of the Church, and thereby depriving ourselves of the Promises and Blessings annex'd to it. The Danger of it is, That by both these we cut ourselves off from Christ, and shut ourselves out of all hopes of Mercy and Salvation from him. lam the Vine (faith Christ) ye are the Branches ; except ye abide in me, that is, in my Church, ye can hear no Fruit, but like withered Branches, are only fit to he cut down and cast into the fire.
Lastly, From what has been said, let us learn to set a high value upon this Church Membership which we have by our Baptism, and the inestimable Privileges we receive thereby; endeavouring to make a right Use of them, by frequenting the publick Assemblies, and receiving the holy Sacraments; which not only tend to the present Comfort and Edisication of our Souls, but to the future and eternal Happiness and Salvation of them.
Let none slight these invaluable Blessings, by neglecting or contemning the publick Worship, or turning their backs upon God's holy Ordinances ; for this is to make light of Christ, to thrust Salvation from them, and to incur the Peril ef eternal Damnation.
Rom. viii. 14.
As many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the Sons of God. And verse 16. We are the Children of God.
HAVING explain'd the sirst Privilege confer'd in Baptism, namely, Church-Membership; contain'd in thofe words, Wherein 1 was made a Member of Christ : I come now to the
Second, in these word*, Wherein I was made a Child of God; of which I shall discourse to you from the Words of the Apostle, As many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the Sons or Children of God. To be led by the Spirit of God, is, among other ways, to be led to the Waters of Baptism, where we are said to be born again, of Water and the Holy Ghost, John 3. And as many as are thus led by the Spirit of God, the Apostle tells us, are the Sons of God y or, as the Catechism expresses it, the Children of God. For the better explaining whereof, I must enquire,
First, What we are to understand here by a Son or Child of God.
Secondly, What are the Benesits or Privileges of this Relation. And,
^thirdly, I must /hew that this is promis'd and convey'd to us in Baptism: of which particularly. And,
First, I must explain what is here meant by a Son or Child of God. In order to which, we may observe,
1. That to be a Son of God here, cannot be meant of a Son by eternal Generation: for this was the sole Privilege of Jesus Christ, and peculiar to him; who is therefore in this fense said to be the only Son, or the only begotten Son of God. Nor yet,
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2. Are we to understand by it, a Son ofGodhy Creation; for in this fense, the Angels and all Mankind, even thofe without, as well as within the Church, are the Sons of God. What then must this Title or Appellation of a Child of God mean? Why, there is a double Sense in which we are said by Bapiism to be made the Children of God; namely, by spiritual Regeneration and Adoption, both which, <*re invaluable Favours and Blessings ; and being both imply'd here in our Catechism, must be particularly spoken to.
(1.) We are in Baptism made the Children of God by spiritual Regeneration: this St. John expresses, by being bern again cf Water and the Holy Ghost; St. Q'eter, by being begotten again to a lively Hope. By our natural Generation we are bom in Sin, and are thereby the Children of Wrath; but by Baptism are we regenerated or born again, and are thereby made the Children of Grace. By this new Birth old things pass away, and all things become new: *he Original Guilt and Pollution we derive from our sirst Parents, are wash'd away in the Waters of Baptism, and we' are thereby cleans'd and purify'd into new Creatures. This St. 1>aul told the Corinthians, i Cor. -6. n. where after Tie had reckon'd up the vilest of Sinners, and the Corruption of our natural State, Such (faith he) were some csyou, but ye are wafljed and fanctified by the Name of Christ and the Holy Spirit; meaning, That they were cleans'd by Baptism fiom their natural Impurities; and elsewhere, we are said to have our Hearts sprinkled from an evil Conscience, and our Sodies washed -with pure Water. By this new Birth, we are here said to be made the Children of God. This is the frequent Language of the Holy Scriptures, where Baptism is declar'd the Instrument of our new Birth, and the Font the Zaver of Regeneration. This was likewise the Doctrine of the primitive Fathers and Councils, tho some modern Systems have taught otherwise, and misted unwary Persons in this point.
(2.) We are herein made the Children of God by Adoption and Grace, by which we are rsught and enabled to cry Abba, Father: tor so the Apostle tells us, Gal. 4. 6, being thus made Sons, Gcd hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your Hearts, crying, Abba, Father ; and Rom. 8, l l. Ye have not receiv'd the Spirit ofBondage again to fear, hut ye have receiv'd the Spirit of Adoption, whereby ye cry Jlbba^ Father, £sow Adoptjon (you know) is tfee receiving
or engraftmg'a Stranger into another's Stock or Family, and allowing him all the Favours and Privileges of a natural-born Child. And this is commonly upon the Death or Defect of natural Issue; of which many Instances may be given in all Ages and Countries. In like manner, God Almighty vouchsafes to admit us that were Strangers into his Family, and to call us to the Adoption of Sons; and that not to supply the Detect, but to increase the Number of his Children. The Jews before uere the only People or Children of God, IDeut. 14. 1, 2. for to them appertain'd the Adoption, the Covenant, the giving of the Law, and the 'Promises ; Rom. 9. 3,4. But Cod hath now enlarg'd his Family by receiving the Gentiles into it, and adopting them to the Privileges of Sons: for so saith St. yd-;;, As many as receivd him, to them gave he 'Power to become the Childrenof God, John 1. 12. By which means, we that were afar off, Aliens from the Commonwealth o/Israel, and Strangers to the Covenant of Promise, are now made nigh by the Hlood of Christ; and from Strangers and Foreigners, are become Fellow-Citizens with the Saints, and of the HoufIwldefGod, Eph. 2. 12, 13, 19. And all this not for any Merit or Intreaty of ours, but merely of his own free Grace and good Will, having predestinated us to the Adoption of Children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good 'pleasure of his Will; accepting us in his Beloved, to the 'praise and Glory of his Grace, Eph. 1. 5,6".
In short, We are the Children of God by our new Birth, and a certain Covenant-Relation contracted thereupon: for God hath thereby enter'd into a new Covenant with us, in which he hath premis'd to be to us a God, and we are to be to him a People; and elsewhere, that he will be to us a Father, and we are to be to him as Sons: which is a signal and inexpressible Favour. And this will lead us,
Secondly, To consider the many and great Benesits and Privileges contain'd in, and convey'd by this Relation ; for as we are the Children of God, we are intitled to many rich and precious Promises, aud invested into many great and glorious Privileges. I shall mention some of them.
And tst, As Children of God we receive the Remission of Sins. Our Original Sin is done away in Baptism, and wash'd off in the Laver of Regeneration: so that for Infants dying before the commission of any actual Transgression, there can be no reason to doubt of their Salvation;