« AnteriorContinuar »
drown'd the Egyptians, became a Wall of Defense to the Israelites: signifying to us, that this Element, which hath been, and is to some, the Instrument of Destruction, is by consecrating of it to the holy Purpofes of Baptism, become salutary to us, and the Means of our Salvation.
Moreover, the Apostle here tells us, what it is in Baptism that now saves us, and the manner how it becomes effectual to that end $ which is not by the outward washing or putting away she Filth of the Flesh, but by the inward Purity of the Heart, represented there by the Answer of a Good Conscience towards God.
zdly, From what hath been said upon this Head, we learn the exceeding great Honour and Dignity that Christianity brings its Followers to: it makes them Heirs at present, and will shortly enter them into the Possession of a Kingdom; not an earthly Kingdom, whofe Glory soon fades and vanishes away; but a never-failing Kingdom in Heaven, where a Scepter of Righteousness shall be put into their Hands, and a Crown of Glory sit for ever upon their Heads. .Now we are the Sons of God (faith the Apostles but it dotb not yet as/pear, what we Jball be; but we know, that when be Jball appear, we Jball be like him, for we/ball fee him as be is: i John 3. 2. The Vision we shall then have of him, will not only transport, but transform us too, into the fame Image: And when he who is our Light shall appear, then Jball we dps ear with him in Glory.
%dly, From hence we learn farther, what a high Value we ought to set upon this sacred Rite of Baptism, which initiates us into all these Rights, and instates us in the glorious Liberty of the Sons of God : 'ti.s by this alone that we are receiv'd into the Ark of Christ's Church, and thereby kept from sinking into everlasting Perdition; by this we receive the Adoption of Children, and a Title to an everlasting Inheritance. And how can we have too high an Esteem for this Holy Ordinance, that helps to invest us in all these noble and invaluable Privileges?
/\thly, We learn from hence, not only the Excellency, but Necessity of Baptism; for as we are thus highly savour'd by it, so we are miserable and undone without it. Baptism now saves us, by entring us into the Church, and making us Members of Christ's Body, whereby we derive Grace and Strength from him as our Head: but before and without this, we are out of the Church, and so out of the ordinary way of Salvation; being in
the the State of Heathens and Insidels, without God and without Christ, and so without Hope in the World. Our Saviour expresly tells us, T"hat excess a Man he bom again of Water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God; John 3. 5. They that enter not by this Door into the Kingdom of Grace here, can never enter into the Kingdom of Glory hereafter. Wherefore,
Lastly, The weight and necessity of this Sacrament should carefully lead all Men to it, where it may be had ; and caution every one against a wilful Neglect of it. We read in the beginning of Christianity, how all Men flock'd to John's Baptism ; how our Saviour dignify'd this Ordinance by fubmiting to it himself; and how all his Followers have been receiv'd this way to the Christian Church ever since. Yea, we sind Christ himself declaring, that they who do not follow him in the Regeneration now, /hall not follow him when he shall be reveal'd in his Glory at the iast day.
Let all then that are unbaptiz'd, no longer defer it, but come with all speed to this necessary and benesicial Ordinance; and let all Parents take heed how they hazard the Salvation of their Children, by denying or delaying of it.
Thus I have done with the second Question and Answer in the Catechism, which contains thofe high and invaluable Blessings and Privileges promis'd and confer'd on God's part in our Baptism; wherein we are made the Members of Christ, the Children of God, and Inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The next will lead us to the Duties or Conditions requir'd on our part to make us capable of them ; of which hereafter.
James iv. latter part of the jth Verse.
IFini/h'd the last time the second Question and Answer in the Catechism, containing the inestimable Blessings and Privileges promis'd on God's part, and confer'd in the Baptismal Covenant, viz. Church-Membership, Adoption, and a Right to the Inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven : All which being severally treated of, I proceed pow to the
Third Question and Answer in the Catechism, containing the Terms and Conditions of the New Covenant, reT quir'd on our Part, in order to our being made Partakers of thofe soremention'd Privileges: For this Covenant (as J before hinted) is not absolute, but conditional; nor is Baptism alone sufficient to intitle us to the Mercies and Blessings promis'd in it, without the Answer of a good Conscience in discharging the Duties engag'd in it. The
Third Question then is, What did your God-fathers and God-mothers then for you? To which the
Anpxer is, They promis'd and vow'd three Things in my Name:
ijl, That I should renounce the Devil and all his Works, the Pomps and Vanities of this wicked World, and all the sinful Lusts of theFlesh.
2dly, That I should believe all the Articles pf the Chris7 tiau Faith.
$dly, That I should keep God's Holy Will and Commandments, and walk in the fame all the Days of my
Which Words contain the Terms and Conditions of the Covenant required on pur part, which are to be promis'd by the Adult in their own Persons, who are baptiz'd in their riper Years 5 and for Children by their Sureties, who are baptiz'd in their Infancy.
< Np* Now the Terms and Conditions are these three:
1. Repentance, express'd here by renouncing our Ghostly Enemies, the Devi], the World, and the Flesh.
2. Faith, express'd here by believing all the Articles of the Christian Faith.
3. Obedience, express'd here by keeping God's Holy Will and Commandments, and walking in the fame all the Days of our Lise.
These things contain the whole of a Christian's Duty, and are sufficient to entitle us to all th-3 Merits of Christ's Death and Satisfaction, and therefore must be particularly explain'd.
The sirst Condition then to be persorm'd on our part of this Baptismal Covenant, is Repentance, express'd here by renouncing our three deadly and spiritual Enemies, viz. the Devil, the World, and the Fle/h; from all which we engage in our Baptism to turn away, with the most resolute Desiance and Renunciation. For the better understanding whereof, I shall begin with the
First Enemy that is to be renounced, and that is the Devil: Of which I shall discourse at this time, from these words of St. ''fames, Resist the Devil and he will fly from you. Where we have a Precept, which is, to Resist the Devil; and an Encouragement to it, because in so doing, he will fly from us.
The Precept is, to resist or renounce the Devil, the grand Enemy of God and our Salvation, whom we solemnly promise and engage in our Baptism to forsake.
By the Devil here, we are to understand that ArchTraitor or Rebel, who arresting to be like the Most High, fell from his Duty and Allegiance to his Maker; and not only so, but drew the accursed Crew of Apostate Angels into the same Conspiracy. By this Revolt, they fell from their Integrity; and so leaving that sirst Station of Light and Glory in which they were created, are reserv'd in Chains of'Darkness to the Judgment of the last Day. This ArchRebel is in Scripture mention'd under sundry Names and Titles: sometimes he is ca\l'd.Beelzebub, the Prince of the Devils; sometimes Satan, for his Enmity both to God and Man; sometimes a roaring Lion, for his Rage and Cruelty; sometimes the Old Serpent, for his Craft and Subtilty; at other titnesheiscall'da Dragon, for his Fierceness *nd Contention; and most frequently 9 J)c£GoK&, the
F 4 3)evilt
(Devil, for his being a Calumniator or Accuser of the Brethren.
Kow this Arch-Traitor, partly out of Enmity to God, and partly out of Envy to Man's Salvation, uses all his Art and Policy to deceive Mankind; and being fallen himself, seeks to draw them into the fame Condemnation. To which end, he with his Legion of Infernal Spirits is daily fblliciting them to Evil, and drawing them into a contempt os God and his Laws. He beguil'd our sirst Parents even in Paradise, and robb'd them both of their Innocence and Happiness together: and being encourag'd with the Success of that Attempt, hath not fail'd to assau't their Posterity ever since. Yea, we sind that he had Impudence enough to set ppon the Son of God himself, who, we read, was led by the Sprit into the Wilderness, to be tempted of the Devil, Mat. 4. 1. And tho our blessed Saviour shamefully soiled and baffled him in all his Attempts; yet this restless Adversary ceases not still to molest and assault his Followers; and like a Lion, greedy of his Prey, is ever going to and fro, seeking whom be may devour, 1 Pet. 5. 8.
This is the Devil, or that evil Spirit, which we are here, and in sundry places of Scripture, commanded to resist.
Sat wlat are ive to understand here by resisting or forfaking the (Devil?
In answer to which, Three things are plainly meant
1st, The withstanding his usurp'd Power.
All which being included in our Text, and engaged in pur Baptism, must be particularly spoken to.
ifl, To resist the Devil, is to disclaim and withstand his iifurp'd Power and Dominion: For Satan, both before and at the coming of Christ, had gotten a visible Kingdom, yea, almost the universal Empire of the World: hence he is styl'd the 'Prince of this World, the Spirit that rules in the Children of Disobedience, John 14. 30. "The -whole World, as St. John tells us, at that time lay in Wickedness; in the Original it is, in that Wicked One, who had gotten the Sway find -Dominion of it. Yea, we sind him call'd Tl)e God of fbislforld, a Cor. 4. 4, He had his Temples and hjs Altars;