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BELIEVERS AND THEIR OFFSPRING IN
COVENANT WITH GOD.
· ACTS, II. 39.
FOR THE PROMISE IS UNTO YOU, AND TO YOUR
CHILDREN, AND TO ALL THAT ARE AFAR OFF, EVEN AS MANY AS THE LORD OUR GOD SHALL CALL.
N the former part of this chapter, we have an account of that wonderful out-pouring of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost. In the context we have Peter's solemn address to the mixed multitude, collected together on that occasion, in which the apostle proves to them that Jesus Christ, whom they had taken, and by wicked hands crucified and sain, was the Son of God, the true Messiah and Saviour of the world. And he solemnly testifies that God had raised him from the dead, and had exalted him at his right hand, whose blood they had impiously imprecated on themselves, and on their children. Under a sense of this guilt they were pricked to the heart, and, under awful apprehensions of the divine wrath, in agonies of distress they cried out, men, brethren, what shall we do? The apostle then called them to repent of their fins-to embrace the gospel, and to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, as the only way to escape the di. vine wrath, which was coming on that wicked generation, and as the only way to enjoy the blessings and privileges of the gospel dispensation. This call they enforced by the weighty argument in our text. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
It is generally supposed that this declaration respects both Jews and Gentiles. The promise is to you, and to your children. This respects those who were of the Jewish religion. The promise is to them who are afar off, when God shall call them, and to their children. · This is supposed to have reference to the Gentiles, who should also be gathcred into the church by the gospel, and should then enjoy the blessings and privileges of the covenant of promise with God's people.
We have seen in the preceding discourse, that all who believe are Abraham's feed, and heirs according to the promise ; and that, by divine appointment, the infant children of such are to be received with their parents, and to be baptized. But it has been asked, what advantage is this to parents, or to their children? To give an answer to this question shall be the subject of my present discourse. I shall, therefore, now endeavor, by divine affiftance, to shew,
1. What the covenant of promise contains for believing parents with respect to themselves.
II. What it contains for them with respect to their children.
III. Shew how parents may have an interest in this covenant, and enjoy its peculiar blessings and privileges for themselves, and for their children.
1. Under this head I do not propose to speak of those blessings which are common to believers in general, but only of those which are peculiar to them as parents. It is highly reasonable to suppose, that as they have a peculiar trust and charge, they also should have special assistance, and particular blessings and privileges. The apostle says, they are blessed with faithful Abraham. Believing parents being heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, have not only their fins forgiven; they have not only God for their God, for their father and portion--they have not only Jesus Christ for their Saviour, the Holy Spirit for their Sanctifier ; but, in the first place, they also have the great privilege, that their infant children should be considered as in covenant with them. That this is a great privilege, every parental feeling is ready to acknowledge. It was before proved and illustrated, that under eyery dispensation of the covenant, this has been granted to believing parents, as God said to Abraham, the father of believers, “ I will be a God to thee and to thy feed after thee.”
It must certainly be considered as a great favor to the parent, that the great and good God should thus graciously mention their infant offspring in the covenant with them. By this he doubtless intenda ed to shew his condescending grace and mercy to his people, that they might be encouraged in the faithful discharge of their important trust.
2. The covenant of promise, as has been prov. ed in the former discourse, contains, for believing parents, the privilege of giving up their children to God in baptism, through Jesus Christ. This is a great favor in every respect, but especially, that by faith believers may thus bring their infants to the compassionate Saviour for his blessing the Saviour who is ever present in his ordinances. When thus given to him, they may always with freedom, in their prayers, bring them to the throne of free covenant-grace and mercy; they may, with hope, commit'them to God's fatherly care; and they may, by faith, take hold of the covenant of his own appointment, and plead its blessings for them, as for their own souls. .
3. Another privilege this promise contains for parents is, that their children, in their infant and most helpless state, may be, with them, members of the church. They may here consider them, in a peculiar sense, not their own, but the children of the household of faith. They may consider them the Lord's property, and that they are to be brought up for him. These reflections will not only strengthen all their obligations, but also greatly sweeten all their care and labor. They afford, to believing parents, a sovereign balm for all their wounds, and a sweet cordial for all their fears respecting their dear infant-children. How wonder. ful are the condescending grace and goodness of God to his dear people! But how vile the ingratitude and unbelief of the human heart!
4. This promise contains, for believing parents, all needed wisdom and grace to bring their offspring up for God, while he continues them unider their care. How often do parents find their
Arength fail in trying circumstances respecting them even in their infant-state ? But what a blessing have they in the covenant! Here is strength and affiftance; and, indeed, they never fail of obtaining a recruit when they come here by faith. In the riper years of their children how often do they find that they lack both wisdom and grace to give them instruction, to restrain them from evil practices, and to bring them up for God? But here is both grace and wisdom in store. Here they may come freely by faith, and obtain mercy, wisdom and grace to help in every time of need. God says, in the covenant of promise, I will be a God to thee, O believing parent! The promise is to thee in the character of a parent, and contains every blefsing and grace necessary for the education of your children, who are devoted to his service. These blessings are treasured up in Christ to be communicated to all those parents who come to God for them by faith-by that faith which takes hold of the covenant-which works by love, and is productive of new obedience. Ignorant and unbelieving parents may think lightly of all these blessings, but they must certainly be exceeding precious to him who has been made sensible what it is to be without God in the world to him who is sensible what it is to have a covenant-God and father through Jesus Christ, and to him who knows what it is by faith to plead the precious promises for his own soul.-How supporting to the tender, faithful, parental heart, when ready to fink under a view of the many evils which are thickly scattered in the vale of tears, through which their dear child must pass! How supporting, I say, are these covenant-blessings, efpecially when parents can take hold of the cove.