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church by baptism, administered to them according to his own appointment.
[How Christians therefore can think this ordinance of baptism such a trifling, and insignificant ceremony, that believers may either be obedient to it, or let it alone, if they please; and yet may have a right to church membership, and lawfully partake of the holy communion, is to me very unaccountable: when the Son of God himself thought it his duty, and his obligation to observe it so great, that he readily undertook a long journey for that end j and would not be denied by the Baptist, notwithstanding he had no sins to consess and repent of, Matt. iii. 2. And in answering the Baptist's objection, he seems to lead him into an higher sense of that great duty, than he had before, by shewing him, that every act of obedience to the positive appointments of heaven, was, even in the most innocent, virtuous, and holy person, a fulfilling of righteousness. For of this institution in particular, as performed by immersion, in obedience to the divine-command, it is worthy our observation, that Christ faith, Matt. iii. 15,16. Thus it becometb us to fulfill all rigbtecufness: whence we see how highly our blessed Lord thought of this ordinance of baptism, and consequently, how all Christians ought to think of it, when done in obedience to God. It hath not only t!ie highest approbation of the Son of God, both from his words and example; but likewise of the most high, who declared the submission of his only begotten Son thereto, acceptable to himself; when he said, with an audible voice from heaven, Thisis my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And the heavens were opened unto him, and the spirit of God descended like a dove, and did light upon him, Matt. iii. 16, if.
Nor would our Lord enter upon his publick ministry, till after he had been baptized. Whether he judged it irregular, and so did ft for an example to succeeding ministers,! shall not pretend to say, tho'Mr. Benson thinks it was to initiate him into his office, as the great Messiah; bat from that time he began to preach, and tofay, Repent, fir the kingdom of heaven it at band, Matt. iv. 17. For being then anointed, with an unlimited measure of the Holy Ghost, John iii. 34. Heb. i. 9, he did not cease to instruct his followers in this great duty, whereby he made end baptized more disciples than John. John Tv. I.
And if the Lord of lise and glory was himself so very zealous to overcome every difficulty in the way of his
obedience, obedience, was therein approved of the most high God, and endowed with the HolyGhost ; and after that preached the gospel of the kingdom, instructed mankind in this great duty, and did not refuse to administer the same to disciples with his own most blessed and holy hands, John iii. 22, 23, 26. alluded to perhaps, 1 Cor. i. 12, as the boast of some Jewi/h Christians converted by him; and after his resurrection from the dead, when all power in heaven and in earth was given to him, commissioned his apostles and their successors, to teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghojl; and encouraged them to continue the practice of it with this gracious promise, that his presence should always be with them therein, even to the end of world. Matt, xxviii. 19, 20. Mark xvi. 16: men surely cannot have stronger motives to their own obedience, and their zealous concern, and unwearied endeavours to promote the fame mothers; and therefore, one would think that no Christians, who have ever seriously considered these things, could be so forgetful and indifferent, as to account it a trifling, insignificant ceremony, unnecessary to christian church membership and communion.
The great apostle St. Paul was not so indifferent about it. For as John's baptism, tho* the baptism of repentance, did not fully Ci-me up to that of Christ; the persons baptized making therein no consession of this great foundation article of the christian faith, upon which the church was to be built, that Jesus Christ is the Sen of God, Matt.xvi. 16. Acts viii. 37 : and it not being administered according to Christ's commission, Matt, xxviii. 10. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: he rebaptized those twelve disciples of John at Ephefus, which was so highly approved of God; that when the apostle bad laid his bands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied, Acts xix. 6. We have here a very encouraging motive to the duty, and also an unanswerable argument against persons resting contented with any impersect administration of Christ's institution, since it appears from hence, that nothing less than a strict adherence to Christ's appointments, in all things relating to baptism, is sufficient for our acceptance, and to intitle us to the privileges of his church, and the special blessings promised to it.
And it is remarkable, that] Christ had gathered a church by that baptism, which he calls a fulfilling all righteousness,
three years, before he instituted his holy supper. Not does it appear from the nature of it, that he ever would hatfc instituted that ordinance, if he had been always to continue with his church in person. And there is some reason from 1 Cor. xi. 26. to think, that tho' baptism (hall continue to the end of the world; yet this (hall be laid aside, when Christ (hall come and appear again among his church and people. But as he was then about to leave them, and they would be deprived of the privilege and blessing of conversing with him, and receiving the divine oracles from his mouth; he instituted his holy supper to be statedly observed in his church, that, by the use of it, he might be frequently brought to their remembrance, as the most likely means to cherish and keep alive in their minds' a due regard to the doctrines and precepts, which he had given them, together with the other exceeding great blessings, which they will receive by him according to promise. This also had a natural tendency to revive in their minds the obligations, which they are under to him, in having been constituted members of his church by baptism. And it was only to such persons, who were thus made members of his church, that he spake, when he instituted his holy supper; saying, This dt in remembrance of me. Now this being the end, for which the Lord's-supper was appointed; it follows, that, if an urtbaptized believer partakes thereof an hundred times, it will never constitute him a member of the visible church of Christ, any more than Nicodemus's going to Christ by night, and conversing with him, believing his miracles, and owning him to be a teacher come from God, constituted him a member of Christ's visible church. Our Lord has rejected such a faith, and such a coming to him, Luke vi. 46. And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which Ifay? The believer, whom he approves, is one that cometh to him, giving heed to his sayings, and in consequence of that, is found doing them, digging deep, and laying his foundation on a rock, so that it cannot be moved. And that no man might fancy himself a member of his visible church, or flatter himself with being esteemed the friend and disciple of Christ upon any terms, which are(hort of uniform obedience; our blefled Lord has plainly signified, that he will not look upon any as such, who have not respect to all his commands; when he fays, John xv. 14. Ye are my friends, if ye dowhatjo? ever I command you: which (housd induce every believer
cpnsciBjUioufly to observe the positive, as well as the moral precepts of his gospel. He hath also in the strongest manner assured us, that Except a man be born tf water, and of the spirts, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. So that every unbaptized believer, who hath been a partaker of that ordinance, which was instituted only for those, who had been constituted members of the church of Christ by baptism; and no where appears to have been given to, or designed for any others, should seriously consider; whether his first participation was not so far from constituting him a member of Christ's visible church, that, on the contrary, it might perhaps be only a profanation of a divine institution, of which he had then no right at all to partake, tho' he was at the fame time a believer in Christ j because it appears clearly enough fromChrist's own -words, John iii. 5, that no man who is not born of water, and of the spirit, that is,'no unbaptized person, can Jee the kingdom of God, or enter into his church.
[Moreover all such persons have the more reason to conclude thus, when those express passages of Justin Martyr, and the apostolical constitutions are serioufly considered by them. The constitutions, in the office for the eucharist, B. vii. ch. 25. fay, s Let no one eat of these things that is 1 not initiated ; but those only who have been baptized in4 to the death of the Lord. But if any one that is not 4 initiated conceal himself, and partake of the fame, he
* eats eternal damnation j because, being not of the faith 4 of Christ, he has partaken of such things as it is not 4 lawful for him to partake of, to his own punishment.
* But if any one is a partaker through ignorance, instruct 4 him quickly, and initiate him, that he may not go out
* and despise you.' And that these evils might be effectually prevented, it is thus appointed, after the public service is over, and before the celebration of the eucharist, B. viii. ch. 5. 4 Let the deacon ascend upon some high
* seat, and proclaim, Let none of the bearers, let none of
* the unbelievers stay.' Nay, such strict regard is therein paid to the words of Christ, that no unbaptized person might see the kingdom of God, or enter into his church, that ch. xii. after the prayers for catechumens, and several other sorts of persons, who are bid to depart at the close of each prayer, the deacon is appointed to proclaim a second time, 4 Let none of the catechumens, let none
* of the hearers, let none of the unbelievers, let none of
* the .heterodox stay here. You who have prayed the 4 foregoing prayers depart.' Something of this is retained in our established church; for (he will not suffer any persons to be present at theLord's-Supper, but those only, who communicate; tho' I have heard os an instance or two, when at the consecration of a new church or chappel, the people in general were permitted to stay as spectators, tho' they did not communicate. But in common it is quite otherwise; and yet all the dissenters arc by law forbid to shut the doors of their meeting houses, even whilst this holy ordinance is administering. And how very carefully these rules, appointed in the constitutions, were observed by all Christians, in the first and purest ages of the church, is manisest from the apologies written by Juflin, Tertullian, and others, who vindicated the christian church from those odious calumnies, which the heathen cast upon them, on account of their not suffering any persons to be present at the celebration of the Lord's-supper, but only those, who were members of the church.
the eucharist he fays, " To which none are admitted, "but who believes our doctrine to be true, having been f• washed in the laver of regeneration for the remission of "sins, and living as Christ has taught. As many as be"ing convinced do believe the things we teach, and pro"mise to live according to them, after prayer and fast"ing, are led by us to the water, and are regenerated "after the fame manner as we also were."'
How therefore any congregation of Christians, orderly constituted upon the six foundation principles of the doctrine of Christ, set forth as the rule of all christian settlement, inseparably appertaining to every believer, Heb. vi. i, 2. can think of admitting persons to the Lord's-table, who, they know and believe in their own consciences, were never born of water, and of the spirit, according to the appointment of Christ in his holy word; or how they can vindicate themselves therein, it behoves them seriously to consider. Is it not more likely to hinder the obedience of such persons, and keep them from submitting to baptism, rather than to be any means of stirring them up to their duty? Moreover, not only they, but other persons also may perhaps be induced to think, it looks too much like renouncing their own baptism; or at Pa least
9 Emlyris Tracts, p. 456. Rtew'* Apologies, r. 120. and p. 104—106,
where speaking of