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bringing our children to be baptised, it is therein”-unless, at whatever age we come to the Saviour himself we are bringing we come in this receiving spirit- as those them—that we bring them, in the lan- who, so far from having anything to reguage of the baptismal service, to be em commend them to his favour, are in thembraced in the arms of his mercy, to selves undone, for ever undone, but for receive from him the blessing of eternal mercy-as those who feel that all is of life, and to be made partakers of his ever- grace that the soul's salvation from the lasting kingdom.
first to the last, is the free gift, the mere For his blessing, his embrace, the mercy, the unmerited grace of God. touch of his hand, is not to be thought of Let this, the real nature of Christianity, as a mere ceremony, or as a human ex- be understood by us, our Saviour would pression of good-will-As they well knew say, and little children we shall perceive it was not, who saw him lay his hand upon to be as capable of it as any others as the blind man of Bethsaida—or who saw they are of the glory that follows it—that him touch the tongue of him who had none in truth are capable of it, but such an impediment in his speech—or who saw as without any other pretentions than little him lay his hand upon Peter's wife's children can have, come to receive every mother. Those whom he blesses are thing as the free gift, the mere mercy, blessed indeed.
the unmerited grace of God. A view of baptism this, to make the And have you never read, must he not heart of the Christian parent leap within have been thinking—Ah! this comes of ighim, is it not? And in times such as norance or forgetfulness of the Scriptures, these especially, oh! can we think of
-"that he was to gather the lambs with our children with a moment's comfort, 1 his arm, and carry them in his bosom?" but in the hope of their being heirs of
| After this, you will not surely keep the • a kingdom which cannot be moved ?"
| little children from me, as though my Or is it too much for you to believe,
grace did not extend to such as them. that the Saviour thus receives the children
| What! and has sin so far prevailed and that are brought to him? Hear then
abounded, I seem to hear him add, as to what he says, to remove all such doubts,
derive itself in an inheritance of guilt, in answer to those who would have kept
and corruption, and death, even to unconthem from him—“ Of such is the king scious infancy; and shall not my grace, dom of God,” he says.
which has so much more abounded, exIt is altogether to misapprehend the tend itself to infancy also ? Oh! yes; nature of his kingdom, He would say, to sin, at the very gate of life, meets its suppose, that little children are not fit conqueror. subjects for it—as though, in order to But even before the Lord Jesus had become such, we had to bring something thus expressed himself with regard to of our own with us, which little children | little children, and in these gracious were not capable of bringing; as though we words, and by his outward gestnre and not did become possessed of all that Christ deed, thus declared his good-will and came into the world to give us, “without favour towards them, mothers, we see, money and without price.” At whatever encouraged, as well as they might have age we come to him, we come to receive been, by the reception which they had all from him, as much as the dark air does seen him give to all who applied to him, the light, or the unconscious body the whether for themselves or for others, soul. And he adds, therefore, “ whoso- brought their little children also, in the ever shall not receive the kingdom of expectation of a like reception for them. God as a little child, he shall not enter! They had been present, perhaps, when
the ruler of the synagogue fell down at pose that the loving father, while he had Jesus' kness, and besought him for his his arms about his neck, would have little daughter, who lay a-dying, or when turned his children out of doors ? he said to the widow of Nain, “weep But we are not left to suppositions. not,” and gave her such cause to stop her What was said to Lot when he was estears; or, when that afflicted father cried caping from Sodom, is said to every out, “ Master, I beseech thee, look parent, who is himself escaping out of upon my son, for he is my only child ; this world's pollutions, “ Hast thou any and lo, a spirit taketh him, and he sud- here besides? Whomsoever thou hast, denly crieth out, and it teareth him, that bring them out of this place.” In a word, he foameth again, and bruising him, I and to connect what has been said with hardly departeth from him. And the baptism itself, when the jailor of Philippi, Lord rebuked the unclean spirit, and for instance, was baptized with his house, healed the child, and delivered him to his was it not after it had been said to him, father."
“ Thou shalt be saved and thy house ?" · Well might they have been encouraged, | And may we not then use those words, I say, by what they saw of his gracious- nothing doubting, which are put into our ness and tenderness on these and like mouth in the baptismal service, that we occasions, to bring their infants also to are persuaded of the good will of our him, though without any express permis Heavenly Father towards these infants ?”); sion to do so.
Oh! no_it is not He who forbids · And can we doubt then, we, who have them to come to him ; but if they be fornot only these same instances before us, bidden, it is by those who are most conand such a variety of others like them, cerned to bring them to him, but who recorded in the Gospel, from which to alas ! so often fail to bring them. gather assuredly, that " whosoever cometh They may bring them to the water to him, he will in no wise cast out,” but and their children are baptised with water, who see also the actual reception which he Thev may give them into the hands of the gives to little children, and hear him com | minister—but the baptist himself could manding that they should be brought to only say, “I indeed baptise you with him, and reproving those that would have water." But let them, in the arms of kept them from him, and declaring that faith, bring their children to the Saviour, of such is his kingdom, and when it runs and he will as surely receive them in the through the whole covenant of grace, as arms of his mercy let them with the eyes so characteristic of itself, that its promises of faith see there,* not common water, are for us and for our children, can we but the water and blood which flowed out have a doubt, I say, of their being accepted, of the most precious side of their crucified if we thus bring them to him?
Redeemer, and their children shall be Oh! but is He not ready to put the sprinkled with that water and blood. ' names of our children in the lease, as well! But is it to be denied, my brethren, as our own in the lease of the inheri- that baptism has been treated, as though tance to which we are born ?
it were little more than a mere ceremony What has he taken us into the vessel and empty form—a custom to be observed with him, and would he have those who as other customs are as the occasion of are so dear to us to be left behind, do you giving the child its name, perhaps, rather think? Whould this be like him ? If than for any higher purpose-unless it has the lost son in the parable, when he re- been thought to act as a charm upon the turned to his father's house, had brought | child? a wife and children with him, can we sup
* In the Font.
Is it to be denied that parents have Here, then, we have the explanation continually brought their children to bap- why it is we see so few traces of baptistism, without any, the least apprehension, mal grace-why it is those who are born of what we are so significantly taught by in sin grow up in sin, grow old in sin.it, (as we wash our hands or our clothes It is not that there was no grace in bapwhen they are not clean,) that the child's tism for them, no more than it is to be soul is unclean, and that unless washed in inferred, because we see so few answers what alone can remove the soul's unclean- | to prayer, because so many pray in their ness, it can never be admitted where manner, and do not receive, that there is nothing can enter that defileth ?
therefore no efficacy in prayer, that there Is it not to be denied, that parents have are no promises to prayer; or because so continually brought their children to bap- many who hear the preaching of the tism, as though they attached no meaning Gospel go away unimpressed by it, that to such words as those of the Psalmist, there are no promises to the preaching of " Behold, I was shapen in wickedness, the Gospel. But in all these cases we and in sin did my mother conceive me;" have the same explanation, that which is or to such as those of the prophet, “ The given us in the 3d chapter of the Epistle heart”-the heart which we bring into the to the Romans, “ For what if some did world with us—“ is deceitful above all not believe, shall their unbelief make the things, and desperately wicked ;' and as faith of God without effect ?” though we had nothing to remind us of
Who is it, then, that forbids the little the inbred corruption—in the love of mis- children to come to their Father and chief-in the screaming self-will—in the their Saviour ? And not only in baptism bursts of passion in the untruth-in these itself, but in after-life also, who is it and other like breakings out of it, which forbids them? Oh! how often bas a we see even at the earliest age; and as if Sunday-school teacher to lament that the Lord had never said, “ Except we be the instructions given in school, so far born again”_except a second birth pass from being enforced and recommended, upon us altogether distinct from that of are counteracted and defeated, by the nature—“ We cannot see the kingdom of example set at home. Is a child sly, God ?"
deceitful, not to be depended upon ?Nay ; but has not baptism been re- | How often you will find in such a case, garded in such a light, that in the minds that those who have the care of the child, of many, the thought of festivity, rather are persons, who would themselves make than of a holy sacrament, has come to be an appearance before men, rather than associated with the thought of a christen- single-eyed towards God. ing? Oh! it would seem often, so far I seem to see the Saviour looking on, from being the solemn act of renouncing his heart yearning over those whom he the world and the flesh, to be one by loves so tenderly; and will you not, which our children were initiated into the then, suffer them to come to me? Why service and love of the world, and the
e world, and the will you dress out that child as you are indulgence of the flesh ?”
doing, instead of turning its thoughts to And could we expect that God should
the soul's dress? Why lead your child put his seal to the profanation, to the to think, that a place in this world is so mockery of his sacrament—that he should much more to be thought of, than a place honour those in it who thus dishonour in my kingdom ? And as though he him in it? If we can come to one sacra said, What can you expect, when your ment unworthily, is it to be supposed child sees such tempers indulged, hears that we cannot come unworthily also to the conversation at which it is present, the other ?
sees you making such provision for the flesh, sees every thing about you savour- , ther of him whose birth we commemorate ing of the flesh, spotted with the flesh ? this day, * had such joy and gladness at
How many children of such parents his birth, while she could think of bim as are at this moment following their wretch- holy from the womb,” as one who would ed parents up and down the lake of fire, be great in the sight of the Lord.” charging those who brought them into And happy have I felt, as I have seen the world with having brought them into those coming up as godfathers and godthat place of torment!
mothers, whom I could expect to assist Ah! and not a few, it is to be feared, with their prayers also, and not with their my brethren, even of those who would prayers only. We know, a mother who do better by their children, and are not is unable to nurse her child, will be not a without concern for their souls, yet, by a little particular in securing one of a healthy forbidding manner with them, by a répul. constitution to nurse it; in ascertaining sive, un-Christ-like treatment of them, that there are no corrupt humours in her forbid them to come to Christ. His blood, which she would be in danger of religion is made to appear unamiable, if communicating to the child. And shall we not untrue, to the child, who sees so be less careful in the choice of those who much of what is contrary to it in the are to stand in a like spiritual relation to parent who professes it.
our children ? Shall we choose them But it is not always thus. I trust that because of their station and respectability among ourselves, there have been, and in life, or their relationship to the child, are, delightful exceptions. I cannot say be their Christian character what it may, or what I have felt, as I have taken a child with a view to their Christian character, be in my arms, which, I had reason to hope, their station or the relationship what it may ? its parents had been holding at the throne And I would hope that the children of grace before, in prayer, that none of brought here to be baptized are not withtheir sins might be visited upon it, that all out your prayers, as a congregation, my those thick clouds might be blotted out, brethren. It is for the sake of your which would separate between God and prayers especially, as a congregation, that their child ; and whose prayers, I could we thus administer baptism while you think, were still going up, that as I held are all present--that, as the apostle its body in my arms, Christ would clasp speaks, you may be “helping together its soul in his-that, as I sprinkled it by prayer for them” with those who are with water, Christ would sprinkle it with the most nearly interested in them. For his own blood; and that “hereafter it is it not for every one of us to be interestmight not be ashamed to confess the faith ed for those in whom our divine Lord of Christ crucified, and continue his expresses such an interest ? Oh! when faithful soldier and servant unto its life's we see him thus taking them up in his end :” and when, as I have returned it, I arms, putting his hands upon them and could think of the mother receiving it as blessing them, how ought not our hearts warm from the arms of Christ himself, to go out to them, and our prayers to go and to nurse and bring it up for Christ | up for them! When we hear him saying, himself; and could then think of her, as " Suffer the little children to come to me,'' spending the christening evening, not in is it not for every one of us to do what in levity and folly, but as though she would us lies to bring them to him? There is say to the friends around her, “Come, not one of us who, if we were passing by magnify the Lord with me,” for have I a house on fire, and heard there was a not cause to magnify him, mother as I child in it in danger of beiug burnt to am of a child of God, a member of Christ, death, but would make every exertion to an inheritor of glory ? even as they mo
St. John the Baptist.
snatch it out of the flames. And what! What encouragement is there not in exertions should we not be willing to this passage for those also, who, though make to bring such to Him, who came to not children in age, yet feel thmselves to snatch them out of the fire that never be such for their weakness and helplessshall be quenched ?
ness! It is with reference to them also, And you, dear children, yourselves, do he says, “ It is not the will of your Father you see your Saviour's arms thus open which is in Heaven, that one of these to you, and feel no desire to be within little ones should perish.” Or do you those arms? You would not so refuse to say, you have no learning ? but you hear run into a mother's arms. If even a kind | your Saviour saying, “I thank thee friend should hold out his hand to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you would not turn your back upon that thou hast hid these things from the wise friend. Is it because they feel no want and prudent, and hast revealed them unto of a Saviour, no want of what he offers babes," Or is it your feeling, what can them, that the young so continually turn such a weak, he Ipless, insignificant creatheir back upon their gracious Saviour ? ture as I am, do? Of what use am I in And do you then feel no want-Ah! even the world ? But has he not chosen the at your age the want has been keenly weak things of this world, and the things felt-of the forgiveness of sin, and that are despised in the world,” to be the strength against sin; and do you feel no very props and pillars of his kingdom in want of one to guide you by those dan- it? For “to those who have no might gerous rocks, upon which so many young he encreaseth strength.” Nay, is a perpersons are shipwrecked ? And have you son deficient in intellect-half-witted ? no desire-Oh! if you but saw your But the foolish things of this world God Father's house, aud that great and glorious has chosen to confound the wise. In city, which is up above sun and moon, the way to heaven which grace has opened the New Jerusalem—what would you not for us, “ the wayfaring men, though give to be carried in your Saviour's arms fools shall not err.” to it this hour!
The only question is but it is one And, my dear young frieuds, you are upon which your state for eternity is deentering life at a time when you little pending-have you received the kingdom know what storms there may not be be- of God, as a little child ? that is, as it has fore you-storms from which you may | been explained_have you, in a deep sense indeed feel the want of shelter.
of your own nothingness, and worse than But live in what times we may, as soon nothingness, cast yourself upon the mercy as the soul shall go ont of the body, and of God in Christ Jesus ? And is your when may not that be? will it feel no whole soul, at this moment, hanging upon want of shelter then? Oh! unless while Christ, as the child hangs upon its mother? you are in the body, you are in Christ, You are then of the number of those of you will then feel the want-of a drop of whom the Saviour says, “Of such is the water to cool your tongue. Yet I feel kingdom of God.” Or, in other words as though He in whose name I am speak- it is not whether you have great gifts we ing to you, dear young friends, would are to ask you, or anything which has the not himself have said this last to you- glare of greatness upon it, as this world Oh! no-He would not have you-to be accounts of greatness ; but whether you pelted with stones to him-I was going to have the greatness—whether in the course say; bnt he would have you to be drawn and habits of your life, whether in yonr with the cords of love to him. As he would contentment with your lot in life, in the have every one of us to be drawn to him, absence of all pretension, in every thing dear brethren.
about you in your dress, in your house,