« AnteriorContinuar »
the Lord's supper, but never of the passover; and | world—the slaves of superstition and errorin Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians (v. 7, 8.) worshipping they know not what having the that church is exhorted to keep the feast of the light that is in them darkness—and trusting in supper, not with old leaven, but with the un- refuges of lies! Of those upon whom the name of leavened bread of sincerity and truth, because Christ has been named, how many are like Gallio, 'Christ our passover is, of course in it, shown they care for none of the things of Christ! And to be sacrificed for us.' of the comparatively few who make a profession of religion and attend upon Christian ordinances, how many are actuated by selfish, hypocritical, or interested motives! The bible is like a mirror, in which man may be seen in every varied shade of character—you may see him there, as a hopeless sinner, forsaking his own mercy-as a triumphant saint, made more than conqueror as an humble, confiding, but weak believer, or as a formal, hollow-hearted, and selfish professor. In the last of these conditions, the person denounced in the portion of scripture above quoted, is awfully
These two seals of the righteousness of faith,' are all the ordinances which Christ the great King and Head of the church hath been pleased to ordain or appoint, and their observance is to continue to the day of the consummation of all things. When our blessed Lord commissioned his apostles to go and make disciples by baptism in all nations, he expressly promised to be with them to the end of the world;' and in Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians (xi. 26) he declares that the ordinance of the supper shall show the Lord's death till he come.' Usurpation of the pre-exhibited. The violent persecution which the rogative of the King of kings, or treason against him, is surely as heinous an offence as similar crimes committed against earthly sovereigns, and therefore the church of Rome, and all other churches who have added to those ordinances, and the society of Friends, who have laid them aside, have greatly erred. Jehovah is a jealous God, and will not give his glory to another; and he has awfully declared, (Rev. xxii. 18.) that if any man shall add to God's words, God will add to him the plagues which he has threatened in his word, and if any man shall take away from God's word, God will take away that man's part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city.' These ordinances, however, are made efficacious only by the operation of the Spirit of God. That is not circumcision which is outwardly in the flesh, but which is of the heart and in the Spirit. Let all persons therefore when they go to God in those ordinances, endeavour to make their calling and election sure, and to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, through these means of grace; remembering that it is not in man who walketh to direct his steps, and that it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure.
Jewish authorities had raised against the infant church at Jerusalem, and which was intended and expected to overwhelm and destroy it, did, in the overruling providence of God, by dispersing believers through the provinces, widely disseminate the word of truth, and extend the name and cause of Jesus. In Samaria, to which Philip, one of the seven deacons, had in his flight, been by providence directed, the inhabitants in general received with alacrity and joy the glad tidings of salvation from his mouth, being convinced by the power of truth, and the miracles which Philip performed; and among them Simon Magus, a famous sorcerer or magician. This man appears, for a long time to have deluded and bewitched the people of Samaria with his sorceries, giving out that he himself was some great one,' so that to him they in general gave heed, considering him to be the great power of God;' but by the preaching of Philip and the miracles which he wrought, not only did the people abandon the delusions and sorceries of Simon, but he himself believed, was baptized, and continued with Philip, wondering and beholding the miracles and signs which were done.' There is no reason to suppose that Simon was from the first a gross and conscious impostor, pretending to a conviction which he did not experience. He appears rather, to have been one of the class of converts represented by our Lord, in the parable of the sower, (Matt. xiii.) by the seed which fell upon the stony ground. Convinced by the truth which he heard, and dazzled by the wonders which he saw performed, he gave a full assent to the truth of Christianity, but there was no depth in his conviction, or power of truth in his heart; and when he saw that through laying on of the apostles'
their calling and election sure, and should try and prove their own selves, lest in ordinances they should be only treading God's courts in vain, and sitting in his presence as his people sit, while their
hands the Holy Ghost was given,' conceiving that | All men therefore ought to give diligence to make through that means he might exalt himself and advance his selfish interest, he offered the apostles money for the power, that on whomsoever he should lay hands they might receive the Holy Ghost.' What, however, is of greater import-hearts were following after wickedness. ance is, that Simon was baptized and that by an undoubted minister of the truth-a man full of the Holy Ghost,' (Acts vi. 3.) a man unquestionably in holy orders, and yet Simon had neither lot nor part in the truth, but was in the gall of
bitterness, and bond of iniquity.' Grace is not, therefore, necessarily communicated by ordinances, nor is baptism regeneration, or so absolutely necessary to salvation that infants dying without having received it cannot possibly be saved. Our Lord in his conversation with Nicodemus (John iii. 5.) says, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,' and in Mark xvi. 16. he says, 'he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.' Baptism is the outward or visible sign of an inward and invisible grace,' and ought never to be omitted where it can possibly be administered; but as a seal, however curious or splendid, affixed to blank parchment, would constitute no legal document, so baptism, by whomsoever administered, when applied to an unbeliever, does not make him a Christian. Our Lord does say positively that he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.' Where there is both water and the Spirit, there can be no doubt of salvation. But he does not say negatively, he that is not baptized, but he that believeth not' shall be damned. Condemnation will be the result of want of faith, but not necessarily the consequence of want of baptism. How humble then, and dependent upon grace, should Christian ministers be! They are, indeed, honoured to be fellowworkers with God,' but they can work none without him, nor is their work of the slightest importance where his does not accompany it. How diligent, also, should all Christians be to examine themselves after attending divine ordinances, lest they be still in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity!' And how earnestly should they supplicate the Father of mercies, before approaching him through the institutions of his gospel, for his Spirit to be their guide, and to witness with their spirits that they are his children! Our blessed Lord has awfully forewarned us, that at the judgment day many shall boast that they had eaten and drunk in his presence, and that he had taught in their streets, to whom he will answer, I never knew you.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,' Matt. xxviii. 19. THE Author and plan of salvation are both unchangeable, 'Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and for ever,' 'made sin, though he knew no sin,' that believers in every age might be made the righteousness of God in him.' The medium through which salvation is received, is also the same in all ages-faith or reliance upon promise; but in the period preceding the death and resurrection of our Lord, faith rested in assurance upon the promise of Messiah's coming; since those events, and to continue to the end of the world, faith rests upon his finished work and to make all nations acquainted with the importance of that work, and lead them to rest upon it for salvation, our Lord gave to his apostles the commission recorded in the portion of scripture quoted at the head of this meditation. He had previously set his disciples apart for the work of the ministry, by depositing with them the keys of the kingdom of heaven, assuring them, that whose soever sins they remitted, they were remitted unto them, and whose soever sins they retained, they were retained,' John xx. 23.; and he now commissions them to enter upon the work to which they had been set apart. It is obvious that the apostles could not go personally to every nation, much less continue in the ministry unto the end of the world.' It was therefore implied in their commission that they should ordain and commit to faithful men,' the work to which they themselves had been first chosen, set apart, and appointed; and that thus there should be a succession of ambassadors for Christ, effecting reconciliation between God and man, until the time of Christ's second coming. Besides their superiority in the office of the apostleship, the apostles were fellow-elders with ordinary ministers (1 Pet. i. 1; 2 John i.), but they are never styled bishops, nor was the doctrine of diocesan episcopacy in their days either broached or known. The words of their commission, quoted above, are not very correctly translated. In place of Go and teach
all nations, baptizing,' the original is, Go and thine heart thou mayest,' said Philip to the Ethidisciplize, or make disciples of all nations, baptiz-opian eunuch, (Acts viii. 37) when he requested ing, &c. The difference of rendering is important to be baptized. Adults therefore, whose parents only, because Baptists have built a portion of their have neglected, or been unworthy and unable to unscriptural theory upon the slight inaccuracy in have had them baptized in infancy, should, preour translation, and alleged from thence that chil-viously to baptism, be made acquainted with the dren should be grown up and taught, before they can be fit subjects for baptism. Whereas, when the commission is literally and correctly rendered, 'make disciples, baptizing,' and when the latter part of it, teach them,' when they have become disciples, to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded,' is also taken into account, it obviously includes children; for they are eminently suited to become disciples or learners, and God has commanded to train them up in the way they should go,' Prov. xxii. 6. Baptism is the very gate or door of admission into the Christian church. It is a dedication of sinful creatures to the Father, who so loved them as to give the Son to be wounded for their transgressions;' to the Son, who while they were yet enemies so loved sinners as to suffer death for their sakes; and to the Holy Ghost, who so loves the souls of men, as to take up his residence in the sinful temple of their hearts, persuading and enabling them to embrace Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, the unity in Godhead, and plurality in person of the supreme Being, was in several places glanced at, or shadowed forth. Let us make man,' Gen. i. 26. 'Let us go down and confound their language,' Gen. xi. 71. Above all, Hear, O Israel, the Jehovah our Gods (in the original) is one Jehovah,' Deut. vi. 4. demonstrate that while there is no God beside Jehovah, there is in the Jehovah or Godhead plurality of persons: and here, in our Lord's commission to his apostles, that plurality is shown to be trinity. Our dedication in baptism, equally and without the slightest shadow of superiority in the one divine person over the others, to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, clearly establishes their equality; and so long as baptism remains an ordinance of the Christian church, the Unitarianism which would reduce the Son to the rank of a creature, and the Spirit to that of a quality or attribute in the Father, must rank at the very head of the gospel heresies. Although, as we have stated, baptism is the very gate or entrance into Christianity, it does not thence follow that some prerequisites are not necessary before it can be lawfully and profitably administered. The baptized is only a disciple or learner, but he must know something of him from whom he is to learn, and be willing to subject himself to his tuition, before he can become a disciple. If thou believest with all
plan of salvation, and should give satisfactory evidence that they are willing to embrace it, before they are numbered with the disciples of Christ by that ordinance; and this must also be the case with all missionary converts among the heathen. Infants are admitted to baptism, only on the principle that their parents are able to teach them, as they became capable of being taught, 'to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded,' and upon the parents' engagement to perform that duty. The promise is unto you and to your children,' saith the apostle, (Acts ii. 39). The parent, therefore, must be personally in possession of the divine promises, before he can have any right to baptism for his child. God mercifully looks upon families as one where the heads thereof fear and serve him, and it is not until the children, by departing from their parents' example, and provoking him to anger by wicked works, have forfeited their privileges, that God withdraws from them the love and favour which he had bestowed upon them as children of pious parents, and members of a believing household. When, however, the parent himself is not a disciple of Christ, when he has never known him, or been in possession of any of his promises, it would be solemn mockery to commit to him the education of a child. No man can teach what he himself has not learned, or does not know. No man can give what he does not possess. The church can never make disciples of children by baptism, when it does not make provision for communicating to them instruction in the doctrine and truth of Christ. It may, indeed, give the name of Christian, and swell the number of nominal professors of Christianity; but it cannot fulfil the Spirit of our Lord's commission, or add to the number of the genuine children of Zion. It is just as unwarranted, and absurd, and as wide of the scope or compass of our Lord's commission, to administer baptism to the child of an ignorant, ungodly, or unbelieving parent, as it would be to baptize an ungodly or unbelieving adult. The church therefore should administer baptism to no infants, but the children of such parents as it had reason to believe had received and were in possession of the promise to themselves, that so it might be expected to descend unto the child; and all parents should give diligence to obtain knowledge, faith, hope, and the power of divine
love, that they may be enabled profitably to disinherited, and expelled from God's family. receive baptism for their children.
God manifested in the flesh, however, was appointed to do on behalf of humanity, what Adam had failed to perform, and to undo or make an end of all the evil which Adam had wrought; so that the act of disinheritance being, so to speak, repealed, and the exiles recalled, countless multi
might, by adoption, become again the children of God. This covenant, or dispensation of grace, was in every age made known to the outcast and suffering children of men, and all who accepted of it and trusted in it were thereby constituted righteous, and received 'power to become the sons of God.' Abraham in the patriarchal, and David in the prophetic age, rejoiced in this covenant and dispensation, and are eminently distinguished in the divine word, as witnesses for the power and efficacy of faith, (see Rom. iv. 3-6). Abraham was not the first man who accepted and relied upon the covenant of promise; but because he is the first made mention of in the divine history, to whom the information was communicated that of his lineage, through a son of promise, the Christ should come; because he was the father and founder of the Hebrew nation; and because he so unequivocally relied upon the promise as to perform several acts most difficult and painful for flesh and blood, he is styled the father of the faithful, and he received the ordinance of circumcision, a seal or assurance of the righteousness which by faith he had obtained. Abraham thus put on Christ as a full and com
For as many of you as have been baptized into tudes of Adam's fallen and outcast posterity Christ have put on Christ,' Gal. iii. 27. THERE are two sore evils' among Christians. The one is, that many persons, from inadequate and imperfect views of the plan of salvation in the gospel, are oppressed with the idea that they are still under the law, so as that their salvation to a certain extent depends upon fulfilling its requirements. Such persons, though many of them sincere and pious, are lying under a grievous yoke of bondage, and experience little of the liberty wherewith God hath made his people free. The other evil is, that because Christ is 'the end of the law for righteousness,' there are professed believers who flatter themselves that they are under no obligation whatever to cultivate personal holiness. Now against both of these evils, or errors, the apostle Paul strenuously contends in this Epistle to the Galatians. That church was partly composed of Jewish, and partly of Gentile converts; and while the former admitted the possibility of the salvation of the latter, they insisted that it was absolutely necessary for them to be circumcised and to observe the whole ceremonial law of Moses. Against imposing such Against imposing such a burthen upon the Gentile brethren in Christ, the apostle urges many considerations in the preced-plete dress, or as a court dress, in which he might ing parts of this chapter. He reminds them, that they had received the Holy Spirit, not through the observance of the ceremonies of the law, but by the hearing of faith,' (ver. 2). That miracles were wrought among them, not by the ceremonies of the law, but by the hearing of faith,' (ver. 5). That it was not by the ceremonies of the Mosaic law, but by faith that they became children of Abraham, (ver. 7). That their salvation as Gentiles was foretold to Abraham in the promise in thee shall all nations be blessed,' (ver. 8). That the law is only a 'schoolmaster to lead men to Christ, that they may be justified by faith,' (ver. 24). That by faith believers are all the children of God in Christ Jesus, (ver. 26). And in the words quoted above, that as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.' Adam when created was the Son of God, (Luke iii. 38.) Created in the image and after the likeness of God, (Gen. i. | 26.) but when he took Satan for his director, and believed him in preference to God, he was justly
with approbation appear at the court of the King of kings; and the same privilege, says the apostle, is enjoyed by every truly baptized Christian, as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.' Believers, in baptism, are represented as closely united to Christ. They are engrafted on him as branches in a tree, (John xv. 1). They are incorporated with him as members in a body, (Eph. v. 30). And they are cemented to him as stones in a building, (1 Pet. ii. 4, 5). Their wants are all supplied; their diseases cured; their weaknesses strengthened; their filthiness purged; their iniquities pardoned, and their poverty converted into riches by him. They cannot be condemned, unless he be condemned. They cannot fall away finally from grace, unless Christ, as man, with reverence I speak it, could fall away from God. Because he lives they live also."' They are bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord their God. These glorious things, however, are true only of those who have been in reality bap
tized-who have been born of the Spirit' as airy state; either as water or steam; in annihilating distances, and bringing remote portions of the earth into acquaintance with each other! Now in all of these respects water is an emblem or sign admirably adapted to exhibit the condition of man, as he is before and subsequent to baptism; as a fallen outcast and condemned creature; or as one of the redeemed of the Lord. Man is by nature the helpless victim of death. 'He receives the moment of his birth, The lurking principle of death.'
well as of water; and in them, not the coercion of law, but the power of living faith, produces new and holy obedience. They love him who 'first loved them,' and the love of Christ constrains' them to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts.' Their treasure is in heaven. The city and country of their home and of their hope are in heaven. And hence their heart and conversation are in heaven. May God, of his infinite mercy and grace, bring all the baptized then, to look and be prepared for heaven! Amen.
'See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? and Philip said, If thou believest with
all thine heart, thou mayest,' Acts viii. 36, 37. THERE is a most interesting and beautiful harmony among all the different parts of the Christian system. It is indeed a piece of machinery every way worthy of its glorious Framer, for every portion of it is so nicely fitted to another, that there is no strife or contrariety among them to retard the motion; but on the contrary, the movement of each part tends to accelerate the others, and all conspire to accomplish the design for which the whole was framed. Thus, doctrines are beautifully illustrated by living historical scriptural examples; moral virtues adorn and shine in the believer's character, by the power and influence of doctrine; and spiritual and heavenly truths are embodied and strongly presented to the mind in the sensible signs appointed in ordinThe ordinance of baptism in particular; although only the gate or entrance into the Christian church, and alas! by too many viewed as a mere ceremony, to which as a positive institution of God, it is necessary and right to attend, is in reality a combined or condensed representation of all the doctrines of Christianity, and of all the hopes and prospects of the Christian. 'Here is water,' saith the Ethiopian, what doth hinder me to be baptized?' Water, what a suitable emblem or sign of the object for which it is appointed. Water in the economy of life answers an immense variety of most necessary and useful purposes. It is frequently required to digest our food; to refresh and recruit our wearied and exhansted frames; to purify and cleanse our persons; to fertilize and enrich our grounds; to give tone and strength to our nerves and muscles; to protect or deliver us from the power of the devourirg element of fire; and how eminently useful has this fluid been found, either in the aqueous or
And no remedy which the world contains, or man can procure, will antidote the poison of sin, or deliver him from the tyranny of the king of terrors; but faith in Christ Jesus communicates renewed youth, and gives to him victory over death. Man as a sinner walketh in a vain
show,' (Psal. xxxix. 6), and for him there is no peace, (Isa. xlviii. 22); but faith in Christ gives peace and rest. Man, as a sinner, is deeply stained like the scarlet and the crimson with crime,' but faith in the blood of Christ makes him white as the snow and the wool,' (Isa. i. 18). Men, as sinners, are barren and unfruitful, or if they bring forth fruit, their grapes are of gall, their clusters are bitter, (Deut. xxxii. 32); but by faith in Christ they are made as 'trees of righteousness,' (Isa. lxi. 3), and purged that they may bring forth fruit,' (John xv. 1). Man, as a sinner, is without soundness, full ‘of wounds and bruises, and putrifying sores,' (Isa. i. 6); but in Christ Jesus all his 'diseases are healed,' (Psal. ciii. 3). To man, as a sinner, God is a consuming fire, but by faith in Christ Jesus he becomes a most kind, affectionate, and merciful Father, (Psal. ciii. 13). And man, as a sinner, is an outcast from heaven, and afar off from God;' but by faith in Christ Jesus he is brought near,' and enabled to rejoice in the prospect of an inheritance with the saints in glory. All these important changes in the sinner's condition are embodied and represented in the baptism by water, but they can only be known or experienced in that ordinance when its administration is accompanied by the operation of the Holy Spirit. The qualification required by the evangelist Philip in the Ethiopian nobleman, is one essentially necessary to the genuine and profitable administration or reception of every Christian baptism. If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest.' Belief is of different degrees. There is a belief of mere assent, where a truth is not denied, nay, where it is fully admitted, but where it excites no interest, and is considered of little importance. Such a belief, however, although it is to be feared that it is the belief of too many who seek for