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the gospel preached to them. They “ having not the law, are a law unto themselves.” They never will be set in the day of judgment on the same footing with those who have heard the message of the gospel. But with regard to all who live where the gospel has been preached, the case is quite clear. The message of our Lord to his ministers is, Go
ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature : he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved ; and he that believeth not shall be damned.”+ Such are the terms on which the gospel is preached wherever it is preached faithfully, and as Christ first delivered it. Who shall set those terms aside? Neither the laws of nations, nor the opinions of private men. It is well for poor insects like ourselves to sit in judgment on the ways of the Most High, and think we can teach him how to save us in better ways than those of his own appointment. It is well for us to say we see no need of baptism : it is well for us to talk of “water baptism,” and to cast contempt upon what Christ has appointed, nay, what he himself submitted to that he might fulfil all righteousness. But where is the man who will be bold enough to alter his Saviour's own words ? Who is he who will take his Bible, and instead of reading " he that believeth AND IS BAPTIZED shall be saved,” will dare to alter them to he that believeth shall be saved ? When our Lord says, " Except a man be born of Water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,"I let us see the hand who will dare to strike out those words of water.” When we read,
Repent AND BAPTIZED every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,"s where is he who will leave out half that text and read, Repent, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost? This is the true way of dealing with these audacious opposers of Scripture. Let them come to the point at once. If they despise Christ's words, let them strike them out of their Bibles—for there is no more sin in striking them out than in despising them. It is written, “If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life ;"|| and “whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed," is the language of Scripture; and nothing stronger than that can be said. But if they dread the curse which the Scripture threatens against all who take away from his words, and against all who despise them, let them give over this profane course, and let them submit at once to acknowledge that God's wisdom is better than their folly—or if they will have it in the bold language of the Holy Spirit himself, " the foolishness of God is wiser than men, that is, those doctrines and those commands of God which are least understood, and which are foolishness to the natural man, are better suited to our cases and our needs than the best that can be done by the wisest of us, after they have done their wisest.
But then it is said, this is undervaluing faith and holiness and righteousness, and making baptism every thing. But why so, my brethren? It is only saying that we must not treat the Bible as we please, but take it as we find it, and submit to it as we find it. No man that does this
Rom. ii. 14. § Acts ii. 38.
+ Mark xvi. 15, 16.
|| Rev. xxii. 19. ** I Cor. i. 25.
I John ii. 5. | Prov. xiii, 13.
is in danger of undervaluing faith or holiness or righteousness. that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” We do not alter Christ's words. We do not take out belief, any more than baptism. Undoubtedly, my brethren, if you would be saved, you must believe. Undoubtedly you must believe that Christ shed his blood to save your souls ; undoubtedly you must believe that he rose again for your justification ; undoubtedly you must believe that he now sitteth at the right hand of God, where he ever liveth to make intercession for us; undoubtedly you must believe that from thence he will come again to judge the living and the dead out of those things which are written in the books,* according to their works. And if you believe these things, you will live as they who are preparing every day for the coming of this all-important trial. You will be earnest in your prayers for the grace of the Holy Spirit, which alone can enable you to perform this great work. You will be diligent in the use of all appointed ordinances, and earnest both to receive and to do whatever you find commanded in the only authority, the book of God. This is what is meant by belief. And we would only listen in awe to the conclusion of Christ's solemn words, he that believeth not shall be damned.” Our Lord nowhere says that baptism shall save them that believe not. No—“the unbelieving,” he expressly says, in the book of Revelation, “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.”+ And who are “the unbelieving?" Not surely those only who deny Christ in words, but those also who “profess that they know God, but in works deny him, being abominable and disobedient. and unto every good work reprobate.”I No baptism will save such as these. It may have placed them in the book of life, but the Lord will blot them out of his book. He that believeth not (no exception for the baptized unbeliever) shall be damned. “ If a man abide not in me,” says our Lord, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered : and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit" the Father taketh away." We may be in Christ, as by baptism we are, and yet by sin we lose the inheritance of his kingdom.
We do not then, my brethren, place baptism in the room of faith, or of holiness, or of righteousness, or any thing of the kind. We know that without these things no man shall see the Lord. We would place baptism where Christ himself has placed it; and that is, at the entrance to his church. Would you, my brethren, have your children members of him? Do you desire to have their names on that best of registers, the book of life? Do you wish to give them a claim to his grace in the manner which his wisdom has chosen and appointed ? Then bring them to baptism; and be assured that the prayers which you there offer in performing the will of God, must be acceptable to him, and that he will not be wanting to the honour and efficiency of his own appointments.
And now, my brethren, having again called your attention to the nature and importance of baptism, let me carry you on further to other
* Rev. xx. 12.
Tit. i. 16.
+ Rev. xxi. 8.
duties. In earthly registers, a name once entered remains. Not so, however, in the registry of heaven. Whosoever hath sinned against me," says God to Moses, “ him will I blot out of book.' may then be in the book of life which is afterwards blotted out through sin. In baptizing your children, you have done a part of your duty,-but only a part. It will have been to little purpose to put their names in the book of life, if you do not do your best to keep them there. The text tells you the dreadful consequence of those whose names abide not in the book of life when the books are opened at the judgment. “ Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Would you bear, my brethren, to see this dreadful consequence attending your children? What would be your feelings did you see your beloved children in flames ? What would be your distraction to see the offspring of your love die after a few hours of agony? And yet who shall compare this with "everlasting burnings ?"+ What parent's heart shall ever endure to see his children cast into that lake of fire, " where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched?"# And if, my brethren, they come to such an end through your fault, you will have to endure the dreadful affliction of their curses —wretchedness scarcely supportable—but which you must support through all eternity, and which will come upon your heads in everlasting vengeance ! Risk not, my brethren, things so dreadful,- for your children's sakes, for your own sakes,--for your Saviour's sake, who endured so much that your souls might live for ever.
Cherish and advance the grace implanted in the tender hearts of your children at their baptism. Let your example, my brethren, teach them, and the best teaching it will be, how to walk and to please God. How shall you correct them for profane and idle language, when they hear you swear, or use profligate talk? How shall you punish them for idling away the Sabbath, when they see you neglecting the morning service always, and the evening service often? When
you teach them both by example and command that they are not to come to church unless they can dress themselves quite so well as you think right? How shall the gospel prevail from the lips of a drunkard or a defrauder ? But example is not all. The example of Eli was good. but his sons nevertheless made themselves vile, and yet he restrained them not. Restrain your children, my brethren, from evil, and teach them good. Think of the mighty advantages you possess in a Sunday School alone, and secure them. But at least provide for their learning, and practically understanding, their Catechism. There is nothing in the Catechism but what it is necessary that every Christian should know. And when I speak of a practical understanding, I would be understood to mean a practical training in all its truths; they should be taught their duty to God and their neighbour by practice-trained to daily prayer-to daily labour - to daily knowledge of their Bible. See what the Baptismal Service says to godfathers and godmothers; and what it says to them it says to parents. It tells you to bring up children “ to lead a godly and a christian life; remembering always that baptism doth represent unto us our profession; which is to follow the example of our Saviour
* Exod. xxxii. 33.
† Isa. lxvi. 24.
Mark ix. 41, 46, 48.
Christ and be made like unto him ; that as he died, and rose again for us, so should we, who are baptized, die from sin, and rise again unto righteousness; continually mortifying all our evil and corrupt affections and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living." If you do these things, my brethren, you may confidently hope that your children will continue in the same holy and blessed registry of the book of life : but at least, my brethren, you will have the great and important comfort that you have done your utmost,-a comfort which will descend upon your souls in showers of everlasting blessing. Yours shall be the promise, “ He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.'
DEFECTS OF OUR PRESENT ECCLESIASTICAL SYSTEM, AND
THEIR REMEDIES. Sır,—Every one must admit the present to be a very important crisis for the Church established in this kingdom. Happily, the various plans, under the specious name of Reforms, with which the Church was menaced under the first ferment occasioned by the Reform Bill, have been delayed by circumstances, till we may hope the question of ecclesiastical remedies for existing defects will be carried on in a far different temper from that with which it was at one time likely to have been treated. For the opinions of the writer, I am aware you do not wish to hold yourself responsible ; and I feel, on that account, a still greater sense of the extreme delicacy of the question, and a more heavy responsibility on my own part ; and trust that the confidence and liberality with which, at such a time as this, you consent to grant me the vehicle of the REMEMBRANCER for publishing my views, will not be found misplaced.
Before I proceed to propound my own opinions, I cannot but revert to what actually has already been done by Parliament, and to the plans proposed for the future by authority. I would ask, Has not the spirit of those alterations been one which the sincere friends of the Church ought to deprecate? And yet, Lords Grey and Stanley were doubtless sincere in their wishes to uphold the Establishment; and it arose, therefore, from want of due consideration, rather than from a desire of innovation, or any sinister design against the Church, that they adopted those violent means of suppressing Bishoprics, and erecting the Board of National Education in Ireland, and various other measures also regarding the English Church, which no sincere friend of religion can approve. In these plans, too, the Conservative party, and even the dignitaries of the Establishment, acquiesced far too easily. With every respect for the Conservative party, I still fear they look too much at the civil effects of the Church, and treat it rather as one of the great institutions of the Monarchy, than at the ecclesiastical bearings of the question. But if
• Rev. iii. 5.
the Church really is to be useful in a civil capacity, it should ever be borne in mind, that it is only by the sanctions which belong to it, as a divine institution, that it can bring about the ends aimed at ; and every speech which is uttered in Parliament, and every piece of legislation which has a tendency to bring it down to the level of the other institutions of the State, which are of mere human origin, or arise from national expediency, defeat the very object which is desired to be promoted. In short, if the Church is to be even politically and nationally useful, it can only be brought about by treating it as a Church, that is, as a divine institution, and not as a mere engine of State policy. On this painful part of the question I will, however, say no more than that I have, in these few sentences, hinted at the real cause which has hitherto rendered the agitation of ecclesiastical changes truly dangerous, and caused the measures even of her friends to have completely failed in their objects.
The revival of the dormant powers of Convocation is one of the most prominent features of ecclesiastical change ; and now that it has been brought before the legislature by a formal motion, and lately been urged by a large and influential body of the Clergy in the Diocese of Exeter, it can no longer be passed over, as it has hitherto been, by its opponents, in studied silence. Accordingly, it has been combated with various arguments—but with little skill. To hear its opponents, one would suppose that it was intended to set up a rival to the legislature ; to establish a system of ecclesiastical tyranny and Papal supremacy ; to throw the whole Church into a scene of feud and religious animosities : and even a gentle hint or two have been hazarded, as to a possible intention of annoying and persecuting the Dissenters. The very persons who talk thus are those who are very loud in praising the economical Establishment of Scotland at the expense of the Prelatical Church of England ; yet that Establishment has its General Assembly, and affords a proof that such a body may exist in full activity, even in a country far more bitterly torn by religious sects and parties than England, without any such fearful consequences. The English Clergy are surely not inferior in any point to those of Scotland ; and it is a libel on them to suppose that they would pervert such a privilege, if conceded, more than those of the Northern Establishment.
It must surely be admitted that, without trenching at all on civil matters, there are a variety of questions deeply affecting the Church in its efficiency, which none but such a body can rightly deal with. Many of the most important rules and canons of the Church were made for, and contemplated, a totally different state of society from the present : adapting them to present use is a very important work, which requires the existence of such a body.
The preparation of a code of discipline for the Clergy, with the question, how far, and by what means it might be desirable to extend it over the laity; the general and professional education of the Clergy ; the mode of admission to holy orders (the present system of titles being notoriously fraught with many inconveniences); the best means of extending the Church in our colonial possessions, and of increasing her efficiency at home ; what means might be adopted for reconverting the Dissenters back to the Church (and I am persuaded that if the work were seriously attempted in the right spirit, it would meet with no ordinary