« ПредишнаНапред »
dren in the adjoining churchyard. by a knowledge of salvation through Reader! when this memorial of the atonement of Christ. Such mortality meets thine eyes, may it was the doctrine which this faithexcite this prayer: So teach me, ful pastor delighted to proclaim to O Lord, to number my days, that fallen sinners; it was his own I may apply my heart into wisdom hope in death; and being dead, he
that wisdom which leads to God yet speaketh.”
· RELIGIOUS COMMUNICATIONS.
ON THE SACRAMENTS: AN ESSAY
ON THE TWENTY-FIFTH AR- their observance.
ation of Scripture was to be gene[Concluded from Page 300.]
rally adopted, and literal precepts
to be spiritually explained, all its We may see
certainty must be lost, and Scrip. The utility, the importance, the 'ture might be perverted to any necessity of a solemn, serious ob- purpose whatsoever. Our Lord servance of the external ordinances, "himself expressly commanded the or the sacraments of the Christian outward observance of the sacrachurch. .
ments, and his Apostles and the It is really astonishing, that, whole primitive church literally after such express scriptural de- obeyed his command; as we find clarations, there should be any sect . repeatedly mentioned in the Acts. of Christians among us who can (See Acts, ii. 41, 42:) If, then, avowedly deny this. Referring , such an express command may be every thing external into its spi- evaded, and such plain and deciritual meaning and design, they sive examples set aside, in the choose to understand every com- same way may any precept be mand for external observances as evaded, and the examples of the relating only to the spiritual and whole church, though recorded for inward grace; and as the inward our imitation in Scripture, be rengrace is doubtless of the greatest dered vain. Our church, therefore, importance, they falsely conclude afirms, that though the observance that the external ordinance is alto. is not in all cases absolutely neces.. gether needless. Upon this system sary; yet that the two sacraments of reasoning, if the Spirit work are generally necessary to salvaupon the soul, there is no need of tion:'that is, wherever they may baptism; and if the work of atone, be had. Every parent, therefore, ment be received in faith (though, is under the most solemn obligation in general, this work of Christ to bring his child to the sacred they little value), the sacra-' font; and every professing Chrismental expression of it is of no' tian, who, by any neglect, hath not use. But is not this reversing the yet been thus initiated into the . order of God? who, as he hath ap-' church, is obliged by the compointed means, has connected the mand of the Lord to submit to this proinise of his blessing with the ordinance, as a sacrament of his use of them ; and who, however he' own ordaining. I may, if he please, work independ And here I cannot but bear's ently of them, has given us no rea- my protest against a custom, not
too general, and which can scarce- as generally necessary to salvation, ly be reckoned less than a profa- it ought not to be deferred beyond nation of the ordinance of Christ, the first suitable opportunity. For viz. the custom of privately and the consolation, however, of those hastily baptizing children (or, as parents whose children, by some it is vulgarly and very impro- unavoidable necessity, have died perly called, half-baptizing), with- without the participation of the out any reasonable cause from ordinance, it may be observed, dangerous illness. In this case, or that if baptism correspond with “upon agreat and reasonable cause, circumcision in its nature and deto be approved of by the curate,” sign (as all who hold the baptism the church allows such a use of of infants will allow), it must also the sacrament, but directs her Mi- correspond with it in its effects. nisters to“ warn their people, that Now a Jewish child was by no without like great cause and neces- means to be circumcised till the sity they procure not their chil. eighth day; and it is most certain dren to be (thus) baptized at that many must have died before home.” Then, no doubt, the ad- that day, and therefore before the ministration of this sacrament is receiving this appointed rite.—But highly proper, if it be done with will any one suppose that this afreverence and solemnity. And it fected the eternal state of the ought to be remembered, that this child?-I apprehend not: no more is the only baptism, any further will the being destitute of baptism, act being only the public recogni- when in the providence of God the tion of it before the church. But, child has been removed from the in general, the demand of baptism present state without the suitable in these cases arises either from opportunity of its being administerthe mere capricious wish of the ed. And I cannot but conceive, that parent, or from the folly and igno- the omission, if it be not wilful and rance of nurses, who upon any of contemptuous, is much better than the little indispositions to which all the corrupt and profane use of the children are subject, are anxious mere ceremony. It is evident, to have the child named, having however, that both these divine apno other idea of the act than as pointments of Christ are often ata charm to save the child's life, tended to in complete ignorance or as in the act itself procuring of their nature and intent, resting the salvation of the soul. The on the outward observance, withofficiating clergyman is therefore out any knowledge or desire of often subjected to petulance and the inward grace. Baptism is coninsult, in making those inquiries sidered in no other light than as an which his duty requires him to opportunity to register the name do. At other times it is performed for a civil purpose ; and the Lord's merely for the sake of deferring Supper as suitable to some other the public act to a more conve- civil occasion; and not as religious nient season, perhaps to accommo- ordinances, for spiritual profit. date the sponsors, or for reasons Hence it is that they are so totally altogether trivial; and in almost neglected, or so irreverently perall cases it is performed in a hurry, formed, to the discredit of the without any witnesses, and without church, and the dishonour of its any solemnity or regard to the na- Lawgiver. · Formality, or mere ture and design of the institution. external observances, substituted But surely the ordinance of Christ for vital godliness, is the great eris not to be profaned, to indulge rør of the professing church: and .caprice, ignorance, or mere con- such is the corrupt and earthly navenience of a sumptuous baptism. ture of man, that he would willAs the appointment of Christ, and ingly submit to any ordinances, ceremonies, or burdensome exter - he may receive remission of sing nals, to compound for the religion by spiritual regeneration.” Of this of the heart; that which arises we ourselves profess to be par. from the regeneration of the Spirit takers, and do “ thank our heaof God, which is discovered in venly Father that he has vouche conversion to God, and maintain- safed to call us to the knowledge ed by faith in the atonement and of his grace and faith in him; and mediation of Christ Jesus.
pray him to increase it in us; and But surely this truth must be give his Holy Spirit to the infant, most plain and evident,
that he may be born again,” &c. That if the sacraments them. In the sacrament of the Lord's selves be so necessary, much more Supper' we make the same huma? are the things signified by them: bling confessions of our guilt, our for, the first can only be necessary need of the atonement in the blood as they are connected with the of Christ, the blood of his cross, latter.
and our entire reliance upon this The sacraments are but figures for all our salvation. We confessi and shadows, or emblems of that that we have sinned most griev. which \must pass in and on our ously; justly provoked his wrath ; hearts in order to salvation. And, that we do earnestly repent; that at the most, they are but the means the remembrance of our sin is of conveying those blessings and grievous, and the burden intolethat grace into the soul which are rable; and supplicate, Have mercy signified or represented by them. úpon us, have mercy upon us, for It is, no doubt, to this, viz, the in- thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's ward and spiritual grace of baptism, sake, &c.; that we do not presumei, · which our Lord refers, when, in to come to his table trusting in our
his most solemn manner of address, own righteousness, but in his mahe asserts,“ Verily, verily, except a nifold mercies; since we are not man be born again, of water and of worthy so much as to gather up the Spirit, he cannot enter into the the crumbs under his table, &c.; kingdom of God." (John, iii. 3,5.) we pray that we may eat his
Whenever, therefore, we bring flesh and drink his blood, that a child to the sacred font, or attend our sinful bodies may be made the administration of the ordinance, clean by his body, and our souls we most solemnly profess our faith washed through his most precious in the depraved state of human na- blood, &c. (See the baptismal and ture, and our need of the grace of sacramental services.) My Felthe Holy Spirit to regenerate the low-christians; how often have we heart'; which blessing we ear- engaged in the one or the other of nestly request for the regeneration these ordinances, for ourselves or of the child, and the confirmation for others, and made these very of our own souls. “ Forasmuch as humbling confessions, and these all men are conceived and born in earnest supplications? Have they sin, and that our Saviour Christ been merely forms of hypocrisy saith none can enter into the king and self-delusion? Do we really dom of God except he be regene- believe the humbling truths which rate and born anew of water and we have confessed? Are we parof the Holy Ghost, we are di- takers of the grace of which we rected to pray that the child may have acknowledged the reception ? be baptized with water and the Have we been quickened by the Holy Ghost," &c. We do there. Spirit, been made partakers of fore pray that Almighty God would faith in Christ, and is it our ear. wash him and sanctify him with nest desire that this faith may be the Holy Ghost. And again, “ that confirmed and increased in us?
Have we so felt - the grievous guilt under the term being « born and the heavy burden of our sins, again,” shows us the ground of while we have in faith been plead- that necessity às existing in the ing the atoning blood, and looking very state of human nature, since alone to the mercy of our heavenly " that which is born of the flesh is Father in Christ Jesus, through flesh, and that (only) which is born his propitiation and righteousness, of the SPIRIT is spirit.” The Apofor pardon, sanctification, and sal- stle proceeds upon the very same vation ?- This alone is the grace principle, when, in Rom. viii. 5, he of the sacraments. Of these bless- thus describesthe two distinct states: ings they are the emblems and “They that are after the flesh do signs, and the earnests and the mind the things of the flesh; and seals to true believers; and by they that are after the Spirit, the these alone they become the means things of the Spirit.” From hence of salvation.
he draws the conclusion, " that It may, then, be most profitable they that are in the flesh cannot to inquire further and more par.. please God (ver. 8); that all beticularly, what is the regeneration lievers are in the Spirit, the Spirit of the Spirit, and wherein it con- of God dwelling in them; and sists! and what is that faith which that “if any man have not the spireceives the atonement, and brings rit of Christ, he is none of his." into the soul all the blessings of a (Ver. 9.) dying Saviour? These consider. These scriptural declarations ations will at once discover to us most certainly imply a work of
the importance and solemnity of God, which he “ works effectually · the sacramental ordinances, and though invisibly” in his people,
the much greater importance of producing a total change of state the inward grace.
and character. It is the office and The state of all mankind by na- work of the Spirit, while a sinner ture is represented in Scripture as is in this state of spiritual death, of a state of death in sin, and under pollution and of guilt, to give spithe sentence of sin. And terms can“, ritual life, to sanctify and purify not be stronger, nor more just in the heart, and bring into a state of the description of this, than those pardon and salvation. By the efwhich occur in the Ninth Article, fectual operations of that Spirit a on Original Sin. This, says the new life is communicated. Man by Article, “ standeth not in the fol- nature is in possession of an animal lowing of Adam (as the Pelagians and a rational life; the Scripture, do vainly talk), but it is the fault however, gives it a namenot quite so and corruption of the nature of gratifying to the pride of man, and every man that naturally is engen. calls it a " sensual” life; as all its dered of the offspring of Adam, principles, motives, actings, and whereby man is very far gone enjoyments, arise from sense, and (quam longissimè) from original are connected with the things of righteousness, and is of his own sense. Therefore (Rom. viii. 7), nature inclined to evil, &c. and “the carnal mind is enmity against therefore in every person born into God," and discovers its enmity in this world it deserveth God's wrath « not being subject to the law of and damnation.” But you hath God,” which the carnal principle ne quickened, saith the Apostle, “ cannot be.” Since “ the natural who were dead in trespasses and man receiveth not the things of the sins. Here is the communication Spirit of God, for they are foolish. of a life of which the soul was be ness unto him; neither can he fore destitute; and our Lord, in know them, because they are spispeaking of the necessity of this ritually discerned.” (1 Cor. ii. 14.)
6. It needs only to consult the con- vine change must be determined,
text of each passage to see that 'since it can be determined in no the Apostle is in both speaking of other way. As the air, the emblem the state of human nature when of the Spirit, is not discernible but destitute of the grace of God, since by its effects; “ We hear the sound he is contrasting it with that state thereof, but know not whence it into which a sinner is brought by cometh, nor whither it goeth ; so is that grace. Hence he observes, every one tliat is born of the Spirit.”. 1 Cot. ii. 19, “ But we have re- (John, iii. S.) The proper mode ceived not the spirit of the world, of self-inquiry is, then, plainly be. but the SPIRIT which is of God, fore us.-Do I love the world and that we might know the things its pleasures? sin and its actings? which are freely given to us of Am I seeking my happiness in a God." The necessity, the nature, state alienated from God, in conand the effects of such a work, are cert with the world, and in disobehere, then, plainly discovered. The dience to his will? Then I am in a necessity arises from the state of state of nature, and of spiritual fallen nature. By it the judgment death. Do I love God and his sera is rectified, and the heart renewed, vice, Christ and his salvation? Do and those spiritual faculties com- I love the ordinances of God ? municated which render the soul have I delight in approaching him, capable of discerning and enjoying and in spiritual communion and spiritual objects. Not only does fellowship with him in Christ Jen' light shine around the soul, but a sus? Do I delight in his law, and spiritual sight is granted to receive desire and aim to do his will, 'in it, and in that light to see light. In all the relations and duties of life? other words, faith, which is “the Nothing but the grace of the Spia gift of God," beholds and discerns rit could have effected such graspiritual objects, and the faculties cious dispositions. These are the of spiritual life are exercised upon tempers and works of the regenethem. Thus, grace affords a sen- rate mind, and give me the pleas. tient principle, peculiar to itself, ing confidence of being a partaker acting particularly upon divine of this grace. In the present state, things, through the mediụm of the indeed, the two principles or na, natural spirit or understanding, as tures will exist together in the the natural spirit acts through the heart of the believer, for “ the flesh, medium of the natural senses upon lusteth against the spirit, and the natural things. (1.John, i. 1-3.) spirit against the flesh, and these, Thus the believing soul sees, per- are contrary the one to the other, ceives, understands, and enjoys 60 that ye cannot do the things them. His life is the life of faith, in which ye would,” and “ that which the manner which the Apostle has is born after the flesh will perse. described : “ I live; yet not l, but cute that which is born after the Christ liveth in me, and the life I Spirit" (Gal. v. 17, 18; iv. 29); now live in the flesh I live by the “but if ye are led by the Spirit, faith of the Son of God." (Gal. ii. ye are not under the law” of sin 20.) The effect of this must be, and death. The old man of sin is that " they who are after the Spi- still alive, and will exert its dying rit will mind the things of the Spi- powers, but it is crucified with rit;" i.e. they will taste, relish, Christ; and it is the sincere desire delight in, and be governed by of the believer to crucify it daily, them. (Psa. xxxiv. 8; 1 Pet. ii. 8; to mortify and subdue its remainJob, xxxiii. 26, 28.) These ein ing power, its reigning power befects are clear and evident, and no ing already destroyed by regene, doubt by these the reality of a die rating grace. The Apostle has
CHRIST. GUARD. VOL. VI. 3B