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after the commencement of the Christian era, before the sprinkling of a single infant. I am, however, commencing a long journeymany months will elapse before my return. I pray you to search the scriptures, during my absence; and if, when we meet again, you can point out the chapter and verse, wherein my God has commanded his ministers to sprinkle infants, I will immediately prepare myself to yield an unhesitating obedience. I pursued my journey-I returned to New-Jersey, my then home-but no authority could be produced, from the sacred writings, for infant sprinkling. Still, however, religious parents were uneasy, and piously anxious to give testimony, public testimony of their reliance upon, and confidence in the God of their salvation. Many, perhaps, were influenced by the fashion of this world; but some, I trust, by considerations of a higher origin.
I united with my friends in acknowledging that when God had blessed them by putting into their hands, and under their care, one of the members of his body which he had purchased with his precious blood, it seemed proper and reasonable, that they should present the infant to the God who gave it, asking his aid in the important duty, which had devolved upon them, and religiously confessing by this act, their obligation to, and dependance on the Father of all worlds. Yet we could not call an act of this kind baptism; we believe there is but one baptism; and this, because the Spirit of God asserts, by the Apostle Paul, that there is but one baptism, and the idea of this single baptism is corroborated by the class in which we find it placed. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians iv. 5, 6. After much deliberation I proposed, and many of my hearers have adopted the following mode: The parent or parents, (I am always best pleased when both parents unite,) bring their children into the great congregation, and standing in the broad aisle, in the presence of the worshippers of God. The Father receiving the babe from-the arms of the mother, presents it to the servant of God, who statedly ministers at his altar. The ambassador of Christ receives it in his arms, deriving his authority for this practice, from the example of the Redeemer, who says, Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. The minister, therefore, taking the infant from its Father, who gives him, as he presents it, the name of the child, proclaims aloud, John or Mary, we receive thee as a member of the mystical body of him, who is VOL. II.
the second Adam, the Redeemer of men, the Lord from heaven. We dedicate thee to him, to whom thou properly belongest, to be baptized with his own baptism, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and we pronounce upon thee that blessing, which he commanded his ministers, Moses, Aaron, and his sons, to pronounce upon his people, saying,
The Lord bless thee and keep thee;
The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee;
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. For this procedure we have the command, the express command of God. Our reason and our religion concur to approve the solemnity, and our hearts are at peace.
The Lord, we repeat, hath commanded us to bless the people; God himself pronounced this blessing upon all the people, in the first Adam, when he placed him in the garden of Eden, and blessing and cursing came not from the same mouth, upon the same characters. God, our God, is the ever blessing God; nor are blessings given only to the deserving. The blessings of providence, and of grace, are freely bestowed upon the evil and the unthankful; and when the evil and the unthankful obtain the knowledge of this truth, they earnestly sigh to be good, to be grateful.
But the ever blessed God, not only blessed the people in their first general head, but in that seed, which is Christ. In thy seed, said the Lord Jehovah, shall the families, all the families of the earth be blessed. This was a royal grant. We are not, in general, sufficiently attentive to this particular. It is common to talk of being blessed by, and, some say, through Christ, but few, very few, ever think of being blessed in Christ.
Secondly, You ask, if I am without fear? Respecting my standing in a future world, certainly yes. A good tree bringeth not forth evil fruit; a sweet fountain never sendeth forth bitter waters. It is life eternal to know God. Why? Because, God is, indeed, and in truth, the life of the world. I am not, said the God-man,who spake as never man spake, I am not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them. Had I no other scripture than this, I could not fear; I never could be disquieted in the dread of future misery. God is manifested in the flesh, and, thus manifested, he is, indeed, and in truth, the life of the world, so that it is impossible to know God, and not to know my life. Moreover, I have life pre
cisely in the way that the blinded children of this world would find it if they could, that is, by keeping the law; for, said the great Master, I came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them. Now he did, or he did not fulfil the law. If he did, I also have fulfilled the law, for the head of every man is Christ; and whatever is done by my head, is assuredly done by my whole body. Can we be Christians and not embrace this fundamental truth? I in them, said Emmanuel, and thou in me, that we may be made perfect in one. O, it is a great thing to be a Christian !
As ye have received the Lord Jesus, so walk ye in him. But we have received him as made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. But sanctification is that holiness, without which, no man can see the Lord. It is true, we must all stand before the judgment seat of God, of Jesus Christ, and give an account of the things done in the body. At such a period, if called upon, I should confess myself, in my individual character, a corrupt tree. But I should add, Jesus is the green fir-tree, from whom my fruit is found.
You would know my sentiments respecting the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. Perhaps I cannot better answer this question, than by narrating what not long since passed between me and a clergyman of high respectability. It is seldom I am so happy as to be in company with those reverend gentlemen. I have no opportunity of meeting them in their own habitations, as I am rarely, or never an invited guest; and I do not invite them to my dwelling, because I am convinced they do not wish to have it supposed they associate with me. You know it is said, two cannot walk together except they be agreed; but, although there be no such agreement as will admit of our associating together, yet we sometimes meet at funerals. We have lately in this, as well as in other towns, attempted doing honour to America's deceased chief, by performing funeral solemnities over his supposed remains; and as I was present upon the occasion, I was ranked, by the master of the ceremonies, with the worthy gentleman adverted to above; and I am never thus classed, without having some conversation, which, however, I seldom court. Drawing up a heavy sigh as we passed along toward the place of interment, he said, "The time will come, when people will wonder how they could ever be so weak as to believe that God could die." This observation was made with so much serious solemnity, as immediately to bring me acquainted with the religious
sentiments of his reverence; and I replied, Sir, I presume mankind never were so weak as to believe that God could die; I do not suppose that any one who believes a state of existence in a future world, imagines that General Washington is dead; they believe, indeed, that his body is dead; but every reflecting member of the community is persuaded, that the immortal spark which he received from heaven, hath ascended to its native skies. They know that the house of his tabernacle is taken down, that the materials of which it was composed are lodged in the dust; but they believe the heavenly inhabitant hato taken possession of his house not made with hands, eternal, and in the heavens. You know, my dear Sir, when God made man, he said, Let us make man in our own image; he did not say, Let us make men in our image, but let us make man in our image; man, in the singular, our, in the plural, so that the plural was in the singular, body, soul, and spirit. The first, the body, is of the earth, earthy. The soul is that thinking, hoping, fearing, joying, sorrowing being, that was breathed into the body. The spirit unites these two together, until it pleases the Creator to dissolve this union, by consigning the earthy part to the dust from whence it originated, when the soul and the spirit return to God who gave it. Therefore, the scripture assures us, the spirit of a man, when his body returns to the dust, ascendeth to God who gave it, while the spirit of the beast, not being made in the image of God, having no soul to which to adhere, evaporates in empty air. But the spirit made in the image of its Creator, ascendeth with a spiritual body. The spirit of our Washington hath returned to God who gave it, and, therefore, this image of God is not lost; and you will please to observe, that it is the soul and spirit of General Washington which inhabited his body, and the consideration is highly consolatory.
I have frequently reflected, with wonder and amazement, at the difficulty which has been made respecting the doctrine of the trinity. It is true that every part of the works of God are mysterious, and that none by searching can find out God, but as far as I can comprehend myself, I can catch a glimpse of the grace, exhibited by this triune Being, consisting of body, soul and spirit; made in the image of God, of the triune God. But it seems, as if mankind were fond of multiplying mysteries. It is one of the characters of the mother of the abominations of the earth, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the whole earth. But it re
quires stronger faith to believe what unbelievers say, and profess to believe, than to yield credence to the good sayings of our God. It is said, that all nature is the body, and God, the soul, but while they admit, that God is in all the works of nature, they deny, that he is in the masterpiece of nature. Yet, they talk of God, and of a God out of Christ. I wish I could know what idea such dreamers ever had of a soul that had never been in a body. Yet we may form as just an idea of a soul out of a body, as of a God out of Christ.
Where God has given no revelation of himself, or of his works, we are very excusable when we do not understand, but, my dear Sir, when we have, by the favour of our God, so plain an account of man as the image of God, and we choose to leave it, and plunge in the dark, and then complain of being obliged to believe, and to comprehend dark mysteries, it seems to me an affront to the Majesty of heaven. I rccollect being once asked by a hearer, on my quitting the pulpit, the following question: I do not know that I understood you this evening, Sir, but you seemed to me to talk of soul and spirit. Pray, is not this a distinction without a difference? No, Sir, were they one and the same, your horse would be your master, for he has much more spirit than yourself.
What idea should we, or even the angels of God in heaven, have of God, if he had never manifested himself in the flesh? To men and angels out of Christ, the Godhead is unknown. The Spirit of God led Mary to say, my soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; and the Apostle prays, that the Christians, in his day, may be sanctified in body, soul, and spirit. We are exhorted, to hold fast the form of sound words, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
It is, my dear Sir, a blessed consideration, that the God who passed by the nature of angels, took upon him the seed of Abraham, and that he is now, and ever will be, God with us; and that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. No one, therefore, can suppose, that God, that the divine Nature, can die, but the genuine Christian believes, that the divine Nature is united to the human nature, and that it was this human body, which was united to God, which expired upon the cross, while the divine Nature, like the soul of man, escaped from the suffering, expiring body. There is great beauty in the figure; body, soul and spirit, is the figure, the image of Deity, while Father, word and spirit, is the sublime original. But, my dear Sir, I am really ap