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8. Third and last privilege of Baptism, and completes the value of it, that by entering into the Christian covenant, weare made in heritors of the
kingdom of heaven;" that is, entitled to perfect and cndless happiness in body and soul. Had we continued in the primitive uprightness of our first parents, and never sinned at all, we could have had no claim, but from God's free promise, to any thing more, than thatour Being should not be worse to us than not Being. But as we are originally depraved, and have actually sinned, far from having any claim to happiness, we are liable to just punish. ment forever. And least of all could we have
any claim to such happiness, as eternal life and glory; But “ blessed be the God and Father of our Lord “ Jesus Christ; who of his abundant mercy hath
begotten us again unto a lively hope ; to an in“ heritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that “ fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us."?
These then are the privileges of the Christian covenant. As for those who have no knowledge of that covenant; the Apostle hath told us indeed, that “ as many as have sinned without law, shall
perish without law :"8 but he hath told us also, that " when the Gentiles, which have not the law, “ do by nature the things contained in the law, “ they are a law unto themselves."9 And whether none of them shall attain to any degree of a better life, is no concern of ours; who may well be contented with the assurance, that our own lot will be a happy one beyond comparison, if we please. He, who hath shown the abundance of his love to us, will undoubtedly show, not only his justice, but his mercy, to all the works of his hands, as far, and in such manner, as is fit. There is, indeed, “none “ other name under heaven, given among men,
whereby we must be saved, but that of Jesus
(7) 1 Pet. i. 3, 4.
(8) Rom. ü. 12.
(9) Rom. ii. 14.
“ Christ."But, whether they who have not had in this life the means of calling upon it, shall receive any benefit from him, or, if any, what and how; as neither Scripture hath told us, nor reason can tell us, it is presumptuous to determine, and useless to inquire.
The points, to which we must attend, are those which relate to ourselves; that we givedue “thanks
to the Father, who hath made us meet to be par“ takers of the inheritance of the Saints in light: and be duly careful to walk worthy of God, who “ hath called us to his kingdom and glory."3 For we have a right to the privileges of the covenant, only on the supposition and presumption of our performing the obligations of it. Children indeed of believers, who are taken out of the world before they become capable of faith and obedience, we doubt not, are happy. Forthegeneral declarations of Holy Writ plainly comprehend their case: and our Saviour hath particularly declared, “ that of “ such is the kingdom of God."4 But all, who live to maturer years, as, on the one hand, they may entitle themselves, through God's bountiful promise, though not their own merit, to higher degrees of future felicity, in proportion as their service hath been considerable; so on the other, they are entitled to no degree at all, any longer than they practice that holiness, in which they have engaged to live, and “ without which no man shall see the “ Lord."We shall be acknowledged as children, only whilst we obey our heavenly Father: and“the
Baptism, which saveth us, is not the (outward) “putting away the filth of the flesh, but the in. “ ward) answerofa good conscience towards God.” 6 Which therefore that we may all of us be able
(1) Acts iv. 10, 12. (2) Col. i. 12. (4) Mark x. 14. Luke xviii. 16.
(6) 1 Pet. iii. 21.
(3) 1 Thess. ii. 12. (5) Heb. xii. 14.
always to make, may he of his infinite mercy grant, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Renunciation in Baptism.
AFTER the privileges, to which Baptism gives us a claim, our Catechism proceeds to set forth the duties, to which it binds us : those things “ which
our Godfathers and Godmothers promised and “ vowed in our names.” For, without the performance of these conditions, neither hath God engaged, nor is it consistent with the holiness of his nature and the honour of his government, to bestow such benefits upon us; nor, indeed, shall we be capable of receiving them. For a virtuous and religious temper and behaviour here is absolutely requisite, not only to entitle, but to qualify and prepare us for a virtuous and religious blessedness hereafter, such as that of heaven is.
Now, these conditions or obligations on our part, are three: that we renounce what God forbids; that we believe what he teaches, and do what he commands; or, in other words, repentance, faith, and obedience. These things are plainly necessary; and they are plainly all that is necessary : for, as through the grace of God, we have them in our power; so we have nothing more. And, therefore, they have been constantly, and without any material variation, expressed in Baptism from the earliest ages of the Church to the present.
The first thing, and the only one which can be explained at this time, is, that we renounce what God forbids, every sin of every kind. And this
is put first, because it opens the way for the other two. When once we come to have a due sense that we are sinners, as all men are, and perceive the baseness, the guilt, the mischief of sin, we shall Ay from it, with sincere penitence, to the remedy which God hath appointed. And, when we in earnest resolve to forsake whatever is wrong, we shall gladly embrace all such truths as will direct us right, and do what they require. But, whilst we retain a love to any wickedness, it will make us, with respect to the doctrines of religion, backward to receive them, or unwilling to think of them, or desirous to interpret them unfairly; and with respect to the duties of religion, it will make our conduct unequal and inconsistent; perplexing us with silly attempts to reconcile vice and virtue, and to atone perhaps by zeal in little duties for indulgence of great faults; till at last, we shall either fall into an open course of transgression, or, which is equally fatal, contrive to make ourselves easy in a secret one. The only effectual method therefore is, to form a general resolution at once, though we shall execute it but imperfectly and by degrees, of following in every thing the Scripturerule, “Cease
to do evil, learn to do well."
Now, the evil from which we are required to cease, is also ranged in our Catechism under three heads. For, whatever we do amiss, proceeds either from the secret suggestions of an invisible enemy, from the temptations thrown in our way by the visible objects around us, or from the bad disposition of our own nature; that is, from the devil, the world, or the flesh. And, though every one of these, in their turns, may incline us to every kind of sin, and it is not always either easy or material to know from which the inclination proceeded
(1) Hence our Saviour, speaking of John Baptist, tells the Jews, " Yemrepented not, that ye might believe him." Matt. xxi. 32.
(2) Isa. i. 16, 17.
originally ; yet, some sins may more usually flow from one source, and some from another; and it will give us a more comprehensive, and so far, at least, a more useful view of them, if we consider them each distinctly.
1. First, then, we renounce in Baptism, “ the “ devil and all his works.” This, in the primitive ages, was the only renunciation made; the works of the devil being understood to signify, as they do in Scripture, every sort of wickedness; which being often suggested by him, always acceptable to him, and an imitation of him, was justly consi. dered as so much service done him, and obedience paid him. But the method now taken, of renouncing the devil, the world, and the flesh separately, is more convenient, as it gives us a more particular account of our several enemies.
What we are taught concerning the devil, and demons or wicked spirits, in the word of God, is, that a number of angels, having sinned against their Maker, (from what motives, or in what instances, we are not, as we need not be, clearly told, but) so as to be utterly unfit for pardon, were cast out of heaven, and are kept under such confinement as God sees proper, tilf the day comes when the final sentence, which they have deserved, shall be executed upon them; but that, in the mean time, being full of all evil, and void of all hope, they maliciously endeavour to make those, whom they can, wicked and miserable like themselves. And being all united under one head, and actuated by one and the same spirit of ill.will against us, we are concerned to look
and therefore the Catechism speaks of them as such.
What means they use to tempt us, we are not distinctly informed; and it is great folly, either, on the one hand, to doubt of the reality of the fact, because we know not the manner; or, on the other, in certain groundless imaginations, to believe idle