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« they who do such things, shall not inherit the
kingdom of God." "Let us, therefore, fear, “ lest a promise being left us of entering into his
rest, any of you should come short of it."7 And let us diligently and frequently examine our hearts, whether we use every proper method to « cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." ;
But, before I conclude, I must desire you to observe, concerning each of the things, which we renounce in Baptism, that we do not undertake what is beyond our power; that the temptations of the devil shall never beset and molest us; that the vain show of the world shall never appear in. viting to us; that our own corrupt nature shall never prompt or incline us to evil; but we under. take what, through the grace of God, though not without it, is in our power; that we will not, either designedly or carelessly, give these our spi. ritual enemies needless advantages against us; and that, with whatever advantage they may at any time attack us, we will never yield to them, but always resist them with our utmost prudence and strength. This is the renunciation here meant; and the office of Baptism expresseth it more fully; where we engage
“ so to renounce the devil, the “ world, and the flesh, that we will not follow nor “ be led by them.” Now, God grant us all, faithfully to make this engagement good, “that after
we have done his will, we may receive his “ promises.",
(6) Gal. v. 19-21.
(7) Heb. iv. I.
Obligation to Believe and to Do, &c.
OUR Catechism, in the answer to its third question, teaches, that three things are promised in our name, when we are baptized ; that we shall renounce what God forbids, believe what he makes known, and do what he commands. The second and third shall be explained, God willing, hereafter. But before the Catechism proceeds to them, it puts a fourth question, and a very natural one, considering that children do not, as they cannot, promise these things for themselves, but their godfathers and god-mothers in their names. It asks them, therefore, “ whether they think they are 6 bound to believe and to do, as they have pro"mised for them.” And to this the
Yes, verily ;" the fitness of which answer will appear by inquiring,
1. In what sense, and for what reason, they promised these things in our names.
2. On what account we are bound to make these promises good.
1. In what sense, and for what reason, they promised these things in our names. A little at tention will show you this matter clearly.
The persons who began the profession of Christianity in the world, must have been such as were of age to make it their own free choice. And, when they entered into the covenant of Baptism, they undoubtedly both had the privileges of it declared to them, and engaged to perform the obligations of it, in some manner, equivalent to that which we now use. When these were admitted by Baptism into the Christian Church, their children had a right to be so too, as will be proved in the sequel of these Lectures; at present let it be supposed. But if Baptism had been adminis. tered to children, without any thing said to express its meaning, it would have had too much the appearance of an insignificant ceremony, or superstitious charm. And, if only the privileges, to which it entitled, had been rehearsed, they might seem annexed to it absolutely, without any conditions to be observed on the children's part. It was, therefore, needful to express the conditions also. Now, it would naturally appear the strongest and liveliest way of expressing them, to represent the infant, as promising by others then, what he was to promise by and for himself, as soon as he could.
So the form used already for persons grown up, was applied, with a few changes, to children also. And though, by such application, some words and phrases must appear a little strange, if they were strictly interpreted; yet, the intention of them was, and is understood to be, a very proper one; declaring, in the fullest manner, what the child is to do hereafter, by a figure and representation made of it at present.
But, then, as Baptism is administered only on the presumption, that this representation is to become, in due time, a reality, so the persons who thus promise in the child's name, are, and always have been, looked on as promising, by the same words in their own name, not indeed, absolutely, that the child shall fulfil their engagements, which nobody can promise ; but that so far as need requires, they will endeavour that he shall, on which it may be reasonably supposed that he will. Anciently the parents were the persons who, at Baptism, both represented their children, and promised for their instruction and admonition. But it was considered afterwards, that they were obliged to it without promising it; and therefore,
other persons were procured to undertake it also ; not to excuse the parents from that care, from which nothing can excuse them, but only in a case of such consequence, to provide an additional security for it. If, then, the parents give due instruction, and the child follow it, the godfathers have nothing to do, but to be heartily glad. But if, on either side, there be a failure, it is then their part and duty to interpose, as far as they have ability and opportunity with any prospect of
Nor is this to be done only till young persons take their baptismal vow upon themselves, at confirmation, but ever after. For, to that end, even they who were baptized in their riper years, must have godfathers and godmothers present, not to represent them, or to promise for them, neither being wanted, but to remind them, if there be occasion," what a solemn profession they have " made before these their chosen witnesses.” 1
This, then, is the nature, and these are the reasons of that promise, which the sureties of children baptized make in their name ; which promise, therefore, may, without question, be safely and usefully made, provided it be afterwards religiously kept. But they who, probably, will be wanted to perform their promise, and yet will neglect it, should not be invited to enter into it, and if they are, should refuse. Let every one concerned think seriously, whether he hath observed these rules or not; for, evidently, it is a serious matter, how little soever it be commonly considered as such.
2. The second question is, on what account we are bound by what was promised at our Baptism, since we neither consented to that engagement, nor knew of it.
Now, certainly, we are not bound to do whatever any other person shall take
(1) Office of Baptism.
upon him to promise in our name. But if the thing promised be part of an agreement advantageous to us, we are plainly bound in point of interest, and, indeed, of conscience too, for we ought to consult our own happiness. Even by the laws of men, persons, unable to express
their consent, are yet presumed to consent to what is for their own good ;? and obligations are understood to lie upon them, from such presumed consent, ever after ; especially if there be a representative acting for them, who is empowered so to , do.3 And parents are empowered by nature to act for their children, and by Scripture to do it in this very case; and therefore may employ others to do it under them. But further still, the things promised in Baptism would have been absolutely incumbent on us, whether they had been promised or not.
For it is incumbent on all persons to believe and to do what God commands.
Only the tie is made stronger by the care then taken, that we shall be taught our duty. And when we have acknowledged ourselves to have learnt it, and have solemnly engaged ourselves to perform it, as we do when we are Confirmed, then the obligation is complete.
But, perhaps, it will be asked, how shall all persons, especially the poor and unlearned, know that what they are taught to believe is really true, and what they are taught to do, really their duty ? I answer the greatest part of it, when once it is duly proposed to them, they may perceive to be so, by the light of their own reason and conscience; as I doubt not to show you. Such points, indeed, as depend not on reason, but on the reveJation made in Scripture, cannot all of them be
(2) The first foundation of obligations, quasi ex contractu, is that Quisque præsumitur consentire in id, quod Utilitatem affert. Dee Eden, El. Jur. L'iv. 1. 3. tit. 28. p. 206.
(3) Of stipulations in another's name. See Inst. S, 20.