« ÎnapoiContinuați »
ments of grace—not in that of Baptism only, but likewise in that of the Lord's Supper. Unless these directions be attended to, the many evils of life which Christians undergo, wholesome medicines though they be, will altogether fail in their effect. Without a compliance with the rules which have been prescribed by the great physician of souls, Jesus Christ, not only will people experience misery in this world, but this will likewise be continued to them in the world which is to come!
Acts ii. 38.
.“ Repent, and be 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.”
You will not have forgotten that, on Sunday last, I mentioned to you the present time as that which I had selected for the purpose of delivering a discourse on one of the rites of our church-I mean that of Confirmation. But, before I proceed to explain to you the origin and nature of the rite, I deem it proper to impress upon you the great necessity which makes it incumbent upon all
persons to obtain an acquaintance with this, as well as with all other ordinances of the church to which they belong; for what, indeed, can be more absurd than to take part in any ceremony or performance whatever, without being acquainted with its nature and its use ; to do any thing, in truth, whatever it may be, without knowing or being able to explain what we are doing?. I address myself more particularly, at the present moment, to those among you who
are desirous of presenting themselves before the Bishop; yet, as there may be something in the present discourse not undeserving the consideration of all, I once more earnestly request your attention to those observations which I am about to offer in explanation of the present subject.
Permit me then to remind you, in the first place, that the ordinance now before us neither does nor can exist of itself independently of any other, but it is closely connected with the sacrament of baptism, of which it is a ratification, or, as its name implies, a confirmation. When, therefore, the
question is asked, What is meant by this confirmation of which so much is said at the present time? you naturally answer, that it is a ratification, or a confirmation of the rite of baptism, which must have been previously celebrated. Before you can present yourselves to be confirmed, it is evident that you must have been baptized : and, in the same manner, before you can understand what is meant by confirmation, it is fully necessary
should know the signification of baptism—that you
should know what is meant by being baptized. We will, in the first place, therefore, consider the meaning, as well as the nature, and origin, of baptism; and, in the second place, as we shall then easily do, we will consider the meaning, as well as the nature, and origin, of confirmation.
Our first enquiry, then, is, What is the meaning of the word baptism? I answer, Baptism means washing ; that is to say, any act which is performed by
means or through the medium of water, is termed baptism in the language of Scripture, and, in the language of ordinary discourse, it is termed washing.
Having thus far satisfied your enquiries, your next demand would naturally be, What is the meaning of the ceremony itself? or in other words, What is the nature of it? Why are persons baptized, or washed, in Christian countries by the parson or minister of the church ? And why is this done once, and once only? The answer to this is, that it is intended to represent the spiritual cleansing or washing which people undergo when they are admitted into the Church of Christ; and it is evident that an act of admission, to whatever body it may be applicable, can only require to be once performed. As any part of the body, therefore, the hands or the face, for example, is washed in water for the purpose of making it clean after it has become dirty, so baptism represents to us, and shews us that our souls, being impure and filthy by nature, are made clean by the blood of Jesus Christ, which the Scriptures tell us cleanseth from all sin. You recollect that Adam and Eve were made perfect and free from sin, but that, by acting contrary to the commands of God by eating of the forbidden fruit, they entailed sin and death upon themselves and upon all those who came after them. This state of sin and death is represented in the Scriptures as a state of filth and impurity. And, on the contrary, a state of holiness and life is represented as a state of cleanness. Now St. Paul tells us, that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ are all made alive;" which is the same thing as saying, that as we were made filthy by the transgression of Adam, so we are made clean by the righteousness and holiness of Christ. We, therefore, see that before we are taken to the church to be baptized, we are unholy and unclean, but when the ceremony is over we become clean and comparatively holy. Christ, therefore, speaks of baptism as a new birth, for he says, that at baptism we are born again, as we are “born of water and of the spirit.” This is as though he had said, that, by the spiritual cleansing which we then undergo, our nature is so completely changed that it may be looked upon as a new or second birth. You therefore see, not only the meaning of baptism, which as I have before said is washing, but you likewise see the nature of the ceremony. Water is here used to shew us that, as different parts of our bodies are frequently washed by it, so our souls are cleansed and purified by the Holy Spirit. You perceive, therefore, why in the Church Catechism baptism is termed a sacrament. A sacrament, remember, means a sign of something spiritual or sacred. According to this catechism, we have two sacraments or sacred signs; of these, baptism, which we are now considering, is one, and the supper of the Lord, or the Holy Communion, is the other. Now in our catechism we have likewise the following questions, which agree with my explanation of the sacrament of baptism: “How many parts are there in a sacrament?” The answer is,