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of; and made the Children of God, by Faith in Jesus Chrisk
Indeed not only Christians, but the Jews, are called in Scripture the Children of God'; and such they really were ; being first, as Christians were afterwards, the Children of his Covenant m. But still, as theirs was a State of less Knowledge, more burthensome Precepts, and stricter Government; the Apostle speaks of them, compared with us, only as Servants in his Family. Now I say, that the Heir, as long as he is a Child, differeth nothing from a Servant, though he be Lord of all. Even so ue, speaking of the Jewish Nation, when we were Chile dren, unqualified for any great Degrees of Liberty, were in Bondage under the Elements of the World But when the Fulness of Time was come, God sent forth his Son to redeem them, that were under the Law. Wherefore we are no more Servants but Sons ?. Behold then, as St. John expresses it, what Manner of Love the Father hath beflowed upon us, that we fould be called, in this distinguished Sense, the Sons of Godo; especially considering the Consequence drawn by St. Paul, If Children, then Heirs ; Heirs of God, and Joint-heirs with Chriftp: which is the
3. Third and last Privilege of Baptism, and completes the Value of it, that by entering into the Chriftian Covenant we are made Inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven; that is, entitled to perfect and endless Happiness in Body and Soul. Had we continued in the primitive Uprightness of our first Parents, and never finned at all, we could have had no Claim, but from God's free Promise, to any Thing more, than that our Being should not be worse to us than not Being. But as we are originally depraved, and have actually finned, far from having any Claim to Happiness, we are liable to juft Punishment for ever. 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 k Gal. iii. 26. Deut, xiv. 1.
A Gal. iv. I, 3, 4, 7. ? 1 John iii. 1. P Rom. viii. 17
m Asts iii. 25.
Jesus Chrift: who of his abundant Mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively Hope; to an Inheritance 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 peris without Law": 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. 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 all Comparison, if we please. He, who hath shewn the Abundance of his Love to us, will undoubtedly thew, 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 Christ'. But whether they, who have not had in this Life the Means of calling upon it, Ihall 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 thofe, which relate to ourselves : that we give due Thanks to the Father, who hath made us meet to be Partakers 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 w. For we have a Right to the Privileges of the Covenant, only on the Supposition and Prefumption 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. For the general Declarations 4 1 Pet. i. 3.4.
Rom. ii. 12. s Ibid. viii, 14. Afts iv, 10, 12. Cole i, 12, "I Thell, ii, 12.
of holy Writ plainly comprehend their Case: and our Saviour hath particularly declared, that of such is the Kingdom of Gods. 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 confiderable ; fo on the other, they are entitled to no Degree at all, any longer than they practise that Holiness, in which they have engaged to live, and without which no Man Mall see the Lord y. 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 of the Filth of the Flesh, but the inward Answer of a good Conscience towards God? Which therefore that we may all of us be able always to make, may he of his infinite Mercy grant, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
L E C T U R E
Renunciation in Baptism.
a Claim, our Catechism proceeds to set forth the Duties, to which it binds us thofe Things, which our Godfathers and Godmothers promised and vowed in our Names. For without the Performance of these Condi. tions, neither hath God engaged, nor is it consistent with the Holiness of his Nature and the Honour of his Government, to bestow fuch 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.
* Mark x, 14. Luke xvüi. 16.
* Heb, xii. 14.
21 Pet. iii. 21.
Now these Conditions, or Obligations on our Party, 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 fly from it, with sincere Penitence, to the Remedy of Faith which God hath appointed. And when we in earnest resolve to forsakę 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 filly 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 Scripture Rule, Cease to do evil, learn to do well b.
• Hence our Saviour, speaking of John Baptif, tells the Jews, Ye repented not,--that ye might believe him. Matth. xxi. 32. Ifai. i. 16, 17.
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 Dispositions 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 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 ar.d all bis Works. This, in the primitive Ages, was the only Renunciation made: the Works of the Devil being understood to fignify, 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 considered 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 finned 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 from Heaven, and are kept under such Confinement as God sees proper, till the Day comes, when the final Sentence, which they have deserved, Ihall 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