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never beset and moleft us ; that the vain Shew of the World shall never appear inviting to us ; that our own corrupt Nature fhall never prompt or incline us to Evil: but we undertake, what, through the Grace of God, though not without it, is in our Power ; that we will not, either designedly or carelesly, give these our spiritual 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 relift them with our utmost Prudence and Strength. This is the Renunciation here meant: and the Office of Baptism exprefleth 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 Promise' !
L E C T U RE
Obligation to believe and to do, &c.
UR Catechism, in the Answer to its third Quer
tion, 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 first of these hath been explained to you. The second and third Ihall be explained, God willing, hereafter. But before the Catechism proceeds to them, it puts a fourth Question, and a very natural one, confidering that Children do not, as they cannot, promise these Things for themselves, but their Godfathers and Godmothers in their Names. It asks them therefore, whether they think they are bound to believe and to do, as they have promised for them. And to this the Person instructed answers, Yes
• Heb. x. 36.
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 their Promises good.
1. In what Sense, and for what Reason, they promised these Things in our Names. A little Attention will fhew 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 fo too, as will be proved in the Sequel of these Lectures : at present let it be supposed. But if Baptism had been administered to Children, without any thing said to express its Meaning, it would have had too much the Appearance of an insignificant Ceremony, or a 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 ftrange, if they were ftri&tly 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 administred 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 hall: 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 confi. dered 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 follows 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 Success. 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 are 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 folemn Profession they have made before these their chofen Witnefesa.
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 Promife, and
* Office of Baptism.
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 there Rules, or not: for evidently it is a serious Matter, how little foever it be commonly considered as such.
2. The second Question is, On what Account we are bound by what was promised at our Baptifm, fince we neither confented to that Engagement, nor knew of it. Now certainly we are not bound to do whatever any other Person thall take 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 Interelt; and indeed of Conscience too: for we ought to consult our own Happiness. Even by the Laws of Men, Persons, unable to express their Confent, are yet prefumed to consent to what is for their own Good TM : and Obligations are understood to lie upon them from such presumed Consent ever after : efpecially if there be a Reprefentative acting for them, who is 'empowered fo to do. 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 ftill: 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 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 folemnly 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
• The first Foundation of Obligations quasi ex contrastu is, that Quisque præsumitur consentire in id, quod Utilitateni affert. See Eden, El. Jur. Civ. 4. 3. tit. 28. p. 206. Of Stipulations in another's Name, See Inst. 3. 20. 20.
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 lo, by the Light of their own Reafon and Conscience : as I doubt not to shew you. Such Points indeed as depend not on Realon, but on the Revelation made in Seripture, cannot all of them be proved in so short a Way, nor perhaps to an equal Degree of Plainnefs; but to a sufficient Degree they may; as I hope to thew you also. And in fuch Matters, they, who have but Imall Abilities or Opportunities for Knowledge, muft, where they cannot do better for themselves, rely on those who have more: not blindly and absolutely, but fo far as is prudent and fit: just as, in common Bufiness, and the very weightieit of our worldly Concerns, we all trust, on many Occafions, to one another's Judgment and Integrity: nor could the Affairs of human Life go on, if we did not. And though in this Method of Proceeding, some will have far lefs Light, than others; yet all will have enough to direct their Steps : and they who have the Jeast, are as much obliged to follow that carefully, as if they had the most; and will be as surely led by it to a happy End. Hearken therefore to Instruction diligently, and confider of it seriously, and judge of it uprightly: and fear not at all after this, but that when you are asked, whether you think yourselves baund te believe and to do what was promised in your Name, you will be well able, and on good Grounds, to answer in the first Place, Yes verily.
But your answer must not stop here. are thus persuaded, your next Concern is, immediately to act according to that Perfuafion. Now as this dea pends on two Things; our own Resolution, and Affil, tance from above : so both are exprefled in the follows ing Words of the Answer, and, by God's Help, so I will. Further: Because our own Resolution is best fupported by our sense of the Advantage of keeping it; therefore the Person instructed goes on, in the same Answer, to