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never befet 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 defignedly or carelefly, give these our fpiritual Enemies needlefs Advantages against us; and that, with whatever Advantage they may at any Time attack us, we will never yield to them, but always refift them with our utmoft Prudence and Strength. This is the Renunciation here meant: and the Öffice of Baptism expreffeth it more fully; where we engage fo 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 Promife!
Obligation to believe and to do, &c.
UR Catechifm, in the Answer to its third Queftion, teaches, that three Things are promifed 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 firft of these hath been explained to you. The fecond and third fhall be explained, God willing, hereafter. But before the Catechifm proceeds to them, it puts a fourth Question, and a very natural one, confidering that Children do not, as they cannot, promife thefe Things for themfelves, but their Godfathers and Godmothers in their Names. It afks them therefore, whether they think they are bound to believe and to do, as they have promifed for them. And to this the Perfon inftructed anfwers, Yes
verily: the Fitness of which Answer will appear by in
1. In what Senfe, and for what Reafon, 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 Reafon, they promifed these Things in our Names. A little Attention will fhew you this Matter clearly..
The Perfons who began the Profeffion of Christianity in the World, muft have been fuch, 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 Baptifm into the Chriftian Church, their Children had a Right to be fo too, as will be proved in the Sequel of thefe Lectures: at prefent let it be fuppofed. But if Baptifm had been administered to Children, without any thing faid to exprefs its Meaning, it would have had too much the Appearance of an infignificant Ceremony, or a fuperftitious Charm. And if only the Privileges, to which it entitled, had been rehearsed; they might feem annexed to it abfolutely, without any Conditions to be observed on the Children's Part. It was therefore needful to exprefs the Conditions also. Now it would naturally appear the strongest and liveliest Way of expreffing them, to reprefent the Infant, as promifing by others then, what he was to promise by and for himself, as foon as he could. So the Form, ufed already for Perfons grown up, was applied, with a few Changes, to Children alfo. And though, by such Application, fome Words and Phrafes muft appear a little ftrange, if they were ftrictly interpreted: yet the Intention of them was and is understood to be a very proper one; declaring in the fulleft Manner what the Child is to do hereafter, by a Figure and Reprefentation made of it at present.
But then, as Baptism is adminiftred only on the Prefumption, that this Reprefentation is to become in due Time a Reality: fo the Perfons, who thus promise in the Child's Name, are and always have been looked on as promifing, by the fame Words, in their own Name, not indeed abfolutely, that the Child shall fulfil their Engagements, which nobody can promise; but that, fo far as Need requires, they will endeavour that he shall: on which it may be reasonably fuppofed, that he wil!. Anciently the Parents were the Perfons, who, at Baptifm, both represented their Children, and promised for their Inftruction and Admonition. But it was confidered afterwards, that they were obliged to it without promifing it: and therefore other Persons were procured to undertake it alfo: not to excufe the Parents from that Care, from which nothing can excuse them; but only, in a Cafe of fuch Confequence, to provide an additional Security for it. If then the Parents give due Inftruction, 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 interpofe, as far as they have Ability and Opportunity with any Prospect of Succefs. Nor is this to be done only till young Perfons 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 prefent not to represent them, or to promife for them, neither being wanted; but to remind them, if there be Occafion, what a folemn Profeffion they have made before thefe their chofen Witnesses.
This then is the Nature, and these are the Reasons of that Promife, which the Sureties of Children baptized make in their Name: which Promise therefore may without Queftion be fafely and usefully made, provided it be afterwards religiously kept. But they, who probably will be wanted to perform their Promife, and
yet will neglect it, fhould not be invited to enter into it and if they are, fhould refufe. Let every one concerned think ferioufly, whether he hath obferved these Rules, or not for evidently it is a ferious Matter, how little foever it be commonly confidered as fuch.
2. The fecond Question is, On what Account we are bound by what was promifed 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 Perfon fhall take upon him to promise in our Name. But if the Thing promifed be Part of an Agreement advantageous to us, we are plainly bound in point of Intereft; and indeed of Confcience too: for we ought to confult our own Happiness. Even by the Laws of Men, Perfons, unable to express their Confent, are yet prefumed to confent to what is for their own Good : and Obligations are underftood to le upon them from fuch prefumed Confent 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 Cafe: and therefore may employ others to do it under them. But further ftill: the Things promifed in Baptifm would have been absolutely incumbent on us, whether they had been promised For it is incumbent on all Perfons to believe and do what God commands. Only the Tie is made ftronger by the Care then taken, that we fhall 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 afked, How fhall all Perfons, efpecially the poor and unlearned, know, that what they are taught to believe is really true; and what they
The first Foundation of Obligations quafi ex contractu is, that Quifque præfumitur confentire in id, quod Utilitatem affert. See Eden, El. Jur. Civ. 4.3. tit. 28. p. 206.
Of Stipulations in another's Name, See Inft. 3. 20. 20.
are taught to do, really their Duty? I answer: The greatest Part of it, when once it is duly propofed to them, they may perceive to be fo, by the Light of their own Reafon and Confcience: as I doubt not to fhew you. Such Points indeed as depend not on Reason, but on the Revelation made in Scripture, cannot all of them be proved in fo fhort a Way, nor perhaps to an equal Degree of Plainnefs: but to a fufficient Degree they may; as I hope to fhew you allo. And in fuch Matters, they, who have but fmall Abilities or Opportunities for Knowledge, muft, where they cannot do better for themselves, rely on those who have more: not blindly and abfolutely, but fo far as is prudent and fit: juft as, in common Bufinefs, and the very weightieft of our worldly Concerns, we all truft, 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, fome will have far lefs Light, than others; yet all will have enough to direct their Steps: and they who have the leaft, are as much obliged to follow that carefully, as if they had the moft; and will be as furely led by it to a happy End. Hearken therefore to Inftruction diligently, and confider of it feriously, and judge of it uprightly and fear not at all after this, but that when you are afked, whether you think yourselves bound to believe and to do what was promifed in your Name, you will be well able, and on good Grounds, to answer in the firft Place, Yes verily. But your anfwer must not stop here. When you are thus perfuaded, your next Concern is, immediately to act according to that Perfuafion. Now as this depends on two Things; our own Refolution, and Affif, tance from above: fo both are expreffed in the follow ing Words of the Anfwer, and, by God's Help, fa I will. Further: Because our own Refolution is beft fupported by our Senfe of the Advantage of keeping it; therefore the Person inftructed goes on, in the fame Anfwer, to