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profit is there of circumcision?” briefly and emphatically replies, “ Much every way.” Rom. iii. 1, 2.
But if circumcision secured important advantages and privileges; and if baptism has come in the place of circumcision, as the authorized token of God's covenant, under the dispensation of the gospel, by which dispensation a greater degree of light is difsused, and a greater amount of benefits is conferred, it will follow, as a matter of course, that baptism is of high and holy importance; and that to be baptized ourselves, and to have our children baptized, ought to be viewed as a special and inestimable privilege.
If it still be asked, What are the particular advantages which are secured by baptism? and in what respect is the condition of a baptized person better, than that of one who is unbaptized ?-1 answer;
1. By baptism, the subject, whether in an adult or infant state, is recognized as a member of God's visible church, according to the constitution of it, in the family of Abraham; so that now God is his God in a visible covenant relation. God has fixed his own terms of relationship, and requires that that relationship should be publicly witnessed in his own way. To neglect the application of that particular seal, which he has been pleased to designate-or to substitute any thing else in its place-is to pour contempt upon God's covenant, and to declare our estrangement from him and it. The uncircumcised male child among the Jews was cut off from God's people, for he had broken his covenant. The same may, with equal propriety, be affirmed concerning those who, in our day, are destitute of the seal of the covenant, in its evangelical form.
We do not mean to assert, that none can be in a state of favour with God, and heirs to eternal life, without having been baptized. But we do mean to say, that none are visibly so: None can be visibly so, while destitute of the seal, appointed to evidence such interest in God's favour and covenant. They are openly “strangers and foreigners,” whatever their secret standing in the sight of God may be. If, then, it be a privilege to bear the authorized token of an interest in his covenant, and a name and place among his people,-if there be any advantage in having a right to address God as our God, yea, as our covenant God,-baptism must be an important and desirable distinction. All this baptism manifestly secures.
2. By baptism, the subject is entitled to the prayers, the instruction, the care, and discipline of the church. I am well aware, that the importance of this consideration cannot be duly appreciated by us. No advantage can be derived or calculated on from a neglected duty; and that the duties above alluded to (and most important duties they are,) are very geDerally neglected, is too notorious to be denied, and too bad to be excused. Even the
Even the prayer, which is offered up in the baptismal service, is treated as though it were the prayer
of the minister and not of the church! I can assure you, that I have often
been pained to notice the indifference, the listlessness, vacant stare, or rolling eyes of the congregation, when that prayer is sent up to the throne of the Eternal. It is a holy and solemn service, in which the congregation, and particularly the church, ought to join, as much as in any other prayer–especially when we recollect that baptism is a sacrament to the church, as well as to the child.
The young are an interesting part of the church's charge. For them her prayers should unceasingly ascend,--to them her most assiduous care should be given,-to them her lessous of instruction should be addressed, -over them the rod of her authority should be stretched out.
And this, brethren, will be the case when the church shall arise from the dust of her present degradation, and put on the beautiful garments of purity, of zeal, of devotedness to her Lord. Then the fruits of her prayer, her instruction, and her discipline, will be seen and felt among her youth; who, when they arise to call her blessed, will also bless her Lord for that important relation, which secured to them her prayers of faith, and her labours of love.
Brethren, are the prayer, the instruction, and the care of God's people, worth any thing ? By the value of these you are to estimate the importance of baptism.
3. The baptism of infants is important, because it solemnly binds their parents to bring them up in the viurture and admonition of the Lord. I do not mean to intimate, that those who are not so bound,
do not make conscience of " training up their children in the way they should go.” But I do mean to say, that it is important to be urged to the discharge of our duty, by public and covenant engage
We have no reason to apprehend that we shall be over-burdened with considerations to incite us to be faithful. Practical writers have often suggested the expediency of using a set form in our secret and personal engagements to be the Lord's; and every
Christian has found it useful publicly and formally to own, and, from time to time, to renew his covenant with God, his Saviour, at the sacramental board. Must it not, then, also be useful to make public engagements for our children; and by so doing give a solemn pledge, before God and his church, that we will bring them up for the Lord ! Will not the recollection of having given such a pledge have its effect upon parents, in the discharge of their duty ? Will not the parent say, 'I stand committed before God and the church: I have sworn, and I must perform it: I have excited the hopes and the confidence of my fellow Christians, and I dare not disappoint them?” We confess that we know nothing about human nature, if something of this kind may not reasonably be expected. Nay; will not the fact, that such engagements as the baptismal service demands, which have been made for him by his parents, have an effect upon the child, whenever he becomes capable of understanding their nature? That must be a depraved son indeed, who, when he grows up, will pay no attention to a covenant into which his father entered on his behalf when he was an infant.
As then“ by baptism, administered to infants, we obtain a solemn bond of parents that they shall perform parental duties conscientiously to their children,” it must be evident, that baptism is both to them and the community useful and important.
4. I bave a fourth consideration, to prove the importance of this ordinance. It is this: By baptism the subject is brought in the way of God's covenanted mercy. The visible church, which God has engaged to protect and preserve, is the great channel, not only for the transmission of truth, but also for the communication of spiritual benefits. We do not limit ihe power of the Holy One, nor deny the right of God to scatter his choicest blessings beyond the pale of the visible church. But we do honour God as a consistent Being, as having a regard for his own institutions, and especially for the promises of his grace. And we do appeal to the ordinary course of his providence, to prove that his saving mercy runs in the channel of his church, and of the families of his people, bearing the token of their relation to the church.
Of all these advantages the venerable Synod of Cambridge (1649) had a correct view, and high estimation. In their Platform of Church Discipline, chapt. xii. sec. 7, they say: “ Yet these church members that were so born, or received in their childhood, before they are capable of being made partakers of full communion, have many privileges