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fulness of the parent, the seed in visible covenant, shall be made partakers of the grace of God, or that God will be their God in the highest sense, even their everlasting God. I dare not decidedly assert this; but the sentiment bas been advanced with confidence by eminent divines; and the word of God seems to favour it. Of Abraham the Lord said, "I know him that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment;" Gen. xviii. 19. Here was a prediction that Abraham would be faithful; and a promise, that in consequence, his children and household should keep the way of the Lord. Of the same import is the following passage, Jer. xxxii. 38, 39 ; "And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them." And also the following passages in the prophecy of Isaiah. "I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed;" Is. Lxi. 8, 9. "They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble: for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them;" Is. LXV. 23. "I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses;" Is. xiv. 3, 4. These texts seem to import, an absolute promise of saving grace to the covenant seed of parents in covenant, on condition of the parents' faithfulness. It is true we see good men have wicked children. But good men like Eli are very often unfaithful in the article of the religious education of their children. But if parents were as faithful as Abraham, we have reason to believe their children, in visible covenant, would sooner or later receive the blessings of divine grace. And if the promise to those children, who have the seal of God's covenant upon them, that God will be their God, imports, that God will sooner or later bestow saving grace upon them, in case parents are faithful, as it probably does, then the baptism of children is of vast importance to them. And if it does not absolutely import this, it imports at least
those great advantages, which we have before shown, viz. : that to that collective body, to which they belong, shall be committed and continued, the oracles of God, and means of instruction and grace; that God will keep up his visible church in the world among them; and that he will also keep up a really pious people among them. So that to be interested in the promise, "I will be their God," is a very great blessing. This is one of the advantages of infant baptism.
2. Another advantage is that it is a security for the faithfulness of parents, that they will attend to the religious education of their children. It is true that parents are under obligations arising from the relations they bear to God, to society, and to their children themselves, to train them up in the ways of virtue and piety. But we know that we are slow to learn our duty, and prone to forget and neglect it; and these natural obligations very frequently are not perceived. Of this we have a proof in the opinion held, and frequently expressed and more frequently acted upon, by many parents, that, because they have never brought their children to baptism, nor come under vows, that therefore they are not bound to attend to their religious education. There can be no doubt that dedicating a child to God, and coming under explicit vows, places our duty more distinctly before us, is calculated to make us feel more our duty to the child, and is an additional security for the faithfulness of the parent. And although many parents, who offer their children in baptism, can violate and disregard, not only their natural obligations, but also their explicit vows; yet there can be no doubt, there is more probability that parents will be faithful to their children, when they have solemnly dedicated them to God, and vowed unto him, than when they have not.
3. Another advantage of infant baptism is that it introduces children to the prayers of the church. By baptism, children become members of Christ's visible church. They therefore become interested in all the prayers offered up for the church, by the people of God, in every part of the world; and this is certainly a great privilege. And what increases the privilege is, that these prayers are enforced by very great and precious promises, which God has in his word made concerning his church.
advantage of infant baptism is that the baphereby introduced to the instructions of the church. 1s one great, and we have reason to believe the chief d, that the great Head of the church had in view, in directing that the seal of the covenant should be put upon children, and they be brought into a visible standing in his church; viz. to secure their religious instruction. By baptism they are placed in the school of Christ. And not only parents, but the church also, which as a mother receives them into her bosom, is bound to attend to their religious instruction. It is the duty of the church by its proper officers, to see that parents do their duty to their baptized children; frequently to remind them of their duty, and exhort them to the performance of it; to see that they bring them to the house of God; that they pray with them and for them; that they set a pious example before them; that they teach them to read God's holy word; that they instruct them in the principles of religion; that they attend to their catechetical instruction, and submit them to be catechised and instructed by the church; and that they use their endeavours to restrain them from vicious courses. And it is the duty of the church by its constituted officers to attend to its baptized children, not only through the medium of the parents, but immediately; frequently to catechise and visit them, and administer instruction according to their capacity to receive it. This would be an incalculable advantage of infant baptism, if the church was faithfully to do its duty.
5. I mention one other advantage of infant baptism, and that is discipline. Children by baptism are brought under the watch of the church, and become the subjects of its wholesome discipline. The church by its officers are bound to exercise for the good of the child, a watch over the parents, who offered it; and to admonish, reprove and rebuke them when they prove unfaithful. And when baptized children run into vicious courses, it is the duty of the church to endeavour to restrain or reclaim them, by admonishing, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting, with all long-suffering, tenderness, and anxious solicitude. And I would go further, and express the opinion, that when baptized children grow up in wicked courses, and become confirmed in habits of vice, and after faithful and patient
dealing with by the church, will not be reclaimed, it is the duty of the church to exclude them from their standing in it, and cut them off from membership, in the house of Christ, by the laws of which they obstinately and perse-. veringly refuse to be governed.
Were the church faithful in this article of discipline, and the last mentioned article of instruction, we would not be so often at a loss to show the advantages of infant baptism. The state of society, we have reason to believe, would be far more moral than it is; our congregations would be far better indoctrinated; and a far greater proportion of our baptized children would become the subjects of divine grace. Then we would see fulfilled that prophecy," All that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed;" Is. LXI. 9. Our baptized children, we have reason to believe, would then, agreeably to another prophecy, "Spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses; Is. xLiv. 4. And the church would "look forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners;" Sol. Song. vi. 10.
We shall now conclude this discouse with some inferences from what has been said.
1. Our subject affords an answer to a popular objection against infant baptism; viz. that it can do the child no good, because it is ignorant of it, and is not its own act. The very same objection lay with equal force against circumcision. The child, of eight days old, knew nothing about it; but yet God commanded the child to be circumcised. And this circumcision was a seal of the righteousness of faith. And to the objector asking what profit is it? The Apostle gave answer," Much every way; chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. The same answer may be given to him, who asks, what profit is infant baptism?" Although the child at the time of receiving it be entirely ignorant of the transaction, yet it is calculated to be of great profit to him. He hereby becomes interested in that great promise, "1 will be their God." His parents become bound, by explicit engagements made to God and his church, for his religious education, and thus he has an additional security to the obligations arising from nature, that he will be trained up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. He
becomes a constituent part of the church of Christ, and obtains an interest in all the prayers that are offered up for the church. And he is put under the instruction and discipline of the church. These are certainly great and precious advantages; and we may say to those who ask what profit is there of infant baptism? Much every way.
2. We infer from our subject that they who neglect the baptism of their children, deprive them of an important privilege. Yea, permit me, in faithfulness to add, they neglect a very important duty, and in this respect are guilty before God. Baptism we have shown stands in the place of circumcision. Now, remember that God called a neglect of circumcision a breach of his covenant; and declared that the uncircumcised man-child should be cut off from his people. Consider also the anger of the Lord against Moses, for neglecting to put the seal of the covenant upon his children. We are told, he met him on his way from Midian to Egypt, in the inn, and sought to kill him. Let those who neglect this ordinance, think seriously on this subject. It is a subject of great importance, both to them and their children. From what has been said we learn, they are neglecting a very important duty, and are depriving their children of very important privileges. They are suffering their children to grow up as visible Heathen, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise.
3. This subject instructs in their duty those who have offered their children to God in baptism. It is your duty to be faithful to the spiritual interests of your children. If you are unfaithful, one great advantage of baptism is defeated. It is your duty often to bear them on your hearts at the throne of grace, and plead their covenant relation; to pray with them, and for them; to instruct them in the principles of the christian religion; to restrain them from vice; to set an example of piety before them; and to submit them cheerfully to the instructions and watch of the church. Be faithful, and you have great encouragement to hope, that sooner or later, God will pour out his Spirit upon your seed, and make them the subjects of his saving grace.
4. This subject reproves unfaithful parents. And alas! we have reason to fear there are too many such, who get their children baptized out of mere form; and who not