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spoken of as the complete ordinance of God, in the sense of the institution, and as respecting the proper ends of baptism, as pardon of sin and life eternal, and ' in foro cceli.'
In this full and proper sense it is taken by Christ when he saith, " He that believethand is baptized shall be saved*; that is, he that believeth, and ishy baptism entered into the covenant of God. And in this sense the ancients took it, when they affirmed that all that were baptized were regenerated, pardoned, and made the children of God. And in this sense it is most true, that he that is baptized (that is, is a sincere covenanter,) shall be saved if he die in that condition that he is then inf. All that the minister warrantably baptizeth are sacramentally regenerate, and are 'in foro ecclesiae' members of Christ, and children of God, and heirs of heaven: but it is only those that are sincerely delivered up in covenant to God in Christ, that are spiritually and really regenerate, and are such as shall be owned for members of Christ and children of God ' in foro cceli.' Therefore it is not unfit that the minister call the baptized, regenerate and pardoned members of Christ, and children of God, and heirs of heaven, supposing that' in foro ecclesiae' they were the due subjects of baptism. But if the persons be such as ought not to be baptized, the sin then is not in calling baptized persons regenerate, but in baptizing those that ought not to have been baptized, and to whom the seal of the covenant was not due. None ought to be baptized but those that either personally deliver up themselves in covenant to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, professing a true repentance, and faith, and consent to the covenant; or else are thus delivered up, and dedicated, and entered into covenant in their infancy, by those that being Christians themselves have so much interest in them and power of them, that their act may be esteemed as the infant's act, and legally imputed to them as if themselves had done it. If any others are unduly baptized, they have thereby no title to the pardon of sin or life eternal, nor are they taken by God to be in covenant, as having no way consented to it.
e Mark xvi. 16.
'Read the Propositions of the Synod in New England, and the Defence of them against Mr. Davenport, about the subject of Baptism.
Direct, iv. 'When you enter a child into the Christian covenant with God, address yourselves to it as to one of the greatest works in the world: as those that know the greatness of the benefit, of the duty, and of the danger.' The benefit to them that are sincere in the covenant, is no less than to have the pardon of all our sins, and to have God himself to be our God and Father, and Christ our Saviour, and the Holy Ghost our Sanctifier, and to have title to the blessings of this life and of that to come. And for the duty, how great a work is it for a sinner to enter into so solemn a covenant with the God of heaven, for reconciliation and newness of life, and for salvation? And therefore if any should abuse God by hypocrisy, and take on them to consent to the terms of the covenant, (for themselves, or their children,) when indeed they do not, the danger of such profaneness and abuse of God must needs be great. Do it therefore with that due preparation, reverence, and seriousness, as beseemeth those that are transacting a business of such unspeakable importance with God Almighty.
Direct, v. 'Having been entered in your infancy into the covenant of God by your parents, you must, at years of discretion, review the covenant which by them you made, and renew it personally yourselves; and this with as great seriousness, and resolution, as if you were now first to enter and subscribe it, and as if your everlasting life or death, were to depend on the sincerity of your consent, and performance.' For your infant baptismal covenanting will save none of you that live to years of discretion, and do not as heartily own it in their own persons, as if they had been now to be baptized. But this I pass by, having said so much of it in my " Book of Confirmation."
Direct, vi. 'Your covenant thus, 1. Made; 2. Solemnized by baptism; 3. And owned at age; must, 4. Be frequently renewed through the whole course of your lives.' As, (1.) Your first consent must be habitually continued all your days; for if that ceaseth, your grace and title to the benefits of God's covenant ceaseth. (2.) This covenant is virtually renewed in every act of worship to God: for you speak to him as your God in covenant, and offer yourselves to him as his covenanted people. (3.) This covenant should be actually renewed frequently in prayer and meditation, and other such acts of communion with God. (4.) Especially when after a fall we beg the pardon of our sins, and the mercies of the covenant, and on days of humiliation and thanksgiving, and in great distresses, or exhilarating mercies. (5.) And the Lord's supper is an ordinance instituted to this very end. It is no small part of our Christian diligence and watchfulness, to keep up and renew our covenant-consent
Direct, vii. 'And as careful must you be to keep or perform your covenant, as to enter it, and renew it: which is done, 1. By continuing our consent; 2. By sincere obedience; 3. And by perseverance.' We do not (nor dare not) promise to obey perfectly, nor promise to be as obedient as the higher and better sort of Christians, though we desire both: but to obey sincerely we must needs promise, because we must needs perform it. Obedience is sincere, 1. When the radical consent or subjection of the heart to God in Christ is habitually and heartily continued. 2. When God's interest in us is most predominant, and his authority and law can do more with us, than any fleshly lust or wordly interest, or than the authority, word, or persuasions of any man whosoever. 3. When we unfeignedly desire to be perfect, and habitually and ordinarily have a predominant love to all that is good, and a hatred to that which is evil; and had rather do our duty than be excused from it, and rather be saved from our sin than keep it.
Direct. Mil. ' While you sincerely consent unto the covenant, live by faith upon the promised benefits of it, believing that God will make good on his part all that he hath promised. Take it for your title to pardon, sonship, and eternal life. O think what a mercy it is to have God in covenant with you to be your God, your Father, Saviour, and Sanctifier and felicity! And in this continually rejoice. CHAPTER IV. Directions about the Profession of our Religion to others.
Direct, i. ' Understand first how great a duty the profession of true religion is, that you may not think as some foolish people, that every man should conceal his religion, or keep it to himself».' Observe therefore these reasons following which require it. 1. Our tongues and bodies are made to exercise and shew forth that acknowledgment and adoration of God which is in our hearts. And as he denieth God with the heart who doth not believe in him and worship him in his heart, so he denieth God imputatively with his tongue and life, who doth not profess and honour him with his tongue and life; and so he is a practical atheist. "I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory b." "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father c." "One shall say, I am the Lord's: and another shall call him by the name of Jacob: and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israeld." 2. The public assemblies, and worship of God, are purposely appointed by him, that in them we might make open profession of our religion. He that denieth profession, denieth the public faith and worship of the church, and denieth baptism and the Lord's supper, which are sacraments appointed for the solemn profession of our faith. 3. Our profession is needful to our glorifying God. Men see not our hearts, nor know whether we believe in God or not, nor what we believe of him, till they hear or see it in our profession and actions. Paul's life and death was a profession of Christ, that in his " boldness Christ might be magnified in his body \" "Ye are the light of the world! a city that is set upon a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle to put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heavenf." 4. Our profession is the means of saving others: that which is secret, is no means to profit them. They must see our good works that they may glorify Godg.
* Nemo jam infamiam incutiat; nemo aliud eiistimet: quin nec fas est ulli de sua religione mentiri. Ex eo enim quod aliud a se coli dicit quam colit, et culturam et honorem in alteram transferendo, jam non colit quod negavit: dicimus, et palaui dicimus et vobis torquentibus lacerati et cruenti vociferamur, Deum coliruus per Christum: Tertul. Apolog. c. 11.
b Isa. xW. 23—45. « PhiL ii. 9—11. d Isa. xliv. 5.
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5. God hath required our open and bold profession of him, with the strictest commands, and upon the greatest penalties. "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fearh." "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation'." "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels k."
Direct. II. Next, ' Understand what it is in religion that you must principally profess.' It is not every lesser truth, much less every opinion of your own, in which you are confident that you are wiser than your brethren. This is the meaning of Rom. xiv. 22. "Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God." By " faith" here is not meant the substance of the Christian belief, or any one necessary article of it. But a belief of the indifferency of such things as Paul spake of, in meats and drinks. If thou know these • Phil. i. 20. I Matt. v. 14—16. r Phil. i. I2—14.
h I Pet. V. 3. 'Rom. it. 9,10. "Mark viii. 38.