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the ordinances and commandments of the Lord blameless."
But the obedience of many of you, who have had children baptized, and who may wish to have others baptized hereafter-if it can be called obedience at all-is manifestly partial: and givés too much reason to suspect you of being guilty of that very hypocrisy, which you with much self-complacency charge upon others. You are very ready to say, concerning the inconsistent, immoral communicant, 'There goes a hypocrite!' But do you not perceive, that this charge applies, with equal propriety and force, to all who have profaned the sacrament of baptism? I am not disposed to screen from deserved censure such communicants, as wantonly violate their covenant engagements, and deny and crucify the Lord, to whom they have sworn allegiance. It is painful to me to think, how many communicants there are in every part of the Christian church, not excepting our own, who give too much cause to the enemy to charge them with hypocrisy, and to blaspheme that holy name whereby they are called. But, unless my eyes have deceived me, the greatest and most awful instances of hypocrisy, which I have ever witnessed in the church of Christ, have not occurred among communicants, but among the profaners of the ordinance of baptism. Judge yourselves. What is it for a man to assent, at the baptism of his child, to doctrines as true, which he has never examined, and which, when stated to him, he rejects with contempt? What is it to take an
bath of fidelity to Jesus Christ, and his cause, and then to desert his worship, as some of you have done, and not to be seen in the sanctuary for months in succession ?-to forsake also, the company of the godly, and mingle with the unholy and profane, making his enemies, and the enemies of his cause, your bosom friends and chosen companions? What is it to promise "to train up a child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," and then to set before it an example of profanity, of Sabbath-breaking, of drunkenness, and, in a word, of complete disrespect for every thing sacred and divine? Oh! if this be not hypocrisy, I know not what hypocrisy is; and that hypocrisy too, connected with the most awful perjury, deliberately committed in the presence of God, and his church. May God convince you of your error and your guilt, and influence you to the exercise of sincere repentance!
You may, perhaps, now upbraid me for my can dour; but I can assure you, that what I have done, has been done in faithfulness to my Master, and in love to your souls, and the souls of your children. And remember, that what I have done, will take from you the opportunity of upbraiding me, in the day of judgment, with having been accessary to your guilt and your condemnation! The subject is important, all-important: I hope you will lay it te heart.
I renew the request-and a most reasonable one it is that you will take the Bible, and the standards of our church, in your hand; and, reviewing the
sentiments I have advanced, ask yourselves, as in the presence of your Judge, Are not these things so? Let the word of God speak; let the standards of our church speak; let conscience speak. The time is not far distant when these will speak-and speak in a way, which you will not be able to disregard! But you will, perhaps, ask me, "What do you wish us to do? Do you wish to have our children left unbaptized, to grow up like heathen?" Better, far better, dear friends, to have your children unbaptized, than to profane, by their baptism, one of the sealing ordinances of God's house; to take upon yourselves engagements, under the solemnity of an oath, which you never design to fulfil; and to make a profession of religion, which you intend utterly to disregard. But my wish is not that your children should remain unbaptized. I have urged the importance, and the advantages of baptism. My wish is, that you should offer them up with knowledgewith sincere and believing hearts; and that you should ever after be careful and conscientious, to perform your vows to the Lord.
Think not, O think not, that I, by an improper assumption and exercise of power, undertake to debar you! God is my witness, that I would not throw the smallest obstacle in your way, to present comfort, and the gratification of every lawful desire, any more than in your way to future and eternal glory! But Jesus Christ forbids the profanation of the sacraments of the covenant: He debars the unquali
fied: He has not only enjoined what is to be done in his church; but he has also prescribed the manner in which it is to be performed. And now, if contrary to his direction, you seize, with an unholy hand, on one of the sealing ordinances of his house, what have you to expect but his severest displea? How will you answer for it to your Judge, when he asks you, Who hath required this at your hands?
True, for you will suffer me to repeat it,-true, it is a duty, and a privilege, to consecrate our children to God in baptism. But, to render this an acceptable duty, and a real privilege, it must be done understandingly and sincerely. We must know, and we must feel, that, by that act, we lay hold on God's promise, we put our hand to Gou's covenant; and make a solemn profession of religion, and devotedness to him. Now, if your conscience testifies that you are prepared for this,-if you can lay your hand upon your heart, and say "This day I avouch the Lord to be my God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken to his voice,"*—it is well. The church has no right to ask more. But, if your conscience will not permit you to say as much as this, let your first wish be, not to have your children baptized; but to become prepared to offer them up sincerely and acceptably, to become prepared to place them, by faith, in the arms of that
* Deut. xxvi. 17.
Saviour, who said "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
I have now a few questions to propose for your serious consideration, and then I have done with you for the present. I propose them to every parent, who wishes to have his children baptized.
1. Do you consider yourself a member of God's church; bound to obey the laws of Christ's kingdom, and to submit to the government and discipline of his house?
2. Do you consider yourself as possessed of the qualifications, necessary to devote yourself to God in baptism, if you were unbaptized? If so, why do you not come to his table, which we expect every adult, whom we baptize, to do? If not, how can you offer up your child? Can you do more for your child, than you can do for yourself?
3. Does not a person, who has a child baptized, bind himself, under the solemnity of an oath, "to walk in all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord blameless; and is he not then bound to partake of the supper?
4. Finally: Is not the notion, that it requires fewer and lower qualifications to have a child baptized, than it does to go to the supper, derived from a corrupt practice of the church, and not from the word of God?
These questions I place before you. I hope you will seriously and prayerfully meditate upon them