« AnteriorContinuar »
drink it, in remembrance of me: For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." So long, then, as Christ has a people on earth, whose duty it shall be affectionately and gratefully to remember his sufferings and death, as their surety-so long as he delays his coming in the character of final and all-righteous Judge-so long will it be the duty of his people to shew forth his death in this affecting ordinance; even until he come.
After these statements, it is scarcely necessary to remark, that men, who decry ordinances, and especially rail at baptism and the Lord's supper as altogether of too gross a character to suit the spiritual dispensation of the gospel, display a very moderate share of modesty, and most manifestly fall under the condemnation of pretending to be wise above what is written. A little reflection on the constitution of man, as well as a little attention to the uniform dealings of God with the Church, we would suppose sufficient to convince such, that ordinances and external observances, unnecessary in the religion of spirits, are indispensably necessary in a religion for creatures, constituted as we are at present. So long as our minds are, for the most part, to be operated on through the medium of our senses, so long the externals of religion must be useful, and highly important. And while we are ready to acknowledge that the form of religion without the power is worth nothing, and that the subject of such a religion is but a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal, we are not
disposed to set a much higher value on the religion of those, who, under an affected simplicity, and great appearance of devotion, neglect and even despise the sacred institutions of the Lord Jesus: Christ; and profanely endeavour to exclude, from the worship of God's house, those sealing ordinan-ces, which were designed by their Divine Author to run parallel with the dispensation of the gospel.
I therefore close this paper, by impressing it on your conscience that the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper are as binding now as ever; and that it is as much the duty of the friends of the Lord Jesus to honour him in the holy observance of these ordinances now, as it was the duty of the Apostles, and their fellow Christians, to do it at the commencement of the gospel age.
The Abrahamic covenant—a particular exhibition of the covenant of grace-requires holiness of heart and practice-Organization of the visible church -the one seal of membership.
We have just ascertained, that baptism and the Lord's supper occupy the same place, and answer the same purposes, under the present dispensation, which were occupied and answered by circumcision and the passover under the old. We now propose to consider a special use, which was formerly contemplated in the administration of circumcision, and which is now to be had in view in the administration of baptism.
This will render it necessary for us to go back to the institution of circumcision, and to take a view of the covenant of which it was the divinely appointed token and seal. The seventeenth chapter of Genesis will furnish us with all necessary information in this important enquiry; and convince us that, that chapter deservedly ranks among the most interesting portions of the inspired volume. The Abrahamic covenant will ever be viewed, by all who are capable of appreciating its benefits, as one of the precious engagements of the God of grace. It is the charter of the visible church, and secures to her,
her dearest privileges. "And when Abram was
ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God: Walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face; and God talked with him, saying, As for me, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee; and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant; to be a God unto thee, and thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said unto Abraham, thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee, in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep between me and you, and thy seed after thee: Every man-child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your fore-skin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man-child in your generations; he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is
bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised; and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man-child, whose flesh of his fore-skin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant." Ver. 1-14.
The narrative thus given by Moses of this solemn transaction, suggests to us the following important facts; which, as first principles, will be found of great use in all our subsequent remarks on the sacrament of baptism.
1. The covenant, which God made with Abraham, was a particular exhibition of the covenant of grace.
Much has been written, and more has been said, to obscure and destroy the gracious character of the Abrahamic covenant; and to degrade it into a national covenant, designed only to secure temporal benefits to the descendants of Abraham. Frequently the attempt has been made to identify this covenant, in its nature and design, with the covenant made with the nation at Mount Sinai; and then to inter its abolition as a necessary consequence of the abrogation of the ceremonial worship. But the Apostle Paul has plainly drawn the line of distinc tion between these covenants; and as plainly denied that the abrogation of the ceremonial law has terminated the existence, or in the least degree interfered with the operation, of the Abrahamic cove→ nant. "And this I say, That the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot