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"pledge" or token " to assure us" that we do receive it. The only two Sacraments thus appointed by Christ are Baptism and the Lord's Supper; both of which are declared by our Church to be " generally ne"cessary to salvation," necessary to the salvation of all those who have it in their power to partake of them.
The first of these Sacraments is Baptism. The necessity of Baptism appears to arise from the lost state in which man is by nature. The natural state of man is repeatedly called in Scripture," the flesh." Our Saviour says, "that which is born of "the flesh is flesh*:" St. Paul assures us, "that they that are in the flesh cannot "please Godb;" and tells the Ephesians, that they had heretofore been "dead in "trespasses and sins," had been "the "children of wrath even as others0." Accordingly our Church begins her office for Public Baptism with reminding the congregation " that all men are conceived and "born in sin, and that our Saviour Christ "saith, none can enter the kingdom of "heaven except he be born anew of water
* John iii. 6. b Rom. viii. 8. c Ephes. ii. 1, &c. "and of the Holy Ghost." This plainly refers to our Lord's conference with Nicodemus, in which he says, " Except a man "be born again—born of water and of the "Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of "Godd." The rite of Baptism had been before in use among the Jews: and that they were supposed not to be ignorant of its spiritual signification, we may infer from our Lord's saying to Nicodemus, "Art "thou a master in Israel, and knowest not "these things?" When St. John came as the harbinger of the Messiah, he came baptizing those who repented of their sins. And our Lord himself, though he needed it not, yet submitted to be baptized, in order that he might fulfil all righteousness. And when the time came that the Christian religion was to be preached throughout the world, he adopted the rite of Baptism, as the means of admission to the privileges of the Gospel. Thus in his commission to the Apostles to make disciples of all nations, he charged them "to baptize them, in the "name of the Father, and of the Son, and "of the Holy Ghosf." From that time to 'John iii. 3, 5. * Matt, xxviii. 19.
the present, Baptism, the washing of regeneration, has been the instrument of admission into the Church of Christ; and thus our Catechism instructs us, that in Baptism we change a state of wrath for a state of grace; that in Baptism " we are "made members of Christ, children of "God, and inheritors of the kingdom of "heaven." Members of the Church of Christ have an interest in the promises made to that Church, in the promise of the Spirit among the rest. The offices for Baptism, accordingly, consider the baptized person as being made God's own child by adoption, as being regenerate'.
'The benefits of Baptism being so great, and its necessity so apparent, it is very right and fitting that parents should take an early opportunity of bringing their children to the baptismal font. The Prayer Book says, that " children who "are baptized, dying before they commit actual "sin, are undoubtedly saved ;" consequently, a parent who for a long time wilfully defers the baptism of his child, acts as if he was regardless of its soul's health. You will not think, that there is any impropriety in entering into covenant with God infants, who from their tender age cannot understand
I am fully persuaded, that none of you can be so ignorant as to suppose, that this
the conditions of that covenant, if you bear in mind that God himself appointed, that under the Old Testament dispensation, children, should be entered ioto covenant with him, by the sacrament of Circumcision, when they were only eight days old. Now the Christian sacrament of Baptism appears to stand in the place of the Jewish sacrament of Circumcision s like that it is the instituted means of entering into covenant with God; and certainly there is no reason why it should not be administered at an equally early age. Little children, we know, a re in the Gospel peculiarly invited to come to Christ, who " was much displeased with those who "would have kept them from him. Suffer little ** children," said he, " to come unto me, and forbid "them not, for of such is the kingdom of God." If children were capable of being the peculiar objects of Christ's care and attention, and peculiarly fitted to be members of his kingdom, surely they are capable of being admitted into covenant with him by Baptism. When we read of the Apostles baptizing whole households, it is fair to infer that the children in their families were not excluded. Again, St. Paul represents the children of believing parents as being holy; and if holy, certainly not incapable of being made members of the Church of God by Baptism; but probably called holy for this very reason, because they had been sanctified or made holy by the washing of regeneration. For all these rea
s glorious inheritance, in the case, I mean, of those who come to years of discretion, is forced upon us, whether we will accept it or not. You all well know, that the title to it is conferred, upon the condition of our fulfilling our part of the agreement; upon the condition that we adhere to the vow and promise into which we then entered. And I am persuaded also, that you cannot help seeing, that if a man of mature years lives in the neglect of his baptismal vow, his baptism, so far from being of any use to him, must rather increase his condemnation; must increase it, inasmuch as he is guilty of despising the offered mercy of God, guilty of deserting or drawing back from a solemn vow. I am satisfied, that you cannot help seeing, and allowing this. Suffer me then to direct your attention to a few particulars in your vow of baptism, and to intreat you to consider seriously,