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MARCH 31, 1832.
THE DESIGN OF BAPTISM.
[Concluded from page 325.]
But if we have formed a just conception of the design of the institution of Baptism; there are several things, which, of course, will be exceedingly plain and obvious.
1. The quantity of water used in baptism, can be nothing essential. For what quantity of water would not answer the purpose of a token of the covenant? It surely could make no difference, in this view of it, whether it were an ocean, or the quantity that could be visibly applied. Any thing may serve as a token of God's promise, which he is pleased to appoint. It may, if he please, be the rainbow, or it may be circumcision, or it may be baptism. There is nothing therefore in this particular design of the ordinance, which renders any particular quantity of water, or any particular mode of applying it, essential to the validity of it. Or suppose we consider it the design of baptism to serve as an emblem of sanctification; any quantity of water, either poured or sprinkled, might serve as an emblem of this, as truly as immersion; even as a small quantity of wine, may serve as an emblem of the Saviour's blood, as well as an ocean of wine. Any quantity of water applied in baptism, might serve as a figure of our salvation. And, if the ordinance were duly attended upon, it would answer a good conscience. And certainly the name of the Trinity might be called, let the quantity of water applied, be either greater or less. We see a reason, then, why there is no particular quantity of water, specified in the word of God: Because it is a thing of no consequence. And there is no reason why christians should ever agitate a dispute, about the mode of baptism, only, as some have affixed to the institution, a meaning of their own invention, and then have thought themselves necessitated to invent some particular mode of washing, which might be answerable to such supposed design. O what a pity it is, that christian people, before they begin to disturb the minds of their brethren, with controversies of this nature, could not be persuaded to inquire, what the proposed subject of controversy is? what is the importance of it? and what influence it will be likely to have, on christian prac
2. The ordinance of baptism may answer the same design, when applied to the children of the believer, as when applied to the believer himself. Is it a token of God's covenant? It may
serve as a token of this covenant when applied to the believer. and it may serve as a token of the same covenant when applied t his household; even as circumcision was a token of God's core nant with Abraham, both when applied to himself, and to s household. Does it imply that the subject to which it is applied has need of sanctification? This is true when applied to the believer, and it is equally true when applied to the child, or even t the infant. For men are depraved from the beginning of their existence, and must be sanctified, or they cannot be saved. Is bap tism a figure of salvation? It is equally a figure, whether it be applied to the adult, or to the infant. Or is the Trinity called to remembrance, as acting in concert in the work of redemption, when an adult is baptized? The same important truth is brought to remembrance, at the baptism of the household of the believer. For they also are baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Whenever, therefore, it is asked, What good will it do to baptize an infant? an answer may with propriety be given; similar to that which our Saviour gave in re ply to the Pharisees, when they questioned his authority: "I also will ask you one question," "what good will it do to apply water to the believer himself? Whenever you will tell me this; then I also will tell you, what good it will do to baptize an infant. precisely the same answer is, in both cases, to be given.'
3. We should beware of drawing the conclusion, that our salvation is certain, because we have been baptized with water. Some, when they have voluntarily presented themselves; and received the ordinance of baptism; have thonght there is such efficacy in the ordinance itself, as to wash away all their sins, and that henceforth there will be no occasion to doubt, that they are sure heirs of glory. Some have thought, when they have presented their children in the ordinance of baptism, that now they are certainly washed in the laver of regeneration, or at least, that they certainly will be sanctified and saved. Others, who do not think that the water itself will wash away the sins of the subject, still imagine, that when the water is rightly applied, and especially when it comes from the more holy hands of an Episcopalian, the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit do always accompany it; so that they may now, without any hesitancy, return thanks, that this child is now 'regenerated, born into the kingdom of grace and adopted into the family of God:' Whereas, if a child should be so unfavorably circumstanced, as that it should die in its infancy, before baptismal water is applied, it must forever remain unsanctified and an heir of eternal misery. But all this is a miserable delusion, resulting from the grossest misconception of the nature and design of this holy ordinance.
Baptismal water never washed away the sins of any man: nor is it any certain evidence that the subject, either is, or ever will be sanctified. On the contrary, being a token of God's covenant, it only denotes that there always will be a spiritual seed of Abraham upon the earth, and that the believer shall be saved: And instead of declaring that the subject to which it is applied, is al
ready, or shall be sanctified; it carries with it a purport far more' alarming, that the subject, whether adult or infant, is by nature polluted, and that without the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, no man can be saved. With what solemnity then should this holy ordinance be administered? What deep impressions should it make upon the minds of all such, as are the witnesses of it? How carefully should they examine themselves, who, are the voluntary subjects of it, whether they do in reality possess that faith, and are the subjects of that change of heart, which is thus presented, both to the eye and to the ear, as being indispensably requisite to salvation? And what anxiety should the believing parent feel for his children, when he presents them in baptism, that they may, in very deed, be the subjects of that sanctifying grace, of which, their baptism is nothing more than a figure, and without which they must die in their sins? Consolation may be derived, to every believer, from this token of God's covenanted mercy. He may be assured that Abraham shall yet have a numerous seed, that it shall continue throughout all generations, that sanctifying grace may be extended even to his infant offspring, and that he has encouragement to pray for them, to instruct them, and to use all the means which God hath put in his power; that they may be sanctified and saved. But this general token of God's covenant with Abraham and his seed, no more proves that every individual, that is baptized, will certainly be saved, than the bow which is seen in the cloud after the rain, which is a token of God's general promise, that the world shall never again be wholly covered with a flood, proves that there shall be no partial inundations, or that no individual who ever saw a rainbow, shall be drowned. There is no question, but that many who have seen the bow in the cloud, have still lost their lives in the water; and there is as little reason to doubt, that many, who have not only looked at the ordinance of baptism, but have also themselves been baptized, have died in their sins and perished forever.
4. The ordinance of Baptism is not to be lightly esteemed. If water-baptism will not of itself sanctify and save us, some will be ready to ask, what need, then, of being baptized at all? But let it be remembered, that this is nothing but the language of unbelief, and carries the same objection with it against all the means of grace. Going to the house of God's worship will not save us; may we therefore, as well expect a blessing at home? Attending upon the sacrament of the Lord's Supper will not save us. May we therefore, expect the same communion with God in the neglect of it? All that we can do to awaken, convince, and convert such as are dead in trespasses and sins, will never produce the effect, unless the spirit of God accompany our exertions; may we therefore infer, that it is a matter of no consequence, whether we use our endeavors or not? The cultivation of our fields will not of itself produce a harvest; God himself must bless the springing of the year and also crown it with his goodness; may we therefore expect a harvest whilst the tillage of the earth is neglected? No,
we must expect the blessing only in that way, which he himsel has prescribed; and we have reason to believe that he will forerer honor his own institutions. Beside, is it not greatly comforting to the humble believer, to look at the tokens, the pledges and the memorials of his grace? After the storm is over, which seemed to threaten another deluge, how pleasant to behold the brilliant bow, encircling the dark cloud, as a standing memorial of God's ancient and immutable promise? Still more delightful must it be to the eye of faith, amidst all the depravity, darkness and confssion of this world, where Zion is so often afflicted, tossed with tempests, and not comforted, to behold the token of God's everJasting covenant, exhibited in an ordinance of his own institution, assuring us that the oath which he swore unto Abraham shall never fail of accomplishment, but that he shall yet be the heir of the world, and that in him and in his seed, all the families of the earth shall be blessed? Let all be admonished, then, to keep their eye fixed upon the rainbow of the covenant-to walk in all divine ordinances-to seek for a correct understanding of them, and to make such application of them, as accords with the design of their institution. For then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. D. D.
"And in process of lime it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his stock, and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering: But unto Cain, and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door: and unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him."-GENESIS IV. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
Cain and Abel were own brothers; and some suppose, with a degree of probability, that they were twin brothers. Their pious parents undoubtedly gave them a pious education, and taught them the various duties which they owed to God, to themselves, and to one another. And after they came to years of maturity and selfdirection, it seems their father allowed them to leave the family and to follow such secular employments as were most agreeable to their different inclinations. Accordingly we are told, "Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground." Though they had now left their father's house, yet they felt their obligation to follow his religious precepts and practice, in offering religious sacrifices to their Creator, Preserver and Benefactor.
ime to (( pass in process of time," or as it is in the margin of the ible, 66 at the end of days," that is, at the end of the week, or e end of the month, or the end of the ¿C year, Cain brought of e fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he Iso brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof." 'hese offerings were brought to God himself, who appeared to hem in a visible form, as he had repeatedly appeared to Adam, oth before and after his fall. We must suppose God appeared > them in a visible manner, because he conversed with them with n audible voice. When Abel presented his offering "the Lord had espect to Abel, and to his offering." He openly declared in the earing of Cain, that he approved of Abel as a good man, and of is offering as a sincere and acceptable sacrifice. So the apostle xpressly tells us: "By faith Abel offered unto God a more exellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he vas righteous, God testifying of his gifts. But to Cain and to his ffering God had not respect." And he undoubtedly expressed his lisapprobation of Cain and of his offering, not by signs, as some suppose, but by words. He told him he was a wicked man, and is sacrifice was an abomination in his sight. This open and express distinction between Cain and Abel and their offerings, first excited his wrath against God, and afterwards his mortal enmity against his brother, God saw Cain's feelings, which he expressed, not by his words, but by his countenance, and condescended to show him in a plain and familiar manner, that he had no just ground to think hard of the distinction which he had made between him and his brother Abel. "And the Lord said unto Cain, why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door; and unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." This was as much as to say, Cain, hadst thou done well, as thy brother has done, wouldst thou not have been accepted? and though thou hast not done well, yet "sin lieth at the door," that is, a sin offering for atonement; and if thou wilt now repent and exercise faith in the promised Saviour, thou shalt be forgiven and restored to my favor, and to your brother's favor, who will love you and submit to you as his elder brother, who has a right to all the privileges of a fist born son. This appears to be the true sense of the whole passage I have read; and in further treating upon it, I propose,
I. To inquire why God accepted Abel's offering. II. To inquire why God rejected Cain's offering. And III. To inquire whether Cain had any just cause to be displeased with God, for making such a distinction between him and his brother.
I. I am to inquire, why God accepted and approved of Abel's offering. And here---1. One reason was, because he brought it, exactly according to divine appointment. The duty of offering sacrifices was a positive duty, which neither Adam, nor his sons could have discovered, by the mere light of nature, without a positive command of God. It is universally supposed, that when God