« PreviousContinue »
Teadeth unto life; for if this be true, whole parishes, yea, whole countries and whole kingdoms, may go in abreast; and we will no more teach that the righteous is scarcely saved, or that there is need of such a stir in taking the kingdom of heaven by violence, and striving to enter in. Surely if the way be so easy as many make it, that there is little more necessary than to be regenerated in our baptism, and cry God mercy, and be absolved by the minister at our end; 'tis more ado than needs to put ourselves to such running, and seeking, and knocking, and fighting and wres. tling, as the word requires as necessary to salvation. Secondly, If this be true, we will no more say, Few there be that find it; yea, we will rather say, Few there b hat miss it: we will no more say, that of the many that are called but few are chosen, Matt. xxii. 14, and that even of the professing Israel but a remnant shall be saved, Rom. xi. 5. If this doctrine be true, we will not say any more with the disciples, Who then shall be saved? but rather, Who then shall not be saved? Then, if a man be called a brother, (that is, a Christian) and be baptized, though he be a fornicator or a railer, or covetous, or a drunkard, yet he shall inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor. v. 11, vi. 9, 10.
But the Arminian will reply, Such as these, though they did receive regenerating grace in baptism, are since fallen away, and must be renewed again, or else they cannot be saved.
I answer, 1. That there is an infallible con
nection between regeneration and salvation, as we have already shewn, and I itch to be farther evidencing, but that 'tis against designed brevity. 2. Then men must be born again, which carries a great deal of absurdity in its very face. And why may not men be twice born in nature as well as in grace? why not as great an absurdity to be twice regenerated as to be twice generated? But 3. and above all, this grants, however, the thing I contend for, that whatever men do, or pretend to receive in baptism, if they be found afterwards to be grossly ignorant, or profane, or formal, without the power of godliness, they must be born again, or else be shut out of the kingdom of God. So then they must have more to plead for themselves than their baptismal regeneration.
Well, in this you see all are agreed, that be it more or less that is received in baptism, if (when men come to years) they are evidently unsanctified, they must be renewed again by a thorough and powerful change, or ele they cannot escape the damnation of hell.Friends and brethren, be not deceived; God is not mocked, Gal. vi. 7. Whether it be your baptism, or whatever else that you pretend, I tell you from the living God, that if any of you be prayerless persons, John xv. 14, or unclean, or malicious, or covetous, or riotous, or a scoffer, or a lover of evil company, Prov. xiii. 20, in a word, if you are not holy, strict, and self-denying Christians, Heb. xii. 14, Matt. xvi. 24, you cannot be saved except
you be transformed by a farther work upon you, and renewed again by repentance.
Thus I have shewed, that it is not enough to evidence a man to be regenerate, that he hath been baptized, effectual grace not necessarily accompanying baptism, as some have vainly asserted. But I must answer one objection before I pass.
Obj. The sacraments do certainly attain their ends, when men do not ponere obicem, or lay some obstructions, which infants do not.
Sol. I answer, It is not the end of baptism to regenerate. 1. Because then there would be no reason why it should be confined only to the seed of believers; for both the law of God, and the nature of charity, requires us to use the means of conversion for all, as far as we can have opportunity. Were this true, no such charity as to catch the children of Turks and Heathens, and baptize them, and dispatch them to heaven out of hand; like the bloody wretches that made the poor Protestants (to save their lives) to swear they would come to mass, and that they would never depart from it, and then put them forthwith to death, saying, They would hang them while in a good mind. 2. Because it presupposeth regeneration, and therefore cannot be intended to confer it. In all the express instances in scripture, we find that baptism doth suppose their repenting, believing, receiving the Holy Ghost, Acts viii. 87, Acts ii. 38, and x. 47, Mark xvi. 16. And to imagine that baptism was instituted for an end of which not one of the first subjects was capable, (for
they were all adult persons, and supposed to have faith and repentance according as they professed, and their children were not baptiz ed till after them, in their right) were no little absurdity. Were this doctrine true, baptism would make disciples: but we find it doth bespeak them such before hand, Matt. xxviii. 19. 3. Because baptism being but a seal of the covenant, cannot convey the benefits, but according to the tenor of the covenant, to which it is set.
Now the covenant is conditional, therefore the seal conveys conditionally. The cove nant requires faith and repentance, as the condition of the grand benefits, pardon and life, Acts xvi. 31, and iii. 19. And what the covenant doth not convey, but upon these conditions, the seal cannot. So that baptism doth presuppose faith and repentance in the subject, without which it neither doth nor can convey the saving benefits; otherwise the seal should convey contrary to the tenor of the covenant to which it is affixed.
3. It lies not in a moral righteousness.-This exceeds not the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, and therefore cannot bring us to the kingdom of God, Matt. v. 20. Paul, while unconverted, touching the righteousness which is in the law, was blameless, Phil. iii. 6. None could say, Black is thine eye. The self justiciary could say, I am no extortioner, adulterer, unjust, &c. Luke xviii, 11. Thou must have something more than all this to shew, or else (however thou mayest justify thyself) God will condemn thee. I
condemn not morality, but warn you not to rest here. Piety includes morality, as Christianity doth humanity, and grace reason; but we must not divide the tables.
4. It consists not in external conformity to the rules of piety. 'Tis too manifest, men may have a form of godliness without the power, 2 Tim. iii. 5. Men may pray long, Matt. xxiii. 14, and fast often, Luke xviii. 12, and hear gladly, Mark vi. 20, and be very forward in the service of God, though costly and expensive, Isa. i. 11, and yet be strangers to conversion. They must have more to plead for themselves, than that they keep their church, and give alms, and make use of prayer, to prove themselves sound converts. No outward service but an hypocrite may do it; even to the giving all his goods to the poor, and his members to the fire, 1 Cor. xiii. 3.
5. It lies not in the chaining up of corruption, by education, human laws, or the force of inbumbent affliction. "Tis too common and easy, to mistake education for grace; but if this were enough, who a better man than Joash? While Jehoiada his uncle lived, he was very forward in God's service, and calls upon him to repair the house of the Lord, 2 Kings xi. 2, 7. But here was nothing more than good education all this while; for when his good tutor was taken out of the way, he appears to have been but a wolf chained up, and falls on to idolatry.
6. In short, it consists not in illumination, or conviction in a superficial change, or partial reformation. An apostate may be a man