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gain in the same chapter we read,“ Christ shed his blood no less for the washing of the children of the faithful, than for adult persons ; and therefore they ought to receive the sign.” Here observe that according to the standards of the Reformed Dutch Church, “ infants of believers" and “ the children of the faithful,” are to be baptized.
In the Confession of Faith adopted by a Synod of the ministers and messengers of the churches of Massachusetts, held in Boston, 1680, under the head of baptism we find this paragraph: “ Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized, and those only.” Here again only the children of believing parents are to be baptized.
In the opinions of another Synod held at Boston, 1662, we find this paragraph ;“ Church members who were admitted in minority, understanding the doctrine of faith, and publicly professing their assent thereto ; not scandalous in life, and solemnly owning the covenant before the church, wherein they give up themselves and their children to the Lord, and subject themselves to the government of Christ in the church, their children are to be baptized.” According to this, they who give themselves up to the Lord, are to have their children baptized.
In the Confession of Faith, adopted at Saybrook, 1708, and which contains the system of doctrine,held by the Connecticut churches, under the head of baptism we find the following article ; “ Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience to Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized and those only.” Here again they are the infants of believing parents only, who are to be baptized.
The next and the last system of doctrine and discipline I shall examine is that of our own church. And here I beg leave to be more particular, as it is the system, we adopt, as agreeable to the word of God. In the Confession of Faith, Chapt. 28. Sect. 4. we read, “ Not only those that do actually prosess faith in, and obedience to Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized." In the answer to the 166th question of the Larger Catechism, we have the same doctrine in the following words, viz. " Infants descending from parents, either both or but one of them, professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized.” From these paragraphs we learn, that none but the children of those who profess faith in Christ and obedience to him are to be baptized. The profession here required is undoubtedly a profession of true religion. For let this same system itself explain what it means by faith in Jesus Christ. What is meant by it we have contained in the answer to the 86th question of the Shorter Catechism. “Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.”— It therefore is evident, according to our Confession of Faith and Catechisms, that a person when he offers a child in baptism, professes faith in Christ and obedience to him, or true religion ; and that the church ought to admit none, but upon credible evidence that they have true religion. If we examine the 7th chapter of the Directory for the worship of God, entitled, “ Of the Administration of baptism,” we shall be compelled to come to the same conclusion. There we find that they are the seed of the faithful who have a right to this ordinance ; and the minister is bound to require the following of the persons offering a child : Viz. " That they teach the child to read the word of God ; that they instruct it in the principles of our holy religion, as contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; an excellent summary of which we have in the Confession of Faith of this church, and in the Larger and Shorter Catechisms of the Westminster Assembly, which are to be recommended to them as adopted by this church, for their direction and assistance in the discharge of this important duty; that they pray with and for it ; that they set an example of piety and godliness before it, and endeavour by all the means of God's appointment, to bring up their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”. According to this direction, when ministers in our church baptize a child, they are bound to require of the parents, among other things, that they set an example of piety and godliness, before the child, and by all the means of God's appointment, bring it up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and the persons offering their child are bound to promise this. I ask can any person but a real christian, sincerely make these promises ? What do piety and godliness mean? Piety as used by theological writers, uniformly means true religion, and undoubtedly means the same in this place. The Scriptuures themselves define godliness. “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come;" i Tim. iv. 8. Therefore a godly man is one who has the promise of heaven. Certainly therefore, none but a real christian can sincerely promise to set an example of piety and godliness before his child. And it is absurd for a man to promise to set an example of that which be has not himself And if he has presumption enough to offer to profess that which his life declares he has not, and to promise that which the church has from his present character no reason to expect he will perform, he ought not to be permitted to mock God, and perjure himself. Hence again it appears from the standards of our church, that true religion is professed by a person, when he offers his child in baptism, that if he does not possess it, he acts hypocritically ; and that when he refuses to profess it, or if he is willing to profess when his lite contradicts such profession, he ought to be refused admission to baptism for his child.
We therefore again draw the conclusion that visible piety is requisite to entitle a person to a right in the sight of the church to offer his child in baptism. This appears to be the doctrine of the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testaments; and this is the doctrine of the Confessions of Faith of most, if not all the Reformed churches; and this is the doctrine contained in the standards of the church to which we profess to belong.
And here it may be important to answer the following query, which perhaps has arisen in the minds of some. Seeing that a person by baptism has become a member of the visible church, although, destitute of piety, he may have no right in the sight of God to offer his child, and although tre gives the church no evidence of visible piety, yet on what ground, or in what way, can he be kept back from baptism for bis child ? I answer, let him le serious. ly and solemnly told the nature of baptism, the profession which he is about to make, and the solemn obligations uider which he is about to lay himself. If this were p operly done, it would have a great effect in keeping back many improper persons. Further, I would answer, if the church has a right to keep back baptized persons from the Lord's Supper, for want of qualifications, which is almost universaliy acknowledged and done, then it has a right to keep them back from baptism for their children, for want of qualifications. Besides, the church has undoubtedly the right of discipline, and for conduct inconsistent with membership, they may susperid or exclude from the church.
I proceed now to make a practical improvement of this subject
1. We infer from our subject, that the sacraments ought not to be divided. The person who is fit to come to the one is fit to come to the other. They are both seals of the same covenant. When an adult person receives baptism himself, be professes true religion. He makes a covenant with God, and binds himself to live to God as one of his people. He does the same when he offers his child. And he does no more when he comes to the Lord's Supper. How then does it happen that there are so many, who are willing to come to baptism for themselves and their children, and yet are unwilling to come to the Lord's Supper. It must arise from erroneous views of the nature of the ordinances. I do not say brethren, that you ought to come to the Lord's table before you bring your children to baptism; but I do say with confidence that you ought to have the same qualifications to offer your children in baptism as to come to the Lord's table; and that having given up yourselves to God in offering your children, you ought to embrace the first opportunity to come to the other sacrament. And since the practice of the Jewish church, in admitting every one, as they suppose, to circumcision for their children is so often brought as favorable to the sentiment of those, who wish to offer their children in baptism, while they neglect the Lord's Supper, I would here remark, there was no separating the sacraments in the Jewish. The Lord's Supper is allowed to have come in the room of the passover. Now it is certain that the Jew who neglected to keep the passover was liable not only to be deprived of the right of coming to circumcision for his child, but also to be cut off from the church and all its privileges. Read Num. ix. 13 ; " But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut of” from among his people : because he brought not the offering of the Lord in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.”
2. Our subject solemnly reproves many, who have had their children baptized. All such have solemnly acknowledged their own baptism with all the consequent obligations. They have solemnly professed to be in covenant with God, and have bound themselves to live a life of real piety. All this is implied in the act of offering children in baptism. Did you sincerely covenant with God when you had your children baptized? If not, you acted hypocritically, and mocked God. And was not this great wickedness. Let such be convinced of their guilt, be alarmed under a sense of it, and without delay seek the forgiveness and mercy of that God, against whom they have thus sinned. Did you suppose at the time you were sincere, but have you not kept your covenant engagements? You are covenant-breakers, and have reason again to be convinced, and alarmed, and importunately to seek the forgiveness of God. And bere let me remind all parents who have offered their children in baptism, of the solemn vows they have made with respect to them. Whether you have explicitly promised or not, the promises are implied. But I suppose that most of you have made explicit promises, in the words, or the substance, of the direction in our Confession of Faith. This has been the case with all whose children the speaker has baptized. Have you my hearers whether communicants or not? I ask you as in the presence of God who will soon be your judge—have you kept your engagements, which you have solemnly made to God, and his church? You promised to teach your children to read the word of God. Have you done this ? have you put the Bible into their hands ? have you recommended this book to them? and do you frequently read it yourselves before them, that they may be led by your example ? You promised to instruct them in the principles of our holy religion. Have you done, and are you still doing this ? or do
you seldom or never speak to them of divine things ? or what is worse, do you teach them to neglect and despise such instruction ? You promised to
You promised to pray with and tor
your children. Have you done, and are you doing this daily? or have you seldom or never offered up a prayer