ページの画像
PDF
ePub

continuing in the faith and practice of a Christian, without wavering and without drawing back, unto my life's end.'

The sense of the passage is now fully before us ; and we may each of us seasonably make some inquiries into ourselves concerning it. For the matter before us is not the business of children, but that which we must be all found not only in the profession, but also in the practice of, as we hope to meet Christ with any courage or comfort at his second coming to judge the quick and the dead. Permit me therefore to ask every person in this assembly, now grown up to years of discretion,

First.-Whether you think yourself bound to believe and do what is contained in the baptismal vow? Do you think your believing in Jesus Christ, renouncing sin, the world, and the devil, and walking after God's will and commandments, to be the very business of your life ; and that you are really and actually bound to such a conduct by your baptismal profession? It is true indeed these engagements were made for

you

when yo11 knew nothing of the matter : but the question is, now, that you have your reason about you, do you think yourself obliged to stand by your Christian profession, and that declaration made thereof in baptism, or not? If you say, “No; what concern have I with engagements made without my consent ? I do not think myself bound to these things :" then you will take notice, that you do in fact disclaim your baptism, and, in consequence, renounce Christianity, and all hope of salvation through Jesus Christ. You put yourself quite off the Gospel foundation, and determine to stand on your own bottom for everlasting life. But then, if these be your thoughts, how very inconsistent a part have you been acting, and how have you been trifling with (iod, as often as you have come into a Christian assembly, or approached unto the Lord's table ? Since both the one and the other of these are, in the very nature of them, public acknowledgments of your judging and believing there is salvation in none other but Jesus Christ, and of your thinking yourselves obliged to die unto sin and live unto God, after the example of Christ's death and resurrection, and according to the rule of God's holy word.—But if you judge yourself bound to believe and to do these things contained in the baptismal vow, I ask,

Secondly.-Have you a steadfast will to do so ?

Can you

say, from the bottom of your heart, as in the presence of Him who knows your secret thoughts, and as you hope to be saved, “ I will do so by God's help. I have no objection to anything here required of me to believe, renounce, or perform ; it is my honest desire, God knows, to fulfil it all; and although I have no sufficiency of myself to perform the least part of it, yet I am resolutely determined upon performing the whole in the stated course of my life, by God's help ?” Now let us beware, my dear brother, that while we are saying this, we have at the bottom no reserves. If you do not give God absolutely all, you give him nothing. Are you therefore fully and wholly determined upon a life of faith in God as your present and eternal all through Jesus Christ, to be justified, accepted, and glorified, only in his own Gospel way, through the righteousness and death of Jesus Christ ? Are you determined to renounce the dominion which the devil, the world, and the flesh, naturally have over you? to forsake every known sin, in a desire that no sin may be hid from you, and to oppose all the suggestions of the flesh, temptations of the world, and devices of the devil, that would draw you into sin ? And are you determined also to make conformity to God's will and commandments the great end you will aim at in all your conduct, searching what that will of the Lord is, labouring to bring yourself to it, and never allowing yourself to dispense with the performance of any the least part of it on any consideration ? Now, what say you ? Is it still your language, “ By God's help so I will ?” What ! does nobody among us find any drawing back in his heart ? What! is there no crying, from within, “ It is too much ; these are hard sayings ? Must it be all this? Will nothing less satisfy ?” Why, sirs, you see it is all this, and not a jot less. And if you have not a will to it all, you are as yet no believer, no Christian ; neither have you any part in the Gospel salvation. Your heart is unchanged, you are still a natural man, whatever be the outward regular form of your life; and you have still all to learn, as to the eternal welfare of your soul; for you see plainly your will is still in a state of enmity and opposition to the will of God.—But if you say, I have a will to all these things, I would desire you, for preventing all mistakes, to inquire further,

Thirdly.-- Whether you are determined thus to believe and do by a constant faithful recourse to the help of God? For your diligence in seeking that help, without which you own you cannot do any of these things, will be your best proof that you have really given unto you a will to do them. If you say, I am determined to believe and do as a Christian ought, and yet do not seek the help of God to give you power for the work ; do not pray, do not read, do not communicate, do not meditate; where can be your good will to your Christian duty ? It is not a warm and hasty resolution that proves you have a heart fixed and determined herein, but a steady deliberate choice, producing an unwearied diligence in the use of all the means of your obtaining that grace, without which you can perform none of these things : yet neither is it a formal customary attendance upon, and going over all these means, that will argue the determination of heart that is in question ; but an attendance upon them in a sincere, earnest, express desire of obtaining grace to grow in faith, to overcome sin, and to serve God. If

you

have really thus a will to the work, and are perseveringly seeking God's help for the power; if, whenever you come short or fall, you still continue calling upon God to give you more grace, and are never beat out of your seeking it by any discouragements, you are the Christian ; and however great your imperfections, and manifold your failures, still be assured that Christ lives in you, and you in him ; for no less than that is the very truth of your case.

What has been now submitted to inquiry very properly affords ground for an address to all who are here present. And,

First.—To those who are young, and as yet but growing up to years of discretion. What I have to say to them on the occasion is, that until they understand what their godfathers and godmothers promised for them, really perceive themselves bound to believe and do what was so promised in their name, and find themselves moved and stirred up in their hearts to be sincerely willing hereunto, and are actually calling upon God to give them grace for the performance of it, they ought not to come to confirmation ; because they therein declare, that having weighed these things, and carefully examined into their own hearts, they find themselves determined to perform them by the

help of God. It were to be wished that this excellent institution were administered with more frequency, and attended upon with more reverence, to the end that young persons might be led to more serious impressions of the importance there is in publicly declaring themselves content with, and determined to practise, their baptismal vow.

But how absurd is it that very children should be admitted to confirmation, as if the imposition of hands were a kind of charm that should do them good, when themselves knew neither the why nor the wherefore of the transaction ! And if young persons should not come to confirmation till they have both understanding of the baptismal vow, and also good will to the performance of it, how much less should they be encouraged to come to the Lord's table under such disqualification, to gratify the formality of others, and to their own exceeding hurt and hindrance ! But,

Secondly.—What has been now brought into inquiry may be very properly addressed to those whose consciences have testified against them that they have not a will to believe and do what, as Christians, is bound upon them. My dear friends, I cannot be so insensible to your condition, as not to beseech you to consider how miserable that condition is. If ye had not been born in a Christian country, if ye had not been baptized in the name of Christ, if ye had never heard the word of God, your case had not been so bad as now it is. But all these advantages ye

have enjoyed in vain. In vain ? alas ! worse than in vain; to the vast increase of your guilt. For ye cannot but think in your own minds, that it shall be more tolerable for the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, in the day of judgment, than for you. Ye have heard the Master's will, but have not done it; your stripes therefore shall be the more. Take this thought home

Surely there is no salvation but in Christ; I see not any shadow of hope but in him; yet in him I am not ; for I believe not, nor do as he hath commanded. Should death come upon me as I now am, could I be safe ?

Would not my case be wretched for ever? It must be otherwise with me than it has been. But when ? Hereafter ? But why not now, as well ? now, that the word and Spirit call me? Ah, that I could say, by God's help I will be a Christian indeed! How easy would my mind then be! It must be done. Up, my soul, for death

with you.

с

stands at the door; and thou art undone if it find thee thus; undone without remedy for ever and ever.” O what a thought is it, that there are so many among us who will not do what their sureties promised for them!

Lastly.-To those who have had a comfortable answer upon the inquiry, know their Master's will, have a will to do it, and are diligently seeking grace to enable them to the performance, I would observe, that it is their duty to be “ heartily thankful to their heavenly Father, that he hath called them to this state of salvation through Jesus Christ;" to bear upon their hearts the liveliest and most abiding sense of his goodness towards them therein; and to show forth their gratitude by a life of patience, perseverance, and praisé. It is their duty also to pray always unto God that he will give them grace to continue in well-doing unto their lives' end, never weary, and never discouraged ; adding grace unto grace ; growing in the inner man, and getting more above the devil, world, and flesh, that they be more serviceable to God in their generation, and may wait with more longing desire for their inheritance in the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

« 前へ次へ »