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they had constant access, was the seal and pledge of that immortality which was to be the glorious reward of their obedience. After the fall had involved them in the curse of transgression, had stripped them of their purity and glory, and rendered them obnoxious to the wrath of God, the hope of mercy was lighted up in their minds by the institution of sacrifices, which their offended God made the channels to his favours. While the shedding of the blood of beasts on the altar awakened in the soul of fallen man the recollection of his guilt, which required expiation, it carried forward his joyful view to the promised victim, the infinite efficacy of whose blood would wash away the stain of sin. When, in the further unfolding of that plan of redemption which was to be finally consummated in the glorious promulgation of the Gospel, God chose a particular family and nation to be the repositories of his will, and the heirs of his promises; the rite of circumcision was instituted, to be both a lively memorial of duty and a pledge of the Divine favour. Take a view of the Jewish law, and you will find that its numerous, significant, and splendid rites, were the instituted means by which the people of Israel maintained their communion with God; gratefully commemorated the deliverance which his almighty arm wrought for them, and laid their claim to his blessing and everlasting favour.
When he, the glorious seed of the woman, whose promised appearance kindled the first
gleam of hope which illumined the souls of the wretched parents of our race after their rebellion against God-he, whose joyful day the fathers beheld and were glad-when he, to whom all the prophets and the law bore witness, appeared to complete the work of redemption, by the shedding of his blood; the same plan of Divine Providence which had distinguished the preceding dispensations was still preserved. Through the channel of rites and ordinances were the mercy and grace of God to be conveyed; by them were the glorious achievements to be commemorated by which our redemption was effected. A church was instituted, which was to be the repository of the laws, of the mercy and grace of God. Destined to be everlasting in its duration, it was the promise of the Divine Founder of the church, that the gates of hell should not prevail against it. Officers were appointed to rule it; to administer its ordinances; to conduct its worship; to enact its laws; to execute its discipline-and with them, successively deriving their power from him, the Redeemer promised to be "alway, even to the end of the world."
Into this church, the "body," which derives life, strength, and salvation from Christ its head, baptism was instituted as the sacred rite of admission. In this regenerating ordinance, fallen man is born again from a state of condemnation into a state of grace; he obtains a title to the presence of the Holy Spirit, to the
forgiveness of sins, to all those precious and immortal blessings which the blood of Christ purchased. The humble Christian, who, by actual repentance, by lively faith, and holy obedience, fulfils his baptismal engagements, is invested in the rite of confirmation with all those spiritual blessings which baptism conditionally conferred, with the manifold and strengthening aids of the Holy Ghost, (Acts viii. 17.) In the worship of the sanctuary, he maintains that intercourse with heaven, by which his faith is confirmed, his love quickened, his resolutions of obedience strengthened, his soul prepared for the blissful services of the church and temple of God eternal in the heavens. By that powerful grace which accompanies the preaching of the word, the terrors of the law are impressed on the hearts of the careless; the promises of mercy applied to the trembling conscience of the penitent; divine light, consolation, and triumph poured upon the path which conducts the Christian to immortal glory. In that most sublime ordinance, the holy eucharist, are centred all the blessings of the Redeemer's mercy, and the almighty energies of his grace and love. In the participation of it, the devout believer offers unto God the acceptable sacrifice of thanksgiving for the infinite mercies of redemption. He becomes united to his Saviour in the bonds of the everlasting covenant. The pardon of his sins, the renovating and consoling guidance of divine grace, the love and favour of his re
conciled Father and God, a title to immortal felicity, are conveyed and sealed to him by the body and blood of Christ, of which, under lively emblems, he partakes.
Behold then, O my soul, the same glorious plan distinguishing all the divine dispensations. It hath pleased the Sovereign Lord of the universe uniformly to dispense his mercy and grace through the channel of ordinances and rites, instituted as the means and pledges of salvation. Humble and insignificant to the eye of sense, to the proud and presumptuous mind, may appear the rites which Jehovah makes the pledges of his mercy, the means of redemption to his fallen creatures. But faith will discern in them the power of the most high God, whose ways are not as our ways; who, both in nature and in grace, accomplishes the most stupendous objects by the most humble instruments; and who more illustriously magnifies his power and confounds the pride of man, in proportion to the weakness and imperfection of the agents, who effect the purposes of his sovereign will.
The holy sacraments of the church advance our salvation, not only by their natural tendency to cherish faith, gratitude, penitence, love, and every other divine virtue, but by the refreshing grace and mercy which they convey to those who receive them worthily. They are not merely lively and affecting memorials, calculated to impress on the mind the interesting truths of redemption, and to display, by
significant emblems, the glories and triumphs of redeeming love. But they are instituted by God, as pledges of his grace and mercy; as channels to convey to degenerate man spiritual blessings and privileges, ordinarily to be obtained in no other way. The sprinkling of the body with water is a significant emblem of the spiritual purification which we must undergo. Bread broken, and wine poured out, may be considered as lively symbols of the sufferings and death of the Saviour, in remembrance of whom we eat the bread and drink the wine. The sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper, considered in this single point of view, as memorials or emblems of the most interesting spiritual truths, are calculated to produce the most important instruction and consolation. But their value and importance rise beyond all comparison, when we regard them further as the instituted means and pledges of all the blessings of salvation. Wherever the Gospel is promulgated, the sacrament of baptism is the mode through which we must be admitted into covenant with God, and by which we must obtain a title to those blessings and privileges which Christ has purchased for his mystical body, the church: the participation of the body and blood of Christ in the holy eucharist, is the mode by which we must become interested in the merits of the Saviour's death and passion, by which the guilt of sin must be removed, and its power subdued in our hearts; by which our perish