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broken: and at the same time the gracious "promises of the forgiveness of sin and of their adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed." Yes, this covenant and vow, to be the Lord's faithful soldiers and servants unto their lives' end, is solemnly and deliberately entered into on the part of the persons baptised; and the church testifies, that “ Jesus Christ hath promised" all the things prayed for,-that this “promise, be, for his part, will most surely keep and perform,"that “he will favourably receive the persons present, truly repenting and coming unto him by faith,- that he will grant them remission of their sins, and bestow upon them the Holy Ghost,—that he will give them the blessing of eternal life, and make them partakers of his everlasting kingdom."
We need not adduce more in detail with respect to the process : but we shall subjoin a few observations.
First, It appears evident that a true and genuine covenant is supposed and considered to be entered into in baptism, both on the part of God and man,—that the church conducts the ceremony,
and that chosen witnesses attend to observe the application of the “instrument" by which all the blessings and conditions of the covenant are bly signed and sealed :”
Secondly, That the character of this covenant, including perpetual friendship and obligation, is of the nature of a marriage union between Christ and the new born spiritual members of his church. “Repentance whereby we forsake sin" is a spiritual divorce from the world and the devil, whose devices and lusts they renounce. “ Faith in the promises of God made to them in that sacrament,” is a spiritual union of the heart with the Saviour. And the engagement to be “ baptised in this faith," joined with the assurance that they “ will obediently keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of their life," is, as the ancient fathers say, a pledging of the soul to the conditions which are to be "performed as long as we live :"
Thirdly, That the blessings of this covenant are unsearchable riches of Christ,” embracing every thing that he has done and purchased for his church and people,- forgiveness of sin-adoption into God's familybeing heirs of God and inheritors of everlasting salvation,
together with the fulness of divine grace to lead them safely to the possession of eternal glory ;
Fourthly, That the persons to whom these privileges strictly belong are truly regenerate, having been “ born of water and of the Spirit,” being such as have come to Christ's holy baptism, not only professing, but also really exercising repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.” Whether the grace of regeneration, which is both a gift bestowed by God, and a duty required of man, be strictly possessed, according to Scripture language, only after persons have been baptised, we have considered already, and may more particularly inquire into hereafter.
The remarks we shall make on this part of our subject are the following:
1. Whatever blessings are pronounced or claimed at baptism, are subsequent to and dependant on the engagement by which persons enter into covenant with God. They are indeed covenant blessings. They belong, therefore, as such, to those only who are in the covenant, and who in the present case are supposed, according to the whole proceeding, to have truly and spiritually entered into covenant with God in baptism. The church therefore pronounces, and God's word pronounces, that such persons are blessed as heirs of the covenant of grace.
2. But such announcement of blessings necessarily supposes and implies the sincerity and spirituality of those who enter into these solemn covenant engagements : and this internal state of mind, according to Scripture, and also our church, is always necessarily supposed to accompany the profession then made.
3. The stalement, therefore, which is made after the persons are baptised, respecting spiritual regeneration, remission of sins, adoption into God's family, and being made heirs of eternal life, is of course not absolute, but conditional; all these blessings being dependent on the state of the heart in the sight of God, or as the fathers
“ the faith of the heart,” which man cannot with certainty ascertain.
4. But forasmuch as persons profess to come to God penitent and believing, the church admits the profession and pronounces such persons blessed. But she does not pronounce this as a fact or an absolute truth, but hypo
thetically, that is, on the supposition of their repentance and faith.
5. If therefore repentance and faith are not present at baptism, regeneration, remission of sins, and heavenly heirship cannot be there enjoyed; for all these rest solely on repentance and faith. This conclusion is admitted nearly by all.: but it is nevertheless admitted with great reluctance by many persons, even as it respects adults ; though it is still strenuously denied as to infants; of whom we shall soon speak particularly.
But we firmly maintain, that the essence of the covenant of grace is such as has been stated, namely, a covenant graciously appointed by God and faithfully and heartily received by man, as the only way of salvation, that baptism is its true sign, seal, and representative : it is a public admission into this covenant, or into the true church of Christ, the spiritual and "elect people of God;" that “ hearty repentance and true faith” are as necessary on the part of man as fidelity on God's part,--and that without this it is no covenant according to its scriptural and spiritual meaning, and according to the meaning of the church of England; for the parties before the church bind themselves to a due fulfilment of all the obligations.
The Almighty has made a covenant; he has revealed its privileges, blessings, enjoyments, and promises. He makes, as it were, a public declaration, by the preached word, that he is willing to be reconciled to guilty and ruined man, “ through faith” in the work and righteousness of his beloved Son. But until men individuallý “ believe this report,” until they individually approve from the heart the design of the covenant, until they heartily embrace Christ as their Saviour, according to the Gospel,-until these things be done, they can have “ neither part nor lot” in this covenant of salvation, or in any of its saving privileges. Before this consent is truly afforded by man, he has nothing on which he can ground his claim : he has no covenant right to its privileges. Previous to this spiritual and real concurrence of the heart, the covenant is not special but general; there is only a public promulgation of God's good will to men and of their duty to embrace his salvation. But when any. one believes in God and embraces his offers of mercy in Christ Jesus, then he becomes immediately interested in
all the provisions of the covenant. Such persons are directly invested with the promised blessings, included in that ancient declaration, " Ye shall be my people and I will be your God.”
Every covenant, especially that between the soul and God, requires mutual agreement between the contracting parties, in order to its validity and efficacy. And it is most obvious, that our church proceeds on this principle. Let us review what she says :-– 1. God has promised “ which promise, he, for his part, will surely keep and perform."-2. Man promises —" Wherefore after this promise made by Christ, ye must also faithfully for your part promise,” that is, to renounce the devil and all his works—to believe in God and to serve him—to be baptised in this faith-and obediently to keep God's holy will and commandments, and to walk in the same all the days of your life ;-3. All this is solemnly pledged, and engaged for, and attested before baptism : then that holy and solemn rite initiates him on the stipulation by which he has bound himself to God; the church receives him as a child of God, and giving him credit for the sincerity, heartiness, and spirituality of his profession, she pronounces him regenerate, pardoned, and saved; but were she aware of hypocrisy or defect, she could not, and she would not pronounce him blessed.-4. His blessings then, whether of regeneration, adoption, justification, or salvation, are not absolute, but hypothetical! Indeed, the expectation that the candidate should render the “ of a good conscience towards God," was universal in the church from the beginning.
It is therefore a subject of no ambiguity, that in order to the due effects of baptism, there must be a spiritual concurrence and a cleaving of the heart to God in that ordinance. It is not a rite without conditions. It is a rite which stands as a token of the covenant. It is a sacrament on which is recorded a pledge or“ oath" of our fidelity. It is a rite which “ doth represent unto us our profession.” It is an ordinance which as a witness, joined with other witnesses, claims from us constantly the performance of our engagements. It is a rite which seals to us all the rich and delightful mercies “promised to us in that sacrament.” But the promises made in that sacrament, are most certainly made, not simply or absolutely to
those who are baptised, but to those who believe and are baptised.
We shall now conclude these observations by stating the following obvious and incontestible positions :
1. That a right and spiritual disposition in baptism is by our church and in the Scripture, made necessary to the due effects of baptism ;
2. That consequently to those who have not this right disposition, the blessings pronounced do not belong :
3. That it is therefore demonstrated, that the blessings pronounced in baptism are not pronounced absolutely, but hypothetically, that is, on the supposition of there being spirituality of mind in those who profess“ the faith of Christ crucified ;"
4. That as subsequent conduct too frequently shews that the profession was without spirituality of mind, the regeneration and justification of such persons remain without their reality, and have nothing belonging to them but the name.
It may be said, as it has been said, that with respect to adults, who come to be baptised with insincere and unfaithful minds, they“ do not at present receive any benefit from their baptism ;” and as there is but one baptism, it is a great and awful uncertainty, whether they ever may: but that with respect to infants, who “ cannot be unbelievers," and therefore cannot put any " bar or obstruction” in this “channel" of divine communication, it is uniformly maintained, that baptism, as to them, really “confers the graces which it represents.” And therefore that all infants are regenerated and saved by baptism. The church, and the Scripture, are declared to be of one mind on this point. Thus, under the profession of admitting what Bishop Mant's Tract did not admit, namely, the necessity of " faith and repentance,” in order to the due effects of baptism, modern writers of the same school confine the necessity to adults solely; and thus evade the practical utility of the admission in general, inasmuch as the general body of our population is baptised in infancy. We shall under the next head examine the validity of this plea, and inquire into the evidence for infant regeneration -the pretensions on which they claim for our church the assertion of their doctrine-and the general state of the controversy.