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“ make disciples or Christians of all nations." “ This I would have done in two ways; first, by baptizing them in the name of the FATHER, Son, and Holy Ghost, and so initiating them into my Church upon their consenting to the faith which I have published to the world : and, secondly, by teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; that so they may be my disciples indeed, not only by an outward profession of the faith which I have taught, but also by a sincere and universal obedience to my commands'." And the more to stimulate His Church to this work of charity, and to encourage them amid its difficulties, He vindicates his claim to their obedience by the assertion of all power
in heaven and in earth; and pronounces upon it the blessing of His especial presence and assistance to the end of the world. Amen:"— so be it! May He be now present with us by His Holy Spirit, and sanctify the occasion whereupon we are assembled! May He open our hearts to this and all other charitable undertakings! “Andmay the glorious majesty of the Lord our God be upon us ! prosper thou the work of our hands upon us,
thou our handy work !!! Addressing myself to a Christian
Bishop Beveridge, in Mant's Bible in loc.
gation, rejoicing, I trust, in that title their most honoured distinction, I cannot feel it necessary to dwell on the duty of obedience to so plain a commandment of Christ as that contained in the text, “ to make disciples of all nations.” Neither is it my present intention to enforce the necessity and obligation of endeavouring to bring all to that Baptism, which the uniform consent of the Catholick Church concurs with the word of her Divine Head in declaring to be the mode of admission to the blessings of Christianity. There are other occasions more directly calling for the consideration of these strictly Missionary duties. At present we have brought before us the necessities of one particular portion of our brethren ; blessed, like ourselves, in being born within this Christian land; and already, by the pious care of the Church which God has established among us, washed in the laver of regeneration. It is, therefore, to the subsequent duty of Christian instruction that I am desirous of drawing your attention to-day; a duty which we shall see is properly involved in the work of the Evangelist or Missionary, and not less imperatively enjoined in the Catholick Commission of the Church.
We commence by remarking the connection pointed out in the text between Christian Baptism and Christian Instruction. The intimate nature of this connection will sufficiently appear, from a brief review of the meaning and use of this Holy Sacrament.
I. Baptism, like the other Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, consists not only of an outward visible sign, but also of an inward and spiritual grace. By the one we are admitted, when duly administered, into the visible Church; and by the other, when duly received, we are sealed by the Spirit of adoption and grace, and made inheritours of the kingdom of GOD 8. It is this Sacrament which, thus duly administered and received, is the appointed method of washing away the original sin in which we are all conceived and born, and of obtaining divine grace to subdue the perverse inclinations of our depraved nature. In a word, it is that regeneration, or second birth, pointed at by our Saviour, when he said to Nicodemus, “ Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God:” ,
or, as he solemnly explains the expression,“Verily, verily Isay unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of Godb.” This Sacrament (also like the other) though freely offered to all, yet requires certain conditions in those who come to it, as necessary to its due reception. “In such only as worthily receive the same, twenty-fifth Article of our Church,“they [i.e. the two Sacraments] have a wholesome effect or ope
8 Church Catechism.
1 John iji. 5.
ration :” and then, by a just analogy, the Article extends to both Sacraments the sentence pronounced by the Apostle with reference to one, and declares, that “ they that receive them unworthily purchase to themselves damnation, as St. Paul saith.” These necessary conditions, we learn from the frequent preaching and example of the holy Apostles, are Repentance and Faith.
Repentance,” echoes our scriptural Church in her Catechism,“ whereby they forsake sin; and Faith, whereby they stedfastly believe the promises of God made to them in that Sacrament. But here an objection arises, which has caused some difficulty even to humble and teachable believers, and is therefore properly noticed by the apt question, “ Why then are infants baptized, when, by reason of their tender age, they cannot perform the appointed conditions ?" To this the Church replies, “ Because they promise them both by their sureties; which promise, when they come to age, themselves are bound to perform.” But what if they be not properly instructed in the nature and obligation of this promise ? Is it not plain they will not be able to fulfil it? The command of Christ will not then have been duly obeyed; the example of His Apostles will not have been followed; the requirements of the Church will not have been complied with. And who shall
And who shall say, that either the institution of Christ, the preaching of His
See Church Catechism.
Apostles, or the Doctrine of His Church, warrant the expectation, in such a case, of the blessings which this holy Sacrament is designed to convey?
Christian instruction then seems to be almost indispensable to the practice of Infant Baptism; and accordingly we take care, before its administration, to require (in addition to the natural obligation of the parents) the solemn promise and vow of twoor three Christian friends, that this essential duty shall be performed. So that what the Church, with a wise regard to the nature and intent of this holy Sacramentobserving also the express command of God in respect to Circumcision (the sign of the Mosaic covenant as Baptism is of the Christian)following, moreover, so far as can be gathered from the language of Scripture, the example and precept of the inspired Apostles—what the Church does is briefly this : At the desire of the believing parent, and on the plighted faith of the believing sponsor, the infant is “ received into the congregation of Christ's flock,” and “ our office and ministry solemnly dedicated unto God,” in his own appointed Sacrament k. And if herein the charitable intentions of the Church were always duly followed out, what blessed effects might we not expect to result ! If parents and sponsors did indeed come, as they profess, with repentant and believing hearts, in the full earnest and faithful desire
* See the Office of Publick Baptism.