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lieve or disobey? Shall opinion dispute, shall prejudice contradict, shall passion oppose, or reason sit in judgment, on his words? No, let us commune with our own hearts, and be still,' and know that he is God who speaks. 'Let all the earth keep silence before him.' He is truth itself, and great is his wisdom; and therefore he must be believed. His justice is infinite, his power boundless, and 'with him is terrible majesty;' and therefore he must be obeyed. 'Lo! he doth send forth his voice, and that a mighty voice,' in the holy Scriptures. At the sound of this voice, our ears have nothing to do; but to listen; nor our apprehensions, but to conceive his meaning; nor our reason, but to believe in the wisdom, truth, and goodness, of all he inculcates or commands. God is a sun' to all the world of spirits, and his word is the light of that sun to us. No previous opinions or prejudices must be suffered so much as to twinkle in the eyes of our judgment, when this sun of righteousness ariseth' upon our minds. No wild passions, nor inordinate affections, nor works of darkness, must presume to shew themselves in this light. No, when this sun ariseth, let these beasts of prey and violence lay themselves down in their dens,' till they are so tamed, that the child of God can lead them.
God promised, what reason, blind unpenetrating reason, deems impracticable; but Abraham believed, and so must we, or we tread not in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham.' God commanded, what nature deems unjust and cruel; but Abraham obeyed, and so must we, or our faith, if we have any, will not be imputed to us for righteousness.' Let us therefore believe, as he did; for after all the mysteriousness of some things which we ought to believe, nothing can be more truly rational. Let us also obey, as he did; for howsoever irksome this obedience may be to a corrupt and refractory nature, we have reason to know it is our highest wisdom for the present, and will prove our greatest happiness at the last. It is surely no great thing, after all, to submit our reason so miserably mistaken, and so shamefully erring, almost in every hour of our lives, to infinite unerring wisdom. Neither is it, if we rightly consider the matter, a very great thing to resign all we have, even the lives of our children, or our own, to that infinitely gracious Being, who
hath given up his only-begotten and well-beloved Son, that we may escape the torments of hell, and inherit the glories of heaven. If any man, however, thinks this is too much for faith to believe, or for duty to perform, I must tell him now, and God will tell it him hereafter, that heaven is too good for him. Let us therefore believe, with all our understandings, what God declares, and obey, with all our hearts, what God commands; for thus to believe is true wisdom, though we can by no means account for the matter of our faith; and thus to obey is our most reasonable service, though it should bear never so hard on our corrupt affections.
But as there is no effectual faith, no acceptable obedience, but what proceeds from thy grace, O Fountain of all good; so we most earnestly beseech thee, to teach us both to believe and to do whatsoever shall be most pleasing in thy sight, through the merits of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, to whom, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, be all might, majesty, dignity, and dominion, now and for evermore. Amen.
The grace of, &c.
CHRISTIAN FAITH IS FAITH IN THE HOLY TRINITY.
MATT. XXVIII. 18-20.
Jesus came, and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
In these words of our blessed Saviour, and those reported by St. Mark, chap. xvi. 15, 16, is contained the institution of baptism; and with it is conveyed to a thinking reader, but briefly indeed, as the nature of the case requires, the whole sum and substance of the Christian religion. The words in St. Mark are these.' He said unto them (the eleven), Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.'
On that fulness of power, both celestial and terrestrial, wherewith our Saviour, after his resurrection, was vested, he founds, you see, the authority whereby he institutes this holy sacrament; and you will soon perceive also, that any less or limited power had been insufficient for so great a purpose.
It is likewise plainly apparent from the words repeated, that this institution is a covenant; for salvation is promised to every man, not absolutely, but on the express condition of his 'believing and being baptized,' and damnation threatened, in case he shall not believe.'
It is equally manifest, that faith is not more necessarily required of all Christians as a condition of this covenant, than obedience to the commands of Christ, for we are obliged 'to observe and do all things which Christ hath commanded his apostles.'
On the terms of this faith, and of obedience founded on this faith, our almighty Master promises to be with us his
church alway, even unto the end of the world.' How great the benefits of his gracious presence continually vouchsafed to the whole church, and every one of its members, must be, is easily conceived by the mind of a true believer. Without him we can do nothing,' nothing at least that is good; but we can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth us,' and 'whose grace is sufficient for us.' If he, to whom 'belongeth all power in heaven and earth, be with us, who shall be against us?' If he is always with us, then of necessity must we be always with him, and in him, even here, although as yet contending with the flesh; and hereafter, 'where he is, there shall we be also, partakers of his holiness, of his inheritance,' of the divine nature,' and consequently of that rest, that peace, that joy, that crown, which he hath prepared for them that love him. Such are the promises, and such the part of God in this covenant.
A commission to bestow Christ, and impart eternal salvation, to all men, requires, you see, unlimited power and authority in him who grants it. None but the Almighty can either forgive us our sins, or fit us for forgiveness. Accordingly, it is in the name, and by the authority, of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, that is, of the ever blessed and glorious Trinity, that we are commanded to be baptized, or received into that covenant of mercy and peace which Christ hath procured for us by, and established in, his precious blood, which he therefore calls his blood of the new covenant.'
Having thus a little opened the nature of baptism from the words of the institution itself, I intend to lay out the remainder of this Discourse entirely on the form prescribed by our Saviour for the administration of this sacrament, contained in these particular words, 'in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,' considered, however, chiefly as applied to this weighty and solemn purpose of the covenant.
In order to awaken those who hear me to a fair and diligent inquiry into the true import or meaning of the words mentioned, it will be necessary first to shew the high importance of that meaning, be it what it will.
After observing to you, that some men, with equal impiety and absurdity, regard the words of this most awful in
stitution as little more than words, and a mere empty form, it will be proper to call you, who, I trust, are otherwise minded, to a serious and respectful consideration, that no terms or expressions used by Christ himself, be the occasion what it will, can possibly contain any thing less than the most important meaning, which the nature of the subject, or of the occasion, calls for; and that still, as the dignity of the occasion rises, so the importance of his words, being supposed, as they certainly ought to be, to rise in proportion, demand a suitable degree of attention and veneration from all who hear or read them.
These things feelingly laid to heart, let me beseech you, in the next place, to consider, what that occasion or purpose is, to which the words are applied.
First, They are applied to that awful covenant, which contains all the rules whereby we are to think, speak, and act, and whereby our consciences are to be regulated, during our whole lives. Every article of the Christian faith, and every duty of the Christian life, being hereby bound on our consciences in a solemn promise made to God himself, that is, by a deliberate and awful vow, we cannot suppose the very words, which on God's part authorize this covenant, can be less than infinitely important.
Secondly, The words are applied to that covenant whereby all men are to be judged at the last day, before the throne of God, and in the sight of the whole intelligent creation, for all the thoughts, words, and actions, of their whole lives; and, of consequence, whereby they are to be adjudged to eternal happiness or misery. No words, used by Christ on such an occasion, can surely be of less than infinite importance.
Thirdly, The words are applied as the essential form, both of institution and administration to that covenant of mercy and peace with an offended God, no otherwise to be appeased, which was obtained by the reconciling blood of Christ, the only begotten Son of God himself. If, therefore, justification instead of guilt, and peace, eternal peace, instead of enmity and war, with Almighty God, can give importance to the covenant itself, the covenant must undoubtedly give equal importance to the very words of its institution.