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considerable difficulties attending it, persons of an honest and sincere soul in searching out the truth, may happen to run into different opinions: And the things wherein we agree are so important, as should not suffer us to quarrel about the lesser things wherein we differ. Our brethren who reject infant baptism, as well as we who practise it, all agree in a belief of the sacred institution of this ordinance, and in our reverence for it : We all agree that the children should be devoted to God, and should be partakers of all the utmost privileges into wnich scripture admits them, and that they should grow up under all possible obligations to duty : and since each of us desires to find out the will of Christ, and practise it accordingly, it is a most unreasonable thing, that we should be angry with each other, because some of us are devoted to God and Christ by this ceremony a little sooner or a little later than others; or because some devote their children to God in baptism as a claim of privileges and an obligation to duties, before they can do this for themselves; whereas others let this claim and obligation alone, till children themselves are capable of aeting therein : Or because some of us think this ordinance requires much water, and that the whole body be iminersed in it, others suppose a little is sufficient, and that he who hath the face or head washed in this solemnity, has as true a significancy of gospel benefits and obligations, as he who has his whole body put under water, since our Saviour thought so when he washed Peter's feet; John xiii. 10. In short, where faith in Christ and love to God, and obedience to the sanctifying operations of the Spirit are made necessary to salvation and agreed upon by us all, it is pity that these lesser things should raise such unhappy and scandalous contentions among the disciples of the blessed Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace.
Having given you some account of the subjects of this ordinance, and the manner of performance, I cannot finish this head without adding, that since every thing under the New Testament is sanctified by the word and prayer, it is generally most proper to administer this ordinance, with a word of exhortation or instruction to men, and a prayer lifted up to God in the name of Christ, that the blessings of grace may accompany this ordinance, that it inay not be a vain or empty sign, but may be attended with special and divine graces. I come now to the last thing which I proposed, and that is to mention a few practical exhortations relating to the point in hand.
Exhortation I. “ Adore the wisdom of God, and give thanks to his goodness, who hath appointed such sensible helps to our faith, such sensible memorials of his grace and our duty.” True religion is in a great measure an ioward and spiritual thing; but it is of vast inportance towards the preservation of any particular religion in the world to have some of the most considerable points of it held forth or represented in visible ceremonies, to strike the senses of men, and to dwell upon their imagination. The God of nature knows our frame how much we are touched and affected with things sensible, and therefore he hath condescended to deal with us in this mavner in all ages of the church ; and upon this account the two chief blessings of the New Testament, viz. cleansing from the defiling principles of sin by the Holy Spirit, and washing from the guilt of sin by the blood of Christ, are held forth to our senses in the two great ordinances of the gospel, baptism and the Lord's-supper, words and discourses, precepts and promises, given out by the lips of men, oftentimes vanish into the air and are lost and forgotten : Writings are preserved indeed, but all men are not learned, nor know letters, and though our age be blessed with so much knowledge, yet multitudes in all former ages could not so much as read. But these sensible emblems and ceremonies preserve the articles of our holy religion in the blessings and in the duties of it from age to age, and write them upon the memory of the unlearned, and that in lasting characters. Blessed be God for his condescending goodness in such an evangelical ceremony!
II.“ Let us enquire into the spiritual meaning of all christian ordinances, and never content ourselves with the mere out. ward forms without enjoying the blessing signified thereby and practising the respective duties.” Children should enquire of their parents when they see a child washing with water, and say, “ What is the meaning of this washing? And what are we to understand by the use of these names, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ?" And parents should be able and willing to instruct their children, and teach them these important points of their holy religion, Tizi that they are under a defilement by sin, they are to be washed from the guilt of it in the blood of Christ, and to be cleansed and purified from the principles of it by the renewing grace of the Spirit. So it was among the Jews; Ex. xiii. 28, 27. And when your children shall say unto you, what mcan you by this service, then ye shall say, it is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Égypt when he smote the Egyptians : and thus should it be among christians. But remember that wasliing with water in never so solemn a manner, and using these sacred names with never so great seriousness by the ininister, doth not profit the persons baptized, if they still continue to wallow in their sinful pollutions and take no care to seek purification of heart and life. You may be washed with the water of baptism, and
yet be driven down to hell among the polluted souls.
III. “ Do not think yourselves exempt or excused from this ceremony, though you are possessed of all the graces signified
thereby." Christ himself passed under it. Mat. iii. 13--17. Those who had received the Holy Spirit received baptism also. Acts x. 47. Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized? As there must be faith in order to salvation, so it is the common and appointed way of God that there should be baptism
Mark xvi. 16. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. A wilful and entire neglect and contempt of any ordipance of Christ gives too much reason to suspect whether there be any true faith.
IV. “Take all proper occasions to refresh the sense of your baptism on your spirits, and to act over again between God and your own souls all that baptism implies, though the ceremony itself be but once to be administered to you.” When you see baptism administered to others, remember you yourselves were once baptized ; recal the season when you were thus washed with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Acknowledge your defilements by nature and by practice: Go to the laver that is opened for sin and uncleanness, even the fountain of the blood of Jesus ; seek the fresh influences of the purifying Spirit to cleanse you from all impurities of your heart, and to make you clean and holy. Give up yourselves, afresh with sacred pleasure to God as your Father, to Jesus as your Saviour, to the Holy Ghost as your Sanctifier: renew the surrender of yourselves to Christ as his disciples, and engage yourselves afresh to be the Lord's.
V.“ Be very watchful to answer all the engagements of your christian baptism, to guard yourselves from every detilement of flesh and spirit, and to grow up into greater degrees of holiness and purity. It was a happy and successful defence against temptations in the primitive days, when the christian could say, “ I am baptized." Let this also be the constant language of our souls; “ I am washed in the sacred laver of regeneration, how shall I defile myself again? I am devoted and consecrated to Christ, how shall I estrange myself from him? Forgive, O Lord, all my shameful pollutions, since I have been washed in the christian baptism, and guard me, O blessed Spirit, against every new defilement, that I may be presented at last before my God and my Saviour without spot or blemish in the day of his public glory and of my complete joy. Now to him who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power both now and erer. Amen.
Christian Diligence, with the Blessings that attend it, in Opposi
tion to Sloth, Security, Backsliding, &c.
Prov. xii. 4.–The soul of the singgard desireth and hath nothing; but the
soul of the diligent shall be made fat. SHOULD
we apply these words to labour or learning, tó trade or religion, to the concerns of this life, or that which is to 'come, still we shall find this sentence of Solomon true and useful; it is a remark well worthy of our attention, and our best improvement. The son of diligence considered either as a man or a christian, is in a fair way to obtain the good things he seeks: His desire shall be satisfied, his soul shall be made fat, or filled 'with them, he shall increase in earthly possessions, he shall abound in knowledge and wisdom, or he shall grow rich in grace and the fruits of righteousness; but the slothful wretch shall be poor indeed. In vain doth he sit with folded hands, and wish for the blessings of nature or grace, of time or eternity: The idle hand shall be empty still, he shall desire in vain, and shall never possess.
Diligence is the appointed theme of my discourse, the diligente of a man or a christian. I shall endeavour first, to describe it in all the several parts of it, and then take a short survey of the blessings temporal and spiritual which attend it; and by the way, I shall give some occasional hints of the crime and the punishinent of the contrary vices.
First, Let us enquire what are the several things which are implied in true diligence, whether it relate to the things of this life, or the life to come.
1. Diligence includes the employment of every part of our time in proper bụsiness; and thus it stands in opposition both to sauntering and doing nothing at all, to trifling, or doing what is to no purpose, and to mis-timing the business which is to be done.” Every person in the world has some proper business to do daily, for God, for themselves, or for the good of their fellowcreatures. Mankind, even in the golden age of innocence, was not made for idleness. Adam was put into the garden of Eden, to dress and keep it ; Gen. ii. 8–15. and it is our duty wisely to enquire what is our proper work, and to employ surselves in it.
But how many idle creatures are there in the world that act quite contrary to this rule?
1. Ilow many do we find who saunter their lives away, and let their days, and months, and years run to waste in doing nothing at all, as though they were brought into the world to eat, drink and sleep, to gaze away life, and then to lie down in death? O wretched abuse of these precious blessings, life and time!“I must work, saith our Lord, while it is day, I must do the particular work, for which my Father sent me hither: the night is coming when no man can work: John ix. 4. Let us all be imitators of our blessed Jesus. The business of the rich is to render their wealth useful to the good of the world, and to the interests of religion : The business of the poor is to labour to obtain their daily bread, and not be burdensome to their neighbours, nor useless inhabitants of the earth. The business of a scholar is to improve his mind in daily knowledge; and as for all the learned professions, their business is to lay out that knowledge for the ease and happiness of mankind in this world, or the next.
It is the proper business of a sinuer to seek after converting grace, to return to God by repentance, to secure his salvation by faith in the Son of God, and all instances of new obedience. It is the proper business of a true christian to grow in grace, to adorn his profession with holiness, and abound in good works. It is the necessary and daily business of a mortal and an accountable creature to prepare for death and judgment, that he may die in peace, and give up his account with joy, if he should be summoned away on a sudden. Thus it appears every creature hath come proper business, both relating to this life, and the life to come : And therefore a sauntering and idle life is a high offence to the God of nature and grace, time and eternity.
2. “ Trifling or wasting time in impertinences, is another vice contrary to this part of diligence.” Doing nothing to the purpose, is little better than doing nothing at all: As if a youth designed for the study of divinity, should lay aside his bible, and spend his whole time in measuring squares and circles in mathematical figures; or if a man of trade, or an artificer, who must provide daily bread for himself and his household, should waste his days in coffee-houses, still learning, and still discoursing of the rights of election of the kings of Poland, or in adjusting the bloody quarrels between the Turkish and the Persian armies. This is such an impertinence in the sight of God and men, as dcserves the just reproaches of men, and punishment from the hand of providence. 'Io wear out those seasons in prating and tattling, which are appointed for useful labour or business, is a wretched abuse of time, and merits the frequent censure of Sokunnon the wisest of wen. The țulk of the lips tendeth only to