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assuaged. But unless our moral reformation were conducted with a prevailing and paramount regard “ to the soul's health ;” though Reform took place through every varied gradation of rank and station among us, from the Legislature to the lowest night-cellar in our crowded metropolis, the present abode of designing worthlessness, and meditative crime,the social chord though strung to the most ex quisite pitch of moral harmony would quickly lose its tension, and having no stay to maintain it, would speedily revert to its wonted state of discord and disorder. A well-principled people are alone fit for Reform ; let the people once be prepared to receive it, and in the necessary process of human circumstance it must infallibly establish itself. But how are the people to be brought to this state? By listening to that Church to which they profess to belong : by reforming the education of all ranks, and CHIEFLY PROVIDING that all 56
may learn all things which a Christian ought to know and believe to his SOUL'S HEALTH.”
I must entreat you, My Dear Friend, to pardon the detention which this rapid survey of society, improved by a prevailing regard in the Sponsor to educate his charge in what may tend to his " soul's health,” has produced: the scene is too lovely not to be dwelt upon with complacency, and I am unwilling that the Sponsor should lose any stimulant which may en
courage him to the earnest discharge of his duties.
The next clause addressed by the Church to the Sponsors is, "and that this child may be virtuously brought up to lead a godly and a Christian life.” Not merely a moral life, but “a godly and a Christian life.” In this and in this alone can he “be virtuously brought up.” Mere moral virtue is loose in its principle, vacillating as human habit, and arbitrary as human caprice in its exercise, and short and defective in its end. Christian virtue, is grace wrought into the habit, the fruit of the Spirit springing out of a lively faith in the merits and death of our crucified Mediator, and is the very soul of “a godly and a Christian life.” No Christian virtue, that is, no gracious habit can flow from the Law, or from a mere legal education, in which I conceive the mistake that dwarfs our present Christian growth to originate, and consequently it cannot issue in “a godly and a Christian life.” But once associate this education, or “ bringing up,” with the promise of the Gospel, once let the Child see that he is a child of adoption, that God is again his reconciled Father in Christ Jesus, and you have “a godly life” emanating from godly principles, and maintained by “a godly
a godly” support : and once let him feel that he is indebted to the blood and merits of his crucified Saviour for every mercy he enjoys, and that it is his privilege as well as
his duty that men should glorify Christ in him ; and that an unfailing supply of his Spirit shall be granted to maintain this divine life in his soul, to his “ diligent” and persevering prayer; and you have “ a Christian life” also a life of which Christ is the beginning, the middle, and the end ; of which the example of Christ is the unfailing rule, faith in Christ the ever-flowing spring, and the Spirit of Christ the ever-animating support. This is the Christian man of virtue; the man alone who can live a godly and a Christian life :" never yet did a human soul, formed upon the mere precepts of the Law, attain this state of perfection ; it is to the vitally-operating promise of the Gospel alone to which the praise of such a character is due.
The address concludes, by recommending the Sponsors, for the better performance of their duty, to " remember always, that Baptism doth represent unto us our profession, which is ” to imitate the life and graces of our Redeemer,-“ to follow the example of our Saviour Christ, and to be made like unto him; that as he died and rose again for us, so should we who are baptised die from sin, and rise again unto righteousness.” These two expressions comprise the whole of our sanctification,-the mortification of sin ; and, as our old divines term it, vivification to holiness : and this will be the work of the baptised believer “ unto his life's end ; even till the graces of time are consummated in
the glories of eternity : for as Christian men, our whole lives must be spent in “ continually mortifying all our evil and corrupt affections, and in daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living.” Here the Christian course is described, as a continual contest with sin, and a daily progress in holiness, even to the last gasp of life. This is real and vital and bible-proof Christianity : the Child thus qualified is a child of grace, holy and humble; while every other child is merely moral, and therefore worldly and unhumbled, for he can attain nothing more than a proud and meagre morality.
And here, my Dear Friend, permit me to ask, on what other consideration could a Christian man become responsible for the Christian education of his charge ? He is too well acquainted with his own infirmity, and that of the Child committed to his care, to advance one step in this spiritual work without the encouragement of the promise, and the aid of the Holy Spirit. Unless in a judgment of faith and charity this Child is a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven,' unless he is " a lively member” of the Church, unless he is really regenerated by the Holy Spirit, received “ as God's ” own child by adoption, and incorporated into the holy Church ; unless in answer to the faithful prayers of himself, the Parents, and the Church, “the Holy Ghost” is “ sanctifying ” him as one of “the
elect people of God,” and being one so truly blessed, he shall “ever remain in the number of” his “ faithful and elect children,”—with what hope of success could a Christian man accept the office of a Sponsor ? For a man who sees nothing more in Baptism than the mere ceremony, it is consistent enough to undertake the promise without any subsequent endeavour to execute it; as he never understood the vows, so neither had he any intention to discharge the obligations of them ; but for a Christian man to engage in this office knowingly and intelligently, for such an one to undertake to train up a soul for glory, to endue it with spiritual qualities, and to make it “ conformable to the image of the Son of God,” without believing that it was the good pleasure of God to fulfil his promise in sanctifying that soul as one of his own electwould surely be the height of rashness and presumption.
How different the process of the Sponsor's engagements when faith in the promise is ever animating him to discharge them ? Grounded on faith, he proceeds in hope. “Our Lord Jesus Christ has promised in his Gospel, to grant all those things that ” he has“ prayed for ; which promise," the Church assures him, “he for his part will most surely keep and perform.” “Wherefore,” he is “ persuaded of the goodwill of” his “Heavenly Father towards” the Infant of his care, “ declared by his Son Jesus