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Christ;" he nothing doubts" that he favourably allows this CHARITABLE WORK of his, in bringing this Infant to his holy Baptism.” He doubts not but earnestly believes that Christ has likewise favourably received this present infant as he did those of old ; and he is thus encouraged hopefully and perseveringly to use all the prescribed means that a child so distinguished, should “receive the fulness of” the “grace" of God, 66 and ever remain in the number of his faithful and elect children.”
And now, my Dear Friend, to this reasoning add the moral certainty, that it is only the Sponsor who acts upon this statement, that will ever be found to perform his engagements; and for this plain reason, because he only can form a proper estimate of the privileges of Baptism. A negligent Sponsor is an unbelieving Sponsor; for no man will be anxious to secure advantages, which he does not believe that a promise is given to convey. It is the man that believes the promise, who can alone expect any advantages from it, and it is his vigilance and his care alone that will be concerned to secure them.
Thus encouraged, let not the faithful Sponsor Alinch from his charitable undertaking. Let him rally his weak faith by recurring to the promises in favour of the children of the Church.
should such a man as I flee?”1
Let him say
1 Neh. vi. 11.
in the hour of difficulty is it for me to turn my back ? “ O Lord what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies ?”1 Let him rather gird up his loins to the work, stand in the gap, and make up the breach, remembering that “it is not the will of” his “ Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”
i Josh. vii. 8.
2 Matt. xviii. 14.
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