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of Christ's Church; as also because in the Bap tism of Infants every man present may be put in remembrance of his own profession made to God in his Baptism. For which cause also it is expedient that Baptism be ministered in the Vulgar Tongue."
Here surely is a jealous vigilance that all things may be done to excite and maintain the sympathy, and charity, and vital influence of a holy communion, all tending to the general edification of the Church.
First, Baptism is not to be deferred but from necessity, after "the first or second Sunday next after" the "birth." If the Jewish Infant was introduced into the Church on the eighth day after its birth, and received the sign and seal of the covenant; why is the heir of a brighter dispensation to be excluded from the earliest participation of its blessings; and of the interest, and love, and communion of that Church into which he is admitted? nothing but necessity therefore is deemed by the Church a sufficient reason for withholding the Infant from its bosom of grace, so soon as it is capable of partaking of the blessings of its communion.
Secondly, so desirous is the Church of promoting the holy fellowship of her members, and of maintaining their gracious sympathies towards each other, especially towards the lambs of the flock, who most need her tender care, that she will have them receive the sign and seal of her
communion, not in the private chamber of their natural parent before the confined domestic circle, but in their spiritual" Mother's house," and in "the chamber of her that conceived" 1 them, even the fullest resort of her children in the "great Congregation;" Parents are therefore to be warned, that without "great cause and necessity they procure not their children to be baptized at home in their houses." On the contrary," the People are to be admonished, that, it is most convenient, that Baptism should not be administered but upon Sundays, and other Holy-days, when the most number of people come together." The first reason assigned for this publicity is, "that the Congregation there present may testify the receiving of them that be newly baptized into the number of Christ's Church." And why "testify," but that they may be interested in each child as he is respectively introduced "into the number of Christ's Church." But what interest can the Church take in a child baptised in secret, whom she never saw, never recognised? what sympathies can the Church entertain for a child baptised "at home," not visibly incorporated into her communion, and of whom she formally and sacramentally knows nothing? She cannot "testify" that which she never saw, and of which she has no knowledge or experience but from the
1 Song of Solomon, viii. 2.
Register book of the parish. Here is not only no personal knowledge of the Child, but no feeling is excited in favour of the baptised Infant, by her prayers being solicited and obtained. Prayer is perhaps the sweetest expression of the Communion of the saints: while they pray together they are brought into the experience of the most vital blessing of their communion : they are all together before the throne of one Covenant-God and Father; they are pleading the merits, and availing themselves of the intercession of one common Saviour; and they are exercising the graces and enjoying the acknowledged presence of one common Sanctifier and Comforter. Prayer is the loveliest and the liveliest sympathy of Christian communion: and therefore the best mode of " testifying" the introduction of the Infant into the number of Christ's Church." But how can the Church feel the lively interest of prayer for a child of which she knows nothing?
The second reason assigned for the introduction of the Child to Baptism, "when the most number of people come together," is, "because in the Baptism of Infants every man present may be put in remembrance of his own profession made to God in his Baptism." As Baptismal obligations end not but with life itself, it is wise in the Church to suggest to her members a perpetual memorial of them. It is her "endeavour that" we" may have these things always in re
membrance : "1 for this purpose the instances of Baptism are continually presenting to us the profession we also have made, that we may observe and adorn it by our life and conversation. But who can be reminded of his profession when there is no instance to remind him? and is it. not on this account chiefly that any thing like a reference to Baptismal obligations has become almost obsolete? who examines his conduct by the rule of his Baptismal vows? who animates himself to holy exertion, by recurring to his Baptismal privileges? The majority of the Christian world seems agreed to retain the name of Baptism and the rite of Baptism, but to have equally agreed to permit its virtue and efficacy to sink into desuetude and neglect, whether under the winning Popery of the delusion, that the external washing of water is the internal cleansing of the Spirit, or the scarcely less pernicious mischief, a total disregard of the promise and of the privileges connected with it.
The remaining provision for publicity made by the Church is," for which cause also it is expedient that Baptism be administered in the Vulgar Tongue." Christianity is a common boon, and admission to the communion of the Church equally free to high and low, rich and poor, educated and uneducated: the one and the other meet here without distinction as sinners :
1 2 Pet. i. 15.
all needing mercy, since "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." The common language of the country, therefore, is the most expedient channel for conveying common blessings, for what all are privileged to enjoy, all are concerned to understand.
And here let me vindicate our Reformers, from an objection which I have heard urged against them, as to the presumed interest which the Church is said to take in the Baptism of the Infant. It has been said, that when they use this expression, "for the young babes, their parent's or the church's profession sufficeth," that they affix no positive meaning to the word "Church; " that they use loose and indefinite language; and, in plain terms, that they did not understand what they were talking about. I admit, that alienated, as the Child is, from the Church by the prevailing mode of Baptism, neither Infant, nor Parents, nor Sponsors being presented to the Church in her full Congregation, that the term has no intelligible meaning; but then surely the Reformers are free from blame, whose whole endeavour in our formularies is to render the presentation of the Infant as public as possible, to engage the interest, and to awaken the holy sympathies of the Congregation in favor of the baptised Infant; that,
1 King Edward the Sixth's Catechism, Fathers of E. C. vol. ii. p. 369.