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infancy to age! what efficient means of renovation amidst the miseries and ruins of the fall ! what an approximation of earth to heaven, of grace to glory, of man regenerated and renewed to the spiritual image of his God ! In vain does my imagination strive to pourtray a scene of things upon earth so perfectly lovely : once let faith, and love, and prayer, but set the wheels of this spiritual machinery in motion, once let the gracious principle of Baptism, regeneration according to the promise,-be infused into that and all its sister formularies, and you would witness a condition of human society infinitely beyond that which fable ever fancied, which the prophetic pages of truth have alone anticipated, ---a scene of amity, and peace, and love, and joy, and blessedness,
« Such as earth Saw never, such as heav'n stoops down to see.”
OBJECTIONS STATED AND ANSWERED.
THERE are two principal objections which I anticipate to the above interpretation of our Baptismal Service and the corresponding formularies of our Church. The one arising from the fact—that Baptism does not produce these desirable results which the above interpretation would lead us to expect : the other, questioning the principle of regeneration according to the promise, and hesitating to admit that we are warranted in expecting so much from it. It is but justice to our subject, to answer these objections, before we proceed to state the advantages with which the above interpretation would, with the blessing of God, he accompanied, if carried out into its practical detail, to our Church and consequently to our country.
First then the fact—the real condition of things under our present administration of Baptism, may be insisted on, and it may be said, “are not Parents and Sponsors and the Church often dis appointed ? Does the Child thus incorporated
into the visible Church always grow up a holy child ? in a word is the promise generally performed ?"
We may answer first, that to order events is the prerogative of God. His precept is the rule of our duty, and his promise is our encouragement to discharge it; and if, after the persevering discharge of duty, with prayer for a blessing on the same, we perceive no fruit to the conclusion of the life of the baptised, we may still trust that our faith shall not be without a blessing, and say, “ though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength.” Our grand consideration should be, Have we the warrant for the practice ? is the precept to baptise clear? Have we then the promise of a blessing to encourage us ? are promises of spiritual blessings given to the Children of believers, and did our Saviour invite the Infants to him and bless them when they were brought? then let us act the precept, and plead the promise, and leave the event to God. Duty, faith, and prayer, are ours; the event,--the blessing is solely the prerogative of God.
Or we may answer, with the concluding clause of the Seventeenth Article.
66 We must receive God's promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in holy Scripture : and
i Isa, xlix. 5.
in our doings that will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God.” “ Secret things belong unto the Lord our God;” with his hidden will, his secret intentions, no soul of man must presume to interfere ; for they are the attributes and prerogatives of Absolute Deity, and eminently and exclusively “belong” to him. The “ things that are revealed belong to us and to our children:”! they are rich expressions of his infinite mercy to us sinners, free intimations of his sovreign love, and as our faith acts upon them with fullest confidence of a blessing, even so shall that blessing be bestowed.
Or we may answer in the following full and satisfactory statement of Beza.
66 There is a special regard to be had to the Infants of the faithful. For although they have not faith in effect, such as those have that be of age, yet so it is that they have the seed and the spring in virtue of the promise, which was received and apprehended by the Elders. For God promised not us only to be our God, if we believe in him, but also that he will be the God of our offspring and seed, yea unto a thousand degrees, that is, to the last end. Therefore said St. Paul, that the children of the faithful be sanctified from their Mothers' womb. By what right or title then do they refuse to give them the mark and
1 Deut. xxix. 29.
“ if one member be honoured, allt rejoice with it.” 1
And if he be detained from the munion of the Saints” by sicknes does not forget him, but as she preserve and continue this sick “unity of the Church,” she sen into the chamber of sickness to his latter end. Of all our formu one which I have heard stated to of the piety and judgment of and more especially on this makes no provision for diver that it is only adapted to th Christian, and that the unreg to have no share in it. But the distinctive character of does it not show its perfect the other formularies, whic the regeneration of their as one of God's elect? regenerate, and elect, tha minister to comfort him to prepare him for that which he may be abou that " he comes into th he asks God to 6 spar has redeemed with “hi