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be inclined to unbelief, to vice, to iniquity; the confident expectation of unspeakable and immortal happiness, with which our Lord consoles, encourages, animates those who labour to be steadfast in observing and following Gospel principles; they, who will frequently and habitually recollect these awful and momentous truths, will find, will feel, that there are in these truths such motives for dreading to do evil, such inducements for studying to do good, as no considerations merely human could infallibly propose; no competency in man, however abundant in wealth, however great in authority, could possibly offer.
Your parents, therefore, have shown they truly love you ; your ministers have proved they are earnest to promote your eternal happiness; the church has testified its concern for the salvation of your souls; by the means provided, and applied, for teaching you Christian religion, It is one good effect of the instruction you have received, that you this day appear in the house of God, to discharge a duty of the most solemn nature. As the Jews, at an early age, undertook to observe the laws of Moses, and were styled “ Sons of the Precept ;” so Christians have been accustomed, at an early age, to undertake observing the laws of Christ, and may be styled the “ Children of Christian Faith and Christian Practice.” In imitation of those who have gone before you, who have lived and died in our holy faith, you are now assembled, to promise, each for yourselves, that you will endeavour to resist sin, that you will receive the articles of your Creed as the rules of your belief; and that you will direct your thoughts, words, and actions, according to the moral and religious commandments of God made known in the law and sanctioned by the Gospel.
Surely as you are born, so sure it is you will die, and after death will come the judgment. Whether you are high or low, rich or poor, you are all alike destined first to sink into the grave, and then to rise for a state either of eternal rewards or of eternal punishment. Every thinking mind, that looks forward to the end, which, sooner or later, you must all reach, will consider it as an occasion of serious joy, that, in the days of health and strength, you will begin devoting yourselves to the Lord, and will turn yourselves to the ways which lead unto salvation. That you may continue to walk in those right ways, habitually pray that God of his mercy would vouchsafe to give you divine assistance. For be assured, and often recollect, that the welfare of man, in body and soul, depends on the blessing of Almighty God. The protection of his providence is necessary for the body; the help of his grace is requisite for the soul. In full conviction of this our dependence, and in certain though humble trust that God will hear those, who sincerely and earnestly beseech him to support them in the pursuit of what is religiously good, shall soon be offered that petition, which our church with true piety and equal judgment hath prepared for us; and we shall pray the Almighty, that he would increase in you“ the spirit of wisdom,” to learn the words, “ and of understanding,” to perceive the meaning and force, of Gospel instruction; “the spirit of “ counsel,” to choose what is best in concerns of virtue and religion, and “ of strength” in mind and resolution to execute good purposes ; “ the spirit of knowledge,” to discern what is the will of the Lord, and of “ true “godliness,” in obeying that will; “ the spirit of holy “ fear,” in reverencing whatever relates to God and religion, and in dreading to displease Him by the commission of sin.
After the conclusion of that prayer, you will in Gravity and seriousness will particularly become you on that occasion. Whilst you are kneeling at the altar, keep silence from all other words except those which your prayer books teach you to speak, in answer to the question proposed; but lift up your hearts, and inwardly pray that God will vouchsafe to grant the blessings implored for you! When you return to your places, which you should do with regularity and composure, remain there in the utmost stillness, till others have been confirmed. When again you are addressed, make the answer required; hear the prayers which will follow, and wait for the benediction which concludes the solemnity.
It will be some proof of your attention to the sacred service now to be performed, if, when you have left the church, you go away orderly and quietly, each to his own home, with as little delay as convenience may allow. You have begun the day well; go through it well! Conduct yourselves in such a manner as becomes soberminded Christians! If you act thus, you will bring credit on the church of which you are members; you will give satisfaction and comfort to your anxious parents and conscientious ministers ; you will have spent rightly some portion of that time, which is allotted you for that greatest of all concerns, the saving of your souls, by sincere endeavours to be good, and by faith in the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, the eternal Son of God, most high in the glory of God the Father!
DEARLY BELOVED IN THE LORD, We find it written in the Gospel of St. Matthew, that our Lord commissioned and commanded his Apostles to “ go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the “ name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy “ Ghost.” (St. Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.)
St. John tells us it was declared by our Lord, “ Except one be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot “ enter into the kingdom of God.” (St. John, iii. 5.)
The effect of St. Peter's discourse in Jerusalem was, that “ three thousand persons received baptism in one
day.” (Acts, ii. 41.)
The primitive Christians correctly understood the propriety, and deeply felt the necessity, of baptism, for all who would be members of the Christian church. Therefore, as the Jews had circumcised, so the primitive Christians baptized infants. * Both Jews and Christians were anxious that their infant children should be admitted into covenant with God, by that rite which had been ordained; ordained for the Jews by the law, ordained for Christians by the Gospel.
The practice of infant baptism hath through many generations descended from the early ages of Christianity to the present times. Following the good example set them by millions of wise and pious persons, who had lived before them, your parents brought you to be baptized, whilst you were yet infants. In so doing, they manifested true and pious regard for you, since they would not withhold you from the covenanted benefits of an appointed ordinance. Thus in your infancy you received the sign of the covenant; but now you must undertake to fulfil the terms of it.
* See Bingham's “ Origines Ecclesiasticæ," book ii. ch. iv.
The religion which we profess, we derive from the Gospel. That Gospel teaches us to acknowledge one God; one Lord; one Holy Spirit ; one baptism ; one hope of our calling, even the hope of being blessed by God in a future state, if we believe what the Gospel requires, and observe what the Gospel commands.
You are here assembled this day, for the solemn purpose of declaring that you do believe what the Gospel requires you to believe, and that you will labour to observe what the Gospel commands. After that declaration, as divine assistance is no less necessary for your souls, than divine providence for your bodies, you will pray yourselves, and prayers will also be offered up for you, to Almighty God, that, by the powerful help of his Holy Spirit, you may increase in goodness, and be enabled to persevere in the practice of all Christian duties to the end of your lives.
Every subject and every circumstance connected with the present solemnity should make you serious. You cannot think of God, who is just to punish sinners, as well as merciful to forgive penitents, without being serious. You cannot think of the divine nature and exalted dignity of Christ our Lord; you cannot think of all he vouchsafed to do for the human race, that He might redeem us from the guilt, punishment, and practice of sin, without being serious. You cannot think