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Gospel to their poor and suffering brethren, and to strangers also; and that this charity was distributed in conformity to the account in the text: the ministry of tables being mentioned by him as one of the principal channels, through which it flowed. It is plain also, that, in the view of this Emperor, this charity was a primary reason, why Christianity prevailed in the world. For he exhibits his full conviction, that it was impossible to spread Heathenism by any other means, than a strenuous imitation of this excellent character. The justness of these opinions is, in my view, unquestionable.

This duty is no less incumbent on Christians at the present time. Nor would the advantages, arising from the practice of it, be less important or conspicuous. In all churches, there ought to exist a regular system of contribution, designed solely to provide relief for their poor and suffering members. In every Church, a charitable fund ought to be begun, and continually supplied by continual collections. Of this fund, the Deacons ought to be the standing almoners; as being by the authority of God designated to this office.

It may here be objected, and not unnaturally, that the State has by law made provision for the relief of all poor persons ; that all members of Churches contribute to this charity, in common with others; and that their suffering members take their share of the bounty. My answer to this objection is the following

First. That the poor, both of the Church and community at large, have exactly the same right to the property, supplied by this tar, which the contribulors have to the remainder of their own possessions.

The law alone creates every man's right to what he calls his estate. To the great mass of the property, denoted by, this word, he has by nature no right at all. But the same law gives exactly the same right to the poor, of receiving whatever is taxed upon others for supplying their necessities. The payment of this tax, therefore, is in no sense an act of charity; but the mere payment of a debt, by which, together with other acts of the like nature, each man holds a right to his estate.

Secondly. The Charily in question was immediately instituted Vol. V.

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and required, by God; and is independent of all human institutions.

No conformity to any regulation, no obedience to any law, of man, can go a step towards' excusing us from obeying a law of God.

Thirdly. The provision in question is not made by human laws.

The intention of furnishing this fund is not to relieve the absolute necessities of poor Christians : these being customarily supplied by the operation of law. The object, here in view, is to provide for their comfort. Nothing can be more contrary to the spirit of Christianity, than that one part of the members of a church should abound in the conveniences and luxuries of life, and another be stinted to its mere necessaries. Every one ought, plainly, to share in blessings, superior to these. This provision ought to extend to all those enjoyments, which are generally denominated decencies and comforts. Without the possession of these, in some good degree, life, so far as its external accommodations are concerned, can hardly be said to be desirable.

I am well aware, that the unhappy neglect of this great duty by many of our own Churches will be urged, and felt, as a defence of the contrary doctrine. It is hardly necessary to observe, that no negligence can justify a further neglect of our duty. Nehemiah and his companions, when they found it written in the law, that the children of Israel should dwell in Booths, at the feast of the tabernacles, went forth, and made themselves Booths, every one of them, although their nation had failed of performing this duty, as this excellent man declares, from the days of Joshua the son of Nun.

I am also aware, that the love of money, the root of so much evil in other cases, is the root of great evil in this; and will, even in the minds of some good men, create not a little opposition to this duty. Until such men learn to love this world less, and God and their fellow-christians more; objections, springing from this source, will undoubtedly have their influence.

My audience is chiefly composed of those who are young, and therefore neither devoted to avarice, nor deeply affected by the too customary negligence of this duty. Before them, therefore, I feel a peculiar satisfaction in bringing up to view this benevo

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lent, and divine, Institution. On their minds, the arguments, which have been urged, will, I trust, have their proper weight. To quicken his just views of this subject, let every one present, remember, that even the Emperor Julian has said; “ I do not believe any man is the poorer for what he gives to the necessitous. I, who have often relieved the poor, have been rewarded by the gods many fold; although wealth is a thing, on which I was never much intent.” Above all things, let every one remember, that Christ, alleging the beneficence of Christians as a ground of their endless happiness in the world above, closes his infinitely momentous address to them with this remarkable declaration. Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, , ye have done it unto me.

SERMON CLVI.

THE EXTRAORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE.

THE ORDINANCES OF THE CHURCH.

BAPTISM.

ITS REALITY AND INTENTION.

MATTHEW xxviii. 19.

Go ye, therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name

of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

In seven discourses, preceding this, I have considered the institution of the Church; the Members, of which it is formed ; the Officers, appointed in the Scriptures to superintend its affairs ; and the principal Duties, which they are appointed to perform. The next subject in a system of Theology is the Ordinances, which belong peculiarly to this body of men, and which they are required to celebrate.

Of these, the first in order is Baptism ; as being that, by which the members of the Church are, according to Christ's appointment, introduced into this Body.

In the Text, Christ directs his Apostles to go forth into the world, and teach, or make disciples of, all nations, and to baptize them in, or into, the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. This, then, is a duty, which the Apostles were required to perform towards all nations, so far as they made them disciples of Christ.

The Text, therefore, presents the subject of Baptism to us, as an ordinance to be administered by the Pastors of the Church to its several members, in consequence of their discipleship. What was the duty of the Apostles in this case, is equally the duty of all succeeding ministers. Of course, it is the duty of every person, who wishes, and is qualified, to become a member of the Church, to receive the ordinance of Baptism.

In my examination of this subject, I shall consider,
1. The Reality ;
II. The Intention ;
III. The proper Subjects; of this Ordinance : and,
IV. The Manner, in which it should be administered.

1. I shall make some observations concerning the Reality of Bap. tism.

To persons, at all acquainted with Ecclesiastical History, it is well known, that several classes of men hade denied Baptism, in the proper sense, to be a divine Institution. Some of these persons bave supported their opinion from Heb. ix. 10; Which stood only in meats, and drinks, and diverse washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of Reformation. The word, here rendered washings, is in the Greek, Bartiduos, Baptisms. In this passage, they have, without any warrant, supposed the Baptism of the Gospel to be included. The Apostle, in this passage, refers only to the Jewish worship; as is evident from the preceding part of the chapter; particularly from the ninth verse. That Evangelical Baptism was in use, as an institution of Christ, when this Epistle was written, is abundantly manifest from the following chapter, verses 19, 22, particularly from the two last of these verses. Having an High Priest, says the Apostle, over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith; Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water : or, in other words, being baptized.

The same persons endeavour to support their opinion, also, from 1 Pet. iii. 21; The like figure whereunto, even Baptism doth also now sade us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh,

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