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come strong to admiration ; for “ speaking the truth in love, we would grow up into him in all things, who is the head, even Christ, according to the words of Paul, Eph. iv 15.
4. Cultivate an historical faith ; thai is, endeavour to obtain an as. surance of the truth and divinity of the word, so that ye may look upon it to be true and divine on account of the declaration of God in his word, and the testimony of the Spirit of God in your minds, and “ receive thus the testimony of God, and set to your seal, that God is true," John iii. 33. Thus “ we obtain all riches to the full assurance of understanding,” Coll. ii. 2. Your neglect of historical faith is the reason why all the direct and reflex acts of your faith are so feeble, and like a maimeri hand, or a wrenched fot; but when we become strong in historical faith, then we can sit down fiim, as upon a rock, and perform all things with strength by faith : for 6 faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen,” Heb. xi. l.
5. Collect also from the gospel a treasure of promises, which the Lord God hath made relative to the confirmation of your faith. See what he who is true hath promised you, Job. xvii. 9. Psalm x. 17. xcii. 12-15. Ezek. xxxiv. 16. Zech. x. 3, 5, 12. Mal. iv. 2. This tends wonderfully to confirm our faith ; for all confirming grace is Conveyed to the soul according to, and by means of promises, colJected and properly improved.
6. Pray for the confirmation of your faith. The Lord hath indeed promised to confirm it, but he will also be sought for this, Ezek. xxxvi. 36, 37. The saints have also prayed much for the confirma: tion of their faith, Psalm lxviii. 28. The father of the lunatic child scried out with tears, Lord, I believe, belp thou mine unbelief," Mark ix. 24. The apostles said to the Lord, " increase our faith," Luke xvii. 5, Paul prayed also for the Ephesians, that they might be“ strengthened by the Spirit,” so that they should have a strong faith, Eph. iii. 16, 17. Yea, importune the Lord by the promises which he hath made to you, that he would confirm your faith ; so David acted, Psalm cxix. 49, 50. This would add much strength to
7. Exercise faith also much: if ye have not yet an assurance, that ye are in a state of grace, exercise faith then to justification ; if ye have an assurance, exercise it from justification, as we have taught on the seventh Lord's day. The life of grace is nothing but the life of faith, which muist therefore be exercised repeatedly : of this we have also spoken on the seventh Lord's day. This the believer must therefore exercise, that he may be confirmed in it, for we learn by
doing, and we strengthen a habit by exercise, and we acquire a facility of acting by continual activity. See Heb. v. 14.
8. Let faith improve Jesus in all his relations, which he hath taken upon himself, in order to promote the work of faith ; for “he is the finisher of faith,” Heb xii. 2. He merited faith fr you, he hath received a fulness of the Spirit for faith, he is exalted for this purpose, it is his office to give and confirm faith, and " help is laid on him" for this end, Psalm lxxxix: 19. Let then your faith make use of hin, employ him, and derive from him bis Spirit through the conduits of the promises for the confirmation of your faith, that he may appear active in you by faith. See Gal. ii. 20. Eph. iv, 15, 16. Finally, • 9. Endeavour to make a believing and judicious use of the sacraments, receiving them as your seals by the word of institution and of promise, with Abraham, Rom. iv. 1). This would be a wonderful confirmation of your faith ; but we will treat more of this duty in the sequel.
Is your faith greatly assaulted and shaken, consider that “the Finisher of faith plays for you, that your faithy may not fail,” as he himself saitli, Luke xxii. 31, 32. It will therefore not fail, for “he is always heard;" see John xi. 42. • The foundation of God stand. eth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his,' 2 Tim. ii. 19. Therefore to conclude, we say with Paul from 2. Thess i. 11, 12. “Wherefore also, we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power ; that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ," Amen.
NATURE OF BAPTISM.
XXVI. LORD'S DAY.
Rom. vi. 3, 4. Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized
into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death ; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so wc also should walk in newness of life.
R. 69. How art thou admonished and assured by holy baptis, that the one sacrifice of Christ upon the cross is of real advantage to thee?
A. Thus, that Christ appointed this external washing with water, adding thereto this promise, that I am as certainly washed by his blood and Spirit from all the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as I am externally washed with water, by which the filthiness of the body is commonly washed away.
Q. 70. What is it to be washed with the blood and Spirit of Christ?
A. It is to receive of God the remission of sins freely for the sake of Christ's blood, which he shed for us by his sacrifice upon the cross : and also to be renewed by the Holy Ghost, and sanctified to be members of Christ, that so we may more and more die unto sin, and lead holy and unblamable lives.
Q. 71. Where has Christ promised us that he will as certainly wask te by his blood and Spirit, es we are washed by the water of baptism ?
A. In the institution of baptism, which is thus expressed, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be suved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” This promise is also repeated where the scripture calls baptism. “ l'he washing of regeneration, and the washing away of sios.
As it is necessary to born, in order to be a man, so it is necessary
to be born again, in order to be a Christian. It did not please the Lord to niake all men immedii tely out of the earth, as he made the first Adam, but to join a woman to Adam, and to give then both the law of marriage, " increase and multiply,” that he might make of one blood all nations of men. Therefore not one man ható been introduced into the world since that period, who was not born of a woman; for which reason man hath been defined and called from his mother, “man that is born of a woman," Job xiv. xv. 14. Thus also a man doch not become a Christian, except by a second birth. Our first parents having been created in the image of God, would have iran mitied that image to all their posterity, if they had not deprived themselves of it by sin, and it would then not have been necessary that their posterity should be newb rn; but having lost that image, they have transmitted their own image, even sin, to all their posterity. This Moses teacheth us, Gen. v. 1, 3, “ In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him. And Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image " The Lord, willing to restore man to his first condition, appointed for himself an everlasting people, and gave his Son to them in a spiritual marriage to be a bridegroom and husband to them, that he might thus obtain a holy seed by a new birth. See Isaiah liv. 1-6. It was also necessary that the sinner should be born again of that marriage ; for he is by his natural birth as it were degenerate, unnatural, yea, bereaved of humanity, and “is of his father the devil,” John viii. 44. He must therefore become “a new creature, the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works," 2 Cor. v. 17. Ephe ii. 1o. Since “ he hath sinned, he comes short of the glory” and image “ of God,” according to Rom. iii. 23. It is therefore necessary that he should " put on the new man, which after God is creaRead in righteousness and true holiness," as the apostle of the Genrites requireth, Eph. iv. 24. He is dead in trespasses and sins," but by regeneration lie is " quickened with Christ,” Eph. ii. 1, 5. The sin. ner is without strength, the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be," Rom. viii. 7. It was therefore also necessary, that new powers, "a new heart and a new spirit," should be given him by a new birth, as is promised, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. Further, by his first birth he is a stranger to the church of God, “be bath no portion, nor right, nor memorial in Jerusalem, " as Nehemiah speaks, Neh. ii. 20. If he shall then partake of the privileges of the church, he must be incorporated into ii, must be "joined to it, be a fellowcitizen of the saints, and of the household of God,” Acis il. 41. Eph. ii. 19. Permit me to add, that he is by his birth unclean and loathsome, and it is therefore necessary that he should, like a child who is newly born, be washed and rinsed; this the Lord himself teacheth us, Ezek xvi.' 1-9. This is also clearly discovered to us in baptism, the first sac
ament of the New Testament, by which regeneration, incorporation, into the church, and the washing away of sins is signified and sealed.
The foregoing Lord's day having taught us that believers are ada monished and assured by the sacraments, that the sacrifice of Christ is advantageous to them, and that the sacraments are, holy baptism and the holy supper, this is now shown with respect to baptism.
1. We must discourse somewhat cencerning the word “baptism," and then, - II. We will consider the matter itself.
1. The noun substantive baptism, baptismos, baptisma, and the verb baptize, baptizein, baptien, signify to rinse, to wash, and to cleanse any thing by dipping In this sense are the words used of the superstitious washings of the Pharisees, Mark vii. 4, "When they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pois, brazen vessels, and of tables.” But we find these words also used in a figurative sense of the communication of the grace and gifts of the Holy Spirit: “ He that cometh after me shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire,” saith the baptist, Matt. iii. 10. These words denote also sometimes figuratively, suffering tribulation, when Jesus saith, “ I have a baptism to be baptized with ; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished,” Luke xii. 50. Matt. xx. 29, 23, and the doctrine of the gospel, which is confirmed and received in baptisin : thus “ Apollos knew only the baptism of John," Acts xviii. 25. The word baptism, or baptize is VOL. II.