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as succeeding in the natural right of children, as just now affirmed by St. Paul, and thus following the regular order of things; and, secondly, by virtue of His PROMISE who is both able and faithful to perform, and who hath given us all things for the sake of his beloved Son, who hath made us free.
I shall conclude with this short remark upon all that has been said to you at this time, viz. " The proper subject of the institution of baptism, you have been shown, is to include every thing that is generally necessary to be known by all persons in order to their truly serving God here, and to their being saved hereafter. And they may be reduced to these two heads—the knowledge of the Gospel covenant (that is, of the promises made to man through Jesus Christ); and the condition on which we may become partakers of them *.” For we are not to suppose that the mere outward ceremony of being baptized with water entitles us to these benefits, if, when we grow up, we neglect the things we then“ are bound to perform.” No! we most certainly shall have no part in them, unless we practically observe what was then “ pro"mised in our name,” by partaking of the inward grace of which the water in baptism is only the sign: the first to purify our souls, as the latter to
cleanse our flesh. For baptism, as at first shown you, being introduced in the room of circumcision, the same may be said of one as St. Paul does of the other, Rom. ii. 25 : Circumcision (or, in our case, baptism) verily profiteth if thou keep the law; but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision :and so likewise it may be said of baptism.
May God enlighten your minds to understand and retain what has now been said for your spiritual instruction, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour! To whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be ascribed all power and praise for ever! Amen.
2 TIMOTHY, II. 19. Let every one that nameth the name of Christ
depart from iniquity. It has been most clearly and fully shown you, my brethren, in my Discourse upon the answers to the two first questions in our Church Catechism, that when we enter into the Christian covenant, or, in other words, are made members of Christ, &c. we obtain a claim, by that act or ceremony, to all the benefits of that holy sacrament, on condition of our keeping the promises made for us, or in our names, at that time; the consideration of which leads immediately to the third question in the Catechism, viz. “What did your godfathers and godmothers “then for you ?" or, What promise did they make in your name? To which the answer is, “ They did promise and vow three things in
my name: first, that I should renounce the devil “ and all his works, the pomps and vanities of " this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of “ the flesh; secondly, that I should believe all “ the articles of the Christian faith; and, third
ly, that I should keep Goa's holy will and com“ mandments, and walk in the same all the days “ of my life.”
With God's help, I will now afford you a plain exposition or account of these several
particulars, which will open to us a wide field of Christian duty, as far as concerns our active obligations. And, first, I shall offer a few words upon the nature of a promise, or vow, which will prepare your minds for the admission of what is to follow.
Barely to promise any thing, implies a voluntary engagement, whereby we oblige ourselves to or for another person, to perform some act that will be beneficial to him, and which depends entirely on our punctuality and integrity to produce a good effect. We do by such promise convey a claim to the party to be benefited, to call upon us to make good our purpose, and if we fail in our engagement, we become guilty of one of the most dishonourable and immoral actions that can be committed: for, by this breach of faith, we may subject the party so deceived to abundant injury and distress, according to the nature of the promise, and the various ends it was calculated to answer. In some instances, a promise broken renders the offender liable to the charge of the most cruel tyranny that can be exercised by one creature over another, because it is a wanton sporting with the peace of mind of our neighbour, involving him in uneasiness, and perhaps difficulties, that might never have existed but
through a dependence upon a favour we had pledged ourselves to perform; and, therefore, in the sight of God and man it is highly offensive, and the basest trespass that a dishonourable principle can produce. Now, neglect of this kind in the case in point, is of still greater consequence than what concerns the general transactions of life, because the nature of the engagement is of the most serious tendency. Such a public profession often prevents others from doing the good intended by it, and the unsuspecting and helpless infant is deprived of the advantages it might have received, had it been connected with persons of intrinsic worth and conscientious practice. But in our obligations in behalf of the persons to be baptized, we advance a step further than a simple profession : we do not only promise, but vow, these things in their name. This word carries a much stronger meaning than the former: it is a most solemn confirmation of our design, and is another term for swearing that we will fulfil it; and hence it becomes so essential a part of this ceremony of baptism (which is truly a sacrament). The literal, real sense of this word (according to the original meaning of it) is, a sacred oath, administered in any ceremony producing obligation.
From this full explanation of these two words, you cannot fail being sensible of the crime of departing from an engagement of so solemn and