Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

position, and finally brings them to the consummation of their desires, in the sintess and perfect enjoyment of God. The same efficient grace is extended to all the members of the 'one body. Hence God says of Israel, Isaiah xliii. 1. “But now thus saith the Lord, that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel. Fear not, for I have redeemed tħee ; I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine.” And at the 7th verse. “ Every one that is called by my name ; for I have created him for my' glory; I have formed him, yea I have made him." Hence also the same new song of thanksgiving is sung by the whole heayenly family. Revelation v. 9.

i Thou art worthy to, take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation ; and hast made us unto our God, kings, and priests, and we shall reign upon the earth.”

4. We have liberty to conclude from the view which has been taken of the one gracious covenant of God, in regard to the source and extent of it, its promises, their nature, and objects, that there is no reason to question the perpetuity of the church, and her final complete triumph over all opposition. The new cov. enant has emanated from goodness which is undimin. ishable. Its promises

Its promises are absolute. The means are fixed. Almighty power is in operation to give them an unfrustrable effect. To strengthen our confidence, God has condescended to swear by himself, to record hís oath, and to attach to it a perpetual seal. Experience for thousands of years, and in a multitude of facts, has given its unequivocal testimony to the truth, and faithfulness of him who hath promised. Constant, and seemingly irresistible opposition, from hell and from earth, has been at work, to dam up the current of over. flowing grace. Ingenuity has heen busy to disprove the reasonableness of the faith of God's elect. The bush has been in a flame, but not consumed. Zion still lives and prospers. She goes on from conquering to conquer. Her enemies are all of them found liars.

Her God is in the midst of her ; how can she be moved ? His veracity is pledged, and it will be glorified. The latter end will no doubt be altogether better than the beginning. The christian asks for nothing but the promise of God. This we have, Let us then say with the Prophet. We have strong a city; : salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Let us dismiss our distrust. Surely virtue will tri. umph.' The church will stand forever ; and Jesus, her Redeemer, will be endlessly exalted.

5. The preceding view of the plan of the covenant, and of the church, as rising upon it, as its basis, suggests the greatest possible encouragement to prayer, to personal sacrifices, and labors, to missionary establishments and efforts, and to pastoral zeal, in behalf of the interests of pure and undefiled religion. It is as far as possible from being a vain thing to pray to God, with humble and believing prayer. Prayer coincides with the nature of God's covenant. It results from feelings like his own. It is an espousal of his cause. It is required by him, as preparatory to the fulfilment of several at least,of his promises respecting the church. Ezekiel xxxvi. 37. . Thus saith the Lord God, I will for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them." Isaiah Ixii. 6. “ Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” Prayer is a covenant mean, connected, by a gracious constitution, with the end. The promises of the covenant, which are all yea and amen in Christ, secure its efficacy. It is the inviting language of God to his church, “ Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it. He who asketh, receiveth, he who seeketh findeth, and to him who knocketh, it shall be opened. Personal sacrifices, and labors, for religion's sake, are never lost. They belong to the system of means. to which the absolute promise of God has secured a certain and most glorious effect. He who takes patiently the spoiling of his goods for Christ's sake, exchanges a portion of very inconsiderable value, for the

Qe

[ocr errors]

infinitely better inheritance of eternal glory. He who suffers with Christ shall reign with him. He who labors, may know that his labor is not in vain in the Lord. The people of God can sustain no real loss. They inherit by covenant the blessing.

Missionary efforts coincide with the gracious pur. pose of God, and are essential to the execution of it. They must be made. They will be multiplied,

in an unparalleled degree, when God, in the building up of Zion, appears in his glory. Their effects are infinitely happy ; just the reverse of the reign of sin. When the Gospel is planted, in a part of the world, hitherto lying in the region and shadow of death, the blessing received, it is to be expected, will have a permanent footing. It will be transmitted from generation to generation, in a seed, perpetually remaining, to serve the Lord.

6. From what has been exhibited to illustrate and establish the foregoing theory, we may fairly conclude, that every scheme of doctrine relative to the salvation of men, which makes the promises of the covenant altogether conditional, and suspends the execution of them, upon the contingence of consent and obedience, in man, is fundamentally erroneous. Such schemes there zre, wrought into different forms, and rendered the more seductive as they have an intermixture of truth, and are ostensibly directed to the promotion of virtue, and piety among mankind.

Such schemes deny the eternal purpose of God, as the sole antecedent cause of the salvation of sinners. They deny the new covenant, in its origin, its principles, its spirit, and its effects; the grace which forms its character, the special agency with which it is carried into execution, and the sovereignty, by which it distinguishes some from others, as objects of the blessing. They destroy the harmony

of the scripture, and remove entirely the basis of hope. "They indeed make the salvation of the church altogether an impossibility.

7. It is a conclusion which obviously and undenia. bly follows from the preceding illustrations, that to extend baptisın to any other adults than visible believ.

ers, or to any other children than the offspring or house. holds of visible believers, is entirely unwarranted. In some churches, what is called the halfway covenant, acovenant distinct from the one which the communicants receive, is in use, and administered to persons who do notmean to be understood, and who in fact are not understood, as properly professing christianity, or as uniting themselves with the church of Christ. This is done for the sake of allowing them the privilege of having baptism for their children. This practice has nothing to countenance it in the scripture. It is wholly opposed to the simplicity of the covenant, and is an entire misapplication of the seal of it.

It has been proved that the covenant which dispenses the blessing, and on which the church is built, is one. Any other covenant, superadded to this, must be a mere human invention, It cannot meet the approbation of God, nor can the observance of it contribute, in the smallest degree, to interest either parent or child in the divine favor. Baptisms administered under such a covenant, are an abuse of the authority of God, and in their nature void. Some churches admit, and some ministers practice, a large, and indiscriminate baptism, without respect to a religious profession of any kind. Such an indiscrim. inate baptism is, if possible, å still, more blamable pervertion of the ordinance, and never ought to be recognized as christian.

8. It seems to be a necessary conclusion from what has been exhibited, that antipædobaptism is an error, which contravenes the authority of God, and is of very pernicious tendency. Antipædobaptism denies the covenant of God, in respect to some of the most prom. inent features of it, and refuses to apply an instituted seal of it to the subjects, to whom God has very clearly directed that it should be applied. It fastens a mean. ing upon the promises of the covenant altogether differ. ent from that which they really convey. It denies the descent of the blessing as secured in the covenant, and naturally leads to a disuse of the means which it has provided, as channels, in which this blessing is to go down, from parent to child, and from generation to generation. It excludes the infant children of believ- . ers from that membership in the Church, which its constitution has secured to them. It casts them out into the uncovenanted world ; and, to say the least, places them in a state of augmented danger with respect to their eternal salvation, It destroys the religious unity of the household state ; deprives the pious parent of those consolations which the covenant provides for him; and leads inevitably to great self contradiction in practice. It separates Abraham from his seed, breaks up the holy family of God, turns into disrespect, and sometimes loads with ridicule and sarcasm his holy ordinances; and disfigures, in a very awful manner, that beautiful system of truth, with which God has enriched us. All this certainly follows, if the preceding theory be correct. And whether it has not a full support in the scripture, the reader will judge.. These conclu. sions against antipodobaptism rest upon the undeniable truth of this theory. The piety of many of this persuasion is not called in question. The error, though great and pernicious, is not supposed to be incompati. ble with a Christian state ; or an insuperable bar to Christian fellowship. While we are constrained to censure our brethren for their errors, for their Zeal in propagating their unscriptural opinions, at the expense of the harmony, and unity of the Church, and especial, ly for those unfounded and profane reproaches, they, or many of them, circulate against the covenant of circumcision, the fainily of Abraham, the Church of Israel, and that part of the Church under the latter dispensation, which they are pleased to call unbaptized and antichristian, we still desire to treat them as brethren. And we do so, when we beg them seriously to consider, whether their peculiar sentiments, and practice, be not an evident and a very dangerous departure from the covenant,

Finally, if the evidence which has been produced in support of the foregoing theory be, in the reader's mind, conclusive, he will feel the impression, that the

« AnteriorContinuar »