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by all. Could it be fhown that wafhing one an- • other's feet, of which Chrift gave an example and command to his apoftles, would be as ufeful in all ages and places as it was then in Judea, that it was underftood in a Uriet; and literal fenfe, and practifed immediately and conftantly by them and their fucceflbrs, and delivered to the church as a command, we might think ourfelves obliged to regard warning one another's feet as a ftated duty of our religion.
Paul's circumcifmg Timothy was dictated by a . reafon peculiar to the times. The ordinance of circumcifion was not then declared to be abolifhed; and Timothy, born of a Jew, might well fubmit to. the rite, in order to aid his reception with the Jews. The anointing the Jick in the name of the Lord was an appointment for their miraculous cure. But the age of miracles has pafled away. The decree of the famous apoftolic council at Jerufalem was adapted to the cafe and circumftances of the Gentiles at the time, excepting one article of a • moral nature.
Let us make an improvement of the doctrine here mentioned.
Our firft duty is to direfl: our ferious attention to the defigns and ufes of this ordinance. It has been affirmed to be a vain and unprofitable obfervance. Did Jefus Chrift impofe on his church a ufelefs and abfurd rite? It is inftructive and beneficial, as it teaches us our finfulnefs,'our need of renewal—as it brings to our view the objects of our faith, love, fear, and hope; and as it implies our engagements and vows to "live the lives we live in the flefh by the faith of the Son of God." Let us learn to confider this appointment with refpect and gratitude; for it teaches us by a ftriking fign fome of the moft important do&rines, truths, and duties of our religion.
2. Who are the proper fubje&s of this baptifm, will be a matter of inquiry in another place. Generally it is to be received by all who confefs that Jefus is the Chrift; who avow belief in his religion, and give credible evidence of fincerity in their profeffion, that they are the real difciples of Chrift. Such perfons may enjoy the rite for themfelves and their infant feed.
3. With regard to the mode of adminiftering the ordinance of baptifm. It is the application of water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghoft, or in compliance with the command of Chrift. This is eflential to chriftian baptifm, which being once performed is not to be repeated to fatisfy the miftaken notions of baptized perfons.*
* Some perfons who have once received baptifm have eiprefled a wilh to receive if again and been urgent in their application. There is nothing in the nature of the ordinance or the terms in which it is piefcribed, favourable to the opinion that baptifm is ever to be repeated. It is a form of initiation into Chrift's church, though vicious members are to be caft out of the church, there is no intimation given in the fcriptures that when fo admitted they are to be baptized again, 2 Cor. ii. 68. Baptifm is an outward fign of being in covenant with God; a token of obligation on the perfons who have received it to fulfil the conditions of this covenant and to obey the whole law of God, when it is once performed according to the prefcribed rules all its outward effects take place, baptifm is good and is not to be renewed. ».
"One of the ends of baptifm, obferves Dr. Burnet, is that we are all baptized into one body, we are made members one ef another, I Cor. jii. 13. We are admitted to the fociety of chriftians, and to all the rights and privileges of that body, which is the church. And in order to this, the outward action of baptifm when regularly gone about is fufficient; a fecond end ofbaptifm is internal and fpiritual, it reprefents regeneration, Tit. iii. 5. our being dead to fin, and buried with Chrift and our being rifen and quietened •with him and made alive to God, Rom. vi. Col. ii. It is a juft and natural diftinftion to fay that the outward effe&s of baptifm follow it as outwardly performed; but that the inward effects of it follow upon the inward afts. This difference is to be obferved between inward afts and outward aftions, that when the outward action is rightly performed, the baptifm mud be confidered good; and not to be renewed, but if any one has been wanting in the inward afts, thofe may and muft be afterwards renewed or exerted and the want made up by repentance and obedience."
4. Would we prove ourfelves the true difciples of Chrift, let us feel and teftify an unfhaken attachment to all divine inftitutions. We fhould efteem them. We mould love them. We fhould conftantly and diligently attend upon them. Ordinances are the helps to falvation, provided by a wife and gracious God. Their appointment difplays his love and grace, his goodnels and patience, his wifdom and condefcenfion. Let our eye be to God, to blefs and fanctify to us all the means of religion, which he has ordained.
It msy be proper to fubjoin the following remarks, "as to the neceffity ofbaptifm, fome feem to have laid too great a ftrefs upon it, as if it were abfolutely necaflary in order to falvation, grounding their argument chiefly on John iii. 5. Mark xvi. 16. Neverthelefs it will be readily allowed that foi any to abftain from baptifm, when he knows or has fufficient means to know that it is an infthution of Chrift, and that it is the will of Chrift that he fhould fubject himfelf to it, in fuch an aft of difobedience to his authority, as is inc^nfiftent with true faitk."
DoddriJge Lee. page 372, vol. 2.
.5. It .is the duty of all people to be qualified to enjoy the ordinance of baptifm. All parents fhould fee that they lofe no time, to enjoy it for themfelves, if unbaptized, and for their children. What is required of you, dear friends, is to feek and'know . God; to defire, to know,and do your chriftian duty; and to honour your Maker and Redeemer in the appointed ways. Give yourfelves no reft, till you have obtained reafonable evidence that you are meet for gofpel ordinances. It is a mournful thought, that fo many live in the total neglect of this edifying and holy facrament of baptifm. Either they do not feek to know the will of God, or knowing, they difregard it. Unbaptized children! Unbaptized parents! Unbaptized youth! Do not contemn or poftpone a compliance with your chriftian obligations. Behold now is the accepted time; now is the day of falvation. Today if ye will hear his voice; there may be no morrow for you ; no more time—no more feafons of grace.
6. From what hath been faid, let all who have enjoyed the ordinance of baptifm, feel the facred bonds thereof, and feek divine grace to enable them to live up to their baptifmal vows. Let parents who have come forward and had baptifm for their Children, and have devoted them, therein, to God, to be his, and for him, bring, them up in the ways of Religion—teach.them to pray—and pray with, and for thim in their houfes :—instru& and govern them for God—fet a pious example before them—and teach them their baptifmal dedication—the meaning and import of it, as above explained, and as a peculiar privilege binding them to be the Lord's.—And let fuch parents, farther examine their own hearts and ways, and fee if they gave up their Children, in the baptifmal dedication, in outward appearance only, or in sincerity and in truth, hoping and trufting in God's mercy and truth for them.—And let parents who never prepared themselves to bring their Children to God in baptifm, when they look on their dear infant flock, feel a deep ferife of their fin, in the negleft of their duty to them: and fo pity, and ft love them, as to come forward, and give them up to God in baptifm.—and let unbaptized youth realize their duty, and never give themfelves rest, till they have dedicated themselves to God, in his covenant and baptifmal inftitution, to be his in life, his in death, and his for ever.