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2. Thofe who deny infant baptifm have no juft ground for breaking off ffdm all the churches of Chrift on this account; and much lefs for efteeming themfelves the only true church in the world.. For though they hold this to be an error, yet it is not fuch as to fubvert the foundation, nor indeed' has it always been their fentiments, as appears by a confeffion of the faith of a hundred churches of their communion.* Awful have been the confequences of this reparation, and, perhaps, nothing tarnimed the glory of the reformation from Popery more than the conduct of its firft founders. Thofe, therefore, who, in the prefent day would break off from other churches of Chrift and join this feparate communion, ought firft well to confider the nature of the action, left they be involved in the awful guilt of many generations. On the whole, it is high time that all party zeal was banimed from the church of Chrift, and that all denominations were united in the common caufe. The day of the Lord is at hand. In the mean time, let us give up ourfelves and all ours to God and to his difpofal—let us take hold of the covenant through Jefus Chrift, and thankfully enjoy the privileges—let us plead the promifes for ourfelves and our children—and finally, let us wait patiently for his coming and kingdom, who will then reveal his righteous judgment, and reward every man according to his works.
* Printed in London, 1«99.
S E R M O N V.
BELIEVERS AND THEIR OFFSPRING IN COVENANT WITH GOD.
ACTS, II. 39.
FOR THE PROMISE IS UNTO YOU, AND TO YOUR CHILDREN, AND TO ALL THAT ARE AFAR OFF, EVEN AS MANY AS THE LORD OUR GoB SHALL CALL.
IN the former part of this chapter, we have an account of that wonderful out-pouring of the Holy Ghoft upon the apoftles on the day of Pentecoft. In the context we have Peter's folemn addrefs to the mixed multitude, collected together on that occafion, in which the apoftle proves to them that Jefus Chrift, whom they had taken, aad by wicked hands crucified and flain, was the Son of God, the true Meffiah and Saviour of the world. And he folemnly teftifies that God had raifed him from the dead, and had exalted him at •his right hand, whofe blood they had impioufly imprecated on themfelves, and on their children. Under a fenfe of this guilt they were pricked to the heart, and, under awful, apprehenfibns of the divine wrath, in agonies of diftrefs they cried out, men, brethren, what Jhall we do? The apoftle then called them to' repent of their fins—to embrace the gofpel, and to be baptized in the name of Jefus Chrift, as the only way to efcape the divine wrath, which was coming on that wicked generation, and as the only way to enjoy the bleffings and privileges of the gofpel difpenfation. This call they enforced by the weighty argument in our text. "For the promife is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God mail call."
It is generally fuppofed that this declaration refpe&s both Jews and Gentiles. The promife is to you, and to your children. This refpe&s thofe who were of the Jewilh religion. The promife is to them,who are afar off, when God fhall call them, and to their children. - This is fuppofed to have reference to the Gentiles, who mould alfo be gathered into the church by the gofpel, and mould then pnjoy the bleffings and privileges of the covenant of promife with God's people.
We have feen in the preceding difcourfe, that all who believe are Abraham's feed, and heirs according to the promife; and that, by divine appointment, the infant children of fuch are to be received with their parents, and to be baptized. But it has been aiked, what advantage is this to parents, or to their children? To give an anfv/er to this queft on fhall be the fubject of my prefent difcourfe. I mall, therefore, now endeavor, by divine affiftance, to mew,
I. What the covenant of promife contains for kelieving parents with refpect to themfelves.
II., What it contains for them with refpect to their children.'
III. Shew how parents may have an intereft in this covenant, and enjoy its peculiar bleffings and privileges for themfelves, and for their children.
I. Under fhis head I do not propofe to fpeak of thofe bleffings which are common to believers in general, but only of thofe which are peculiar to them as parents. It is highly reafonable to fuppofe, that as they have a peculiar truft and charge, they alfo mould have fpecial affiftance, and particular bleffings and privileges. The apoftle fays, they are bleffed with faithful Abraham. Believing parents being heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jefus Chrift, have not only their fms forgiven; thfey have not only God for their God, for their father and portion—they have not only Jefus Chrift for their Saviour, the Holy Spirit for their Sanctifier; but, in the firft place, they alfo have the great privilege, that their infant children mould be confidered as in covenant with them. That this is a great privilege, every parental feeling is ready to acknowledge. It was before proved and illuftrated, that under every difpenfation of the covenant, this has been granted to believing parents, as God faid to Abraham, the father of believers, " I will be a God to thee and to thy feed after thee."
It muft certain! y'be confidered as a great favor to the parent, that the great and good God mould thus gracioufly mention their infant offspring in the covenant with them. 'By this he doubtlefs intended to fhew his condefcending grace and mercy to his people, that they might be encouraged in the faithful discharge of their important truft.
2. The covenant of promife, as has been prored in the former difcourfe, contains, for believing parents, the privilege of giving up their children to God in baptifm, through Jefus Chrift.—Ttlis is a great favor in every re/pecT:, but efpecially, that by faith believers may thus bring their infants to the compaffionate Saviour for his bleffing—the Saviour who is ever prefent in his ordinances. When thus given to him, they may always with freedom, in their prayers, bring them to the throne of free covenant-grace and mercy; they may, with hope, commit them to God's fatherly care; and they may, by faith, take hold of the covenant of his own appointment, and plead its bleffings for them, as for their own fo.uls.
3. Another privilege this promife contains for parents is, that their children, in their infant and moft helplefs ftate, may be, with them, members of the church. They may here, confider them, in a peculiar fenfp, not their own, but the children of the houfehold of faith. They ma"y confider them the Lord's property, and that they are to be brought up for him. Thefe reflections will not only ftrengthen all their obligations, but alfo greatly fweeten all their care and labor. They afford, to believing parents, a fovereign balm for all their wound?, and a fweet cordial for all their fears refpecting their dear infant-children. How wonder-^ ful are the condefcending grace and goodnefs of God to his dear people! But how vile the ingratitude and unbelief of the human heart!
4. This promife contains, for believing parents, all needed wifdom and grace to bring their offspring up for God, while he continues them under their care. How often do parents find their