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through Jesus Christ his Son, that you may become the temple of the Holy Ghost; and thus ratify what your parents did for you, when they dedicated you to God in baptism.— This is that owning of the baptismal covenant which God requires at your hands. Then bring your dear child, and consecrate it to God in sincerity and truth. This is the way, the right way for a blessing. But if, instead of this, you are moved only by custom, by a sense of worldly honour, by pride and shame; and desire that holy ordinance to be administered to your child from unholy motives, as Simon Magus desired the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost to answer his carnal ends; God knows it, and all the world will know it at the day of judgment. Pray, how was it when your other children were baptised? and how is it in general to all appearance when people own the covenant and get their children baptised? are they brought up for God; or only to serve divers lusts and pleasures? Look through the country wherever you are acquainted; the youth learn to dress, to sing, to dance; but do their parents appear to understand that they have devoted them to God? and is this evidently their great concern to bring them up for God? But to leave others, and to attend only to your own heart; can it be true, that you have a heart to give your child to God, and yet not a heart to give yourself to him? think of it, my dear sir.
P. I must grant that it is absurd and inconsistent, for a parent to pretend to have a heart to give his child to God, and yet have no heart to give himself to him. But I do desire to give myself to God.
M. Pray, sir, what then hinders you from giving yourself to him? you may desire to escape everlasting misery, you may desire to be happy for ever, so Balaam did; self-love may excite to this, where there is no love to God in the heart : but if you love God so as to be willing to have him for your portion; if you love Christ so as to be willing to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow him; you may have your choice you may do as you like: "come, for all things are now ready." And if you would now in fact make this choice, it would put an end to your present difficulties about your child. Nothing, therefore, can hinder the baptism of your
child, but your continuing to reject God and the Redeemer, by which you practically renounce your own baptism, and forfeit all the blessings of the covenant.
P. Shocking affair! my child unbaptised! none to blame but its own parents! what shall I do?
M. Is not God your Creator? are you not his by an original, absolute, entire right? is he not infinitely worthy of your supreme love? were you not in your infancy dedicated to him in baptism? and have you turned your back upon him to this very hour; and practically renounced your baptism in his sight? so that, dying in this state, your baptism will be of no advantage to you; you will perish among the uncircumcised, among the unbaptised, among pagans; as it is written, he that believeth not shall be damned, and except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish! and do you now inquire, what you shall do? ah, my dear sir! the answer is plain, Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, And thus at last comply with the import of your baptism, and become a disciple of Christ. "And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. But unto the wicked, God saith, what hast thou to do to declare my statutes? or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?" Psal. 1. 16. Pray accept kindly this advice from one who is your friend, and who is bound by office to act an honest part with the souls committed to his charge.
P. I thank you, sir, for your fidelity, and ask your prayers: for the present, adieú!
M. I thank you for your kind visit. I ask the favour of another hour, when you are at leisure. I am always at your service; and might I be a means of your salvation, it would give me joy, while I live, and after I am dead, through eternal ages. I only add, if you will read what the late learned pious President Edwards wrote on the qualifications for Christian communion, printed at Boston; and the Rev. Mr. Green's pieces on the same subject, printed at New-York; you may in them see the truth confirmed, and objectious answered more largely. And if after all you should desire further conversation on this subject, I will be ready to attend
whenever you will be so kind as to call upon me. Only come at all times, as you have at this, in a serious, friendly, candid spirit; remembering this is one of the most interesting, solemn, and important subjects. Adieu, my dear sir.
Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. PAUL. Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. JESUS CHRIST.
PARISHIONER. REVEREND SIR, as you asked the favour of another hour, when I should be at leisure, I am now come to pay you a second visit, to let you know my sentiments plainly, and hope you will treat me with all the calmness and kindness you professed before.
MINISTER. I am ready to hear every thing you have to say.
P. I freely confess you made me say, and consent to every thing you chose I should say: and now I choose to turn the tables. And if you will be as condescending to me as I was to you, I doubt not but I shall easily gain my point.
M. .I mean to be condescending.
P. You intimate there is no text of Scripture to justify the practice of those having children baptised, who do not come to the Lord's supper. Allow there is none, it does not in the least prove the point. I will as easily be a proselyte to your opinion, if you will point me a text of Scripture which saith that all who were baptised, or had their children baptised, came to the Lord's supper.
M. There are many things may be gathered from Revelation, which are not expressed in terms.
P. Very true; and I think equally on my side of the question as on yours. I remember you intimated before, that it was not the custom any where at the first settling this country, to baptise the children of any, only those who come to the Lord's table; and that it is not to this day the practice
of the church of Scotland; which I find is a mistake, as I am informed, upon good authority, that the church of Scotland ever did, and do to this day, baptise for those who do not come to the table. And am well knowing to the practice of the Presbyteries in this country, that they actually do baptise, for those who do not come to the table of the Lord.
M. Allow this to be so, it does not prove there is any halfway covenant.
P. It is readily allowed, and I believe generally, if not universally agreed, that there is no half-way covenant; Doctor Mather never supposed an half-way covenant. And I freely allow it is the duty of all to come to the Lord's table, whom the church will accept. But to oblige persons to that which we cannot convince them they may safely do, seems hard, and contrary, to that Christian spirit which the Gospel urgeth. Rom. xv. 1. We then that are strong, ought to bear the infirmities of the weak. Gal. vi. 2. Bear ye one another's burdens.
M. The Gospel every where urgeth condescension. But persons who in a judgment of charity are pious, are obliged by the express command of Christ. Luke xxii. 19. This do in remembrance of me.
P. I cannot believe the command of Christ obligeth any of his followers to do that which they in their consciences dare not attempt, under their then present circumstances. I believe it is their duty to come, but I believe they must first get their scruples removed; and I believe the church must allow them that privilege, which if they will not, in order to be consistent with themselves, they must proceed to excommunication; and I cannot see why the church must not proceed further, and excommunicate all baptised persons who neglect to come to the Lord's table; for they are all visible members of the church. A sad consequence, if it cannot be prevented.
M. To drive the point, will undoubtedly make sad work; but it will not do to tell persons they will be accepted of God, if they be not gracious; neither will it do for us to lead them to make a lying profession: nothing short of a gracious profession will give a person a right to the ordinances of the Gospel.
P. Sir, I allow what you say in part, and I do not know that any one pretends to the contrary; all are agreed in it, that no person ever can be accepted of God, and be finally happy, short of real holiness; but whoever thought, (unless it be some wild enthusiast,) that a person might not be exhorted to attempt to do his duty, unless he could do it perfectly? It seems the sentiments you advance amount to the same absurdity lately taught by a foreigner, that none but those who are gracious are to be urged to do any duty. And with regard to a lying profession, it seems your sentiments lead persons to it. For, according to you, those who make profession of real piety, have a right to the ordinance of God; and those whom the church receive on this foot, are really in covenant. So it is not grace which gives the right, but a profession : then if that profession is a false one, and the person who makes it is an hypocrite, a false profession, even a lie, brings a person really into covenant with God, and gives him a right to his ordinances. If I understand you, there cannot be any profession, only a lying one, unless persons are gracious. So a lying profession does bring persons visibly into covenant with God, or none are visibly in covenant with God, only those who are gracious. This I think is contrary to the divine declaration, and to all the divine conduct towards his covenant people. God allowed them to enter into covenant: God treated them as being in covenant: and declared they were in covenant, and accordingly had compassion on them, offered them special privileges and glorious means, that they might be trained up for his heavenly kingdom.
M. There seem to be some difficulties which I had not thought of; but is it not the covenant of grace which is to be owned ?
P. Doubtless it is; no one dare deny it. Neither need they be led to give their assent to any chapter in the Apocrypha. No one disputes its being the covenant of grace; but by attending upon God's ordinances, they mean to confirm their belief of the truth of the covenant of grace, laying themselves under more solemn obligations to perform every duty.
M. I think it my duty in private, as well as in public, to explain the covenant, and to see to it, that persons under