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is one outwardly, neither is that Circum- . cision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God."
But the Jews are not the only persons, to whom the truth contained in this passage applies. It applies to Christians also. The place which circumcision occupied in the Jewish church, baptism now occupies in the Christian. It is the sacrament which Christ has appointed for admission into his church : and like the Jewish sacrament, for the same purpose, is both a seal and a sign. It is a seal of the promises of the Christian covenant. It is a sign of that inward and spiritual work in the heart, which alone will qualify us for partaking these promises. This work is well expressed in the words of our Church-Catechism to be “ a death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness." In other words, it is that inward mortification of sin, and that renewal of the heart to holiness, the necessity of which was signified by the rite of circumcision. We may see this point more fully stated at the end of the baptismal service of our Church, when in the concluding admonition having bidden us to“ remember, that baptism does represent unto us our profession;" she goes on more
expressly to state the meaning of that profession, namely, tỉat we should “ follow the example of our Saviour Christ, and be made like unto Him; that as He died and rose again for us, so should we who are baptized, die from sin, and rise again unto righteousness, continually mortifying all our evil and corrupt affections, and daily proceeding in all virtue and godliness of living:” — This is the thing signified in baptism ; and to those only who have it, does this sacrament really become a seal. It ratifies and confirms the Christian promises to all those, who have put off the old man, and have put on the new man; of which change and state of heart the great constituent parts are faith and repentance. Such persons, according to the language of the Old Testament, are “cir
66 cumcised in heart ;” according to that of the New, are“ baptized with the Holy Ghost * :" the blessed Spirit of God being the sole Author of this glorious work in the soul.
But as was the case in the Jewish church, so it still is in the Christian. Persons are still prone to trust in the outward form, and to neglect the inward grace; to pride themselves on the sign, while they forget and overlook the thing signified. What is the ground on which many are placing their hopes of salvation, but this, that they are CHRISTIANS; that they have been baptized ; and by this sacrament have been admitted into the Christian church ? Being thus made partakers of the outward seal of the covenant, they doubt not of their title to the spiritual privileges of it; and are not well pleased with those who would question their right to the comforts and promises of the Gospel. To all such persons then the text may be profitably addressed. It may be useful to them to be reminded, that with a very slight alteration it opposes their notions as directly as it did those of the Jews. 6. For he is not a Christian, which is one outwardly; neither is that Baptism which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Christian which is one inwardly; and Baptism is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
* Deut. xxx. 6. Luke, iii. 16.
The propriety of this application of the text is surely so obvious as to require no proofs or arguments in its support. At the same time I will offer a few considerations, which, with the divine blessing, may help to explain the truths contained in it, and to fix them more deeply in the heart.
Let us then consider what, so far as man is concerned, is the great design and end of Christianity. It is the happiness of mankind. To make men happy is the grand object which the Christian religion proposes to ac
complish. But to the accomplishment of this object two things are necessary. First, men must be reconciled to God, and brought into a state of peace and favour with Him. Secondly, they must be made fit in heart and dispositions for the enjoyment of heavenly happiness. The necessity of these two things arises from the present fallen state of human nature. Sin has made a breach between man and God. Before then man can be happy, this breach must be healed. Man also loves sin, and naturally has no taste or relish for holy pursuits and spiritual pleasures. Here then a great change also must be wrought in him, before he can enter Heaven and share its happiness. Now Christianity proposes a remedy for both these evils. It offers to reconcile us to God, and to change and make new our heart and nature. Who then is the true Christian, but he who uses and applies this remedy, and who, by using it, is reconciled to God, and is made a new creature? Do we not see that, so long as men are at variance with God, and love and practise what is displeasing to Him, let them be called by whatsoever name, and bear whatsoever outward marks and badges of Christianity, they cannot be real Christians? Though with Simon Magus they may have been baptized, yet with that miserable man they will still have “no part
nor lot in the matter," so long as their “ heart is not right in the sight of God.” While this is the case their baptism, their profession, their Christian name will profit them nothing. They are “yet in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.
But let us go further into detail. Let us consider with more attention the particulars of that remedy which the Gospel proposes to mankind. We shall then distinctly see how little any outward thing can give to any one an interest in the promises and privileges of Christianity. The remedy provided in the Gospel, like the evil which it undertakes to cure, is two-fold.
1. The Gospel opens a way for our being reconciled to God. It represents to us the blood of Jesus Christ as the means of effecting this reconciliation. By his blood He inade an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. By his one offering of himself on the cross He satisfied the divine justice, and so took out of the way that obstacle, which had prevented God from showing mercy to man. Thus it is said that “we who sometimes were afar off, are brought nigh by the blood of Jesus :" and that “ we who were enemies, are 'reconciled to God by the death of his Son;" Thus Christ is said to be “our Peace,” who hath “ redeemed us to God by his
* Acts, viii. 21. 23.