Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

it by the renewing influences of the Holy Ghost. The exalted value of the privileges of the Christian covenant which are conferred on us in the regeneration of baptism, forcibly urges us to secure them by fulfilling the conditions on which they are suspended, and thus becoming renewed by the Holy Ghost.

Having received, in the regeneration of baptism, grace to work out our salvation, we shall be guilty of the most inexcusable and culpable neglect, if this work is not performed in the renewing of our minds. Quickened in baptismal regeneration to a new and spiritual life, awful will be our guilt, and sore our punishment, if, by doing despite to this Spirit, we arrest him in his progress to the sanctification and renovation of our hearts. Yes, Christians, called by baptism into a state of salvation, how will you answer it to your consciences, to your God, if you do not improve the grace which is given to you, so as to make your calling and election sure, by your renovation, and by your establishment in holiness and virtue?

Now deny the doctrine of baptismal regeneration -make baptism, as the adversaries of baptismal regeneration contend, a mere external initiation into the church, a mere mark or sign of difference between Christian men and others-strip this holy sacrament of its grace, its privileges-and where are all these powerful excitements? You have lost them—and in them you have lost the most powerful hold upon the judgment, the heart, and the conscience of the professing Christian. You cannot exhort him to cherish and to perfect his spiritual life-it has not yet commenced. You cannot excite him, by the hopes to which he is entitled, of

pardon, of grace, of heaven, to fulfil his baptismal vows no such hopes has he received. You cannot urge him to work out his salvation-he will inquire, What grace have I received to accomplish this most serious work? You cannot warn him of the awful guilt of quenching the Spirit, and thus frustrating the work of sanctification in his soulbaptism, according to your system, conferred no gift of the Holy Ghost. You cannot say to him, 'Christian brother, God hath called you, by baptism, out of darkness into his marvellous light; from the kingdom of sin and Satan into the kingdom of his dear Son; from being the child of wrath, to be the child of grace; walk, I beseech you, answerably to your Christian calling, and as becometh a child of light:' you cannot address to him this exhortation, so elevating, so forcible, so animating -baptism, in your view of it, produced in him no change of spiritual condition; he is still in his natural state, without an interest in Christ, an alien and stranger to the covenant of promise.

Say not, then, that the doctrine of baptismal regeneration is a cold, a formal, a lax, and carnal doctrine. Properly understood and enforced, it lays upon the judgment, the heart, the sensibilities of Christians, obligations and motives to vital piety and true godliness, of the most powerful, awful, and at the same time persuasive nature, and which no other system can present.

[ocr errors]

Closing here a discourse already unreasonably protracted, and postponing to a future occasion the divisions of the subject which yet remain to be discussed, let me, in a single remark, impress upon you the awakening and animating topic on which I have just now touched.

Look back then, Christians, to the period when, at the regenerating font, you were made members of Christ, children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. Members of Christ, children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven! and is it possible that any of you are the slaves of sinthat any of you are fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, and serving him to whose sinful temptations you yield-that any of you are living as if the world were your only home, your only inheritance?

Ah! Christians-resisting your baptismal grace, violating your baptismal vows, despising your baptismal privileges-the day is coming, when it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for you.

SERMON XXXV.

REGENERATION AND RENOVATION.

TITUS iii. 5.

The washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

IN a preceding discourse from these words, I called your attention to the doctrines of regeneration and renovation, and to the distinction between them. I was led to this survey, in consequence of the very erroneous notions which prevail on these important subjects, and of the odium to which our church has been exposed for annexing the term regeneration to baptism, as if she denied entirely the necessity of that spiritual change which is erroneously denoted by this term in the popular language of Christians of the present day. I presumed to think that this survey would not be uninteresting to you, as it would enable you to understand and to vindicate the doctrines of your church; to see their harmony with Scripture, and with the faith of the primitive and purest ages of Christianity; and, above all, would afford you information on subjects of fundamental and vital importance. In a preceding discourse, I therefore proposed to pursue, in this survey, the following plan:-

I. To exhibit the sense of the Church of England, and of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America, on the subject of baptismal regeneration.

II. To defend this sense by the authority of Scripture, of the primitive church, of the reformed churches, and of some of the most eminent divines of the Church of England.

III. To lay down the distinction between regeneration and renovation.

IV. To apply the doctrine of regeneration and renovation to the case of adults receiving baptism rightly, on a sincere profession of repentance and faith-of adults receiving baptism unworthily, in impenitence and unbelief-of those baptized in infancy-of baptized persons who have violated their baptismal engagements-and of baptized persons who, through the power of divine grace, as far as human infirmity will permit, have fulfilled their baptismal vows.

V. To enforce the means by which spiritual renovation, in those who have been regenerated in baptism, may be obtained, increased, and preserved.

VI. and lastly, I proposed to obviate objections, and to make a practical improvement of the whole subject.

In a former discourse, I went through the three first divisions of this plan; and I shall now lay before you a summary of what was then offered, as an introduction to the present discourse.

According to the sense of our church, she applies regeneration to denote that change in our spiritual condition which takes place in baptism, wherein, on the profession of repentance and faith, we re

« AnteriorContinua »