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nature proclaims-" Dust they are, and unto dust they must return;" but nature proclaims no life beyond the grave, where "this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality;" this is the voice of him alone who holds the keys of death and hell; and to the immortality which this mighty Deliverer hath purchased, baptism confers on these children of mortality a title, for it makes them heirs of heaven.
Blessed birth! which repairs the defects and ruins of that natural birth, by which sin, and death, and wo are entailed on our race. Well may baptism be styled the laver of regeneration, the new birth. By it our infants are translated from a world which lieth in wickedness, into the church which Christ hath redeemed and sanctified-from being strangers to God's promises, and aliens from his favour, they are made his children, the objects of his covenant-mercy-from being the heirs of mortality, they are made the heirs of heaven. God indeed may confer, he will confer these blessings on infants who die unbaptized; but wo be to those parents who wilfully keep their children from the divinely appointed mean and pledge of pardon, of grace, and of immortality! They rebel against God, by despising his ordinances; and thus deprive their children, not indeed of every degree of future felicity, but that supereminent bliss reserved for those happy spirits who pass into the kingdom of glory in heaven, through the kingdom of grace on earth.
Blessed are they who cherish and improve their baptismal grace, and by fulfilling their baptismal vows, preserve inviolate their title, through the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, to their baptismal
privileges! But, alas! this is not the case with the bulk of those who were baptized in infancy. They have neglected their baptismal vows, and forfeited their baptismal privileges.
4. The consideration of their case was another division of this discourse.
"The grant of repentance," to use the language of our church in one of her articles,* "is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after baptism." Baptized Christians, who neglect and violate their baptismal engagements, and fall into sin, are therefore to be exhorted, in the language of the church in the same article, to "arise again and amend their lives." To call on persons to be regenerated, is improper language. They have been regenerated in baptism, brought into a state of salvation; but having, through their neglect and sin, never received, or forfeited, the renewing of the Holy Ghost, they must obtain this renovation, or they are lost. Yes, ungodly men-bringing reproach, by your sinful lives, on that holy name which you received in baptism-rebelling against that God and Father, that Lord and Saviour, that Holy Spirit and Sanctifier, to whose service ye were consecrated in baptism-counting that precious blood of the Son of God, shed on the cross for your redemption, and applied to your souls in baptism, an unholy thing; viewing it with indifference, disregarding your interest in it, or doubting its efficacy
-doing despite to that Spirit which took possession of your souls in baptism, and by your sins expelling him from that temple in which he seeks to dwell, and to shed his graces, his consolations, his joys→→
oh! rejecting, for the transitory, corrupting, unsatisfying, perishing pleasures of sin, your inheritance in heaven, the crown of glory, the bliss of immortality, the joys of God's presence!-Repent; confess, with deep sorrow, your base ingratitude and guilt; renounce your sins; return unto God, relying for acceptance on the merits of his Son; pray to him for the renewing power of the Holy Ghost, to transform your affections, to abolish the body of sin which enslaves you, to endue you with heavenly graces, and to advance you in all virtue and godliness of living. Repent, or you will sink to a condemnation deeper than even the heathen himself will receive, who, though he has violated every dictate of reason, every remonstrance of conscience, and every secret monition of God's Spirit, never sinned against covenanted grace, never trampled under foot the Son of God, never despised the blood of the covenant, never spurned from him a title to heaven. Repent.
From these, who are exposed to God's wrath on account of the violation of their baptismal engagements, we turn
5. Lastly, To the case of those who, through the power of divine grace, have, as far as human infirmity will permit, fulfilled their baptismal vows.
Those in whom the Divine Spirit found no obstacles to his renovating power in their wilful and habitual transgressions-whose souls he has been gradually and daily transforming and enduing with heavenly virtues-whom he has enabled successfully to fight against the devil, the world, and the flesh; to keep God's will and commandments; humbling, repenting of every infirmity, daily dying unto sin and living unto righteousness, and mind
ful that it is God alone who can keep them from falling; imploring constantly the succours of his grace, and looking steadfastly for acceptance solely to his mercy in Jesus Christ, whose spirit of humility, of meekness, of patience, they seek to possess, whose holy example they strive to follow, and on whose merits is their supreme reliance. Happy souls, who, improving your baptismal grace, have advanced from strength to strength, and from virtue to virtue, by the renewing power of the Holy Ghost! give God the glory, for it is he who hath wrought in you both to will and to do; bless his holy name that ye have been preserved by his grace from the habitual violation of your baptismal vows, and from the forfeiture of your baptismal privileges; yet remember, even ye need repentance, repentance for your sins of infirmity, (Who can understand his errors?) repentance for leaving undone the things that ye ought to have done, and for doing the things that ye ought not to have done. (Save me, O God, from presumptuous sins.) Remember, your spiritual life can be preserved only by a lively and steadfast faith in that Saviour who is made unto you wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Beware, O beware of degenerating into a formal, superficial piety-of resting on any attainments short of the constant renewing of your mind, of affections devoted to God and fixed on heavenly things, and of a life exhibiting the faithful discharge of every pious, relative, and social duty. Preserved thus far from the pollutions of the world, see, O see that you be not at last entangled therein, and lost for ever. Watch, therefore, and pray that your path may shine more and more unto the perfect day.
See, to aid and strengthen you in your course to heaven, and to give you a foretaste of its glories, your Saviour spreads before you his holy supper: come and drink, every one that thirsteth for salvation; come and eat, every one that hungereth for righteousness and life. Come, confirmed Christians, that you may receive the grace of perseverance. Come, ye penitents, that are returning to the fold whence ye had wandered, that ye may receive the grace of pardon. Come, ye doubting, troubled, but humble spirits, that ye may receive consolation from on high. Come, heirs of sin, of sorrow, and mortality, that sin may be changed into holiness, sorrow into joy, mortality into life. O that, by the exhibition of the Saviour crucified among you, I could persuade those to come, who have never yet celebrated the love of him who died for them.