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he does, when he has himself baptized? Whether it requires fewer and lower qualifications-whether it imposes fewer and lower obligations-to act in this matter for his child, than to act for himself? You might just as well say, that it requires less physical power, in a parent, to perform an action when it is done for his child, than when it is done for him'self. And whenever you can convince me, that it requires less strength to raise a weight, or carry a burden, when you do it for your child, than when you do it for yourself, I will listen to such doctrine.
These considerations, as I conceive, satisfactorily prove that every person, who offers up a child to God in baptism, makes a full and public profession of religion; and as a public professor of the religion of Jesus Christ, he stands engaged to walk in all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord blameless; and especially, with the company of God's professing people, to surround the Redeemer's table, and in that affecting ordinance to shew forth the death of his Lord. If this be neglected, the church is in duty bound to notice his conduct, and deal with him, precisely as she would with an adult, who had received baptism, and afterwards neglected to commune,- -or as she would with a communicant, whe should neglect to offer up his child to God in baptism. In either, and in all of these cases, it certainly would belong to the officers of God's house to exhort, to rebuke, to warn; and if admonitions and entreaties were disregarded, to have recourse to se verer discipline.
But as infant baptism particularly contemplates the privileges and welfare of children, it is necessary, in addition to the general engagements made by the parent to obey the law, and honour the institutions of God, as a professor of religion; to notice particularly the engagements which he makes in behalf and for the welfare of his child. These may be ranked under three heads-viz. instruction, prayer, and example.
1. The parent, who offers up a child in baptism, engages to attend to its instruction; not only to teach it to read the Scriptures, but to assist it in acquiring correct views of the great and leading doctrines of revelation. "To see the child," as our form expresses it," instructed and brought up in the aforesaid doctrine, or help, or cause it to be instructed therein, to the utmost of his power." The parent then engages to teach his child the doctrines of the confession of faith, and other standards of the Dutch Church And not only to instruct it himself, but also to help and cause it to be instructed; that is, to afford the church, by her proper officers, an opportunity to dispense to it catechetical and other instruction. Yes, reader, if you have had a child baptized, you have promised not only to teach it at home, but also to give your minister an opportunity, in his catechetical exercises, to instruct it; and now, if you do not see to it, that your child attends on these exercises, you break your covenant engagements, and you resist one of the ordinances of God. The instruction of children, depend on it, is a most impor
tant duty; and I have too much reason to conclude, that this duty is lamentably neglected among us. We have too few parents and grand-parents among us, like Eunice and Lois: and therefore we have so few among the young, like Timothy, acquainted with the scriptures from a child.
2. The parent, who has offered up a child to God in baptism, has engaged to pray for, and with his child. Baptism, instruction, and every other ordinance, will be ineffectual to the salvation of our children, without the blessing of God; and he but half performs his duty who undertakes to instruct his children, without praying for a blessing on his exertions. He is a most unfaithful, cruel parent, who does not carry his children, young immortals, in the arms of faith and prayer, to the throne of grace, that they may there be enriched with the blessings of the
But it is not enough that the parent prays for his children; he is bound, solemnly bound, to pray with them, and to worship God, as the God of his family. Attention to this important duty (a duty so generally neglected, and the neglect of which so painfully proves the low state of religion throughout this region of country,) ought, I have no doubt, except in very extraordinary cases, to be required as a term of admission into the church, and an approach to sealing ordinances. Do you engage to worship God in your family morning and evening, by reading his word, celebrating his praise, and calling on his name? is a question which ought to be put to
every head of a family applying for church fellowship, by the officers of every church and yet I know of but one, among all the churches in this county, in which such engagement is explicitly demanded. Depend upon it, the Lord will visit the churches for their unfaithfulness in family duties, and particularly that of worship. He will sooner or later "pour out his fury upon the families that call not on his name."
We would rejoice to see such rules as the following enforced in every section of the Redeemer's church: viz. "Forasmuch as the conscientious observance of family worship hath lamentably fallen into decay among professors, it is enjoined on the officers of the church to use every exertion, that it may be duly maintained by those under their charge; to deal with, and censure, according to their offence, such church members as shall be found remiss therein; and by no means to admit, either to the table of the Lord, or to baptism for their children, any, by whom it is habitually neglected.*
3. We mention example-a holy, godly example on the part of the parent, enforcing his instruction on the attention and conscience of the child. It was said by Him, whose judgment is according to truth, concerning Abraham-"I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him." He will command them after him. He will
* Con. and stand. of the Assoc. Ref. Church.-New-York 1799, p. 571.
† Gen. xviii. 19.
go before, and lead the way, and direct them to follow on in his footsteps.
Reader: What prospect of success attends the instruction of a parent, who in his practice contradicts all the lessons he inculcates on his children?-who, instead of sanctifying the Sabbath, openly violates that holy day;-who, instead of praying with his children, stuns their tender ears with his oaths and blasphemies;-who, instead of leading them up to the sanctuary of God, takes them by the hand, and conducts them to places of amusement and scenes of dissipation?
Oh! we have too much of this corrupting example among us; and many parents, who have had children baptized here, have much to answer for, in this respect! The parent, who has his children baptized, engages to set before them an example worthy of their imitation; and to say to them, as Paul did to the Corinthians-"Be ye followers of ine as I also am of Christ." 1 Cor. xi. 1.-God give you grace so to do!