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Then Simon himself believed also, and was baptized. Acts viii, 13. Peter said to him---Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter; for thy heart is not right with God. Acts viii, 21.
Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized? (viz. Cornelius, and his family.) Acts x, 44, 47.
Circumcision is that of the heart.
Rom. ii, 25, 29.
In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. Gal. vi, 15.
What is required of persons to be baptized?
Repentance, whereby they forsake sin; and Faith whereby they steadfastly believe the promises of God made to them in that Sacrament.
Why then are infants baptized, when by reason of their tender age they cannot perform them?
Because they promise both repentance and faith by their sureties, (their godfathers and godmothers) who are called upon to see that the children be brought up in a religious manner. As persons in any agreement are bound by the engagements of their representatives, and receive the benefits of the contract; so, in the baptismal covenant, children promise repentance and faith by their sureties, which promise, when they come to age, themselves are bound to perform.
Article 25.--In such only as worthily receive the same, the sacraments, viz. Baptism and the Lord's Supper, have a wholesome effect or operation.
All baptized persons do not partake of the blessings attending baptism, because they do not all repent and believe. For man having broken his baptismal promise to God, God is freed from the performance of the promises he made at baptism to man.
What does the Catechism say we are made in baptism?
Members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven.
What is it to be a member of Christ?
It is to be united to him, as the branch is to the vine, and as the members are to the body, Christ being the head.
Members of the church, which is his body. Eph. i, 23.
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 1 Cor. xii, 27.
This union is obtained by faith in Christ, and in
baptism we make a profession of it, and receive the outward sign of it.
Yield your members as instruments of righteousness. Rom. vi, 13.
What is it to be a child of God?
It is to be adopted into his family, treated as a son, and to be trained up for his kingdom.
If his children keep not my law, &c. Ps. lxxxix, 30.
As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God. John í, 12.
As many as are led by the Spirit of God, are sons.
Rom. viii, 14.
I will be a father to you, and ye shall be my sons. 2 Cor. vi, 18. Be ye followers of God, as dear children. Eph. v, 1.
Behold, what manner of love to be called sons of God. L John iii, 1.
Every one that loveth is born of God. 1 John iv, 7.
What is it to be an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven?
It is to have a title to the kingdom of heaven, founded on the promises of God, in Christ Jesus, to his children; and, after death, to obtain possession of the inheritance. Come, ye children of my father, inherit the kingdom.
I go to prepare a place for you. John xiv, 2, 3.
The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor. vi, 9. If children, then heirs--heirs of God. Rom. viii, 17.
The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant. Gal. iv, 1.
Who hath begotten us again to an inheritance, &c. 1 Pet. i, 3, 4. Collect, for the Circumcision of Christ.-Grant us the true cir
cumcision of the Spirit, that our hearts and all our members being mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts, we may in all things obey thy blessed will.
III. On Repentance.
You say that Repentance and Faith are required of all who are baptized: What is repentance?
A genuine sorrow for having offended God. That sorrow for having done wrong, which is occasioned merely by the fear of punishment, is not true repentance. A malefactor, who is about to be executed, may be very sorry that he has forfeited his life by his crimes; and a bad man, on his death-bed, may be very sorry that he is to be sent to everlasting torment: and yet, if an
opportunity were afforded them, both would return to their old sins, and their sorrow would last no longer than their danger. Real penitents are very frequent and particular in making confessions of their secret sins to God, and do not content themselves with talking much of their own baseness and unworthiness, and of their good intentions, but really forsake sin, and "bring forth fruits meet for repentance."
The progress of true repentance is admirably illustrated by the parable of the Prodigal Son. It begins with reflection: this leads to self-examination: this ends in conviction, accompanied with faith: these are followed by contrition and sorrow, which settle into hatred and loathing of sin. To constitute such a repentance, there must be a desire of mercy and deliverance; an actual application for it in retirement, by groanings which cannot be uttered; a ceasing to do evil, and a learning to do well; an abounding in the work of the Lord, and an active desire to advance his glory.
The word of God informs us, (2 Cor. vii, 10.) that godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation, not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death; and we have examples of the effects produced by both kinds, that we may examine ourselves, and know to which class our sorrow, when we have done wrong, belongs.
Examples of what is called "the Sorrow of the World."
Cain. Gen. iv, 13, 14.
Esau. Gen. xxvii, 34; Heb. xii,17. Ahab. 1 Kings, xxi, 25, 29.
Examples of true Repentance,
Zaccheus. Luke xix, 8.
Peter went out and wept bitterly.
Thief on the cross. Luke xxiii.
What is the state of mind of a penitent ?
Turn thou me, and I shall be turned. Jer. xxxi, 18.
That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, Ezek. xvi. 63.
And ye shall loathe yourselves--for all your evil.
Ezek. xx, 43;
xxxvi, 31. They shall look on me whom they pierced, and mourn. xii, 10.
Why is repentance necessary for all men?
1. Because all have sinned.
If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me.
Job ix, 20.
Eccl. vii, 20.
All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Rom. iii, 23. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.
2. Because God commands it.
Turn ye at my reproof. Prov. i, 23.
1 John i, 8.
Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions. Ezek. xiv, 6; xviii, 30.
Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Repent ye, and believe the gospel. Mark i, 15.
Matt, iii, 2;
They went out, and preached that men should repent. Mark vi, 12. That repentance and remission of sins should be preached. Luke xxiv, 47.
Repent and be baptized, every one of you. Acts ii, 38.
Repent, therefore, that your sins may be blotted out. Acts iii, 19. God commandeth all men every where to repent. Acts xvii, 30. Repent, and do works meet for repentance. Acts xxvi, 20. Remember from whence thou art fallen, and repent. Rev. ii, 5. Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly. Rev. ii, 16. Remember how thou hast received---and repent. Rev. iii, 3.
3. Because conscience tells us so, and all men promise themselves to repent at some future day.
Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. Acts xxiv, 25.
4. Because the mind must be prepared for pardon by repentance, and without it there can be no meetness for heaven.
Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke xiii, 3, 5,
Can a man, of himself, truly repent?
No: repentance is the gift of God, the purchase of Christ, and the work of the Spirit.
Every good and perfect gift is from above. James i, 17.
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Matt. ix, 13; Mark ii, 17; Luke v, 32.
IIim bath God exalted--to give repentance. Acts v, 31.
Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance. Acts xi, 18.
If God peradventure will give them repentance. 2 Tim. ii, 25.
What promises are made to penitent sinners?
If thou shalt return unto the Lord-then he will have compassion on thee. Deut. xxx, 2, 3.
If my people shall humble themselves---then will I forgive their sin. 2 Chron. vii, 14.
Whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sins, shall find mercy. Prov. xxviii, 13.
Let the wicked forsake his way-and return anto the Lord, and he will have mercy on him-and abundantly pardon him. Isa. Iv, 7.
If thou wilt return, O Israel, then thon shalt not remove. Jer. iv, 1. If he turn from bis sin--he shall not die. Ezek. xxxiii, 14, 15. The returning prodigal was forgiven. Luke xv, 21, 22.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. 1 John i, 9.
The method in which God forgives sinners may be illustrated by comparing a man, in his unregenerate state, to a criminal under sentence of death. The prince, whose laws he has broken, and whose justice he has offended, is disposed to act with compassion towards him; but he chooses that the prisoner should throw himself on his mercy, and crave life at his hands, before he will consent to remit the punishment he has incurred.
Again: Sinners are placed in the situation of a company of condemned rebels in a dungeon. A warrant arrives; one is taken away and led out to execution, and his companions behold him no more. They do not see what becomes of him, and will not believe the report which is brought them of the pains he suffered. Another and another is taken away in the same manner; still those who remain, suppose their companions are only released from misery, and carelessly expect their own turn. All this time, messengers from the king are employed in persuading them to submission, exhorting them to ask forgiveness and accept mercy. A few are prevailed on to comply with these terms, and are dismissed but the rest, seeing no difference between those removed by warrant and those set at liberty by pardon,