« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
that each individual admitted by holy baptism into the family of God, may be a lively member of the
How much instruction does that word convey. -"
.“ Go now, thou who hast entered into covenant with God by baptismal regeneration--go forth into the world no longer conformed to it, but transformed by the renewing of your mind. Prove your new birth by your new life. Be active in every good word and work, as one who is a living member of Christ. Add to your faith, virtue; and walk as one of the family of heaven. Delight as a child of God to do a Father's will ; to depend on a Father's love; and walk as under a Father's care.” Thus you will teach your children, as their minds open to instruction, that all their Christian privileges are vain, all their glorious prospects as covenanted children of God are forfeit, unless a holy life follows a holy faith. Wonder not, then, that at the very opening address of this service the Church beseeches parents, and sponsors, and all who are present *, to seek in prayer such a continuance of the divine blessing that the holy Spirit of God may not be received in vain ; and that the child now to be baptized may, in after life, so exercise those graces which are the fruits of the Spirit of God, as to give proof that the same Spirit is in him. Further, to encourage you in the work, she reminds you of your own covenanted privilege of “calling upon God your Father.” How gladly again springs your heart to the exhortation! How readily do you again so approach Him on hehalf of your child'. How earnest is your deep felt supplication that He will extend to this present infant that care and protection, which from your youth up until now has been your defence. You know that He has never failed you. Nay, you are free to confess that, in your utmost need, He has been your ready friend-a very present help in the needful time of trouble. “O Father !"—so whispers your anxious heart—“O Father ! hear my prayer for the spiritual and eternal welfare of my child! receive him favourably into thy covenant of grace, that when removed from the sheltering wing of his earthly parents, he may so walk with Thee, his heavenly Father, that defended by thy power and guided by thy grace, he may gain thy love, attain thy promises, and be thine, O God, for ever !"
4 AU Christian people have an interest in this service ; for all, named by the name of Christ, and born again of Baptism, constitute the one great Christian family of God on earth ; whilst angels and the spirits of the just made perfect form his family in heaven.
THE FIRST PRAYER.
“ Almighty and everlasting God.... through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In the opening of this prayer we are reminded that, among the glorious attributes of God, his eternity shines conspicuous. He is “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” He who saved his faithful of old time, is at hand to save his faithful now. And if now the means which He thereto appoints be such as appear to us, either by their simplicity inadequate to their purpose, or, in their spiritual application, above our reason to comprehend, we are taught to strengthen
5 See page 25.
our faith in the present by directing our thoughts to the past. Thus, are we inclined to wonder what benefit can accrue to the soul from the holy ordinance of baptism? we look to God's dealings aforetime, and as He “saved Noah and his family in the ark from perishing by water—as He did safely lead the children of Israel, his people, through the Red Sea, figuring thereby his holy baptism-as by the baptism of his well beloved Son Jesus Christ in the river Jordan He did sanctify water to the mystical washing away of sin," --so we humbly trust, that since the same power existeth ever; the same love abideth ever; the same care is ever at hand; He will as surely sanctify and save us now, if our faith fail not, as He sanctified and saved them then,
Noah and his family “ were saved in the ark.” Yet was their salvation of faith in its true sense_faith being emphatically the evidence of things not seen. A flood was threatened which should destroy all flesh. But God, in his forbearance, for more than one hundred years delayed the judgment; and “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” He appointed Noah to be a teacher of righteousness, that knowing the terrors of the Lord he might persuade men. And what though Noah preached faith, and was unheeded? he himself obeyed according to his faith, and was saved. Commanded to build an ark for his safety, when as yet there were no signs of danger, he was engaged in a work, apparently, without an object. For what expectation could there be of
11 Pet. iii. 20.
a flood of waters overspreading the earth, destroying man and beast, when the soil was watered by gentle dews; and rain had never fallen even to refresh the earth, much less to destroy it? Suppose, therefore, that Noah, from want of faith, had neglected the warning; or, professing to believe, had lacked obedience-suppose him to have been deterred from his work by the sneers and ridicule of those who mocked a labour which seemed so needless; or to have been deluded by the proud suggestions of others, who, disbelieving what they could not comprehend, mocked that work of which their reason saw neither the necessity nor the use—or suppose him to have yielded to the still more subtle temptation of deferring preparation against the evil day, till there should be sure indications of its coming ; and to have listened to the wily reasonings of the wicked, that then were time enough to repent, and believe, and obey-suppose Noah yielding to any such suggestions, had been induced to forego, on his own part, and to have forborne urging upon others, the building of the ark; and because he could see no reason for the work, not to have prepared the appointed refuge, the necessity for which rested only on future threatenings ;-we can well understand, that by disregarding the outward and visible sign, he would have failed of the grace and favour of which it was the appointed pledge. The day of vengeance would have overtaken him, as it overtook others, unprepared ; and the waters would have overwhelmed him, together with those who had deluded him. Nor hill nor mountain, nor power nor skill, availed to save. The ark—the ark, and the ark alone, rode safe above the water-flood'. Thus Noah is our example. He believed, and in faith he obeyed. " According to all which God commanded Noah, so did he.” His work, throughout, was a work of faith. God commanded to build, and gave the fashion of the building; and Noah built the ark, though reason could discern no object for a labour so long, so great, so wondrous. You know, however, the history. Destruction came upon the earth by a new agent, for which, though God had forewarned the people, they, in their proud disregard to his warnings, were totally
1 The history of this event clearly indicates, that as a preacher of righteousness, Noah had great and various difficulties to contend against in executing his office ; whilst, no doubt, his severest individual trial was the apparent fruitlessness of his ministry. For above a hundred years was he engaged in preaching righteousness, and by his own example fulfilling the righteousness he preached. Daily and hourly was his life a course of patient faith and active obedience. He built the ark diligently and unweariedly under the immediate teaching and direction of his God; for he believed, that though whilst engaged in the work there was no human probability of the danger foretold, yet that what the Lord had spoken would surely be accomplished. Oh the mockery and reproach, the ridicule and scoffing of the world around him, when he was engaged in this act of faith! “ See this driveller,” they would say,
“ hearken to his preaching of an impossible danger ; at least a danger so remote and unheard of, that he must be a mere dreamer! See him toiling upon this ark, and, as he says, 'working out his own salvation !' Mark the vanity of his design, the absurdity of his toil, the folly of his warnings ! To-morrow's care will do for to-morrow's danger.” Thus we may imagine the infidels and scoffers, and the wicked generally, to have reasoned. Yet the morrow came at last, and brought death. These mockers perished, and the despisers of the preacher of righteousness perished in their unbelief. Sad, indeed, to Noah must have been the thought, that all his preaching had been vain. Yet his " labour had not been vain : for it had been in the Lord.” He had “worked out his own salvation,” and by faith he was saved. Let us go and do likewise.