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be productive of perfect love, even the love that casteth out fear; and that love is followed by an equal degree of every inward grace and outward virtue. And the believer, “ enduring to the end,” and being “ faithful unto death,” receives the crown of life, and is saved eternally.
8. Now, when the gospel is preached to those who have not already been admitted members of the visible church, and when such are brought cordially to receive it, it is necessary, whatever danger of persecution may be incurred thereby, that they should publicly profess their repentance and faith, by submitting to the ordinance of baptism. Therefore, our Lord says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” And St. Paul declares in words of nearly a similar import, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart, that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." This was undoubtedly the practice of the primitive church, with regard to those adult heathens or Jews, who were converted to Christianity. They were not admitted to baptism till they professed repentance for sin, and faith in the gospel. Then, and not before, they were sprinkled or washed with water, as a token that they were “sprinkled from an evil conscience, and washed in the laver of regeneration.” But we cannot infer from this that the children of Christian parents were debarred from baptism, till they were capable of believing personally: on the contrary, we have reason to suppose, from the very nature of the new covenant, as well as from many passages of Scripture, and the authentic records of the primitive church, that they were generally baptized in their infancy or childhood. But as this is not a proper time to discuss such a doctrinė, referring any that may wish for information
this head, to the books and tracts written professedly on the subject, I go on to observe, that if our Lord should be considered by any as intimating here the necessity of being baptized in order to salvation, in case there be an opportunity for it; yet he cannot be understood, as making it necessary for any converts to receive baptism from the very same persons that were instrumental in bringing them to repentance. If they be but baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, it seems a matter of little moment by whom the ceremony is performed. St. Paul, it is certain, was an instrument in the hands of God, of bringing hundreds to repentance in the city of Corinth, but according to the account he gives uś, he only baptized two persons there, and the household of a third. From this, it appears, both
he considered it as a matter of much greater importance to preach the gospel than to baptize; and also,
that he judged many persons to be sufficiently qualified to perform the latter office, who were not called to be extensively useful in the execution of the former And no wonder, for, by preaching the gospel, the seed of faith is sown, which, as in adults it must precede baptism, so it is of much greater necessity and importance.
4. This is implied in the next clause, “ He that believeth not, shall be damned.” Our Lord does not say, He that believeth not, and is not baptized, but simply, “He that believeth not, shall be damned.” If a person believe the gospel, with such a faith as is above described, he shall be saved, even if, through want of opportunity, or his own involuntary prejudices, he should be prevented from receiving the washing of baptismal water. But although he may have had this, whether in his infancy or in his adult age, yet if he do not believe with a right faith, " he shall be damned,” or, condemned, as the original word is. Indeed, as St. John testifies,* he is “condemned already.” Not receiving the gospel, as to the truths, privileges, and precepts of it, with a “faith working by love," he remains in that state of ignorance and sin, of depravity and weakness, in which all are by nature; having contracted an increased guilt, and being, of course, exposed to greater punishment for rejecting the grace of God offered in the gospel. “For this," adds the same apostle in the next verse, “is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.” And, living and dying in this state, he cannot escape condemnation at the day of judgment. For on the one hand, being in a state of spiritual darkness and death, he has neither title to, nor meetness for, the vision and enjoyment of God in glory; and on the other hand, having rejected the means of illumination, justification, and renovation, afforded him in the gospel, he has merited, and from a holy and just God, must meet with, condemnation and misery, proportioned to his guilt. For, “if the word spoken by angels,” viz. the law delivered on Sinai by the ministry of angels, “was steadfast, and every trangression and act of disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by those that heard him; God also bearing witness, both with signs, and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his 'Own will.?"
John jäi. 18,
“Examine yourselves," therefore, my brethren, " whether ye be in the faith, prove your ownselves, koow ye not your owoselves, how that Jesus Christ is in you,” in all his offices and characters, as your light and life, your wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, "except ye be reprobates ?" See that ye do not deceive yourselves in a matter of such moment, a matter on which your everlasting salvation depends; and take care you do not rest till that gospel which has come to you in word, come also in power, and in much assurance, and you find your mind enlightened by its truths, your heart enriched and comforted with its privileges, and your life regulated by, and comformed to its precepts. Thus will you find it the power of God to your salvation from sin here, and from all its consequences hereafter.
And as to us, my brethren, who are employed in the dispensation of this gospel of the grace of God, let us examine ourselves narrowly, as to our call to, and qualifications for, the important office in which we are engaged; and when we are satisfied, in some measure, as to these, let us make it our care to execute our trust faithfully. “Let us study to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Let us make ourselves thoroughly acquainted with the gospel of Christ, with respect to all the doctrines, promises, and commands of it: and let us take care that we inculcate every part of it, keeping back from our people nothing that would be profitable to them. Like the great apostle of the Gentiles, while we instruct them publicly, and from house to house, let us especially testify “repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ," with the genuine fruit thereof, universal holiness of heart and life. Of these things let us take care to be ourselves living witnesses ; that speaking from experience, we may speak with demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Let us recommend our doctrine by our practice, and while we serve the Lord with all humility of mind, and simplicity of heart, let us be examples to believers, in conversation, in behaviour, in love, in faith, in purity: and let us “ take heed to ourselves,” as well as to the sundry flocks “over which the Holy Ghost hath made us overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” In order hereto, let give diligent attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine; and follow after godliness, righteousness, faith, hope, love, patience, meekness." Let us watch in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of evangelists, and make full proof of our ministry.". Let us "meditate on
these things, and give ourselves wholly to them, that our profiting may appear unto all.” In fine, “ Let us take heed to ourselves, and to our doctrine,” and continue so to do, for in this way, "we shall save both ourselves, and those that hear us."
ON THE NATURE AND DESIGN OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT BEING PROPERLY ACQUAINTED WITH IT.
AT THE NEW CHAPEL, IN LOWGATE, HULL, DEC. 30, 1787.
“ But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.”
2 Cor. iii. 3, 4.
1. A MOMENT'S reflection upon the preceding verses, with which this passage of Scripture is closely connected, will cast much light upon it, and assist us to understand its purport. The apostle, in the foregoing chapter, having drawn a comparison between the gospel and the law, the Christian and Mosaic economy, and shown the superiority of the former to the latter, proceeds, in the beginning of this chapter, to speak of the conduct of himself and his fellowapostles, who were entrusted with the dispensation of this gospel.
2. Seeing then (says he) we have received this ministry, a ministry so superior to that wherewith Moses was entrusted, more excellent in its nature, and more beneficial in its effects, transforming all who receive it into the image of God; as we have obtained mercy to be accounted faithful, as God has in mercy accepted us as his servants in the gospel, and supported us in our work; we faint not, are not discouraged, do not desist from the glorious enterprise : But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, whatever a person has need to hide or be ashamed of; not walking in craftiness, not making use of guile, fraud, or low cunning, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, nor corrupting it with impure mix