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Think of these things, and be sure you pray to God every day to make you mind them, and make you love them. The devil wants to have you, and he will be trying all he can to make you forget them : but God is stronger than the devil; and if you pray unto him, he will make you remember them, and will put them into your hearts, and will by his Holy Spirit make you, who are by nature born in sin and the children of wrath, members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven.
ActS xvi. 30.
What must I do to be saved ?
In and by baptism believers have sealed to them a covenantright in the glorious privileges of membership in Christ, adoption into God's family as children, and inheritance in the kingdom of heaven. And baptism, which does thus, in a covenantway, seal these privileges to believers, does, in what was called a charter-way, seal them to baptized infants ; so that it lies upon themselves, coming to years, to make out their claim to these things by a true faith wrought in them by the Spirit of God. Accordingly, the Question immediately following is,
What did your godfathers and godmothers then for you ?” that is, in your name, as representing you, and acting for you. .
Answer.—-They did promise and vow three things in my name : First, That I should renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh. Secondly, That I should believe all the articles of the Christian faith. And, Thirdly, That I should keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of my life.” All this (which in fewer words is but truly to believe, to wit, by that divine faith, in the power of which we die unto sin and live unto God) they promised and vowed, not as what I was then to do, for I was at that time incapable, but what I should hereafter do when I grew up to years of discretion, and live in the practice of all my days. And I am perfectly satisfied, that, if I do this, I am indeed a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven ; my baptism, in that case, being God's seal of indenture, as it were, and obligation, whereby he conveys and makes over to me, in full right, all these blessings, engaging himself, by contract and covenant thus sealed and executed, to make them good to me. But I know also, that, if I do not this which they promised and vowed for me, and until I do it, these blessings are not mine ; neither had my baptism at the time, simply and of itself, force effectually to make and seal me member of Christ, child of God, and inheritor of the kingdom of heaven. So that I see my having a real right in these things, and my being able to look upon them as mine, in virtue of my baptism conveying and sealing them to me, doth depend upon my believing and doing this which my godfathers and godmothers promised for me. The Question therefore coming next after is, “ Dost thou not think that thou art bound to believe and to do what thy godfathers and godmothers promised for thee?” The Answer to which is; “ Yes, verily, and by God's help so I will. And I heartily thank our heavenly Father, that he hath called me to this state of salvation, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. And I pray unto God to give me his grace, that I may continue in the same unto my life's end.” Having proceeded thus far in the recital of the Catechism, it may be advisable to speak to this latter Question and Answer here, both that we may have before us a general account of what we are to expect in the baptismal vow, as well as that, in the particular explanation thereof, the creed and commandments may appear the more clearly to be but parts of it, being proceeded to without interruption immediately after that the renunciation of the devil, world, and flesh, shall have been opened ; and also, that the obligation to baptismal engagements (being considered immediately after baptismal benefits, and seen as absolutely necessary to be performed, in order to a real and saving right in such blessings) may be stated in its full force, and be brought with its proper power upon the mind.
Now, in the Question and Answer before us, I observe,
First.—That the person questioned is supposed to be instructed in the nature of Gospel blessings, and his own want of them ; for he speaks of a state of salvation through Jesus Christ the Saviour, and expresses his hearty thankfulness that he himself is called to it. Neither of which he could properly do, unless he knew what a sinful, guilty, undone, helpless creature he is by nature ; and that in Jesus Christ there is a free and full salvation provided for him, reaching to his every need in this life and the future.
Secondly.--I observe, also, that the party questioned is supposed to be instructed in, and acquainted with, the nature and meaning of the baptismal vow, as corresponding to that salvation. He is supposed to know this ; that he is not called upon to believe and do the things contained in the baptismal vow, only because God will have him so to believe and do, but also from the very nature of his fallen state ; because being by nature in a state of sin and death, as guilty and helpless, he must needs, if he will be saved, believe in God through Jesus Christ, seeing there is no other way but this of Christ wherein God is merciful to guilty sinners ; and God, for his own glory, has provided this way for their pardon and acceptance to his favour; and because also being by nature under the dominion of sin, and estranged from God, in a miserable subjection to the devil, his liberty lies entirely in his renouncing the one, and turning to the other, through the grace offered him. And that he is here supposed to be instructed in and acquainted with. This is plain likewise from his thanking God that he hath called him to this state of salvation, and by his praying God to give him grace that he may continue in the same, believing and doing what his godfathers and godmothers promised for him ; which practice of faith and obedience is indeed being in a state of salvation in the very nature of the thing itself, as it is a present enjoyment of the salvation that is in Christ, in an actual freedom from the the guilt and power of sin.-I observe,
Thirdly.—That in this Question and Answer the person questioned is further supposed to be instructed in, and acquainted with, the nature of baptism, as an instrument, by divine appointment, sealing all the blessings of this salvation to those who thus believe and do, and to those only, though baptized. He sees the blessing on one part, and the obligation on the other, both enclosed and sealed up together in the baptismal ordinance. He is satisfied, that as baptism seals Christ and all his benefits, so only to true believers; and therefore, where the condition is not wrought in the heart, and manifest in the life, there baptism has not its scaling force and power. Yet he is advised, that baptisin does convey and assure Christ and all his benefits to all those who do believe with that faith which worketh obedience ; such faith and obedience being, as it were, the present possession of salvation : and accordingly he heartily thanks God for having called him by his word and Spirit to this true faith, and thereby to a state of salvation, in which he regards and walks with God as his God in covenant, by virtue of baptism, and prays that he may have grace to continue in this state of salvation, living by faith, unto his life's end.
In these things the person questioned is here supposed to be instructed, as he is also supposed with full purpose of heart to acquiesce in them. Concerning which acquiescence of his he here makes the fullest and most peremptory declaration, saying, “I do verily think myself bound to believe and do those things which my godfathers and godmothers promised for me;" 'not only because in my name, as my representatives, they promised for my so doing and believing, but because I see and know my whole salvation depends hereon ; and because I cordially approve, and sincerely value, this salvation, in the whole of it, as most worthy of and honourable to God and to Jesus Christ my Saviour, as well as being complete in its effects to myself. And although I see and foresee that a constant succession of selfdenials, reproaches, and sufferings, must be my lot in this state of Christian salvation I am called to, yet I am steadfastly determined, by the help of God, thus to believe and do, as my bounden duty is. Yea, and I am so far from being discouraged at the thought of what I have already or may hereafter be obliged to forego, lose, or suffer, in this state of salvation, that I heartily thank God for having called me (first in my baptism, when I was an infant, wherein he graciously took me into the number of his people, and since by his word and Spirit begetting faith in me, and so making my baptism of full force) to this state of salvation wherein I stand: for such mercy of our heavenly Father toward me, I am abundantly, above all things, and in every case, thankful.–And there is but one thing that I have henceforward to ask especially at his hands, which is, that God will give me grace that, by no treachery of my own heart, device of the devil, or frowns or smiles from the world, I may be moved; but that always, everywhere, and in everything, I may be kept