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SERMON III.

ACTS xvi. 30.

What must I do to be saved?

THE motives and obligations to keep and walk in the practice. of the baptismal vow having been sufficiently set forth, we are now to proceed unto the explanation of the vow itself. It consists of three parts:—

First. A renunciation of the devil, the world, and the flesh. Secondly.-A belief of all the articles of the Christian faith. Thirdly. Keeping God's holy will and commandments, and walking in the same all the days of your life.

Concerning these three particulars, it will be proper now, before we enter on a special examination of them, to observe, in general, what has been before touched upon, the necessity of such renunciation, faith, and obedience. And this lies purely in the condition of our fallen nature, which, like that of the fallen angels, is a state of atheism as to the practice of any faith in God, love towards him, reverence of him, trust in him, desire to please him; in short, as to any happiness resulting from the knowledge of his infinite and eternal excellencies, his nearness to us, and our relation and dependence upon him. The reason why by nature we are thus without God in the world is, because in our fallen state there is a principle in us, called sin or the flesh, under the influence of which (while in that state) we think, act, and live, independent of God, seeking all our sufficiencies from the creature instead of the Creator, having all our ends and aims centring in ourselves, not in him. Now this being the state of man by nature, is plainly a state of alienation from God, and rebellion against him; and, as such, a state of misery: for being a state of alienation, it has evidently cut us off from

all possibility of happiness, which can only be had in God; and, being a state of rebellion, has exposed us to his almighty wrath and indignation. Left in this state, our ruin is as certain as that of the fallen angels; yet to deliver ourselves out of it we have neither will nor power. We cannot divest ourselves of our nature; and, while that remains, we shall always set up self, and reject God for happiness; or, if we could return to submission, how could we heal the breach made by our apostasy, and avert divine indignation? Now, to heal this breach, to satisfy God's injured honour, and to bring man back to his proper place of dependency; by the former to open a way to man's happiness in God, by the latter to bring him into the enjoyment of it; this is the business of the Son of God in the character of Mediator. The salvation thus wanted, and thus provided, the person here speaking does solemnly declare his unfeigned acceptance of in the words of the baptismal profession, wherein, upon a previous acquaintance with the sinfulness and misery of his fallen state, and with the salvation that is in Jesus Christ, he thus publicly declares himself. "I abhor and detest the dominion which the devil, the world, and the flesh, have naturally over me, and under which I lived, till Christ came to me by his word and Spirit, showed me my misery in that sad condition, offered me mercy, and gave me deliverance from this accursed slavery. And now that I am set at liberty, I do, as my sponsors in my baptism promised I should, most avowedly renounce, to the glory of God and the comfort of his church, the service of all these mine enemies; fully determined, by the grace of God, never more to yield myself unto them; but continually to oppose them, rejecting steadily all their solicitations, and taking every measure for lessening the influence I do or may find they have over me.-And, in a renunciation of these, I do, as it was promised I should further do, avouch my cordial and thankful acceptance of the covenant of grace, sincerely believing in, and humbly relying upon, that way of salvation that is in Christ Jesus my Saviour, wherein reverently and confidently I lay hold of God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as my reconciled God; whom I desire henceforward to regard as my Father in the merits of Jesus Christ, with whom I wish to live in a blessed communion and fellowship as my most desired happiness here,

and in whom I wait and look for perfect and everlasting glory hereafter. And I am now so well convinced of the excellency of his majesty, and the obligations of duty and gratitude that lie upon me, that I do, as was likewise engaged for in my name, solemnly consent to his absolute dominion over me, desiring to partake of the valuable liberty and perfect freedom of serving him, according to his revealed mind and will, all the days of my life and this in a constant subjection of my whole self, soul, body, and spirit, which are all his, to his pleasure and in a conformity of every thought, word, and work, to his command

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ments."

And now what does the whole of this amount to, but that, seeing by nature we are apostate creatures, serving the devil, the world, and the flesh, and, in that estate, rushing on to eternal ruin, we must needs accept that deliverance from these enemies which Christ offers us? And seeing also there is no reconciliation with God for us but in Jesus Christ, and that otherwise we remain the objects of his wrath, we must close with it, and make it ours in a cordial acceptance of it? And seeing yet further, that by nature we are alienated from God, being set up for ourselves to be our own masters, we must return to our place, submit to God's government, and yield ourselves his servants to obey him? So that the necessity of this vow, in the several parts of it, lies in the very nature of our fallen state, from which we cannot have deliverance but in the true keeping of this vow; which keeping of the baptismal vow is, you see, no other than a fallen creature's acceptance of the salvation that is in Jesus Christ. For only suppose a man truly acquainted with the sad circumstances of his natural state, as a state of sin under the devil, the world, and the flesh, a state of wrath, and a state of alienation from God, and what will he desire? When he sees what a state of sin and spiritual death he lies in, and what wretched monsters have the guidance of him, will he not wish to be set free from them, and to be taken out of his horrid condition? When he sees death at his door, and hell opening its mouth to swallow him up in its everlasting and most intolerable flames, will he not wish to be saved from so great a damnation, to have God reconciled to him, and to exchange everlasting misery for endless glory? And, finally, when he sees himself

without the image of God in his soul, his affections alienated from him, and that he has no love towards him, nor desire after him, nor delight in him, nor any thing, in short, of the obediential spirit of a dependent creature remaining within him, will he not wish to be restored to original purity, seeing without this he knows he cannot be capable of any happiness in God, and that in heaven itself he should miss of a reward? You see the whole matter is, a fallen creature, made sensible of his fallen state, desires help; and when he finds that help offered him in Christ, he accepts it: that is to say, seeing Christ offers him deliverance from sin, the world, and the devil, he accepts it; seeing Christ offers him deliverance from wrath and hell, he accepts it; seeing Christ offers to restore unto him the image of God upon his soul, he accepts it; the vow itself being but the public declaration and avowal of such his acceptance.

Such is the nature and the necessity of the baptismal vow. And, taken in the light wherein the matter now lies before us, three very plain and incontestable consequences present themselves to us, highly worth our notice.

I. That such as deny or are ignorant of the state they are in by nature cannot have accepted the offer of salvation, nor possibly be keeping the baptismal vow.

II. That such as are not keeping the baptismal vow are still in their natural state.

III. That they who are keeping it are actually in a state of present salvation.

All which have been glanced at before, but now require a more distinct consideration.

First. Such as deny or are ignorant of the state they are in by nature cannot have accepted the offer of salvation, nor possibly be keeping the baptismal vow, so they must needs be still in their natural state of sin and death. The Christian salvation (and of course the acceptance thereof, together with the baptismal vow, which is but the declaration of that acceptance) stands altogether upon the supposition of our fallen state, and the several parts of that salvation upon the several circumstances of our condition by nature; so that my acceptance of this salvation can only follow upon my acquaintance with my fallen estate, which, consequently, if I am unacquainted with, I cannot possi

bly accept that salvation.

Consider, therefore, have you been made deeply and thoroughly acquainted with your fallen and lost condition by nature? Have you been brought to see yourself an apostate creature, in whom dwelleth only a principle and body of sin, which is perpetually suggesting to you its evil, that is, its sensual, earthly, and devilish motions; a principle that naturally engages to itself all your thoughts, desires, and pursuits; a principle that cannot delight in God, and would not you should have any thought of him, or converse with him; a principle that naturally wraps you up in yourself, shutting out of your conduct every consideration due to God and man; a principle that naturally makes you mind nothing but self, and mean nothing but self, your own praise, your own interest, your own gratification; a carnal principle, craving indulgence, ease, pleasure; a worldly principle, all for the present life, its honours and interests; a devilish principle, stirring up in your heart high thoughts of yourself, low ones of others; envy, malice, resentment, revenge, cruelty? I say, has past and present experience taught you that you are thus born in sin? And have you been made to see this state of sin as a state of misery, as that whereon is entailed the wrath and curse of God; as that which has made you liable to present death, and future eternal misery; and as a state, too, whereby your soul is robbed of its richest jewel, the image of God, which before the fall was the grand prerogative, the distinguished glory, the noble qualification of man for serving and enjoying his Creator? Have you found yourself this corrupted, fallen, undone creature? If not, you cannot have accepted the offer of Christ, who cannot be a physician to the whole. If you deny that you are thus fallen, you disclaim all that can properly be called salvation, determi nately strike your name out of the list of those whom Christ shall save, and put your eternal happiness upon a footing, which, after all your fine reasonings, gives you little support, and which you feel in your own breast will not bear you out against the sense of guilt, and the fear of death and judgment. And if you are ignorant of this your fallen state through mere carelessness and inconsideration, though I dare not say your case is alike desperate with that of gainsayers, yet I must say your state is at present equally bad: you are not, you cannot be, in Christ; for

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