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for your children ? Have they never seen you collect that family which God has given you, and in the midst of them pray unto him? You promised to set an example of piety and godliness before your children. Have you done, and are you daily doing this ? or is your example the reverse of this ? And you promised by all the means of God's appointment, to bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Have
fulfilled this promise? These means are many, such as instruction, example, restraint, correction, prayer, and attendance upon the word and ordinances of God. Brethren, these questions are addressed to your consciences. What does conscience say? Have you not fulfilled your solemn vows? Think of the day of account, when the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. And may the Lord give you deep conviction and repentance.
3. Finally, permit me to say a word to those who have not offered their children in baptism. They may perhaps be blessing themselves that they are clear of guilt in this matter. It is true, you are not guilty of breaking covenant engagements ; but still you are guilty of neglecting your duty. It is your duty to offer your children and to give up both yourselves and them unto God, and to do it in the exercise of real faith and repentance. Faith and repentance are immediate duties of every soul. And it is at the peril of the loss of your souls, if you do not repent and believe. And repenting and believing, it is your duty, immediately to give up yourselves, and your children, to God in a public covenant. So that you as well as those who are covenant-breakers, are in a dangerous state. “Repent” therefore and be baptized, every one of you” who are unbaptized, “in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins.”. Let all who are baptized bring their children to the ordinance, in the exercise of faith, repentance, and holy obedience. And let all who offer themselves or their children, feel that they have covenanted to be the Lord's and his alone, and be careful to fulfil their covenant engagements.
“What advantage then hath the Jew ? or what profit is there of circumcision ? much every way; chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God."
In the preceding chapter, the apostle had shown that without internal piety, the Jew, notwithstanding all his peculiar privileges, could not be saved ; and that the pious Gentile, though destitute of the external privileges of the Jew, would obtain salvation. The Jews boasted of their privileges ; and many of them, in the apostles days, trusted to them ; supposing, because they were the children of Abraham, bad the law and ordinances of God, and had been, as a nation, the subjects of the divine lavour, that therefore they were safe. And at the same time they supposed that the Gentiles, being destitute of such external marks of the divine favour, were rejected of God, and would not be accepted by him.
This opinion the apostle refuted by the following reasoning. “Circumcision verily profiteth if thou keep the law, but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall, not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly: neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men but of God;" Roin. ii. 25—29.
From this reasoning the Apostle supposed an inference might be drawn against the Jewish privileges. This objection he stated, and answered in our text. As though
he had said, if this statement be correct, you may ask, “What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circum ision ?" I answer, “ Much every way; chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God." Though circumcision could not save them in their sins, or by its own efficacy, yet it secured to them many and great advantages for obtaining salvation; and especially it secured to them the advantage of having committed to them the Holy Scriptures, which were able, through the blessing of God, to make them wise unto salvation.
We have in a former discourse seen that baptism under the New Testament dispensation has come in the room of circumcision under the Old, and signifies the same things, and should be applied to the same subjects, and therefore to infants. We may therefore answer the question which is sometimes put, “What profit is there of” infant baptism? in the same way as the question was answered in our text with regard to circumcision, “Mucha every way; chiefly because that unto them” are “committed the oracles of God."
The object of the ensuing discourse is to point out the advantages of infant baptism.
Baptism cannot of itself confer any grace. It is not regeneration. It does not operate as a kind of spell or charm as many seem practically to suppose. say of it as the apostle in our context said of circumcision. “Circumcision verily profiteth if thou keep the law, but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. The chief benefit of baptism consists in the more favourable situation into which it brings the child to obtain the grace of God; and will profit him, if these privileges are improved, and not otherwise. More particularly,
1. By baptism a child becomes interested in the promise of God, " I will be their God ;" Gen. xvii. 8. This was the great promise made to the circumcised in the Abrahamic covenant, as you will find, Gen. xvii. 7, 8. " And I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting coyenant; to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee; and I will be their God.” This promise was made to the circumcised; and to be interested in it, it was necessary
that the males should be circumcised. For it is added ; “This is my covenant which ye shall keep between me and
you, and thy seed after thee; every man-child among you shall be circumcised ;” vers. 10. “And my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant ;" vers. 11. And it is further added, “The uncircumcised man-child, whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul sliall be cut off from his people: he hath broken my covenant;" vers. 14.
Under the New Testament dispensation, baptism which has come in the room of circumcision, introduces the child to an interest in the same promise. For from the New Testament we learn, that Abraham is “ the father of all them that believe; Rom. iv. 11 ; that the blessing of Abraham has come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ;" Gal. iii. 14 ; that they who are “Christ's are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise;" Gal. ji. 29; and that the promise is still to God's covenant people, and to their children; Acts ii. 39. Hence we infer that the promise, “I will be their God,” is still in force. And reasoning from circumcision to baptism, children to be interested in this promise, must have the token of the covenant, which is now baptism, put upon them.
They who have not this sign of the covenant upon them, can be no more interested in the promises of the covenant, than was the uncircumcised man-child of old, who was expressly called a breaker of the covenant of God. Since therefore this promise is in full force, and baptism introduces to an interest in it; it will be important in pointing out the advantages of baptism to inquire into the import of this promise made to the baptized, “ I will be their God."
This promise under the Old Testament was a very great one, and imported very great blessings.
It certainly, however, did not imply that every circumcised child should be made a partaker of the saving grace of God. For there undoubtedly were many of the circumcised Jews, who lived and died strangers to a circumcision of heart, or vital piety. But the least that it imported was, that God would keep up his church among those who bad the token of the covenant, or circumcision, until Christ should come; that unto them as a body would he give his revealed word, and all the means of grace with which the Jews were favoured. And accordingly, we do find, that notwithstanding the wickedness of the Jews as a nation, God would not forsake them, but continued to be their God, and to grant unto them the means of grace ; while he left the other nations to walk in their own ways. When the Jews as a nation, wandered from God and rebelled against him, he would not give them up, but dealt with them by mercies and judgments, to bring them to a sense of their duty. And he frequently gave as the reason why he would not give them up in their most degenerate days, the covenant which he had made, of which circumcision was the sign and seal. And this promise implied further, that God would keep up a spiritual believing people among them, who should be heirs of everlasting life. And accordingly we have reason to believe there were more pious persons among the small nation of the Jews, than all the rest of the world.
Of the same import is this promise, “ I will be their God,” to the baptized. God has engaged to them as a collective body, that he will keep up his church among them; that unto them shall be committed the oracles of God, and the means of instruction and grace ; and moreover that a spiritual believing seed shall be kept up among them; and that, although God, in a sovereign way, may sometimes bestow his saving grace upon some who are visible aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, or who have not been baptized, yet the great proportion of his real people shall be taken from among those who have the token of his covenant upon them, or have been baptized. In short this promise imports, that as unto the circumcised of old, so now unto the baptized in a collective capacity, shall pertain “the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the service of God, and the promises;" Rom. ix. 4.
These are the least blessings which the promise, “ I will be their God imports ;” and these are very great and important blessings. And it is far more probaile that persons interested in this promise, as all the baptized are, will partake of the saving grace of God, than they who are not.
But it is highly probable that this promise, “I will be the God of your seed” in visible covenant, means something more and still greater, viz. : that in case of the faith