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the redemption obtained by Jesus Christ, and the satisfaction made by his atonement for original sin, entitles the infant to the mercy and favour of our heavenly Father, and assures its salvation, if, in the will of God, it should be removed hence without further trial : but if it should be God's pleasure to continue it, for the more active trial of the Christian warfare, a portion of preventing and assisting grace is
procured for it, through the same all-sufficient sacrifice of Christ's death. This good seed often lies hid, as a grain of mustard-seed, till years and reason afford an opportunity of cultivating or rejecting the free gift; when it either becomes as a tree of life within us, or is choked and rendered unfruitful, from the several causes enumerated in the parable of the sower (representing Christ himself), and which exactly describes the case of different candidates for heaven, and why they do not bring forth fruit in due season.
From this state of the case we are naturally led to inquire the reason of our being said to be MADE members of Christ, and the other valuable characters which follow. Now, the reason must be very evident to every one possessing a particle of true Christian knowledge, and it is this, that we are by our fallen nature in a very different state from being MEMBERS of Christ; and, as it is impossible we could renew ourselves, having lost that degree of perfection in which we were
at first created, the same powerful Being who, in the beginning, MADE us innocent, and capable of continuing so, must do the work again ; for we must all confess, that, by our common nature, we are corrupt and sinful, as the Apostle declares, Eph. ii. 3, that we were by nature children of wrath; and in Gen. viii. 21, it is said, that the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth. These Scriptures abundantly prove the fall; because we are told in Gen. i. 27, that God created man in his own image ;-consequently, in a state of purity. And the Preacher confirms this truth, in Eccles. vii. 29, that God made man upright. Since, then, the infant, in case of its death, is received into favour with God (through Christ's merits) by baptism-sd, in virtue of the same ceremony, and the grace then bestowed, it acquires this further privilege, of being admitted to the adoption of sons, and therefore may justly be called, as it is, in the third and fourth parts of this general answer in the Catechism, “ a child of God, and an inhe“ ritor of the kingdom of heaven.” The title to this is fully made out in these words of the Apostle, Gal. iv. 4, 5, 6: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them which were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because
ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son in your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Now, if thou be a son (argues the Apostle), thou art also an heir of God through Christ; which declares the same that Christ himself does, in these words, that no man can come unto the Father but through him, or his Spirit.
I shall say a few words on both these great and glorious titles procured for us, and then conclude.
Now, of all the degrees of relationship that exist among mankind, that of parent and child is the dearest and most tender. Our heavenly Father, therefore, most graciously condescends to use a word which, in its very spirit, includes gratitude, obedience, and comfort, at the same time. It is surely a prodigious support to our faith and hope, that we stand so nearly related to the God of all consolation ; that he hath, as the Apostle expresses it, predestinated * us to
* This word predestination, which is derived from the Latin, and literally signifies before appointed, or eternally purposed, has caused much heat of controversy and unprofitable dispute in the religious world. We do not understand it as an unconditional choice or preference, but in a general sense; that as God, in his divine counsel and foreknowledge, did appoint us to be saved, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ, so they are his children in Christ who partake of the spirit of his Son; and, consequently, on this account, are predestinated or pre-appointed to inherit the promises.
the adoption of children (Eph. i. 5), through the Spirit whieh is given to all in baptism; or infants could with no truth be said to die in the Lord; whereas Christ declares, that their spirits behold the face of his Father in heaven. (Matt. xviii. 10.) And to those who close with the means of grace, which are likewise freely offered to all Christians, they also are truly adopted sons, All, therefore, that remains on this head, is to inquire how we are made the children of God by the sacrament of baptism. The reply to which is very short and clear: “ That by this means we were taken into covenant with him, were adopted into his family, dedicated to his service, and entitled to his promises *." All which we prove from these words of the Apostle, Gal. iii. 26, 27, 29: For ye are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Again, in Rom. viii, 14, the same Apostle asserts, As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. And, to convince us that God's favour is conditional, and not arbitrary, our blessed Lord tells us, God will give his Holy Spirit to them that ask it: and he advances this strong comparison for our
* Archbishop Wake.
assurance thereof: If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him ? (Matthew, vii. 11.)
All that now remains to complete the task I have set myself at this time, is to show you what it is to be AN INHERITOR OF THE KINGDOM
OF HEAVEN”—a state very closely related to the title just now explained; for, as the Apostle concludes, Rom. viii. 17, If we are children, then heirs ; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ-observe, on the following terms : if so be that we suFFER with him ; that so we may be also glorified together. Christ, we are told, my brethren, was made perfect by suffering : this must reconcile us, as his followers, to our state of trial, however severe, which, in the wisdom and goodness of God, may appear necessary for us; because we are now to consider ourselves as only in a school, under due discipline and training up, in this perishable and vexatious life, for the enjoyment of a life that is to last for ever. The rights and privileges of any inheritance, or heirship, are founded either upon established laws or free promises. To be made an “ inheritor “ of the kingdom of heaven," is to have a sure title to eternal happiness, built on the promises of God, in Christ Jesus, to his children. We have this blessed title secured to us both ways : first,