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THE PROCESS OF SALVATION BY THE LORD JESUS AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD.
1 COR. vi. 11.
But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
THE Christian religion is not more wonderful in its doctrines, its aids, and its sanctions, than in the moral change which it is capable of effecting in degenerate man. This change is wrought by the application of its doctrines, its precepts, and its sanctions, through the power of the Holy Ghost, to the understanding and the heart.
In what state did the Gospel find mankind? The pen of an inspired historian has drawn the melancholy picture" They were filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters,
inventers of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners"." From this bondage of sin, and from the awful condemnation which was the consequence of it, the Gospel of Christ delivered those who believed in his name. They were "washed, they were sanctified, they were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
But, my brethren-these actual sins which marked the state of the Heathen world at the coming of Christ, were the result as they are the evidence of that fallen and corrupt nature to which we are heirs of that evil "infection," tainting our souls, and figuratively denominated the" flesh;" subject to which, as we all are by our natural condition, "we cannot please God, but live in sin, committing many actual transgressions." It becomes therefore a most serious inquiry how we may be washed, sanctified, and justified; and thus be "born again and made heirs of everlasting salvation *."
The "Lord Jesus," and the " Spirit of God" are the agents in this process of our salvation.
Rom. i. 29. &c. &c.
See the Ninth Article of the Church, and the Office of Baptism for those of riper years.
"Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
I. It is said of professing Christians, that they are "washed."
The term evidently applies to baptism. this sacrament, washing or sprinkling with water, which is the external sign, denotes the purification of the soul from sin by the influences of the Divine Spirit. This symbolical rite implies that all who are by it admitted into the Church, receive a title on the condition of their repentance, their faith, and obedience, to deliverance both from the guilt and dominion of sin; and to purification from all the corruptions of their fallen nature; and they are henceforth bound to serve God in "newness of life." This is the import of the sacramental rite of baptism, the "washing” to which the Apostle refers. Baptism indeed does not prove to all Christians the "mean and pledge" of this "inward and spiritual grace." But this is not owing to any deficiency in the divinely instituted rite, but to the want of the necessary qualifications in the recipients. All who are baptized, professing sincerely, through the "preventing" grace of God *, repentance, faith,
* 66 Preventing" grace denotes the 66 which grace goes before" every good desire and every good principle, exciting and bring
and obedience, are "washed" from their sins. The guilt of their transgressions is not imputed to them; and they receive the Divine Spirit by whose agency they may be redeemed from the power of their original corruption. "Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins," was the language of the Apostles. We are saved by the washing of regeneration "."
It being the command of Christ that little children should be brought unto him, declaring that "of such is the kingdom of God," we offer them unto him in baptism. And in the case of infants "water is sanctified to the mystical washing away of sin *"-that is, baptism is the mean by which their sinful nature is restored to favour, and by which they are placed in a "state of salvation;" in which fulfilling, "when they come to age," the promises of baptism, they secure the privileges of the Christian covenant.
Even those who receive the external washing of baptism, while they are destitute of those internal qualifications which alone can render it effectual, may still be said, in a certain sense, to be "washed" from their sins. For they have
ing them into action. Thus in the Collect for Easter, "as by thy special grace preventing" (going before or directing) us, "thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help, we may bring the same to good effect."
b Acts xxii. 16.
c Titus iii. 5.
d Mark x. 14.
received in baptism the proffer of that internal purification which the external washing denoted; of the forgiveness of sin, and of release from its dominion; and they become solemnly bound to live a new and holy life. Thus, though not actually they are sacramentally "washed" from sin. In this sense then, as brought into a new state in which they receive what they have no right to by nature, a title to the forgiveness of their sins, and to the influences of the Divine Spirit, baptized persons are considered by our Church as "regenerated by water and the Holy Ghost, and having received the forgiveness of their sins*.' But it is of the utmost importance to distinguish between the regeneration of baptism and that renewing of the Holy Ghost," that "renewing of the mind," of which all baptized persons must be the subjects, in order finally to entitle them to the privileges of their baptism. Without this renewal and sanctification by the Divine Spirit, their baptismal privileges will only increase their condemnation.
Professing Christians-do you often reflect that in baptism you were thus "washed"-that in this holy sacrament, deliverance from the condemnation and dominion of sin was solemnly proffered to you by your God and Saviour? Surely this is a privilege the most inestimable which you can enjoy. What but sin degrades your nature, destroys your peace, and disquali
* Offices of Baptism of Adults and Confirmation.