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vileges are not secured; and were you summoned to the tribunal of your Redeemer and Judge, it would be your condemnation that these engagements and privileges were neglected and contemned.
7. There is a still more numerous class of Christians who profess to observe the engagements of baptism, and whose desire and hope it is to secure their baptismal privileges.
With this view, they cultivate general decency and propriety of conduct; they cherish a general fear and love of God, and confidence in his mercy through a Redeemer; they observe the worship and ordinances of the temple: and yet we find them making a low estimate of Christian dutysetting their affections principally on the world, cherishing but superficial views of the plan of salvation, of the fulness of the Redeemer's merits, of the all-sufficiency of his grace, and of the necessity of that transformation of the affections by which only they can be truly turned from sin to holiness, from the world to God. They must be born again." The grace which was received in baptism they must cherish and improve by meditation, prayer, and all other pious exercises, until they become renewed in the spirit of their minds, until their God, their Redeemer, their Christian duties, their Christian hopes have the supreme place in their affections, and control and regulate their life.
8. Lastly. This we have reason to believe is the state of some who, through the blessing of their heavenly Father, devoted to him in baptism before sin exerted its dominion over them, have, as the powers of their minds and the affections of their hearts unfolded, subjected them to that Divine Spr
rit whose guidance and sanctification were pledged when they were called into the state of salvation.
Through the knowledge of that Lord and Saviour in whose merits they were interested, and whose grace they received in the sacrament by which they were born from their natural condition into the privileges of his covenant, they have escaped the pollutions of the world, and in the constant exercises of repentance, and faith, and evangelical obedience, have fulfilled the conditions on which their baptismal privileges were suspended. Their spiritual renovation has been constantly and gradually proceeding under the influences of the Holy Spirit accompanying and rendering effectual their diligent use of all the means of grace, their constant endeavours to walk worthy of their Christian calling. But even they are to cherish a constant sense of the indispensable importance of that spiritual change denoted in the injunction of their Lord-"Ye must be born again." Their spiritual birth indeed commenced in baptism, and their spiritual life has since been preserved, and quickened, and advanced by the agency of that Divine Spirit which, in prayer, and in all the ordinances of the church, they have invoked and received. But it should be their frequent and solicitous inquiry, whether all the graces and virtues of the new man are constantly increasing in strength and lustre, whether their spiritual life is growing brighter and brighter unto the perfect day; and mindful of their natural impotence, and of the power of the numerous temptations which assail them while they are diligent, watchful, resolute in the work of their salvation, their constant dependence should be placed on the influences of that Divine Spirit by
whom only they are made new creatures in Christ Jesus, and who alone is able to keep them from falling, and to present them faultless before the presence of the Divine Glory.
Universal, then, my brethren, is the obligation of that change from darkness to light, from sin to holiness, from Satan to God, which is denoted by the injunctions-"Ye must be born again"-" If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." As it respects a conditional title to the privileges of the Gospel, and the unmerited gift of that grace by which, in the fulfilment of the conditions, these privileges may be secured, all who were baptized were born again-regenerated in baptism. But this baptismal regeneration, so far from superceding, is designed to denote, and to enforce, and to render practicable that spiritual renovation, that renewing by the Holy Ghost, which consists in abolishing the whole body of sin, and in acquiring the holy tempers and graces of the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. And the necessity of this spiritual renovation is founded on the fact, that man is a sinful creature-and on the immutable and eternal truth, that without holiness no man can see the Lord. Sinful man, then, must be made holy, or he cannot see or enjoy the presence of a holy God.
Whether, then, this spiritual renovation has taken place in your souls, brethren, is the most important inquiry on which you can engage. It is not sufficient that you were regenerated, that you were called into a state of salvation in baptism, and, as members of Christ's mystical body, endued with that Spirit which animates this body, to be the principle of your spiritual life. Unless this Spirit
has exerted in you its renewing and sanctifying power, you are guilty of resisting it. Unless your baptismal privileges have been secured by the exercise of true repentance and a living faith, they will profit you nothing. Baptismal grace and baptismal privileges, indeed, will increase your condemnation, if they have been resisted and contemned.
Peculiarly urgent, then, upon you is the obligation to become, not only in profession, not only sacramentally, not only in conditional title, but in heart and in life, new creatures in Christ Jesus. For if you continue under the dominion of corrupt nature, the slaves of your sinful lusts and passions, in addition to the guilt of resisting and contemning those offers of salvation made to all men, and that divine grace which strives in the hearts of all men, will be incurred by you the aggravated guilt of resisting that salvation, and contemning that grace which the Redeemer purchased for his church, his mystical body, and which were offered and conveyed to you under the seal of God himself. There may be mercy for Sodom and Gomorrah, but not for you. "Marvel not that I said unto you, Ye must be born again."
PSALM CXxii. 4.
For thither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord, to testify unto Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord. Prayer Book Translation.
SOLEMN, edifying, and interesting were those holy rites in which all the tribes of Israel, in compliance with the "testimonies," the injunctions of the law, assembled, at stated seasons, in the holy city, and before the ark of the testimony, (so called, as containing the tables of the testimony, or law,) testified to the assembled nation their allegiance to the Lord of hosts, and commemorated his mercies.
The Christian church has a rite, in which the young members of her fold, at stated periods, assemble in those sacred courts where God dwells, in the ministration of the word and ordinances, to renew the engagements by which, in baptism, they were devoted to the service of the Lord their God, and to receive a renewed title to the blessings of his salvation.
This act of consecration to God in the ordinance of confirmation, which we are at this time to witness, is
SOLEMN, EDIFYING, and INTERESTING.