Puslapio vaizdai

dren in mind of their Chriftian Profeffion, of which the Name is the outward Badge or Cognizance; and therefore is call'd the Chriftian Name, becaufe we receive that and our Chriftianity together. So that by asking the Name here, is in effect to ask, What Religion you are of? Whofe Followers are you? Or by whofe Name are you called? Which is a fit Entrance or Beginning of a Catechetical Inftruction. So that this Queftion is not fo vain and ufelefs, as fome may imagine or object; being fo well fuited to the tender Years of Children, and fo eafy an Introduction to farther and more ufeful Inftructions.

But for the better understanding hereof, we may obferve farther, That every one beareth at least two Names:

The one is that of the Stock, Family or Kindred, to which they belong; and this they have by Defcent from their Parents, whofe Name they bear, and which is generally flyl'd the Sirname.

[ocr errors]

The other is a Name of Grace and Favour, added or given in our Baptifm, or Admiffion into the Church; and this is call'd the Christian Name. The former fignifies that we are Men belonging to the Family of our Parents and Kindred; the latter, that we are Chriftians, engrafted into Chrift's Family, and bear his Name.

And this may fuggeft the Reason, why the Christian Name is ever plac'd before the Sirname, it being a Title importing a nobler Defcent and Dignity. 'Tis a higher Honour to be a Chriftian, than to be a Man; by the one we are miferable, by the other in a way of being happy: our spiritual Regeneration in Chrift, is a matter of greater Comfort and better Hope than our natural Generation; and our Admiffion into the Church, of much greater confequence than our Entrance into the World: fince by this we enter into a Vale of Tears and Sorrow; by the other we are led there, where all Tears shall be wiped from our Eyes, and Sighing and Sorrow fhall flee away. Moreover, we are to confider

The Ufe of Names, which ferve chiefly for thefe three Ends; for Diftinction, Ornament, and Inftruction.

First, Names are given and ufed for Diftinction, that Men may be known from one another: Thus the Sirname, which we derive from our Ancestors, and receive immediately from our natural Parents, diftinguifhes us from others of a different Stock and Family. The Chriftian Name that is added to it, diftinguifhes us from thofe of


the fame Houfe and Family, as well as others; and likewife from those of a different Religion: for the Name of Christian distinguishes us from Jews, Turks, and Infidels. Again,

Secondly, Names are given fometimes for Ornament: Thus all Titles of Honour, all Names of Offices and Degrees, are used not only to diftinguifh, but to raise and elevate fome Perfons above others, to adorn their Character, and procure the Refpect and Veneration of Mankind : fuch are the Titles of Kings, Lords, Knights, and the like. And here we may note, That as the Name of Christ is above every Name, fo the Name of Chriftian is above all other Titles whatever: for these are only earthly Glories, that will foon fade, and be laid in the Duft; whereas the other hath a more heavenly Rife, and will not only last, but ennoble us to all Eternity.

Laftly, Names are given likewife for Inftruction: This is the Defign of all great Names and Titles, namely, to mind thofe that wear them, that they act worthily and futable to them, and to avoid all base things that may blemish or difhonour them. And this is the End of our Chrif tian Name, as we fhall have occafion to fhew after.

Thus we fee the Nature, End, and Use of Names, and, more particularly of that which is here in the beginning of the Catechifm enquir'd after. For befide the Name of our House and Family which we have by Birth, we have another, the Christian Name, which we receive by Baptism; be ing thereby, as it were, new-born, and receiv'd into the Houfhold of Faith, becoming the Servants and Followers of Chrift, by taking his Name, and thereby distinguish'd from all others, who either know him not, or difown him.

But because this facred name was not given by chance, or for nothing; 'twill be requifite to enquire into the Origi nal, the Importance, and the Obligation of it. For the

First, The Rife and Original of this Name, our Text tells us the Time when, the Place where, and the Manner how it was given; all which are contained in these Words: The Difciples were call'd Chriftians first at Antioch. Where the Holy Ghoft having thought fit to record the Time, Place, and Occafion of this memorable Action, it will not be amifs to endeavour a right Understanding, and to make a right Ufe and Improvement of them.

To which end I must enquire, (1.) What they were call'd before. VOL. I.


(2.) What

(2.) What was the Motive or Occafion of changing the


(3.) How or in what manner, this new Name was given.

(1.) The Difciples receiving a new Name, and being call'd Chriftians firft at Antioch, leads us to enquire what they were call'd before: And there were, we find, several Names and Titles given to them in the feveral Ages of the Church. In the Old Teftament they were firft call'd the Sons of God, which Name continued from Adam to Abrabam. After which, they were ftyled the Seed of Abraham, and the Faithful; which continu'd to the days of Jacob, who being named Ifrael from his Prevalency with God, the twelve Tribes that defcended from him were for that reafon call'd Ifraelites. After which, the Kingdom being divided between Ifrael and Judah, they were call'd fometimes Jews, and fometimes Ifraelites; which Names continued till the coming of the Meffias. After which, they were fometimes call'd Nazarites, fometimes Galileans; at other times they were ftyled Brethren and Disciples: which Names continu'd till this great. Meeting of the Brethren and Difciples at Antioch, where the Name of Chriftian was 'folemnly given to them: for the Disciples were call'd Chriftians first at Antioch. And this will lead us to confider,

(2.) The Motive and Occafion of giving them this Name of Chriftians; which, as appears by this and the foregoing Chapter, was briefly this.

St. Peter, who was the Apoftle of the Circumcifion, and preach'd only to the Jews, was warned of God in a Vifion, not to account the Gentiles common or unclean, but freely to eat and converfe with them; thereby perceiving (as himself declares) that God was no respecter of Perfons, but in every Nation, be that feareth him, and worketh Righteousness, is accepted with him. Accordingly, finding that Cornelius and many other of the Gentiles believ'd in the Lord Jefus, and receiv'd the Holy Ghoft as well as the Jews; he preach'd to them, and commanded them to be baptized in the Name of the Lord: as we may read at large in the former Chapter.

In the beginning of this, we find the Brethren of the Circumcifion took offence, and contended with Peter about this Freedom, till he had declar'd the Vifion whereby his Commiflion was enlarg'd, and how he was order'd, to converfe with and preach unto the Gentiles: at which they


held their Peace, and glorify'd God who had to the Gentiles alfo granted Repentance unto Life. Hereupon the fcatter'd Brethren came to Antioch, where Paul and Barnabas, with many others, affembled likewife: and when both Jews and Gentiles promifcuoufly receiv'd the Gofpel, and were united into one Body of the Church, they were united in one Name too, and were call'd Chriftians first at Antioch; where the Partition-Wall between Jew and Gentile being broken down, and both admitted into one Fold, all Names of Diftinction were taken away, and they became all one in Chrift Jefus. This is imply'd in this new Name of Chriftian given to them, which Name is continu'd to this day.

We find a Prophecy in Isaiah, That when the Gentiles Should come in and fee the Righteousness of God, all Kings fhould behold their Glory, and they should be call'd by a new Name, which the Mouth of the Lord fhould name, Ifa. 62. 2. This Prophecy is fuppos'd to have been fulfill'd at this time, when the Difciples were all call'd Chriftians first at Antioch; at which time this new Name was given both to the Jews and Gentiles, who by this divine Signature were both mark'd up for Christ's Flock. And this will lead us to the

Next thing to be confider'd, which was the Manner how this Name was given: And that, we may well think, was not in a common or ordinary way, but by fome divine Impulfe and Direction; for the new Name mention'd by Ifaiah, was fuch as the Mouth of the Lord should name: meaning, that it fhould come from his Mouth, or be order'd and directed by his Holy Spirit. This fome have thought to be imply'd in the Word here used in the Original, which is not ἐκαλένιο, but χρηματίσαν, which fignifies not an ordinary way of naming a thing, but the doing of it in a Divine and Oracular manner; and gives us to underftand, that this Name of Chriftian was given not upon a flight Occafion, but for weighty Reasons, and by God's own Appointment.

I fhall conclude this Point, by inferring two or three Things from what hath been faid upon it. And,

First, We learn hence the Dignity of this Chriftian Name, which is not of a human Extraction, but hath a divine Original: it was not given by the Will of Man, but of God, and had its Rife from the Direction of his Holy Spirit.

C 2


For when the Difciples were upon a great occafion met together, this Name was folemnly given to them from above; which Name is by the Grace and Favour of Heaven deriv'd down to us: the Hiftory, as well as the Mystery of which, ftands here upon Record in Holy Scripture. So that this Name, by reafon of the Relation it "bears and gives us unto Chrift, is above every Name, and far furpaffes all earthly Titles whatever; which fhould teach us to have a due Honour and Regard for it, and to do nothing that may undervalue or difparage it.

Secondly, This Name of Chriftian being given upon the uniting of the Jew and Gentile into one Church, may put us in mind of keeping the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace: And being incorporated into one Body, we fhould all learn to be of one Mind. We find it was fo with the first Christians, upon their receiving of this Name; who continu'd ftedfaft in one Fellowship and Communion, and were daily in the Temple, with one accord bleffing and praifing God. After which, when, by the Infinuation of falle Teachers, fome of them began to fall into Parties and Factions, we find the Apoftle befeeching them by the Name of Christ, that they would all speak the fame thing, that there might be no Divifions among them, but that they would perfectly join together in the fame Mind, and the fame Fudg ment; 1 Cor. 1. 10. Where the Apoftle urges the Name of Chrift and Title of Chriftians, to engage them to Unity, and preferve them from Sects and Divifions. Again, he minds the Ephefians, who were fome of these Gentile Converts, that they were all call'd into one Calling; meaning, that they were all call'd Chriftians: and that they all had but one Hope of this Calling; meaning, that common Salvation purchas'd by Jefus Chrift: and from thence preffes them to go hand in hand together in the purfuit of it, without Discord or Divifion, Eph. 4. 25. Moreover, we find him preffing the Philippians by the Name of Chrift, and all the Endearments of Christianity, to be of one accord, and one mind.

In a word, The facred Name of Chriftian fignifying an Owner and Follower of Chrift, wills all that wear it to walk on unanimously in the way that he hath chalk'd out, and gone before them in, without deferting him, or following any other.

Laftly, From what hath been faid concerning the Chrif tian Name, all Parents and Sureties may learn to give Chil


« AnkstesnisTęsti »