Puslapio vaizdai

worldly Lufts, we must deny the most facred Vows and Promises.

Thus we see the many and great Obligations that refult from the Name of Chriftians, to lead holy and futable Lives; it remains only, that I exhort you to

Anfwer thefe Obligations, and live accordingly. Let every one that calleth on, or calls himfelf by the Name of Christ, depart from Iniquity; let none debafe that high and honourable Title, or wear it about as an empty infignificant Name: remember whofe Name it is, and what it imports; and labour to live and act futably to it. We fhould be very forry not to be thought or ftyl'd Christians; let us not then deceive ourselves with the bare Title, but fill up that noble Character, and make good our Profeffion, by walking worthy of, and futable to it. To this end, confider the Fitnefs and Reafonablenefs of fo doing, together with the Indecency of the contrary. What can be more agreeable to Reafon and good Manners, than to be what we profefs? And what can be more abfurd, than to pretend to great Matters, and perform nothing like it? He who answers the Defign and Dignity of a Chriftian, acts like one endow'd with a Mind and Reafon; but he whose Religion is only in Name and Pretence, whofe Actions give the lye to his Profeffion, acts of all Men the moft abfurdly, and lives in a direct oppofition to all the Principles of Decency and Difcretion. For the Heathens to wallow in Vice and Uncleanness, that ferv'd Gods as bad as themselves, can be no great wonder: But for Chriftians to do fo, that profefs themselves Difciples of the Holy Jefus, who hath given the best Rules, the best Affiftances, the beft Encouragements, and was himself the beft Example of a Holy Life, must be highly unbecoming.

Again, 2dly, To live like a Chriftian, is to adorn our Profeffion, and bring Honour to our Saviour, whofe Name we bear; whereas the contrary is the greatest Blemish and Reproach we can bring to both. When we walk by the Rules and Precepts of Chriftianity, we honour our Mafter, and credit his Religion; we fet it forth to the best advantage, and recommend it to the Love and Practice of Mankind, making it look with fuch an amiable Countenance, as to invite others to embrace it. But a wicked and ungodly Life brings Difgrace to ourfelves, and is a Scandal to our Profeffion; This drives others from it, and inftead of making Profelytes, makes only Enemies to it; yea, this occa

27 fions Atheism, and makes many defpife and throw off Religion, when they fee no better Fruits of it in the Lives of thofe that pretended to it. This caufes the Name of God to be blafphemed, and his Ways evil spoken of: Such Men, like the Spies mention'd by Joshua, bring an evil Report upon the Land of Canaan; and deal with Chrift, as Simeon and Levi did with Jacob, making him to stink among the Inhabitants of the Land: The most bitter Invectives that ever were form'd against the Chriftian Religion, never wounded it half fo deep, as the wicked Lives of those that profefs it.

In a word, nothing tends more to the Ornament and Propagation of Chriftianity, than a Holy Life; and nothing ferves more to supplant and hinder its Progrefs, than an unfutable Converfation.

Laftly, To live anfwerably to our Profeffion, is a matter of great Comfort here, and will bring us to a much greater Reward hereafter: for this intitles us to all the rich and precious Promises of the Gofpel, and gives an undoubted Right to all that Chrift hath obtain'd and purchas'd for his Church; whereas the contrary is a matter of infinite Lofs and Danger to the Soul. The true Christian that answers his Profeffion and Character, fhall receive the Reward of Christianity; that is, fhall be made Partaker of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light; an Inheritance immortal, incorruptible, and that fadeth not away, referv'd in Heaven for us: Whereas the titular or nominal Christian, that only ufurps the Name of Chrift for bad Purposes, and wears about his Profeffion as a Cloak to hide his evil Practices, fhall have his Portion with Hypocrites and Unbelievers his glorious Pretences will be fo far from helping him, that they will ferve only to fink him into the deeper Condemnation. The Heathens, that had no knowledge of Chrift, and made no Profeffion of him, fhall fare better at the last Day than fuch as pretended to and abus'd both; for our Saviour himself declares, That it fhall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, who wanted the Means of Knowledge, than for Chorazin and Bethfaida, who made a bad ufe of them: And St. Peter tells us, That 'tis better not to have known the ways of Righteousness, than having known them, to turn from the boly Commandment. Many, faith Chrift, will come in my Name, and deceive many; meaning that they would not only deceive themfelves with an empty Name, but impote upon others by their vain Pretences to it: of thefe Ac de

[ocr errors]


clares, Matth. 7. 22, 23. Many will say at the last day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy Name? and in thy Name done many wonderful Works? who yet, for not departing from Iniquity, fhall be bid to depart from him as Workers of Iniquity.

To conclude, Let us ftand upon the Dignity of our Christian Name, and do nothing that may blemish or difparage it; but rather let us adorn our Profeffion with the Practice of all Chriftian Virtues; that whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are bonest, whatsoever things are lovely, and of good report, &c. we may not only think on, but also do these things.


LUKE i. 59.

And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcife the Child; and they call'd him Zacharias, after the Name of his Father.


AVING explain'd the firft Question in the Catechifm, and fhew'd what is neceffary to be known, touching the Original and Obligation of the Chriftian Name; I proceed now to the

Second Question; Who gave you that Name?

The Answer; My God-fathers and God-mothers in my Baptifm, wherein I was made a Member of Chrift, a Child of God, and an Inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven.

In which Queftion and Anfwer, Three things must be fpoken to, and explain'd.

I. The Parties that gave the Christian Name, Our Godfathers, &c.

II. The Time when this Christian Name is given, in our Baptifm.

III. The Benefit and Privileges we receive thereby; wherein I was made a Member of Christ, a Child of God, and an Inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven. I begin at this time with the

First of these, viz. The Parties that gave the Christian Name, and they are here faid to be our God-fathers and God-mothers.

Now, tho this be an antient, useful and laudable Practice; yet because it hath been of late Years made, a matter of Difpute and Contention, 'twill be requifite to fpeak the more fully to it: which I fhall do from thefe words, It came to pass, that on the eighth day they circumcifed the Child, and call'd him Zacharias, after the Name of his Father.

The words are part of the Hiftory of the Birth and Circumcifion of St. John, for which we muft look back to the 57th and following Verfes; where we read, That Elizabeth's time being full come, he was deliver'd of a Son; upon the News whereof, 'tis faid, That her Neighbours and Coufins came and rejoic'd with her, congratulating the great Mercy had been fhew'd to her. Where, by the way, we fee that the Cuftom of Neighbours and Friends coming together, and rejoicing at the Birth and Baptism of Infants, is very antient, and the Practice well-enough warranted, provided it be done with that Modefty, Thankfulness and Moderation that becomes fuch a Chriftian Solemnity. After which, follow the words of the Text; And it came to. pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcife the Child, and call'd him Zacharias, &c. Where 'tis said, that the Neighbours and Coufins gave the Name, and call'd him Zacharias, after the Name of his Father; tho that Name was afterwards, in an extraordinary way, chang'd into Fohn.

From hence then, we fee this antient Cuftom of the Sureties giving the Name in Baptifm fufficiently warranted : And this will give occafion to treat the more largely concerning the fpiritual Relation. To which end, 'twill be requifite to confider the Name or Title of God-fathers and God-mothers here given to them, and why they are fo ftyl❜d. Next, we muft enquire into the Ground and Reafon of their Inftitution; and likewife, why the giving the Chriftian Name is allow'd to them. To which I fhall add fomething Touching the Usefulness of this Inftitution, or the Advantages Children may reap by these Sureties; together with The Duty incumbent on them in that refpect. After which, I fhall anfwer an Objection or two, and close up with fome Application of the whole.

First then, Touching the Name of the Prefenters of Children to Baptifm, we may note, That as this Custom was deriv'd from the Jews, fo are their Names too: We find those that prefented Infants to be circumcifed, or the Children of Profelytes to be baptiz'd, were ufually call'd their Fathers.

Sometimes they are flyl'd Witneffes to reftify their Admiffion, and record their Reception into the Church; fo they are call'd, 12. 8. 2, 3. where we read, That the Prophetefs having brought forth a Son, God Almighty, for fome weighty Reafons, appointed the Name, and order'd him to be call'd Maker halal-hafbbaz; and Uriah the Prieft, and Zachariah, were appointed as faithful Witneffes to record it. But becaufe more is requir'd than barely to witness or record what is done for them, they are frequently ftyl'd Sponfores, or Fidejuffores, Sureties or Undertakers; because they publickly engage or undertake for the Infants they prefent to the Font.

But the antient and receiv'd Name, from which there is no reason to depart, is that of God-fathers and God-mothers, or Fathers and Mothers in God; which ferve to put them in mind, what Affection they are to bear towards those innocent Babes for God's fake, and that they take care to bring them up in the Fear and Knowledge of God, for whole religious Education they offer themselves, and the Church accepts them as Pledges. And it favours not a little of the antient Piety, to retain the old accuftom'd Names. From the Name let us proceed to the Thing, and enquire,

Secondly, Into the Grounds and Reasons of this Inftitution: .e. why the Church requires, and ftill continues the Ufe of thefe God-fathers and God mothers: For which we have,

(1.) The Authority of Cuftom, and the antient Practice both of the Jewish and Chriftian Church for when any Children were to be admitted into either, by Circumcifion for Baptifm, they had always fome felected Perfons to prefent and take care of them, who likewife gave them their Name. That this was the Practice of the early times of Chriftianity, Hyginus, and others of the Fathers, plainly declare; and generally all the Reform'd Churches have, and fill do allow the Ufe of God-fathers and God-mothers, and their propounding the Name of the baptiz'd Infant: So that they who decry or neglect this laudable Practice, fet



« AnkstesnisTęsti »