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sprinkling ; having made it so necessary, He hath made it likewise as easy as possible. He only requires water, the most common thing that is, to be used and applied with such a form of words as He hath prescribed, without determining the quantity, or any other circumstances, which might sometimes make it difficult or dangerous, or perhaps impracticable. And therefore, although in hot countries the persons baptized were usually dipped in water, or washed all over, yet the washing any one part, or sprinkling water upon them, hath the same effect: it is not the quantity of the water, but the institution of Christ, to which the promise of being born again is annexed. One drop of water serves to this purpose as well as a river; and one part of the body, in this case, is as much as the whole: as we may learn from our Lord and Master Himself.
For when He, to shew the necessity of our being washed by Him, said to St. Peter, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me;" St. Peter said unto Him, “ Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” Jesus said unto him,“ He that is washed, needeth not, save to wash his feet, John 13.10. but is clean every whit.” Whereby He hath taught us, that if any one part, as the face, the hands, the feet, have water applied to it, according to His prescription, and so is washed by Him, the whole is thereby cleansed : for it is not the water that cleanseth, but the blood of Christ signified by the water, applied according to His institution, which is therefore called “ the blood of sprinkling,” because it is then Heb. 12. 24. sprinkled upon us. St. Peter also speaks of “the sprink- 1 Pet. 1. 2. ling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” Which is most plainly signified, by sprinkling the water upon the person baptized, according to the custom that hath prevailed in all, except in very hot countries. Which seems also to be intimated by God Himself, in the Prophet Ezekiel, where speaking of the blessed times under the Gospel, He saith, “ Then will I Ezek. 36. sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” For this is the same, in effect, with our being born of water and the Spirit, as our Saviour here expresseth it.
But after all we must observe, that although our Blessed
SERM. Saviour here saith, “ That except a man be born of water,
and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God;" yet He doth not say, that every one that is so born, shall inherit eternal life. It is true, all that are baptized, or born of water and the Spirit, are thereby admitted into the Church, or Kingdom of God upon earth; but except they submit to the government, and obey the laws established in it, they forfeit all their right and title to the Kingdom of Heaven. They are brought into a state of Salvation, but
unless they continue in it, and live accordingly, they cannot 1 Pet. 3. 21. be saved. For as St. Peter observeth,“ Baptism now saves
us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God), by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Baptism puts us into the way to Heaven, but unless we walk in that way, we can never come thither. When we were baptized, we were born of water and the Spirit, so as to have the seed of grace sown in our hearts, sufficient to enable us to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, to overcome temptations, to believe aright in God our Saviour, and to obey and serve Him faithfully all the days of our life. And we then promised to do so: for being asked, whether we would do so or no, we answered, by ourselves or sureties, that we would. And if we afterwards live in good conscience towards God, answerably to the profession and promise that we then made to Him, we shall certainly be saved, through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the intercession that He makes at the right hand of God for us. But if we neglect to perform what we then
promised, and so do not answer the end of our Baptism, by [Acts 24. keeping our consciences void of offence towards God and 16.]
men, we lose all the benefit of it, and shall as certainly perish, as if we had never been baptized.
Wherefore, brethren, we had all need look about us : I hope there are none here present, but who are baptized, and so born of water and the Spirit: if there be any that are not, I must advise them to take care of themselves. Do not mind what ignorant or designing people tell you, but consider what Christ, your only Saviour, hath told you : He hath told you, “ That except ye be born of water, and of the Spirit, ye cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” And if ye care not whether ye enter into the Kingdom of God or not, ye may still continue as ye are, “ without Christ, aliens Eph. 2. 12. from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world;" as mere heathens as any in the Indies, and in a worse condition than they : forasmuch as ye live in a place where ye may be made Christians if ye will; and if ye will not, it will be more tolerable for them, than for you, at the Last Day. But if ye desire to be fellow-citizens with the [Eph.2.19.] Saints, and of the household and Kingdom of God, put off your Baptism no longer. It was your parents' fault that you were not baptized before; it is your own if ye be not baptized now: and therefore be advised to fit yourselves for it, as soon as possible ; lest as ye have hitherto lived, so ye die too without it, and so be damned for ever.
And as for you who are already baptized, and born of water and of the Spirit, remember the promise which ye then made, and perform it. Remember how ye then renounced the Devil, the world, and the flesh; and let them not therefore have dominion over you : remember the Articles of Faith which you then professed to believe, and hold fast your profession without wavering : remember the Holy Commandments which you then promised to keep, and do all you can to walk constantly in all of them : remember also the great privileges which God Almighty then conferred upon you, in case you keep your word with Him. You were then made the members of Christ, and so interested in all the merits of His death and passion : you were then taken out of the world, and translated into the Church of Christ, to be instructed, governed, assisted, protected, sanctified, justified, and saved by Him: you were then made “the chil- (Rom. 8. dren of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ :” and therefore heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven, and eternal life; which you cannot miss of, unless you provoke your Heavenly Father to disinherit you, by the neglect of your duty to Him, and by the breach of the promise which you made, when you were admitted into this happy state, and by not repenting of it while ye may.
Wherefore, if ye have broke the promise which ye made
SERM. when ye were baptized, as I fear ye all have, repent imme
diately, and set yourselves in good earnest for the future, upon keeping it in all respects. Ye were then born of the Spirit, and so have it always ready to assist you. By His assistance therefore live now, as becomes the children of God, and the heirs of Heaven; avoid whatsoever ye know to be offensive to your Heavenly Father, and do all ye can
to please Him. Live above this world, and let your conver[Eph. 4. 1.] sation be where your inheritance lies. Strive all ye can to
walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called ; that (Col. 1.12.] ye may shine as lights in the world, and so be “meet to be
partakers of the inheritance of the Saints in light:” where ye [Matt. 13. will shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of your Father: 43.] .
Which God grant we may all do, through Jesus Christ our
COMING TO CHRIST, THE ONLY MEANS OF SALVATION.
John v. 40.
And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.
These words being spoken by Christ Himself to the Jews, must needs be true of them: and we have too much cause to fear they are so likewise, of most of those which are called Christians; and among them, of those also, which are here present : insomuch, that if Christ was with us, as He was then with the Jews, He might truly say the same words over again here. But why do I make it a question, Matt.18.20. whether He be here or no? when He Himself saith,“ Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.” I doubt not but here is that number at least met together in His Name; and therefore am confident, that He is as really with us now in this place, as He was among the Jews when He first spake these words. And though we cannot see Him any other way than with the eye of faith, yet we may hear Him repeat them over again by His unworthy servant, saying to you that are here present, “Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.”
A sharp saying indeed! enough to cut us all to the heart with fear, lest we should be in the number of those whom our Lord here means : for if we be, and still continue to be so, we shall be lost and undone for ever. And therefore it is as much as our lives are worth, to understand His meaning in these words aright, and what He here teacheth us; that we may be able to pass a right judgment upon our