Friday, February 17, 2012

The True and Just One Will Not Disappoint

The Church is as a Light set upon a hill, not to increase or display the darkness of the rest of the world, but to throw a cheerful light on all around, upon those who wander in the gloomy paths of ignorance and heathenism, feeling, if haply they may find, the Living God. And each baptized Christian is a witness of God's Love to all his brethren. Some have spoken, indeed, of leaving those without the Church, their Church, to the 'uncovenanted mercies of God.' Uncovenanted mercies of God! we know not any. He has made a gracious Covenant with us in giving us any reason at all to rejoice in His Providential Care, to hope in His Mercy, to trust in His Love. The True and Just One will not disappoint the expectations which He has Himself awakened. 
While the Earth remaineth and living men are brought into being upon it,—while 'seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night,' recur without ceasing,—while the Sun rules for us the day, and the Moon the night,—by the Light which He sheds upon us, by the Food which He provides for us, by the Life which He has given us, by the Spirit which witnesses daily with the spirit of each one of us, that we are in very deed the children of God,—by all this outpouring of His Goodness, ,—our Faithful Creator, I repeat, has made a covenant with us, an Everlasting Covenant of Love which can never be broken. 
'The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.' We do not then make light of Christian Baptism. Far from it. We do not, indeed, with the Jesuit Missionaries, or even with some of our own Church in the present day, make it a matter of eternal life and death to baptize a child. We do not think it necessary to run hither and thither, baptizing stray children or uninstructed adults in heathen lands, as if the mere act of sprinkling them with water in the Holy Name would work a mighty charm upon them, and convert them in a moment, by a stupendous change, from children of the devil into children of God. Surely, if such were the case, it would not be very difficult to go a little further than the Parisian Doctors, of whom I spoke this morning, and say that, in all consistency, the now baptized should be put then and there to death, to save them from the danger of falling back to their native habits again, and ensure them a blessed life in the other world. Nor do we think it right, with certain modern teachers, to enforce religious duties by the help of artificial terrors, to threaten parents that their babes, if unbaptized, will not be buried in consecrated ground, or to indoctrinate young children with the notion that a white angel follows the steps of the baptized, and a black demon haunts the unbaptized. Such conduct, indeed, may be redeemed from the domain of the ludicrous by a regard for the sincere religious convictions, of which it may often be the exponent. 
But there is always a root at the bottom of such practices, a dogma which appears in various forms, but of which this is the essence,—the notion which links Divine Grace and the communication of God's Spirit to anything but the living soul, to which it comes according to its capacity of receiving it,—the notion which confines the Love of God to any family, to any caste, or to the professors of any Creed. 
Surely, if Baptism had been, as some would deem it, the very gate of Paradise, we should have heard more about it from the lips of Jesus; we should have heard him tell the parents of the little ones, whom he took in his arms and blessed, that they must first be brought to be baptized, before they could enter the Kingdom. Yet it is plain that He admitted his followers into his flock by baptism— though 'Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples': and the command in Matt.xxviii. 19,' Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost" would be conclusive as to the fact of his having directly enjoined the practice, were it not that this formula, with its full expression of the Name of the Trinity, betrays the later age in which the passage in which it occurs was most probably written.
Link (here) to Natal Sermons  published in 1866
Blogger Note: This is of Anglican origin

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