Richard Lowndes.

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God in vain.'* The object of Christ's work on earth,
and the end for which He uniteth us unto Himself, is
to make us new creatures i^ Christ lived, and died,
and rose again, in order that we might be " renewed
in the spirit of our mind," and " put on the new man
which after God is created in righteousness and true
holiness,"* and constantly "maintain" those "good
works"^ which " God hath before ordained that we
should walk in them."^ Our Lord came not to save
us in our sins, but '''•from our sins."'' He " gave Him-
self for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity,
and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of
good works. "^ Let this be ever kept in mind.

We are not to imagine that at the Day of Judgment
the righteousness and perfect obedience of Christ will
be so accounted as ours, that it shall be unimportant
what our lives on earth have been. As it is not for
Adam's sin only, and without any reference to their
own actual sinfulness, that men will be punished here-
after ; so neither is it for Christ's obedience only, and
without any reference to our own past lives, that we
are to be rewarded ;» but we shall be accepted by God
for the sake of Christ's merits conditionally upon our
own obedience and godly living ; an obedience spring-
ing, indeed, out of Christ's obedience, having its root
therein, produced altogether of His grace, but still
created in us, and rendered by us, and so made our

1 1 Pet. i. 15.

2 2 Cor. V. 21, Yi. 1.

s 2 Cor. V. 17.

4Eph.iv. 23,24.

5 Tit. iii. 8.

6 Eph. ii. 10.

' Matt. i. 21.

8 Tit. ii. 14.

» Matt. xvL 2T.

24 ouK vows.

own. For, while it is most true that any obedience of
ours, even when done under God's grace, must be most
imperfect, and therefore does not and cannot deserve
any favor at God's hands, and can only be acceptable
on account of the perfection of Christ's obedience;
yet it is equally true that every man will be judged
according to his works hereafter,' and that the right-
eous only,^ and they that have done the will of their
Father which is in heaveUj^* shall be suffered to enter
the kingdom of heaven.''

The merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, appre-
hended by us through faith,'^ are the one sole cause of
our acceptance with the Eternal Father, but a fixed
unchangeable condition of our acceptance is our own
personal holiness, love, obedience (which are the fruits
of faith) ; or else such true and earnest repentance as
would certainly produce these, if time and opportunity
were granted.

The idea, that God will impute to us at the last that
righteousness of Christ which had not during our lives
found any place in our hearts, nor ever been reflected

» Rev. XX. 12. 2 Matt. xxv. 46. 3 ib. vii. 21. * Rom. ii. 6-9.

s Let it be remembered here what the exact office of faith is. When
we arc said to be "justified by fiiith," it is not meant that it is the act
of believing which of itself justifies us; we are justified only by the
merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour: we are merely said to be justified
by faith, because it is through faith that we apprehend or lay hold on
Christ. Faith is as much an act of the mind and intellect as any of
the things which we reckon among good works are acts of the heart
and body. To rely, therefore, on faith, on the act of believing, as a
ground of acceptance with God, would be to depend for salvation on
ourselves, on some work or merit of our own, and not on Christ ordy.
Yet forasnmch as faith is the moving powi-r within us, the source
whence all our searchings after Christ do spring, it were hardly pos-
sible to speak too highly of its importance and its blessedness. Faith
is to us here in this life what sight will be hereafter— the means where-
by the soul realizes and is enraptured with the ineflfable glory and
goodness of Its God.


in our characters and dispositions, and then, and on
account of that righteousness, accept us, despite our
past habitual wilful sin, is a mere delusion, and a most
fatal error.

But let us pause a moment to notice the immense
difference there is between our obedience, and love,
and holiness being the cau&e^ and their being the con-
dition of our acceptance with Almighty God.

Obedience, to be the cause of our acceptance, obedi-
ence which could deserve an eternal reward hereafter,
must be 'perfect obedience ; such as was contemplated
under the Mosaic dispensation, when God declared,
" Ye shall therefore Jseep my statutes and my judg-
ments; which if a man do, he shaU live in them."*
But to render such obedience is, and ever has been
(since the fall of Adam), impossible to man. Who i3
there that could look on his own life, and imagine that
he has ever rendered, or ever can render, such perfect
obedience ? Who, that looks into his own heart, and
considers his ways, and counts up his many and griev-
ous faults, can do aught else than faU down before God,
and exclaim, " If Thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark
what is done amiss; O Lord, who may abide it?"
Ko ! we all have sinned, and come short of the glory
of God. It is when we contemplate our own lives,
yes, even our best endeavors to serve God, that wo
feel most deeply our need of a Saviour. And to speak
of any obedience of our own as the sole ground of our
acceptance with God, would be merely to drive us to
despair. But while we regard such perfect obedience,
as could claim any reward at God's hands, as a simple
impossibility on the part of man, it must be evident
that that imperfect obedience which is required as a

^ Lev. xviil. 5. See, also, Eom. x. 5, aud Gal. iii. 12.

26 OUK vows.

condition of our acceptance with God can be nothing
else than a positive necessity, because God is " of purer
eyes than to 'behold evil^ and lie cannot looh on in-
iquity ;'" He can never admit into Ilis i)resence those
that are not " meet to be partakers of the inheritance
of the saints in light :" and as our characters here de-
termine our characters hereafter ; as no change can
pass on us after death (except that the good or evil of
our characters will be drawn out unto the perfection
of holiness or to the consummation of iniquity) ; so
we must be throughout eternity such as we have be-
come in time, — hence it follows by necessity that the
love, and obedience, and holiness which are requisite
to fit us for God's presence in heaven, and which shall
be perfected in us in another life, must have their be-
ginning here, and be first formed in us in this life.
The existence of these in us must be a necessary con-
dition of our acceptance with God ; for if we have not
these here, if in this life we are only wicked, we
must be forever wicked hereafter, and so be wholly
unfit to stand before the Lord.

To imagine that God will create in us hereafter that
character and those good dispositions which we have
not here in this life, and do not care to have, is only a
vain thought. " Where the tree falleth, there it shall
be.'"' What death leaves us, eternity shall find us.
What we are when we close our eyes on all things of
time, and lay us down and die, the same shall we re-
main, be we holy or be we unholy, forever and for-
ever. Just as it is said, "He that is unjust, let hira
be unjust still ; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy
still : and he that is righteous, let him be righteous
still: and he that is holy, let him bo holy still."'

> Uab. i, 13. 2 Eccles. xL 3. s Eev. xxli. 11.


Here, in this life, must be formed iu us that love^
wanting which we are only " Anathema Maranatha,"'
that is, accursed when the Lord cometh; that obe-
dience^ which is the effect of love;"^ that holiness,
" without which no man shall see the Lord :"^ for ex-
cept these be acquired now, they can never be acquired
at all ; and these are necessary conditions of our salva-

Let it be added, that we speak of these (love, obe-
dience, holiness) as necessary, inasmuch as these are
proofs of the inclination of the heart and will. That
which, in strictness, is necessary to our acceptableness
with Grod, that which is essential^ is the conversion of
the heart and will to God. But as the proofs of such
conversion lie ordinarily in the evidence which our
lives and characters afford, that is, in our love, obe-
dience, holiness (a tree being discerned by its fruits),
therefore we speak of these as " necessary." Let it
ever be remembered, however, for what this conver-
sion of the heart is necessary : not to win for us an in-
heritance in heaven, — that could be done by nothing
else than the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, — but
to make us meet to he partaJcers of that inheritance
when it has been won, to render us Jit to dwell in
God's presence in heaven. The " wedding garment"
in the parable will aptly illustrate this truth.* No
"garment" was needed to procure them, that were
found in the "highways," an invitation to the wed-
ding ; the invitation was a simple act of grace on the
part of the king ; but the garment was necessary to
them, in order that they might remain and sit as ac-
ceptable guests at the marriage supper.

1 1 Cor. xvi. 22. 2 John xiv. 15, 23.

3Heb. xii. 14. < Matt. xxii. H.





HRIST being
the root whence
we derive all
spiritual life and
blessing,' and
since the one
^great aim of the
soul's life must be
to be joined unto
Christ and to
abide in Him for
ever, the question
follows, " How
and when is our union with our Lord effected ?" "We
answer, " In our spiritual birth." Our Lord hath said,
" Except a man be born again, he cannot see the king-
dom of God."^

There are two births: 1. our natural birth; 2. our
spiritual birth. Bj our natural birth we are joined to
and descended from Adam ; in our spiritual birth we
are united to Christ. This spiritual birth takes place
at our Baptism ; thus we are taught in the Catechism
that at our Baptism we were "made members of
Christ," and that the " inward and spiritual grace "

> John XV. 1-6. 2 Ibid. iii. 8.


of Baptism is " a new MrtJi unto righteousness ;" tlius,
too, in the Baptismal Service, before the child is bap-
tized, we pray that God will " give his Holy Spirit to
the infant that he may be lorn again ;" and imme-
diately after the Baptism we acknowledge our belief
in the child's regeneration, or new birth, and humbly
thank God for that mercy vouchsafed, saying, "We
yield Thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it
Tiath pleased Thee to regenerate this infant with Thy
Holy Spirit, to receive him for Thine own child by
adoption, and to incorporate him into Thy Holy

The texts from which we learn that regeneration, or
the new birth, does take place in our Baptism, are the
following : John iii. 5 ; Titus ii. 5 ; Gal. iii. 27 ; 1 Cor.
xii. 13; Eom. vi. 3, 4; Ool. ii. 12 ; Acts xxii. 16,
ii. 38.

By that regeneration, or new birth, which takes
place at Baptism, we understand simply the being
grafted into Christy the being made Christ's mernbers^
and the being adopted into God's family. The which
state of blessing does not necessarily imply our con-
tinuance in grace, or our final perseverance, or our fu-
ture salvation. By being made " members of Christ"
we become indeed God's children, and inheritors of
the kingdom of heaven ; but a son may prove him-
self a prodigal; a child may be disinherited for his
obstinate persistence in ill-doing ; a branch once united
to the parent stem may be broken off and withered,
and be cast away.^

The effect which should take place, and which God
intends should take place, upon our regeneration, is an

1 John XV. 6 ; Eom. xi. 21, 22 ; Heb. vi. 4-6.

80 OUR vows.

entire change of our heart and disposition. The re-
ceiving of the liglit of the Holy Spirit ought to work
such a change in us, and ought to make us really new
creatures. And sometimes the new birth is spoken of
as if it had actually worked that intended change.*
But we are to remember that this happy result does
not follow in all, or even in many cases; in some^ per-
haps it does, by God's mercy, but not in many. For
there remains even in them that are regenerated a
hardness of heart, a disposition to sin, an infirmity of
will ; and therefore is there necessary in them a sec-
ond change before the designs of God's providence to-
wards them can be fulfilled. This second change we
call conversion: when to the change before eftected in
their outward condition (they from being children of
wratli, having in Baptism become children of grace), is
added a change in thc4r inward state also ; their will,
the inclination and disposition of their heart, is
changed ; with their whole heart and mind they turii
away from sinful things, they embrace God's oflfered
mercies, and give themselves with earnestness and sin-
cerity to God's service.

Regeneration and conversion are not to be con-
founded, or regarded as one and the self-same thing.
They are two distinct and separate processes.

Regeneration is God's sole act, wherein of his free
grace, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, upon our
promised faith and repentance, He grafts us into

» 1 John iii. 9, v. 4, IS.

2 Or it may be more correctly said perhaps, that that yielding of the
will and of the heart and affections to God, which is presently spoken
of as conversion, and which in most instances takes place at some later
time of life, does in these cases commence with the earliest years and
with the first opening of the young child's mind.


Christ, joins us to Christ, makes ns Christ's mem-

Conversion is (as we may in some sense say) a
joint work of God and ourselves ; it is God " working
in us both to will and to do ;"^ and it is on our part a
sensible yielding of ourselves to the influence of God's
grace, a laying hold of and choosing as our lot and
portion God's mercy, a closing with the Divine offers,
working out our own salvation,^ making our calling
and election sure;^ it is a turning of ourselves,* our
whole heart and mind, to God ; whereby we become
indeed new creatures ;^ old things, old wishes, desires,
inclinations gradually pass away ; our life becomes a
new one; having been servants of sin, we become
servants of righteousness ;^ we go from strength to
strength ; and at length, if we persevere, become num-
bered with God's saints in glory everlasting.

As the result of our regeneration, or graftuig into
Christ, is our justification,^ so this gradual yielding of
our hearts and wills to God, which we call conversion,
and which is effected in us by God's Holy Spirit, issues
out into our sanctification.

But here, let these terms "justification" and "sanc-
tification" be explained.

First, of "justification," or being "justified." Let
us begin with the word "just." This is easy to under-
stand. A man who is "just" in the sight of God, is
one who is absolutely righteous, actually without sin,
perfectly obedient to all God's law. He is such a man,
in fact, as is not to be found in all the world ; since


2 lb. ii. 12.

3 2 Peter i. 10.

4Ezek.xviii. 31,32.

6 2 Cor. V. 17.

6 Fvom. vi. 19.

7 1 Cor. vi. 11.

32 OUR vows.

"there is none rigliteous; no, not one."' Then, sec-
ondly, to "justify," is to treat us^ who are really sin-
ners^ as if tee were just or righteous. And "justifica-
tion " is that merciful act of God whereby He receives
us sinners back into His favor, vehereby He regards us,
who are positively sinful, as if we were holy and
good ; whereby He looks upon us, who are in truth
unclean, as if we were indeed clean ; whereby He
pardons all our sins, and frailties, and imperfections,
and regards us as if we were the exact contrary of
what we are ; whereby He restores us, who are by na-
ture rebels, to those privileges of sonship for which His
divine wisdom originally created us. This is "justifi-
cation." And this miracle of love and mercy God
shows forth in us for the sake of Jesus Christ. Be-
cause Christ has fulfilled the law of righteousness for
us, and because He has borne the penalty due to sin,
God justifies us. For ChrisVs saJce, God treats us^
who are actually sinners^ as if we were just and holy.
And this work of justification is a work done in each
individual soul at the time of its Baptism. "We, each
one of us, do obtain our part and share in the great
work of Christ in that happy hour of our regenera-
tion ; when, being grafted by the Holy Ghost into
Christ, we become God's children, and are made heirs
of eternal life.'^

And secondly, of "sanctification:" this is our being
made by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit really
holy — lioly in heart, and character, and disposition,
and so fit to enter upon our inheritance in heaven.
And tliis sanctification (we may observe) follows nat-
urally after j ustification. God does not only forgive

1 Rom. iii. 10. 2 Titus iii. 5-7.


and blot out the past, and reinstate us in His grace
and favor, and restore us to our lost sonship, and then
leave us to our own unaided efforts, but having begun
the good work in us. He performs it until the day of
Jesus Christ ;^ He gives us Divine strength, whereby
we may be enabled to walk worthy of our vocation,
and show ourselves obedient children, fitted for a place
in God's eternal kingdom ; as it is said, " Because ye are
sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of His Son into
your hearts. "2

Respecting the doctrine of " regeneration in Bap-
tism," it is necessary to hold this, both for our comfort
and for our warning. For our comfort, since we are
hereby assured of God's favor towards us, of which we
might otherwise have no positive or distinct assurance ;
and for our warning, since if we have once received the
grace of God, we must answer for our use of that
grace at the Day of Judgment.

Notice here, too, the use and value of the Sacraments.
They are outward and visible signs of an inward and
spiritual grace ; signs which our Lord gave, and or-
dained for our comfort and assurance. They are the
means whereby we receive that grace, channels where-
by that grace is conveyed to us ; and they are a pledge
and sign to assure us that we really have been parta-
kers of such grace. Without such outward signs, we
might be in doubt whether we had ever received God's
grace or not. But since our Lord has attached to the
right use of these Sacraments certain spiritual gifts
and blessings — since they were appointed for the very
purpose of imparting grace to the souls of the faith-
ful — the receiving of these Sacraments is an assurance

1 Phil i. 6. 2 GaL iv. 6.

34 OUR vows.

to our hearts of God's goodness and favor towards lis ;
and in the reception of these, our doubts and fears are
put to rest.

Let it here be called to mind what is the outward
part in Baptism; it is icater and the form of words —
water, wherein the person is baptized in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
And see in this washing in pure water how apt a sign
is given of that cleansing from all sin, which happens
to us at our baptism.^ See also in the plunging be-
neath the wave, and in the coming up again from be-
neath the water, a fitting emblem of that death unto
sin and that new birth unto righteousness which, as
Scripture and the Catechism teach us, is the inward
and spiritual grace of Baptism.

In our new birth in Baptism, then, we are united
unto Christ our spiritual Head ; we become members
of that Body (the Church), of which Christ is the

And notice now the importance and absolute ne-
cessity of Baptism. Our Lord's command was, " Go
ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Ghost."^ And in every instance recorded in the
Acts of the Apostles of persons being converted to the
Christian faith, we find that the first duty enjoined
upon them, was invariably to receive the baptismal
rite, — their first step was always to he baptized.* And
so we confess in the Catechism that baptism is " gen-
erally necessary to salvation."

1 Acts xxii. 16.

2 Ephes. i. 22, 23, v. 30; Col. i. 18; 1 Cor. vl. 15, xii. 27,

s Matt, xxviii. 19. ■» See Acts ii. 88, 41, viil. 12, 38, Ix. 18, x. 47,


As regards the baptizing of infants^ we believe
this to have been the custom from the earliest times.
As God was pleased to bring Jewish children into
covenant with Himself at the age of eight days/ so,
we doubt not, it is pleasing to Him to receive Christian
children in their infancy, and to embrace them in the
arms of his mercy. God will not, we may well sup-
pose, do less for Christian children than He was wont
to do for the children of the people of Israel. It is
sometimes argued that there is no plain, positive, direct
command in Holy Scripture enjoining us to bring in-
fants to holy Baptism. No ! perhaps there is not any
such command. And why ? Because none such was
required. When the earliest Christians, who were
Jewish converts, brought their childi-en to be received
into God's family through the waters of Baptism, they
were only doing what they had ever been accustomed
to do under the old law, which ordered infants to be
brought into covenant with God by circumcision. The
very silence, indeed, of Scripture on the subject is a
proof that the baptizing of infants was the custom of
the Apostles in the Christian Church, as the circumcis-
ing of infants had been the custom in the Jewish
Church. Had any change taken place in respect to the
age at which persons might be admitted into covenant
with God, some notice of such change must have been
given, and some new rule have been laid down by the
Apostles. The absence of any such rule is proof
enough that no change at all was contemplated.

If it be asked, " How can infants be capable of re-
ceiving God's grace?" it may at once be answered,

» Gen. xvii. 12.

3G OUR vows.

" that if infants can be liable to God's anger (as tliey
most surely can, since they are born in sin and are
children of wrath)/ they may certainly become par-
takers of God's mercy."

That our blessed Saviour was baptized at the age of
thirty is no argument against infant baptism. Our
Lord's baptism does not bear upon the question in
any way whatever. Baptism, as a Christian Sacrament
and as a means of grace, had not then been instituted.

Baptism, as then used among the Jews, was merely
an outward ceremony whereby the necessity of inward
purification was acknowledged, and the desire for such
purification expressed. This outward ceremony, thus
familiarized to the minds of the people, Christ was
pleased to take (and where could a more fitting one
be found ?) and to raise it, just before his ascension
into heaven, to the dignity of a Christian Sacrament,
appointing it to be used in the place of circumcision ; —
the very change from the bloody rite of circumcision
to the milder ceremony of baptizing aptly setting forth
the unspeakably great change which was now about to
take place, in the substitution of the merciful covenant
of the Gospel of peace for the sternness and severity
of the Law of Moses. But at the time of our Lord's
baptism this change had not taken place. At that
time the law of Moses was still in force ; and the rite
in which God's people were received into covenant
with Him was not baptism but circumcision, which
circumcision Christ duly received at the age of eight
days." To ground any. argu\uent, therefore, against
infant baptism on the fact of our Lord having been

»P8.11. 5; Eph.ii. 8. 2 Luke ii. 21.



baptized when he was thirty years of age, must bo
altogether erroneous/

1 In Christian Baptism, be it remembered, we are grafted into
Christ's Body, as St, Paul declares (1 Cor. xii. 13), "By one Spirit are
we all baptized into one body ;" but there could not have been any
Baptism into Christ's Body before our Lord's ascension, since that
Body had not then any being : not till after Christ's ascension and upon
the descent of the Holy Ghost did the Church (which is Christ's Body)
begin to exist. Our Saviour, during His life on earth, speaks of the
Church oi future, "On this rock I will build My Church" (Matt. xvi.
IS). And it was not till after the ascension of Christ and the gift of
the Holy Spirit, tliat the Church's life began, or that it could be said,
" The Lord added unto the Church daily such as should be saved."
Acts ii. 47.




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