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of our own. As for example here in the churching of women, and the baptism of infants: which are both derived from Jewish institutions; and if not purely derived from them, nor perfectly similar with their patterns, still shew a sufficient resemblance. The mother's coming to church and returning thanks after childbirth is a very near copy of the Jewish ceremony of purification; which our church also commemorates in the instance of the mother of Jesus; and is so dutiful and appropriate a service as we may hope will never grow out of use. For after being delivered from a very trying situation, or as the Psalmist expresses it," from the snares of death," with "great trouble and heaviness," and so handsomely rewarded for her pains with a smiling babe-any mother, if she had the least gratitude belonging to her, might be anxious to make some return to God for all the benefits that he had done unto her; as for example by walking generally before the Lord in the land of the living, or doing his will in every thing; also in duly receiving the cup of salvation after her confinement; calling on the name of the Lord publicly, or, as it is said, in the presence, or sight, of all his people— and likewise in the courts of the Lord's house, (Ps. cxvi. 3, &c.,) that is at the established church.
The baptism of the infant which frequently takes place at the same time, and is indeed the chief object of the example or parallel-seems to be an amalgamation of baptism and circumcision, two JEWISH ceremonies as we call them; though one of them be older than Judah, and the other than Abraham-most likely. For baptism, being the circumcision of the heart, (Rom. ii. 29,) is seemingly stated by St. Peter as a figure of human salvation by water in the person of Noah. "The like figure whereunto, even baptism, doth also now save us-by the resurrection of Jesus Christ," (Pet. I. iii. 21,) says the apostle. And the extensive practice of this sacred rite among na
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tions that are fallen long since into barbarism and desuetude strongly confirms the apostle's allusion. But, if you will have it so, the salvation of Noah with his family and descendants in the ark by water may be a figure itself of salvation by Jesus Christ, as much as our baptism is a figure of either or both; while it also expresses the same meaning or effect with circumcision, which is, not only the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but thereby likewise "the answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (Ib.)
Such is the loan to the Lord which every mother is supposed with us to make of her child as soon as she is able to come to church with it; presenting herself first, as one alive from the dead, or one returned from the grave. For, as our Saviour says, 66 except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John xii. 24.) So is it for the time with a woman in childbirth, or so however it should be with her: that she may be able to say with St. Paul, “Whether we live, we live unto the Lord: and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." (Rom. xiv. 8, 9.)
This child may well be considered as the MOTHER'S LOAN more than the father's, even when their consent is equal; since she pays so much more for it in anxiety and suffering. And beside this too, somewhat must depend on the sex of the subject: it having been generally held among nations as well savage as civilized, that the custody of the female branches of a family is properly the mother's department; while that of the male is gradually shifted off to the father, as their proneness and capacity either for good or evil increases. And so this domestic relation is generally held to continue, until the parents be released on either hand by time or circumstances; the most fortunate being that of a new association, as it is written,
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Gen. ii. 24.) Upon which it may be thought, whether a mother have indeed an equal right with the husband in decreeing the loan of a male child for life; as the charge of the same, if it were at liberty, would be chiefly with him: and I think she may during the period of her early trust do that which will nearly amount to the same by the means that I am recommending.
But here methinks some will say, What! about Baptism again? This minute mystagogue will keep us always at the church door: we shall never see the inside of it, "the King's daughter all glorious within and her clothing of wrought gold," (Ps. xlv. 14,) if we wait for him. And I own, I am indeed rather apt to discourse on this subject: but not more so, I am sure, than it deserves. The ignorance and remissness of all ranks concerning the institution, joined to its importance, have rendered its frequent mention nearly indispensable: and the church foreseeing this demand has also expressly required as much; ordaining that "the CURATE of every parish shall often admonish the people, that they defer not the baptism of their children." Considering therefore, the reason of the case and obedience due to the order of the church, it seems but right and just, that a curate should bring forward the subject of baptism to his congregation as often and in as many different lights as he can. It is now brought forward in the shape of a MOTHER'S LOAN, which she lends unto the Lord; not meaning by a destination to the priesthood particularly, but to any good part, as it may happen to suit: when, if the subject be accepted for such part, he may be considered as the Lord's servant, and one of his household, to whom the life loan of every child is due, and of the males in particular as being best calculated for his active service. The whole earth is the Lord's house, or rather but one apartment in it, as our Saviour says, "In my Father's house are many mansions." (John xiv. 2.) Every globe in the firmament is but a mansion
with him, and every system but a suite of apartments: and in this particular apartment or sphere of the solar system, the earth in which we are placed by nature, is our station for the service of the Creator, until another be provided for us, as it follows in our Saviour's declaration, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (Ib. 2, 3.) You may call the earth a stable or a scullery, if you will: for you certainly cannot call it one of God's presence chambers; but such as it is, here will be the place for us to serve him in as long as we live in it.
But you may be pleased to observe, that we are not any of us born in the service of God, though born and brought up in his house: we are born in the service of Satan, and enemies to God instead of servants; an insidious set of traitors, lifting the heel against him whose bread we eat. (John xiii. 18.) Therefore being as we are in his house, we still have something to do before we can come properly into his service: there must be such things as an atonement for past offences, and a transfer of service in prospect of the future. We may thank God, that the atonement, is made by our Saviour Christ: but the transfer most regularly has its beginning in a mother's piety and prudence by the loan that I am now contending for; which she owes to God in the first place, and next to her ehildren. I say
1. A mother will owe this loan chiefly to God, and for the following reasons; namely, that God supplies the means, and on purpose to be so employed. "Lo, children and the fruit of the womb are an heritage and gift that cometh of the Lord." (Ps. cxxvii. 4.) And as we receive them only to hold during his good pleasure, it is right that we should always hold them only as it were on his account. The Deity cannot alienate any thing from his own
possession in fact; he can only give us the use of it: and if it were not for that, we should have nothing to lend him as David observed on dedicating to the Lord the materials for his glorious temple. "But who am I, and what is my people; that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? For all things come of thee; and of thine own have we given thee." (Chron. I. xxix, 14.) And elsewhere he says, "My seed shall serve him: they shall be counted unto the Lord for a generation." (Ps. xxii. 31.) So Hannah, as you have heard, "For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given my petition which I asked of him. Therefore also I have lent him unto the Lord as long as he liveth, he shall be lent unto the Lord." (suprà.) And our Saviour has also an expression to the same effect where he prays the Father for his disciples; "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were; and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for THEY ARE THINE. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." (John xvii. 6, 9, 18, 19.) So
2. Considering the dueness or fitness of this Loan in respect of its subject; you mothers owe it as a duty to your children, to sanctify yourselves also for their sakes; and not to think of dedicating them to the service of God, while you dedicate yourselves to his rival. Consider, if any of you should be unfortunate enough to experience such an affliction, how ill you would take it, to have a rival in your husband's affections. How would one of you like for an husband to bestow his name only upon her, and his heart upon her property? Or what must be thought of a wealthy householder who should choose to have his servants and others about him honest, while he should be himself as great a knave perhaps as