John_Henry_Newman_by_Sir_John_Everett_MillaisWhen Samuel had anointed David, observe what followed.

“Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.”

And so, also, when Christ’s ministers baptize, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon the child baptized henceforth; nay, dwells in him, for the Christian’s gift is far greater even than David’s.

God’s Spirit did but come upon David, and visit him from time to time; but He vouchsafes to dwell within the Christian, so as to make his heart and body His temple.

[…] Though David received the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, yet nothing came of it all at once. He still seemed like any other man.

He went back to the sheep. Then Saul sent for him to play to him on the harp; and then he went back to the sheep again.

Except that he had strength given him to kill a lion and a bear which came against his flock, he did no great thing.

The Spirit of the Lord had come upon him, yet it did not at once make him a prophet or a king. All was to come in good time, not at once.

So it is with Christian Baptism. Nothing shows, for some time, that the Spirit of God is come into, and dwells in the child baptized; it looks like any other child, it is pained, it frets, is weak, is wayward, like any other child; for  “the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh at the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

And “He who seeth the heart,” seeth in the child the presence of the Spirit, “the mind of the Spirit” “which maketh intercession for the Saints.”

God the Holy Ghost leads on the heirs of grace marvellously. You recollect when our Saviour was baptized, “immediately the Spirit of God led Him into the wilderness.”

What happened one way in our Saviour’s course, happens in ours also. Sooner or later that work of God is manifested, which was at first secret.

David went up to see his brothers, who were in the battle; he had no idea that he was going to fight the giant Goliath; and so it is now, children are baptized before they know what is to happen to them.

They sport and play as if there was no sorrow in the world, and no high destinies upon themselves; they are heirs of the kingdom without knowing it; but God is with those whom He has chosen, and in His own time and way He fashions His Saints for His everlasting kingdom: in His own perfect and adorable counsels He brings them forward to fight with Goliath.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons vol. 8, 4: The Call of David.

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