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is to terminate here; but you are to look upon this as a step in your Christian course, and to go on increasing in all knowledge, and in all truth.
That those, however, may not be admitted to Confirmation, who are not qualified with the requisite elementary knowledge, the minister of each parish is directed to examine the candidates, and to certify, when he is satisfied of the fact, that they have sufficient knowledge of their duty. But there is one point, on which the minister cannot form a judgment, and in which a failure will annul all the advantages to be derived from Confirmation. The minister may ascertain whether the candidate knows his duty; but who can tell whether he sincerely means to do it?
Herein he must be left to God, and his own conscience. And let him beware how he attempts to mock God by an hypocritical form and pretence, when, in his heart, he has not any fixed intention to act up to his professions, and perhaps has scarcely formed any clear notion of his obligations. The hand of the Bishop may descend upon the head of such a person, but the blessing of God will not. To him all the hopes and promises of the Christian covenant will become a dead letter. He has broken the covenant.
V. The last point to be considered iş, Who are the persons interested in the observance of this rite? Two parties are interested in it, namely, the sponsors and the persons baptized.
The interest, which the godfathers and godmothers have in this rite, is, that they may fulfil the engagement into which they entered with God and the Church, to bring the persons baptized to the Bishop, for the purpose of taking upon themselves the vows made in their name. They undertook to see that those, for whom they promised, should be taught what they should renounce, believe, and do; and, when so instructed, brought to God, and the Church. And, if they neglect this duty, they must themselves still “bear the blame."
Let them, therefore, endeavour to urge upon those baptized, how great are the interests to which the covenant, entered into in their names, relates, and how.earnestly they should press forward to take it personally on themselves. The call to Confirmation is an invitation, to ratify the covenant entered into in our name. To refuse this ratification is, in effect, at least to show indifference to the blessings and privileges of Baptism, if not absolutely to reject them. It is a virtual refusal, to pledge ourselves to fulfil the terms required of those who would receive the final rewards of that Church, into which Baptism initiates us. We refuse our part, we nullify the contract, we will not confess our Master before the Church on earth; and how can we expect Him to acknowledge us before the Church in heaven?
But Confirmation, independently of the advantages of Baptism which it secures, evidently, according to the effects which followed the Apostolic administration of it, and the opinions of the primitive church, brings benefits of its own, which deserve to be highly prized. On those, who thus obey the voice of the Church, she prays for the gifts of the Holy Ghost; and doubtless the Great Lord of the Church will not suffer the prayers, and the hands of His Bishops, to descend in vain upon the heads of their faithful disciples. His Holy Spirit, by whom the “ whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified,” will not be wanting, in the apostolical ordinance, to pour down the abundance of His power, and arm and strengthen the Christian soldier for his conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil. May you all, to whom (not having been confirmed) these considerations shall be addressed, be impressed with their importance, and come to the Bishop, as the Church directs, to confirm and ratify the covenant made in your name in Baptism. And when the Bishop, “ after the example of the Apostles, shall have laid his hands on you, to certify you (by this sign) of God's favour and gracious goodness towards you, may God's fatherly hand be ever over you; may His Holy Spirit be ever with you, and so lead you in the knowledge and obedience of His word, that you may obtain everlasting life through our Lord Jesus Christ?"
NAAMAN'S EXAMPLE APPLIED TO CONFIRMATION.
O Almighty God, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone; Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
2 Kings v. 12.
ARE NOT ABANA AND PHARPAR, RIVERS OF DAMASCUS, BETTER
THAN ALL THE WATERS OF ISRAEL? MAY I NOT WASH IN THEM, AND BE CLEAN?
The pride of the human heart is always at work. It too often blinds men to the real tendency of their principles. In no respect does it exhibit itself more strongly and dangerously than in that jealousy of authority, which frequently leads men, under the notion that they are asserting their independence and freedom, to surrender themselves to the worst
of slavery—the slavery of passion and irreligion. For example: with what eagerness, to what a blind and dangerous excess, do we see the right of private judgment asserted! And how captivating is the argument, “I have a right to judge according to my own reason and conscience I will not be bound by what others have determined—It is my undoubted privilege to form my religious opinions and conduct on my own judgment.” There is, undoubtedly, a general truth in these propositions; but as they are expressed (and they are expressed according to the prevailing and popular notion), they do not express the whole truth. It is true, you have the right of private judgment; but you must remember that you exercise that right at your peril. That right has limits assigned to it, by the laws of both God and man, which you are bound to respect upon pain of incurring the penalties decreed by the one or the other against the transgressors of those limits. Moreover, that private judgment has its proper province, beyond which the exercise of supposed right becomes not the assertion of independence, or the use of reason, but folly, presumption, rebellion, and sin. Let us illustrate this by a parallel case.
The Sovereign and the Parliament have authority to frame laws; the Judges are appointed to administer, and to interpret, those laws. A man may assert, that he has the right of private judgment in respect of those laws; and he may, if he think fit,