Imágenes de páginas

ing's sermon; for the present we conclude with a practical reflection.

It was the ancient and uniform idea of Confirmation, that by this rite, the Bishop after the example of the Apostles, bestowed upon the prepared Candidates the gift and grace of the Holy Ghost, and therefore, saith Bishop Jeremy Taylor, "Asterius, Bishop of Amasia, compares Confirmation to the ring, with which the father of the prodigal adorned his returning son." The melted penitent is first baptized with his loving father's tears, "as he fell upon his neck and kissed him," and then brought into the household, hath his pardon, and restoration to the family, confirmed by the gift of the ring, a proper symbol of the sealing of the Spirit.

Then I observe, brethren, that the man who is anxious to be saved by all the means of salvation within his reach, will not lightly esteem this means of receiving the Spirit. I am not here to declare that the Holy Ghost in his righteousness and peace and joy, cannot be communicated without episcopal Confirmation, but I do affirm it to be the opinion of the primitive and Catholic Church, that the Spirit was received with Confirmation, (i e) to those who repaired to the ordinance in penitence and prayer-whence there follow two conclusions: first, to those who are not confirmed, and the second to those who have been confirmed in former years.

To the former, the argument of the discourse suggests to them the immediate repair of their defective privileges. Your baptism is incomplete without Confirmation, which is not a rebaptizing (else it would be another sacrament, as the Ro


manists vainly hold), but a confirming the former ordinance by the chief officer of the Church-to fill up and supply any thing that might have been imperfect in it. So long as you are unconfirmed, however old a disciple you may be in years, you are but a babe in Christ in privileges. "In baptism," said Rupertus, we are entitled to the inheritance, but because we are in our infancy and minority, the father gives unto his sons, a guardian and a teacher in Confirmation." Come then, beloved brethren and sisters, however much you may be advanced in years, if there be an adult in this assembly who has not yet been Confirmed-who has never yet taken upon himself his baptismal vows, and acknowledged the Lord Jesus in his own person, let no false and carnal sense of shame prevent you from availing yourselves of the approaching solemnity, and earnestly pray for the Spirit's blessing upon your intention, and the ordinance must be blessed to your souls.

In like manner the subject applies a solemn enquiry to those who have been confirmed in former years. Dear brethren, you then made a serious profession of Christ, in the face of his Church and ministers. You undertook on your own responsibility, though I trust, not in your own strength, "to renew the solemn promise and vow that was made in your name at your baptism." You were then old enough "to discern between good and evil”—old enough to die—to be judged to be condemned-or to be saved, and what was your vow ?-To renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh? Is any soul among you forsworn and

1 Bishop Taylor on Confirmation.

perjured? Have you "kept this faith, and maintained this holiness without which no man shall see the Lord ?" I charge you to examine and try yourselves in this matter-this is one of the points of value in a written and recorded ordinance, that you can turn back to it, from time to time, and review your covenant engagements with God. Brethren, judge yourselves, lest ye be judged of the Lord, and let us all earnestly repent of our short-comings and failures in obedience and slow improvement of privilege, otherwise our Confirmation will but have confirmed us in our wickedness, and the benediction of the Christian Patriarch will but have aggravated our condemnation.

We may have forgotten God, but God has the memory of a God, and he has not forgotten us! Let the Ephraim and the Manasseh both recall solemnly to mind what they have been doing, and how they have fared, since their Father-in-God dismissed them with the prayer, "The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads!"



"AND he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the Churches." ACTS, xv. 41.

I TRUST that we sufficiently proved from the Scriptures alleged in this morning's discourse, and many more to the same purpose might have been added, if the quality of evidence were not of more importance than the quantity,—that the rite of Confirmation is a Scriptural rite, and therefore entitled to our obedience and respect. Before we enter upon the evidence from Church history, some preliminary remarks may be usefully submitted.

It cannot be denied that very many individuals, members of the Church too-have miserably neglected, and thereby practically despised, this venerable and affecting ordinance of the Lord. It might be well to enquire whence has this impression arisen? and I think the answer may be founded on

schismatic spirit, which is the republicanism of religion, whose text is "no King in Israel, every man do that which is right in his own eyes:" and the carnal spirit, whose canon is"Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?" Of the former we can sincerely say, that we deeply regret the existence of such a spirit in otherwise well-ordered minds, whose real attachment to piety we desire to estimate aright, notwithstanding the violence of their objections to many things which we esteem sacred and imperative. We tell them in faithfulness, and bid them search the history of schism for its truth-that the sectarian spirit is congenial to insubordination, and while it professes subjection to divine authority in theory, contradicts itself in practice, by its rejection of ecclesiastical authority, which is the expression and representative of that which is divine. I believe this singular anomaly to be one of the subtleties of Satan, by which he beguiles unstable souls, and leads them to think more of their personal liberty, than of the liberty of the Church.

Whenever individual privilege is preferred to ecclesiastical prerogative, the soul of that man should be very anxious to ascertain and assure himself that he is not mistaking selfaggrandizement for self-sacrifice: for it will not be denied that it is possible to deceive ourselves into the idea that we are 66 standing fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free," when we are really "using our liberty for a cloak of maliciousness," and "for an occasion to the flesh." When I behold a man making light of the Sacraments, or accepting a counterfeit resemblance of them from non-commissioned hands, I cannot be surprised at his rejection and contempt of the

« AnteriorContinuar »