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other and auxiliary ordinances of the Church of Christ.Hence the absence of the episcopal rite of Confirmation among the sectaries, who have followed in this particular, the example set them, not by the Lord Jesus and his Apostles-nor by the primitive Fathers of the Church-nor by the practice of the Catholic communion in all ages, but by the antique heresies of the Novatians and the Donatists, and of later times by the school of the Jesuits, and the modern Cathari, the Puritans and Presbyterians.
Bishop Jeremy Taylor observes :- "At first all that were baptized were also confirmed: and ever since, all good people that have understood it, have been very zealous for it: and time was in England, even since the first beginnings of the Reformation, when Confirmation had been less carefully ministered for about six years, when the people had their first opportunities of it restored, they ran to it in so great numbers, that Churches and church-yards would not hold them insomuch that I have read that the Bishop of Chester was forced to impose hands on the people in the fields, and even SO oppressed with multitudes, that he had been almost trod to death by the people, and had died with the throng, if he had not been rescued by the civil power." I am thankful to be able to say that the popular favour on behalf of this ordinance of grace and discipline of the Church, has, during the last few years, wonderfully revived. Contemporary with the revival of evangelical piety in the Church, has been the revival of respect to her ordinances. The Gospel and the Rubric are triumphing together: so that, instead of the forced and unhealthy fruits of fanatic extravagance, the Churches "speak the words
During the last year, the Bishop of London alone has confirmed, in town and country, nearly 21,000 persons. May the Great Head of the Church send down his Holy Spirit upon them, to incline and enable them to perform their vows!
Again: there is another and a larger party who neglect the right of Confirmation—a party made up of nominal and carnal Churchmen, and of avowed and open unbelievers. The nominal Churchman despises the official blessing of his Bishop, on the same principle that he neglects the Sacraments and the other institutions of the Church, because religion is not with him a vital sensible thing; he has no personal interest in the Church; he holds its union with the state as a just and expedient fact of policy, but the evangelical principle of that union he neither discerns nor estimates as worthy of a thought. merely baptizes his children, because of the civil use of the sacrament to register their names; but as to any thing further, a Heathen who never heard of the means of grace has as clear an apprehension of their uses as your nominal Churchmen. Yet these are the men by whose conduct the character of the Church is judged, when, in sober truth, they might as fairly judge of the college of the Apostles by the conduct of a Judas, or a Simon Magus. On the contrary, as shadows demonstrate the existence of a substance; as the counterfeit is proof of a fore-gone reality, so formality in religion is an attestation of its internal power: "hypocrisy is the unconscious homage which vice pays to virtue;" if there was no reality in religion, there would be no dissimulation, or nominal profession of a thing which had no being.
If the Church were an imaginary communion, without vital power, and energy of grace, and privilege of sacraments, and fellowship of ordinances, no man would take her name at all, much less take her name in vain. The abuse of a system, if it is a manifest abuse, only proves the contrary excellence of its use, and thus, if there are many, perhaps the majority of confirmed persons who violate their vows of Confirmation, it is a painful issue, but only discovers how many means of grace they otherwise might have improved to their edification. If there are a multitude of professing Churchmen who never obey the Church, is the mother to blame for the miscarriage of her children? If they spiritually starve while the bread is all but put into their mouths, it is a wilful suicide, that makes them guilty of the blood of their own souls!
The other class is that of the avowed unbeliever; and it requires but a few words to dispatch the argument of his objections to the ordinances. He is "the fool" of the Psalmist,
"who says in his heart, there is no God;"-and therefore no Church, and therefore no ministry, and therefore no ordinances. He doubts, and thus is damned; for "he that believeth not is condemned already." He never enters the Church, and he never looks to enter heaven. He would not enter the Church-yard if he could help it, but Death is a stern preacher, and "sends out unto the highways and hedges, and compels them to come in." The Church may be few and desolate, but the grave-yard will have its congregation; and let the infidel despise the prayers and faith and ordinances of the Church as he will,-the funeral office will reach him at last, and the grim Patriarch who slew our fathers and the Pro
phets, when he lays his cold hands on the unbeliever's head, shall confirm him in his disastrous unbelief for ever!
But, beloved brethren, "ye have not so learned Christ." I have merely noticed the parties who object to the edifying solemnity, in which you are invited and welcomed to partake, lest you should be led aside by their ill conclusions, to incur their condemnation.
In the text we learn that Paul accompanied by Silas "went through Syria and Cilicia confirming the brethren;" and who would not wish to see his Bishop treading in the itinerant footsteps of the Apostles, and carrying their gracious functions round their sees? None but the Episcopal Churches have any ordinance resembling the Apostolic visitations-and if they had, the fellow Presbyter has no authority above his order, to strengthen and confirm the brotherhood. Wherever he came, he would come as an equal, nay, so far as concerns local jurisdiction, in every other parish but his own, he would be the inferior of the Minister. I do not intend to assert that St. Paul went among the Churches, to administer no other ordinance but that of confirmation. As we explained the Apostolic rite this morning-he preached-exhortedwrought miracles-sanctioned the ministry of preceding Apostles and Elders, and among the rest of his Apostolic duties and prerogatives, confirmed the brethren by communicating to them the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is precisely what is now done, in a greater or less degree, according to the proportion of faith in them who receive the same holy ordinance, and our object to night is to ask you, brethren, "have you received the Holy Ghost since ye believed," and
to urge those among you, both young and old, who have never yet availed yourselves of this means of receiving the grace of the Spirit, for which Confirmation is ordained, to embrace the opportunity which will be afforded you, in the approaching visit of your Bishop to this part of his Diocese.
I open this evening's enquiry with the prayer, that the Lord Jesus, the heavenly preacher, may vouchsafe to impart his Spirit to his poor ambassador, that he may truly represent his Sovereign Master's will, and faithfully serve the high spiritual interests committed to his charge!
I have to shew you, in this discourse, that the practice of Episcopal Confirmation is agreeable with the sense and testimony of the primitive and Catholic Church.
1st. I shall attempt to prove that this ordinance was always performed by the chief rulers of the Church. I exhibited to you this morning, from the New Testament, that the rite was then performed only by the Apostles. I proceed to shew you now, that it has ever since been the exclusive function of their successors, the Bishops of the Church. Thus St. Cyprian in his Ep. 73, to Jubaianus, says, alluding to the Apostles confirming those whom Philip the Deacon had baptized in Samaria-"The same custom was now observed in the Church, that those who were baptized, were presented to the governors of the Church, that by their prayer and imposition of hands, they might receive the Holy Ghost, and be consummated with the seal of the Lord." The council of Eliberis not long after made two canons, in one of which it was decreed-" that if a layman baptized a catechumen,