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572, to which may be added the sixth canon of the council of Auxerre in A. D. 578, which brings us up nearly to the seventh century.
I feel it to be unnecessary to dwell at any further length upon the ecclesiastical proof of the ordinance; I proceed perhaps to a more useful enquiry-having demonstrated to you from Scripture, and the Church-from the united testimony of individual Fathers, and of conclaves of Fathers in solemn council assembled, that the rite of Confirmation is co-eval and co-existent with Christianity,-I demand of its despisers and opponents, with what they have to gainsay it. It may not be unprofitable to notice some of the objections, which are commonly urged against the ordinance in question. I must confess, in honest truth, that I never met a single objection to this rite, which could sustain itself against a moment's examination.
"We care not," is one answer-"for the testimony of the Church, we hold by the Bible only." Here they would insinuate that the testimony of the Church is opposed to that of the Bible, or at least distinct from it, when they know, or ought to know, that it is only when the two are unanimous that we admit the evidence of the Church at all. And what right have they to expect us to reject the catholic voice of the Church on behalf of the Scriptures, and to accept that of individuals?
If I find certain indications of a religious practice in the New Testament, and turn to the testimony of the Church from Apostolic times, and find her invariably attaching a par
ticular sense, and founding a particular ordinance upon such passages, I have a right, nay it is my duty, to say that the original and universal practice of Christians, renders that passage clear and decisive, which without such practical commentary were perhaps obscure and equivocal. He who maintains the contrary, to be consistent with his principle, if he had lived in the days of Polycarp, the immediate disciple of St John, must have dissented from Polycarp, though that Apostolic Bishop had summoned him to Confirmation. In a word, he who disdains the witness of the Church, in the presumption of his own interpretation of the Scriptures, is guilty of ingratitude to the Church from whose safe keeping he received the Scriptures. He is a man with whom no amount of evidence, however voluminous, venerable, and conclusive,-weighs a mote in the scale against the prejudice in favour of his own system-and to substantiate and establish that system, the Church is exiled from her high places, and the Bible in her absence is laid upon the rack, to torture and to wrest from its Revelations, an ambiguous and feeble confession of his heresies.
It is hard to say whether of the twain have been more cruelly crucified in the world—the incarnate, or the written word: Jesu's body or his blessed book!
Another party, 2ndly, says, I can dispense with Confirmation because I can receive the grace of the Holy Spirit, by a better medium than the hands of a creature Bishop. They might say another medium, but surely not a better, if, as we have shewn, it is the medium which the Holy Ghost himself appointed, unless they can improve upon God, which not a
few of them practically seem to think. I know not whether this grace may be received by other means, even by those who despise the appointed ordinance-it may be so-though it is not so written-but it is written, and I do know, that the prayerful individual who comes in faith to the ordinance, will undoubtedly receive the grace of the Spirit. Consequently if there be two ways of receiving the same spiritual gift, one of which is doubtful, but the other sure, what wise man will hesitate which to choose. There are those who to save time and distance, will cross a country which is strange to them, and lose their way, and find it was all lost time and labour, till they turned back to "seek the old path, and heard a voice behind them saying, this is the way, walk ye in it," and ye shall find rest to your souls. Oh! that we could by the grace of God, persuade some dear brethren to night, who have hitherto perhaps been following the bent of their own inclinations, or wandering about in the search of new roads, and short cuts, and cross country trespasses, to get into the gospel of the kingdom, and the sight of heaven, to turn back to the ancient highway, and the beaten track, trod by the bleeding feet of Christ, and his afflicted Church from age to age; there offering themselves to the Lord, through his chief ambassador, if they shall profess the faith, renew their vows, and be confirmed in the fulness of their evangelical privileges, they shall "be henceforth no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, who is the head, even Christ."
some measure of the Holy Spirit, and have now walked for years according to the grace given unto me; why need I turn from the Master to the Minister, and seek that from the servant, which I have received from the Lord?" I can only answer, it is possible you may be mistaken, but it is not possible that Christ will fail of his promise. If Jesus has ordained this means of administering and receiving his Holy Spirit, let the same faith which leads you now to hope that you have received the Spirit by other means, bring you to expect his blessing on this means. Of the other means you may be mistaken, in this you may be sure, because it is his appointment. And further, you cannot receive too much grace, if you really have received some-and I am not here to discourage you; remember it is written "he giveth more grace;" come to the ordinance of his appointment and ask for more, for "to him that hath, shall be given more abundantly, and from him that hath not shall be taken away, even that which he hath." Come importunate in prayer, and bold in faith, and confident in love, and "out of his fulness shall ye all receive, and grace for grace."
Lastly. The largest party who neglect Confirmation, are those who, being indifferent to all the ordinances of religion, leave this to share the fate of the rest. It is of no moment that you convince such persons that it is an ordinance of Scripture, the Scriptures are no authority in their lives. It is of less importance that you accumulate proof upon proof from Ecclesiastical history: the Church is no witness of theirs. The sanction-the canonized antiquity-the reverend presence the privilege-the spirituality of the ordinance-the sweet chorus of associations that blend the music of their influ
ence with the solemn service,-waken no responsive chord of sympathy with their affections-poor creeping things, "deaf as the adder to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely," with them the love of Jesus is accounted lunacy; the means of grace a series of follies; and the most charitable report the world makes of the Church, is Hosea's Scripture"The prophet is a fool, and the spiritual man is mad." Brethren, are there any of you who hold opinion with any such as these? If you are living in neglect of ordinances, you are so far lending practical countenance to them. Your practice commends and illustrates their theory; and even they are the more consistent of the two. In whatever proportion you omit the ordinances of the Church, of which you profess yourselves members, in that proportion you virtually advocate irreligion and infidelity ;—and thus, to remain even unconfirmed, is granting a point to the adversary. Need I say more to urge you "to come out from among them, and be separate from sinners;" to become, in reality, what the Pharisee was in form, one of the separate and devoted people of the Lord, who are entitled, through his imputed righteousness and regenerating grace, to say, "Lord I thank thee, I am not as other men are!" Pray that you may be led to see this matter in the light which Heaven and the Church reflect upon it. Pray that the Chief Shepherd may direct His bishop how to execute his commission-"Feed my sheep, and feed my lambs!" Oh, that we could bring back them that are strayed, into the fold, "as the sheep of His hand" to lead them, and to be fed as "the people of His pasture." Is there one soul to return to Christ to-night? Brethren, time is short-health is precarious as the sunshine-life fleeting as the wind-reason