« AnteriorContinuar »
more solicitous for their conviction, than for our own triumph. Not that we have much hope of such an issue-the man who has learned to disparage the voice of the Church, is not far from dissenting from the word of God. That the rite of confirmation has been abused and still is so abused in the Romish communion, to purposes of superstition and heresy, is no more reason for its total abolition, than that the figment of works of supererogation, should justify our rejection of the simple doctrine of the atonement.
Thus I set out the discussion of the reasonableness of Confirmation, by the best thing to be said in its favour"bringing out the good wine first to the feast"—that it is Scriptural, and therefore reasonable, for all things which God. appoints" are holy, just, and good," and whether we can discern the wisdom, or experience the benefit of His appointments or not, they are not a whit the less reasonable, excellent, and imperative. But the sanction of its original is not the only point to be urged on behalf of Confirmation-the ordinances of Christ will bear examination, and the more they are scrutinized, the more will their wisdom manifest itself, as the honeycomb yields more of its sweetness, the more it is bruised and pressed. The very grounds of objection to the rite in question, suggest so many premises of just construction in its favour. Is its Divine authenticity denied? We draw aside the veil of the Temple, and disclose to view the Fathers of every age of the Church, who "being dead yet speak," pointing out the phalanx of passages of Scripture, arrayed on the side of its observance.
2ndly. Is the ordinary age of the candidates objected to? We answer it is reasonable that piety should begin as early as
responsibility, and it had been the duty of the Church to provide, if God had not forestalled her in providing, some opportunity betimes for the young to enter upon that covenant of Christ, "whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father and His holy Angels." In the face of the congregation, and with the witness of the Prelate and Father of God's family-in this rite more decidedly and specifically than in any other, may the Lord Jesus be confessed; and upon the charitable hope, and prayer, that they who present themselves in faith, are received of, and do themselves receive the Holy Ghost, while we acknowledge and teach that "the preparation of the heart and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord," we deem it a reasonable means of grace, this solemn ordinance, in which, seeing whose ordinance it is, we do not doubt that if "the heart believeth unto righteousness, confession is made unto salvation." In baptism, the presented child made the same profession by its sureties, it is reasonable a succeeding ordinance should enable him with a like solemn publicity, to take it upon himself. If infant baptism be a reasonable office, at which age it was just and charitable to admit the babes in Christ to live in the Holy family, much more reasonable is the confirmation of the covenant on the part of the adult, to welcome him into actual possession of the family privileges!
Some such congregational occasion there must be, for the adult disciple to undertake personally, that which he before undertook by proxy, and why not observe that occasion which the Apostles founded, and the Church has still approved? Surely it is more reasonable to observe the original ordinance,
than to invent a new one? It has been remarked, and it is a fact which speaks for itself,-"that there is scarcely a single denomination of Christians, in which Confirmation, mutato nomine (under a different name), is not recognized," so that the only real difference between the Church and the Sectaries, is this, -we follow an ordinance found in the Church of all ages, they follow a device lately invented by themselves. Some of their greatest names, at the same time, are on our side, as Baxter, cited in our first discourse, and Dr. Owen, who admits in fact all that we contend for,-that "this layingon of hands, commonly, if not constantly, in those days, accompanied or immediately followed baptism :" (i. e.) if the Apostle, or in after times, if the Bishop were present at the baptism, he ordinarily administered the right of Confirmation. also, which he had authority to do, either to infant or adult, by virtue of his office. Surely if it were reasonable to confirm infants, as this writer admits was the fact, it is more reasonable to confirm adults. If the Apostle was reasonable in confirming either party, his successor, by the same authority, now that the Churches are multiplied, and her numbers increased, insomuch that it would be impossible for the Bishop to administer Baptism to all-is justified in appointing a maturer period of life, for the administration of Confirmation, that, at all events, the members of the Church, of which he is the ruling elder, should not be admitted into their full amount of privileges without his sanction and approval.
I presume it will not be denied, even if Scripture were silent upon the subject, that the Church, as a society, has a
without Scriptural warrant, have each laid down their conditions of fellowship, accompanied by what forms they please.Would they deny that liberty to us, which they arrogate to themselves?
3rdly. The qualifications of the Candidates form another ground of objection. In a recent pamphlet against Confirmation, abounding with misquotations of our liturgy, and misrepresentations of our articles, and the reply to which, might be safely confided to one of our ordinary Sunday scholars, I read the following remark upon the Rubric for Confirmation, at the end of the Catechism.-"So soon as children are come to a competent age, and can say, in their mother tongue, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, and also can answer to the other questions of the Catechism, they shall be brought to the Bishop." Now one would wonder where was the legitimate ground of objection to such a rubric. Yet this is the irreverent comment, and false inference, made from its words. "Here our readers will observe that there is not one word said respecting their knowledge of the Holy Scriptures,' (as if the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments were not Scriptures as if the Creed and the Catechism were not founded upon Scripture), "nor can we perceive, throughout the whole of the Catechism, and the Confirmation service, that it is presumed or expected that these young persons even possess the Bible, much less any acquaintance with its contentsexcept those parts which 'the Church' has been pleased to select for them, and to insert in the Catechism, which are very few and meagre." We were not aware that any part of the Bible contained meagre Scripture; but schismatic commenta
ries are singularly original. The fair inference is, that the sectaries expect their members to repeat the whole Bible, before they admit them to Communion: but we are presently informed, that their test is the "WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY'S CATECHISM!" Yet, because we prefer to this impracticable production, the immortal Catechism of the martyred Cranmer, whose views of evangelical doctrine, and love of Scripture, were probably as deep and fervent as theirs -who "have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin,"—it is gravely added, "this is one of the worst features of the Church of England, and one that strikingly shews her resemblance to her parent, the Church of Rome; viz., not imparting the Scriptures to the private members of her community, at least the younger part of them." I repeat this charge-our Church witholding the Scriptures from the private members.-Dwell upon this libel a moment!
Brethren, have you ever heard a grosser misrepresentation of the liturgy and practice of the Church of England? If there be one feature in the face of the Anglican Church more beautiful and distinguished than another, it is the care with which, line upon line and precept upon precept she impregnates her whole liturgical system, with the word of God. Not circulate the Bible! The Church of England first rescued the Bible from its Italian bondage, and bade the world let the "word of God have free course and be glorified." She first reduced the oracles of truth into the language of the British Islands, and taught Britannia to read in her own tongue, the wonderful works of God. All the translations of Scripture that have reached the people were the work of our English