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is an invention to exalt episcopacy, since the Bishop only can ordain them;-but if it were so ordered to magnify the episcopal office, that office is justly so magnified, if, as we have before shewn, Confirmation was confided to them from the Apostles, and through them from the Holy Ghost. jecture of our opponents as to one of the uses of Confirmation, may not be far from correct-that "thus it should be done unto the man, whom (the Lord) delighteth to honour." If Confirmation were invented to exalt the episcopal office, it has been shewn, in our second discourse, to be a very old invention-as old as the venerable rite of preaching the gospel, and as universal as the existence of the Church. Nevertheless we contend on the other hand, that the observance of the rite may be reasonably demanded on behalf not of the Bishop only, but of the congregation of the Church. It must be remembered that Confirmation is preliminary to the Lord's table-it is an invitation, by the hands of Christ's chief minister, to the Lord's supper and surely the Church, as a congregation, have a right to be satisfied as to the confession of faith, and moral character of their future fellow communicants, and who so proper to act in the name, and as the representative of the Church, as her spiritual governour? In the mean time, any member of the Church has a right to prevent the administration of its ordinances to any individual, against whom, in a fair and legal process, he can substantiate a disqualifying charge. In Confirmation then, the witness of the Church is invoked by her Bishop, and they may "testify if they would," against the admission of any person, whom they can prove to be morally unworthy and still. impenitent. Upon the whole then, reviewing the various points which we have urged-the Scriptural origin of the ordinance
-the early yet responsible age of the candidates, when it is desirable they should be established in grace-the truly Scriptural character of the qualifications required for admission to the privilege the simplicity and unobjectionable form of its administration to be hereafter exhibited-the probability of its usefulness even to those who may have been carelessly prepared, and who themselves may previously have been less impressed with its solemnity-and lastly, the opportunity it affords to satisfy the congregation as to the character and sentiments of their future associates in Christ:-we think these grounds, and others that might have been urged, sufficient to demonstrate what we undertook to shew, the reasonableness of Confirmation, so that after a candid and impartial investigation of the circumstances connected with the origin, progress, and present observance of the rite, we believe in our consciences, that there is nothing reasonably objectionable in the ordinance, as it stands in the offices of the Church of England, and as we have thus obeyed the text, in our endeavour "to prove all things," we feel bound in this case, "to hold fast that which is good."
One parting reflection, and we conclude. We must not be charged, as such discourses as these commonly are, with preaching the Rubric, instead of preaching the Gospel. We only value the Rubric because we believe its red letter to be redolent of the Spirit, and dyed with the blood, of a crucified Mediator. We only welcome you to the simple forms of the Church, that they may lead you instrumentally to the power and reality of godliness-we urge you to the use of the means, because of the grace, of which they are the Ark, to contain and convey the covenant, to the believing partaker. You make
this, or any other means, a carnal ordinance, if you attribute more to them, than "according to the proportion of faith." If you are seeking Jesus, you may turn back with Mary, and find him with the doctors in the temple, but if you are seeking self, and "your own righteousness," and "a name to live when you are dead," you may find this also in the Church, but you will yourself have brought it there. "It is not in the bond,"-it is not the natural effect of the Christian ordinances-be sure of this-if you have not improved by the means of grace, you have abused them-and thus they have done you harm-if for no other reason- -because they have not done you good. There is no neutral effect in the preaching of the Gospel, whether by the word, or by its ordinancesin both "it is a savour of life unto life, or else a savour of death unto death." It is this impression which over and above the associations of the invisible presence of Divinitythe official sanction of the Episcopal blessing-the attendance of the brethren in the ministry-and the prayers, the praises, and testimony of the great congregation,-besides all this, it is the fact that the passing ordinance is actually aggravating the condemnation, if it be not increasing the grace of the recipients, which constitutes the practical solemnity of this, and every other religious observance!
Beloved brethren, are you in the habit of bearing this idea in mind, whenever you appear in the house of God,—that you must go home again, a savingly affected, or else a more hardened ? The tears of the Redeemer, if they fail to subduc, do but petrify the heart, and occupy the bosom with a stony thing, insensible and cold to every application of the means of grace.
Lord! are there any of us who, "after our hardened and impenitent hearts, are treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath," until the frail tenure, by which the fatal avalanche of judgment hangs, burst from its high places, and overwhelm us with its fearful visitation? Oh, Jesu Christ forbid ! "Take away the stony heart out of us, and give us a heart of flesh," soft and yielding to the motions of Thy spirit. May all our means of grace become the personal tests and "ancient landmarks" by which we may examine and judge our progress in the hope of glory; and thus bringing every ordinance to the proof of our experience,-may we be enabled, by the edification of our own souls, "to prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good."
DEFENCE OF THE ENGLISH RUBRIC.
"IN whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise."-EPHESIANS i. 13.
We have so far exhibited to you, in our preceding discourses, the Scriptural origin, ecclesiastical testimony, and practical reasonableness of the ordinance of Confirmation, the subject next in order for our discussion, is the defence of the English Ritual of the office.
We have prefixed to the discourse the text announced, because it seems to contain in it, a general statement of the condition by which to receive, and the grace which is thereupon received, in the ordinance of the Church of England. There is supposed, 1st, the faith of the receiver-" after that ye believed"-then the grace administered accordingly: "ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise."
I introduce the subject, with Bishop Jeremy Taylor's remarks upon the passage, in his Discourse of Confirmation,