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-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 man ? The tears of the Redeemer, if they fail to subdue, 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,
the Ephesians, who well understood his meaning by remembering what was done to themselves by the Apostles but awhile before, who after they had baptized them, did lay their hands upon them, and so they were sealed, and so they received the Holy Spirit of promise; for here the very matter of fact is the clearest commentary on St. Paul's words—the spirit which was promised to all Christians they then received, when they were consigned, or had the ritual seal of confirmation by imposition of hands. One thing I shall remark here, and that is, that this and some other words of Scripture relating to the Sacraments or other rituals of religion, do principally mean the internal grace, and our consignation (or sealing) is by a secret power, and the work is within: but it does not therefore follow that the external rite is not also intended: for the rite is so wholly for the mystery, and the outward for the inward, and yet by the outward, God so usually and regularly gives the inward, that as no man is to rely upon the external ministry, as if the opus operatum (or mere act itself) would do the whole duty; so no man is to neglect the external, because the internal is the more principal. The mistake in this particular hath caused great contempt of the sacraments and rituals of the Church, and is the ground of the Socinian errors in these questions." This remark embodies the whole of our idea of ordinances, that they are to be observed not for their own sake, but for the sake of that grace which is conveyed by them, so that in "magnifying their office," we "glorify God in them," and thus their humble title is very appropriate which calls them " means of grace," not grace itself—the Ark of the covenant, was not the covenant which it signified-but the presence and the honouring of the Ark was made necessary to the enjoyment of the covenant-we