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I have been induced to publish these Lectures at the solicitation of some friends, both clerical and laic, to whose judgment I have deferred, contrary to my own inclination, first, because I would rather have declined publishing, as there is nothing peculiar or novel in the sentiments I have endeavoured to enforce,-secondly, because the task had better been devolved upon abler hands,-thirdly, because too much printing is an epidemic of the day, and "of making many books there is no end,”—and lastly, because I cannot, at this time, command sufficient leisure to give the MSS. that correction, and completeness, which would justify my calling public attention to the subject. Nevertheless, as I felt the want of some such a popular treatise on Confirmation, while preparing the proof, defence, and commendation of the ordinance, for my own people, I must commit my little book to the press, as its contents were delivered from the pulpit-in the hope that, in the absence of any similar course of plain parochial lectures on the subject, they may perhaps be made useful to some parties who have not given that attention to the office, which its grave solemnities demand.
I was moved to enter more at large upon the vindication of the ordinance, than I originally intended, in consequence of a tract, which was put into my hands, abounding with the grossest misrepresentations of the subject-issued from a society which professes to circulate religious knowledge!—extracts from which publi
cation are cited and refuted in the following pages. would not speak even of such things with asperity, but if dissent has no better means of advocacy than productions of the kind referred to, its surviving friends will soon be in mourning. "Non tali auxilio" is the truth. defended, or godliness promoted. It is such peevish and disingenuous attempts at disparaging the Church, which make it so difficult and repulsive to the Clergy to co-operate with the Denominations, even on those few common grounds of association which may be accounted neutral. Such as, for instance, the platform of a Bible Society Meeting, where we can meet without compromise, and where some of us would still desire to do so, if for no higher reason than for this, to encourage the sectaries to circulate the Scriptures, as they have not-as we have ourselves—any Bible Society of their own! As an old and attached friend to the British and Foreign Bible Society, I have sometimes had occasion to remind our dissenting brethren, when they have been disposed to censure the absence, from its anniversaries, of Clergymen, who prefer doing the same work, as far as they can, through the medium of Church societies,that we have had a Bible Society, near a century-and-ahalf, engaged in the circulation of Scripture, and if some of us prefer the elder and more canonical institution, we must not be accused of abstract indifference to the Bible it is far from a criminal prejudice, that leans to that which is original, ancient, and tried. "No man
having tasted old wine, straightway desireth new, for he saith, the old is better."
I feel painfully convinced that the continuance of such attacks upon the Church, similar to those which are systematically pursued by the Pamphlet Society above referred to, must eventually exclude the Clergy from any kind of co-operation with the sectaries, nor all the charges of "bigotry" (which is usually a various reading for consistency), will restore the pleasant harmony which otherwise might have prevailed. It is one among the many symptoms of the approaching decay and second childhood of sectarianism-the means which are now commonly adopted for its advancement. I shall dwell upon them no further here; but I must observe, in reference to them, that the Church of England has been thanklessly repaid for the mild and tolerant spirit which has ever distinguished her. The case between her and her separatists may well present a moral to the future rulers of Churches!
When SYLLA, the Dictator, resigned his power into the hands of the Roman people, a young man followed him to his own door, heaping upon him every reproach and insult. His reply was memorable :-"This usage may perhaps deter another to resign his power to follow my example, if ever he becomes absolute!" Such has been the fate of the Church of England. The sectaries never had the opportunity of treating her with intole
rance, but they embraced it with avidity. In the days of "the Protector," they plundered and exiled her from her own pulpit! And, in the days of "the Agitator," they abuse, and oppose, and would destroy her. Thus they have themselves furnished the best practical argument against an unqualified toleration, which the history of the Church affords. In a word, the Ecclesiastical polity of this kingdom, has suffered the ordinary fate of a too indulgent mother, who is seldom convinced of her error till it is too late to repair it, and she has nothing left but to endure the contempt and ingratitude of her children, at length grown up to be independent of her. Let it, however, be equally remembered, that the weakness of the parent is no excuse for the unfilial conduct of the child! It may be, that the penalty of the fifth commandment may be about to fall upon the sectaries, whose dissolution may be involved in their violation of its Spirit-"honour thy father and mother, that thy days may be long in the land!" I regret deeply and sincerely, to be compelled to use such language. I wish that our brethren of the various denominations would let us live in peace, if we must live apart, for I love peace, and would love them, if they would let me, but when I read such things as I now-a-days cannot help reading, I shall speak my mind upon them, let who will be offended.
Having some hope, my dear Sir, that the following
members of our Church, I have the less hesitation in borrowing the sanction of a respected name, to give them an influence which they could not otherwise possess. I select your name, because it will enable me, at the same time, to express the deep respect and admiration which, in common with the great body of our brethren in the neighbourhood, I have long entertained for your personal and ministerial character.
The custom of dedicating the humble results of our studies to distinguished individuals, has become, I believe, nearly obsolete, but there are occasions which may justify its revival, and I think the present is one of them. It serves me, in some measure, to discharge my mind of one of its most grateful obligations, in connection with the relation in which you stand to many of us in this vicinity.
The uniform kindness, and urbanity, with which as the President of the Clerical Society, usually assembling at the Lloyd House, you have received the brethren, and the advantage which we derive from a familiar intercourse with that exemplary piety and erudition which by common consent adorns our President's character, has been frequently and cordially acknowledged among us. We feel that you have been made a distinguished instrument in the hands of God, of creating a very considerable impression in favour of Evangelical truth, not only in the immediate sphere of your perso