Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

periors have had. If therefore your behaviour be bad, your condemnation will be heavy; and if it be good, you may be to the full as happy, in this world and the next , as if you were of ever so high rank. For true bappiness comes only from doing cur duty, and none will ever come from transgressing it; but, whatever pleasure or profit sin may promise, they will soon turn into pain and loss. Remember, therefore, as long as you live, what you have been taught here. Remember particularly the answers to these two main questions; “ What is thy duty towards God;" and “ What “is thy duty towards thy neighbour ?" And be assured, that unless you practise both, when you go hence to services and apprenticeships, all the money and labour that hath been spent on you, will be spent in vain ; you will be a disgrace to the education and teaching that you have had: you will probably be very miserable here, and certainly so for ever hereafter. But, if you practise both, you will make an honest and grateful return for the kindness that you have received from your benefactors; which I hope you will never forget, but imitate, if God enables you to do it; you will be loved of your Maker and fellow-creatures; you will live in peace of mind; you will die with com. fort, and be received into everlasting bliss.

Think, then, I entreat and charge you, seriously and often of these things. And, to remind your. selves of them more effectually, be diligent in reading such good books as are given you at your leaving school, or otherwise put into your hands; be constant in coming to church, on the Lord's days; at least such of you, as go away before you are confirmed, take the first opportunity, after you are fourteen, to apply to your minister, where. ever you are, that

you may

be well instructed for that holy ordinance, and then admitted to it. Within a reasonable time after this, prepare your

selves, and desire him and your friends to assist in preparing you, to receive the Lord's Supper ; con. cerning which you have heard very lately, how expressly it is required of all Christians, (a name that comprehends young as well as old) for the means of improving them in every thing that is good. And may God give his grace to you and to us all, that by the help of those means, with which he hath so plenteously favoured us, we may each of us improve daily in the knowledge of his truth, and the love of our duty, “till at length

we come unto a perfect man, unto the measure 66 of the stature of the fullness of Christ." I

(9) Eph. iv. 13.

A SERMON

OX

CONFIRMATION.

6. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the

Holy Ghost."-ACTS viii. 17.

THE history, to which these words belong, is this. Philip the Deacon, ordained at the same time with St. Stephen, had converted and baptized the people of Samaria; which the Apostles at Jerusalem hearing, sent down to them Peter and John, two of their own body; who by prayer, accompanied with imposition of hands, obtained for them a greater degree, than they had yet received, of the sacred influence of the divine Spirit; which undoubtedly was done on their signifying in some manner, so as to be understood, their adherence to the engagement, into which they had entered at their baptism.

From this and the like instances of the practice of the Apostles, is derived, what Bishops, their successors, though every way beyond comparison inferior to them, have practised ever since, and which we now call Confirmation. Preaching was common to all ranks of ministers ; baptizing was performed usually by the lower rank; but, per. haps to maintain a due subordination, it was reserved to the highest, by prayer and laying on of hands, to communicate further measures of the Holy Ghost. It was indeed peculiar to the Apostles, that on their intercession, his extraordinary

and miraculous gifts were bestowed; which con. tinued in the Church no longer than the need of them did; nor can we suppose, that all were partakers of them. But unquestionably by their petitions they procured, for every sincere convert, a much more valuable, though less remarkable blessing, of universal and perpetual necessity, his ordinary and saving graces.

For these, therefore, after their example, trusting that God will have regard, not to our unworthiness, but to the purposes of mercy which he hath appointed us to serve, we intercede now, when persons take upon themselves the vow of their baptism. For this good end being now come amongst you, though I doubt not but your ministers have given you proper instructions on the occasion, yet I ain desirous of adding somewhat further, which may not only acquaint more fully those, who are especially concerned, with the nature of what they are about to do, but remind you all of the obligations which Christianity lays upon you. And I cannot perform it better, than by explaining to you the Office of Confirmation, to which you may turn in your Prayer Books, where it stands immediately after the Catechism.

There you will see, in the first place, a preface directed to be read, in which notice is given that “for the more edifying of such as shall receive “confirmation,” it shall be administered to none but those, “ who can answer to the questions of “the Catechism preceding;” that so " children

may come to years of some discretion, and learn “ what the promise made for them in baptism was, “ before they are called upon to ratify and con66 firm it before the Church with their own con“sent, and to engage that they will observe it."

Prayers may be offered up for infants with very good effect.

Promises may be made in their name by such as are authorized to act for them; especially when the things promised are for their interest, and will be their duty; which is the case of those in baptism. But no persons ought to make promises for themselves till they reasonably well understand the nature of them, and are capable of forming serious purposes. Therefore in the present case, being able to say the words of their Catechism is by no means enough, without a competent general knowledge of their meaning, and intention of behaving as it requires them ; which doubtless they are supposed to have at the same time. And if they have not, making a profession of it, is declaring with their mouths what they feel not in their hearts at the instant, and will much less reflect upon afterwards; it is hoping to please God by the empty outward performance of a religious rite, from which if they had beer withheld, till they were duly qualified, their souls might have been affected, and their conduct influenced by it, as long as they lived.

Therefore I hope and beg, that neither minis. ters, nor parents, will be too eager for bringing children very early to confirmation, but first teach them carefully to know their duty suffciently, and resolve upon the practice of it heartily; then introduce them to this ordinance; which they shall not fail to have opportunities of attending in their neighbourhood, from time to time, so long as God continues my life and strength.

But as there are some too young for confirmation, some also may be thought too old; especially if they have received the holy Sacrament without it. Now there are not indeed all the same reasons for the confirmation of such, as of others; bath the Church, I believe, determined any thing about the case, as it might be thought unlikely to happen. But still, since it doth happen too frequently, that persons were not able, or have neglected to apply for this purpose; so whenever

nor

« VorigeDoorgaan »