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dings, which throw considerable light upon the phraseology of scripture, and upon the history and manners of the East; and as they
contain many noble sentiments and useful precepts, our Church in | imitation of the primitive Church of Christ, doth read them for ex
ample of life and instruction of manners. Our Church does not read i all the books of the Apocrypha; it reads no part of either book of
Esdras, or of the Maccabees, or of the book of Esther; nor does it l'ead the song of the Three Children, nor the prayer of Manasseh.
FOR THE CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE.
JOAN CALVIN'S SENTIMENTS OF CONFIRMATION. That the followers of Calvin have departed from his sentiments in regard to the solemn rite of Confirmation, is probably known to but few, either of those followers or others; and yet so it is, as the following extract will make manifest. Though he was inclined to detract from its significance and importance by denying it to be an Apostolic practice, yet his testimony, so far as it goes, is of great weight, and should be valued by those who retain and practice the rite. His sentiments on the subject are expressed in terms of the fullest commendation of it, as being of very high antiquity, and universally received in the Church of God, and what ought still to be retained. This will appear from the extract....Edit.
IT was an ancient custom for the children of Christians, when they came to years of discretion, to be set before the bishop, that they might take upon themselves that office which was required of those who came to baptism in adult years. These used to sit [in the Church) among the catechumens, until being duly instructed in the mysteries of the faith, they were able to make a proper confession thereof before the bishop and people. Those therefore who had been initiated by baptism in their infancy, inasmuch as they could
not then make a confession of their faith before the Church, were le again presented by their parents, at the end of childhood, or the beigining of youth; and were examined by the bishop according to an
established, and then universally received form of a catechism. And that this transaction, which ought on every account to be solemn and sacred, might have the more reverence and dignity, the ceremony of imposition of hands was added. Thus the child, his faith being approved, was dismissed with solemn benediction. The ancients make frequent mention of this custom. Pope Leo says, “if any one return from heritics let him not be re-baptized, but by the imposition of the bishop's hands let the virtue of the spirit be conferred, to supply what was wanting in him.” Here our adversaries will urge, that that must be called a sacrament in which the Holy Spirit is conferred. But this same Leo elsewhere explains what he means by those words, when he says, “ let not him who has been baptized by heretics be re-baptized; but by the invocation of the Holy Spirit, through the imposition of hands, let him be confirmed; because he
hath received only the form of baptism without its sanctification." And Jerome likewise, against the Luciferians, has the same sentiment. It cannot indeed be denied but that Jerome errs somewhat in calling it an apostolic observation ; yet he is far from advocating the follies of the Romanists [in this matter :] And he quallifies what he does say by adding, that “this benediction appertains to the bishops only, rather in honour of the priesthood, than from any express injunction of the divine will.” Such an imposition of hands then as consists in a simple benediction, I approve, and wish were restored among us in its primitive purity.
FOR THE CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE.
MR. EDITOR, The following communication will not, perhaps, be found unworthy of place in your Magazine. THE SCRUPLES OF A METHODIST SATISFIED,
NOT long since, a truly religious and intelligent lady was strongly urged, by a pious relation, to unite herself
with the fol lowers of Mr. John W-y. After much anxiety, she laid before a clergyman, in whom she had confidence, the following quesa tions, to which she requested his reply. The result was that, by the blessing of God on the clergyman's labours, the lady was freed from her doubts, and confirmed in herexclusive attachment to the Church.
Quest. Ist. What is it to be born again? Ans. The scriptures unequivocally and strongly inculcate the two following facts:
Ist. That in consequence of our first parents having revolted from, God, surrendering themselves to the direction of the devil, and break, ing that divine command which was to be the trial of their fidelity, all mankind inherit a fallen and corrupt nature, a nature prone to evil, and alienated from the love and service of God.
2nd. That in order for an individual to receive salvation through Christ, this original corrupt nature must undergo a radical change, and must be sanctified; that is, it must be rendered, by the operation. of the spirit of God, totally different from what it was; it must be rendered holy, abhorrent from sin, and warmly disposed to the love and service of God and Christ.
Now this change is described in the New Testament under various figurative expressions, calculated partly to denote the extreme, magnitude of it, and partly to indicate its kind and effect; thus it is termed to be born again; to be born of the Spirit ; to be a new creature; to put off the old man which is corrupt, and to be renew. ed in the spirit of our minds; to put on the new man which, after God's image, is created in righteousness and true holiness; to be transformed by the renewing of our minds ; to be saved by the renewing of the Holy Ghost," &c. all which expressions have, in substance, the same meaning, and may be
by that familiar comparison of our Lord"unless ye bc, converted and become as. little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven :"
and again whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall in no wise enter therein.” The regenerate, indeed, must resemble little children or babes, in simplicity, humility, and docility. Such was Nathaniel ; whom our Lord honoured with this high encomium-« Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile."
Q. 2nd. How can we be assured that this work is accomplished in
A. By referring to the proof pointed out in the New Testament; which will be explained in answering the next question.
Q. 3d. What foundation from scripture have we to believe that we may, in this life, be assured of our salvation, or that our sins are forgiven?
A. Every person who is born again, renewed in the spirit of his mind,” &c. is scripturally authorized to consider himself to be in a state of salvation. In which state he is also warranted to regard himself as continuing, so long as, by divine grace, he is enabled habitually to exhibit the genuine evidences of a regenerate state ; or, in other words, faithfully to perform the appointed conditions of salvation ; viz. “ repentance towards God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."
A person, wishing to satisfy himself whether he is born again,&c. or in other words, whether he is in a state of salvation, must apply for information to the scriptures; that is to say, he must enquire what are the marks which the scriptures give, as descriptive of persons who are in a state of salvation ; must there examine whether, at présent, these marks are fairly applicable to himself.
I do not conceive that there is a single text of scripture which, if rightly interpreted (I mean, interpreted conformably to the general scope of the passage in which it stands, and to other parts of scripa ture) directs us to refer for the decision of these points to internal impulses ; or to other similar sensations, by whatever names they may be called, which many pious people regard as special tokens that their sins are forgiven, and consequently that they are in a state of salvation. If there be no such direction in scripture, to rely on such impulses is unwarrantable, and therefore unsafe.
When we consider the extreme of credulity, to which (on subjects unconnected with religion) experience shews that the human imgination may be carried, how easily people of warm conceptions may persuade themselves that they feel what they wish to feel ; how liable to be produced, or to fluctuate, all internal feelings are, according to the state of the nerves and spirits, according to bodily health and constitution, according to the natural liveliness or slowness of the fancy, according to the strength and sobriety, or the weakness and hastiness of the judgment, we must regard; it (I think) as an instance of mercy and loving kindness in God, that He has not referred us, on the most important of all subjects, to iné ternal impressions; which must apparently be so dubious and uncertain, and which according to their presence or absence, might excite groundless confidence or groundless despair.
The scriptures give us a clearer and safer criterion: they refer ns to solid facts; to a plain rule which we cannot mistake, except through our own fault. In various passages they describe the fruits of the spirit, the dispositions of heart, and the consequent course of life which distinguish those persons who are in a state of salvation.Let a person examine his own heart and life impartially, as before God, and compare them with the characteristic descriptions given in the New Testament of the righteous; if they agree with those descriptions, he may humbly entertain a just confidence that he is in a state of salvation ; if they do not, he must conclude the contrary. “ He that doeth righteousness is righteous—they that are Christ's, have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts he that doeth my commandments, he it is that loveth me-ye are my friends if ye do what I command you every one that doeth righteousness is born of God—whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God-erery one that loveth (God and his neighbour] is born of God—this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments--he that keepeth Christ's commandments dwelleth in him—if any man love the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, the love of the Father is not in him--the fruit of the spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth—if a man love me, he will keep my words; he that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings if we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie; but if we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin---the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”
From these, and many other passages of scripture which might be produced, it is manifest that the standard, by which we are di. rected to learn whether we are in a state of salvation, is this : to examine impartially whether a fervent love, through faith, of God and our Redeemer, proving itself by the only true test, a life of habitual holiness, be the grand principle which fills our hearts and directs our lives. If that be so, we are born again ; we live not unto ourselves, the world, the flesh, and the devil, but we live unto God and Christ : we are in a state of salvation; and the grace of God will keep us therein, if we ourselves stedfastly labour, through his grace, to persevere in faith, piety and holiness, unto death. If any other than this be our ruling principle, or if we balance between this and any other principle, we are not in a state of salvation. For “no man can serve two masters" at the same time; “ye can not serve God and mammon: what concord hath Christ with Belial?”
Q. 4th. May we believe that a conviction of forgiveness of sins in this life is often, or ever so strong and so clear as not to be mistaken by the person operated upon ? or is it more frequently a gradual work, by which the whole soul is drawn to God?
A. It would be presumptuous to limit the operations of God; and therefore it would be too much to say that, in no case, God will at present operate on the heart of an individual an instantaneous con, viction of the forgiveness of his sins. But I know no reason for expecting such an event. In the days of the Apostles indeed, when
refraculous evidence was necessary for the introduction of Christianity, miraculous convictions were cosistent with the general plan which God thought fit to pursue, in order to evince the truth of the new religion. When oiher miracles ceased, as being no longer necessary, there appears no reason in the nature of the thing itself, nor any foundation in scripture for expecting miraculous convictions to be continued. God has provided an intelligible, a certain criterion, by which a person may know whether his sins are forgiven (that is, whether he is in a state of salvation) or not; the scriptures speak of no other criterion. For both these reasons it is highly improbable that any other criterion (such as a sudden impression, &c.) will be granted, or can safely be trusted.
The way in which the soul is drawn to God, is generally, if not universally, gradual ; according to the gradual influence of those external means of drawing it, which God in addition to the secret operations of his grace, has appointed ; such as public and private prayer, religious instruction, reading the scriptures, and other circumstances instrumental to Christian edification.
Q. 5th. Can we not be in a state of salvation, without the conviction that our sins are forgiven?
A. If by the conviction that our sins are forgiven, be meant a conviction by an internal impulse, this question has been answered by the preceding observations; that we may be in that state without such conviction. A satisfactory judgment may be formed, whether we are in a state of salvation or not, by trying our hearts and lives by the scriptural standard, as already stated.
Q. 6th. Has true faith in Christ these two fruits inseparably at. tending it, dominion over sin, and constant peace resulting from a sense of forgiveness?
A. By dominion over sin, and similar phrases in the New Testament, I do not conceive to be signified a state of sinless perfection : for such a state the scriptures unequivocally pronounce to be unattainable upon earth. I understand them to imply a state in which the predominant, the ruling principle of the heart and life, is, faith producing habitual holiness: so that sin, though not exterminated, is kept in subjection; it seldom gains an advantage except by surprize, and when it is perceived to have gained an advantage, is followed by true repentance.
A dominion over sin, in this sense, is a necessary fruit of true faith in Christ ; and is the proof by which the individual is to judge of his spiritual state.
Peace and joy are repeatedly mentioned in the scriptures, as fruits of the spirit, and as attendants on righteousness; and they will generally pervade the mind where there is a reasonable confidence of being in a state of salvation. But it will sometimes happen in the case of persons of weak spirits and tender consciences, that even when the heart is unequivocally and unreservedly devoted to Christ, anxiety will occasion distressing doubts and fears on the subject of salva-' tion. And such doubts and fears are perhaps permitted and employed by wise Providence, for the very purpose of trying the dependence, the faith, the perseverance of the individual.