« AnteriorContinua »
who made, and preserves, and is to guide you, were imposed anew in the sacrament of baptism. These vows, reasonable and necessary to your perfection and happiness, you are now called on to ratify and confirm; you are solemnly called to do so, by God and by his church. Your heavenly Father offers to you his mercy, his favour, his grace. If you should reject these blessings, your life, disgraced and degraded by error, by sensuality, by sin, will produce only shame and remorse, until it terminate (such is the righteous decree of the Sovereign of the universe) in the worm that never dies, in the fire that never will be quenched.
But now your heavenly Father allures you to his service by the prospect of that glory laid up for you in heaven, which, when this world and all its joys have faded away, will increase in lustre and enjoyment through everlasting ages. If you disregard these powerful motives, by what considerations shall I urge you? Remember, a day will come, when, for every privilege which you have neglected, for every offer of mercy which you have contemned, for every mean of grace which you have failed to improve-yes, for the present offer of grace and mercy, if you refuse it-God will bring you into judgment. And surely it will be a fearful thing thus to fall into the hands of the living God.
Oh, then, resolve to live in the service and to the glory of God; go from this sacred temple resolved to devote yourselves to that God and Saviour who will be your guide even unto death, and your portion for ever and ever.
Fathers, mothers, all who have influence over
others, endeavour to excite and to cherish this pious resolve in those who are the objects of your solicitude and care; for remember, for them also you must render an account. Aid them and us, O merciful Father, by that Spirit which quickens unto life; and bring them and us from the ordinances and services of this earthly temple, to the vision and enjoyment of thy perfections and thy everlasting glory in thy temple above.
ROMANS XIV. 8.
Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.
THIS passage most forcibly represents the interesting relation of the Christian to his God and Saviour. He is the property of that Lord by whom he was created and redeemed; to this Lord his life is devoted in the faithful discharge of the duties of his Christian calling; and then dying, he is the Lord's; that Lord to whom he is devoted, will be in this conflict the support of his soul, and its portion through eternal ages.
In reference to the ordinance of confirmation which is this day to be administered, it was my object to exhibit, in some of the preparatory lectures delivered during the preceding week, that Christian life which baptism denotes, and to which confirmation renewedly pledges us. The view proposed of the Christian life, was in its commencement, its progress, and its termination.
The Christian life commences in baptism, when its obligations were imposed and its privileges conferred; and it renewedly commences in confirmation, when its engagements are publicly assumed by those who were baptized in infancy, when they come to the years of discretion. And at this commencement of the Christian life, the exercises
proper for those who publicly devote themselves to God, in the laying on of hands, are, an humble acknowledgment and confession of the weakness and corruption of their nature, and of their actual transgressions; trust in that mercy of God, through Jesus Christ, which is then to be assured to them; a serious conviction of the necessity of that spiritual change implied by " dying unto sin and rising unto righteousness," denoted by the sacrament of baptism, the obligations of which we then assume; and earnest supplications for the influences of that Divine Spirit by which, in union with our own endeavours, this change is to be effected.
The Christian life, in its progress, may be considered with respect to its character, the principle by which it is animated, the agency and means by which it is maintained, and the consolations and hopes with which it is supported and rewarded.
The character of the Christian life (to which baptism and the ordinance of confirmation devote us) is holy—holy, in the renunciation of all sin, in the exercise of all holy affections, and in the discharge of the duties of a holy life. The principle by which the Christian life is animated, is faith, that faith which so fully and so strongly realizes all the great truths of the Gospel, as to make them operative upon the heart and the life, in renewing and reforming them, and leading to the cultivation of all Christian virtues, and the faithful discharge of every moral duty. By the agency of the Holy Spirit, acting according to the constitution of the human mind, and not to be distinguished from its operations, blessing, to our conquest over sin and our advancement in holiness, the use of moral means, of prayer, of pious reading and meditation,
diligence and watchfulness, and holy resolutions, and dispensed especially in the sacraments, ordinances, and ministrations of the church,-is the Christian life maintained, and the principle of faith rendered effectual, in our conquest over the passions of corrupt nature, and over the temptations of the world, and in our daily progress in the holy graces and virtues of the Christian course. And the consolations and hopes which, in his progress through the arduous duties of the spiritual life, the Christian enjoys, are, the favour and protection of his divine Lord and Master; the assurance, under the sense of his sins, that he has an Advocate with the Father, through whom his sins are forgiven; and, under the temptations of the world, a firm confidence in the favour and grace of his almighty Guardian, and the enlivening prospect of the eternal and unspeakable glory which is prepared for him.
These were the views of the Christian life in its progress, which were presented and enforced with a particular reference to those who are preparing publicly to commence (in the laying on of hands, the appropriate ordinance for the purpose) this life, already sacramentally begun in baptism, and perhaps actually entered on in private devotion, in the worship of the sanctuary, or in the sacrament of the Lord's supper.
I propose, at the present time, to consider the Christian life in its termination, as calculated to confirm the pious determination of those who now propose publicly to enter on it, and to impress on all Christians its unspeakable importance.
The termination of the Christian life may be regarded in reference to the scenes of death, of judgment, and of eternity.