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comfort and of strength, endowing martyrs with courage in the midst of flames, and patience when convulsed on the rack; and enkindling in the souls of Christians, in every age, that holy love, and faith, and resignation, which enable them, in the severest tribulations, to rejoice in the Lord, and to joy in the God of their salvation: and this he effects by shedding abroad the love of God in our hearts; "by giving us the Spirit of adoption, bearing witness with our spirit, that we are the sons of God: and if sons, then heirs: heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" of eternal glory.
Contemplating these rich and exalted fruits of the operations of divine grace, great cause have we with joy and triumph to bless and praise the name of our God, who has bestowed on us the unspeakable gift of his grace, who has sent to us the Holy Ghost the Comforter.
The third Person of the Godhead, proceeding from the Father and the Son, with the Father and the Son, Christians worship and glorify, God the Holy Ghost. The High and Holy One dwelleth in light which no man can approach unto; withhold not then the homage which is due to his triune Majesty, because ye cannot find him out. Secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but the things which are revealed, to us and to our children. God the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, by whom the whole body of the church is governed and sanctified, let us bless and praise, that by his miraculous power the glad tidings of salvation were proclaimed to sinful and lost man, and have reached our ears-let us bless and praise, that the means of grace and the hope of glory are still perpetuated in that ministry which he com
missions, and whose ministrations he makes effectual to the salvation of men.
A portion of this ministry, instituted for this divine and exalted purpose, you who are now to be admitted to the order of deacons will receive. Your powers will not extend to the administration of the Lord's supper, nor to the authoritative declaration, on the terms of the Gospel, of the forgiveness of sins, nor to the pronouncing in God's name the solemn form of benediction: these are acts which either Scripture or the primitive and continued usage of the church assign to the office of a presbyter or priest, who is invested with all the powers of the ministry. Scripture and primitive and continued usage restrict the functions of the deacon to the administration of baptism, to reading in the congregation holy scriptures and homilies, to catechetical instruction, and to preaching, if licensed thereto by the bishop. It is evident, that in this limited sphere of power the deacons are properly assistants to the presbyters and bishops, and are supposed to be placed in this capacity in some congregation. But change of circumstances in modern times have necessarily led to the permission, under episcopal sanction, of deacons having charge of congregations, and to the disuse of the primitive duty of the deacon, the particular charge of the poor, sick, and impotent members of the congregation. The Acts of the Apostles record the institution of deacons by the laying on of the hands of the apostles, and of their performing all the functions which have now been enumerated. The Epistles to Timothy and Titus, who were set with episcopal authority over the churches of Ephesus and Crete, contain directions VOL. II.
as to the qualifications of deacons, recognising them as one of the orders of the ministry; and from the apostles' times they, and the two other orders of the ministry, have been perpetuated by God's providence to the present day; and possessed by our church, constitute her claim to apostolic authority, and to union with that catholic or universal church, of which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Redeemer and Head, which God the Holy Ghost sanctifies, and which will finally, in the day of her complete redemption, be presented to God the Father a glorious church, not having "spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing."
My young friend, you will be commissioned by the Holy Ghost for an humble but important agency in this glorious work. To invite lost and sinful men to come unto Christ, with whom is fulness of mercy, and be saved-to admit them into that body which he purchased with his blood, which he loves and sanctifies, that church where they will enjoy the means and pledges of pardon, and grace, and life-to train up the young to know, and to love, and to serve God the Father who made them, God the Son who redeemed them, and God the Holy Ghost who sanctifies them-to instruct, by sound reading and preaching, the more perfect men in Christ Jesus in the principles and duties of their Christian calling, and to excite them to adorn it by every good word and work-and to carry where you have opportunity, relief and consolation to the children of distress and affliction-these will be the exalted, and interesting, and responsible functions-entitling you to the respect, and confidence, and attention of all Christian people-to which you will now be commissioned by the Holy Spirit,
through that authority which, originally conferred by Christ on his apostles, has been perpetuated in their successors to the present, and will continue, agreeably to the promise of him who is Lord of all, to the end of the world. Contemplating the source of that ministerial commission which you will now receive, you must be impressed with an elevated sense of the dignity of your office; and looking to the account which you must render to the great Head of the church when he sits in final judgment, you must feel the immense and awful responsibility of the ministry you now assume. The sense of the dignity of their offices and of their responsibility, ever present to their minds, should excite all orders of ministers in Christ's church to constant prayer to him, who alone can strengthen us so to act up to the dignity of our functions in the faithful discharge of them, that at the last we may render our account with joy, and receive from our divine Master the glories of an eternal crown. Modest and humble, as especially becomes your inferior station, and constant in your ministrations, having a ready mind and will to observe all spiritual discipline, may you enjoy the testimony of a good conscience, and continue stable and strong in your Lord and Master Jesus Christ; and God grant that, passing through the higher ministry of his church faithful and accepted, you may finally receive that blessed sentence from your divine Master-"Well done, good and faithful servant: enter into the joy of your Lord."
My brethren, by the instrumentality of the ministry of the church, in the word which they preach, and in the ordinances which they celebrate, the Holy Ghost conveys those gifts and graces by
which we are enlightened, sanctified, quickened, comforted, and finally made conquerors over all the enemies of our salvation, and advanced to the glories of God's heavenly kingdom. Yes, Christians, united with the mystical body of Christ in baptism, ye were made the temples of the Holy Ghost. He only is the Author of your spiritual life; he only quickens your pious affections, animates your good works, and gives you victory. It is your business to work out your salvation; for you have the assurance that it is God who, by his Holy Spirit, worketh in you. But remember, you may quench his divine light, you may resist his kind persuasions, you may grieve and vex him by your sins, so that he will leave you (fatal dereliction!) to the fruit of your own way, and to be filled with your own devices. O listen to his gracious admonitions; cherish and obey his godly impulses. Seek now for a renewed supply of his gracious influences, in that holy sacrament, which is the mean and the pledge to the faithful of his lifegiving power.-Led by the Spirit of God, how exalted your condition! how holy your course! how splendid its termination! Though your passions be strong, they shall be vanquished; though your temptations be formidable, they shall be overcome; though your spiritual enemies be mighty, they shall flee before you; and finally, ascending the hill of the heavenly Zion, you shall enter its holy courts, and admitted into the presence of the Holy One, see and enjoy for ever the glories of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, the ineffable Trinity of Persons in one Godhead; to whom now then be ascribed all power, might, majesty, &c. &c.