Imatges de pÓgina

has exerted in you its renewing and sanctifying power, you are guilty of resisting it. Unless your baptismal privileges have been secured by the axercise of true repentance and a living faith, they will profit you nothing. Baptismal grace and baptismal privileges, indeed, will increase your condemnation, if they have been resisted and contemned.


Peculiarly urgent, then, upon you is the obligation to become, not only in profession, not only sacramentally, not only in conditional title, but in heart and in life, new creatures in Christ Jesus. For if you continue under the dominion of corrupt nature, the slaves of your sinful lusts and passions, in addition to the guilt of resisting and contemning those offers of salvation made to all men, and that divine grace which strives in the hearts of all men, will be incurred by you the aggravated guilt of resisting that salvation, and contemning that grace which the Redeemer purchased for his church, his mystical body, and which were offered and conveyed to you under the seal of God himself. There may be mercy for Sodom and Gomorrah, but not for you. "Marvel not that I said unto you, Ye must be born again."





For thither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord, to testify unto Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord. Prayer Book Translation.

SOLEMN, edifying, and interesting were those holy rites in which all the tribes of Israel, in compliance with the "testimonies," the injunctions of the law, assembled, at stated seasons, in the holy city, and before the ark of the testimony, (so called, as containing the tables of the testimony, or law,) testified to the assembled nation their allegiance to the Lord of hosts, and commemorated his mercies.

The Christian church has a rite, in which the young members of her fold, at stated periods, assemble in those sacred courts where God dwells, in the ministration of the word and ordinances, to renew the engagements by which, in baptism, they were devoted to the service of the Lord their God, and to receive a renewed title to the blessings of his salvation.

This act of consecration to God in the ordinance of confirmation, which we are at this time to witness, is


[ocr errors]

'The act of devotion to God in the ordinance of confirmation is SOLEMN

As it regards the act itself-the almighty Being in reference to whom it is performed-the rite in which it is celebrated-and the place in which this rite is administered.

It is solemn, as it regards the act itself.

The act would be solemn, that, pledging to important temporal duties, and to the pursuit of valuable worldly objects, would require eager attention, unwearied assiduity, and untiring perseverance. Where the objects are important, and the powers and labours great which are to be exerted in the acquisition of them, a degree of solemnity surrounds the act, by which individuals separate themselves from all inferior views, and devote all their faculties and their efforts to those momentous objects of worldly ambition. The scene in which a number of virtuous individuals should pledge themselves to labours, to privations, to sufferings, to the most arduous duties, in order to advance, to defend, and to secure some temporal objects deeply involving their prosperity and happiness, could not be witnessed but with feelings of awe.

What is the scene this day exhibited? A band of Christians come forward to perform their vows, to testify their allegiance to the Lord, the God who made, preserves, and redeems them-to resolve to renounce and to shun, more than the greatest temporal evil, whatever that holy Being to whom they devote themselves has forbidden, and to pursue, more than the dearest object of their present worldly attachment, whatever he has commanded-to promise to consult, with a fidelity more devoted than that which the nearest earthly

friend could call forth, his interests and honourto employ in his cause, in the ways of his laws, and in the works of his commandments, all their faculties, their souls, their bodies, their spiritsand to count not even their lives dear unto themselves, so that they may finish their course with joy, and obtain that inheritance of glory which, amidst the strongest enticements of the earth, they resolve to make the object of their highest and holiest ambition. What solemn feelings are excited by a devotion thus arduous, thus self-denying, thus holy and supreme!

[ocr errors]

But the character of the Being to whom this devotion is made, renders the scene still more impressive.

He is that living and true God, the infinite perfections of whose nature demand for him this high homage. The exalted goodness which he has displayed in the creation, preservation, and redemption of those who, in this holy act of obedience, acknowledge their supreme obligations to him, encourages this devotion which is his due. But these are considerations which render the act most solemn; for the Being to whom it is made possesses a justice which never spares the guilty, a holiness which cannot look on sin, an omniscience from which the shades of darkness can be no covert, and an omnipotence which shakes the foundations of the earth. To take the name of this just, this holy, this omniscient, this almighty Being into our lips, and to say, 'Lord, we are thine; to thee we vow allegiance; thee only we acknowledge; thee only we will serve; our vows to thee we will perform,' is indeed the highest, the most acceptable act of duty, but it is the most awful that the

human thought can conceive, or the human purpose


Nor is the solemnity diminished by the nature of the rite in which this high act of duty is performed. It is ranked by an inspired apostle, under the denomination of the laying on of hands, among the principles of the doctrine of Christ. It thus bears that divine authority which elevates it above any rite, however important, of mere human origin. It comes down to us with the imposing sanction of all preceding ages; which no modern institution, however interesting, can claim. It is a rite in which saints and holy men offered vows to their God and Saviour-a rite in which our fathers testified their allegiance to the Lord, and in which we bring our children to assume the ties that bind us to our common Father, and Saviour, and God, and make us the common heirs of immortality.

Nor again does it lessen the solemn feelings which this holy act of devotion to the Lord, made in a rite of divine institution, is calculated to excite, that the assembled congregation witness it in the sanctuary-the place where the High and Holy One hath inscribed his name, where he hath set his ministering servants to receive the offerings of homage to him, and to dispense the treasures of his mercy and grace-in the temple which he more especially fills with his presence-where, at this moment, his holy eye beholds the transactions and the worshippers in this assembly, and where the vows are to be made that will be recorded in the books that will be opened at the great day. The nature of the act of devotion, the character of the Being to whom it is offered, the rite in which it is made, and the place where that rite is celebrated,

« AnteriorContinua »