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reason, and conscience, and religion bind them to the homage and obedience of their Maker, by which the most powerful dictates of gratitude and duty impel them to show forth the praise of the Saviour who hath redeemed them-you who behold them, unseduced by those blandishments of pleasure, and undismayed by those scoffs of scepticism, so alluring and so appalling to the susceptible heart of youth, assuming the badge of a crucified Saviour, and resolving, in his strength, to resist and to overcome all the temptations with which the world, the flesh, and the devil are armed against them-you who see them, rising in vigorous faith above the dearest joys that can attach them to the earth, and fixing their holy view on the heaven that is their home, resolving there to place their best thoughts and liveliest affections, there to have their treasure and their hearts-can you witness such a solemnity and not be edified? this exhibition of Christian faith, of virtuous resolution, of holy zeal, and not feel the excitement of some kindred emotions of pious fervour? Perhaps the obligations that bind you with them to the service of that Being who, in every view, from the infinite perfection of his character and the exalted relations which he sustains towards us, claims our supreme devotion, have not yet been thus publicly acknowledged and renewed in the rite which has the sanction of God and of the church. And shall no purpose be now formed to discharge this great duty to which you see others advancing with pious resolution, and putting your indifference and apathy to shame? Perhaps these Vows have been assumed, and have since been neglected or violated. Shall not the present solemnity recall them, in all the strength with which
they should have uniformly impressed you, and lead you to form the immediate and immoveable purpose to return unto the Lord, and to render to him that uniform, faithful, and holy obedience which reason, and conscience, and the most solemn obligations enforce? Perhaps the vows which in humble sincerity you assumed, have, as far as human infirmity admitted, through the aids of divine grace granted to your prayers, conveyed through the channel of the ordinances of the church, and furthering your pious resolutions and endeavours, been discharged, so that no duty to God or man, no personal virtue, is wilfully violated or neglected. May not even you, Christians, sincere and active as you are in the exercise of the Christian graces, and in the display of Christian obedience-may not even you, from the holy devotion of others to the cause in which you are engaged, draw some excitement to zeal, some confirmation of your virtuous purposes, some increase of the fidelity and ardour with which you pursue your holy course? Will not they who come to engage with you in the service of your Lord and Master, and in the pursuit of the things that belong to their eternal peace, have your blessing and your prayers?
For surely no scene is calculated to excite more INTERESTING emotions, than that which is exhibited when the ministers of the Most High, and the congregation of the faithful, are assembled to receive and to witness the vows by which the young disciples of Christ pledge themselves to the service of their Lord and Redeemer.
Interesting, whether we consider the persons
who come forward to this consecration of themselves to God, and the purpose for which they come; or the effect which the solemn act will produce upon their characters and destiny here and hereafter.
They come forward, principally young disciples of Christ, ingenuous, susceptible, the purpose of worldly ambition as yet perhaps scarcely formed, the desire for the pleasures which are opening upon their view in the world which is before them, not yet perhaps matured-they come forward, the members of Christ's body, nurtured in his foldthey for whose salvation the church solicitously offers her prayers, and for whom she invokes the benediction of her Lord-they to whom society looks with deep interest for the examples that are to adorn, for the virtues that are to strengthen and defend her hallowed institutions-they, your friends, for whose welfare you are solicitous; your kindred, whom you cherish with so much lively affection; your children, on whom you have bestowed so many cares, so many exertions-may I not say, so many prayers?-whose future welfare and happiness call forth so many warm and tender feelings, so many anxious and lively anticipations: dear in so many views, bound to us by so many ties, they come forward for the noblest and most holy purpose-to testify their devotion to their God, to him who made them, who redeems them, who sanctifies them, that they may be fitted for the enjoyment of his presence for ever-they thus come forward, that, fortified by the holy vows which they now make, and strengthened by the divine grace which they now receive, they may advance in their Christian course, resisting the temptations that
assail them, and finally obtain the end of their calling the salvation of their souls. How deeply interesting a solemnity which will have the most important influence on the temporal and eternal character and conditions of those who engage in it! There cannot surely be a heart that views the scene with apathy, in which it calls forth no emotion of solicitude or affection, and which is not prompted to offer the prayer for the benediction of heaven on those who, engaging in the service of their God and Saviour, in the course of Christian duty, aim at securing the inheritance of glory which is set before them.
The holy impressions of the scene through which they now pass, retaining power over their minds through all the future stages of their life, will, by God's blessing, make them virtuous and happy here, and lead them to the consummation of felicity hereafter. But if these sacred impressions prove like the morning cloud and the early dew, and pass away, with these will pass away the present honour, and purity, and peace, and the everlasting perfection and felicity of those who thus forget and violate the pledge of devotion to their God.
In this view, as conducing either to holiness and happiness, or to sin and misery, here and hereafter, how interesting the solemnity which you are now to witness! Realize it, brethren, that it may have your prayers. Realize it, you who are to engage in it, that it may excite all those serious emotions, those pious feelings, those elevated and holy views which its sacred importance demands. You are to testify your allegiance to the Lord; you are to covenant to serve him, to perform your vows to him.
Most solemn the consecration, most serious the engagement: but it is your duty, your indispensable duty; hesitate not to perform it-hesitate not, for it is your heavenly Father who calls you to his service, he who, knowing whereof you are made, and remembering that you are but dust, will regard you with the tenderest compassion, and ever extend to you his guidance, protection, and succour. Hesitate not, it is your Saviour who calls you to come to him-he who shed his blood for you, who still in heaven intercedes for you, and who will never withdraw from you, till you wilfully forsake him, his grace, his favour, and his love. Hesitate not; the glories of heaven, where all the virtuous principles of your nature will be purified and exalted, and all your virtuous joys consummated for ever, invite you. Hesitate not; the miseries of hell should alarm you: for if, deeming too great the sacrifices and the exertions which Christian duty demands, you neglect your Christian vows, and pursue those sinful joys of a world which you must soon leave, the miseries of that state to which you are doomed will have no change, no termination. Come forward, then-solemnly engage in the course of Christian duty to which you are pledged by baptism-renew your title to your Christian privileges -infinitely more exalted are they than any which the world can bestow, because they are satisfying and enduring. Come forward and secure the infinitely exalted privileges as members of Christ, children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven.