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season of adversity, in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment.
This devotion does not entirely forbid the pursuit and enjoyment of the things of the world; but its holy requisitions are incompatible with a supreme devotion to temporal objects, with a regard to the attainment and enjoyment of them, as constituting the chief end of life; these, while they are pursued in reference to the discharge of the relative and social duties, and to purposes of innocent gratification, should always be held in subordination to those objects which should supremely occupy our thoughts, desires, and exertions-the service of God, the enjoyment of his favour, and the salvation of our souls. The devotion of ourselves to God, which we make in the ordinance of confirmation, pledges us to resist all those allurements and temptations with which the great enemy of our souls, the evil world, and our sinful nature assail us, and by which they would seduce us from that love and obedience of God which is our highest duty, and in which alone we shall find unalloyed and full felicity. Yes,
This devotion of ourselves to the service of God, serious as it must appear, serious and difficult as it undoubtedly is, is still our duty, our highest duty. In this oblation of ourselves to him, and in this habitual obedience to his laws, consist the perfection and dignity of our nature, our true peace and enjoyment in this transitory world, and, what is of infinitely more importance, our felicity in that world, on which, distant as it may now appear, we must soon enter, which is to be subject to no change, which is to endure for ever. In the ordinance of confirmation, to which those who have
not received it are now called, this devotion of themselves to God is made, which is urged by so many imperious considerations, which is so pecessary, in every view, to their present and immortal peace. Now you are called (I address those who have not received this holy ordinance) to make a solemn decision, a decision on which depend, not the momentary interests of the present life, but those of a life that will never terminate-you are now called on to decide, Whom will you serve? To whom will you devote yourselves? Who shall engage the homage of your hearts and the service of your lives?" If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." If the world can afford you full and lasting felicity, and if you can make the world your portion for ever, there will be some reason for your choice of it. But, flattering as may be the colouring which the imagination casts upon the scenes of the present life, it is impossible that you can delude yourselves with the expectation that perfect and enduring happiness is to be found in any thing which a fleeting and disappointing world can afford.
Make, then, a decision, the decision of true wisdom-a decision which will secure your virtue, your real honour, your permanent felicity in this life-and hereafter, a glory, an honour, a felicity which shall endure for ever, and that shall infinitely exceed all that you can now desire or conceive. Resolve in sincerity to devote yourselves to the service of your God.
3. The consideration of the privileges which the ordinance of confirmation will assure to you, presents still further motives to induce you to receive it.
The blessings which reflection will teach you are of the most value, are surely not temporal blessings; for your attainment of many of them is uncertain; the tenure by which you hold them is precarious; the enjoyment which they afford is alloyed and unsatisfying; and even were they certain in the attainment, permanent and satisfying in the possession, their duration is but for a few years. The only blessing which in the view of your sober judgments will appear of real value, must be certain in the attainment, sure in the tenure, satisfying in the enjoyment, lasting in the duration; and none but those which are spiritual and immortal, which, derived from the service of God and the conformity of our souls to the image of his holiness, terminate in the fruition of his glory, can be of this description; and your title to these blessings, conferred in baptism, you may now secure in "the laying on of hands," which certifies to those who sincerely and faithfully devote themselves to God, his favour and goodness.
Let me beseech you to consider what is your character and condition. Alas! we all daily transgress the laws of God, our Maker, Preserver, Benefactor, Sovereign, and Judge, and therefore need his forgiveness; our hearts are exposed to the intrusion of evil thoughts, desires, and passions, and we therefore require those influences of divine grace which only can create clean hearts and renew a right spirit within us; we are hourly exposed to temptations, and therefore need that divine strength by which alone we can resist the world, the flesh, and the devil, and with a pure heart and mind love and obey God; death, possibly immediate, certainly not very remote, awaits us, and in
the grave which receives our bodies, must be buried all that can here interest us.
Is it not, then, the dictate of true wisdom to seek that inheritance in heaven which fadeth not awaya resurrection from that grave which receives us, to life and glory, through the power and the grace of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? But these are privileges which no human efforts can secure, to which no human virtue can lay claim. As our Almighty Maker and Judge can alone bestow these blessings, they must be his free gift-he may bestow them in what way he pleases; and he does graciously vouchsafe to bestow them in that covenant of mercy which in his Son Jesus Christ he hath established. A seal of this covenant, the sacrament of baptism, conveys a title to these blessings, and thus translates those who by nature are children of wrath, destitute of all title to the favour of God, and exposed to his displeasure, into a state of salvation, in which they become members of Christ, children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. In this sense, as born again into a state of covenant-relation to God, baptized persons are said to be regenerated with water and the Holy Ghost, and to have received the forgiveness of all their sins. But our title to the blessings of the Christian covenant, conferred in baptism, rests on important conditions on the devotion of ourselves to God in the exercise of repentance for all our transgressions, and of lively faith in him whom God hath set forth as the Saviour of the world, producing obedience to his laws.
You who have been baptized, and have not received the ordinance of confirmation, are now called to make, in penitence, in faith, in humble
resolutions of obedience, this devotion of yourselves to the service of your God. This solemn renewal of your baptismal covenant will be accompanied, in this holy ordinance, with the solemn conveyance to you, on the part of God, by the instrumentality of his authorized minister, of all your baptismal privileges of his mercy, that will blot out your transgressions-of his Holy Spirit, that will sanctify your corrupt natures, aid you in the discharge of duty, and support you in all your trials -of his almighty power, by which you shall overcome your last and terrible enemy, even death, and by which, shaking off the bands of corruption, and rising from the darkness of the tomb, you shall enter on immortal life and glory.
These blessings, exalted as they are, and unworthy as we are of enjoying them, may be attained by you; your heavenly Father, in condescension to the weakness of your nature, assures them to you by an ordinance of his own appointment, by the instrumentality of those whom he hath commissioned to be ministers to you of the blessings of this great salvation. Is it possible, then, that you can hesitate as to receiving the ordinance which assures to you these exalted privileges!
Baptized Christians, of whatever age, but especially the young, who have not thus renewed your baptismal consecration to God, I beseech you to consider that the vows of God are upon you. By the law of your nature, you are bound to serve the God who made you; by your condition as creatures, you are in the hands of him who is able to save and to destroy. The obligations to which nature thus binds you to the service of the God VOL. II. 13