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tian faith; and so to understand and observe the commandments of God, as always to do that which he requires, and to abstain from that which he forbids, therein.
Here now is all you are to account for as a Christian. Here is the rule you are to live by. Here is the rule you are to be judged by. Remember, you have by a vow made it your own rule, and put your eternal salvation on the careful observance of it.
So great is the change made in you by baptism, that, from the alien and enemy of God, from the outcast of heaven, you are become the brother of Christ, and the son of God; from the heir of that curse, which fell on the first Adam and all his posterity, you are become a joint heir with Christ, the second Adam, of all the happiness and glory, which almighty love can bestow upon you. You are no longer the same creature. You are a new creature. You are dead, and have passed from death unto life. You are dead to this world and sin; and your life is hid with Christ in God. • Know ye not, that so many
you as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death; that you were buried with him by baptism into death; that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so ye also should walk in newness of life. Reckon ye therefore yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin; but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.'
Now, as to confirmation, several things are to be considered in it; first, that it is not a sacrament according to the notion and doctrine of our church, nor can be esteemed on a level with the sacraments agreeably to the word of God; secondly, that it is a holy rite, practised universally by the apostles, bishops, and Christians, not only of the first and purest ages of the church, but in all ages, from thence to the Reformation, when some of the Protestant churches thought fit to discontinue it, on account of the superstitious ceremonies added to it in less enlightened times, which, blessed be God, did not prevent ours from retaining a rite, in some sort necessary, at the same time that she pruned away the new-fangled additions ; thirdly, that in this rite the Christian, who was baptized an infant, confirms the baptismal covenant, made in his name, by taking on himself all its sacred obligations, from whence arises what I call the necessity of the rite, wherever infant baptism takes place; and fourthly, that herein the Spirit of God, communicated by the laying on of the bishop's hands and prayer, confirms the Christian, now come to years of discretion, and well acquainted with the terms of the covenant, in the renunciation, faith, and obedience, engaged for by vow, when that covenant was entered into.
Here is a short account of baptism, and of its confirmation on the part of every sincere Christian, when arrived to the requisite time of life. As to the too early practice of baptizing, confirming, and administering the eucharist, all at once, even to infants, when a bishop was present, and of using oil in confirmation, the Scriptures do nowhere countenance it; our church therefore rightly disowns it, and consequently we are in no sort concerned, on this occasion, to trouble ourselves with it.
No; but that which you, my dear young people, are infinitely concerned in is, to make your full advantage of the ordinance you are going to perform your part in; a thing impossible to be done, but with hearts seriously set to perform your part of the covenant, that the Holy Spirit having ripened your good resolutions with his grace and guidance,
every one of you may grow up unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; and that you henceforth may be no more children, tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, but may be able to quit ye like men, and to be strong, strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.'
Do not hope that the Holy Spirit will, by his grace alone, and without your concurrence, enable you to renounce, to believe, and do, as you have vowed. If it is but little you can contribute to the work of your own salvation, that little, however, must be done, or we cannot see how you can be saved. You are commanded to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, though you are, at the same time, comfortably asșured, that it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do. But why a command from your Maker to do somewhat, if you are by nature able to do nothing?
Some, it is true, too much magnify the natural power of man to do good, and to justify himself. These men talk as
if they could do every thing, and would thank, not God, but their own virtue, for heaven. Others there are, as ready to level all mankind with brutes, or rather mere machines, wherein there is no self-power of acting; who, in short, can do nothing, at least that is good. Not far from the middle between these extremes, are placed the moral powers and capacities of man. Somewhat he can attempt; nay, somewhat he can do. He can meditate. He can watch. He can pray. He can resolve. God only can give effectual force and vigour to these acts or endeavours. Man can plough, harrow, and fence. God alone can dispense the seed, the sunshine, and the rain of his grace, and bring the harvest to perfection. A man is not to lie down on his back, call for the daily bread of his soul and body, set open his mind and mouth, and expect it in a shower. No, he must up and labour, and be thankful to God if he gives the increase, which, in case our own endeavours are not wanting, he never fails to do. If, having done all you can, you come to God, as at this day, in a due sense of your own weakness, and his goodness, he will infallibly help you. But, if you do not come, how can you hope for his assistance ?
Undoubtedly your weakness, in regard to the work of your salvation, is deplorably great, and it will be the first step towards the attainment of the strength you stand in need of, to be thoroughly sensible of that weakness.
Look deeply therefore into yourself, and sharply back on your past life, that you may fairly judge, whether you are that wise, resolute, and worthy being, you are sometimes vain enough to think yourself. Reflect how often you have been miserably mistaken in the plainest points, or gone wrong, when the way lay open and direct before you. Have you been able to judge or believe, on a thousand important occasions, as you ought, or as your true interest and real happiness required you should? Nay, even when God or man had taught you to judge or believe aright, how seldom have your heart and resolution been able to second that judgment, or to follow that faith into action, as a barely rational creature, not to say the disciple of God, should have done! Consider farther still, whether even your consciences misled themselves, have not often misled you, or oftener, when they have distinguished good from evil to you, have failed for want of power over you, steadily to affix your choice to the good.
Having, on the footing of your own experience, put yourself to a fair trial in these particulars, you will find you are a very weak, perhaps too, a wicked, a despicable, and miserable creature; not wiser than Solomon, who drivelled into the adoration of a stone; nor more righteous than David, who fell from a resemblance of God's own heart, into adultery and murder; nor more firm or faithful than Peter, who forswore his God and Master. You will perceive, “that you are not sufficient of yourself to think any thing as of yourself; that you can do nothing without Christ.'
From the melancholy apprehensions, arising out of these mortifying reflections, you are revived by these comfortable declarations of the Holy Spirit,' that your sufficiency is of God, and that you can do all things in Christ, whose grace is sufficient for you.'
Behold then, God, this day, if you are properly disposed for the reception of so inestimable a gift, offers you his Holy Spirit by the hands of his appointed servant, first to guide you into all truth, that is, to assist your understanding, that you may judge aright; then to assist both your understanding and heart, that you may believe aright; for faith, a truly Christian and lively faith, is not of yourself, it is the gift of God; and lastly, so to enliven and invigorate your conscience, that
you may resolve and act up to the name and character of a real Christian, to the character of a candidate for eternal glory
In baptism you was made, and are now going to be confirmed the child of God. If you consider yourself as his child, take care to be dutiful and obedient to your heavenly Father. If danger of sin approaches, or your enemies come upon you, run and cry, and louder still, in case you fall. You was safely lodged in your Father's house, how came you out into the way of mischief? into the street or broad way of the world? You stole out to play, or to snap up some glancing bauble, and now are in danger of being swept away by the crowd, or trodden under foot by the gallopers and coaches that hurry downward on that road to destruction. You are lost, if you cannot recover your Father's door. Rise therefore, run for your life, and cry. If you do this
with all your might, your Father will send out one to quicken your motion, and pull you in again.
By baptism you was enlisted into the army of Christ, the captain of your salvation. But that was done for you by sureties when you was yet a child. You are now going in person to be attested and sworn into his service. going to be trained to the exercise and discipline of a Christian soldier; to put on the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, and the girdle of truth; to take the shield of faith, and the sword of the spirit, at the armory of God. You are going in a little time to be fed at the table or magazine of your Lord with the bread of life. Religion, truth, virtue, heaven, Christ, God, your soul, all are to be fought for. See that you behave yourself in a manner worthy of such a cause and such a captain. Keep close to the standard,-and firm in your rank. It is safest fighting in a body. Single combat hath more of danger in it. Forsake not, therefore, the assemblies of the faithful, as the manner of some is. Join warmly in family devotion, and in religious conversation with the more pious part of your neighbours. Above all, go constantly to God's house and table. Here is no mixture of folly or sin in what is said, as too frequently there is in other meetings, even of the better sort of Christians. Here your converse with God by prayer, and he with you by his word. Here you may kindle your devotion at the fire of others, and light your candle at those which shine around you. You may take a useful example from the army of your enemy. He, you see, keeps up the spirit and discipline of his service by assemblies in those churches of his contrivance, playhouses, gaming-houses, taverns, drums, &c. in higher life; and in fairs, horse-races, cock-fights, dram shops, whiskey-houses, in lower life, where his veteran soldiers, and raw recruits, meet to exercise one another, in lying, cheating, swearing, lewd jesting, infidel haranguing, and sneering at religion, and, in all these, giving vogue and fashion to wickedness. Thus it is that the enemy prepares for battle. In assemblies of an opposite kind, and by exercises of a contrary nature, but still in assembling, and by exercising, must you prepare on your part. Nothing in your power is able to give you so much skill, strength, and courage, in the spiritual warfare.