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ADDRESS ON CONFIRMATION.
[Delivered at Trichinopoly, April 3, 1826.]
DEARLY BELOVED IN THE LORD!
You have been engaged this day in one of the most aweful and important transactions in which a created being can bear a part; the solemn renewal of your former covenant with your Maker, and the no less solemn claim of the stipulated mercies of that great Creator towards yourselves. In Christ's name you have drawn near to the Most High to tender to His service, in the terms of your baptismal
engagement, the bodies which He has framed, the lives which He has given, the immortal souls which, through His Son, He has redeemed from misery unspeakable.
For God's acceptance of these offered services; for the spiritual strength which only can enable you to render them; for the merciful indulgence which, even when they are most diligently performed, they must still need at God's hand ; and for the unbounded and eternal reward which His free bounty has promised to even the weakest efforts to please Him, when made in His Son's name, you have pleaded the merits of that blessed Son, by the confession of your faith in Him, and by the solemn prayer which we offered up together to the Throne of Grace, for the gift of the Holy Ghost the Comforter.
In reliance on these merits and on the precious promises of our Redeemer, I, lastly, as His servant and in His name, have prayed for you that your faith fail not. In His name and as His servant, and in imitation of His holy apostles, I have laid my hands on you and blessed you, as a sure token that our prayers would not return empty from the Lord of life, but that ye might receive the Holy Ghost whom ye had desired, and might partake henceforward, in a larger measure and by a daily increase, of that Heavenly grace which was, in part, bestowed on you in baptism.
And I doubt not, that so many of you as with faith unfeigned and fitting preparation of heart, have repaired to this holy ordinance, have been as truly and effectually, though not so conspicuously, sharers in that, unspeakable gift whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption, as when the Heaven was opened over the congregations of the primitive Church, and He whose temples we are, came down in cloven flames, and hovered over the heads of His servants.
I doubt it not, because I dare not doubt the strength of prayer, and the promise of the Son of God, that His Father and ours, (for, by the spirit of adoption,
we have permission to call Him so) that His Heavenly Father and ours will not refuse the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him! I doubt it not, because I dare not doubt the efficacy of an apostolic injunction, or that the petitions which we offer in the manner which those dearest to God enjoined and practised, will be acceptable with God and with His Son; and to us, as to those from whom we have received them, be the fountain and pledge of Heavenly strength and blessing. I doubt it not, because I dare not doubt the last words of our Lord upon earth, when He sent forth His ministers with a like commission to that which He had Himself received of His Father, and when, though foreseeing, as what did He not foresee, the lamentable degeneracy of those who should bear His name, He promised, nevertheless, to His Church, His invisible protection and presence till the kingdoms of this world should become the kingdom of the Lamb, and this same Jesus, which was then taken up from us into Heaven, should so come in like manner as He was seen going into Heaven.
Oh Master, Oh Saviour, Oh Judge and King, Oh God faithful and true! Thy word is sure, though our sinful eyes may not witness its fulfilment! Surely Thou art in this place and in every place where thine ordinances are reverenced, and Thy name is duly called on! Thy treasures are in earthen vessels, but they are Thy treasures still! Though prophecies may fail and tongues may cease, Thy truth remains the same; and
though prophecies have failed and tongues have ceased, and though the Heaven and the earth are grown old and ready to vanish away, yet it is impossible but that when two or three are gathered together in Thy name, Thou also shouldst be in the midst of them! So continue with us Lord evermore, and let the Spirit, the Angel of Thy presence, be with us all our days, even as He hath this day been at hand to help, to deliver and to sanctify all who came to receive Him.
In assurance, then, my brethren, that our prayers have not been in vain, and that an effectual to become the sons of God has been, even now, according to Christ's holy promise, communicated to those who sought it faithfully, it is my duty to call on you to give hearty and humble thanks to the Father and Giver of all good things, to the Son whose blood has bought for us these spiritual treasures, and to that Good Spirit who hath not disdained to dwell with men, and of whose indwelling and inspiration it cometh that we can either think or do such things as please Him. And that your hearts may be better fitted to retain this Heavenly guest, and that you may not, by a relapse into sin, resist and grieve the Holy Ghost as Israel did of old, and so increase your damnation by erring against a greater light, and flinging away a greater mercy, receive a few plain instructions by way of caution for the management of your hearts, and the improvement of that time and
those opportunities of His service, which God may hereafter vouchsafe to you.
I will not do so much injustice to the well-known zeal and ability of your spiritual instructors, on the present occasion ; I will not do so much injustice to the seriousness of deportment and apparent earnestness of prayer, which I have, with pleasure, remarked in most of you, as to doubt that you
have been duly taught the nature and necessity of those baptismal engagements which you have now renewed; or that you are really sincere in the desire which you have expressed to be enabled to serve and please your God hereafter. Nor need I do more than recall to your recollections that truth, which is implied and acknowledged in the whole of this solemn ceremony, that this power to serve and please God is given us by His Spirit only; that in ourselves, that is in our flesh, there dwelleth no good thing; and that we are utterly unequal to. strive with the many temptations which surround us, unless a Greater and Mightier than we vouchsafes to go forth with us to battle. The promise of this visitation and indwelling of the Holy Ghost, has, we trust, been now fulfilled to us; and it remains to enquire in what manner our hearts may best entertain their Heavenly Inhabitant, and how we may most surely keep, enjoy, and profit by the inestimable privileges to which we are become entitled, the favour, the fellowship, the help, and comfort of the Most High.