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heart, and the obedient life, doing His will always in work and in play, resolved to follow Him in its moments of greatest freedom no less than in those of strictest observance ? You do not hinder your brethren's prayers, but you hinder that for which God bids them pray; namely, the daily service of their hearts and lives. You would not deter any from coming to the communion, but you would crush the fruit of that communion the instant that it began to show itself in any one's daily practice. You know that I do not say this because I do not value reverence for sacred things. Glad indeed am I to see you attentive here, to believe that you respect God's worship, that you pray yourselves, and would wish others to pray also.
But I am glad to see and to believe this, only because it affords a constant hope that it is, if not the sign, yet the forerunner of a real faith in you; that from reverent prayer you will rise to holy living. If this is not to be, then vain is the prayer, and the reverence is in God's sight but hypocrisy. We are not really Christ's, but shall be cast out of His kingdom with all things that offend, and with them that do iniquity; with all, that is, who attempt or encourage others in evil, or who do evil themselves.
April 11, 1841.
As nero born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye
may grow thereby : if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
It is the order of the Church, although frequently disregarded, that the baptism of our children should be celebrated in the midst of the church service, on Sundays or other holidays, when the most number of people come together; for this reason with others, that in the baptism of infants every man present may be put in remembrance of his own profession made to God in his baptism. And in the same way, if baptism were administered to grown up persons, whatever addresses were made to them to prepare them for that sacrament, might be made no less usefully to others who had been already baptized; inasmuch as what the
one were going to promise the other had promised already, and what was said to urge the one to keep it when he had promised it, would apply no less to the other, either as an encouragement or a reproof.
What would be true of baptism is true of confirmation. What those who are going to be confirmed a few weeks hence will promise then, the younger members of our congregation will promise hereafter, the older members have promised before. Nay, even the members of another church, who neither have been nor ever will be confirmed according to our ordinance, would yet be concerned in the subject no less; because what we either have promised or will promise in confirmation openly in the presence of other men, they did virtually promise in their baptism, and if they are Christians at all, it must be with them no less than with us the business of their lives to keep it.
Let no one think, therefore, that if what I am going to say has reference to the approaching confirmation, it is therefore only the concern of those who are then to be confirmed. It is no less the concern of us all, old and young alike. In this as in all the other occasional services of the church, those for whom they are immediately performed do but stand forward in a manner to represent their brethren ; what is said or done to one belongs not to one but to many. I gladly therefore seize
the opportunity of the approaching confirmation to put into something of a regular form those truths which indeed concern us all alike; for though many of us may know them well enough, yet who is there who does them so perfectly as not to need to have his mind stirred up by them again in the way of remembrance.
On the day of the confirmation the Bishop puts this question to all that are to be confirmed: “Do ye here in the presence of God and of this congregation renew the solemn promise and vow that was made in your name at your baptism : ratifying and confirming the same in your own persons, and acknowledging yourselves bound to believe and to do all those things which your godfathers and godmothers then undertook for you ?” And when they have answered each, “I do," then after a few short prayers, the Bishop lays his hand upon the head of each of them and says, “Defend, O Lord, this thy servant, with thy heavenly grace, that he may continue thine for ever, and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more, until he come unto thy everlasting kingdom.” Here we have, in this short question and answer, and in the laying on of the Bishop's hand and his prayer, the whole substance of the rite of confirmation. And we see at once that the question thus put, although to be answered aloud by those only who are then to be confirmed, is yet one really which it concerns
us to answer in our hearts to God every day, and that
prayer which the Bishop offers for those then confirmed, when he lays his hand upon their heads, is the prayer which we all also need daily, and the fulfilment of which would be the greatest blessing that we could enjoy upon earth. And as that prayer would not be offered for one who were to refuse to renew the promise required of him just before, so neither can it be offered effectually for us, whenever we also refuse in heart to renew the very same promise. God's grace will not defend us, nor shall we continue His for ever, nor increase in His Holy Spirit more and more, nor ever come to His everlasting kingdom, except so far as we do in heart continually renew that promise, and in our lives continually perform it. Let us see, then, what that promise is which we all have given once in our baptism, which we all have to renew in our hearts every day as long as we live, and which some of us will renew with their lips also in the sight not of God only but of men.
We promise to keep our vow made in baptism: and the vow made in our names at our baptism is as follows. “I renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the carnal desires of the flesh, so that I will not follow nor be led by them.”—“I believe in God's holy word which declares to us all the articles of