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1 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

2

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 power 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 ot, 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

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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 inquire 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.

Of the things most conducive and requisite to this desirable end, the first is, evidently, a firm and lively faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the redemption which He has wrought for us. That you are, at present, actuated by such a faith, that you are persuaded that the things contained in the Gospel are true, and that relying on their truth, you have come hither to ask a blessing, I should grieve if I were not persuaded. But be it borne in mind that a faith which is to save us must be in our recollection as well as in our knowledge; that it must be positively as well as potentially in our minds ; that we cannot be said to believe in the God of whom we are not thinking, inasmuch as faith necessarily implies thought exercised upon an unseen object. And this may show the manner in which our faith may fail, and fail most ruinously for ourselves, without our ever actually entertaining a doubt of the truth of those things in which we have been instructed, inasmuch as if we do not believe them, or, which amounts to the same thing, do not think of them when the time of temptation arrives, it is of very little use that in Church, or when by some similar circumstance they are brought back to our memory, we again receive them with unabated conviction. Accordingly, not only the absolutely wicked are turned in

to hell, but the people who forget God lie under the same menace.*

And we have the authority of God's holy word for maintaining that all the errors, all the superstition, all the hateful and hideous idolatry which the world has seen, arose from this single source, inasmuch as because men did not like to retain God in their thoughts, He gave them up to a strong delusion that they should believe a lie! So necessary is it by daily recollections of God, by daily study of the Holy Scriptures, and by a frequent reference to those works of devotion and instruction which the Church supplies, to avoid this dangerous and deadly downfall, and to keep the blessed Trinity in our minds, if we would have God to dwell in our hearts for ever.

The next thing requisite to a constant faith in God is a total dependance on Him through the merits of His Son. This is, indeed, implied in a right faith, but it is a particular part of our faith, which many are apt to feel and cherish imperfectly. By a total dependance on God I mean a perfect sense of our own weakness; an entire renunciation of our own merits ; a childlike leaning on the hand and help of the Most High, which claims to receive nothing but from free mercy, and hopes to perform nothing but in His name and by His power alone. So long as we resolve in our own strength, our resolutions will be worse than idle ; so long as we are not daily and continually sensible of our own utter weakness, God will not help us and our prayers will be rendered yain.

Be careful, then, to accustom yourselves to this lowliness of heart; and that you may feel your own weakness the more readily as it respects your Maker, be the more careful to bear yourself humbly and mcekly towards those who are your fellow-sinners and fellow-servants. If we love not our brother whom we have seen, we know who has told us that we cannot love God whom we have not seen; and he, in like manner, who indulges himself in haughtiness towards those with whom he dwells, will seldom, if ever, be able to feel sufficient meekness towards Him who is visible by the eye of faith alone. A third and a still more important instrument in prepar

. Psalm ix, 17.

habit of prayer.

ing our hearts for the reception of the Holy Ghost, is a

66 Ask and

ye
shall have,

" Seek and ye shall find,” is the constant language of Scripture.* Without asking we shall not obtain ; without continuing to ask, what we have obtained will not be prolonged to us. Your hearts, as we trust, are now the temple of the Holy Ghost. But a temple is a house of prayer; and if we omit to serve the Deity we cannot hope that He will continue in His shrine.

But wo be to us, then, when He, the Spirit of God, forsakes us! Wo be to our wretched souls when that voice is heard concerning them, which, when the measure of Israel's guilt was full, in the dead of night resounded through the courts of their sanctuary, “Let us depart hence," as from our polluted dwelling. The Spirit of God, I repeat, will not always strive with man; and if His accepted time is despised or suffered to pass by unimproved, the time may come in the which we shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and it shall not be shown unto us!T

A neglect of prayer, then, of morning and evening prayer, (I name these times because a short prayer, at least, is then in every body's power, and because no times are so proper, none so natural for devotion as the moments at which we are about to commit ourselves to a temporary death, or at which we have just undergone a lively image of the resurrection,) a neglect of morning and evening prayer, as it is always one of the earliest symptoms of our falling away from God, so it is the certain means of estranging ourselves entirely from Him, and provoking Him to give us up to still farther guilt, and to withdraw from us, it may be, even the opportunity and power of repentance.

But even this daily prayer will of itself be insufficient, unless we honour the Lord our God in public as well as in private, and on those solemn and stated Sabbaths above all, which the practice of the whole Church, the authority of the inspired apostles, the sanction of the Lord Jesus Himself, when risen from the dead, and after His reception in

• St. Matt. yii. 7.

† St. Luke xvii. 22.

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