« AnteriorContinuar »
Encouragement to make it.
" to follow nor be led by them.” They are not our acknowledged guides. We renounce them. We desire never to be influenced by them.
We renounce every thought, purpose, and feeling that lifts itself up against God, every inclination that is contrary to his will, every gratification that even by its remote consequences would cause us to transgress the divine law. We therefore renounce every thing which would inflame corrupt passions, injure the health, or lead to prodigality and wastefulness either of property or time: all sloth, indolence, luxury, and pampering of the body: all wantonness, impurity, indelicacy, both of thought and action, with whatever tempts to it: all vanity, self-conceit, immoderate
anger, ill temper, hard heartedness, and repining at the good of others, or at our own disadvantages ; in short, whatever dispositions of soul are dishonourable to God, prejudicial to our neighbour, or unreasonable in themselves. All these are renounced under the head of “ sinful desires of the flesh.”
The renunciation here contemplated necessarily implies that godly sorrow for sin which worketh repentance unto salvation ; and it comes in my way here to add, that such à repentance is among the indispensable qualifications for confirmation. This ordinance is based upon the implied ground that there is an inward work of grace commenced in the soul of its recipients, and that there is on their part a full purpose and fixed determination to live a holy and godly life. They solemnly, unreservedly, and eternally abjure sin.
In view of this solemn vow, let not the true penitent, though timid and hesitating, be alarmed, or prevented from assuming it. Christ will have all those whom he owns take upon them this vow. Let it be understood that he who makes this renunciation does not declare that the temptations of the devil shall never beset or molest him, but that he will not knowingly or willingly yield to them. He does not declare that the vain show of the world shall never appear attractive or inviting, or that the remains of corruption within him shall never awaken unholy desires, and inclinations to evil; but that he will not cherish those desires, yield to those inclinations, or allow the deceptive illusions of the world to draw him away from God. He utterly
Reasonableness of this vow.
renounces these influences, and no longer acknowledges them as principles of action. His language is, “ I renounce them all; I will not knowingly or intentionally yield to them. Conscious that I am weak, and unable to perform these things in my own strength, I come to God for divine assistance. By his help, I will endeavour not to follow nor be led by them.”
You see that this promise is made in humble dependence upon God's grace ; and a pledge is given, that we will constantly use our best endeavours to avoid whatever is contrary to the Bible and the will of God. Looking at our own weakness, we might well say, who is sufficient for these things ? But looking at him in whom all fulness dwells, we can add, “ Through Christ which strengtheneth me, I can do all things.'
Is there any thing unreasonable in this vow of renunciation? Does not sin of every kind lower and degrade the character ? Is it not our highest interest to abjure the devil and all his works? Has not God a right to the love and service of his creatures ? Do not the Scriptures affirm, that unless our hearts be converted to God, unless we abandon sin, unless we exercise true repentance, we can never enter the kingdom of heaven?
In asking you whether you will make this vow of renunciation, then, I am not simply asking you whether you intend to embrace the ordinance of confirmation, but whether you intend to save or lose your soul? Unless you renounce the things enumerated in this vow of renunciation, you cannot be saved. You must be saved from your sins.
You can never be saved in them. If you will not bear the cross, you cannot wear the crown. If you will not cut off the offending hand, and pluck out the offending eye, it is the decision of God himself, that your whole body must be cast into hell.
0, shall any one of those whom I am addressing, possessing, as they do, souls which are capable, under the purifying and expanding influences of divine grace, of acquiring a capacity and meetness to enjoy the rapturous and high-toned felicity that swells the bosoms of angels, capable of advancing in moral and intellectual improvement, and of attaining such a heighth of perfection as to become stars of the first magnitude around the throne of
The two sisters.
God-shall any one of these immortal beings whom I am addressing, and for whom many a parental streaming eye has been lifted up to God,--shall any of these be lost for
up their abode with the damned, and dwell amid everlasting burnings! My friends, the decision rests with you, and very likely upon your determination this evening.
I ask you, then, in the fear and presence of the great Searcher of hearts, will you renounce the devil and all his works; the vain pomps and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the sinful desires of the flesh, so that you will not follow nor be led by them? I feel confident, that many whom I am addressing are ready to respond, “I renounce them all, and by God's help I will endeavour not to follow nor be led by them.” Allow me to admonish you again, that this renunciation must be from the heart, cordial and voluntary, else it will be of no avail.
To illustrate and exhibit this point with still greater clearness, I will give you a brief account of two sisters, who, in the solemn rite of confirmation, made this vow of renunciation, and leave you to judge which actually and from the heart renounced the devil and his works, the pomps of the world, and the sinful desires of the flesh.
Mr. C— was a gentleman distinguished by his uniform exemplary conduct, and dignified Christian deportment. His piety was thoroughly practical. While it was calm and rational, it was deep-toned and ardent. The partner of his early days was sleeping in the grave. The chief objects of his earthly affection were two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary. A visitation of the diocesan through that part of the country where this gentleman resided, was attended with the happy result, as it often is, of awakening the attention of the young to a deep concern about their soul's salvation. The two daughters of this gentleman became seriously impressed, and apparently the subjects of divine grace. They accordingly testified, in the ordinance of confirmation, their determination to renounce a life of sin and commence a life of holiness.
Mary, the younger sister, from the hour she pledged her word at the altar, seemed to look upon herself as given up to God. She no longer visited places distinguished by levity, frivolity, and fashionable dissipation, but sought her
Difference of practice in
happiness in the more sober and quiet scenes of domestic life. All the tempers of her mind were made the subjects of watchfulness and strict discipline. Although cheerful, she did not allow herself to be giddy. She was, affectionate to all her friends, and ever ready to comply with the wishes of her only surviving parent. And all this seemed to be the result of the adoption of a new principle in her heart.
Elizabeth, on the other hand, after a few months had elapsed, seemed as gay and as fond of the vanities of the world as
The renewing of her baptismal vow seemed to have the same influence upon her mind that the putting on mourning for a distant connexion would have had. It was merely the compliance with a custom which, when past, was forgotten. The world had the same hold upon her affections, and the tempers of her mind were just as unrestrained as ever.
One incident, which I will relate, will illustrate this remark. A few months only had elapsed since confirmation, when the sisters received an invitation to be present at a place where there was to be great gayety, and a scene of amusement hardly suited to the taste of a truly devotional mind.
Mary immediately declined the invitation. She had two reasons. First, she questioned whether participation in such scenes was compatible with her profession; and, secondly, on the evening of the intended party there was divine service; and when the question was between the house of pleasure and the house of God, she thought there should be no hesitation. Her sister, however, immediately consented to go.
When their father was apprized of Elizabeth's determination, he told her that he had serious objections to her arrangement. He could not think the scene of amusement of a very rational character, and it was calculated to dissipate every thing like seriousness.
“ You will, my child,” said he, “ wound my feelings inexpressibly, if you persist, although I shall not lay my commands upon you. Would it not be more compatible with your late vow to go to church this evening, than to that scene of thoughtless gayety ?"
Elizabeth said, she had engaged to go, and she could not break her engagement.
Two sisters detailed.
“ But,” said her father, “ have you not engaged to renounce the pomps and vanities of the world ?”
She said she did not consider that her confirmation engagement was to be any barrier in the way of her enjoy. ment; and if she did not go, her heart would be there, which would be the same thing.
“ Go with me, my child,” said her father; “ go with me to church, and, perhaps, your heart will be recalled to God.”
This proposal was evaded by many excuses, till at last, in much ill-tempér, and under high irritation, she declared, if she could not have her own way, she would not, unless absolutely commanded, go to church. The affectionate father, with a heavy heart, bade her take her own course, but not without expressing a hope that she would soon be convinced of her folly.
And now Elizabeth was in the hall of mirth and gayety ; but she was not happy. A rival received more attention, and was more admired than herself. A thousand untoward things were occurring to mar her enjoyment. At length she became deeply engaged in frivolous conversation with one who, a few years before, had been apparently very devoted to God. He had now gone back to the paths of folly. The subject of religion was incidentally alluded to, and this heaven-daring apostate, for the amusement of a group that were gathered around him, gave several specimens of prayer that he had offered up
66 when he was pious," as he sneeringly remarked. All this furnished high glee to the thoughtless circle, and Elizabeth joined in the loud laugh with others.
Upon her return home, as her sister and herself occupied the same apartment, she found Mary kneeling by the bed-side in the attitude of prayer; her face covered with her hands. She very abruptly, and in a tone of reproof, said,
"I would not be always saying my prayers. I wonder what you have been doing all this evening."
Mary rose, her eyes streaming with tears, with the deepest emotions depicted on her countenance, and in a tone of voice made up of grief and tenderness, she said,
“What have I been doing? I have been thinking of you, my dear sister. I returned from church, and took up my