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Duty of ministers.

I think I can truly say, that I in some measure understood the words of our blessed Saviour, . It is my meat to do the will of him that sent me.

In reference to the letter from which the preceding extract has been made, the reader ought to be apprized, that it was not written for the eye of the author, nor for the public. It has here been introduced to show that God sometimes employs a simple statement of facts, connected with Christian experience, to the conversion and renewal of the heart.

If the Most High shall see fit, in his infinite goodness, to make this volume the honoured instrument of opening the eyes of one self-deceived Christian, or in rescuing one immortal soul from the pathway of perdition, the writer will feel that he has not laboured in vain. He is free to acknowledge, that among the considerations that have induced him to spread these pages before the public, is the deep and solemn conviction which rests upon his mind, that it is the duty of every herald of the cross to bear his firm and decided testimony against the admission of persons to the ordinances of the church, without their exhibiting de cided evidence of true, heartfelt piety, and vital godliness. He has therefore entitled this volume The Pas. tor's Testimony.

Objection and answer.

CHAPTER III.

OBJECTIONS TO THIS TESTIMONY.

As a general principle, perhaps it is well never to anticipate objections to that which we feel confident is the truth. There are cases, however, where the cause of truth will be better subserved by anticipating and fully meeting objections, than by going upon the assumed principle, that what is true needs no defence. The suggestion has been made, that there will be raised against this testimony the objection—" that the writer's views are at variance with those generally held by the denomination to which he belongs.'

Now if what is affirmed in this objection were true, it does not appear to me that it would in the slightest degree invalidate, or in any way affect, this testimony. If the views advocated in these lectures are scriptural--if it is obviously contrary to the word of God, that men, previous to their being born again, should participate in an act by which they make a solemn profession of religion-though there was but one watchman on the walls of Zion through the whole length and breadth of the land to proclaim the truth, I ask, would his testimony be any the less needful or valuable on this account? But we rejoice that we are under no necessity of resorting to this argument. Although there has been at times, unquestionably, a deplorable laxity in the practice of some clergymen in admitting candidates to confirmation, still there have been, in every age of the church, some faithful witnesses, who, in relation to this matter, have “ lifted

up their voices like a trumpet, and cried aloud."

And even were not this the case, the baptismal and confirmation services might be referred to in proof that the positions advanced in this volume are in accordance with the views of the church. We would ask of such of our readers as are not fully convinced upon this point, to give

Archbishop Secker's remarks.

Dr. Tyng's Guide to Confirmation, and the section in Bridges' worktupon the “Christian Ministry," entitled, "Practical Suggestions on Confirmation,” an attentive perusal, and we feel confident that they will then be satisfied that the ground which we have taken in this series of lectures is not only scriptural, but that which the church herself assumes. It is no slight corroboration of the truth of this position, that so many distinguished prelates in our church have left their recorded testimony to the same point.

Bishop Burnet remarks, “ Till one is of an age and disposition fit to receive the holy sacrament of the Lord's supper, and desires to be confirmed as a solemn preparation and qualification to it, he is not ready for it.”*

Archbishop Secker, speaking of the impropriety of children coming to this sacred rite, though they can say the creed, the Lord's prayer, and the ten commandments,” remarks

“No persons ought to make promises for themselves till they reasonably well understand the nature of them, and are capable of forming serious purposes; therefore, in the present case, being able to say the words of their catechism is by no means enough, without a competent, general knowledge of their meaning, and an intention of behaving as it requires them, which, doubtless, they are supposed to have at the same time. And if they have not, making a profession of it is declaring with their mouths what they feel not in their hearts at the instant, and will much less reflect upon afterwards ; it is hoping to please God by the empty outward performance of a religious rite. Therefore, I hope that neither ministers nor parents will be too eager for bringing children very early for confirmation, but first teach them carefully to know their duty sufficiently and resolve upon the practice of it heartily, then introduce them to this ordinance.”I

Again, in another part of the same discourse, he says, “ You that are to be confirmed must either do your own

* Burnet's Pastoral Care, page 190.

+ The reader will find an example of this in Rev. T. Escreet curate of Stisted, Essex, and also in Mr. Robinson, of Leicester. See Bridge's Christian Ministry, vol. 2. pp. 222.224. # Secker's Works, vol. iv. sermon 140

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Bishop of Calcutta's opinion.

part, or the whole of the previous preparation will be utterly thrown away upon you. If you make the answer which is directed without sincerity, it is lying to God ! if you make it without attention, it is trifling with him! Watch over your own hearts therefore, and let them go along with your lips. The two short words, I do, are soon said ; but they comprehend much in them. Utter them then with the truest seriousness, and say to yourselves, each of you afterwards, as Moses did to the Jews, Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and to hearken to his voice, and the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, that thou shouldst keep all his commandments, and be holy unto the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken.' It is a certain truth; call it therefore often to mind, and fix it on your souls, that if breaking a solemn promise to men be a sin, breaking that which you make thus deliberately to God, would be unspeakably a greater sin."

The next name that I would introduce to the reader is that of the Rev. Daniel Wilson, present Bishop of Cal. cutta.

In the first place, it is evident that he views confirmation as a solemn profession of religion. This will be seen at a glance from the following extract.

“ You will by confirmation be admitted to the privilege of confessing your Saviour, Christ, before men. You then come forward, in the face of the church, to acknowledge yourself a Christian, to profess your faith in the merits of your Saviour, and your subjection to his laws. You take your side; you publicly choose God as your heavenly Father, Master, and Lord; you no longer halt between two opinions, but determine to follow Christ fully.'

It is also evident that, in his view, those who come with the requisite qualifications to this ordinance, are in a fit state to approach the table of the Lord; in proof of which I would call the attention of the reader to the following remarks.

“When, by the rite of confirmation, you have engaged

* This and the following extracts, are from “ An Address to Young Persons about to be Confirmed.” Sermons and Tracts. Vol. 2d.

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Qualifications requisite for confirmatio to renounce the service of sin ; to believe in the merits and death of Christ; and to walk in newness of life, you are fully entitled to the seal and pledge of that dying love of the incarnate Saviour, which he commanded to be taken in remembrance of him. You may approach his table; you may feast on the banquet which he hath prepared; you may there continually renew your vows; there obtain fresh strength ; there receive, from time to time, the pardon of sin, and thus be built up to everlasting life.”

What were the qualifications which he deemed requisite in order to approach this ordinance with divine acceptance, are evident from the following inquiries.

“ What do you propose to yourself in coming to be confirmed? Is it with a hearty sense of your lost and perishing estate by nature? Is it with an entire reliance on the merit and death of the Son of God? Is it with a holy intention of serving and obeying your Saviour and Redeemer? Or are you about to perform this duty formally and merely from custom, or the fear and favour of men ? Make this inquiry, I beseech you, as in the sight of God. Form your mind to a resolution which embraces an entire separation from the proud and malicious works of the devil; the sinful pomps of the world ; and the corrupt desires of the flesh; which binds you to an humble faith in the doctrine of a crucified Saviour; and which pledges you to an undeviating course of devoted love and obedience.”

Once more, “A contrite heart deeply penetrated with its own unworthiness ; and sensible of the infinite condescension of God in the gospel of his Son; and reposing all its confidence in divine grace and forgiveness, is the only right disposition of mind for entering upon the solemn duty of ratifying your covenant with God by the rite of confirmation."

To show that the views of the American church accord with this plain and explicit testimony, I desire to call the attention of the reader to the following statements.

According to the views of the late Bishop Hobart, as expressed in a sermon explaining this rite, confirmation is, on the part of those who come to it, “ a solemn devotion of themselves to God.' And in another sermon, addressing

• The Candidate for Confirmation instructed, page 9.

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