Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Expectations of the church from candidates.

those that were about to give themselves up to God in this rite, referring to the state of their hearts, he remarks

“ The infinitely perfect and almighty Being, whom you promise to serve, would be insulted by the offer of a heart whose affections are imperfectly devoted to him, or

a life divided in its homage and obedience between him and the world. His demand is 'give me thy heart.' And it is the declaration of the eternal Son of God, of him who is finally to decide our eternal doom, .no man can serve two masters : ye cannot serve God and mammon.'

Again, speaking of the wisdom of the church “in guarding the administration of this rite from an ignorant, rash, and irreverent reception, and in inducing the clergy diligently and faithfully to prepare the young members of their folds for this solemn devotion of themselves to God;" he says, alluding to the preface of the confirmation service, " by this order the church evidently designs more than that candidates for confirmation should be able to say the words of the catechism. They must have a full knowledge of their meaning, and as it (the catechism) embraces a comprehensive view of the plan of redemption, of Christian doctrine and duty, and of the privileges of Christians, these must be understood and realized.+

And again, speaking of the spiritual qualifications, with out which none can be prepared for this ordinance, he says,

They constitute those exercises of repentance and faith which are the conditions of baptismal privileges. They constitute that renewing of the mind which is necessary to render us acceptable to God and meet for heaven. Let no one deceive himself with the hope, that destitute of these qualifications, his receiving confirmation will prove a benefit to him.” I

And those who have received confirmation, while they are still standing around the chancel, are thus addressed :

Embrace, without delay, that inestimable privilege of the baptismal covenant which you have now ratified. Come to the table of the Lord, and feed with your

brethren on the banquet of that most heavenly food. Now while

* Hobart's Works, vol. 2, page 121.
+ Candidate for Confirmation, page 11,

Ibid. page 17.

Bishops Ravenscroft and Griswold.

the vows of God are fresh in your hearts, cherish the blessed impulse that hath led you to engage in his service. In the memorials of his body and his blood, perfect the work of your devotion to him."*

Bishop Ravenscroft, who too soon followed into the eternal world his friend, to whose pen we are indebted for the preceding quotations, having described the qualifications of this ordinance, and insisted upon repentance and faith, proceeds to address candidates for this rite in the following language.

“Examine yourselves then, you who now mean to ratify and confirm your baptismal engagements, whether you are thus prepared; whether you can now, with a good conscience, make that full unreserved surrender of yourselves to God which his service requires; that open confession of Jesus Christ as your God, your Saviour, and your king, which his religion demands from all who be his disciples indeed; and that firm determination to obey the gospel, which its precepts enjoin. For confirmation is only another name for solemn dedication of yourselves to God and his Son; an open renunciation of the world, and separation of yourselves from henceforth from its unlawful and unhallowed pursuits.”'t

Among those who still stand at the altar—who are still engaged in bearing onward the consecrated ark of Jehovah, that have uniformly borne a firm and decided testimony in perfect accordance with the views advocated in this volume, I am happy to record the name of my own beloved and venerable diocesan, the Right Rev. Bishop Griswold.

In his address at the annual convention of the eastern diocess, in 1833, speaking of confirmation he says

• It has become, we have reason to believe, the general practice of our clergy in this diocess, not to present for confirmation, nor encourage any to come to that solemn rite, but such as appear to understand its nature and use, and to be possessed of sincere piety and a right faith. And this is what ought to be the practice of all. The ordinance is designed to be a confirmation of one sacrament, and a preparation for the other. And it is evident that the quali

66

* Candidates for Confirmation, p. 33.
+ Bishop Ravenscroft's Sermon on Confirmation.

Dr. Meade-Bishop Smith.

fications should be the same as for adult baptism, and for the Lord's supper; and these, in a few words, are, repentance towards God, and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the principal causes of the unfavourable opinion of confirmation and of our church, which has so prevailed, has been the frequent practice, in former times, of urging, or at least admitting to confirmation, children and others who had little knowledge or sense of religion, whose affections are worldly, and their minds unrenewed.”

The copious extracts that will be found in this volume from Dr. Meade, the present assistant bishop of Virginia, on confirmation, most conclusively show what are his views. I will, however, here subjoin the following additional remarks, which are directly to my purpose.

“ It is most evident that our church demands of those who come to confirmation as much real piety as any church is authorized to demand of those who seek admission to their communion."

Again, after an examination of the confirmation service, ne, remarks: “ What method could the church have adopted, or what language could she have chosen, better calculated to show that she requires genuine and enlightened piety, than the language here used ? So far from the standard of piety, here erected, being too low, some of the most truly conscientious have hesitated to make such a solemn vow, promise, and profession,' and have feared lest they were acting presumptuously in permitting such prayers and thanksgivings to be offered up over their heads. How, then, must the irreligious feel, while going through what in their case must be a solemn mockery? Surely the church never could have framed this service, or designed this rite for them. It may then be confidently affirmed, that she requires true piety of all who come to be confirmed.”

Bishop Smith, of Kentucky, in a letter to the author, remarks

“On the subject of confirmation I have of late been in the habit of taking the following view: In the earliest times, it pleased God to spread throughout the world the rumour of the hope of forgiveness of sins. In process of time, he gave an express promise of forgiveness, and caused it to be committed to writing. But in his perfect dispensation of mercy, he has not only perpetuated the record of this cove

Bishop Mcllvaine's views.

nant, but he hath also affixed to it divine and infallible seals -baptism and the Lord's supper-by which the promise is not only made to us more strong and sure, but by which it is particularized and applied to the individual. T'he seal of baptism is affixed to his covenant in a lower court, by an inferior officer. In due time the baptized person appears in a higher court, and the covenant is sealed again to him by the highest earthly officer of the church, with what the ancients often called the seal, by way of emphasis. Confirmation, then, is the renewal of the seal of the promise of the forgiveness of sins.

“How, then, can any come to confirmation seriously and worthily, save those who are indeed .grieved and wearied with the burden of their sins,' who are sighing and pleading for the hope of pardon, and unto whom any new assurance of the promise of God to them in particular will prove glad tidings of great joy?” He adds farther, “ If you desire the expression of my opinion, that good evidence of real conversion to God ought to be required of all persons presented to the bishop for confirmation, you have perfect liberty to state these as my sentiments.”

The views of Bishop McIlvaine may be gathered from a tract that came from his pen while Rector of St. Ann's Church, Brooklyn, entitled The Pastor's Address to a Candidate for Confirmation."

“ Repentance, whereby we forsake sin, and faith, whereby we embrace the promises of the gospel, are the spiritual qualifications prescribed for baptism, and are consequently necessary for confirmation. Nothing, indeed, is necessary as a qualification for the Lord's supper that is not also for confirmation. He who repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, is prepared for both; and he who does not, is prepared for neither. If you will look at the service for confirmation, you will see that those who come to it are considered not as intending to enter upon the Christian life, but as having done so already. In the prayer

offered up in their behalf, they are spoken of as being regenerated by the Holy Ghost, and as having obtained the forgiveness of all their sins. The supplication for them is not that they may become the children of God; but that, being considered as such already, they may continue his for ever, and daily increase in his Spirit more and more.”

Bishop McIlvaine's proposed inquiries. He afterwards proceeds to propose the following inquiries, to enable the candidate to determine whether he ought to receive this ordinance.

“ 1st. Have you been brought to true repentance ?

" In order to answer this question satisfactorily to yourself, let it be divided into the following particulars :

Do you see yourself to be so sinful as to deserve God's wrath and condemnation? Do you see that your sinfulness lies not merely in particular acts of transgression, but chiefly in your heart; that your heart is the fountain of sin, so that in you naturally dwells no good thing? Is your heart humbled before God on account of your sinfulness? Do you cordially hate it, and desire to be delivered from all sin ? Are your affections set upon Cod and upon holiness? Are you heartily striving to be more and more free from sin, and to be transformed more and more in the image of Christ?

“2d. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ?

“ Consider this question by dividing it into the following:

“ Have you been brought to renounce all reliance upon your own strength and righteousness for acceptance with God? Do you place any reliance for mercy upon your reformation, your prayers, your religious efforts, your attention to religious duties, or any works or feelings of your own? Or do you feel that all your help and hope are to be sought in Christ? Have you fled to him and committed your soul to him as all your refuge and righteousness ? Is he precious to your soul, and do you desire and determine to live wholly unto him?

“3d. Are you willing to follow Christ, whatever it may cost you?

" Are you prepared to give up all vain amusements—all sinful conformity to the world whatever which is opposed to the maintenance of a spiritual frame of mind, and a holy walk and conversation ?

“ 4th. Are you resolved to endeavour conscientiously to perform your whole duty to God and your fellow creatures? Is it your solemn determination to make the will of God, as revealed in his word, the rule and guide of your spirit and life all your days ?

“ 5th. Do you earnestly desire to glorify God and to

« AnteriorContinuar »