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Bishop McIvaine's proposed inquiries.
honour his service by an example becoming the Gospel ? Do you realize the great responsibility of that public profession of religion which you contemplate, and will it be your earnest prayer and effort to live consistently with what the world has reason to look for in a Christian?
“ 6th. Do you lean to your own wisdom or strength for ability to live as above described? Or do you feel that your own strength is perfect weakness—that your sufficiency is only of God? Will you look to him for all your strength, and yet strive to follow Christ, as if your success were entirely dependant upon your own efforts ?
“7th. Do you find habitual pleasure and profit in secret prayer and in reading the Scriptures? Do you heartily love these duties? Do you feel the absolute necessity of their frequent and regular observance to all steadfastness in your religious walk, and all prosperity in your soul? Will you make it a matter of conscientious observance daily to read the Scriptures in a devout manner, and daily to wait upon God in secret and earnest prayer? If you are able, with a comfortable degree of satisfaction, to answer these questions in the affirmative, you have reason to trust that you know by experience what it is to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus. You may have no hesitation in this case, about the propriety of your coming to the ordinance of confirmation. I bid you in the name of the Lord, Come.”
And in his address to the Ohio Convention in 1834, the Bishop remarks, “ One thing has encouraged me much-I refer to the views entertained by the clergy, and very generally by their people, of the spiritual qualifications required in candidates for confirmation. Loose ideas on this subject, and a loose practice in admitting and encouraging to confirmation, the worldly-minded and impenitent, as if a sufficient age and a mere knowledge of the most elementary truths of religion, without any pretension to a serious consecration of heart and life to Christ, were all the Church expected in her members ; the wide separation, practically made between the candidate for confirmation and the communicant at the Lord's table, as if one might acceptably receive the former, without imagining that he is prepared or expected to approach the latter, has done moro ihan almost any thing else, to injure the spiritual character
The design of the author.
and influence of our church, and to enco
courage the idea, so prevalent in many parts of the land, that formality is all we desire in the service of God. Insist, brethren of the clergy, upon newness of heart and the decided embracing of the whole will of God, as much in reference to confirmation, as to a preparation for the sacrament to which it is only the admission-door. Unspeakably would I prefer that you should tell me when I visit you, that you have none to present for the laying on of hands, than that you should array before me a spectacle of candidates, which however beautiful and interesting in appearance, would be a mere show of unintended profession and dead formality.”
I would by no means convey the impression that they whose names I have here introduced, are the only bishops in our country that hold these opinions res
cting confirmation. I have selected the preceding testimony, for the simple reason that these authors' writings were accessible to me, and that I am not aware that any other American bishops have published any thing on the subject of confirmation.*
The candid reader, I am confident, will now see that there is no force in the objection, or truth in the statement, that the views advocated in this volume are at variance with those generally held by the Episcopal Church.
After the preceding pages were prepared for the press, the author received from one of his clerical brethren who occupies an important post in the church, the following communication, which contains an able and every way conclusive argument in favour of the views advocated in this chapter.
“Ever since I began seriously to reflect on the subject of qualifications for the rite of confirmation, I have been of opinion that nothing short of the appropriate evidences of true repentance and a living faith should be accepted of those who propose to become recipients of that rite ; in short, that the qualifications for confirmation should be the same with those for communion—the true christian cha
* To the above list I ought to add the name of Bishop Dehone, from whose work on confirmation, I have several extracts, in this work.
Views of a Clerical Friend.
racter-the character of a truly renewed, believing, humble, obedient, affectionate, world-renouncing disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“ The chief reasons for a lower standard of qualifications seem to be found in the address at the close of the office for infant baptism ; in the third rubric at the close of the catechism, and in the preface to the order of confirmation. The import of the language here referred to, is, that children should be brought to confirmation, so soon as they are of competent age; and so well instructed in the catechism as to be able to answer all its questions, and to repeat the creed, and the Lord's prayer, and the ten commandments. But, that this language is not to be understood in the strict sense of its terms, and as strictly and universally imperative, may be concluded from three considerations : that, thus understood, the directions of the church are continually disregarded by both her bishops and her presbyters ; that, thus understood, the ministers of the church are under obligation to procure the confirmation of even her most vicious baptized youth; and that, thus understood, the language is inconsistent with that sound Christian discretion, which, by the last rubric after the catechism, appears to be lodged with the minister of every parish, who is there required to give in writing to the bishop, at the time of confirmation, “ the names of such persons within his parish,” and of course the names of such only, " as he shall think fit to be presented” for confirmation.
“ All these considerations show, that the language referred to is not to be understood strictly, and enforced imperatively; but, in the words of the preface to the order of confirmation, is to be regarded as an “order very convenient to be observed” in the case of those baptized in infancy, provided other qualifications concur to render them fit subjects of the rite. What those other qualifications are, we are left to gather from the nature of the baptismal office, from the design of the catechism, and from the nature of confirmation itself.
“ The baptismal office, then, is an actual renunciation of the world, the flesh, and the devil, by either the person baptized, or his proper representative acting for him, an actual profession by him of a true Christian faith ; and an actual promise, or vow, obediently to keep God's holy will
Views or a Clerical Friend.
and commandments, and to walk in the same all the days of his life: Or, as it is said in that office, “ Baptism doth represent unto us our profession; which is, to follow the example of our Saviour, Christ, and to be made like unto him, that, as he died and rose again for us, so should we, who are baptized, die from sin and rise again unto righteousness.'
• The catechism is a brief, but comprehensive summary of Christian doctrine, and Christian duty; and is designed as a means in the hand of the Holy Spirit to bring baptized children to, not only a knowledge of this doctrine and duty, but also a practical experience of the power of this doctrine, and a practical obedience to the requirements of this duty.
“ And the nature of confirmation itself is, on the part of those baptized in involuntary infancy, a voluntary ratifying and confirming of what they did, or of what was done for them, in that sacrament. It is a sincere, intelligent, and religious assumption, before God and the church, of the whole covenant sealed in baptism.
Baptism, then, is a significant and sealing rite, to be administered upon involuntary infants. Confirmation is a voluntary, intelligent, and religious ratifying and confirming of that rite, when arrived at years of discretion. And the catechism stands between the two in the relation of a means, to be used by the spirit of God, in preparing the subjects of the former for the reception of the latter. When, therefore, the means have been made effectual to the end, when the truths and doctrines contained in the catechism, however, and whenever applied, have been so blessed by the spirit, as that the subject of baptism actually makes that renunciation of the world, the flesh and the devil, and actually exercises that true Christian faith, which are signified and professed in that sacrament, when he is actually following the example of our Saviour, Christ, and is made like unto Him; when he has indeed died unto sin and risen again unto righteousness; then it would seem, and not till then, is he to be considered a fit subject of confirmation. The significancy of baptism being realized, and the end of the catechism being answered, confirmation comes in, in its right place; and the recipient of it can şincerely, intelligently, and religiously ratify and
Views of a clerical friend.
confirm the promise or vow which is resting on him, to keep God's holy will and commandments, and to walk in the same all the days of his life.
“ This view of the subject is sustained by the considera. tion, that without the true repentance and faith here required, the subject of confirmation cannot sincerely, intelligently, and religiously ratify and confirm the engagements of his baptismal covenant. If he take the ratifying and confirming words," I do," into his mouth, without their meaning, the very act of renunciation, of repentance and faith in his heart, he does but offer solemn mockery to God, and ought to expect—not a blessing, but a curse, in so doing
“ This view of the requisites for confirmation is sustained by another consideration. From the rubric after confirmation, and from the first rubric after the office of baptism, of such as are of riper years, it will be seen that the church considers confirmation as a rite immediately preparatory to the communion. The qualifications for the former, therefore, are the same with those for the latter. And what are the requisites for communion, as established by the church? By referring to the last answer in the catechism, it will be seen that they are, true repentance for sin, a steadfast purpose to lead a new life, a living faith in the atonement by Christ, a thankful sense of this benefit, and the principle of universal charity, or holy love. This, the church being judge, and nothing less than this, qualifies for communion. This, therefore, by the same decision, and nothing less than this, qualifies for confirmation.
“ Nor is it irrelevant to the view now taken of the requi. sites for confirmation, that the practice of admitting persons to the rite upon lower qualifications, has operated, long and deeply, to the injury and scandal of the church, and thus, to the prejudice of true religion in the world. How often are those, who, by an act the most impressive, have assumed vows the most solemn, seen to indulge without scruple in those pursuits and vanities which are sufficient to the identity of their characters with those of the allowedly irreligious: one day, with solemn attitude, kneeling in the presence of God, and in the view of heaven professing to renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil, with all their vain pomp and glory-all their covetous and sinful desires,