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Mrs. Conley's death-Improvement. thoughts henceforth in heaven. She remarked to Mr. Conley, “ You have been to me a most kind and devoted husband: continue to put your trust in the Lord ;” and then turning to the other members of the family, she said, “I can never be sufficiently thankful to God that he has given me such affectionate children, and that his grace hath brought them into the way of life. I die with the blessed prospect of meeting my husband and all my children in the skies. My only hope of acceptance is through the blood of Christ. I have nothing else to look to or lean upon. I never before had such an humbling view of my own unworthiness, and the utter unprofitableness of my own life. But, blessed be my covenant-keeping God! in Christ my Redeemer, I see there is an infinite fulness. O the preciousness of Christ! tell it, tell it to all the world.”
In this happy and composed state of mind she continued, till her spirit, loosed from its clay tenement, fled to the realms of celestial light.
This narrative shows you, my friends, the advantage of choosing the Lord for your portion, and choosing him at the commencement of life. I have not been painting from imagination, but rehearsing to you well-authenticated facts. And what is the conclusion to be drawn from all that we have heard ? That if we enter at once upon the service of the Lord, ours will be a useful life and happy death. But if we put off the work of salvation, and “cast away the law of the Lord of Hosts," we shall live to no purpose, our death will be wretched, and ere long we shall lift up our eyes in hell, being in unceasing torments.
The question propounded before confirmation.
LOVE, THE FULFILLING OF THE LAW.
“ I delight to do Thy will, O my God.”—From the 40th Psalm.
The first question proposed to the candidate for confirmation, as he approaches the rails of the altar to meet his blessed Saviour, is,—“Do ye here, in the presence of God and of this congregation, renew the solemn promise and vow that ye made, or that was made in your name, at your baptism ; ratifying and confirming the same, and acknowledging yourselves bound to believe and do all those things which ye then undertook, or your sponsors then undertook for you.”—Every one that stands there is expected audibly to answer,
“ I do."
If the nature and obligation of this vow and promise be understood, and its renewal be pledged understandingly and in good faith, doubtless the person thus coming forward to confirmation possesses the qualifications requisite to constitute him a fit subject for this sacred rite.
Before entering into an explanation of the nature and obligations of that vow and promise, however, the following inquiries naturally present themselves.
1. To whom are that vow and promise made or renewed ?
2. And what are the motives that prompt us to make or renew them?
To answer and illustrate these inquiries will occupy our attention during the present lecture.
“Do ye here, in the presence of God and of this congregation, renew the solemn promise and vow?” We see in whose august and majestic presence this promise and vow are made,
even in the presence of the great and incomprehensibly glorious Supreme,-and of an assembly of men convened in the courts of his sacred temple. We see that
Allusion to the reign of king Asa.
it is a promise and vow renewed under high and peculiar solemnities. And the inquiry immediately before us is,
1. To whom are that vow and promise made or re newed ?
When arranged around the chancel, previous to receive ing the laying on of hands, you will be called upon to renew a solemn promise and vow. To whom was that promise originally made-to whom is the renewal of it to be made?
Is it to one of your fellow mortals ?—to the minister of Christ?-or to the church which he purchased with his blood ?
Men may make solemn engagements to each other. Such was that covenant into which the people entered during the reign of Asa, king of Judah. The state of religion at that time was inconceivably low. “For a long season Israel had been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law." But at length “ The Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded. And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him,-Hear ye me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin,—The Lord is with you, while ye be with him ; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you ; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.”
The pointed address of this messenger of the Lord made a deep impression. And the king and people assembled at Jerusalem, and “ entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul. That whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman." This was indeed a most interesting time in Judah. Solemn was the pledge that had been given. The result was glorious. A great and extended reformation followed. They kept their vow. They sought the Lord. And the words of the prophet were verified. The Lord was found of them.
But this solemn vow and promise that you, my young friends, are about to renew, is not an engagement with your fellow men.
Promises made to the minister of Christ are often of a very solemn character. That young man, whose name is engraved on the marble slab that stands over the mouldered ashes of the dead, most solemnly pledged his word to the
The covenant vow is made to God.
minister of Christ, as he lay stretched on the couch of languishing, that if he could but once more be raised up from the borders of the grave, he would consecrate the remainder of his days to the service of God. A merciful heaven interposed, and revived his drooping form. But with returning health, returned former purposes and feelings. All his sick-bed vows were forgotten and disregarded. The paths of pleasure were retrod, and the tinsel and gaudy images of this world's vanities again danced before his eyes.
And thus he continued to eat and to drink, to revel and to dissipate,—and knew not until death came, and took him away in “ the twinkling of an eye.” But the vow you are soon to renew is not to any mortal man.
It is true, that pledges given to the church should be regarded as sacred and inviolable. And such pledges does every one either expressly or tacitly give, who is admitted within the pale of her communion, receives any of her sacred rites, or enjoys any of her exalted privileges.
But it is not to the church, nor to the minister, nor to men, that you are about to renew this solemn vow and promise, but to the great and eternal Lord God. He is The party with whom you covenant,--to whom you proinise,—to whom you offer the renewal of
He is omniscient. He cannot be deceived. He looks into the very heart, and discovers the secrets of the thoughts. The motives which influence us are all open to his view. He loves holiness, and hates sin.
He is infinitely rich,-infinitely happy in himself. Our best services cannot enrich him, or increase his felicity. He is infinite in power, and infinitely true to his word.
2. What are the motives, then, that prompt you to desire to make this solemn promise and vow to this great and majestic Being
Does the circumstance, that many of your companions are designing to go forward to receive confirmation, exert no inconsiderable influence in determining you to take this step? This is not the right motive.
Doubtless when deep solemnity rests upon the minds of our young friends, and the inquiry begins to arise among them, “ What shall I do to be saved ?" the season is pecu
Motives for entering into covenant.
liarly favourable to the commencement of a new life,-a thousand difficulties that we imagined in the way are now removed. But let us remember, that the bare circumstance that we mingle in the crowd with those who are inquiring the way to Zion, will not make our peace with God. The business of religion is a personal concern between us and God. For ourselves we must repent, and for ourselves we must believe. Let it be remembered that God searcheth the heart, and that with him the mere outward profession of religion, while the heart is not right in his sight, will only increase our guilt, and aggravate our eternal condemnation.
Are you designing to come to confirmation to gratify the wishes of your friends? This is not the proper motive. Doubtless much is due to the wishes and pious counsel of our parents. And if any thing can arrest us in our career of thoughtlessness, or strike religious sensibility into our hearts, the tears and prayers of a beloved parent must: lears shed over our follies, and prayers devoutly offered up to heaven for our salvation. But let it not be forgotten that filial affection and divine grace are not one and the same thing. We may tenderly love our parents, and be very desirous to comply with their wishes, while at the same time we carry within us an unsanctified spirit, and a heart at enmity with God.
Are you about to make this solemn promise and vow, because, in view of a coming judgment and a burning hell, into which all the finally impenitent and unsanctified are to be cast, the terrors of the Lord have taken hold of you? You are not influenced by a scriptural motive. Doubtless, all those terrific scenes, which have come up in such appalling colours before your startled imagination, exist in awful reality. You have indeed violated God's most perfect and holy law, times without number. The sentence of divine wrath has gone out against you. If you have not been washed in the blood of Christ, you are each one of you standing on the very margin of the burning lake, and the next step you take may be into its fiery waves !
I do not wonder that the unwashed and unsanctified sinner trembles, and is filled with awful dismay and dread. But will God look with complacency upon vows and promises made to Him under the influence of these feelings