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dination, it was reserved to the highest, by Prayer and laying on of Hands, to communicate further Measures of the Holy Ghoft. It was indeed peculiar to the Apostles, that on their Intercession, his extraordinary and miraculous Gifts were bestowed: which continued in the Church no longer, than the Need of tbem did; nor can we suppose, that all were Partakers of them. But unquestionably by their Petitions they procured, for every sincere Convert, a much more valuable, though less remarkable Blessing, of universal and perpetual Neceflity, his ordinary and faving Graces. ·
For these therefore, after their Example, trusting that God will have Regard, not to our Unworthiness, but to the Purposes of Mercy which He hath appointed us to serve, we intercede now, when Persons take upon themselves the Vow of their Baptism. For this good End being now come amongst you, though I doubt not but your Ministers have given you proper Instructions on the Occasion ; yet I am desirous of adding somewhat further, which may not only acquaint more fully those, who are especially concerned, with the Nature of what they are about to do, but remind. you all of the Obligations, which Christianity lays upon you. And I cannot perform it better, than by explaining to you the Office of Confirmation, to which you may turn in your Prayer Books, where it stands - immediately after the Catechism.
There you will see, in the first Place, a Preface, directed to be read; in which, Notice is given, that for the more edifying of such as receive Confirmation, it shall be administered to none but those, who can answer to the Questions of the Catechism preceding: that fo Children may come to Years of some Discretion, and learn what the Promise made for them in Bartism was, before they are called upon to ratify and confirm it before the Church with their own Consent, and to engage that they will evermore observe it.
Prayers may be offered up for Infants with very good Effect. Promises may be made in their Name by such
as are authorised to act for them : especially when the Things promised are for their Interest, and will be their Duty; which is the Case of those in Baptism. But 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 the Catechism is by no Means enough, without a competent general Knowledge of their Meaning, and 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, from which if they had been wichheld, till they were duly qualified, their Souls might have been affected, and their Conduct influenced by it, as long as they lived.
Therefore I hope and beg, that neither Ministers nor Parents will be too eager for bringing Children very early to 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: which they shall not fail to have Opportunities of attending in their
their Neighbourhood, from Time to Time, so long as God continues my Life and Strength.
But as there are some too young for Confirmation, fome also may be thought too old : especially, if they have received the holy Sacrament without it. Now there are not indeed all the same Reasons for the Confirmation of such, as of others : nor hath the Church, I believe, determined any Thing about their Cafe, as it might be thought unlikely to happen. But ftill, since it doth happen too frequently, that Persons were not able, or have neglected, to apply for this Purpose: fo whenever they apply, as by doing it they exprels a
Desire to fulfil all Righteoufiessa; and may certainly receive Benefit, both from the Profession and the Prayers, appointed in the Office; my Judgment is, that they should not be rejected, but encouraged.
Only I must intreat you to observe, that when you take thus on yourselves the Engagement of leading a Christian Life, you are to take it once for all ; and no more to think of ever being confirmed a second Time, than of being baptized a second Time.
After dire&ting, Who are to be confirmed, the Office goes on to direct, How they are to be confirmed. And here, the Bishop is to begin with asking every one of those, who offer themselves, whether they do, in the Presence of God and of the Congregation, renew in their own Persons the folemn Vow of their Baptism; acknowledging themselves bound to believe and to perform all those Things, which their God-Fathers and God-Mothers then undertook for them. On which, they are each of them to answer, with an audible Voice, I do.
Now the Things promised in our Name, were, to renounce whatever God hath forbidden, to believe what He hath taught, and to practise what He hath com. manded. Nobody can promise for Infants absolutely, that they shall do these Things; but only, that they shall be instructed and admonished to do them : and, it is hoped, not in vain. This Instruction and Ado monition, Parents are obliged by Nature to give ; and if they do it effectually, God-Fathers and GodMothers have no further Concern, than to be heartily glad of it. But if the former fail, the latter mult supply the Failure, as far as they have Opportunity of doing it with any reasonable Profpect of Success. For they were intended, not to release the Parents from the Care of their Children, which Nothing can : but for a double Security, in a Case of such Importance.
If Nothing at all had been promised in our Names, we had still been bound, as soon as we were capable
of it, to believe in God, and obey Him. But we are more early and more firmly bound, as not only this hath been promised for us, but Care hath been taken to make us sensible of our Obligation to perform it : which Obligation therefore, Persons are called upon, in the Question under Confideration, to ratify and confirm. And great Cause have they to answer, that they do. For doing it is a Duty, on which their eternal Felicity peculiarly depends: as a little Attention to what I am about to say will clearly show you.
Our first Parents, even while they were innocent, had no Title to Happiness, or to Existence, but from God's Notification of his good Pleasure: which being conditional, when they fell, they lost it ; and derived to Us a corrupt and mortal Nature, intitled to Nothing; as both the Diseases and the Poverty of Ancestors often descend to their distant Pofterity. This bad Condition we fail not, from our firft Ure of Reafon, to make worse, in a greater or less Degree, by actual Transgreflions : and so personally deserve the Displeasure, instead of Favour of Him, who made
Yet we may hope, that, as He is good, He will on our Repentance forgive us. But then, as He is also just and wise, and the Ruler of the World; we could never know with Certainty, of ourselves, what his Justice and Wisdon, and the Honour of his Government might require of Him with Respect to Sinners: whether He would pardon greater Offences at all; and whether He would reward those, whom He might be pleased not to punith. But most happily the Revelation of his holy Word hath cleared up all these Doubts of unaslisted Reason: and offered to the worst of Sinners, on the Condition of Faith in Christ, added to Repentance, and productive of good Works (for all which He is ready to enable us,) a Covenant of Pardon for Sins past, Aflistance against Sin for the future, and eternal Life in Return for a fincere, though imperfect, and totally undeserving Obedience. The Method of entering into this Covenant is, be
ing baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: that is, into the Acknowledgment of the mysterious Union and joint Authority of these Three; and of the distinct Offices, which they have undertaken for our Salvation : together with a faithful Engagement of paying suitable Regard to each of them. In this Appointment of Baptism, the washing with Water aptly signifies, both our Promise to preserve ourselves, with the best Care we can, pure from the Defilement of Sin, and God's Promise to consider us, as free from the Guilt of it. Baptism then, through his Mercy, secures Infants from the bad Consequences of Adan's Transgression, giving them a new Title to the Immortality, which he lost. It also fecures, to Persons grown up, the intire Forgiveness of their own Transgressions, on the Terms just mentioned. But then, in order to receive these Benefits, we must lay our Claim to the Covenant, which conveys them: we muft ratify, as soon as we are able, what was promifed in our Name by others before we were able and done for us then, only on Presumption that we would make it our own Deed afterwards. For if we neglect, and appear to renounce our Part of the Covenant, we have plainly not the least Right to God's performing His : but we remain in cur Sins, and Chrift fall profit us Nothing b .
You see then of what unspeakable Importance it is, that we take on ourselves the Vow of our Baptism. And it is very fit and useful, that we should take it in such Form and Manner as the Office prescribes. It is fit, that when Persons have been properly instructed by the Care of their Parents, Friends, and Ministers, they should with joyful Gratitude acknowledge them to have faithfully performed that kindest Duty. It is fit, that before they are admitted by the Church of Christ to the holy Communion, they should give public Affurance to the Church of their Christian Be
Gal, v. 29