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It is with these convictions that I have endeavoured to explain to you at large, First, the Nature of Confirmation ; Secondly, the Importance of it ; Thirdly, the particulars of the Baptismal Vow, of which it is the ratification ; and Fourthly, the Benefits which it conveys to those who make that ratification with devout and honest hearts. I have only one more topic to remind you of; which is the SPIRIT in which such an ordinance should be engaged in, both as respects God, who is the gracious Father of the Society in which the candidate personally enrols himself ; and also as respects the Society itself, or Church, with which he thereby enters--or should enter-into full connexion.
The first point only I touch this morning : namely, THE SPIRIT WHICH SHOULD BE EXERCISED TOWARDS GOD, in Confirmation.
To enter into which, I would pray you to remember that the Christian is one who has been consecrated to God by Jesus Christ — who has been adopted, for his sake, into the family of heaven, - and who is, therefore, no longer his own, but bound, by every tie, to glorify God in his body and in his spirit which are God's. And Confirmation is the personal recognition of this consecration, and of its accompanying privileges and obligations. Consequently, as the great Duty of Confirmation is
the taking on us our Baptismal Vow—and the great Benefit of Confirmation is the realizing our Baptismal Privilege; so the prevailing Spirit which we should exercise in such an ordinance is just that compound feeling of filial love and filial obedience, —that grateful devotedness, or devoted gratitude, which forms the characteristic temper of a Christian throughout his life, and of which, therefore, St. Peter reminds his readers in our text.
A happy feeling of Christian privilege, issuing in a holy feeling of Christian obligation—this is the Spirit which becomes those who have been redeemed by Christ that they might be a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Let me then pray you,
friends, to come and give yourselves to God, with A HAPPY FEELING OF THE CHRISTIAN PRIVILEGES which have been vouchsafed you; of the opportunity, namely, which has been afforded you, of knowing God—and of the dignity to which you have been raised, of serving God.
How gratefully should we rejoice in the opportunity which has been afforded us of knowing God. Of this St. Peter reminds us when he speaks of Christians being called “out of darkness into God's marvellous light." There are two kingdoms, two regions subject to two opposing principles, which are now,
alas ! in constant conflict, though that conflict shall at last be put an end to. There is the kingdom of darkness,- of evil, of ignorance, and contrariety to God, which is the kingdom of the Devil. , And there is the kingdom of light, -of spiritual knowledge and friendship with God, - which is the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. All men are by nature born in the one ; and, so far as they were left to themselves, would go on therein -in ignorance of God-in indulgence of sin-in subjection to the Evil One. But the Christian is transferred from this dreadful, hopeless state, into the care, the guidance, and the help of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is entered into the Church, or community of those who know and worship God. He is brought within the sphere of Christian light, -education, preaching, ordinances. He has thrown open to him free access to all the means of grace. He has proclaimed to him the truths, the invitations, the warnings, and the promises of the word of God. And thus he is “a saved one"cued one ; brought, as it were, into a liberated colony-redeemed into an atmosphere of kindness, and encouragement, and instruction. He is not left to grope on in the darkness of ignorance, and thus to fall into the pit of misery. A light from heaven shines upon his path, and his feet are guided into the way of peace.
And let us never forget how “ marvellous” is this light-how gratuitously, how utterly unsought and undeserved, it has shone upon us ! Whence have we all the knowledge, which we at this moment possess, of God, of Christ, of holiness, of salvation ? Whence has beamed that ray of hope which lights up every object with a heavenly radiance, and can brighten the deepest gloom of earthly things ? Did we find it in ourselves ? Has it sprung out from our own bosom? Did that which is radically evil evolve itself into good ? Did the night of our original nature pass on, of itself, into day ? No! Darkness is the antagonist of light, not its generator. The light which has been streaming round us through this day sprang not from the murky bosom of the past night; but it came in upon that night — that night which of itself would have been everlastingit came in upon that night, shed down from the re. splendent sun which rose upon, and thereby chased away, its gloom. And as with nature, so with mind, Darkness is spread, in the beginning, over the face of the deep ; but God says, “ Let there be light, and there is light !” The god of this world blinds the minds of them which believe not; but “ God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” “ The world wisdom knew not God; but it has pleased God by the foolishness of preaching"—that is, by proclaiming those truths of Revelation which are counted by the world as foolish and of little worth, but which are truly the wisdom of God -" by the foolishness which his servants preach, to save them that believe.” “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love him; but God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit !"
Yes, Brethren, here is the essential truth. All true wisdom—all good works, counsels, and desires
-can come to us by Revelation only-i. e. by Disclosure, illumination from on high. God only teaches men to profit; by his several methods of instruction -his works, his word—his servants—his Spirit in the heart. And it is to enjoy this instruction, to be trained up in attention to it—to get line upon line, and precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little—that we have been brought into the church of Christ,—which is the school of God,--and called out of darkness into his marvellous light. My dear young friends, who are coming to consecrate your opening faculties, your young imaginations, the buddings of your heart, to God; come with the grateful recollection that all this is not of yourselves, but has been given you by Him—that you are but offering the first fruits of that harvest of the soul, the seeds