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'For the first, none are capable of the Benefit of Confirmation, but such as have been before baptiz'd; for Persons . must be first receivVi into the Church, before they can receive the Bleflings promis'd and bestow'd after it. And therefore these Samaritans were first baptiz'd by Philip the Deacon, before they were confirm/d by Peter and John the Apostles. And the Disciples at Ephifus were baptiz'd In the Name of the Lord Jesus, before Paul laid his Hands onthem to bless and confirm them. And our Church, by . the Warrant of these Examples, acts accordingly. :. V.' But because the Charity of the Church hath ever extended to Infants, upon the Promises of Sureties under-' taking for them, and Children both under the Law and the Gospel have beetx receiv'd into the Covenant before they .understand the Nature, End,, or -Obligations of it V therefore, secondly,. Instruction must always go before-* Confirmation: that Children may. be taught, as scion «s they are able to learn j what a solemn Vow, Promises ffnd; Profession hath been made by othersuin their Name, to'fit; them to renew and ratify in their own-Persons the Engagement of Sureties in their behalf-,; and to enable them to know and take upop. themselves the Obligation os'what, when they come to Age, they stand-bound to perform Which shews us the Usefulness and Necessity of Catechizing, to prepare Children for Confirmation, and to receive the Benefits convey'd by it: which is
The last thing propounded to be spoken to, viz.. the Graces and Blessings confer'd in and convey'd by this Rite of Confirmation: And they are held forth here by receiving the Holy Ghost j Then laid they their Hands upon them, and they receiv'd the Holy Ghost. Where by receiving the Holy Ghost, is meant the Participation of the Gifts and Graces of God's Holy Spirit, which are the greatest Blessings that ever were or can be imparted to the Sons of Men.
As for the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, they are either extraordinary and miraculous, as the Gift of Tongues, of Miracles and Prophecy, and the like ., which were given to the Apostles and others in the.beginning of Christianity, for the planting and propagating of the Gospel, as we read, 4?J2. i, i,&c and Chap. 19.6. & iCor. 12. Or common and ordinary, as the acquir'd Knowledg of the Tongues, the Improvements in Learning, Skill in the Arts ^artd sciences, and the like; which come from the fame Spirit, , Fi . *ho tho not in the fame extraordinary way: the former by sudden Infusion, the latter by the Methods of Study and Diligence. And tho the former ceas'd with the Reason of them, yet the latter being of standing Use in the Churchy will be continu'd to the world's end.
But besides the Gifts, the Graces of the Spirit are by Prayer and Imposition of Hands confer'd in Confirmation. This the Fathers generally affirm: By Praytr and laying on of Hands (faith St. Cyprian) they that are baptized receive the Holy Ghost. 7he Flejb is stai d by Imposition of Hands (faith JertuUian) that the Soul may be illuminated by the Spirit. We read in Scripture of a Spirit of Wisdom and "Understanding, a Spirit of Counsel and Might, a Spirit of JCnordedg and of the Fear of the Lord. All which, in theOffice of Confirmation, we are directed to pray for • , and by a due and devout Use of this Ordinance will be granted and bestow'd upon us. By this we shall be enabled to perform our Baptismal Vow, to have spiritual Strength enough to resist and conquer our ghostly Enemies: for hu Grace mill be sufficient for m, to vanquish Satan, overcome the World, and subdue the Flesh, the Enemies we renounc'd in Baptism , which, without the Help of Divine Grace, Will be too hard for the best of us.
Wherefore let all good Christians have a high Esteem and Value for this Sacred Rite of Confirmation, by which we •receive the Holy Ghost to all the Ends and Purposes of Religion. Let none run to it merely for Company, or for Fashion's fake, but reverently observe it as a Means of Grace, and a Step to Glory. Let it not be neglected either by those that are to give, or those that are to receive it. But let the former be ready duly so administer it, and the other to be carefully brought to itconsidering how much it tends to the advancing of Knowledg, and increasing of Piety in the World. Let all Parents, who tender the Welfare of their Children, take care by catechizing and instructing of them to fit and prepare them for this Office, and be as mindful of the Good ot their Souls, as they arewont to be of their Bodies. Let all Sureties and Undertakers for Children, who stand bound to fee them taught in the Principles of Religion, and brought to Confirmation, take care that this be effectually done, to release themselves of the Obligation^ which else will lie heavy upon them, and swell their Accounts by the Violation of such iolemn Engagements. Id
In a word, let us all endeavour to preserve this antient>
f>ious, and laudable Institution of the Church, and to anwer the End, that we may receive the Benefit of it, which, is to fit us for the Holy Sacrament, and Fellowship of Christians here upon Earth, and to prepare us for the Communion of Saints hereafter in Heaven: Which God grant, for the Merits of Christ, &c,
The Gospel for Tuesday in Whitsun-Vfedk.
St. John x, 1 -11.
Vtrilif) verily 1 say unto you, He that entreth not by the Door into the Sheepfold, but climbeth up jome other way, the same is a Thief and a Robber. But he that cometh in by the Door, is the Shepherd of the Sheep; to him the Porter openethj and the Sheep hear his Voice, 8cc.
IN this Gospel for the Day, St. John brings in our Saviour by a Parable of the Shepherd and the Sheep, proving himself the true Mestias, and his Ministers the true Messengers of God; and that all other Pretenders to either, are no better than Cheats and Impostors. For the better clearing whereof, I shall consider the Parable both in the Literal and Mystical Sense, and shew our Saviour's Drift and Design in it with relation to himself, and his Ministers sent by him.
The Parable is usher'd in with the Term of Asseveration, Verily, to signify the undoubted Truth and Certainty of it ^ which Term is doubled, Verily, verily I say unto you, to signify moreover the exceeding great Weight and Importance of what comes after it. And having thus prepar'd the way to gain Attention and Reception to what follows^ he enters !}pon the Parable -, which begins*
F 3 Firsts
First, With the Character or Account of a false Shepherd, saying, He that entreth not by the Door into the Sheepfold, hut climheth up some other way, the same is d Thief and a Robber. This, in the literal Sense, is known, and will be acknowJedg'd by all Men to be true for he that is the Owner of Sheep, or the Shepherd to whom the Care of them is committed, is wont (you know) oftimes to shut them up in the fold, and to lock the Door, to keep them from breaking out, or going astray, and so from the danger of being *loft. Now if any come in the Evening, or by Night, and enters the Sheepfold not by thi,IJoor, which he finds lock'd for the Security of the Sheep, he cannot be a true Shepherd; and if he climbs up some other way^ to-be sure he hath jbme'bad design upon the Sheep, and is no better than a Thief and a Robber. The mystical Sense or Design-os these Words is to detect false Christs, and false Teachers, and to discover the .Falshood of their Ways and Pretences. As,.' .
ist, He that pretends'to come as the promised Mestlas, or Saviour of the World, and comes not'a? he ought, in the way and manner in which he was promis'dthat is, brings not a Commission from God, attested by a Power of working Miracles; such a one comes not in by the Door, or right way of Entrance, but climbs up some other way by the Steps of Ambition and Avarice, and is no better than a Lyar and Impostor, who seeks to deceive and destroy those that follow him. Such a one was Theudas, mention'd in the Acts of the Apostles, who boasted himself to be somebody, that is, a Person sent by God to relieve and advance those that came to him, which drew a Number of Men, about four hundred, after him; but doing nothing to sinew his Power or Commission from God, he was seiz'd and./laiu for an Impostor, his Followers were all scattered, and the whole Design brought to nought, Acts 5. Such another was Judas of Galilee, who in the Days of the taxing, and enrolling the People, drew away many after him; but he also peri/bed, and all that obeyd him were aispers'd, as we read in the fame. Chapter.
Again, zdly, He that pretends to be a Minister of Christ, and takes upon him the Office of publick Teaching, and comes not in by the Door of Ordination, or a lawful Call, but climbs up or intrudes into it some other way, taking this Honour uport him without being called, As was Aaron', such a one too is no better than a Thief and a Robber,
^specially' especially if he thrust9 himself into another's Charge, and pretends to instruct the People committed to him without or against the Consent of the lawful Pastor: he is a spiritual Sheep-stealer, or Church-robber, that divides and makes a Prey of another's Flock, and does but seduce and ruin those that follow him.
And having given the Character of false Christs, and false Teachers, he next gives an account of the true Meflias, and the true Ministers or Messengers sent by him, in these words; But he that entereth in by the Door, is the Shepherd of the Sheep: which, in the literal Sense, signifies, that he who is the right Owner or Master of the Sheep, or the Shepherd appointed by him to oversee them, he hath the Key of the Sheepfold, and enters into it by the Door, and so goes in like a good Shepherd with no other design than to feed and preserve the Flock.
In the mystical Sense it teaches us, (i.) The Character and Proof of the true Messiasj he that comes in by the Door of Prophecy, and brings with him the Seal of Mincles to testify that he is sent fom God, by fulfilling of Prophecies, and doing things that are above the Reach and Activity of all human Power, is to he receiv'd as a Divine Person, and to be own'd for the true Messiah, or the great Shepherd and BiJIjop of our Souls. And by this our Saviour prov'd and demonstrated the Truth of his Mission and Messiahship; faying in the following part of this Chapter, The Works that J do in my Father's Name, they hear witn-fs of me, ver. 25. & ver. 37,38. If I do not .the Works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do, tho ye believe not me, believe the Works, that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and 1 in him: meaning, that the Works wrought by him made it evident, that the Father acted in and by him, and that all that he did was by his Power and Coramistion. Which things so convine'd Nicodemm, a Ruler of the Jews, that he confess'd him to be the Messias, or Teacher come from God, for none could do the Works that he did, except God were with him; John 3. 2. And a great Multitude of People, upon the sight of the Miracle of the Loaves, faid, Of a truth this is that Prophet that should come into the World. Chap. 6. 14.
Moreover, (2.) These words teach us the Character and Qualifications of the true Ministers and Messengers of Christ; He that entreth in by the Door of Ordination, and