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Memoir of the Right Reverend John Strachan
Appendix V


We feel that we shall be gratifying many readers by recording here a few specimens of the late Bishop’s Confirmation Addresses.

His rule had invariably been to deliver these Addresses extempore; thus better adapting them to local circumstances, and allowing of a more direct, personal, and practical counsel. Sometimes they contained a history of the ordinance itself,—the Divine sanction for it apparent in the Holy Scriptures, and the testimony of the whole Church in its favour from the earliest times. Sometimes, too, in these Addresses, there was an assertion and explanation of the fundamental principles of the Church,—its Divine Constitution, its Episcopal succession, its Liturgy, its Creeds, and Sacraments. But these were topics only occasionally touched upon; the effort almost uniformly was, to draw attention to the every-day Christian duties to which the Confirmed had specially bound themselves,—as self-denial, control of temper, affectionate deportment to parents and to brothers and sisters, a pure and religious life, devotion to prayer and public worship, a steady and conscientious attendance at the Lord’s Supper.

It was not until about two years before his death, that, —as far as we can learn,—any such Addresses were written. At that time, a consciousness of failing powers and weakened memory made him distrustful of extempore efforts; and the apprehension of failure in connection, and of incorrectness in Scripture quotation, induced him to condense in the written form, which we subjoin, a few of such Addresses. . We feel that old as well as young will be glad of having this record of them, as wakening up pleasant and useful recollections of paternal counsels and kindly exhortations long ago delivered :—

There will be very few occasions, my dear young friends, in the course of your lives, so interesting and important as the present one. You have this day devoted yourselves to the Most High God your Redeemer; and He hath confirmed to you the assurance that you are his adopted children, and heirs of His Kingdom.

It is to you the day of your entrance upon that great and glorious estate, of which your parents and sponsors were permitted to take possession for you when you were yet in your infancy; an estate embracing the pardon of your sins, the favour and love of Almighty God, the assistance of His grace and Holy Spirit, and the promise f of eternal life; and therefore very fitly denominated a “state of salvation.” At this entrance upon the possession of it in your own names, the Church rejoices. The angels of heaven have been spectators, and are glad. The blessed Redeemer of our race receives gratification, and takes you by the hand; and the Almighty Father of all beings condescends to bestow on you His heavenly benediction. So great is the import of what has now been done, as you rest upon it and as we contemplate it, that we should mutually be filled with admiration and gratitude, with humility and joy; and may well exclaim, “What hath God wrought?”

This transaction, however, is not a mere ceremony, which is now done with, and is to have no connection with your future conduct. It ought to consecrate your whole life,—to give direction to all its steps; never to be forgotten at any of its stages; nor remembered but with

thankfulness and godly fear. You have taken upon you the vows of God. The relations into which you are brought, are to be perpetual; you have acknowledged obligations which are to be performed daily. There is a covenant between you and the Almighty, in which you have promised to believe and to be holy. In virtue of this covenant, there is opened to you the prospect of the highest happiness of which your nature is capable,—even satisfaction in life, peace in death, and immortality in heaven. But your attainment of these blessings depends upon the fulfilment, by the covenanting parties in the transactions of this day, of their respective engagements.

As regards the Almighty, what He hath promised, He “will most surely keep and perform.” He hath graciously condescended to renew to you the assurance of the pardon of your sins, of the aid of His Holy Spirit, and of eternal life. Respecting the certainty and manner of accomplishing these things, it becomes you not to scruple or to doubt. In this matter, your business is to believe with a stedfast reliance on His word, that, if you are faithful to perform your vows, “He, who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it unto the end.” For “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance;” “with Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” The power of your God is equal to His purposes; His truth is equal to His power. Hath He said, and shall He not do it ? Hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good ? He hath commanded to bless, and you are blessed; and, unless you abandon the conditions of His blessing, nothing can reverse it.

It is, therefore, respecting the fulfilment of the engagement on your part made, that you are always to be concerned so long as you continue in this world. You have promised to the Most High God, your Redeemer, and best Benefactor, to renounce whatever He has forbidden; to believe whatever He has taught; and to do whatever He has commanded. As you look forward into this path upon which you. have entered, does it seem to you a difficult one? For man to be good and gain heaven is not a light business. But how great, how encouraging, how animating, are your incitements to fidelity? If you persevere, the Holy Ghost will remain with you. You will have in life the favour of God, the knowledge of forgiveness, the consciousness of holiness. He, who died for you, will see with satisfaction the fruit of His love. Your parents and friends will be gladdened, and society adorned and refreshed by the beauty and fragrance of your virtue. When death shall approach,—for you must all die,—to convey you, from all you hold dear, to the tribunal of the Almighty, you will have the only hope by which man can be comforted and sustained in that most awful hour of human probation ; and from the tribunal of judgment, you will be taken to heaven; there to be happy forever with all the good; with Jesus, and with God. If, on the other hand, you become weary of this path, and desert it for any of the enticements of the world, the flesh, and' the devil, your portion will be perplexity and dissatisfaction in life; cheerlessness, if not horror, in death; and everlasting banishment from heaven into regions of darkness and undiscovered woe. What powerful motives are found in this alternative, to the most careful and constant performance of your Christian duties? What inducements to keep your souls diligently, to pass the time of your sojourning here in fear, to endeavour to be righteous before God; walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless?

Study then, my young friends, the Holy Scriptures. They are given by your Heavenly Father “a light unto your feet, and a lamp unto your paths.” Study some portion of them every day, that you may regulate all the conduct of your lives by them, for they contain for you the only certain instruction In them we have the words of eternal life; they are they which testify of the Lord. Accustom yourselves to ask in daily private prayer, and to seek by a devout attendance on the services of the sanctuary, the continuance and increase of God’s Holy Spirit. It is promised to you if you will seek it, and use it faithfully ; and without it you can do nothing.

Remember your obligation to respect yourselves, and to abstain from all sin and wickedness,—recollecting that you are the temples of God, and that “the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” As soon as you can, with a full trust in God’s mercy, and with a quiet conscience, go to the holy table to celebrate the Lord’s Supper; and never neglect in the course of your lives to attend, with the suitable preparation and dispositions, this most comfortable ordinance. It is in this Sacrament we must find the food which, from time to time, will refresh and sustain our spiritual life, and prove frequently the medicine which will heal our sickness. To these helps from the mercy of God, fail not to add the exertion of your own reason and faculties, to be faithful and conscientious in all the relations of life, which, in His Providence, he shall require you to cultivate,—especially that benevolence, and readiness, and desire to do good, which is and ought to be a conspicuous part of Christian virtue, and which, we have reason to believe, it is particularly agreeable to our Heavenly Father to behold in His children. Meditate upon the life of Jesus Christ the pattern of all that is perfect in man; and endeavour, by the assistance of that grace which you have received, to be like unto Him. Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, as becomes you as Christ’s followers, think on these things.

In this way you will be rendered as perfect and as happy as a person in this world of imperfection and sorrow can be. The way that seemed arduous will be found, as you advance, to be the way of pleasantness, and the path which you have chosen the path of peace, while all other ways lead down to the gates of Hell; and it will conduct you at last to the inheritance of Heaven. But if you at any time quit it, repent immediately, I beseech you, and return to it, that so iniquity may not be your ruin.

In conclusion, I cannot but be filled with the greatest anxiety; and the same words which the wise King of Israel addressed to his son I now leave with you,—“And thou, Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy fathers, and serve him with a perfect heart and willing mind. Tf thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever,”

And, my young friends, do not fail to remember that Confirmation is the point of union between the two Sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Born into a new life by the one, we can only be sustained in that life by the other. Receiving the breath of life from God’s Holy Spirit in the one, we are now maintained in that Spirit by the other,—namely, by eating and drinking, sacramentally, the body and blood of Christ which are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord’s Supper.


In speaking to candidates for Confirmation, I have frequently mentioned that it is an ordinance replete with blessings to the Church, and yielding a rich return to the zealous and faithful pastor. It is the seed time of a harvest which is continually springing up to cheer him on his onward course. His own experience yearly confirms the wisdom of its appointment; and even its occasional neglect or abuse serves to quicken his diligence in improving what he has found to be of inestimable value. But apart from its claim to respect and veneration, as being of Apostolic institution and primitive usage, the ordinance itself is so beautiful and attractive, that when regularly administered, it gradually removes all prejudice, and daily advances in favour and estimation.

Viewed as a solemn call to serious reflection, as an appeal affectionately addressed to the consciences and hearts of the young, and as a means of promoting the purest relations of love and tenderness amongst all the branches of their respective families, at the most important period of life, it seems to comprise all that is excellent and holy. Moreover, it secures to them more thoroughly the benefits of the prayers of the Church, of which they have become living and responsible members; and thus, by joining daily in the invocation of the Holy Spirit, promotes a more lively faith in their hopes of heaven.

When you add to all this the pure and lasting impressions to which it frequently gives birth, and to which so many can appeal in after times, it is not only the season of great and certain improvement, and the dawning of new hopes and firmer resolutions, but the commencement of a deepened spirituality, and a closer walk with God. Hence it cannot fail to secure the sympathy and approval of every serious mind.

Remember, my young friends, that personal religion is a constant and progressive work,—a work which you are now expected to enter upon with fresh energy, and thus prove your affection to your Saviour. Remember also that the ratification this day of your baptismal vows, is your enlistment in a warfare which will never for a moment cease until the hour of your death.

The Holy Scriptures speak of the Christian life as a shining light, which shineth brighter and brighter unto the perfect day : as the field of the husbandman in which appears first the blade, after that the whole corn in the ear; as the little leaven hid in three measures of meal, by which in process of time the whole is leavened; as the grain of mustard-seed, which, though the least of all seeds, becomes when it is grown up so great a tree that the birds of the air lodge in its branches.

By such illustrations, we are taught that personal religion is not something attained at once in perfection, and leaving nothing more to be done; but a thoroughly pervading principle, and one which is to be more and more influential, until every member of our bodies, and every faculty of our souls, is brought into complete captivity to Christ.

Bearing these important truths continually in mind, I would further observe that, in order to advance in the Christian life, you must be faithful in the discharge of all the public and private duties of religion. By these I mean, the services of the Church and the duties of private prayer,—together with a constant study of God’s holy word. Our blessed Saviour alluded to this class of duties when He said, "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet.” He was himself an eminent example in this respect. He went up into a mountain apart to pray, and continued whole nights in prayer. The last act of His life was an act of prayer; for He died with its language on His lips. The most eminent saints of all ages have also been men of prayer. Daniel, though burdened with affairs of state, kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks to God. It is the great secret of success in arduous toils, and seasons of perplexity. There is nothing like prayer to tranquillize the mind, and nerve it to steadiness of action. It fills the heart. with an abiding confidence in God; and St. Paul knew well its value, when he bade us "pray without ceasing; to continue instant in prayer; to pray always with all prayer and supplication.”

For your private devotions, choose soine hour when you are least liable to be disturbed by worldly thoughts, and see that your appointment with heaven be religiously kept. Be regular and punctual in your devotions; and let nothing but absolute necessity deter you from this duty.

If fatigue, or wandering thoughts, or disinclination ever tempt you to an omission of this duty, let them not prevail. Fight against such opposition, and then you will find your troubled heart acquiring a holy serenity, and the coldness of your devotion warming into love, as you meet with your Maker and Saviour face to face. And these words remind me that effectual prayer requires something of an effort,—a grasp, as it were, to realize its true work and even its conception. A gradual ascent in reaching the conception of sincere prayer, is demanded of us. Even the body seems to stretch itself to a fuller height, and rises, as it were, from the earth in coming up to God,—in standing so immediately in his presence, in pouring out our hearts in the accents of supplication and mercy. The grandeur of the idea that we are enjoying the privilege of consulting in our difficulties the wisest and best man upon earth, or of advising with a departed parent or friend, or even with an angel, can but feebly realize the conception of coming directly to God. It is something that must always transcend our powers; and yet God permits, invites, ray, commands our approach to Him. From all these inestimable blessings we should be debarred, were it not for the all-sufficient merits and mediation of our Saviour Christ.

And let private prayer be accompanied by self-examination. Study to learn what are your besetting sins, and learn to guard against them. Look upon your possessions as talents of usefulness, for which you must hereafter give an account. Are you poor? Then be careful not to murmur or complain at the dealings of God’s Providence, and indulge not in envy or discontent.

In order to advance in the Christian life, attend regularly and devoutly upon the ordinances of God’s house, and upon the means of grace which you enjoy. And especially let me urge you to seal your vows at the holy altar by the reception of the Holy Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

For this advancement in the Christian life, you must also be zealous, as opportunity offers, in extending His blessed gospel throughout the world. The genuine spirit caught from Christ is expansive, and it continually manifests itself in doing good. In the absence of such a spirit, darkness and corruption prevail. We ought, therefore, daily to offer the comprehensive prayer, Thy Kingdom come; and then prove by labours, by alms and offerings, that our prayer goeth not out of feigned lips. Never were so great exertions made to extend our Lord’s Kingdom throughout the world as in the present times. The whole of heathendom is awakening, and calling for the bread of life. If therefore, you would grow in grace, imbibe the spirit of the early Church,—the spirit of Christ; and do what you can to promote His cause and extend His Kingdom.

Again, that you may advance in the Christian life, take pains to become intelligent and thoughtful in all things that pertain to the history of your holy faith Read the lives and writings of holy men; of the saints and martyrs, of whom the world was not worthy. The whole history of the Church is fraught with instruction. Only see and know how she has been, in all ages of the world, the pillar and ground of the truth. Besides, at the present day, when the Church of Christ is so often spoken against; when her ministry, her sacraments, her worship, her doctrines, are opposed and reviled,—it becomes all her children to rise up in her defence, and so arm themselves as to be able to give to every one that asketh a reason for the hope that is in him.

Such are a few general directions, my young friends, which, if faithfully attended to, cannot fail to increase your usefulness and happiness while you continue in the Church militant; and which will be attended with more blissful results when you are made members of the Church triumphant in heaven.

And now, my young friends, in returning from this solemn dedication of yourselves to your blessed Redeemer, and to your various duties in the world, repose yourselves in His might, and thus arm yourselves against every danger, temporal and spiritual. Remember that we are rapidly approaching another state of existence, in which the regenerated spirit lives, and that there are higher spectators than men who shall witness and surround our repentant spirits, and receive them with a joyful welcome. Let us feel also the value and importance of our bodily part, which, though united to dust, is yet created to live for ever. And let us, in future, always conduct ourselves not as foolish and ignorant men, but as the children of the God of the universe, as the brethren of the Saviour of the human race, as in the sight of every being who is great before God’s throne, and as in the sight of those whom death has for a while separated from us, but who now look down, with all the anxieties of love, upon the course we pursue, and whose aged or infant hands are preparing for us wreaths of glory, and those palms of peace which shadow out in mercy to our feeble and trembling souls not only the wisdom and the knowledge, but the joy, of the everlasting presence of our Saviour in heaven.


My Young Friends,—

The Church of England exhibits in her Prayer Book a clearness, and deepness of religious feeling, no where to be equalled except in the Bible itself. In that admirable book are contained, in all their fulness and simplicity, the great doctrines of the corruption of our nature; justification by faith in Christ; the necessity of the renewal of the heart and life by the power of the Divine Spirit; and the paramount obligation to that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.

Observe with what tender solicitude the Church, in her services and observances, follows her members through every step of their earthly pilgrimage, and incessantly watches over their wants, and interests, and dangers. No sooner is a child bom into this world of sin and sorrow, than she presents him in holy baptism, with a most touching and tender service, to the care of the great Shepherd of souls; signing him with the sign of the cross in token that he shall not be ashamed to confess Christ crucified, and to fight manfully under his banner against the world, the flesh, and the devil. After a short interval the Church interposes again, and calls him to go up to the house of the Lord, and there consecrate himself, by a most solemn ordinance, to become the soldier and servant of his heavenly Master. She next invites him, weaiy and heavy-laden, to the table of his Saviour, for refreshment and strength to his soul and fresh assurances of his pardoning grace.

Nor does she leave him here; but follows him into all the scenes of domestic life. She it is who ties the knot of his family joys. She accompanies him to the sick bed, and administers to him, as he lies there, the sweetest consolations. She passes with him into the valley of death, cheers him with gladdening promises, and displays to him the glories of the invisible world. And when, at length, his remains are consigned to the cold earth, the Church stands as chief mourner at his grave, and she pronounces over him the song of thankfulness and hope with her sorrow: “Write, from henceforth, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; even so, saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labours.”

The great object, my children, of your coming here this day is to confess your faith in Christ crucified, as he has himself expressly commanded; because if you do not confess him before men, neither will he confess you before his Father in heaven. This ought to be your first and cherished motive for coming thus to Christ; and the more so, because it secures to you most important personal privileges.

On this great point, much error and misconception prevail among the multitude round us. Thousands first wait to have the evidences and consolations of religion, before they will enter upon the performance of its actual duties. They refuse to fight the battles of the cross, till they have had the satisfaction of wearing the crown. They must first, as they suppose, shout the note of victory before entering in earnest upon the Christian race.

This erroneous feeling is hanging like a mill-stone around the necks of thousands; keeping them back from their duty, and in many sad instances it becomes a fruitful source of gloom and despondency. Instead of going forward to their duties as Christ has commanded, they are waiting they know not for what,—but in reality for the Lord Jesus Christ to interrupt the harmony of his plans, and the ordering of his Providence, merely to give them evidences which, in the nature of things, they are not now qualified to enjoy, and which, it is certain, they will never in their present state of feeling and action obtain. The Scriptural rule is, “in thy light shall we see light;” in keeping the commandments there is great reward. This, then, is a great encouragement to confess Christ crucified before the world: it is indeed the Spirit itself bearing witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.

Nor are there wanting other examples equally encouraging. When, for instance, we unite ourselves to # Christ as the branch is united to the vine, not only invisibly by faith, but visibly to His body the Church, we have the assurance of gaining the nourishment and grace to our souls which flows from him. Again, when we openly in God’s Church ratify and confirm our baptismal vows, we believe that our Lord meets us then and there, and grants us his blessing in the way of his own appointment. And then when we, subsequently, go forward to receive the Holy Sacrament of His Supper, our faith is confirmed, our love increased, and our spirits sanctified and strengthened through that solemn ordinance. So also, the duties of prayer, of reading the Word of God, of attendance upon the preaching of the Gospel, have each attached to them their own particular blessing.

Let me, then, beseech you to ponder this motive well; to weigh carefully the privilege of performing this duty. And then to remember, that of yourself only shall you v have reason to complain, if you famish with spiritual hunger; if your spiritual life is languishing and likely to die, and you fall into open apostacy with God. This must follow, if you presumptuously despise those gracious helps which Christ has provided.

Another motive which should induce you to confess Christ before men is, that you then openly identify yourself with the visible people of God, and increase the moral power of the Church. That Jesus Christ has a Church in this world, you will not doubt. And that this Church is destined ere long to overspread and fill the earth, is clearly revealed. And that this final triumph of the Gospel is to be effected by human instrumentality, is evident from many considerations. These truths combined furnish a reason why you should not hesitate to commence an active warfare under the banner of the Prince of Peace. There is now, and there has been since the fall of man, a fierce conflict raging for dominion over the hearts of men. But yet Christ’s Kingdom is to come; and when you openly avow yourself a disciple of the cross, you join that noble company of the faithful, on whom the duty rests, and to whom the honour will be given, of ushering in the latter-day glory of Zion.

It is, my young friends, truly a spectacle of the deepest interest to me, and of the richest promise to the Church, to behold a company of youth whose hearts are yet unscathed by long continuance in sin, voluntarily renouncing the vanities and follies of this wicked and perishing world, and taking upon themselves the vows of Christ Viewed in all its relations, it is a scene of great sublimity. It is a scene on which the minister of Christ looks with the devoutest gratitude, and which causes every Christian parent’s heart to thrill with the purest joy; on which-doubtless, the spirits of departed friends gaze with the deepest satisfaction; and in view of which the angels of God tune their harps to louder notes of praise. And can we doubt that our blessed Redeemer, sitting at God’s right hand, shares in the joy of this holy scene; and, when beholding such blissful results of the travail of his soul, is satisfied?

Suffer, my dear brethren, a very few concluding remarks on the future progress of Christianity; or, as our Lord w proclaims it, the Kingdom of God upon earth.

It is a cheering and attractive circumstance in the history of the Divine dispensations, that when a prophet was sent into this world to be the proclaimer of the most precious and effective wisdom it was ever to receive, and to be the author of changes which were destined in the course of ages to renovate its entire aspect, he appeared simply as a teacher of such exalted wisdom ; of a wisdom which aims not at gratifying the curiosity of men, but at elevating their moral condition, and giving a new and exalted turn to all their hopes and pursuits.

And it is no less worthy of remark that the idea which our Saviour adopted as the foundation of all his views, was as simple and beautiful, as the character in which He appeared was free from all pretension and wordly ambition. He spoke only of a Father in heaven, who looks upon all his creatures with love and compassion, and whom they ought therefore to regard with those sentiments that befit children in their relation to a kind and benevolent parent.

This being the foundation upon which our Lord’s doctrine was founded, and by which it is wholly pervaded, he sought by means of it, first, to improve the religious belief and worship of mankind; secondly, to purify their moral conceptions; and lastly, to regulate all their social and domestic affections. He taught them to look upon Qod as their heavenly Father. He told them that the homage which was most acceptable to Him, did not consist in vain ceremonies and superstitious practices, but in unfeigned reverence, and love, and trust, expressed by simple forms and by a conduct suitable to the purer views by which the followers of His doctrine were to be guided; or, in His own expressive words, that the time was now come when mankind, over all the earth, were to worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

Nor were the changes which our Saviour sought to produce in the moral duties of the people, less important. For he set before them a Father in heaven, whom it was their duty to honour and love. He thus raised even the most common offices of life into the high rank of services paid to God, and as expressions of devout homage from his children. Hence the whole earth, with all its occupations and inhabitants, assumed the aspect of a vast living temple, from which incense and a pure offering might at all times ascend, and thus produce a gradual amelioration, by new accessions of purity in all their views and conditions.

In the same way, this renovating power and influence was to extend to all the social relations, and public institutions of mankind. And being all the children of the same Father, Christianity would prevail throughout the world. Kindly charities would be fostered in private life; and every human being, however poor or destitute, would at once be regarded by every other as the child of the same Father, and an heir with himself of one blessed immortality.

Such are the glorious results which our Saviour sought to accomplish, and has accomplished; and such are the simple means by which he intended to produce them. At the same time, he was far from saying that they were to be speedily realized. They were the seed scattered through long ages of history, and during the whole period of the world’s existence; and they were to be consummated in the terms of that form of prayer which the Lord Jesus taught his disciples; and which, as it has been in all past ages of Christianity, will continue in all future ages to be the favourite expression of the Christian’s hopes and desires:—“Hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” Amen.


My Young Friends,—

In requesting your attention to the few remarks I am about to make on this solemn occasion, I have to remind you of the deep interest which your sponsors and other Christian friends feel in your spiritual improvement; and I desire to impress upon your minds a lively remembrance of the duties and privileges which we shall have to review together at the bar of God. You will expect me, therefore, to speak with that affectionate earnestness and truthfulness which the subject itself so strongly demands.

The authority on which we receive the holy ordinance of Confirmation, or the laying on of hands by the chief ministers of the Church, is drawn from the Holy Scriptures. We find from the New Testament that it was practised in the times of the Apostles. For we read in the eighth chapter of the Acts, that Philip, one of the seven Deacons,—being of the lowest order of the ministry, —went down from Jerusalem to Samaria, and there preached with such success that great numbers of the Samaritans believed, and were baptized. But, nevertheless, though they thus received the gospel and were admitted into the Church by baptism, there was another ordinance which they had not received, and which Philip, as being a Deacon only, had no authority to administer. For, immediately after, we learn that when the Apostles at Jerusalem heard of the conversion of so many Samaritans, they sent thither two of their own number, Peter and John, to fulfil a duty which Philip was not empowered to discharge,—namely, to lay their hands upon them, and procure the communication to them of a larger measure of spiritual blessings. And so, when Peter and John laid their hands upon them, "they received the Holy Ghost.” Here we have simply an important fact in Apostolic history, and yet so recorded as to shew what was the custom of the Church in that primitive age.

But we know further from Holy Scripture that the “laying on of hands” was much more than a mere naked fact, or empty custom. It was a solemn ordinance,—one of the first principles of Christianity; and, as such, necessarily of perpetual and universal obligation.

In an Epistle,—the Epistle to the Hebrews,—which enters more at large into the principles of Christianity than any of the others, the writer says, (vi. 1, 2,) "Leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and faith towards God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

Now here are six things enumerated distinct from each other, and yet all denominated by St. Paul, “principles of the doctrine of Christ.” Two of them may be spoken of as internal graces, repentance and faith. Two of them may be regarded as visible ordinances, baptism and the laying on of hands; while two of them are truths or developments yet in future, or in reserve, and yet of awful moment to every individual,—resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

Now each one of these is declared in God’s Word to be a “principle,” or first principle “of the doctrine of Christ;” and all, combined, are declared on the same authority to be fundamental and essential things. We are no more at liberty to reject the laying on of hands, or the ordinance of confirmation, than we are to reject repentance, or faith, or baptism, or the doctrine of the resurrection and eternal judgment. They are all alike declared to be first “principles,”—the foundation,—of the doctrine of Christ.

And here I may observe that confirmation, as practised by the Apostles, and as now administered among ourselves, has been preserved in the Church, and has been continually referred to in ecclesiastical history. Moreover, those of the Reformers who rejected episcopacy, either retained confirmation or left the most decided testimony in its favour. It is also well-known that Luther, the great leader of the Reformation, retained the rite of confirmation, and it is still practised by the large body called Lutherans to this day. Even Calvin himself speaks kindly of confirmation, as an ancient custom in the Church. He states that the children of Christians, after they came to years of discretion, were presented to the Bishop in order to fulfil that duty which was required of adults who offered themselves for baptism. The authority for the practice of confirmation might be strengthened by many additional proofs were it necessary; but we shall only add to the many given the authority and practice of our own Church.

In confirmation, as the name implies, you ratify or confirm the vows of your baptism. When baptized in your infancy, as the Church contemplates, those vows were first assumed by your parents and sponsors on your behalf; who then promised and vowed certain things in your name. And they did this, because from your tender age you were incapable of assuming those engagements yourselves. And, as your natural guardians, it was their bounden duty, as they would in temporal matters, thus to act in your stead.

But having come to years of discretion, and to a proper understanding of what your parents and sponsors promised on your behalf, it now becomes your duty personally to assume those vows; the obligations heretofore resting on them, you should now undertake yourselves.

In the case of those who have been baptized in adult years, and upon their own responsibility, confirmation is but a renewing of that obligation on the part of the candidate. It is nevertheless a most solemn and scriptural mode of ratifying and confirming those vows; and, as all must allow, is admirably adapted to their weighty import. For in a matter of such infinite moment as that of God’s covenant of grace with a lost world, all surely ought to be grateful for this fresh opportunity of sacredly pledging their fidelity to Christ and his Church.

We learn from the New Testament, that many of the early Christians received, through this imposition of hands, extraordinary and miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost But so soon as the Gospel was established upon firm foundations, miracles ceased. Such helps were now no longer necessary for establishing the truth of God’s revealed will. Still, however, the ordinary renewing and sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit was not withdrawn; it is necessary, and it will be vouchsafed, as long as human nature remains in its fallen state. And although the candidates for confirmation are not now to expect in that ordinance miraculous gifts of the Spirit, yet coming with the preparation of heart which the Church demands, they may expect to receive through this, as one of the appointed means of grace, the attainment of that help which will enable them to fulfil their vows.

You, my young friends, have laid to-day a firm foundation, by dedicating yourselves solemnly to God and your Saviour; but you must build upon this foundation; there must be the beautiful superstructure of a religious and useful life. And there must be no procrastination, no halting between two opinions, no wavering between the lures of the world and duty to God.

We are all, my brethren, born to sorrow, and born in sin. No one can look back upon his life, without feeling how much he has transgressed, and how much he has left undone. The progress of life has been a series of humiliations, and crowded with anxious fears. A just and merciful God has been continually sinned against, and the day of retrbution is a constant source of alarm.

Now, my dear young friends, it is when the mind is agitated by such thoughts, that it becomes most sensible of the peculiar adaptation of the Gospel to supply the greatest wants and calm the deepest fears of the human heart. For its good tidings are a proclamation from heaven of mercy a forgiveness to those who have offended, and who, in contrition for their offences, have laid hold on the hope set before them.

Through this proclamation the burden of sin upon our souls is lightened; One, mighty to save, has chosen to undertake it; it is affixed to, and eancelled by, His cross. This must bring encouragement to the most desponding, assurance to the most timid. They can approach God as a reconciled Father; and at His right hand is the Mediator who died for them.

I have lately, my young friends, met with a Prayer for the Confirmed which pleased me much, and therefore I shall subjoin it to the exhortations I have addressed to you:—

“Almighty Father who did call us in baptism, and receive us for thine own children by adoption and grace, perfect, we beseech Thee, the good work which thou hast begun in us, and dispose us in this holy ordinance to receive Thy heavenly favour, and seal to us Thy mercy by an increase of Thy Holy Spirit, that, with His mighty aid, we may do what of ourselves we cannot; avoid sin, and keep!

Thy commandments, that the thoughts of our hearts, and the words of our lips, and our outward actions, may be acceptable in Thy sight; that we may be worthy to partake in the communion of the body and blood of Thy Son Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist; that we may walk in Thy fear, and in the belief and hope of Thy mercy all the days of our lives; and at length be received into Thine everlasting Kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ-our Lord, to whom with Thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, dominion and power, henceforth and for ever.


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