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the same time to convey our general view of the subject. We quote from a “ Sermon on Confirmation, by John, Bishop of Lincoln”- the present Dr. Kaye; a prelate whose mild amiability, sober judgment, and profound learning well entitle him to the love and respect in which we believe he is generally held. His Lordship’s text is Acts viii. 17; “ Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” The Sermon thus opens :
“We learn from the sacred writings, that to lay the hand upon the head of an individual, and to accompany the action by prayer to God, was a customary mode of testifying anxiety for the individual's welfare, of bespeaking for him, in an especial manner, the divine protection and favour, and of applying, if I may so speak, the blessing invoked from heaven particularly to him. Thus Jacob, a short time before his death, laid his hand on the heads of the sons of Joseph, and blessed them. So familiar were the Jews with the custom, that we find them bringing young children to Christ, in order that he might put his hands on them, and pray: and we find our Saviour marking his approbation of the manner in which this pious solicitude of the parents was expressed, by taking the children up in his arms, and putting his hands upon them, and blessing them. The two apostles, therefore, on the occasion to which the words of my text refer, did nothing which the spectators would think new or strange, though they could not fail to be astonished at the new and extraordinary results which followed the act.
“The occasion was this : Philip whose appointment to the office of deacon is recorded in the sixth chapter of Acts, had gone down to the city of Samaria, and there preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, had made and baptized many converts to the Gospel. No sooner was the intelligence that Samaria had received the word conveyed to the apostles at Jerusalem, than they sent Peter and John; who, when they were come down, prayed for the new converts, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. For as yet, the author of the narrative proceeds, he was fallen upon none of them; only, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then, we read in the words of my text, laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
" That the new converts, when they thus received the Holy Ghost, received also some extraordinary power, some power of doing that to which the natural faculties of men are unequal, is evident from the verse which immediately follows. It is there said, that Simon, of whom we are told that before time he had used sorcery, when he saw that, through laying on of the apostles' hands, the Holy Ghost was given, offered money, saying, give me also this power, that on whom-soever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. It is evident, therefore, that they who had received the Holy Ghost were now endowed with powers which they did not possess before the imposition of the apostles' hands, and the display of which excited in the bosom of Simon a desire to possess the ability to communicate similar
“The truth of this observation is confirmed by another passage in the book of Acts. We read in the nineteenth chapter, that St. Paul, when he came to Ephesus, found certain disciples, of whom he inquired, Whether they had received the Holy Ghost since they believed? They answered, that they had not so much as heard whether there was any Holy Ghost. St. Paul finding on further inquiry, that they had been baptized unto John's baptism, baptized them first in the name of the Lord Jesus, and then laid his hands upon them. The consequence of the imposition was, that the Holy Ghost came upon them, and they spake with tongues and prophesied. They were at once endowed with the ability to speak various languages, of which the knowledge is ordinarily acquired only by long and persevering study;
and thus to become instruments in propagating the Gospel throughout the world.
“In both the cases which have been mentioned, the laying on of the apostles' hands followed the administration of the rite of baptism; in the latter case immediately, in the former after a long interval. Taking then, in this, as in all other instances, the practice of the apostles for its guide, the Church made the imposition of hands the concluding part of the ceremony of baptism; not with the expectation that the act would be attended with the same extraordinary effects as in the case of those on whom St. Peter and St. Paul laid their hands, but with the pious intent of giving to the baptized person, by this significant act, a stronger assurance that the gracious promises made to him would be fulfilled.
“ It should be borne in mind, that at the time of which we are speaking, much the larger portion of the candidates for baptism were adults,- persons who had arrived at the age of manhood,--and having been converted from heathenism by the preaching of the apostles, or their successors, had embraced the Gospel from conviction. It was not the custom to admit such persons immediately to the rite of baptism : they were required to go through a preparatory course of instruction and discipline, in order that the Church might have satisfactory evidence of their advancement both in Christian knowledge and Christian practice, of their sincere belief of the truths revealed in the Gospel, and of their sincere determination to show forth that belief in their lives. As soon as those points were satisfactorily ascertained, the rite of baptism was conferred, of which, as I have already observed, the imposition of hands formed a part. Our Church, therefore, follows the prac. tice of the Primitive Church, when, in its office for the baptism of such as are of riper years, it directs that they should be confirmed by the bishop as soon after their baptism as conveniently may be,
“ In process of time the Church of Christ extended itself throughout the greater part of the Roman Empire. The consequence of its diffusion was, that the larger portion of baptized persons, instead of being grown up persons as at first, were now the infant children of Christian parents. For the Church rightly inferred from the gracious declaration of Christ respecting the little children who were brought unto him, that “ of such is the kingdom of heaven ;'' the Church, I say, rightly inferred from this declaration that little children are admissible to baptism and capable of regeneration. As however they are incapable from their tender age of any profession of faith, that profession is made for them by their sponsors, who undertake that they shall be trained up in that course of godly instruction and discipline which in their case must of necessity follow, though, as we have seen, in the case of the first converts to the Gospel, it preceded baptism. But, though the Church determined that the helplessness and weakness of children constitutes no bar to their admission to the privileges of the Christian covenant, it requires that, when they come to years of discretion they shall give some proof that they both understand the terms of their admission, and that they are willing to fulfil the obligations which were contracted in their names at their baptism. With this view the laying on of hands, with which the ceremony of baptism was at first concluded, was by degrees separated from it, and deferred till the child had become capable of rendering an account of his faith, and of taking upon himself the engagements entered into for him by others. * “ The Church of England does not, like the Church of Rome, supersti. tiously elevate confirmation into a sacrament: that it cannot be, because it was not instituted by our blessed Lord, nor is any promise of Divine Grace positively annexed to it. Nor does our Church enjoin its observance on the ground that there is any thing defective in the rite of baptism, any thing wanting to complete its efficacy which confirmation supplies. In what light then does the Church regard it? As an affecting and edifying religious ordinance; as a convenient mode of recalling to the minds of young persons the solemn vows and promises which were made in their names at their baptism,
and of impressing them with a lively conviction that they have made themselves responsible for the punctual fulfilment of those vows and promises. This is the light in which the Church regards confirmation; and surely if the candidates come to receive it in a proper frame of mind, it cannot fail to have a most beneficial effect on their conduct in after life.
" It is certain, however, that these benefits can be derived from a participation in this solemn rite only by those candidates who come in a serious and devout frame of mind. If they have been taught to look forward to the day of confirmation as to a holiday, to a day on which they are to be released from their ordinary avocations and labours, and from the control of their parents and masters, no benefit can possibly result to them. Well indeed will it be if some evil does not happen to them; if they are not betrayed by the heedlessness natural to their age, in the absence of customary restraint, into some foolish or even vicious excess. Yet it is to be feared that too many of the candidates entertain no adequate conception of the importance of the act which they are about to perform."
Such are the views of a living English prelate on the subject of confirmation. For all practical purposes the statement appears to us sufficiently ample : nor do we think Dr. Smyth's learning will carry us much farther. For ourselves we are not only content, but thankful, to steer our course on this and kindred points under the sober guidance of Dr. Kaye and other of our episcopal fathers, whom we could name. May they long live to shed their mild and cheering light upon our beleagured Church !
A Sermon on Confirmation. By John, Bishop of Lincoln. Second Edltion (1838), pp. 5–13.
THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH : or, the Communion of
Saints in the mystical Body of Christ: a Sermon preached in the Church of the Epiphany, in the city of Philadelphia, on Sunday, October 6, 1844. By CHARLES PETTIT M'ILVAINE, D.D. Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in the
Diocese of Ohio. With an Appendix. London: Seeleys. • 1844. A CHARGE TO THE CLERGY OF OHIO, on the preaching
of Christ Crucified. By CHARLES P. MʻILVAINE, DD. Bishop,
&c. London: Jackson. MINISTERIAL RESPONSIBILITY: A Sermon preached on
the Consecration of Bishop Lee. By CHARLES P. M'ILVAINE,
D.D. Bishop, &c. London: Jackson. We know not how far these little manuals have obtained the circulation they deserve : but they appear to us of such peculiar value, that we feel it a duty to give them a distinct and special recommendation. The first on the list had not fallen in our way till within the last few days, and bringing to our recollection the great pleasure and profit we had formerly derived from the Charge and Sermon last named, we felt a strong wish that all our clerical brethren could be induced seriously to read and ponder them. At a trifling cost, any person possessing the means might render an essential service by putting them into the hands of the clergy —and to our minds it is a delightful thought, that, by importations such as these from our transatlantic brethren, we are furnished at once with so pleasing an evidence of Christian unity, and with means so well calculated to promote it. Would that we had all but one ambition, thus to contend for the faith,' and strive together for the furtherance of the Gospel
There is a full and valuable Appendix attached to the Sermon on The Holy Catholic Church,' showing how entirely the doctrine it contains is identical, in every particular, with that which our Hookers, and Taylors, and Ushers, &c., most earnestly taught. We heartily concur with Bishop M'Ilvaine in recommending them to the reader's careful attention. It may be well, perhaps, to subjoin his notice of these authorities.
“ We have taken Cranmer and Ridley for the times of the ReformationHooker for the days immediately succeeding-Bishops Taylor and Hall, Archbishop Usher, Drs. Jackson and Perkins for the trying times of the early part of the seventeenth century-and Dr. Barrow for those immediately succeeding
“ In this selection we have, as holding what are now called Calvinistic views of the doctrines of grace, Hooker, and Hall, and Usher, &c., on the opposite side, we have the golden-mouthed Taylor; a little less Arminian, Dr. Barrow-still less, Dr. Jackson. Thus we have representatives of alí classes of English divines, of the ages above-mentioned, in regard to what is supposed so much to modify one's views of questions, like these treated in this discourse. Nevertheless, it will be seen, from the extracts here subjoined, that among these great writers, there was not the least difference of opinion in the points now in view. That the true Catholic Church is composed only of the true children and people of God, who are united by a living faith to Christ ; that none others have any real membership in God's Church, however they may be externally associated with it in visible ordinances; that this Church is the Holy Catholic Church, and Communion of Saints ; having all its being in the union of its several members, by faith, immediately to Christ; that this is the mystical body of Christ, as nothing else can be, and invisible, because while its members on earth are personally visible, their distinction as such members is invisible; that this and no other is the Church to which all the promises are given, as the real believers among the children of Abraham were the only Church to which the promises then made, belonged: finally that this Church, mystical and invisible, is the 'pillar and ground of the truth,' against which the gates of hell shall not prevail,' to which belongs essentially the unity of the Spirit, however the bond of peace, in the common use of creeds and sacraments, may be broken, the reader will find to be the concurrent testimony of those unquestionable witnesses of the doctrine of the Protestant Episcopal Church in their respective times.”. (pp. 76, 77.)
In the extract here given, the reader has a clear statement of the scope and substance of this valuable Sermon. The importance of its argument may, again, be thus put in the bishop's own words—
“Take away from beneath his (the Pope's) feet these two props--first, the pretence that every baptized person is spiritually and internally renewed, ex opere operato ; secondly, that to be a true Christian and have true faith, and so to be a true member of God's Church, does not require that a man should have 'faith that worketh by love,' or to be else than most wicked or flagitious;' in other words, establish the scriptural doctrine that the Church of the promises, the pillar and ground of the truth,' the Communion of Saints, the Holy Catholic Church, the living mystical body of Christ, is composed only of those who are in Christ Jesus, by a living, fruitful faith, and the foundations of that whole city of abominations will become as quicksand.
“ Hence the pains taken by our Anglican divines, of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, to make plain the distinction between the Church visible and invisible, 'for lack of diligent observing of which (says Hooker) the oversights are neither few nor light that have been committed.'”—(pp. 73, 74.)
Alas, we have but too much cause ourselves to sympathise with the good Bishop in the following statement-a statement which lets us into a sad and affecting secret as regards the present condition of the Churches-
“ The present writer has observed in many ministers of our Protestant Church of the United States, a great lack of the diligent observing of that difference; and he thinks, that the oversights which have ensued, and do 1846.