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constructed upon principles opposite to this. It was a considerable object in the preceding lectures on the Catechism, to show, that in baptism duly performed on the suitable subjects of it, these become subjects of Christ's spiritual kingdom, in the most ample sense of the expression. In the case of infants, receiving religious education, and living in religious and virtuous habits, there is no need of their being converted. The contrary is the case with those, who have fallen into sin. But although we earnestly inculcate this, and require such evidence of it, as may be the result of profession and of conduct; yet we make no scrutiny into what are called experiences; for which we have no warrant in scripture, or in the institutions of our Church; nor any prejudice in its favour, from what we hear of its effects. Yet this hinders not the resolving of doubts, and the clearing of difficulties, when the hearts of people are laid open to us, for that intent. And if our Church, for not carrying the scrutiny into the other department, should fall under censure, and be charged with limiting the sphere of religion to the producing of decorum in the conduct; her members may be content with referring, for a contradiction of this, to her institutions. These show, that she knows of no real religion in the conduct, but such as is expressive of sensibilities; that the essence of the work of grace, is the renewal of the inward man; and that the progress of this must be a subject of experience; and a test not indeed of a right to Church communion, but of acceptance with the great Being to whom all hearts are open.
There follow a few sententious petitions, with suitble responses; and then a prayer, in which is the request, that God, "who hath vouchsafed to regenerate these his servants by water and the Holy Ghost, and hath given them the forgiveness of all their sins, would strengthen them with the Holy Ghost the Comforter." Some of the terms here used, still sustain the doctrine of baptismal regeneration; of which our
Church speaks so strongly in her Baptismal Services, in her Catechism, and in her Articles; as was opened in my late lectures. To the transaction of baptism, there also refer the terms of "forgiveness of all their sins;" meaning such as are personal in the cases of those who were adult at baptism; and means of deliverance from the penalty of Adam's sin, in the cases of all. In the event of a state of sin after baptism, the expressions also apply, on the condition of sincere repentance.
The form pronounced by the bishop, at the imposition of hands, requires no explanation; neither does there seem to be a call for it, in any thing that follows; unless in the Collect, in which are these words-" We make our humble supplications unto thee, for these thy servants; upon whom, after the example of thy holy apostles, we have now laid our hands, to certify them, by this sign, of thy favour and gracious goodness towards them." These words have been caviled at, as savouring of the erecting of Confirmation into a Sacrament: which is defined-" An outward and visible sign, of an inward and spiritual grace." In this criticism, there is fastidiousness in the use of words. Since the Church, in her Catechism, declares for two Sacraments only, of which Confirmation is not one; and since this is by name excluded from the number of them, in her twenty-fifth Article; it is evident, that she uses the word "sign" as synonimous with gesture, and not as expressive of any material substance: of which there is none appropriated to the ordinance in question, but which she defines to be essential to a Sacrament.
The brevity aimed at ought not to be so strict, as to prevent the concluding with an exhortation to those, who have just now been the subjects of the ordinance.
My brethren and my sisters; you have assumed no obligation, beyond what lies on you, independently on any promise exacted of you in the service: For we are bound as rational and accountable beings, to lead religious and virtuous lives; and this is the amount
of your stipulation. The occasion of any solemn resolution to the effect, is for the purpose of the more impressing of our duty on our consciences: and the use of doing this in an ordinance of divine appointment, is not only for the additional solemnity hereby given to such a determination of the mind; but because we must believe, that God will bless the means which his own wisdom has instituted; making them the channels of his grace, if it be fervently implored, with a disposition to improve it.
It is not my design, to unfold the various duties to which you have just now assented, in the promise made before God and before the Church. But I wish to exhort you to bear in mind the promise; and especially to recal it to your remembrance, whenever it may thereby prove a restraint from sin, or an incitement to any Christian work.
It may be of use to notice the influence of this single intimation, as it relates to a sense of religion in the mind to a profession before the world, and-to the evidencing of the sincerity of the one and the existence of the other, in a holy life and conversation.
It has been already remarked, and the repetition of it ought not to be tedious, that the seat of all religion is in the mind; whatever does not reach the movements of it, being no more than worldly prudence at the best, in itself perhaps commendable, but not uniting us to the Father of our spirits. Therefore we are instructed in the Scriptures, to "worship him in spirit and in truth;"* we are cautioned that "with the heart" meaning with that only-"Man believeth unto righteousness;" and we are told, that "a good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is good." This right state of the affections, is what we have not from nature: Accordingly it is always described in the same Scriptures, as operated by a divine agency; the effect of which is "a renewal after the image of him who created us." If it be asked Matt. xii. 35/
* John iv. 23. † Rom. x. 10.
how we are to discern the holy influences of so high an agent; the answer is-and you are here solemnly cautioned against the imagining that you know it in any other way-by the experiencing of what are defined to be "the fruits of the spirit, in all goodness and righteousness and truth."* În proportion as there is a sensibility of this, not in evanescent feelings, which have their seat in the animal economy; but in dominant dispositions, moulding the inward character to a likeness of the adorable excellencies of God himself; we may discern in these holy influences the operation of that spirit of grace, from which only they can proceed. In the view of possessing a test of a Christian stateand what serious mind can be indifferent to satisfaction in this important matter it is well said by a very pious and intelligent writer, that he preferred the test here proposed, to the being told by an Angel from Heaven, of the recording of his name in the book of life.
In regard to profession before the world, there can be no mistake as to what becomes us; if there be kept in view the ground of it, which is in our social nature and condition. For we are constituted in such a manner, and so are all the relations of life, that example and mutual incitement have a most powerful influence. It is indeed so great and so necessary, that were we to conceive of a man possessing a truly Christian disposition, and manifesting it in the course of his general conduct, and yet not showing any evidence of that fear of God which is in reality the beginning of all religious wisdom; the example of such a man would not only be without its legitimate influence, but would countenance one of the most insidious opinions ever propagated for the corruption of mankindthat moral theory, like the physical, may safely be rested on the relation of actions to their consequences; all belief of a God and of a future state being excluded. To this dreadful extreme there tend all the considerations, which would restrain us from an acknowledging
* Ephes. v. 9.
The Reverend Henry Scougal.
of the obligations of religion before the world: And therefore this is an imperious duty; whatever miscon struction or whatever scorn it may provoke from ungodly men, who cannot but consider it as an implied censure on themselves.
Such however being the end of religious profession, it is evidently lost sight of, in whatever has no use but the exhibiting of self; whether with the view of gaining the praise of piety with some, or for the creating of a contrast to the deficiencies and the faulty practices of others: for each of these motives originates in an infirmity of nature, which may be the occasion of great sin. Let there then be carefully avoided ostentation in every shape: and under this name may safely be includ ed all affectation of singularities, having no real connexion with religion, but inviting attention to the person. Matters of this sort belong more or less to the class of actions, described by our Saviour as done to be seen of men; and therefore interfere with the duty, of doing all as to the great Being who sees in secrét. The mischief does not end here; for the professor becomes thereby the more exposed to sin, in some of the most insidious of its approaches. And of this result there is especially danger, when he accommodates his profession to the object of bringing disrespect or disesteem on others.
There is indeed another line, in which no measure of attainment can be too great, and no rectitude of conduct can be too strict. It is what was noticed under the terms of evidencing the sincerity of the profession and the existence of the inward principle, by a holy life and conversation. You cannot read the Scriptures, under the desire of religious improvement; without perceiving that this is the object, to which whatever they contain whether of doctrine or of duty--whether of precept or of example-whether of promise or of threatening is directed. Accordingly St. Paul, intending to state the ultimate end for which "the grace of