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Is this. "Do you here, in the presence of "GOD, and of this congregation, renew the "solemn promise and vow that was made " in your name, at your baptism; ratifying "and confirming the same in your own person, "and acknowledging yourself bound to be"lieve, and to do, all those things which your godfathers and godmothers then "undertook for you?" Such is the demand made by God's minister; and your answer is," I do." If, therefore, after such an assent on your part, you do not endeavour, as much as in you lies, <6 to renounce the
Devil, and all his works; to believe all "the articles of the christian faith; and "to keep GoD's holy will and command, ments;" you will then be found" liars "before GOD;" your confirmation will be an idle form, instead of an office salutary to your souls; and your renewed vow will only increase your condemnation.
If it be vain to depend upon Baptism, and Confirmation, as means of salvation, without performing the duties connected with these ordinances; if it be a wicked mockery of God, to consider them merely as forms, and not as helps to holiness and virtue; much more vain and wicked is it to trifle with the Holy Sacrament, and receive it without "repenting truly of our former sins; sted
"fastly purposing to lead a new life; having a lively faith in God's mercy through "CHRIST; and living in charity with all "men." Nothing can be more affecting or solemn, than the circumstances under which the Sacrament of the LORD's Supper was instituted. Our blessed Saviour was then, in a few hours, to "be delivered into "the hands of wicked men," to be wounded for our transgressions; bruised for our iniquities; and crucified for our sins. He was now, for the last time, to teach, to exhort, and to comfort those, who had "continued
with him unto the end." At this awful moment, he appointed the institution of the Holy Sacrament, to be observed by christians of all ages and nations; as at thankful and perpetual remembrance of his death and passion; as a proof that they professed his religion, and were members of his church; as a public pledge that they acknowledge his authority, and would strive to keep his commandments; and as " an outward and "visible sign of that inward and spiritual
grace," which he would assuredly give to those, who should " draw near" to his table with sincere faith, and take his holy sacra-" ment, with penitence, and love, and charity in their hearts; and with resolutions of future. improvement, and renewed holiness of life."
This, my friends, is the nature, meaning, and design of the blessed sacrament; an ordinance of your church, of the utmost importance; without a due observance of which, you not only silently acknowledge that you are not a member of that church; but, what is infinitely worse for your souls, you cut yourselves off from the benefits of your Saviour's propitiation. He commanded the celebration of it, in the most solemn manner; his apostles administered it constantly and frequently; the early christians conscientiously observed it; and the church has, in all ages, followed their example: so that, for a man to say that he is a christian, without, at least occasionally, receiving the sacrament, is full as false and wicked, as if he were to pretend to be a dutiful subject, and live, notwithstanding, in constant rebellion against his lawful king.
But holy as all these ordinances of your church are, and highly necessary to be observed and fulfilled; yet, as I said before, they are only means to help us on to godli'ness and virtue; and to engage and enable us to live a good and christian life. They must influence our hearts, and regulate our conduct; otherwise, as far as regards ourselves, they are vain and worthless. St. Paul, speaking of the mistake which the Jews
made in this respect, says, "He is not a "Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is "that circumcision, which is outward in the "flesh but he is a Jew, which is one in
wardly; and circumcision is that of the "heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; "whose praise is not of men, but of God. And thus may we say of CHRIST's religion at large, and of our own in particular; that he is not a true member of it, who. merely observes its forms and ceremonies, without increasing in knowledge and virtue; but he, who shews forth their good effects in, his life and behaviour. Let us then, my beloved brethren, endeavour to understand the meaning of these holy ordinances; to feel their influence, and fulfil their intention: and that we may be the more able to do all this, let us pray to ALMIGHTY GOD, in. the beautiful collect for the day, that he would " grant us the circumcision of the
spirit; that our hearts and all our mem"bers being mortified from all worldly and "carnal lusts, we may in all things obey "his blessed will, through the same his "Son JESUS CHRIST our LORD. Amen.”