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ACTS xv. 40, 41.
"And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia confirming the churches."
IN In my former discourse upon the ceremony of confirmation, I proposed to return to the subject, in order that we might obtain as full and complete a conception as possible of this apostolical institutionfor such we have already seen it to be. In my last discourse, I attempted to explain the nature of the ordinance in reference to its connection with baptism. Now I propose entering into an examination of the office, or as it is termed in our Prayer Book, "The order of confirmation, or laying on of hands upon those that are baptized and come to years of discretion."
You see, by this title, that the form of laying hands or placing them upon the heads of those that are about to be confirmed, is a form observed by the
person who confirms; the reason, however, of this I will explain in its place.
Now, after the title which I have just recited, comes the Rubric. This word "Rubric," as I must inform you, signifies the red part; for, in our old Prayer Books, it was always printed in letters of red. In this Rubric we read the following directions: "Upon the day appointed, all that are to be then confirmed, being placed and standing in order before the bishop; he (or some other minister appointed by him) shall read this preface following." Why the bishop in particular is thought the most proper person to officiate here, I will likewise explain hereafter. At present I will read the "Preface" alluded to in the Rubric; having first of all explained that a preface, in any particular book or portion of a book, means something which is prefixed to, or goes before, the main contents of the book, allusive to, and explanatory of, the contents themselves. So the preface, which I am now about to recite from the Order of Confirmation in the Prayer Book, gives an account of the object of confirmation, and of the way in which we are to be benefited by it. It runs thus: "To the end that confirmation may be ministered to the more edifying," that is, to the greater benefit and instruction "of such as shall receive it, the Church hath thought good to order, that none hereafter shall be confirmed but such as
can say the creed," or belief, "the Lord's Prayer, and the ten commandments; and can also answer to such other questions, as in the short catechism are
contained; which order is very convenient" "to be observed; to the end that children, being now come to years of discretion, and having learnt what their godfathers and godmothers promised for them in baptism, they may themselves, with their own mouth and consent, openly before the Church, ratify and confirm the same; and also promise that, by the grace of God, they will evermore endeavour themselves faithfully to observe such things as they, by their own confession, have assented unto." Now this agrees precisely with what I have already explained to you, which is, that confirmation is even more necessary in these times than formerly, because at confirmation we answer to those questions which could only be answered for us by our godfathers and godmothers at our baptism.
After this preface has been read, the bishop proceeds to the office itself; and proposes the following question: "Do ye here, in the presence of God, and of this congregation, renew," that is, take upon yourselves," the solemn promise and vow that was made in your name at your baptism; ratifying and confirming the same in your own persons, and acknowledging yourselves bound to believe, and to do all those things which your godfathers and godmo-. thers then undertook for you?" Now, my brethren, particularly those who are about to be confirmed, it is a matter of the deepest importance that you should fully understand the extent of this question, which will be proposed to you by the bishop; and it is only on the condition that you answer as you are
directed to do, that he will proceed to complete the sacred ceremony upon you. The instruction in the Rubric, which immediately follows the question, directs that you shall answer: "I do." This is a reply which, I fear, is sometimes made by those who do not understand what they promise to do, when they make the reply. It is, therefore, to prevent any such thoughtless or inconsiderate conduct on your parts, that I now call upon you well to examine, beforehand, the meaning and the nature of the question which will be proposed. Reflect, I beseech you, that whatever be your answer to the question proposed; the answer will be made in the presence of God, who is indeed everywhere present, for the "heaven of heavens cannot contain him;" yet has he promised to be present, in a more particular manner, in the midst of those who are assembled in his name. It is, therefore, in the presence of God, and of the congregation, that the bishop will call upon you to consider the promise which has been already made in your behalf by your godfathers and godmothers, before you dare either to make void this promise, or to confirm it. I told you, if you remember, that the substance of these promises is, that we "should forsake sin and serve God." Let us, however, avail ourselves of the present opportunity, to consider these promises more minutely. For this purpose I refer you to the short and comprehensive catechism which you are all expected to say before you can present yourselves for confirmation.
Now what is the question proposed to you in this catechism? It is this: "What did your godfathers and godmothers then," that is, at the time of baptism, "for you?" The explanation or answer you will be enabled to give, if you know and understand your catechism; and if you do not know it at least in substance, neither can you give the answer, which is this: At my baptism, they did promise and vow three things," not in their own name, but "in my name." The first thing was "that I should în renounce," or forsake, or forsake, "the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanity of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts," or desires, "of the flesh;" the second thing they promised for me was, "that I should believe all the articles of the Christian faith," which articles are summed up in the "belief;" and the third thing my godfathers and godmothers promised for me was, "that I should keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of my life."
You perceive, then, that your godfathers and godmothers have promised that you should forsake the devil, and every act of sin which proceeds from him; that you should believe in God the Father, who hath made you; in God the Son, who hath redeemed you; and in God the Holy Ghost, who by his gracious and ready help sanctifieth you, or maketh you holy and good; and that you should at all times keep the will and commandments of God. These are the promises which your sureties made for you at baptism, and it is these promises