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SERM. You remember that the scripture informs VI.
you that the apostles used to lay their hands on the heads of those who had been baptized, and by that means communicated to them what are called the gifts of the Holy Ghost; the most conspicuous of these gifts were miraculous ; the persons, over whom the apostles thus prayed, were enabled to do various things above the power of human beings: we are not to suppose that this was the case with all; but the remainder of them received, what was still more valuable, such a portion of heavenly grace, that their ignorance was removed, their hearts purified, and they were put in a way, if they were not want. ing to themselves, of attaining the kingdom of God. The successors of the apostles, that is, the heads of the different churches, have, I believe, in all ages, continued this practice of praying over the baptized,' that these last- mentioned gifts
of the Holy Spirit may descend upon SERM
VI. them. The miraculous gifts are now. na more, because Christianity can propagate itself without themwhich was the purpose for which they were intended; but the common gifts, though inferior in outward show, are, as I observed before, su. perior in real value. These gifts, we have reason to hope, will be conferred upon us at our confirmation, provided that we take upon ourselves the promises made at our baptism, with that firm resolution of keeping them, which we ought to do. In order, then, to prepare yourselves properly for confirmation, you ought to endeavour to make yourselves masters of the meaning of those promises which you then take upon yourselves, and of those privileges which you then attain; and you ought, likewise, to offer up your constant and ardent prayers to the Almighty-that he would so improve your understanding that
SERM. you máy perceive, in its full weight, the, VI.
infinite importance of acting up to your professions; and that he would, so' purify your hearts that, in spite of all temptations to the contrary, your behaviour may be regulated accordingly ::= which, may God, of his infinite mercy, grant ! - to whom, with the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be all honour, obedience, and thanksgiving, now and for ever.
When we assemble together to offer up serm. our prayers and thanksgivings to the Almighty, we should be careful that it be not with our lips only, but with our hearts also, that we approach him; and, to this end, it is requisite that we comprehend thoroughly the words which we make use of; we may pray with our mouth, without perceiving the meaning of what we are saying; but if we would pray with our heart, we must
SERM. pray with the understanding also. The
composers of the Form of Prayer, which we use in our churches, have, under this conviction, and with this view, adapted our Liturgy to all capacities, and in general it is plain and intelligible; but as there are particular parts of it, which may seem to some rather obscure, and as there are others, which perhaps are not sufficiently attended to, I shall in this, and some subsequent discourses, enter at large into an explanation of it;' and in doing this, I shall endeavour to free it from some objections which have been made to it,
It is usual for every person, at his entrance in to the house of the Lord, to offer up, to him some short preparatory address in private; this is both decent and prudent; the subject of it should be always to beg, that we may perform our following devotions with attention, and that they may be accepted by our heavenly Father;