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For the first, none are capable of the Benefit of Confirmation, but such as have been before baptiz'd'; for Persons) must be first receiv'd into the Church, before they can receive the Blessings promis'd and bestow'd after it. And therefore these Samaritans were first baptiz'd by Philip the Deacon, before they were confirm’d by Peter and John the Apostles. And the Disciples at Ephesus were baptiz'd in the Name of the Lord Jefus, before Paul laid his Hands on: them to bless and confirm them. And our Church, by: the Warrant of these Examples, acts accordingly.
But because the Charity of the Church hath ever extended to Infants, upon the Promises of Sureties undertaking for them, and Children both under the Law and the Gospel have been receiv'd into the Covenant before they understand the Nature, End, or Obligations of it'; therefore, secondly, Instruction must always go before Confirmation : that Children may be taught, as soon as they are able to learn, what a folemn Vow, Promise, and Profeffion hath been made by others in their Name, to'fit them to renew and ratify in their own: Persons the Engagement of Sureties in their behalf; and to enable them to know and take upon themselves the Obligation of what, when they come to Age, they stand: bound to perform. Which shews us the Usefulness and Necessity of Catechizing; to prepare Children for Confirmation, and to receive the Benefits convey'd by it : which is
The last thing propounded to be spoken to, viz. the Graces and Bleflings confer'd in and convey'd by this Rite of Confirmation : And they are held forth here by receiving the Holy Ghost; Then laid they their Hands upon them, and they receiv'd the Holy Ghoft. Where by receiving the Holy Ghoft, is meant the Participation of the Gifts and Graces of God's Holy Spirit, which are the greatest Blellings that ever were or can be imparted to the Sons of Men.
As for the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, they are either extraordinary and miraculous, as the Gift of Tongues, of Miracles and Prophecy, and the like ; which
were given to the Apostles and others in the beginning of Christianity, for the planting and propagating of the Gospel, as we ready Acts 2, 1, 2, &c. and Chap. 19. 6. & 1 Cor. 12. Or conia mon and ordinary, as the acquir’d Knowledg of the Tongues, the Improvements in Learning, Skill in the Arts and Sciences, and the like ; which come from the fame Spirit; F 2
tho not in the fame extraordinary way: the former by sudden Infusion, the latter by the Methods of Study and Diligence. And tho the former ceas'd with the Reason of them, yet the latter being of standing Use in the Church, will be continu'd to the world's end.
But besides the Gifts, the Graces of the Spirit are by Prayer and Imposition of Hands confer'd in Confirmation. This the Fathers generally affirm : By Prayer and laying on of Hands (faith St. Cyprian) they that are baptiz'd receive the Holy Ghoft. The Flesh is seald by Imposition of Hands (faith Tertullian) that the Soul may be illuminated by the Spirit. We read in Scripture of a Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, a Spirit of Counsel and Might, a Spirit of Knowledg, and of the Fear of the Lord. All which, in the Office of Confirmation, we are directed to pray for ; and by a due and devout Use of this Ordinance will be granted and bestow'd upon ns. By this we shall be enabled to perform our Baptismal Vow, to have fpiritual Strength enough to resist and conquer our ghostly Enenties : for his Grace will be sufficient for us, to vanquish Satan, overcome the World, and fubdue thé Flesh, the Enemies we renounc'd in Baptism ; which, without the Help of Divine Grace, will be too hard for the best of us.
Wherefore let all good Christians have a high Efteem and Value for this Sacred Rite of Confirmation, by which we receive the Holy Ghost to all the Ends and Purposes of Religion, Let none run to it merely for Company, or for Fashion's fake, but reverently observe it as a Means of Grace, and a Step to Glory. Let it not be neglected either by those that are to give, or those that are to receive it, But let the former be ready duly to administer it, and the other to be carefully brought to it; considering how much it tends to the advancing of Knowledg, and increasing of Piety in the World. Let all Parents, who tender the Wel. fare of their Children, take care by catechizing and instructing of them to fit and prepare them for this Office, and be as mindful of the Good of their Souls, as they are wont to be of their bodies. Let all Sureties and Undertakers for Chiłdren, who stand bound to see them taught in the Principles of Religion, and brought to Confirmation, take care that this be effectually done, to release themselves of the Obligation; which elle will lie heavy upon theni, and swell their Accounts by the Violation of such loleman Engagebients,
In a word, let us all endeavour to preserve this antient, pious, and laudable Institution of the Church, and to answer the End, that we may receive the Benefit of it, which. is to fit us for the Holy Sacrament, and Fellowship of Chriftians here upon Earth, and to prepare us for the Communion of Saints hereafter in Heaven : Which God grant, for the Merits of Christ, oc
The GOSPEL for Tuesday in Whitsun-Week.
St. John X. III, Verily, verily 1 say unto you, He that entreth not
by the Door into the Sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a Thief and a Robber. But he that cometh in by the Daor, is the Shepherd of the Sheep; to him the Porter openeth, and the Sheep hear bis Voice, &c.
N this Gospel for the Day, St. Fohn brings in our Saviour by à Parable of the Shepherd and the Sheep,
proving himself the true Meflias, and his Ministers the true Messengers of God; and that all other Pretenders to either, are no better than Cheats and Impostors. For the better clearing whereof, I shall consider the Parable both in the Literal and Mystical Sense, and thew our Saviour's Drift and Design in it with relation to himself, and his Ministers fent by him.
The Parable is usher'd in with the Term of Affeveration, Verily, to signify the undoubted Truth and Certainty of it; which Term
is doubled, Verily, verily I say unto you, to fig. nify moreover the exceeding great Weight and Importance of what comes after it. And having thus prepard the way to gain Attention and Reception to what follows, he enters upon the Parable; which begins, F 3
First, With the Character or Account of a false Shepherd, saying, He that entreth not by the Door into the Sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a Thief and a Róbber: This, in the literal Sense, is known, and will be acknow, Jedg’d by all Men to be true ; for he that is the owner of Sheep, or the Shepherd to whom the Care of them is committed, is wont (you know) oftimes to shut them up in the Fold, and to lock the Door, to keep them from breaking out, or going aftray, and fo from the danger of being toft. Now if any come in the Evening, or by Night, and enters the Sheepfold not by the Door, which he finds lock'd for the Security of the Sheep, he cannot be a true Shepherd; and if he climbs up some other way, to be sure he hath fonie bad design upon the Sheep, and is no better than a Thief and a Robber. The mystical Sense or Design-of these Words is to detect false Chrifts, and falfe Teachers, and to discover the Falfhood of their Ways and Pretences, As,
Ifi, He that pretends to come as the promised Messias, or Saviour of the World, and comes not as he ought, in the way and manner in which he was promis'd, that is, brings not a Commission from God, attefted by a Pawer of working Miracles; such a one comes not in by the Door, or right way of Entrance, but climbs up some other way by the Steps of Ambition and Avarice, and is no better than a Lyar and Impostor, who seeks to deceive and destroy those that follow him. Such a one was Theudas, mention'd in the Acts of the Apostles, who boasted himself to be somebody, that is, a Person fent by God to relieve and advance those that came to him, which drew a Number of Men, about four bundred, after him; but doing nothing to thew his Power or Commission from God, he was seiz'd and pain for an Impostor, his Followers were all scattered, and the whole Delign brought to nought, Acts 5. Such another was Judas of Galilee, who in the Days of the taxing, and enrolling the People, drew away many after him ; but he also perished, and all that obey'd him were dispers’d, as we read in the same Chapter.
Again, zdly, He that pretends to be a Minister of Christ, and takes upon him the Office of publick Teaching, and çomes not in by the Door of Ordination, or a lawful Call, but climbs up or intrudes into it fome other way, taking phis Honour upon him without being called, as was Aaron; uch a one too is no better than a Thief and a Robber,
especially if he thrusts himself into another's Charge, and pretends to instruct the People committed to him without or against the Consent of the lawful Pastor: he is a spiritual Sheep-stealer, or Church-robber, that divides and makes a Prey of another's Flock, and does but seduce and ruin those that follow him.
And having given the Character of false Christs, and false Teachers, he next gives an account of the true Mesias, and the true Ministers or Messengers sent by him, in these words; But he that entereth in by the Door, is the Shepherd of the Sheep: which, in the literal Šense, signifies, that he who is the right Owner or Master of the Sheep, or the Shepherd appointed by him to oversee them, he hath the Key of the Sheepfold, and enters into it by the Door, and so goes in like a good Shepherd with no other design than to feed and preserve the Flock.
In the mystical Sense it teaches us, (1.) The Character, and Proof of the true Messias; he that comes in by the Door of Prophecy, and brings with him the Seal of Miracles to testify that he is fent fom God, by fulfilling of Prophecies, and doing things that are above the Reach and Activity of all human Power, is to be receivd as a Divine Perfon, and to be own'd for the true Mefliah, or the great Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls. And by this our Saviour prov'd and demonstrated the Truth of his Mission and Melliahfhip; saying in the following part of this Chapter, The Works that I do in my Father's Name, they bear witn'ss of me, ver. 25. & ver. 37,38. If I do not the Works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do, tho
if I do, tho ye believe not me, believe the Works, that ye may know and believe that the Father . is in me, and I in him: meaning, that the Works wrought by him made it evident, that the Father acted in and by him, and that all that he did was by his Power and Conmillion. Which things so convinc'd Nicodemus, a Ruler of the Jews, that he confess'd him to be the Mefliis, or Teacher come from God, for none could do the Works th.it he did, except God were with him ; John 3. 2. And a great Multitude of People, upon the light of the Miracle of the Loaves, said, Of a truth this is that Prophet that should come into the World. Chap. 6. 14.
Moreover, (2.) These words teach us the Character and Qualifications of the true Ministers and Messengers of Christ; He that entreth in by the Door of Ordination, and F4