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who come forward to this consecration of themselves to God, and the purpose for which they come; or the effect which the solemn act will produce upon their characters and destiny here and hereafter.
They come forward, principally young disciples of Christ, ingenuous, susceptible, the purpose of worldly ambition as yet perhaps scarcely formed, the desire for the pleasures which are opening upon their view in the world which is before them, not yet perhaps matured-they come forward, the members of Christ's body, nurtured in his fold— they for whose salvation the church solicitously offers her prayers, and for whom she invokes the benediction of her Lord-they to whom society looks with deep interest for the examples that are to adorn, for the virtues that are to strengthen and defend her hallowed institutions-they, your friends, for whose welfare you are solicitous; your kindred, whom you cherish with so much lively affection; your children, on whom you have bestowed so many cares, so many exertions-may I not say, so many prayers?—whose future welfare and happiness call forth so many warm and tender feelings, so many anxious and lively anticipations: dear in so many views, bound to us by so many ties, they come forward for the noblest and most holy purpose-to testify their devotion to their God, to him who made them, who redeems them, who sanctifies them, that they may be fitted for the enjoyment of his presence for ever-they thus come forward, that, fortified by the holy vows which they now make, and strengthened by the divine grace which they now receive, they may advance in their Christian course, resisting the temptations that
assail them, and finally obtain the end of their calling the salvation of their souls. How deeply interesting a solemnity which will have the most important influence on the temporal and eternal character and conditions of those who engage in it! There cannot surely be a heart that views the scene with apathy, in which it calls forth no emotion of solicitude or affection, and which is not prompted to offer the prayer for the benediction of heaven on those who, engaging in the service of their God and Saviour, in the course of Christian duty, aim at securing the inheritance of glory which is set before them.
The holy impressions of the scene through which they now pass, retaining power over their minds through all the future stages of their life, will, by God's blessing, make them virtuous and happy here, and lead them to the consummation of felicity hereafter. But if these sacred impressions proye like the morning cloud and the early dew, and pass away, with these will pass away the present honour, and purity, and peace, and the everlasting perfection and felicity of those who thus forget and violate the pledge of devotion to their God.
In this view, as conducing either to holiness and happiness, or to sin and misery, here and hereafter, how interesting the solemnity which you are now to witness! Realize it, brethren, that it may have your prayers. Realize it, you who are to engage in it, that it may excite all those serious emotions, those pious feelings, those elevated and holy views which its sacred importance demands. You are to testify your allegiance to the Lord; you are to covenant to serve him, to perform your vows to him.
Most solemn the consecration, most serious the engagement: but it is your duty, your indispensable duty; hesitate not to perform it-hesitate not, for it is your heavenly Father who calls you to his service, he who, knowing whereof you are made, and remembering that you are but dust, will regard you with the tenderest compassion, and ever extend to you his guidance, protection, and succour. Hesitate not, it is your Saviour who calls you to come to him-he who shed his blood for you, who still in heaven intercedes for you, and who will never withdraw from you, till you wilfully forsake him, his grace, his favour, and his love. Hesitate not; the glories of heaven, where all the virtuous principles of your nature will be purified and exalted, and all your virtuous joys consummated for ever, invite you. Hesitate not; the miseries of hell should alarm you: for if, deeming too great the sacrifices and the exertions which Christian duty demands, you neglect your Christian vows, and pursue those sinful joys of a world which you must soon leave, the miseries of that state to which you are doomed will have no change, no termination. Come forward, then-solemnly engage in the course of Christian duty to which you are pledged by baptism-renew your title to your Christian privileges -infinitely more exalted are they than any which the world can bestow, because they are satisfying and enduring. Come forward and secure the infinitely exalted privileges as members of Christ, children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven.
PSALM CXIX. 8.
I will keep thy statutes.
THIS pious resolve of the psalmist we would seek to induce those to adopt, who having been consecrated to God in baptism, are called to ratify and confirm their vows in the ordinance of confirmation, which is shortly to be administered.
It is not among the least of the advantages of the ordinance of confirmation, that it is calculated to draw the attention, at stated periods, to those everlasting concerns which, amidst the occupations and the enjoyments of life, are often forgotten or neglected. When a solemn call is made on baptized Christians to assume the engagements by which they were originally entered into covenant with God-when the momentous duties and the high privileges of their calling in Christ Jesus are presented before those who bear his name, and who have been pledged to his service-the appeal is powerfully calculated to excite their serious reflection, to withdraw their attention from the world, and to impress on them the infinite importance of an attention to the things which belong to their eternal peace.
In the solemnity of confirmation, also, those who, in the sacraments and ordinances of the church,
have assumed the obligations, and received a title to the privileges of their Christian adoption, are reminded of the momentous force of these obligations, and of the exalted nature of these privileges: it is calculated to impress on them their great guilt, as far as they have violated these obligations and contemned these privileges; and in this case also, of the indispensable necessity of their returning unto God, resolving no longer to live in violation of their Christian duties, and in neglect of their Christian privileges. The call, especially on the young members of Christ's fold, to assume their Christian obligations, has a tendency to awaken them to a sense of the supreme importance, above all worldly concerns, of making their Christian calling and election sure.
At the period of the administration of this ordinance, Christian parents and others must feel, in more than its usual force, their awful responsibility for the spiritual welfare of those whom Providence hath placed under their charge-those immortal beings, whose happiness or misery, through a neverending existence, in no small degree depends on their instructions and care. And at this season also, the ministers and pastors of Christ's fold must be impressed with their accountability for the flock committed to them, and particularly for those young members of it whom they perhaps admitted into this fold at the sacred font, and whom they behold arrived at a season of life when generally the course is taken which leads through the ways of sin and sensuality to the chambers of misery, or through the paths of holiness to the glories of God's kingdom above.
It is a strong sense of this responsibility which VOL. II.