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In closing this discourse, I shall address myself to those worthy persons who have undertaken the tender and most useful office of superintending the education of females. Never do the soft and lovely virtues of your sex appear with brighter lustre, than when you are thus engaged in instructing the ignorant, in consoling the friendless, in watching the blush that suffuses the cheek of ingenuous youth, and in wiping away the tear from the eyes of those that weep. Ye cast many a piteous and many a vigilant look on those female cares that escape the notice of our sterner sex; ye perceive the first dawnings of many excellences which eventually form a virtuous character, but, from their minuteness and exquisite delicacy, are unobserved by us ;-ye can with peculiar grace descend to the detail of many courteous and affectionate offices, which in minds of a more robust form would appear hardly becoming ;-ye, as Solomon expresses it, “ blemish not your good deeds, nor use uncomfortable words when ye give.” “Shall not the dew,” say ye, “assuage the heat?” “is not a good word,” in your estimation, “better than a gift? and are not both with a gracious woman?" Yes; and therefore men of reflection will know how to value the importance of your services; men of taste and sensibility will admire the spirit with which they are performed, and, for the sake of doing justice to them in description, they will have recourse to the apposite and luminous language of King Lemuel: “Ye,” they will exclaim, “gird the loins of these children with strength, and strengthen their arms.
Ye perceive that their merchandize is good, and that their candle goeth not out by night. Ye bid them seek wool and flax, and work them willingly. Ye teach them to lay their hands to the spindle, to hold the distaff, to make fine linen, to deliver girdles to the merchant, to look well to their household, and not to eat the bread of idleness. Ye shew them that favour is deceitful, that beauty is vain, and that the woman who feareth the Lord shall álone be praised."
Go on, then, I beseech you, in this your labour of love; and may He who “out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hath ordained strength," give effect to your pious and benevolent intentions. In this world, may you enjoy the profit of your
wellmeant toils, in the modesty, in the industry, in the becoming demeanour, and the heartfelt gratitude of those whom you patronize; and in the great Day when you, together with the other supporters of these charitable institutions, shall be summoned to your
last and solemn account,--then, oh! then, may these little ones plead for you before the tribunal of the blessed Jesus, and accompany you, as you enter into the everlasting kingdom of their Father and your Father, of their God and your God.
Then laid they their hands on them, amd they received the Holy
That external signs facilitate and invigorate the impressions, which the qualities of the things signified are fitted to make by their own proper and intrinsic force, is known to us by the experience of every day. In conformity to this principle, which has its foundation in the nature of man, the Apostles, when they had baptised their converts, and prayed for them, laid their hands on them. In the Epistle, too, of the Hebrews, vi. 2. the doctrine of baptism and laying on of hands is joined with the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment, and from the facts just now mentioned to you we see the close connection of this ceremony with the religious opinions of the very earliest believers. After the apostolic age it was extended from baptism to confirmation, and in both cases it points out to us the spiritual condition of persons, who were expected to make farther progress in the knowledge of Christian truth and the exercise of Christian virtues.
* June 1815.
Here, then, in order to preserve you from erroneous conceptions and superstitious credulity, I must exhort you to distinguish, what are too often confounded, a sign and a cause. When the Apostles put hands on their converts, it was not the cause of their receiving, but a sign that they would receive the Holy Spirit; and that Spirit was given by God, but not even conveyed by the Apostles. When I dip my hands in consecrated water, and sign an infant with the sign of the cross, it is a token that he ought, and by his sponsors has engaged, to fight manfully under Christ's banner against sin, and the world, but not an efficient cause; for that is to be found in good precepts and good examples from other men, and in his own good principles. When the Bishop confirms, he does not give the spirit of counsel, and ghostly strength, but prays that it may be given ; and he employs the exterior rite practised by the Apostles at the time when the aids of the Spirit were vouchsafed to his followers.
In our own times, when the hands of the ecclesiastical superior are thus laid upon catechumens, we are not authorised to look for those supernatural effusions of the Holy Spirit, which, upon the first promulgation of the Gospel, were granted to the Apostles and their immediate followers. But when the frame of the mind is adapted to those ends, for which the outward observances were instituted, the sign is laudably retained for the purpose of reminding us that the assistance of God will in due time and in due measure be given to those, who are sincerely inclined to carry into practice such holy desires and such holy intentions, as the Deity may suggest to them by the agency of various causes. The operation of these causes is equivalent to what is commonly understood by the word “grace.”
And here it becomes me to remind you, that this word, in the original language of the New Testament, implies, in some passages, our acceptance with God or man ” — in others, “ any kindness granted or desired”-in others, “ the free and unmerited goodness of God by our redemption through Christ”-in others, “ contributions for the relief of our fellow-creatures” — in others, “thankfulness or recompence for benefits secured”-in others, “courteousness,”—but in none, directly or indirectly, “the influence of the Holy Spirit, ordinary or extraordinary.” And yet for this peculiar and exalted sense, which you continually hear assigned to the English term in pulpits, there was frequent occasion, if it had pleased the sacred writers to employ it in Greek. But they have not. Mark, however, that all the actual and all the conceivable means of moral improvement fall under the general sense of “ favour," so far as favour cometh from God, and as such is deserving of serious attention and grateful acknowledgment. Reason is a favour—the sense of right and wrong, by which, as well as by reason, man is distinguished from the lower animals, is a favour—the advantages of education in giving a livelier perception and a surer direction to that