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sense, is a favour - the progress of civilization, which softens our rougher passions, and purifies our coarser enjoyments, is a favour—the establishment of a reformed religion in this country is a favour. This enlarged view of the subject shews to us our obligation to God, and illustrates also our dependence upon him without the gloom of superstition, or the visions of fanaticism. But I must carry you one step farther and higher : for whatsoever is intelligible or credible in the fact that there is a salutary influence of the Deity upon our minds, has been clearly stated in Scripture, not indeed by the popular word grace, but by the positive declaration that it is God who “ worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure,” and in reality he thus worketh in us by the agency of various causes, which owe to him alone their efficacy, and even existence.
Here, again, revelation, when properly understood, is not at variance with philosophy: for on the grounds of natural religion, the moral, as well as the physical government of things is administered by the same Being, and therefore a distinguished champion in the cause of infidelity states explicitly, “ that God is the efficient cause of faith, and that all the good opinions which we admit," and, I add, all the good actions which we perform, " though they proceed from hearing, and hearing from teaching, both of which are strictly natural, yet are in reality the work of God.”* In the following discourse, then, I shall bring back to your memory a part of the instruction which I lately gave to you on the subject of confirmation, where imposition of hands is employed; and upon other points, relating to the same subject,. I shall bring forward such explanations and such remarks as seem to me worthy of your serious notice.
* Hobbes on Human Nature, Mallet's edit. p. 88.
. Of the respect that I feel, and wish you to feel, for the Church to which we belong, you have numerous and decisive proofs in the discourses delivered by me from this pulpit. At the same time you must have remarked my anxiety to preserve you from misconceptions and antipathies, which are so often and so fatally encouraged towards religious societies, the peculiar doctrines and discipline of which differ from our own. The
of such popular and inflammatory harangues is the substitution of a spurious or unprofitable faith for genuine and substantial charity. In fact, teachers may now and then understand, very superficially, what they inculcate very dogmatically; and there is too much reason for sagacious and impartial observers to suspect, that such zeal upon such topics in many cases takes its rise from scanty knowledge, from constitutional asperity, from habitual arrogance, and sometimes, I fear, from crafty hypocrisy or venal servility. The ignorance, credulity, and impetuosity of hearers, render them instruments for the fierce passions, or the worldly views of their instructors, and, while sophistry or invective is employed in the defence of doubtful tenets, candour, brotherly love, and all the weightier matters of the law, are made of no effect by the unauthorised tra
ditions of fallible, and, it may be, corrupt men. Possible, nay probable, it is, that with all my own caution, and all my solicitude, I may myself be sometimes mistaken. But when, in support of the opinions maintained by our excellent Church, I find occasion to point out what I think the errors of other Christian communities, I have taken, and ever will take care, not to marr any scriptural truths by enforcing them in a spirit that the Scripture does not warrant, and I ever have given, and will give, credit to the members of the Greek Church, the Church of Rome, and Protestant Dissenters, for the sincerity of their professions, the rectitude of their intentions, and the greater or less validity of their arguments.
You may recollect, that this day fortnight I preached to you upon confirmation, in order to prepare you for the approaching performance of that rite in our diocese. I then laid before
the statements, and even the words, of Mr. L'Estrange, a very celebrated writer, and I added to them other pertinent matter which my own researches in ecclesiastical history suggested to me. I told you, that between the Church of England and the Church of Rome there was much controversy upon applying the word “sacrament to confirmation, and while I declared to you my own assent to the tenets and language of our Church, I did not fail to remark that, upon this, as well as other theological subjects, the dispute to a considerable extent is verbal, and not very important. We say, and, according to my judgment, we say well, that, in order to constitute a
sacrament, there must be what are technicaliy called “ verbum et elementum," a scriptural injunction and a visible element. Now for baptism there is such injunction, “ Go ye,” says our Lord, “ and baptise in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost;” and there is also such an element, waterthe use of which varies. For in some eastern countries the water is warm, and mingled with sweet herbs — in others, there is a plunging of the whole body-in others, there was a dipping of the whole face, and it was noted by Erasmus as a singularity among the English, that such immersion was used by them. In others, aspersion, or sprinkling, was the custom, and no doubt, from the tenderness of children, this sprinkling, which we now employ, is most proper.
of these forms, however, we have an element.
So again in the celebration of the Sacrament we have an injunction. “Do this,” says our Lord at the Last Supper,“ in remembrance of me." And we have elements too, bread and wine, nor is it of any consequence what are materials of the bread, nor in what particular form it is made and broken — nor whether the wine be drunk pure, or, as it was in some early ages of the Christian Church, with a mixture of water - nor whether we receive the elements in a kneeling posture, as for more than twelve hundred years has been the custom of the Western Church-nor whether the communicant stands upright, and then, upon taking the cup or bread, reverentially bows down, as was formerly the practice in the East.
Thus far all is clear in the conformity of these two ceremonies as practised by ourselves, to the definition of a sacrament as laid down by ourselves ; and plain it is that confirmation is not attended by two properties, which that definition includes—there is no outward element—there is no scriptural command; and even the more enlightened of the Romanists acknowledge that their primary authority is unwritten tradition. But, as they define the word " sacrament" with much more latitude than we do, Confirmation may by them very intelligibly and very consistently be considered as a sacrament, and the whole difference between them and ourselves will turn merely upon one word.
We both assert that it is a rite of very great antiquity, and of considerable use—we both of us hold that it is a becoming preparative for the Lord's Supper. They indeed affirm, and we deny, that it is to be called a “sacrament,” and yet I think it for the credit both of the good sense and the fairness, which I have seen in the Church of Rome, that while the members of it contend for seven sacraments-Baptism, the Supper of the Lord, Confirmation, Penance, Extreme Unction, Marriage, Ordination, they do not represent these ceremonies as of equal importance, but judiciously and piously distinguish the Lord's Supper by the exclusive and reverential appellation of the “ holy sacrament.” On the other hand I have often taken occasion to commend the wisdom and moderation of the Church of England. For in a catechism, which is admirably fitted for the edification of the young when they