Church, in the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal
Church in the United States.
AND THE PERSONS CONFIRMED.
SWORDS, STANFORD & CO.
Wm. C. Martin, Print. 113 Fulton St.
St. George's Rectory:
Good Friday, March 25th, 1842.
RIGHT REV. AND DEAR SIR,
I received yesterday the following communication from the members of my congregation to whom you administered the rite of confirmation on the 27th ult.
"New-York, 19th March, 1842.
"REV. DR. MILNOR:
"REV. AND DEAR SIR:
"The undersigned, recipients of confirmation at its recent administration in St. George's Church, having listened with great pleasure and profit to the excellent sermon and charge of their respected Diocesan; feeling desirous of preserving a copy of the same for their own perusal; and believing that, if published and generally read in our Church, it would disseminate sound views of the principles of the Church in reference to this apostolic rite; respectfully request, through you, if it meet your approbation, that application be made to the Bishop for the same, in such manner as may best correspond with your feelings.
"With great respect and affection," &c.
The foregoing communication is signed by nearly all those who were confirmed as candidates of St. George's. A few, I understand, were either out of the city when the paper was in circulation, or were not met with at home, when called on for their signatures.
Entirely approving of this spontaneous measure on the part of the esteemed individuals who have united in the foregoing request, I have willingly consented to be their organ of communication with you on the subject; and beg leave to add my own sense of the value and excellence of the Sermon and Charge to which they desire to give further publicity, and to assure you, Right Rev. and Dear Sir, that a compliance with their wishes, if accordant with your own convenience, will greatly oblige,
Your obedient servant and faithful presbyter,
Rector of St. George's Church, New-York.
The Right Rev. BENJ. T. ONDERDONK, D. D.
Bishop of the Diocese of New -York.
THE REVEREND JAMES MILNOR, D. D.
RECTOR OF ST. GEORGE'S CHURCH, NEW-YORK.
REV. AND DEAR SIR:
I cannot adequately express the emotions with which I received the unexpected intelligence of the desire of the beloved Christians whom I lately confirmed in St. George's, to have for publication a copy of the Sermon and Address delivered on that occasion. In the fulness of pastoral affection with which they were delivered, they are now, through you, sent to them, with my cordial blessing, for the purpose for which they were so kindly asked. Assure them, my dear Sir, of the affectionate sensibility with which I receive this token of their Christian regard, and of my humble prayer to God that he will ever have them in his holy keeping, and so sanctify the solemn occasion on which we met, that it may be a means of their daily increase in his Holy Spirit more and more, until they come unto his everlasting kingdom.
Allow me, Rev. and Dear Sir, to avail myself of this opportunity of expressing my grateful recollection of the marked respect and kindness with which my ministrations have always been received in St. George's Church; to thank you for the kind manner in which you have communicated the request for the publication of the following Sermon and Address; and in
DEDICATING THEM TO YOU, to express the hope that they may be, in some humble measure, auxiliary to your own faithful pastoral labors.
That God may long continue and prosper those labors, is the sincere prayer of,
Rev. and Dear Sir,
Your affectionate brother in Christ,
BENJ. T. ONDERDONK.
Episcopal Residence, New-York:
Tuesday in Easter-week, March 29, 1842.
ISAIAH i. 13. "Bring no vain oblations."
According to the terms of God's covenant of grace and mercy in Jesus Christ, the sons of men are, in infancy, to be offered or presented unto Him, and thereby admitted as parties to that covenant, in the holy sacrament of baptism. Thus made members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven, all the inestimable blessings flowing from the great atonement are pledged to them, on conditions, totally inadequate indeed in themselves, but appointed by the sovereign will, and acceptable and available through the mere and sparing mercy, of our God. To the performance of these conditions we are pledged, when thus received into covenant, by sponsors or sureties, acting in our behalf, because, by reason of our tender age, we are incompetent to act for ourselves. When, however, that cause of incompetency is removed, and we have been spared, by the kindness of our Heavenly Father, to attain to sufficient maturity for the proper understanding, and due appreciation, of the obligations thus undertaken for us, the wise and wholesome order of the Church hath, from ancient times, provided that we publicly and solemnly take those obligations upon ourselves. This we are required to do, in the ordinance of the laying on of hands, which looks back for its authority to those first ministers of Christ who received from himself instructions for the due ordering of his Church, and who were moved and directed therein by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit.
 The obligations of the Christian covenant, assumed in our behalf at baptism, involved, in general, devotion to the true and faithful service of God, to the utter exclusion and renunciation of whatever interferes with it. Coming forward, then, to the laying on of hands, or, as it is more generally termed, confirmation, is bringing, in our own name, that offering of ourselves to the Lord, which was kindly and piously bought for us at our baptism. To use the language of the text, I would, in reference to the present candidates, that this be no vain oblation; that is, no oblation the full bearing of which is not well understood, and the faithful discharge of the duties resulting from which is not the subject of firm and sincere resolution, with a clear view, and just appreciation of all the sacrifices which it may require, with a firm reliance on divine grace, as alone conferring ability to be faithful, with a settled determination diligently to seek that grace, in the appointed ways of its conveyance, and all on the principles, and in the exercise of the affections, of the true and living faith of the gospel.
In furtherance of this my heart's warm desire, and humble prayer to God, it would be impossible to take a view of the whole of the interesting ground covered by the comprehensive subject of that due preparation which will save the offering of oneself to God in confirmation from the dangerous and guilty character of being a vain oblation. In aid of those pastoral labors which, I doubt not, have been faithfully (and I pray God, they may have been successfully) bestowed to this end, I purpose offering a few general remarks on the light in which candidates for confirmation stand to the Church, and on the principles and measure of their due preparation, as set forth in certain parts of her standards, having a direct bearing on the point. Many of the remarks will have an especial reference to the case of those who were baptized in infancy; but with a modification easily presenting itself to their minds, these, as well as the other remarks, may be rendered equally profitable to those whose confirmation is a ratification of baptismal acts undertaken, at an adult age, by themselves. And the subject will not, it is hoped, be uninteresting to any inquiring Christian.
 You who, having been baptized in infancy, come forward to confirmation, do, by that act, publicly and formally exonerate your sureties or sponsors from the obligations assumed by them, when, at your baptism, they made, for you, the promises of the baptismal covenant, and engaged to bring you up in the true knowledge of them, and endeavor to lead you to their faithful performance.
This is not to be understood as if your responsibility would be at all lessened by there being no such act on your part, or as if your sureties were to be answerable for your sins, unless you thus exonerate them, and formally take upon yourselves the obligations which they undertook for you. Your sponsors are answerable for your sins, only so far as they involve them in sin, by being the consequence of neglect and inattention on their part. You are responsible for them, as they are offences against the law of God. And you have been responsible for them as long as you have been capable of knowing them to be sins, and of informing yourselves of that will of God against which they are offences. As soon as a child begins to know right from wrong, and is able, by hearing or reading, to learn the law and will of God, so soon begins the great account which he is to render at the judgment-seat of Christ. His having sponsors diminishes nothing from his own liability to be called to account; but will, if his sponsors are faithful, increase his guilt, because of the opportunities which they afford him of knowing and doing better. It is not, then, because you have not heretofore been answerable for your own conduct, that the Church requires you to come forward, and take upon yourselves the promise and vow made for you, in baptism, by your sponsors; but because, as what they then did was entirely for your own good, it is no more than proper gratitude to them, that you should, when old enough to understand what they did, and properly to undertake the same for yourselves, come forward and do it. It is because God requires the solemn devotion of yourselves to him. It is because, although the obligations of the Christian covenant rest upon you whether you own it or not, yet one of the best means [9/10] to secure attention to any duty, is publicly to acknowledge it, and solemnly to seek grace for its faithful discharge.
For these reasons, and in accordance with ancient godly usage, the Church calls upon you, now that you have come to years of discretion, publicly to signify your hearty and rational assent to what was done for you, by your sponsors, in infancy, solemnly to acknowledge as yours the obligations which they assumed in your name, and to make that dedication of yourselves to God which was then made for you. The Church, therefore, regards you in the light of those who have arrived at that stage of advancement in the Christian course at which her object in requiring sponsors has been answered, by their being duly and understandingly interested in that service of Christ to which they were devoted in baptism, either by their improvement of the pious care of their sponsors, or their own remedy of any defect which may unhappily have existed in that quarter. And this, by the proper use of that "discretion," or intellectual and moral self-discipline, at which they are supposed to have arrived.
The light in which they are thus considered by the Church, as resulting from the very fact of their coming to confirmation, will be best understood by a reference to the exhortation at the close of the office of infant baptism, wherein the duties of sponsors are set forth. It is there supposed, that before the object of having sponsors is answered, and therefore, before the baptized child is ready to become his own sponsor, as is formally done in confirmation, he is to have been taught, that is, he is to understand, what a solemn vow, promise, and profession, he made by his sponsors, and is about to make in his own name. He is to have learned the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, and all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe to his soul's health, that is, he is to have a competent knowledge of the whole gospel scheme, the faith which it requires, and the religious and moral precepts to which it demands obedience. He is to be leading a godly and a Christian life; to die from sin, and rise again unto righteousness; to mortify all his evil and corrupt affections; and daily proceed in all virtue and godliness of living.
 They, then, who come forward to confirmation, are expected by the Church to do it with a full view of the nature of the obligations which were undertaken for them at baptism, with the serious purpose of fulfilling those obligations, and with characters and lives consistent with faithful devotion to the performance of that purpose. Perfection is, of course, not looked for. Nor ought a very high degree of maturity in the divine life, however desirable, to be made an essential qualification for any means of grace; for the object of every such means is to help the Christian onward to higher advances in godly living. But we must and do expect seriousness, sincerity, and holy desires, resolutions, and endeavors, to detract nothing from the full measure of Christian requirement; and all with humble dependence on God's grace for ability, in humble and practical acknowledgment of the duty of seeking that grace, and duly profiting by it, and looking in true faith, for the acceptance of our services only through the merits of Christ. We must and do expect, my beloved friends, who purpose offering yourselves for confirmation, that you come to so holy an ordinance, engaging you in so momentous a transaction, and laying you under such solemn obligations, as they should be expected to come who have arrived at years of discretion, and are consequently capable of exercising upon it a sound judgment, and enlightened sensibilities. It would be derogatory to both your understandings and hearts, to anticipate your coming lightly, irreverently, or thoughtlessly, to such a holy ordinance. And why should you? And why, from the fear of doing so, should you hesitate in coming forward at all? What doth the Lord require of you? To lose any happiness in this world? Think not so unjustly of religion. It will deprive you of no real enjoyment, of nothing which you can remember with unmixed satisfaction, and of nothing the natural tendency of which is not to disappointment, mortification, and spiritual and eternal injury. Be not deceived by appearances. Happiness has its seat in the heart. It is but loosely connected with what is outward. Indeed, the latter is often but a mask, concealing, by a smiling visage, the settled sadness of melancholy, or the writhings and distortions of an agonized spirit, or a [11/12] troubled conscience. Depend upon it that every lure to draw you from religion is a mean of your farther and still farther estrangement from the only true ways of pleasantness, and paths of peace. That pleasantness and peace will be found in joys peculiar to religion--the peace of mind which it inspires, the joy in the Holy Ghost which it imparts, the increased value that it stamps on all earthly happiness, not inconsistent with the sanctity of gospel religion, and the purity of gospel morals, and the support and comfort which it ministers in all troubles and trials, and especially under the visitation of sickness, and in the hour of death.
And look not upon it, beloved Christians, even the youngest and the healthiest of you, as unseasonable to think of sickness and death. Your companions, young and healthy as yourselves, have been seized with sickness, and removed by death. Who of you has not known this to be true with regard to those whose prospects of health and life were as promising as your own? I wish not to recall these things to your minds, to make you gloomy and melancholy--gloom and melancholy belong not to our religion; but I would that they should make you serious and thoughtful. For I will not think so ill of even the youngest of you, who comes forward as one whom the church supposes to have arrived at years of discretion, as to attribute to you the idea that you cannot be serious and thoughtful. Serious thoughtfulness is essential in any preparation in which you may be engaged for business or usefulness in life. You know that to do well in any of your studies or pursuits you must attend to them seriously and thoughtfully. I ask the same thing for those matters which relate to your spiritual and eternal welfare. I ask that the salvation of your souls, your attaining to heaven, and your escaping from hell, should also make you serious and thoughtful. I ask that that for which your Saviour suffered and died should not be lightly regarded by yourselves. I ask that what God requires of you shall not be slighted, or set aside, as if it were a thing of nought. I ask that the solemn truth, evinced by melancholy facts, that no age, no state of health, and no condition in life, are proof against sickness and death, be not suffered [12/13] to be lost upon you, but be seriously and thoughtfully laid to heart. This may be done without making you unhappy. It need withdraw you from no proper and useful pursuit. It need exclude you from no enjoyment not inconsistent with your Christian character and hopes. Have, then, ever, the fear of God before your eyes. Always remember that you were not sent into this world to continue here, but only to pass through it to another and an eternal world, where happiness or misery everlasting must be your portion; and that that other world may be very near; it may be close at hand; this night you may be called to enter it. More, many more, are taken to it in early life, than after a lengthened probation.
Let such considerations, beloved Christians, the candidates for confirmation, sink deeply into your hearts; and you will then see at once the practical purpose for which the introduction of them here has been designed. It is this. You are about coming forward to take upon yourselves the solemn obligation which your sponsors undertook for you at your baptism. That obligation was, to renounce whatever is inconsistent with the service of God; to embrace the faith which He requires of you; and to devote yourselves to the obedient keeping of all His commandments. As you have arrived at the years of discretion, an appeal may safely be made to your own judgments as to the state of mind in which you should engage in such a transaction, and the character which it is reasonable for the Church to expect you to possess, in pledge that you are not bringing a vain oblation, and that your voluntarily assumed responsibilities will not be slighted or disregarded. Let, then, your judgments answer. They will clearly determine that you would act a most unreasonable and dangerous part, were you to come to confirmation, without a serious conviction of the deep solemnity of the occasion, and without feeling that you therein assume the most sacred obligations, and lay yourselves under the most weighty responsibilities. Your good sense must also dictate, that under this view of confirmation, you must bring hearts already willingly given to the Lord, and form the most deliberate, firm, and well-weighed resolutions, that your obligations and responsibilities shall be faithfully fulfilled.
 Such a state of heart and character, thus enforced by the nature of confirmation, as a voluntary and formal release of your sponsors, and assumption, in your own persons, of the obligations undertaken by them for you, must be understood to be meant by the Church, when she says of a baptised child, that he is to be brought to the Bishop to be confirmed, not merely when he can say the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the ten commandments, but when he is also sufficiently instructed in the other parts of the Church Catechism set forth for that purpose. The Church Catechism is a comprehensive summary of the whole scheme of Gospel faith and practice. In that scheme, then, as set forth in the Catechism, the candidate for confirmation must be sufficiently instructed. And surely no grade of instruction, in a matter of such vital spiritual and eternal interest, can be deemed sufficient, which has not effectually reached the heart, and duly influenced the character and life.
Upon the same obvious principle is to be interpreted the rubric after the Catechism, that "as soon as children are come to a competent age," and can say the Catechism, "they shall be brought to the Bishop." None surely will pretend that the mere ability to say the Catechism can possibly be meant as a sufficient preparation for so high an act of the moral sense and responsibility, as deliberately assuming the obligations of the Christian covenant. By "competent age," must be meant an age possessed of the moral and spiritual qualifications for so sacred an act.
The prohibition, in the preface to the Confirmation-Office, of any being confirmed, until they can say the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the ten commandments, and can answer to the other questions in the Church Catechism, can, with no propriety, be considered as fixing the standard preparation. It was undoubtedly designed as a declaration against the error of the Roman Church, which admitted mere children, of only six or seven years of age, and of course before they were ordinarily capable of even such partial fitness. The sense of our Church on the subject is more fully set forth in the farther declaration, in the same preface, that the candidates should have "come to [14/15] the years of discretion;" and that the solemn act in which confirmation engages them should be "with their own consent;" should be their ratifying and confirming a compact; and should be a transaction which "they have assented unto." And these expressions, surely, can mean nothing less than that the Church expects them to come forward in the exercise of a sufficiently matured judgment, and in the serious frame of mind, with the serious resolutions, and with the already interested heart and character, which have been now recommended.
Let what has been said sink deeply into the hearts of those who propose offering themselves for confirmation. The preparation expected is nothing more, depend upon it, than what you owe to your greatest happiness in this world, and to your only hope and chance of happiness in the next.
I trust, my brethren, that I have not to meet, in any one present, the dangerous and discreditable idea, that by abstaining from confirmation, you will be in a safer state, because you cannot then break the vows of confirmation. This is a wretched delusion. What you are called on to promise in confirmation is your duty, whether you promise it or not. It is what you naturally owe to God, and what you are bound to render to Him by the terms of the covenant into which you were admitted by baptism. You may neglect the reasonable duty of publicly owning your obligations to your Maker, and frankly and honestly resolving to fulfil them. You may refuse solemnly to take upon yourselves those obligations of the Christian covenant which were undertaken for you at baptism. But this will avail you nothing. You still owe the same duties. You are still bound by like obligations. With those duties required of you, and those obligations resting upon you, you will appear at the judgment-seat of Christ. And to that judgment-seat you may this night be called.
But let me hope that so disingenuous and dangerous a subterfuge is not thought of by any one present; but that all of suitable age, who have not heretofore been its subjects, have resolved, under proper pastoral counsel and direction, to come to confirmation, feeling that it is both their duty and their privilege; [15/16] rejoicing, with the love and fear of God in their hearts, in an opportunity of thus manifesting their sincere desire to devote themselves to His service; in full and grateful view of what the Redeemer has done for them, glad to do for Him the little return of owning Him to the world as their chosen Lord and Master, appearing as His willing and devoted disciples, and resolving, by God's grace, to be true to their responsibilities, and faithful to their vows.
In this humble, sincere, and devout frame of mind, come forward. And may the Saviour of whom you thus manifest your choice, as your Lord and only Master, vouchsafe to meet you, to accept the oblation of yourselves to Him, to pour into your hearts the gifts of his Holy Spirit, and to be and abide with you alway, directing and aiding you in duty, defending you in danger, comforting you in affliction, and training you for the joys of His presence, and the participation of His glory, in the kingdom of his Father and your Father, of his God and your God!
 ADDRESS DELIVERED TO THE RECIPIENTS OF CONFIRMATION, IMMEDIATELY
AFTER ITS ADMINISTRATION.
MY DEAR FRIENDS AND CHILDREN IN THE LORD:
In proceeding to impart to you the accustomed counsel on the deeply interesting occasion which has now brought us together, I know of no point more important to be commended to your serious practical regard, than the great principle, fundamental in the Christian system, and presented with much clearness and force in the solemn service just performed--Human inability to fulfil Christian obligation, and discharge Christian duty, and the necessity, hence arising, of the direction and assistance of God's Heavenly Grace; and of seeking them in the appointed ways of their conveyance.
There is, perhaps, no more fruitful source of disappointment in the Christian life, and of backsliding from its profession and its duties, than dependence on one's own strength for sustaining that life in its vigour, adorning that profession with consistency, and discharging those duties with fidelity.
Ever bear this important truth in mind; and let its remembrance, I beseech you, be thoroughly heartfelt and practical.--You have now renewed, ratified, and confirmed, the most solemn promise and vow that man can make. You have not, of yourselves, strength to fulfil them. That strength can come only of the grace of God. He, in infinite mercy, has promised his grace to all who feel their need of it, and who look to Him for it in true humility and faith. He has been pleased to appoint means, in the use of which we are to seek that grace. Chief among these is sincere, humble, heartfelt prayer, offered in the true faith of the gospel. Be you, then, dear Christians, [17/18] much in prayer. With it begin and close each day; and devote to it also other periods of retirement, as proper attention to the duties of your state in life will allow. Remember too, I beseech you, the inspired precept--"Pray without ceasing." This precept involves a great and fundamentally important principle. I mean, that praying, although it includes due attention to direct outward engaging in the exercise of prayer, yet is by no means confined to it. In this sense, men cannot always pray. How then can they obey the Apostle's injunction to pray without ceasing?
Prayer is a frame and habit of mind, as well as a direct or outward exercise; without which, indeed, such exercise is little worth, and may be the abomination of deceit and hypocrisy, or the wretched folly of fatal self-delusion. Ever then cultivate this frame and habit of mind. They consist of the faith, penitence, humility, and devotion, which are necessary to true and acceptable prayer. From these the Christian should never be estranged. In all his pursuits and enjoyments, he should often pause, and ask himself if they are consistent with this faith, penitence, humility, and devotion; and if he can, at any moment, with due preparation of heart, engage in solemn prayer. This will furnish a very proper test whereby to determine whether he is right in his pursuits or enjoyments. If they repress, or neutralize, or expel, the spirit of prayer, they are offences against God, and of alarming, and if not corrected, fatal danger to his own soul.
The cultivation of this spirit of prayer, and thus of constant meetness for engaging in its direct exercise, is to be sought in religious reading and meditation. The Bible, the precious word of God, should be daily studied by every Christian with the most serious attention, and the most devoted effort to discover all that it reveals for the guiding of belief and practice. And, under the direction of judicious counsel, especially the counsel of his spiritual pastor, similar heed should be given to the reading of such other good books as tend to a right understanding of the word of God, and the proper enforcement of its divine teachings on the sensibilities and the affections.
 These duties will furnish materials for that most important spiritual exercise, and that rich mean of the sanctifying and strengthening influences of divine grace, devout meditation.--Often retire, Christians, for this purpose, from the pursuits, the cares, and the enjoyments of the world. Call home your thoughts. Meditate on God, his works, his judgments, and his mercies, especially that greatest of his mercies, redemption through Jesus Christ, and all its resulting precious blessings.--Meditate on your duty, as required by the word of God, your duty to Him, to your fellow men, and to your own souls. And, O, fail not to meditate most seriously upon yourselves, your conduct, your character, your state of heart, compared with the pure and holy requisitions of the Divine Law.
Thus, Christians, will you use means which God requires, and which he has promised to bless, for obtaining that grace which will truly interest your souls in the fulfilment of the solemn obligations that you have now renewed, will give them a life and vigor in the Christian course to which unaided nature never could attain, and will enable you to run and not be weary, and to walk and not faint, in the way that leadeth unto life. That is indeed, in itself, a way of pleasantness and a path of peace. But, alas! this wicked world surrounds it with difficulties, and perpetually throws hindrances before the Christian in his journey through it. Hence the necessity of being always under the guidance, and in the enjoyment of the aid, of God's heavenly grace. Let the Christian lose sight of this necessity, or become negligent or indifferent in the use of the means of obtaining that guidance and aid, and spiritual declension, backsliding, degradation, and ruin, are the natural awful consequences.
But, Christians, you are to use the means of spiritual direction and aid, not only in the retirement to which your religion calls you, but also in the social character in which God has bound you together as members of his Church. For that holy body, and thus for the spiritual and eternal welfare of all its members, He has commissioned a ministry to perform sacred offices which are appointed means of his grace, and pledges of [19/20] His mercy, through Jesus Christ; and giving themselves to the diligent and devout study of God's word, to direct thereto the attention of the people, and lead them to a right understanding of the same. Hence the solemn services and instructions of God's house, and especially the great peculiar Christian service of His holy altar. To these you should have recourse as to channels in which flow streams of grace necessary to refresh you, and appointed means for obtaining the spiritual food necessary to nourish and strengthen you, in your Christian course.--You should look upon these services and instructions not merely as decent, proper, and solemn public avowals of your assent to Christianity, and your adopting it as the rule of your religious faith and practice; and not merely as exercises, your attention to which you are at liberty to proportion to the gratification which they may afford; but as divinely appointed and required means of that grace without which, you can neither understand God's will, nor be able to observe it. The measure of your willing attention to them should be governed by the inquiry, not how often you must apply to them, but how often you can have the privilege of doing so. And ever bear in mind, that they are not merely duties to be outwardly discharged; but those in which should be enlisted the devoutest affections, the most undivided attention, and the most earnest solicitude, of which you are capable. The most flagrant injustice is done to the offers of God's grace and mercy, when the rich means appointed for their conveyance in the services and ordinances of his house, are sunk, in the Christian's estimation, into the mere exercise of clerical talent and ability, to be valued and resorted to in proportion to the pleasure which they impart, or their accordance with his feelings and views. Those services and ordinances are of God, and the neglect or light estimation of them, or irreverent, worldly, and unchristian attention to them, has a direct tendency to spiritual indifference and hardness, to serious departures from the right way of Christian faith and holiness, and to the expelling from the heart of the sanctifying, guiding, and aiding influences of God's heavenly grace. O, then, Christians, ever cherish, and ever manifest, that heartfelt love for the services and ordinances of the Church which will make them your [20/21] chief earthly joy, and enlist in their behalf your constant, serious, and devout attention.
Nor would I do justice to the cause of truth and piety, or to my unfeigned solicitude for your spiritual and eternal welfare, were I to omit the farther counsel, that in the unquestioned authority to serve in holy things possessed by the ministry of our communion, and in the evangelical fulness, purity, and excellence, of our public services, and their admirable adaptation to the engaging of the heart, and the interesting of the affections, in the pure devotion of the gospel, you have a preventive which you should not fail consistently, conscientiously, and undeviatingly to apply, against the destructive influences on true piety of varying schemes, disorderly procedures, novel expedients, and undisciplined excitement.
And now, beloved Christians, with these affectionate counsels, I commend you to God, and to the power of his grace,--Have his fear ever before your eyes. Keep this world, its pursuits, its cares, its honors, its pleasures, ever in entire subjection to the love of God, devotion to his service, and the seeking of his kingdom and the righteousness thereof. In his word see your only rule of faith and practice. In his Church, recognize his appointed handmaid for guiding you through his faithful service to his heavenly reward; and his appointed mean and channel for conveying to you the grace necessary for yielding to her guidance. In the true faith of the gospel, devote yourselves to doing the will of God in all the duties of the state of life to which it pleases Him to call you, and to meek and cheerful submission to that will, in whatever trials He may suffer to come upon you. And in all the events of your pilgrimage, in joy and sorrow, in sickness and health, through life and in death, unto God's gracious mercy and protection I commit you. The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you! The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace!