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O then, that the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own Blood, may fee that Happy Day, when thofe Re verend Fathers fball, for the Love of God, who fo Lov'd us as to lay down his Life for us, and for the Love of Innumerable Immortal Souls Redeemed by His moft Precious Blood, Apply them felves Unanimously and Vigorously to the Bleffed Work, fo Honourable alfo to them, and to Engage Effectually all their Clergy to do their Parts for the Restoring and Advancing of his True Religion!
But in pleading for the Epifcopal Dignity, I am far from any inclination to favour the perfecution of Diffenting Confciences. For the wisdom that is from above, is peaceable, gen. tle, and eafy to be intreated, full of mercy. Fam. 3. 17. And the fervant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness inftructing those that op pofe themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. 2 Tim. 2. 24, 25.
The right Way then to bring over our Diffenting Bre thren to the Church, is to let them fee us live up to our Holy Profeffion; and Charitably to do to them, as we would be done to.
What is to be done to Ideots, and to those who are dull through Neglect.
DEOTS have Souls which were bought with Chrift's Blood, as dearly as the Souls of the wifeft. Therefore it is an Inexcufable wickedness to neglect the meanest Chri ftian. And Matth. 18. 10, our Bleffed Lord and Saviour fays, Take heed that ye defpife not one of these little ones: for! fay unto you, that in heaven their Angels do always behold th face of my Father which is in heaven.
They therefore whom God has made incapable of under ftanding the Cathechifm, be their incapacity more or les they may, and, must be Carefully taught fo much both of Knowledge and Practice, as they are Capable of learning, and in words and expreffions agreeable to their Capacity. The moft fimple Ideots may be taught fomething of God and thei Duty.
And they that learn and do fo far as God has enabl'd them, may furely be Confirm'd; altho' they cannot be capable of partaking of the Holy Communion. And the Bifhop, instead of the Queftion appointed, may ask them a fhort Queftion, agreeable to their Capacity.
They that were born Dumb and Deaf, may have and shew fome fenfe of God and Duty, and may be fhew'd to kneel before the Bishop. And without doubt he may give them the Bleffing.
For God furely requires of no body any more than he gives. And he has given his Son to Die for every one without exception. Rom. 14. 15. 1 Cor. 8. 11. 2 Pet. 2. 1.
But they who are dull through Neglect or Sloth, and thereby unapt to learn Christian knowledge, may not be indulg'd.. If in ripe years they can learn no fafter than children, what they should have learn'd in their childhood, they must be willing to learn and be taught as children. For our Saviour fays, Verily I fay unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. Mark 10. 15. They may not think to be fav'd by proud defpifing what children are taught. For the Catechifm is the Chief and the Foundation of all Chriftian Knowledge, and the very Marrow of the Bible. They muft therefore learn it as they can, with Diligence and Patience, until they have learnt all things which a Chriftian ought to know and believe to his Soul's health. And when they have fo done, they muft with the fame Diligence continue learning as long as they live; both to keep what they have, and to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savi our Jefus Christ. 2 Pet. 3. 18.
The great Inconveniences of the Neglect of Confirma
tion. The great Benefits of the due Obfervation of it. An Exhortation to Prayer.
O move all, both those that Adminifter Confirmation, and thofe that are to be Confirm'd, and thofe that ought to Prepare Souls for it, to pay that Honour which is due to fo Holy and Bleffed an Ordinance; it highly concerns them to confider the great Inconveniences of the Neglect of it, and the Ineftimable Benefits of Duly Honouring it.
The Inconveniences of the Neglect, or negligent performance of Confirmation, and of Preparation for it by Catechizing, &, are these.
1, The generality of people are drown'd in a Deluge of ignorance, notwithstanding all our preaching; which without diligent Catechizing, ferves to little purpose, but to keep the hearers ever learning, and never able to come to the Knowledge of the Truth.
2, All Religion is turn'd into a meer flight complement, and Prayer into a formal prating, whether it be understood or not. And this prating is countenanced by a no lefs evil custom of hafty reading the publick Prayers. Thofe Prayers are alfo lightly efteem'd. And the great Privilege of the highest Bishop, to offer up unto God the Prayers of the People *, is counted a mean employment for Deacons, and the lower fort of Priests.
3. The feant measure that is abominable †, is generally the beit measure in all the Worship and Service of God, and in all things belonging thereto. And the Lukewarmnefs which Christ abhorst, is likewise the best temper.
*Heb. 7. 25. Ch. 13. 15. Rev. 5. 8. Luke 24. 30. + Micah. 6. 10. Rev. 3. 16.
4, Herefy, Schifm, and Atheism, abound exceedingly. 5, Many horrid crimes pafs for innocent things. Our firft Entrance into Chriftianity is with the Sureties folemn taking God's Name in vain, or their Equivocating filence. Any Sureties are thought fufficient in fo Weighty a Matter; even altho' they have no reasonable Hope, either of Opportunity, or of Life to perform their Vow.
It is not long fince Baptifm was generally denied to flaves in the Plantations. And in fome places it is ftill (or was very lately) denied. Confirmation has been made a rude diforder. Both that and the Lord's Supper are for the most part either neglected, or receiv'd without any tollerable Preparation; and by the admiffion of the ignorant and unprepared, are made the confirmation of the contempt of neceffary Knowledge and true Christianity. Good and bad are admitted to the Lord's Supper, notwithstanding 1 Cor. 5. 11. and Ch. 11. 27, 29, the 26th Canon, and the Rubrick and Exhortations in the Common Prayer-book. St. Paul's Prohibitions plainly fhew, that, whether Judas was admitted or not, we may not admit known finners without repentance. A vile order is thought good enough for Churches, or any thing belonging to them, fuch as the parishioners will not endure in their own houses. And fo they honour themselves far above their Maker, who gave them all they have. So little Reverence is paid to the House of God, as to make it a common play-house for ringers. Any pretence is thought fufficient for abfenting from Church, or coming late, or departing before the end. Any of thefe is allow'd to a fervant for the meer worship of his master or mistress. Every where the former part of God's Service is always disturb'd by late comers. Even in God's Service a great Temptation to adultery in the heart is counted a laudable fashion. The Lord's Day is made a day of worldly bufinefs, upon pretence of Chriftian Liberty. And fo Chriftian Liberty to Serve and Enjoy God, to gather the True Riches, to Feaft Souls, and to give our bodies neceffary and convenient Reft, is chang'd for Egyptian Drudgery.. Days appointed for the folemn Worfhip of God, and folemnly bidden in the Church, are folemnly forbidden in the market; even the Days of God's laying down his Life for us, and of his Afcenfion to his Kingdom in Heaven. Who fcruples at feasting on the Fafting days appointed by the Church? Divers kinds of Sacrilege and Simony are juftified by their feveral pretences. Churches are even expos'd to publick Sale. What is the taking, or withholding from God all, or almoft
all the Subftantial part of what was Confecrated to the Maintenance of his Worfhip; and leaving the Small things for his Honour, and Poverty and Beggary for his Minifters! And how little better are Sine-cures and Non-refidence? Solemn Oaths of Parish Officers and others are made meer matters of Form. And this with Prefentments of Nothing, the other meer matters of form, is the Reformation of Manners by both Spiritual and Temporal Courts. How much is worldly Gain the Real Matter of what fhould be Sacred Forms! And how are fuch gains, prefentments, and Oaths made even in God's Houfe! Impracticable Oaths are given and taken. Solemn Oaths are given and taken, without the taker's either Knowing beforehand what he is to fwear, or Understanding it when he fwears, or neceffary care to Remember it. Solemn Oaths are alfo debased to trifles of lucre, without the occafions of Juftice. Even the Learned have Need to confider what Oaths they require, and how they are, or may be Performed; particularly how Impracticable is the Truth of Nine Depofitions, or any of them, de certa Scientia præfentandum aptum effe & idoneum moribus & fcientia. Is it not in their Power to Reform fuch things, and amend their Laws? And how does the whole Land mourn for the want of a Reformation of both giving and taking Oaths!
Thefe and the like are even the Confequences of the Neg lect of Confirmation, or Slight receiving it: Because that is the neglect of the peculiar Means of Grace, to enable us to Underftand, and Remember, and Live up to the Duty of the Gospel + And because by the Neglect of Catechizing, as well the Clergy as the People, do either not understand, or not think of their Duty as they ought.
But if Confirmation were Duly and Decently Perform'd with due Preparation; then all thofe Inconveniences would, as far as can be expected in this world, be remov'd, by the Grace of God given in this Ordinance, to Know, and Remember, and to Do, as becomes the Honour of Chriftianity; and by the Natural Effects of the Clergy carefully Expounding, and the people diligently Learning the full Senfe of the Catechifm, and of every one having made a Serious, and well Confi der'd, and Solemn Vow, To renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, and all the finful lufts of the flesh; To believe fledfaftly all the Articles of the
8 to 13.
See Part 1. ch. 6.