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griel and resentment every tender moment watched, to urge a request
, and wrest a promise, from the generous weakness of unguarded affection. How mean and selfish is such a practice! Remember that a noble mind will dispose a person to suffer much, rather than ask a favour which he knows cannot be refused, if he thinks that his friend may notwithstanding have reason to wish it had not been asked.
I shall finish this long letter with a note of yet higher importance.
If you succeed in every design which you form, and the world gives you till its utmost bounty is exhausted, your happiness will be still imperfect, you will find some desire unsatisfied, and your possession will never fill your wishes.
But do not suffer the present hour to pass away unenjoyed by an earnest and anxious desire of some future good; for if this weakness is indulged, your happiness will still fly from you as you pursue it, and there will be the same distance between you and the object of your wishes, till all the visions of imagination shall vanish, and your progress to further degrees of temporal advantage shall be stopped by the grave.
It is notwithstanding true, that the expectation of future good, if the object is worthy of a rational desire, pleases more than any present enjoyment. You will therefore find that a well-grounded hope of Heaven will give a relish to whatever you shall possess upon earth. If there is no time to come that we can anticipate with pleasure, we regret every moment that passes; we see that time is flying away with all our enjoyments; that youth is short, health precarious, and age approaching, loaded with infirmities to which death only can put an end: for this reason endeavour to secure an interest in the favour of God, which will ensure to you an everlasting life of uninterrupted and inconceivable felicity. Nor is this a difficult or an unpleasing attempt; no real present happiness need to be forfeited to purchase the future, for virtue and piety at once secure every good of body and mind, both in time and eternity.
As many of these hints as may be of immediate use, I think you cannot fail to understand now; and I would recommend the frequent perusal of this letter, that you may at length comprehend the whole ; for as the world opens to you, you will see the reason and the use of other parts; and if they assist you in any degree to pass through life with safety and reputation, I shall think my labour well bestowed.
I am, dear Miss,
INO. HAWKESWORTH. Bromley, Kent, 14th Dec, 1748.
FOR THE CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE.
ON THE USE OF SPONSORS IN BAPTISM.
THE act which introduces us within the pale of the Church, we may properly consider as the first subject of her care and direction. As soon, as by the providence of God, infants are brought into this world, the Church is ready to take them under her fostering care, to train them up for the kingdom of Heaven. That their baptism may be the more fully expressive of what it really is, the obligation's entered into are rehearsed, and undertaken on the part of the infant, by sponsors or sureties; which it is well known become binding on the infant when his mind becomes sufficiently strengthened to comprehend them. The concern sponsors have in the transaction, and what they stand bound to do, is a distinct consideration, from the covenant contract, which refers, and wholly centers in the infant. The conditions are invariably the same to all. When baptism is administered upon those who cannot promise for themselves, it is done for them, on the presumption that they will do it, as soon as they are capable. We are bound by the authority and injunctions of the Church, to act according to the rules prescribed; we are therefore under obligations to explain, to vindicate, and justify the use of sponsors, in principle and practice ; which it is hoped will be done to the content of the candid; and with others, all discussion would be vain.
The custom of the Christian Church, on this point, is of great force, and according to St. Paul, is conclusive, at least next in authority to a divine precept. The truth and extent of this position is greater than is commonly supposed, and is acted upon in many instances; and therefore, if we put the case before us, upon the same footing, it will stand equally supported, and entitled to our approbation. How far it may deserve this from us, may appear through the medium of the following arguments.
When Christ was about to ascend to the right hand of God, to be vested with the full possession of his regal state ; he delegated his apostles to administer, in his place and name, the government, and all the affairs of his Church. Ascending up on high, he gave gifts unto men, i.e. he appointed them in their office subordinate to himself for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying the body of Christians. Thus by the ministry of men, he provides for, prescribes rules, and conducts the affairs of his Church. To them, therefore, as to him, obedience is due.
Tohis Church, Christ gave his Gospel; and committed it in trust to his apostles, that they should publish it to the world. The Holy Ghost was given for their guide into all truth, and their security against error. On the foundation himself had laid, their acts, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, gave form and rules to his Church: which being continued in the faith they taught, and the due exercise of the powers they transmitted to it, establishes the unity, and perpetuates the same Church. General resolutions and acts, are the general mind and voice of this Church: to be submit. ted to, as carrying in them apostolical authority; for if the judge ment and practice of the whole Church are not to be considered and received, as in their force and authority apostolic, it is not, nor hath it been, since the times of the apostles, the same Church with that which they settled and propagated : Because “with the continuance of the Church, as a divine society, there must of necessity be a con. tinuance also of the same divine power and authority, by which it first began. Without this it ceases to be a Christian Church, according to the original institution.” From which another necessary consequence would arise, that the Church, in no after time, could with truth be said to continue in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread and in prayers. As such conclusions follow the taking away apostolic authority from the judgment and practice of the Church universal, they serve to confirm it as an important article in Christian divinity.
That the Apostolic Church has been transmitted down to us, in its faith and powers, is a principal basis which gives certainty to the truth of our religion. From the testimony of the Church, we derive the certainty that we have the true scriptures: and upon the possession of authority originally given to the Church, rests our as. surance that we have the sacraments which Christ instituted. The acts of our Lord were done before chosen witnesses; these witnes ses had power given to them, to prove to the world the truth of their testimony. Their powers proved their authority to publish what he had revealed to them, and their authority proved the truth of what they published. Of these acts of our Lord, and the doctrines he revealed, the scriptures are the record. These scriptures were committed to the Church, and her charge is to keep faithfully the sacred deposit. That the scriptures were received by the whole Church, at the beginning, and universally believed by all Christians, is as good, nay, a better reason for our belief of them, than if we ourselves had seen the things done which are therein written. Blessed therefore are they who have not seen, and yet have believa, ed. The manifest care and vigilance concerning them ; the constant and successive labours at all times, to teach and inculcate them, upon Christians, afford all the certainty we can desire ; and the nature of the thing admits, that those scriptures have been truly and faithfully handed down to us. Thus we are sufficiently assured, that we possess the scriptures, and that they are the words of truth, and of God.
Now, if the one general Church is a competent and conclusive evidence for the credibility of the scriptures, we must, with like reason, allow it the same force, and to be equally a good evidence for the sense of them. From the scriptures we learn the authority the Church is invested with ; and by the practice of the early and suce' ceeding Christians in general, we may see clearly their conviction of the duty of submitting to what is by that authority prescribed and enjoined.
In forming the Church committed to their charge, under the su. preme direction of the Holy Spirit, by whom the whole Church is' governed and sanctified, the Apostles exercised the powers they had received. The extraordinary gifts they, and many other Christians, were endowed with, we are assured were under the direction of these powers. St. Paul tells us, the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. The reason is, God is not the God of confusion, but of order : Therefore he charges all who partook of those gifts, to acknowledge in him the authority of an apostle, and to be subject to the orders he gave them. Marvellous were the inspirations of God's Spirit in the beginning, in divers gifts, bestowed on different members of the Church; but we see their operations were subordinate to the authority and government communicated by the same spirit, for the establishment of that unity and order which is essential to the kingdom of Christ. A divine example and precept, from which we may more clearly infer the indispensable duty on all succeeding Christians, to yield a corresponding obedience ; and to avoid as much as possible every thing that tends to violate the unity, or interrupt the order and peace of the Church. Essential to the Church are set times and places for the celebration of God's worship, and the dispensing his word and holy sacraments. For this purpose, houses have been erected; all individual or private property in them disclaimed ; they have been consecrated to God, and forever alienated from all secular and profane use. The religious observation of the Lord's Day hath ever been the practice of the ancient Church; the more devout and exemplary Christians were, the more zealous have they always been for an exact compliance with the forms and order according to which the service of God was celebrated. The assembling of the apostles on that day, mentioned as the usual time, known to all the disciples, affords a strong presumption of his having discoursed to them particularly on that subject; and the Lord meeting with them at several different times between his resurrection and ascension, is a proof of his approbation, and equivalent to a divine institution : But as there is no command, the obligation is derived from the act of the apostles, whereby it became established by virtue of that power which Christ lodged in his Church. Thus received and settled by the whole Church, as it was propagated and spread in all countries, the duty appears in its source, in extent universal, and perpetually binding on all Christians, that they may hold faith and communion, in the unity of the spirit, in the bond of peace, in the one holy Church,
Upon the same foundation rests the appointment of holy days, fasts and festivals. The commenioration of the incarnation and nativity ; the crucifixion, the season of Leni, and the memories of the apostles and saints, who were champions in the faith, and patterns of holy living and dying; these, and other appointments, especially adapted to inculcate often and distinctly the various doctrines and duties of Christianity, by unity of authority, testified in universal practice, became the fasts and festivals of God's Church. By sol. emnizing these, Christians perforin their duty, in obedience to the sacred authority of the Church, and witness at large her pious care to provide opportunities so often, for their frequenting the public
service of God. To call in question the reasons and propriety of devoting to the service of God certain times, in adoration of Christ, for his wonderful acts and sufferings for our salvation, and in honour to the apostles and martyrs of Christ, looks as though the men who do it, sought to be saved by some other way, than by that Christiani, ty, which the one revealed, and the other planted and watered by their doctrine and blood. Thus, holy times are the days of the Church, in which she appears before God, in her solemn assemblies. At the beginning, their prayers and forms of devotion, may have been furnished by miraculous immediate gifts; yet, when these ccased, the prayers of the Church were not to fail.
In scripture, kingdom, body, and spouse, are terms applied to the Church; corresponding with these, Christ is styled the king, head, and husband: now the homage, petitions, and devotions of this kingdom, body and spouse, cannot be the disjointed and unconnected prayers of individuals; such, numbered to millions, might constitute the dissonance of a Babel, but cannot be conceived, or in any propriety of language be called the one voice of the spouse, or the prayers of the Church. The Lord's prayer, composed by himself, and given to the apostles, they used, and communicated it to all Churches founded by them: thus it is in the highest degree the prayer of the Church. Other prayers were needful to the dispensing the word and sacraments. Those to whom the administering of these were committed, were thereby constituted the guardians of the faith and worship of Christians. To prescribe forms for these, therefore, belongs to the principal office, so within the powerof the Church. These prayers determined, and used as the ritual of devotionsa makes them strictly and truly the prayers of the Church. From this source, and upon this authority, we have the creeds, the offices for the administration of the sacraments, the litany, or general.supplication, with the particular and more special prayers; and the rules prescribed for the decent and reverend performance of the worship of God, in his Church.
From the earliest accounts we have, it appears, that as Christianity spread, and Churches multiplied, the worship of the whole body was so provided for, and directed. At first by the Bishops in their respective dioceses; and from those particular diocesan liturgies, others were compiled for united and more extensive use, until progressively, two general liturgies, that of the eastern, and that of the western, embraced almost the whole of the Christian Church.
St. Paul gave it in charge to Timothy, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority. Timothy had the proper authority, or the Apostle would not have enjoined it as a duty attached to his office. The duty he could no otherwise fulfil, but by providing prayers, framed according to the rule given him, and causing them to be used in all the Churches and congregations under his inspection and jurisdiction. This law or rule of prayer, an ancient author assures us, hath been so religiously and unanimously observed by all Christian priests and people, that there is no part or quarter of the world