TO CHURCHMEN. HAVE YOU BEEN CONFIRMED?
‘NOT yet; but the clergyman has called upon me, to ask me if I was confirmed. And when I told him, 'I had not,' he said, 'It was my duty to receive confirmation.'
What is confirmation?
'It is a taking upon ourselves the promises made for us by our godfathers and godmothers at our baptism.'
Do you read anything about 'godfathers' and 'godmothers' in Scripture?
‘No, I can't say I ever did,'
Did you agree that they should promise for you?
'How could I, when I was an infant?'
Do you think that God is pleased with the observance of religious ordinances which he has not commanded?
‘I don't know. But why should he not?'
What did Jesus say to the Jews about religiously washing their hands before meals? "In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Mark 7: 7.
But what promise did they make for you?
The Catechism says-
"They did promise and vow three things in my name. First, that I should renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanity of this wicked world, and ALL THE SINFUL LUSTS OF THE FLESH.
"Secondly, that I should believe all the articles of the Christian faith.
"And, Thirdly, that I should KEEP GOD'S HOLY WILL AND COMMANDMENTS, AND WALK IN THE SAME ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE."
These are solemn promises indeed. Why are you to observe them?
‘In order that I may have eternal life: for so the Baptismal service says'-
"Dearly beloved, ye have brought this child here to be baptized, ye have prayed that our Lord Jesus Christ would vouchsafe to receive him, to release him of his sins, to sanctify him with the Holy Ghost, to give him the kingdom of heaven, and everlasting life. Ye have heard also that our Lord Jesus Christ hath promised in his gospel to grant all these things that ye have prayed for: which promise he, for his part, will most surely keep and perform. Wherefore, after this promise made by Christ, this infant must also faithfully for his part promise by you that are his sureties (until he come of age to take it upon himself) that he will renounce the devil and all his works, and constantly believe God's holy word, and obediently keep his Commandments."
You make an agreement with God then, that he shall give you eternal life, if you are obedient in all things!
‘Certainly; the Prayer-book shows it.'
And is THAT the way you hope to get to heaven? Why, friend, this is NOT THE GOSPEL; THIS IS THE LAW! No one ever was, or ever will be, saved by their obedience. All are sinners. One sin earns the CURSE of God! One sin scatters all hope of blessing!
"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he in guilty of all." James 2: 10.
"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, is evident: for ‘The just shall live by faith.' And the law is not of faith; but the man that doeth them shall live in them." Gal. 3: 10-12.
You think to earn or buy eternal life. God testifies, that it is his gift.
"For the wages of sin is death; but the GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom. 6: 23.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I GIVE UNTO THEM ETERNAL LIFE." John 10: 27, 28.
You think to deserve it by your own works. God says, that it is only to be had by another's work.
"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Rom. 3: 20.
"Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Rom. 3: 24.
You see, then, the Prayer-book way to heaven is very different from the Bible way.
‘They're not only different, but opposite! Did you say, that everyone who attempted to be saved by his obedience, was under the CURSE?'
Yes! God says so. Gal. 3: 10. He says, too, that everyone who preaches that way of salvation is accursed.
"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." Gal. 1: 8, 9.
‘How, then, can any Gospel-minister uphold the Prayer-book?'
They must answer that! But a word with yourself! What do you think of yourself? Are you one of God's elect people?
'I don't know; how should I be able to tell?'
Have you the forgiveness of all your sins?
‘I fear not.'
Are you a child of God?
‘I am afraid not.'
Then, friend, how can you acknowledge, use, or teach the Church Catechism? For that tells you, you are "the child of God." Answer 2. It says, "that the Holy Ghost sanctifies you and all the elect people of God."
And how can you go to confirmation? For, in that service, the bishop says of all that are confirmed-
"Almighty and everlasting God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate these thy servants by water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given unto them forgiveness of all their sins."
When he lays his hands on the head of each separately, he says, "Defend, 0 Lord, this thy child." If you are not God's child, nor forgiven, nor renewed by the Holy Spirit, will you take part in a ceremony in which the bishop will tell God untruths about you?
‘That would not be right.'
And then think of the promises you are called upon to make! Do you mean to give up dances and plays? Will you never sing a worldly song? Never take a hand of cards? Do you mean never to have a game at billiards, or go to a horse race, or to see the riders in a circus?
'I mean to enjoy life while I can.'
But your baptismal vow engages, that you will give up "THE POYPS AND VANITY OF THIS WICKED WORLD." If you mean to enjoy them, you go before God with a falsehood. Pray refrain!
‘BUT I AM A BELIEVER. I am forgiven! Why should not I be confirmed?'
You see that the pledge you give is the Law, and not the Gospel. Can you keep it? Ought you to try and keep it, as the way to eternal life?
'No! I don't rest on any such foundation. My hope is in the obedience and righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ.'
Then do not publicly profess in confirmation what you secretly deny! If you are the child of God by faith in Christ Jesus, you will sin fearfully in being confirmed. IT IS PUTTING OFF CHRIST'S RIGHTEOUSNESS TO PUT ON YOUR OWN! How solemnly the Holy Spirit threatens those who, after faith in Christ, received circumcision!
"Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law: YE ARE FALLEN FROM GRACE." Gal. 5: 2, 4.
Confirmation is worse than circumcision. It is a plain and open declaration of what circumcision only silently affirmed - that a man intended to be justified by obedience to the law.
‘But what shall I say when the clergyman asks me, Why I am not going to be confirmed?'
Tell him you have four reasons against it -
1. ‘I ought not to take part in a service, where the bishop is directed to utter solemn falsehoods to God.'
He is required to say, that God has converted the confirmed, forgiven all their sins, and that they are his servants.
2. ‘I ought not to join in a service, where the congregation is directed to utter solemn falsehoods to God.'
Persons confirmed promise God, that they will abstain from all fleshly lusts, all pomps and vanities of this wicked world. All that is required of persons in order to be confirmed is, that they should be able to "say the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the ten commandments," and the Catechism. Does the ability to repeat these things make a man a child of God, and willing to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil?
3. ‘I ought not to make a promise which would be sinful, being full of unbelief. The offering of my future obedience to God, instead of the past sufferings and death of his Son, would be so.'
4. ‘I ought not to lead others astray. I do so, if I go to confirmation.' For it leads others to think, that our obedience to God, and not the merits of Jesus Christ, is the way to be saved
‘I see! You are right. But the Prayer-book says -
"And there shall none be admitted to the Holy Communion, until such time as he be confirmed, or be ready and desirous to be confirmed."
If, then, I see confirmation to be wrong, I can never, according to its rules, be permitted to be a member of the Church of England.'
You will not, I hope, do what is sinful in order to gain a place at the communion-rails.
‘No! but what am I to do?'
Be immersed into Christ as a believer.
"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." Gal. 3: 26, 27.
Believer of the Establishment, you take your place at its communion-rails ‘on the ground of your confirmation promises.’ Dare you stand by them?
Have done with Your PROMISES TO GOD! Rest on GOD'S PROMISES TO YOU!