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OUR VOWS:

A WOEK

TO BE READ IN PREPARATION

FOB

BAPTISM,
CONFIRMATION,

AND THE EUCHAKIST.



BY THE

REV. RICHARD LOWNDES, M.A.,

VICAR OF STUBIIINSTEB NEWTON, DORSETSHIRE.



Revised^ and adapted to use in the Church in the
United States.



NEW YORK:

iffieneral i3rotestant Hpfscopal S. Scljool WLxmn

auti ffijiurci) 3Soofe Bocietg,

762 BROADWAY.

1865.



^^



PREFACE.



rpHE object of these pages is to furnish a text-
-■- book to be read with candidates for Baptism,
Confirmation, and the Lord's Supper. It simply
points out a line of instruction to be taken. It
suggests matter which may be enlarged on and
more fully explained to the class.

The difficulty of getting candidates to retain, for
any length of time, the information imparted to
them during their attendance at the Classes, must
have been too often experienced to need any point-
ing out.

It is thought possible, however, that if the
groundwork of the instruction to be given is put
before the candidates in such a shape as is pre-
sented in this tract, and is left in their hands,
then the fuller explanations of the various subjects
treated of, and the larger information to be built
on this, may obtain a surer and more enduring hold
on their minds and memories than at present, in
too many instances, they appear to do.



NOTE.

It will be observed that some references are given in
the text of this book, and some are transferred (for greater
convenience) to the notes at the foot of each page. It is
hoped, however, that in every case the reader will care-
fully turn to the passages indicated.



CONTENTS



CHAPTER I.
Preparation ..... 7

CHAPTER n.
The Fall ..... 13

CHAPTER HI.
The Remedy ..... 19

CHAPTER IV.
Holy Baptism ..... 28

CHAPTER V.
The Baptismal Vow : Repentance . . 38

CHAPTER VI.
The Baptismal Vow: Faith , . .47

CHAPTER VH.
The Baptismal Vow: Obedience . . 87

CHAPTER nil.
The Second Sacrament . . .109



OUR VOWS



CHAPTER I.

PEEPAEATION.

REPARATION

for Baptism, or
Confirmation, or
the Eucharist !
How important a
matter is this,
'since so much de-
pends upon it !

Very serious
indeed is the duty
to be undertaken;
unspeakably
great is the bless-
ing to be now sought of God. And how that duty
will be performed, and how large a share of God's
grace and blessing will be obtained, must depend very
much upon the manner in which persons prepare
themselves to come before the Lord.
There are two parts in this needful preparation;




8 OUK vows.

tliere is the preparing of the lieart, and the preparing
of the mind. These are not of equal importance ;
since a person who is in earnest^ although extremely
ignorant, may rightly present himself for Baptism, or
Confirmation, or the Lord's Supper, and obtain God's
precious gifts ; while the best-informed person in all
the world, if he be not faithful and sincere, will re-
ceive no blessing.

Still, both are deeply necessary. Earnestness is so
essential, that without it no grace will be bestowed ;
and certainly, if we profess to be disciples of the Lord
Jesus Christ and to hold the Christian faith, we should
understand the principles of that faith, and be "ready
to give an answer to every man that asketh us a reason
of the hope that is in us.'"

" The preparations of the heart in man," says Solo-
mon, " and the answer of the tongue, is from the
Lord."" These coming weeks of preparation, then,
should be a time for very earnest prayer to God — for
seeking at his hands the grace you need. Give your-
selves now to God with a serious intention of your
hearts. Put away, as far as may be, worldly thoughts,
amusements, interests. Fix your whole mind on the
one great business which lies before you. Eemember
that this may be the turning point of life with you,
the point whence you may go on happily from
Btrengtli to strength, till at the last you may receive a
never-fading crown of glory; or the point whence
you may start miserably on a downward course, where
you may pass at once and forever within the " wide
gate," and enter on the " broad way " that " leadetli to
destruction."^ "With many. Confirmation is the turn-

» 1 PeL iii. 15. a Prov. .xvi. 1. 3 Matt vii. 13.



PREPARATION. 9

ing point in life. Let us here, then, say a few words
on that rite especially, before touching those themes
which pertain alike to Baptism, Confirmation, and the
Supper of the Lord.

Eemember that once only in all your lives may you
come to be confirmed. Many things may you do often ;
and if sometimes, through carelessness or neglect, you
have done these ill, the fault may be repaired and
amended at some future time. But it is not so with
Confirmation. Once only do you present yourselves
before the Lord ; once only do you stand out before
God and the Church, to confirm and renew in your
own persons your baptismal promises ; once only may
the Bishop's hands rest solemnly on your heads, while
the prayer is offered up that you may "increase in
God's Holy Spirit more and more until you come unto
his everlasting kingdom." And if on that one occa-
sion you come with careless and ungodly minds ; if then
you do only draw nigh unto God with your mouths,
while your hearts are far from Him ; if you come with
a lie on your lips, to utter promises which you never
wish to keep, to ask for God's precious gifts which you
do not care to have, certainly you must forfeit and lose
forever the peculiar blessing of Confirmation.

Pray that it be not so with you. Pray God that
you may be earnest and sincere.

And while you pray Him to prepare your hearts for
this serious duty, give all diligence yourselves, make
every effort, use every means to be brought into a fit-
ting frame of mind. Let these weeks of preparation
be weeks of solemn training for the coming work of
Confirmation.

Confirmation! What, then, is this? "What are its



10 OUR VOWS.

duties and its blessings ? "What arc you to do in this,
and Avhat may you receive ? There are two parts in
Confirmation : —

1. There is your work and duty; which is to con-
firm, ratify, and take upon yourselves, and renew with
your own lips the promises made by yourselves or in
your names by your god-parents at your baptism.
You come forward at Confirmation to promise that you .
will " renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps
and vanity of this wicked world, and all the sinful
lusts of the flesh ; that you will believe all the articles
of the Christian faith ; and that you will keep God's
holy will and commandments, and walk in the same
all the days of your life." You come to declare that
you will, God helping you, continue Christ's faithful
soldiers and servants unto your life's end. This is your
part.

2. God's promises are confirmed and assured to you.
Once, at your Baptism, you are made members of
Christ ; thus you become children of God ; and you
receive the precious gift of God's Iloly Spirit, and
are promised (conditionally) an eternal inheritance in
heaven. This promise is now assured again and con-
firmed to you ; that gift of the Holy Spirit is increased
and enlarged in you, if you seek it with humble, earn-
est, faithful, and penitent hearts. The blessed in-
fluences of the Holy Spirit you have, indeed, if bap-
tized, already been made partakers of; all your life
through you have been objects of His care; every good
thought or holy desire that you ever had, did proceed
from the Holy Ghost. But now His grace is to be con-
firmed, strengthened, increased in you ; and that which
was one while only as the gentle dew, shall now fall



PREPARATION. 11

on you in larger and more refreshing sliOTvers, even
"like rain npon mown grass,"

Here let the Confirmation service be read over.

Then refer to Heb. vi. 1, 2, and notice how St. Paul
places the " laying on of hands" (which, following as
it does in this passage, immediately after " the doctrine
of Baptism," has always been held to refer to the lay-
ing on of the Bishop's hands in Confirmation) — notice
how St. Paul places this among "the principles,"
the first and simplest truths "of the doctrine of
Christ."

Then turn to Acts viii. 14r-17, and Acts xix. 1-6, and
thence learn the Apostolic practice ; how the Apostles
laid their hands on those who had been baptized, and
how immediately the Holy Ghost was given ; not giv-
en them for the first time entirely, since it was by the
grace and operation (or working) of the Holy Spirit
that they were first grafted into Christ at Baptism;^
but given them in so large a measure, and with such
extraordinary power, that the gift became manifest
unto all men through its miraculous effects.

It is the gift and presence of this same Holy Spirit,
not that He may work in you with the extraordi-
nary and miraculous power which was manifested
among the early Christians, since this is no longer ne-
cessary, but that He may fill you full of all His ordi-
nary graces, that He may direct, sanctify, and govern
you in all your ways, — it is this priceless gift of the
Holy Spirit which you seek to obtain ; it is this which
will most surely be given you, if you are fitted to be-
come " temples of the Holy Ghost."'^ By this Holy
Spirit's influence you will be confirmed in the ways

1 1 Cor. sii. 13. 2 Ibid. vi. 19.



12 OUR vows.

and works of godliness, if your hearts are prepared to
receive Him when you present yourselves before the
Lord for Confirmation.

Pray, then, that you may be so fitted and prepared.
Pray that by no carelessness or folly of your own you
may hinder the grace of God. Pray that you may
never, either now or while you live, " resist the Holy
Ghost."^

1 Acts vii. 51.









CHAPTER 11.



THE FALL.

N"D now let us
proceed to some
statement of those
principles of our
faith with which
the minds of
Christians should
be fully furnished
and instructed.

The first im-
portant truth
which we have
to learn and to
confess is the sin-
fulness and corruption of man's fallen nature, — the
fact that we are all born in sin, and are children of
wrath, that is, children who, on account of their sin-
fulness, deserve God's wrath and anger. See, in the
following texts, how Holj Scripture teaches this : —
Eph. ii. 1-3 ; Rom. v. 12 ; Gen. viii. 21 ; 1 John i. 8;
Jer. xvii. 9 ; Ps. li. 5, Iviii. 3 ; Job xiv. 4.

God created man pure and holj, and in his own im-
age.i Man's nature, as God first made it, was good.
This is certain, because our Lord Jesus Christ took
upon Him "human nature," and was without sin;

1 Gen. ix. 6.
2




14 OUR vows.

proving thereby that in that nature itself there was no
inherent sinfuhiess. By ''human nature" we undh*-
stand that which all men have in common, and which
distinguishes men from all other creatures ; such as
bodily shape, bodily powers, reason, memory, speech,
conscience, will, and soul and spirit. This "human
nature" our Lord took upon Himself, and became a
man, and yet was without sinj

This taking upon Himself "human nature," this be-
ing made flesh and becoming a man, — so becoming a
man that He, who was God from everlasting, from
thenceforth became both God and Man, perfect God
and perfect Man, uniting in His one person the two dis-
tinct natures, the Divine and Human, the Godhead and
the Manhood, without any change of either or con-
fusion of the two, — this is it which we mean by the
"incarnation" of our Lord Jesus Christ; to believe
which rightly is necessary to everlasting salvation.

Every part of man's nature, then, was good as God
first made it ; and it only required some guiding power
to be added to keep all the different parts in order, to
restrain, and rule, and direct them.

By " the parts of man's nature" we mean man's ai>-
petites, passions, powers of reasoning, will or habit of
choosing.

Man had not the guiding power in himself. Jt was
a Divine power, given by God. That power, that
"guiding light," was the Holy Spirit, with whose in-
fluence Adam was blessed while he lived in God's
presence and communed with the Lord God in the
Garden of Eden. Then, in Eden, all the several parts

J Heb. ii. 14-lC; Phil. ii. 7, 8: Ileb. iv. 15; John 1. 14.



THE FALL. 15

of man's nature were kept by that Holy Spirit in per-
fect order ; man's will and tlie inclination of his heart
and mind were well directed, and Adam was innocent
and without sin.

To man, thus made, God decreed a time of trial, to
prove him, and to see whether he would be obedient
or not, before he was finally admitted into heaven.
God permitted Satan to tempt man/ Man yielded to
temptation, and disobeyed the express command of his
Maker.

And observe here, that we are not to think or speak
lightly of our first parents' sin, as if the mere eatiug of
the forbidden fruit was a trifling matter. Disobedience
and rebellion, disbelieving God's word, discontent and
ingratitude, this was in reality the sin of Adam and
Eve, — a sin most surely deserving of God's deepest
indignation.

Upon his disobedience, God banished man from His
presence. Being so banished, man lost that guiding
power, that Divine Light which had been given to di-
rect and keep him in all his ways : then the different
parts of his nature fell into confusion, his appetites
and passions were no longer well-ordered and directed,
these all became unruly and hard to govern ; his will,
or habit of choosing, was perverted and corrupted, so
that his heart became naturally inclined to evil and
disinclined to good r and man was no longer righteous,
but only sinful and wicked.

Sin comes from our not exercising our will, our
habit and power of choosing, aright. On the subject
of man's will, let it be observed here, that the differ-
ence between man before and after the Fall was this :

1 Gen. iii.



16 OUR vows.

before the Fall he was liahle indeed, but not disposed
to sin, since the Divine grace directed him ariglit ;
after his fall, and upon the withdrawal of the Holy
Spirit's influence, he became actually disposed and in-
clined to sin. Thenceforth his will was not a good
one, but a bad one ; the inclination of his heart was
to choose the evil and refuse the good. And so it fell,
that although his will was still free, although there
was ever a secret consciousness of that freedom, al-
though there was no compulsion and no sort of neces-
sity for choosing evil and refusing good, yet the bias
of his fallen nature towards evil was so strong, and
his natural inclination so perverted, that practically he
could not of himself prefer what is good and holy,
and the grace of God was needed to induce him to
turn and seek after righteousness ; which grace, how-
ever, be it added, is never wanting to those who
seek it.

Sin comes, too, from our not restraining or keeping
in order those difterent parts of our nature which yet
are good when they are well ordered. For instance,
to indulge our appetite, our natural desire to eat, in
moderation, is a good thing and intended by God,
while to eat to excess is gluttony and sin ; or to in-
dulge our natural desire for rest and to refresh our
bodies with sleep is a good thing, while to rest or sleep
too much, becomes idleness and sloth, and this again
is sin ; or to love is good, but to love any creature too
much, with inordinate affection,' or more than we love
God, is sin.

When man lost the divine guiding Light, being ban-
ished from God's presence, when man's will was no

> Col. iii. 5.



THE FALL. 17

longer directed, and his appetites and passions no
longer restrained and kept in order by the Holy Spirit,
then he became at once sinful and corrupt. And this
state of disorder and corruption is what we mean by
original or birth-sin — the sinful state in which we are
all born.

Original sin consists in that " confusion " which took
place in man's nature, in that corruption of his will,
in that perversion of his heart, in that disposition to
evil which followed upon the loss of the divine guid-
ing Light.

(Observe, Christ could yet take our nature, and be
without sin ; because, while He took "human nature,"
He was Himself the guiding Light^ which could pre-
serve that nature in perfect harmony and order.)

Sin deprived man of intercourse with God. The
first effect of sin was to make man shun the presence
of the Almighty. Adam and Eve hid themselves,''*
and the Lord God sent them forth from his pres-
ence.^ Jn after years the declaration of the prophet
Isaiah^ was — " Your iniquities have separated between
you and your God ; and your sins have hid his face
from you, that He will not hear." And to be restored
to this communion and intercourse with God is our
highest blessing ; thus our Lord declares, " This is life
eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent."^ The first
blessed result, too, of Christ's finished work on earth
was the gift of the Holy Ghost — ^the descent of the
Holy Spirit, that the Lord God might dwell among
men.

1 John i. 9. 3 Gen. iii. 8. » Ibid. 23.

♦ Isa. lix. 2. 5 John xvii. 3.

2-^



18 OUR vows.

!N'ot that God ^'holly and entirclj withdrew Him-
self from men. No ! He still guided them in some
degree, speaking to them through their consciences.
To this, allusion is made in Rom. ii. 15. And St. Paul
refers to this partial, but not entire, withdrawal of
God's influence, in his speech, recorded in Acts xiv. 16,
17. In Gen. vi. 8, again, we find that God left not
man wholly to his own devices and unassisted bj the
Divine influence. It is needful to bear this in mind,
that we may the better learn and be able to understand
how that God is not unrighteous' even though He tak-
eth vengeance on the unenlightened heathen world.
Still, while God so far guided men as to make them
justly responsible for their actions, yet He at the same
time withdrew his guidance to so great a degree as to
suflfer man's nature to fall into disorder, and his heart
to become corrupt and inclined to evil. Into this
state or condition, all we children of Adam are born —
into this state of disorder, corruption, and inclination
to evil. And this corrupted state is what we call ori-
ginal sin.

1 Kom. iii. 5.







CHAPTER III.

THE REMEDY.




OW to bring us
out of this unhap-
py state, to reme-
dy this disorder
of our nature, is
the very object of
^ God's scheme of
redemption as re-
vealed in the
Gospel. For this
very end Christ
became a man.
The disorder in
our nature arose out of our loss of that guiding
Light, which Adam once enjoyed, but forfeited
through his disobedience. Christ, therefore, who is
" the true Light, which lighteth every man that com-
eth into the world, "^ in his mercy was made flesh and
dwelt among us, that the Divine Light might once
more shine upon our darkness.'^ Christ took our na-
ture, and thus joined Himself to us, in order that we
might be joined to Him and be made partakers of his
nature,^ that we might receive of his divine strength



John i. 9, viii. 12. 2 Luke i. 78, 79. s 2 Pet. i. 4.



20 OUR vows.

and of his "fulness ;'" and so being once more divine-
ly guided and called "out of darkness into his marvel-
lous light,"2 might be saved from our old corruption
and disorder, which we inherited from Adam, and
" through Him (Christ) have access by one Spirit un-
to the Father."3

The means whereby this bringing out of darkness
into light is effected in us is union icith Christ. As
by our descent from and union with Adam, we were
born m a corrupt state, so by union with Christ, the
" last Adam,"^ we are delivered from that state of cor-
ruption.^ Christ is the root whence we derive all
grace and spiritual life.® From Christ, and through
our union with Him, we are made partakers of all
spiritual blessings ; for what Christ hath Himself, this
same He doth impart to all His faithful members.
Thus is it, through union with our Lord, that we re-
ceive tlie great gift of the Holy Ghost. Jesus having
finished his work on earth, ascended into heaven, to
receive this precious gift'' for men — this gift of the
Holy Spirit, that the Lord God might dwell among us,
to guide, direct, enlighten, and sanctify our hearts.
And of this gift we are made partakers through our
union with the Saviour.^

Observe here the two great parts of Christ's work
on earth — the two great ends for which He came into
the world : 1. To save us from the consequences of
sin ; 2. To save us from the power of sin.

The consequences of sin are death, and the incurring
of God's anger, and the forfeiture of God's favor.

1 John i. 16. 2 1 Pet. ji. 9. s Ephes. ii. IS.

* \ Cor. XV, 45. 6 Rom. v. 19; 1 Cor. xv. 22.

« 1 Jolin V. 11, 22; John v. 26; 1 Cor. xv. 4.5.
' V&. Ixviii. 18. 8 Gal. iv. 6; Titus iii. 6.



THE REMEDY 21

Death is the punishment of sin ;^ eternal death is what
sinners deserve. This punishment Christ hore in our
stead. He gave his life a ransom for ours.^ We de-
served to die, but Christ died in our place.^ Upon the
cross he made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice
and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.* (We
see a type and foreshadowing of this great sacrifice of
Christ in all those lower sacrifices which were ofifered
under the law.)^ Christ having thus borne the pen-
alty due to sin, and having satisfied that Di\ine justice
which had long ago declared that if man sinned man
should die, — Christ having become a man, and as a
man having endured the punishment of death, it be-
came possible for the just anger of God to be tm-ned
away from man,« God could be reconciled to the world,
and man could be forgiven and restored to the light
of God's countenance.''

This is one part of Christ's work. He has saved us
from the consequences of sin. The other, and equally
important part is, that He saves us from the power of
sin — from sin itself:" this he does by giving us back
and renewing in us that guiding light of the Holy
Spirit*^ which Adam forfeited, and by imparting to our
souls through union with Himself sufficient grace and
strength to enable us to resist sin, and to overcome
the world, the flesh, and the devil.^"

Our Lord hath shown us the way of righteousness,
He hath left us an example that we should follow His
steps ; and not only this, but He likewise imparts to

1 Eom. vi. 23. ^ Matt. xx. 28. » 1 Pet ii. 24; 1 Cor. xv. 8.

* Isa. liii. 6 Heb. ix. 22. « Eom. iil. 25, 26.

7 Acts xiii. 38 ; 2 Cor. v. 18, 19 ; Col. i. 19-22 ; Eom. v. 1.

8 Matt. i. 21 ; Acts iii. 26. 9 Titus iii. 5.
» John XV. 5 ; 1 John iii. 6 ; v. 4, 5.



22 OUR vows.

us spiritual strengtli and grace to lielp ns in our time
of need. For it is the very aim of Him, wlio is made un-
to us "righteousness and sanctilication,"i to conform iis
to his 01011 image, to beget us in His own likeness, that
He may be the " first-born among many brethren."^

Christ, then, is the root whence we derive all spir-
itual life and blessing. As by our natural descent from
and union with Adam we inherit weakness, corruption,
and death ; so by our spiritual union with Christ we
receive strength, and righteousness, and eternal life.
For just as Adam's disobedience affected the whole
human race, and brought upon it guilt and misery;
so the effects of Christ's obedience, of his meritorious
cross and passion, of his life of perfect hohness,
are imparted to all the faithful members of his
Body.

Observe again here, that as that original sinfulness
whicl we inherit from Adam is not something external
to ourselves, but something ingrained in our nature,
and constantly developing itself in actual sin ; so, in
like manner, that righteousness which is by Jesus
Christ^ must not remain something only external to
us, but must become a very part of our renewed na-
ture," and must develope itself in that lioUness of hearty
and character, and disposition, possessing which we
may become " meet to be partakers of the inheritance
of the saints in light,"* but "without which no man
shall see the Lord."* To acquire this holiness^ of

» 1 Cor. 1. 80. 2 Kom. viii. 29. ^ Phil. i. 11.

< Rom. vi. 17-22. 6 Col. i. 12. « Ileb. xii. 14.

'' Holiness of life consists in our growing more and more like unto
Christ, as we yield our hearts and wills to the influence of His grace,
and suffer ourselves, our characters, and dispositions, to be moulded
and fashioned in the likeness of our Lord.



THE REMEDY. 23

character and " conversation,"^ remember, is the verj
•work and business of our lives ; and unless that work
be pefected in us, we shall have received the grace of


1 3 4 5 6 7 8

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