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classes, viz., “When thou art converted strengthen thy brethren." I do not believe much will be obtained by a sort of house to house visitation, seeking the candidates ; it looks too much like touting, and certainly leads the people to think slightingly of the Rite. This I remember was particularly the case in one instance, where the curate (not very highly endowed perhaps) of a large parish, full of dissenters, about a week or two before the Confirmation was to take place, went round knocking at nearly every door in his district, and asking, just like a pedlar who wanted to sell his goods, “is there any one here who wants to be confirmed ?” causing many to laugh and very few indeed to embrace the opportunity offered. No; we may say what we will, and argue as we will, but in the case of the elder unconfirmed members of our flocks, it is the influence and conversation of the confirmed, that must, and ever will be the strongest and surest method of drawing others to that holy Rite ; and here I would add, in the hope that these words


reach the hearts of some who have hitherto been remiss and negligent in their brotherly charity, that the laymen are terribly to blame, and will surely have much to answer for by-and-by, for the sad way in which they leave to the clergymen the almost hopeless task of retaining within the guidance, the care, and loving instruction of the Church, those who are too old for the Sunday schools and classes of the parish.

I come now to my third point; and in attempting to show how I think that candidates should be prepared and instructed for Confirmation, my sincere desire is not to find fault with or condemn others whose opinions are antagonistic to mine, but to state as clearly as my powers will admit of, what I consider the best way, and the one most in accordance with the directions of the Church of England.

I will at once start by saying that Confirmation is the vestibule to Holy Communion, and as such, should be always treated by the instructor of candidates. This should be the one great end kept ever in view throughout all the preparation and instruction. And here I would mention that in the teaching of children in the national schools, or Sunday schools, the subject of Holy Communion is not, so far as my experience goes (and as Diocesan Inspector many schools have come under my notice), half enough brought and kept before their notice; it should be the end and aim of all our religious teaching; we should ever be instilling into the hearts of our little ones the great and inestimable blessing which awaits them in the Holy Communion, and not leave, as is too often the case, all instruction thereon until they are old enough to be confirmed. It is because of the neglect, generally to be observed in this matter, that so many of the confirmed are not found at their LORD's Table. They have not been from their earliest years taught to look upon that Heavenly Feast as something absolutely necessary for their spiritual life, and as a blessed help, without which they can make no progress heavenward, and consequently the intimation of all this at the time of preparation for Confirmation comes upon them, in too many instances, as something startling, about which they had thought but little before, and therefore are not prepared to accept with that hearty and loving thankfulness with which they might have welcomed the opportunity, if the knowledge, and the need, and the desire, had grown into their growth and matured with

their years.


It is the practice of a great many clergymen in the present day even, I fear, to begin the preparation of candidates just about the time they first receive the notice from the Bishop that he intends to hold a Confirmation, and not before. Now seeing that very often this notice does not arrive more than five or six weeks before the day fixed-Lent possibly intervening, with all its extra services—how can any one hope properly and thoroughly to instruct the candidates, if they trust to such a time for the work ? It is surely a.great mistake to do so, and ought never to be attempted. How can the instructor, thus pressed for time, ever expect to gain that insight into the inner life and feelings of those who come to him, which should ever be his aim, and which will in nearly every case cause him far more real labour, and demand more serious and prayerful consideration, than the mere imparting of actual knowledge. It is this part of the work of preparation which is in far too many cases so sadly neglected, and the natural result of such neglect is very soon apparent in the after-life and conduct of those who have been confirmed.

Many appear to think that the great thing to be done is to have them confirmed, and all else that is needed will be sure to follow, and therefore their principal efforts seem to be spent in increasing the number of the candidates rather than in improving their spiritual condition. It is a question which should be seriously considered by each Parish Priest, whether he is not justified in requiring from every candidate a promise that each would partake of the Holy Communion as soon after the Confirmation as possible, and would continue a regular

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communicant,-for how can the Clergyman reconcile it with his conscience to encourage those who are now going to offer themselves afresh to God, and to make the most solemn declaration before God and His people that they will keep the promises made for them at their Baptism, when he is well satisfied in his own mind that the majority perhaps of those whom he presents, have no intention whatever of keeping that one particular and all-important “ will and commandment” of the Blessed SAVIOUR, “ This do in remembrance of Me."

There are not wanting those who will be ready to reply to this statement, that no one is justified in demanding from a candidate that which the Church herself does not require: and they affirm that no such promise is exacted by her. Perhaps not in so many words, but, nevertheless, if not expressly laid down, it is most powerfully implied in all her teaching, and here, at any rate, omission does not mean probibition.

A. A. V.




ALTHOUGH the deceitfulness of appearances, meeting as it does with so general and sympathetic a response, is a theme upon which moralists are wont to become eloquent, if not tiresome, it must be admitted that the instinct to display the best side of anything to the world, is not an entirely ungracious one. It recognises the power of mankind to appreciate goodness, and pays a real, if unconscious, deference to worth, by assuming an appearance of it. Nor need any one quarrel with this instinct so long as it remains apart from a wilful intention to deceive; the love of bare unvarnished hideousness, whether in things mental, moral, or material, betrays, after all, a somewhat disordered state of mind, and is apt to produce an insensibility to anything that is not perfectly bright or perfectly black, forgetting the excessive prevalence of neutral tints in the world. This is no plea for shams, nor is it an apologetic condoning of pretence, but a protest against being compelled to study the hard dead dulness of a bar of iron as it escapes from the forge, lest, if it were painted or gilt, it should mislead us into supposing it to be ormolu or gold. It is a ridiculous assumption of ignorance to affect that we believe things are what they seem to be, and an equally


ridiculous assumption of innocence, to profess ourselves disappointed or aggrieved when we are convinced they are not. Though a too-ready belief in all that glitters is likely to lead us into occasional serious mistakes or difficulties, yet it is infinitely preferable to the carping, ungenerous spirit which seeks to depreciate anything and everything, a mode of thought adopted by those who would rather have their integrity impugned than their shrewdness, and who, to establish the infallibility of the latter, assume an air of superior wisdom, not to say of lofty derision, in discussing anything, and especially anything only imperfectly understood.

The result of learning, from experience, the truth of the proverb, after perhaps an eager and unresting chase in pursuit of some glittering substance, is very frequently a certain sardonic bitterness of feeling, which dictates with impartial application and intense vigour—"Vanitas vanitatum.” Nor is it the vanitas vanitatum of a broad and generous sorrow, but the vanitas vanitatum of a narrow individual circumstance, endowed with all the importance of narrow individual interests, which, when thwarted, protest that nothing is good and nothing is real, nothing is worthy and nothing is admirable, except to sit in the depths of egotistic woe, and damp all the ardour of others with the scornful cry. If we would avoid this goal of wretchedness and dissatisfaction, it will be necessary to learn to appreciate sterling metal, and to discern the base coin which so often does duty for it. The

eyes dazzled by the glitter of some coveted possession, which is just sufficiently out of reach to prevent strict examination, are still quite capable of seeing the foolish chase of others after their glittering substance. To the hard-worked man, the easy life of his richer neighbour presents a most tempting glitter; to the eager politician, lost in the obscurity of his own life, the responsible position of the statesman; to the ambitious youth, the famous life of some hero, rendered still more attractive by the panegyric of history on a hero's life: to the enthusiastic girl, the noble, self-denying life of an army nurse, or a Sister of Mercy. And if eager strivings, unallayed by moderation in expectancy as well as in efforts, at length gain the desired object, it is seldom so brilliant as it seemed. The easy life may, and indeed is positively asserted to have more thorns than the busy one, so that luxuries and leisure are valueless, when enjoyment or interest is wanting: and the statesman has much to do, and to think of, besides the achievement of the few successes that shall win the approval of all his party, whose approval and admiring allegiance shone so splendidly at a distance. The famous life too, so dear to boyish eyes, unless it has the same dull, prosaic vein running through it, that prevented dishonourable actions at school and at home, is often only the butt for the contemptuous sneers of the men, above whose ignoble standard the hero essays to rise : and the daughter whose home life is so wearisome, might find the unreasonable demands and ingratitude of unattractive and repulsive people still more wearisome, and the commands of a superior as burdensome as the wishes of a parent. Not that such positions are necessarily more disappointing than any other, or that it would be wrong to endeavour calmly and honestly to attain them; but the Philosopher's stone that can turn all to gold is in our own hands, if anywhere, and not in that life, or in the other, exclusively. The grace and dignity of any deed is not contained within itself, but in the manner of doing it; the loftiest action done for a base purpose, or from mean motive, has no intrinsic worth; the lowliest one, done in the light of high and earnest intention, has a special value, of which no misrepresentation, no scorn, no disgrace can rob it; it is the true and sterling metal.


“For that which God doth touch and own,

Cannot for less be told."

Though we may be very well content to allow inanimate things to wear an appearance of something different to what they really are, and to be neither surprised at, nor disappointed with them, the same course must not be pursued with regard to ourselves. The lofty, golden rule, Be what you seem to be,” is one, which, if it were generally adopted, would leave but little room for the exercise of those counterfeit virtues, which so well and easily pass muster, to the ultimate degradation of standard and feeling. In cultivating an intense appreciation of, and reverence for true worth, and sterling merit, we cannot fail to have a correspondingly intense contempt for the various shams, and glittering tinsel that so often occupy their place. It is a somewhat mistaken, though a very tender idea, that sin is less sinful if called something else, or absurdities wiser if softly condoned, and, as has been said, is a "perverse mingling of good and evil,” which in effect makes good unlovely, and whatever is worthy undesirable, for to a certain extent it can be made undesirable, even where it involves no particular sacrifice.

The brilliant lustre of much of the current coin of every-day life, certainly is not that of gold. Though we esteem truth incomparable,

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