« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
confirmation. Christ was baptized, and so must we. But after baptism he had a new ministration for the reception of the Holy Ghost: and because this was done for our sakes, we also must follow that example. And this being done immediately before his entrance into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, it plainly describes to us the order of this ministry, and the blessing designed to us: after we are baptized, we need to be strengthened and confirmed "propter pugnam spiritualem;" we are to fight against the flesh, the world, and the devil, and therefore must receive the ministra tion of the Holy Spirit of God: which is the design and proper work of confirmation. For (they are the words of the excellent author of the imperfect work upon St. Matthew, imputed to St. Chrysostom ") "The baptism of water profits us, because it washes away the sins we have formally committed, if we repent of them. But it does not sanctify the soul, nor precedes the concupiscences of the heart and our evil thoughts, nor drives them back, nor represses our carnal desires. But he therefore who is (only) so baptized, that he does not also receive the Holy Spirit, is baptized in his body, and his sins are pardoned; but in his mind he is yet but a catechumen: for so it is written, 'He that hath not the Spirit of Christ, is none of his :' and therefore afterward out of his flesh will germinate worse sins, because he hath not received the Holy Spirit conserving him (in his baptismal grace), but the house of his body is empty; wherefore that wicked spirit finding it swept with the doctrines of faith, as with besoms, enters in, and in a sevenfold manner dwells there." Which words, besides that they well explicate this mystery, do also declare the necessity of confirmation, or receiving the Holy Ghost after baptism, in imitation of the divine precedent of our blessed Saviour.
2. After the example of Christ, my next argument is from his words spoken to Nicodemus in explication of the prime mysteries evangelical; "Unless a man be born of water and of the Holy Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of God." These words are the great argument, which the church uses for the indispensable necessity of baptism; and having in them so great effort, and not being rightly understood, they have suffered many convulsions (shall I call
■ Homil. 4.
• John, iii. 5.
them?) or interpretations. Some serve their own hypothesis by saying that water is the symbol, and the Spirit is the baptismal grace: others, that it is a v dià duoiv, one is only meant, though here be two signatures. But others conclude, that water is only necessary, but the Spirit is superadded as being afterward to supervene and move upon these waters: and others yet affirm, that by water is only meant a spiritual ablution, or the effect produced by the Spirit; and still they have entangled the words so that they have been made useless to the Christian church, and the meaning too many other things makes nothing to be understood. But truth is easy, intelligible, and clear, and without objection, and is plainly
Unless a man be baptized into Christ, and confirmed by the Spirit of Christ, he cannot enter into the kingdom of Christ; that is, he is not perfectly adopted into the Christian religion, or fitted for the Christian warfare. And if this plain and natural sense be admitted, the place is not only easy and intelligible, but consonant to the whole design of Christ and analogy of the New Testament.
For, first, Our blessed Saviour was catechizing of Nicodemus, and teaching him the first rudiments of the Gospel, and like a wise master-builder, first lays the foundation, "the doctrine of baptism and laying on of hands;" which afterward St. Paul put into the Christian catechism, as I shall shew in the sequel. Now these also are the first principles of the Christian religion taught by Christ himself, and things which at least to the doctors might have been so well known, that our blessed Saviour upbraids the not knowing them as a shame to Nicodemus. St. Chrysostom and Theophylact, Euthymius and Rupertus, affirm, that this generation by water and the Holy Spirit might have been understood by the Old Testament, in which Nicodemus was so well skilled. Certain it is, the doctrine of baptisms was well enough known to the Jews, and the ἐπιφοίτησις τοῦ Πνεύματος TOU OɛOU, "the illumination and irradiations of the Spirit of God" was not new to them, who believed the visions and dreams, the daughter of a voice, and the influences from heaven upon the sons of the prophets: and therefore although Christ intended to teach him more than what he had distinct notice of, yet the things themselves had foundation in the
law and the prophets: but although they were high mysteries, and scarce discerned by them who either were ignorant or incurious of such things; yet to the Christians they were the very rudiments of their religion, and are best expounded by observation of what St. Paul placed in the very foundation. But,
2. Baptism is the first mystery, that is certain; but that this of being born of the Spirit' is also the next, is plain in the very order of the words: and that it does mean a mystery distinct from baptism, will be easily assented to by them who consider, that although Christ baptized and made many disciples by the ministry of his apostles, yet they who were so baptized into Christ's religion, did not receive this baptism of the Spirit till after Christ's ascension.
3. The baptism of water was not peculiar to John the Baptist, for it was also of Christ, and ministered by his command; it was common to both; and therefore the baptism of water is the less principal here. Something distinct from it is here intended. Now if we add to these words, that St. John tells of another baptism which was Christ's peculiar, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire;" that these words were literally verified upon the apostles in Pentecost, and afterward upon all the baptized in spiritual effect (who, besides the baptism of water, distinctly had the baptism of the Spirit in confirmation); it will follow, that of necessity this must be the meaning and the verification of these words of our blessed Saviour to Nicodemus, which must mean a double baptism: "Transibimus per aquam et ignem, antequam veniemus in refrigerium," "We must pass through water and fire, before we enter into rest;" that is, we must first be baptized with water, and then with the Holy Ghost, who first descended in fire; that is, the only way to enter into Christ's kingdom is by these two doors of the tabernacle, which God hath pitched, and not man,-first by baptism, and then by confirmation; first by water, and then by the Spirit.
The primitive church had this notion so fully amongst them, that the author of the Apostolical Constitutions attributed to St. Clement, who was St. Paul's scholar, affirms, That a man is made a perfect Christian (meaning ritually and PS. Clem. Ep. 4. Constit. Apost.
sacramentally, and by all exterior solemnity) by the water of baptism and confirmation of the bishop and from these words of Christ now alleged, derives the use and institution of the rite of confirmation. The same sense of these words is given to us by St. Cyprian, who, intending to prove the insufficiency of one without the other, says, "Tunc enim plenè sanctificari et esse Dei filii possunt, si sacramento utroque nascantur, cùm scriptum sit, 'Nisi quis natus fuerit ex aqua et Spiritu, non potest intrare in regnum Dei'""" "Then they may be fully sanctified, and become the sons of God, if they be born with both the sacraments, or rites; for it is written, Unless a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."-The same also is the commentary of Eusebius Emissenus; and St. Austin" tells, that although some understand these words only of baptism, and others of the Spirit only, viz. in confirmation; yet others (and certainly much better) understand "utrumque sacramentum," "both the mysteries," of confirmation as well as baptism. Amalarius Fortunatus brings this very text to reprove them that neglect the episcopal imposition of hands: Concerning them who by negligence lose the bishop's presence, and receive not the imposition of his hands, it is to be considered, lest in justice they be condemned, in which they exercise justice negligently, because they ought to make haste to the imposition of hands; because Christ said, 'Unleɛs a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God:' and as he said this, so also he said, Unless your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'"
To this I foresee two objections may be made. 1. That Christ did not institute confirmation in this place, because confirmation being for the gift of the Holy Ghost, who was to come upon none of the apostles till Jesus was glorified, these words seem too early for the consigning an effect that was to be so long after, and a rite that could not be practised till many intermedial events should happen. So said the Evangelist"; "the Holy Ghost was come upon none of them, because Jesus was not yet glorified;" intimating that this
Epist. 108. ad Seleucianum.
Homil. in Dominic. prim. post. Ascens, t Lib. c. 27. " John, vii. 39.
great effect was to be in after-time and it is not likely that the ceremony should be ordained before the effect itself was ordered and provided for; that the solemnity should be appointed before provisions were made for the mystery; and that the outward, which was wholly for the inward, should be instituted, before the inward and principal had its abode amongst us.
To this I answer, 1. That it is no unusual thing; for Christ gave the sacrament of his body, before his body was given; the memorial of his death was instituted before his death. 2. Confirmation might here as well be instituted as baptism; and by the same reason that the church from these words concludes the necessity of one, she may also infer the designation of the other; for the effect of baptism was at that time no more produced than that of confirmation. Christ had not yet purchased to himself a church, he had not wrought remission of sins to all that believe on him; the death of Christ was not yet past, into which death the Christian church was to be baptized. 3. These words are so an institution of confirmation, as the sixth chapter of St. John is of the blessed eucharist: it was 'designativa,' not ' ordinativa,' it was in design, not in present command; here it was preached, but not reducible to practice till its proper season. 4. It was like the words of Christ to St. Peter; "When thou art converted, confirm thy brethren." Here the command was given, but that confirmation of his brethren was to be performed in a time relative to a succeeding accident. 5. It is certain that long before the event, and grace was given, Christ did speak of the Spirit of confirmation, that Spirit which was to descend in Pentecost, which all they were to receive who should believe on him, which whosoever did receive," out of his belly should flow rivers of living waters," as is to be read in that place of St. John * now quoted. 6. This predesignation of the Holy Spirit of confirmation was presently followed by some little antepast and donariola,' or 'little givings' of the Spirit; for our blessed Saviour gave the Holy Ghost three several times. First, àμvdows,
obscurely,' and by intimation and secret virtue, then when he sent them to heal the sick, and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. Secondly, iкTUTоTéрws,' more express> Chap. vii. 38.