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that St. Paul first baptized them, and then laid his hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And these testimonies are the great warranty for this holy rite. " Quod nunc in confirmandis neophytis manûs impositio tribuit singulis, hoc tunc Spiritûs Sancti descensio in credentium populo donavit universis," said Eucherius Lugdunensis, in his homily of Pentecost: "The same thing that is done now in imposition of hands on single persons, is no other than that which was done upon all believers in the descent of the Holy Ghost;" it is the same ministry, and all deriving from the same authority.
Confirmation or imposition of hands for the collation of the Holy Spirit, we see, was actually practised by the apostles, and that even before and after they preached the Gospel to the Gentiles; and therefore Amalarius, who en not much into the secret of it, reckons this ritual as derived from the apostles per consuetudinem,' by catholic custom;' which although it is not perfectly spoken as to the whole avlevría or authority' of it, yet he places it in the apostles, and is a witness of the catholic succeeding custom and practice of the church of God. Which thing also Zanchius observing, though he followed the sentiment of Amalarius, and seemed to understand no more of it, yet says well; "Interim" (says he)" exempla apostolorum et veteris ecclesiæ vellem pluris æstimari:" "I wish that the example of the apostles and the primitive church were of more value amongst Christians."-It were very well indeed they were so; but there is more in it than mere example. These examples of such solemnities productive of such spiritual effects are, as St. Cyprian calls them, "apostolica magisteria," "the apostles are our masters" in them, and have given rules and precedents for the church to follow. This is a Christian law, and written, as all Scriptures are, for our instruction.' But this I shall expressly prove in the next paragraph.
4. We have seen the original from Christ, the practice and exercise of it in the apostles and the first converts in Christianity that which I shall now remark is, that this is established and passed into a Christian doctrine. The warranty for what, I say, are the words of St. Paul, where the holy rite of confirmation, so called from the effect of this minis
4 Heb. vi. 1, 2.
tration, and expressed by the ritual part of it, "imposition of hands," is reckoned a fundamental point, Seuλios ¿πidéσeως χειρῶν· “ Not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, of resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment." Here are six fundamental points of St. Paul's catechism, which he laid as the foundation or the beginning of the institution of the Christian church; and amongst these, imposition of hands is reckoned as a part of the foundation, and therefore they who deny it, dig up foundations. Now that this "imposition of hands" is that, which the apostles used in confirming the baptized, and invocating the Holy Ghost upon them, remains to be proved.
For it is true that imposition of hands signifies all Christian rites except baptism and the Lord's supper; not the sacraments, but all the sacramentals of the church: it signifies confirmation, ordination, absolution, visitation of the sick, blessing single persons (as Christ did the children brought to him), and blessing marriages; all these were usually ministered by imposition of hands. Now the three last are not pretended to be any part of this foundation; neither reason, authority, nor the nature of the thing, suffers any such pretension the question then is between the first three.
First, Absolution of penitents' cannot be meant here, not only because we never read that the apostles did use that ceremony in their absolutions; but because the Apostle, speaking of the foundation in which baptism is, and is reckoned one of the principal parts in the foundation, there needed no absolution but baptismal, for they and we believing "one baptism for the remission of sins "," this is all the absolution that can be at first and in the foundation. The other was "secunda post naufragium tabula," it came in after, when men had made a shipwreck of their good conscience, and were, as St. Peter says, λήθην λαβόντες τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ τῶν πάλαι αὐτῶν ἁμαρτιῶν, “ forgetful of the former cleansing and purification and washing of their old sins"."
Secondly, It cannot be meant of ordination;' and this is also evident. 1. Because the Apostle says he would thenceforth leave to speak of the foundation, and go on to
Symbol. Nicæn. et Constantinop.
2 Pet. i. 9.
perfection,' that is, to higher mysteries. Now in rituals, of which he speaks, there is none higher than ordination. 2. The Apostle saying he would speak no more of imposition of hands, goes presently to discourse of the mysteriousness of the evangelical priesthood, and the honour of that vocation ; by which it is evident he spake nothing of ordination in the eatechism or narrative of fundamentals. 3. This also appears from the context, not only because 'laying on of hands' is immediately set after 'baptism,' but also because in the very next words of his discourse he does enumerate and apportion to baptism and confirmation their proper and proportioned effects: to baptism, illumination, according to the perpetual style of the church of God, calling baptism pwrioμòv, 'an enlightening;' and to confirmation he reckons tasting the heavenly gift,' and 'being made partakers of the Holy Ghost,' by the thing signified declaring the sign, and by the mystery the rite. Upon these words St. Chrysostom discoursing, says, "that all these are fundamental articles; that is, that we ought to repent from dead works, to be baptized into the faith of Christ, and be made worthy of the gift of the Spirit, who is given by imposition of hands, and we are to be taught the mysteries of the resurrection and eternal judgment. This catechism (says he) is perfect so that if any man have faith in God, and being baptized is also confirmed, and so tastes the heavenly gift, and partakes of the Holy Ghost, and by hope of the resurrection tastes of the good things of the world to come,-if he falls away from this state, and turns apostate from this whole dispensation, digging down and turning up these foundations, he shall never be built again, he can never be baptized again, and never be confirmed any more; God will not begin again, and go over with him again, he cannot be made a Christian twice: if he remains upon these foundations, though he sins, he may be renewed dia uɛrávoιav, by repentance,' and by a resuscitation of the Spirit, if he have not wholly quenched him; but if he renounce the whole covenant, disown and cancel these foundations, he is desperate, he can never be renewed eis μɛrávoιav, to the title and economy of repentance." This is the full explication of this excellent place, and any other ways it cannot reasonably be explicated but therefore into this place any notice of
ordination cannot come, no sense, no mystery, can be made of it or drawn from it; but by the interposition of confirmation the whole context is clear, rational, and intelligible.
This then is that imposition of hands, of which the Apostle speaks." Unus hic locus abunde testatur," &c. saith Calvin: "This one place doth abundantly witness that the original of this rite or ceremony was from the apostles:" ovтw yàp rò πveυμa Máμßavov, saith St. Chrysostom*; "for by this rite of imposition of hands they received the Holy Ghost."-For though the Spirit of God was given extraregularly, and at all times, as God was pleased to do great things ; yet this imposition of hands was διακονία πνεύματος, this was "the ministry of the Spirit." For so we receive Christ, when we hear and obey his word: we eat Christ by faith, and we live by his Spirit; and yet the blessed eucharist is διακονία σώματος καὶ αἵματος, “ the ministry of the body and blood of Christ." Now as the Lord's supper is appointed ritually to convey Christ's body and blood to us; so is confirmation ordained ritually to give unto us the Spirit of God. And though, by accident and by the overflowings of the Spirit, it may come to pass, that a man does receive perfective graces alone, and without ministries external: yet such a man without a miracle is not a perfect Christian 'ex statuum vitæ dispositione;' but in the ordinary ways and appointment of God, and until he receive this imposition of hands, and be confirmed, is to be accounted an imperfect Christian. But of this afterward.
I shall observe one thing more out of this testimony of St. Paul. He calls it "the doctrine of baptisms and laying on of hands:" by which it does not only appear to be a lasting ministry, because no part of the Christian doctrine could change or be abolished; but hence also it appears to be of divine institution. For if it were not, St. Paul had been guilty of that which our blessed Saviour reproves in the Scribes and Pharisees, and should have "taught for doctrines the commandments of men." Which because it cannot be supposed, it must follow, that this doctrine of confirmation or imposition of hands is apostolical and divine. The argument is clear, and not easy to be reproved.
t In hunc locum.
The Rite of Confirmation is a perpetual and never-ceasing
YEA, but what is this to us? It belonged to the days of wonder and extraordinary: the Holy Ghost breathed upon the apostles and apostolical men; but then he breathed his last: "recedente gratiâ, recessit disciplina;" when the grace departed, we had no further use of the ceremony. In answer to this I shall ψιλαῖς ἐπινοίαις, by divers particulars evince plainly, that this ministry of confirmation was not temporary and relative only to the acts of the apostles, but was to descend to the church for ever. This indeed is done already in the preceding section; in which it is clearly manifested, that Christ himself" made the baptism of the Spirit to be necessary to the church. He declared the fruits of this baptism, and did particularly relate it to the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the church at and after that glorious Pentecost. He sanctified it, and commended it by his example; just as in order to baptism he sanctified the flood Jordan, and all other waters, to the mystical washing away of sin, viz. by his great example, and fufilling this righteousness also. This doctrine the apostles first found in their own persons and experience, and practised to all their converts after baptism by a solemn and external rite; and all this passed into an evangelical doctrine, the whole mystery being signified by the external rite in the words of the Apostle, as before it was by Christ expressing only the internal; so that there needs no more strength to this argument. But that there may be wanting no moments to this truth, which the Holy Scripture affords, I shall add more weight to it: and,
1. The perpetuity of this holy rite appears, because this great gift of the Holy Ghost was promised "to abide with the church for ever." And when the Jews heard the apostles speak with tongues at the first and miraculous descent of the Spirit in Pentecost, to take off the strangeness of the wonder and the envy of the power, St. Peter at that very time tells them plainly, "Repent and be baptized every one
" John, iii. 5.
* Acts, ii. 38, 39.