« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
are sufficient, yet to them that live the auxiliaries of confirmation are necessary."-For, according to that saying of St. Leo, in his epistle to Nicetas the bishop of Aquileia, commanding that heretics returning to the church should be confirmed with invocation of the Holy Spirit and imposition of hands," they have only received the form of baptism' sine sanctificationis virtute,' 'without the virtue of sanctification;"" meaning, that this is the proper effect of confirmation. For, in short," although the newly-listed soldiers in human warfare are enrolled in the number of them that are to fight, yet they are not brought to battle till they be more trained and exercised. So although by baptism every one is ascribed into the catalogue of believers, yet he receives more strength and grace for the sustaining and overcoming the temptations of the flesh, the world, and the devil, only by imposition of the bishops' hands :"-They are words which I borrowed from a late synod at Rheims.-That is the first remark of blessing, in confirmation we receive strength to do all that which was for us undertaken in baptism: for the apostles themselves (as the holy fathers observe) were timorous in the faith until they were confirmed in Pentecost; but after the reception of the Holy Ghost they waxed valiant in the faith, and in all their spiritual combats.
2. In confirmation we receive the Holy Ghost as the earnest of our inheritance, as the seal of our salvation: Kaλοῦμεν σφραγίδα, ὡς συντήρησιν καὶ τῆς δεσποτείας σημείωσιν, saith Gregory Nazianzen; "We therefore call it a seal or signature, as being a guard and custody to us, and a sign of the Lord's dominion over us."-The confirmed person is πρóẞarоν topрayioμévov, a sheep that is marked,'-which thieves do not so easily steal and carry away. To the same purpose are those words of Theodoret": ̓Ανάμνησον σεαυτὸν τῆς ἱερᾶς μυσταγωγίας, ἐν ᾧ οἱ τελούμενοι, μετὰ τὴν ἄρνησιν τοῦ τυράννου, καὶ τὴν τοῦ βασιλέως ὁμολογίαν, οἱονεὶ σφραγίδα τινα βασιλικὴν δέχονται τοῦ Πνευματικοῦ μύρου τὸ χρίσμα, ὡς ἐν τύπῳ τῷ μύρῳ τὴν ἀόρατον τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος χάριν ὑποδεχόμενοι. "Remember that holy mystagogy, in which they who were initiated, after the renouncing that tyrant" (the devil and all his works), "and the confession of the true king" (Jesus Christ), "have received the chrism of spiritual
a Comment, in Cautic. c. i. ii.
unction like a royal signature, by that unction, as in a shadow, perceiving the invisible grace of the most Holy Spirit."-That is, in confirmation we are sealed for the service of God and unto the day of redemption; then it is that the seal of God is had by us, the Lord knoweth who are his.'-"Quomodo verò dices, Dei sum, si notas non produxeris ?" said St. Basil; "How can any man say, I am God's sheep, unless he produce the marks?"-"Signati estis Spiritu promissionis per sanctissimum divinum Spiritum, Domini grex effecti sumus," said Theophylact: "When we are thus sealed by the most holy and divine Spirit of promise, then we are truly of the Lord's flock, and marked with his seal:" that is, when we are rightly confirmed, then he descends into our souls; and though he does not operate, it may be, presently, but as the reasonable soul works in its due time, and by the order of nature, by opportunities and new fermentations and actualities; so does the Spirit of God; when he is brought into use, when he is prayed for with love and assiduity, when he is caressed tenderly, when he is used lovingly, when we obey his motions readily, when we delight in his words greatly, then we find it true, that the soul had a new life put into her, a principle of perpetual actions but the tree planted by the water-side does not presently bear fruit, but in its due season.' By this Spirit we are then sealed; that whereas God hath laid up an inheritance for us in the kingdom of heaven, and in the faith of that we must live and labour, to confirm this faith God hath given us this pledge, the Spirit of God is a witness to us, and tells us by his holy comforts, by the peace of God, and the quietness and refreshments of a good conscience, that God is our Father, that we are his sons and daughters, and shall be coheirs with Jesus in his eternal kingdom. In baptism we are made the sons of God, but we receive the witness and testimony of it in confirmation. This is ó ПapákληTog Παράκλητος the Holy Ghost the Comforter,' this is he whom Christ promised and did send in Pentecost, and was afterward ministered and conveyed by prayer and imposition of hands: and by this Spirit he makes the confessors bold, and the martyrs valiant, and the tempted strong, and the virgins to perseverė, and widows to sing his praises and his glories. And this is • In Adhort. ad Baptis.
that excellency which the church of God called 'the Lord's seal,' and teaches to be imprinted in confirmation: Tò téλɛlov φυλακτήριον, τὴν σφραγίδα τοῦ Κυρίου, * a perfect phylactery or guard, even the Lord's seal;' so Eusebius calls it.
I will not be so curious as to enter into a discourse of the philosophy of this: but I shall say, that they who are curious in the secrets of nature, and observe external signatures in stones, plants, fruits, and shells, of which naturalists make many observations and observe strange effects, and the more internal signatures in minerals and living bodies, of which chemists discourse strange secrets, may easily, if they please, consider that it is infinitely credible, that in higher essences, even in spirits, there may be signatures proportionable, wrought more immediately and to greater purposes by a divine hand. I only point at this, and so pass it over, as, it may be, fit for every man's consideration.
And now if any man shall say, we see no such things as you talk of, and find the confirmed people the same after as before, no better and no wiser, not richer in gifts, not more adorned with graces, nothing more zealous for Christ's kingdom, not more comforted with hope, or established by faith, or built up with charity; they neither speak better, nor live better; what then? Does it therefore follow that the Holy Ghost is not given in confirmation? Nothing less. For is not Christ given us in the sacrament of the Lord's supper? Do not we receive his body and his blood? Are we not made all one with Christ, and he with us? And yet it is too true, that when we arise from that holy feast, thousands there are that find no change. But there are in this two things to be considered.
One is, that the changes which are wrought upon our souls are not, after the manner of nature, visible, and sensible, and with observation. "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:" for it is within you, and is only discerned spiritually, and produces its effects by the method of heaven, and is first apprehended by faith, and is endeared by charity, and at last is understood by holy and kind experiences. And in this there is no more objection against confirmation than against baptism, or the Lord's supper, or any other ministry evangelical.
The other thing is this: if we do not find the effects of
the Spirit in confirmation,'it is our faults. For he is received by moral instruments, and is intended only as a help to our endeavours, to our labours and our prayers, to our contentions and our mortifications, to our faith and to our hope, to our patience and to our charity. "Non adjuvari dicitur, qui nihil facit," "He that does nothing, cannot be said to be helped." Unless we in these instances do our part of the work, it will be no wonder, if we lose his part of the co-operation and supervening blessing. He that comes under the bishop's hands to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, will come with holy desires and a longing soul, with an open hand and a prepared heart; he will purify the house of the Spirit for the entertainment of so divine a guest; he will receive him with humility, and follow him with obedience, and delight him with purities: and he that does thus, let him make the objection if he can, and tell me, does he 'say that Jesus is the Lord?' He cannot say this but by the Holy Ghost.'-Does he love his brother? If he does, then the Spirit of God abides in him.'-Is Jesus Christ formed in him? Does he live by the laws of the Spirit? Does he obey his commands? Does he attend his motions? Hath he no earnest desires to serve God? If he have not, then in vain hath he received either baptism or confirmation. But if he have, it is certain that of himself he cannot do these things: he cannot of himself think a good thought.' Does he therefore think well? That is from the Holy Spirit of God.
To conclude this inquiry: "the Holy Ghost is promised to all men to profit withal ";" that is plain in Scripture. Confirmation, or prayer and imposition of the bishop's hand, is the solemnity and rite used in Scripture for the conveying of that promise, and the effect is felt in all the sanctifications and changes of the soul; and he that denies these things hath not faith, nor the true notices of religion, or the Spirit of Christianity. Hear what the Scriptures yet further say in this mystery: "Now he which confirmeth or stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God: who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts"." Here is a description of the whole mysterious part of this rite. God is the author of the grace: the apostles and all Christians are the suscipients, and receive
P 1 Cor. xii. 7.
↑ 2 Cor. i. 21, 22.
this grace by this grace we are adopted and incorporated into Christ: God hath anointed us; that is, he hath given us this unction from above," he hath sealed us by his Spirit," made us his own, bored our ears through, made us free by his perpetual service, and hath done all these things in token of a greater; he hath given us his Spirit to testify to us that he will give us of his glory. These words of St. Paul, besides that they evidently contain in them the spiritual part of this ritual, are also expounded of the rite and sacramental itself by St. Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Theophylact, that I may name no more. For in this mystery,
"Christos nos efficit, et misericordiam Dei nobis annunciat per Spiritum Sanctum," said St. John Damascen"; "he makes us his anointed ones, and by the Holy Spirit he declares his eternal mercy towards us."--"Nolite tangere Christos meos," "Touch not mine anointed ones."-For when we have this signature of the Lord upon us, the devils cannot come near to hurt us, unless we consent to their temptations, and drive the Holy Spirit of the Lord from us.
Of Preparation to Confirmation, and the Circumstances of receiving it.
IF confirmation have such gracious effects, why do we confirm little children, whom in all reason we cannot suppose to be capable and receptive of such graces? It will be no answer to this, if we say, that this very question is asked concerning the baptism of infants, to which as great effects are consequent, even pardon of all our sins, and the new birth and regeneration of the soul unto Christ: for in these things the soul is wholly passive, and nothing is required of the suscipient but that he put in no bar against the grace; which because infants cannot do, they are capable of baptism; but it follows not, that therefore they are capable of confirmation, because this does suppose them such as to need new assistances, and is a new profession, and a personal undertaking, and therefore requires personal abilities, and cannot Lib. 4. de Fide, cap. 10.