Изображения страниц

that cannot speak, that cannot resist any violence, exposed to every rudeness, and perishing by every temptation.

But therefore, as God at first appointed us a ministry of a new birth; so also hath he given to his church the consequent ministry of a new strength. The Spirit moved a little upon the waters of baptism, and gave us the principles of life; but in confirmation he makes us able to move ourselves. In the first he is the Spirit of life; but in this he is the Spirit of strength and motion. "Baptisma est nativitas, unguentum verò est nobis actionis instar et motus," said Cabasilas." In baptism we are entitled to the inheritance: but because we are in our infancy and minority, the father gives unto his sons a tutor, a guardian and a teacher in confirmation," said Rupertus: that as we are baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ; so in confirmation we may be renewed in the inner man, and strengthened in all our holy vows and purposes, by the Holy Ghost ministered according to God's ordinance.

The holy right of confirmation is a divine ordinance, and it produces divine effects, and is ministered by divine persons, that is, by those whom God hath sanctified and separated to this ministration. At first, all that were baptized, were also confirmed: and ever since, all good people that have understood it, have been very zealous for it; and time was in England, even since the first beginnings of the reformation, when confirmation had been less carefully ministered for about six years, when the people had their first opportunities of it restored, they ran to it in so great numbers, that churches and church-yards would not hold them; insomuch that I have read that the Bishop of Chester was forced to impose hands on the people in the fields, and was so oppressed with multitudes, that he had almost been trod to death by the people, and had died with the throng, if he had not been rescued by the civil power.

But men have too much neglected all the ministries of grace, and this most especially, and have not given themselves to a right understanding of it, and so neglected it yet more. But because the prejudice, which these parts of the Christian church have suffered for want of it, is very great

c De Divin. Offic. lib. 5. c. 17.

Vindic. Ecclesiast. Hierarch. per Franc. Hallier.

(as will appear by enumeration of the many and great blessings consequent to it), I am not without hope, that it may be a service acceptable to God, and a useful ministry to the souls of my charges, if by instructing them that know not, and exhorting them that know, I set forward the practice of this holy rite, and give reasons why the people ought to love it and to desire it, and how they are to understand and prac tise it, and consequently, with what duteous affections they are to relate to those persons, whom God hath in so special and signal manner made to be, for their good and eternal benefit, the ministers of the Spirit and salvation.

St. Bernard in the life of St. Malachias, my predecessor in the see of Down and Connor, reports that it was the care of that good prelate to renew the rite of confirmation in his diocess, where it had been long neglected and gone into desuetude. It being too much our case in Ireland, I find the same necessity, and am obliged to the same procedure, for the same reason, and in pursuance of so excellent an example: "Hoc enim est evangelizare Christum (said St. Austin), non tantùm docere quæ sunt dicenda de Christo, sed etiam quæ observanda ei, qui accedit ad compagem corporis Christi," "For this is to preach the Gospel, not only to teach those things which are to be said of Christ, but those also which are to be observed by every one who desires to be confederated into the society of the body of Christ," which is his church: that is, not only the doctrines of good life, but the mysteries of godliness, and the rituals of religion, which issue from a divine fountain, are to be declared by him who would fully preach the Gospel.

In order to which performance I shall declare,

1. The divine original, warranty, and institution, of the holy rite of confirmation.

2. That this rite was to be a perpetual and never-ceasing ministration.

3. That it was actually continued and practised by all the succeeding ages of the purest and primitive churches.

4. That this rite was appropriate to the ministry of bishops.

5. That prayer and imposition of the bishops' hands did make the whole ritual; and though other things were added, Cap. 9. de Fide etOperibus,


yet they were not necessary, or any thing of the institution.

6. That many great graces and blessings were consequent to the worthy reception and due ministration of it.

7. I shall add something of the manner of preparation to it, and reception of it.


Of the divine Original, Warranty, and Institution, of the holy Rite of Confirmation.

In the church of Rome, they have determined confirmation to be a sacrament, proprii nominis,' proper and really; and yet their doctors have, some of them at least, been ‘paulô iniquiores,' ‚'‘a little unequal and unjust' to their proposition; insomuch that from themselves we have had the greatest opposition in this article. Bonacina and Henriquez allow the proposition, but make the sacrament to be so unnecessary, that a little excuse may justify the omission and almost neglect of it. And Loemilius and Daniel à Jesu, and generally the English Jesuits, have, to serve some ends of their own family and order, disputed it almost into contempt, that by representing it as unnecessary, they might do all the ministries ecclesiastical in England without the assistance of bishops their superiors, whom they therefore love not, because they are so. But the theological faculty of Paris have condemned their doctrine as temerarious, and savouring of he.resy; and in the later schools have approved rather the doctrine of Gamachæus, Estius, Kellison, and Bellarmine, who indeed do follow the doctrine of the most eminent persons in the ancient school, Richard of Armagh, Scotus, Hugo Cavalli, and Gerson the learned chancellor of Paris; who following the old Roman order, Amalarius and Albinus, do all teach confirmation to be of great and pious use, of divine original, and to many purposes necessary, according to the doctrine of Scriptures and the primitive church.

Whether confirmation be a sacrament or no, is of no use to dispute; and if it be disputed, it can never be proved to ! De Sacram. disp. 3. q. Unit. Punct. 3. 2. lib. 3. de Sacram.

be so as baptism and the Lord's supper, that is "as generally necessary to salvation:" but though it be no sacrament, it cannot follow that it is not of very great use and holiness: and as a man is never the less tied to repentance, though it be no sacrament; so neither is he nevertheless obliged to receive confirmation, though it be (as it ought) acknowledged to be of a use and nature inferior to the two sacraments of divine, direct, and immediate institution. It is certain that the fathers, in a large, symbolical, and general sense, call it ' a sacrament;' but mean not the same thing by that word when they apply it to confirmation, as they do when they apply it to baptism and the Lord's supper. That it is an excellent and divine ordinance to purposes spiritual, that it comes from God, and ministers in our way to God, that is all we are concerned to inquire after: and this I shall endeavour to prove not only against the Jesuits, but against all opponents of what side soever.

[ocr errors]

My first argument from Scripture is what I learn from Optatus and St. Cyril. Optatus writing against the Donatists hath these words: "Christ descended into the water, not that in him, who is God, was any thing that could be made cleaner, but that the water was to precede the future unction, for the initiating and ordaining and fulfilling the mysteries of baptism. He was washed, when he was in the hands of John; then followed the order of the mystery, and the Father finished what the Son did ask, and what the Holy Ghost declared: the heavens were opened, God the Father anointed him, the spiritual unction presently descended in the likeness of a dove, and sat upon his head, and was spread all over him, and he was called 'the Christ,' when he was 'the anointed of the Father.' To whom also, lest imposition of hands should seem to be wanting, the voice of God was heard from the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him.""-That which Optatus says is this; that, upon and in Christ's person, baptism, confirmation, and ordination, were consecrated and first appointed. He was baptized by St. John; he was confirmed by the Holy Spirit, and anointed with spiritual unction in order to that great work of obedience to his Father's will; and he was consecrated by the voice of God from heaven. In all things Christ is the head, and the first-fruits: and in these things was the

fountain of the sacraments and spiritual grace, and the great exemplar of the economy of the church. For Christ was • nullius pœnitentiæ debitor:' baptism of repentance was not necessary to him, who never sinned; but so it became him to fulfil all righteousness, and to be a pattern to us all. But we have need of these things, though he had not; and in the same way in which salvation was wrought by him for him. self and for us all, in the same way he intended we should walk. He was baptized, because his Father appointed it so: we must be baptized, because Christ hath appointed it, and we have need of it too. He was consecrated to be the great prophet and the great priest, because no man takes on him this honour, but he that was called of God, as was Aaron:' and all they who are to minister in his prophetical office under him, must be consecrated and solemnly set apart for that ministration, and after his glorious example. He was anointed with a spiritual unction from above after his baptism; for after Jesus was baptized,' he ascended up from the waters, and then the Holy Ghost descended upon him. It is true, he received the fulness of the spirit; but we receive him by measure; but "of his fulness we all receive, grace for grace:" that is, all that he received in order to his great work, all that in kind, one for another, grace for grace, we are to receive according to our measures and our necessities. And as all these he received by external ministrations; so must we: God the Father appointed his way, and he, by his example first, hath appointed the same to us; that we also may follow him in the regeneration, and work out our salvation by the same graces in the like solemnities. For if he needed them for himself, then we need them much more. If he did not need them for himself, he needed them for us, and for our example, that we might follow his steps, who, by receiving these exterior solemnities and inward graces, became "the author and finisher of our salvation," and the great example of his church.—I shall not need to make use of the fancy of the Murcosians and Colobarsians, who turning all mysteries into numbers, reckoned the numeral letters of EpioTepa, and made them coincident to the x and w; but they intended to say, that Christ, receiving the holy dove after his baptism, became all in all to us, the beginning and the per

§ 1 John, ii. 8.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »