Изображения страниц

accident or necessity was not anointed, the bishop should be advertised of it in confirmation;"" meaning, that then it must be done. For the chrism was but a ceremony annexed, no part of either rite essential to it; but yet they thought it necessary, by reason of some opinions then prevailing in the church. But here the rites themselves are clearly distinguished; and this of confirmation was never permitted to mere presbyters. Innocentius the Third, a great canonist and of great authority, gives a full evidence in this particular: "Per frontis chrismationem manûs impositio designatur, quia per eam Spiritus Sanctus per augmentum datur et robur. Unde cùm cæteras unctiones simplex sacerdos vel presbyter valeat exhibere, hanc non nisi summus sacerdos vel presbyter valeat exhibere, id est, episcopus conferre:" "By anointing of the forehead the imposition of hands is designed, because by that the Holy Ghost is given for increase and strength; therefore when a single priest may give the other unctions, yet this cannot be done but by the chief priest, that is, the bishop."—And therefore to the question, What shall be done if a bishop may not be had? the same Innocentius answers, "It is safer and without danger wholly to omit it, than to have it rashly and without authority ministered by any other; cùm umbra quædam ostendatur in opere, veritas autem non subeat in effectu;' for it is a mere shadow without truth or real effect,' when any one else does it but the person whom God hath appointed to this ministration." And no approved man of the church did ever say to the contrary, till Richard, primate of Armagh, commenced a new opinion, from whence, Thomas of Walden says, that Wickliffe borrowed his doctrine to trouble the church in this particular.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

What the doctrine of the ancient church was in the purest times, I have already, I hope, sufficiently declared; what it was afterward, when the ceremony of chrism was as much. remarked as the rite to which it ministered, we find fully declared by Rabanus Maurus: "Signatur baptizatus cum chrismate per sacerdotem in capitis summitate, per Pontificem verò in fronte; ut priori unctione significetur Spiritûs Sancti super ipsum descensio ad habitationem Deo consecrandam; in secunda quoque, ut ejus Spiritûs Sancti septi

9 De Instit. Cleric. lib. 1. c. 30.

formis gratia, cum omni plenitudine sanctitatis et scientiæ et virtutis, venire in hominem declaretur: tunc enim ipse Spiritus Sanctus post mundata et benedicta corpora atque animas liberè à Patre descendit, ut unà cum sua visitatione sanctificaret et illustraret; et nunc in hominem ad hoc venit, ut signaculum fidei, quod in fronte suscepit, faciat cum donis cœlestibus repletum, et suâ gratiâ confortatum, intrepidè et audacter coram regibus et potestatibus hujus seculi portare, ac nomen Christi liberâ voce prædicare:" "In baptism the baptized was anointed on the top of the head, in confirmation on the forehead: by that was signified that the Holy Ghost was preparing a habitation for himself; by this was declared the descent of the Holy Spirit, with his sevenfold gifts, with all fulness of knowledge and spiritual understanding.” These things were signified by the appendant ceremony; but the rights were ever distinguished, and did not only signify and declare, but effect, these graces by the ministry of prayer and imposition of hands.

The ceremony the church instituted and used as she pleased, and gave in what circumstances they would choose; and new propositions entered, and customs changed, and deputations were made; and the bishops, in whom by Christ was placed the fulness of ecclesiastical power, concredited to the bishops and deacons so much as their occasions and necessities permitted: and because in those ages and places where the external ceremony was regarded, it may be, more than the inward mystery or the rite of divine appointment, they were apt to believe that the chrism or exterior unction, delegated to the priest's ministry after the episcopal consecration of it, might supply the want of episcopal confirmation; it came to pass that new opinions were entertained, and the regulars, the friars and the Jesuits, who were always too little friends to the episcopal power, from which they would fain have been wholly exempted, publicly taught (in England especially), that chrism ministered by them with leave from the Pope did do all that which ordinarily was to be done in episcopal confirmation. For, as Tertullian complained in his time, "Quibus fuit propositum aliter docendi, eos necessitas coegit aliter disponendi instrumenta doctrinæ;" ،، They who had purposes of teaching new doctrines, were constrained otherwise to dispose of the instruments and ri

tuals appertaining to their doctrines." These men, to serve ends, destroyed the article, and overthrew the ancient discipline and unity of the primitive church. But they were justly censured by the theological faculty at Paris, and the censure well defended by Hallier, one of the doctors of the Sorbonne; whither I refer the reader that is curious in little things.

But for the main: it was ever called "confirmatio episcopalis, et impositio manuum episcoporum;" which our English word well expresses, and perfectly retains the use; we know it by the common name of "bishopping of children." I shall no further insist upon it, only I shall observe that there is a vain distinction brought into the schools and glosses of the canon law, of a minister ordinary, and extraordinary; all allowing that the bishop is appointed the ordinary minister of confirmation, but they would fain innovate, and pretend, that in some cases others may be ministers extraordinary. This device is of infinite danger to the destruction of the whole sacred order of the ministry, and disparks the enclosures, and lays all in common, and makes men supreme controllers of the orders of God, and lies upon a false principle; for in true divinity, and by the economy of the Spirit of God, as there can be no minister of any divine ordinance but he that is of divine appointment, there can be none but the ordinary minister. I do not say that God is tied to this way; he cannot be tied but by himself: and therefore Christ gave a special commission to Ananias to baptize and to confirm St. Paul, and he gave the Spirit to Cornelius even before he was baptized, and he ordained St. Paul to be an apostle without the ministry of man. But this I say, that though God can make ministers extraordinary, yet man cannot; and they that go about to do so, usurp the power of Christ, and snatch from his hand what he never intended to part with. The apostles admitted others into a part of their care and of their power; but when they intended to employ them in any ministry, they gave them so much of their order as would enable them; but a person of a lower order could never be deputed minister of actions appropriate to the higher which is the case of confirmation, by the prac tice and tradition of the apostles, and by the universal practice and doctrine of the primitive catholic church, by which



bishops only, the successors of the apostles, were alone the ministers of confirmation: and therefore if any man else usurp it, let them answer it; they do hurt indeed to themselves, but do no benefit to others, to whom they minister shadows instead of substances.


The whole Procedure or Ritual of Confirmation is by Prayer and Imposition of Hands.

THE heart and the eye are lift up to God to bring blessings from him, and so is the hand too; but this also falls upon the people, and rests there, to apply the descending blessing to the proper and prepared suscipient. God governed the people of Israel by the hand of Moses and Aaron:

et calidæ fecêre silentia turbæ Majestate manûs:

and both under Moses and under Christ, whenever the president of religion did bless the people, he lifted up his hand over the congregation; and when he blessed a single person, he laid his hand upon him. This was the rite used by Jacob and the patriarchs, by kings and prophets, by all the eminently religious in the synagogue, and by Christ himself when he blessed the children which were brought to him, and by the apostles when they blessed and confirmed the baptized converts; and whom else can the church follow? The apostles did so to the Christians of Samaria, to them of Ephesus; and St. Paul describes this whole mystery by the ri tual part of it, calling it "the foundation of the imposition of hands"." It is the solemnity of blessing, and the solemnity and application of paternal prayer. Τίνι γὰρ ἐπιτίθησι χεῖρα; τίνα δὲ εὐλογήσει; said Clements of Alexandria; Upon whom shall he lay his hands? whom shall he bless ?" "Quid enim aliud est impositio manuum, nisi oratio super hominem?" said St. Austin; "The bishop's laying his hands on the people, what is it but the solemnity of prayer for them?" that is, a prayer made by those sacred persons who Pelag. lib. 3. c. 11.

[ocr errors]

r Heb. vi. 2.

[ocr errors]

by Christ are appointed to pray for them, and to bless in his name and so indeed are all the ministers of the church, baptism, consecration of the blessed eucharist, absolution, ordination, visitation of the sick; they are all in genere ora tionis,' they are nothing but solemn and appointed 'prayer' by an intrusted and a gracious person, specificated by a proper order to the end of the blessing then designed. And therefore, when St. James commanded that the sick persons should "send for the elders of the church," he adds, "and let them pray over them;" that is, lay their hands on the sick, and pray for them; that is praying over them: it is 'adumbratio dextræ' (as Tertullian calls it), the right hand of him that ministers, overshadows' the person, for whom the solemn prayer is to be made.

This is the office of the rulers of the church; for they in the divine eutaxy are made your superiors: they are indeed 'your servants for Jesus's sake,' but they are over you in the Lord,' and therefore are from the Lord appointed to bless the people; for "without contradiction," saith the Apostle, "the less is blessed of the greatert," that is, God hath appointed the superiors in religion to be the great ministers of prayer, he hath made them the gracious persons, them he will hear, those he hath commanded to convey your needs to God, and God's blessings to you, and to ask a blessing is to desire them to pray for you; them, I say, "whom God most respecteth for their piety and zeal that way, or else regardeth for that their place and calling bind them above others to do this duty, such as are natural and spiritual fathers "."

It is easy for profane persons to deride these things, as they do all religion which is not conveyed to them by sense or natural demonstrations: but the economy of the Spirit and "the things of God are spiritually discerned."“ The Spirit bloweth where it listeth, and no man knows whence it comes, and whither it goes;" and the operations are discerned by faith, and received by love and by obedience. "Date mihi Christianum, et intelligit quod dico;" "None but true Christians understand and feel these things. of this we are sure, that in all the times of Moses's law, while the synagogue was standing, and in all the days of

t Heb. vii. 7.

[ocr errors]

u Hooker's Eccl. Pol. lib. 5. sect. 66.


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »