« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
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 9." 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 42 Cor. i. 21, 22.
P 1 Cor. xii. 7.
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 r Lib. 4. de Fide, cap. 10.
be done by others, as in the case of baptism. The aids given in confirmation are in order to our contention and our danger, our temptation and spiritual warfare; and therefore it will not seem equally reasonable to confirm children as to baptize them.
To this I answer, that, in the primitive church, confirmation was usually administered at the same time with baptism; for we find many records, that when the office of baptism was finished, and the baptized person divested of the white robe, the person was carried again to the bishop to be confirmed, as I have already shewn out of Dionysius and divers others. The reasons why anciently they were ministered immediately after one another is, not only because the most of them that were baptized, were of years to choose their religion, and did so, and therefore were capable of all that could be consequent to baptism, or annexed to it, or ministered with it, and therefore were also at the same time communicated as well as confirmed;-but also because the solemn baptisms were at solemn times of the year, at Easter only and Whitsuntide, and only in the cathedral or bishops' church in the chief city; whither when the catechumens came, and had the opportunity of the bishop's presence, they took the advantage "ut sacramento utroque renascantur," as St. Cyprian's expression is, "that they might be regenerated by both the mysteries," and they also had the third added, viz., the holy eucharist.
This simultaneous ministration hath occasioned some few of late to mistake confirmation for a part of baptism, but no distinct rite, or of distinct effect, save only that it gave ornament and complement or perfection to the other. But this is infinitely confuted by the very first ministry of confirmation in the world: for there was a great interval between St. Philip's baptizing and the apostles' confirming the Samaritans; where also the difference is made wider by the distinction of the minister; and a deacon did one, none but an apostle and his successor a bishop could do the other and this being of so universal a practice and doctrine in the primitive church, it is a great wonder that any learned men could suffer an error in so apparent a case. It is also clear in
Cap. 4. part 3. de Eccles. Hier. Melchiad. Epist. ad Episc. Hispan. Ordo Rom, cap. de Die Sabbati S. Pasch. Alcuin. de Divin. Offic. c. 19.
two other great remarks of the practice of the primitive church. The one is of them who were baptized in their sickness, the οἱ ἐν νήσῳ παραλαμβάνοντες, καὶ εἶτα ἀναστάντες, when they recovered they were commanded to address themselves to the bishop to be confirmed; which appears in the thirty-eighth canon of the council of Eliberis, and the fortysixth canon of the council of Laodicea, which I have before cited upon other occasions: the other is, that of heretics returning to the church, who were confirmed not only long after baptism, but after their apostasy and their conversion.
For although episcopal confirmation was the enlargement of baptismal grace, and commonly administered the same day, yet it was done by interposition of distinct ceremonies, and not immediately in time. Honorius Augustodunensist tells that when the baptized on the eighth day had laid aside their mitres, or proper habit used in baptism, then they were usually confirmed, or consigned with chrism in the forehead. by the bishop. And when children were baptized irregularly, or besides the ordinary way, in villages and places distant from the bishop, confirmation was deferred, said Durandus. And it is certain, that this affair did not last long without variety sometimes they ministered both together; sometimes at greater, sometimes at lesser distances; and it was left indifferent in the church to do the one or the other, or the third, according to the opportunity and the discretion of the bishop.
But afterward in the middle and descending ages it grew to be a question, not whether it were lawful or not, but which were better, to confirm infants, or to stay to their childhood or to their riper years. Aquinas, Bonaventure, and some others, say, it is best that they be confirmed in their infancy, quia dolus non est, nec obicem ponunt,” they are then without craft, and cannot hinder" the descent of the Holy Ghost upon them. And indeed it is most agreeable with the primitive practice, that if they were baptized in infancy, they should then also be confirmed; according to that of the famous epistle of Melchiades to the bishops of Spain, “Ità conjuncta sunt hæc duo sacramenta, ut ab invicem, nisi morte præveniente, non possint separari, et unum sine altero ritè perfici non potest." Where although he expressly affirms the rites to be two, yet unless it be in cases of necest Vide Cassandrum Schol. ad Hym. Ecci.
sity, they are not to be severed, and one without the other is not perfect; which, in the sense formerly mentioned, is true, and so to be understood, that to him who is baptized and is not confirmed, something very considerable is wanting, and therefore they ought to be joined, though not immediately, yet exgóvas, according to reasonable occasions and accidental causes. But in this there must needs be a liberty in the church, not only for the former reasons, but also because the apostles themselves were not confirmed till after they had received the sacrament of the Lord's supper.
Öthers therefore say, that to confirm them of riper years is with more edification. The confession of faith is more voluntary, the election is wiser, the submission to Christ's discipline is more acceptable, and they have more need, and can make better use of their strength then derived by the Holy Spirit of God upon them: and to this purpose it is commanded in the canon law, that they who are confirmed should be 'perfectæ ætatis," of full age;' upon which the gloss" says, "Perfectam vocat fortè duodecim annorum ;"" Twelve years old was a full age, because, at those years, they might then be admitted to the lower services in the church." But the reason intimated and implied by the canon is, because of the preparation to it; "they must come fasting, and they must make public confession of their faith."-And indeed that they should do so is matter of great edification, as also are the advantages of choice, and other preparatory abilities and dispositions above mentioned. They are matter of edification, I say, when they are done; but then the delaying of them so long before they be done, and the wanting the aids of the Holy Ghost conveyed in that ministry, are very preju dicial, and are not matter of edification.
But therefore there is a third way, which the church of England and Ireland follows, and that is, that after infancy, but yet before they understand too much of sin, and when they can competently understand the fundamentals of religion, then it is good to bring them to be confirmed, that the Spirit of God may prevent their youthful sins, and Christ by his word and by his Spirit may enter and take possession at the same time. And thus it was in the church of England long since provided and commanded by the laws of King
De Consecrat. dist. 5. ut Jejuni.