« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
calamities and permanent effects of a war acted by intervals for above four hundred years; such which the intermedial sunshines of peace could but very weakly repair. Our churches are still demolished, much of the revenues irrecoverably swallowed by sacrilege, and digested by an unavoidable impunity; religion infinitely divided, and parted into formidable sects; the people extremely ignorant, and wilful by inheritance; superstitiously irreligious, and incapable of reproof. And amidst these and very many more inconveniences, it was greatly necessary that God should send us such a king, and he send us such a viceroy, who weds the interests of religion, and joins them to his heart.
For we do not look upon your Grace only as a favourer of the church's temporal interest, though even for that the souls of the relieved clergy do daily bless you: neither are you our patron only as the Cretans were to Homer, or the Alenada to Simonides, Philip to Theopompus, or Severus to Oppianus; but as Constantine and Theodosius were to Christians; that is, desirous that true religion should be promoted, that the interest of souls should be advanced, that truth should flourish, and wise principles should be entertained, as the best cure against those evils which this nation hath too often brought upon themselves. In order to which excellent purposes it is hoped, that the reduction of the holy rite of confirmation into use and holy practice may con
For besides that
tribute some very great moments. the great usefulness of this ministry will greatly endear the episcopal order, to which (that I may use St. Jerome's words) if" there be not attributed a more than common power and authority, there will be as many schisms as priests;" it will also be a means of endearing the persons of the prelates to their flocks, when the people shall be convinced that there is, or may be, if they please, a perpetual intercourse of blessings and love between them; when God by their holy hands refuses not to give to the people the earnest of an eternal inheritance, when by them he blesses; and that the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the communication of his Spirit, is conveyed to all persons capable of the grace, by the conduct, and on the hands and prayers of their bishops.
And indeed not only very many single persons, but even the whole church of Ireland, hath need of confirmation. We have most of us contended for false religions and unchristian propositions: and now that, by God's mercy and the prosperity and piety of his sacred Majesty, the church is broken from her cloud, and many are reduced to the true religion and righteous worship of God, we cannot but call to mind, how the holy fathers of the primitive church often have declared themselves in councils, and by a perpetual discipline, that such persons who are returned from sects and heresies into the bosom
of the church should not be rebaptized, but that the bishops should impose hands on them in confirmation. It is true, that this was designed to supply the defect of those schismatical conventicles, who did not use this holy rite: for this rite of confirmation hath had the fate to be opposed only by the schismatical and puritan parties of old, the Novatians or Cathari, and the Donatists; and of late by the Jesuits, and new Cathari, the Puritans and Presbyterians; the same evil spirit of contradiction keeping its course in the same channel, and descending regularly amongst men of the same principles. But therefore in the restitution of a man, or company of men, or a church, the holy primitives, in the council of Constantinople, Laodicea, and Orange, thought that to confirm such persons was the most agreeable discipline; not only because such persons did not in their little and dark assemblies use this rite, but because they always greatly wanted it. For it is a sure rule in our religion, and is of an eternal truth, that "they who keep not the unity of the church, have not the Spirit of God;" and therefore it is most fit, should receive the ministry of the Spirit, when they return to the bosom of the church, that so indeed they may keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." And therefore, Asterius bishop of Amasia compares confirmation to the ring, with which the father of the prodigal adorned his returning son: "Datur nempe prodigo post stolam et annulus,
nempe symbolum intelligibile signaculi Spiritûs." And as the Spirit of God, the holy dove, extended his mighty wings over the creation, and hatched the new-born world, from its seminal powers, to light and operation, and life and motion; so in the regeneration of the souls of men, he gives a new being, and heat and life, and procedure and perfection, wisdom and strength: and because that this was ministered by the bishops' hands in confirmation, was so firmly believed by all the primitive church, therefore it became a law, and a universal practice in all those ages, in which men desired to be saved by all means. The Latin church and the Greek always did use it; and the blessings of it, which they believed consequent to it, they expressed in a holy prayer which in the Greek Euchologion' they have very anciently and constantly used: "Thou, O Lord, the most compassionate and great King of all, graciously impart to this person the seal of the gift of thy holy, almighty, and adorable Spirit". " For, as an ancient Greek said truly and wisely, "The Father is reconciled, and the Son is the reconciler; but to them who are by baptism and repentance made friends of God, the Holy Spirit is collated as a gift"." They well knew what they received in this ministration, and therefore wisely laid hold of it, and would not let it go.
a Αὐτὸς δέσποτα, παμβασιλεῦ, εὔσπλαγχνε, χαρίσαι αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν σφραγῖδα τῆς δωρεᾶς τῷ ἁγίε, καὶ παντοδυνάμε, καὶ προσκυνητῶ σε Πνεύματος. † Ὁ μὲν Πατὴς διήλλακται, ὁ δὲ Υἱὸς διήλλαξε, τὸ δὲ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον φίλοις ἤδη καθίστατασι δῶρον.
This was anciently ministered by apostles, and ever after by the bishops, and religiously received by kings and greatest princes; and I have read that St. Sylvester confirmed Constantine the emperor : and when they made their children servants of the holy Jesus, and soldiers under his banner, and bondsmen of his institution, then they sent them to the bishop to be confirmed; who did it sometimes by such ceremonies, that the solemnity of the ministry might with greatest religion addict them to the service of their great Lord. We read in Adrovaldus, that Charles Martel, entering into a league with Bishop Luitprandus, sent his son Pepin to him, "ut, more Christianorum fidelium, capillum ejus primus attonderet, ac Pater illi Spiritualis existeret," "that he might, after the manner of Christians, first cut his hair" (in token of service to Christ), "and" in confirming him "he should be his spiritual father." And something like this we find concerning William earl of Warren and Surrey, who, when he had dedicated the church of St. Pancratius and the priory of Lewes, received confirmation, and gave seizure" Per capillos capitis mei" (says he in the charter)" et fratris mei Radulphi de Warrena, quos abscidit cum cultello de capitibus nostris Henricus episcopus Wintoniensis;" "By the hairs of my head and of my brother's, which Henry bishop of Winchester cut off before the altar:" meaning (according to the ancient custom) in
De Miraculis S. Benedict. lib. 1. c. 1. 14,