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confirmation, when they by that solemnity addicted themselves to the free servitude of the Lord Jesus. The ceremony is obsolete and changed, but the mystery can never. And indeed that is one of the advantages in which we can rejoice concerning the ministration of this rite in the church of England and Ireland; that whereas it was sometimes clouded, sometimes hindered, and sometimes hurt, by the appendage of needless and useless ceremonies; it is now reduced to the primitive and first simplicity amongst us, and the excrescences used in the church of Rome are wholly pared away, and by holy prayers and the apostolical ceremony of imposition of the bishops' hands, it is worthily and zealously administered. The Latins used to send chrism to the Greeks, when they had usurped some jurisdiction over them, and the Pope's chaplains went with a quantity of it to Constantinople, where the Russians usually met them for it; for that was then the ceremony of this ministration: but when the Latins demanded fourscore pounds of gold besides other gifts, they went away and changed their custom, rather than pay an unlawful and ungodly tribute. Non quærimus vestra, sed vos;" we require nothing but leave to impart God's blessings with pure intentions and a spiritual ministry. And as the bishops of our churches receive nothing from the people for the ministration of this rite, so they desire nothing but love and just obedience in spiritual and ecclesiastical duties; and
we offer our flocks spiritual things without mixture of temporal advantages from them; we minister the rituals of the Gospel without the inventions of men, religion without superstition, and only desire to be believed in such things, which we prove from Scripture expounded by the catholic practice of the church of God.
Concerning the subject of this discourse," the Rite of Confirmation;" it were easy to recount many great and glorious expressions which we find in the sermons of the holy fathers of the primitive ages: so certain it is, that in this thing we ought to be zealous, as being desirous to persuade our people to give us leave to do them great good. But the following pages will do it, I hope, competently: only we shall remark, that when they had gotten a custom anciently, that in cases of necessity they did permit deacons and laymen sometimes to baptize, yet they never did confide in it much; but with much caution and curiosity commanded that such persons should, when that necessity was over, be carried to the bishop to be confirmed, so to supply all precedent defects relating to the past imperfect ministry, and future necessity and danger; as appears in the council of Eliberis. And the ancients had so great estimate and veneration to this holy rite, that as in heraldry they distinguish the same thing by several names, when they relate to persons of great eminency, and they blazon the arms of the gentry by
metals, of the nobility by precious stones, but of kings and princes by planets: so when they would signify the unction which was used in confirmation, they gave it a special word, and of more distinction and remark; and therefore the oil used in baptism they called ἔλαιον, but that of confirmation was μύρον καὶ xgioua and they who spake properly, kept this difference of words, until, by incaution and ignorant carelessness, the names fell into confusion, and the thing into disuse and disrespect. But it is no small addition to the honour of this ministration, that some wise and good men have piously believed, that when baptized Christians are confirmed, and solemnly blessed by the bishop, that then it is, that a special angel-guardian is appointed to keep their souls from the assaults of the spirits of darkness. Concerning which, though I shall not interpose mine own opinion, yet this I say, that the piety of that supposition is not disagreeable to the intention of this rite: for since by this the Holy Spirit of God (the Father of spirits) is given, it is not unreasonably thought by them, that the other good spirits of God, the angels, who are 66 ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to the good of them that shall be heirs of salvation,” should pay their kind offices in subordination to their prince and fountain; that the first in every kind might be the measure of all the rest. But there are greater and stranger things than this that God does
for the souls of his servants, and for the honour of the ministries which himself hath appointed.
We shall only add that this was ancient, and long before Popery entered into the world, and that this rite has been more abused by Popery than by any thing: and to this day the bigots of the Roman church are the greatest enemies to it; and from them the Presbyterians. But besides that the church of England and Ireland does religiously retain it, and hath appointed a solemn officer for the ministry; the Lutheran and Bohemian churches do observe it carefully, and it is recommended and established in the harmony of the Protestant confessions.
And now, may it please your Grace to give me leave to implore your aid and countenance for the propagating this so religious and useful a ministry, which, as it is a peculiar of the bishop's office, is also a great enlarger of God's gifts to the people. It is a great instrument of union of hearts, and will prove an effective deletory to schism, and an endearment to the other parts of religion; it is the consummation of baptism, and a preparation to the Lord's supper it is the virtue from on high, and the solemnity of our spiritual adoption. But there will be no need to use many arguments to inflame your zeal in this affair, when your Grace shall find, that to promote it will be a great service to God; for this alone will conclude your Grace, who are so ready, by laws and
executions, by word and by example, to promote the religion of Christ, as it is taught in these churches. I am not confident enough to desire your Grace, for the reading this discourse, to lay aside any one hour of your greater employments, which consume so much of your days and nights: but I say that the subject is greatly worthy of consideration: "Nihil enim inter manus habui, cui majorem sollicitudinem præstare deberem." And for the book itself, I can only say what Secundus did to the wise Lupercus, Quoties ad fastidium legentium deliciasque respicio, intelligo nobis commendationem ex ipsa mediocritate libri petendam":" I can commend it because it is little, and so not very troublesome. And if it could have been written according to the worthiness of the thing treated in it, it would deserve so great a patronage: but because it is not, it will therefore greatly need it; but it can hope for it on no other account, but because it is laid at the feet of a princely person, who is great and good, and one who not only is bound by duty, but by choice hath obliged himself to do advantages to any worthy instrument of religion. But I have detained your Grace so long in my address, that your pardon will be all the favour which ought to be hoped for by
Your Grace's most humble
And obliged Servant,
b Lib. 2. ep. 5. 4. Gierig. vol. 1. p. 124.