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ordination cannot come, no sense, no mystery, can be made of it or drawn from it; but by the interposition of confirmation the whole context is clear, rational, and intelligible.
This then is that imposition of hands, of which the Apostle speaks. "Unus hic locus abunde testatur," &c. saith Calvin: "This one place doth abundantly witness that the original of this rite or ceremony was from the apostles:" OUтw yàp Tò пveŬua háμlavov, saith St. Chrysostom*; "for by this rite of imposition of hands they received the Holy Ghost."-For though the Spint of God was given extraregularly, and at all times, as God was pleased to do great things; yet this imposition of iands was διακονία πνεύματος, this was "the ministry of the Spirit." For so we receive Christ, when we hear and obey his word: we eat Christ by faith, and we live by his Spirit and yet the blessed eucharist is διακονία σώματος καὶ αἵματος, “ the ministry of the Now as the Lord's Now as the Lord's supper is
body and blood of Christ." appointed ritually to convey Christ's body and blood to us; so is confirmation ordained ritually to give unto us the Spirit of God. And though, by accident and by the overflowings of the Spirit, it may come to pass, that a man does receive perfective graces alone, and without ministries external: yet such a man without a miracle is not a perfect Christian 'ex statuum vitæ dispositione;' but in the ordinary ways and appointment of God, and until he receive this imposition of hands, and be confrmed, is to be accounted an imperfect Christian. But of this afterward.
I shall observe one thing more out of this testimony of St. Paul. He calls it "the dodrine of baptisms and laying on of hands:" by which it does not only appear to be a lasting ministry, because no part of the Christian doctrine could change or be abolished; but hence also it appears to be of divine institution. For if it were not, St. Paul had been guilty of that which our blessed Saviour reproves in the Scribes and Pharisees, and should have taught for doctrines the commandments of men." Which because it cannot be supposed, it must follow, that this doctrine of confirmation or imposition of hands is apostolical and divine. The argument is clear, and not easy to be reproved.
The Rite of Confirmation is a perpetual and never-ceasing
YEA, but what is this to us? It belonged to the days of
1. The perpetuity of this holy rite appears, because this great gift of the Holy Ghost was promised" to abide with the church for ever." And when the Jews heard the apostles speak with tongues at the first and miraculous descent of the Spirit in Pentecost, to take off the strangeness of the wonder and the envy of the power, St. Peter at that very time tells them plainly, "Repent and be baptized every one
"John, iii. 5.
Acts, ii. 38, 39.
of you, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost:" ἕκαστος ὑμῶν· not the meanest person amongst you all but shall receive this great thing which ye observe us to have received; and not only you, but your children too; not your children of this generation only, "sed nati natorum, et qui nascentur ab illis," but your children for ever: "for the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even to as many as the Lord our God shall call." Now then let it be considered,
1. This gift is by promise; by a promise not made to the apostles alone, but to all; to all for ever.
2. Consider here at the very first as there is a verbum,' a word' of promise, so there is sacramentum' too (I use the word, as I have already premonished, in a large sense only, and according to the style of the primitive church): it is a rite partly moral, partly ceremonial; the first is prayer, and the other is laying on of the hands and to an effect that is but transient and extraordinary, and of a little abode, it is not easy to be supposed that such a solemnity should be appointed. I say,' such a solemnity; that is, it is not imaginable that a solemn rite annexed to a perpetual promise should be transient and temporary, for by the nature of relatives they must be of equal abode. The promise is of a thing for ever; the ceremony or rite was annexed to the promise, and therefore this also must be for ever.
3. This is attested by St. Paul, who reduces this argument to this mystery, saying, "In whom after that ye believed, signati estis Spiritu Sancto prcmissionis,' 'ye were sealed by that Holy Spirit of promise."" He spake it to the Ephesians', who well understood his meaning by remembering what was done to themselves by the apostles but awhile before, who, after they had baptized them, did lay their hands upon them, and so they were sealed, and so they received the Holy Spirit of promise; for here the very matter of fact is the clearest commentary on St. Paul's words: the Spirit which was promised to all Christians, they then received, when they were consigned, or had the ritual seal of confirmation. by imposition of hands. One thing I shall remark here, and that is, that this and some other words of Scripture relating to the sacraments or other rituals of religion, do principally
mean the internal grace, and our consignation is by a secret. power, and the work is within; but it does not therefore follow, that the external rite is not also intended; for the rite is so wholly for the mystery, and the outward for the inward, and yet by the outward God so usually and regularly gives the inward, that as no man is to rely upon the external ministry, as if the opus operatum' would do the whole duty; so no man is to neglect the external, because the internal is the more principal. The mistake in this particular hath caused great contempt of the sacraments and rituals of the church, and is the ground of the Socinian errors in these questions.
But, 4. What hinders any man from a quick consent at the first representation of these plain reasonings and authorities? Is it because there were extraordinary effects accompanying this ministration, and because now there are not, that we will suppose the whole economy must cease? If this be it, and indeed this is all that can be supposed in opposition to it, it is infinitely vain.
1. Because these extraordinary effects did continue even after the death of all the apostles. St. Irenæus says they did continue even to his time, even the greatest instance of miraculous power: "Et in fraternitate, sæpissime propter aliquid necessarium, eâ quæ est in quoquo loco, universâ ecclesiâ postulante per jejunium et supplicationem multam, reversus est spiritus," &c. When God saw it necessary, and the church prayed and fasted much, they did miraculous things, even of reducing the spirit to a dead man.
2. In the days of the apostles the Holy Spirit did produce miraculous effects, but neither always, nor at all, in all men: "Are all workers of miracles? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? can all heal?" No, "the Spirit bloweth where he listeth," and as he listeth; he gives gifts to all, but to some after this manner, and to some after that.
These gifts were not necessary at all times any more than to all persons; but the promise did belong to all, and was made to all, and was performed to all. In the days of the apostles there was an effusion of the Spirit of God, it ran over, it was for themselves and others, it wet the very ground they trod upon, and made it fruitful; but it was not to all in like manner, but there was also then, and since then, a diffua Lib. 2. cap. 57. b 1 Cor. xii. 29.
sion of the Spirit, tanquam in pleno.' St. Stephen was full of the Holy Ghost," he was full of faith and power:' the Holy Ghost was given to him to fulfil his faith principally; the working miracles was but collateral and incidental. But there is also an infusion of the Holy Ghost, and that is to all, and that is for ever: " the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal," saith the Apostlea. And therefore if the grace be given to all, there is no reason that the ritual ministration of that grace should cease, upon pretence that the Spirit is not given extraordinarily.
4. These extraordinary gifts were indeed at first necessary: "In the beginnings always appear the sensible visions of spiritual things for their sakes, who cannot receive the understanding of an incorporeal nature; that if afterward they be not so done, they may be believed by those things which were already done," said St. Chrysostome in the place before quoted; that is, these visible appearances were given at first by reason of the imperfection of the state of the church, but the greater gifts were to abide for ever: and therefore it is observable that St. Paul says that the gift of tongues is one of the least and most useless things; a mere sign, and not so much as a sign to believers, but to infidels and unbelievers; and before this he greatly prefers the gift of prophesying or preaching, which yet, all Christians know, does abide with the church for ever.
To every ordinary and perpetual ministry at first there were extraordinary effects and miraculous consignations, We find great parts of nations converted at one sermon. Three thousand converts came in at one preaching of St. Peter, and five thousand at another sermon: and persons were miraculously cured by the prayer of the bishop in his visitation of a sick Christian; and devils cast out in the conversion of a sinner; and blindness cured at the baptism of St. Paul; and Æneas was healed of a palsy at the same time he was cured of his infidelity; and Eutychus was restored to life at the preaching of St. Paul. And yet that now we see no such extraordinaries, it follows not that the visitation of the sick, and preaching sermons, and absolving penitents, are not ordinary and perpetual ministrations: and therefore to
c Acts, vi. 8.
d 1 Cor. xii. 7.
e In Matthæum.