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a divine ministry; we shall weaken the devil's power, by which he too often and too much prevails upon uninstructed and unconfirmed youth. For μύρον βεβαίωσις τῆς ὁμολογίας, "confirmation is the firmament of our profession;" but we profess nothing till we be catechised. Catechisings are our best preachings, and by them we shall give the best accounts of our charges, while in the behalf of Christ we make disciples, and take prepossession of infant understandings, and by this holy rite, by prayer and imposition of hands, we minister the Holy Spirit to them, and so prevent and disable the artifices of the devil; "for we are not ignorant of his devices," how he enters as soon as he can, and taking advantage of their ignorance and their passion, seats himself so strongly in their hearts and heads.
Turpiùs ejicitur quam non admittitur hostis ;
It is harder to cast the devil out than to keep him out.' Hence it is that the youth are so corrupted in their manners, so devilish in their natures, so cursed in their conversation, so disobedient to parents, so wholly given to vanity and idleness; they learn to swear before they can pray, and to lie as soon as they can speak. It is not my sense alone, but was long since observed by Gerson and Gulielmus Parisiensis, "Propter cessationem confirmationis tepiditas grandior est fidelibus, et fidei defensione;" there is a coldness and deadness in religion, and it proceeds from the neglect of confirmation rightly ministered, and after due preparations and dispositions. A little thing will fill a child's head: teach them to say their prayers, tell them the stories of the life and death of Christ, cause them to love the holy Jesus with their first love, make them afraid of a sin; let the principles which God hath planted in their very creation, the natural principles of justice and truth, of honesty and thankfulness, of simplicity and obedience, be brought into act, and habit, and confirmation, by the holy sermons of the Gospel. If the guides of souls would have their people holy, let them teach holiness to their children, and then they will (at least) have a new generation unto God, better than this wherein we now live. They who are most zealous in this particular, will with most comfort reap the fruit of their labours, and the blessings of
• De Exterminat. Schism.
their ministry; and by the numbers which every curate presents to his bishop fitted for confirmation, he will in proportion render an account of his stewardship with some visible felicity. And let it be remembered, that in the last rubric of the office of confirmation in our liturgy it is made into a law, that "none should be admitted to the holy communion, until such time as he could say the catechism, and be confirmed:" which was also a law and custom in the primitive church, as appears in St. Dionysius's Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, and the matter of fact is notorious. Among the Helvetians, they are forbidden to contract marriages, before they are well instructed in the catechism and in a late synod at Bourges, the curates are commanded to threaten all that are not confirmed, that they shall never receive the Lord's supper, nor be married. And in effect the same is of force in our church: for the married persons being to receive the sacrament at their marriage, and none are to receive but those that are confirmed, the same law obtains with us as with the Helvetians or the synodus Bituricensis.'
There is another little inquiry which I am not willing to omit; but the answer will not be long, because there is not much to be said on either side. Some inquire whether the holy rite of confirmation can be ministered any more than once. St. Austin seems to be of opinion that it may be repeated: "Quid enim aliud est impositio manuum nisi oratio super hominem?" Confirmation is a solemn prayer over a man;'—and if so, why it may not be reiterated can have nothing in the nature of the thing; and the Greeks do it frequently, but they have no warranty from the Scripture, nor from any of their own ancient doctors. Indeed when any did return from heresy, they confirmed them, as I have proved out of the first and second council of Arles, the council of Laodicea, and the second council of Seville: but upon a closer intuition of the thing, I find they did so only to such, who did not allow of confirmation in their sects, such as the Novatians and the Donatists. "Novatiani pœnitentiam à suo conventu arcent penitus, et iis qui ab ipsis tinguntur, sacrum chrisma non præbent. Quocirca qui ex hac hæresi corpori ecclesiæ conjunguntur, benedicti patres ungi jusserunt:" so Theodoret . For that reason only the Novatians were to be Lib. 3. de Bapt. c. 16.
Lib. 3. Hæret. Fabul.
confirmed upon their conversion, because they had it not before. I find also they did confirm the converted Arians; but the reason is given in the first council of Arles, "quia propriâ lege utuntur," "they had a way of their own:" that is, as the gloss saith upon the canon de Arianis Consecrat. dist. 4.'"their baptism was not in the name of the holy Trinity;" and so their baptism being null, or at least suspected, to make all as sure as they could, they confirmed them. The same also is the case of the Bonasiaci in the second council of Arles, though they were (as some of the Arians also were) baptized in the name of the most holy Trinity; but it was a suspected matter, and therefore they confirmed them but to such persons who had been rightly baptized and confirmed, they never did repeat it. Пveúμatos åyíov σφραγίδα δῴη ἀνεξάλειπτον, “ The gift of the Spirit is an indelible seal," saith St. Cyril;-avεπIXEίρηrov St. Basil calls it, it is "inviolable." They who did rebaptize, did also reconfirm. But as it was an error in St. Cyprian and the Africans to do the first, so was the second also, in case they had done it; for I find no mention expressly that they did the latter but upon the forementioned accounts, and either upon supposition of the invalidity of their first pretended baptism, or their not using at all of confirmation in their heretical conventicles. But the repetition of confirmation is expressly forbidden by the council of Tarracon, cap. 6. and by Pope Gregory the Second: and "sanctum chrisma collatum et altaris honor propter consecrationem (quæ per episcopos tantùm exercenda et conferenda sunt) evelli non queunt," said the fathers in a council at Toledo ; 'confirmation and holy orders, which are to be given by bishops alone, can never be annulled, and therefore they can never be repeated.' And this relies upon those severe words of St. Paul: having spoken of" the foundation of the doctrine of baptisms and laying on of hands," he says, "if they fall away, they can never be renewed" that is, the ministry of baptism and confirmation can never be repeated. To Christians that sin after these ministrations, there is only left a vipare, 'expergiscimini,' that they arise from slumber,' and stir up the graces
h Cyril. Hieros. in Procatech.
Apud Gratian. de Consecrat. dist. 5. cap. Dictum est, et cap. de Homine. k Concil. Toletan. 8. can. 7. 1 Heb. vi. 6.
of the Holy Ghost. Every man ought to be careful that he "do not grieve the Holy Spirit ;" but if he does, yet let him not 'quench' him, for that is a desperate case. Φύλαττε τον puλakrikóν The Holy Spirit is the great conservative of the new life; only "keep the keeper;" take care that the Spirit of God do not depart from you: for the great ministry of the Spirit is but once; for as baptism is, so is confirmation.
I end this discourse with a plain exhortation out of St. Ambrose, upon those words of St. Paul, He that confirmeth us with you in Christ, is God;' "Repete quia accepisti signaculum spirituale, spiritum sapientiæ et intellectûs, spiritum consilii atque virtutis, spiritum cognitionis atque pietatis, spiritum sancti timoris, et serva quod accepisti. Signavit te Deus Pater, confirmavit te Christus Dominus:" "Remember that thou (who hast been confirmed) hast received the spiritual signature; the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and godliness, the spirit of holy fear: keep what thou hast received. The Father hath sealed thee, and Christ thy Lord hath confirmed thee, by his divine Spirit;"-and he will never depart from thee, εἰ μὴ δι' ἔργων φαυλότητα ἡμεῖς ἑαυτοὺς ταύ της ἀποξενώσωμεν, unless by evil works we estrange him from us. The same advice is given by Prudentius,
Caltor Dei, memento
Te fontis et lavacri
Rorem subisse sanctum,
Remember how great things ye have received, and what God hath done for you: ye are of his flock and his militia; ye are now to fight his battles, and therefore to put on his armour, and to implore his auxiliaries, and to make use of his strengths, and always to be on his side against all his and all our enemies. But he that desires grace, must not despise to make use of all the instruments of grace. For though God communicates his invisible Spirit to you, yet that he is pleased to do it by visible instruments, is more than he needs, but not more than we do need. And therefore since God descends to our infirmities, let us carefully and lovingly address ourselves to his ordinances: that as we receive remission of sins by the washing of water, and the body and
Zonar. in Can. Laodicen, 48.
blood of Christ by the ministry of consecrated symbols; so we may receive the Holy Ghost sub ducibus Christianæ militiæ,' by the prayer and imposition of the bishop's hands, whom our Lord Jesus hath separated to this ministry. "For if you corroborate yourself by baptism" (they are the words of St. Gregory Nazianzen °), "and then take heed for the future, by the most excellent and firmest aids consigning your mind and body with the unction from above" (viz. in the holy rite of confirmation), "with the Holy Ghost, as the children of Israel did with the aspersion on the door-posts in the night of the death of the first-born of Egypt, what (evil) shall happen to you?" (meaning, that no evil can invade you): "And what aid shall you get? If you sit down, you shall be without fear; and if you rest, your sleep shall be sweet unto you.”—But if when ye have received the Holy Spirit, you live not according to his divine principles, you will lose him again; that is, you will lose all the blessing, though the impression does still remain, till ye turn quite apostates: "in pessimis hominibus manebit, licèt ad judicium" (saith St. Austin P); "the Holy Ghost will remain," either as a testimony of your unthankfulness unto condemnation; or else as a seal of grace, and an earnest of your inheritance of eternal glory.
• Orat. in Sanctum Lavacrum.
P Lib. 2. contra Lit. Petil. c. 104.