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the Apostles' hands, the Holy Ghost was given.”—Acts, viii. 18. Sanctifying grace, they observe, is not the subject of bodily vision, nor was it an object, which so wicked a man as Simon would desire to possess, much less would he have parted with his money to purchase it. As the intention of this rite was to communicate miraculous gifts, which were peculiar to the first ages of Christianity, all of which are allowed to be no longer blessings that can be communicated, they argue, that the obligation of the rite has ceased, with the powers which it had been in use to communicate. They also argue that the vows which are taken for infants, on the sacrament of Baptism, the infants when come to the years of discernment, are bound to ratify in the other sacrament of the New Testament, by the participation of which they professedly seal their baptismal engagements, personally devoting themselves to the Saviour. And further, they argue that every young person, who is capable with judgment, and pious dispositions of taking his baptismal vows upon himself, is equally capable of doing it in that commemorative ordinance, in which the dying love of his Saviour, the most powerful and constraining obligation to obedience, is celebrated.
The advocates for the Liturgy observe, "That the Apostles, having received the Spirit, immediately knew to what use it was given them; viz. not to be confined to their own persons or College; but to be imparted by them to the whole Church of God. For the Spirit itself was to teach them all things, and to bring all things to their remembrance. And therefore, to be sure, it taught and reminded them, that the gifts and graces which they received by it, were equally necessary to all Christians whatever. Accordingly, as soon as they heard that the Samaritans had been converted and baptized by Philip, they
sent two of their number, Peter and John, to lay their hands on them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: a plain argument, that neither Baptism alone, nor the person that administered it, was able to convey the Holy Ghost: since if either the Holy Ghost were a consequence of Baptism, or if Philip had power to communicate the Divine Spirit by any other ministration, the Apostles would not have come from Jerusalem on purpose to have confirmed them. The same may be argued from a like occurrence to the Disciples at Ephesus: upon whom, after they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Apostle Paul laid his hands, and then the Holy Ghost came on them: Which shows, that the receiving of the Holy Ghost was not the consequence of their being baptized, but of the Apostle's laying on his hands: and that laying on of hands was necessary to perfect and complete the Ephesians, even after they had received the sacrament of Baptism.
"What has been esteemed the clearest evidence, that the Rite of Confirmation was a perpetual Institution of equal use and service in all ages of the Church, is, that passage of St. Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews, where he mentions the Doctrine of laying on of hands, as well as the Doctrine of Baptism, among the fundamentals of religion. Which words have been constantly interpreted by writers of all ages, of that Imposition, or laying on of hands, which was used by the Apostles in confirming the Baptized. Insomuch that this single text of St. Paul is, even in Calvin's opinion, abundantly sufficient to prove Con-firmation to be of Apostolical Institution. And indeed from these very words of the Apostle, it not only appears to be a lasting Ministry (because no part of the Christian Doctrine can be changed or abolished); but hence also.
we may infer it to be of Divine Institution: since if it were not, St. Paul would seem guilty of teaching for doctrinės the commandments of men: which not being to be supposed, it must follow that this doctrine of Imposition of Hands is Holy and Divine.
"It is true, the Ministration of this Rite at first was frequently attended with miraculous powers. But so also we read were Prayer and Preaching, which yet no one ever thought to be only temporary ordinances. To fancy therefore that the Invocation of the Holy Spirit, with Imposition of Hands, was to cease, when the extraordinary effects of it failed, is too groundless a supposition to be put in the balance against the weight of so sacred and positive an Institution. In the infancy of the Church these visible effects upon those that believed, were necessary to bring over others to the Faith: but when whole nations turned Christians, this occasion ceased; and therefore the Holy Ghost does not now continue to empower us to work them. But still, the ordinary Gifts and Graces, which are useful and necessary to complete à Christian, are nevertheless the fruits and effects of this holy Rite. And these are by much the more valuable benefits. To cast out the devil of lust, or to throw down the pride of Lucifer; to beat down Satan under our feet; or to triumph over our spiritual enemies; to cure a diseased soul, or to keep unharmed from the assaults of a temptation, or the infection of an ill example, is much more advantageous and beneficial to us, than the power of working the greatest miracles.
It is true, by the ministry of the holy Eucharist, the Spirit of ghostly strength is conveyed; and therefore in the times of primitive devotion, this blessed Sacrament was daily administered, that those who would be safe
against their spiritual enemies, might from hence be armed with fresh supplies of the Divine assistance. But still we must remember, that the principal design of the holy Eucharist, is to renew the work of preceding Rites, to repair the breaches that the enemy has made, and to supply fresh forces where the old ones fail. For this reason the Sacrament of the Eucharist is to be often repeated, whereas Baptism and Confirmation are but once administered. But now this shows that Confirmation (in › the regular and ordinary administration of it) is as much required to go before the Eucharist, as Baptism is to precede either that or Confirmation. Upon which account, our Church admits none to the Communion before Confirmation, unless necessity requires it. And indeed it may as well be imagined, that because the Eucharist conveys remission of sins, it may therefore supply the want of Baptism; as that because it conveys ghostly strength, therefore there is no need of Confirmation after it. Or again, the Eucharist itself may as well be omitted, because Prayer has the promise of whatever is asked; as Confirmation be rendered useless or unnecessary, because the Eucharist will supply us with Grace. The Spirit of God comes which way he pleases; but yet if we expect his grace or blessing, we must ask for, and seek it, by those ways and means which he himself has thought fit to appoint.
"But lastly, as Baptism is now for the most part administered to Infants, this holy Rite is afterwards necessary to confirm to them the benefits of that holy Sacrament. For though the charity of the Church accepts of sureties in behalf of infants, which are not in a condition to contract for themselves; yet when they arrive at years of discretion, she expects them to take the covenant upon
themselves, as their own act and deed: which is one of the considerations for which the Church declares Confirmation to be very convenient to be observed, viz. to the end, that children being now come to the years of discretion, and having learned what their Godfathers and Godmothers promised for them in Baptism, they may therefore with their own mouth and consent, openly before the Church, ratify and confirm the same, and also promise that, by the grace of God, they will evermore endeavour themselves faithfully to observe such things, as they by their own confession have assented unto. And indeed they who refuse, in their own persons, to ratify the vow which was made in their name, renounce in effect all the benefits and advantages to which the contract of their sureties had before entitled them."*
In the Church of England, the Lord's Supper is administered on Christmas day, and on some other festivals; it is also administered to the Sick, and to penitent Malefactors; but in the Church of Scotland, and among the English Dissenters, it is never administered but on the Lord's day, and in the assembly of the Church. Though it is certain that Calvin approved of its being given to the Sick, and penitent Malefactors, they who have adopted his sentiments in most other things, are, on this subject, at variance with him.