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perfects in another. It is the same Spirit working divers
operations. For he is all this now reckoned, and he is
every thing'else that is the principle of good unto us; he is
the beginning and the progression, the consummation and
perfection, of us all: and yet every work of his is perfect in
its kind, and in order to his own designation ; and from the
beginning to the end is perfection all the way. Justifying and
sanctifying grace is the proper entitative product in all ;
but it hath divers appellatives and connotations in the several
rites : and yet even then also, because of the identity of
the principle, the similitude and general consonance in the
effect, the same appellative is given, and the same effect
imputed to more than one ; and yet none of them can be
omitted, when the great master of the family hath blessed
it, and given it institution. Thus St. Dionysius calls baptism
rfiv hgav T^ Ssoyovias r&.siugiv, ' the perfection of the Divine
birth ;' and yet the baptized person must receive other mys-
teries, which are more signally perfective : v\ ro\J yu-ugou %g/ovs
rtXtiunxj]' confirmation is yet more perfective, and is properly
' the perfection of baptism .'

By baptism we are heirs, and are adopted to the inherit-
ance of sons, admitted to the covenant of repentance, and
engaged to live a good life ; yet this is but the solemnity of
the covenant, which must pass into after-acts by other in-
fluences of the same Divine principle. Until we receive the
Spirit of obsignation or confirmation, we are but babes in
Christ, in the meanest sense, infants that can do nothing,


that cannot speak, that cannot resist any violence, exposed
to every rudeness, and perishing by every temptation.

But, therefore, as God at first appointed us a ministry of
a new birth, so also hath he given to his Church the con-
sequent ministry of a new strength. The Spirit moved a
little upon the waters of baptism, and gave us the princi-
ples of life ; but in confirmation he makes us able to move
ourselves. In the first he is the Spirit of life ; but in this he
is the Spirit of strength and motion. " Baptisma est nativi-
tas, unguentum vero est nobis actionis instar et motus/'said
Cabasilas ; " In baptism we are entitled to the inheritance :
but because we are in our infancy and minority, the father
gives unto his sons a tutor, a guardian, and a teacher in
confirmation," said Rupertus : c that as we are baptized into
the death and resurrection of Christ, so in confirmation we
may be renewed in the inner man, and strengthened in all
our holy vows and purposes, by the Holy Ghost ministered
according to God's ordinance.

The holy right of confirmation is a Divine ordinance, and
it produces Divine effects, and is ministered by Divine
persons, that is, by those whom God hath sanctified and
separated to this ministration. At first, all that were
baptized, were also confirmed : and ever since, all good
people that have understood it, have been very zealous for it ;
and time was in England, even since the first beginnings of
the Reformation, when confirmation had been less carefully
ministered for about six years, when the people had their
first opportunities of it restored, they ran to it in so great
numbers, that churches and churchyards would not hold
them ; insomuch that I have read 1 ' that the Bishop of Chester
was forced to impose hands on the people in the fields, and
was so oppressed with multitudes, that he had almost been
trod to death by the people, and had died with the throng,
if he had not been rescued by the civil power.

But men have too much neglected all the ministries of
grace, and this most especially, and have not given them-
selves to a right understanding of it, and so neglected it yet
more. But because the prejudice, which these parts of the
Christian Church have suffered for want of it, is very great

De Divin. Offic. lib. v. c. \7.

d Vindic. Ecclesiast. Hierarch. per Franc. Hallier.


(as will appear by enumeration of the many and great bless-
ings consequent to it), I am not without hope, that it may be
a service acceptable to God, and a useful ministry to the
souls of my charges, if by instructing them that know not,
and exhorting them that know, I set forward the practice of
this holy rite, and give reasons why the people ought to love
it and to desire it, and how they are to understand and prac-
tise it, and, consequently, with what duteous affections they
are to relate to those persons, whom God hath in so special
and signal manner made to be, for their good and eternal
benefit, the ministers of the Spirit and salvation.

St. Bernard, in the life of St. Malachias, my predecessor
in the see of Down and Connor, reports that it was the care
of that good prelate to renew the rite of confirmation in his
diocess, where it had been long neglected and gone into
desuetude. It being too much our case in Ireland, I find the
same necessity, and am obliged to the same procedure, for
the same reason, and in pursuance of so excellent an exam-
ple : " Hoc enim est evangelizare Christum (said St. Austin), 6
non tantum docere quse sunt dicenda de Christo, sed etiatn
quae observanda ei, qui accedit ad compagem corporis
Christi ; For this is to preach the Gospel, not only to
teach those things which are to be said of Christ, but those
also which are to be observed by every one who desires to
be confederated into the society of the body of Christ,"
which is his Church : that is, not only the doctrines of good
life, but the mysteries of godliness, and the rituals of
religion, which issue from a Divine fountain, are to be
declared by him who would fully preach the Gospel.

In order to which performance I shall declare,

1. The Divine original, warranty, and institution, of the
holy rite of confirmation.

2. That this rite was to be a perpetual and never-ceasing

3. That it was actually continued and practised by all the
succeeding ages of the purest and primitive churches.

4. That this rite was appropriate to the ministry of

5. That prayer and imposition of the bishops' hands did
make the whole ritual ; and though other things were added,

e Cap. ix. de Fide et Operibus.


yet they were not necessary, or any thing of the insti-

6. That many great graces and blessings were consequent
to the worthy reception and due ministration of it.

7. I shall add something of the manner of preparation to
it, and reception of it.


Of the Divine Original, Warranty, and Institution , of the holy
Kite of Confirmation.

IN the Church of Rome, they have determined confirmation
to be a sacrament, ' proprii nominis,' proper and really ; and
yet their doctors have, some of them at least, been ' paulo in-
iquiores, a little unequal and unjust' to their proposition;
insomuch that from themselves we have had the greatest op-
position in this article. Bonacina* and Henriquez allow the
proposition, but make the sacrament to be so unnecessary,
that a little excuse may justify the omission and almost neg-
lect of it. And Loemilius and Daniel a Jesu, and generally
the English Jesuits, have, to serve some ends of their own
family and order, disputed it almost into contempt, that by
representing it as unnecessary, they might do all the minis-
tries ecclesiastical in England without the assistance of bi-
shops their superiors, whom they therefore love not, because
they are so. But the Theological Faculty of Paris have con-
demned their doctrine as temerarious, and savouring of he-
resy ; and in the later schools have approved rather the doc-
trine of Gamachseus, Estius, Kellison, and Bellarmine, who
indeed do follow the doctrine of the most eminent persons in
the ancient school, Richard of Armagh, Scotus, Hugo Ca-
valli, and Gerson, the learned chancellor of Paris ; who fol-
lowing the old Roman order, Amalarius and Albinus, do all
teach confirmation to be of great and pious use, of Divine
original, and to many purposes necessary, according to the
doctrine of Scriptures and the Primitive Church.

Whether confirmation be a sacrament or no, is of no use
to dispute ; and if it be disputed, it can never be proved to

f De Sacram. disp. 3, q. Unit. Puuct. 3, 2, lib. iii. de Sacram.


be so as baptism and the Lord's supper, that is "as generally
necessary to salvation :" but though it be no sacrament, it
cannot follow that it is not of very great use and holiness :
and as a man is never the less tied to repentance, though it
be no sacrament : so neither is he nevertheless obliged to re-
ceive confirmation, though it be (as it ought) acknowledged
to be of a use and nature inferior to the two sacraments of
Divine, direct, and immediate institution. It is certain that
the fathers, in a large, symbolical, and general sense, call it
' a sacrament ;' but mean not the same thing by that word
when they apply it to confirmation, as they do when they
apply it to baptism and the Lord's supper. That it is an ex-
cellent and Divine ordinance to purposes spiritual, that it
comes from God, and ministers in our way to God, that is all
we are concerned to inquire after : and this I shall endeavour
to prove not only against the Jesuits, but against all oppo-
nents of what side soever.

My first argument from Scripture is what I learn from
Optatus and St. Cyril. Optatus writing against the Dona-
tists hath these words : " Christ descended into the water,
not that in him, who is God, was any thing that could be
made cleaner, but that the water was to precede the future
unction, for the initiating, and ordaining, and fulfilling the
mysteries of baptism. He was washed, when he was in the
hands of John ; then followed the order of the mystery, and
the Father finished what the Son did ask, and what the Holy
Ghost declared : the heavens were opened, God the Father
anointed him, the spiritual unction presently descended in.
the likeness of a dove, and sat upon his head, and was spread
all over him, and he was called ' the Christ,' when he was ' the
anointed of the Father.' To whom also, lest imposition of
hands should seem to be wanting, the voice of God was heard
from the cloud, saying, ' This is my Son in whom I am well
pleased, hear ye him.'" That which Optatus says is this ;
that, upon and in Christ's person, baptism, confirmation, and
ordination, were consecrated and first appointed. He was
baptized by St. John ; he was confirmed by the Holy Spirit,
and anointed with spiritual unction in order to that great
work of obedience to his Father's will ; and he was conse-
crated by the voice of God from heaven. In all things Christ
is the head, and the first-fruits : and in these things was the


fountain of the sacraments and spiritual grace, and the great
exemplar of the economy of the Church. For Christ was
' nullius poenitentiae debitor :' baptism of repentance was not
necessary to him, who never sinned ; but so it became him
to fulfil all righteousness, and to be a pattern to us all. But
we have need of these things, though he had not; and in the
same way in which salvation was wrought by him for him-
self and for us all, in the same way he intended 8 we should
walk. He was baptized, because his Father appointed it so ;
we must be baptized, because Christ hath appointed it, and
we have need of it too. He was consecrated to be the great
prophet and the great priest, because ' no man takes on him
this honour, but he that was called of God, as was Aaron :'
and all they who are to minister in his prophetical office
under him, must be consecrated and solemnly set apart for
that ministration, and after his glorious example. He was
anointed with a spiritual unction from above after his bap-
tism ; for 'after Jesus was baptized/ he ascended up from,
the waters, and then the Holy Ghost descended upon him.
It is true, he received the fulness of the Spirit ; but we receive
him by measure; but "of his fulness we all receive, grace
for grace :" that is, all that he received in order to his great
work, all that in kind, one for another, grace for grace, we
are to receive according to our measures and our necassities.
And as all these he received by external ministrations, so
must we : God the Father appointed his way, and he, by his
example first, hath appointed the same to us ; that we also
may follow him in the regeneration, and work out our sal-
vation by the same graces in the like solemnities. For if he
needed them for himself, then we need them much more. If
he did not need them for himself, he needed them for us, and
for our example, that we might follow his steps, who, by re-
ceiving these exterior solemnities and inward graces, became
" the author and finisher of our salvation," and the great
example of his Church. I shall not need to make use of the
fancy of the Murcosians and Colobarsians, who, turning all
mysteries into numbers, reckoned the numeral letters of
c2/<rrga, and made them coincident to the a and u ; but they
intended to say, that Christ, receiving the holy dove after his
baptism, became all in all to us, the beginning and the per-

8 1 John, ii. 8.


fection of our salvation ; here he was confirmed, and received
the u to his a, the consummation to his initiation, the com-
pletion of his baptism and of his headship in the Gospel.
But that which I shall rather add, is what St. Cyril h from
hence argues : " When he truly was baptized in the river of
Jordan, he ascended out of the waters, and the Holy Ghost
substantially descended upon him, like resting upon like.
And to you also in like manner, after ye have descended from
the waters of baptism, the unction is given, which bears the
image or similitude of him by whom Christ was anointed
that as Christ after baptism and the coming of the Holy Spi-
rit upon him, went forth to battle (in the wilderness) and
overcame the adversary ; so ye also, after holy baptism and
the mystical unction (or confirmation), being vested with the
armour of the Holy Spirit, are enabled to stand against the
opposite powers." Here then is the first great ground of our
solemn receiving the Holy Spirit, or the unction from above,
after baptism, which we understand and represent by the
word confirmation, denoting the principal effect of this unc-
tion, spiritual strength. Christ, who is the head of the
Church, entered this way upon his duty and work : and he who
was the first of all the Church, the head and great example,
is the measure of all the rest ; for we can go to heaven no
way but in that way in which he went before us.

There are some, who from this story would infer the de-
scent of the Holy Ghost after Christ's baptism not to signify
that confirmation was to be a distinct rite from baptism,
but a part of it, yet such a part as gives fulness and con-
summation to it. St. Jerome, Chrysostom, Euthymius, and
Theophylact, go not so far, but would have us by this to un-
derstand that the Holy Ghost is given to them that are bap-
tized. But reason and the context are both against it. 1.
Because the Holy Ghost was not given by John's baptism ;
that was reserved to be one of Christ's glories ; who also,
when by his disciples he baptized many, did not give them
the Holy Ghost ; and when he commanded his apostles to
baptize all nations, did not at that time so much as promise
the Holy Ghost : he was promised distinctly, and given by
another ministration. 2. The descent of the Holy Spirit was
a distinct ministry from the baptism : it was not only after

" Catecbes. 3. UnupiccTo; ay'iou ouffitao'/is Iwitfoi'TflO'is &UTUV iyiinfOi


Jesus ascended from the waters of baptism ; but there was
something intervening, and by a new office or ministration :
for there was a prayer joined in the ministry. So St. Luke
observes ; " while Jesus was praying, the heavens were open-
ed," and the Holy Spirit descended : for so Jesus was pleased
to consign the whole office and ritual of confirmation.
Prayer for invocating the Holy Spirit, and giving him by
personal application ; which as the Father did immediately,
so the bishops do by imposition of hands. 3. St. Austin ob-
serves that the apparition of the Holy Spirit like a dove was
the visible or ritual part ; and the voice of God was the word
to make it to be sacramental ; " accedit verbum ad elemen-
tum, et fit sacramentum :"' for so the ministration was not only
performed on Christ, but consigned to the Church by simili-
tude and exemplar institution. I shall only add, that the force
of this argument is established to us by more of the fathers.
St. Hilary upon this place hath these words : k " The Father's
voice was heard, that from those things which were consum-
mated in Christ, we might know, that, after the baptism of
water, the Holy Spirit from the gates of heaven flies unto us;
and that we are to be anointed with the unction of a celes-
tial glory, and be made the sons of God by the adoption of
the voice of God ; the truth by the very effects of things, pre-
figured unto us the similitude of a sacrament." So St. Chry-
sostom: 1 " 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 after-
ward they be not so done (that is, after the same visible
manner), they may be believed by those things which were
already done." But more plain is that of Theophylact : ra
" The Lord had not need of the descent of the Holy Spirit,
but he did all things for our sakes ; and himself is become
the first-fruits of all things, which we afterward were to
receive, that he might become the first-fruits among many
brethren." The consequent is this, which I express in the
words of St. Austin, affirming, " Christi in baptismo colum-
bam unctionern nostram praefigurasse ; The dove in Christ's
baptism did represent and prefigure our unction from above,"
that is, the descent of the Holy Ghost upon us in the rite of

1 Tract, bcxx. in Joan. k S. Hilar. can. 4, in fine.

1 In Matthaeum. m Ibid.


confirmation. Christ was baptized, and so must we. But
after baptism he had a new ministration for the reception of
the Holy Ghost : and because this was done for our sakes,
we also must follow that example. And this being done
immediately before his entrance into the wilderness to be
tempted of the devil, it plainly describes to us the order of
this ministry, and the blessing designed to us : after we are
baptized, we need to be strengthened and confirmed " propter
pugnam spiritualem ;" we are to fight against the flesh, the
world, and the devil, and therefore must receive the ministra-
tion of the Holy Spirit of God : which is the design and proper
work of confirmation. For (they are the words of the excel-
lent author of the imperfect work upon St. Matthew, im-
puted to St. Chrysostom n ) " The baptism of water profits us,
because it washes away the sins we have formerly committed,
if we repent of them. But it does not sanctify the soul, nor
precedes the concupiscences of the heart and our evil
thoughts, nor drives them back, nor represses our carnal
desires. But he therefore who is (only) so baptized, that he
does not also receive the Holy Spirit, is baptized in his body,
and his sins are pardoned ; but in his mind he is yet but a
catechumen : for so it is written, ' He that hath not the Spi-
rit of Christ, is none of his:' and therefore afterward out of
his flesh will germinate worse sins, because he hath not
received the Holy Spirit conserving him (in his baptismal
grace), but the house of his body is empty ; wherefore that
wicked spirit finding it swept with the doctrines of faith, as
with besoms, enters in, and in a sevenfold manner dwells
there." Which words, besides that they well explicate this
mystery, do also declare the necessity of confirmation, or
receiving the Holy Ghost after baptism, in imitation of the
Divine precedent of our blessed Saviour.

2. After the example of Christ, my next argument is from,
his words spoken to Nicodemus in explication of the prime
mysteries evangelical ; " Unless a man be born of water and
of the Holy Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of
God." These words are the great argument, which the
Church uses for the indispensable necessity of baptism ; and
having in them so great effort, and not being rightly under-
stood, they have suffered many convulsions (shall I call

B Homil. ir. John, iii. 5.


them?) or interpretations. Some serve their own hypothe-
sis by saying that water is the symbol, and the Spirit is the
baptismal grace : others, that it is a tv Sia 8voiv, one is only
meant, though here be two signatures. But others conclude,
that water is only necessary, but the Spirit is superadded as
being afterward to supervene and move upon these waters :
and others yet affirm, that by water is only meant a spiritual
ablution, or the effect produced by the Spirit ; and still they
have entangled the words so that they have been made use-
less to the Christian Church, and the meaning too many other
things makes nothing to be understood. But truth is easy,
intelligible, and clear, and without objection, and is plainly

Unless a man be baptized into Christ, and confirmed by
the Spirit of Christ, he cannot enter into the kingdom of
Christ ; that is, he is not perfectly adopted into the Christ-
ian religion, or fitted for the Christian warfare. And if this
plain and natural sense be admitted, the place is not only
easy and intelligible, but consonant to the whole design of
Christ and analogy of the New Testament.

For, first, Our blessed Saviour was catechizing of Nico-
demus, and teaching him the first rudiments of the Gospel,
and like a wise master-builder, first lays the foundation,
"the doctrine of baptism and laying on of hands ;" which
afterward St. Paul put into the Christian catechism, as I
shall shew in the sequel. Now these also are the first prin-
ciples of the Christian religion taught by Christ himself, and
things which at least to the doctors might have been so well
known, that our blessed Saviour upbraids the not knowing
them as a shame to Nicodemus. St. Chrysostom and Theo-
phylact, Euthymius and Rupertus, affirm, that this genera-
tion by water and the Holy Spirit might have been under-
stood by the Old Testament, in which Nicodemus was so
well skilled. Certain it is, the doctrine of baptisms was well
enough known to the Jews, and the ivKpotrrisig rou nvsuparoi;
rou SOL/, " the illumination and irradiations of the Spirit of
God," was not new to them, who believed the visions and
dreams, the daughter of a voice, and the influences from hea-
ven upon the sons of the prophets : and therefore, although
Christ intended to teach him more than what he had distinct
notice of, yet the things themselves had foundation in the


law and the prophets; but although they were high myste-
ries, and scarce discerned by them who either were igno-
rant or incurious of such things ; yet to the Christians they
were the very rudiments of their religion, and are best ex-
pounded by observation of what St. Paul placed in the very
foundation. But,

2. Baptism is the first mystery, that is certain ; but that
this of ' being born of the Spirit' is also the next, is plain in
the very order of the words : and that it does mean a mys-
tery distinct from baptism, will be easily assented to by them
who consider, that although Christ baptized and made many
disciples by the ministry of his apostles, yet they who were
so baptized into Christ's religion, did not receive this baptism
of the Spirit till after Christ's ascension.

3. The baptism of water was not peculiar to John the
Baptist, for it was also of Christ, and ministered by his com-
mand ; it was common to both ; and therefore the baptism
of water is the less principal here. Something distinct from
it is here intended. Now, if we add to these words, that St.
John tells of another baptism which was Christ's peculiar,
" He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire ;"
that these words were literally verified upon the apostles in
Pentecost, and afterward upon all the baptized in spiritual
effect (who, besides the baptism of water, distinctly had the
baptism of the Spirit in confirmation) ; it will follow, that of

Online LibraryJeremy TaylorThe whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 11) → online text (page 23 of 50)