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necessity this must be the meaning and the verification of
these words of our blessed Saviour to Nicodemus, which
must mean a double baptism : " Transibimus per aquam et
ignem, antequam veniemus in refrigerium ; We must pass
through water and fire, before we enter into rest ;" that is,
we must first be baptized with water, and then with the Holy
Ghost, who first descended in fire ; that is, the only way to
enter into Christ's kingdom is by these two doors of the
tabernacle, which God hath pitched, and not man, first by
baptism, and then by confirmation ; first by water, and then
by the Spirit.

The Primitive Church had this notion so fully amongst
them, that the author of the Apostolical Constitutions attri-
buted to St. Clement, p who was St. Paul's scholar, affirms,
that a man is made a perfect Christian (meaning ritually and

P S. Clem. Ep. 4. Constit. Apost.


sacramentally, and by all exterior solemnity) by the water of
baptism and confirmation of the bishop : and from these
words of Christ now alleged, derives the use and institution
of the rite of confirmation. The same sense of these words
is given to us by St. Cyprian, q who, intending to prove the
insufficiency of one without the other, says, "Tune enim
plene sanctificari et esse Dei filii possunt, si Sacramento
utroque nascantur, cum scriptum sit, ' Nisi quis natus fuerit
ex aqua et Spiritu, non potest intrare in regnum Dei;' Then
they may be fully sanctified, and become the sons of God, if
they be born with both the sacraments, or rites ; for it is
written, ' Unless a man be born of water and the Spirit, he
cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' ' The same also is
the commentary of Eusebius Emissenus; r and St. Austin 8
tells, that although some understand these words only of bap-
tism, and others of the Spirit only, viz. in confirmation ; yet
others (and certainly much better) understand " utrumque
sacramentum, both the mysteries," of confirmation as well
as baptism. Amalarius Fortunatus* brings this very text to
reprove them that neglect the episcopal imposition of hands:
" Concerning them who by negligence lose the bishop's pre-
sence, and receive not the imposition of his hands, it is to be
considered, lest injustice they be condemned, in which they
exercise justice negligently, because they ought to make
haste to the imposition of hands; because Christ said, ' Un-
less a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot
enter into the kingdom of God :' and as he said this, so also
he said, ' Unless your righteousness exceed the righteous-
ness of the scribes and pharisees, ye shall not enter into
the kingdom of heaven.' '

To this I foresee two objections may be made. 1 . That
Christ did not institute confirmation in this place, because
confirmation being for the gift of the Holy Ghost, who was
to come upon none of the apostles till Jesus was glorified,
these words seem too early for the consigning an effect that
was to be so long after, and a rite that could not be practised
till many intermedial events should happen. So said the
evangelist ; u " the Holy Ghost was come upon none of them,
because Jesus was not yet glorified ;" intimating that this

' Ad Stephanum. r Homil. in Dominic, prim. post. Ascens.

Epist. 108, ad Seleucianum. l Lib. c. 27. John, vii. 39.



great effect was to be in after-time ; and it is not likely that
the ceremony should be ordained before the effect itself was
ordered and provided for : that the solemnity should be
appointed before provisions were made for the mystery ; and
that the outward, which was wholly for the inward, should
be instituted, before the inward and principal had its abode
amongst us .

To this I answer, 1. That it is no unusual thing; for
Christ gave the sacrament of his body, before his body was
given ; the memorial of his death was instituted before his
death. 2. Confirmation might here as well be instituted as
baptism ; and by the same reason that the Church from these
words concludes the necessity of one, she may also infer the
designation of the other ; for the effect of baptism was at
that time no more produced than that of confirmation. Christ
had not yet purchased to himself a church, he had not
wi ought remission of sins to all that believe on him; the
death of Christ was not yet past, into which death the
Christian Church was to be baptized. 3. These words are so
an institution of confirmation, as the sixtli chapter of St.
John is of the blessed eucharist : it was ' designativa,' not
* ordinativa,' it was in design, not in present command ; here
it was preached, but not reducible to practice till its proper
season. 4. It was like the words of Christ to St. Peter ;
" When thou art converted, confirm thy brethren." Here
the command was given, but that confirmation of his brethren
was to be performed in a time relative to a succeeding acci-
dent. 5. It is certain that long before the event, and grace
was given, Christ did speak of the Spirit of confirmation,
that Spirit which was to descend in Pentecost, which all they
were to receive who should believe on him, which whosoever
did receive, " out of his belly should flow rivers of living wa-
ters," as is to be read in that place of St. John" now quoted.
6. This predesignation of the Holy Spirit of confirmation
was presently followed by some little antepast and ' donari-
ola,' or ' little givings' of the Spirit ; for our blessed Saviour
gave the Holy Ghost three several times. First, apv&ous, ' ob-
scurely,' and by intimation and secret virtue, then when he
sent them to heal the sick, and anoint them with oil in the
name of the Lord. Secondly, exrvxoregus, ' more expressly '

* Chap. vii. 38.


and signally after the resurrection, when he took his leave
of them, and said, " Receive ye the Holy Ghost:" and this
was to give them a power of ministering remission of sins,
and therefore related to baptism and the ministries of repent-
ance. But, thirdly, he gave it reXe/orsgw;, ' more perfectly,'
and this was the Spirit of confirmation ; for he was not at
all until now, OV-TTU yao %v HMV/UO, dytov, says the text: " the
Holy Ghost was not yet:" so almost all the Greek copies,
printed and manuscript ; and so St. Chrysostom, Athanasius,
Cyril, Ammonius in the Catena of the Greeks, Leontius,
Theophylact, Euthymius, and all the Greek fathers, read it;
so St. Jerome y and St. Austin 2 among the Latins, and some
Latin translations, read it. Our translations read it, " the
Holy Ghost was not yet given," was not sv alroTg, " in them,"
as some few Greek copies read it : but the meaning is alike,
confirmation was not yet actual, the Holy Spirit, viz. of con-
firmation, was not yet come upon the Church : but it follows
not but he was long before promised, designed and appointed,
spoken of and declared. The first of these collations had
the ceremony of chrism or anointing joined with it, which
the Church in process of time transferred into her use and
ministry : yet it is the last only that Christ passed into an
ordinance for ever ; it is this only which is the sacramental
consummation of our regeneration in Christ ; for in this the
Holy Spirit is not only svigysiq Kagbv, ' present by his power,'
but present oucvw^wc, us av S'JKOI TI$ tuyyatfutk rt xai #oA/-
rsuoptvov, as St. Gregory Nazianzen expresses it, to dwell with
us, to converse with us, and to abide for ever ; ou s&x, fi ' S< P
fif^ag wXovaius' so St. Paul describes this Spirit of confirma-
tion, the Spirit, " which he hath poured forth upon us richly
or plentifully," that is, in great measures, and to the full
consummation of the first mysteries of our regeneration.
Now because Christ is the great fountain of this blessing to
us, and he it was who sent his Father's Spirit upon the
Church, himself best knew his own intentions, and the great
blessings he intended to communicate to his Church ; and
therefore it was most agreeable that from his sermons we
should learn his purposes, and his blessing, and our duty.
Here Christ declared ' rem sacramenti,' the spiritual grace,
which he would afterward impart to his Church by exterior

i Qu. 9. ad Heditiam. In Joan, tract. 22.


ministry, in this as in all other graces, mysteries, and rituals
evangelical : " Nisi quis, ' unless a man ' be born both of
water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of

But the next objection is yet more material. 2. For if
this be the meaning of our blessed Saviour, then confirma-
tion is as necessary as baptism, and without it ordinarily no
man can be saved. The solution of this will answer a case
of conscience, concerning the necessity of confirmation ; and
in what degree of duty and diligence we are bound to take
care that we receive this holy rite. I answer, therefore, that
* entering into the kingdom of God,' is being admitted into
the Christian Church and warfare, to become sons of God,
and soldiers of Jesus Christ. And though this be the out-
ward door, and the first entrance into life, and consequently
the king's highway, and the ordinary means of salvation ;
yet we are to distinguish the external ceremony from the in-
ternal mystery : the 'Nisi quis' is for this, not for that ; and
yet that also is the ordinary way. ' Unless a man be bap-
tized,' that is, unless he be indeed regenerate, he cannot be
saved: and yet baptism, or the outward washing, is the so-
lemnity and ceremony of its ordinary ministration ; and he
that neglects this, when it may be had, is not indeed rege-
nerate ; he is not renewed in the spirit of his mind, because
he neglects God's way, and therefore can as little be saved
as he who, having received the external sacrament, puts a bar
to the intromission of the inward grace. Both cannot al-
ways be had ; but when they can, although they are not
equally valuable in the nature of the thing, yet they are made
equally necessary by the Divine commandment. And in this
there is a great, but general mistake, in the doctrine of the
schools, disputing concerning what sacraments are necessary,
' necessitate inedii,' that is, as ' necessary means,' and what
are necessary by the necessity of precept, or Divine com-
mandment. For although a less reason will excuse from the
actual susception of some than of others, and a less diligence
for the obtaining of one will serve than in obtaining of an-
other, and a supply in one is easier obtained than in another ;
yet no sacrament hath in it any other necessity than what is
made merely by the Divine commandment. But the grace
of every sacrament, or rite, or mystery, which is of Divine


ordinance, is necessary indispensably, so as without it no man
can be saved. And this difference is highly remarkable in
the Avords of Christ recorded by St. Mark ; 8 " He that believ-
eth and is baptized, shall be saved : but he that believeth
not, shall be damned." Baptism itself, as to the external part,
is not necessary, ' necessitate medii,' or indispensably ; but
baptismal faith for the remission of sins in persons capable,
that indeed is necessary : for Christ does not say that the
want of baptism damns as the want of faith does ; and yet
both baptism and faith are the ordinary way of salvation,
and both necessary ; baptism because it is so by the Divine
commandment, and faith as a necessary means of salvation,
in the very economy and dispensation of the Gospel. Thus
it is also in the other sacrament ; "'Unless we eat the flesh of
the Son of man, and drink his blood, we have no life in us:" h
and yet God forbid that every man that is not communicated
should die eternally. But it means plainly, that without re-
ceiving Christ, as he is by God's intention intended we should
receive him in the communion, we have no life in us. Plainly
thus, without the internal grace we cannot live ; and the ex-
ternal ministry is the usual and appointed means of convey-
ing to us the internal : and therefore, although without the
external it is possible lo be saved, when it is impossible
to be had ; yet with the wilful neglect of it we cannot. Thus
therefore we are to understand the words of Christ declaring
the necessity of both these ceremonies: they are both neces-
sary, because they are the means of spiritual advantages and
graces, and both minister to the proper ends of their appoint-
ment, and both derive from a Divine original : but the ritual
or ceremonial part in rare emergencies is dispensable ; but
the grace is indispensable. Without the grace of baptism
we shall die in our sins ; and without the grace or internal
part of confirmation we shall never be able to resist the devil,
but shall be taken captive by him at his will. Now the exter-
nal or ritual part is the means, the season, and opportunity,
of this grace ; and therefore is at no hand to be neglected,
lest we be accounted despisers of the grace, and tempters of
God to ways and provisions extraordinary. For although
when without our fault we receive not the sacramental part,
God can and will supply it to us out of his own stores,

* Cap. xvi. 16. h j ij a) v j. 53.


because no man can perish without his own fault ; and
God can permit to himself what he pleases, as being Lord
of the grace and of the sacrament : yet to us he hath given
a law and a rule ; and that is the way of his Church, in
which all Christians ought to walk. In short, the use of it
is greatly profitable ; the neglect is inexcusable ; but the
contempt is damnable. " Tenentur non negligere, si pateat
opportunitas," said the bishops in a synod at Paris: " If there
be an opportunity, it must not be neglected." " Obligantur
suscipere, aut saltern non contemnere," said the synod at
Sens: " They are bound to receive it, or at least not to despise
it." Now he despises it, that refuses it when he is invited
to it, or when it is offered, or that neglects it without cause.
For ' causelessly' and ' contemptuously' are all one. But
these answers were made by gentle casuists : he only values
the grace that desires it, that longs for it, that makes use
of all the means of grace, that seeks out for the means, that
refuses no labour, that goes after them as the merchant goes
after gain: and therefore the old ' Ordo Romanus' 1 admo-
nishes more strictly ; " Omnino praecavendum esse, ut hoc
sacramentum confirmationis non negligatur, quia tune omne
baptisma legitimum Christianitatis nomine confirmatur;
We must by all means take heed, that the rite of confirm-
ation be not neglected, because, in that, every true baptism
is ratified and confirmed." Which words are also to the
same purpose made use of by Albinus Flaccus. k No man
can tell to what degrees of diligence and labour, to what
sufferings or journeyings, he is obliged for the procuring of
this ministry : there must be ' debita sollicitudo,' a real, pro-
vidential, zealous care, to be where it is to be had, is the duty
of every Christian according to his own circumstances ; but
they who will not receive it unless it be brought to their
doors, may live in such places and in such times, where they
shall be sure to miss it, and pay the price of their neglect of
so great a ministry of salvation. " Turpissima est jactura,
quae per negligentiam fit, He is a fool that loses his good
by carelessness :' M but no man is zealous for his soul, but he
who not only omits no opportunity of doing it advantage
when it is ready for him, but makes, and seeks, and contrives

1 In Offic. Sab. Pasch. post orat. quae dicitur data confirm.
k De Offic. Divin. in Sabb. S. Pasch. ' Seneca.


opportunities. " Si non necessitate, sed incuria et voluntate
remanserit," as St. Clement's expression is ; If a man wants
it by necessity, it may, by the overflowings of the Divine
grace, be supplied ; but not so if negligence or choice cause
the omission.

3. Our way being made plain, we may proceed to other
places of Scripture to prove the Divine original t>f confirm-
ation. It was a plant of our heavenly Father's planting, it
was a branch of the vine, and how it springs from the root
Christ Jesus we have seen ; it is yet more visible as it was
dressed and cultivated by the apostles. Now as soon as the
apostles had received the Holy Spirit, they preached and
baptized, and the inferior ministers did the same; and St.
Philip particularly did so at Samaria, the converts of which
place received all the fruits of baptism; but Christians though
they were, they wanted a ri'ktitnetg, 'something to make them
perfect.' The other part of the narrative I shall set down
in the words of St. Luke : m " Now when the apostles which
were at Jerusalem, heard that Samaria had received the
word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John ; who,
when they were come down, prayed for them that they might
receive the Holy Ghost : for as yet he was fallen upon none
of them, only they were baptized in the name of the Lord
Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they re-
ceived the Holy Ghost." If it had not been necessary to
have added a new solemnity and ministration, it is not to be
supposed the apostles Peter and John would have gone from
Jerusalem to impose hands on the baptized at Samaria. " Id
quod deerat a Petro et Joanne factum est, ut, oratione pro
eis habita et manu imposita, invocaretur et infunderetur
super eos Spiritus Sanctus," said St. Cyprian : u " It was
not necessary that they should be baptized again, only that
which was wanting was performed by Peter and John, that
by prayer and imposition of hands the Holy Ghost should be
invocated and poured upon them." The same also is from
this place affirmed by Pope Innocentius the First, St. Je-
rome/ and many others : and in the Acts of the Apostles
we find another instance of the celebration of this ritual and
mystery, for it is signally expressed of the baptized Christians

m Acts, viii. 14-17. Ad Jubaian.

Epist. i. c. 3. P Adv. Luciferian.


at Ephesus, that St. Paul first baptized them, and then laid
his hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And
these testimonies are the great warranty for this holy rite.
" Quod nunc in confirmandis neophytis manias impositio
tribuit singulis, hoc tune Spiritiis Sancti descensio in creden-
tium populo donavit universis;" said Eucherius Lugdunensis,
in his homily of Pentecost: " The same thing that is done
now in imposition of hands on single persons, is no other
than that which was done upon all believers in the descent
of the Holy Ghost;" it is the same ministry, and all deriving
from the same authority.

Confirmation or imposition of hands for the collation of
the Holy Spirit, we see, was actually practised by the apo-
stles, and that even before and after they preached the Gospel
to the Gentiles ; and therefore Amalarius, who entered not
much into the secret of it, reckons this ritual as derived
from the apostles ' per consuetudinem, by catholic custom;'
which although it is not perfectly spoken as to the whole
avQfvriat, or ' authority' of it, yet he places it in the apostles,
and is a witness of the catholic succeeding custom and prac-
tice of the Church of God. Which thing also Zanchius
observing, though he followed the sentiment of Amalarius,
and seemed to understand no more of it, yet says well ;
" Interim (says he) exempla apostolorum et veteris eccle-
siae vellem pluris aestimari : 1 wish that the example of
the apostles and the Primitive Church were of more value
amongst Christians." It were very well indeed they were
so ; but there is more in it than mere example. These ex-
amples of such solemnities productive of such spiritual effects
are, as St. Cyprian calls L them, " apostolica magisteria,
the apostles are our masters" in them, and have given rules
and precedents for the Church to follow. This is a Christian
law, and ' written, as all Scriptures are, for our instruction.'
But this I shall expressly prove in the next paragraph.

4. We have seen the original from Christ, the practice
and exercise of it in the apostles and the first converts in
Christianity ; that which I shall now remark is, that this is
established and passed into a Christian doctrine. The warranty
for what I say are the words of St. Paul,' 1 where the holy
rite of confirmation, so called from the effect of this minis-
<J Heb. vi. 1, 2.


tration, and expressed by the ritual part of it, " imposition
of hands," is reckoned a fundamental point, SspsXios e<ffi6s<fsu$
yjiieuv " Not laying again the foundation of repentance
from dead works, and of faith towards God, of the doctrine
of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, of resurrection from
the dead, and eternal judgment." Here are six fundamental
points of St. Paul's catechism, which he laid as the founda-
tion or the beginning of the institution of the Christian
Church ; and amongst these imposition of hands is reckoned
as a part of the foundation, and therefore they who deny it
dig up foundations. Now, that this " imposition of hands"
is that which the apostles used in confirming the baptized,
and invocatirig the Holy Ghost upon them, remains to be

For it is true that imposition of hands signifies all
Christian rites except baptism and the Lord's supper ; not
the sacraments, but all the sacramentals of the Church : it
signifies confirmation, ordination, absolution, visitation of
the sick, blessing single persons (as Christ did the children
brought to him), and blessing marriages ; all these were usually
ministered by imposition of hands. Now, the three last are
not pretended to be any part of this foundation; neither rea-
son, authority, nor the nature of the thing, suffers any such
pretension : the question, then, is between the first three.

First, ' Absolution of penitents' cannot be meant here,
not only because we never read that the apostles did use that
ceremony in their absolutions, but because the apostle,
speaking of the foundation in which baptism is, and is reck-
oned one of the principal parts in the foundation, there
needed no absolution but baptismal, for they and we believ-
ing " one baptism for the remission of sins," 1 " this is all the
absolution that can be at first and in the foundation. The
other was " secunda post naufragium tabula,'' it came in after,
when men had made a shipwreck of their good conscience,
and were, as St. Peter says, \Wnv Xafiovrt; ro\> xaQaeiffpou TUV
ta'kai a'jruv apaenuv, " forgetful of the former cleansing and
purification, and washing of their old sins." 3

Secondly, It cannot be meant of ' ordination ; ' and this
is also evident. 1. Because the apostle says he would
thenceforth leave to speak of the foundation, and ' go on to

r Symbol. Nicacn. et Constantinop. i p e t. j. 9.


perfection,' that is, to higher mysteries. Now, in rituals, of
which he speaks, there is none higher than ordination. 2. The
apostle saying he would speak no more of imposition of
hands, goes presently to discourse of the mysteriousness of
the evangelical priesthood, and the honour of that vocation ;
by which it is evident he spake nothing of ordination in the
catechism or narrative of fundamentals. 3. This also appears
from the context, not only because ' laying on of hands' is
immediately set after 'baptism,' but also because in the very
next words of his discourse he does enumerate and apportion
to baptism and confirmation their proper and proportioned
effects : to baptism, illumination, according to the perpetual
style of the Church of God, calling baptism <purigftbv, ' an
enlightening ;' and to confirmation he reckons ' tasting the
heavenly gift,' and ' being made partakers of the Holy
Ghost,' by the thing signified declaring the sign, and by the
mystery the rite. Upon these words St. Chrysostom dis-
coursing, says, " that all these are fundamental articles ;
that is, that we ought to repent from dead works, to be
baptized into the faith of Christ, and be made worthy of the
gift of the Spirit, who is given by imposition of hands, and
we are to be taught the mysteries of the resurrection and
eternal judgment. This catechism (says he) is perfect : so
that if any man have faith in God, and being baptized is
also confirmed, and so tastes the heavenly gift, and partakes
of the Holy Ghost, and by hope of the resurrection tastes of
the good things of the world to come, if he falls away from

Online LibraryJeremy TaylorThe whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 11) → online text (page 24 of 50)