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then is to be confirmed.

St. Dionysius, commonly called the Areopagite, in his ex-
cellent book of Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, 31 speaks most fully
of the holy rite of confirmation or chrism. Having described
at large the office and manner of baptizing the catechumens,
the trine immersion, the vesting them in white garments, he
adds, " Then they bring them again to the bishop, and he
consigns him" (who had been so baptized) Ssoi^y/xwraru;
/iiflw, " with the most divinely operating unction," and then
gives him the most holy eucharist. And afterward he says, y
" But even to him who is consecrated in the most holy mys-
tery of regeneration, TOV ^ugou rt\tturi7.ri %f/<r/, tne perfective
unction of chrism gives to him the advent of the Holy Spi-
rit." And this rite of confirmation, then called chrism, from
the spiritual unction then effected, and consigned also and
signified by the ceremony of anointing externally, which was
then the ceremony of the Church, he calls it rw hgav r^; 10-
ysvtff!a$ rtXiiuffiv, "the holy consummation of our baptismal
regeneration ;" meaning, that without this, there is some-
thing wanting to the baptized persons.

And this appears fully in that famous censure of Nova-
tus z by Cornelius, bishop of Rome, reported by a Eusebius.
Novatus had been baptized in his bed, being very sick and
like to die: "but when he recovered, he did not receive
those other things, which by the rule of the Church he ought
to have received ; * neque Domini sigillo ab episcopo con-
signatus est, he was not consigned with the Lord's signa-
ture by the hands of the bishop,' he was not confirmed :
' quo non impetrato, quomodo Spiritum Sanctum obtinuisse
putandus est? which having- not obtained, how can he be
supposed to have received the Holy Spirit ?' ' : The same
also is something more fully related by Nicephorus, 5 but
wholly to the same purpose.

Melchiades, c in his epistle to the bishops of Spain, ar-
gues excellently about the necessity and usefulness of the
holy rite of confirmation. " What does the mystery of con-
firmation profit me after the mystery of baptism ? Certainly

* De Eccles. Hier. c. ii. 1 Et c. iv.

1 A.D. 260. Lib. vi. Hist. Eccles. c. 43.

b Lib. vi. c. 3. A.D. 320.


we did not receive all in our baptism, it, after that lavatory,
we want something of another kind. Let your charity attend.
As the military order requires that when the general enters
a soldier into his list, he does not only mark him, but fur-
nishes him with arms for the battle ; so in him that is baptized,
this blessing is his ammunition. You have given (Christ) a
soldier, give him also weapons. And what will it profit him,
if a father gives a great estate to his son, if he does not take
care to provide a tutor for him? Therefore the Holy Spirit
is the guardian of our regeneration in Christ, he is the com-
forter, and he is the defender."

I have already d alleged the plain testimonies of Optatus
and St. Cyril in the first section. I add to them the words
of St. Gregory Nazianzen 6 speaking of confirmation or the
Christian signature : " Hoc et viventi tibi maximum est tuta-
mentum ; ovis enim quse sigillo insignita est, non facile pa-
tet insidiis ; quse vero signata non est, facile a furibus capi-
tur ; This signature is your greatest guard while you live ;
For a sheep, when it is marked with the master's sign, is not
so soon stolen by thieves ; but easily, if she be not." The
same manner of speaking is also used by St. Basil, who
was himself, together with Eubulus, confirmed by Bishop
Maximinus : " Quomodo curam geret tanquam ad se pertinen-
tis angelus ? Quomodo eripiat ex hostibus, si non agnoverit
signaculum ? How shall the angel know what sheep be-
long unto his charge ? How shall he snatch them from the
enemy, if he does not see their mark and signature ?" Theo-
doret* also, and Theophylact, speak the like words : and, so
far as I can perceive, these and the like sayings are most
made use of by the schoolmen to be their warranty for an
indelible character imprinted in confirmation. I do not in-
terest myself in the question, but only recite the doctrine of
these fathers in behalf of the practice and usefulness of

I shall not need to transcribe hither those clear testimo-
nies, which are cited from the epistles of St. Clement, Urban
the First, Fabianus, and Cornelius ; the sum of them is in
those plainest words of Urban the First : " Omnes fideles
per maims impositionem episcoporum, Spiritum Sanctum

d A.D. 370. Adhort. ad S. Lavacrum.

1 In c. i. ad Epbes.


post baptismum accipere debent ; All faithful people ought
to receive the Holy Spirit by imposition of the bishop's
hands after baptism." Much more to the same purpose is
to be read, collected by Gratian, "de Consecrat. dist 4.
Presbyt. et de Consecrat. dist. 5. Omnes Fideles, et ibid.
Spiritus Sanctus."

St. Jerome 5 brings in a Luciferian asking, " Why he that
is baptized in the Church, does not receive the Holy Ghost,
but by imposition of the bishop's hands ?' The answer is,
" Hanc observationem ex Scripturae auctoritate ad sacer-
dotii honorem descendere ; This observation for the ho-
nour of the priesthood did descend from, the authority of
the Scriptures;" adding withal, "it was for the prevention
of schisms, and that the safety of the Church did depend
upon it. ' Exigis ubi scriptum est? If you ask where it
is written,' it is answered, ' In Actis Apostolorum, It is
written in the Acts of the Apostles.' But if there were no au-
thority of Scripture for it, ' totius orbis in hanc partem con-
sensus instar praecepti obtineret, the consent of the whole
Christian world in this article ought to prevail as a com-
mandment.'" But here is a twofold cord, Scripture and
universal tradition ; or rather Scripture expounded by a
universal traditive interpretation. The same observation is
made from Scripture by St. Chrysostom : h the words are
very like those now recited from St. Jerome's Dialogue, and
therefore need not to be repeated.

St. Ambrose' calls confirmation " spirituale signaculum
quod post fontem superest, ut perfectio fiat, a spiritual
seal remaining after baptism, that perfection be had." CEcu-
menius calls it rf-Xs/oVjjra, 'perfection.' " Lavacro peccata
purgantur, chrismate Spiritus Sanctus superfunditur ; utra-
que vero ista manu et ore antistitis impetramus," said Paci-
anus, k bishop of Barcinona : "In baptism our sins are
cleansed, in confirmation the Holy Spirit is poured upon
us ; and both these we obtain by the hands and mouth of the
bishop." And again: " Vestrae plebi unde Spiritus, quam
non consignat unctus sacerdos?" l The same with that of
Cornelius in the case of Novatus before cited.

e Dial. adv. Lucifer. h Homil. xviii. in Act,

i Lib. iii. de Sacram. c. 2. * In Heb. vi.

1 Lib. iii. cont. Novat.


I shall add no more, lest I overset the article, and make it
suspicious by too laborious a defence : only after these nu-
merous testimonies of the fathers, I think it may be useful
to represent, that this holy rite of confirmation hath been
decreed by many councils.

The Council 111 of Eliberis, celebrated in the time of Pope
Sylvester the First, decreed, that whosoever is baptized in
his sickness, if he recover, "ad episcopum eum perducat,
ut per manus impositionem perfici possit ; let him be
brought to the bishop, that he may be perfected by the im-
position of hands." To the same purpose is the seventy-
seventh canon : " Episcopus eos per benedictionem perficere
debebit ; The bishop must perfect those, whom the minister
baptized by his benediction."

The Council of Laodicea decreed, Zn d<? rov;
xaru, 7-0 (3d<zrifffJ!,a, ^oha^ai %g!fffj,a,ri ewjouviw, xcti
rqg ftaffiXtlas row XP/OTOU' " All that are baptized, must be
anointed with the celestial unction, and (so) be partakers
of the kingdom of Christ." All that are so, that is, are con-
firmed ; for this celestial unction is done by holy prayers and
the invocation of the Holy Spirit : so Zonaras upon this canon :
all such who have this unction shall reign with Christ, un-
less by their wickedness they preclude their own possessions.
This canon was put into the code of the catholic Church, and
makes the one hundred and fifty-second canon.

The Council of Orleans affirms expressly, that he who is
baptized, cannot be a Christian (meaning according to the
usual style of the Church, a full and perfect Christian), " nisi
confirmatione episcopali merit chrismatus ; unless he have
the unction of episcopal confirmation."

But when the Church had long disputed concerning the
rebaptizing of heretics, and made canons for and against it,
according as the heresies were, and all agreed that if the first
baptism' had been once good, it could never be repeated ;
yet they thought it fit that such persons should be confirmed
by the bishop, all supposing confirmation to be the perfec-
tion and consummation of the less perfect baptism. Thus
the first Council of Aries P decreed concerning; the Arians,


that if they had been baptized in the name of the Father,

Can. 38. n Can. eod.

Habeturapud Consecrat. dist. 5, cap. Jejun. PCap. viii.


Son, and Holy Ghost, they should not be rebaptized.
" Manus tantum eis imponatur, ut accipiant Spiritum Sanc-
tum ;" that is, " Let them be confirmed, let there be imposi-
tion of hands, that they may receive the Holy Ghost." The
same is decreed by the second Council of Aries q in the case
of the Bonasiaci. But I also find it in a greater record, in
the general Council 1 " of Constantinople ; where heretics
are commanded upon their conversion to be received,
"secundum constitutum officium;" there was 'an office
appointed' for it ; and it is in the Greek Euchologion, ' sigil-
latos, primo scilicet unctos ungueuto chrismatis,' &c., " et sig-
nantes eos dicimus, sigillum doni Spiritus Sancti." It is the
form of confirmation used to this da} 7 in the Greek Church.
So many fathers testifying the practice of the Church,
and teaching this doctrine, and so many more fathers as
were assembled in six councils, all giving witness to this
holy rite, and that in pursuance also of Scripture, are too
great a cloud of witnesses to be despised by any man that
calls himself a Christian.


The Bishops were always and the only Ministers of

SAINT CHRYSOSTOM* asking the reason why the Samari-
tans, who were baptized by Philip, could not from him and by
his ministry receive the Holy Ghost, answers, ' Perhaps this
was done for the honour of the apostles,' to distinguish the
supereminent dignity which they bore in the Church from
all inferior ministrations : but this answer not satisfying, he
adds, " Hoc donum non habebat, erat enim ex septem illis,
id quod magis videtur dicendum. Unde, mea sententia, hie
Philippus unus ex septem erat, secundus a Stephano ; ideo
et baptizans Spiritum Sanctum non dabat, neque eniin facul-
tatem habebat, hoc enim donum solorum apostolorum erat;
-This gift they had not, who baptized the Samaritans, which
thing is rather to be said than the other : for Philip was one

Can. 17.


of the seven, and in my opinion next to St. Stephen ; there-
fore though he baptized, yet he gave not the Holy Ghost;
for he had no power so to do, for this gift was proper only
to the apostles." " Nam virtutem quidem acceperant (dia-
coni) faciendi signa, non autem dandi aliis Spiritual Sanctum ;
igitur hoc erat in apostolis singulare, unde et praecipuos,
et non alios, videmus hoc facere ; The ministers that
baptized had a power of doing signs and working miracles,
but not of giving the Holy Spirit ; therefore this gift was
peculiar to the apostles, whence it comes to pass that we see
the b chiefs in the Church, and no other, to do this."

St. Dionysius says, c xpia row a^n^ug sffrai, "There
is need of a bishop to confirm the baptized ;" ai/nj ya.o jj> jj
f%a/a rfwwj&/a, "for this was the ancient custom of the
Church :" and ' this was wont to be done by the bishops, for
conservation of unity in the Church of Christ,' said St. Am-
brose ; d "a solis episcopis, by bishops only," said St.
Austin ; for " the bishops succeeded in the place and ordi-
nary office of the apostles," said St. Jerome. And therefore
in his dialogue against the Luciferians, it is said " that this
observation for the honour of the priesthood did descend, that
the bishops only might by imposition of hands confer the
Holy Ghost ; that it comes from Scripture, that it is written
in the Acts of the Apostles, that it is done for the prevention
of schisms ; that the safety of the Church depends upon it."
But the words of Pope Innocentius I. in his first epistle
and third chapter, and published in the first tome of the
councils, are very full to this particular. " De consignandis
infantibus, manifestum est non ab alio quam ab episcopo
fieri licere : nam presbyteri, licet sint sacerdotes, pontifica-
tus tamen apicem non habent : hsec autem pontificibus solis
deberi, ut vel consignent, vel Paracletum Spiritum tradant,
non solum consuetude ecclesiastica demonstrat, verum et ilia
lectio Actuurn. Apostolorum, quee asserit Petrum et Johan-
nem esse directos, qui jam baptizatis traderent Spiritum
Sanctum; Concerning confirmation of infants, it is mani-
fest, it is not lawful to be done by any other than by the
bishop ; for although the presbyters be priests, yet they have
not the summity of episcopacy : but that these things are
only due to bishops, is not only demonstrated by the custom

b Touf nifufaicvi. e Cap. v. Eccles. Hier. * In Heb. vi. q. 44, in N. T.


of the Church, but by that of the Acts of the Apostles, where
Peter and John were sent to minister the Holy Ghost to
them that were baptized." Optatus 6 proves Macarius to be
no bishop, because he was not conversant in the episcopal
office, and imposed hands on none that were baptized. " Hoc
unum a majoribus fit, id est, a summis pontificibus, quod a
minoribus perfici non potest," said P. Melchiades ; f " This
(of confirmation) is only done by the greater ministers, that
is, by the bishops, and cannot be done by the lesser." This
was the constant practice and doctrine of the Primitive
Church, and derived from the practice and tradition of the
apostles, 5 and recorded in their Acts written by St. Luke.
For this is our great rule in this case, what they did in rituals
and consigned to posterity is our example and our war-
ranty : we see it done thus, and by these men, and by no
others, and no otherwise, and we have no other authority,
and we have no reason to go another way. The uvdgsg
in St. Luke, the xowtpafoi in St. Chrysostom, the
in Philo, and the crffsojS-jraroj, ' the chief governor '
in ecclesiasticals, his office is ra w yvugiftct, lv ro?$ f3i'j3\ois
avadiddaxtiv, "to teach such things as are not set down in
books;" their practice is a sermon, their example in these
things must be our rule, or else we must walk irregularly,
and have no rule but chance and humour, empire and
usurpation ; and therefore much rather, when it is recorded
in holy writ, must this observation be esteemed sacred and

But how if a bishop be not to be had, or not ready? St.
Ambrose* 1 is pretended to have answered, " Apud ^Egyptutn
presbyteri consignant, si prsesens non sit episcopus; A
presbyter may consign, if the bishop be not present : " and
Amalarius' affirms, " Sylvestrum Papam, praevidentem quan-
tum periculosum iter arriperet qui sine confirmatione maneret,
quantum potuit subvenisse, et propter absentiam epi-
scoporum, necessitate addidisse ut a presbytero ungeretur ;
That Pope Sylvester, foreseeing how dangerous a journey

e Cont. Parmen. lib. vii. f Epist. ad Episc. Hispan.

Yoluit Deus dona ilia admiranda non contingere baptizatis nisi per mantis
apostolorum, ut auctoritatem testibus suis conciliaret quam maximam ; quod
ipsum simul ad retinendam ecclesia; unitatem pertinebat. Grotius. Videtur
ergo fuisse peculiars apostolorum munus dare Spiritum Sanctum. Isidor.
Clarius in viii. Actuum Apostolorum.

h In Epb. iv. ' De Offic. Eccles. c. xxvii.


he takes who abides without confirmation, brought remedy
as far as he could, and commanded that in the absence of
bishops they should be anointed by the priest : " and there-
fore it is by some supposed that " factum valet, fieri non
debuit ; the thing ought not to be done but in the proper
and appointed way:" but when it is done, it is valid ; just
as in the case of baptism by a layman or woman. Nay,
though some canons say it is ' actio irrita, the act is null ;'
yet for this there is a salvo pretended ; for sometimes an
action is said to be ' irrita ' in law, which yet nevertheless is
of secret and permanent value, and ought not to be done
again. Thus if a priest be promoted by simony, it is said,
" Sacerdos non est, sed inaniter tantum dicitur; He is but
vainly called a priest, for he is no priest. " j So Sixtus II.
said, 'That if a bishop ordain in another's diocess, the ordi-
nation is void;' and in the law it is said, * That if a bishop be
consecrated without his clergy arid the congregation, the
consecration is null : ' and yet these later and fiercer con-
stitutions do not determine concerning the natural event of
things, but of the legal and canonical approbation.

To these things I answer, that St. Ambrose's saying that
' in Egypt, the presbyters consign in the bishops' absence,'
does not prove that they ever did confirm or impose hands
on the baptized for the ministry of the Holy Spirit; because
that very passage being related by St. Austin, 15 the more
general word of ' consign ' is rendered by the plainer and
more particular ' consecrarit, they consecrate;' meaning
the blessed eucharist ; which was not permitted primitively
to a simple priest to do in the bishop's absence without
leave ; only in Egypt it seems they had a general leave,
and the bishop's absence was an interpretative consent.
But besides this, ' consignant ' is best interpreted by the
practice of the Church, of which I shall presently give an
account ; they might, in the absence of the bishop, consign
with oil upon the top of the head, but not in the forehead ;
much less impose hands, or confirm, or minister the Holy
Spirit : for the case was this.

It was very early in the Church, that, to represent the

J 1 Qu. 1, cap. Qui vult. 1, et 2, Epist. 2, de Episc. Ordinante. 1, qu. 2, c.
In multis. Clement, de Elect, cap. In plerisque.
k Qu. V. et N. T. qu. 101.


grace which was ministered in confirmation, the unction
from above, they used oil and balsam ; and so constantly
used this in their confirmations, that from the ceremony it
had the appellation : " sacramentum chrismatis," St. Austin 1
calls it; lv ^voy rtf.z/uffic, so Dionysius. Now because at
the baptism of the adult Christians, and (by imitation of that)
of infants, confirmation and baptism were usually ministered
at the same time ; the unction was not only used to persons
newly baptized, but another unction was added as a ceremony
in baptism itself, and was used immediately before baptism ;
and the oil was put on the top of the head, and three
times was the party signed. So it was then, as we find
in the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. But besides this unction
with oil in baptismal preparations, and pouring oil into
the baptismal water, we find another unction after the bap-
tism was finished. For they bring the baptized person
" again to the bishop (saith St. Dionysius), m who signing the
man with hallowed chrism, gives him the holy eucharist."
This they called y^isiv rsteiuTixfiv, " the perfective or con-
summating unction;" this was that which was used when
the bishop confirmed the baptized person : "for to him
who is initiated by the most holy initiation of the Divine
generation (that is, to him who hath been baptized, saith
Pachiineres, the paraphrast of Dionysius), the perfective
unction of chrism gives the gift of the Holy Ghost." This
is that which the Laodicean n Council calls y^oha^at /ASTO, TO
(Sdxnffpa, " to be anointed after baptism." Both these
unctions were intimated by Theophilus Antiochenus : Tig 8s
av&staKoz slffiXduv &t; rovdi r^v /S/of, jj rig adXriruv, ou yo'urai IXa/'w ,
" Every man that is born into the world, and every man
that is a champion, is anointed with oil:" that to baptism,
this alluding to confirmation.

Now this chrism was frequently ministered immediately
after baptism, in the cities where the bishop was present : but
in villages and little towns where the bishop was not present,
it could not be ; but bishops were forced at their oppor-
tunities to go abroad and perfect what was wanting, as it
was in the example of Peter and John to the Samaritans.
" Non quidern abnuo hanc esse ecclesiaruin consuetudinem,
ut ad eos qui longe in minoribus urbibus per presbyteros et

1 Lib. ii. cont. Liter. Petiliani, c. 104. m Eccles. Hier. c. ii. D Can. 48.


diaconos baptizati sunt, episcopus ad invocationem Sancti
Spiritus manum impositurus excurrat ; It is. the custom of
the Church, that when persons are in lesser cities baptized
by priests and deacons, the bishop uses to travel far, that he
may lay hands on them for the invocation of the Holy
Spirit." But because this could not always be done, and
because many baptized persons died before such an oppor-
tunity could be had ; the Church took up a custom, that the
bishop should consecrate the chrism, and send it to the
villages and little cities distant from the metropolis, and that
the priests should anoint the baptized with it. But still they
kept this part of it sacred and peculiar to the bishop : 1. That
no chrism should be used but what the bishop consecrated ;
2. That the priests should anoint the head of the baptized,
but at no hand the forehead, for that was still reserved for
the bishop to do when he confirmed them. And this is evi-
dent in the Epistle of Pope Innocentius the First, above
quoted. " Nam presbyteris, seu extra episcopum seu prae-
sente episcopo baptizant, chrismate baptizatos ungere licet,
sed quod ab episcopo fuerit consecratum ; non tamen frontem
ex eodem oleo signare, quod solis debetur episcopis, cum
tradunt Spiritum Paracletum." Now this the bishops did,
not only to satisfy the desire of the baptized, but by this
ceremony to excite the ' votum confirmationis,' that they who
could not actually be confirmed, might at least have it ' in
voto in desire,' and in ecclesiastical representation. This,
as some think, was first introduced by Pope Sylvester : and
this is the consignation which the priests of Egypt used in
the absence of the bishop ; and this became afterward the
practice in other churches.

But this was no part of the holy rite of confirmation,
but a ceremony annexed to it ordinarily ; from thence trans-
mitted to baptism, first by imitation, afterward by way of
supply and in defect of the opportunities of confirmation
episcopal. And therefore we find in the first Arausican
Council, 1 * in the time of Leo the First and Theodosius junior,
it was decreed, " that in baptism every one should receive
chrism. : * de eo autem qui in baptismate, quacunque neces-
sitate faciente, chrismatus non fuerit, in confirmatione sa-
cerdos commonebitur ; if the baptized by any intervening

S. Hieron. adv. Lucifer, ante Med. P Cap. i.


accident or necessity was not anointed, the bishop should
be advertised of it in confirmation ;'" meaning, that then it
must be done. For the chrism was but a ceremony annexed,
no part of either rite essential to it ; but yet they thought it
necessary, by reason of some opinions then prevailing in the
Church. But here the rites themselves are clearly distin-
guished ; and this of confirmation was never permitted to
mere presbyters. Innocentius the Third, a great canonist
and of great authority, gives a full evidence in this particu-
lar: "Per frontis chrismationem manus impositio designa-
tur, quia per earn Spiritus Sanctus per augmentum datur et
robur. Unde cum caeteras unctiones simplex sacerdos vel
presbyter valeat exhibere, hanc non nisi suminus sacerdos
vel presbyter valeat exhibere, id est, episcopus conferre ;
By anointing of the forehead the imposition of hands is de-
signed, because by that the Holy Ghost is given for increase

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