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and strength : therefore when a single priest may give the
other unctions, yet this cannot be done but by the chief
priest, that is, the bishop." And therefore to the question,
What shall be done if a bishop may not be had ? the same
Innocentius answers, " It is safer and without danger wholly
to omit it, than to have it rashly and without authority
ministered by any other ; ' cum umbra qusedam ostendatur
in opere, veritas autem non subeat in effectu ; for it is a
mere shadow without truth or real effect,' when any one else
does it but the person whom God hath appointed to this
ministration." And no approved man of the Church did ever
say to the contrary, till Richard, primate of Armagh, com-
menced a new opinion ; from whence, Thomas of Walden
says, that WicklifFe borrowed his doctrine to trouble the
Church in this particular.

What the doctrine of the ancient Church was in the purest
times, I have already, I hope, sufficiently declared ; what it
was afterward, when the ceremony of chrism was as much
remarked as the right to which it ministered, we find fully
declared by Rabanus Maurus: q " Signatur baptizatus cum
chrismate per sacerdotem in capitis summitate, per pontifi-
cem vero in fronte ; ut priori unctione significetur Spiritus
Sancti super ipsum descensio ad habitationem Deo con-
secrandam ; in secunda quoque, ut ejus Spiritus Sancti

<J De Instit. Cleric, lib. i. c. 30.


septiformis gratia, cum oinni plenitudine sanctitatis et scientise
et virtutis, venire in hominem declaretur : tune enim ipse
Spiritus Sanctus post inundata et beneclicta corpora atque
auimas libere a Patre descendit, ut una cum sua visitation*
sanctificaret et illustraret : et mine in hominem ad hoc venit,
ut signaculum fidei, quod in fronte suscepit, faciat cum donis
ccelestibus repletum, et sua gratia confortatum, intrepide et
audacter coram regibus et potestatibus hujus seculi portare,
ac nomen Christi libera voce prsedicare: In baptism the
baptized was anointed on the top of the head, in confirmation
on the forehead : by that was signified that the Holy Ghost
was preparing a habitation for himself; by this was declared
the descent of the Holy Spirit, with his sevenfold gifts, with
all fulness of knowledge and spiritual understanding." These
things were signified by the appendant ceremony ; but the
rites were ever distinguished, and did not only signify and
declare, but effect these graces, by the ministry of prayer and
imposition of hands.

The ceremony the Church instituted and used as she
pleased, and gave in what circumstances they would choose ;
and new propositions entered, and customs changed, and
deputations were made ; and the bishops, in whom by Christ
was placed the fulness of ecclesiastical power, concredited
to the bishops and deacons so much as their occasions and
necessities permitted : and because in those ages and places
where the external ceremony was regarded, it may be, more
than the inward mystery or the rite of Divine appointment,
they were apt to believe that the chrism or exterior unction,
delegated to the priest's ministry after the episcopal conse-
cration of it, might supply the want of episcopal confirma-
tion ; it canie to pass that new opinions were entertained,
and the regulars, the friars and the Jesuits, who were always
too little friends to the episcopal power, from which they
would fain have been wholly exempted, publicly taught (in
England especially), that chrism ministered by them with
leave from the pope did do all that which ordinarily was to
be done in episcopal confirmation. For, as Tertullian com-
plained in his time, " Quibus fuit propositum aliter docendi,
eos necessitas coegit aliter disponendi instrumenta doctrines ;
They who had purposes of teaching new doctrines, were
constrained otherwise to dispose of the instruments and


rituals appertaining to their doctrines." These men, to serve
ends, destroyed the article, and overthrew the ancient dis-
cipline and unity of the Primitive Church. But they were
justly censured by the theological faculty at Paris, and the
censure well defended hy Hallier, one of the doctors of the
Sorhonne ; whither I refer the reader that is curious in little

But for the main : it was ever called ' confirmatio epi-
scopalis et inipositio manuum episcoporum ;' which our
English word well expresses, and perfectly retains the use ;
we know it by the common name of " bishoping of child-
ren." I shall no further insist upon it, only I shall observe
that there is a vain distinction brought into the schools and
glosses of the canon law, of a minister ordinary and extra-
ordinary ; all allowing that the bishop is appointed the ordi-
nary minister of confirmation, but they would fain innovate,
and pretend, that in some cases others may be ministers
extraordinary. This device is of infinite danger to the destruc-
tion of the whole sacred order of the ministry, and disparks
the enclosures, and lays all in common, aud makes men
supreme controllers of the orders of God, and lies upon a
false principle ; for in true divinity, and by the economy of
the Spirit of God, as there can be no minister of any Divine
ordinance but he that is of Divine appointment, there can be
none but the ordinary minister. I do not say that God is
tied to this way ; he cannot be tied but by himself: and,
therefore, Christ gave a special commission to Ananias to
baptize and to confirm St. Paul, and he gave the Spirit to Cor-
nelius even before he was baptized, and he ordained St. Paul
to be an apostle without the ministry of man. But this I
say, that though God can make ministers extraordinary, yet
man cannot ; and they that go about to do so, usurp the
power of Christ, and snatch from his hand what he never
intended to part with. The apostles admitted others into a
part of their care and of their power; but when they intended
to employ them in any ministry, they gave them so much
of their order as would enable them ; but a person of a lower
order could never be deputed minister of actions appropriate
to the higher : which is the case of confirmation, by the prac-
tice and tradition of the apostles, and by the universal prac-
tice and doctrine of the Primitive Catholic Church, by which



bishops only, the successors of the apostles, were alone the
ministers, of confirmation ; and, therefore, if any man else
usurp it, let them answer it ; they do hurt indeed to them-
selves, but no benefit to others, to whom they minister
shadows instead of substances.


The whole Procedure or Ritual of Confirmation is by Prayer
and Imposition of Hands.

THE heart and the eye are lift up to God to bring blessings
from him, and so is the hand too ; but this also falls upon the
people, and rests there, to apply the descending blessing to
the proper and prepared suscipient. God governed the
people of Israel by the hand of Moses and Aaron :

Et calidae fecere silentia turbag
Maj estate maniis :

and both under Moses and under Christ, whenever the pre-
sident of religion did bless the people, he lifted up his hand
over the congregation ; and when he blessed a single person,
he laid his hand upon him. This was the rite used by Jacob
and the patriarchs, by kings and prophets, by all the emi-
nently religious in the synagogue, and by Christ himself when
he blessed the children which were brought to him, and by
the apostles when they blessed and confirmed the baptized
converts ; and whom else can the Church follow ? The apo-
stles did so to the Christians of Samaria, to them of Ephe-
sus ; and St. Paul describes this whole mystery by the
ritual part of it, calling it " the foundation of the imposition
of hands. " r It is the solemnity of blessing, and the solem-
nity and application of paternal prayer. Tlvt yao gV/r/09jav
%?/; r/va tie suXoyfasi ; said Clement 3 of Alexandria;
" Upon whom shall he lay his hands? whom shall he bless ?"
" Quid enim aliud est impositio manuum, nisi oratio super
homineni ?" said St. Austin ; " The bishop's laying his hands
on the people, what is it but the solemnity of prayer for
them ? " that is, a prayer made by those sacred persons who

r Heb. vi. 2. Pelag. lib. iii. c. 11.


by Christ are appointed to pray for them, and to bless in his
name : and so indeed are all the ministries of the Church,
baptism, consecration of the blessed eucharist, absolution,
ordination, visitation of the sick ; they are all ' in genere ora-
tionis,' they are nothing but solemn and appointed ' prayer'
by an intrusted and a gracious person, specificated by a^pro-
per order to the end oi the blessing then designed. And,
therefore, when St. James commanded that the sick persons
should " send for the elders of the Church," he adds, " and
let them pray over them ; " that is, lay their hands on the
sick, and pray for them ; that is praying over them : it is
'adurnbratio dextrse' (asTertullian calls it), * the right hand
of him that ministers overshadows' the person, for whom the
solemn prayer is to be made.

This is the office of the rulers of the Church ; for they in
the Divine eutaxy are made your superiors : they are indeed
' your servants for Jesus's sake,' but they ' are over you in
the Lord,' and, therefore, are from the Lord appointed to bless
the people ; for " without contradiction," saith the apostle,
"the less is blessed of the greater;" 1 that is, God hath
appointed the superiors in religion to be the great ministers
of prayer, he hath made them the gracious persons, them he
will hear, those he hath commanded to convey your needs
to God, and God's blessings to you, and to ask a blessing is
to desire them to pray for you; them, I say, " whom God
most respecteth for their piety and zeal that way, or else
regardeth for that their place and calling bind them above
others to do this duty, such as are natural and spiritual
fathers." u

It is easy for profane persons to deride these things, as
they do all religion which is not conveyed to them by sense
or natural demonstrations : but the economy of the Spirit
and "the things of God are spiritually discerned." "The
Spirit bloweth where it listeth, and no man knows whence
it comes, and whither it goes ; " and the operations are dis-
cerned by faith, and received by love and by obedience.
"Date mihi Christianum, et intelligit quod dico ; None
but true Christians understand and feel these thingg." But
of this we are sure, that in all the times of Moses's law,
while the synagogue was standing, and in all the days of

Heb. vii. 7. Hooker's Eccl. Pol. lib. y. sect. 66.


Christianity, so long as men loved religion, and walked in
the Spirit, and minded the affairs of their souls, to have the
prayers and the blessing of the fathers of the synagogue and
the fathers of the Church, was esteemed no small part of their
religion, and so they went to heaven. But that which I
intend to say is this, that prayer and imposition of hands were
the whole procedure in the Christian rites : and because this
ministry was most signally performed by this ceremony, and
was also by St. Paul called and noted by the name of the
ceremony, 'imposition of hands ;' this name was retained in
the Christian Church, and this manner of ministering confirm-
ation was all that was in the commandment or institution.

But because, in confirmation, we receive the unction from
above, that is, then we are most signally ' made kings and
priests unto God, to offer up spiritual sacrifices/ and to
enable us to ' seek the kingdom of God and the righteousness
of it,' and that the giving of the Holy Spirit is in Scripture
called ' the unction from above ;' the Church of God in early
ages made use of this allegory, and passed it into an exter-
nal ceremony and representation of the^. mystery, to signify
the inward grace.

Post inscripta oleo fronds signacula, per quae
Unguentum regale datum est, et chrisma perenne.*

" We are consigned on the forehead with oil, and a royal
unction and an eternal chrism are given to us :" so Pruden-
tius y gives testimony of the ministry of confirmation in his
time. ToGYo ^uXa^ars ciffKtXov' <rdvrwv yag ItSn rovro
xa&ug agrtug rjxouffars rov /uaxaptou 'icudvvou ^tyovrog xal
ffegi rovrov %gifffActros pihoffopovvTog, said St. Cyril : " Preserve
this unction pure and spotless : for it teaches you all things,
as you have heard the blessed St. John speaking and
philosophizing many things of this holy chrism." 2 Upon
this account the holy fathers used to bless and consecrate
oil and balsam, that, by an external signature, they might
signify the inward unction effected in confirmation.
rovro olx sffn -4//X&V, ou5' ug av rig ffcoi xoivlv xar' Icr/xXjjcr/v,
, xai Tlvtvfj,aro$ ayiav crayons'/a, rr^g a

v "This chrism is not simple or common
when it is blessed, but the gift of Christ, and the pre-

* Prudent in ^v^af^^iti. i A.D. 400. Catech. Mystag. 3.


sence of his Holy Spirit, as it were effecting the Divinity
itself;" the body is indeed anointed with visible ointment,
but is also sanctified by the holy and quickening Spirit :
so St. Cyril. I find in him and in some late synods" other
pretty significations and allusions made by this ceremony of
chrisms. " Nos autem pro igne visibili, qui die Pentecostes
super apostolos apparuit, oleum sanctum, materiam nempe
ignis ex apostolorum traditione, ad confirmandum adhibe-
mus ; This using of oil was instead of the baptism with
fire, which Christ baptized his apostles with in Pentecost ;
and oil, being the most proper matter of fire, is therefore
used in confirmation."

That this was the ancient ceremony is without doubt, and
that the Church had power to do so hath no question, and
I add, it was not unreasonable : for if ever the Scripture
expresses the mysteriousness of a grace conferred by an
exterior ministry (as this is by imposition of hands), and
represents it besides in the expression and analogy of any
sensible thing, that expression drawn into a ceremony will
not improperly signify the grace, since the Holy Ghost did
choose that for his own expression and representment. In
baptism we are said to be " buried with Christ." The Church
does according to the analogy of that expression, when she
im merges the catechumen in the font ; for then she repre-
sents the same thing which the Holy Ghost would have to be
represented in that sacrament : the Church did but the same
thing when she used chrism in this ministration. This I
speak in justification of that ancient practice: but because
there was no command for it, Xoyog ^/^a^svog ovx. sari, said
St. Basil ; b " concerning chrism there is no written word,"
that is, of the ceremony there is not ; he said it not of the
whole rite of confirmation ; therefore, though to this we are
all bound, yet as to the anointing, the Church is at liberty,
and hath with sufficient authority omitted it in our ministra-

In the liturgy of King Edward the Sixth, the bishops used
the sign of the cross upon the foreheads of them that were
to be confirmed. I do not find it since forbidden, or revoked
by any expression or intimation, saving only that it is omitted

Synodus Bituricensis, apud Bochel. lib. i. decret. Eccl. Gal. lit. 5.
b Lib. de Spir. S. c. 17


in our latter offices ; and therefore it may seem to be per-
mitted to the discretion of the bishops, but yet not to be used
unless where it may be for edification, and where it may
be by the consent of the Church, at least by interpretation ;
concerning which I have nothing else to interpose, but that
neither this, nor any thing else which is not of the nature
and institution of the rite, ought to be done by private
authority, nor ever at all but according to the apostle's rule,
ivffXWovus xai xara. rd^iv, ' whatsoever is decent, and whatso-
ever is according to order,' that is to be done, and nothing
else : for prayer and imposition of hands for the invocating
and giving the Holy Spirit, are all that are in the foundation
and institution.


Many great Graces and Blessings are consequent to the worthy

Reception and due Ministry of Confirmation.


IT is of itself enough, when it is fully understood, what is
said in the Acts of the Apostles at the first ministration of
this rite ; " they received the Holy Ghost ;" that is, accord-
ing to the expression of our blessed Saviour himself to the
apostles, when he commanded them in Jerusalem to expect
the verification of his glorious promise, " they were endued
with virtue from on high ; " that is, with strength to perform
their duty : which although it is not to be understood exclu-
sively to the other rites and ministries of the Church of
Divine appointment, yet it is properly and most signally true,
and as it were in some sense appropriate to this. For, as
Aquinas well discourses, the grace of Christ is not tied to
the sacraments ; but even this spiritual strength and virtue
from on high can be had without confirmation : as without
baptism remission of sins may be had ; and yet we believe
one baptism for the remission of sins ; and one confirmation
for the obtaining this virtue from on high, this strength of the
Spirit. But it is so appropriate to it by promise and pecu-
liarity of ministration, that as, without the desire of baptism,
our sins are not pardoned, so without at least the desire of

c Part. iii. qu. 72, art. 6, ad prim.


confirmation, we cannot receive this virtue from on high,
which is appointed to descend in the ministry of the Spirit.
It is true, the ministry of the holy eucharist is greatly
effective to this purpose ; and therefore in the ages of martyrs
the bishops were careful to give the people the holy com-
munion frequently. " Ut quos tutos esse contra adversa-
rium volebant, munimento Dominicae saturitatis armarent,"
as St. Cyprian d with his colleagues wrote to Cornelius ; "that
those whom they would have to be safe against the contentions
of their adversaries, they should arm them with the guards
and defences of the Lord's fulness." But it is to be remem-
bered that the Lord's supper is for the more perfect Christians,
and it is for the increase of the graces received formerly, and
therefore it is for remission of sins, and yet is no prejudice
to the necessity of baptism, whose proper work is remission
of sins ; and therefore neither does it make confirmation
unnecessary : for it renews the work of both the precedent
rites, and repairs the breaches, and adds new energy, and
proceeds in the same dispensations, and is renewed often,
whereas the others .are but once.

Excellent, therefore, are the words of John Gerson, 6 the
famous chancellor of Paris, to this purpose : " It may be
said that in one way of speaking confirmation is necessary,
and in another it is not. Confirmation is not necessary as
baptism and repentance, for without these salvation cannot
be had. This necessity is absolute; but there is a con-
ditional necessity. Thus, if a man would not become weak,
it is necessary that he eat his meat well. And so confirma-
tion is necessary, that the spiritual life and the health, gotten
in baptism, may be preserved in strength against our spiritual
enemies. For this is given for strength. Hence is that saying
of Hugo de St. Victore ; ' What does it profit that thou art
raised up by baptism, if thou art not able to stand by confirma-
tion ? ' Not that baptism is not of value unto salvation without
confirmation ; but because he who is not confirmed, will easily
fall, and too readily perish." The Spirit of God comes which
way he pleases, but we are tied to use his own economy,
and expect the blessings appointed by his own ministries :
and because to prayer is promised we shall receive whatever
we ask, we may as well omit the receiving the holy eucharist,

d Epist. lir. e In Opusc. Aur. de Confirmat.


pretending that prayer alone will procure the blessings
expected in the other, as well, I say, as omit confirmation,
because we hope to be strengthened and receive virtue from
on high by the use of the supper of the Lord. Let us use all
the ministries of grace in their season; for "we know not
which shall prosper, this or that, or whether they shall be
both alike good :" this only we know, that the ministries
which God appoints, are the proper seasons and opportunities
of grace.

This power from on high, which is the proper blessing of
confirmation, was expressed, not only in speaking with tongues
and doing miracles, for much of this they had before they
received the Holy Ghost, but it was effected in spiritual and
internal strengths ; they were not only enabled for the service
of the Church, but were endued with courage, and wisdom,
and Christian fortitude, and boldness, to confess the faith of
Christ crucified, and unity of heart and mind, singleness of
heart, and joy in God ; when it was for the edification of the
Church, miracles were done in confirmations ; and St. Bernard,
in the Life of St. Malachias, tells that St. Malchus, bishop of
Lismore, in Ireland, confirmed a lunatic child, and at the same
time cured him : but such things as these are extraregular
and contingent. This which we speak of, is a regular ministry,
and must have a regular effect.

St. Austin said that the Holy Spirit in confirmation was
given "ad dilatanda ecclesiae primordia, for the propa-
gating Christianity in the beginnings of the Church." St.
Jerome says, it was " propter houorem sacerdotii, for the
honour of the priesthood." Ambrose says, it was " ad con-
firmationem unitatis in Ecclesia Christi ; for the confirm-
ation of unity in the Church of Christ." And they all say
true : but the first was by the miraculous consignations
which did accompany this ministry ; and the other two were
by reason that the mysteries were ra vgoTste&gvra. UTO rou ecn-
tfxocroy, they were appropriated to the ministry of the bishop,
who is ' caput unitatis, the head,' the last resort, the firma-
ment 'of unity 'in the Church. These effects were regular
indeed, but they were incident and accidental : there are
effects yet more proper, and of greater excellence.

Now if we will understand in general what excellent fruits
are consequent to this dispensation, we may best receive the


notice of them from the fountain itself, our blessed Saviour.
"He that believes, out of his belly (as the Scripture saith')
shall flow rivers of living waters. But this he spake of the
Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive." This
is evidently spoken of the Spirit, which came down in Pente-
cost, which was promised to all that should believe in Christ,
and which the apostles ministered by imposition of hands,
the Holy Ghost himself being the expositor ; and it can
signify no less, but that a spring of life should be put into
the heart of the confirmed, to water the plants of God ; that
they should become ' trees,' not only * planted by the water-
side' (for so it was in David's time, and in all the ministry
of the Old Testament); but having 'a river of living water'
within them to make them ' fruitful of good works,' and
'bringing their fruit in due season, fruits worthy of amend-
ment of life.'

1. But the principal thing is this : confirmation is the con-
summation and perfection, the corroboration and strength,
of baptism and baptismal grace ; for in baptism we under-
take to do our duty, but in confirmation we receive strength
to do it : in baptism others promise for us, in confirmation
we undertake for ourselves ; we ease our godfathers and god-
mothers of their burden, and take it upon our own shoulders,
together with the advantage of the prayers of the bishop
and all the Church made then on our behalf; in baptism
we give up our names to Christ, but in confirmation we
put our seal to the profession, and God puts his seal to the
promise. It is very remarkable what St. Paul says of the
beginnings of our being Christians. 6 rf^ aoyjis rw Xg/<rroy
}.6-yo$, " the word of the beginning of Christ :" g Christ begins
with us, he gives us his word, and admits us, and we by
others' hands are brought in, T-J-O; dida-^r,; Big ov <raged6dr,rt-, it
is the " form of doctrine unto which ye were delivered."
Cajetan observes right, that this is a new and emphatical way
of speaking : we are wholly immerged in our fundamentals ;

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