« PreviousContinue »
we may infer it to be of Divine Institution : since if it were not, St. Paul would seem guilty of teaching for doctrines the commandments of men : wbich not being to be supposed, it must follow that this doctrine of Imposition of Hands is Holy and Divine.
6. It is true, the Ministration of this Rite at first was fre. quently attended with miraculous powers. But so also we read were Prayer and Preaching, which yet no one ever thought to be only temporary ordinances. To fancy therefore that the Invocation of the Holy Spirit, with Imposition of Hands, was to cease, when the extraordinary effects of it failed, is too groundless a supposition to be put in the balance against the weight of so sacred and positive an Institution, In the infancy of the Church these visible effects upon those that believed, were necessary to bring over others to the Faith : but when whole nations turned Christians, this occasion ceased; and therefore the Holy Ghost does not now continue to empower us to work them. But still, the ordinary Gifts and Graces, which are useful and necessary to complete a Christian, are nevertheless the fruits and effects of this holy Rite. And these are by much the more valuable benefits. To cast out the devil of lust, or to throw down the pride of Lucifer; to beat down Satan under our feet; or to triumph over our spiritual enemies ; to cure a diseased soul, or to keep unharmed from the assaults of a temptation, or the infection of an ill example, is much more advantageous and beneficial to us, than the power of working the greatest miracles.
“ It is true, by the ministry of the holy Eucharist, the Spirit of ghostly strength is conveyed; and therefore in: the times of primitive devotion, this blessed Sacrament was daily administered, that those who would be safe
against their spiritual enemies, might from hence bé armed with fresh supplies of the Divine assistance. But still we must remember, that the principal design of the holy Eucharist, is to renew the work of preceding Rites, to repair the breaches that the enemy has made, and to supply fresh forces where the old ones fail. For this reason the Sacrament of the Eucharist is to be often repeated, whereas Baptism and Confirmation are but once ad. ministered. But now this shows that Confirmation in the regular and ordinary administration of it) is as much required to go before the Eucharist, as Baptism is to: precede either that or Confirmation. Upon which account, our Church admits none to the Communion before Confirmation, unless necessity requires it.
And indeed it may as well be imagined, that because the Eucharist conveys remission of sins, it may therefore supply the want of Baptism; as that because it conveys ghostly strength, therefore there is no need of Confirmation after it. Or again, the Eucharist itself may as well be omitted, because Prayer has the promise of whatever is asked; as Confirmation be rendered useless or unnecessary, because the Eucharist will supply us with Grace. The Spirit of God comes which way he pleases; but yet if we expect his grace or blessing, we must ask for, and seek it, by those ways and means which he himself has thought fit to appoint.
“ But lastly, as Baptism is now for the most part administered to Infants, this holy Rite is afterwards necessary to confirm to them the benefits of that holy Sacrament. For though the charity of the Church accepts of sureties in behalf of infants, which are not in a condition to contract for themselves; yet when they arrive at years of discretion, she expects them to take the covenant upon VOL. II.
themselves, as their own act and deed: which is one of the considerations for which the Church declares Confir. mation to be very convenient to be observed, viz. to the end, that children being now come to the years of discretion, and having learned what their Godfathers and Godmothers promised for them in Baptism, they may therefore with their own mouth and consent, openly before the Church, ratify and confirm the same, and also promise that, by the grace of God, they will evermore endeavour themselves faithfully to observe such things, as they by their own confession have assented unto. And indeed they who refuse, in their own persons, to ratify the vow which was made in their name, renounce in effect all the benefits and advantages to which the contract of their sureties had before entitled them."*
In the Church of England, the Lord's Supper is administered on Christmas day, and on some other festivals ; it is also administered to the Sick, and to penitent Malefactors; but in the Church of Scotland, and among the English Dissenters, it is never administered but on the Lord's day, and in the assembly of the Church. Though it is certain that Calvin approved of its being given to the Sick, and penitent Malefactors, they who have adopted bis sentiments in most other things, are, on this subject, at variance with him.
• Wheatly, Chap. , Order of Confimation,
DOCTRINES OF THE UNITED CHURCH.
The Doctrines of the Church are contained in her ThirtyNine Articles, to which every one of her Ministers is obliged to subscribe. The first eight Articles have been interpreted by Churchmen in general, with few shades of difference. The Ninth has been the subject of various, and even of opposite interpretations. It is as follows. Of Original, or Birth-Sin.
Original Sin standeth, not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk) but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from Original Righteousness, and is, of his own nature, inclined to Evil, so that the Flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and therefore in every per. son born into this world, it deserveth God's Wrath and Damnation. And this infection of Nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the Flesh, called in the Greek Ogórnusse ougros, which some expound the wisdom, some the sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh, is not subject to the Law of God. And although there is no condemnation to them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin."
There are two things affirmed in the Article—First, The total corruption and depravity of our nature, in con.
sequence of the fall.
Man is said to be very far gone from Original Righteousness. In the Latin the expression is much stronger. It is quam longissime ab originali Justitia, as far gone as possible from Original Righteous
Man is said to be of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit. Lest any person should suppose, that by Regeneration that propensity is wholly removed, it is added, “this infection of nature dóth remain in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the flesh is not subject to the Law of God."-Second, The demerit of our corrupted nature. “ In every person born into the world it deserveth God's wrath and damnation.". . This passage in the Article some Divines in the Church have endeavoured to soften into temporal afflictions and death; and thus' to exclude everlasting misery from that wrath and damnation, which the corruption of our nature is said to deserve. But if it be true, as the Scripture affirms it to be, that (we were enemies to God when he gave his Son to die for us; if the carnal mind is enmity to God, and cannot be subject to his Law; if they that are in the flesh cannot please God; if the wages of sin is death, in that sense in which death is generally taken in the New Testament: if the stains of Original sin are of so 'scarlet and 'crimson' a kind, that the blood of God's Son alone can wash them out, and if even infants need a Saviour, and 'a're commanded by the Redeemer to be brought unto him; we have all the evidence that the nature of the case 'admits, that by our Original sin we are liable to punishment in the eternal world. A corrupted and vicious nature, which stands opposed to the holiness, and to the law of God, cannot be the object of his love. Now, as Bishop Burnet observes, « since there is no mean in God between