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Thirst after more grace to keep them; and confequently were Inftructed in what they were to believe and do. The Cafe of Cornelius and his Company is confider'd Ch. 1.
There is nothing to be found in the Scripture of Confirming Infants, altho' it is always practis'd by the Greek Church; nor of Confirming Children, before they could Understand the duty of Chriftians, as has been done in England, and other parts.
There is indeed little doubt, but that in the congregation of believers, Acts 4, who were all faid to be filled with the Holy Ghoft, there were infants in their Mothers, or nurses arms But they were all filled with the Holy Ghoft, is affirm'd only of thofe that had Prayed, not of fuch children as had not understanding to pray with them.
In the Confirmation of the Samaritans, there is no more mention of excepting infants, than there was in Baptizing them. They that were Baptiz'd in the Name of the Lord Jefus, were Confirm'd. But this must be understood only of fuch Baptized perfons as were to be Confirm'd: as when Matth. 28, Chrift fays, Go and teach all nations, baptizing them; he means Teach thofe that are capable of teaching; and Baptize those that are to be Baptiz'd.
Whatever else may be faid in this cafe, it is to be answer'd, that there is exprefs Authority in Scripture for † Baptizing infants, but none for Confirming them.
As for the Lord's Supper fupplying the want of Confirmation, as fome now think: they that believe Confirmation to be an ordinance of man, may think fo. But that others also may not be in the fame error, it is expedient for them to confider, that there is not fo much as any thing of pretence for it to be found in the Scripture. But on the contrary, how much did the Apostles themselves, all of them, (Matth. 26. 31) and even Peter, the moit zealous of them, want the grace of Confirmation, the fame night after their partaking of that holy Sacrament! And their first converts, after their receiving that Sacrament, (As 2. 42. 46) did receive the Grace of Confirmation, by the Prayer of the Apoftles and the congregation. Ch. 4. 31.
Altho' the Lord's Supper is a Means and Pledge of all the Benefits of Chrift's Death; yet it is upon condition of our Ufing all other means. It will not fupply the want of Baptifm, or of daily Prayer, or of continual Learning the Word. So it will not fupply the want of Confirmation.
Joel 2. 16. 19. John 3. 5, 6.
† Gen. 17. 10, 11, 12. Matth. 28. 1 Cor. 7. 14.
In the Lord's Supper we remember Chrift's Death Sealing the New Teftament. And this can give us the hope of receiving the Benefits of the New Teftament, no otherwife than by our Performing all that is requir'd of us in the New Teftament, for the obtaining of the fame Benefits. It cannot give us now what is to be receiv'd at another time, and by other Means; but only a Right to it, when the means is us'd. And it does moft ftrictly oblige us to use the fame means, as being requir'd in the New Teftament Seal'd with Chrift's Blood.
Therefore all that can be said in this case, is, To thofe that are Ready and Defirous to be Confirm'd, the Lord's Supper, feals the Affurance of their receiving the Promise of Confirmation, when they are Confirm'd.
If any thing ever Supplied the want of Confirmation, it was Ordination. For therein by the Prayer, and Laying on of the hands of the Apoftles and Bifhops, the Holy Ghoft was, and is given for the work of the Ministry; (1 Tim. 4. 14. 2 Tim. 1. 6, 7) part of which work is an Exemplary life. And the Apostles and St. Paul receiv'd the Holy Ghoft for their Confirmation, when they receiv'd him for their Ordination. But when the Apostles Ordain'd others, As 6. 3, we read how for the office of Deacons they requir'd fuch as had before receiv'd the Grace of Confirmation. And the directions which St. Paul gives 1 Tim. 3. 6, 9. Tit. 1. 9. Ch. 2. 2, for the choice of Bishops or Elders, and Deacons, muft fuppofe them to be Confirm'd, as well as Baptiz'd, both being of the foundation of the doctrine of Chrift. Heb. 6. 2.
Therefore as in the Ordinary fettled way of Confirmation, the Grace thereof was built upon the Grace of Baptifm: fo the Grace receiv'd in the Ordinary fettled way of Ordination, was built upon the Grace of Confirmation. And we are to follow the Ordinary fettled way.
There is one other question needful to be refolv'd, whether Hypocrites who were unworthily Confirm'd without any Benefit, might, upon their true repentance be Confirm'd again.
They indeed had Hands laid on them, with Prayer and Bleffing: but they were not Confirm'd. And what was to be done, to them, when they truly repented, is intimated in St. Paul's queftion to the Difciples at Ephefus, Acts 19. 2, Have ye receiv'd the Holy Ghoft fince ye believed?
Thofe hypocrites therefore, when they truly repented, were to receive, by the Prayer and Laying on of the hands of the Apoftles and Bifhops, what they had not receiv'd before. And the fame is to be done now.
The fame is to be faid of those that come to this Holy Ordinance without neceffary knowledge, altho' they come with a ́ ́ good meaning.
The fame alfo is to be faid of any that come how well foever prepar'd, if they neglect to be prefent, or to do their duty carefully in all the parts of fo fhort a Service. Phil. z. 12. Heb. 11. 6. Mal. 1. 8.
If fuch an Accident as fainting fhould happen to any one in the Prayers after the Laying on of the hand upon him; that may not be thought to deprive him of any of the Benefit of the Ordinance. Yet the Bishop would do very well to repeat over him those Prayers which the accident hinder'd him to attend, especially if the Lord's Prayer were one of them.
If fuch an accident should happen in the Service before the Laying on of hands; a good man will furely not deny the repeating of lo fhort a Service, or fo much as fhall be then needful or expedient to be repeated, for any the pooreft Chriftian.
The Sum of the First Part.
T has now been fufficiently fhew'd, what Confirmation was in the days of the Apoftles; That they who were Instructed in the Knowledge of the Gospel, and did Believe the fame, and Repent, and were Baptiz'd, and did truly Love God, and keep his Commandments, Thirsting after more grace; they by the Prayer, and Laying on of the hands of one or more Apoftles or Bishops, receiv'd a plenteous Increase of the Saving Grace of the Holy Ghoft that was before given in Baptism; to enable them better to Understand, and Remember, and Live according to Chrift's Word; and to Confirm their Belief of it; and to give them greater Boldness to profefs it, notwithstanding the threats and perfecutions of their enemies: to the end, that as Chrift requires higher Degrees of Holinefs than were before requir'd, fo his difciples might have Grace to do as he expected from them. This Grace was the Seal of God's Children, and the Earneft of their Inheritance, and the Comfort of the Comforter. And together with this Grace, there were given to many miraculous Gifts, then neceffary for the Teftifying the Truth of the Gospel, and to fit men for holy Employments in the Church.
The Second PART.
That the fame Confirmation that was in the days of the Apostles, is Ordain'd of God to Continue to the End of the world.
The Defign and Need of Confirmation never ceases.
HEY that allow not the Continuance of this holy Ordinance, alledge that the Apoftolical Confirmation was only a Perfonal Privilege, and to Ceafe when Miraculous Inspirations did not accompany it. But this their faying is only a Pretence without Proof. It fhall therefore be plainly prov'd, that the fame Confirmation, for the Subftance of it, that was in the days of the Apoftles, is Ordain'd of God to Continue to the End of the world. The fame that every Chriftian then receiv'd is Or. dain'd to Continue for ever; altho' not the miraculous Attendant of it, which was given only to fome, and was to continue no longer than the Occafion of it lafted.
If it were only for miraculous gifts, then it should ceafe when they ceas'd; as well as the Anointing with oil for the miraculous cure of the fick.
But the Defign of it being for the Increase of Sanctifying Grace, and for the Strengthning of Christians against temptations, particularly the threats and perfecutions of the world; this cannot but continue as long as Baptized Christians need Increase of Grace, and of Strength against temptations.
There is no mention in the Scripture, nor ground in Reason of the Ceafing of this Ordinance. Chriftians do ftill Need all the Means of Grace as much as ever they did. Popish perfecutions are as fierce and cruel, as those of the heathen were. And they that will live Godly in Chrift Jefus, wherefoever they live, must expect the ill-will and perfecutions of worldly men.
Therefore Chrift's Promise Matth. 28. 20, to be with his Minifters always even unto the end of the world, in their teaching Chriftians to obferve all things whatfoever he hath commanded, must be understood of his being with them in their teaching and adminiftring Confirmrtion, as one of the things he has Commanded, (altho' after that Promife) when and how foever he commanded it, and as one of the Means of Grace, whereby he enables us to perform all his Commandments.
II. Confirmation one of the First Fundamental Principles that Continue for ever.
AYING on of bands is, Heb. 6. 2, one of the firft (Cb. 5. 12) principles, and a part of the foundation of the deEtrine of Chrift; and plac'd next to baptifm, in the fame rank with repentance and faith on the one fide, and refurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment on the other *. And therefore it is without doubt to Continue to the End of the world; as well as thofe other Principles and parts of the fame Foundation.
They therefore who would have Confirmation to cease when miraculous gifts ceas'd, may as well fay The Preaching of the Gospel, and Faith, and Baptism were alfo then to ceafe. For Mark 16. 15, &c, Chrift fays to his Apoftles, Preach the Gof pel to every creature. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be Javed: but he that believeth not, shall be damned. And thefe figns ball follow them that believe; In my Name they shall caft out devils; they hall speak with new tongues; &c. See Part 1, ch. 3, at the end.
See Part 1 Ch. 1.