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Saul.” They did so; they' “ fasted, they prayed, they laid their hands on them, and sent them away.' So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed into Seleucia.” This is the story; now let us make our best of it. Here, then, was the ordination and imposition of hands complete; and that was said to be done by the Holy Ghost, which was done by the prophets of Antioch. For they sent them away; and yet the next words are, “ so they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost.” So that here was the thing done, and that by the prophets alone, and that by the command of the Holy Ghost, and said to be his act. Well; but what were these prophets? They were prophets in the church of Antioch: not such as Agabus, and the daughters of Philip the evangelist, prophets of prediction extraordinary, but prophets of ordinary office and ministration; προφήται, διδάσκαλοι, και delToUSYOūtes, prophets, and teachers, and ministers' More than ordinary ministers, for they were doctors or teachers ; and that is not all, for they were prophets too. This, even at first sight, is more than the ordinary office of the presbytery. We shall see this clear enough in St. Paul", where the ordinary office of prophets is reckoned before pastors, before evangelists, next to apostles; that is, next to such apostles, oùs autòs ëdwxe, as St. Paul there expresses it; next to those apostles to whom Christ hath given immediate mission. And these are, therefore, apostles too; apostles' secundi ordinis ;' none of the twelve, but such as St. James, and Epaphroditus, and Barnabas, and St. Paul himself. To be sure they were such prophets as St. Paul and Barnabas; for they are reckoned in the number by St. Luke; for here it was that St. Paul, although he had immediate vocation by Christ, yet he had particular ordination to his apostolate or ministry of the Gentiles. It is evident, then, what prophets these were ; they were, at the least, more than ordinary presbyters, and, therefore, they imposed hands, and they only. And yet, to make the business up complete, St. Mark was amongst them, but he imposed no hands; he was there as the deacon and minister, (verse 5,) but he meddled not. St. Luke fixes the whole action upon the prophets, such as St. Paul himself was, and so did the Holy Ghost too; but neither did St. Mark, who was an evangelist and one of the seventy-two disciples, (as he is reckoned in the primitive catalogues by Eusebius and Dorotheus,) nor any of the college of the Antiochian presbyters, that were less than prophets, that is, who were not more than mere presbyters.
& Prophetas daplici genere intelligamus, et futura dicentes, et Scripturas revelantes.-S. Ambros, in 1 Cor. xii.
h Ephes, iv.
The sum is this : Imposition of hands is a duty and office necessary for the perpetuating of a church, 'ne gens sit unius ætatis,'. lest it expire in one age. This power of imposition of hands for ordination, was fixed upon the apostles and apostolic men, and not communicated to the seventytwo disciples or presbyters; for the apostles and apostolic men did so ' de facto,' and were commanded to do so, and the seventy-two never did so. Therefore, this office and ministry of the apostolate is distinct, and superior to that of presbyters; and this distinction must be so continued to all ages of the church ; for the thing was not temporary, but productive of issue and succession; and, therefore, as perpetual as the clergy, as the church itself.
Secondly: The apostles did impose hands for confirmation of baptized people, and this was a perpetual act of a power to be succeeded to, and yet not communicated, nor executed by the seventy-two, or any other mere presbyter. That the apostles did confirm baptized people, and others of the inferior clergy could not, is, beyond all exception, clear, in the case of the Samaritan Christians. (Acts, viii.) For when St. Philip had converted and baptized the men of Samaria, the apostles sent Peter and John to lay their hands on them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. St. Philip was an evangelist; he was one of the seventy-two disciples“, a presbyter, and appointed to the same ministration that St. Stephen was, about the poor widows; yet he could not do this; the apostles must, and did. This giving of the Holy Ghost by
a S. Cyprian, ad Jubajan.
imposition of the apostles' hands, was not for a miraculous gift, but an ordinary grace. For St. Philip could, and did do miracles enough; but this grace he could not give, the grace of consigning or confirmation. The like case is in Acts, xii. where some people, having been baptized at Ephesus, St. Paul confirmed them, giving them the Holy Ghost by imposition of hands. The apostles did it; not the twelve only, but apostolic men, the other apostles. St. Paul did it. St. Philip could not, nor any of the seventy-two; or any other mere presbyters ever did it, that we find in holy Scripture.
Yea, but this imposition of hands was for a miraculous issue ; for the Ephesine Christians received the Holy Ghost, and spake with tongues, and prophesied; which effect, because it is ceased, certainly the thing was temporary, and long ago expired. First : Not for this reason, to be sure. For extraordinary effects may be temporary, when the function which they attest may be eternal; and, therefore, are no signs of an extraordinary ministry. The apostles' preaching was attended by miracles, and extraordinary conversions of people, ut in exordio, “ Apostolos divinorum signorum comitabantur effectus et Spiritus Sancti gratia, ita ut videres una alloquutione integros simul populos ad cultum divinæ religionis adduci, et prædicantium verbis non esse tardiorem audientium fidem," as Eusebius tells, of the success of the preaching of some evangelists; yet I hope preaching must not now cease, because no miracles are done ; or that to convert one man now, would be the greatest miracle. The apostles, when they cursed and anathematized a delinquent, he died suddenly; as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, whom St. Peter slew with the word of his ministry; and yet now, although these extraordinary issues cease, it is not safe venturing upon the curses of the church. When the apostles did excommunicate a sinner, he was presently delivered over to Satan to be buffeted, that is, to be afflicted with corporal punishments; and now, although no such exterminating angels beat the bodies of persons excommunicate, yet the power of excommunication, I hope, still remains in the church, and the power of the keys is not also gone. So, also, in the power of confirmation"; which, however attended
Lib. iii. Hist, c. 37.
c Vide August. tract. vi. in 1 Epist. Johan.
by à visible miraculous descent of the Holy Ghost, in gifts of languages and healing, yet, like other miracles in respect of the whole integrity of Christian faith, these miracles at first did confirm the function and the faith for ever.
Now then, that this right of imposing hands, for confirming of baptized people, was not to expire with the persons of the apostles, appears from these considerations.
First : Because Christ made a promise of sending “Vicarium suum Spiritum,” the Holy Ghost, in his stead; and this, by way of appropriation, is called “ the promise of the Father.” This was pertinent to all Christendom, “ Effundam de Spiritu meo super omnem carnem ;" so it was in the prophecy. “ For the promise is to you and to your children, και πάσι τοις εις μακράν, όσους αν προσκαλέσηται Κύριος, and to all them that are afar off, even to as many as the Lord shall call." So it was in the first accomplishing. To all : And this for ever; “ for I will send the Holy Ghost unto you, and he shall abide with you for ever." For it was 'in subsidium,' to supply the comforts of his desired presence; and must, therefore, ' ex vi intentionis,' be remanent till Christ's coming again. Now, then, this promise being to be communicated to all, and that for ever, must either come to us by, 1. Extraordinary and miraculous mission; or by, 2. An ordinary ministry. "Not the first; for we might as well expect the gift of miracles. If the second, (as it is most certain so) then the main question is evicted; viz. that something perpetually necessary was in the power of the apostles, which was not in the power of the inferior ministers, nor of any but themselves and their colleagues; to wit,
ministerium S. Spiritus,' or the ordinary office of giving the Holy Ghost' by imposition of hands. For this promise was performed to the apostles in Pentecost, to the rest of the faithful after baptism; “ Quod enim nunc in confirmandis Neophytis manûs impositio tribuit singulis, hoc tunc Spiritûs Sancti descensio, in credentium populo donavit universis, saith Eusebius Emissenus. Now we find no other way of performing it, nor any ordinary conveyance of the Spirit to all people, but this; and we find that the Holy Ghost actually was given this way. Therefore the effect, to wit, the Holy Ghost, being to continue for ever, and the promise of universal concernment, this way also of its communication, io wit, by apostolical imposition of hands, is also,' perpetuum ministerium,' to be succeeded to, and to abide for ever.
d Acts, ii. 39.
• Serm. de Pentecost.
Secondly: This ministry of imposition of hands, for confirmation of baptized people, is so far from being a temporary grace, and to determine with the persons of the apostles, that it is a fundamental point of Christianity, an essential ingredient to its composition; St. Paul is my author: “ Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, faith towards God, the doctrines of baptism, and of laying on of hands,” &c. Here is imposition of hands reckoned as part of the foundation and a principle of Christianity in St. Paul's catechism. Now, imposition of hands is used by name in Scripture but for two ministrations : first, for ordination; and secondly, for this whatsoever it is. Imposition of hands for ordination does indeed give the Holy Ghost, but not as he is that promise which is called “the promise of the Father.” For the Holy Ghost for ordination was given before the ascension, John, xx. But the promises of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, (the Paraclete, I say, not the Ordainer or Fountain of priestly order, that) was not given till the day of Pentecost; and besides, it was promised to all Christian people, and the other was given only to the clergy.
Add to this, that St. Paul having laid this in the foundation, makes his progress from this to 'perfection' (as he calls it,) that is, to higher mysteries ; and then his discourse is immediately of the priesthood evangelical, which is originally in Christ, ministerially in the clergy; so that, unless we will either confound the terms of his progress, or imagine him to make the ministry of the clergy the foundation of Christ's priesthood, and not rather contrary, it is clear, that by imposition of hands, St. Paul means not ordination, and therefore confirmation, there being no other ordinary ministry of imposition of hands, but these two, specified in holy Scripture. For, as for benediction, in which Christ used the ceremony, and as for healing, in which Ananias and the apostles used
! Heb. vi. 2.