After the above the priest was to anoint the head of the infant, saying


Almighty God, the FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, who "hath regenerated thee by water, and the HOLY GHOST, and hath "given unto thee remission of all thy sins; He vouchsafe to "anoint thee with the unction of His HOLY SPIRIT, and bring thee "to the inheritance of everlasting life'."

It is probable that this anointing after Baptism was considered as preparatory to Confirmation, so as to supply the place of that anointing. And in the service for Confirmation there was a prayer that seemed to allude to this external anointing, in which it is said, "Confirm and strengthen them with the inward unction "of the HOLY GHOST mercifully unto everlasting life. Amen."

Now it does not appear that even Bucer himself attempted to deny the ancient authority of this practice, though indeed he appears to have had but little real reverence for antiquity, but the ground for his having this practice rejected is, "because he "thought they (i. e. the chrism and anointing) carried more show "of regard and reverence to the mysteries of our religion than men really retained."


Now, if it be allowed that there is the strongest Church authority for the use of this significative emblem3, and also that in Christianity there is no such thing as a merely external and significative rite without being in some degree sacramental also; if it be also the case, that if a custom is found to be primitive, it can hardly be conceived, with any deference to the piety of those ages, but that it must have been apostolical: if we consider, moreover, the little likelihood that Apostles would have invented any thing of a sacramental nature of themselves; if, moreover,

See Wheatley, page 382.

2 Wheatley, p. 344.

3 Among the Records at the end of Collier's Ecclesiastical History, are given the answers of the Bishops and Divines at the Reformation to the questions put them, on this point of confirmation "cum Chrismate." These are curious and well worth consulting. Many of them confirm the traditionary authority of anointing, though it was not immediately the point referred to, the question being whether it be found in Scripture. Nor indeed do any appear to deny the antiquity of the usage.

we call to mind the typical signification of oil in Scripture, so exceedingly high and holy, and the occasions of its use, viz. in separating from others the most elevated stations which prefigured the Messiah; in its typical use applied (not as baptism administered to conforming heathens, but) to Prophets, Priests, and Kings of the sacred people.-When we consider these things, surely no one can say the greatness of the gifts which are here withdrawn; how much we have thereby fallen from the high appellations of "a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar "people" and we have together with it lost the white robe of baptism. The essentials, indeed, are not touched, but they are things of this kind which we have lost. The lessons of humiliation, of being "buried and crucified with CHRIST," it may be shown hereafter we have still retained. We may still act up to our lower dispensation, and have privileges restored on our repentance; but we cannot expect or wish it, I think, without. "He that now goeth on his way weeping, and beareth good seed, "shall doubtless come again with joy, and bear his sheaves with "him."

12. Changes in the Visitation of the Sick.

There are three Omissions in the office for "the Visitation of the Sick" since Edward's First Book, which seem to me capable of the same construction as illustrative of the last subject; and perhaps not more so in themselves than in the reasons by which their disuse is generally supported by our English Ritualists. The first is the practice of anointing the sick, if he required it. There is, I believe, no mention of this custom during the first centuries. But the ground on which its disuse is generally maintained is, that it applied, as mentioned by St. James, to miraculous cures, and therefore is not suitable to our days. Here therefore a broad line of distinction is drawn, between miraculous cures, and those to be now expected, as if we were not in a state to receive what our forefathers did. Can this be warranted, except on the supposition that the faith required must be of this lower and ordinary kind? That the "grain of mustard seed," which is now borne by the tree whose branches fill the earth, is not of the

quality of the first seed, which had the promise that it should remove mountains." The next is a trivial omission, but of the same character. In the first of Edward there was this prayer for the sick :


"Visit him, O LORD, as Thou didst Peter's wife's mother, and "the captain's servant; and as Thou didst preserve Toby and "Sarah by Thine angel from danger, so restore unto this sick "person his former health, if it be Thy will." The rejection of this prayer, it is worthy of observation, is usually approved of for the same reasons, that it refers to miraculous cures not to be now expected.

The other alteration is one apparently still more slight, but not unimportant as bearing on this principle; in the last Review, (in the year 1662), the four last verses of the 71st Psalm, which is used in "the Visitation," are omitted. The grounds of this alteration are, that the psalm then turns to one of thanksgiving, beginning with these expressions-" O what great troubles "and adversities hast Thou showed me! and yet didst Thou turn "and refresh me; yea, and broughtest me from the deep of "the earth again. Thou hast brought me to great honor." But it is observable, that most of the Psalms written under the pressure of affliction do thus turn from deprecation to thanksgiving. And what is this slight omission? Surely it may be considered as a silent and undesigned expression of misgiving respecting the existence of that faith required for the promise to prayer. For the promise is not future only, but present," Whatsoever ye desire, "when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have "them." (St. Mark xi. 24.) Another alteration is, that this office did begin with a Psalm, the 143d, but now with a Litany. We allow that these are not important changes in themselves, but it is not unimportant to notice that, wherever we find changes, they should speak to the same effect.

13. Concluding Remarks.

In all these things we have no reason surely to complain of the judicial withholdings of privileges, but to lament our unfitness to receive them; the fact is, our " iniquities have separated between

66 us and our GOD."

"Our sins have withholden good things

"from us." The essentials of a Church we have by many merciful interpositions still preserved to us; they are only matters denoting the highest privileges, royal gifts, that are withdrawn: the two Sacraments are retained on the very ground of their being essentially "necessary to salvation;" we have the Body and Blood of CHRIST "the strengthening and refreshing of our souls;" we have "bread to strengthen man's heart," "and wine that maketh 'glad the heart of man," but have not the "oil to make him a "cheerful countenance'," such outward demonstration of joy being for faithful sons, for "the royal priesthood," and not for such


as we.

If we may judge at all from the ALMIGHTY's former dispensations with mankind, may we not suppose that this may be the case in the scheme (to speak reverently) of redemption, viz. that as with individuals, so also with Churches, there are different degrees of grace according to the use of former gifts, as there are different mansions of glory hereafter? Though doubtless in the last and lowest dispensation, it may be true of individuals that the last may be first, and the first (i. e. in privileges), the last (i. e. in final acceptance).

I cannot better explain these various positions in which Churches stand with regard to the Divine gifts, than by adopting for illustration an expression of Origen's respecting individuals. He seems to imagine, that each person has a guardian Angel assigned to him, but that if he shows himself unworthy of his heavenly guide, he is consigned to the care of an inferior Angel; but that on the contrary, if found worthy, he has a still higher and better guide given to be with him; and that this continues to be the case through life. This may illustrate what I mean by the case of Churches. No one can doubt but that we have been, if we are not now, on the very point of being committed as a Church, to an Angel, so to say, of far less and lower privileges. For what was said by Bucer of the use of anointing, might almost be applied now to the two Sacraments, viz. that though

"The oil of gladness," Ps. xlv. 8; Heb. i. 9.

he doubted not the Catholic practice, nor the edification if received with reverence, yet such reverence to receive them as conveying great spiritual gifts was lost. To our own Church, therefore, in the mysterious fulness of Divine truth, the warning may be given, which was said to Israel of old :

"Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, "and to bring thee to the place which I have prepared. Beware "of Him, and obey His voice; provoke Him not for he "will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in Him." (Exod. xxiii. 20, 21.)

« VorigeDoorgaan »