The Reconfirmation of Romanists Seeking Admission to Our Communion.
A Letter to the Rt. Rev. Wm. Croswell Doane, Bishop of Albany.
Rt. Rev. and dear Bishop:
IN your Pastoral Letter, entitled "The Service of Preaching and the Preaching of the Service," you deal briefly with the question of the Confirmation of Romanists seeking admission to our Communion. The question of the validity of the Roman rite of Confirmation you decide, without hesitation, in the affirmative, the objections to its form being, in your judgment, without weight, like the objections of the immersionist to the validity of Baptism by affusion. The other phase of the question, the reconciliation of heretics and schismatics, you speak about with hesitation. You say, "If any body needs purging and reconciling from the sins of heresy and schism, it is the Roman Catholic returning to Catholicity." But while admitting that the Romanist is in heresy, you are inclined to view the Catholic Rite of Laying on of Hands, by which the heretic is reconciled to the Church, as an act of Benediction, and not Confirmation. You add, that the responsibility of presenting persons for Confirmation rests with the priest, and that, unless the case is specially referred to you, you would not feel justified in refusing to confirm a Romanist convert if presented.
It has always been my practice to present converts from Romanism for Confirmation, and my scruples on this point have invariably been treated by you with kindly forbearance. I have known that you were clearly of the opinion that the Roman Rite of Confirmation was valid, and I was also aware that you declined, for the present, until you had had leisure to examine the question more thoroughly, to pronounce on the nature of the Laying on of Hands by which the heretic is reconciled to the Church. In setting forth, therefore, as briefly as I can, the grounds on which I have ever held that the re-Confirmation of heretics is the custom of the Catholic Church, I disclaim that I have any controversy with my Bishop on this grave subject, except so far as I call in question the validity of the Roman rite.
This is a minor issue, and in my argument for the re-Confirmation of Romanists, I shall assume that the form of the Roman rite is valid. But before proceeding to the main issue, I must state why I call in question the sufficiency and validity of the Roman rite.
From the 8th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles we derive our authority for the form of Confirmation. The text reads, "Then laid they their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost." And again, "When Simon saw that through laying on of the Apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given."
The Divinely ordered ritual act by which the seven-fold Spirit is imparted is the Laying on of Apostolic Hands. But the Roman Rite distinctly states that the Confirmation is effected, not by the Laying on of Hands, but by the application of the Chrism. "Confirmo te Chrismate salutis." In the Roman Pontifical there are three Offices of Confirmation. There is the ancient Office, where the rubric calls only for the application of the Chrism with the thumb, "Signo te signo crucis (quod dum dicit, producit pollice signum crucis in frontem illius) et confirmo te Chrismate salutis in Nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti;" and two Offices in the Appendix, added because of the criticisms of the adversaries of Rome, where the rubric provides for a sort of surreptitious Laying on of the Hand at the time of the application of the Chrism. The text repeated by the Bishop is the same as I have quoted from the ancient Office, but the rubric reads, "Et dum hoc dicit, imposita eadem manu dextera super caput confirmandi, producit pollice signum crucis in frontem illius." This direction provides that the Bishop shall lay his hand on the head while signing, with his thumb anointed with Chrism, the forehead of the candidate for Confirmation. But here, also, the Confirmation is declared in the most solemn manner to be effected by the Chrism: "I confirm thee with the Chrism of Salvation in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." How far are we justified in condoning this flagrant substitution of an unauthorized rite for the Spiritual Ordinance of the Laying on of Hands? One can see how far the mischief can go, when he remembers that in the Eastern Church the oil has become the confirming instrument so completely, that a Bishop is only needed to consecrate the Chrism. It can be carried anywhere and applied by a priest. No one among us holds that the priest has any Apostolic authority to confirm, so that the Confirmation depends altogether on the Chrism, not on the person administering it. But that is not the Laying on of Hands. When Simon Magus desired to possess the power of confirming, he did not seek to purchase a flask of Chrism, but he said: "Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands he may receive the Holy Ghost." And is the Roman rite of Confirmation, which solemnly asserts that the Chrism is the confirming agency, any more justifiable than this Eastern rite from which the Laying on of Hands has been altogether eliminated? It may be urged that there is contact of the hand of the Bishop with the head of the candidate at the time Chrism is administered, but can the Episcopal hand do that thing which at the same moment the Bishop distinctly and solemnly affirms to be done by another agency, "Confirmo te Chrismate Salutis"? I think not. It seems to me we have no right to attach to that Laying on of Hands any more importance than the Roman Church does itself. There is nothing in the Office of Confirmation as given in the Roman Pontifical to show that the act has any virtue or significance. Unless, then, whenever a Bishop lays his hand on a child's head, the act has the virtue of Confirmation, it is difficult to see on what grounds we can say that in the Roman Rite the Laying on of Hands is given. It is to be remembered that in the ancient rite, in the beginning of the Pontifical there is no provision for any Laying on of the Hand whatever, and the stealthy Laying on of the Hand provided for in the Office of the Appendix, although the Chrism is still declared to be the sole confirming agency, seems to me an unworthy subterfuge that should not he condoned. It is as if some one had been pretending to baptize by putting his hand on a child's head, and when taxed with the crime had tried to justify himself by saying that his hand was damp when he performed the ceremony ,and therefore the baptism was valid.
It is not a question of putting a hand, or hands, on the head of the candidate, but rather, whether we can justify a Confirmation which does not profess to be done by the Laying on of Hands at all, but by application of the Chrism.
It seems to me, that before charity for the Roman usage, we must place fidelity to the Rite, as authorized in Holy Scripture; and that certainly demands that the Office of Confirmation, to be valid, must clearly show the intention to impart the gift which the Apostles gave to the Samaritans by the same means that they used--the Laying on of Hands.
I must demur to the comparison of my objection to the Roman Rite, to the criticism of the immersionist against baptism by affusion. The latter is evidently administered with water, and when the Roman Rite of Confirmation is so far amended that it shall be plain the gift is conveyed not by application of Chrism, but by the Laying on of Hands, I will cheerfully acknowledge its validity.
But allowing for the sake of discussion that the Roman Rite for Confirmation is valid, it does not remove the necessity for re-confirming the Romanist seeking admission to our Communion. For the Roman Church is in heresy, and it is the Catholic custom to reconcile the heretic by Confirmation. We all admit that the heretic was received into the Church by the Laying on of Hands, but it is some times denied that this ceremony was Confirmation. It is said to have been a different thing, a Benediction or a penitential Laying on of Hands, but at all events, not Confirmation. The plain evidence of antiquity will not justify this assertion. For centuries the notion was never entertained in the Church; and, unfortunately for the theory, the first attempt to differentiate from Confirmation, the Laying on of Hands by which heretics were reconciled to the Church, is to be found in an Epistle pretending to be from Vigilius, Bishop of Rome, A.D., 538, a fraudulent, discredited document, which has been largely interpolated in the interests of the Roman See. To go into all the evidence bearing on this subject would far exceed the limits of my time and your patience; it will be sufficient to refer to a few illustrations from history, which clearly exhibit the custom of the Catholic Church, and which, I think, plainly bear out my contention. If I am in error in the interpretation of these facts I certainly find myself in very good company.
The learned Bingham, in his treatise on Baptism, devotes a large space to the confirmation of heretics, without a thought in his mind that the ceremony by which these persons were reconciled to the Church, was not Confirmation at all.
In Smith's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, under the article "Confirmation" we read: "A special aspect of Confirmation presents itself in connection with the reception into the Church, of those who had been baptized bv heretics. Baptism, if formally complete, was recognized as valid, but the case was otherwise with the Laying on of Hands. Only in the Catholic Church could the gifts of the Spirit be imparted, and so, even if the heretical sect had its Bishops, and they administered the Rite, it was regarded as null and void. When those, who had been members of such a community, returned to the Church, Confirmation, including the anointing, as well as the Laying on of Hands, became the formal act of admission." The writer of the article is E. H. Plumptre, no mean authority in the province of historical criticism.
Dr. Harold Browne in his work on the Articles of Religion, commenting on Art. XXV. says: "The separation of Baptism from Confirmation rose sometimes from the Confirmation of heretics, who were confirmed but not re-baptized." I might add many similar testimonies from learned men, and the writings of the Fathers seem to me to admit of no other conclusion.
In seeking to discover what was the usage of the Catholic Church regarding the reception of heretics, I would go back to the contest between Cyprian and Stephen, Bishop of Rome. As is well known, Cyprian contended that heretics returning to the Church must be re-baptized, while Stephen insisted that the ancient custom of the Church was to accept the Baptism if formally complete, and to reconcile the heretic by the Laying on of Hands. What was this ceremony understood to be? Was it Confirmation or something else? I shall prove that both Cyprian and his opponents looked upon it as identical with the Rite which the Apostles administered to the Samaritans whom Philip had baptized, and the Rite which St. Paul bestowed on the men of Ephesus after they had received Christian Baptism. The anonymous treatise on the "Re-baptism of Heretics" (written, Canon Mason concludes, by one of the prelates in the entourage of Stephen) represents the views of the Roman party. We will therefore, first examine its statements. In the first section it states the question under discussion in these words: "The point is whether, according to the most ancient custom and ecclesiastical tradition, it would suffice, after that Baptism which they have received outside the Church indeed, but still in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, that only hands should be laid upon them by the Bishop for their reception of the Holy Spirit, and this Imposition of Hands would afford them the renewed and perfected seal of faith: or whether, indeed a repetition of Baptism would be necessary for them, just as if they were never baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ."
What did this man understand by the Laying on of Hands mentioned above? Can the Rite to which he refers be anything else than. Confirmation? Is not the seven-fold Spirit the Confirmation gift?
And the purpose of the Laying on of Hands he says, by which the heretics were reconciled according to the ancient custom, of the Church was "for their reception of the Holy Spirit." In section 10 the writer contends that Confirmation outside the Church is impossible. "Outside the Church there is no Holy Spirit, sound faith moreover cannot exist, not alone among heretics, but even among those who are established in schism. And for that reason they who repent and are amended by the doctrine of the truth ought to be aided only by spiritual Baptism, that is, by Imposition of the Bishop's Hands, and by ministration of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the perfect seal of faith has been rightly accustomed to be given in this manner, and on this principle in the Church."
Now if we refer to the Confirmation mentioned in the 8th Chap, of Acts, why did the Apostles go to Samaria? Was it not that they might confer a gift on the converts of Philip, which they could not otherwise receive? The Holy Ghost had fallen on none of them. And later on we read that the Apostles laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost. The statement of the writer on the re-baptism of heretics is, that outside the Church there is no Holy Spirit, and that a penitent returning to the Church is to be reconciled by Imposition of the Bishop's Hands, and by the ministration of the Holy Spirit.
In what respect do the Rites differ? In either case it is ministered to men who do not possess the seven-fold Spirit, the Confirmation gift. The Rite in each case is a Laying on of Hands. The efficacy of the Rite, and the intention of the Rite, is the bestowal of the Holy Ghost. Is it not then a mere war of words to contend that they are not identical? But there shall be no question about the identity of the two ordinances. A perusal of sections 3 and 4 of the treatise shows conclusively that what was intended by the Imposition of Hands in the reconciliation of heretics was the bestowal of the gift which the Apostles Peter and John gave to the Samaritans.
In Sec. 3 the writer argues that those elements of regeneration, water and the Spirit, which ordinarily are associated in the New Testament, may be sometimes found "in some sort divided,"--his aim being to show, that although heretics have not the Spirit, their Baptism should not be repeated when they return to the Church, the spiritual defect of the heretic being supplied by Confirmation. He quotes the case of the Samaritans who when baptized did not receive the Spirit, which afterwards was conferred upon them by Imposition of the Hands of the Apostles. Then he discusses in section 4 the case of those who have been baptized but "depart from this life without Imposition of the Bishop's Hands." He says there is no doubt in the Church regarding the salvation of such persons, although not confirmed they are "esteemed perfect believers." And he continues, "But if thou admittest this, and believest it to be saving, and dost not gainsay the opinion of all the faithful, thou must needs confess this, that even as this principle proceeds more largely to be discussed, that other also can be more broadly established; that is, that by Imposition of Hands alone, of the Bishop,--because baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ has gone before it--may the Holy Spirit also be given to another man who repents and believes."
Bearing in mind the point which the writer has under discussion, whether heretics should be re-baptized, or that according to "ancient custom hands only should be laid on them for their reception of the Holy Spirit," it is plain from the above notation that he identifies this Rite with the Confirmation administered by the Apostles to the Samaritans. He argues that the Spirit may sometimes be bestowed in Baptism, and sometimes in the Laying on of Hands. He says we do not deny the salvation of those baptized persons who die unconfirmed; and that the converse of this is true; that although a person has not received the Spirit when he was baptized among heretics, yet on his reception into the Church the spiritual defect may be fully remedied by the Laying on of Hands. By this means the Holy Ghost will be given to them. His proof that the Holy Ghost is thus given is the case of the Samaritans who had been baptized, but had not received the Spirit. The Spirit was bestowed on them by the Imposition of the Hands of the Apostles. Evidently this writer, who so ably represented the position of the Roman, party, had never heard that there was any difference between Confirmation and the Laying on of Hands by which heretics were reconciled to the Church; for what an easy refutation of his whole elaborate argument would it have been, if anyone could have urged that the Laying on of Hands which the Samaritans received and that which was bestowed on heretics were not considered identical. Nothing in the treatise is written to anticipate any such objection, and in all the letters of Cyprian it is never urged, for the good and sufficient reason that such a distinction was never heard of in the Church until more than three centuries later, when it first appeared in the so-called letter of Vigilius of Rome.
When we turn to the letters of Cyprian, we find that he also identifies the Laying on of Hands by which heretics were reconciled to the Church, with the Confirmation which the Apostles administered to the Samaritans. In his letter to Stephen (Epistle 71, Migiie's numbering) he says: "Those who have been dipped abroad outside the Church, and have been stained among heretics and schismatics with the taint of profane water, when they come to us, and to the Church, which is one, ought to be baptized, for the reason that it is a small matter to lay hands on them that they may receive the Holy Ghost (he here quotes Acts VIII. 17), unless they receive also the Baptism of the Church. For then finally can they be fully sanctified and be the sons of God if they be born of each Sacrament." Here Cyprian identifies the Laying on of Hands by which Stephen's party according to the ancient custom of the Church admitted heretics to Communion, with the Confirmation which the Apostles bestowed on the Samaritans, but says it is not enough, the heretic must be born of each Sacrament, he must be baptized as well as confirmed. In his letter to Jubaianus (Epistle 72) Sec. 6, he says: "But if, according to a perverted faith, one could be baptized without, and obtain remission of sins, according to the same faith he could also attain the Holy Spirit; and there is no need that hands should be laid on him when he comes that he might obtain the Holy Spirit and be sealed. Either he could obtain both privileges without by his faith, or he who has been without has received neither." Nothing could be plainer than this. Cyprian argues that if the heretical Baptism is valid, then the Confirmation administered by the heretical Bishop is valid too, and there is no need that heretics should be confirmed when they are received into the Church. But assume that the Laying on of Hands which heretics received when reconciled to the Church, is not Confirmation, and what becomes of the argument? It would have no force whatever. In Sec 9 he says: "In respect of the assertion of some concerning those who had been baptized in Samaria, that when the Apostles Peter and John came, only hands were imposed on them that they might receive the Holy Ghost, yet that they were not re-baptized; we see that that place does not touch the present case. For they who had believed in Samaria had believed with a true faith; and within, in the Church which is one, and to which alone it is granted to bestow the grace of Baptism and to remit sins, had been baptized by Philip the deacon, whom the same Apostles had sent. And therefore, because they had obtained a legitimate and ecclesiastical baptism, there was no need that they should be baptized any more, but only that which was needed was performed by Peter and John; viz., that prayer being made for them, and hands being imposed, the Holy Spirit should be invoked and poured out upon them, which now too is done among us, so that they who are baptized in the Church are brought to the prelates of the Church, and by our prayers and by the Imposition of Hands obtain the Holy Spirit, and are perfected with the Lord's Seal."'
Now when the opponents of Cyprian cited the Confirmation of the Samaritans as a justification of their custom of receiving heretics by the Imposition of Hands, why did he not retort that the two ceremonies were different things, that it was Confirmation which the Apostles administered, whereas everybody knew that the ceremony by which heretics were reconciled to the Church was not Confirmation. We see he does not make this objection, but allows that the two Rites are identical, for the good and sufficient reason that no man in the Catholic Church in that day knew of any distinction between them. Both the African prelate and the great faction opposed to him looked on this Laying on of Hands which was bestowed on penitent heretics as identical with the Rite which was administered to the Samaritans by the Apostles. From that day onward the testimony of the Church is consistent. In the Western Church heretics are reconciled by the Laying on of Hands, and in the Eastern Church by the Anointing with the Holy Chrism.
Here let me remark that it is impossible to say when the custom of anointing the forehead with the Chrism became part of the Confirmation Bite. Originally the anointing was part of the ceremony of Baptism. There was an anointing of the candidate before Baptism, and an anointing after the administration of that Sacrament. In the Roman Office of Baptism we find traces of those ancient ceremonies. The infant before it is baptized, is anointed on the breast and between the shoulders with the "Oleum Catechumenorum," and after Baptism it is anointed again with the Chrism "in sumitate capitis in modum crucis" (vid. Roman Pontifical). This anointing seems in the days of Cyprian to have had a very subordinate place. I think he mentions it only once. (Epistle 69). He says nothing about it in connection with Confirmation in his description of Confirmation which I have quoted from Epistle 72. Epistle 75, Sec. 11 may serve also as an illustration. "Those who patronize heretics and schismatics must answer us whether they have or have not the Holy Ghost. If they have, why are hands imposed on those who are baptized among them when they come to us, that they may receive the Holy Ghost, since He must surely have been received there, where if He was, He could be given? But if heretics and schismatics baptized without, have not the Holy Spirit, and therefore hands are imposed on them among us, that here may be received what there neither is, nor can be given; it is plain, also, that remission of sins cannot be given by those who, it is certain, have not the Holy Spirit. And therefore * * * they must all absolutely be baptized with the Baptism of the Church who come from adversaries and antichrists to the Church of Christ." This passage bears witness to several facts. It not only clearly shows that the Laying on of Hands which the heretics received was Confirmation, but that these heretics had the same facilities for receiving heretical Confirmation that they had for receiving heretical Baptism. His argument is, if you do not baptize these heretics again, why confirm them, that they may receive the Holy Ghost? "Since He surely must have been received there, where if He was, He could be given."' The Novatian heresy then was agitating the Church. Theodoret some two centuries later says: "The Novatians did not confer the holy Chrism on those whom they baptized." And Scudamore in the article "Unction" (Smith's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities) infers from this that the sect did not confer Confirmation. But in the days of Cyprian there is nothing to show that the Chrism formed any part of the Confirmation Rite, and the above passage bears witness that these Novatian heretics were confirmed, but that the Church treated the Confirmation as null and void. Nothing is said of the Chrism in this passage. The means by which the gift of the Spirit is conveyed is the Imposition of Hands. Ages passed after the death of Cyprian before Unction became a distinctive feature of the Confirmation Rite in the Western Church. Ambrose in his work "De Mysteriis," speaks of the Unction as a part of the "Laver," and after he has left the Font goes on to speak of the "seal" and "perfecting," the expressions Cyprian in the preceding century had used of the Imposition of Hands by which the seven-fold Spirit was conveyed. Optatus (De Schism, Don. IV.) says that the water does not convey the gift, and the oil does not convey it. It makes the new cleansed soul ready to receive the Spirit so that He may be invoked to take up His abode in it through the Laying on of Hands. It is a far cry from the position of a Churchman in the age of Optatus, to that occupied by the Roman Pontifical. "Confirmo te Chrismate Salutis." St. Augustine writing about a century and a half later than Cyprian, indicates that Unction was growing in importance, but he associates it so closely with Baptism that the validity of the one Rite implies the validity of the other, so that if the one is not to be repeated, neither need the other be repeated, and he nowhere speaks of it as part of the Confirmation Rite.
Speaking of the sins of men offering no bar to the grace of the Sacraments they administer, he exclaims: "How is it that God hears the invocation of a murderer either over the Water of Baptism, or over the Oil, or over the Eucharist, or over the heads of those who receive Imposition of the Hand?" Here the Oil and the Baptism are closely connected, while Confirmation is so distinct from Unction in the mind of the writer that he mentions the Eucharist between them. He refers beyond question to the Unction with the Chrism which took place immediately after the act of Baptism, and as I have shown above, holds that position in the Roman Office of Baptism now. The first clear proof of the Chrism being used by the Bishops at Confirmation in the Western Church, as distinct from the Baptismal Unction is said to be found in an Epistle of Innocent, of Rome, A.D. 416. (Fleury Hist. Eccl. Bk. XXIII. Cap. 32.)
"Les prêtres peuvent bien faire aux baptisés l'onction du chreme, pourvu qu'il soit consacre par l'eveque; mais ils n'en peuvent pas marquer le front, cela n'est permis qu'aux évêques, quand ils donnent le S. Esprit." I have not the original before me, and so I give the statement of this accurate historian. It hardly bears out the general assertion that the application of the Chrism dates from this period. Whether the Chrism was used in making the sign of the cross on the forehead the extract does not say. At all events the innovation did not at once become popular in the Western Church. The first Council of Orange, A. D. 441, ordered that Chrism should not be administered at Confirmation, unless from some necessary cause it had been omitted at Baptism. (Rirst Council Orange Can. II.) The second Council of Aries, A.D. 452, also adopted this decree, and even as far on as the time of Alcuin, writers in describing Confirmation often mention only the Laying on of Hands and say nothing about Unction.
Thus, Alcuin says, "Novissime per imposi-tionem manus a summo sacerdote septiformis gratiae Spiritum accepit."
This fact must be borne in mind. The Chrism only became a part of the Confirmation Rite in the Western Churches at a comparatively late date. As I have shown it was looked upon as a part of Baptism for generations after Cyprian's day; and when the innovation was introduced some time in the 5th century, it was frequently resisted, and actually forbidden by the decrees of provincial councils. We therefore are not to think, that in any of the directions regarding the re-confirmation of heretics, anything was wanting to the completeness of the Rite, because it is not ordered that they should receive the Chrism as well as the Laying on of Hands. As soon as the Chrism became a part of the Rite of Confirmation, heretics returning to the Communion of the Church received it, as well as Imposition of Hands. I think I have shown, beyond question, that in Cyprian's day there was no distinction whatever between an ordinary Confirmation and the Laying on of Hands by which heretics were reconciled to the Church.
The Rite was administered for the same purpose in either ease: to bestow the seven-fold gift of the Spirit. It was held that heretics did not have the Spirit, and therefore could not give the Spirit. Their Confirmation, therefore, was null and void, and must be repeated. We know Cyprian contended it was not enough to re-confirm the heretic, he insisted, also, on re-baptism. But the mind of the Church was that Cyprian was in error. The ancient custom, against which he so vigorously protested, remained the rule, that the heretic should be reconciled to the Church by Confirmation. Before turning from the clear testimony of this writer, which seems to me to show conclusively that the re-confirmation of the heretic is the ancient custom and rule of the Catholic Church, I will quote from his letter to Firmilian (Epistle 74). In section 8 he cites the case of those disciples at Ephesus to whom St. Paul ordered Christian Baptism to be administered and then confirmed them, and he goes on to say: "But what kind of a thing is it, that when we see that Paul after John's baptism, baptized his disciples again, we are hesitating to baptize those who come to the Church from heresy after their unhallowed and profane dipping. Unless, perchance, Paul was inferior to the Bishops of these times, so that these indeed can by Imposition of Hands alone give the Holy Spirit to those heretics who come (to the Church), while Paul was not fitted to give the Holy Spirit by Imposition of Hands to those who had been baptized by John, unless he had first baptized them also with the baptism of the Church." I think there is no possibility of avoiding the conclusion, that if it was Confirmation St. Paul gave to the men of Ephesus, then it was by Confirmation that heretics were received by the Church in the days of Cyprian.
Neither he nor his adversaries ever dreamed of the easy refutation of each other's arguments which would have resulted from the simple denial of the identity of the two ceremonies. That was reserved for a later generation which had been misled by a Roman novelty, and tempted to forget a Catholic principle. It will suffice to show that the ancient custom of re-confirming heretics obtained in the Church for fully two hundred years after Cyprian's contest with Stephen, as the unquestioned rule. At the Council of Aries held some sixty years after Cyprian's death, it was decreed (Canon 8) that when heretics who had been baptized in the Name of the Trinity returned to the Church they should be reconciled by Imposition of Hands, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. Siricius, Bishop of Rome A.D. 384, in his letter to Himerius, Bishop of Tarragona, orders that converts from Arianism should not be re-baptized, but attached to the Catholic Communion by means of the invocation of the seven-fold Spirit only, by Imposition of the Bishop's Hand. "Per invocationem solam septiformis Spiritus episcopalis manus impositione." Fleury's comment is, "C'est-à-dire qu'on leur donnera la confirmation." Canon Mason says: "It is but a dispute about words when it is debated whether such an act is, or is not Confirmation. The seven-fold Spirit is the Confirmation Gift."
Pope Innocent writing to Alexander, of An-tioch, A.D. 415, says that the Arians are to be received into the Church by Imposition of Hands to give them the Holy Spirit (Fleury Bk. 23. Cap. 26). His reason is the same that was urged in Cyprian's age. Heretics could not confer grace. St. Augustine, A.D., 354-430, in his writings against the Donatists asserts in many places that heretics whose Baptism is valid are to be reconciled to the Church by the Laying on of Hands that they may receive the Holy Spirit. In Bk. III. Cap. 16, he declares that the Spirit cannot be received outside the Catholic Church; he cites the case of Simon Magus, who had the Sacrament without the operation of the Spirit, and concludes that whatever may be received by the heretics and schismatics they cannot have the gift of charity. "At any rate outside the bond (of the Church) that love cannot exist, without which, all other requisites, even if they can be recognized and approved, cannot profit, or release from sin. But the Laying on of Hands is not like Baptism incapable of repetition." In Bk. V. Cap. 23 he says that heretics have not the Church and have not the Holy Spirit, but they have Baptism, and he insists that they shall be received by the Laying on of Hands. In these letters we must remember that Augustine is continually commenting on the writings of Cyprian. Nowhere does he hint that the ancient custom of the Church had changed, or that the Laying on of Hands by which heretics were received in Cyprian's age, and which that prelate considered identical with the Rite ministered by Peter and John at Samaria and by Paul at Ephe-sus, had acquired a new significance. The Laying on of Hands is still given, to confer the Holy Spirit, for outside the Church the Spirit is not, and so the heretical Confirmation is void.
Jerome, A. D. 340-420, is our next witness. This eminent writer, in his dialogue with the Luciferian, had a full opportunity to deny that there was any identity between the Rite practised by Luciferians in receiving heretics, and the Rite practised by Catholic Bishops in completion of Baptisms bestowed by Catholic presbyters. But he does nothing of the kind. He evidently knows of no distinction between the penitential and the confirmatory Laying on of Hands. The passage is too long to be quoted in full. (Vid. sections 6-10).
The Luciferians, let us remember, were extreme Churchmen, who, while accepting as valid the Baptism conferred by Arian Bishops, refused to acknowledge the Bishops who had repented of Arian opinions. The object of the dialogue is to show their inconsistency. We are not to imagine that Jerome himself advocated the re-baptism of Arians, but he strives to prove that the Luciferian is bound to reject the Baptism if he will not admit the penitent Bishop. The Luciferian says, "When I receive a lay penitent (from the Arians), it is with Laying on of Hands, and invocation of the Holy Spirit, for I know that the Holy Spirit cannot be given by heretics." Jerome (Orthodoxus) insists that the Arians must also be re-baptized. The Luciferian cites the case of the men of Ephesus who had been baptized, and yet knew not that there was any Holy Ghost, to show that a person might be baptized and yet not possess the Spirit. Jerome answers that the baptism of John was not Christian Baptism, and that these persons were baptized again before St. Paul would confirm them, and adds, "Do you follow the Apostles, and baptize those who have not had Christian Baptism, and you will be able to invoke the Holy Ghost." The Luciferian retorts, Sec. 8, "Don't you know that the Laying on of Hands after Baptism, and then the invocation of the Holy Spirit, is a custom of the Churches? Do you demand Scripture proof? You may find it in the Acts of the Apostles. So you see we follow the practice of the Churches, although it may be clear that a person was baptized before the Spirit was invoked." Jerome rejoins: "I do not deny that it is the practice of the Church in the case of those baptized by presbyters and deacons for the Bishop to visit them, and by the Laying on of Hands to invoke the Holy Ghost upon them. But how shall I describe your habit of applying the laws of the Church to heretics? If a Bishop lays his hands on men, he lays them on those who have been baptized in the right faith, but an Arian has no faith * * * how then can he receive the Holy Ghost who has not yet obtained remission of sins?"
We see that in this dialogue both Jerome and his opponent allow that the Laying on of Hands, by which the Luciferian says he reconciles heretics, is the same Rite as that by which the Bishops complete the Baptisms performed by the presbyters of the Church, and for which authority is to be found in the Acts of the Apostles.
Neither of them demurs in the slightest degree to this complete identification of the penitential Laying on of Hands with Confirmation. Farther on in Section 9, Jerome quotes the Confirmation at Samaria: "Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost," and he adds, "and if you here say that you do the same, because the heretics have not baptized into the Holy Ghost, I must remind you that Philip was not separated from the Church." Why did not Jerome tell his opponent that the Confirmation given to the Samaritans and the Laying on of Hands by which heretics were reconciled were not the same? The reason is that he lived too early to be able to do so. The fraudulent so-called letter of Vigilius in which for the first time the penitential Laying on of Hands is declared to be a different thing from Confirmation, was not written until more than a century had elapsed after Jerome had fallen asleep. No testimony surely can be more conclusive than the voice of this eminent theologian and doctor of the Church.
I close my illustrations of the custom of the Western Church by quoting the decrees of the provincial Councils of Orange, Aries and Epone.
The 1st Council of Orange, Canon I., says that heretics at the point of death, desiring to be received into the Church, if the Bishop is absent, shall be reconciled by presbyters, with the Chrism and the Laying on of Hands. The second Council of Aries orders certain heretics, who have been baptized in the Name of the Trinity, to be received into the Church with the Chrism and the Laying on of Hands. The Council of Epone, Canon XVI., makes the same provision that I have quoted above from the decrees of Orange, adding that heretics in health must go to the Bishop. Here we note that the re-Confirmation of heretics and schismatics was considered more necessary than the Confirmation of those who had been baptized in the Church. For, as Jerome remarks in his dialogue with the Luciferian (Sec. 9), many who- were baptized in the Church died before the Bishop could give them Confirmation, yet no rule was made allowing presbyters to confirm such persons in time of extremity. The reason was that the baptized in the Church had received the grace of the Holy Spirit in Baptism, and there was not the same absolute necessity for their Confirmation as existed in the case of heretics. For heretics had not the Spirit, and could not confer grace, either in the Baptism or in the Confirmation administered by them. The first Council of Orange was held A.D. 441; the second Council of Aries, A.D. 452; the Council of Epone, A.D. 517.
The Chrism having become part of the Confirmation Rite, in the 5th century, in the Western Church, we note that it forms part of the ceremony by which heretics are admitted to the Communion. So far I have dealt with the ancient custom of the Western Church.
In the Eastern Church the Confirmation Rite was corrupted at an early day, so that the Laying on of Hands, practically, was completely obscured. Cyril, A.D. 318-380, in his catechetical lectures, has nothing to say about the Imposition of Hands. He mentions the Mysteries in this order: Baptism, the Chrism and the First Communion. In lecture 21, "On Chrism," he describes the Eastern mode of Confirmation. The ointment is applied to the forehead, ears, nostrils and breast, implying that the soul is sanctified by the holy and life-giving Spirit. When the innovation began we' cannot say, but anointing with the Chrism had become in Cyril's day the expression in the Eastern Church for Confirmation or the Laying on of Hands. But the custom was the same as in the West in regard to the reconciliation of heretics. They were confirmed when they returned to the Church.
The second General Council of the Catholic Church, held in Constantinople A.D. 381, directs (Canon VII.) that heretics validly baptized are to be reconciled to the Church with the precise ritual acts and words of Confirmation. They are to be anointed with the Chrism on the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth and ears, the officiant saying, "The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit." This is the Eastern mode of administering Confirmation, even to-day. Bright, in his notes, objects to the form of this Canon, and insists that it is part of a letter, describing the custom of the Church at Constantinople. But I am not concerned with the question of its binding authority on the whole Church, I quote it because of its conclusive testimony as to the ancient tradition in the Eastern Church concerning the reconciliation of heretics. Like every other voice of antiquity, it declares that they are to be confirmed. The Council of Laodicea (Canon VII.) declares that those heretics whose Baptism is formally complete are to renounce their former heresies, to learn the Catholic Creed, and to be anointed with the holy Chrism, and then admitted to the Holy Communion. St. Basil directs that the members of certain heretical sects, on repentance, are to be anointed by the faithful, and so approach the holy mysteries. Justin Martyr (Pseudo) in his questions and responses, says to the question why the Baptism of a penitent heretic is allowed: "When a heretic comes over to the Catholic faith, the fault of his heterodoxy is corrected by the change of his opinion, and the faultiness of his baptism by the Unction of the Holy Chrism." Finally, the Quinisext Council, or Council in Trullo, re-affirmed the decree of the second Council, A.D. 381, only adding the Paulini to the list of those heretics whose defective baptism must be repeated.
Farther testimony concerning the rule and custom of the Eastern Church seems unnecessary, for these voices are authoritative and final. The heretic was to be reconciled with the ritual acts and words of Eastern Confirmation. We have now traced the custom of the Catholic Church from the age of Cyprian A.D. 250, to the sixth century. I cannot find that anywhere there is any difference mentioned between Confirmation and the Rite by which heretics were reconciled to the Church. The ritual of Confirmation varied according to time and place, and the ceremony by which heretics were admitted into the Church varied with it.
Thus in the Western Church A.D. 250, Cyprian describes Confirmation thus (Epistle 72, Sec. 9): "They who are baptized in the Church are brought to the prelates of the Church, and by our prayers and by the Imposition of Hands obtain the Holy Spirit, and are perfected with the Lord's Seal." As that was the mode of Confirmation at that time, heretics were reconciled by Imposition of Hands.
In the 5th century in the Western Church, the anointing with the Chrism had become part of the Confirmation Rite, and so we find Councils ordering that heretics are to be received with the Chrism and Laying on of Hands. In the Eastern Church, anointing with the Chrism had become the confirming act, and heretics are to be reconciled there by anointing them with the Chrism, and repeating over them the Eastern confirming sentence, "The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit." Over and over again the great men of the past compare this ritual act by which heretics were reconciled with the two cases of Confirmation mentioned in the Acts of the Holy Apostles, as if there was no distinction between them. I can come to only one conclusion. It is the rule of the Catholic Church that the heretic should be re-confirmed when he is received into the Church. I know that there is a widespread opinion that the penitential Laying on of Hands by which the heretic was reconciled was not a Confirmation. But I think it is opposed to the plain testimony of antiquity, and it seems to me that it had not a very respectable origin.
Canon Mason, in his work on the relation of Baptism to Confirmation, says, p. 180, "The earliest attempt to distinguish between the Confirmatory and the penitential Laying on of Hands--if the document is genuine--occurs in an epistle purporting to be by Vigilius, Bishop of Rome, A. D. 538," which says of men who had received Arian Baptism, "But their reconciliation does not take effect (operatur--perhaps in late Latin, 'is not effected') by means of that imposition of the hand which takes place through (per) invocation of the Holy Ghost, but by means of that imposition whereby the fruit of penitence is acquired, and the restoration of the Holy Communion is performed." But there is grave reason to discredit the document. It exists in more than one form, and has certainly been largely interpolated in the interests of the Roman See. It is alleged to be the same letter which was read aloud at the first Council of Braga (A.D. 561), addressed by the See of Rome to Profuturus, formerly Bishop of Braga. But, on the one hand, there is nothing to prove that the letter read there was written by Vigilius, or that Profuturus was contemporary with him; and, on the other hand, several ancient copies of our letter appear to be addressed "ad Eutherium," without mention of his see. The contents of the epistle as we have it do not tally with what appear to have been the contents of the letter read at Braga. And finally, the epistle seems not to have been known to Isidore of Seville, which could hardly have been the case had it been the letter read at Braga. Part of the letter may be genuine, but the sentence quoted bears every sign of being modern.
The criticism of this learned and cautious writer needs no comment. The first attempt to deny that the ceremony by which heretics were received into the Church was Confirmation, seems to have been a forgery, and an exceedingly clumsy one, too. For all the statements concerning the reconciliation of heretics expressly say that Laying on of Hands as in the Western Church, or the Chrism as in the Eastern Church, is bestowed on the heretic that the Holy Spirit may be invoked and poured out on him. The treatise on the re-Baptism of heretics which represented the views of Stephen, the opponent of Cyprian, says that "the most ancient custom and tradition of the Church is that only hands should be laid on them by the Bishop for their reception of the Holy Ghost." Cyprian (Letter 75) says, "Heretics and schismatics have not the Holy Spirit, and therefore hands are imposed on them among us, that here may be received what there neither is, nor can be given." The Council of Aries commands that heretics who have been baptized in the Name of the Trinity, when they return to the Church, be reconciled by Imposition of Hands, that they may receive the Holy Spirit. Siricius, Bishop of Rome, commands that Arians returning to the Church, be attached to the Catholic Communion "Per invocationem solam septiformis Spiritus episcopalis manus impositione." Pope Innocent declares that Arians are to be received into the Church by the Imposition of Hands to give them the Holy Spirit. St. Augustine declares that the Holy Spirit cannot be received outside the Catholic Church, and therefore the heretic must receive the Laying on of Hands. Jerome says that the penitent heretic is to be received by Laying on of Hands and invocation of the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit cannot be given by heretics. Leo, Bishop of Rome, Epistle 159, says, "Those who received Baptism from heretics are to be confirmed by invocation of the Holy Ghost only, through the Imposition of Hands (sola invocatione Spiritus Sancti per impositionem manuum confirmandi sunt), because they have but the form of Baptism without its sanctifying power. The Eastern Church decrees that the heretic is to receive the Chrism with the words, "The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit."
But this so-called letter of Vigilius, which Canon Mason thinks "bears every sign" of being a forgery, informs us "Their reconciliation does not take effect by means of that Imposition of the Hand which takes place through invocation of the Holy Ghost." Whom, then, shall we follow? Shall we hear the Church during the first six centuries, or shall we listen to this tainted witness that comes forth some time in the sixth or seventh century, from that source which you well denounce "the mother of schisms and the mistress of heresy," and flatly contradicts the unanimous voice of the Early Church, and endeavors to teach us a new way? The choice, surely, is not difficult to make. It seems to me that we will be following the ancient custom of the Church if we insist that the Roman heretic, whether clerical or lay, who desires admission to our Communion shall be reconciled to the Church by Confirmation.
In your Pastoral Letter you remark that "If any one needs purging and reconciling from the sins of heresy and schism it is the Roman Catholic returning to Catholicity." In saying this, I believe yon are accurately expressing the mind of the American Church. It has been said that Rome excommunicated England, and not England Rome. And English writers, when commenting on Roman errors, often speak as if the English Church could not exactly decide how far Rome had gone on the way to heresy. The errors were very dangerous. Rome had gone very far in the way of evil; but still, such was the excessive charity of the Anglican Church, it could not say plainly that the Roman Church was in heresy. And it is supposed by many of us, that while the mind of the English Church is still in this state of hesitating indecision, the American Church waits for the voice of the mother with filial respect, before pronouncing any final opinion regarding Roman heresy. But such statements are misleading. If a man's hands are tied behind his back, there is some other reason besides a sentimental weakness for a sinner which prevents him from chastising him; or if the tongue of a witness is cut out, it would be a shame to accuse him of unwillingness to bear testimony for the truth, when really he is unable to do so. And how, indeed, is the Church of England to denounce any heresy, whether it originates in Rome, or elsewhere, when for 335 years it has, by the laws imposed on it, been expressly forbidden to do so? Here is the law of the Church of England:
April 29, 1559, an act was passed "for restoring to the Crown the ancient jurisdiction over the State, Ecclesiastical and Spiritual, and abolishing all foreign powers repugnant to the same." This Supremacy Act empowers the Queen to appoint visitors to "visit, reform, redress, order, correct and amend all such errors, heresies, schisms, abuses, offences, contempts and enormities, which by any manner, spiritual or ecclesiastical, power, authority or jurisdiction can, or may be, lawfully reformed, ordered, redeemed, corrected or amended." In the act there is this important proviso: No person appointed by the Crown to execute spiritual jurisdiction shall have power to determine any matter to be heresy, except what has been adjudged to be heresy by the canonical Scriptures, or by any of the first four General Councils, or any other General Council, or "shall be ordered, judged or determined to be heresy by the high court of Parliament of the realm, with the assent of the clergy in their convocations, anything in the Act to the contrary notwithstanding." That is the restraint which silences the voice of the Church of England with regard to heresy. It would, indeed, be a note of contempt against that venerable Apostolic Communion if one could truthfully say that it had lost the power to distinguish between truth and error, or that God, having set it in its place to bear witness to the truth, and plainly to rebuke sin, it had refused to do so because of a sentimental weakness for the sinner, which it was bound to judge and condemn. But this is not the truth. The Church of England does not speak because its voice is stifled, and it cannot speak.
For, of course, when the English parliament was constituted the authority, which must first determine any matter to be heresy, before Convocation could even assent to the conclusion, the whole subject was consigned to a ridiculous and impossible court. It does not make the matter any better to say that the Church and the nation of England were supposed to be conterminate, the English parliament from its very nature was never competent to decide on any article of faith.
But while the English Church has been compelled to keep silence, the American Church has spoken. It has not, indeed, formally denounced any Roman heresy, by name, but it has deliberately assumed that the Roman Catholic Church is no longer in communion with the Church Catholic. In Canon XV., Title I., the American Church, through its House of Bishops and its House of Deputies, takes this position. The Canon is designated, "Of the Admission of Ministers ordained by Bishops not in Communion with this Church." This designation applies to Bishops of the Roman Communion; and where the Bishop is, there is the Church. It is not in Communion with this Church. That is the deliberate conclusion of the American Church. It can mean only one thing, that the Roman Church is in heresy. For this Church did not intend to unchurch itself by that declaration. It believes that it is in the Communion of the Catholic Church, and it could not use that expression of any portion of the Catholic Church, however remote. For example we can imagine some colored convert of the Universities' Mission in the heart of Africa, becoming a Bishop of the Church in the Dark Continent, but although he may never have seen an American Churchman, may never have had any opportunity of ministering at our Altars, or of communing with us, yet we believe such a person has full Communion with us, and we would accept the Orders given by him to a priest, as readily as if the ordination had been performed by the Metropolitan of Canterbury. He would not be designated "a Bishop not in Communion with this Church." Nor would we use such an expression of one of the faithful dead. We would not say, of St. Paul, or St. Jerome, that in their places, among the spirits of just men made perfect, they are not in Communion with this Church. For the Communion of Saints is part of our Creed.
No matter how remote in time, or in the circumstances of geographical position any portion of the Catholic Church may be, yet the Church is one, and as part of the Catholic Church we have Communion with it. But the American Church in Convention, deliberately places the fact on record that the Roman Catholic is not in Communion with this Church. What is this, but to say that the Romanist is in heresy?
What is needed, is that the American Bishops should specify and condemn those heresies which Rome holds and teaches. They have been called to their high position that they might bear witness to the truth and warn men against error.
The ignorant, the foolish, and the disloyal, who are to be found in every great army, need to be told that the Church has condemned as heresies the dangerous errors of Rome, and that the man who holds them, much more the minister who teaches them, puts himself outside the Communion of the Catholic Church.
We may be told that we must not act precipitately, but must wait for concerted action on the part of the Anglican Church. But I do not read history in that way. The great Churchmen of the past did not wait until they had a vast gathering behind them, before they ventured to bear witness to the truth, and to condemn heresy. The heresy of Arius was branded by one brave Bishop long before it came before a general council, and if he had not taken action, the council would probably never have spoken at all. So it was with all the ancient heresies. The watchmen of the Church, bravely spoke the truth concerning them as soon as they appeared, and it was the appeal from their condemnation that was determined by the great Councils of the Church. It is time for our Bishops to supplement the statement of our Church that Rome is outside the Communion of this Church. What is their decision concerning the Tridentine decrees? What is their mind with regard to the Immaculate Conception, and the Papal Infallibility? Rome tells men they must believe these things and if anyone will not do so, let him be Anathema. Is this teaching true, or is Rome a false witness, on whom has been sent a strong delusion that she should believe a lie?
We wait for our Bishops to speak, and meanwhile let every priest, on whom the Church has placed the responsibility of determining what persons are fit to be confirmed, see that all converts from Rome are reconciled to the Church by the ancient, Catholic custom of Confirmation.
St. John's Rectory, Ogdensburg,
September 13th, 1894.