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persons who introduce new opinions; and I feel that I have a perfect right to consider this as a new opinion. I can find no vestige of it in the ancient Church. The apostolical imposition of hands prevailed, indeed, in an age, when those gifts of the Holy Spirit, which we distinguish by the term extraordinary, were common in the Church. But when they became less common, or when they were supposed to have wholly ceased ; did the apostolic usage of confirmation cease also ? At a time, or under circumstances, when such gifts were not looked for; does any notion appear to have existed, that the ordinance had therefore become inapplicable? The whole sense of antiquity, so far as I have been able by careful enquiry to make myself acquainted with it, is fully and decidedly contradictory to this notion. Shall we then imagine, that this ordinance had an exclusive relation to the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, and yet that such gifts should have been withdrawn without any previous instruction or guidance having been afforded to the Church, relating to the discontinuance of an ordinance which would henceforth become unsuitable to its condition and circumstances ? Let the maintainers of this opinion produce from Scripture any intimation, that the apostolical ordinance was only temporary and occasional: let them produce any scriptural intimation, that the reason and design of it were understood in apostolical times conformably to their own views : let them point to the time, when, in consequence of miraculous powers being no longer expected, the ordinance was discontinued. This, at least, is necessary for the proof of their point: but this, I do not hesitate to say, they cannot do. Yet till it is done, it is too much to expect of Christians to believe, that an ordinance such as this should have begun with the practice of the apostles and the beginning of the Church, and continued for many centuries with its progress, unaccompanied by any provision for a right comprehension of its design.

I am aware, that every reference to primitive antiquity is frequently treated with great contempt, and not unlikely to be encountered with an accusation, of exalting the ancient fathers to the same authority with the canonical Scripture. But surely there is no necessity for thus confusing evidence with authority *. When a doubt exists respecting the sense of Scripture, it is surely advisable to use any resources of

* How necessary it is to distinguish one from the other may be judged from an egregious absurdity into which a great man has been led by neglecting to do so. Dr. Mosheim, in his Ecclesiastical History, [Cent. 16. Sect. 3. Part 2. Chap. ii. 28.) has a statement to this effect : “ To the authority of the Books of the Old and New Testament the Church of England adds that of the writings of the Fathers during the first five centuries.” He might have said with equal propriety: “To the authority of the canonical Scriptures the Church of England adds that of Buxtorf's Hebrew Lexicon; for the translators of the Bible made great use of that work in their endeavours to ascertain the true sense of the original.” Such is the pure and genuine effect of confusion of ideas ; for the great learning and candour of this writer will admit no other mode of accounting for such a remarkable passage.

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would still ask them, Why is the apostolical confirmation thought inapplicable to the present state of the Church ? Is it because it is supposed to have related only to the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit? But surely the Scripture has no where said so. I grant, that in one instance, we are expressly told, that these gifts became manifest *; and I will grant, also, that in another instance it seems to be obviously implied that they did t. But what then ? Are not the ordinary graces of Christian piety explicitly ascribed by the Word of God, to the operation of the same Divine Being ? But these latter, it may be said, are not, like the others, alleged in connexion with the apostolical imposition of hands. I ask, then, how can it be reasonably expected that they should be alleged in a case, where the things required were, a miraculous and a

# Acts xix. 6.

† Acts viii. 18. “When Simon saw that through laying on of the Apostles' hands," &c.

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