Laying on of hands upon baptized believers, as such, proved an ordinance of Christ in answer to Mr. Danvers's former book intituled, A treatise of laying on of hands : with a brief answer to a late book called, A treatise concerning laying on of hands, written by a nameless author
Keach, Benjamin, 1640-1704.


MR. Danvers in his Introduction tells us, pag. 3. after having given us an Account both from Scripture, and Antiquity, of the business of Bap∣tism, in its Institution, Subject, Manner, and End, &c. that it may neither be unnecessary nor unprofitable to give us an account of Laying on of hands, not only because it immediately follows that of Baptism, Heb. 6.1, 2. but more especially because for Confirmation (as it has been called) it had been next after Baptism so solemnly as∣serted, practised and enjoined, both in former and later times, as an Ordinance of Christ, and essentially necessary to Church-Communion: But what this Laying on of hands is, and how that of Page  3Confirmation is founded on the Word of God, he tells us, he shall consider, examin, and recom∣mend it to the judgment of all discerning, and impartial Christians.

Reply. He hath in his Treatise of Baptism done well; Jehovah bless his Work and Pains therein. And is it so in very deed? Is the ground and reason why he undertook to write about Laying on of hands, because it immediately follows Baptism, Heb. 6.1, 2? Did he find it so clearly there? and has that of Confirmation, as it is called, been so solemnly asserted in former and later times as an Ordinance of Christ, and necessary to Church-Communion? Methinks if this be so, he should have been very careful how he spake or wrote against such an Ordnance, which so immediate∣ly follows Baptism according to the Scripture; and more especially considering what he says about Authors and Antiquity, concerning Con∣firmation, or laying on of hands, it having been so solemnly asserted, practised, and enjoined, as above said.

Tho for my part I judg it not worth my while to make such a narrow search into Authors, Canons, Decrees of General Councils, and the like, as proba∣bly he and many may do: considering we have the Word of Christ so plain and clear in the case, what need we trouble our selves further, especially be∣ing satisfied, as some of the Fathers have said themselves, that no Doctors, nor Councils are of any authority or credit without the Word of God? Yet finding so many of the Antients speaking so clearly touching this Ordinance, tho under ano∣ther name, it confirms me in my belief and prac∣tice Page  4 herein; and one would think it should the more stumble them: for whatsoever credit, or esteem some of those Authors have whom he mentions, yet I judg he will grant several of them to be as famous as most who have writ∣ten since the Apostles time, as hereafter may be hinted.

In the next place he tells us, what method he will observe in writing his Treatise, viz.

First, Give us an account what he finds of this Rite (as he is pleased to call it) in the New Testament.

Secondly, How asserted and practised by the Antients, with the Opinions of the Fathers, and Decrees of Councils.

Thirdly, How practised and injoined by the Church of Rome.

Fourthly, How by the Church of England.

Fifthly, How maintained by some of the Pres∣byterian and Independent Perswasions.

Sixthly, How practised and injoined by seve∣ral of the Baptized Churches in this Nation.

Then he proceeds to shew, how Laying on of hands was us'd in the New Testament:

1. In Benediction, Mark 10.16.

2. For Healing, Mark. 6.5.

3. For conferring the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit before Baptism, Acts 9.17. After Bap∣tism, Acts 8.14.

4. In Ordination, Acts 6.6. 1 Tim. 4.14. Acts 13.3.

Reply. I readily grant what he says about the several sorts of Laying on of hands, and the use and end of them, but must needs except against what Page  5 he speaks concerning the third sort: he affirms that Hands were laid upon Persons for conferring the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit; and men∣tions two Scriptures for proof,viz.*Acts 9.17. and Acts 8.14, 15. in which affirmation he altogether begs the question, and proves nothing, nor removes what has been said to this very point. In this I must withstand him, for he goes too fast. I should be glad could I be an Instrument in the hand of Christ to rectify their understanding herein who doubt about it; for they seem to be much mistaken about that Text, Acts 9.17. but especially that in Acts 8.14, 15. I shall therefore offer something in the first place to this; Doth not the Scripture say plainly in Acts 9.17. that Ananias put his hands upon Saul, that he might re∣ceive his sight? why should he say then, it was for the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit? If that which is exprest to be the effects of Ananias his putting his hands on Paul, was the only end of that Service, which is according to his own arguings upon Acts 8.14. Acts 19.16. then it was only for his sight; for it is said he received his sight, but not a word of his receiving the Holy Ghost, when he laid his hand upon him: that he was sent to Saul, that he might re∣ceive the Spirit, is granted; but whether by lay∣ing on of hands, or some other means, is yet to be proved: And this being an extraordinary case, and different from that in Acts 8.14, 15. viz. Ananias his laying hands on Saul as a blind Man, that he might receive his sight (which answers to that in Mark 16.18.) and Peter and John lay∣ing Page  6 their hands on them in Acts 8.14. as on bap∣tized Believers as such, for their receiving the Holy Spirit, makes nothing to the Controversy depending, tho Mr. D. hath put them together, as if the Subject, Manner, and End, were one and the same.

But Secondly, to proceed to that Scripture Acts 8.14. where mention is made of Peter and John's laying their hands on baptized Believers in Samaria, which our Brethren affirm was also to confer the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit; but how much they are mistaken herein, shall be exa∣mined: Since it appears not that the Apostles at Jerusalem did either send Peter and John to Sa∣maria upon that account, or that they laid their hands upon those believing Samaritans to that on∣ly end, 'tis very strange Mr. D. or others should affirm any such thing; therefore to prevent this mistake, let us once again examine these Texts; Now when the Apostles, which were at Jerusalem, heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John, who when they were come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, ('tis not said the extraor∣dinary Gifts, but the Holy Spirit, those you see are the express words) for as yet (saith the Text) he was fallen upon none of them, only they were bap∣tized in the Name of the Lord Jesus: then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost, Vers. 14, 25. I know 'tis objected from the following words, that the Spirit came upon them in some visible or extraordinary manner, because Simon saw, that thro' laying on of the A∣postles hands the Holy Spirit was given. This is Page  7 only a supposition: for who can tell what kind of Manifestations of the Spirit might appear in them, to convince Simon that they had the Holy Spirit? The Text doth not say, they either spake with Tongues, or wrought Miracles. But if for arguments sake, we should grant they receiv'd the Spirit in some extraordinary manner, as those in Acts 19. it would not follow, that this was the absolute end of this Service; for if we may reason as they and others have done after this manner, that what was the effects of their laying their hands upon them, was the end why they laid on their hands, and that End is by none attained in these days, therefore Laying on of hands is not prac∣ticable in these days; we shall shew you the sad Consequences and Absurdities that would follow such an Inference. To proceed, 'tis said Acts 4.31. that when the Apostles had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled; Now mark, because this Miracle was wrought as the effect of their praying, can it be thought that was the end of Prayer, or that we must not pray because no such effects are wrought now? And when Philip had baptized the Eunuch, Acts 8.39. 'tis said the Spirit caught away Philip, that the Eunuch saw him no more: what a strange thing was this that followed Baptism? But now because this Miracle followed as the effect of that Admini∣stration then, shall we conclude it was the end of the Ordinance of Baptism? But again in Acts 10.44. while Peter was preaching the Word to Cornelius, and unto those that were in his House, 'tis said, The Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the Word, so that they spake with Tongues, &c. Page  8 Now shall we say, the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit, or Miracles, were the end of Preaching, because such kind of Effects followed preaching? Surely none will argue so, that understand them∣selves: for if that was the End of preaching, because it was the Effect that followed, and that Effect now never following, we may say as many do, Preaching is ceased, if he and others argue right: for such and such extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit followed (say they) when baptized Believers did come under laying on of hands in the Apostles days, and these Gifts are not given now; therefore that Ordinance is ceased, it being only for the Confirmation of the Gos∣pel.

Now say I, by the same Argument, all the In∣stitutions of Christ may be denied, as well as lay∣ing on of hands: As First, Meeting and assem∣bling together; see Acts 2.1. 'tis said, They were all met together with one accord in one place, and suddenly there came a Sound from Heaven as of a rushing Wind, and it filled all the House where they were sitting. Vers. 2. And there appeared unto them cloven Tongues like fire, and sat upon each of them. Vers. 3. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with Tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Here is no mention of any other Ordinance, save only assembling together, God graciously being pleased first to confirm the Time of Wor∣ship under the Gospel, viz. the first Day of the Week, for so was the day of Pentecost, as Tra∣dition has handed it down: and mind what effects followed. But,

Page  9First, 'Tis not so now, shall we therefore as∣semble together no more? *

Secondly, When the Apostles prayed, the House was shaken, but 'tis not so now; doth Prayer therefore cease to be a duty?

Thirdly, When Christ was baptized, there was a voice heard from Heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; and the Spirit came down in likeness of a Dove. And when the Eunuch was baptized, the Spirit caught away Philip; but such Effects follow not now when Persons are baptized; ergo it's not the duty of any to be baptized now, if theirs be right Reason.

Fourthly, Peter preached to the Jews, Acts 2. and at one Sermon three thousand were conver∣ted: And he preached to Cornelius, Acts 10. and while he preached, the holy Spirit came upon them that heard the Word, that they spake with Tongues, and magnified God, But such Effects as these follow not now when we preach; ergo no Man is authorized to preach now, by their arguing.

Fifthly, When Paul laid his hands on those baptized Believers, Acts 19. the holy Spirit came upon them, and they spake with Tongues, &c. but these Effects follow not now when baptized Believers have hands laid upon them; Page  10 must we therefore lay hands no more? Sure∣ly we have no more reason to neglect or lay this aside, than we have all the other Or∣dinances, considering the like Effects follow∣ed them respectively, as well as Laying on of hands: But contrariwise I must needs say, instead of being stumbled, or weakned in my Faith and Practice concerning laying on of hands, from the consideration of those extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit being the Effects that followed once or twice as exprest in the Scripture, that I am thereby abundantly confirmed, and establish∣ed in it, and that because I find every Gospel-Ordinance and Institution of Christ was in the primitive time more or less confirmed, according to Heb. 2.4. by Signs, Wonders, and divers Mi∣racles, and Gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own Will. And finding this Ordinance of Im∣position of Hands, so visibly owned by Jehovah, and wonderfully confirmed by the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit, like as Assembling together, Prayer, Preaching, and Baptizing hath been; it is, I say, of an establishing nature to me. And I see no ground to except against this Ordinance more than any of the other, notwithstanding what ever hath been said or written against it from hence. And because I know it has stumbled many, that the end of laying on of hands, Acts 8.19. was for the extraordinary Gifts of the Spi∣rit, I shall be the larger upon this particular, fully to remove and take off this Objection, which in part has already been done. But to proceed, I affirm again that the end of that laying on of Hands, Acts 8.14, 15. and Acts 19.6. was not Page  11 for the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit, and I argue thus:

First, Because it was never propounded as the End of it, neither can it be prov'd it was. What can they instance in the Case, since what they mention of such and such Effects which followed, proves nothing in the least?

Secondly, It could not be for the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit, or Miracles, because not promised unto baptized Believers as such, nor was it ever given but to some particular Persons; only I grant, the Holy Spirit is promised to all, as he is the Comforter, according to John 14.16. If ye love me, keep my Commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall send you another Com∣forter, even the Spirit of Truth, which shall abide with you for ever. All the Disciples of Christ who believe, and are baptized, have the Spirit promised to them, as further might be made ap∣pear, Act. 2.38. Then said Peter, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of Sins, and ye shall receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit; for the Promise is to you, and to your Children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. The Spirit being so plainly promised to all that were obedient to Jesus Christ, or the Called of God, the Apostles that were at Jerusalem, hearing how God had called by his blessed Word and Spirit, the Samari∣tans to Obedience, they well knew, and were assured that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, was their Right, Promise and Privilege, as well as any other Gospel-Believers; and therefore sent them Peter and John, that they might receive (through Page  12 the use of that holy Ordinance) the Promise of the Father: and upon consideration that the Sa∣maritans were Gentiles, or a mixt People, or such as were not of the Seed of Abraham according to the Flesh, and some of the first of the Gentile Race that were called by the preaching of the Gospel, Jehovah was pleased to give some visible sign and demonstration of his receiving them into his Grace and Favour, to satisfy any of the Jewish Disciples that might doubt concerning the extent of the Blessings of Christ and the Gospel: for palpable it is that for some time after the Death and Resurrection of Christ, few of the Apostles themselves understood the glorious in∣tent and purpose of the Almighty, in bringing in the Gentiles, making them fellow-Heirs, and of the same Body,, and Partakers of his Promise in Christ, through the Gospel, Eph. 3.6. This I con∣ceive to be one reason, why God so visibly own'd the Ordinance of Laying on of hands when ad∣ministred, as well as for the Confirmation of the Ordinance it self; and that Christ might con∣vince them he had made good his Promise, John 14.16. But if you will still say, that the Reason, End, or Cause why Peter and John did lay their hands on those baptized Believers, was not for the Spirit, the Comforter, as so considered, but for the extraordinary Gifts thereof, I shall proceed to a third Reason; and thus I ar∣gue:

Thirdly, Either Peter and John, when they laid their hands on those Believers, and prayed for the Spirit, prayed in Faith, or not in Faith: If in Faith, then they had (I presume) some Page  13 ground or Promise of God and Christ, to build their Faith upon, as to what they prayed for: But if it was for the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit, as some affirm, where shall we find any such Promise that they might ground their Faith upon? And is it not sinful to pray for that which God has no where promised, considering what the Scripture saith, Rom. 14.23? There are di∣vers Promises, as hath been hinted, made by God of giving the Spirit, I grant, but not the extra∣ordinary Gifts . God promised, he would pour out his Spirit on his Servants and Hand-maids; and our Lord Jesus in John 14.16. promised, the Comforter to all that love him, and keep his Commandments: And in Acts 2.38. it is pro∣mised to all that repent, and are baptized; And doubtless it was by virtue of these Premisses, or Promises of the like nature, that Peter and John prayed, and laid their hands on those Believers in Samaria, and Paul on those at Ephesus, Acts 19. or else shew us what Ground or Promise they had.

If you say, the extraordinary Gifts of the Spi∣rit were promised; then say I, they were promi∣sed to Persons of such or such a Name, or so or so qualified. Now surely none will say, to Persons of Page  14 such or such a Name; therefore it must be pro∣mised to Persons so or so qualified, and those Qualifications also must be known: if the Qualifi∣cations be not Repentance, Faith, and Baptism, then assign what they are: If you say, Faith and Repentance be the Qualifications; then say I, the Promise of the extraordinary Gift is made to every Christian Man and Woman; yea and every sincere Believer must receive those Gifts, or God doth fail of his Promise: For I am sure there is not one Soul that is a Believer indeed, having obeyed from the heart the form of Doc∣trine taught and delivered to the Saints, but hath more or less received the Spirit of God, ac∣cording to the Promise or Promises made to them as Persons so and so qualified or called, as hath already been minded.

Fourthly, The end of that Laying on of hands, Acts 8. could not be for the extraordinary, Gifts of the Spirit, because those extraordi∣nary Gifts, or Miracles, serve not for them that believe, but for them that believe not. Now can any think, Peter and John were sent by the Apostles from Jerusalem to those that had received the Word, and were baptized in Samaria, for the profit and benefit only of the Unbelievers there, that they, viz. such as did not believe in Samaria, might by beholding the Miracles, or extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit given to them that did believe, be convinced that Jesus was the Christ? Surely no Man can think, or imagine such a thing, especially considering the Text says plainly, They were sent to them that had re∣ceived the Word, and were baptized; sent for Page  15 their particular Comfort, and further Consola∣tion in Christ Jesus, that so they might stand compleat in the whole Will of God, and might be made Partakers of the Spirit of Promise made to every believing Soul baptized, Acts 2.38. for as much as it was their right, and they stood in great need of it, as all poor Souls do who enter themselves under Christ's Banner: For as our Lord Jesus, after he was baptized, had the Spi∣rit descending upon him, and was straightway exposed to temptation from the Devil; even so are all his Followers, when they take up the Pro∣fession of the Gospel, to expect to meet with sore Trials, Temptations, and Afflictions, and therefore have need of more of the Spirit to streng∣then, encourage, support, and comfort them, and to give them further assurance of the Love of God, that they may not flag, nor be disheartned, but may be abundantly enabled to overcome all Ene∣mies and Opposition, and remain faithful to the Lord Jesus unto the death. To this end doubt∣less the Apostles sent Peter and John from Jeru∣salem; who when they came, pray'd and lay'd their hands upon those Men and Women bapti∣zed, even for the Holy Spirit of Promise, for their particular profit, comfort and benefit, and not for extraordinary Gifts or Miracles, which was ('tis plain from Heb. 2.4.) for the Confir∣mation of the Gospel to them that believe not, (according to 1 Cor. 14.22.) Wherefore Tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not; but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but them which be∣lieve.

Page  16Fifthly; This being so, it could not be for the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit, that the Apo∣stles laid their hands on those in Samaria, because there was no need of further Miracles, forasmuch as Philip had wrought such mighty Miracles and Wonders in that City before, in so much that they were all convinced; yea the very Sorcerer himself believed, and continued with Philip, and wondred, beholding the Miracles and Signs which were done, Acts 8.13. Surely the Apostles at Jerusalem hearing of those things, and how the People, yea the whole City, were convinced and satisfied that Jesus was the Christ, would never have sent Peter and John to do that work which was so effectually done before by Philip; and therefore I conclude, that that laying on of hands Acts 8. was not for Tongues, Miracles, or the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit, as our Brethren affirm: and this being so, my work is near done already; for if they miss in giving us a true Ac∣count how Laying on of hands was used in the New Testament, they miss in the main case of all; and if that Laying on of hands, Acts 8.14, 15. and Acts 19. was not for the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit, the greatest Objection is answer∣ed, and the chief stumbling-block taken out of the way of God's People: For if Prayer, and Laying on of hands was practised upon baptized Believers as such, as a Principle of Christ's Doc∣trine, for the promised Spirit, the Comforter as so considered, which is the absolute Right, Portion, and Privilege of every believing Soul to the end of the World, then doubtless the Or∣dinance must needs remain in full force and virtue Page  17 as God's way, means, or method of conveyance of the said Spirit to all his Chosen always, even until the end. But because I shall have occasion to speak more to this anon, I forbear inlarging upon it here.