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.


Shewing that tho this holy Institution of Christ hath been corrupted by Antichrist, yet it ought not therefore to be rejected.

MR. Danvers, Pag. 6. proceeds to shew how Laying on of hands has been asserted by the Antients, and by the Canons and Decrees of several Councils; Pag. 15. how by the Church of Rome; Pag. 17. how by the Church of Eng∣land; Pag. 24. how asserted by some both of the Presbyterian and Independent Perswasion, &c.

What earnings or advantage he could pro∣pound to himself by filling up so many Pages in his Book with Stories of this kind, I know not. Many (as I am informed, and some in my owm hear∣ing) do judg what he has done in this respect, makes more against himself than us; Nay some, who are for this Ordinance, seem to be much confirmed by what he has said concerning Anti∣quity in respect thereof, and look upon them∣selves as beholden to Mr. Danvers for his pains in searching into Authors, and in producing so much, both from Antient and Modern Writers, Page  18 for Laying on of hands as immediately following Baptism, and as necessary to Church-Communion: And I must confess, I did not think so much could have been produced from Authors and Anti∣quity in the case, as I perceive there may, having through his means, according as I am capable, made some search; Tho I must say, if there were ten times more to be urged on that account, had we not the Authority of God's Word to warrant our Practice, it would signify nothing: For we will say with Ignatius; Whosoever speaks more than is written, altho he fast, altho he keep his Virginity, altho he work Miracles, altho he pro∣phesy, yet let him seem to thee a Wolf amongst the Sheep: Epist. ad Hierom.

But to proceed, I wonder Mr. Danvers should condemn, and wholly cast away Laying on of hands upon baptized Believers, and have nothing to do with it, because it had been corrupted by the false Church; the Subject, and Manner of Administration being quite altered, and changed; the Ordinance, or pure Institution being turned into abominable Superstition: may he not as well cast away Baptism and the Lord's Supper also, since they have been every way as much corrup∣ted, changed, and polluted as this? Nay, what Ordinance has not? Our work is to discover, and remove all Popish Additions and Pollutions, which in the days of darkness crept in, that so we may see every Institution shining forth in its primitive purity and splendor; and not reject any Ordinance of Christ, because polluted by Antichrist. What tho (as he said) those Popes, Councils, and Fathers, that enjoined and Page  19 imposed Infants Baptism for an Ordinance of Christ, enjoined that of Confirming In∣fants?

Reply. If it was as early corrupted, altered, and changed as Baptism, ought we not, since God has given us the Light of his Word and Spirit, to recover it from those Corruptions as well as Bap∣tism? Infants Baptism we all say, is a Popish Tradition, or humane Innovation; yet is Bap∣tism Christ's Ordinance: so in like manner we say, is laying on of hands upon Infants, or such as have only been baptized in Infancy, a meer Popish Rite, and Innovation: yet Laying on of hands upon baptized Believers as such, is an Or∣dinance of Christ, as divers worthy Men have clearly proved from God's Word▪ And tho the Antient Fathers and Councils he speaks of, toge∣ther with those of the Church of Rome and Eng∣land, do wholly fly unto Tradition, to prove their practice of Laying on of hands upon Chil∣dren; this will no more weaken our practice of Laying on of hands upon baptized Believers, than their flying to Tradition, and Usage of the Church, to prove their Infants Baptism, weakens our practice of baptizing Believers.

Moreover, those of the false Church, who wholly make use of Tradition to prove their Pe∣dobaptism, might without doubt, had God been pleased to open their eyes, seen that Baptism was a Divine Institution practised by the Apostles; even so might they also have easily seen, that that Laying on of hands practised by the Apostles next after Baptism, was Christ's holy Appoint∣ment; tho they could not find their ridiculous Page  20 Rite, and Popish Ceremony of Confirming Chil∣dren so to be, there being not the least Word of God for it.

But from what our Opponents say of Authors, I observe, that in the Antichristian Church, ever since the Apostacy from the good old way of the Gospel, there has been somewhat practised and kept up in the room and imitation of that Laying on of hands (instituted by Christ, and practised by the Apostles) upon baptized Believers as such, and as necessary to Church-Communion, as well as they have kept up something they call Baptism, in imitation of the true Baptism. And 'tis evident, that as the Romish Church has abominably corrupted the Ordinance of Bap∣tism as to the Subject and Manner of Admini∣stration, and added many ridiculous, and super∣stitious Fopperies to it; even so they have done by Laying on of hands: The Silver is become dross, and the Wine mixed with Water, Isa. 1.22. He shall (saith Daniel) think to change Times and Laws (speaking of the little Horn) and they shall be given into his hand, &c. Chap. 7.25.

But to proceed, do our Brethren utterly detect all those impious Forgeries and Ceremonies used in Baptism, and contended for by those Fathers, Councils, and corrupt Churches they speak of, and so clearly witness against them, for changing the Subject, and Manner of Baptizing; and yet all the while hold for Baptism it self, and faith∣fully contend for it; yea and conclude too, not∣withstanding those Abuses, and Corruptions by the Antients, and in the false Church, Baptism all along was maintained? this I say, rather confirms Page  21 and proves the thing it self to be an Ordinance of Jesus Christ than otherwise (tho not as they perform and practise it) why cannot they do the like concerning that Rite of Popish Confir∣mation? We do detect and abominate all those superstitious Ceremonies used by them, and wit∣ness against them for changing of the Subject, viz. from baptized Believers to sprinkled Infants, or such as were rantised in their Infancy; and yet contend for the thing it self, as practised in the Apostles time: and little reason they have to blame us herein; since the work of Reformation, or to labour to reduce Ordinances to their pri∣mitive Purity and Lustre, is by all accounted a glo∣rious Work; yea, and it is a full and compleat Reformation we all long for, not only for one Ordinance to be restored and refined from the dross, and abominable filth of Popish Traditions, but every Appointment and Ordinance of Christ.

Mr. Danvers, p. 30. (having given us an account how Laying on of hands, or Confirmation, has been asserted and practised,

  • By the Antients;
  • By Councils;
  • By the Church of Rome;
  • By the Church of England;
  • By some of the Independent, and Presbyterian Perswasion;

And Lastly, By some of the Baptized Churches) He comes to examine upon what ground such a great Ordinance has been, and is enjoined.

Reply. Doubtless it concerns us all to see what ground, or Scripture-warrant we have for what∣ever we do, or is done in the Worship and Ser∣vice Page  22 of God; and as to Confirmation or Laying on of hands, as asserted and practised by some he speaks of, I marvel not that they leave the Scrip∣ture, and fly to Tradition: For first, as to that which the Popish Church calls an Ordinance of Jesus Christ, 'tis so blasphemous and ridiculous (as he well observes) that the very naming of the particulars thereof may fully detect the folly and impiety of it; whether respecting the Name, which is called Chrysm, Ʋnction, Perfection, &c. or the Nature, which is done by putting the sign of the Cross, with the Bishop's finger, in the fore∣head of the Confirmed, with these words: I sign thee with the sign of the Cross, and with the Chrysm of Salvation, in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the Party being in a white Gar∣ment, his Head bound with Linen, his Hair cut, and attended with Gossips, or Sureties; this is (saith Mr. Danvers) what several Popes and Councils have by their Canons and Decrees de∣termined, and enjoined as the great Sacrament of Confirmation, pag. 3.

Reply. Well might Hommius tell us, that it is not only contrary to the Scriptures, but Blasphe∣mous and Idolatrous, and the vain Invention of superstitious Men. And well might Tilenus call it, an Excrement of Antichrist: And Amesius say, the reasons given for the same by the Papists, are both empty, and vain; and Mr. Calvin cry out against it, as is minded by Mr. Danvers. To which I might add a passage out of a Treatise of Mr. Hanmer, a Presbyterian, who tho very clear as touching Laying on of hands upon Adult Per∣sons Baptized before they are admitted to the Page  23 Lord's Table, yet cries down the Papists practice herein in respect of manner and form; they use (saith he) anointing with Chrysm, a compound of Oil and Balsam, consecrated by the Bishop; which as it was never instituted by Christ nor his Apostles, so saith he (as some affirm) it had its original from Calixtus Bishop of Rome, Anno 218, who ordained Confirmation to be perfor∣med with Chrysm, which before was done with imposition of hands without Chrysm.* And further he speaks of the form, which (saith he) they make to lie in these words: Consigno te signo Crucis, & confirmo te Chrysmate salutis, in nomine Patris, & Filii, & Spiritus Sancti: I sign thee with the sign of the Cross, and confirm thee with the Chrysm of Salvation, in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; A meer humane invention and device (saith Mr. Hanmer) that has not the least shadow for it from the Scripture*. Also another exception he brings against the Popish way of Laying on of hands, viz. in respect of the Subject, they confirming Infants, when according to the Apostolical Institution it belongs only to such as are Adult. And it appears that Calvin from hence bore his witness against Con∣firmation, viz. in respect of the abuse and cor∣ruption of it, as appears in his Institut. lib. 4. cap. 19. To which agrees the Testimony of Chemnitius: Our Men (saith he) have often shewed, that the Rite of Confirmation, if the unprofitable supersti∣tious Page  24 Traditions, and such as are repugnant to the Scripture, were removed, may piously be used to the edification of the Church, according to the consent of the Scripture. Exercitat. upon Confirm. pag. 65.

That Calvin owned Confirmation, or Laying on of hands, to be a Divine Institution, take his own words: Nam ne{que} satis pro sua utilitate com∣mendari potest sanctum hoc Institutum, nec Papistae satis exprobari tam flagitiosa Corruptela, quod illud in pueriles vertendo Ineptias, non modo sustu∣lerunt è medio, sed eo quoque ad impurae & impiae Superstitionis praetextum turpiter sunt abusi. For neither can this holy Institution (saith he) be enough commended for its Ʋtility, nor the Papists be suf∣ficiently upbraided with their so flagitious corruption of it, that by turning of it into childish Fopperies, they have not only taken it away, but have also so far shamefully abused it, for a colour of an impure and impious Superstition. And further he saith: Adulterinam enim illam Confirmationem, quam in ejus locum surrogarunt, instar Meretricis, magno Ce∣remoniarum splendore, multis{que} pomparum fucis, sine modo ornant. For they do beyond measure deck that Adulterous Confirmation, which they have substi∣tuted in its room, like a Harlot, with great splendor of Ceremonies. If therefore (saith that worthy Author in his said Excercitat. p. 51.) Confirmation shall be drained from these mixtures of humane In∣ventions that have for a long time so defaced and deformed it, viz. not called it a Sacrament; if their Popish matter (both remota, and proxima) of anointing with consecrated Chrysm the forehead of the Confirmed in the form of a Cross, be removed; Page  25 if neither Infants nor Children, who are not yet arrived to years of discretion, be admitted, but such as are Adult, who are able to give an account of their Faith, and the work of Grace upon their hearts; finally if those feigned Effects, mentioned by them as the end and use of it, together with those idle Additions that have betided it in the declining times of the Church, be rejected and cast off; and if done only with Prayer and Laying on of hands, for the admission of Persons as full Members, to the enjoyment of all Church-Privileges, as most agreeable to that of the Apostolical and primitive times; it will (saith he) I conceive be found to be exceeding useful and advantageous, as a thing requisite, if not necessary to a right Reformation, and the re∣ducing of the Churches of Christ to their native beauty, and primitive purest state and constitu∣tion, &c.

And that it might appear it was not only his own Judgment, together with Calvin, and Chem∣nitius, he produceth several other eminent Lights of the Reformed Churches, viz. Peter Martyr, the Divines of Leyden, Pareus, Rivet, Peter du Moulin, Didoclavius, as all witnessing to Laying on of hands upon the Baptized as such, as an A∣postolical Institution, and that which ought to be practised by the Churches of Christ, being refined from all Popish Corruptions and Additions, as the best Expedient, and readiest way to a happy Re∣formation, according to the primitive Pattern. To which I might add Mr. Caryl, Mr. Baxter, Mr. Ralph Venning, and Mr. G. Hughes, who all speak the same things concerning Confirmation, Page  26 as may be seen in their Epistles to the forementioned Book of Mr. Hanmers,* in commendation, and approbation thereof: and indeed to see how clear they be in their understandings concerning this Ordinance of Laying on of hands, and how learnedly and judiciously they have laboured to recover it from those Po∣pish Mixtures, and cursed Pollutions of the Ro∣mish Church, hath been of a refreshing nature unto me; tho I can't but admire in the mean while, they should still remain so blind and dark concerning Baptism, not perceiving how that also hath been as vilely corrupted and changed from the Apostolical Institution, in respect of the Subject and Manner of Administration, as well as in regard of those idle and ridiculous Forgeries and Additions of Chrysms. Consigna∣tions, Albes, Salt, Spittle, Sureties, &c. which they witness against. Now were but their eyes so opened as to recover and drain Baptism from Popish Corruptions or Alterations upon this ac∣count also, how would it add to the beauty and perfection of their Confirmation and Reforma∣tion, (provided according to their Light they would also get into the practice of both) and what glorious Churches might they soon come to be, yea excel many of the baptized Congre∣gations in respect of the plain Form, Order, and Constitution of the House of God according to the primitive Pattern? But to proceed, there are few, or none as I can gather, do oppose this Or∣dinance save some of the Baptists, of which Mr. Page  27Danvers may be reckoned the chief; for besides these modern Writers, already mentioned, who speak so fully concerning Laying on of hands with prayer to God for more of his Holy Spirit of Promise, and as an orderly admission unto Church-Communion, the perswasion or judgment of the Assembly of Divines concerning this Ordi∣nance, I might also produce how clearly they agree with the forementioned Presbyterian and Independent Ministers herein, as you may see in their Annotations on Heb. 6.

But no more of this at present, lest we too far digress from the matter in hand; what we have here said, is in answer to Mr. Danvers, in respect of the Rite it self, or thing called Confirmation, and how to be rejected (as we have a cloud of Witnesses agreeing with us here∣in) and how to be maintained, owned, and prac∣tised by the Churches of Christ.

I shall now return to Mr. Danvers,* pag. 32. he having in pag. 31. shewed us how blasphemous and abominable a thing the Rite of Confirmation is, as as∣serted by the Antients, and De∣crees of General Councils, and prac∣tised by corrupt Churches; in the next place he comes to enquire what Credit or Authority the Fathers or Doctors are of that witness to it, whose Authority he labours to disprove, calling them suborned Witnesses and Knights of the Post.