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 upon what ground some of the Inde∣pendent and Presbyterian Perswasion have asserted Laying on of hands on baptised Persons.

IN Pag. 36. Mr. Danvers having done with Tradition and Fathers, he tells us, he will consider the Scripture-grounds urged in proof hereof by the Independents, and those of the Presbyterian Perswasion; In the first place (which is the principal) Heb. 6.1, 2. which he saith, Mr. Hanmer modestly expresses to be but a pro∣bable ground.

To which I shall give this answer, that tho Mr. Hanmer uses such a Phrase (viz. calling Heb. 6.1, 2. a probable ground) he doth not say, 'tis Page  34 but a probable ground; and those that read his Book shall find, that by the Testimony of di∣vers famous Men, he abundantly endeavours to prove it to be absolutely the Laying on of hands intended in that Scripture. (See Page 25, 26.) And since I find many eminent Men speaking so plainly on this account of Heb. 6. 1, 2. and to sa∣tisfy some Persons herein, and prevent mistakes, take a few instances out of Mr. Hanmer, as the Judgment of several Divines upon that Text.

The first I shall cite is Didoclavius, who of three Interpretations of this Text, mentioned by him, admits of this, Cap. 2. viz. Laying on of hands after Baptism, and before admitted to the Lord's Table: And gives a reason why it may be called Confirmatory; Nempe ratione Ecclesiae approbantis, & confirmantis sua approbatione exa∣minatum, ad verum illud ac genuinum Confirma∣tionis Sacramentum admittentis: (viz.) Because of the Churches approving, and by their approbation confirming of the Person examined, and admit∣ting him unto that true and genuine Rite of Con∣firmation.

The next is Major on Heb. 6.2. On this place (saith he) all that I have seen (mark) un∣derstand it of Imposition of hands on such as have been baptized only. Bullinger.

Mr. Hooker, Lib. 5. Sect. 6. in his Appendix, Pag. 3. alledging T.C. thus speaking, Tell me, why there should be any such Confirmation, seeing no one Tittle thereof can be found in Scripture? Thus answers ironically, except the Epistle to the Hebrews, chap. 6. 2. be Scripture; plainly inti∣mating (saith Mr. Hanmer) he thought that place Page  35 to be a sufficient ground for it, and that to be the meaning of the Apostle there.

Mr. Parker, de Polit. Eccles. lib. 3. c. 15, 16. refuting the Arguments of such as plead for E∣piscopal Confirmation, at large assents (saith our Author) to what is by me delivered.


He shews the general nature, and end of it, viz. admission of Members into the Communion of the Church, which according∣ly was used towards such as were converted. This Imposition of hands (saith he) Heb. 6.2. is that very Ecclesiastical Union, by a solemn professing of Faith, and admission into the Church.


He shews the necessity of it from this Text, Heb. 6.2. (saith Mr. Hanmer.)

Thirdly, That it ought to be done publickly, and before the Church: Et hic ordo inter gra∣via negotia agitur, enim de membro recipiendo, pub∣licum hoc est, & publici juris, & ideo non nisi Ec∣clesiae consensu ejusdem, cui adjungendus est compe∣tens, perficiendus. This course is to be reckoned a∣mong the weighty affairs, it is a publick thing, and of publick right; for the matter in agitation is con∣cerning the receiving of a Member, and therefore not to be performed without the consent of that same Church, to which the Competent is to be joined.


He shews the Antiquity thereof, and that 'tis an Apostolical Institution, and the practice of the Antient Church.

He further affirms, pag. 28. that Piscator so understood Heb. 6. 1, 2. viz. to mean Laying on of hands upon the Baptized; Also Beza, Paraeus,Page  36 and Rivet, whose words take as follows •••m∣positio manuum, cujus mentio fit, Heb. 6.2. re∣ferenda est ad solennem Baptizatorum Benedictio∣nem, quae à Pastoribus solebat fieri, eos in Christi∣anismi vocationis confirmantibus: Imposition of hands, whereof mention is made Heb. 6.2. is to be referred to the solemn Benediction of the Bapti∣zed, which was used to be performed by the Pastors, confirming them in the calling of Christianity. He mentions the Doctors of Leyden, shewing this to be their sense upon this Text also.

Calvin, who gives this only as the chief thing intended by the Apostle in this place, from hence draws this remarkable Inference; wherein (saith Mr. Hanmer) he plainly declares his apprehensi∣ons concerning the Original and Antiquity of this practice in the Church of Christ: Hic unus locus, &c. This one place (saith he) abundantly testifies that the-original of this Ceremony, viz. Confirmation, or Laying on of hands, flow'd from the Apostles, which yet afterwards was turned into a Superstition; as the World almost always dege∣nerates from the best Institutions into Corruption: Wherefore to this day this pure Institution [mark] ought to be retained, but the Superstition to be cor∣rected. Why should Mr. Danvers presume to say these Men confess the Scripture is but a probable ground, and that Tradition and Anti∣quity is the more certain? And again

that there is nothing but a faint insinuation from the Scripture to ground Laying on of hands upon? What Men can speak more fully to a Text?

Page  37But to proceed, he adds Hyperus, who saith, Imposition of hands, Heb. 6.2. was in the confirma∣tion of those that had been baptized and rightly in∣structed, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. He urgeth several other Persons of the same mind, as Illyricus, Mr. Deering, &c.

To which I might add what Mr. Hughes late of Plymouth in his Ep. to Mr. Hanmer's Book, men∣tions on this account, speaking of Heb. 6.2. It is by some glorious Lights in the Church (saith he) understood of Confirmation, in that Phrase of Im∣position of hands, annexed to Baptism, Heb. 6. Whence it is said, that this abundantly testifies that the Original of this Ceremony flowed from the A∣postles.

Before I proceed, I might cite a passage full to the same purpose, as the Judgment of the Learn∣ed Assembly of Divines, which take as follows, out of their Annotations on Heb. 6.2. Laying on of hands, say they, is usually called Confirmation; which stood first, in examining those that had been baptized what progress they had made in Christia∣nity. Secondly, In praying for them, that God would continue them in the Faith, and give them more Grace, strengthning them by his Holy Spirit, they laid their hands upon them: whence the Apo∣stolical Constitution was called Laying on of Hands.

Moreover, What Mr. Baxter speaks upon this account I can't well omit, Confirmat. p. 124, 125. If the Ʋniversal Church of Christ (saith he) have used Prayer, and Laying on of hands, as a practice received from the Apostles, and no other beginning of it can be found; then we have no reason to think this Ceremony ceased, or to interpret the foresaid Page  38 Scripture contrary to this practice of the Ʋniversal Church. But the Antecedent is true, ergo. And if any say, Anointing and Crossing were antient; I answer (saith he)

First, That they were as antient in the Popish use as the matter of a Sacrament, or necessary Signs, is not true, nor proved, but frequently dis∣proved by our Writers against Popish Confirma∣tion.

Secondly, Nor can it be proved, that they were as antient as indifferent things.

Thirdly, We prove the contrary, because they were not in Scripture-times, there being no men∣tion of them.

Fourthly, So that we bring Antiquity but to prove the continuance of a Scripture-practice, and so to clear the practice of it: But the Papists plead Fathers for that which the Scripture is a stranger unto.

I shall close this with Reverend Mr. Hooker: The antient Custom of the Church (saith he, Eccles. Polit. p. 351.) was, after they had baptized, to add thereto Imposition of hands, with effectual Prayer for the illumination of God's most Holy Spi∣rit, to confirm and perfect that which the Grace of the said Spirit had already begun in Baptism: for the means to obtain the Graces which God doth be∣stow, are our Prayers; and our Prayers to that in∣tent are available as well for others as for our selves.

But to pass by this, I intreat the Reader to con∣sider, that tho we have urged the Testimony of several Authors, who are one with us in the main concerning our Practice herein, yet we build not Page  39 upon Men or Tradition, but on the Word of God; neither do we suppose any necessity for us to take up new weapons to defend so plain a Truth, since our Adversaries have been so suffici∣ently worsted and put to flight by the Sword of the Spirit, as used by several eminent Saints in times past. What we have mentioned of Authors, we have been in part forced to by what Mr. Dan∣vers and others have said of them. And that leads me to what he speaks, pag. 40. of the Scripture-grounds on which the Baptists have asserted this Rite (as he calls it) and founded this Practice of Laying on of hands upon baptized Believers, as necessary to Church-Communion, as before espe∣cially held forth, Heb. 6.1, 2. tho not affirmed with that sobriety and modesty, as the other from Probability, but rather Infallibility, denying fellow∣ship to any that do not receive it, &c.