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906
CONFIRMATION OF BISHOPS

nor confirmation beyond seven years. And to give an historical example, Henry VIII. had his daughter, afterwards Queen Elizabeth, both baptized and confirmed when she was only a few days old. And still the rubrics of the English Prayer-Book direct that the person who is baptized as an adult is to “be confirmed by the bishop so soon after his baptism as conveniently may be.”

But theologians in the West had elaborated a theory of the grace of confirmation, which made its severance from baptism seem natural; and at the time of the Reformation, while neither side favoured the Eastern practice, the reformers, with their strong sense of the crucial importance of faith, emphasized the action of the individual in the service, and therefore laid it down as a rule that confirmation should be deferred till the child could learn a catechism on the fundamentals of the Christian faith, which Calvin thought he might do by the time he was ten. Many of the Protestant bodies have abandoned the rite, but it remains among the Lutherans (who, whether episcopal or not, attach great importance to it) and in the group of Churches in communion with the Church of England. In the Catholic Apostolic Church (“Irvingites”) confirmation is called “sealing,” and is administered by the “angels” Among the Roman Catholics it is reckoned one of the seven sacraments, and administered at about the age of eight: in many cases less emphasis is laid on the confirmation than on the first communion, which follows it.

At the last revision of the Book of Common Prayer an addition was made to the service by prefixing to it a solemn renewal of their baptismal vows by the candidates; and, in the teeth of history and the wording of the service, this has often been taken to be the essential feature of confirmation. Practically, the preparation of candidates for confirmation is the most important and exacting duty of the Anglican parish priest, as the administration of the rite is the most arduous of a bishop's tasks; and after a long period of slovenly neglect these duties are now generally discharged with great care: classes are formed and instruction is given for several weeks before the coming of the bishop to lay on hands “after the example of the Holy Apostles” (prayer in the Confirmation Service). Of late years there has been a controversy among Anglican theologians as to the exact nature of the gift conveyed through confirmation, or, in other words, whether the Holy Spirit can be said to have come to dwell in those who have been baptized but not confirmed. The view that identifies confirmation rather than baptism with the Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit on the Church has had to contend against a long established tradition, but appeals to Scripture (Acts viii. 16) and to patriotic teaching.

Authorities.—Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity, book v. ch. lxvi; Jeremy Taylor, A Discourse of Confirmation; A. J. Mason, The Relation of Confirmation to Baptism (London, 1891), where see list of other writers; L. Duchesne, Origines du culte chrétien, chap. ix. (Paris, 1898).  (W. O. B.) 


CONFIRMATION OF BISHOPS. In canon law confirmation is the act by which the election of a new bishop receives the assent of the proper ecclesiastical authority. In the early centuries of the history of the Church the election or appointment of a suffragan bishop was confirmed and approved by the metropolitan and his suffragans assembled in synod. By the 4th canon of the first council of Nicaea (A.D. 325), however, it was decreed that the right of confirmation should belong to the metropolitan bishop of each province, a rule confirmed by the 12th canon of the council of Laodicaea. For the appointment of a metropolitan no papal confirmation was required either in the West or East; but the practice which grew up, from the 6th century onwards, of the popes presenting the pallium (q.v.), at first honoris causa, to newly appointed metropolitan gradually came to symbolize the licence to exercise metropolitan jurisdiction. By the 8th and 9th centuries the papal right of confirmation by this means was strenuously asserted; yet as late as the 13th century there were instances of metropolitan exercising their functions without receiving the pallium, and it was not till after this date that the present rule and practice of the Roman Catholic Church was definitively established (see Hinschius, Kirchenrecht, ii. p. 28 and notes). The canonical right of the metropolitan to confirm the election of his suEragans was still amrrned by Gratian; but from the time of Pope Alexander III. (1159–1181) the canon lawyers, under the influence of the False Decretals, began to claim this right for the pope (Febronius, De statu ecclesiae, 2nd ed., 1765, cap. iv. § 3, 2). From the 13th century onwards it was effectively exercised, though the all but universal practice of the popes of reserving and providing to vacant bishoprics, initiated by Clement V., obscured the issue, since in the case of papal nominations no confirmation was required. The question, however, was raised, in connexion with that of the papal reservations and provisions, at the councils of Constance and Basel. The former shelved it in the interests of peace; but the latter once more formulated the principle that elections in the churches were to be free and their result confirmed according to the provisions of the common law (juxta juris communis dispositionem), i.e. by “the immediate superior” to whom the right of confirmation belonged (Febronius, op. cit. Appendix, p. 784).

In England, where the abuse of provisors had been most acutely felt, the matter was dealt with during the vacancy of the Holy See between the deposition of John XXIII. at Constance (May 1415) and the election of Martin V. (November 1417). During the interval the only possible way of appointing a bishop was by the ancient method of canonical election and confirmation. Shortly after the deposition of John XXIII., Henry V. assented to an ordinance that during the voidance of the Holy See bishops-elect should be confirmed by their metropolitan (Rotuli Parliamentorum, iv. p. 71); but the ordinance was not recorded on the Statute Roll. Three bishops only, namely, John Chaundeler of Salisbury, Edmund de Lacey of Hereford and John Wakering of Norwich, were confirmed by the archbishop of Canterbury during the papal vacancy. When Martin V. was elected pope in 1417 he resumed the practice of providing bishops, and from this time until the Reformation the canonical election and confirmation of a bishop in England was a rare exception.

In Roman Catholic countries the complete control of the papacy over the election and appointment of bishops has since the Reformation become firmly established, in spite of the efforts of Gallicans and “Febronians” to reassert what they held to be the more Catholic usage (see Gallicanism; Febronianism; Bishop).

In England at the Reformation the share of the papacy in appointing bishops was abolished, but the confirmation became almost formal in character. By 25 Hen. VIII. c. 20, s. 4, it is provided that after an episcopal election a royal mandate shall issue to the archbishop of the province “requiring him to confirm the said election,” or, in case of an archbishop-elect, to one archbishop and two bishops, or to four bishops, “requiring and commanding” them “with all speed and celerity to confirm” it. This practice still prevails in the case of dioceses which have chapters to elect. The confirmation has usually been performed by the archbishop’s vicar-general, and, in the southern province, at the church of St Mary-le-Bow, London; but since rgor it has been performed, in part, at the Church House, Westminster, in consequence of the disorder in the proceedings at Bow church on the confirmation there of Dr Winnington Ingram as bishop of London. All objectors are cited to appear on pain of contumacy after the old form; but although the knowledge that opposition might be offered has been a safeguard against improper nominations, e.g. in the case of Dr Clarke the Arian, confirmation has never been refused since the Reformation. In 1628 Dr Rives, acting for the vicar-general, declined to receive objections made to Richard Montague's election to the see of Chichester on the ground that they were not made in legal form. An informal protest against the confirmation of Dr Prince Lee of Manchester in 1848 was almost immediately followed by another in due form against that of Dr Hampden, elect of Hereford. The vicar-general refused to receive the objections, and an application to the queen’s bench for mandamus was unsuccessful, the judges being divided, two against two. In 1869, at the