The Sacrament of Confirmation
Confirmation is the sacrament through which the believer is granted the gift of the Holy Ghost who alone can confirm him in the new life given to him through baptism. Like the Sacrament of baptism, this sacrament can never be repeated.
II. Institution of the Sacrament
It was instituted through the various promises which the Lord gave for granting the Holy Ghost. (John chapters 7, 14, 15, 16, etc.)
III. Time of Administration
Since the believer, through this sacrament, is confirmed in the new life given him after baptism, it should therefore be administered directly after baptism. Some churches say that it should be delayed till the babies grow to the age of maturity. In reply it may be sufficient to state the following.
(1) The Holy Ghost descended upon our Lord directly after baptism. (Matt. 3:16)
(2) The Apostles used to celebrate this sacrament by the laying on of hands, directly after baptism. (Acts 8: 14-17; 19:5, 6)
(3) Since babies are worthy of receiving the grace of baptism, there is no reason for preventing them from receiving the sacrament of confirmation.
(4) The Bible declares that some babies were filled with the Holy Gost even from their mothers’ womb, e.g. John the Baptist. (Luke 1: 15)
In the early days of the church, it used to celebrate this sacrament by the laying on of hands. “Then laid they (Peter and John) their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 8:17) “And when they (the Ephesians) heard this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them the Holy Ghost came on them.” (Acts 19: 5, 6)
The laying on of hands was afterwards replace by the unction of the holy oil (mairoun). “But we have an unction from the Holy one, and we know all things. The anointing which we have received of Him abides in you and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.” (1 John 2:20, 27)
“Now He which establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us. Is God: who hath also sealed us and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (2 Cor. 1: 21, 22)
Certain parts of the body have to be anointed with that oil after saying certain prayers. It is related that the holy oil was first made, by the Apostles, of the spices and ointments that were prepared for the body of the Lord at the time of burial and after burial (Luke 23:56; 24:1). St. Mark brought part of it to Egypt, and since that time fresh oil used to be made and added to the rest of it. It is now made of olive oil and certain spices, and consecrated by the Patriarch and bishops through long prayers.
V. The Invisible Grace
Through this sacrament the believer receives the gift of the Holy Ghost who confirms him in the new life given to him in baptism, gives him the power of growing in that new life, enlightens and teaches him all things (1 John 2, 20,21) and keeps him firm in the way of truth.
The seven gifts of the Holy Ghost-wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, godliness, and the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2) are given to the believers through this sacrament.
VI. Who has the Right to Anoint?
This right was primarily confined to the Apostles, From them it was conveyed to the bishops, their successors, But owing to the difficulties of travel and the impossibility of the bishops being able to confirm all over large dioceses, the custom arose of the bishops blessing the oil, and then allowing the priests to anoint with the oil, and so convey the blessing of the bishops.