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The American Church Dictionary and Cycopedia

Imposition of Hands

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A technical term for the Laying on of Hands by the Bishop in Confirmation. Wheatley on the Prayer Book remarks: "This is one of the most ancient ceremonies in the world. It has always been used to determine the blessing pronounced to those particular persons on whom the hands are laid, and to signify that the persons, who thus lay on their hands, act and bless by divine authority. Thus Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manasses, not as a parent only, but as a prophet. Moses laid his hands on Joshua, by express command from God, and as supreme Minister over his people; and thus our Blessed Lord laid His Hands upon little children and blessed them, and upon those that were sick and healed them. . . . And the Apostles, from so ancient a custom and universal a practice, continued the rite of Imposition of Hands for communicating the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, which was so constantly and regularly observed by them, that St. Paul calls the whole office, Laying on of Hands," and it may be added one of the first "principles of the Doctrine of Christ" (Hebrews 6:1 and 2).

This term also refers to the Laying on of Hands by the Bishop in Ordination to the Sacred Ministry, by which is conferred the grace of Holy Order, and one is admitted to the Office and work of a Deacon, of Priest or Bishop, "which Offices were evermore had in such reverend estimation, that no man might presume to execute any of them except he were first called, tried, examined and known to have such qualities as are requisite for the same; and also by public Prayer, with Imposition of Hands, were approved and admitted thereunto by lawful Authority." (Preface to Ordinal in Prayer Book.)

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Bibliography Information
Miller, William James. Entry for 'Imposition of Hands'. The American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. 1901.

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