Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
Imposition of Hands
An ecclesiastical action, by which a bishop lays his hands on the head of a person in ordination, confirmation, or in uttering a blessing. This practice is also frequently observed by the Dissenters at the ordination of their preachers; when the ministers present place their hands on the head of him whom they are ordaining, while one of them prays for a blessing on him and on his future labours. they are not agreed, however, as to the propriety of this ceremony. Some suppose it to be confined to those who received extraordinary gifts in the primitive times: others think it ought to be retained, as it was an ancient practice used where no extraordinary gifts were conveyed, Genesis 48:14 . Matthew 19:15 . They do not suppose it to be of such an important and essential nature, that the validity and usefulness of a man's future ministry depend upon it in any degree. Imposition of hands was a Jewish ceremony, introduced not by any divine authority, but by custom; it being the practice among those people, whenever they prayed to God for any person, to lay their hands on his head. Our Saviour observed the same custom, both when he conferred his blessing on children, and when he healed the sick, adding prayer to the ceremony. the apostles, likewise, laid hands on those upon whom they bestowed the Holy Ghost. The priests observed the same custom when any one was received in their body. And the apostles themselves underwent the imposition of hands afresh every time they entered upon any new design. In the ancient church, imposition of hands was even practised on persons when they married, which custom the Abyssinians still observe. Maurice's Dial. on Soc. Religion, p. 163, 168. Watt's Rational Foundation of a Christian Ch. p. 31; Turner on Church Gov. p. 70; King's Primitive Christ. Ch. p. 49.
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Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Imposition of Hands'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/i/imposition-of-hands.html. 1802.