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The word sacrament is not of scriptural origin. This, however, is no argument against the propriety of using it as the name of Christian ordinances, if the thing designated and understood by it is found in the Bible. The same is true of the words Trinity, depravity, &c. which express in a brief and precise form, what the Bible teaches in scattered passages. Without inquiring into the original classical import of the word sacramentum, when it was first appropriated to a Christian use, it was employed to signify the mysteries of religion generally, and corresponds to the Greek musterion. Whatever else a mystery may be, this at least is implied in it, that, besides what is obvious and perceptible to the mind, it involves something more that is unperceived. In this way, it is quite probable, that it came to be made the generic and distinctive appellation of the signs and seals of the covenant of grace, which, by means of visible emblems, represent and ratify to us the invisible grace of which they are the symbols. Or, it is possible, that it may have obtained this appropriation of itself from its classical use, in which it signified the military oath, by which Roman soldiers were inducted into an army, and vowed allegiance and fidelity to its commander. The analogy of this to the Christian sacraments is obvious. For they are the most impressive badges of our union to the “sacramental host of God's elect,” and of unwavering devotion and fidelity to the Captain of our salvation. But without traveling farther in quest of the origin of the term, we all understand its present universal and unquestioned use. It designates those outward and visible rites of Christianity, which, by divine institution, are perpetual in the church, and

are, in some sense at least, admitted by all to be signs and symbols of the saving benefits resulting to man from the mediatory work of Christ, and to be instrumental in promoting our interest in those benefits. Under this description common consent ranks circumcision and the passover under the ancient dispensation; and baptism and the Lord's supper under the New. The first point to which we invite attention, is the extent to which the sacraments of the Old and those of the New Testament agree and differ with each other respectively. For, although this course inverts the usual order of investigation on this subject, yet, as will in due time appear, this is the great point on which hinges the whole debate between the Protestant and evangelical doctrine on the one side, and the Roman or sacramental system of religion on the other. By settling this question, therefore, at the threshold, we clear the way for tracing out the whole subject with ease and perspicuity. The difference, then, between the Protestant and Roman, the evangelical and high-church view of this subject, may be thus stated. According to the former, the sacraments of both dispensations were the same in their nature and kind of efficacy, but differed in circumstantials. The latter hold that they differ radically as to their substance not less than their accidents, that circumcision and the passover were signs and seals foreshadowing the blessings which baptism and the eucharist actually accomplish and convey by their inherent efficacy. The reason why the Romanists so strenuously urge this claim, is obvious. Should they once allow that there is no substantial difference between the Jewish and Christian sacraments, as to their import and kind of efficacy; then what is so clearly taught in the Bible in regard to circumcision, would apply É. equal force to all the sacraments, and would wholly subvert the Romish fiction of their inherent regenerating, sanctifying and saving power. On the other hand, if the Protestants allow this claim, they thus virtually admit the Romish doctrine, that sacraments confer grace and salvation in and of themselves, and are invested with the crowning and exclusive glory of Christ, as the power of God and the wisdom of God unto salvation. And they further rob themselves of all that light respecting the general nature of the sacraments, which Paul sheds so copiously, in his endeavor to reclaim the Jews from their superstitious high-church reliance on the intrinsic virtue of circumcision. It is plain, therefore, how the decision of this question lies at the soundation not only of the whole sacramental controversy between Protes. tants and Romanists, but also of all inquiries in regard to the nature of the sacraments in general. Let us then understand clearly what the question is. It is not whether the old sacraments differ from the new in any circumstantial and subordinate respects. It is admitted on all sides, that they differ as they have different external rites, as the old respected blessings flowing from a Savior yet to come ; the new were emblematic of the same blessings issuing from a Savior already come: that the old were more burdensome than the new : the former belonged to an economy in which the light and power of Christ's salvation were conveyed to the soul through the dark medium of types and shadows which vanished when He himself appeared; that thus they were ob. scured and enfeebled in comparison with the ordinances of a dispensation freed from these incumbrances, and enriched by larger communications of the Spirit. This is indisputable. But it does not prove that

, the sacraments of these respective

dispensations were diverse in their main features, their characteristic interest, and kind of efficacy, any more than it proves that the God of Abraham is different from the God of Paul, or that the Messiah of the Jews differs from our own Redeemer, and is not the same, yesterday, to-day, and forever. That the new and old sacraments are essentially of similar import and force, is evident from the following considerations. 1. Paul declares of the Jews, 1 Cor. x, 2–4, “They were all bap. tized unto Moses, in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink ; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” These indeed were temporary and unusual sacraments. But they can not, on this account, be deemed superior to those which were perpetual in the church. At all events, we thus learn, that the Israelites received whatever virtue there is in baptism or in the eucharist. The language is quite equal to the most intensive phrases of the New Testa. ment on this subject. “This Rock was Christ,” proves transubstantiation quite as strongly as “This is my body.” But the Apostle cites this case for the express purpose of warning the church against relying on outward ordinances and sacraments, to the neglect of that spiritual and moral excellence, without which they are vain. He does this by showing them how many of their fathers, notwithstanding they enjoyed equal sacramental privileges, sunk into fatal apostasy. This case proves, therefore, that the Jews were favored with the same sacramental virtue as Christians, and that, with both alike, it was unavailing, if divorced from that faith without which it is impossible to please God. 2. Baptism and circumcision sig. nify and seal the same blessings, and the efficacy of each is the same in kind. They are symbols of the removal of our natural sinfulness and corruption. How baptism is an emblem of the washing of regeneration, the ablution of the soul from the filth and guilt of sin, is plain. How circumcision signifies the crucifixion of the flesh with its affections and lusts, another aspect of the same radical change, is equally plain. For as we are commanded to circumcise the heart, and taught that circumcision profiteth if we keep the law, but, if we break the law, our circumcision is made uncircumcision; so water-baptism is contrasted with the baptism of the Holy Spirit: and we are taught, that it is not the mere washing away of the filth of the flesh which saves us, but the answer of a good conscience towards God. Hence it is plain, that we are thus taught that each of these are symbols of that great spiritual change, that inward piety, without which they are both represented as of no power to save. So circumcision is declared to be to Abraham a sign and seal of the righteousness of faith, which he had yet being uncircumcised. But we know that faith works by love, and purifies the heart. Baptism was likewise administered to those who had already believed, as all the evangelical narratives show. It must, therefore, like circumcision, have been a seal and pledge of the righteousness of faith and its attendant blessings, and not a rite which, by its own power, renewed the soul, thus giving birth to faith and repentance, justification and salvation. But in Colossians ii, 11, 12, circumcision and baptism are both mentioned together, as filling the same place, and endowed with like properties. “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also

ye are risen through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” Here, plainly, the highest efficacy is attributed to circumcision which any Romanist ever claimed for baptism, a putting away of the body of the sins of the flesh ; but then it is declared to be the circumcision made without hands, in other words, that inward spiritual change, of which corporeal circumcision is the symbol. On the other hand, if we are said to be buried and risen with him in baptism, it is declared to be through faith of the operation of God. Its efficacy is thus shown to be dependent on faith. If we have succeeded in showing the perfect resemblance between baptism and circumcision, as to their main intent, we may be more brief in regard to the substantial identity of the Lord's supper and the passover. It is enough, then, that Christ is declared, 1 Cor. v, 7, to be our passover. This language, surely, is not less explicit and intense than any used respecting the Lord's supper, and shows that there was as strong a participation of him in the passover, as in this latter ordinance. Indeed, Christ is the true paschal lamb that taketh away the sin of the world. Having thus shown the substantial similarity of the sacraments under both dispensations, we proceed to deduce from this fact their general nature, influence and efficacy. In this exposition our guiding light will be Paul's definition of circumcision, Rom. iv, 11, in which he declares it to be a sign and seal of the righteousness of faith. Now it is by faith that we become interested in the righteousness of Christ, and all the blessings of salvation which are the purchase of his blood. Thus we arrive at this definition. The Christian sacraments are divinely appointed visible signs and seals of the grace of the Gospel. Now it is the office of a sign to represent or suggest to the mind something beyond itself. A visible sign conveys such representation to the mind by picturing it to the eye. It is the office of a seal to attest and confirm solemn promises or covenants. It is obvious, therefore, that the same visible rite may perform both offices. As signs and seals, the sacraments correspond to the two great aspects under which the Gospel may be considered. 1. As it eachibits to us those great truths and realities which lie at the basis of our salvation. 2. As through it God stipulates to confer its blessings on the believer, by solemn promise and covenant. To each of these aspects of the Gospel, its sacraments correspond as signs and seals. How then, let us inquire, are the elements of water, bread, and wine, used in the Lord's supper, invested with a sacramental character, so as to be signs and seals of the covenant of grace 2 We answer, in the first place, they are naturally adapted to the purpose, inasmuch as they do that for the body, which the things represented by them do for the soul. The application of water to the body is in itself a fit emblem of the cleansing of the soul from pollution. The bread broken is a fit emblem of Christ's mangled body : when eaten, it exhibits him as the nutriment of our spiritual life. The wine, by its color, is a fit symbol of his blood shed for us: by its refreshing property, it suggests the reviving power of his cross to the soul drooping under the burden of conscious guilt. These elements undergo no change in themselves, either as to substance or accidents, by being set apart from a common to a sacramental use. That there is no other change, is obvious to our senses, and corresponds with their whole nature and intent as signs and seals. But here let us notice the great plea of the Romanists for transubstantiation, which is, that the lan

guage of the institute giving the elements their sacramental character, v, 12, “This is my body,” “This is my blood,” prove transubstantiation, or the conversion of the elements into the real body and blood of Christ. But when the strict literal sense of any passage of the Bible is obviously absurd and self. contradictory, we are bound on every principle, to give it a figurative construction which shall harmonize with its other clear and undoubted teachings. We might as well say that Christ is a literal vine, or lamb, as that he is literal bread. But, to bring this question to the test, let us try the phrase, “this is my bo. dy.” The word this refers to bread. Christ declared therefore, this bread which I now hold in my hand, a member of my body, is my body. Now according to scriptural usage, the word is, in this passage, may mean, is figuratively, or is really. As a specimen of the former use, take the following. The seed is the word. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. Now did Christ mean by these words, “This is my body,” it is figuratively or literally my body ? I answer, the former : 1. Because that of which he said it, was held by a member of his body, and spoken of as something wholly distinct from it. Could that which was a separate substance from his body yet be his body ? 2. Because the language does not constitute or change any thing, as the Romanists maintain, but simply declares an existing fact. But as all admit, before the utterance of these words, there is no conversion of substances from their natural State. 3. When Christ uttered these words, his body had not been crucified or broken; how then could the broken bread be literally his unbroken body ? 4. Christ is now in the highest heavens. While by his divine omnipresence His spirit is every where at all times; yet his body can not fill two different spaces at the same time : it can not be at the same moment at the right hand of the majesty on high, and on every communion table. 5. If the sacramental bread is his real body, then he is sacrificed anew at each successive communion. But this is in direct contradiction to the Scriptures, which teach that, in contrast to other priests, who need to make a frequent repetition of their sacrifices, Christ, after he had made one offering for sins, forever sat down at the right hand of God. Having thus exploded this tenet, which is the great support of the superstitions and hierarchical power of the apostate Romish church, we proceed to consider the uses of the Christian sacraments. Their principal object and use obviously are, to assist and confirm our faith in the truths and promises of the Gospel, through the medium of the bodily senses. By this visible representation of the truths and confirmation of the promises of the Gospel, our corporeal are made to conspire with our mental faculties, in nourishing our faith, in quickening all our spiritual affections. By means of them, the soul-saving, soul-refreshing truths of salvation are figured forth to the eye, and there is no more beautiful and exact description of the precise quality of the sacraments, than this of Augustine, that they are the “word made visible.” It is the truth of the word represented to the eye, and through this avenue reaching and stirring the sensibilities of the heart. The addition of this word seen to the word heard, brings Christ indeed nigh to every one of us, so that we have neither to ascend to heaven, or descend to the depths to find him: he is before us. We not only hear: we have an affecting exhibition of his body broken : his blood poured out: his spirit cleansing our souls

Wol. III. 42

from defilement. Now since we are so constituted as to be powerfully impressed by sensible representations of inward and invisible ideas: since men always crave these visible emblems of the great truths that stir their souls: since they are ever resorting to pictures, badges, seals and similar devices, as the tokens of their strong inward af. fections, no reason can be shown why this property of our nature should not be enlisted in the service of piety. This God has done in the Christian sacraments, in which he perpetually enlists the senses as auxiliaries to the exercises of the inner man in the promotion of faith. And how immense, past conception or utterance, is the condescension which he thus displays toward our infirmities 2 But let us understand what is the precise nature and force of these visible emblems. Though they are visible signs and emblems which awaken a vivid and impressive sense of the spiritual truths and blessings imaged forth by them : yet they are not mere signs. They are also seals of the covenant in which God promises to confer these blessings upon us. Now we know that in all solemn stipulations and contracts among men, it is customary to affix a seal, as the most conclusive ratification of it; the ultimate and decisive guarantee of the full intention and obligation of the promisor to fulfill his contract. This solemn attestation invites and gives additional confidence on the part of the promisee. Exactly analogous to this is the influence of the seals of the covenant. God confirms to the believer his word of promise, by this solemn, ultimate attestation which men ever give in confirmation of their binding promises. What believer, as oft as he eats the bread and drinks the cup in remembrance of his risen Savior, does not feel that it is a precious token, a most impressive and

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