« PreviousContinue »
LECTURES ON THE SHORTER CATE
CHISM OF THE WESTMINSTER AS
find that after Simon, the sorcerer,
was baptized, an inspired apostle SEMBLY OF DIVINES—ADDRESSED declared," that his heart was not
right in the sight of God;" that he had “neither part nor lot” in
the saving benefits of the gospel; The subject of the sacraments, but was still “in the gall of bitteron the consideration of which we ness, and in the bond of iniquity.” are now to enter, is introduced in And in regard to the sacrament of our Catechism at the 91st ques- the Lord's supper, we know that in tion; the answer to which is as the primitive Corinthian church, follows-“The sacraments become a number of those who had pareffectual means of salvation, not taken of the symbols of the broken from any virtue in them, or in him body and shed blood of the Rethat doth administer them; but deemer, so far from being placed only by the blessing of Christ, and in a state of salvation by the act, the working of his Spirit in them had most grievously sinned in that that by faith receive them.” very act; and were visited in con
The chief design of this answer sequence with temporal judgments is to guard against erroneous ap- to bring them to repentance; “ that prehensions relative to the sacra- being chastened of the Lord, they ments; especially those which are might not be condemned with the entertained and taught in the Ro- world.” In addition to this palman Catholick cominunion. That pable evidence from the volume of corrupt church maintains two inspiration, our own observation gross errors, in regard to these testifies, that there is a melancholy sacred ordinances. The first error number of the recipients, not only is, that the sacraments have an in- of the sacrament of baptism, but herent efficacy in themselves, to alas! of the Lord's supper also, convey saving grace to those who whose lives afford no indication partake of them; so that they who that they are, or ever were, in a receive the external elements are, state of salvation; and the test of by the very act of reception, placed our Saviour himself is, “ by their in a state of salvation. This is a fruits ye shall know them." dogma not only without any sup- But as our Catechism teaches, port from scripture, but one which that the sacraments are not efficafacts, contained in the sacred re- cious to salvation from any virtue cords, directly contradict. We inherent in them; so it also affirms, Ch. Adv.--Vol. X.
that their benefit is not derived Romanists hold that after the “ from him that doth administer consecrating prayer of the priest, them;" and thus the second error the bread and wine in the Lord's of the Roman church, to which I supper are changed in their subhave referred, is combatted. The stance, and become the real body Papists maintain, that the efficacy and blood of Christ, which accordof the sacraments depends on the ingly are eaten and drank by every will of the priest who dispenses communicant. They pretend to them; and is communicated, or ground this most extraordinary withheld, just as he intends or dogma on the words of the instipurposes, at the time of the ad- tution—" Take, eat, this is my ministration–They have efficacy body which is broken for youif he wills it; they have no effi- This is my blood of the New Tescacy if he does not will it. This tament, which is shed for many; is truly a shocking absurdity. It drink ye all of it.” The Papists supposes that the eternal welfare contend that this language is to of the soul of one individual, may be taken literally, and that consebe effected by a single mental act quently the sacrameatal elements of another individual the latter a of the Eucharist, as often as it sinful and capricious being, as is administered, become the real well as the former. It goes on body and blood of Christ. Prothe supposition, too, that there testants maintain that the lanmay be a mock exhibition of the guage is metaphorical, and that most sacred rites of the Christian the elements after consecration, or church-an exhibition of them in being set apart to a sacred use, which the administrator intends still retain all their natural prothey shall be useless, and actually perties of bread and wine, and renders them so by his voluntary nothing more. Volumes have been choice. But beside all this, if the written on this controversy; but preposterous dogma in question the whole merits of it lie within a were true, no mortal who receives very narrow compass, being nothe sacraments could possibly thing more than the proper anknow with entire certainty whether swer to the question, ought the he would be benefitted by them or words of the institution to be taken not; for we can never be perfectly literally or figuratively? We say, ascertained of any one's intentions they ought to be taken figurativeexcept our own. To search the ly, because-1. On the contrary heart is the prerogative of God supposition, the primitive discionly; and whatever assurances an ples of Christ, to whom he himadministering priest might give, self administered this ordinance, they might still be deceptive; and ate his body and drank his blood he who holds that he might ad- while he was yet alive. 2. Not minister the sacraments deceptive- only, on the Popish supposition, ly, does much to invalidate any is there an incessant repetition of declarations he may make that, in the same miracle, but it is such a any particular instance, he has miracle as has no parallel in the administered them truly; that is, whole bible. In all other miracles, with an intention that they should the evidence of their truth and rebenefit the recipient.
ality, is the testimony of the senses The Popish doctrine of tran- of those who witnessed them. substantiation, is also gainsayed But here is a miracle, in which and condemned in the answer all the senses of the witnesses we consider, when it is said that directly contradict what they the sacramental elements have no are required to believe-The very inherent “ virtue in them.” The test of miracles is thus destroyed. 3. There is no need of understand- proper place and order. I shall ing the words literally. Figura- here, therefore, only add the foltive expressions, as strong as the lowing excellent remarks of Fisher. language here, are frequent in the He says, “ We may learn from the Holy Scriptures. God is called a necessity of Christ's blessing, and Rock; and in the very discourse of the Spirit's working, in order to that precedes the sacred supper, the efficacy of the sacraments, that Christ had said, “I am the vine; our whole dependence for the ye are the branches." And else- blessing, whether upon ourselves, where in the New Testament, he is when we partake of the sacrament called a foundation, a head, a body, of the supper, or upon our chila corner stone, a rock, and other dren, when we are sponsors for appellations in the highest de- them in baptism, should be on gree figurative; but the import of Christ alone, and on the saving which is obvious and uncontro- influences and operations of his verted. 4. In the particular and Spirit, held forth in the promise, connected statement of the institu- lo accompany his own institutions: tion given by the apostle Paul, and therefore our partaking of 1 Cor. 23—29, and which he de- these solemn ordinances, dispensed clares he received by a special by some ministers, to the slighting revelation from Christ himself, it of them as dispensed by others, is remarkable that after the conse- equally sound and faithful, though cration, which is recorded in the perhaps in our esteem somewhat 24th, 25th, and 26th verses, one of inferior in outward gifts, says upon the elements is still expressly and the matter, that the efficacy of the repeatedly called bread, and the sacraments depends, some how cup is mentioned without the least upon the administrator, and not on intimation of a change in the nature the blessing of Christ alone, quite of its contents.
contrary to the mind of the Spirit I shall close these remarks on of God, i Cor. iii. 7. 'So then, the Popish absurdities relative to neither is he that planteth any the sacrament of the supper, with thing, neither he that watereth; remarking, that although, in re- but God that giveth the increase.” gard to the wine in this sacra- Let us now proceed to the next ment, an express command is answer in our Catechism, in which given,“ drink ye all of it;" yet the we have a definition of a sacrament Romish priesthuod allow none but as follows :-"A sacrament is a themselves to drink of it. They holy ordinance instituted by Christ, refuse it entirely to the laity; to wherein by sensible signs, Christ, whom, in fact, they never admin- and the benefits of the new coveister more than half of this sacra- nant, are represented, sealed and ment.
applied to believers." After slating, negatively, on The tree of life, and the tree of what the efficacy of the sacraments the knowledge of good and evil, in does not depend, the answer before the Paradise of Eden, have usually us affirms, that they become effec- been considered as sacraments of tual means of salvation “only by the covenant of works. The defithe blessing of Christ, and the nition before us is not sufficiently working of his Spirit in them that comprehensive, and was not intendby faith receive them.” But to ed, to include these. It is confined enlarge on this part of the answer, to the sacraments of the new cowould only be to anticipate what venant, or the covenant of grace; is more fully set forth in the fol- so called because it succeeded to lowing answers, which we shall the covenant of works, which was have occasion to consider in their broken by our first parents when they lost their innocence, by eating is a beautiful analogy, as we shall of the fruit of the forbidden tree. have occasion more fully to show
The word sacrament, is derived in a subsequent lecture. from the Latin word sacramentum, “Christ and the benefits of the used by the Romans to express new covenant," constitute“ the inthe oath which their soldiers took ward and spiritual grace” conto be true and faithful to their veyed to believers in the sacraprince or commander, pledging ments; for to believers, and to them them solemnly not to desert his only, as the answer before us states, standard. It is used in the Chris- the benefits of the new covenant tian church, not only to signify" are represented, sealed, and apsomething that is sacred, but like- plied.” None but a true believer, wise a solemn engagement to be one who possesses and exercises the Lord's. It is called a holy or- genuine faith in Christ, can have dinance in the answers before us, those spiritual views of him, and because it is designed to promote that perception of the benefits to holiness in those who receive it, be derived from union and commuand because they are, by profes- nion with him, which these holy sion, a holy or peculiar people. ordinances are calculated and were
As Christ is the head of the intended to exhibit to the eye of church, and has the sole power faith. But by every such believer, and authority to enact laws and when faith is in exercise, Christ appoint ordinances for the govern- and his benefits--summed up in ment and benefit of his people, it grace here and glory hereafteris essentially necessary to the vali- are discerned in a most lively, glodity of a sacrament, that it be in- rious, and delightful manner, in stituted by his express command. the sacramental signs. Nor are Hence we find the apostle Paul, they merely seen and admired, they when reproving the Corinthian are also sealed and applied.They church for the abuse of the sacra- ure sealed, because, as a seal ratimental
supper, is explicit on this fies and confirms a contract or point. Referring to the introduc. legal instrument, so it is one of the tion of this sacred rite among uses of the sacramental signs, sothem by himself, he says—" I have lemnly and formally to ratify and received of the Lord, that which seal to believers, on the part of also I delivered unto you.”
Christ, all the benefits of the new In our larger Catechism we are covenant, procured for them by taught, that "there are two parts his precious blood. These benefits of a sacrament; the one an outward are also actually applied to believand sensible sign, used according to ers, in the use of the sacraments; Christ's appointment; the other an that is, there is a present expeinward and spiritual grace thereby l'ience and enjoyment of these besignified.” The outward and sen- nefits. Probably there are few of sible signs—so called because they the people of God who would not are perceptible by our outward be ready to testify, that some of sense of seeing, tasting, and feeling their sacramental seasons have -have no natural resemblance to been those in which their graces the things which they symbolize. were in the most delightful exerThey owe their significance en- cise, their communion with Christ tirely to the divine institution; yet and his people the most sensible, the divine wisdom is manifest in and their assured hope and expecthe appointment of the sensible tation of the heavenly inheritance emblems, since between them and the most lively, strong, and satisthe spiritual benefits signified, there fying.
THE THRONE OF GRACE.
The End or design of the sacraments, according to our Confession of Faith, is, “to represent We have lately been reading, Christ and his benefits, and to con- with more pleasure than we can firm our interest in him; as also to easily express, the sermons of the put a visible difference between Rev. Robert Traill, on “ the throne those that belong unto the church, of grace.” Prefixed to the volume and the rest of the world; and so- of his works which contains these lemnly to engage them to the ser- sermons-thirteen in number-is vice of God in Christ, according a short “ account of the life and to his word.” Our Larger Cate- character of the author.” It apchism teaches, that the proper re- pears that he was a Scotchman by cipients of the sacraments are, birth, the son of a minister of the " those who are within the cove- gospel" distinguished for his fidepant of grace," and that those are lity and zeal in discharging the to be reckoned as within this cove- duties of his functions." Our aunant “who profess their faith in thor was educated at the UniverChrist, and obedience to him; and sity of Edinburgh, and appears to that infants descended from pa- have been a ripe scholar. His farents, either both, or one of them, ther having been banished, in the professing faith in Christ, and obe- persecution which, the Scottish dience to him, are, in that respect, church endured, by the attempt in within the covenant.”
the reign of Charles the second to In closing this lecture, let me render Episcopacy the national refor a moment call your special at- ligion of Scotland, this son, aftention, my young friends, to the ter being licensed to preach-prilove of the Lord Jesus, as it apo vately it would seem“by a meetpears in the wise, and condescend- ing of the non-conformist minising, and abundant provision, which ters of the Presbyterian persuahe has made for the edification and sion," was also compelled to fee comfort of his redeemed people his country, in consequence of a the members of his mystical body. proclamation being issued to apNot only has he given them his prehend him. He found a passage holy word, contained in the Scrip- to Holland, joined his father there, tures of truth, “which are able to and “was employed for some time make wise unto salvation, through in assisting Nethenus, professor of faith which is in Christ Jesus; and Divinity in the University of which are profitable for doctrine Utrecht, in the publication of for reproof, for correction, for in- Rutherford's Examen Arminian- ' struction in righteousness;" but ismi.” After it became safe for he has also given them the sacra- him to return to Britain, “ he was ments of the New Testament, in for many years pastor of a Proteswhich the blessings of his gracious tant dissenting congregation in covenant are, as it were, epitomised London; in which station helabourand addressed to their outward ed with great diligence, zeal and senses ordinances in which he
Here it was that he pubholds the sweetest communion with lished his l'indication of the Prothem, and they with him and with testant Doctrine of Justification, each other, and by which he seals prompted thereto by his zeal for his promises to them, and takes, that distinguishing doctrine of the on their part, the corresponding reformation; and his sermons on pledge of their fidelity to him, the throne of grace, and the Lord's and devotion to his service and prayer, at the earnest desire of glory.
many who heard him-He died in