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the mystery of the seven golden candlesticks and the seven stars, are defined to be the Churches of Asia and their respective angels or bishops. In this book, the word is often used in the same way.
We may now perceive, with how little reason we are charged with using the word "Sacrament," in a way not authorized by scripture. This sacred book authorizes the application of the word mystery, to denote the sensible representation of any matter, involving religious sentiment or fact: and from the word thus used, we make no further deviation, than what. is the result of the different languages, by the channel of which our religious rites have been handed down to us. The only change of language which has taken place in this matter, is that we apply supereminently to the two institutions in question, what was originally used to express any religious truth delivered under the veil of figure.
Our attention should also be arrested by the circumstance in the definition, that the Sacraments are said to involve a spiritual grace, received by the mean of the outward sign or pledge. It would be contrary to all my habits of thinking on the present subject, to array it in properties, which may not be comprehended by every ordinary capacity. But there is a medium to be observed: for while some have grafted on it dogmas, not only abstruse, but pointing to superstition; others have described the Sacraments, as mere ceremonies; without any effect peculiarly attached to, and conveyed through the medium of them. But as this subject will of course present itself to us, under each of the institutions; the less may be said of it here.
We are now ready for the reasons, which induce the Church to restrict the number of Sacraments to two. The nature of such ordinances having been described; there results a test, by which to try the five reputed Sacraments of the Roman Church, which we reject. They are Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction. This is not a question of words and names; for the danger of multiplying the number
of the Sacraments, consists principally in this; that to whatever comes under this name, the said Church attributes the impressing of a distinctive character on the soul: a notion, which we cannot comprehend; while yet, we know it to have been productive of superstition, in a very great degree.
The first of the ordinances mentioned, is Confirmation: held in great reverence in our Church, and believed by her to have been transmitted from the apostolick age. But in this there is no outward sign: except in that lax sense of the words, in which God is said in the service to "assure us by this sign of his favour and gracious goodness towards us." The imposition of the hands of the bishop is a mere gesture, and not a material object. The Church of Rome seems to have been sensible of this defect; and therefore accompanies the act by chrism: but this is of her authority merely; and has no apostolical foundation.
The next is "Penance:" which, in the sense of sorrow for sin, and the confession of it to God, is a duty of the first importance. But it has no material sign annexed to it, in the scriptures. The want of this is endeavoured to be supplied, by alleging contrition, confession to a priest, and the satisfaction which he enjoins. The first of these is limited to inward thought and sensibility, and is far from having any property of matter. The second is action, but not material: neither is it enjoined; whatever occasional uses there may be in it, for the quieting of conscience. And as to the third, consisting of some penalty to the body, or the performance of some specified acts of charity, it rests only on the authority of the Church which exacts it of her members; being not required by scripture, nor known to primitive antiquity.
The next is Orders. But although we hold up the succession of the ministry, as a principle clearly deducible from scripture, and essential to the peace and the good government of the Church; yet in the gesture of the imposition of hands, we perceive nothing like an inherent property of matter. And as to the delivery
of certain vessels; which seems to have been introduced to give the appearance of a material adjunct; it was no part of the original institution.
Matrimony is an institution of God, given in Paradise: but in the ceremony, there is no material object representative of grace; and nothing is alleged as of this kind, except the consent of the parties; which can only be in thought and by word. The scriptural authority alleged for making a Sacrament of marriage, is Ephes. v. 32" This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church." The Latin vulgate, which the Church of Rome follows, has it"This is a great Sacrament." On the ground here taken, there can be no objection to this rendering; mystery" and Sacrament being convertible terms. The fallacy consists in this; that the vulgate uses the word in its early latitude of signification: whereas the Church of Rome affirms a Sacrament in the sense of a mean of grace. In the same way, it would have been easy to have made a Sacrament of the subjects represented by the seven stars, and the seven golden candlesticks.
From the invention of a Sacrament attached to marriage, there is the very material result of the disallowance of divorce for adultery: although this is permitted by the decision of our Saviour, in Matthew chapter v. verse 32.
In Extreme Unction, there is matter; but the practice is destitute of scriptural command. There are two passages urged from scripture, in favour of it; but they relate to a Jewish practice; which, although not of divine institution, may have originated and been continued with a pious design, but fell with all other institutions of that description, at the time of the destruction of the Jewish polity. The first of the places is" They anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them."* The other is" Is any sick among you, let him call for the elders of the Church, and let
* Mark vi. 18.
them pray over him; anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up."* It is evident, that the anointing in both these places, was with the view of the healing of the sick; and not appropriated to the extremity of disease. So that let it have been what it may, we are sure it could not have been the same unction, which is reserved to the last hours of dying. Of this we find nothing in the first four centuries; and even in the earliest document relative to it in the beginning of the fifth century, there are strong marks of recent innovation. It was not common until the seventh century; and then was applied, as it is now, for a purpose quite wide of that mentioned by St. James.
As we differ from the Church of Rome, concerning the number of the Sacraments; so there is not a less material difference concerning their effect. That Church declares the effect to be accomplished by their inherent energy and virtue. On the contrary; our Church holds, that they have a "wholesome operation," only on those "who receive them worthily;" that is, with suitable devotion and dispositions.
The catecumen, having answered to a corresponding question, that there are two parts in a Sacrament; "the outward and visible sign and the inward and spiritual grace;" being further asked-" What is the outward visible sign or form in baptism?" answers, "Water, wherein the person is baptised in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
The element of water was doubtless appointed, with the view of its being figurative of the inward cleansing, intended to be attached to the due observance of the ordinance. The form of words recited in the answer, and grounded on our Lord's commission to his disciples in his last interview with them, as recorded in the concluding verses of the gospel of St. Matthew, are a strong confirmation of the divinity of the Son and of the
+ Art, 25.
* James v.
Holy Ghost. Accordingly some of those who reject these doctrines, avoid the use of the words in the administering of baptism, pronouncing it to be "in the name of the Lord Jesus," or, "in the name of Jesus Christ." Now although these phrases are found connected with baptism, the first of them in the eighth chapter of the Acts; and the other in the second chapter of the same book; yet in each of the places, the words were spoken, not in the way of the delivery of a form, but simply to express the idea, that the contemplated baptism was that attached to an initiation into the Church of Christ: being not John's, or any other person's baptism. The words found in St. Matthew, were delivered as a prescribed form: And their importance as such, is certainly much enhanced by the crisis of the delivery of them.
Accordingly it may be well to notify, as to any who, from what are called Unitarian principles, profess to baptize without declaring it to be in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; that such an act is not admitted to be baptism, by our Church; because she dares not to dispense with a form, embodied with the commission to baptize. But if the act have been performed in that sacred name, and with the use of the element of water; although by one not owned among us as a duly ordained minister; our Church disapproves of the last mentioned circumstance, but does not require us to repeat the act; or rather she discourages us from doing so.
Question" What is the inward and spiritual grace?" Answer: "A death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness: For being by nature born in sin and the children of wrath, we are hereby made the children of grace." In the first lecture it was shown, that the Scriptures constantly connect the two subjects of baptism and regeneration: And here is another instance of the care of our Church, in framing her institutions according to the rule of the sacred volume. The being" born in sin and the children of wrath," means the being born under the effects of the sin of Adam, in subjection to mortality, and in a departure