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Author that the observance of the latter should terminate with the Apostolic age; or be perpetuated and solemnized in his church by every successive generation of his people until the end of time, and the consummation of all terrestrial things.
In reading the New Testainent scriptures, it must have occurred to you that certain ceremonies and rites, practised in the days of the Apostles, are not observed in our day, especially by the churches of the Reformation ; and you may perhaps have heard it asserted, that' baptism and the Lord's supper ought, long since, to bave shared the same fate, and to have been denounced by the Christian Church as carnal ordinances, incompatible with the spiritual character of the evangelical dispensation.-Let us spend a moment in the investigation of this matter.
It will not be denied, that certain ceremonies of a local character, and proper in the Apostolic age, have, in consequence of the spread of the gospel, been with propriety discontinued ; not because the church has since that period increased in spirituality, but because the particular circumstances, which brought them into existence, have ceased. Among the observances of that day, with which the opposers of ordinances in general, attempt to identify baptism and the supper, are commonly mentioned, the anointing of the sick with oil, the celebration of love feasts, and the washing of feet. These are no longer practised ; and because these are not, bap tisin and the supper ought also to be abolished.--Ludeed ?-And does neglect in one instance jusufy
neglect in every instance? Does the discontinuance of one rite, sanction the discontinuance of every rite? This is strange logic!- But let us see, whether there was not something in the very nature of those observances, which have been discontinued, altogether different from what we find in the sacraments of baptism and the supper; and which rendered it proper, that, while the former were suffered to go into disuse, the latier should be strictly and solemnly observed, until the end of time.
1. With regard to the unction of the sick.-" Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil, in the name of the Lord.” From this coinmand, the church of Rome derives her authority for extreme unction, one of her seven sacraments. But, surely, it requires only a very moderate degree of reflection to be convinced, that, that injunction could, in the very nature of things, be binding only during the age of miraculous gifts, while the power of healing diseases rested on the church; and that there would be a palpable impropriety ip making use of such a sigo now, when the power to heal the sick is no longer conferred.
2. With respect to the practice of celebrating love-feasts, Lobserve, in general, that they appear to have been altogether a human observance, although, no doubt, originally of a charitable character. these love-feasts all the poor were invited, at the charges of the rich, as an expression of their perfect
* James v. 14.
love and charity one towards another.” But the celebration of these feasts, particularly in the Corinthian church, soon lead to irregularity and excess; and it accordingly became necessary, from prudential considerations, and a regard to Christian propriety, to lay them aside.
3. The washing of feet, still practised in the church of Rome, on the Thursday of passion week, claims for its authority the example and command of our Saviour, recorded in the thirteenth chapter of John's Gospel. Our Saviour, at the celebration of the Passover, washed the feet of his disciples; and, having done so, made this improvement of the ceremony. “If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your
also ought to wash one another's feet."*
Whatever Christ meant by this remark, it is to be presumed that the Apostles understood him. But no evidence can be found in the sacred volume, that the Apostles ever practised the washing of feet among themselves. It is therefore highly probable, that our Saviour performed a ceremony, at once menial, and yet, in that country, viewed as an act of hospitality, to impress upon the minds of his disciples the important lessons of humility and brotherly affection; and that the spirit of the ceremony, and not the ceremony itself, is what Christ designed to perpetuate, when he observed, “ Ye also ought to wash one another's feet. The remark of Scott, on this passage, is satisfactory.
There is no ground (says he) in Scripture for un
* Ver. 14
derstanding this injunction literally, nor any trace of its having been observed, as a religious ordinance, among the primitive Christians: But, the plain meaning is, that the most eminent Christian, or minister, by whatever title distinguished---not only if a successor to the Apostles, but even an Apostle himsell-ought readily to perform the meanest, the most laborious, and the most disgusting act of real charity, to the least of his brethren, when there is a proper call to it.”
These remarks will, I trust, convince you, that. every attempt to banish from the Christian Church the sacraments of baptism and the supper, by a reference to the practices above alluded to, must be as unsuccessful as it is impious. The very phraseology employed by the Lord Jesus, in the institution of both these ordinances, incontestibly proves, that it was his design that they should be standing ordinances in his church, to be solemnly observed by the successive members of that church until the end of time. Attend to the commission, which Christ gave his Apostles, Matthew xxviii. 19, 20. “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' This is the authority by which we preaeh the gospel; and this is the authority by which we administer the sacrament of baptism. Both are done under the high commission of Heaven, and at the express : command of Him, who has purchased the church with his blood; and who, as her exalted Head, continues to guard her interests, and bless her ordinances; yea, who has expressly engaged to be with his ministering servants in every age, both when preaching his word, and administering baptismalway, even unto the end of the world. So long, then, as it will be a duty to preach the gospel under this commission, and animated by this promise ; so long will it be a duty to administer baptism, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; that is, in both cases, as long as time endures.
Turn now to the institution of the supper, as recorded by Luke xxii. 19, 20. “ And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body, which is given for you : this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” And to shew how long the chureh is to do this in remembrance of her Lord, Paul, who, it seems, had received special revelation on the subject, remarks 1 Cor. xi. 23-26. “For I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread; and, when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body which is broken for you : this do in remembrance
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood; this do ye, as oft as ye: