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nour are his; so they are his for ever and ever: originally, independently, and unchangeably. From everlasting to everlasting he is God*, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever †.

These words then are, at once, an act of homage to his greatness, and thanksgiving to his goodness: both which ought ever to have a place in our prayers; and the conclusion is a very proper place. For the infinite perfections of God our Maker, which we thus celebrate, are the best reason possible for every petition that we have offered to him; and therefore our blessed Lord introduces them as the reason. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory. Besides, ending with these acknowledgements will leave them fresh and strong upon our minds: especially as we finish all with that solemn asseveration, Amen: which is a word used in Scripture, only upon serious and important occasions, to confirm the truth and sincerity of what is promised, wished, or affirmed. It relates therefore equally to the whole of the prayer: and is in effect declaring, that we do heartily believe whatever we have said, and heartily desire whatever we have asked.

This expression therefore may remind us, that our prayers should always be composed, both in such a language, and in such words in that language, as all that are to use or join in them, are well acquainted with. For else, as St. Paul argues, How shall he, that occupieth the room of the unlearned, say, Amen: seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest .

And it should likewise remind us very strongly of another thing, if possible, yet more important: that we should never say to God, what we cannot say with the utmost truth of heart. Now with what truth, or + Heb. xiii. S. 1 Cor. xiv. 16.

Psalm xc. 2.

what face, can any person, that lives in any sin, repeat the prayer which our Lord hath taught us, and say Amen to it: when every sentence in it, if well considered, is inconsistent with a bad life? Let us therefore consider both it and ourselves very carefully, that we may offer up our devotions always in an acceptable manner. For the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight *.

* Prov. xv. 8.



THE far greatest part of the duties which we owe to God, flow, as it were, of themselves, from his nature and attributes, and the several relations to him, in which we stand, whether made known to us by reason or Scripture. Such are those, which have been hitherto explained to you: the ten commandments; and prayer for the grace, which our fallen condition requires, in order to keep them. But there are still some important precepts peculiar to Christianity, and deriving their whole obligation from our Saviour's institution of them: concerning which it is highly requisite that our Catechism should instruct us, before it concludes. And these are the two sacraments.

The word sacrament, by virtue of its original in the Latin tongue, signifies any sacred or holy thing or action and among the heathens was particularly applied to denote, sometimes a pledge, deposited in a sacred place *; sometimes an oath, the most sacred of obligations; and especially that oath of fidelity, which the soldiery took to their general. In Scripture it is not used at all. By the early writers of the western church it was used to express almost any * Eden. Elem. Jur. Civ. p. 238. Gronov. in Plaut. Rud. 5. 3. 21.

thing relating to our holy religion; at least any thing that was figurative, and signified somewhat further than at first sight appeared. But afterwards a more confined use of the word prevailed by degrees: and in that stricter sense, which hath long been the common one, and which our Catechism follows, the nature of a sacrament comprehends the following particulars.

1. There must be an outward and visible sign: the solemn application of some bodily and sensible thing or action, to a meaning and purpose which in its own nature it hath not. In common life, we have many other signs to express our meanings, on occasions of great consequence, besides words. And no wonder then, if in religion, we have some of the same kind.

2. In a sacrament, the outward and visible sign must denote an inward and spiritual grace given unto us: that is, some favour freely bestowed on us from heaven; by which our inward and spiritual condition, the state of our souls, is made better. Most of the significative actions, that we use in religion, express only our duty to God. Thus kneeling in prayer is used to shew our reverence towards him to whom we pray. And signing a child with the cross, after it is baptized, declares our obligation not to be ashamed of the cross of Christ. But a sacrament, besides expressing on our part, duty to God, expresses, on his part, some grace or favour towards us.

3. In order to intitle any thing to the name of Sacrament, a further requisite is, that it be ordained by Christ himself. We may indeed use, on the foot of human authority alone, actions, that set forth either our sense of any duty, or our belief in God's grace. For it is certainly as lawful to express a good meaning by any other proper sign as by words. But then,

such marks as these, which we commonly call céremonies, as they are taken up at pleasure, may be laid aside again at pleasure; and ought to be laid aside, whenever they grow too numerous, or abuses are made of them, which cannot easily be reformed: and this hath frequently been the case. But sacraments are of perpetual obligation: for they stand on the authority of Christ; who hath certainly appointed nothing to be for ever observed in his church, but what he saw would be for ever useful. Nor doth every appointment of Christ, though it be of perpetual obligation, deserve the name of a sacrament: but those, and no other, which are

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4. Not only signs of grace, but means also, whereby we receive the same. None but our blessed Lord could appoint such means: and which of his ordinances should be such, and which not, none but himself could determine. From his word therefore we are to learn it and then, as we hope to attain the end, we must use the means. But when it is said, that the sacraments are means of grace; we are not to understand, either that the performance of the mere outward action doth, by its own virtue, produce a spiritual effect in us; nor that God hath annexed any such effect to that alone: but that he will accompany the action with his blessing, provided it be done as it ought; with those qualifications which he requires. And therefore, unless we fulfil the condition, we must not expect the benefit.

Further; calling the sacraments, means of grace, doth not signify them to be means by which we merit grace; for nothing but the sufferings of our blessed Saviour can do that for us; but means, by which what he hath merited is conveyed to us.

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