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and continued application, to the sealing ordinances. oi God's house.

According to some writers, this term sacrament is derived from the Latin verb sacrare, which signifies to consecrate or dedicate; and well expresses the sincere and unreserved surrender, which the believer makes of himself to God in the use of covenant

sels.

The general opinion however is, that the term we are considering, is derived from the Latin noun sacramentum, which denotes an oath of fidelity; particularly the oath wbich the Roman soldiers took at the time of enlistment.

Of the precise nature, and binding power of this oath, historians give us information.. " Polybius,

* in giving an account of the manner of raising, embodying, and enrolling the Roman troops, observes that, when all the arrangements were made, and the different companies formed, the chiliarch, or military tribune, selecting a proper person from all the rest, propounded the sacramentum, or oath of fidelity and obedience; who immediately swore, submissively to obey and perform whatever was commanded by the officers to the utmost of his power; after which, all the rest, coming forward one by one, made oath that they would perform every thing according to what the first had sworn." Gibbon, in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,t tells us, that the Ro

p. 111.

* As quoted by Bayard, in his Letters on the Sacramento t. Vol. I. p. 16. See Bayard's Letters, p. 112.

man soldier, upon his first entrancc into service, had an oath (sacramentum) administered to him with every circumstance of solemnity. He promised never to desert his standard—to submit his own will to the commands of his leaders—and to sacrifice his life for the safety of the Einperor, and the Empire.

The historian Pliny, too, in one of his letters to the Emperor Trajan, states, that the Christians in his province, when they came together on a set and solemn day, (no doubt the Lord's day), having sung a hymn in honour of Christ, bound themselves by. an oath (se obstringere sacramento) not to commit any wickedness, to love each other as brethren, &c.

From these quotations, it is evident that the leading idea designed to be conveyed by the term sacrament, as applied to the seals of God's covenant, is that of sworn fidelity to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the interests of his kingdom: That we will not de sert the standard of the cross--that we will love the truths, and keep the commandments of Zion's King -and hold all that we are, and all that we have, under sacred consecration to the promotion of his cause and the advancement of his glory.

It is not necessary to enquire at what particular period of the Christian church this term was first applied to the sacred institutions of baptism and the Lord's supper. It is a well established fact, that while the Greek fathers used the term Musimpia, mysteries, the fathers of the Latin church early adopted the word sacramentum, sacrament, to denote those sealing ordinances of our holy religion, in which

Christians bind themselves publicly, and under the solemnity of an oath, to be the Lord's entirely and forever.

What an impressive idea does this view of the ternı sacrament give us of those solemn transactions, in which we offer up our children to God in baptism, and receive at the Redeemer's table the memorials of his broken body and shed blood; and what a chilling representation does it make of the exceeding sinfulness of those “ who swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, but pot in truth nor in righteousness."* Shall not the soul of the Lord be avenged on hiin that sweareth falsely-won him who, at the baptism of his child, or the communion-table, takes the oath of fidelity, but continues to live in the wanton profanation of God's name and day-in the neglect of public and tan ily worship-and the commission of vile offences ? Pause, reader; and as you dread the displeasure of the Almighty, let' me entreat you not to vow unless you mean to pay what you have vowed unto the Lord.t So says the wise man, I "When thou vowesi a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: Pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow,

Let this suffice with regard to the term. We now proceed to enquire more particularly into the nature of these holy institutions. “Sacraments, according

and pot pay.”

* 1ga. Kiviii. do

Ps. lxxvi. 11.

| Eccles. v. 4, 6:

10 our excellent Heidelbergh Catechism," are visible signs and seals appointed of God for this end, that, by the use thereof, he may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel; to wit, that he grants us freely the remission of sins, and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross.” With this perfecily agrees the siatement given of sacraments by the Westminster Divines in their larger Catechism, and also by the Church of England. The former say, * " a sacrament is an holy ordinance, instituted by Christ in his church, 10 signify, seal, and exhibit to those who are within the covenant of grace the benefits of his mediation; to strengthen and increase their faith, and all other graces; to oblige them to obedience; to testify and cherish their love and cominunion one with another, and to distinguish them from those that are without." The latter says,t “ a sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof."

Sacraments, then, according to these several definitions, are signs and seals of God's grace, ordained by Christ; in the reception of which the Christian solemnly owns God as his God and portion, and devotes himself to his service and glory.

In the proper use of sacraments, God makes himself over to us, and we surrender ourselves up to

Quest. clxii. +Catechism, to be learnt by such as wish confirmation.

him in the bonds of a covenant never to be forgolten.

1. They are signs. In the administration of sacraments, spiritual benefits, particularly the righteousness and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ for the justification and sanctification of bis people, are represented by material objects and visible actions. God thus symbolically declares all men are by nature and practice guilty and depraved ; that the merit of Christ's blood, and the efficacy of his grace, alone can remove their guilt and depravity; and that, on these accounts, he, as the God that keepeth covenant, becomes their God, and receives them as his people.

2. Sacraments are also seals.--" Abraham received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised."*

Not only do sacraments exhibit the benefits resulting from the Saviour's mediatorial undertaking ; but they sensibly confirm God's covenant with believers, furnish them with the strongest pledge of their interest in the benefits represented by them, and thus strengthen their confidence in the special love and unchanging faithfulness of their Leavenly Father. So says our Confession of Faith.t 6 We believe that our gracious God, on account of our weakness and infirmities, hath ordained the sacraments for us, thereby to seal to us his promises, and to be pledges of the good-wiil and grace of God

* Rom. iy. 11.

+ Art. Xxxiii.

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