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the express design of separating the precious from the vile; they speak particularly of selfexamination, in order to worthy communicating; they explain the nature, and point out the seasons of religious fasting; but not a lisp of it as a needful preparative to the table of the Lord. Nay, the Belgic confession asserts roundly, « all the abuses and accursed inventions which men have added to the sacraments, and mingled · with them, we justly reject as a real profanation; and affirm, that all the godly are to be contented with that order, and those rites alone, which Christ and his Apostles have left us *.” So that, in the view of these bold witnesses for truth, every thing added, as a necessary appendage to the manner which Christ and his Apostles have delivered to us of celebrating the sacraments, is an abuse, a profanation, an accursed invention. What would these honest disciples say, could they lift up their heads, and see whole bodies of Christians professing to walk in the track of the written word, and to preserve
* Itaque nos hic quidem merito omnes hominum ludifica. tiones, et damnanda commenta, (quæ illi sacramentis addiderunt & admiscuerunt) tanquam veram profanationem rejicimus. Affirmamusque omnes pios unico illo ordine & ritu, quem Christus & apostoli nobis tradiderunt contentos esse debere. Confess., Belgic. cap. 35. apud Syntagma Confessionum, part 1. p. 183. Geneva, 1621. 4to.
the best spirit of the reformation, stickling for observances, and those too, as obligatory on conscience, which have no more authority from Christ or his Apostles, than the feast of Purim,or the fast of Lent?
But what is still more in point, because it comes nearer home, and may, therefore, have greater weight, is, that our numerous services about the holy supper'are diametrically opposed to the current of public sentiment in the church of Scotland ; and to her solenin, repeated enactions, from the commencement of the reformation, down to the establishment of the Westminster confession of faith.
This may startle some serious people who have not thoroughly examined the matter; but the fact is incontestible. For,
1. The confession of the English church at GENEVA, speaking of the sacraments, (Art. IV.) says, “ Neither must we, in the administration of these sacraments, follow man's fancy; but as Christ himself hath ordained, so must they be ministered *.” This confession was received and approved by the church of Scotland.
2. The confession of faith of the protestants in Scotland, drawn up in 1560, declares,
• Collection of confessions, svo, p. 14.
(Art. XXII.) “ That the sacraments be rightly ministrate, we judge two things are requisite: the one, that they be ministrate by lawful ministers—the other, that they be ministrate in such elements, and in such sort (form or manner) as God hath appointed : else we affirm that they cease to be the right sacraments of Christ Jesus *.”
3. The first book of discipline, composed in 1560, by several reformers, of whom JOHN Knox was one, presented to the great council on the 20th of May that same year; signed by all the first reformers, Jan. 17, 1561 t, speaks only of the“ preaching of the word,” to “precede the ministration of the sacraments.” And enjoins, that “ in the due administration of the sacraments, all things should be done according to the word : nothing being added nor yet diminished. The sacrament should be ministered after the order of the kirk of Geneva. All ceremonies aud rites invented by men should be abolished; and the simple word followed in all points.” (Art. II.)I.
Nor were these views entertained only in that remote and difficult period. They have again and again been formally avowed by the church
* Col. of conf. p. 36. + Erskine, p. 276.
- I Col. of conf. p. 43.
of Scotland when she was in the zenith of her spiritual prosperity and glory. For,
4. The national covenant, as approved by the General Assembly in 1638, and 1639, and subscribed by persons of all ranks in 1739, adopts the confession of 1560, and declares all who “ refuse the administration of the holy sacraments as they were then ministered, (1560) to be no members of the true and holy kirk of Christ Jesus, within the realm of SCOTLAND*." . 5. An act of the Assembly passed 1638, after referring to several public instruments, finds that “ whatever gesture or rite cannot stand with the administration of the sacraments as they were' administered in 1567, and were ministered ever since the reformation till the year 1618, must be condemned as a rite added to the true ministration of the sacraments, without the word of God and as a rite or tradition brought in without, or against the word of God, or doctrine of this reformed kirkt."
It is very true, that these acts are levelled immediately against corruptions which had taken place in the manner of distributing and receiving the sacramental elements; but it is evident that they lay down an universal rule condemning the imposition of rites and ob
Col. of conf. p. 99.
f Col. of conf. p. 200,
servances in divine worship, which have no foundation in the word of God; and thus conclude, with great energy, against those corruptions as particular instances contravening the general principle.
From these facts, it appears that the church of Scotland, from the dawn of the reformation till 1638, indulged but one sentiment as to the administration of the sacraments, viz. that it is not to be encumbered with any rites or traditions contrary to, or beside, the written word. And what was in her eyes the scriptural mode of administering them, is sufficiently ascertained by her prescribing conformity in this matter with the church of Geneva. But in that church, a day of fasting before, and of thanksgiving after the sacrament of the supper, were never heard of. And hence, it is clear, that the prohibitions of the acts quoted above, extend, in their spirit, to these no less than to other uncommanded observances.
But we have not yet done. The General Assembly, in 1645, directing the method of · procedure in dispensing the Lord's supper, positively precluded these days: enacting that there be one sermon of preparation, delivered in the ordinary place of public worship, upon the day immediately preceding. That before the serving of the tables, there be only one sermor