« VorigeDoorgaan »
doctrines the commandments of men. But Christ has blessed these ordinances, first, and then the Spirit works in them and by them. Now, this blessing of Christ is contained in the institution of the Sacraments; which comprehends two things, here called Christ's blessing.
(1.) A commanding authorising the use of these ordinances. (2.) A promise of benefit by them to the worthy receivers, Matth. xxviii. 19, 20. & xxvi. 26, &c.
2. It depends on the working of the Spirit in them and by them on the souls of the receivers, as the efficient cause, 1 Cor. xii. 13. The Spirit comes along with them, and renders them effectual to his own.
I shall shut up all with a few inferences.
Inf. 1. Hence learn to prize the sacraments, and behold the dreadful nature of the sin of slighting them. They are means of salvation, and therefore ought to be dear to all who would partake of salvation. Those who slight the means, undervalue the end, the great salvation. Did many amongst us consider this, they durst not so easily live with out the word or sacraments, as they do, Luke vii. 30.
2. Rest not on the sacraments. They are but means, which are not effectual to every one that receives them. Many receive them both who never receive Christ; but for all that they wear Christ's badge, they work the devil's work. And it is not your receiving of them, but receiving benefit by them, that will be a good plea in the end, Luke xiii. 26, 27.
3. Look more to Christ's institution, and promise accompanying it, with respect to the sacraments, and less to men who have a commission to administer them, if ye would not mar your benefit by the ordinances. It is lamentable to think, that where the minister's commission cannot be quarrelled, and Christ's institution is observed, many nevertheless are so weak, as to be frighted from God's ordinance with scruples about the administrators, as if the spirit of God could not be expected to work with Christ's institutions, unless they be in the hands of such and such ministers. This absurd and sinful practice prevails too much at this day, as if the efficacy of the sacraments depended on the administrators.
4. Lastly, Be concerned for the working of the Spirit in
all ordinances, and particularly in the sacraments; for without that they can have no effect. When ye bring your children to baptism, and when ye come to the Lord's table, be concerned, and earnestly wrestle and pray for it. Let it be at these seasons the matter of your exercise, that the Lord may accompany these solemn ordinances with divine life and power unto you, and may excite your graces unto a vigorous and lively exercise, without which they will be utterly ineffectual to you.
THE NATURE OF THE SACRAMENTS.
Rom. iv. 11.-And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith, which he had yet being uncircumcised.
THIS text discovers the nature of a sacrament, in the description the apostle gives us of circumcision, which Abraham received. In which consider,
1. The sacrament itself which the apostle treats of, circumcision, which was the initiating seal of the covenant under the Old Testament, and has been succeeded by baptism under the New.
2. The author of it. Abraham invented it not, but received it from the Lord, whose institution it was, Gen. xvii. 10; This is my covenant which ye shall keep between me and you, and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised;' even as the apostle
* On this paffage the author in his Critical Effay on Genefis, from which Tome extracts have been given above, p. 183, 212. thus comments: "This [is the defign of] my covenant, which ye fhall obferve; between me, and you, and thy feed after thee :" That is, this is the fign between me and you, and thy feed, even the fign of the covenant. Between you; q. d. Between you, between you, i. e. you and every one of you, Abraham and his whole family, male and female, without exception, then in being; oppofed to his feed after him. Thus all his are taken with him into the covenant, fo far as to have a right to the feal of it. That every male, be circumcifed for you. The conftruction and fense of these words is, To be circumcifed is the covenant (ie, the fign
says, 1 Cor. xi. 23; I have received of the Lord, that, which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, &c.
3. The parts of it; an external sign, the cutting off of the foreskin; an invisible grace, the righteousness of faith. 4. The uses and ends of it: It was appointed to be a sign and a seal too, no nakedly signifying, but exhibiting and applying spiritual blessings.
Lastly, The subject of it: a believer, one to whom the righteousness of faith belonged. Such a person was Abraham, and such are all who truly believe in Christ. The doctrine of this text is,
DOCT. A sacrament is an holy ordinance, instituted by Christ, wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.'
Here we are to consider,
I. The word sacrament.
II. The author of the sacrament.
III. The parts of a sacrament.
IV. Shew what is the sacramental union of these parts, or wherein it lies.
V. Who are the subjects of the sacraments, for whom they are appointed of God.
VI. What are the general uses and ends of the sacra
VII. Deduce some inferences.
thereof) which ye fhall obferve. Thus the great duty of the covenant is made, to be believing and depending on the promise of the covenant; wholly trufting on, and cleaving to, the righteousness of faith, whereof circumcifion was the feal, Rom. iv. 11; the which is productive of all other duties Further, thefe words bear this meaning, viz. That every male of you be circumcifed for you: that is, in the name of the whole family, confifting of women as well as of men: that fo you may be altogether one people in the bond of the covenant; compare Gen. xxxiv. 15, 22; And thus there appears a twofold reafon, why our Lord Jefus Chrift was circumcifed: (1.) That it might be to him a feal of the promifes mentioned, Gen. xvii, 4,-8; (2.) Because he was the head, and so the most noble part, of that one people embodied with him, in the cove nant of grace, for whom he received the promises.
1. Let us consider the word sacrament. Of which two things are to be noted. (1.) That it properly signifies a military oath, an oath taken by soldiers, whereby they bound themselves solemnly to their prince or general, to obey orders, and not to desert their colours. And some say this oath was mutual. (2.) That it is not a scripture-word? not being used in any of the two languages in which the scripture was written, but a Latin word originally. But the church has made use of it to signify those ordinances which are the signs and seals of the covenant of grace; and that warrantably, because the things thereby signified are found in scripture, though not the word itself. For by the sacraments we are obliged to the spiritual warfare under the conduct of Jesus Christ, the Captain of our salvation, to whom we engage ourselves by them, and he also engages himself to us for our salvation.
II. The author of the sacraments is the Lord Jesus Christ, as King and head of his church. Man neither made nor can make a sacrament, but the Lord only. For, (1.) He only is the Author of the word of promise, and of the covenant: who then but he can make the seals thereof; (2.) The sacraments are a part of religious worship, which belongs only to God to appoint, Matth. xv. 8; The Lord Jesus is the Author of them, by his instituting of them. They are instituted by himself, Matt. xxviii. 19, 20; Go ye and teach all nations (says he to his disciples), baptising 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,' 1 Cor. xi. 23; I have received of the Lord, that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same [night in which he was betrayed, took bread,' &c. It is the word of institution that makes the sacrament, which consists of a command to use the rite, and a promise of grace annexed to the right use of it.
III. Let us consider the parts of a sacrament. These
1. An outward and sensible sign used according to Christ's own appointment, which is something that we can
see with our eyes, or perceive by our bodily senses.
I say, used according to Christ's appointment; and therefore these same things and actions are not sacramental when otherwise used, as when water is sprinkled, or bread broken, without those other circumstances appointed by Jesus Christ in these ordinances. For where there is no divine institution, there is no sacrament.
2. An inward and spiritual grace thereby signified, Matth. iii. 11; I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me, is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire,' 1 Pet. iii. 21; The like figure whereunto, even baptism, doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,' Rom. ii. 28, 29; For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.' The signs are earthly, to be perceived with the bodily eyes; the thing signified heavenly, to be perceived only by faith. The former tends to the body, the latter to the soul. The one is received corporally, the other spiritually.
The thing signified by the sacramental signs is Jesus Christ himself with all his saving benefits, Rom. vi. 3; 1 Cor. xi. 24; This is my body,' &c. Not Christ's benefits without himself; for as there is no washing with water, without application of the water itself, and no nourishment by bread and wine, without eating and drinking of it; so there is no partaking of Christ's benefits without partaking of himself, Heb. iii. 14. Rom. viii. 32.