RPM, Volume 17, Number 19, May 3 to May 9, 2015

Systematic Theology

By R. L. Dabney, D. D., LL. D.

Chapter 40: The Sacraments

Definition. Sacraments are Seals.
Parts of Sacraments.
Qualities of Elements.
Sacramental Union what?
Sacraments only Two: Under each Dispensation.
Spurious Roman Catholic Sacraments.
Doctrine of Intention.
Opus Operatum.
Are they Necessary to Salvation?
By whom Administered?
The Indelible Character Rejected.
[Lectures 61 & 62]

Note: some of the "words" in the original text in unintelligible. We have left the original "words" just as they are presently found in the text.

Section Seven�"The Practice of the Church
Chapter 40: The Sacraments

Syllabus for Lectures 61 & 62

1. What is a sacrament?
See Conf. of Faith, ch. 27, 1. Turrettin, Loc. xix, Ou. 1. Hill, bk. v, ch. 5;4. Dick. Lect. 86. Ridgley, Qu. 162. Council of Trent. Sess. 7. Can. 1—13, and Catechism. Rom. pt. ii, Qu. 2, 3.

2. Are the sacraments mere symbols or badges, as say the Socinians, or also seals of the covenant? Turrettin, Qu. 5. Hill and Ridgley, as above.

3. What the parts of the sacrament? And what the qualities requisite in the material parts?
Turrettin, Qu. 3. Dick, Lect. 86. Ridgley, Qu. 163. Conf of Faith, ch. xxvii, 2.

4. What Is the sacramental union between these parts?
Turrettin, Qu. 4. Dick, as above.

5. How many sacraments under the New Testament?
Conf. of Faith, as above, 4. Turrettin, Qu. 31, Council of Trent, as above, and Rom. Catechism, pt. ii, Qu. 11,12. Dick, Lect. 87. Burnett, on the Thirty—nine Articles, Art. 25. So. Presb. Rev., Art. i, Jan. 1876.

6. How many sacraments under the Mosaic dispensation; and what their relation to those of the New?
Conf. of Faith, as above; 5. Rom. cat. pt. ii, Qu. 9. Dick, Lect. 87. Turrettin, Qu. 9. Calvin Institutes, bk. iv, ch. 14, 23—end.

7. Is the efficacy of the Sacraments dependent on the officiator's intention?
Turrettin, Loc xix, Qu. 7. Dick, Lect. 86, 87. Conf. of Faith, ch. 27. Ridgley, Qu. 161. Council of Trent, Sess. 7, Cannon 11.

8. Is that efficiency produced ex opera operato; or does it depend on the recipient's exercise of the proper frames, inwrought by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God?
See on Qu. 8, Cunningham's Hist. Theo. ch. 22; 1, 2. Turrettin, Qu. 8. Calv. Inst. bk. iv, ch. 14. Dick, Lect. 86. Ridgley Qu. 161. Rom. Cat. pt. ii, Qu. 18. Council of Trent, Sess. 7, Canon, 4 to 8 inclusive.

9. Is participation in He Sacraments necessary to salvation?
Turrettin, Ques. 2 and 13. Council of Trent, as above.

10. By whom should the Sacraments be administered?
Turrettin, Qu. 14 Rice and Campbell, Debate, Prop. 4. Calv. Inst. bk. iv, ch. 15; 20—end.

11. Do the rites of Baptism, Confirmation, and orders confer an indelible spiritual character?
Turrettin, Ou. to. Dick, as above. Dr. Geo. Campbell, Lect. xi, on Eccl. Hist. (p. 183, etc.) Rom. Cat. pt. u, Qu, Ig. Council of Trent, Sess. Hi Canon 9.

Doctrine of Church and Sacraments Dependent.

The doctrine of the sacraments is closely dependent on that of the Church; and is treated by many authorities, Doctrine of Church as strictly consequent thereon; as by Turettin. It may also be remarked, that the doctrine of the Church is a head of the theology of redemption; and may be treated as such, as well as a source for practical rules of church order. But as that doctrine is ably treated in another department of this Seminary, I shall assume its main principles, and use them as foundations for the discussion of the sacraments, without intruding into that circle of inquiry.

Definition of Church and its Attributes.

Let us remember then, that the true Church of Christ is invisible, and consists of the whole body of the effectually called: That the same name is given, by accommodation, in the Scriptures, to a visible body, consisting of all those throughout the world, who make a credible profession of the true religion, together with their children: That the essential properties of unity, holiness, indefectibility, catholicity, belong to the invisible, and not the visible Church: That God has defined the visible Church catholic, by giving it, in all its parts, a ministry, the Word, the sacraments and other ordinances, and some measure of His sanctifying Spirit: That this visible Church is traced back at least to the family of Abraham, where it was organized by God's own authority on a gospel and ecclesiastical covenant: That this visible Church is substantially the same under both dispensations, retaining under the New, the same membership and nature, though with a suitable change of circumstances, which it had under the Old Dispensation; and that out of this visible Church catholic there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. In this visible Church, the sacraments are both badges of membership, and sealing ordinances. They also represent, apply, and seal, the chief truths of redemption. Hence, the importance of their discussion. They will be found to bear a close relation to our whole system, both of doctrine and church order.

1. Bible Ideas of Sacrament Simple.

When one examines the Scriptures, and sees the brief and simple statements there given concerning the sacraments, he will be very apt to feel that the place assigned them in many Protestant, and all Roman Catholic systems of divinity, is inordinately large. This is an evidence of the strong tendency of mankind to formalism. In our treatment of the subject, much of the length assigned it will arise from our attempts to rebut these formal and superstitious tendencies, and reduce the sacraments to their Scriptural simplicity.

Constituted of Four Things.

According to the definition of the Confession of Faith, ch. 27; 1,2, there are four things which concur to constitute a sacrament. (a.) A visible material element. (b.) A covenanted grace of graces, aptly symbolized and represented to the senses by the element. (c.) A mutual pledge and seal of this covenant between God and the soul. (d.) And an express divine institution. The usual patristic definition was, "a sacrament is a sensible sign of an invisible grace." But this is too indefinite, and leaves out the federal feature. All ceremonies are not sacraments because they are of divine appointment; for they may not have this material element as symbol of a spiritual grace; nor are all symbols of divine appointment therefore sacraments; because they may not be seals of a covenant.

God's Appointed Most Essential.

One of the most important features is the express divine appointment. Sacraments are acts of worship. All worship not instituted by God is will—worship, and therefore offensive, because He is infinite and inscrutable to finite minds, as well as our absolute Sovereign; so that it is presumption in man to devise ways to please Him any farther than the appointment of His word bears us out, and because the devices of depraved and short—sighted man are always liable to be depraved and depraving. These reasons, of course, apply in full force to sacraments of human device. But there is an additional one. A sacrament is God's pledge of some covenanted grace to the true participant. Now, by the same reason that nobody can put my sign and seal to my bond save myself, no other than God can institute a sacrament. It is the most aggravated form of will—worship.

Etymology and Meaning.

The remarks of Dick and Hill concerning the etymology and usage of the word, sacrament, have been sufficient; (as meaning first, a suitor's money placed in pledge; second, a soldier's oath of enlistment; third, some holy secret, the usual Vulgate translation of musthrion.) It has been plausibly suggested, that the latter is the sense primarily attached to it by the Latin Fathers, when they used it in our technical sense; as musthrion is the word usually employed therefor by the Greeks. This is reasonable: yet the other idea of oath of enlistment to Christ was, we know, early attached to it. For in the earliest literature of the martyrs, e. g., Tertullian, and thenceforward generally, we find the ideas enlarged on, that the Christian is a soldier enlisted and sworn, in the Lord's Supper, to die for Jesus.

2. Sacraments are Seals as well as Signs.

Much of the remainder of this Lecture will consist of an attempt to substantiate the parts of our definition of a sacrament. The Socinians (and as Lutherans and Papists charged, the Zwinglians), being outraged by the unscriptural and absurd doctrine of Rome, concerning the intrinsic efficacy of sacraments, en operas operate, adopted this view, that a sacrament is but an instructive and commemorative symbol of certain facts and truths, and a badge of profession. This we hold to be true so far as it goes, but to be insufficient. They are also pledges and seals on God's part of covenanted gospel blessings, as well as pledges of service and fidelity on our part which is implied in their being badges of profession). And here we oppose the Papists also, because they also repudiate the sphragistic nature of the sacraments, in making them actually confer and work, instead of signing and sealing, the appropriate graces.

(a.) Because Circumcision was a Seal.

The arguments for our view are the following: It is expressly said, Rom. 4:11, that circumcision, one of the sacraments of the Old Testament, was to Abraham a sign and "seal of the righteousness of faith, which he had while yet uncircumcised." It must have been equally a seal to all other genuine believers of Israel; for the ground of its application to them was no other than their coming under the very covenant then instituted with Abraham, and inheriting the same promises. But baptism is the circumcision of the New Testament, the initial sign of the same covenant; and baptized believers are children of Abraham's promises by faith. Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38,39; Rom. 11:16, etc. It seems very obvious therefore, that Baptism is as much a seal as circumcision was. So the Passover, at its first institution, was a pledge (as well as sign) of a covenanted immunity. See Ex. 12:13,23. When we establish a similar identity between the Passover and the Supper, the same argument will appear, that the latter also is a seal.

(b.) The Sacraments Confer Outward Privilege.

But second. The pledge contained in the sacraments is plainly indicated in the outward or ecclesiastical privileges, into which they immediately induct the partaker. He who received the sign, was thereby at once entitled to the enjoyment of certain privileges, the signs and means of saving graces. How can the idea of pledging be avoided here? And the sacramental union expressed in the Bible language implies the same. In Gen. 17:10,13, circumcision is called the covenant. In John 3:5; Tit. 3:5; baptism is called regeneration; and in Acts 22:6, remission of sins. In Ex. xii, et passim, the lamb is called the Passover. In 1Cor. 11:24,25, the bread and wine are called the body and blood. Now, this intimate union, implied in such language, must be either opus operatum (which we shall disprove), or a sealing pledge. For illustration, by what usage of human language could that symbolical act in a feudal investiture, handing to the tenant a green sod cut from the manor conveyed, be called "Livery of seizin;" unless it was understood to represent the conveying and guaranteeing of possession in the land?

(c.) A Federal Sign is necessarily a Seal.

And third. When we remember that a sacrament symbolizes not any kind of fact or truth, but one peculiar sort, viz: a covenant; we see that in making a sacrament a symbol and badge, we make it a seal and pledge. For the latter idea is necessarily involved in a federal symbol, which is just the idea of the sacrament. When I shake hands as an indication only of general good will, the act may be merely symbolical; but when I give my hand on a bargain, the symbol inevitably conveys a sealing meaning.

3. Matter of the Sacrament what? Natural Foundation for it.

Both the Papal and Protestant Scholastics have defined the sacraments as consisting in matter, and form. This proceeds upon the Aristotelian analysis, adopted by the scholastic divines. They supposed that the most accurate definition of every object was made by stating, first the matter ulh, constitutive of the object, and then the form schma, which, when superinduced, discriminated that object from every other that was constituted of the same ulh. This answers quite correctly, for a concrete object. Thus: a sword may be defined. Its matter is steel. But any steel is not a sword; there may be steel in a ploughshare, or in an ingot, or in a bar. Add the special shape and fashion of the weapon, the form; and we have the idea of a sword. The student will see, that the attempt to extend this mode of definition to spiritual and ecclesiastical concepts is very questionable: such, however, is the point of view, on which this definition turns. But here the student must note that, by form is not meant the shape of a material thing, or the formulary, or mode of observance outward; but (the idea of a sacrament being complex) that trait which, when superinduced on the transaction, distinguishes it as a sacrament. Both agree that the matter of the sacrament consists of a sensible symbol, and of a federal truth of religion symbolized. The trait of human nature to which the institution of sacraments is accommodated is evidently this: that man being a sensuous being, suggestions prompted by a sensible object, much more vivid and permanent than those prompted by mental conceptions merely, whether the associated suggestion be of thought, or emotion. Society offers many illustrations of this mental law, and of useful social formalities founded on it. What else is the meaning and use of friends, shaking hands? Of civic ceremonials? Of the symbolical acts in forming matrimonial vows? Of commemorative monuments, painting and statues. On this principle rest also the attractiveness of pilgrimages, the ties of all local associations, and the sacredness attached to the graves of the dust of those we love.

Hence, a Sacrament has, first, a Significant Material Part.

It is obvious that there will be in every sacrament, some material element, palpable to the senses, and especially to our eyesight. This element should also be not merely an arbitrary, but a natural sign of the grace signified; that is, it should have some natural analogy to suggest the related grace. By arbitrary agreement, soldiers have bargained that a certain blast of the trumpet shall signify advance, and algebraists, that a certain mark shall represent addition. There is no previous analogy. But in circumcision, the removal of the preputium aptly and naturally represents putting away carnality; and results in a hidden, yet indelible mark, graphically signifying the inward renewal of the heart. In baptism, water, which is the detergent element in nature, as aptly signifies cleansing of guilt and carnality. In the Passover, the sprinkled blood represented the atonement: and the eating of the sacrificed body of the lamb, faith's receptive act, in embracing Jesus Christ for the life of the soul. In the Lord's Supper, the same symbols almost, are retained; i. e., eating something that nourishes; but not in this case animal food, because the typical nature of the Passover, contained in "the life which maketh atonement for our sin," had already terminated on Christ the antitype. But it must be added, that a mere natural analogy does not constitute a sacrament. The analogy must be selected, and consecrated by the express institution of God.

The Form What?

The Protestant scholastics very properly (if the extremely artificial analysis of the Aristotelians is to be retained at all) declared that the form which constitutes the element and theological truth a sacrament, is the instituted signification. The Papists make the form of sacrament to consist in the words of institution. Those words are indeed, in each case, expressive of the appointed signification; whence it may be supposed, that the difference of definition is unimportant. But we shall see that the Papists are thereby smoothing the way for their idea of the sacramental union, involving an efficiency by opus operatum, and the power of the canonical priest to constitute the ceremonial a sacrament or not, at his will.

4. Sacramental Union?

Our Confession declares that "there is, in every sacrament, a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other." Instances of this sacramental language have been already given, (p. 729.} Others may be found, where the grace is named by the sign, in Matt. 26:27,28; 1 Pet. 3:21; Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:11, 12, etc. This sacramental union is defined by the Confession as "spiritual relation," and by Turrettin, as a "relative and moral union." The latter repudiates the proposition, that it is a "spiritual union;" but he repudiates it in the sense in which it is asserted by Papists, who mean by it a literal connection of the spiritual benefit with the material element, such that it is conferred wherever the element is ex opere operato. Turrettin's "moral relation" means the same with our Confession's "spiritual relation." Both, of course, imply that this relation only is real in those cases in which the recipient partakes with proper state of heart. In such cases (only), the elements are the means and channels of gracious benefits, not in virtue of a physical union of the grace to the elements, but of their adaptation and God's appointment and purpose, and the Holy Spirit's influence.

The Union not Physical.

Should any one assert a different union from that of the Confession, he would be refuted by common sense, which pronounces the absurdity of the whole notion of the conveyance of spiritual benefits by a physical power through a physical union. It is nothing better than an instance of a religious jugglery. He is opposed by the Old Testament, which declares its sacraments to be only signs and seals of grace embraced through faith. He is contradicted by the general tenor of the New Testament, which always conditions our participation of saving blessings on our state of heart. And he is inconsistent with himself; for if the tie connecting the grace with the element were a physical tie, the grace ought to go wherever the element goes. It is so with the tie between substance and attributes, in every other case. If it is the nature of fire to burn, then fire surely burns him whom it touches, whether it be conveyed to him by friend or foe, by design or chance, in anger or in friendship. Then, the intention of the priest, and the state of mortal sin in the recipient ought to make no difference whatever as to the gracious efficacy. In placing these limitations, the Papist has really given up his position; he has virtually admitted that the sacramental union is only a relation of instituted moral influence. But if it is such, then its efficacy must be tested just like other moral influence exerted by the Holy Spirit. Are any of them exerted, can they be exerted, any otherwise than through the intelligent embracing and acting upon the truth by the soul of the subject? The same topic will be more fully discussed when we consider the claim of opus operatum.

5. But two New Testament Sacraments. Rome has Seven.

All Protestants are agreed that among the religious rites instituted by God for the New Testament Churches, there are but two, which meet the definition of a sacrament: baptism and the Lord's supper. As they obviously present all the requisites, and as there is no dispute concerning their claim, we shall not argue it, but proceed to consider the pretensions of the five other so-called sacraments of the Romanist Church: confirmation, penance, orders, matrimony, and extreme unction. To prove that the sacraments are seven, the Roman Catechism seems to rely chiefly on this argument: As there are seven things in physical life which are essential to the propagation and wellbeing of man and of society, that men be born, grow, be nourished, be healed when sick, be strengthened when weak, have rulers to govern them, and rear children lawfully; so in the analogous life of the Spirit, there are seven essential wants, to each of which a sacrament answers. In baptism the soul is born unto Christ, by confirmation we grow, in the Eucharist we are fed with heavenly nourishment, in penance the soul is medicined for the returns of the diseases of sin, in extreme unction it is strengthened for its contest with the last enemy, in orders the spiritual magistracy is instituted, and in matrimony the production of legitimate offspring is secured. The answer to all this trifling is obvious, that by the same argument it would be as easy to make a dozen sacraments as seven: one to answer to man's home and shelter, one to his raiment to cover him, one to his fire to warm him, etc., for these also are necessities. But to proceed to details.

Confirmation no Sacrament.

1. Confirmation is not a sacrament of the New Testament, because it utterly lacks the divine institution. The imposition of hands practiced in Acts 8:17, and 19:6, and mentioned in Heb. 6:2, was a rite intended to confer the miraculous charisma of the Holy Spirit, and therefore peculiar to the apostolic age, and purely temporary. The evidences of this fact are presented in the exposition of Acts 13 ZF 13. See a crucial investigation of this point in my essay, "Prelacy a Blunder."�"Southern Presbyterian Review. January 1876. ZE Let Rome or Canterbury so confer the Holy Spirit, by their imposition of hands, that they shall make men prophesy and speak with tongues (Acts 19:6), and we will believe. Again: It is the sheerest blunder to pretend to find this rite of confirmation in any of those passages where apostles are said to "confirm" (Acts 14:22, sthriwn) the churches, or the souls of the brethren. The context, dispassionately viewed, will show that this was merely the instructions and encouragements addressed to them by the apostles' prayers and preachings. For these reasons, and because the Scriptures direct us to expect in baptism and the Lord's Supper all the increments of grace which Christians receive through any sacramental channel, we do not hold modern confirmation to be a scriptural rite at all. But if it were, it could not be a sacrament, for two fatal reasons: that it has no material element (for the oil or chrism is of purely human addition, without one syllable of scriptural authority); and it has no promise of grace attached to it by any divine institution. It seals no pledge God has given.

Penance No Sacrament.

2. Papists profess to find the matter of the sacrament of penance in the penitent's three exercises, of contrition, confession and satisfaction; and its form in the priest's absolution. Now, in the case of sins which scandalize the Church openly, a confession to man is required by the New Testament, and a profession of contrition. And when such profession is credible, it is proper for the minister to pronounce the acquittal of the offending brother from Church censure. And this is the only case in which anything like confession and absolution is enjoined as an ecclesiastical rite in the New Testament. The only plausible case cited by Rome, that of Jas. 5:16, is non-ecclesiastical, because it is mutual confession, and its object is mutual prayers for each other's forgiveness. That would be a queer sacrament in which recipient should turn the tables on administrator, giving him the elements and conferring the grace! Having limited scriptural confession and absolution to the single case defined above, we find overwhelming reasons why, in that case, they cannot compose a sacrament. There is no element to symbolize the grace promised; for by what title can a set of feelings and acts in the penitent be called a material element? If this be waived, there is no analogy between this pretended element, and a symbolized grace; for contrition and confession do not represent, they are themselves graces, if genuine. There is no divine warrant, in words of institution, authorizing the minister to announce a divine grace; for all he is authorized to announce is acquittal from Church discipline. "Who can forgive sins but God only?" And last: It is the nature of a sacrament to be partaken by all alike who are within the covenant. But scriptural penance is appropriate only to the exceptional cases of those communicants who have scandalized their profession. The additions which the Papists have made, of auricular confession and satisfaction, greatly aggravate the objections.

Extreme Unction No Sacrament.

3. The formulary for extreme unction may be found described in Turrettin and others. The only places of Scripture cited in its support are Mark 6:3, and Jas. 5:14. These cases so obviously fail to bear out the Papal sacrament that many of their own writers confess it. The objects were different; the apostles anointed to heal the bodies; the priests do it to prepare them for dying. The apostles anointed all sick persons who called on them, baptized, unbaptized, those in mortal sin; sacraments are properly only for Church members. The effect in the apostles' case was miraculous: can Rome claim this? And there can be no sacrament, because the priest has no divine institution and promise on which to proceed.

Orders No Sacrament.

4. Orders cannot be a sacrament, although when stripped of its superstitious additions, we see it is a New Testament rite. It is not a sacrament because it has no element. The imposition of hands with prayer (chrism, etc., is all extra-scriptural) is but an action, not an element. It has no saving grace connected with it, by any promise or word of institution. As has been shown by my colleague, in his course, ordination confers no grace, but only recognizes its possession. According to Rome, the action which she preposterously elevates into a matter, is not uniform; but as there are seven orders of clergy, there are several different ceremonials enjoined in the different cases. And last: only one Christian out of a number is ordained to any of these: whereas a sacrament is for all equally, who are in the covenant.

5. For the sacramental character of matrimony, the only showing of scriptural defense is the Vulgate translation of Eph. 5:32: "Hoc est secramentum magnum." Surely a mistranslation of a bad version is a bad foundation on which to build a Bible claim! And then, as has been well remarked, the great musthrion on which Paul remarks, is not the marriage relation at all, but the mystical union of Christ to His people. In matrimony there is no sacramental element at all, no divine warrant for sacramental institution, no grace of redemption signed and sealed to the recipients. And to crown the absurdity, the rite is not limited to God's people, but is equally valid among Pagans! Indeed, marriage is a civil contract, and not an ecclesiastical one. Yet Rome has found it to her interest to lay her hand on the rite, and thus to elevate the question of divorce into an ecclesiastical one, and a causa major.

6. Sacraments of Old Testament Two. Sacrifices Not Sacraments, and Why.

As to the number of sacraments under the Old Testament dispensation Calvinistic divines are not agreed Some seem inclined to regard any or every symbolical rite there found as a sacrament. Others, far more correctly, as I conceive, limit them to two: circumcision and the Passover. The claim of these two to be sacraments need hardly be much argued, inasmuch as it is not disputed. They are symbols instituted by God; they have each their elements, bearing a significant relation to the grace represented: the thing represented was in each case federal, so that they not only signified, but sealed or pledged the benefits of a covenant.

But the various typical sacrifices of the Hebrews cannot be properly regarded as sacraments, for the very reason that they were mere types. (The Passover also was a type, in that it was a sacrifice proper, but it was also more than a type, a commemorative and sealing ordinance). For a type points forward to an antitype to come. A sacrament points beck to a covenant already concluded. The type does not actually confer the good symbolized, but holds the soul in suspense, waiting for it. The sacrament seals a present possession to the worthy receiver. This was as true of the two Old Testament sacraments as of the New. See Rom. 4:11; Ex. 12:13. To the obedient and observant Hebrew, the Passover was, on the night of its institution, the sign and seal of the remission of death, bodily and spiritual death, the proper penalty of sin, visited that night on a part of the Egyptians; and doubtless, in all subsequent ages, the truly believing Hebrew found it the consoling pledge of a present and actual (not typical) remission and spiritual life, through the merit of the "Lamb of God." Again, a sacrament is a holy ordinance, to be observed alike by all who are within the covenant. But many of the sacrifices were adapted only to exceptional cases: as the Nazarites, the trespass offering, the sacrifice for the purification of women, etc.

Sacraments of Both Testaments Same in Signification.

The question whether the sacraments of the Old and New Testaments are the same substantially in their signification and efficacy will be found in the sequel one of prime importance. The grounds on which we assert their substantial identity are these.

(a.) Presumptively: The covenant of grace is the same under the two testaments, offering the same blessing, redemption; through the same agencies, justification and sanctification through the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Hence, it is natural to suppose that sacraments, especially when sealing the same covenant graces, should operate in substantially the same way. (b.) The identity of the covenant, and of the means of sealing it, is strongly implied by Paul, 1 Cor. 10:4, when he says there was a sense in which the Hebrew Church possessed baptism and the Lord's supper. Turrettin very strangely argues from this, and deals with objections, as though he understood the Apostle to teach that the Hebrews of the Exodus had literally and formally a real sacrament of baptism, and the supper, in the passage of the Red Sea, and the eating and drinking of the Manna and water of Massah. This seems to me to obscure the argument; and it would certainly have this effect: that we must teach that Israel had four sacraments instead of two. The scope of the Apostle is, to show that participation in sealing ordinances and ecclesiastical privileges does not ensure salvation. For Israel all shared these wondrous scalings to God, yet many of them perished. And to strengthen the analogy he compares them to the New Testament sacraments. Now, if Israel's consecration to God in this Exodus was virtually a baptizing and a Eucharist, we infer that the spirit of the Israelitish ordinances was not essentially different from that of the New Testament. The scope of the Apostle necessitates this view. His design was, to stimulate to watchfulness, by showing that sacraments alone do not guarantee our salvation. This premise he proves, from the case of the Israelites who, though enjoying their sacraments) perished by unbelief. If the New Testament sacraments differed from the Old in possessing opus operatum power, as Rome claims they do, then the logic of the Apostle would be shameful sophism. (c.) The supper is called by the name of the Passover. 1 Cor. 5:7,8. And the baptism is declared to be, Col. 2:11,12, the New Testament circumcision. (d.) The supper came in the room of the Passover, as is manifest from the circumstances of its institution, and the baptism came in the room of circumcision; compare Gen. 17:11, with Matt. 28:19. See Acts 2:38,39. And, last, circumcision and baptism signify and seal the same graces. This will be manifest from a comparison of Gen. 17:3,4, with Acts 2:4; Deut. 10:16, or 30:6, with John 3:5, or with Titus 3:5, and Eph. 5:6; Acts 7:8, with Rom. 6:3,4; Rom. 4:11, with Acts 2:38, and 22:16. We here learn that each sacrament signified entrance into the visible Church, remission of sin, regeneration, and the engagement to be the Lord's. So the Passover and the supper signify substantially the same. In our Passover, the Lamb of God is represented as slain, the blood as sprinkled, our souls feed upon Him by faith, and the consequence is that God's wrath passes over us, and our souls live.

7. Rome's Doctrine of Intention.

THE Council of Trent asserts (Seq. 7 canon 11), that the intention of doing at least what the Church proposes to do, is necessary in the administrator, to make the sacraments valid. Some Papal divines are so accommodating as to teach, that if this intention is habitual or virtual, though not present, because of inattention, in the mind of the administrator at the moment of pronouncing the words of institution, it is still valid; and some even say, that though the officiating person have heretical notions of the efficacy of the Sacrament, e. g., the Presbyterian notion, and honestly intends a Sacrament, as he understands it, it is valid. Now, there is obviously a sense, in which the validity of sacramental acts, depends on the intention of the parties. If, for instance, a frivolous or profane clergyman should, in a moment of levity, use the proper elements, and pronounce the proper words of institution, for purposes of mockery or sinful sport, it would certainly not be a sacrament. But this is a lack of intention, of a far different kind from the Papal. There would be neither the proper place, time, nor circumstances of a divine rite. The profanity of purpose would be manifest and overt: and all parties would be guilty of it. The participation on both sides, would be a high act of profanity. But where the proper places, times and attendant circumstances exist, so far as the honest worshipper can judge; and all the divine institution essential to the validity of the right is regularly performed with an appearance of Religious sincerity and solemnity, there we deny that the sincere participant can be deprived of the sacramental benefit, by the clergyman's secret lark of intention. And this: because

Refutation

(a.) It is the opinion of all the Protestant divines, even including Calvin (Inst. Bk. 4: ch. 14), that the gracious efficacy of the sacraments is generally like that of the word. The sacraments are but an acted word, and a promise in symbol. They effect their gracious result through the Holy Spirit cultivating intelligent faith, etc. Now, the efficacy of the word is not dependent on the motives of him who conveys it. God sometimes saves a soul by a message delivered through a wicked man. Why may not it be thus with a sacrament?

(b.) If the clergyman lack the right intention, that is simply his personal sin. It is preposterous to represent God as suspending the fate of a soul, or its edification, absolutely upon the good conduct of another fellow—sinner, whose secret fault that soul can neither prevent, nor even detect till too late. This is not Scripture. Prov. 9:2; Rom. 14:4 This objection to Rome's doctrine is peculiarly forcible against her, because she represents the valid enjoyment of sacraments, as essential to salvation: and because she herself teaches that the validity of the sacraments is not dependent on the personal character of the clergyman, not even though he be in mortal sin. Why should this one sin, which is precisely a personal sin of the officiator, no more, no less, be an exception?

(c.) The possible consequences of the doctrine, as pointed out by Turrettin, Dick. etc., are such as amount to a reductio ad absurdum. If it were true, it would bring in question the validity of any sacrament, of every priest's baptism and ordination, the validity of the Apostolic Succession at every link, and of every mass: so that the worshipper would never know, while worshipping the wafer, whether he were guilty of idolatry or not, even on Papal principles. According to the Canon Law, all orders conferred on unbaptized persons are null. Hence, if there is any uncertainty that the priest baptizing the Pope had the intention, there is the same uncertainty whether every grade of ordination he received, from the deaconship up to the papal, is not void; and every clerical act he ever performed therefore invalid. Papists endeavor to evade this terrible consequence by saying that we have the moral evidence of human testimony, that the priests giving us the sacraments had the intention; and this is all the Protestant can have of his own baptism in infancy, because he was too young to know; and had to take the fact on the assertion of his parents or others. I reply: there are two vital differences. The Protestant does not believe water baptism essential to his redemption; an unconscious mistake in the fact would not be fatal. Water baptism is an overt act, cognizable by the senses, and a proper subject of authentic and complete testimony, by concurrent witnesses; but intention is a secret act of soul, not cognizable by any other than the priest, and impossible to be verified by any concurrent testimony.

Motive for the Dogma.

Finally, this doctrine is totally devoid of Bible support. But these tremendous difficulties have not prevented Rome from asserting the doctrine. Her purpose is to hold the laity in the most absolute and terrible dependence on the priesthood. She tells them that without valid sacraments it is impossible to be saved; and that even where they have the canonical form of a sacrament, they may utterly fail of getting the sacrament itself, through the priest's secret will; and may never find it out till they wake in hell, and find themselves damned for the want of it. What power could be more portentous?

8. Doctrine of Efficacyex Opere Operato.

In the scholastic jargon of Rome, means of grace naturally divide themselves into two classes�"those which do good ex opere operato, and those which only do good ex opere operantis. The former do good by the simple performance of the proper ceremonial, without any act or movement of soul in the recipients, accommodating themselves intelligently to the grace signified. The latter only do good when the recipient exercises the appropriate acts of soul; and the good done is dependent on those exercises, as well as on the outward means. Of the latter kind of means is preaching, etc.; but Rome holds that the sacraments all belong to the former. Her meaning, then, is that the mere administration of the sacrament does the appointed good to the recipient, provided he is not in a state of mortal sin, whether he exercises suitable frames or not. So Council of Trent, Sess. 7, Canon, 6—8. But Romanist Theologians are far from being of one mind, as to the nature of this immediate and absolute efficacy.

Phases of it.

Their views may be grouped with tolerable accuracy under two classes. One class, embracing the Jesuit and more zealous Papists, regard the opus operatum efficacy as a proper and literal effect of the sacramental element and words of institution, by their own immediate causation. They do not, and cannot explain the nature of this causation, unless it be literally physical; and then it is absurd. The other class, including Jansenists, and the more spiritual, regard the sacramental efficacy as spiritual i. e., as the almighty redeeming influence of Christ and the Holy Spirit, purchased for sinners by Christ; which spiritual influence they suppose God has been pleased in His mercy to tie by a constant purpose, and gracious promise, to the sacraments of the Church canonically administered, by a tie gracious and positive, yet absolute and unconditioned, so that the sacramental efficacy goes to every human being to whom the elements go with the proper word of institution, whether the recipient exercise faith or not. That is, God has been pleased, in His sovereign mercy to the Church, to make her sacraments the essential and unfailing channels of His spiritual grace. The opinion of the Prelatic Fathers seems to have been intermediate�"that no one got saving grace except through the sacramental channel, (excepting the doubtful case of the uncovenanted mercies) but that in order to get grace through that channel, faith and repentance were also necessary. (See Augustine, in Calvin's Phi supra). And such is probably the real opinion of High Church Episcopalians, and of Campbellites, as to the grace of remission.

Protestant View.

Now, Protestants believe that the sacraments, under proper circumstances, are not a hollow shell, devoid of gracious efficacy. Nor is their use that of a mere badge. But they are not the channels or vehicles for acquiring the saving grace first; inasmuch as the possession of those graces is a necessary prerequisite to proper participation in adults. The efficacy of the sacrament, therefore, is in no case more than to strengthen and nourish saving graces. And that efficacy they carry only as moral means of spiritual influences; so that the whole benefit depends on an intelligent, believing and penitent reception. And every believer has the graces of redemption in such degree as to save his soul, if a true believer, whether he has any sacraments or not. See Confession of Faith, ch. 27:3. In this sense we deny the opus operat.

Proved. By Analogous Operation of Word.

(a) Because that doctrine is contradicted by the analogy of the mode in which the Word operates. As we have stated, Protestant divines admit no generic difference between the mode in which the Holy Spirit works in the Word, and in the sacraments. The form of a sacrament is the instituted significance of it. But that significance is only learned in the Scriptures, and the word of institution is to be found, as well as its explanation, in the same place. The sacrament, without the intelligent signification, is dumb: it is naught. Scripture alone gives it its significance. Sacraments are but the word symbolized; the covenant before expressed in promissory language, now expressed in sphragistic symbols. But now, what is more clear, than that the word depends for its efficacy, on the believing and active reception of the sinner's soul? See 2 Cor. 3:6; Heb. 4:2, et passim. The same thing is true of the sacraments.

By Sphragistic Character.

(b) The sacraments are defined in the Scriptures as signs and seals, Rom. 4:11; Gen. 17:10. Now to signify and to promise a thing is different from: doing it. Where the effect is present, the sign and pledge thereof is superseded. When the money is paid, the bond that engaged for its payment is done with. To make the sacraments effect redemption ex opere operato, therefore destroys their sacramental nature. But more: They are seals of a covenant. That Covenant, as far as man is a party (and in the sacrament, the recipient is one party), was suspended on an instrumental condition, a penitent and obedient faith. How can the seal have a more immediate and absolute efficiency than the covenant of which it is a seal. That covenant gives it all its force. It is to evade this fatal argument, that Bellarmine labors, with his and our enemies, the Socinians, to prove that sacraments are not seals.

By Grace Presupposed.

(c) The sacraments cannot confer redeeming grace ex opere opererato, because, in every adult, proper participation presupposes saving grace in exercise. See Rom. 4:11, last clause; Acts 8:35,36,37; 9:11with 18; 10:34with 47; Mark 16:16; Peter 3:21; Heb. 11:6; 1 Cor. 11:28,29;5:7,8. Hence:

By Instances of Salvation Without Sacraments.

(d) Several in Scripture were saved without any sacraments, as the thief on the cross. Cornelius, we have seen, and Abraham, were already in a state of redemption, before their participation in the sacraments. Now, inasmuch as we have proved that a true believer once in a state of grace can never fall totally away, we may say that Abraham and Cornelius were already redeemed. John. 3:36; 5:4. And the overwhelming proof that the sacraments have no intrinsic efficacy, is in this glaring fact, that multitudes partake them, with what Rome calls canonical regularity, who never exhibit in their lives or death, one mark of Christian character. Nor will it avail for Rome to say, that they afterward lost the grace by committing mortal sin: for the Scriptures say that the redeemed soul cannot fall away into mortal sin and multitudes exhibit their total depravity, not after a subsequent backsliding, but from the hour they leave the sacramental altar, by an unbroken life of sin.

De Absurdis.

(e) The claim of uniform and absolute efficiency, in its grosser form, is absolute absurdity. How can physical, material elements, with a word of institution pronounced over them (which of itself can go no farther into the hearer, than the tympanum of his ear), effect a moral and spiritual change? It is vile jugglery: degrading to Christianity, and reducing the holy sacraments to a pagan incantation. But the Jesuit pleads, that we see ten thousand cases, where the external physical world produces mental and moral effects, through sensation. We reply that this is not true in the sense necessary to support their doctrine. Sensation is not the efficient, but only the occasional cause of moral feeling, volition, etc. The efficient cause is in the mind's own dispositions and free agency. The confusion of thought in this plea is the same with that made by the sensualistic psychologist, when he mistakes inducement for motive.

But the sophism points us to the cause of a great fact in Church History. That fact is, that somehow, the opus operatum doctrine of the sacraments tends to accompany Pelagian views of human nature and grace. One has only to recall the semi—Pelagian tendencies of the Greek Church, of the Latin Church, notwithstanding its strong Augustinian impulse in its earlier ages, of the English and American Ritualists, and last, of the community founded by Alex. Campbell. These facts are too uniform for chance: they betray a causation. From the point of view just gained, we can easily detect it. The sacraments are external ordinances in this: that they present truth (in symbol) objectively. Hence it is impossible for a rational man to persuade himself that means, which common sense can only apprehend as didactic, if not fetishes, can of themselves cause spiritual acts of soul, (graces) on any other view of the will, than that of the Pelagian. If volitions and emotions are decisively regulated by dispositions, then the a priorirevolution of the disposition, by the Holy Spirit, must be in order to the wholesome influence of any objective. But that is the Protestant view of a sacrament. If the sacrament occasions spiritual states and acts ex opere operato, it can only be on condition of the will's self—determination. Thus, every consistent Ritualist becomes a Pelagian. What is regeneration by moral suasion, except an opus operatum effect of the Word?

But if the other view of the opus operatum be urged: that the efficiency is spiritual, and results, not from the direct causation of the rite itself, but from the power of God graciously and sovereignly connected therewith; we demand the revealed warrant. Where is the promise to the Church from God, that this connection shall be absolute? The Scriptures are silent, when properly interpreted. The burden of proof must rest on the assertors. They have no text which meets the demand. Indeed, in many places the Scriptures explicitly declare the contrary. See, for example, Deut. 10:6; Jer. 4:4; Luke 13:26,27; 1 Cor. 11:29; Rom. 2:25 to end. It may be urged that some of these places, and especially the last, speak of the sacraments of the old dispensation. It is in the vain hope of breaking the force of these unanswerable texts, that Rome asserts an essential difference between the sacraments of the old and the new dispensation, saying that the former only symbolize, while the latter work, saving graces. The student can now see the polemic interest Rome has in widening the differences between the Old Testament and the New, as much as possible, and in recognizing the least of gospel features in the Old. But I have proved that the same gospel is in both Testaments, and that there is no generic difference in the way the sacraments of the two exhibit grace. Here, in part, is the importance of that argument. Especially do I take my stand on Cor. 10:2, and prove thence that the sacraments of the New Testament were viewed by the Apostle, as no more effective, ex opere operato, than those of the Old. Thus, all the demonstrations of the inefficacy of circumcision without repentance and faith, apply against the Ritualist and Papist.

Whole Tenor of Promises against it.

The whole strain of Scripture must strike every candid mind, as opposed to this theory of sacramental grace. God portrays his gospel as a spiritual religion, the contrast of a formalistic one. He everywhere heaps scorn on mere formalism. As the man thinks in his heart, so is he. To teach that a man becomes a Christian by the force of any ceremony, is totally opposite to all this. The argument may be placed in an exceedingly definite light thus. Let them deny the sphragistic nature of the sacraments as they may, it cannot be concealed. Least of all, can the emblematic relation between gospel promises and sacraments be denied. Now the emblem always means just what it is appointed didactically to emblemize: no more. The seal binds only to what is written above in the bond to which it is appended. In every contest as to the intent of a seal, this solution is so obvious, that any other is ridiculous: "Look into the bond, and see what is written above." The Bible is the bond. When we read there, we universally find redemption promised to faith and repentance. The seal appended beneath cannot contradict the body of the instrument.

Motive of Doctrine.

Alien as the doctrine we refute is, from the whole letter and spirit of Scripture; it has an element of popularity, which will always secure numerous votaries, until grace undeceives them. It chimes in with the superstition natural to a soul dead in sin. It is delightful to the soul which hates true repentance, and loves its spiritual laziness, and abhors thorough—going heart religion, and yet dreads hell, to be taught that it can be equipped for heaven, without these arduous means, by an easy piece of ecclesiastical legerdemain.

Scriptures Reconciled.

(f) But Papists and Prelatists quote a class of passages, which they claim to give an immediate efficiency to the rite itself. See John. 3:5; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Eph. 5:26; Cor. 10:17; Rom. 6:3; Luke 22:19,20, etc. Protestants explain these passages in consistency with their views, by saying that they are all expressions based on the sacramental union, and to be explained in consistency with it: e. g., in John 3:5, the birth of the water means the birth by that which the water represents, the Holy Spirit. Nicodemus' great error was, that he had put too much dependence on water. He had relied too much on his "divers baptisms" and hand—washings. Christ says to him, that he must have a cleansing more efficacious than that by water, the cleansing of the Spirit. That He does not mean to assert for water baptism an equal effect and necessity with regeneration, is plain from the fact that in all the subsequent verses, he omits the water wholly. The propriety of this interpretation of all the similar places is defended, first by the analogous case of the hypostatic union in Christ's person, where God is in one place spoken of as having blood, and the Prince of Life as dying. Papists agree with us, that in virtue of the union of the two natures in one person, the person, even when denominated by the one nature, is represented as doing what, in strictness of speech, the other alone could do. So, in the sacraments, there are suggested two things�"the rite, and the grace signified by the rite. How natural, then, that a Hebrew should attribute to the rite, by figure, what the answering grace really effects? In the second place, this probability is greatly strengthened by noticing the way, natural to Hebrew mind, of speaking concerning all other symbols, as types, etc. The symbol is almost uniformly said to be the thing symbolized; when the meaning is, that it represents it. Third: our interpretation of these passages is adopted by Scripture itself, in one of the very strongest instances, thus authorizing our view of the exegesis of the whole class. See 1 Pet. 3:21. Here, first baptism is said to save us, as the ark saved Noah. What expression could be stronger? But yet the Apostle explains himself by saying, it is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh which effects it, but the answer (eperwthma) of a good conscience towards God. These words ascribe the efficacy of the sacrament to the honesty of the participant's confession; and this whether with Turrettin and Winer we translate "request to God," or with Neander and Robinson, "Sponsio." Fourth. If men will persist in making the above Scriptures teach the opus operatum, the only result will be that the Scripture will be made to contradict itself; for it is impossible to explain away all the proof—texts we have arrayed.

This difference between us and Rome is fundamental; because she teaches men to depend essentially on the wrong trust for salvation. The result must be ruin of souls.

9. Sacraments in What Sense Necessary.

The question of the necessity of the sacraments in order to salvation, is nearly connected with the previous one. This is indicated by the fact that the same persons usually hold their essential necessity, and their efficacy ex opere operato. And this consistently; for if the sacraments have that marvelous virtue, it can hardly be supposed that man can safely lack them.

Now, there is a sense in which the neglect of the sacraments would destroy the soul. To observe them is God's command. He who willingly disobeys this command, and perseveres, will thereby destroy his soul, just for the same reason that any willful disobedience will. But then, it is not the lack of the sacraments. but the impenitent state of the soul, which is the true cause of ruin. Turrettin; "Eorum non privatio, sed contemptus damnat." The command to observe them is not of perpetual and original, but only of positive institution; and owes its force over our consciences to the mere precept of God. Hence they should be regarded from the same general point of view with other positive rites. We sustain this:

Arguments.

(a) By reference to the free and spiritual character of the gospel plan as indicated throughout Scripture. God has not tied His grace to forms, places, or sacerdotal orders. All men alike have access to His redeeming mercy, provided their hearts desire it, and under all outward circumstances. John 4:21,23; Luke 18:14, etc.

(b). We infer the same thing from the numerous and exceedingly explicit passages which promise the immediate bestowal of redeeming grace, and mention no other term than believing. Some of them do it in terms which hardly admit of evasion. E. g., John 5:24; 6:29. Does not this seem to say that believing alone puts the soul in possession of redemption? True the Papist may say that one passage of Scripture should be completed by another; and that in other places (e.g. John 3:5; Mark 16:16) the observance of the sacrament is coupled with the believing grace, as a term of salvation.

But when those passages are well understood, it is seen that the importance of the outward sacrament depends wholly on the sacramental union. We repeat, that the places in which faith alone is mentioned as the instrumental condition, are so numerous, so explicit, and some of them professed answers to questions so distinct as (Acts 16:31), that it is simply incredible the Holy Spirit would have so omitted the mention of the sacraments if they were essential.

(c). But their nature shows they are not. They are sensible signs of an inward grace. The reception of them therefore implies the possession of grace; a sufficient proof it does not originate it.

(d). This leads us to add, that many have actually been saved without any sacraments. Abraham and Cornelius were both in a state of grace before they partook of any sacrament. The penitent thief went to paradise without ever partaking. Circumcision could not be administered till the eighth day of the Hebrew infant's life: and doubtless many died uncircumcised in the first week of their life. Were these all lost? This Papal doctrine gives a frightful view of the condition of the infants of Pagans: that forsooth, because they are debarred from the sacrament of baptism, among the millions who die without actual transgression, there is not one elect infant! Are all these lost?

Last, the Scriptures everywhere hold out the truth, that the Word is the great means of redemption; and it is plainly indicated that it is the only essential means. See Rom. 10:14; 2 Tim. 3:15.

10. Sacraments Should be Administered Only by Ministers.

The traditions and usages of the Church as to lay administration of sacraments have been in the main very uniform. It has always been condemned. The inordinate importance attached to baptism did indeed lead the Romanist Church, (and after her, the English), to decide that the baptism of a layman, and even of a woman, was valid, though irregular, if the child was in extremis, and no priest at hand. Even this, most Presbyterians would condemn as utterly invalid. The German antiquaries (e. g., Mosheim) sometimes assert that in the primitive Church any person who made a convert felt authorized to baptize him. This appears to me very doubtful. Ignatius, for instance, who is, if genuine, one of the earliest Apostolic Fathers, says that the Eucharist which the Bishop celebrates should alone be considered a valid one; and that no one should presume to baptize, except the Bishop, or one commissioned by him. This is certainly the language of uniform antiquity, expressed in Councils and leathers. Nor is it merely the result of clerical ambition and exclusiveness. Since the sacraments are a solemn and formal representation of Gospel truth by symbols, a sort of pantomimic Word, it seems most reasonable that the exhibition of them should be reserved to the same class to whom is committed the authoritative preaching of the Word. And it may be urged, with yet more force, that since the presbyters, and especially the pastor of the Church, are the guardians of the sealing ordinances, responsible for their defense against abuse and profanation, it is reasonable, yea, necessary, that they should have the control of their administration. This consideration seems to me to have the force of a just and necessary inference. Again the great commission (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:5) seems evidently to give the duties of preaching and baptizing to the same persons. The persons primarily addressed were the apostles; but the apostles as representative of the whole Church. To deny this would be to deny to all but apostles authority to preach, and a share in the gracious promise of Christ's presence which accompanies the commission; and this again would compel us to admit that the right to preach, and the promise of Christ's blessing, have been lost to the whole Church for nearly 1800 years, or else to accept the Episcopal conclusion that the apostolic office still continues. Hence, the argument from the commission gives only probable proof. This, however, is strengthened by the fact that there is no instance in Scripture of any sacraments administered by any except men who were ministers of the gospel, either by charism, or by ordination. Perhaps the most practical argument against lay administration of sacraments is, from the intolerable disorders and divisions, which have always arisen, and must ever arise, from such a usage. The sacraments have this use among others, to be badges and pledges of Church membership. The control of them cannot therefore be given to others than the appointed rulers of the Church: to do so is utter disorganization.

11. Indelible Character Refuted.

The Council of Trent teaches that the three sacraments of baptism, confirmation and orders, can never be repeated, because they imprint on the recipient an indelible character. They have not, indeed, been able to decide what this character is, nor on what part of man it is imprinted. It cannot be the graces of redemption; because Rome teaches that they may all be lost by the true believer, through backsliding, while this character can never be lost, to whatever apostasy the man may sink: and because, she teaches that the recipient in a state of mortal sin receives no graces through the sacrament, yet he would receive the "character." And again, all the sacraments confer grace, whereas only these three confer "character" indelibly. Nor can it be any other sort of qualification for office (in ordination, for instance), for men lose all qualification through infirmity, dotage, or heresy; yet they never lose the "character." Nor can they decide on what it is imprinted, whether on the body, mind, conscience, or affections. This uncertainty, together with the utter silence of the Scriptures, is the sufficient refutation of the absurdity. If you seek for the motive of Rome in endorsing such a doctrine, you will find it in her lust of power. By every baptism she acquires a subject of her ghostly empire, and every ordination, while it confers on the clergyman a ghostly eminence, also binds him in the tenfold bonds of the iron despotism of the canon law. Now, it suits the grasping and despotic temper of Rome to teach that these bonds of allegiance are inexorable: that when they are once incurred, no apostasy, no act of the subject's choice or will, can ever make him less a subject, or enable him to evade the tyrannical hand of his mistress.

As to confirmation and orders, we do not feel bound to solve any questions concerning their sacramental character, because we do not believe them to be sacraments. As to baptism, we assign this reason why it is never to be repeated to the same subject like the Lord's supper: It is the initiating sacrament, like circumcision. The man who is in the house needs no repeated introduction into the house. It "signifies our ingrafting into Christ." He who is grafted in once is virtually united, and requires no new union to be constituted.

Subscribe to RPM
RPM subscribers receive an email notification each time a new issue is published. Notifications include the title, author, and description of each article in the issue, as well as links directly to the articles. Like RPM itself, subscriptions are free. Click here to subscribe.
http_x_rewrite_url /magazine/article.asp?link=https:%5E%5Ethirdmill.org%5Earticles%5Erl_dabney%5Erl_dabney.ST.043.html thispage server_name thirdmill.org script_name /magazine/article.asp query_string link=https:%5E%5Ethirdmill.org%5Earticles%5Erl_dabney%5Erl_dabney.ST.043.html url /magazine/article.asp all_http HTTP_CONNECTION:Keep-Alive HTTP_ACCEPT:text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8 HTTP_ACCEPT_ENCODING:gzip HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE:en-US,en;q=0.5 HTTP_HOST:thirdmill.org HTTP_USER_AGENT:CCBot/2.0 (https://commoncrawl.org/faq/) HTTP_X_REWRITE_URL:/magazine/article.asp?link=https:%5E%5Ethirdmill.org%5Earticles%5Erl_dabney%5Erl_dabney.ST.043.html HTTP_X_ORIGINAL_URL:/magazine/article.asp?link=https:%5E%5Ethirdmill.org%5Earticles%5Erl_dabney%5Erl_dabney.ST.043.html