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sense of the term ; inasmuch as they are not of divine institution, neither do they possess any sign appointed by God for the sealing of the covenant of grace.
Confirmation or imposition of hands was, it is true, administered by Christ, not however as a sacrament, but as a form of blessing, according to a common Jewish custom, derived probably from patriarchal times, when fathers were accustomed to lay their hands on their children in blessing them, and magistrates on those whom they appointed their successors, as Moses on Joshua, Numb. xxvii. 18. Hence the apostles usually laid hands on such as were baptized, or chosen to any ecclesiastical office; usually, I say, not always : for, although we read of imposition of hands on the seven deacons, Acts vi. 6. we do not find that this ceremony was practised towards Matthias, when he was numbered with the eleven apostles, Acts i. 26. In the case of the baptized, imposition of hands conferred, not indeed saving grace, but miraculous powers, and the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit: Acts viii. 17, &c. xix, 6. 1 Tim. iv. 14. 2 Tim. i. 6. Hence, although the church rejects this ceremony as a sacrament, she retains it with great propriety and advantage as a symbol of blessing. Heb. vi. 2. 'the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands.'
With respect to ordination, and to the act of repentance, for sins committed subsequently to baptism, (the only kind of repentance to which the Papists apply the name of a sacrament) we have no objection to their being called sacraments, in the sense of religious emblems, or symbols of things sacred, analogous to the ancient custom of washing the feet of the poor, and the like. It is unnecessary to be very scrupulous
as to the sense of a word which no where occurs in Scripture. Repentance however has no peculiar sign attached to it, neither is it a seal of the covenant, any more than faith.
With regard to marriage, inasmuch as it is not an institution peculiar to Christian nations, but common to all by the universal law of mankind, (unless it be meant to restrict the word to the union of believers properly so called,) it is not even a religious ceremony, still less a sacrament, but a compact purely civil; nor does its celebration belong in any manner to the ministers of the church.*
As to the unction of the sick, it is true that the apostles 6 anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed 'them,' Mark vi. 13. and James enjoins the same custom, v. 14, 15. This rite, however, was not of the nature of a sacrament; and as it was employed solely in conjunction with miraculous the cessation of those powers its use must have also ceased. There is therefore no analogy between the anointing of the first Christians, and the extreme unction of the modern Papists ; seeing that, in the first place, the apostles anointed not only those who were at the point of death, as is now the custom, but all, as many as were grievously sick; and that, secondly, this unction was attended with the cure of their disorder : Mark vi. 13.
* They insinuated that marriage was not holy without their benediction, and for the better colour, made it a sacrament; being of itself a civil ordinance, a household contract, a thing indifferent and free to the whole race of mankind, not as religious, but as men; best indeed undertaken to religious ends, and as the apostle saith, 1 Cor. vii. ' in the Lord ;' yet not therefore invalid or unholy without a minister and his pretended necessary hallowing, more than any other act, enterprize, or contract of civil life, which ought all to be done also in the Lord and to his glory: all which, no less than marriage, were, by the cunning of priests heretofore, as material to their profit, transacted at the altar. Our divines deny it to be a sacrament, yet retained the celebration, till prudently a late parliament recovered the civil liberty of marriage from their encroachment, and transferred the ratifying and registering thereof from the canonical shop to the proper cognizance of civil magistrates. Considerations on the likeliest Mean's to remove Hirelings out of the Church. Prose Works, III. 371.
To the above may be added, that sacraments, being instituted chiefly for purposes in which all are concerned, namely, as tokens of the sealing of the covenant of grace, and for the confirmation of our faith, ought to be imparted equally to all believers ; whereas of the five papistical sacraments above-mentioned, four are exclusively appropriated to particular classes of individuals ; repentance to the lapsed, ordination to the clergy, extreme unction to the sick, marriage to the lay members of the church alone.
We have hitherto treated of the vocation of man, and of the effects thereby produced, whether consisting in a mere outward change of character, or in actual regeneration; of the spiritual increase of the regenerate; of the various manifestations of the offered covenant ; and, finally, of the sealing of that covenant by sa
The assembly of those who are called is termed the visible church. By the called, I mean those indiscriminately who have received the call, whether they be actually regenerate or otherwise. Matt. iii, 12. •whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner ; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.' xiii. 24, 25. the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat.' v. 47. “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind.' xxii. 9, 10. ·go ye therefore into the highways......and they gathered together all as many as
they found, both bad and good. xxv. 1, 2. then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins...... and five of them were wise, and five were foolish.' 1 John ii. 19. they went out from us, but they were not of us.'
The tokens of the visible church are, pure doctrine; the proper external worship of God; genuine evangelical love, so far as it can be distinguished from the fictitious by mere human perception ; and a right administration of the seals of the covenant. Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. "go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them......teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. Acts ii. 42. they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.' 1 Tim. iii. 15. "the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.' The tokens of the Jewish church enumerated by St. Paul are not dissimilar: Rom. ix. 4. who are Israelites ; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.' On the other hand, he intimates, that where these tokens are wanting, there is no church. Eph. ii.
Eph. ii. 12. at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.'
As to what are called signs, Mark xvi. 17, 18. these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues ; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them : they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recov