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§ 53. Of the Sacraments in General.

SAVING grace is imparted to man not only through the Word, but also through the Sacraments; [1] and, as in the case of the Word, so also in the case of the Sacraments, an external and visible element, which in the sacred rite is offered to man, becomes the vehicle of the Holy Ghost. [2] A Sacrament is, therefore, a holy rite, appointed by God, through which, by means of an external and visible sign, saving grace is imparted to man, or, if he already possess it, is assured to him. [3] The Evangelical Church enumerates only two such rites, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; for only through these two rites, in accordance with the direction of Christ, is such saving grace imparted, and, among all the sacred ordinances prescribed in the Scriptures, it is only in these two that these two distinguishing characteristics of a sacrament are combined, viz., (1) a special divine purpose, in accordance with which, in the sacred rite, and external element is to be thus employed; and (2) the promise given in the divine Word that by the application of this element evangelical saving grace shall be imparted. 521[4] By these marks these two sacred rites are distinguished from all other religious services, and hence, for the purpose of thus distinguishing them, are called Sacraments. [5] In the element thus consecrated by the Word, we have presented to us then no longer merely that which is obvious to the senses, but we have, at the same time, to assume something invisible and more exalted as present and operating through the elements; so that, therefore, the Sacrament consists of both something visible and something invisible. [6] From what has been said, it follows, further, that just as a religious service can be called a Sacrament only when both the above-mentioned marks are combined in it, so also it is not a Sacrament, and does not operate as such, unless it be administered exactly in the mode prescribed by its Founder and for the purpose designed by Him. [7]

Hence (1) the words of the institution must be uttered during the administration of the ordinance, according to the direction of the Founder, for, before that, the element is only an external, simple, and inoperative object; (2) it must be administered and received in the manner prescribed by the Founder; [8] and (3) it must be administered only to those who already belong to the Church, or to those who desire to be received into it through the Sacrament. Finally, order requires that, except in extraordinary cases, it be administered only by regular ministers of the Church. [9] When all these things are observed in this sacred act, according to the instruction of its Founder, then it is a Sacrament; nor is the moral character or the internal intention of the administrator, [10] or the faith of the recipient, [11] necessary to constitute the act a Sacrament. Still, the good or evil effect of the Sacrament depends on the faith or unbelief of the recipient, just as in the case of the good or evil effect of the divine Word. [12] The immediate design of the Sacrament is to impart saving grace to man, or to establish those in it who already possess it. [13] At the same time, however, the Sacraments, as they are administered only within the Church, serve as a mode of recognizing those who partake of them as members of the Church; they serve, likewise, to remind the recipients of the blessings of salvation that are imaged forth in them, to stimulate 522those who have come together with this same purpose to new mutual love, and excite them to cultivate that internal spiritual life which is symbolically indicated in the Sacraments. [14]

[1] BR. (639): “Since, besides the Word of God, the Sacraments also are means of regeneration, conversion, and renovation, and therefore of conferring, sealing, and increasing faith, we must also treat more particularly of these.”

[2] QUEN. (IV, 73): “God has added to the Word of the Gospel as another communicative (δοτικον) means of salvation, the Sacraments, which constitute the visible Word.” Strictly speaking, there is but one means of salvation, which is distinguished as the audible and visible Word; through both one and the same grace is imparted to man, at one time through the mere Word, at another through the external and visible element.

CHMN. (Ex. Trid., II, 35): “For God in those things which pertain to our salvation, is pleased to treat with us through certain means; He Himself has ordained this use of them, and instituted the Word of Gospel promise, which sometimes is proposed to us absolutely by itself or nakedly, and sometimes clothed or made visible by certain rites or Sacraments appointed by Him.” The two means of salvation are thus distinguished only by the manner in which they operate on men. AP. CONF. (VII, 5): “As the Word enters the ear that it may reach the heart, so the external rite strikes the eye that it may move the heart.” The effect of both is the same. AP. CONF., 1. c.: “The effect of the Word and of the rite is the same, as Augustine has forcibly expressed it, viz., a Sacrament is a visible word, because the rite is presented to the eyes, and is, as it were, a picture of the Word, signifying the same thing as the Word. Wherefore, the effect of both is the same.” Comp. below, Note 13.

[3] AP. CONF. (VII, 3): “(The Sacraments are) rites commanded by Christ, and to which is added the promise of grace.” AP. CONF. (XII, 18): “A Sacrament is a ceremony or work in which God holds out to us that which the promise annexed to the rite offers.”

BR. (650): “A Sacrament in general may be defined as an action divinely appointed through the grace of God, for Christ’s sake, employing an external element cognizable by the senses, through which, accompanied by the words of the institution, there is conferred upon or sealed unto men the grace of the Gospel for the remission of sins unto eternal life.”


GRH. (VIII, 328): “A Sacrament is a sacred and solemn rite, divinely instituted, by which God, through the ministry of man, dispenses heavenly gifts, under a visible and external element, through a certain word, in order to offer, apply, and seal to the individuals using them and believing, the special promise of the Gospel concerning the gratuitous remission of sins.”

HUTT. (Comp. Loc. Th., 221, 214): “A Sacrament is a sacred action, divinely instituted, consisting partly of an external element or sign, and partly of a celestial object, by which God not only seals the promise of grace peculiar to the Gospel (i.e., of gratuitous reconciliation), but also truly presents , through the external elements, to the individuals using the sacrament, the celestial blessings promised in the institution of each of them, and also savingly applies the same to those who believe.” By the grace of the Gospel is understood “the applying grace of the Holy Spirit namely, grace that calls, illuminates, regenerates, etc.” The differences of these definitions, and the reason why we have quoted so many of them, will appear in Note 6.

[4] GRH. (VIII, 207): “We say that two things are absolutely requisite to constitute a Sacrament, properly so called, viz., the Word and the element, according to the well-known saying of Augustine; ‘The Word is added to the element, and it becomes a Sacrament.’ This assertion is based upon the very nature and aim of the Sacraments, since the Sacraments are intended to present to the senses, in the garb of an external element, that same thing that is preached in the Gospel message; from which it readily follows that neither the Word without the element, nor the element without the Word, constitutes the Sacrament. By the Word is understood, first, the command and divine institution through which the element, because thus appointed by God, is separated from a common, and set apart for a sacramental use; and, secondly, the promise, peculiar to the Gospel, to be applied and sealed by the Sacrament. By the element is meant not any arbitrarily chosen element, but that which has been fixed and mentioned in the words of institution.”

[5] It is generally acknowledged that the question as to what sacred rites can be called Sacraments, cannot be decided merely by the signification of the word Sacrament, for this word has been somewhat arbitrarily used to designate these two sacred rites. According to its etymology, it is derived from sacrare (Varro, Book IV), and signifies every consecrated thing, hence the money deposited by contending parties with the priest, “to the end that he 524who gained the suit should receive his own, and he who lost it should have his money confiscated;” and also an oath, particularly that of soldiers, by which they consecrated themselves to death if they proved unfaithful. The Vulgate translates the Greek word μυστηριον by sacramentum. But Tertullian first uses the word in relation to Baptism in the sense of juramentum. Accordingly, in the language of the Church, there is a threefold meaning of the word Sacrament. QUEN. (IV, 73): “The word Sacrament is understood (1) in a very general sense, for any hidden or secret thing. Thus, the incarnation of Christ, 1 Tim. 3:16; the union of Christ and the Church, Eph. 5:32; the calling of the Gentiles, Eph. 3:3, etc., are called μυστηρια, which the old Latin interpreter translated sacramenta. Thus also the Fathers call every mystery and ever sacred doctrine that was not very plain a sacrament, as the sacrament of the Trinity, the sacrament of the incarnation and of faith. (2) It is understood in a special sense, for the external sign of a sacred and heavenly object, thus seed, grain, pearls, are sacraments or signs of the kingdom of heaven, Matt. 13:24, etc. (3) In a very particular sense, for the solemn action instituted, prescribed, and commanded by God, in which, by an external and visible sign, invisible benefits are graciously offered, conferred, and sealed.” We cannot then determine from the meaning of the word Sacrament per se, what sacred services are to rank as Sacraments, but the marks which belong to the two services by common consent designated as Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are examined, and all other rites are excluded from this conception of a Sacrament which do not present similar marks. In doing this, it is not affirmed that the idea of a Sacrament per se does not belong to them, but it is maintained that it is not applicable to them in the same sense as to the two genuine Sacraments. CHMN. (Ex. Conc. Trid., II, 14): “We will not contend about the definitions of this or that man, of the ancients or the moderns, but we shall assume the ground which is beyond controversy, and acknowledged among all. Baptism and the Eucharist are confessed by all to be truly and properly Sacraments.” BR. (641): “Thus, therefore, from the commonly received conceptions of the marks in which those rites agree that are undoubtedly Sacraments, it is apparent that those which may perchance be called Sacraments, but have not these common requisites, are not Sacraments in the same sense and reality as those which are properly so called, but are only equivocally designated as such.”

According to this canon, the doctrine of seven Sacraments, held by the Church of Rom, is rejected. Luther, as early as his Larger 525Catechism (1529), retains only two, but the APOL. still retains three (VII, 4): “Therefore these are truly Sacraments, viz., Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of penitence.” And MEL. (Loc. c. Th., I, 307) is inclined to regard ordination also as a Sacrament: “I add also ordination, as they call it, i.e., the vocation to the gospel ministry and the public approbation of that call, for all these are commanded in the Gospel.” From this it is plain that in the early period of the Reformation there was still some hesitation about the number of the Sacraments, which is explained from the fact that both absolution and ordination possess some of the marks which we find in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. CHMN. (Ex. Conc. Trid., II, 14) thus explains himself on absolution: “Our theologians have often said that they would not contend, but willingly grant that absolution should be ranked among the Sacraments, because it has the application of a general promise to the individuals using this service. But still it is certain that absolution has not an established external element, or sign, or rite instituted or commanded of God. And although the imposition of hands or some other external rite may be applied, yet it is certainly destitute of a special and express divine command. Nor is there any promise that through any such external rite God will efficaciously apply the promise of the Gospel. We have, indeed, the promise that through the Word He wishes to be efficacious in believers; but in order to constitute anything a Sacrament, not only is a naked promise in the Word required, but that, by a divine appointment or institution, it be expressly clothed with some sign or rite divinely commanded. But the announcement or recitation of the Gospel promise is not such a sing, for in that way the general preaching of the Gospel would be a Sacrament . . . . Therefore absolution is not properly and truly a Sacrament in the way or sense in which Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are Sacraments; but if any one, with this explanation and difference added, would wish to call it a Sacrament on account of the peculiar application of the promise, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession declares that it would not oppose the idea.”

CHMN. (Ex. Trid., II, 14) treats it most extensively: “Any ordinance that is to be properly regarded as a Sacrament of the New Testament must have the following requisites: (1) It must have an external, or corporeal and visible, element or sign, which may be handled, exhibited, and used in a certain external rite. (2) The element or sing, and the rite in which it is employed, must have an express divine command to authorize and sanction it. (3) It must be commanded and instituted in the New Testament. 526(4) It must be instituted not for a certain period or generation, but to be in force until the end of the world. (5) There must be a divine promise of grace as the effect or fruit of the Sacrament. (6) That promise must not only simply and by itself have the testimony of God’s Word, but it must by the divine ordinance be annexed to the sign of the Sacrament, and, as it were, clothed with that sign or element. (7) That promise must not relate to the general gifts of God, whether corporeal or spiritual, but it must be a promise of grace or justification, i.e., of gratuitous reconciliation, the remission of sins, and, in a word, of all the benefits of redemption. (8) And that promise, in the Sacraments, is either signified or announced not in general only, but on the authority of God is offered, presented, applied, and sealed to the individuals who use the Sacraments in faith.”

The later theologians say: “There is required for a Sacrament (1) that it must be an action commanded by God; (2) it must have a visible element divinely prescribed (united with the celestial object through the medium of the words of the institution (HOLL., 1054)); (3) it must have the promise of evangelical grace.”

[6] By this the early Dogmaticians mean as yet nothing more than that the element thus consecrated by the Word must not be regarded as ordinary or common; hence HFRFFR. cites as the substantials of a Sacrament, the element and the Word, and in this sense Luther also appears to have taken it, when in CAT. MAJ. (IV, 17) he says of Baptism: “It is not mere natural or common, but divine, celestial, sacred, and saving water . . . and this just for the sake of the Word, which is the divine and sacred “Word.” But the later Dogmaticians unite another sense to it. (See the history of the origin of the later modes of expression in BR., p. 670, who proves that occasion for a different mode of expression was for the first time given at the Mümpelgard Colloquy (1586) in consequence of the controversy which there arose between Beza, on the one side and Jacob Andreae and Luke Osiander on the other.) They distinguish, for instance, in a Sacrament, “a twofold material, a terrestrial and a celestial, and they understand by the former the element or external symbol, which is the corporeal visible object . . . ordained to the end that it might be the vehicle and exhibitive medium of the celestial object (water in Baptism, bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper). By the latter they understand an invisible and intelligible object (presented in an earthly object, as the divinely instituted medium), on which the effect of the Sacrament principally depends;” yet they remark that for the latter the word materia or matter is not an adequate one (since the Sacrament 527is not a corporeal substance, it is plain that it does not consist of matter properly so called; yet analogically matter is ascribed to that with which the Sacrament is employed). (HOLL., 1059.) They mean, then, that the terrestrial material is the vehicle of something more exalted and divine, which is imparted through the medium of the external element. What this divine thing is, we learn in each Sacrament, for it is different in each.

QUEN. (IV, 75): “But what that is which comes in each sacrament under the name of res coelestis, can and should be known in its proper place, i.e., from the words of the institution of each Sacrament.” This materia coelestis is not in their opinion identical with the grace of the Gospel; hence, they do not (as in the passages above referred to in CAT. MAJ. and HFRFFR.) adopt as the essence of a Sacrament the Word and element, but they still carefully distinguish the Word from the materia coelestis, and hold that the latter is imparted by the word of consecration. (HUTT. (Loc. c., 597): “The Word is never sacramentally joined either with the terrestrial or the celestial part; and;, hence it does not enter into the substance of the Sacrament. Therefore, the Word cannot be called either the material or the form of the Sacrament . . . . .Thus I say, that this Word is the effective cause (αιτιος ποιητικος), i.e., it causes that these two essential parts constitute one Sacrament in the use of the Sacraments.”) Neither do they regard the materia coelestis as identical with evangelical grace, which the earlier Dogmaticians also teach is conferred through the Sacrament; but they believe that that grace is conveyed only through the medium of the materia coelestis. While the earlier Dogmaticians only maintain that, with the word of consecration, the external element ceases to be a common and external one, without distinguishing the imparted divine material as something separate from the Word, the later theologians regard the two as distinct. It is easy to understand how they were led to this conclusion. In the Lord’s Supper, namely, the body and blood of Christ are communicated; there is, therefore, through eh word of consecration, something added and brought to man which is as different from the Word as it is from saving grace. Something corresponding to this they think must be assumed in regard to Baptism also, and in both cases they designate it as a celestial material.

When we compare the views of the earlier Dogmaticians with those of the more modern, we find their difference to consist in this, that the earlier Dogmaticians are solely concerned to prove the analogy of the Word and Sacraments as the two means of salvation, according to which in the one case, evangelical grace is 528communicated by the Word, and in the other by the external visible sign. In this view, however, there is no notice taken of the fact, that, above all, in the Lord’s Supper, besides grace, there is something in addition present and communicated, viz., the body and blood of Christ. The later theologians, on the other hand, keep this particularly in view, that even if by the Sacraments, as well as by the Word, the grace of salvation (i.e., conversion, justification, regeneration, etc.) be conferred, yet that this grace is not the first and proximate object conferred in the Sacraments, as it is in the Word, but that in the Sacraments there is something else which precedes it (in the Lord’s Supper, body and blood), the design of which is to impart saving grace. It is this, then, that they mean to convey by the general expression, materia coelestis, applicable to both Sacraments, but it is difficult for them to show the materia coelestis in Baptism in the same way as in the Lord’s Supper. And, in this view of the subject, the force of the analogy also between a Sacrament and the Word as the two means of salvation, is weakened. In assuming a materia coelestis, they assumed also a particular union of the materia coelestis et terrestris.

QUEN. (IV, 75): “As a Sacrament is composed of a terrestrial and a celestial object, there must necessarily be a certain union and κοινονια which we properly call sacramental. For that union is neither essential, nor natural, nor accidental, but, in view of the material united, it is extraordinary; in regard to the design , it is sacramental. Therefore, one does not exist without the other, for instance, water without the Spirit, nor the Sprit without water, because these two are most intimately united in the sacramental act, nor can one be a Sacrament without the other.” This method of developing the doctrine, which from the times of GRH. was generally adopted, though with many diversities of statement as to what constitutes the celestial material in Baptism, was opposed only by BR. and several other theologians of Jena. As, namely, the celestial material, which has to be assumed in Baptism, is altogether different from that which is found in the Lord’s Supper; inasmuch, also, as the union of the material and the element in the two Sacraments is very different; and, finally, inasmuch as those who hold this doctrine neither agree as to what is meant by this celestial material, nor use the term in the same literal sense as in the case of the Lord’s Supper; therefore, BR. contends that the expression, celestial material, should be entirely ignored in the doctrine of the sacraments in general, and we should adhere to the simple doctrine of the earlier Dogmaticians, who do not mention it at all. He speaks, therefore, only of a terrestrial material (644): 529“By the material of a Sacrament two things are meant: first, an external and visible element; secondly, an action performed with the element (e.g., washing, distributing, etc.) (645). As to what some call the other part of the Sacrament (i.e., the words of the institution),  . . . viz., the celestial and invisible material of the Sacrament, it must be acknowledged, that this is rather the form or formal part of the Sacrament, than the material. And when some understand, that by the name, celestial material, something else is signified, relatively opposed to the element as a sign — not the fruit itself of the Sacrament, but that upon which the operation and fruit of the Sacrament depend; they nevertheless confess that this same thing which they call the celestial material is sometimes, indeed, not even really present. But it is difficult to consider anything as the material, and therefore an essential part of a Sacrament, which, when the Sacrament exists, does not for this reason then itself exist. Otherwise, also, if that be indeed present, reason then itself exists. Otherwise, also, if that be indeed present, which is regarded as the celestial material, yet some again maintain, that from the presence of the material is not a valid inference; but that it is required, that what can be called material must be present after the manner of a material. They do not even explain sufficiently what it is to be present after the manner of a material in a Sacrament, so far as the Sacraments in general are concerned; but what it is to be thus present in the individual Sacrament, they leave to be learned from the institution of each. Whence you may infer that the celestial material of a Sacrament in general cannot be known, unless this knowledge be drawn from the Sacraments individually. And, since in the Lord’s Supper the body and blood of Christ are called the celestial material,  . . . it will be confessed that the celestial material is not in the same way present in all the Sacraments. Therefore, most especially if, when we are treating of Sacraments in general, we assume a celestial material, the term must be taken in so wide a sense, that one thing will not be, after the manner of a material, in one Sacrament, just in the same way as another thing is, after the manner of a material, in the other Sacrament. Whence it further follows, that there is something, after the manner of a material, present in one Sacrament literally, and in the other figuratively.”

[7] HFRFFR. (465): “It is especially required that in each Sacrament, the whole action, as instituted and ordained by Christ, should be observed; neither in the use of the Sacraments to be applied to foreign ends and objects. Hence the rule: ‘Nothing has the authority or nature of a Sacrament beyond the application and action instituted by Christ.’ For example, if the water of Baptism 530be employed for the baptism of bells, or for the cure of leprosy; or when the consecrated bread is not distributed and taken, but is either stored away in the pyx, or offered in sacrifice, or carried about in processions, this is not the use, but the abuse and profanation of the Sacraments.”

[8] HOLL. (1060): “The form of a Sacrament is the external action (and that entirely occupied about the terrestrial and celestial part of each Sacrament), which is constituted of three formal observances, immediately following each other (1) The recitation of the words of the institution (consecration). (2) The sacramental dispensation (δοσις). (3) The reception of the Sacrament (ληψις).”

1. “The consecration, i.e., the separation from a common to a sacred use, which is made by reciting and pronouncing the words of the institution.” GRH. (VIII, 240): “The consecration is not, (1) a mere recitation of the words of the institution directed only to the hearers, (2) nor is the change of symbols, which consecration effects, a mere change of names, a significative analogy, a representation of an absent celestial thing,  . . . but it is a sacred and efficacious action, by which the sacramental symbols are truly sanctified, i.e., separated from a common and set apart for a sacramental use. But there is no (a) magical or superstitious action dependent of the dignity or quality of the person, i.e., on the power and character of the minister, who renders the Sacrament valid by the force of his intention; nor (b) is it to be thought that there is a certain occult subjective power in the sound or number of words, by which the consecration is accomplished; (c) nor that by it the external elements are essentially changed and transubstantiated into the heavenly object: but the presence of the heavenly, and its union with the earthly object, depend altogether upon the institution, command and will of Christ, and upon the efficacy of the original institution continuing in the Church even until the present day, which the minister, or rather Christ Himself by the voice of the minister, continually repeats. The minister, therefore, in the consecration, (10 repeats the primitive institution of the Sacrament according to the command of Christ: ‘Do this,’ etc., etc.; (2) he testifies that he does this not of his own accord, nor celebrates a human ordinance, but, as the divinely appointed steward of the mysteries, he administers the venerable Sacrament in the name, authority, and place of Christ; (30 he invokes the name of the true God, that it may please Him to be efficacious in this Sacrament according to His ordinance, institution, and promise; (4) he separates the external elements from all other uses to a sacramental use, that they may be organs and means by which celestial benefits may be dispensed.”


2. As to the dispensation: “We must distinguish between the thing itself and its mode; between the δοσις and ληψις themselves (the giving and receiving) and the δοσεως και τροπος (the manner of giving and receiving). The δοσις και ληψις, i.e., the administration, dispensation, presentation, and reception of the Sacrament are essential, nor do they allow of any exception; but the mode of the administration and reception admits of some liberty and variation. A few examples will render it more plain. In Baptism, it is absolutely necessary that a person should be baptized with water, i.e., washed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; but it is no matter whether this ablution be performed by immersion into water or by affusion with water.” HOLL. (1057): “The Church cannot change anything in the substantials of the Sacraments, yet she rejoices in the liberty of making some change in the circumstantials.”

[9] HOLL. (1056): “God has intrusted the right of dispensing the Sacraments to the Church, which commits the execution or exercise of this right, for the sake of order and propriety, to the called and ordained ministers of the Gospel. But in case of extreme necessity, where the Sacrament is necessary and could not be omitted without peril of salvation, any Christian, whether layman or woman, may validly administer the Sacrament of Baptism or initiation. 1 Pet. 2:9, Rev. 1:6.” [Nothtaufe, Jachtaufe.]

[10] AP. CONF. (IV, 47): “The Sacraments are efficacious, even if they be administered by wicked ministers, because the ministers officiate in the stead of Christ and do not represent their own person.”

QUEN. (IV, 74): “The Sacraments do not belong to the man who dispenses them, but to God, in whose name they are dispensed, and therefore the gracious efficacy and operation of the Sacrament depend on God alone, 1 Cor. 3:5, and not on the character or quality of the minister. The dispute about the intention of the minister is more intricate. Propriety requires that he who administers the Sacraments should bring to the altar a good intention of performing what God has commanded and instituted: a mind not wandering but collected and fixed. It is absolutely necessary that the intention of Christ be observed in the external act. I say in the external act, for the intention of the minister to perform the internal act is not necessary; that is performed by the Church. On the other hand, the Church of Rome teaches that the intention of the minister is necessary to the integrity, verity, and efficacy of the Sacrament; that this intention has respect not only to the external act of administering the Sacrament according to the form of 532the institution, but to the design and effect of the Sacrament itself. Thus the Council of Trent: ‘If any one declare that the intention of doing what the Church does is not required in the ministers, while they dispense the Sacraments, let him be anathema.’” (78).

[11] FORM. CONC. (Sol. Dec., VII, 24): “We thus conclude and declare that even if a bad and vicious man should take or distribute the Lord’s Supper, he yet takes the true Sacrament, i.e., the body and blood of Christ, not less than the man who takes or distributes it in the most worthy manner. For this Sacrament is not founded on the holiness of man, but on the Word of God . . . 27 . . . It is conclusively demonstrated that this presence is to be understood not only of the eating by believing and worthy persons, but also buy the unbelieving and unworthy.”

HOLL. (1061): “Faith is not required to the substantial integrity of a Sacrament (just as the Word of God, which hypocrites hear, is the true Word, so also that is a Sacrament which adult hypocrites, destitute of faith, receive).”

[12] The Evangelical Church herewith most distinctly opposes the Romish doctrine of the efficacy of the Sacrament ex opere operato. (AP. CONF., VII, 18): “We condemn the whole crowd of Scholastics, who teach that the Sacraments confer grace on him who places no hindrance in the way, ex opere operato, even though there be no good impulse in the recipient. This is plainly a Jewish notion, to suppose that we are justified by a mere ceremony or external work, without any good impulse of the heart, i.e., without faith . . . . We teach that faith is necessary to the proper use of the Sacraments: a faith which believes the promises and receives the things promised, which are here offered in the Sacrament. And the reason of this is plain and undeniable. A promise is useless to us unless it be embraced by faith. But the Sacraments are signs of the promises. Therefore faith is necessary to their proper use.”

CHMN. (Ex. C. Trid., II, 36): “The instrumental cause in this doctrine is twofold:: one is, as it were, the hand of God, by which, through the Word and Sacraments, He offers, presents, applies, and seals the benefits of redemption to believers; the other is, as it were, our hand, by which we in faith ask, apprehend, and receive those things which God offers and presents to us through the Word and Sacraments. The efficacy of the Sacraments is not such as though through them God were to infuse and impress grace and salvation even on the unbelieving or those receiving them without faith.”

HOLL. (1061): “Faith is necessarily required in order to the reception of the salutary efficacy of the Sacrament.” Id. (1064): 533“The Sacraments confer no grace on adults, unless when offered they receive it by true faith, which existed in their hearts previously. In infants, the Holy Spirit kindles faith by the Sacrament of initiation, by which infants receive the grace of the covenant.”

[13] HOLL. (1062): “The primary design of the Sacraments is the offering, conferring, applying, and sealing of Gospel grace.” “Gospel grace is offered to all who use the Sacraments; it is conferred on those who worthily use them; it is applied and sealed to adult believers.” Hence the Sacraments are not merely significative signs but such as also present and tender what they set forth; for this is included already in the idea of a Sacrament as the means of salvation. When in the Symbolical Books (AP. CONF., V, 42, A.C., XIII) they are called “signs and testimonies of the will of God toward us,” they are such “not essentially, as if their whole nature and essence were limited to signifying, or as if the very nature of the earthly and the heavenly object in all the Sacraments were merely significative.” (GRH., VIII, 213.)

Of the false views of the word, Sacrament, CHMN. (Ex. C. Trid., II, 33) says: “In our times some take too low a view of the Sacraments. They hold that the Sacraments are nothing else than signs and marks of the Christian profession, by which Christians are distinguished from Jews and the heathen . . . . Some have thought that the Sacraments are only the symbols of Christian society, by which we may be excited and bound to the mutual performance of duties. Others see nothing else in the use of the Sacraments than mere allegories or representations of Christian mortification unto sin, regeneration, and quickening, etc. . . . There are those who seem desirous of appearing to entertain exalted views of the Sacraments, and yet teach that the Sacraments are only signs of grace, offered and exhibited before, and irrespective of the use of the Sacraments; so that through the Sacraments God confers and presents nothing to those who with faith use them, but that they are only the signs of grace offered before and in another way. Allied to this is the opinion of those who think that the use of the Sacraments is only by way of commemoration, to excite faith which elsewhere and in another way, but not in the true use of the Sacraments, seeks and receives grace; just as such commemoration can be derived also from pictures.”

GRH. (VIII, 215): “Those who follow Calvin hold to a twofold signification in the Sacraments: one by which the terrestrial object signifies the absent celestial object; the other, by which the entire Sacrament signifies the spiritual grace.”


CHMN. (II, 35): “The Ap. CONF. correctly declares that the effect, virtue or efficacy of the Word and of the Sacraments, which are the seals of the promises, is the same . . . . As, therefore, the Gospel is the power of God unto the salvation of every one that believeth, not because there is any magical force in the letters, syllables, or sounds of the words, but because it is the means, organ, or instrument by which the Holy Spirit is efficacious, proposing, offering, presenting, distributing, and applying the merit of Christ and the grace of God to the salvation of every one that believeth; so also is power and efficacy attributed to the Sacraments, not because saving grace is to be sought in the Sacraments above and beyond the merit of Christ, the mercy of the Father, and the efficacy of the Holy Spirit, but that the Sacraments are instrumental causes in this way, that through these means or organs the Father desires to present, bestow, and apply His grace, the Son to communicate His merit to believers, and the Holy Spirit to exercise His efficacy for the salvation of everyone that believeth. As, according to this, the Sacraments effect the same grace as the Word, the question may arise, Why has God employed a twofold means to this end? CHMN. (Ex. C. Trid., II, 29) answers: “To such attacks and to the clamors of fanatics, we properly reply from the Word of God, that the Sacraments which God has instituted to be aids to our salvation can in no way be considered either useless or superfluous, or be safely neglected and despised . . . . And, indeed, (as Chrysostom says) if we were angels, we would need no external sign; but our carnal infirmity hinders, disturbs, distracts, and weakens our faith. For it is hard to continue firmly persuaded of those things proposed in the Word which are not apparent to the senses . . . . Moreover faith, when it determines that the divine promise is in general a living one, is yet principally concerned about the question, Does this promise belong to me individually? . . . God, therefore, who is rich in mercy . . . desires to present His grace to us only in one way, that is, by His mere Word; but He desires also to help our infirmity by certain aids, namely, by Sacraments instituted and annexed to the promise of the Gospel, i.e., by certain signs, rites, or ceremonies obvious to the senses, that by them He might admonish, instruct, and make us sure that what we see performed in a visible manner, externally, is effected internally in us by the power of God.”

“In this way the Sacraments are, in respect to us, signs confirming our faith in the promise of the Gospel; in respect to God, they are organs or instruments, through which God in the Word presents, applies, seals, confirms, increases, and preserves the grace of 535the Gospel promise in believers. The grace tendered in the Word is not different from that tendered in the Sacraments, nor is the promise in the Gospel different from that in the Sacraments; but the grace is the same and the Word one and the same except that in the Sacraments the Word is rendered visible, as it were, on account of our infirmity, by signs divinely appointed.” The question of the necessity of the Sacraments is thus decided by CHMN. (Ex. C. Trid., II, 30): “The Sacraments are necessary both by reason of the infirmity of our faith, which needs aids of this kind, and by reason of the divine institution . . . . And in this sense we not unwillingly grant that the Sacraments are necessary to salvation, as the instrumental cause; but yet this declaration is to be added, that the necessity of the Sacraments to salvation is not so precise as that of faith and the Word . . . . But if any one have true faith in Christ form hearing the Word, and if the ability to use the Sacraments according to the divine institution be not conceded him, in such a case surely the necessity of the Sacraments to salvation is not to be considered an absolute; for then salvation would be denied to those who have no ability to use the Sacraments, although they embrace Christ as their Saviour by faith in the Word.”

HOLL. (1065): “The Sacraments are necessary by the necessity of the precept and of the means. They have no absolute, but an ordinate or conditionate necessity.” QUEN. (IV, 77): “Baptism is necessary in infants, not only by the necessity of the precept, but by the necessity of the means, because there is no other means by which they may be regenerated; but in adults it is necessary by reason of the precept, because in that case it requires faith. The Eucharist is necessary to all Christian adults by the necessity of the precept.”

[14] HOLL. (1062): “The secondary designs of the Sacraments are: (a) That they may be marks of the Church, by which it is distinguished from unbelievers” (“and symbols of confession by which we separate ourselves from other sects.” QUEN., IV., 77). “(b) That they may be monuments of the benefits of Christ. Luke 22:19. (c) That they may be bonds of love and the nerves of public assemblies. Eph. 4:5; 1 Cor. 10:17. (d) That they may be incitements to the exercise of the virtues (Baptism signifies the burying of the old Adam, Rom. 6:4; the Lord’s Supper excites us to a grateful remembrance of the death of Christ, 1 Cor. 11:26).”

Observation. — As the Old Testament also contains the Word of God as a means of salvation, the Dogmaticians hold also that there are Sacraments in it, and regard as such circumcision and the passover, the types of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. CHMN. 536(Ex. C. Trid., II, 18): “God, in all ages of the word, by giving a certain Word, revealed His will concerning the mystery of redemption to the human race, concerning the gratuitous reconciliation and acceptance of believers to life eternal through faith, because of the sacrifice of His Son as Mediator. He also added to the Word, by His own divine institution, certain external signs, by which to seal and confirm more clearly the promise of righteousness by faith. The institution and use of Sacraments did not, therefore, first begin in the time of the New Testament; but the fathers in the time of the Old Testament, even before the publication of the Law, had their certain signs or Sacraments divinely instituted for this use, which were the seals of the righteousness of faith. Rom. 4. But though it is the same God, the same Mediator, the same grace, righteousness, promise, faith, salvation, etc., yet those external signs or seals are sometimes changed for others, substituted in their place by divine institution, so that the mode of revelation was constantly rendered more clear, which at first was like a lamp shining in a dark place; afterwards the morning star succeeded, until at length, the night being past, the Sun of righteousness arose.” On the relation of the Sacraments of the Old Testament and the New, QUEN. (IV, 84) says: “By the Sacraments of the New Testament, the grace of Christ is more clearly, fully, perfectly, and abundantly dispensed to believers; but from this it does not follow, as the Romanists maintain, that by the Sacraments of the Old Testament divine grace and remission of sins were not clearly presented nor conferred on believers. For now, the work of redemption being consummated, truth succeeds to figures, substance to shadows.” Ger. IX, 4: “In those of the New Testament, the present Christ is tendered and given; in those of the Old Testament, He was signified and prefigured.”

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