July 27, 2007 § Leave a comment
Of the Sacraments
As the fathers under the law (besides the verity of the sacrifices) had two chief sacraments to wit, circumcision and the Passover, the despisers and contemners whereof were not reputed for God’s people so do we acknowledge and confess that we now, in the time of the evangel, have two sacraments only, instituted by the Lord Jesus, and commanded to be used of all those that will be reputed members of his body: to wit, baptism and the supper, or table of the Lord Jesus, called the communion of his body and blood. And these sacraments (as well of the Old as of the New Testament) were instituted of God, not only to make a visible difference betwixt his people, and those that were without his league; but also to exercise the faith of his children and, by participation of the same sacraments, to seal in their hearts the assurance of his promise, and of that most blessed conjunction, union, and society, which the elect have with their head, Christ Jesus.
And thus we utterly damn the vanity of those that affirm sacraments to be nothing else but naked and bare signs. No, we assuredly believe that by baptism we are engrafted in Christ Jesus, to be made partakers of his justice, by the which our sins are covered and remitted; and also, that in the supper, rightly used, Christ Jesus is so joined with us, that he becomes the very nourishment and food of our souls. Not that we imagine any transubstantiation of bread into Christ’s natural body, and of wine in his natural blood (as the Papists have perniciously taught and damnably believed); but this union and conjunction which we have with the body and blood of Christ Jesus, in the right use of the sacraments, is wrought by operation of the Holy Ghost, who by true faith carries us above all things that are visible, carnal, and earthly, and makes us to feed upon the body and blood of Christ Jesus, which was once broken and shed for us, which now is in heaven, and appears in the presence of his Father for us. And yet, notwithstanding the far distance of place which is betwixt his body now glorified in the heaven, and us now mortal in this earth, yet we most assuredly believe that the bread that we break is the communion of Christ’s body, and the cup which we bless is the communion of his blood. So that we confess, and undoubtedly believe, that the faithful, in the right use of the Lord’s table, do so eat the body and drink the blood of the Lord Jesus, that he remains in them and they in him: yea, that they are so made flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones, that as the Eternal Godhead has given to the flesh of Christ Jesus (which of its own condition and nature was mortal and corruptible) life and immortality, so does Christ Jesus’ flesh and blood eaten and drunken by us, give to us the same prerogatives. Which, albeit we confess are neither given unto us at that only time, neither yet by the proper power and virtue of the sacrament only; yet we affirm that the faithful, in the right use of the Lord’s table, have such conjunction with Christ Jesus, as the natural man cannot apprehend.
Yea, and further we affirm, that albeit the faithful, oppressed by negligence, and manly infirmity, do not profit so much as they would in the very instant action of the supper, yet shall it after bring fruit forth, as lively seed sown in good ground. For the Holy Spirit (which can never be divided from the right institution of the Lord Jesus) will not frustrate the faithful of the fruit of that mystical action; but all this, we say, comes by true faith, which apprehends Christ Jesus, who only makes this sacrament effectual unto us. And, therefore, whosoever slanders us, as that we affirm or believe sacraments to be only naked and bare signs, do injury unto us, and speak against the manifest truth.
But this liberally and frankly we must confess, that we make a distinction betwixt Christ Jesus, in his natural substance, and betwixt the elements in the sacramental signs; so that we will neither worship the signs in place of that which is signified by them; neither yet do we despise and interpret them as unprofitable and vain; but do use them with all reverence, examining ourselves diligently before that so we do, because we are assured by the mouth of the apostle, That such as eat of that bread, and drink of that cup, unworthily, are guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord Jesus.
1. Gen. 17:10-11; Ex. 23:3,etc.; Gen. 17:14; Num. 9:13.
2. Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15-16; Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26.
3. 1 Cor. 10:16; Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:27.
4. Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:11; 3:21.
5. 1 Cor. 10:16.
6. Eph. 5:30.
7. Matt. 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; John 19:30.
8. John 6:51; 6:53-58.
9. 1 Cor. 11:27-29.
I just love the language of the early Reformers. I pray we as a church will recover some of this most biblical and beautiful language.
Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West