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towards us, and also to nourish and strengthen our faith ; which he hath joined to the word of the gospel, the better to present to our senses both that which he signifies lo us by his word, and that which he works inwardly in our bearts, thereby assuring and confirming in us the salvation which he imparts to us. For they are visible signs and seals of an in ward and invisible thing, by means. whereof God worketh in us by the power of the Holy Ghost:”
Such, then, is the nature of sacraments. They are sensible confirmations of divine goodness, and visible pledges of offered blessings. The reception of the pledges is the public acceptance of the blessings, on the terms on which they are proposed, or, in ther words, the reception of the pledges is a solemo engagement to comply with the terms of the covenant, of which they are the divinely appointed seals..
Such institutions, you cannot fail to notice, are well adapted to the constitution of man. Most of our impressions are received through the organs of our bodies; and in the use of sacraments the senses of our body are made, in an eminent degree, assistant to the devotions of our souls.
It has therefore pleased that God," who knows our frame,” always to deal with man in the form of a covenant, and to confirm his engagements by sensible objects or sacramental signs. In the covenant of works made with Adam, our common parent and representative, the tree of life was a visible assurance that eternal blessedness should be the reward of obedience.
In the covenant with Noah, God said, " Behold I place my bow in the clouds,”—and to this day the bow of God in the clouds is a token of God's providenual favour, and a sure pledge that the earth shall not again be destroyed by water.
So also, when the covenant of grace was, in consequence of the violation of the covenant of works, brought into operation, by the divine announcement that “the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent,” sacrifices partaking of the character of sacraments immediately came into use, by the appointment of the divine lawgiver; and, indeed, it is contended by some that all the ceremonies of the iypical worship as observed under the Mosaic economy, are to be considered as sacramental ordinances. 6. The law had a shadow of good things to come, Heb. x. 1.
The ordinances, however, of the Old Testament dispensation, which are especially to be regarded as sacraments of the covenant of grace, in that day, were circumcision and the passover. These were the ordinary, sacraments of the Jewish church.
. The former of these was instituted in the time of the patriarch Abraham, in whose family. God organized his visible church, making circumcision, a badge of membership, and a seal of the righteousness of faith. This sacrament was by express command of Jehovah, applied to the seed of the believer as well as to the believer himself-the right of children to
church membership was then clearly established and must remain valid unless the privilege has been revoked by him who originally granted it. The grant was unequivocal, nay, the injunction was peremptory. “Every man-child shall be circumcised on the eighth day. The uncircumcised man-child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, thit soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant."* But more of this hereafter. :
The sacrament of the passover was-instituted at a later day, and not until the time of the departure of the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt. God being about to bring on the oppressors of his people the tenth and sorest plague, directed the children of Israel to sprinkle with the blood of a lamb the posts of their doors, which sprinkling of blood, was to be to them a sign and seal of their perfect safety in that awful night when the sword of the destroying angel was to be bathed in the blood of all the first born in the land of Egypt, both of man and beast. Hence it was called the passover--they escaped unhurt; and while the voice of bitter lamentation was heard in the dwellings of the Egyptiaus, the voice of rejoicing was heard in the tabernacles of God's people. This signal deliverance, typical of a deliverance incomparibly more signal, the covenant people of God were commanded to commemorate in the devoút celebration of the ordinance of the passover. “Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance, in his season from year to year.”+ *Gen. xvii. 10, 14
+ Exo. xiii. 10.
These ordinances, of circumcision and the passover, it cannot have escaped your observation, were of a bloody nature, exhibiting the grand truth, " that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin,” and partaking of the general character of the typical dispensation. In both circuincision and the passover blood was. shed's, and so the passion and and death of the Lord Jesus Christ were prefigured in these rites, as well as his righteousness and grace signified and sealed. This being the fact, there was a necessity that these ordinances should be limited in their use to the period of the Old Testament dispensation; and that after the coming and death of Jesus Christ;, the antitype, they, as well as every thing else, having a typical allusion to those interest: ing events, should be abolished.
The church indeed is essentially the same, and so are the benefits of the covenant of grace, under every dispensation. So also are the thingş signified by sacraments. But in the external form and mode of administering sacraments, a suitableness to the particular dispensation of the church at any particular period is reasonably to be expected. An intelligent worshipper,under the law, looking for Messiah, as “the hope. of Israel, and the Saviour thereof," might, in that day of comparative darkness, have discovered the propriety and even necessity of abrogating, whenever, these fond hopes of the church should have been realized, the whole Mosaic economy, and with it the sacraments of circumcision and the passover; so that ordinances better adapted to
the genius of the evangelical dispensation might be substituted in their place.
Upon examining the word of God, we find that what might thus reasonably have been expected before the coming of Messiah has, since his advent and sacrifice, actually taken place; and that Baptism and the Lord's Supper have, by the appointinent of the great Head of the Church, superseded: the Jewish ordinances, which we have just considered. The proof of this I design to place before you in my next letter.
Baptism and the Lord's Supper have taken the place
of Circumcision and the Passover; and are to be observed as standing ordinances in the Christian: Church.
My last paper closed with the assertion, that, by the appointment of Jesus Christ, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, under the new dispensation, have taken the place, which was occupied by circumcision and the passover under the old. This assertion I shall now undertake to maintain and establish ; which will prepare the way for a few remarks on our duty in relation to baptism and the supper, as standing ordinances in the Christian Church.