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NATURE AND DESIGN.
LUKE Xxii. 15.
And he said unto them, with desire I have desired to eat THIS PASSOVER with you before I suffer.
EVERY religion has certain forms and ceremonies by which its professors are distinguished— certain badges or tokens by which mankind publicly proclaim their assent and concurrence in the faith which that religion upholds.
In human institutions, and societies which are established for the mutual protection, or mutual pleasure, of the community, a man cannot be called a member, cannot be allowed to share the benefits which they propose, or enjoy the privileges which they confer, unless he professedly conforms to their usages, and obeys their rules. How, therefore, in a church, or religious society, can a man be called a member, or hope to share the benefits which are held forth, or enjoy the
privileges which are conferred-unless, in the same manner, he openly coincides with the public usages, and obeys the common laws which such an institution considers to be necessary? Now, in the Christian religion, in what do we find these ordinances, or public usages, or common laws, to consist? for whatever they may be, those only can be said to be members of that religion, who have conformed, or intend to conform, to them.
First, then, we find the Christian religion to be parted into two great divisions; one called the Roman Catholic-the other, the Protestant, or reformed church; and if we enter into the causes of this division, we shall find that they consist very mainly in the different opinions which they hold respecting these very ordinances. But let us observe, although the two churches differ, although they separate from one another in consequence of that difference, and set up rules of faith in direct opposition one to another, on many material points; still they both agree in the great and fundamental axiom with which we are at present dealing:-namely, that there are some ordinances in the Christian religion which are necessary to be observed; they both say that no man can be a member of the church of Christ, unless he perform those ordinances which the church of Christ has commanded; and it does not therefore interfere with the point at issue, that there should be any difference of opinion as to what those ordinances should be-if anything,
it increases the principle and strength of the conclusion,—namely, that in every church there is a necessity of conforming with such public ordinances, usages, and ceremonies, as that church, or religious society, maintains. And mark!-a matter of necessity, not a matter of choice.
Whether, therefore, a Christian be a Roman Catholic, or Protestant, there can be no loophole or evasion by which he may escape the duty of performing those outward rites which his church has ordained. If he refuse to perform them, he cannot be a member of that church, for he virtually withdraws himself from her. He virtually gives up the benefits which are held out. He virtually says to this effect:-I differ from you on the obligation of this or that law, which you, as a body, have commanded; I do not deem necessary, that which you do deem necessary; I will not observe those forms which you assert to be necessary for the right constitution of a member of your society; I therefore, am no longer a member of you; I withdraw from your institution.
The obligation then of performing those ordinances which the church appoints, being once established; let us go on to see what those ordinances are:-In the Roman Catholic division, we shall find that they consist of seven distinct ceremonies. In the Protestant, we shall find that they consist of two distinct ceremonies. These are called sacraments. The seven of the
Roman Catholic church, are Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, Penance, Extreme Unction, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper. Of these, the Church of England considers four as holy ceremonies, having services in her liturgy for each: the Confirmation service-the Marriage service -the Ordination service-and the Commination, "or, denouncing of God's anger and judgment against sinners," which is used on the first day of Lent, but she will not allow them to be sacraments-Extreme Unction she entirely rejects as unscriptural-and on the remaining two only, she agrees with the Roman church, in pronouncing them sacraments, and necessary to salvation.*
* The doctrine of the two churches, as to the sacraments, is thus set forth :
"Those five, commonly called sacraments, that is to say, confirmation, penance, orders, matrimony, and extreme unction, are not to be counted for sacraments of the gospel, being such as have grown, partly of the corrupt following of the apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the scriptures, but yet have not like nature of sacraments with baptism and the Lord's Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained by God."-Articles of the Church of England. Art. xxv.
"If any man shall say, that the sacraments of the new law were not all instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, or that they are more or fewer in number than seven: namely, baptism, confirmation, the eucharist, penance, extreme unction, orders, and matrimony; or, that any of these seven is not truly and properly a sacrament, let him be accursed."-Council of Trent,-of the Sacraments. Canon i.