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lile and his associates, can, in the estimation of thinking men, be traced only to this fatal cause.
If the laws of the land, particularly those regarding property, were left to the interpretation of individuals, what would be the inevitable consequence ? Judges, and pleaders, and legal advisers of every description, would be rendered unnecessary ; each man would be the natural guardian of his own life, property, and honour ; the right of the strongest must thus decide every contest : in fact, the whole frame of civil society would be shattered, broken, and completely dissolved by such an arrangement. Now let me ask the catechist a question, which clearly decides the important matter in debate : Has the infinite wisdom of the Son of God, in order to give stability to his church for ever, adopted a system, which would disgrace even human legislation, by making every man the architect of his own faith, the framer of his own code of laws, and an agent altogether independent of any authority established by himself? If human laws are explained by judges, are divine laws to be left to the arbitrary interpretation of individuals? No! impossible! God has not so ordained: the supposition would be a libel on infinite wisdom. Even in the old law", the high priest was to be consulted on all difficulties; and from
+ Deut. xvii. 8, et seq.
his decision there was no appeal. In the new law, the most ample powers of government are conceded to the apostles and their lawful successors?; orders are issued under the severest penalties to hear the Church”; the church is pronounced by St. Paul to be, the pillar and foundation of truth'; various offices and stations in this spiritual kingdom of the church are recited by the same apostle*; finally, nothing is wanting to the chief pastors to govern that church, which our Redeemer purchased with his blood". All this is surely incompatible with the Protestant system, which leaves every man to guide his own steps, without any dependance on the authority established by Christ. This comment on the answer of the catechist is extended to a great length ; but the importance of the matter must form the apology of the writer.
* Matt. xxvüi. 18, et seq. 3 Loc. cit. * Ephes. iv. 11, et seq.
Matt. xviii. 17.
5 Acts xx. 28.
Why do you not believe that there are traly and properly
Seven Sacraments of the new law ?
1. The Holy Ghost in Scripture hath no where declared such
a number. 2. This precise number of Seven Sacraments was not heard of
in the Christian Church, till twelve hundred years after
Christ; and therefore is an innovation. 3. The Council of Trent was the first which made this number
an article of faith, and in doing so, usurped and attributed
to themselves a divine authority. 4. There are only Two Sacraments instituted in the New
Testament, i. e, true and proper sacraments, viz. Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord: answering to the two standing sacraments in the old law, Circumcision and the Passover.
OBSERVATIONS. BEFORE I proceed to reply to the very flimsy statements exhibited in this answer of the catechist, I must presume that he is already convinced by my arguments, that besides the letter of the divine law contained in the Scriptures, he sees the necessity of admitting an unwritten law, and a tribunal competent to preserve, to propound, to maintain, and to enforce what is thus delivered: for let it never be forgotten, that if human laws require the interposition of a judge, divine laws are not to be deprived of this indispensible resource. With this preliminary observation, which I beg the reader to keep constantly in view, I have to remark on the subject before us, that if the sacred Scripture in no place declares the precise number of the sacraments to be seven, it neither declares the number to be two; this observation therefore cannot forward the cause, which the catechist has espoused. The sacred oracles in no place assign the precise number of the miracles of Christ; nor do they define the number of the articles contained in the creed. The discussion turns not on words found in the sacred Scripture, but on the substance and nature of the object in view; and if we can discover in the sacred writings traces of those seven sacraments, and the existence and use of them in the constant practice of the church, the objections of the catechist must vanish in smoke. Now this can easily be shown from incontestible authorities.
A sacrament is an external sign of invisible grace; which sacred and efficient sign can, in no instance, be used but by the special authority of God: for what man can impiously pretend to attach to any external symbol, which he may use at pleasure, the inestimable blessing of divine grace? Where, therefore, we discover that holy and apostolical men have used any symbols or signs for the purpose of conveying grace to the soul, we immediately and inevitably infer the existence of a sacrament. Let the catechist apply this observation to each of the sacraments, manifestly referred to in the following passages. Of Baptism it is written : 'Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every living creature. He that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved. Here salvation is promised to the external laver of baptism, accompanied with faith ; consequently grace, on which salvation depends, is necessarily annexed to the sacred rite; and this assuredly constitutes a true and real sacrament.
Confirmation is established on the same principle: for it is recorded', that the Holy Ghost was conferred by the imposition of the hands of the apostles ; a circumstance which never could have taken place, without the direct authority and the special command of Christ.
The holy Eucharist is clearly specified in the words of the promise', and in those of the institution, This is my body; this is my blood“.
Penance is unquestionably proclaimed in John xx. 23, where Christ bestows a power of remitting sin, and consequently of conferring grace.
The grace annexed to Extreme Unction is no less manifest: for it is expressly declared”, that if the sick man, who receives this sacrament,
1 Mark xvi. 15, 16. 2 Acts viii. 17.
3 John vi. 51, et seq. * Matt. xxvi. 26, et seq. ; Mark xiv. 22, et seq.; Like xxii.
5 James v. 14, et seq. 19, et seq.