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Quest, xcv. Must the pastors examine the people before the sacrament?
Answ. 1. Regularly they should have sufficient notice after they come to age that they own their baptismal covenant, and that they have that due understanding of the sacrament and the sacramental work, and such a Christian profession as is necessary to a due participation. 2. But this is most fitly done at their solemn transition out of their infant-church-state into their adult: and it is not necessarily to be done every time they come to the Lord's table (unless the person desire help for his own benefit); but only once, before their first communicating: if it be the satisfaction of the pastor or church that is intended by it.
Quest, xcvi. Is the sacrament of the Lord's supper a converting ordinance?Answ. You must distinguish, 1. Between the conversion of infidels without the church, and of hypocrites within it; 2. Between the primary and the secondary intention of the institutor. 3. Between the primary duty of the receiver, and the event. And so I conclude, 1. That God did not command ministers to give infidels the Lord's supper to convert them to Christianity. 2. He requireth us to give it to none but those that profess themselves converted from infidelity and a state of wickedness, and to none that profess not true saving faith and repentance. 3. God never commanded or allowed any infidel to demand or receive it to his conversion. 4. God commandeth the pastors of the church, to deliver it to hypocrites, (who at the heart are infidels, or impenitent and ungodly) if they profess faith and repentance, and desire or require itu. 5. There is much in the nature of the sacrament, which tendeth tothe conversion of an hypocrite. 6. And God often blesseth it to the conversion of bypo
» Luke xxii. 19. 1 Cor. xi. 24. Acts ii. 37, 38. Matt. xxviii. 19, 2O. 1 Cor. x. 16. 2 Cor. vi. 14. Acts viii. 13. 37, 38. 1 Cor. xi. 27—30.
elites; so that it may thence be said to be his secondary intention. 7. But yet he that knoweth himself to be a mere hypocrite, or void of saving faith and repentance, should not come first and immediately to the sacrament, to be converted by it; but should first so long hear, read, meditate, and pray, till he repent and believe, and his heart consent to the covenant of God; and then he should come with penitent contrition, and solemnly renew his covenant in this sacrament, and there receive a sealed pardon.
Quest, xcvn. Must no man come to the sacrament, that is uncertain or doubtful of the sincerity of his faith and repentance?Answ. 1. He that is sure of his unsoundness and hypocrisy should not come ".
2. He that upon trial is not sure, but yet as far as he can understand his own heart and life, doth judge himself an impenitent hypocrite, should use other means to know himself certainly, and more fully to repent before he cometh. And though some melancholy and timorous persons be falsely persuaded that they are impenitent, yet it is better that such forbear the sacrament, while they use other means for their better acquaintance with themselves, than that all the hypocrites, and wicked, impenitent people be told that it is their duty to come, if they can but make themselves uncertain whether they be impenitent or not. 3. But he that after the best endeavours he can use to know himself, can say, 'I am not certain that I truly repent, but as far as I can know my heart I do;' is not to be hindered from the sacrament by that uncertainty. 1. For few of the best attain to a full certainty of their own sincerity. 2. And all that can be expected from us is, that we proceed according to the best of our understandings, and the best acquaintance with ourselves that we can get. 3. And otherwise it would keep us from all other duties proper to true Christians; as from thanksgiving for our justification, sanctification, adoption, &c. 4. He that only erreth about the nature of true faith and
» 1 Cor. xi. 28,29. 31.
repentance, and not about the reality of it in himself, should not be kept away by that error; as if he can say, 'As far as I know my heart, I am willing to part with every known sin, and to know every sin that I may part with it; but I am afraid this is not true repentance,' or he that saith, 'I believe the Gospel to be true, and I am willing to have Christ upon his covenant terms, and wholly to resign myself unto him; but I am afraid yet that I am not a true believer.' This person is truly penitent, and is a true believer, and therefore ought to come. 5. The case ' de esse,' whether a man be a true Christian or not, is in order before the case 'de scire,' whether he be certain of it or noty. He that is an hypocrite is bound by God first to know that he is so, and then to repent, and then to communicate. He that is sincere, is bound by God to know that he is sincere, and to be thankful, and to communicate; and man's neglect of one duty will not make God change his laws, which still bind them to all this at once.
Quest, xcvm. Is it lawful or a duty to join oblations to the sacrament, and how?Answ. 1. There is no question but a Christian must give up himself soul and body, with all that he hath to God, and for his service; and this oblation is Christianity itself z.
2. It is undoubted that the Lord's day is a fit time for our depositing what we have to spare, for charitable and pious uses, and this is partly of Divine appointment1.
3. No doubt but what we give to the poor, should be for God's sake, and from our love to God; and therefore must first be devoted or given up to God, and but secondarily to the poorb. 4. It is certain that the Lord's supper is as fit a season as any part of that day, for such oblations and collections. The ancient Christians did therefore call it the communion, because in it they shewed their love and communion, and feasted in common to that end. There are two several sorts of oblations which may lawfully be made (and fitly) at the communion. 1. The creatures of bread and wine should be offered or presented before God, as acknowledging him to be the Creator and Giver of all, and to desire his acceptance and benediction of them for that holy use. 2. Our alms or charitable contribution may be then fitly offered to God, that he may first accept it, and so it may be communicated to the church and poor. When we receive from God the most obliging benefits, when we return our greatest thanks, when we resign ourselves and all to God, it is then sure a seasonable time, to express all by the oblation of our benevolence; that hypocrites may not pretend that they are charitable in secret, but the church may have due notice of it, and the pastors be duly entrusted with itc.
y 2 Cor. xiii. 6, 6. * Rom. xii. 1. 1 Pet. ii. 5. 9.
» 1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2. b Matt. x. xxv. 40, &c
Quest, xcix. How many sacraments are there appointed by Christ?Answ. The word 'Sacrament' hath so many significations, that it is not fit for the question till it be explained d. Passing all others now, we must take notice, 1. That our use of it is not so large as the Latin interpreter who putteth it for 'Mystery,' but for 'A solemn dedication of man to God by a vow expressed by some sacred ceremony, signifying mutually our covenant to God, and God's reception of us and his covenant with us.' And it is brought into the church from the Roman military oath called a sacrament, in which as Tertul. "de Cor. Mil." sheweth, the soldier sware fidelity and obedience to Caesar, renouncing father, mother, &c. for his service, and swearing to prefer it and his safety before them all: see Martinius's reciting the oath out of divers authors. This is our sense of the word; let no man now that taketh it in other sense, pretend therefore that we differ in doctrine. 2. Seeing it is no Scripture word, it is not of necessity to the faith or peace of the church; but when disputers agree not of the sense of the word, they are best lay it by, and use such terms whose sense they can agree on.
« 1 Cor. xvi. 1, i.
* Of which sec Martinius fully in " Onom. de Sacrara." Bellarmin himself rcckoneth five.
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3. The name 'Sacrament' is either taken from the covenant sworn to, or from the sign or ceremony of consent, by which we oblige ourselves, or from both together. 4. The covenant of Christianity is different from a particular covenant of some office; and accordingly the sacrament is to be distinguished. 5. As civil, economical, and ecclesiastical offices are distinct, so are their several sacraments. 6. The solemn renewing of the sacred vow or covenant, without any instituted, obliging sign, is to be distinguished from the renewing it by such a sign of God's institution: and now I conclude, 1. As the word 'Sacrament' is taken improperly 'secundum quid,' from the nobler part only, that is, the covenant, (as a man's soul is called the man) so there are as many sacraments as covenants; and there is in specie but one covenant of Christianity, and so but one sacrament of Christianity, variously expressed. 2. As the word ' Sacrament' is taken properly and fully according to the aforesaid description; so there are properly two sacraments of Christianity, or of the covenant of grace; that is, baptism, the sacrament of initiation (most fully so called) and the Lord's supper, or the sacrament of confirmation, exercise, and progress. 3. As the word 'Sacrament' is taken less properly, defectively, 'secundum quid,' for the same covenant of grace or Christianity renewed by any arbitrary sign of our own, without a solemn ceremony of Divine institution, so there are divers sacraments of Christianity or the covenant of grace, that is, divers solemn renewals of our covenant with God. As, 1. At our solemn transition from the state of infant-membership unto that of the adult, when we solemnly own our baptismal covenant, which Calvin and many Protestants (and the English rubric) call confirmation. 2. The solemn owning the Christian faith and covenant, in our constant church-assemblies, when we stand up at the creed or profession of our faith, and all renew our covenant with God, and dedication to him. 3. At solemn days of fasting or humiliation, and of thanksgiving when this should be solemnly done. Especially upon some public defection. 4. Upon the public repentance of a particular sinner before his ab