I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.—John 6.51.

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David Dickson’s

Truth’s Victory Over Error

Chapter XXVII.

Of the Sacraments.

QUESTION I.

ARE the Sacraments holy signs and seals of the Covenant of Grace, immediately instituted by GOD, to represent Christ and his benefits; and to confirm our interest in him?

Yes.

Do the Sacraments put a visible difference, between those that belong unto the Church, and the rest of the World?

Yes.

Do the Sacraments solemnly engage men and women to the service of God in Christ, according to his word?

Yes.  Rom. 4.11.  Gen. 17.7,10.  Matth. 28.19.  1 Cor. 11.23.  1 Cor. 10.16.  1 Cor. 11.25-26.  Gal. 3.7.  Rom. 15.8.  Exod. 12.48.  Gen. 34.14.  Rom. 6.3,4.  And 1 Cor. 10.16,21.

Well then, do not the Socinians err, with the Anabaptists, who maintain, that the Sacraments, are not seals of the Covenant of Grace, instituted by God, to represent Christ and his benefits: but only bare tokens, and Tests of our Christian profession?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, Circumcision is expressly called a sign, and seal of the righteousness of Faith; Rom. 4.11.  Now, if Circumcision was a seal, and sign, why ought not Baptism and the Lord’s Supper to be signs, and seals also?  (2) Because, the names, and properties of the things signified, are given to the Sacramental signs.  Thus Circumcision is called the Covenant, Gen. 17.10.  The bread is called the Body of Christ, Matth. 26.26.  And Baptism is called the washing of regeneration, Titus 3.5.  For no other reasons, but because they represent and confirm things spiritual to Believers.  (3) Because, the cup of blessing in the Sacrament, is the communion of the blood of Christ; and the bread is the communion of the body of Christ, 1 Cor. 10.16.  (4) Because, the Sacraments bring into our memories, Christ and his benefits; and therefore, as it were, they set him before our eyes, and so increase and confirm our faith: 1 Cor. 11.24,25.

Quest. II. “Is the Grace, which is exhibited in, or by the Sacraments, rightly used, conferred by any power in them?”

No.  Rom. 2.28,29.  1 Peter 3.21.

Well then, do not the Papists and Lutherians err, who maintain, that the Sacraments of themselves are true, immediate, and effectual causes of our Justification and give life?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, the holy Scripture attributes our Justifications to Faith only, as an instrumental cause, and to no other thing; Rom. 1.17.  Rom. 3.28.  Gal. 2.16.  And therefore the Sacraments cannot be the efficient causes of our Justification, and life.  (2) Because, the Scripture makes an express difference, between the work of a man dispensing the Sacraments, and the work of the holy Ghost; Matth. 3.11.  (3) Because, signs and seals of Grace cannot confer, and effectuate Grace. But the Sacraments, are but signs and seals of Grace; because to signify, and to have virtue, and power to do differ in nature and in kind.  (4) Because, many are partakers of the Sacraments, who yet are not partakers of the Grace of GOD, as Simon Magus, Acts 8; Ananias, and Saphira, Acts 5.4,9.  And how many thousands do eat and drink unworthily, drinking and eating damnation to themselves, 1 Cor. 11.29.  (5) Because, many have been justified, before every they did partake of a Sacrament, as Abraham, Rom. 4.11; and Cornelius with his fellows, Acts 10.46-47.

Quest. III. “Doth the efficacy of a Sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him, that doth administer it?”

No.  Matt. 3.11.  1 Cor. 12.13.

Well then, do not the Donatists and Anabaptists err, who maintain, that the Sacraments dispensed by a wicked, and graceless Minister are of no virtue, or efficacy?

Yes.

Do not also some others nowadays err, who are not far from the same opinion?

Yes.

Do not lastly the Papists err, who maintain, that to the perfection of a Sacrament, the actual intention of the Minister, at least his virtual intention of doing that, which the Church doth, is necessary?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, Judas who was a Thief, and a Traitor, did according to the command of Christ baptize, as well as the rest: yet Christ never called in question his Baptism.  (2) Because, the efficacy of the Word, doth not depend upon the piety, goodness, worthiness, or good intention of the Instrument; Phil. 1.16-18:  Therefore, neither doth the efficacy of a Sacrament depend upon the intention of him, that doth administer it.  (3) If the efficacy of Baptism depended upon the good intention of the Minister, then no Christian could be sure, that he is baptized: seeing no man can be sure of, or know the Minister’s intention.  (4) Because, the operation, and efficacy of the Sacraments, depend upon the operation of the Holy Ghost, and the Word of institution, Matth. 3.11.  1 Cor. 12, 13.  (5) Because, the Papists themselves (which is argumentum ad hominem) cannot be sure, that the bread in the Eucharist is Transubstantiate into the Body of Christ.  And therefore in their Adoration, and falling down to the Host, they commit most damnable Idolatry in worshipping that which is neither GOD, nor any divine thing.  I say, they cannot be sure, because the Priest’s intention, may be deficient, while he is consecrating the Bread.

Quest. IV. “Are there only two Sacraments, ordained by Christ, in the Gospel?”

I answer two only, namely Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.  Matth. 28.19.  1 Cor. 11.20,23.

Well then, do not the Romanists err, who make seven Sacraments, by adding to Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, Confirmation, Penance, Extreme Unction, Ordination, and Matrimony?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, no other Sacraments, save Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are instituted by Christ, in all the holy Scripture.  (2) Because, the description, and definition of a Sacrament, as you will find it in the first Question, doth agree only to Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.  (3) Because, Christ was a Copartner, and sharer of Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, which in his own person, he did sanctify, and by them did testify and profess his communion with his people of the New Testament, but never was a sharer of any of these five Bastard Sacraments.

Quest. V. “May Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, be dispensed by any but by a Minister of the Word, lawfully ordained?”

No.  Matth. 28.19.  1 Cor. 11.20,23.  1 Cor. 4.1.  Heb. 5.4.

Well then, do not the Anabaptists err, who maintain, that the Sacraments may be dispensed, and administered by any Believer?

Yes.

Do not likewise the Papists and the Lutherians err, who maintain that it is lawful for Laicks, or Women, to administer the Sacrament of Baptism, in case of necessity?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, Christ gave the power of dispensing the Sacraments to them only, to whom he gave the power of Preaching; Matth. 28.19.  But the power of preaching is not given to all men, Heb. 5.4.  (2) Because, all that ever did dispense the Sacrament of Baptism in the New Testament, were either called Ordinarily, or Extraordinarily: as is evident from the examples of John the Baptist, and the disciples of Christ.  From the example of Peter, Acts 2.41.  From the example of Philip, Acts 8.38.  From the example of Ananias, Acts 9.18.  From the example of Paul and Silas; Acts 16.15,33.  (3) Because, it is unlawful for any man, to affix the King’s seal to a Charter, or Letters-patent, unless he be a person authorized, and deputed by the King for that use.  But the Sacraments are seals, of the Covenant between God and his people; Rom. 4.11.  (4) Because, women are not permitted to speak publickly in the Church: therefore they have no power, to dispense the Sacrament of Baptism, 1 Cor. 14.34.  1 Tim. 2.12.  (5) Because, the Adversaries grant that it is unlawful to women, or Laicks to administer the Lord’s Supper: therefore it is as unlawful for them to administer Baptism.  No just cause of reason, or disparity can be given.  (6) Because, the benefit of regeneration is not tied (as the Adversaries may dream) to the outward Baptism, as is clear and evident from the conversion of the Thief upon the cross.  And from 1 Peter 3.21.  Therefore, there is no such necessity of Baptism, as the Papists, and the Lutherians do fancy.

Quest. VI. “Are the Sacraments of the Old Testament, in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified, and exhibited, the same for substance with those of the New?”

Yes.  1 Cor. 10.1-4.

Well then, do not the Papists and Lutherians err, who maintain, that the difference between the Sacraments of the Old Testament, and the New, consists in this, that those did delineate and shadow forth Grace; these contain, offer, and confer Grace?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

(1) Because, the Apostle (1 Cor. 10.1-3.) expressly says, that the Cloud, and the passing through the Red-Sea, did signify these same things to the Jews, which Baptism signifies to us.  And that the Manna, and the Water from the Rock, did signify the same things to them; which the Lord’s Supper signifies to us.  (2) Because, the Sacraments of the Old and New Testament, did obsignate and seal up the same righteousness of Faith; Rom. 4.11.  (3) Because, the Scripture applieth to Believers, under the Old Testament, the Sacraments of the New, 1 Cor. 10.1-3.  And on the other hand, the Scripture applieth the Sacraments of the New Testament, to Believers under the Old; which is not done by reason of the sign, for the signs are diverse and different: therefore it must be done, by reason of the thing signified; and by consequence the Sacraments of the Old Testament must agree in the thing signified with the Sacraments of the New.  (4) Because, the Sacraments of both Testaments agree in the Word of Promise, Gen. 17.7. Acts 2.38,39.  Rom. 4.11-13.  Gal. 3.29.