THE

SHORTER CATECHISM

EXPLAINED


QUESTION 93. What are the sacraments of the New Testament?

ANSWER: The sacraments of the New Testament are, baptism and the Lord's supper.


Q. 1. What were the ordinary sacraments under the Old Testament?

A. They were two: CIRCUMCISION and the PASSOVER.

Q. 2. When was circumcision first instituted?

A. In the ninety-ninth year of Abraham's age, Gen. 17:24; at which time, both he, "and all the men of his house, were circumcised," verse 26, 27.

Q. 3. At what age were the male children afterwards to be circumcised?

A. Precisely on the eighth day after they were born, Gen. 17:12.

Q. 4. What was the spiritual meaning of this sacramental ceremony?

A. It signified the impurity and corruption of nature, Jer. 4:4; the necessity of regeneration, or being cut off from the first Adam, as a federal head, Rom. 2:28, 29; and of being implanted in Christ, in order to partake of the benefits of his mediation, chap. 8:1; together with a solemn virtual engagement to be the Lord's, Gen. 17:11.

Q. 5. What was the other sacrament of the Old Testament?

A. The passover.

Q. 6. When was it instituted?

A. At the departure of the children of Israel out of Egypt, Ex. chapter 12.

Q. 7. Why called the PASSOVER?

A. Because the destroying angel passed over the houses of the Israelites in the night when he smote the first-born with death, in every house or family of the Egyptians, Ex. 12:27.

Q. 8. On what account did the angel pass over the houses of the Israelites?

A. Because, according to the express command of God, the blood of the passover-lamb was stricken upon the lintels and side posts of their doors, as a signal to the destroying angel to pass over them, Ex. 12:22, 23.

Q. 9. What was meant by striking the blood upon their lintels and door posts?

A. It signified, that it is only in virtue of the blood or satisfaction of Christ, that the curse and sentence of the law (which is the Wrath of God) is not executed upon the sinner, Rom. 5:9.

Q. 10. What were the significant ceremonies of divine institution that were to be observed in this sacrament?

A. The passover lamb was to be without blemish, Ex. 12:5; it was to be slain, verse 6; it was to be roasted with fire, verse 9; and it was to be eaten, and that wholly and entirely, verse 10.

Q. 11. Why was it necessary that the passover-lamb should be without blemish?

A. To signify, that though our sins were imputed to Christ, yet he was in himself "holy, harmless, undefiled," Heb: 7:26; and therefore called "a Lamb without blemish and without spot," 1 Pet. 1:19.

Q. 12. Why must the lamb be slain, or killed by blood shedding?

A. To denote, that the death of Christ was necessary, for satisfying justice, and reconciling us to God, Luke 24:26 -- "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things?"

Q. 13. Why was it to be roasted with fire?

A. To intimate, that Christ's sufferings, as our Surety, were exquisitely and inconceivably great, without the least abatement of any of that wrath which was due to our sins, Isa. 53:10 -- "It pleased the Lord to bruise him;" Rom. 8:32 -- "God spared not his own Son."

Q. 14. Why was it to be eaten wholly and entirely, and none of it to be left?

A. To signify, that Christ was to be wholly applied, in a way of believing, as being, "of God, made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption," 1 Cor. 1:30.

Q. 15. Why were all the families of Israel to eat the passover, at one and the same time? Ex. 12:8.

A. To signify that there is enough in Christ to satisfy the need of all his people at once; "for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," Col. 2:9.

Q. 16. Why was it to be eaten the very same evening in which it was slain? ver. 6, 8.

A. To signify, that Christ ought to be applied and appropriated by faith speedily, without delay: "Behold, NOW is the accepted time," 2 Cor. 6:2.

Q. 17. "How many sacraments hath Christ instituted in his church under the New Testament?

A. "Under the New Testament, Christ hath instituted in his church only two sacraments; baptism and the Lord's supper."[131]

Q. 18. How do these two sacraments come in the place of those under the Old Testament?

A. Baptism comes in the place of circumcision; and the Lord's supper in the place of the passover.

Q. 19. Were the sacraments of the Old Testament no more than shadows of that grace, which is actually conferred by the sacraments under the New, as the Papists would have it?

A. By no means; for "the sacraments of the Old Testament, in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the New, 1 Cor. 10:1-5."[132]

Q. 20. In what do they differ?

A. The sacraments of the Old Testament represented Christ as yet to come; whereas those of the New hold him forth as already come, and as having finished the work of our redemption, as to the purchase of it, Eph. 5:2.

Q. 21. Is there any difference between them as to clearness and perspicuity?

A. The words annexed to the outward signs in the sacraments of the New Testament, make the things signified appear vastly more plain and perspicuous, than in the sacraments of the Old.

Q. 22. What other sacraments do the Papists add to baptism and the Lord's supper?

A. They boldly venture to add other five; namely, confirmation, penance, orders, marriage, and extreme unction.

Q. 23. How may it appear, in a word, that all these are false and spurious sacraments?

A. In regard that none of them have sacramental signs of divine institution, signifying any inward and spiritual grace; and, consequently, none of them can be appointed seals of God's covenant.

Q. 24. Who may lawfully dispense the sacraments of the New Testament?

A. "Neither of them may be dispensed by any, but a minister of the word, lawfully ordained, 1 Cor. 4:1"[133]


[131] Larger Catechism, Q. 164.

[132] Confession of Faith, chapter 26.

[133] Ibid., 27 ยง 5.


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