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  • WORKS OF ARMINIUS - THE SACRAMENTS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT


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    DISPUTATION LXI

    ON THE SACRAMENTS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, THE TREE OF LIFE, CIRCUMCISION, AND THE PASCHAL LAMB

    I. The tree of life was created and instituted by God for this end -- that man, as long as he remained obedient to the divine law, might eat of its fruit, both for the preservation and continuance of this natural life against every defect which could happen to it through old age, or any other cause, and to designate or point out the promise of a better and more blissful life. It answered the former purpose, as an element created by God; and the latter, as a sacrament instituted by God. It was adapted to accomplish the former purpose by the natural force and capability which was imparted to it; it was fitted for the latter, on account of the similitude and analogy which subsist between natural and spiritual life.

    II. Circumcision is the sign of the covenant into which God entered with Abraham to seal or witness the promise about the blessed seed that should be born of him, about all nations which were to be blessed in him, and about constituting him the father of many nations, and the heir of the world through the righteousness of faith; and that God was willing to be his God and the God of his seed after him. This sign was to be administered in that member which is the ordained instrument of generation in the male sex, by a suitable analogy between the sign and the thing signified.

    III. By that sign all the male descendants from Abraham, were, at the express command of God, to be marked, on the eighth day after their nativity; and a threatening was added, that it should come to pass that the soul of him who was not circumcised on that day should be cut off from his people.

    IV. But though females were not circumcised in their bodies, yet they were in the mean time partakers of the same covenant and obligation, because they were reckoned among the men, and were considered by God as circumcised. It, therefore, was not necessary that God should institute any other remedy for taking away from females the native corruption of sin, as the papists have the audacity to affirm, beyond and contrary to the Scriptures.

    V. And this is the first relation of circumcision belonging to the promise. The other is, that the persons circumcised were bound to the observance of the whole law, delivered by God, and especially of the ceremonial law. For it was in the power of God to prescribe, to those who were in covenant with him, a law at his pleasure, and to seal the obligation of its observance by such a sign of the covenant as had been previously instituted and employed; and in this respect circumcision belongs to the Old Testament.

    VI. The paschal lamb was a sacrament, instituted by God to point out the deliverance from Egypt, and to renew the remembrance of it at a stated time in each year.

    VII. Beside this use, it served typically to adumbrate Christ, the true Lamb, who was to endure and bear away the sins of the world; on which account, also, its use was abrogated by the sufferings and [the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, as it relates to the right; but it was afterwards, in fact and reality, abrogated with the destruction of the city and the temple.

    VIII. The sacrament of the tree of life was a bloodless one; in the other two, there was shedding of blood -- both suitable to the diversity of the state of those who were in covenant with God. For the former was instituted before the entrance of sin into the world; but the two latter, after sin had entered, which, according to the decree of God, is not expiated except by blood; because the wages of sin is death, and natural life, according to the Scriptures, has its seat in the blood.

    IX. The passage under the cloud and through the sea, manna, and the water which gushed from the rock, were sacramental signs; but they were extraordinary, and as a sort of prelude to the sacraments of the New Testament, although of a signification and testification the most obscure, since the things signified and witnessed by them were not declared in express words.

    COROLLARIES

    I. It is probable that the church, from the primitive promise and reparation after the fall, until the times of Abraham, had her sacraments, though no express mention is made of them in the Scriptures.

    II. It would be an act of too great boldness to affirm what those sacraments were; yet if any one should say, that the first of them was the offering of the infant recently born before the Lord, on the very day on which the mother was purified from childbearing, and that another was, the eating of sacrifices and the sprinkling of the blood of the victims; his assertion would not be utterly devoid of probability.

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