By the Rev Canon William Odom
The Church Bookroom (Published Prior to 1923)
Part II - I am a Churchman because the Church's Teaching on the Sacraments is in Agreement with Holy Scripture.
God has given holy symbols and sure seals in the Gospel Covenant which meet the need of man’s spiritual nature, and by which grace and strength are imparted. “Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God’s goodwill towards us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken (arouse) but also strengthen and confirm our faith in Him” (Art. XXV.).
In the Jewish Church were two Ordinances—Circumcision, whereby the Jew was admitted into the Divine Covenant, and the Passover, wherein he commemorated the deliverance of his nation from Egyptian bondage. With these correspond the two
Sacraments ordained by Christ—Baptism, whereby we are admitted into the Church, and the Lord’s Supper, wherein we commemorate His redeeming work.
The Church Catechism (which gives the elementary truths of the Christian religion) teaches that Christ ordained two Sacraments only as generally necessary to salvation—namely, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord. The Church of Rome teaches that “there are truly and properly seven Sacraments,” but our Church declares that “there are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel—that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord. Those five commonly called Sacraments—that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction—are not to be Counted for Sacraments of the Gospel” (Art. XXV.).
Holy Baptism is the Sacrament of adoption into God’s great family—a sign of admission into the Church. Moreover, as the Catechism teaches, with the outward sign is the inward grace, “a death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness”—i.e., to all who receive it rightly.
So Article XXVII.: “Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or new Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.” Bishop Handley Moule says Baptism into the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is the entrance into the New Covenant as well as the Covenant seal: “The right receiver of Baptism receives a gift—eternal life direct from God by the grace of the Holy Ghost through faith.” The requirements from those to be baptized are set forth in the Catechism: “Repentance, whereby they forsake sin; and Faith, whereby they steadfastly believe the promises of God made to them in that Sacrament.”
The Prayer-Book has two forms of Baptism—one for infants, the other for adults. Infant Baptism is justified by the Old Covenant rite of Circumcision. Christ called little children to him, saying: “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.” “The promise is unto you, and to your children” (Acts ii. 39). Surely the blessings of the New Covenant are not more limited than those of the Old! Hence our Church’s rule: “The Baptism of young children is in anywise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.”
The connecting link between Baptism and the Lord’s Supper is the rite of Confirmation, for which we have Scripture warrant in Acts viii. 12-17: “They were baptized”; the Apostles “prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.”
Surely it is reasonable and good that, having been dedicated to God in infancy, we should, on reaching years of discretion, and after due instruction in the Christian faith, “ratify and confirm” the promises made for us in Baptism, openly confess Christ, and be admitted to Holy Communion. The time of Confirmation is one of decision and consecration, when we enter fully into the privileges, responsibilities, and obligations of Christian discipleship. By the prayers of God’s people and the laying on of hands by the Bishop as chief pastor, “after the example of the Apostles,” we are assured of God’s
favour, confirmed and strengthened with the blessings of His Holy Spirit, “the manifold gifts of grace.” Henceforth our life motto is: “God, whose I am and whom I serve.”
>> Part III. - I am a Churchman becasue I beleive the Church's Teaching on the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper to be in accord with Holy Scripture.