SACRAMENTS and TRANSUBSTANTIATION. The Christian Sacraments are not merely certain high forms, but the highest acts of church membership. For the Christian Church being but the outward visible representation of the internal fellowship of the faithful with Christ, and with one another; this twofold element of the church is most fitly corresponded to by the institution of external visiblo actions, intended to express an internal spiritual effect or grace. Such are the Sacraments, a term used to express "Sacramentum,• by which the Greek mysteries is rendered in the old Italic versions, and also in the Vulgate.
With regard to the number of the Sacraments, as is well known, two opinions are current among Christian communities,— the Greek and Romig!, Churches holding the number of seven, while all other Catholics bodies limit the number to two. The history of this difference may be briefly stated as follows. The term Sacrament was applied by the Fathers to the mysterious doctrines of religion, as the Trinity, the Incarnation, and, in some instances, to the ordinances of religion in a wide sense. In a certain sense the seven-fold system of the Church of Rome may be considered es an abatement of the lax terminology of some of the Fathers. The title of sacraments is by her limited to seven actions—baptism, or the sign of our spiritual birth ; the eucharist, in which our spiritual life is nourished ; confirmation, for the strengthening of the same ; penance, for the restoration of the Llpsed; extreme unction, as a preparation for death ; matrimony, for maintenance of the race of mankind in general ; and orders, for that of the race of God's ministers.
Without entering into the controversy on this subject, it will be sufficient to observe that the number of seven, as asserted by the Church of Rome, is very far from being sanctioned by the uniform assent of ecclesiastical practice. Antecedently to a very modern synod (that of Florence) the number of seven had never been positively settled.
The two sacraments then, to which, in the judgment of all Catholic bodies (save the Greek and Itomiah communions) the number is properly limited, are those of baptism and the Lor's supper. It is
asserted that on the basis of two Jewish rites of recognised typical import our Lord established, by direct command, those two 'sacra ments, of which alone the authority is unquestionable. An indirect argument in favour of this more restricted view may be drawn from the Romanist statements respecting the relative value of the several sacraments. For although the authorities of that church are con ',intently anxious to prove the entire number of seven to be equal in rank, the dignity which they directly attribute to the eucharist, and that which they connst withhold from taptisin, may be in some sort alleged as an levoluntary assent to the doctrine of the opposite party.
Tile principal feature of the scheme of salvation providentially offered to man is faith in the Saviour ; that is. that through Christ a path is opened to heaven. The eye of this Christian faith is not con. I fined exclusively to the doctrine, or the person, or the sufferings and death of Christ ; but it comprises within its range the entire system. It consists in a perfect devotion to Jesus ; in an internal union with him, and spiritual imitation of him, in which man appears as a new creature, alike as regards knowledge, feeling, and action. The symbols of this faith, and the acts by which an obligation to it is expressed, are the two Christian sacraments—baptism and the Lord's Supper. Baptism will be bum(' fully treated under that head.
The various opinions respecting the exact import and appropriate benefits of the Lord's Supper are of high antiquity. A history of these will be found in the article Comnextosr. The difficulties con nected with the question are increased by the general adherence to the words of Scripture, observable in the liturgical formularies. The non-existence of a dogmatical theology during the first ages of the Church is well known, which renders it unnecessary to look for exact scientific definitions throughout that period. But, concurrently with the uniformity of practice, there is to be found a three-fold variety of interpretation, corresponding with the peculiar views of what may be considered the three principal schools of early Christian theology.