The Sacramental Idea
George H. Morrison
Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthian 11:24
There have been few controversies in the church so bitter as those which have raged around the sacraments. This feast of love has witnessed sorer strife than any other object of the faith. So pitiful indeed has been the warfare that has torn Christendom into hostile camps over the sacraments that men have wondered in all reverence why Christ should have instituted sacraments at all. One answer to that difficulty is that sacraments are a great help to Christian character. There are certain elements in the Christian character which call for the sacramental idea to nourish them. And that is why Jesus of Nazareth sent a sword, and instituted what was so fraught with peril, and said, "This do in remembrance of me. "I would like, then, to dwell for a little time on some of the moral influences of the sacraments. I would like to show you that the sacramental idea has its place in the formation of the Christian life.
In the first place, then, the sacraments stand for this, that all that is highest and holiest is a gift. In language eloquent because it is pictorial, they speak of religion as of something offered. Weary with striving for some dim ideal; worn with the struggle for a better life, the sacrament, in simple silent beauty, reminds us that what we crave for is a gift. Think of the sacrament of baptism. How helpless-how passive is the little child! It is all unconscious of what is going forward; it does not understand, nor does it need to. But as it lies there in its father's arms, and as the water is sprinkled on its brow, and as the minister utters the solemn words, "I baptize you in the name of Father, Son, and Spirit," surely there is not one of us but feels that here, at the very dawn of life, is the emblem of a grace that is a gift. I have baptized in my ministry not a few adults, and it has been a very solemn service. There is something deeply impressive in a service when a man ...
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