The Sacraments – John Bannerman

The Sacraments – James Bannerman

The Sacraments of the church, merely as speaking and teaching signs, may undoubtedly, be affirmed to be adapted to the spiritual nature of man, so as to exercise naturally a moral influence over his feelings and his heart; but beyond that moral influence, and altogether above the ministry of natural means, there is a supernatural grace imported by the Spirit, making Sacraments not only signs, but seals of saving blessings to those who rightly partake of them. The authority of the Church, regarded merely as an external authority, is unquestionably adapted to exercise a beneficial control over its members in the regulation of their conduct and life; but far beyond and surpassing this, is that supernatural control and power of the Spirit, which binds the conscience with a sense of obligation, and constrains obedience as a duty done to God. The outward and formal ordinance of Word and Sacrament and authority in the church is linked with the mysterious and supernatural influence of the Holy Ghost; and the Church becomes a living and spiritual power in the soul, as the instrument of the Spirit of God, and his dealings with our spirits.

Why God has been pleased thus to conjoin the natural influence of outward ordinances with the supernatural influence of His Spirit, and why, over and above all that reason can discern in the natural provision of the Church, as suitable to the spiritual advantage of man, there is a virtue which reason cannot explain, we may be utterly unable to understand. But without being able to explain it, we are assured of the fact, that to those who use them after a spiritual manner there is a supernatural grace to be experienced through ordinances, which is not elsewhere to be found, and that this virtue resides not in themselves, or in their natural adaptation to man’s understanding and heart, but in the supernatural presence within them of the Holy Ghost. The outward provision of the visible Church of Christ is mysteriously impregnated with divine grace. The Church itself is, in an especial and supernatural manner, the residence of the Holy Ghost; and in the right and faithful use of its ordinances the spirit of man meets with the Spirit of God, and finds a blessing beyond the reach of ordinances.

1 Corinthians 10:16-18