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the word. By denying a work wrought, we indeed remove the possibility of any charm; but, at the same time, we make of it what an apostle applies to an idol a inere nothing.'
Aware of this, the schoolmen themselves invented another combination of the two vocables, and applied to this puzzling subject, an 'opus operantis," that is, ' a work of the worker.' Nor would I disclaim this expression in its sacramental application, involving, as it does, the following three distinct senses : First, the work of the administrator : Secondly, the work of the recipient : And thirdly, the work of the original Institutor. The last sense I wilJingly admit, since it is authorised by scripture, which expressly informs us, that God worketh in * us';' and farther assures us,
that God will fulfil • all the good pleasure of his goodness in us, and • the work of faith with power;' where St Paul admits both the opus operantis, and the opus operatum, as he evidently does also in the following exhortation_be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding • in the work of the Lord, (opus operatum), know‘ing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord", (that is, in the ' opus operantis).' It will perhaps be said, that these passages have no reference whatever to the subject in hand. But if this be said, it must be said at the hazard of rejecting from
i Phil. ii. 13. Here the opus operantis is clearly expressed.
2 2 Thess. i. II. 3 i Cor, xv. 58.
this comprehensive expression, THE WORK OF
THE LORD,' the ordinances of the Lord's own divine appointment. Under all these circumstances, I see no good reason why both these scholastic terms,
opus operatum,' and opus operantis,’ should not be received into our definition of sacramental efficacy; the former as expressing • the work of the Lord
wrought in time past--the latter, in the three senses already noticed, as expressing, 1. the work of the Institutor, powerfully blessing ; 2. the work of the adıninistrator, regularly dispensing; 3. the work of the partaker, nothing doubting,'—from the present, and active union of which is derived the gracious efficacy annexed to every sacramental work.
Philosophy, which, when applied to the doctrines of christianity, is, in my idea, only a politer name for infidelity, may amuse itself with what it wittily terms the mechanism of grace ; or it may assume a fit of sullen apathy on reviewing the load of learned objections to which this phrase has been from time to time exposed. But, since philosophy has chosen to describe man 'as a passive machine in the hands of nature, I think it no scorn to own myself, as a christian, to be an active, a rational machine, in the hands of grace, working in me, in one sense, what nature worketh in another. And although I should not be fully able to answer every cavilling objection which may be raised, (however willing, and in duty bound, to 'give an answer to every one, who, with meekness and fear, asketh me a * reason of the hope that is in me'), I can, and I do, most cheerfully and implicitly acquiesce in the sentiments of the psalmist, upon a subject not very dissimilar to the present- This is the Lord's do• ing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.'
Before I conclude this Letter, on the subject of sacramental efficacy, I must yet recur to the subject of the inward disposition, and prior preparation of the receiver, as that by which so many pious souls are unwillingly led astray. In exhibiting the blessings of God, and the duties of man, in one point of view, as the present subject requires, the utmost caution must be observed. To exalt the one at the expence of degrading the other is unquestionably dangerous, while to render to each its due portion of regard, is that which seems to me, to exceed, in a great measure, the power of human discernment. If therefore one or other must, in the discussion, preponderate, surely to exalt the blessings of God is man's satest course---since the divine blessing is antecedently necessary, for the acceptable performance of any one duty whatever.
Taking it for granted therefore, that the sacraments are in so far sanctified channels of divine blessing, and that they deserve to be numbered among the many instruments, by which · God • worketh in us,' I dare not, consistently with this belief, assign their efficacy to the scanty measure of human effort; which, however beneficial as a
concomitant, is not to be ranked as a principal. And I would have it duly considered by those, who have such a dread of charm, and of superstition, how prone human nature is to fall into the opposite extreme of enhancing its own merits and attainments ; and even of restricting the blessings of divine promise to the extent of its own preparatory labours. In elucidation of my meaning, let me adduce the heinous misconception of the sect calling themselves anabaptists; whose leading tenet it is, to deny the sacrament of baptism, until the candidate, having arrived at a certain age of capacity and judgment, is held fit to receive, by means of his own attainments, the benefits of that holy ordinance. What is this but to limit the extent of Christ's commission granting unlimited admission to the laver of
regeneration? What is it, but to set at defiance his example, as well as his precept, to suffer little children ' to come unto him ?
Even in the other sacrament, where there is, as I have shewn, an agency in the recipient required, I feel jealous of danger from this very quarter, if men are not extremely guarded, and if the most reverential submission be not observed. Thus, in the participation of the holy communion, it is almost universally the theme of the pulpit, as well as of the press, that christians should endeavour to attain the character of WORTHY communicants; which character, as it is not to be met with in scripture, it would be well, if people were more humbly wary in aspiring after it; and if both the authors of devotional tracts, and the preachers of discourses on the subject of the holy communion, insisted on it less than they are, for the most part, found to do. • Unworthy' is indeed a scriptural term'; but it ought to be carefully observed that, in the discharge of this important duty, worthy and unworthy are not correlates. To be worthy of such a transcendent privilege is not in the power of man; while it certainly is in his power to be free from the charge of
eating the body and drinking the blood of the Lord ' unworthily. It is the christian's honour to be admitted to this heavenly feast; being however an unmerited honour--it is an honour of which no man can be worthy. A beggar may be entertained at the table of a prince, and he may be entertained there on the most condescending invitation, without having displayed any real proofs of his being worthy of such a mark of royal favour. But even the beggar, although he cannot be deemed worthy of this honour, may, in the actual presence of his entertainer, render himself, by his behaviour, wholly unworthy; and it may happen, that he shall render himself thus unworthy, by no part of his behaviour so much as by trusting to some imaginary worthiness about himself, to his outward appearance, or inward frame of mind. The parallel is complete, with respect to the case before us.
No outward appearance of merit, nor inward exaltation of mind, can
3 i Cor. xi. 27. 29.