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SECT. I

The ordinances of God are holy.

Divine ordinances are holy in the following respects:

1. They are conversant wholly and immediately about God, and things divine. When we are in the attendance on the ordinances of divine worship, we are in the special presence of God. When persons come and attend on the ordinances of God, they are said to come before God, and to come into his presence: Jer. vii. 10. “Come and stand before me, in this house which is called by my name.” Psal. c. 2. “Come into his presence with singing”

In divine ordinances, persons have immediate intercourse with God, either in applying to him, as in prayer and singing praises, or in receiving from him, waiting solemnly and immediately on him for spiritual good, as in hearing the word; or in both applying to God and receiving from him, as in the sacraments. They were appointed on purpose that in them men might converse and hold communion with God. We are poor, ignorant, blind worms of the dust; and God did not see it meet that our way of intercourse with God should be left to ourselves; but God hath given us his ordinances, as ways and means of conversing with him.

In these ordinances, holy and divine things are exhibited and represented. In the preaching of the word, holy Doctrine and the divine will are exhibited; in the sacraments, Christ Jesus and his benefits are represented; in prayer and praise, and in the attendance on the word and sacraments, are represented our faith, love, and obedience.

2. The end of God’s ordinances is holy. The immediate end is to glorify God. They are instituted to direct us in the holy exercises of faith and love, divine fear and reverence, submission, thankfulness, holy joy and sorrow, holy desires, resolutions, and hopes. True worship consists in these holy and spiritual exercises; and as these divine ordinances are the ordinances of worship, they are to help us, and to direct us in such a worship as this.

3. They have the sanction of divine authority. They are not only conversant about a divine and holy object, and designed to direct and help us in divine and holy exercises, but they have a divine and holy author. The infinitely great and holy God hath appointed them, the eternal Three in One. Each person in the Trinity hath been concerned in their institution. God the Father hath appointed them, and that by his own Son. They are of Christ’s own appointment; and he appointed, as he had received of the Father: John xii. 49. “I have not spoken of myself, but the Father, which sent me, he gave me commandment what I should say, and what I should speak.” And the Father and Son more fully revealed and ratified them by the Spirit; and they are committed to writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

They are holy, in that God hath hallowed them, or consecrated them. They are conversant about holy things; and God ordained them, that in them we might be conversant about holy things. They are for a holy use; and it is God who, by his own immediate authority, ordained them for that holy use; which renders them much more sacred than otherwise they would have been.

4. They are attended in the name of God. Thus we are commanded to do all that we do, in word or deed, in the name of Christ, Col. iii. 17. which is to be understood especially of our attendance on ordinances. Ordinances are administered in the name of God. When the word is preached by authorized ministers, they speak in God’s name, as Christ’s ambassadors, as co-workers together with Christ: 2 Cor. v. 20. “Now we are ambassadors for Christ;” chap. vi. 1. “We are workers together with him.” When a true minister preaches, he speaks as the oracles of God, 1 Pet. iv. 11. and he is to be heard as one representing Christ.

So in administering the sacraments, the minister represents the person of Christ; he baptizes in his name, and in the Lord’s supper stands in his stead. In administering church-censures, he still acts, as the apostle expresses it, in the person of Christ, 2 Cor. ii. 10. On the other hand, the congregation, in their addresses to God in ordinances, as prayer and praise, act in the name of Christ, the Mediator, as having him to represent them, and as coming to God by him.

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