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Question 13 — Are not some institutions of the New Testament ceased as to any obligation unto their observation, and therefore now rightly disused?

AnsweraSome symbolical tokens of moral duties, occasionally used, only for present instruction in those duties, are mentioned in the gospel, without any intention to oblige believers unto the formal constant use and repetition of them; and bsome temporary appointments relating unto gifts in the church, bestowed only for a season on the first plantation of the gospel, are ceased; — but cno institution or command of Christ, given unto the whole church, relating unto the evangelical administration of the new covenant, for the use and benefit of all believers, doth or shall cease to the end of the world, nor can be wholly omitted without a violation of the authority of Jesus Christ himself.
aJohn xiii. 12–15; Rom. xvi. 16; 1 Cor. xvi. 20; 1 Tim. v. 10.
bMark vi. 13; James v. 14.
cMatt. xxviii. 20; 1 Tim. vi. 14; 1 Cor. xi. 26.

Explication — Mention is made in the Scriptures of sundry things practised by the Lord Christ and his apostles, which being then in common use among men, were occasionally made by them symbolical instructions in moral duties. Such were washing of feet by one another, the holy kiss, and the like. But there being no more in them but a sanctified use directed unto the present civil customs and usages, the commands given concerning them respect not the outward action, nor appointed any continuance of them, being peculiarly suited unto the state of things and persons in those countries; as, John xiii. 12–15, “After he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” 466It is evident in the moral duty of brotherly love, in condescension and mutual helpfulness, to be expressed in all necessary offices as occasion doth require, that is the thing which Jesus Christ here enjoined his disciples, and leads them to by his own example in an office of love then in use in those parts. The same is to be said of the “holy kiss,” Rom. xvi. 16; which was a temporary, occasional token of entire love, which may, in answer thereunto, be expressed by any sober usage of salutation amongst men to the same purpose. But the things themselves were not instituted for any continuance, nor do represent any special grace of the new covenant, which is inseparable from every institution of gospel worship properly so called. Common usages or practices, therefore, directed to be used in a due manner and unto a proper end, where they are used, make them not institutions of worship. Neither have they in them, as so commanded or directed, any one thing that concurs to the constitution of a gospel ordinance; for neither had they their rise in the authority of Christ, nor is any continuance of them enjoined, nor any promise annexed unto them, nor any grace of the new covenant represented or exhibited in them.

Besides, there were in the first churches, continued for a while, certain extraordinary gifts, that had their effects visible on the outward senses of men, and tended not immediately unto the edification of the churches in their faith, but unto the conviction of others, and vindication of the authority of them by whom the gospel was preached and propagated. Such was that gift of healing the sick: which being an especial effect of the Holy Ghost for the advantage of the church in those days, in some places it was accompanied by anointing with oil; but this being no universal practice, and used only in the exercise of a gift extraordinary, whose use and being has long since ceased, it never was appointed nor intended to be of continuance in the church, which is not tied by the Lord Christ to the empty signs and shadows of things whose substance is not enjoyed. Besides, no spiritual grace of the covenant was ever intimated, sealed, or exhibited by that usage of anointing with oil. The first mention of it is, Mark vi. 13, where its practice is reckoned among the effects of that extraordinary power which the Lord Christ committed unto his twelve disciples on their first sending out, and is referred unto the same series of miracles which they wrought in pursuit and by virtue thereof: “They cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” And by what is there recorded, the subsequent mention of it, James v. 14, is to be regulated. But now, unto a real evangelical institution of worship, it is required, — 1. That it be a command of Christ, manifested by his word or example proposed unto our imitation, Matt. xxviii. 20; 2. That it be 467given and enjoined unto the whole church, with the limitation of its administration expressed in the word, 1 Cor. xi. 25; 3. That, unto the due performance of it, gospel grace be required in them that attend unto it; 4. That it teach, or represent, or seal, or improve some grace of the covenant, and have a promise of acceptation annexed unto it. And whatever is thus appointed, the church is indispensably to continue in the observation of, unto the end of the world.

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