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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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In matters of religion, is used for the character conferred on sacred things by anointing them with oil. Unctions were very frequent among the Hebrews. They anointed both their kings and high priests at the ceremony of their inauguration. They also anointed the sacred vessels of the tabernacle and temple, to sanctify and consecrate them to the service of God. In the ancient Christian church, unction accompanied the ceremonies of baptism and confirmation. Extreme unction, or the anointing persons in the article of death, was also practised by the ancient Christians, in compliance with the precept of St. James, chap. 5: 14, 15; and this extreme unction the Romish church has advanced to the dignity of a sacrament. It is administered to none but such as are affected with some mortal disease, or in a decrepit age. It is refused to impenitent persons, as also to criminals. The parts to be anointed are, the eyes, the ears, the nostrils, the mouth, the hands, the feet, and the reins. The laity are anointed in the palms of the hands, but priests on the back of it, because the palms of their hands have been already consecrated by ordination. The oil with which the sick person is anointed, represents, it is said, the grace of God, which is poured down into the soul; and the prayer used at the time of anointing, expresses the remission of sins thereby granted to the sick person: for the prayer is this.

"By this holy unction, and his own most pious mercy, may the almighty God forgive thee whatever sins thou hast committed by the sight, " when the eyes are anointed; by the hearing, when the ears are anointed: and so of the other senses. The passage before-mentioned from St. James respecting the anointing with oil, has been a source of difficulty to some pious minds; but in order to understand it, it is necessary to observe that anointing with oil was an ordinance for the miraculous cure of sick persons (Mark 6:13 .) But since those extraordinary gifts are ceased, as being, no longer necessary for the confirmation of the Gospel, of course there is no warrant now for using that ceremony.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Unction'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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