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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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Is derived from the Latinword sacramentum, which signifies an oath, particularly the oath taken by soldiers to be true to their country and general.

The word was adopted by the writers of the Latin church, to denote those ordinances of religion by which Christians came under an obligation of obedience to God, and which obligation, they supposed, was equally sacred with that of an oath. (

See VOW.) Of sacraments, in this sense of the word, Protestant churches admit of but two; and it is not easy to conceive how a greater number can be made out from Scripture, if the definition of a sacrament be just which is given by the church of England. By that church, the meaning of the word sacrament is declared to be "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof."

Accorcing to this definition, baptism and the Lord's supper are certainly sacraments, for each consists of an outward and visible sign of what is believed to be an inward and spiritual grace, both were ordained by Christ himself, and in the reception of each does the Christian solemnly devote himself to the service of his divine Master. (

See BAPTISM, and LORD'S SUPPER.) The Romanists, however, add to this number confirmation, penance, extreme unction, ordination, and marriage, holding in all seven sacraments. (

See POPERY.) Numerous, however, as the sacraments of the Romish church are, a sect of Christians sprung up in England, early in the last century, who increased their number. The founder of this sect was a Dr. Deacon. According to these men, every rite and every phrase, in the book called the Apostolical Constitutions, were certainly in use among the apostles themselves. Still, however, they make a distinction between the greater and the lesser sacraments. The greater sacraments are only two, baptism and the Lord's supper. The lesser are no fewer than ten, viz. five belonging to baptism, exorcism, anointing with oil, the white garment, a taste of milk and honey, and anointing with chrism, or ointment. The other five are, the sign of the cross, imposition of hands, unction of the sick, holy orders and matrimony. This sect, however, if not extinguished, is supposed to be in its last wane. Its founder published, in 1748, his full, true, and comprehensive view of Christianity, in two catechisms, octavo.

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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Sacrament'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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