But when the fullness of time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman" (Galatians 4:3-4). Man's dignity was so great that he was raised above the natural condition of human nature.The Incarnation took place because God dealt with men in the manner that was best suited to their nature. His mind was subject to God; his lower faculties were subject to the higher part of his mind; his body was subject to his soul; it would have been against the dignity of that state had he been dependent, for the acquisition of knowledge or of Divine grace, on anything beneath him, i.e., corporeal things."The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of his hands" (Psalm 18:2). God], from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity" (Romans ).The redemption of man was not accomplished in an invisible manner.Martin Luther's Catechism, the Augsburg, and later the Westminster, Confessions are strongly sacramental in their tone, putting to shame the degenerate followers of those who compiled them" (ibid., p.7, 8) The reasons underlying a sacramental system are as follows: Taking the word "sacrament" in its broadest sense, as the sign of something sacred and hidden (the Greek word is "mystery"), we can say that the whole world is a vast sacramental system, in that material things are unto men the signs of things spiritual and sacred, even of the Divinity.Commentators on the Scriptures and theologians almost unanimously assert that there were sacraments under the law of nature and under the Mosaic Law, as there are sacraments of greater dignity under the Law of Christ.
Afterwards, however, as it was necessary to give a written law: (a) because the law of nature had been obscured by sin, and (b) because it was time to give a more explicit knowledge of the grace of Christ, then also it became necessary to determine what external signs should be used as sacraments (III:60:5, ad 3; III:61:3, ad 2) This was not necessary immediately after the Fall, by reason of the fullness of faith and knowledge imparted to Adam.
Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. The subject may be treated under the following headings: Almighty God can and does give grace to men in answer to their internal aspirations and prayers without the use of any external sign or ceremony.
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"To sacraments considered merely as outward forms, pictorial representations or symbolic acts, there is generally no objection", wrote Dr.
Morgan Dix ("The sacramental system", New York, 1902, p. "Of sacramental doctrine this may be said, that it is co-extensive with historic Christianity.