Articles Of The Faith And Order Of A Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptist Church Of The Lord Jesus Christ, Based On The Declaration Of Faith And Practice Of John Gill, D. D., 1720
XVIII. The Two Ordinances.
We believe that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only two symbolical ordinances enjoined in the Gospel; all other ritualistic forms and ceremonies being disallowed and forbidden by the Word of God.
Mal 3:7; Matt 5:19; 15:9; 28:20; Col 2:20-23, read verse 20, “are ye subject to (humanly devised and unscriptural) ordinances”?
Sacramentalists and Evangelicals.
Note 1.—It is customary to divide Christendom into Protestant and Catholic. It were better to divide it into the Evangelical and the Sacramental sections. These are sharply distinguished by various other things, but by nothing so definitely as this. The Evangelicals rely substantially for their preservation and extension upon the power of God’s truth-the Gospel as a living force upon the hearts of men; while Sacramentalists—in all their various forms—rely, for their perpetuation and extension, upon the administration of religious rites by duly qualified officials.
Both hold to the indispensableness of Divine influence, but the one believe that God acts on human minds and hearts directly, through the Gospel, especially when vocalised by spiritually living men; the others believe that the power of God works chiefly, if not wholly, through rites or ceremonies which He has ordained, and which are actually the channels or instrumental means of saving grace.
Evangelicals, therefore, are those who practically hold that “the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,” Rom. 1:16: “by which [men] are saved,” 1 Cor. 15:2. They contend that no part of God’s Word expresses the idea of sinners being saved, or saints being established, through grace conveyed by a rite or ceremony; and deny that the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are Sacraments, as the word is generally understood.
Sacramentalists, on the other hand insist that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are veritable Sacraments—that is, “outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace;” “means whereby” men “receive the same;” and “pledges to assure them thereof” and, therefore, “generally (that is, in all cases without exception) necessary to salvation.” They also hold that their Ministers are Priests, who receive at their ordination authority and power so to administer the Ordinances as to render them thus the effective means of grace.
Sacramentalists—broadly so called—are a large class, embracing the Greek, or Western Church; the Roman Catholic, or Eastern Church; and the Ritualistic section of the Anglican Church.
Evangelicals—broadly so called—comprehend the Evangelical Section of the Church of England, and the various Free Churches which adhere to the great truths of salvation by grace, and attribute no spiritual efficacy to the two Ordinances of the Gospel.
Ordinances, not Sacraments.
Note 2.—A Divine ordinance, strictly speaking, is a duty or practice enjoined upon Churches as such, by God Himself. Of these there are several—such as the public preaching of the Gospel to all men, Matt. 28:19,20; meetings of Christians for prayer, 1 Tim. 2:1-8; the care to be extended to the poor, Gal. 6:10, etc. The use of the term is confined by English Dissenters to the two rites or religious ceremonies established in the Church by Christ—namely Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Note 3.—Strict and Particular Baptists are emphatic in denying that these Ordinanoes are Sacraments. It is no where stated in the New Testament that they are designed to be the exclusive channels, mediums, or instruments for communicating any forms of grace. Baptism is never stated to confer spiritual life. The bread and wine at the Lord’s Supper are never said to impart Christ’s flesh and blood; the receiving and partaking of which are purely the act of faith. Christians are blessed in their obedience, but the blessing comes directly from God to their souls, and not through any virtue infused into the water, bread and wine, and so communicated to men.
The Ordinances Perpetual.
Note 4.—We, however, insist, in opposition to the Quakers, the Salvation Army, and some of the followers of William Huntington, that the Immersion of Believers in actual water; and the physical eating of bread and drinking of “the fruit of the vine” are Ordinances of perpetual obligation, while time shall last. They were practised by the Apostles and their associates; nor is it anywhere stated that they have been abrogated.
We agree with these Brethren in holding that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is all-important and communion with Christ by Faith paramount to the existence and maintenance of Salvation, but we repudiate their inference that therefore Ordinances which God established are vain and unprofitable. Many, indeed, have abused them. We conceive that we best glorify Him by assigning to them their right place in the worship and service of God.
Note 5.—Our Article affirms that “all other ritualistic forms and ceremonies” than Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are forbidden by the Word of God. The Puritans sternly opposed “will-worship,” Col. 2:23, which they conceived to be any form of religious service which lacked Divine authority; and all that are responsible for the conduct of the public proceedings in our chapels should diligently enquire whether every act which receives our attention has the sanction of the Book to which we profess to appeal for positive support for all that we do.
William Styles (1842-1914) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. He is the author of several works, including “A Guide To Church Fellowship As Maintained By Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptists” and “A Manual Of Faith And Practice”.