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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel

Of the Number of Sacraments.

Q. 93. Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?
A. The sacraments of the New Testament are, baptism and the Lord's supper.

Q. 1. How many sacraments hath Christ appointed in the New Testament?
A. Christ hath appointed two, and no more: these being sufficient for our initiation and confirmation.

Q 2. How many have the Papists added to them?
A. They have added five more; viz. Confirmation, penance, ordination, marriage, and extreme unction.

Q. 3. What is their sacrament of confirmation?
A. It is the anointing of the baptised with chrism in the forehead, with this form of words; I sign thee with the sign of the cross, and confirm thee with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Q. 4. What is their ground for this practice?
A. The abuse of that Scripture, Hebrews 6:2. Of the doctrine of baptisms, and laying on of hands, &c. which, by a figurative speech, expresseth the whole standing ministry in the church, by laying on of hands.

Q. 5. What is their sacrament of penance?
A. It is repentance manifested by outward signs, to which the word of absolution coming, makes it a sacrament misgrounded on John 20:23. Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained.

Q. 6. What is their sacrament of orders, or ordination?
A. It is the laying on of hands in ordination of ministers, by which they conceive spiritual grace is given; by mistake of 2 Timothy 1:6. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee, by the putting on of my hands.

Q. 7. What is their fourth superadded sacrament?
A. It is marriage, grounded upon those words of the apostle, Ephesians 5:32. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Which only shews a similitude of our union with Christ, not an instituted sign to that end.

Q. 8. What is their fifth superadded sacrament?
A. Extreme unction, or anointing the sick, near death, with consecrated oil, grounded on Mark 6:13. And anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them. And James 5:14. Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. Which are neither sacramental rites, nor of ordinary standing use in the church, but extraordinary and temporary for that age.

Q. 9. What learn we hence?
A. Hence we learn, how apt men are to corrupt Godís ordinances, by their superstitious additions; Matthew 15:9. Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Q. 10. What is the second instruction hence?
A. How just and necessary our separation from Rome is, who have grossly corrupted Godís ordinances, and left men no other remedy; Revelation 13:6. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme him name and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

Q. 11. What is the third instruction?
A. That the reformation of religion is an invaluable mercy, a great deliverance from spiritual bondage; Revelation 11:19. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

Q. 12. What is the fourth instruction?
A. That Rome shall certainly fall, and all her adherents, for the horrid injury done by them to Christ, and the souls of men; Revelation 18:20-21. Rejoice over her thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great milstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

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