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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

A Scripture Catechism
in the
Method of the Assembly's

by Matthew Henry

Q. 91. How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?
A. The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him who administers them, but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of the Spirit in them who by faith receive them.

1. Do the sacraments certainly save all that partake of them? No: They who were rejected of Christ could say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, Luke 13:26. Are they then effectual by any virtue in themselves? No: for bodily exercise profits little, 1 Tim. 4:8. Do they of themselves confer grace? No: for if thou be a breaker of the law thy circumcision is made uncircumcision Rom. 2:25. Is the thing signified of greater consequence than the sign? Yes: for circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, Rom. 2:29.

2. Does the efficacy of the sacraments depend upon the minister? No: for who is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed? 1 Cor. 3:5. Does the goodness of the minister invigorate the sacrament? No: for Philip baptized Simon, who yet was in the gall of bitterness, Acts 8:13, 23. Does the badness of the minister invalidate the sacrament? No: For Judas was numbered with us, and obtained part of this ministry, Acts 1:17.

3. Does the efficacy of sacraments depend upon the blessing of Christ? Yes: Lo, I am with you always, Matt. 28:20. And upon the working of the Spirit? Yes: for it is the Spirit that quickeneth John 6:63. And are they effectual to those only who by faith receive them? Yes: He that believes, and is baptized, shall be saved, Mark 16:16.

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