Faith in Observance of Ordinances
Hebrews 11:28
Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

By Moses' example we are encouraged —

1. To obedience in the right use of God's signs.

2. To confidence that God's ends shall be obtained in the use of those instituted signs, and that the ordinances shall be effectual unto the ends for which God hath appointed them. Therefore waiving all other points, I shall insist upon this one alone. Doct.: That rightly to celebrate the sacrament of the Lord's supper, there is great need of the vigorous and lively work and exercise of faith. First, in general, whoever would have any commerce with God must have some faith. He must believe steadfastly those two primitive and supreme truths, God's being and bounty, His essence and His providence; that there is a God, and that it is not in vain to serve God. Secondly, as this faith is necessary to religion in general, and all that respect we show to God, so all the duties of worship must be gone about in faith and obedience, otherwise they are not acceptable to God, for God accepts of nothing but what He hath appointed and instituted. Thirdly, there are special reasons why the work and exercise of faith is required in the use of these sacramental signs. I have hitherto showed you the necessity and use of faith to all acts of religion in the general, now I shall show it more particularly as to sacraments. There is faith in prayer, and faith in the Word, but especially in the use of the sacraments; and here they have a fourfold use.

1. To interpret the signs according to the use and end for which they were appointed, and to discern the mysteries represented thereby, namely, that God doth as effectually give Christ to the soul as He doth give bread and wine to the body; or, to use the apostle's phrase, to help us "to discern the Lord's body," that the eye may affect the heart (1 Corinthians 11:25). It is such a discerning as stirs up suitable affections, a holy joy, and a delightful converse with Him. It is such a discerning as is not opposite to ignorance, but to irreverence and slightness; when a man doth not consider what he is about, he hath no true sight and sense of Christ in the duty.

2. Faith is necessary, that we may not be offended at the mean and despicable appearance in the sacraments. Here are excellent mysteries, veiled under the simplicity of a few outward rites that make no fair show in the flesh.

3. The nature of these signs is to excite and confirm faith. There are three uses of signs — to represent., to put in remembrance, and to confirm; and so signs are either significative, commemorative, or confirming and assuring. Now, since there are several sorts of signs, unto which of these shall we refer the sacraments? That must be determined by God's institution; for mark, the sacraments are not natural signs, as smoke is a sign of fire, but instituted signs; bread doth not naturally signify the body of Christ, or wine the blood of Christ, but only by institution. Now, in all instituted signs we must look to the author and the end. Instituted signs in religion can have no author but God, therefore no creature can institute a sacrament, because they cannot give the grace that is signified thereby, nor bind God to give that grace by a sign of their own devising. But now to what end hath God instituted these signs? whether to signify or to admonish, or to certify and assure? I answer, In some sense for all these ends, but chiefly the latter.

4. There is this peculiar to sacraments above other duties, that they imply a closer application.First, What to do before the supper.

1. Before we come to remember Christ, we must first consider ourselves, and reflect upon our own state.

2. For the manner in which you ought to come.

(1) Come judging and condemning yourselves, and humbled under the sense of your own vileness and unworthiness, that Jesus Christ may be more sweet to you.

(2) They must come with hunger and thirst after sacramental benefits, the comforts and saving graces of the Spirit, God invites such, whatever discouragements they have upon them (Isaiah 55:1).

(3) They are to bewail their unbelief, and to make what application of Christ they can; when they cannot apply Christ to themselves, they must apply themselves to Christ. They must go to Christ with that faith they have, and say (Mark 9:24).

(4) Renew thy consecration, and consent to surrender and give up thyself to the tuition and service of Christ; for the more we mind our duty the more ready is God to prepare our comfort for us. Secondly, What we are to do in the supper of the Lord. Oh, look that you excite and stir up faith! It is not enough to have it, but it must be exercised; ay, and that in a lively and vigorous manner (Song of Solomon 1:12). There is a twofold faith to be exercised — a faith that respects the whole duty, and a faith that is more specially terminated on the person of Christ. Thirdly, What we are to do after the Lord's Supper. Examine what exercise and increase of faith there hath been. Have I acted faith in this duty? How shall I know it? If you have in the acting of faith been waiting upon God for the blessings of the institution, the effects will show it.The effects are these —

1. It will stir up joy and thankfulness; you will find it will increase both (Acts 8:39).

2. It will produce a longing to meet with God another time, that we may be thus kindly refreshed, and have another good meal from God, and be feasted in His house (Psalm 63:2).

3. There will be resolution to serve the Lord the more faithfully, and walk with Him in all the ways of holiness. You have been with God, and you go aside and say (Psalm 116:12-14).

4. For the present the heart should be more warm and serious, and all those things omitted, for a time at least, which rather savour of the flesh than of the spirit, which, though they do not directly belong to the flesh, yet they border on it. And those things will be omitted which do not well agree with the lively sense and fervour of godliness, which should be stirred up in us in an action so important.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

WEB: By faith, he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of the blood, that the destroyer of the firstborn should not touch them.

Faith and Mystery
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