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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.It is not really a necessity, but the most appropriate manner of dealing with creatures that are at the same time spiritual and corporeal.In this assertion all Christians are united: it is only when we come to consider the nature of the sacramental signs that Protestants (except some Anglicans) differ from Catholics.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.Under the law of nature — so called not to exclude supernatural revelation but because at that time there existed no written supernatural law — salvation was granted through faith in the promised Redeemer, and men expressed that faith by some external signs.

The vast majority of theologians teach that this ceremony was a sacrament and that it was instituted as a remedy for original sin; consequently that it conferred grace, not indeed of itself (), but by reason of the faith in Christ which it expressed.This truth theologians express by saying that the sacraments are necessary, not absolutely but only hypothetically, i.e., in the supposition that if we wish to obtain a certain supernatural end we must use the supernatural means appointed for obtaining that end. It is the teaching of the Catholic Church and of Christians in general that, whilst God was nowise bound to make use of external ceremonies as symbols of things spiritual and sacred, it has pleased Him to do so, and this is the ordinary and most suitable manner of dealing with men.Writers on the sacraments refer to this as the , the necessity of suitableness."In circumcisione conferebatur gratia, non ex virtute circumcisionis, sed ex virtute fidei passionis Christi futurae, cujus signum erat circumcisio — quia scilicet justitia erat ex fide significata, non ex circumcisione significante" ( III:70:4).Certainly it was at least a sign of something sacred, and it was appointed and determined by God himself as a sign of faith and as a mark by which the faithful were distinguished from unbelievers.

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