Francis Roberts (1609-1675) on how the sacraments confirm the New Covenant unto us



How do the two sacraments – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper – confirm the New Covenant unto us? Francis Roberts (1609-1675) discusses this question in his work The Mysterie and Marrow of the Bible, Book IV, Chapter VII, showing in what sense the two sacraments are “signs” and “seals” of the New Covenant:

“Baptism and the Lords Supper confirm the New Covenant; Not Physically or Naturally by any Natural Quality, Property, vertue or operation thereof: But Sacramentally and Spiritually, as Sacramental Signs or Tokens, Seals and Instrumental means for Conveying Jesus Christ and the Benefits of the New Covenant to Gods Foederates, and all this by vertue of Christs Institution of these Ordinances to this end. More Particularly;

Baptism confirms the New Covenant;

I. As a Token or Sign of the New Covenant. That Baptism is a Token or Sign of the New Covenant, is plain: For, (1) It succeeds in the room and stead of Circumcision, and to all such Foederal uses and Purposes, Col.2. 10, 11, 12, &c. Now Circumcision in the Nature and use of it according to the first Institution thereof, was a Token of the Covenant. Therefore consequently, so is Baptism. (2) In Christs Commission, Baptism is annexed to the Doctrine of the New Covenant. (3) In Apostolical Practise, Baptism was still Administred to all that embraced the New Covenant and the Doctrine thereof: whereby as Foederates they were initiated and implanted into Christ, into his mystical body, &c. Now Baptism, As a Token or Sign, Confirms the New Covenant, divers wayes. viz.

1. As a Memorative Token; Being a notable Memorial of the actual Incarnation and exhibition of Jesus Christ to Israel. For John the Baptist therefore came Baptizing with water, that he might be made manifest to Israel. For, John knew him not, but he that sent him to baptize with water, the same said unto him, upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And accordingly, when Jesus came to John to be baptized of him, He saw the Heavens opened, and the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting upon him, and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Now Jesus Christ, actually incarnate, being thus Manifest by Baptism to John; John bare record, that this is the Son of God: and pointed him out as with the finger behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the Sins of the world. Baptism therefore is a notable Memorial of Christs actual incarnation and Manifestation to Israel in our flesh in fulness of time; for establishment of his New Covenant.

2. As a Significative Token; Baptism signifying and assuring of those seven excellent fore-mentioned New Covenant Benefits, Implantation into, and union with Christ, Remission of Sins, &c.

3. As a Distinctive Token; Baptism distinguishing Baptized Christians from all Unbaptized Pagans, Jews, &c.

4. As an Instructing Sign; Discovering to us, (1) The Natural guilt, stain, foulness, and filthiness of sin, in us all, which stands need of washing, cleansing, purifying, &c. (2) The Spiritual and Supernatural Healing, Cleansing, purging away of all this guilt and filthiness by the Blood and Spirit of Christ, Col. 2. 11, 12, 13. 1 Pet. 3. 21. Tit. 3. 5. Which is a New Covenant benefit, Heb. 8. 12. 5. As an Obligatory Token or Sign; Obliging the Baptized, To put off the body of the Sins of the flesh, and die unto Sin: but to live unto God, and walk in newness of life, Col. 2. 11, 12, 13. Rom. 6. 3, 4, 5, 6.

II. As a Seal of the New Covenant. Circumcision was a Seal of the Covenant blessing, the righteousness of Faith, to Abraham; Consequently Baptism, suceeding Circumcision, is a seal of New-Covenant blessings. Baptism Seals what it signifies.

III. As an Instrumental Mean for Conveying of New-Covenant Benefits signified and Sealed, Gal.3. 26, 27. Rom. 6. 3, 4, 5, 6.

The Lords Supper Confirms the New Covenant also.

I. As A Sign and Token of the New Covenant in Christs blood; or as a Sign of Christs blood of the New Covenant, confirming and individually applying the New Testament, with all the promises, Benefits, Priviledges and comfort thereof to right Receivers, Luke 22. 20. 1 Cor. 11. 25. Mat. 26. 28. Mark 14. 24. Now the Lords Supper, as a Token or Sign Confirms the New Covenant several wayes, viz.

1. As a Memorative Sign, lively remembring, and bringing fresh into mind the Lord Jesus Christ, his Passion, Death, &c. for his elect, his infinite love, &c. in so dying. Do this in remembrance of me.——As oft as you eat this bread and drink this Cup, ye shew forth the Lords death till he come. This is a Monumental Memorial of Christ crucified to the worlds end. And by Christs Death the New Covenant was established, Heb.  14, 15, 16, 17.

2. As a Significative Sign or Token;The Lords Supper signifying; (1) Christs Body broken for us, and Christs blood of the New Covenant shed for us. (2) Our Communion with Christ crucified in all the Benefits of his Cross and Death. (3) Remission of sins in his blood, shed for that end. Mat. 26. 28. (4) Spiritual nourishment of Faith in Christ, and all Grace by this Lords Supper. (5) Sweet Union and Communion of the Saints one with another.

3. As an Instructive Sign; The Lords Supper instructs us in many things; as, (1) That, Christ Jesus is already actually betrayed, and put to Death for our sins, 1 Cor. 11. 23, 24, 25. (2) That, the Old Covenant and the Sacraments thereof are already abrogated, and the New Covenant actually established, by his Death, 1 Cor. 11. 25. Mat. 26. 28. (3) That, Jesus Christ already crucified is compleat New Covenant-Nourishment for us, 1 Cor. 11. 20, 24, 25. (4) That, The Contempt and abuse of the Lords Supper is an high contempt of Jesus Christ himself, of his Death, and of his New Covenant: and punished by God accordingly, 1 Cor. 11. 24, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30. (5) That, therefore to come to the Lords Supper Ignorantly, Unbelievingly, Impenitently, Uncharitably, or any way unworthily, is a most dangerous Sin, 1 Cor. 11. 27, 28, 29. And to come to it in Knowledge, Faith, Repentance, &c. is a most necessary Duty. (6) That, the Lords Supper is no Propitiatory Sacrifice, but a Remembrance of Christs Propitiatory Sacrifice, 1 Cor. 11. 24, 25, 26. (7) That, The Lords Supper is to continue till Christ come, 1 Cor. 11. 26. and consequently the New Covenant is so long to continue also, and that in the present form of administration, Mat. 28. 19, 20. Heb. 13. 20.

4. As a Distinctive Token; Distinguishing New Covenant-Foederates, from all aliens to the New Covenant.

5. As an Obligatory Sign; Binding and Obliging all Communicants according to the Tenor of the New Covenant, Fitly to prepare for it, duly to use it, and afterwards to walk Sutably and answerably to it.

II. As a Seal of the New Covenant in Christs blood; Sealing all the Former matters and mysteries signified. Why shall one Sacrament be a Seal, and not every Sacrament?

III. As an instrumental Mean of ConveyanceIn the right use, according to Christs Institution, it so effectually conveyes Christ and New Covenant benefits to believers, by vertue of Sacramental union and divine benediction, that it is said;  This is my body, This is my blood, This is the New Testament in my blood.”