But, if it is known that God has appointed external, visible ceremonies as the means by which certain graces are to be conferred on men, then in order to obtain those graces it will be necessary for men to make use of those Divinely appointed means. 4) declared heretical those who assert that the sacraments of the New Law are superfluous and not necessary, although all are not necessary for each individual.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.

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Nor was it otherwise with the more conservative of the reformed bodies of the sixteenth century.

Martin Luther's Catechism, the Augsburg, and later the Westminster, Confessions are strongly sacramental in their tone, putting to shame the degenerate followers of those who compiled them" (ibid., p.

7, 8) The reasons underlying a sacramental system are as follows: Taking the word "sacrament" in its broadest sense, as the sign of something sacred and hidden (the Greek word is "mystery"), we can say that the whole world is a vast sacramental system, in that material things are unto men the signs of things spiritual and sacred, even of the Divinity.

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Sacraments are outward signs of inward grace, instituted by Christ for our sanctification (Catechismus concil. God is not restricted to the use of material, visible symbols in dealing with men; the sacraments are not necessary in the sense that they could not have been dispensed with.

This will always be possible, because God, grace, and the soul are spiritual beings. The subject may be treated under the following headings: Almighty God can and does give grace to men in answer to their internal aspirations and prayers without the use of any external sign or ceremony.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."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.Of this there is no reasonable doubt, as regards the very ancient days, of which St. Cyril's catechetical lectures may be taken as characteristic documents.