What does this mean?
In my previous post I said that the earliest commentary on the Articles (and if you look even at the slightly later ones you find the same thing) takes the uncompromising position that those things "commonly called" Sacraments - confirmation, penance/absolution, ordination, marriage, extreme unction/anointing - are simply not Sacraments and should not be called such. I believe this is the position to hold and to call these other five things 'Sacraments' is confusing, unhelpful, and not strictly speaking true. Does the Homily support this idea? Let us have a look.
The Homily from the start points out that, strictly speaking, concerning the exact meaning of the word there are only two Sacraments:
"as for the number of them, if they should be considered according to the exact signification of a Sacrament, namely, for visible signs expressly commanded in the New Testament, whereunto is annexed the promise of free forgiveness of our sin and of our holiness and joining in Christ, there be but two, namely, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord"
There can be no doubt that there are only two real Sacraments. The Homily then goes on to explain why the other five things which are often called Sacraments are not actually Sacraments: namely they are not commanded or given visible order by the New Testament or there is no specific promise attached to them concerning God's conveying grace.
"The earliest commentary on the Articles takes the uncompromising position that those things "commonly called" Sacraments are simply not Sacraments and should not be called such."
The Homily then gets to the most important part for our topic:
What does this tell us? It tells us (again) that no one should take these things as being Sacraments in the same way that Baptism or the Lord's Supper are. Given the number of times this point is repeated in this short section of the Homilies we have been looking at I get the impression that the author is at pains to make this point! Instead these things are either
- Godly states of life which people go through and it is good to proclaim and pray for publicly