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The principal reason for a sacramental system is found in man. Thomas (III:61:1), to be led by things corporeal and sense-perceptible to things spiritual and intelligible; now Divine Providence provides for everything in accordance with its nature (); therefore it is fitting that Divine Wisdom should provide means of salvation for men in the form of certain corporeal and sensible signs which are called sacraments. For this reason the majority of theologians hold that no sacraments would have been instituted even if that state had lasted for a long time. Apart from what was or might have been in that extraordinary state, the use of sacred symbols is universal. Augustine says that every religion, true or false, has its visible signs or sacraments."In nullum nomen religionis, seu verum seu falsum, coadunari homines possunt, nisi aliquo signaculorum seu sacramentorum visibilium consortio colligantur" ( XIX.11).But when the fullness of time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman" (Galatians 4:3-4). Man's dignity was so great that he was raised above the natural condition of human nature.The Incarnation took place because God dealt with men in the manner that was best suited to their nature. His mind was subject to God; his lower faculties were subject to the higher part of his mind; his body was subject to his soul; it would have been against the dignity of that state had he been dependent, for the acquisition of knowledge or of Divine grace, on anything beneath him, i.e., corporeal things.
ex opere operato) but only by reason of the faith in Christ which they represented "ex fide significata, non ex circumcisione significante" ( The sacraments thus far considered were merely signs of sacred things.
"To sacraments considered merely as outward forms, pictorial representations or symbolic acts, there is generally no objection", wrote Dr.