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saying is hard, and who can hear it 2 But the doctrine of Jesus was fixed and immutable ; and though many went back and walked no more with him, because of this hard saying, that he would give them his flesh to eat, yet his words were irrevocable; his decision was final. He never attempted to soften down his expressions, to adapt his meaning to the capacity of the senses, nor to measure his instructions by the understanding of man. At the same time that he conferred his favors, he wished to exercise our faith: he therefore left his doctrine as it was, and turning round to his Apostles, he asked; If they also would leave him 8 Was it possible to give a more striking proof that they had rightly understood him, and that his words were to be received in the plain and literal sense in which they had been taken by those who had left him disbelieving, and by those who, like Peter, remained and believed 2 If they had not rightly understood him, if they had left him with any material misconception of his meaning, would not he, who was the good shepherd, ready to lay down his life for his sheep, and whose sole desire was to gather all mankind into one fold, would not he have called them back, and by a seasonable explanation, have relieved them from their errors? The only rational, the only possible method of explaining this conduct of our Saviour is, by subjecting our understanding to the obedience of faith, and exclaiming in the words of St. Peter: “Lord, thou hast the words of eternal life: we believe and have known that thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.” It is probable, however, that at this time, neither party precisely understood the manner in which Christ was to give his body and blood for the spiritual food of mankind. But the conduct of our Saviour, and the declaration of St. Peter, both point out the implicit obedience which we owe to the words of Christ, whether we understand them or not. Had our Saviour been explaining the mystery of the Trinity, or any other of the mysterious doctrines of Christianity, which no human capacity can possibly fathom and comprehend, we may well imagine that the conduct of Christ, the exclamation of St. Peter, and perhaps the incredulity of the Jews, would have been precisely the Same. But to terminate the explanation of this wonderful mystery—to manifest the completion of this august sacrament—and to exhibit the fulfilment of the promise he had made of giving himself as the bread of life, our Saviour, at his last supper, took bread, and blessed, and brake, and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat, This is My Body;” and taking the chalice also, he gave
* An Almighty God has said it: And man, vain man, has presumed to question it—O man! who art thou that repliest against God? Rom. ix. 20.
thanks, and gave it to them, saying: Drink ye all of this; For This Is My BlooD, &c.” Christ did not say, here is my body, here is my blood! which might have appeared to countenance the doctrine of Consubstantiation; but he says, this is my body: this is no longer bread, but the body of him who addresses you; the life-giving flesh of the Son of God: this is no longer wine, but the sacred fountain of life, that blood which shall so soon be shed upon the cross for the remission of your sins. If any other testimony were required, the manner
‘P) A flimsy quibble is frequently resorted to for the purpose of destroying the force of these expressions; namely, that all that was required of us by these injunctions of Christ, was a mere commemoration of the last supper— Do this in commemoration of me. But it is at once overturned by the simple question; What was the important this that was to be done? Were the disciples to do what our Saviour had just done, or something else that was left to their own fancy?—On one occasion Luther says: “The devil seems to have mocked mankind in proposing to them a heresy so ridiculous and contrary to Scripture as is that of the Zuinglians, namely, the denial of thereal presence.” (Op. Luth. Defens. Verb. Con.) In another place he acknowledges that he had tried to persuade himself of there being no real presence of Christ in the sacrament, on purpose to irritate and offend the Pope; but that the words of Scripture were too plainly in favour of it—See Letters to a Preb. p. 154.)
in which St. Paul bears witness to this doctrine is a striking confirmation of it. The chalice of benediction, which we bless, says he, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ, and the bread which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord?" And whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.” In receiving the bread, how can we be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, if his body and blood be not there? How can we eat and drink judgment to ourselves, not discerning the body of the Lords” if the body of the Lord be not there to be discerned." An omniscient God foresaw the incre
(7) 1 Cor. x. 16. (*) l Cor. xi. 27. (*) Ibid. 22.
* While St. Paul says that the unworthy communicant is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, the doctrine of the Establishment renders the profanation of the sacrament an impossibility. I presume—and after all it is only a presumption, though I doubt whether any Protestant will contradict me—that the Church of England denies the real presence in toto: and this being the case, what is there in the sacrament for the unworthy communicant to profane? Where is the body and blood of the Lord, of which he is to be guilty? But, supposing, according to the words of the 28th Article, an act of faith really gives the body and blood of Christ to the communicant, who but a madman will make that act of faith, when he receives the sacrament unworthily and unpredulity of mankind, and in mercy to those who are willing to believe, afforded evidence without end to preserve them from error upon this most important point. All the Evangelists, all the inspired writers, all the Fathers of the Church, concur in opinion upon this doctrine. There is no tenet for which there are so many vouchers; there is no mystery so distinctly revealed and so clearly defined. If Transubstantiation were a modern doctrine, a doctrine of human invention, why cannot those who assert it to be so, prove both the manner and the period of so extraordinary an innovation in the faith of Christianity? If, in our own times, a minister of the Church of England were to ascend the pulpit, hold up to the people the consecrated elements, and exclaim, ‘This is the body and blood of Christ: what astonishment would not fill the minds of his audience; what an outcry would there not be raised throughout the country ! And
pared? How can he be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, when, making no act of faith, he receives nothing but bread and wine? In one case, there is a certainty that it cannot, in the other there is a moral impossibility that the sacrament can, be profaned by an unworthy communicant who is a member of the Established Church. Hence the denunciation of St. Paul becomes void and unmeaning.