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situation would not be intelligible. 8 But the representation here is natural enough, and though the institution was new, figurative speech was old. And the Apostles would certainly rather interpret their Master's words by a very usual figure, than put the absurdest sense upon them that could be. They object further, that if he had not meant literally, he would have said, not "this," but "this "bread," is my body. 9 But we may better argue, that if he had meant literally, he would have said, in the strongest terms, that he did. For there was great need, surely, of such a declaration. But we acknowledge, that the bread and wine are more than a representation of his body and blood; they are the means by which the benefits arising from them are conveyed to us; and have thence a further title to be called by their name. For so the instrument, by which a prince forgives an offender, is called a pardon, because it conveys his pardon; the delivery of a writing, is called giving possession of an estate; and a security for a sum of money, is called the sum itself; and is so in virtue and effect, though it is not in strictness of speech, and reality of substance. Again, our Saviour, we own, says in St. John, that "He is "the bread of life; that his flesh is meat indeed, "and his blood is drink indeed;" that "whoso "eateth the one and drinketh the other, hath eter"nal life;" and that, without doing it, "we "have no life in us." 2 But this, if understood literally, would prove, not that the bread in the Sacrament was turned into his flesh, but that his flesh was turned into bread. And therefore it is not to be understood literally, as indeed he himself gives notice: "The flesh profiteth nothing; "the words which I speak unto you, they are
(8) Preuves de la Religion, tom. iv. p. 166.
(1) See Cod. 8, 54, 1.
(2) John vi. 48,
(9) Ib. p. 169. 3, 54, 55.
"spirit, and they are life." It is not the gross and literal, but the figurative and spiritual, eating and drinking; the partaking of a lively faith of an union with me, and being inwardly nourished by the fruits of my offering up my flesh and blood for you, that alone can be of benefit to the soul.
And as this is plainly the sense, of which he says that " his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood "is drink indeed;" so it is the sense, in which the latter part of the third answer of our Catechism is to be understood; that "the body and blood "of Christ are verily and indeed taken and re"ceived by the faithful in the Lord's Supper ;". words intended to show, that our Church as truly believes the strong assertions of Scripture concerning this Sacrament, as the Church of Rome doth; only takes more care to understand them in the right meaning; which is, that though, in one sense, all communicants equally partake of what Christ calls his body and blood, that is, the outward signs of them; yet in a much more important sense, "the faithful" only, the pious and virtuous receiver, eats his flesh and drinks his blood, shares in the life and strength derived to men from his incarnation and death; and though faith in him, becomes, by a vital union, one with him; "a member, (as St. Paul expresses it) of "his flesh, and of his bones;" certainly not in a literal sense; which yet the Romanists might as well assert, as that we eat his flesh in a literal sense, but in a figurative and spiritual one. In appearance, the Sacrament of Christ's death is given to all alike; but "verily and indeed," in its beneficial effects, to none besides the faithful. Even to the unworthy communicant he is present, as he is wherever we meet together in his name; but in a better and most gracious sense, to the
(3) John vi, 63.
(4) Eph. v. 30.
worthy soul, becoming, by the inward virtue of his spirit, its food and sustenance This real presence of Christ the Sacrament, his Church hath always believed. But the monstrous notion of his bodily presence was started 700 years after his death; and arose chiefly from the indiscretion of preachers and writers of warm imaginations, who, instead of explaining judiciously the lofty figures of scriptural language, heightened them, and went beyond them; until both it and they had their meaning mistaken most astonishingly. And when once an opinion had taken root, that seemed to exalt the holy Sacrament so much, it easily grew and spread; and the more from its wonderful absurdity, in those ignorant and superstitious ages; till at length, 500 years ago, and 1200 years after our Saviour's birth, it was established for a Gospel truth by the pretended authority of the Romish Church. And even this had been tolerable, in comparison, if they had not added idolatrous practice to erroneous belief; worshipping on their knees, a bit of bread for the Son of God. Nor are they content to do this themselves, but with most unchristian cruelty, curse and murder those who refuse it.
It is true, we also kneel at the Sacrament, as they do; but for a very different purpose; not to acknowledge "any corporal presence of Christ's "natural flesh and blood;" as our Church, to prevent all possibility of misconstruction, expressly declares; adding, that "his body is in
heaven, and not here;" but to worship him, who is every where present, the invisible God. And this posture of kneeling we by no means look upon, as in itself necessary; but as a very becoming appointment, and very fit to accompany the prayers and praises, which we offer up at the instant of receiving; and to express that inward spirit of piety and humility, in which our partak
ing worthily of his ordinance, and receiving benefit from it, depend. But the benefits of the holy Sacrament, and the qualifications for it, shall, God willing, be the subject of two other discourses. In the mean time, "consider what hath "been said; and the Lord give you understanding in all things."
Of the Lord's Supper.
THE doctrine of our Catechism, concerning the Lord's Supper, hath been already so far explained, as to show you, that it "was ordained," not for the repetition, but "the continual remembrance "of the sacrifice of Christ ;" that "the outward
signs in it are bread and wine, both which the "Lord hath commanded to be received by all "Christians;" and both which are accordingly received, and not changed and transubstantiated into the real and natural "body and blood of "Christ;" which, however "the faithful," and they only do, under this representation of it, verily and indeed receive into a most beneficial union with themselves; that is, do " verily and indeed,” by a spiritual connexion with their incarnate Redeemer and head through faith, partake, in this ordinance, of that heavenly favour and grace, which by offering up his body and blood he hath procured for his true disciples and members.
But of "what benefits," in particular, "the
(5) 2 Tim. ii. 7.
"faithful" partake in this Sacrament, through the grace and favour of God, our Catehism teaches in the fourth answer, to which I now proceed; and which tells us it is, "The strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the body and blood "of Christ, as our bodies are by the bread and "wine." " Now both the truth and the manner of this refreshment of our souls will appear by considering the nature of the Sacrament, and the declarations of Scripture concerning it.
Indeed the due preparation for it, the self-examination required in order to it, and the religious exercises which that examination will of course point out to us, must previously be of great service; as you will see, when I come to that head. And the actual participation will add further advantages of unspeakable value.
Considered as an act of obedience to our Saviour's command, "Do this in remembrance of 66 me," it must be beneficial to us; for all obedience will. Considered as obedience to a command, proceeding principally, if not solely, from his mere will and pleasure, it contributes to form us into a very needful, a submissive, and implicitly dutiful, temper of mind. But further, it is the most eminent and distingushed act of Christian worship; consisting of the devoutest thankfulness to God for the greatest blessing which he ever bestowed on man; attended, as it naturally must be, with earnest prayers that the gift may avail us, to our spiritual and eternal good. And it is much more likely to affect us very strongly and usefully, because it expresses his bounty and our sense of it, not as our daily devotions do, in words alone, but in the less common, and therefore more solemn way of visible
(1) Αλλα πασαοθαι ανωχθι θρος επι νησιν Αχαιους
HOM. IL. T. v. 160, 161.