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rationalistic than that the Holy Eucharist was instituted to remind us of the Atonement, or to enable us publicly to profess our faith in it.
But we are reminded that figures are continually employed by New Testament writers. And it is suggested that as our Lord undoubtedly uses figurative language at other times, so He may on this occasion.
We shall have little trouble in showing that the supporters of the merely figurative view not only gain no advantage by any appeal to the acknowledged figurative language of Scripture, but are convicted, by this very figurative language, of miserably undervaluing this Sacrament as an “ effectual sign of grace, and God's good will towards us, by which He doth work invisibly in us."
First, let us take the figurative expressions,-"I am the door,” “I am the true vine.” The essential difference between these modes of speaking, and that employed at The institution of the Eucharist, will be perfectly clear, if we consider that to make the cases parallel our Lord when He instituted the Eucharist should have said, in taking and breaking the bread, “I am the true bread,” or in the case of the cup, “I am the true sacrifice.” In which case the eyes of His Church would have been directed from the bread, which would then have been clearly a mere figure, to Himself; but instead of this, He, for tho moment, directs attention from Himself to the bread as being His Body; and similarly with the cup.
If, then, the words “This is My body," " This is My blood,” are to be explained by the expressions “I am the
I am the true vine," we must render them as if Christ said, “ This is verily and indeed My body,” “This is My blood in all its reality and power;" for “ I am the door
I am the true door, I am the entrance into the innermost sanctuary of God." "I am the vine "
means “I am the vine, not in figure, but in truth and reality, because I am that in a true and living manuer to you which the vine is in a poor earthly, perishable manner to its branches." So that the strict teaching of these two Scripture types is all in favour of some high comraunication in the Eucharist.
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews throws a very striking light upon the figure of Christ being the door or entrance into God's presence-chamber, when he teaches us that the new and living way for us is through the veil, THAT IS TO SAY, Christ's flesh.” If, according to him, we would use Christ as the door, we must come through His flesh into God's presence. (Heb. x. 19, 20.)
Another figurative expression in Exodus xii. 11—“It is the Lord's passover," has been ignorantly appealed to, which also recoils on those who cite it in favcur of the merely figurative or typical view.
A moment's consideration will serve to show that the Paschal Lamb there alluded to was in no sense a type or figure, i.e., of the Lord's Passover-of the Lord's passing over the houses of the Israelites, for in such a case the type would in no single feature correspond with the reality. The destroying angel passing over certain houses and smiting the firstborn in certain other houses is in no respect imaged forth by the slaying of a lamb.
The slaughter of the lamb, and the sprinkling of its blood, was to the Israelites the reality of the Lord's passing over; for when the Israelites slew the lamb and sprinkled its blood, then the Lord actually passed over their houses; so that it was to them “ verily and indeed." the Lord's Passover.
i William Law.
EXAMINATION OF JOHN VI.
It will be needful now to inquire into the meaning and application of the wonderful words spoken by Christ in the synagogue of Capernaum. (John vi. 47–64.)
If, in this discourse, Christ refers either to the Hoiy Communion, or to some blessing which He would lead us to seek in the right use of Holy Communion (which, as far as our argument is concerned, amounts to the same thing), then we must take these words of Christ into full account in any endeavour which we make to realise what Christ offers to us in this Sacrament.
First, then, this discourse of Christ is the only one in which He uses language at all similar to that which Ho used when he ordained the Eucharist. He here speaks of men having to “eat His flesh ” and “drink His blood," and at no time does He use expressions which have any resemblance to these, except on the night on which He instituted the Lord's Supper.
He speaks elsewhere of Himself being the Vine, tho Shepherd, the Door, but never of His Flesh being food, and His Blood being drink, except when He offered His Flesh for food and His Blood for drink at the institution of the Eucharist.
So that we cannot but infer that by His discourse in Capernaum the Saviour would lead His disciples to desire what He afterwards offered to their faithful reception when 'He said, "Take, eat; this is My body."
We cannot suppose it otherwise, for He Who in Capernaum told His disciples that men must “eat His flesh'
and “ drink His blood” is the very same Person Who, in the upper chamber at Jerusalem, offered to the same disciples what He called His Body and His Blood. There could not have been an interval of more than a year between the delivery of the discourse and the institution of the Eucharist, and He Who spake the words in the synagogue was the One Human Being of Whom alone it could be said with absolute certainty, that “He knew what He would do.”
Is it possible, then, that He should say such words as—“My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed,” and not have before His eyes that Last Supper, when, on the eve of the world's Redemption, He offered to these same men what He called His Body and His Blood ?
And yet one reads in expositions written by Christian men such words as—" The Lord's Supper was not yet instituted, and therefore it (i.e., this discourse) could have no reference to that," &c.
When we read this we are constrained to ask, “Was Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God? Did He know what He would do ? Did He never speak of things before they came to pass, that when the things did come to pass men might believe? Does not our Lord, in the very next chapter, refer to the gift of the Holy Spirit as if it were already bestowed, though it was not bestowed till after His Ascension ? “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture nath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But,” the Evangelist remarks, “this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus vas not yet glorified." (John vii. 37–40.)
If He thus invites men to come to Him for His Spirit, though it was expressly stated that the “Holy Ghost was not yet given," why should He not prepare men for what He would offer to them in His Supper, though that Supper was not yet instituted ?
It pleased God to raise up another Apostle--St. Paul — not of the number of those who heard this discourse at Capernaum, or of those who were present at the original institution of the Eucharist.
In his Epistles a saving apprehension of Christ is dwelt upon far more freely than in the rest of Scripture. But when this Apostle has occasion to use terms in any the least degree resembling, or even reminding us of the words used by Christ in the Synagogue or at the Last Supper, he uses them solely in relation to the Eucharist (1 Cor. x. 14, xi. 23), and nowhere does he speak of any spiritual manducation apart from that rite. So that, throughout the whole New Testament, the characteristic words of this discourse are used in connexion with the Eucharist, and with nothing else.
The fact of the Holy Communion having been instituted after the delivery of the discourse in Capernaum, is de cisively in favour of the view that our Lord therein refers to some great Sacramental mystery; for we cannot but suppose that our Lord would have prepared His disciples for the reception of the Eucharist before He gave it to them. It has been well said, “If Christ had appointed an institution, or positive rite, which related to nothing that He had before taught, it must have been very unaccountable. Thus, to command us to eat His Body and drink His Blood in the Sacrament, if He had not beforehand taught that we had our life from Him, and that His Flesh was our meat indeed, and His Blood our drink indeed, had been very unaccountable.”
Let us now see what we can gather from this discourse.