Imágenes de páginas

they be perverted or misunderstood, or if we so explain them

away that it would clearly have been more feasible for our Lord to have used (or for us to substitute) more spiritual modes of expression in their place, then we commit the daring sin of presuming to be more spiritual than Christ Himself,

For we cannot conceal from ourselves the fact, and we must steadily look it in the face, that Christ, if it had been His blessed will, might, in this matter of the Holy Communion, have expressed Himself more spiritually than He has actually done.

When Christ uses the word “flesh," He, of set purpose, employs a term which expresses a grosser and more corporeal thing than the word "spirit."

When Christ speaks of “eating the flesh of the Son of Man" and "drinking His blood," He deliberately uses expressions of a more material or less spiritual signification than if he had spoken of "partaking of His mind,” or “spirit," or "realising His Atonement.

When He instituted His Communion in the elements of bread and wine, He necessarily, and of course designedly, instituted it in things which pertain to the lower world of matter and sense, rather than the higher world of mind or intellect.

When St. Paul says, “We, being many, are one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread," he evidently intends to say a thing very different fromWe, being many, are one mind and one soul, for we are all partakers of one spirit.”

Both the Master and the servant deliberately use words associated with man's lower and fleshly nature, when they might have used words associated with man's higher and spiritual nature. And, if they do so, we must see to it that we fall into their mind.

[ocr errors]


We must not assume to be more spiritual than Christ, or than that Holy Spirit Who spake by St. Paul; or; whilst professing to avoid superstition, we may fall into the more spiritual, and therefore more diabolical, sins of intellectual pride and presumption.

However strongly we assert (and we assuredly must assert) that this eating is to be a spiritual eating, still it is clearly absurd for creatures so profoundly ignorant as we are of what constitutes either mind or matter, flesh or spirit, life or death, to insist upon virtually substituting “spirit” for “flesh,” and to say, in effect, that Christ, by the words eating flesh,” means only, in fact, “partaking of spirit."

We have now arrived at a point from which we can see something of the nature of the mystery involved in these terms which Christ uses, and from which we can somewhat realise its dimensions, and be certified that, as long as we are in this world, its solution must be out of our reach.

So that our only safe way is to adhere implicitly to the terms used in Scripture, without attempting to explain these hard sayings, and to leave them, where Christ has left them, in impenetrable obscurity.

In His discourse in Capernaum, Christ offers to us certain unspeakably great benefits, not through partaking of His Spirit alone, but through eating His flesh, and drinking His blood.”

Of course, we cannot hope for any spiritual benefits from His hands without we have His Spirit, or apart from His Spirit; but in these places He mentions particularly and with extraordinary emphasis, not His Spirit, but His - Flesh ” and “ Blood.”

Now, what are the Flesh and Blood of Christ? Evidently, that part of His whole adorable Person which He has in common with us men, and with us only.

He has the Godhead in all its fulness, in common with the Father and the Holy Ghost.

He has a spiritual nature in common with all purely spiritual beings, such as the angels. He has Flesh and Blood in common with man, and with man only.

The Flesh and Blood of the Redeemer is that part of His Nature, and that only, which is exclusively human.

“ Inasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same ;' and, to do this, He "passed by the nature of angels, but He took on Him the nature of the seed of Abraham.”

It is the will of God, then, that we should partake of certain amazing benefits, through direct and particular communion with that part of His Son's nature which is strictly human—that part alone which He has in common

[ocr errors]

with us.

Herein is the mystery of this Sacrament.

In it wc have offered to us the greatest benefits of Redemption ; and these benefits become ours, not merely through religious intercourse with the Deity of Christ by prayer-not merely through such communion with the Spirit of Christ as consists in having within us a spirit whose will is conformed to His will, or in having a spirit made liko to His in goodness and truth, but through a something over and above these blessed things—through the communication or partaking of His lower nature, His Flesh and Blood.1

| In preparing this fourth edition I have met with an admirablo exposition of what I cannot but regard as a view very similar to my own on this subject, in the “Farewell Counsels” of the prescrit Dean of Norwich (Dr. Goulburn):

“But something more than the union of Christ with our nature is necessary, in order to our salvation. It is necessary that we should be joined individually to Christ; should be made to belong to the family of which He is the Head; should be brought into ą

A moment's consideration of all this must convinco us that this partaking must be unutterable and inexplicable.

In the following extracts, we have the confession of two of the highest intellects of these latter days, as to their inability to fathom, much less express in words, the Sacramental mystery.

"If we doubt what those admirable words may import, let him be our teacher for the meaning of Christ, to whom Christ was Himself a schoolmaster; let our Lord's Apostle be His interpreter; content we ourselves with his explication--My Body, the communion of My Body; My Blood, the communion of My Blood. Is there anything more expedite, clear, and easy, than that as Christ is termed our life, because through Him we obtain life, so the paris of this Sacrament are His body and blood, for that they are so to us who, receiving them, receive that by them which they are termed ? The bread and cup are His body and blood, because they are causes instrumental upon the receipt whereof the participation of His body and blood ensueth. For that which produceth any certain effect is not vainly nor improperly said to be that very effect whereunto it tendeth. Every cause is in the effect which groweth from it. Our souls and bodies quickened to eternal life are effects, the cause whereof is the Person of Christ, His body and blood are the true well-spring out of which this life floweth. So that His body and blood are in that very subject whereunto they minister life, not only by effect or operation, even as the influence of the heavens is in plants, beasts, men, and in everything which they quicken, but also by a far more Divine and mystical kind of union, which maketh us one with Him, even as He and the Father are one."—HOOKER, “ Eccles. Pol.” Book V. ch. lxvii. sec. 5.

real connection with His humanity as we already stand in a real connection with the humanity of Adam. I say, into a real connection with the humanity of the Lord Jesus. To be brought into connection with Him as God, as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, would not be what we need. He, the Lord from heaven, is the Second Adam, Who has repaired tho ruin of our race: and if that ruin is to be repaired in us, we must belong to, and become part of His humanity. And so He speaks in the text of eating the flesh, and drinking the blood of the Son of Man, as an indispensable condition of life. There is a twofold significance in the expression “flesh and blood' which we must not miss. First, these words are used to shew us that the union is to be with His humanity.

Flesh and blood' is an expression used in Scripture, and by our Lord Himself, to denote man-human nature in its present state. Thus when St. Peter is to be assured that he had received the communication of Christ's Messiahship, and Divine Sonship, from God, not from man, the words are Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven's (pages 76, 77): and again (page 82), “ By the Sacrament, when duly administered and duly received, is effected the closest possible union with the crucified humanity of the Lord Jesus; and to express the closest union, the Sacramental act is that of eating and drinking the consecrated elements of bread and wine, which pass into and are absorbed in our living frames. The elements are not only the sign and symbol of the Body and Blood of Christ, but also the instrument of conveying, in some highly mysterious way, far above, out of our reach, an actual participation in His Crucified Human Nature, according to that word of St. Paul's, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ ?'"


“Our participation of Christ in this Sacrament dependeth on the co-operation of His omnipotent power which maketh it His body and blood to us, whether with change or without alteration of the element, such as they imagine, we need not greatly to care or inquire.”—Ibid. sec. 6.

“Where God Himself doth speak those things which either for height and sublimity of matter, or else for secrecy of performance, we are not able to reach unto, as we may be ignorant without danger, so it can be no disgrace to confess we are ignorant. Such as love piety will as much as in them lieth know all things that God commandeth, but especially the duties of service which they owe to God. As for His dark and hidden works, they prefer, as becometh them, in such cases simplicity of faith before that knowjedge which, curiously sifting what it should adore, and disputing too boldly of that which the wit of man cannot search, chilleth for the most part all warmth of zeal, and bringeth soundness of belief many times into great hazard. Let it therefore be sufficient for me, presenting myself at the Lord's Table, to know what there I receive from Him, without searching or inquiring of the manner how Christ

« AnteriorContinuar »