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performeth His promise. .. What these elements are in themselves it skilleth not, it is enough that to me which take them they are the body and blood of Christ, His pronuise in witness hereof sufficeth, His Word He knoweth which way to accomplish : why should any cogitation possess the mind of a faithful communicant but this,-0 my God, Thou art true; O my soul, thou art happy?"
Ibid. sec. 12.
“I am not satisfied with the view of those who, while acknowledge ing that we have some kind of communion with Christ, only make us partakers of the Spirit, omitting all mention of flesh and blood. As if it were said to no purpose at all, that His flesh is meat indeed, and His blood is drink indeed; that we have no life except we eat that flesh and drink that blood, and so forth. Therefore if it is evident that full communion with Christ goes beyond their description, which is too confined, I will attempt briefly to show how far it extends . . . if, indeed, it be lawful to put this great mystery into words, a mystery which I feel, and therefore freely confess that I am unable to comprehend with my mind, so far am I from wishing any one to measure its sublimity by my feeble capacity. Nay, I rather exhort my readers not to confine their apprehension within those too narrow limits, but to attempt to rise much higher than I can guide them. For whenever this subject is considered, after I have done my utmost, I feel that I have spoken far beneath its dignity. And though the mind is more powerful in thought than the tongue in expression, it too is overcome and overwhelmed with the magnitude of the subject. All then that remains is to break forth in admiration of the mystery which it is plain that the mind is inadequate to comprehend, or the tongue to express.” CALVIN'S“ Institutes,” Book IV., chap. xvii., p. 395. (Calv. Soc. Translation.)
“Now, should any one ask me as to the mode, I will not be ashamed to confess that it is too high a mystery either for my mind to comprehend or my words to express; and, to speak more plainly, I rather feel than understand it. The truth of God, therefore, in which I can safely rest, I here embrace without controversy. He declares that His flesh is the meat, His blood the drink of my soul ; I give my soul to Him to be fed with such food. In His sacred supper He bids me take, eat, and drink His body and blood, under the symbols of bread and wine. I have no doubt that He will truly give and I receive. Only, I reject the absurdities which appear to be unworthy of the heavenly majesty of Christ, and are inconsisters
with the reality of His human nature. Since they must also be repugnaut to the Word of God, which teaches both that Christ was received into the glory of the heavenly kingdom, so as to be exalted above all the circumstances of the world (Luke xxiv. 26), and no less carefully ascribes to Him the properties belonging to a truo human nature. This ought not to seem incredible or contradictory to reason (Iren. Lib. iv., cap. 34), because as the whole Kingdom of Christ is spiritual, so whatever He does in His Church is not to be tested with the wisdom of this world; or, to use the words of Augustine, “this mystery is performed by men like the others, but in a Divine manner, and on earth, but in a heavenly manner. Such, I say, is the corporeal presence which the nature of the Sacrament requires, and which we say is here displayed in such power and efficacy, that it not only gives our minds undoubted assurance of eternal life, but also secures the immortality of our flesh, since it is now quickened by His immortal flesh, and in a manner shines in His immortality.”—Ibid. Book IV., chap. xvii., dec. 32, p. 431.
THE COMMUNION SERVICE.
Having thus examined all the direct statements which we find in the New Testament respecting the nature and benefits of the Lord's Supper, we are able to ascertain what doctrines the Articles and Formularies of any particular branch of the Church must assert, if they are to be accounted Scriptural.
First of all, if any confessions and formularies are to be accounted Scriptural, they must set forth the Holy Communion as primarily intended to enable men to partake of the “ Body” and “Blood” of Christ. However they may protest against the natural eating of a natural body, they must not so explain away the terms “Body”
· Blood,” is that the use of other words, such 48
“spirit” or “doctrine," would evidently bring us nearer to the truth.
Secondly, the greatest benefits of Redemption must be acknowledged to depend upon the right reception of this “ Body” and “Blood.”
Thirdly, any formularies to be Scriptural must distinctly recognise that the body of the Christian as well as his soul has its share in these benefits.
Fourthly, the utmost prominence must be given to the fact that the reception of these benefits depends upon the state of heart of him who receives the Communion.
Fifthly, the medium for the communication of these blessings must be set forth to be, not the elements of bread and wine generally, but the particular bread and wine consecrated after Christ's institution.
Sixthly, the whole Service-viz., the consecration and administration of the elements, with the service of prayer and praise accompanying itmust be accounted the most solemn memorial possible before God and men of the Sacrifice of the Death of Christ, and so must, of necessity, be the most prominent act of worship in the Christian Church.
Wo will now consider these several points in their order.
First, then, if our formularies are Scriptural, the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper must be set forth in them as a means of grace, instituted by Christ for the purpose of enabling us to partake, in some mysterious but real way, of His Body and Blood. In the twenty-eighth Article the Lord's Supper is defined
a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death, · Sacraments having been previously defined (Article XXV.) to be “certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace, and God's good will towards us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us,”
to be "
inasmuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ, and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.”
On the Sunday before the Celebration, an invitation is given in which the Eucharist is described as “the most comfortable Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ,” and that “God hath given His Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, not only to die for us, but also to be our spiritual food and sustenance in that Holy Sacrament... SO DIVINE and comfortable a thing to those who receive it worthily."
Then, in the exhortation to the assembled communicants, those who intend to partake are addressed as those who “mind to come to the Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ.” In the prayer immediately proceding the consecration, we pray that “we may so eat the Flesh of God's dear Son, and drink His Blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by His Body," &c.
In the prayer of consecration, the priest is directed to
Let the reader particularly observe that this definition of Holy Communion was given advisedly, in the face of descriptions of it apparently more spiritual, which were then broached amongst the sects to which the Reformation gave rise. Such a more "spiritual” or rationalising definition of it is mentioned in the beginning of the Article, “ The Supper of the Lord is (not only) a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another."
We may marvel that the compilers of the Articles took the trouble to allude to an opinion on the face of it so manifestly short of every Scripture which refers to the Lord's Supper, but their having done 80 is valuable in this respect, that it may serve to convince thoso who write and speak as if our Reformers were only half-enlightened, and had never had the “truth” (?) fully set before them, that they were quite aware of these so-called spiritual interpretations, and deliberately rejected them.
pray we receiving these God's Creatures of bread and wine, according to His Son our Saviour Jesus Christ's Holy institution, in remembrance of His Death and Passion, may be partakers of His most blessed Body and Blood.”
Then, in order actually to consocrate, the minister is directed to repeat the words of Christ—“This is my Body which is given for you," whilst laying his hand upon the bread which he has just broken, and similarly
with the cup.
Moreover, the bread is delivered to each communicant with the words- “ The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life."
And the cup is delivered to each communicant with the words—“The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.”
After the reception thanks are given that God vouchsafes “ to feed those who have duly received these holy mysteries with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of His Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
And, lastly, in the Catechism, to be learned of every person before he be brought to be confirmed-i.e., before he is allowed to approach the Lord's Table--the inward part or thing signified is said to be “ The Body and Blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper.”
From all this it is clear that the Church of England in her formularies of faith and worship fully recognises Holy Communion under that aspect in which it is primarily presented to us in Holy Scripture-viz., as a means of
in the faithful use of which God makes ug partakers of the Body and Blood of Christ.