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The words of Christ are reverently held to, and not explained away.
Secondly, we have stated that if our Services are Scriptural, they must recognise that the greatest benefits of Redemption are offered to us in and through the communion of Christ's Body and Blood.
The first proof of this we find in the fact that the Church defines a Sacrament to be a means of grace rather than a sign of profession. (Art. XXV.) “Sacraments be certain sure witnesses and effectual (eficacia) signs of grace, and God's good-will towards us, by the which Ho doth work invisibly in us.”
In the invitation, Holy Communion is described as divine and comfortable a thing to those who receive it worthily."
In the exhortation to the communicants the benefits to be expected by the faithful who “eat of that bread and drink of that cup,” are set forth in the words of our Lord in His discourse in the synagogue at Capernaum. For we are bidden to remember that “the benefit is great if with a true penitent heart and lively faith we receive that Holy Sacrament, for then we spiritually eat the Flesh of Christ and drink His Blood, then we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us (John vi. 56), we are one with Christ, and Christ with us.”
The Service thus recognises in the most solemn and effectual manner possible that our Lord's discourse in John vi. refers to a gift of God to be expected or received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper, inasmuch as it encourages us to look for the unspeakable blessings set forth in that discourse in the penitent and faithful reception of the consecrated bread and wine.
What we are thus led to look for, we are afterwards led
to pray for in the words, "Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the Flesh of Thy Son Jesus Christ, and to drink His Blood, that our sinful bodies may be mado clean by His Body, and our souls washed through His most precious Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in Him, and He in us.”
So that the Church of England rules that the discourse in John vi. refers to Holy Communion; for she bids us prepare to receive, and pray that we may receive therein, the blessings set forth in those words of Christ.
We shall return to this hereafter.
Then when the elements are delivered to each communicant it is with the words——“ The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul to everlasting life.”
And in one of the post-communion prayers another grace connected in Scripture with the bread is recognised ; for we “heartily thank God that He vouchsafes to feed us who have duly received these holy mysteries with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of His Son, and doth assure us thereby of His favour and goodness towards us: and that we are very members incorporato in the mystical BODY of His Son.” This association of Holy Communion with the mystical body of Christ is, of course, founded on the distinct assertion of the Apostle (1 Cor. x. 17): “We being many are one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread.”
In the third place, we have shown that our Lord distinctly connects the eating of His Flesh and drinking of His Blood with the Resurrection of the body, when He says, “Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day:" and so in the faith of this the Church gives the elements
with the words, “The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy BODY and soul unto everlasting life," &c. We also pray
that “sinful bodies may be made clean by Christ's Body,” as well as our souls washed through His most precious Blood.
Before leaving this part of the subject, I desire to direct attention to a fact by no means so well known as it ought to be. It is this, that the Scripture view of this Sacrament—as the Divinely-appointed means whereby we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ—is far more distinct in the Reformed Communion Office of the Church of England than in the unreformed Service which it superseded.
The recognition of the Eucharist as the communion or participation of the Body and Blood of Christ is incomparably more prominent in the Prayer-book than in the Missal.
Indeed, the Holy Communion as a means of grace to the receiver is hardly recognised in the Canon of the Mass. It is fairtly recognised, and that is all. Throughout that document, from beginning to end, Holy Communion appears almost exclusively as an act of sacrificial worship.
Nowhere throughout the Roman Service are any such blessings held forth to the faithful communicant as we have held forth to us in the words of our exhortation, “As the benefit is great, if with a true penitent heart and lively faith we receive that Holy Sacrament; for ther we spiritually eat the Flesh of Christ, and drink His Blood; then we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us; we are one with Christ, and Christ with us.”
Nowhere throughout the whole Canon of the Mass are the words of our Lord in the synagogue at Capernaum ever alluded to as setting forth Eucharistic benefits.
Nowhere throughout the whole compass of the Romish Service is any such a petition put up by or for the communicants, as that in the prayer of “humble access » in our Service : “ Grant us, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink His blood ... that we may evermore dwell in Him, and He in us.”
Nowhere throughout the Canon is it recognised that those who partake faithfully are assured thereby that they are “ very members incorporate in the mystical body of God's Son:" in other words, nowhere throughout the Mass are faithful communicants led to expect the specific blessing associated by St. Paul with the eating of the bread, where he says, “We being many are one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of that one bread.”
If we adhere to our Lord's words, the benefits attendant on the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ must extend to the whole man, for our Lord connects the Resurrection of the body with eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood when He says, “ He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raiso him up at the last day.” We have observed the distinct recognition of this in our own Service.
The recognition of it in the Mass' is the faintest possible—"May it (i.e., the participation of Thy body) be to me a safeguard and remedy both of soul and body," and this is all; for in the words which the priest is directed to say when he receives the bread himself, and also when he gives it to others, there is no mention of the body of the recipient as there is in the corresponding part of our Service; for he is directed to say, "May the body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my (or thy) soul to everlasting 1:20." We sce, then, that the three highest benefits of Redemp
I allude to that form of it now in use.
tion connected by our Lord Himself, or by His Apostles, with the partaking of His Flesh (or Body) and Bloodviz., Christ dwelling. in us and we in Him (John vi. 56). the eternal life of our very bodies (John vi. 54), and the assurance of our continued incorporation in Christ's mystical body (1 Cor. x. 17) --we see, I say, that these blessings are, in the Mass, neither prayed for as things to be expected in the faithful partaking of the Eucharist, nor are they even recognised as dependent upon " eating tho Flesh of the Son of Man, and drinking His Blood.”
Fourthly, we have to show, that if our Service for Holy Communion is to be accounted Scriptural, it must distinctly set forth that the reception of the benefits offered in Holy Communion depends upon the state of the communicant's heart.
Here, however, at the outset of this examination, we must consider that in the account of the original institution of the Eucharist nothing whatsoever is said respecting the amount of faith or knowledge needful. The Apostles, to whom our Lord Himself gave the elements, evidently exercised a very slight belief indeed, if any at all, in the sin-atoning nature of His Sufferings and Death. They could hardly believe that the Redemption of the world depended upon our Lord's death, when they afterwards supposed that His death was a sign that He had failed to redeem Israel (Luke xxiv. 21). Neither did they believe in His Resurrection (which we now account to be the seal of the efficacy of His Sufferings), though they had been assured of the fact by those who had seen Him after He was risen. So that our Lord Himself, when He instituted His Supper, administered it to those who had a very dim faith in His atoning work.
They undoubtedly believed that He was the Son of God