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SECTION VII.

THE EUCHARISTIC SACRIFICE,

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In the sixth and last place, if our Service is to be accounted Scriptural, it must distinctly set forth the act of celebrating the Eucharist as the most solemn memorial or commemoration possible before God and man of the Sacrifice of the Death of Christ. It must be the chief Christian sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, and so tho most prominent act of worship in the Christian Church.

The commemorative or sacrificial character of the Eucharist rests on the words of our Lord, “ Do this in remembrance of Me," and on those of St. Paul, “ As oft as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come.”

We should naturally suppose that those who loved the Saviour, and received His every word as the word of the Living God, would have looked upon this memorial of His love, instituted by Himself on the eve of His Passion, as the great demonstrative action of the Church when gathered together; and so we find that they did.

This solemn commemorative rite formed the distinctivo feature of Christian, as distinguished from Jewish or heathen worship.

There are very few references throughout the New Testament to stated Christian assemblies (not more, I think, than six). And in threo, or probably four, of these, Holy Communion is expressly mentioned as the object for which such assemblies were gathered together.

Of course, I should exclude from the above enumeration

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the notices of the meeting of the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem and its neighbourhood in the temple, because attendance in such a place as the Jewish temple of sacrifice cannot form any precedent for after ages. I should, for the same reason, exclude all notices of preaching and teaching in Jewish synagogues. Having, in this investigation, to do only with purely Christian congregations for worship and instruction, it is clear that the grand object for which such were gathered together was the celebration of the Eucharist.

Thus it is said in Acts xx. 7, that the specific object of the gathering together of the disciples on the first day of the week was “the breaking of bread.” On that occasion St. Paul preached to them, but the purpose for which tho assembly came together is expressly stated to have been the celebration of the Eucharist.

Again: the notice of the Lord's Supper in the eleverth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians would lead us to suppose that the early Church gathered themselves together chiefly, if not mainly, for it: and the “ giving of thanks” mentioned in the notice of Christian worship in 1 Cor. xiv. 16, is evidently the Eucharistic consecration prayer or blessing.

Again: the partaking of the Lord's Table is alluded to in 1 Cor. xi. 16–21, in evident contrast with the partaking of the Jewish or heathen sacrifices, which of course were the leading features in Jewish and heathen worship.

In two other places only are distinctive Christian assemblies referred to; namely, in Hebrews x. 25, and James ii. 1, 2; but in neither of these do we find one word respecting the worship of such assemblies. I do not for a moment mean to assert that Christians never met

Sce Chrysostom on 1 Cor. xiv. 17, p. 494.

together except for Eucharistic purposes; but I do assert that we have no record of any stated meetings except for this purpose.

We have no account, for instance, of any stated meetings for prayer, or preaching, or the reading of the Scriptures only.

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It will be needful, at this stage of our inquiry into the position of the Eucharist as the great characteristic act of Christian worship, to investigate, as far as our limits will permit, the exact sense in which the Holy Eucharist is sacrifice.”

The Sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist most assuredly does not scem prominent in the Scriptures which teach us the nature of this Sacrament. It appears in them rather as an ordinance in which God offers something to us, than one in which we offer anything to Him.

Taking also into account the idea almost always attached to the English word “sacrifice,” there is a difficulty amongst us in applying it to the Eucharist; for,

in most cases, we mean by a sacrifice, a thing voluntarily surrendered, or given up, which costs the sacrificer something. Thus, in common conversation, we speak of a man making grcat sacrifices for his religion, or country, or friends. This idea we derive from the accounts of sacrifices in the Old Testament, which were, for the most part, costly: the most prominent sacrifices being those of bullocks, calves, and lambs, in which mainly consisted the property of tho men of those days. When these things were sacrificed, they were slaughtered, and afterwards partially or wholly consumed by fire, and were of no further value to the sacrificer.

Besides these, there were other sacrifices, which woro mostly taken away altogether from the offerer. Some of thom are particularly described in Leviticus ii.: and tbece,

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being offerings of fine flour, or cakes, were not (compared with the others) costly; but they also were partially or wholly consumed by fire: and, wher, once offered, ceased to belong to the person who provided them; nor were they partaken of at all by him; but, part of them having been burnt, the remainder was to be eaten by Aaron and his sons. A sacrifice, then, always implied the surrender to God, in solemn worship, of something more or less valuable to the sacrificer.

Then there was the offering of incense, which was a very costly compound, and was wholly consumed by fire on the altar appropriated to this kind of sacrifice.

Now the Holy Eucharist presents none of these features of sacrifice. I mean, of course, the actual Eucharist, divested of all its accessories; for, in this investigation, we must be most careful to distinguish the offering of our substance in the offertory, and the sacrifices of prayer and adoration which have always accompanied the celebration of the Eucharist, from what constitutes the Eucharist itself.

The actual Eucharist is the consecration and consumption, as food, of a small quantity of bread and wine.

It is clear that such a rite cannot present those features which we usually associate with the idea of a sacrifice. No part of it is consumed by fire. No part of it belongs to the priest as his peculiar portion. The whole costs little or nothing. Each communicant, whether priest or layman, receives the same; and all that is consecrated is consumed by the worshippers.

Another point, too, a little consideration will make abundantly clear; which is, that the contrast which we have drawn out between the Lord's Supper and the ancient sacrifices is little, if at all, affected by the light in which wc regard the elements after consecratiov.

For, supposing that we regard the elements as transubstantiated into the natural Flesh and Blood of Christ, even that would not constitute the Eucharist a sacrifice in the sense of the Levitical sacrifices. For a Sacrifice, as its very name implies, is not a thing, but an act performed upon a thing, i.e., immolation, or something answering to it, without which there cannot be a proper sacrifico. Besides this, it would involve no cost or self-denial on our part, and so it would, in a very material point, differ from the Jewish sacrifices, and from all that English Christians have long been in the habit of calling by the name of “sacrifice."

No matter what the elements become by consecration, no part of them is burnt, as was the case in the corresponding Jewish offering of fine flour.

The sacrifice, in whatever it consists, does not involve that total or partial consumption by fire of the thing sacrificed, which formed the chief feature in the sacrifices of oxen, flour, or incense.

Again: it is very distinctly laid down in a great number of places in the Old Testament, that the burntofferings and some other sacrifices were propitiatory. . Now, without looking narrowly into the purpose and extent of this "propitiation," it is evident that the propitiatory character of the sacrifices was intimately associated with the fact that they were costly to the offerer, and that they involved the death of the victim at the time when it was offered. All the imperfect and typical propitiation which thev afforded was connected with the death or destruction of the thing sacrificea.

But the Eucharist cannot in this way be a propitiatory sacrifice. If we take the grossest possible view of the presence of Christ's Body and Biood, we cannot suppose for a moment that in the Eucharist that Body actually

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