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same subject is not continued,—where then are we to find the point of separation? Now, most accurate commentators place it at the 43d verse of the 24th chapter, and I will just
the preceding verse, and one or two of those that follow. 6 Watch ye therefore, because
know not at what hour your Lord will come. But this know ye, that if the good man of the house knew at what hour of the night the thief would come he would certainly watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open.” You perceive no transition between these verses, and yet these commentators place the transition exactly in the middle of them. The same imagery is still continued from verse to verse, and yet it is agreed that a transition takes place from one subject to another, as distinct as the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem, which took place 1800 years ago, is from the end of the world, which may not happen for many centuries. Thus may the prelimi . nary objection be removed, that there must be a strong and marked transition, something like a prefatory phrase, to mark the
passage from one subject to another. Now, therefore, on what ground do we say that in the
preceding part of the chapter vi. and in the latter, a different topic is treated of? As I have before observed, the question is on a point of fact, and resolves itself into two enquiries : first, is there a transition here?—and secondly, is it to the true eating and drinking of the Body and Blood of Christ? In answer to the first, I say, that I believe the first portion of our Saviour's discourse to apply to faith, for this simple reason; that every expression He uses throughout it, is such as was familiar to the Jews, as referring to the subject. For, the ideas of giving bread, and of partaking of food were commonly applied to teaching and receiving instruction; consequently there was no misunderstanding them. Thus, we have it said in the book of Isaiah, “ All you that thirst come unto the waters, and you that have no money, make haste, buy and eat. Hearken diligently to me, and eat that which is good."* “To eat," is
* Is. Iv. 5, 2.
here applied to listening unto instruction. Our Saviour quotes Deuteronomy—“Not on bread alone does man live, but on every word that cometh out of the mouth of God."* Again, God used this remarkable figure, when He said, that he shouid “ send forth a famine into the land, not a famine of bread nor a thirst of water, but of the hearing of the word of God.”+ In like manner, Wisdom is represented as saying, “Come, eat my bread, and drink the wine which I have mingled for you." Among the later Jews, Maimonides, and other commentators observe, that whenever the expression is used among the Prophets or in Ecclesiastes, it is always to be understood of doctrine. Therefore, when our Saviour simply addresses the Jews, speaking to them of the food whereof they are to partake, I have no difficulty in supposing that He could be understood by all, as referring to faith in Him and his teaching But in order to contrast these expressions more strongly with those that follow, allow me to notice a peculiarity observable at the 35th verse. Throughout the first part of this chapter, if you read it carefully over, you will not once find our Saviour allude to the idea of eating; he does not once speak of eating “ the bread which came down from heaven.” On the contrary, in the 35th verse he actually violates the ordinary rhetorical proprieties of language, to avoid this harsh and unnatural figure. In the instances where the figure of food is applied to hear. ing or believing doctrine; the inspired writers never say, • Come and eat or receive me." But our Saviour does not even speak of eating this figurative bread of His doctrine; and at the same time cautiously escapes from applying the phrase directly to His own person. For, in the 35th verse, Jesus said to them; “ I am the bread of life : he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth in me shall not thirst.” So that when it would appear requisite to fill up
the metaphor by the ideas of eating and drinking, as opposed to hunger and thirst, He carefully avoids them, and substitutes
* Mat. iv. 4.
# Amos viii. 1).
1 Prov.ix, 5.
others. And the phrases selected were such as to indicate to the Jews doctrine and belief.
But, supposing that they had not understood them to be so applied, our Saviour is most careful to explain them in that
For the Jews made an objection, and murmured at Him because He had said that He was the bread which came down from heaven. Their objection referred not so much to His calling Himself bread, as to His saying, that He had come from heaven. For their objection is: “ Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know; how then, sayeth he, I came down from heaven?"* Now then, see how our Saviour answers this objection. He employs no less than seven or eight verses, in removing it. Observing some little difficulty about the expressions which he has been using till now, and having, in verse 35, employed the words, “ Coming to Him,” as equivalent to “ believing in Him,” He from that moment, until the 47th verse, never once returns to the figure of bread or food, or any thing of that sort, to inculcate the pecessity or obligation of believing in Him, but speaks simply of faith in Him, or of its equivalent, coming to Him. “Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me except the Father who hath sent me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day. Every one that hath heard of the Father, and hath learned, cometh to me, not that any man hath seeri the Father, but he who is of God he hath seen the Father. Amen, amen,
he that believeth in me hath everlasting life.”+ He is, you see, most careful not to return again o the ideas of “eating and drinking." This explains clearly that his conversation, up to this moment, is of faith; and seeing that the expressions were of themselves calculated to convey that meaning, to those who heard them, and finding that Jesus himself so explained them, we conclude that He must have been speaking of faith.
Now, then, let us come to the second part of the discourse. The first portion He closes thus :-" Amen, Amen, I say unto * V. 42.
+ Vv. 43, 47.
you, he that believeth in me hath everlasting life." We may consider this as a proper epilogue or conclusion. But, from this moment, He begins to use another form of phraseology, which He had carefully avoided in the first part of His discourse, and it only remains to examine, whether it could convey the idea that He was still going on with the same topic, or must have led His hearers necessarily to believe that He was speaking of the real eating of His flesh, and drinking of His blood. This enquiry must be conducted on precisely the same principles. Now, I unhesitatingly assert, that there are differences of language in the words that follow, such as must necessarily have made the impression on His hearers, that is, those who were the true interpreters of His words, that he no longer meant to teach the same, but quite another doctrine.
In the first place, you will observe that our Saviour had previously avoided with care, and even at some sacrifice of the proprieties of speech, any expression, such as “ eating the bread of life,” much more “eating His own person." He had even abandoned the metaphor entirely, on seeing that some misunderstanding had resulted from using these expres
all on a sudden, He returns to them in a much stronger manner; and He does it in such a way that His hearers could not possibly have conceived from them the same meaning as before. He says,—“I am the living bread which came down from Heaven. If any man eat of this, he shall live for ever; and the bread which I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world.” He goes on afterwards to say,“ Amen, Amen, I say to you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth
flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, the same also shall live
by me. Now, here are a series of expressions, which, on a simple perusal, appear a much stronger and grosser violation of propriety of speech, if our Saviour meant to be understood figuratively. But, as I before intimated, if, up to this point, He had evidently given up the figure of eating and drinking, would he have returned to it again, without any necessity? And if, from seeing that misunderstanding had before risen from it, He had discontinued it, can we believe that He would resume it, in a still more marked, and strongly characterised form without some absolute necessity? This necessity could only result from the introduction of a new topic; as, otherwise, He might have persevered in the literal exposition. Here, then, we have one evidence of a transition in the discourse to a new topic; but there are other marked differences.
2dly. In the former part of His discourse, our Saviour always speaks of this bread as given by His Father. He says, “ This is the bread which His Father had sent from Heaven and given to the Jews.”+ In the second portion which I have just read, He no longer speaks of His Father as giving this bread, but
says that He Himself gives it. The Giver is different in the two cases, and we are consequently authorized to suppose that the gift likewise is different.
3rdly. Our Saviour, in the first part of the discourse, speaks of the consequence of this partaking of the bread of life, as consisting in our being brought or drawn unto Him, or coming to him. These expressions throughout the New Testament, are applied to faith. In a number of passages, where persons are said to be brought to Christ, it is always meant that they are to be brought to faith in Him. This is the term always used in the first part of the discourse, and exactly corresponds to our interpretation of it concerning faith. But in the second part, our Saviour never speaks of our being brought to Him: but always of our abiding in Him, or
* Vy. 51-58. + Vv. 32, 33, 39, 40, 43, 44. [ Vv, 35, 36, 44, 45. $ This is fully proved in the “ Lectures on the Real Presence,” p. 59; which see. See Mat. xi. 28, Lu. vi. 47. Jo. v. 40, vii, 37.