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celebration of the Paschal feast. We are told by many writers, and modern ones particularly, that it was customary at the Jewish passover,
for the master of the house to take in his hand a morsel of unleavened bread, and pronounce these words: “ This is the bread of affliction which our fathers eat;"-evidently meaning, “this represents the bread which our fathers eat.” Consequently, the forniula of institution being so similar, we may easily suppose our Saviour to have spoken in the same sense, signifying, “ this bread is the figure of my Body.” In the first place, I deny entirely and com. pletely, that the expression meant, “this is the figure of the bread,”-it meant obviously and naturally, “this is the sort of bread which our fathers eat.” If any person held a piece of some particular bread in his hand, and said, “ this is the bread which they eat in France or in Arabia,” would he not be understood to say,
“ this is the kind of bread they eat there,” and not “this is the figure of their bread;"—and in the case referred io, is not the natural meaning of the words, “this unleavened bread is the sort of bread which our fathers eat?”
But, in fact, it is not necessary to spend much time in illustrating this reply; for no such formula existed at our Saviour's time. We have, in the first place, among the oldest writings of the Jews, a treatise on the Paschal feast-it is their authoritative book on the subject,-in which is minutely laid down all that is to be done in the celebration of the pasch. Every ceremony is detailed, and a great many foolish and superstitious observances are given; but not a single word of this speech, not the least notice of it. This silence of the ritua. prescribing the forms to be followed, must be considered equivalent to a denial of its being used. There is also another still later treatise on the Pasch, in which there is not a word regarding such a practice. We come at length to Maimonides, eleven or twelve hundred years after Christ, and he is the first writer who gives this formula. He first describes one ceremonial of the pasch, exceedingly detailed, and then concludes,
did they celebrate the pasch before the destruction of the
temple.” In this there is not a word of this practice, --it is not hinted at. He proceeds to say,_" at present the Jews celebrate the pasch in the following manner.” In this second rite we have that
ceremony; but even then, the words used are not in the form of an address, but are only the beginning of a hymn to be sung after eating the paschal lamb. Thus, the ceremony was not introduced till after the destruction of the temple; or rather, as appears from two older treatises, was not in use seven or eight hundred years after Christ; and consequently, could not have been any guide for the Apostles, towards interpreting our text.
These two objections I have selected, because their answers are not so much within the range of ordinary controversy, and because they have about them an air of learning which easily imposes upon superficial readers. Thegreat body ofobjections usually urged from Scripture against our interpretation, has been incorporated in my proofs, for it consists chiefly of the texts which I have discussed at length, and proved to be of no service towards overthrowing our belief. Of one or two detached texts, I shall have better opportunity for treating, on Sunday next, when, please God, I shall proceed to finish the Scriptural proofs, and, at the same time, give you the tradition upon this important dogma, thus bringing it, and the entire course, to its conclusion. There is much to say on the various contradictions into which the Protestant system leads its upholders, and of the extravagances into which many of them have fallen. But sufficient has been said to build
the Catholic truth, and this is the most important matter. That error will be ever inconsistent—is but the result of its very nature. Let us only hope, that in its constant shiftings it may catch a glimpse of the truth, and, from the very impulse of its restless character, be led to study it; and by the discontent of its perpetual agitations, be brought to embrace it-in whose profession alone is true peace, and satisfaction, and joy.
LECTURE THE SIXTEENTH
1 COR. x. 16. “ The cup of benediction which we bless, is it not the communi in of
the blood of Christ ? And the bread which we break. is it not
the partaking of the body of the Lord" WISHING, my brethren, to bring to a conclusion, this evening, the important topic which has occupied us for two successive Sundays, it will be necessary for me to step back for a few moments to bring you to the point at which I left my argument; as the observations which must follow are necessarily the sequel to those which preceded them, and form, indeed, but part of the train of argument which I laid down for myself at the commencement of my last discourse. In stating the position which the Catholic holds, when treating the arguments for his doctrine of the Eucharist, drawn from the words of Institution, I observed that the burthen of proving necessarily lies on those, who maintain that we must depart from the strict and literal meaning of our Saviour's words, and that, contrary to their natural and obvious import, these words must be taken in a symbolical and figurative sense. I, therefore, laid down the line of argument which I conceived to be strongest on the side of our opponents; and it led us into a two-fold investigation: first, whether the expressions in
question can possibly be interpreted in their figurative signification; and secondly, whether any reasons exist to justify this less ordinary course, and to force us to a preference of this figurative interpretation.
With regard to the first: adhering strictly to the principle of
biblical interpretation which I first laid down, I went in detail through the various passages of Scripture advanced to prove, that the words of Institution may be interpreted figuratively, without going contrary to ordinary forms of speech in the New Testament, and more particularly in our Saviour's discourses. I canvassed them, to show you that it was impossible to establish
any such parallelism between our words and the examples quoted, as could give the right to interpret our text by them. This formed the first portion of the enquiry, and occupied your attention during our last Sunday meeting.
The second portion of my task remains; to see what the i easons or motives may be for preferring that figurative and harsh interpretation, even at the expense, if I may say so, of propriety; to investigate whether there be not reasons so strong, as to oblige us to chuse any expedient rather than interpret our Saviour's words in their simple and obvious meaning. I believe I noticed, that this is the argument very generally advanced by writers on this subject, that we must interpret our Saviour's words figuratively, because, otherwise, we are driven into such an ocean of absurdities, that it is impossible to reconcile the doctrine with sound philosophy, or
While on this subject, I may observe, that it is not very easy, even at the outset, and before examining its difficulties, to admit this form of argument. Independently of all that I shall say a little later, regarding these supposed difficulties, the question may be placed in this point of view; --are we to take the Bible simply as it is, and allow it alone to be its own interpreter?—or are we to bring in other extraneous elements to modify that interpretation? if there are certain rules for interpreting the Bible, and if all those rules in
any instance converge, to show us that certain words wil! not, and can not, bear any interpretation but one, I ask, if there can be any means or instrument of interpretation, of sufficient strength to overpower them all? If we admit such a case, wo we not reduce to a nullity the entire system of biblical interpretation ?