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and difficult to be observed, difficult to be practised. In the same way a Latin writer, speaking of the necessity of destroying a wicked portion of the community, observes, “ This is a hard saying, this is a hard doctrine"-it is painful, it is not easy for human feeling to reduce it to practice. This, therefore, is the meaning of the disciples answer, “ This is a hard saying, who can hear it,” that is to say, it is impossible for us any longer to associate ourselves with, or to be the disciples of a man, who can teach us such doctrines as these. I will ask, therefore, if you can understand it to be merely of the necessity of believing in him?
But what is our Saviour's conduct to the different people interested in this conversation? In the first place, what is his conduct to his disciples? Why, that he allows all who did not believe his doctrine to go, be dismisses them at once, he allows them to walk no more with him. Can we possibly imagine, that if our Saviour was at that time only speaking in figures, and if they misunderstood him, he would allow them to be lost, perhaps lost for ever, in consequence of this refusal to believe a doctrine which he had never taught? If they left him on the supposition that this was a hard, harsh, painful, impossible doctrine, and yet he had been preaching no such doctrine, and it was a mere misunderstanding ; can we suppose, for a moment, that he would not, in that case, have corrected them? Yet he did not, but he allows them to depart.
Again, what is his conduct with his apostles? They adhere to him, they remain faithful. They are evidently under the same embarrass
but they give up their own opinion, they give up their natural feelings, and
say, “ To whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life”-we believe your word—if we leave you upon this doctrine, we know not what is to become of us—whatever you say we are willing to believe.
But they manifestly did not understand it then, and he receives them upon this test—" Have I not chosen you twelve”-that is to say, “ You are my faithful ones, you do not abandon me like the others, you do not understand my words, but have continued faithful to me, in spite of the difficulty to your belief.”
Now to place the whole of this doctrine, the two respective interpretations of this chapter upon a simple, palpable footing, there can be no doubt
, I suppose, that every portion of our Saviour's life may be considered a true model of what we should practice ; that whenever our Saviour acts in any capacity he is the most perfect, the purest model which we can propose to any one's imitation. Our Saviour is, on this occasion, discharging the office of a teacher, and he is, consequently, the model of a teacher. Supposing, therefore, that a bishop, we will say of the established church on the one hand, and a bishop of a Catholic church on the other, wished to present to the pastors of his respective flock the example of our Saviour, here is a model how they were to act
in teaching. The one would have necessarily to speak thus, “ When you are teaching, for instance, your children the doctrine of the Eucharist, laid down in the strongest terms that could lead those that hear you, to take the words literally, and say, in the words of the church, · The body and blood of Christ are verily and indeed received by the faithful in the Lord's supper;' if they say to you, · But this is the doctrine of popery, this is the Catholic doctrine'—follow the example of your Saviour, repeat again and again to them the doctrine which they understood in a wrong sense, go on again and again, insisting upon precisely the same phrases, and by this means you will certainly clearly imitate the example of our Saviour." In other words, supposing you wished to give an outline of our Saviour conduct, to one who, perhaps, did not believe in bis divine mission, you would say, that our blessed Saviour, therefore, was in the habit of teaching with the greatest meekness and simplicity; that he laid his doctrines open to the people in the clearest manner; that when, on any occasion, our Saviour discovered that they misunderstood bis phrases, that they took them in a literal sense, when he meant them to be taken figuratively; that it was universally his custom, with the greatest meekness and simplicity, to explain and to remove the difficulties, to take away all their objections, by stating to them simply, that he meant to be understood figuratively; but that, upon this occasion alone, be thought proper to depart from this rule. When in this instance they understood his words literally, though he was only speaking of faith, and they objected to them, he went on again and again repeating the same expression which bad given offence; that he would not condescend to explain his words, even to his chosen disciples, that he allowed them to go away and walk no more with him. He would not enter into an explanation, even with those chosen few who abandoned all for him, who, on this occasion, gave up their judgment to his own guidance.
But in the Catholic explanation of this chapter, the whole is consistent, from the first to the last, with the character of our blessed Saviour. We find he had to teach a doctrine, and he lays it down in the clearest, and most literal, and obvious forms of expression; the simplest and most literal words. Objections are raised, the doctrine is pronounced impracticable, it is pronounced absurd. Our Saviour acts precisely as he did on every other similar occasion. He goes on repeating the expressions which had given offence, to show that they must be received in spite of all this difficulty, proving that he came not to create a party, or gather round him a multitude of men, but to have men in his society and subject to him, who would be willing to be led to any doctrine that he might teach, however repulsive it might be to their own feelings. He allowed those who would not rest on his bare word to depart from him, he would not soften down the rule of faith; nay,
more, not even with regard to his apostles. Such is the perfect consistency of the character of Christ, as shown in our interpretation; whereas the other runs counter to every thing we read and know of him, in his whole divine mission.
You will say, that thus far I have had the argument in my own way; I bave not examined the ground upon which Protestants profess to differ from us. Now I observed from the beginning, that there could be only one true meaning of the words and phrases. If our interpretation be true, the other is excluded, and I have a right to demand a clear, full, complete demonstration on the other side, of what they hold up to us as the interpretation of the chapter; and they must prove, that the Jews could bave understood in their time, in their language, the expressions of our Saviour, in the meaning which is attached to them by others, as in contra-distinction to ours. Therefore, upon this simple ground it is, that I cannot consider myself bound to go into an examination of the sentiments on the other side. Mind—I did not lay down a proposition, and then begin to prove it, but I have gone by inductives, gone by a simple analysis of the texts.' I have ascertained, a priori, from such grounds as I have a right to use, what is the exclusive meaning of the words and phrases; I have confined myself to that, and I have found, that the results of the investigation give me the Catholic interpretation; and, on this ground, therefore, I accept of that interpretation.
But I do not wish to conceal any thing, or to shrink from any argument that may be brought, or any objection that may be made; and, therefore, I have taken some pains, I will say, considerable pains, to look through the works of different divines of the Protestant communion, who have defended their opinions on this subject, and to collect what are the grounds on which they object to the Catholic doctrine, and on which they build or base the figurative interpretation of this passage.
I need hardly remark to you, that a certain number of divines, of the Church of England, Drs. Sherlock, Jeremy Taylor, and others, interpret this chapter of the Eucharist. Even those who may appear to differ from us, with regard to the nature of Christ's presence, do interpret it of the sacrament of the Eucharist. I might, in confirmation of the line of argument I have followed, quote to you the authority of two Protestant divines, two of the most learned of modern Germany. One is Dr. Tittman, who, in his examination of this passage says, “ It is quite impossible to prove, that our Saviour could have possibly been speaking of faith, upon any interpretation which the Jews could possibly have put upon these words. If we look to the meaning that the Jews could attach to the words, it is impossible that they could have understood this latter part of his discourse as regarding faith.” I
quote the passage with more satisfaction, because I have been surprised at the assertion of Townsend, who says, “ The Catholics ground their interpretation of the sixth chapter of St. John, upon the literal meaning of the expressions introduced in the sixth century; but they ground it on expressions taken literally, which the Jews were in the habit of taking figuratively; and we may receive great light from looking at the Jewish form of expression.” That is very true, I agree with him, that we do receive great light; and, I trust that I have shown you, that we do derive great light from an examination of the expressions of the Jews. But it would have been fair if this clergyman, a person of reputation as a learned man, had brought some examples where this expression, of eating the flesh of a man was used figuratively by the Jews. I should have been extremely obliged had he brought one, because it would, at least, have given a little variety to the argument that we are obliged to go through, by having something of interest to go into. The only instance I ever saw brought, is one quoted by Dr. Lightfoot from the Talmud, and which is so exceedingly absurd, that I have taken the pains to examine the authority of Jewish commentators upon it, so as to prove it manifest, that his interpretation is incorrect. It is said in one of the old Treatises, “ That there would be no Messiah in Israel, because the Jews had ate him in the time of Hezekiah.” Therefore he says, “ Here we have an expression of Messiah being eaten, and no difficulty about it.” Now the expression is absurd, because it says, that the consequence of this eating was, that the Messiah would not come. The fact is, the Jews have a commentary upon that passage, which expressly says, “ The meaning of this expression was, in the time of Hezekiah, that they would eat of abundance in the times of Messiah ; consequently, they themselves allow it is an exceedingly obscure phrase, a ineaning which nobody knows. Of course that can be of no use in the interpretation of this passage; but I only wish to remark, what unfairness there is in saying, that the Catholic doctrine is founded upon the literal interpretation of a passage, used merely in a figurative sense by the Jews, and not to bring any examples of it, because all turns upon authority. But Dr.
Tittman, who is of great authority in a theological enquiry, says, “ The expressions here used, could not have been employed by our Saviour; if he wished to be understood by the Jews of faith,” and he is a Protestant writer.
The other individual, one on whose commentary I shall have to say a word just now, and who is better known than most other writers upon Scripture in Germany, Professor Tholuck, of Halle, undoubtedly one of the most learned commentators at the present day; a person, of whose deep acquaintance with languages, and all the philological parts of biblical literature, I can speak personally, says, “It is manifest, from
the moment the word flesh is given, that a change takes place in our Saviour's subject.” These, therefore, are authorities much in confirmation of what I have advanced.
The objection, as I have observed, I have taken some pains to discover, and I have been surprised at finding, that the grounds upon which our interpretation is rejected, are so exceedingly superficial. I will take one divine, who has summed up, as it were, in a very few pages, what he considers to be the Protestant ground of this interpretation. 1 allude to, Dr. Beveridge, who has pithily summed up all the reasons why this chapter is not to be interpreted of the Eucharist. The first argument is the one given as decisive from Woolfius, Blomfield, Scott, and several other commentators. I will give the objection, and, at the same time, the answer, in the words of Bishop Sherlock. He says, “ The only objection I know against explaining the words, flesh of Christ, of the Lord's Supper, is because the sacrament was not yet instituted, and, therefore, neither the Jews nor his own disciples, could possibly understand wbat he meant. There are several answers to this, as our Saviour said a great many things to the Jews in his sermons, which neither they nor his own disciples understood when spoken, though the disciples understood them after he had risen. Suppose we should understand this eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of man,' of feeding on Christ by faith or believing ; yet they could understand this no better than the other. It is plain that they did not, and I know not how they should. For to call bare believing in Christ, eating his flesh, and drinking his blood,' is so remote from all propriety of speech, and so unknown in all languages, that to this day, those who un stand nothing more of it but believing in Christ, are able to give no tolerable account of the reason of the expression.” This, therefore, is a simple and sufficient answer. If our Saviour had been speaking of faith, or belief in his passion, as he was not dead, and the Jews did not know that he was to die, unnaturally it could not apply to that.
In the second place, in the same way as our Saviour spoke to Nicodemus of baptism, though baptism was not instituted, therefore there is no reason to say, because the Eucharist was not instituted, therefore it was not spoken of the Eucharist; he could speak of the Eucharist before it was instituted as well as of baptism. I think that is a sufficient answer to the objection. I do not think, even if I gave you no answer at all, that it could be put against the line of argument and minute analysis which I have followed this evening.
A second reason for the discourse being taken figuratively is, that our Saviour says, that those who eat his flesh shall live, and that those who do not eat it shall die. “ Now living for ever, being saved or not, does not depend on the Eucharist.” This is what Dr. Beveridge