« PreviousContinue »
argues ; and, therefore, Christ cannot be speaking of the Eucharist. To this there is a very simple reply. There are conditions annexed to . every promise. When our Saviour says, “ He that believeth shall not • be condemned :" does he mean that there should be nothing more than
a simple belief on him? Does he mean that that is all that is to be done? Is not man to keep the moral law? Is not man to keep tbe commandments of God? Therefore our Saviour means, he that does not believe, with the proper accompaniments of such faith, a faith wbich produces fruits, a faith which produces good works. There is a condition necessarily annexed to the precept. So here; he that eateth shall not necessarily live, if he eateth not worthily. This is to be the condition included.
Now these are literally the only three grounds which Dr. Beveridge, in his Theological Sermons, gives for rejecting the Catholic interpretation, that the sacrament was not yet ordained; that it is said, that he that eateth not the bread sball die, and every one that doth eat thereof sball live. These are literally the only objections that have been made by him.
I cannot, however, conceal another, and that is one by a professor, whom I just now mentioned, Professor Tholuck. It is a singular instance, showing how a man may be led away by previous opinions, and how Scripture is interpreted according to a creed, by those who profess to take their creed from Scripture. Professor Tholuck, after summing up his objections, and I do not know any weaker arguments against the Catholic interpretation, concludes in these words, “ Finally, if this is to be interpreted of the Eucharist, it would prove too much, because it would prove the Catholic doctrine.” So that a Protestant commentator, in a Protestant University, professing to draw bis doctrines from the Scriptures, assumes, that such an interpretation cannot be the true one, because, if it were the true one, it would prove the Catholic doctrine. Thus, at least, we have his acknowledgment, that if the discourse is to be understood of the Eucharist, it does prove the Catholic doctrine : but, certainly, a more glaring piece of special pleading, of illogical reasoning, perbaps, can hardly be produced from the work of any commentator; and yet, as I said before, I can speak to his being a man of the most accurate information on all philological subjects, and of the most persevering research.
There is a popular objection which I need hardly mention. It is founded on those words where it is said, “ The flesh profiteth nothing, it is the Spirit that quickeneth.” I say nothing about it, because every modern commentator, British and foreign, agrees, that these words have no reference at all to the spiritual, or the material meaning of this chapter; and because, in the whole of Scripture, in twenty or thirty places, wherever the words Spirit and flesh are opposed the one to the
other, the meaning is, that the carnal man and the spiritual man, that is to say, human motives, human feelings, and the guidance of faith, and the teaching of the Holy Ghost, are in opposition to each; therefore our Saviour says, “ The flesh profiteth nothing,” that is, it is not human passion, they are not human feelings that are to guide men in doctrines of this sort, but it is to be the teaching of the Spirit, it is to be that higher order of understanding which faith, submitting to the doctrines of God, can alone give.
This concludes, so far only the first or preparatory part of the argument, in favour of the doctrine of the blessed Eucharist.
In order that the method I am about to pursue may be well understood, I wish, before concluding, to tell you in what manner I intend to proceed. I consider the subject of the REAL PRESENCE of such very great importance, that I wish as little of it as possible to be lost by any of us. It is obvious, that on Sunday evenings there is a much greater assembly than at other times; consequently, if I continued this topic on Wednesday and Friday, I should deprive many who might be willing to hear the conclusion of this important subject, of the benefit of listening to it; therefore, my plan will be to continue the subject of the Eucharist on Sunday evenings, taking up other subjects in the interim.
All I entreat, therefore--for it is not necessary that I should make any further remarks-is, that what I have said should be weighed by those who have not, perhaps, been in the habit of hearing the doctrine stated, with all the impartiality that they can give it. I need not state, that I shall be most happy, in any form in which it will be in my power, to meet any special objection of any individual, if I can possibly be made acquainted with it. I shall be most happy to offer an explanation. If I have appeared to any one to omit any thing, I can only say, that I have not done it from having met with any one single point which I had any reason to dread; I am not conscious of having glossed over one part of the argument, and if I have appeared to hurry over it hastily, it has been from the fear of detaining you too long.
MATTHEW XXVI. 26–28.
“And while they were at supper, Jesus took bread and blessed, and brake, and gave to his disciples, and said, Take ye and eat; this is my body. And taking the chalice, he gave thanks; and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of this, for this is my blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins.”
IN: my last discourse regarding the blessed Eucharist, I entered at length into an examination of the sixth chapter of St. John, which I considered as an introduction to the institution of the blessed Eucharist; and I endeavoured to show you, from the expressions there used, and from the whole construction of our Saviour's discourse, and from his conduct both to those who disbelieved, and those who believed his words, that he truly did declare that doctrine upon the subject which the Catholic church holds—that is to say, that some institution was to be provided in his church, whereby men would be so completely incorporated with bim, as to be truly made partakers of his sacred and adorable body and blood, and so applying to their souls the merits of his passion.
According to my promise, therefore, I proceed this evening to examine the much more important passages which speak of the institution of this heavenly rite, and to see how far from these words, we may draw the same doctrines which we discovered in the promise ; that is to say, that Christ really did institute some sacrament, some means whereby men might participate of his blessed body and blood. Before, however, proceeding at once to what must form the principal topic of discourse this evening, it is necessary, from different considerations, that I should turn back, and go over some of the ground which I passed at our meeting last Sunday evening.
In the first place, I wish merely to remind you, that the system which I then followed, was to analyse and to examine our Saviour's expres
sions, to see what was the only meaning which they could possibly convey to those who were his immediate hearers ; and I showed you how, in the first part of the discourse, he used no expressions but what might have been applied to faith ; that in the second part he made use of a totally new phraseology, which could not possibly convey to his hearers the idea that he was continuing the same topic; but which, on the contrary, according to all usages of speech, must have brought them to the conclusion, that he had been promising to them the eating of his body, and the drinking of his blood; and that, under the most awful threats, he commanded them to partake of these solemn and sacred elements.
I likewise took some pains to examine the form of our Saviour's answer, to discover, if possible, some criterion of the correctness of the views which his hearers had formed ; and in making this analysis, I produced two classes of passages, in which our Saviour answered difficulties raised against his words. In the first place, from his meaning being mistaken-what he intended to be figurative being taken literally; and, in the second place, where no mistake regarding his meaning was formed, but objections were raised against his doctrines, on account of their very character : and then, comparing the two classes of answers so obtained, I showed you, that our Saviour's reply in the sixth chapter of St. John, belonged manifestly to that class where his meaning was perfectly understood, but objections were raised against his doctrine on account of the difficulties it presented.
But I feel that in this, and in other parts of my subject, there may have appeared to be a certain deficiency, and it is my object to supply this before I proceed further. I am anxious, as much as possible, to remove any doubt which may remain in the mind of even one individual ; and when I can, on any occasion, discover that any portion of my reasoning has been at all misunderstood, I have also reason to fear, that some mistake may have been committed by many with whose existence, in only a few cases, I may have become acquainted; and, consequently, I am anxious to supply any deficiencies of this sort.
That portion of my argument in which I was obliged necessarily to be extremely compendious, was in the reply to objections. After having detained you for upwards of two hours, I naturally was anxious to draw my discourse to a conclusion ; and the consequence was, that I may have appeared to fly, as it were, or to wish to escape from the texts which are urged on the other side. I wish, therefore, to remove this impression which I believe has been made upon 'some, by entering a little more in detail into the only points on which I think such criticism could bave been made; and one of them was precisely regarding the argument I have just related. I brought eight passages, in which our Saviour replied to the Jews, who had mistaken bis figurative expres