Page images

times in the following verses:—“Behold Israel according to the flesh; are not they that eat of the sacrifices, partakers of the altar ?" The adjective here used corresponds exaetly to the substantive in the first passage, xotywuoi, xolvovia. The word is here applied to the real participation of the sacrifices on the altar, and should, therefore, have a similar power in the other. But the force of this text is not so great as that of the second passage, in the eleventh chapter ; and I have brought it chiefly for the sake of some remarks which I shall have occasion to make.

In the passage to which I have but now alluded, St. Paul draws important practical consequences from the narrative of the institution which he had just detailed. If the words of our Saviour, “this is my body," had been figurative, we might expect that his apostle, in commenting on them, would drop some word calculated to betray their real meaning. Now, therefore, we have to see whether in his instructions, grounded upon them, he argues as though they were figurative or literal. That he is going to draw consequences from the account of the institution, is obvious from the introductory word :-Therefore," he says, “ whosoever shall eat of this bread, or drink of the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” The consequences, then, to be drawn from the manner in which our Saviour instituted the blessed Eucharist, is, that whosoever

receives it unprepared, is guilty of his body and blood.

What is the meaning of this phrase ? Only one expression is to be found parallel to it in the New Testament. The word 'ivogos, translated in Latin reus, in English guilty, is said sometimes of the punishment incurred, as “guilty of death ;": or, is referred to the tribunal, as “guilty of the judgment,”ť in which latter passages, it would be more accurately rendered by “subject to,” as “subject to the council.” But on one occasion besides the present, it is applied to the object against which the transgression is committed. This is in the Epistle of St. James, (ii. 10. where he says, that “whoever offendeth against one commandment, is guilty of all;" that is, offends against all God's commandments. In like manner then, the unworthy communicant offends against the body and blood of Christ. The expression may receive still further illustration from a term of Roman jurisprudence, by which a person guilty of high treason is said to be reus majestatis, guilty of majesty, that is lase, or violatæ majestatis, of an outrage against majesty. Similarly, then, to be guilty of Christ's body and blood, signifies committing an injury against those component parts of his sacred person.

The next question is, whether such an expression

• Mat. xxvi.

of Ibid. v. 21, 22.

could have been applied to the crime, committed by an unworthy participation of symbols of Christ. In the first place, I remark, that a personal offence to the body of Christ is the highest outrage or sin that can even be imagined : it forms a crime of such enormous magnitude, that we cannot well conceive its being used to designate any offence of a lower class. Could a disrespectful or unworthy approach to a morsel of bread, symbolical of him, be characterised as equal to it, and be designated by a name positively describing it?

Secondly, we may easily verify this point by example. Although the defacing of the king's coin be considered an offence against the king, and I believe treasonable, yet who would venture to call it an offence against his person, or his body, or to rank it with an actual assault committed to injure him? We have, perhaps, an illustration of this in a well-known historical anecdote. When the Arians disfigured and defaced the statues of Constantine, his courtiers endeavoured to rouse his indignation by saying, “ see how your face is covered with dirt, and quite deformed.” But this attempt to transfer to his own person the outrage done to his emblems, or representations, appeared to the sensible and virtuous emperor too gross a piece of flattery; so that, passing his hand quietly over his head, he replied :—"I do not feel any thing." In like manner, therefore, any offence against symbolical representations of Christ's body and blood

could not be considered as outrages against the realities themselves.

Thirdly, such an expression, under these circumstances, would be rather a diminution than an aggravation of the transgression. For, assuming that St. Paul's intention was to place in its proper light the heinous guilt of a sinful communion; if we suppose the body and blood of Christ to be absent, and only in heaven, and consequently, the insult offered him to consist only in the abuse of his institution, it surely would have been placing it in a stronger light, to describe it as an offence against his mercy and kindness, or his dignity and authority, rather than as one against his body and blood. For, though such an offence is enormous beyond any other, when the body is there, it is but a poor characterization of an offence against the Son of God, so to designate it, when the body is not there.

In fine, plain and simple reason seems to tell us, that the presence of Christ's body is necessary for an offence committed against it. A man cannot be “ guilty of majesty," unless the majesty exist in the object against which his crime is committed. In like manner, an offender against the blessed Eucharist cannot be described as “guilty of Christ's body and blood,” if these be not in the sacrament.

St. Paul then goes on to inculcate the necessity of proving or trying one's self before partaking of this sacred banquet, because he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment

or damnation to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. The crime before described, is now represented as, not discerning or distinguishing the body of Christ from other, or profane food. A natural question presents itself: what ground is there for this distinction, if the body of the Lord be not present to be distinguished ? It may be a holier food, or a spiritual food, but not so immea. surably distinct from all others as the body of Christ must necessarily be.

But these two passages from St. Paul receive a full developement, and an immense accession of force, when considered in connexion with those which have been so fully investigated in my preceding lectures. For, considering them conjointly, we have four different occasions on which certain expressions are used, referred by us to one subject, but by Protestants to totally distinct topics. In the first instance we find our Saviour instructing the crowds, according to their theory, upon the simple doctrine of belief in him. He involves this doctrine in a strange, unusual metaphor, implying, to all appearance, the eating of his body and the drinking of his blood. The hearers certainly understand him so, and he conducts himself so as to strengthen their erroneous impression, without even condescending to explain himself to his faithful apostles.

Well, inexplicable as this behaviour nay be, let us allow it for a moment. We come to another scene, where he is to institute a sacrament, as the

« PreviousContinue »