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is the New Testament in my blood' used in the two other places, must be supposed to signify the same thing; it follows, that a sense ascribed to one of the forms, and not adapted to the other, cannot be the sense of either.
But this diversity of language being put out of view; let the inquiry be now confined to the sense of the terms" This is my body” and “this is my
blood.” It is a maxim, that where words will bear two senses, one opposed to some of the clearest dictates of reason and the other consistent with them, the latter should be preferred.
To the interpretation on which the doctrine of transubstantiation is founded, there arises a host of rational objections. It is contrary to the testimony of our senses, and thus destroys the ground of our certainty of our Saviour's miracles; in the performance of which he appealed to what was seen and heard by the people around him. It represents him as telling his disciples, while his sacred body was before their eyes, that he was even then bearing it in his hands. Since his as. cension, we learn from many places in Scripture, that it is in heaven; while the doctrine in question describes it as extended to every place, wherein a Christian minister may be commemorating his passion. Even the nature of a sacrament is hereby overthrown, as is remarked in the Twenty-eighth Article of this Church. For a sacrament is an outward sign of an inward grace: but according to the hypothesis, the substance of the sign vanishes under the act of consecration. And then, that the properties of the substance should remain, after this itself has vanished, is a contradiction in terms; and therefore, unlike to any thing proposed to our belief in scripture.
Still it is contended, that the letter of the words conducts directly to transubstantiation. Were this so, it would not follow that the letter should govern, in opposition to a more reasonable sense, discoverable in the place. But it is conceived, that the matter is not correctly stated. In the New Testament, we find frequent use of the auxiliary verb “is,” for the verb “ signifies,” or “represents,” and the like of their respective plurals. Thus we read—“ The good seed are the children of the kingdom"-" The tares are the children of the wicked one”-“ The harvest is the end of the world,” and “ The reapers are the angels."* The same phraseology may be found in other places. Thus—“ These” [Sarah and Hagar]" are the two covenants" -" The seven stars are the angels of the seven Churches;” and “The seven candlesticks are the seven Churches."
The way in which this form of expression became frequent in the New Testament, may be traced to the idiom of the language of the old. The Hebrew has no word answering to “signify” or “ represents.” Hence we find—“ This is my covenant” –“ The three branches are three days" ||—“The seven good kine are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years” –“It is the Lord's passover."** In the original, there is wanting even an auxiliary verb: which is notified by its being in italics, in the translation. When the Seventy made their Greek version of the Old Testament, they inserted in the above and in the like places, the auxiliary verb: which accordingly became an idiom, naturally transferred into the writings of the New Testament. Therefore the sense of the place is—“ This bread signifies” (or represents]
“my body:" and “This cup signifies” (or represents] “ my blood.”
But here comes in a point, on which much stress has been laid. It is the agreement in gender of the Greek adjective translated" this,” with the substantive
body,” and not with the substantive “ bread.” But in every language, it is common to use the said pronoun, in the neuter gender, indeterminately: as if it were said—this matter of which I speak. So we read
-" This is the fruit of my labour;”++ the pronoun being in the neuter gender; and the subject with which
* Matt, xiii. 38, 39. Gal. iv. 24. | Rev. i. 20. $ Gen. xvii 10. ll xl. 12. xli. 26. ** Ex. xii, 11. tt Philipp. i. 22.
it agrees being masculine. The distinction may be illustrated by reference to words quoted above...“ The seven stars are the angels of the seven Churches.” Had the speaker, pointing to so many persons, and without reference to the metaphor of stars, said ---these are the angels of the seven Churches; the using of any other than the masculine gender, could never have been brought under the laws of grammar. But it would have been strictly grammatical to have said in Greek, with a pointed allusion to the stars, and using the neuter gender..." These are” (that is signify or represent) " the seven Churches."
The interpretation is considerably sustained, by what we may read in those writers on the subject, who are versed in the Jewish Talmuds; and who quote from them authorities to show, that in the Paschal celebration, there was usually applied to the victim, the name of..." The body of the passover.” The Jews are unquestionably impartial witnesses in this matter; and the fact being thus, it was very natural for the divine ordainer of the rite which was to succeed the passover, at the near approach of the awful event which was the ground of the two appointments, to intimate, that as
the body of the passover had” so long represented his blessed body, now to be given for man's redemption, it should in future be represented in the new way, which he was enjoining on his disciples. Analogy pointed to the other idea of the wine, as being representative of his blood; which had been before prefigur. ed by the blood of the Paschal Lamb in Egypt; when it was sprinkled on the lintels and the door posts of the houses of the Israelites, as the signal that they were to be passed over by the destroying angel.
But it is thought on the other side, that there hangs a considerable difficulty over the spiritual interpretation on such a subject; and of words uttered at a time, when there might be expected the utmost explicitness, in preference to figure. To this it may be replied, in the first place, that if the expression be indeed figurative, the like is used, where also it was of the highest importance to guard against mistake: as where Christ said " I am the vine," or "I am the door,” or...“ I am the good shepherd.” Further; figurative speech sometimes renders the sense of the speaker even more clear, than it would have been in abstract terms, otherwise rendered necessary. Perhaps the case in question may be considered as an instance of this. But after all, the words used on the occasion, according to the sense of them here adopted, and with the explanatory circumstances, may be perceived to be not figurative, although a figurative representation is the subject of the proposition. This may be illustrated as follows. Suppose -- what often happens.--that a sta. tue is erected to represent some character of former times; without any dependence on likeness of face or person. Let the supposed statue be dedicated to the memory of Socrates. If pointing to the statue, we were to say... This is Socrates, the celebrated philosopher of Athens; it would evidently be a figure of speech. But not so would be the saying -- This stands for---or sig. nifies---or represents the celebrated philosopher of Athens, whose name was Socrates. The latter would be the most in analogy with the form of delivery in the Eucharist.
The harsh meaning put by the opposite theory on the words of the institution, might have been prevented by the relation which it bears to the Paschal Supper; concerning which, the Jews were divinely instructed to say in all ages...“ It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt."* However solemn the juncture of the institution of the Eucharist; there must have been derived from it, in anticipation, a very great measure of solemnity, to the institution of its type: and yet it is spoken of by its great ordainer, with the latitude here affirmed of the language of the other. Dr. Covel, a learned clergyman of the Church of England, who resided for a considerable time at Constantinople,
Exod, xii. 27.
and travelled much in the countries of the East, mentions in his “ Account of the Greek Church," that the Jews in those countries kept up what their ancestors had done in the Paschal Supper; repeating during the season of it, and after their evening meal, the form established at the Exodus" This is the sacrifice of the passover.” It is evident, that the literal meaning of
the words applied to no other passover, than that eaten in Egypt. But the meaning is obvious; and so is that of the words of the institution; when, in either case any other meaning would be in contrariety to reason and to common sense.
The following passage has sometimes been thought to the purpose of the doctrine here denied
“ He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.”* But the apostle does not say“ He that eateth the body and drinketh the blood;" but—"he that eateth.” The not discerning of the Lord's body, is the not distinguishing of what he has made representative of it, from ordinary food. Irreverence to the representative elements, is a ground of the judgments of God; as an indignity offered to a picture would, under some circumstances, be construed to extend to its original.
When the fathers are appealed to on the present subject, no stress ought to be laid on their speaking of the Eucharist, in the terms in which it had been instituted. And further, every reader ought to be cautioned against the forged books, from which even some able writers on the other side have armed themselves with authorities. Such is the production called "The Acts of St. Andrew.” Dupin says of it...“ This history ought at least to be esteemed a dubious writing, that cannot be applied to prove any doctrine of faith.” He notices its having been quoted by Baronius, Bellarmine and
* I Cor. xi. 29.