Page images

proper sense, and in their relation to one another, have no reference to the Eucharist. And the subject is to be considered as it respects the Scriptures, Primitive Antiquity, and the Institutions of this


Of the subject, as it stands in Scripture.

There shall first be laid down, concerning each of the terms, what is conceived to be the meaning of it under the economy of the New Testament; and then taken into consideration the passages, which are thought to give the contrary construction, to all or any of the terms.

Of the term "Sacrifice:" The strict or proper sense of it, is to be sought in the Old Testament, in which, it will always be found to comprehend the circumstance of animal oblation. The sacrifices under the law were-The burnt-offering, which was wholly consumed by fire-The sin-offering, of which part was eaten by the priest; unless offered for himself or for the congregation-The trespass-offering, agreeing with the sin-offering in the most material points, but differing from it in being for private persons only, and in some other circumstances, and-The peace-offering, of which any person, not in a state of defilement, might partake. In all these, the taking of animal life was an essential circumstance of the act. It was so much the case, that when we read-"Jacob offered sacrifice on the mount;"* the literal translation, as expressed in the margin of the Bible, is-"killed beasts."

The subject of sacrifice, ought not to be confounded with that of offerings or oblations generally. When these were of things without life, they are never called sacrifices; and they are known by the ritual law of Moses, under two different names in the original.†

* Gen. xxxiv. 5P.

סבת מנחה ?

Although under any question of difference of opinion, it may be of the utmost importance to settle the meaning of a word used in common; and although it is here known, that among the many definitions given of sacrifice, there are some which do not contemplate it under the essential property of its being animal; yet it is thought, that Protestants should be aware, how they adopt a term, which, possessing the said property, may land them by fair consequence, on the sacrifice of the mass; in which the animal nature of the Redeemer of the world is supposed to be as truly offered, as it was at first on the cross.

It will hardly be pretended, that in the New Testament, the word " Sacrifice" is applied to the commemorating of the death of Christ in the Eucharist. Had it been so applied, there would have been a manifest inconsistency with this in what we read of the "one offering for sin,"* contrasted with "the offering oftentimes the same sacrifices."t The whole chapter is chiefly dedicated to the point, of there being but one sacrifice under the gospelthat of the high priest of our profession, which all the legal sacrifices prefigured.

It is further agreed, that the place from which the Eucharist is administered is called a table, in the narrative of the institution of the ordinance; and afterwards by St. Paul in the first Epistle to the Corinthians. It is here also believed, that there may be added what is said-"It is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables."‡ But the plea is maintained by some, that the word "Altar" is applied to the same subject, in the Epistle to the Hebrews: an authority which will be subsequently considered. As to the use of the same word, where it is said-"If thou bring thy gift to the altar, &c.;§" it must evidently relate to the only

Heb. x. 11. + Verse 11. Acts, vi. 2. § Matt v. 23.

altar at the time existing, as of divine appointment -that of the temple in Jerusalem.

Some have affirmed the intercommunity of the names "Altar" and "Table," from the circumstance, that the latter is occasionally applied to the Jewish altar; as—"Ye say, the table of the Lord is polluted." But although an altar may be called a table, because of some common properties which they serve; it does not follow, that any table, not possessed of the discriminating property of the altar, may be so called. It is like the occasional calling of a Church, or place of publick worship-a house. Such it is; without the inference, that every house is a Church. In short, an altar is a place of sacrifice: and the taking of its name, carries by implication an assumption of its distinguishing pro. perty.

It ought however to be understood, that no fault is here found with the applying either of "Sacrifice" or of "Altar" to the subject of the Eucharist, in an accommodated sense. In regard to the former of these terms, St. Paul has sanctioned such a latitude, by his application of it to two other subjects: for he speaks of "the sacrifice of praise,"† and of doing good and communicating, because "with such sacrifices God is well pleased." St. Peter also speaks of "offering up spiritual sacrifices,"§ which comprehend prayer and praise; and may not improperly be extended to the Eucharist, in the accommodated sense here supposed to be unexceptionable.

The opposite theory to that maintained, has not altogether despaired of fetching authorities from the Scriptures. A few of the principal shall be mentioned, as a specimen of them generally; and as designed to apply to one or to more of the words in question.

The most specious of the texts which can be

* Malachi, i. 12. Heb. xiii. 15. Verse 16. §i. 25.

named, is—“We have an altar, whereof they have no right to partake, which serve the tabernacle."* Be the meaning of this what it may, it can have no relation to the Eucharist; as appears from the next two verses-"For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burnt without the camp: wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.' These words evidently relate to the sin-offering: whereas the analogy discernible on the subject of the Eucharist, is with the peace-offering; of which the worshippers were supposed to eat, as a people in covenant with God; although doubtless the ground of that state was recognized in the previous offering of the victims-prefigurative of their great antitype. And it is evident, that no part of the sacrifice was burnt without the camp. This is sufficient to ward off the contemplated application of the passage. The real sense of it is here supposed to be simply an illustration of the point, that professing Christians were called on to leave the observances of the Jewish Church, in imitation of their master; who, under an exclusion from the same, suffered without the gate of Jerusalem; in like manner as the bodies of the beasts, by which his blessed person had been typified, were burnt without the camp. This construction is countenanced by the verse which goes before, and by that which follows the two verses quoted: for the former is directed against the Jewish distinctions in regard to meats; and the latter improves the whole subject thus-"Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach."

The next passage in pretension to plausibility, is the comparison drawn by St. Paulf between the idolatrous sacrifices of the heathen, and the Christian Eucharist: the design of the comparison being

Heb. xiii. 10.

† 1 Cor. x. 20, 21.

to show, that the partaking of the one is inconsistent with the partaking of the other. In comparisons, it is sufficient that there be an agreement in the point for which the subjects are brought together. That there is the commemoration of a sacrifice in the Eucharist, is confessed on both sides: and this is the point, which makes the alleged inconsistency the same on either hypothesis. The subject may be compared to a question of allegiance, claimed by two hostile kings; under which the homage to either of them, would be inconsistent with the duties exacted by the other; to be tendered to him, through the person of his representative.

Another place, is where St. Paul describes the object of his labours to be-" That the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost."* This is a noble figure, in which the converted Gentiles are considered as one great oblation to the Divine Majesty. It has nothing which can restrict it to the Eucharist: and even had this been designed, the idea of oblation must be narrowed to that of sacrifice, in order to justify the application which has been made of the passage.

The words "A royal priesthood"+ have been construed to mean a priestly regimen; although the expression was evidently designed to comprehend all the members of all the Churches, to whom the apostle addressed the epistle. And even "The vials full of odours"‡ presented to the Lamb by the four-and-twenty elders, has been thought to the purpose; although defined to be "The prayers of the saints," without any especial reference to the Eucharist. Besides, it is well known, that the whole of what may be called the machinery of the Apocalypse, is founded on the temple and its service, and to be understood figuratively.

It is here trusted, that the above authorities will

Rom. xv. 16.

† 1 Pet. ii. 9.

Rev. v. 8.

« PreviousContinue »