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blood of Christ, and each believer receiving, from the hand of the priest, the entire body, blood, soul, and divinity of the Saviour. They further contend, that the whole of Christ is contained in either form, so that it is not necessary to partake of both the bread and the wine as Christ himself appointed. And hence, for many centuries, they allow the laity only to receive the bread or wafer, and confine the use of the wine to the priests alone. This latter change in the administration of the sacrament they call a matter of discipline, and acknowledge that there is no authority for it in Scripture or the fathers, but justify it, as they suppose, by the argument, that as there can be no human body with out blood, therefore, in receiving the body of Christ, they necessarily receive the blood also. The main doctrine of Transubstantiation they defend from the positive words of our Lord, “ Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you."-" Drink ye all of this, for this is my blood of the New Testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins," (Matt. xxvi. 26,) as also from the declaration of the Redeemer in the sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel, "Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
In contradistinction from the Roman doctrine, amongst others, is that which our Church maintains, together with the Church of England, from which we derived it. And here our Articles teach, that there is indeed a partaking of the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament of the holy Eucharist, when received with a lively faith. But that this presence of Christ is after a heavenly and spiritual manner, and not according to the earthly notion of a gross material substance: that therefore, there is no change of the substance of the bread and of the wine, but only a solemn consecration of them to a sacred use, which does truly change
ROMAN DOCTRINE OF THE EUCHARIST.
their character and their name, but not their material nature. And hence our Articles condemn the Roman Catholic tenet of Transubstantiation, declaring that "it cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given rise to many superstitions."
We further deny that in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist there is a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. For Christ hath once suffered for sin, saith the Apostle, and there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but only a commemoration of that which is made already. The only sacrifice we acknowledge, therefore, is the sacrifice of praise, the offering to God the sacred elements, as we do all our other worship, and the holy, reasonable, and living sacrifice of ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be his forever.
In examining the argument belonging to our subject, we have to inquire, 1st, What say the Scriptures? 2dly, What say the fathers? and 3dly, What is the history and present state of the Roman doctrine.
First then, the Church of Rome insists that Scripture, in its literal sense, is decisive in her favour. This is my body, saith Christ: This is my blood. But to this we reply, that the literal meaning of Scripture is not always the true one. It is, indeed, the sound and acknowledged rule of interpretation, that the literal sense is to be received, unless it involves an absurdity or a contradiction. And we allege that the language of our Lord must be understood figuratively, and not literally, by virtue of this very rule; since it is one of the instances to which the saying of the Apostle applies : The letter killeth, it is the Spirit that giveth life.
I shall endeavour to justify this allegation, by referring to those texts of Scripture, in which a similar use of metaphorical or figurative terms is acknowledged on all hands; and shall then prove, as it seems to me, that the essential
principles of all religious evidence oblige us to construe the words relied on in the same manner.
Our blessed Lord saith, for instance, I am the door, I am the vine, I am the way. Thus also, the apostle saith, The rock was Christ: all of which, with a multitude of others, are admitted to be figurative expressions, although full of truth and meaning. But we cannot prove them to be figurative by any other mode, than by showing the incongruity or absurdity of their literal signification. And this cannot be shown by doubting, whether the omnipotence of Christ could assume the appearance of these various forms; for how can we place limits to the Almighty? It does not become us to define what shall be impossible with God. For aught we know, Christ could have taken the aspect of a vine, or a way, or a rock, if it had pleased him. But such a transformation could have answered no purpose that we can conceive; neither is it mentioned in the sacred history as having been either intended, or as having taken place; and hence it is agreed, with perfect unanimity, that these expressions were figurative, designed for a spiritual and not a literal interpretation. I am aware, indeed, that our Roman brethren are shocked at such an argument, and think that it is characterized by gross irreverence. But they must permit me to retort the charge upon themselves. For if it be irreverent to imagine that the divine Redeemer should appear in the form of a vine or a rock, how much more irreverent must it be to teach, that he presents himself in the shape of a wafer?
With perfect consistency, therefore, as we maintain, we apply the same reasoning to the subject of the Eucharist. Our Lord had previously declared in the sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel, I am the living bread that came down from heaven, if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever. And the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. He that eateth my flesh, and
drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him
body should be accounted one with their body, his blood with their blood, his soul with their soul, that the atonement of his blessed sacrifice and the obedience of his perfect righteousness should thus be secured to them, and the power of his Divinity should be pledged on their behalf, to cleanse, and sanctify, and make them more and more fit for his eternal society in heaven!
Here then, the apostles had the former mysterious declaration explained. The bread of heaven, which is spiritual, was represented by the bread of earth, which is natural, in order to show how the Redeemer's love could unite the earthly offspring of the first Adam, to that second Adam who was the Lord from heaven. And although the symbols of this precious mystery were fitly appointed to commemorate the body that was broken and the blood that was shed, because his obedience unto death was the meritorious ground of our redemption, yet the blessing promised, and designed to be bestowed, was the incorporation not literally with his natural but with his spiritual body, the Bread from heaven, in order that his elect might form that mystical body which is the blessed company of all faithful people— that body of which he is the Head and the Spouse, the New Jerusalem-the Church of God.
To my mind, any other construction than this would involve us in the very absurdity, which the Roman Catholic expositors acknowledge must be avoided in the sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel, where the Jews are said to have murmured, asking, How can this man give us his flesh to eat. For they all connect that chapter with the institution of the Eucharist, and, to a certain extent, we have no objection to this interpretation. They also acknowledge that the literal eating of our Saviour's body and blood, according to the mistaken notion of those disciples who turned back and walked no more with him, would have been a horrible and atrocious wickedness. And yet they imagine that the bread and the wine are transubstantiated in the sacrament so per