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Before leaving this subject, it may be well to say, that, although Hooker had not before him the teaching of the latter part of the Catechism (added A.D. 1661), in which the apparent separation of “the inward part” from “ the benefits partaken of” is suggestive, to say the least, of a desire to emphasize belief in an objective Presence previous to reception; yet he had before him the statement of the twenty-eighth Article “The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner,”—from which it may be fairly argued that if the Gift is first given, then taken, and finally eaten, it must be something external to him who takes it in order to eat it; that is to say, it must be the Body of Christ before he takes it." That which is previously non-existent cannot, strictly speaking, be either “given” to, or “taken ” by, the recipient.
It is sufficiently remarkable that whilst Hooker maintained that the word priest, so odious to the Puritans, is not inappropriate to the second order of the Christian ministry, he says but little about the Eucharistic Sacrifice, with which that term is so necessarily connected. That the terms priest, altar, sacrifice,
See Forbes, on Art. XXVIII.
are correlative—any one of the three implying the other two—is not open to dispute. Whilst Hooker approves of the association of the title priest with some idea of sacrifice, he speaks with brevity and unnecessary hesitation. His attention appears to have been so wholly taken up in regarding the Eucharist as a Feast, as to blot out of his reckoning the antecedent truth that it is also a Sacrifice. In this he is markedly in contrast with the great Anglican theologians of the seventeenth century, in the first year of which he died. But he raised the question—“Seeing then that sacrifice is now no part of the church ministry, how should the name of Priesthood be thereunto rightly applied ?”? To this question he replied “ The Fathers of the Church of Christ with like security of speech call usually the ministry of the Gospel Priesthood in regard of that which the Gospel hath proportionable to ancient sacrifices, namely the Communion of the blessed Body and Blood of Christ, although it have properly now no sacrifice.” 2
Previously, in the Fourth Book, Hooker stated: “That very Law therefore which our Saviour was to abolish, did not so soon become unlawful to be observed as some imagine ; nor was it afterwards unlawful so far, that the very
1 Bk. V. ch. lxxviii. § 2.
name of Altar, of Priest, of Sacrifice itself, should be banished out of the world. For though God do now hate sacrifice, whether it be heathenish or Jewish, so that we cannot have the same things which they had but with impiety; yet unless there be some greater let than the only evacuation of the Law of Moses, the names themselves may (I hope) be retained without sin, in respect of that proportion which things established by our Saviour have unto them which by him are abrogated. And so throughout all the writings of the ancient Fathers we see that the words which were do continue; the only difference is, that whereas before they had a literal, they now have a metaphorical use, and are as so many notes of remembrance unto us, that what they did signify in the letter is accomplished in the truth.” 1
Now Hooker is a writer whose teaching does not lend itself to isolated quotations: we need to consider all he writes upon a given subject, and to balance and qualify statement with statement. So here the two passages quoted above are to be compared, and suffered to interpret each other--the words, “sacrifice is now no part of the church ministry,” should be considered side by side with the assertion, “the Gospel has properly now no sacrifice,
i Bk. IV. ch. xi. $ 10.
and also in reference to his earlier words condemnatory of “sacrifice, whether it be heathenish or Jewish.” Certainly the Eucharist is a sacrifice neither one nor the other. To quote Dr. Paget, “ Again, Hooker must be credited with attaching some real meaning to the proportion (of which he speaks in both passages) between what was abrogated and what was established by Christ: he cannot have meant to deny utterly all sacrificial aspect or character in the Eucharist, when he speaks of it as proportionable to ancient sacrifices : for a merely alien rite could not be spoken of as proportionable to that which it superseded. Again, it must be borne in mind that Hooker clearly did not mean to part company with the Fathers to whom he refers : he intended his words to be at all events a possible interpretation of theirs. What he does quite deny is a sacrifice that is either heathenish,' 'Jewish,' or 'proper’: and therefore much turns on the meaning he attached to this last term. Waterland's comment upon it is valuable: ‘I presume he meant by proper sacrifice, propitiatory, according to the sense of the Trent Council, or of the new definitions' (Works, V. 140, note f. ed. 1856).”
Paget, Introduction to Hooker, Bk. V., pp. 199, 200.
The following extract from the Fourth Book is of considerable interest, and the plea that the Puritans would not now require “that the Eucharist should be ministered after meat, may be fairly claimed as indirect evidence in favour of fasting reception of the Holy Communion being the custom in Hooker's day.
“Our end ought always to be the same; our ways and means thereunto not so.
The glory of God and the good of his Church was the thing which the Apostles aimed at, and therefore ought to be the mark whereat we also level. But seeing those rites and orders may be at one time more which at another are less available unto that purpose, what reason is there in these things to urge the state of one only age as a pattern for all to follow? It is not I am right sure their meaning, that we should now assemble our people to serve God in close and secret meetings; or that common brooks or rivers should be used for places of baptism; or that the Eucharist should be ministered after meat; or that the custom of church feasting should be renewed; or that all kind of standing provision for the ministry should be utterly taken away, and their estate made again dependent upon the voluntary devotion of men. In these things they easily