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ST PAUL'S DOCTRINE OF THE EUCHARIST.
ST PAUL twice adverts, in a very remarkable manner, to the institution of the Lord's Supper. In the one instance, his object is to point out, to his Corinthian converts, the peril of idolatry, in which they were placed, by partaking of the sacrifices offered to idols. In the other, he is endeavouring to rectify some great irregularities, of which the Corinthians were guilty, in their mode of observing the Eucharistical rite. On the former of these instances, Dr Wiseman presents the following remarks:
"In 1 Cor. x. 16, the Apostle touches quite incidentally upon the point; for he is speaking of the guilt of participating in the idolatrous sacrifices of the heathens. He enforces this by the question-The cup of benediction which we bless, is it not the partaking of the blood of Christ? And the bread which we break, is it not partaking of the body of the Lord?' The word here rendered partaking, or communion, is used several other 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 exactly to the substantive in the first passage, κοινωνοὶ, κοινωνία. 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." (p. 259, 260.)
It is scarcely possible to conceive less to be made of a passage of Scripture, avowedly adduced in support of any doctrine, than has been made by Dr Wiseman, in the case of 1 Cor x. 16. So darkly, indeed, is the writer's meaning insinuated, that there would be great rashness in putting forth even a guess upon the subject. Instead, therefore, of any attempt of that kind, let me briefly state what there really is to be found, in this 10th chapter, tending to elucidate the nature of the Institution under consideration.
St Paul begins to treat of things offered to idols, as far back as the 8th chapter; in which he gives some important admonitions to those who, being aware that an idol was nothing-no real being, thought that they might partake of the sacrifices, without scruple. The Apostle, however, reminds such persons that, through their example, others, who had not that knowledge, might be led to eat things offered to what they deemed real deities— and so "perish." After a discourse, which is more closely connected with this matter than at first sight appears, St Paul in the 10th chapter expressly resumes the subject of idolatry, as connected with the partaking of the sacrifices offered to idols; and thus he proceeds:
"Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. 15. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 16. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17. For we being many
are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread."
From these verses, every one must see that it is, not by any transubstantiation of the bread and the wine, but by means of the bread broken, of which all are partakers, and of the cup blessed, of which all drink, that the participants enjoy a communion of the body and blood of Christ. This becomes still more manifest as the Apostle proceeds in his argument. He first refers to the Jews: "Behold Israel after the flesh :" and, with regard to them, asks, "Are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?"-manifestly intending to say, that the eating of the bread and drinking of the cup, in the Eucharist, had the same reference to the communion of the body and blood of Christ, which the eating of the sacrifices had to the partaking of the altar. St Paul applies all this to the partaking of the sacrifices offered to idols; intimating that the partaking of things so offered would, in the same way, bring the partakers into communion with the false deities which the idols represented. "And I would not," he says, "that ye should have fellowship with devils-ov éλa dé ὑμᾶς κοινωνοὺς τῶν δαιμονίων γίνεσθαι.” Moreover, as if to make the argument still stronger, for the permanence of the material substances present at the Eucharist, he adds: "Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table and the table of devils."
Without farther comment, I leave these passages to make their due impression upon the reader's mind. Hermeneutical chemistry has great power, as we have seen, in changing the appearances of things; but by no means can it extract, from this chapter, that which possesses the slightest affinity to the doctrine of Transubstantiation.
The other passage of St Paul, alluded to at the opening of this section, now demands attention. After giving an account, which has already been noticed, of the Institution of the Eucharist, the Apostle (1 Cor. xi. 26-29) draws the following consequences:
"As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. 27. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh his own damnation, not discerning the Lord's body."
The word "guilty" (evoxos), in v. 27, Dr Wiseman interprets by the same word in James ii. 10; where it is said that "whoever offendeth against any one commandment is guilty of all;" that is, "offends against all God's commandments." Thus the unworthy communicant offends against the body and blood of Christ; or, as Dr Wiseman otherwise illustrates the matter, is reus læsæ majestatis-commits an injury against the body and blood of our Lord's Sacred Person. The learned author then
contends, that such an expression can be properly applicable to nothing less than a personal offence to the body of Christ; and asks, "Whether a disrespectful or unworthy approach to a morsel of bread, symbolical of him, can be characterised as equal to it, and be designated by a name positively describing it* ?"
Here, at least, we perceive how trivial a ceremony Dr Wiseman would esteem this solemn rite, instituted by our Lord in remembrance of himself, supposing the material elements employed to have simply a symbolical character. In that case, those consecrated emblems of our Saviour's passion, which so affectingly show his death till he come, would to him appear to have but little value. He writes of a disrespectful or unworthy approach to a morsel of bread"-as if the language of the Apostle were quite overcharging any offence which could possibly be committed, according to the Protestant interpretation. What is worse, he goes on to illustrate his notions of the subject, by means of an anecdote, which, in my opinion, indicates the most grievous insensibility to holy things. My trust is, that he will live long enough to lament, that he ever attempted so to withdraw the minds of men, from the serious consideration of the point in question. On reading Dr Wiseman's observations on this subject, a passage of Scripture occurred to me which I cannot persuade myself to withhold. It will assuredly
* Lectures, p. 262.