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king, in a very different sense from what they had imagined when they joined the company of his followers, they were disappointed ; and for this it was, that these “disciples went away and walked no more with him :"-they had “no root in themselves."
Thus the first and principal assumption—the docile disposition of the hearers-on which this fine argument is based, is utterly false, and the whole superstructure falls to the ground. Such an error might have been pardonable in Coleridge,* who was not a professed divine; but is it so in one who, like Cardinal Wiseman, sets up for an expounder of the word of God?
Nor is that other assumption of his, that our Lord always explained himself whenever his hearers mistook the literal for the figurative sense, true. Dr. Turner says:
“ Undoubtedly, our Lord did very often explain his meaning. But to infer from ordinary practice a universal invariable usage, without a single exception, cannot be admitted. There might be strong reasons, and not always ascertainable by us, for omitting explanation in particular cases.
It was chiefly to those who were really in search of the truth, that he was at the pains to explain himself. Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables.' Without a parable spake he not unto them, and when they were alone he expounded all things to his disciples. Mark iv, 11, 34. In Matt. xvi, 4, indignant at the people's continued want of faith, notwithstanding the most direct evidence, he declares that no sign should be given them but that of the prophet Jonas, without explaining wherein that sign consisted ; and in xxi, 27, he expressly refuses to tell by what authority' he acted. The cases in John ii, 19, 20, and in iv, 10–15, where his figurative language is misunderstood, and he adds nothing explanatory of it, are examined by Wiseman ; who then, in express words and with singular inconsistency, abandons the very rule which he had set out on his 107th page, namely; that our Lord's constant practice was to explain himself,' &c.; and now, on pp. 117, 119, he says, I have never said that our Saviour was bound to answer the objections of the Jews; but I have examined his practice only when he did answer or explain, and have found that his conduct was precisely that of an upright and honest teacher, who corrected mistakes and enforced his doctrines without fear. But in the case of John ii, he deems it right to give no answer at all, and the passage only proves that our Saviour sometimes declined answering an objection,' (he should have said explaining a figure.) ... The avowed abandonment of his own principle entirely precludes the necessity of a more minute examination of his remark."--Essay, pp. 30, 31.
* See his " Aids to Reflection."
The following is a curious specimen of the way in which a hasty man will sometimes get taken in his own snare. He says, “Our Lord makes a distinction between eating his body and drinking his blood; a distinction without any real signification or force, if he be not speaking of the real presence; for to partake of the blood of Christ by faith, adds nothing to the idea of partaking of his body;" -an unlucky statement, which his acute examiner thus turns back
upon him :
“If there really be such a significant and forcible distinction, and if the command to drink the blood is as unlimited as that to eat the flesh, on what ground of Scripture or reason do Dr. Wiseman and his coadjutors withhold the blood from the people, that very blood which has such a distinctive force and significancy?"-Essay, p. 34.
But it is now time that we give some attention to our essayist's own exposition of the discourse. As has been already observed, the onus of the entire controversy lies within the compass of verses 51-59 inclusive. “Except ye eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man,” &c.:-the question is, Is there anything in the laws of Biblical criticism which forbids our interpreting this language of faith? that is, “the duty and the rewards of a living faith in the Redeemer, with the fuller and more distinct development, however, than had been before made, of the atoning sacrifice which was to be effected by his death, and the necessity of this faith acting on it, in order to secure the pardon of sin, the mystical union of the believer with his Lord, and, by consequence, his attainment of present spiritual life, of future resurrection, and of eternal happiness.”
Nothing is more common in the Scriptures than to apply words, denoting food and drink, to the devout reception of moral and religious truth into the mind. “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” Jer. xv, 16.
“Son of man, eat that I give; eat this roll; cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee.” Ezek. ii, 8; iii, 1–3. Wisdom personified says, “They that eat me shall yet be hungry, and they that drink me shall yet be thirsty,"—shall be desirous of more. Eccles. xxiv, 25. Similar language abounds in the Book of Canticles.
“The same figure is employed by the later Jewish writers. Thus the rabbins say, that every eating and drinking mentioned in the Book of Ecclesiastes refers to the law and to good works ;'* and
*“ This is a quotation from the Midrash Koheleth, and has been repeatedly cited by commentators."
Maimonides employs similar language when he speaks of 'filling the stomach with bread and meat,' while he means to express the idea of knowing what is lawful and unlawful.'* Passages have been cited also from the Talmud, in illustration of our Lord's language, and to them I must now request the reader's attention, and the more particularly, as they are commented on by Dr. Wiseman, who quotes them from Lightfoot."
Dr. Turner, whose Talmudic studies have been extensive, here follows with an extract from this rabbinical Thesaurus, which is curious in many respects, but which want of space compels us to omit, save that portion of it which more immediately relates to the subject in hand:-"Rab says Israel are about to eat the years of the Messiah. Says Rabbi Joseph, true; but who eats of him? Do Hillek and Billekt cat of him? in opposition to the words of Hillel, who said, there is no Messiah ; for a long time ago they ate him in the days of Hezekiah.” Rashe's gloss on the words, “ Israel are about to eat the years of the Messiah,” is, “ Israel are about to eat the abundance of the times of the Messiah."
Lightfoot comments on this passage—which he cites together with its gloss-thus: “Behold eating the Messiah, and yet no complaints upon the phraseology. Thillel is, indeed, blamed for saying that the Messiah was so eaten that he will no longer be for Israel; but on the form of speech not the slightest scruple is expressed. For they clearly understood what was meant by the eating of the Messiah; that is, that in the days of Ezechias, they became parrakers of the Messiah, received him with avidity, embraced him joyfully, and as it were absorbed him."!
Dr. Wiseman, who apparently owes to Lightfoot all he knows of the Talmud, after getting from him the passage in question, thus disputes his comment thereon as above given :-“The Jewish doctors themselves did not understand the words of Hillel in Lightfoot's sense. These are the words of the Talmud : “Rab said, Israel will eat the years of the Messiah. (The gloss explains this by the abundance of the times of the Messiah will belong to Israel!) Rab Joseph said truly, but who will eat of it? (the abundance.)
“Jad Hazakah, Grounds of the Law, cap. iv, ad fin., fol. 7, vol. i, Amsterdam edition.”
+ Two judges of ancient Sodom, as Rashe thinks.
I See Pittman's edition, vol. xii, p. 296, Heb. and Talmud. Exercitations upon St. John. In the older editions of Lightfoot these Exercitations are called his Hebraicæ Horæ ; in that of Rotterdam, 1686, see vol. ii, p. 626 ; in that of London, 1684, vol. ii, p. 554.
Will Chillek and Billek eat of it? This was said to meet the saying of Hillel,' &c."
The reader will please to take notice that the parentheses, italics, and capitals, in this place are all Dr. Wiseman's. He continues :“ The rabbins, therefore, understood the words of this doctor, not as applying to the Messiah, but to the abundance of his times ; and then the figure is not in eating, but in the word Messiah. Did they understand him rightly? Then Lightfoot's interpretation is totally wrong, and no parallelism exists between these words and those of our Saviour; for he certainly did not mean to inculcate the necessity of eating the abundance of his times. Did they misunderstand Hillel, and was it only Dr. Lightfoot who first arrived at his meaning? Then it follows that Hillel, in these phrases, departed from the intelligible use of language, and consequently ceases to be a criterion for explaining it."
This lofty pæan is raised over Lightfoot on a foundation utterly fictitious. In order to destroy the inference resulting from Rab's expression, “But who shall eat of him?" and from Hillel's, “They ate him in the days of Hezekiah,” Dr. Wiseman has introduced Rashe's gloss in the place of the important words in these phrases, and has left them as though they had been originally spoken by Rab and Hillel just as he has altered them. The pronoun it, by which he translates the original Hebrew suffix 1h, is printed in capitals, -as if to make his dishonesty or stupidity more glaringly conspicuous—and this it is made to relate to its supposed antecedent, - abundance." Thus, for “ eat of him," we have “eat of it;" and for “they ate him," “they ate it," all along.
This Rashe (his full name is Rabbi Solomon Jarchi) was, as the learned well know, a glossist, or sort of scholiast, on the Talmud, who lived no less than eleven hundred years after Rab and Hillel ; and yet here is Dr. Wiseman giving us his gloss on their words, as the very words which they themselves had written --and that too, when, not their meaning simply, but their particular phraseology is the very point at issue. In the language of the essayist, “What would be thought of a professor of Greek, who, in expounding Homer, should take an imaginary antecedent to one of the great poet's pronouns out of his commentator, Eustathius, and particularly when another antecedent, and the true one, had already been expressed by the bard himself ?"-Essay, p. 88, seq.
Dr. Wiseman should be counseled to keep out of the Talmud in future; such excursions do him no honor. There are those here, if there are none at the English college at Rome, who are
able to detect his mendacities, and to follow him into these waters of rabbinic lore far beyond his own depth.*
After all, what would be gained even if these phrases of "eating the Messiah” really were as he represents them? Does not Christ himself—in the part of the chapter not under debate-virtually say the same thing? Does he not speak of a certain bread that must be eaten in order to life; and then does he not expressly declare that he is that bread? And is not, therefore, to eat that bread, to eat him? Are not Christ and the bread identically the same thing under different names? And is not the same word, eat, equally applicable to both ?
But Dr. Wiseman contends, that even if the phrase, “to eat the Messiah," could mean "to receive and embrace him, the expression to eat the flesh of the Messiah is totally different, and that the least departure from established phraseology plunges us into obscurity and nonsense.”
To this wholesale assertion Dr. Turner replies :
" That words and phrases often take their determinate meaning from the particular occasion and circumstances which gave rise to their use, by which also their meaning is often modified; so that all. obscurity' is thereby removed. Our author does himself recognize the principle here stated, and I am happy to confirm its correctness by his authority. *Philology is not conducted merely by taking the abstract meaning of words and applying them to any passage, but by studying them in peculiar circumstances.'-P. 127. The case before us proves the truth of this ; for it is undeniable that some of the best critics and commentators, both of ancient and modern times, have agreed in giving to the expressions, 'to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Messiah,' a meaning, which, Dr. Wiseman says, implies a • departure from established phraseology,' without either obscurity' or 'nonsense.' is, in truth, neither nonsense in the meaning, nor necessary obscurity in the language which conveys it. The bread' to be eaten is expressly declared by our Saviour to be his flesh. It is evident, therefore, that eating the bread, in verses 48, 50, 51, is identical with eating the flesh. Whatever the one means the other must also inean. The language, except ye eat,' &c., in verses 53–56, is suggested by that in which the objection is couched, in verse 52, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? To which the words, and drink the blood,' are added, simply to particularize, so as to denote a thorough partaking; and the whole is an amplification of the thought before expressed, in verses 51, 52, namely, the .eating of the bread which came down from heaven.' And in verses 56, 57, 58, the phrases, 'eateth my flesh and drinketh
• It is remarkable that Dr. Turton, who answered Wiseman's Lectures in England, makes no mention either of his perversion of this place in the Talmud, or of his misrepresentations of the Syriac version, Tholuck, or Tittmann.