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Calvin, again, considered the latter opinion He gave it out that the bread was not actually the body of Jesus Christ, nor the wine his blood, but that both his body and blood were sacramentally received by the faithful in the use of the bread and wine. Calvin, however, confessed himself unable to explain even this his own doctrine; for he says, "If it be asked me how it is, that is, how believers sacramentally receive Christ's body and blood, I shall not be ashamed to confess, that it is a secret too high for me to comprehend in my spirit, or explain in words."
But, independently of the difficulties, which have arisen from these different notions concerning the nature and constitution of the Lord's Supper, others have arisen concerning the time and the manner of the celebration of it.
The Christian Churches of the East, in the early times, justifying themselves by tradition and the custom of the Passover, maintained that the fourteenth day of the month Nissan ought to be observed as the day of the celebration of this feast, because the Jews were commanded to kill the Paschal lamb
on that day. The Western, on the other hand, maintained, upon the authority of tradition and the primitive practice, that it ought to be kept on no other day than that of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Disputes again, of a different complexion, agitated the Christian world upon the same subject. One church contended that leavened, another that unleavened bread only should be used on this occasion. Others contended whether the administration of this sacrament should be by the hands of the clergy only. Others, whether it should not be confined to the sick. Others, whether it should be given to the young and mature promiscuously. Others, whether it should be received by the communicants standing, sitting, or kneeling, or as the Apostles received it. And others, whether it should be administered in the night-time as by our Saviour, or whether in the day, or whether only once, as at the Passover, or whether oftener in the year.
Another difficulty, but of a different nature, has occurred with respect to the Lord's Supper. This has arisen from the circumstance, that other ceremonies were enjoined by
by our Saviour, in terms equally positive as this, but which most Christians notwithstanding have thought themselves at liberty to reject. Among these the washing of feet is particularly to be noticed. This custom was of an emblematic nature. It was enjoined at the same time as that of the Lord's Supper, and on the same occasion. But it was enjoined in a more forcible and striking manner. The Sandimanians, when they rose into a Society, considered the injunction for this ordinance to be so obligatory, that they dared not dispense with it; and therefore, when they determined to celebrate the supper, they determined that the washing of feet should be an ordinance of their church. Most other Christians, however, have dismissed the washing of feet from their religious observance. The reason given has principally been, that it was an eastern custom, and therefore local. To this the answer has been, That the Passover, from whence the Lord's Supper is taken, was an eastern custom also, but that it was much. more local. Travellers of different nations had their feet washed for them in the East. But none except those of the circumcision
were admitted to the Passover-supper. If therefore the injunction relative to the washing of feet be equally strong with that relative to the celebration of the supper, it has been presumed that both, ought to have been retained; and, if one has been dispensed with on account of its locality, that both ought to have been discarded.
That the washing of feet was enjoined much more emphatically than the supper, we may collect from Barclay, whose observations upon it I shall transcribe on this occasion:
"But to give a further evidence," says he, "how these consequences have not any bottom from the practice of that ceremony, nor from the words following, 'Do this in remembrance of me,' let us consider another of the like nature, as it is at length expressed by John*: Jesus riseth from supper and laid aside his garments, and took a towel, and girded himself: after that, he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the Disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded; Peter said
* John xiii. 3, &c.
unto him, 'Thou shalt never wash my feet:' Jesus answered him, ' If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.' So after he had washed their feet, he said, 'Know ye, what I have done to you? If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet: for I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.' As to which let it be observed," continues Barclay, "that John related this passage to have been done at the same time with the other of breaking of bread; both being done the night of the Passover after supper. If we regard the narration of this, and the circumstances attending it, it was done with far more solemnity, and prescribed far more punctually and particularly, than the former. It is said only,
as he was eating he took bread,' so that this would seem to be but an occasional business but here, he rose up, he laid by his garments, he girded himself, he poured out the water, he washed their feet, he wiped them with a towel.' He did this to all of them; which are circumstances, surely, far more observable than those noted in the