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EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS, RELATING TO THE EUCHARIST.
Sr. PAUL xiii. 21.-26.
1 Cor. xi. 23. Verily, verily, I say unto
For I have received of you, That one of you
the Lord that which also shall betray me.
I delivered unto you, Then the
disciples That the Lord Jesus the looked one on another, doubting of whom he
same night in which he
Simon Peter therefore
Jesus answered, He it is to whom I shall give a sop when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
xxii. 19-20. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, this is my body which is given for you:
1 Cor. xi. 23-26. took bread:
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you : this do in remembrance of me.
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the
testament in my blood : this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
this do in remembrance
Likewise also the cup after
supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
FROM ITS FIRST APPOINTMENT TO THE CLOSE OF THE SIXTH CENTURY.
1 Cor. XI. 26.
For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do
shew the Lord's death TILL HE COME.
We have now seen the nature and design of the institution of the Eucharist, and the particular circumstances which attended its appointment. From this we are naturally led to consider the reception which it met with throughout the world, and to see how mankind, having received this solemn charge from their Saviour, followed it up in their religious practice. For this purpose we shall endeavour to ascertain first, how it flourished in its primitive simplicity in the apostolic times : then, how it gradually became corrupted, under the papal dominion, by the doctrine of transubstantiation, and various other errors of the Roman church ; and lastly, we shall trace it onwards to the reviving light of the reformation, when it was restored by the fathers of our church to its present form and ritual :
THE FIRST CENTURY.
Our Saviour instituted the Eucharist, as we have already seen, in the city of Jerusalem, on the last evening of his life. In the city of Jerusalem, therefore, we should expect to hear of its first celebration. Turning to the Acts of the Apostles, we shall accordingly find the first mention of this sacrament on the day of Pentecost, ten days after the ascension of our Lord. We do not find any lengthened or studied account; we do not find it even asserted that it was the first time at which it had been observed. It is described quite as an accidental and casual circumstance, as though it had been a thing well known among Christians, and therefore not needing any lengthened or elaborate detail. Three thousand souls had been added to the church by the eloquent sermon of St. Peter. This was the infant church of Christ, three thousand faithful and devoted followers of a crucified God: and in describing the general manners of these three thousand, their habits of devotion, and their way of life, St. Luke speaks thus: “ And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” And again, shortly afterwards: “ And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart."* This breaking of bread can have no possible reference to anything except the Eucharist. It is the general way in which the apostles mention it, and is universally allowed to refer to that institution. The next mention which is made of it is in the twentieth chapter of the Acts and seventh verse: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow.” Here the apostle seems to assert that it was the custom of those times to celebrate this “ breaking of bread," on the first day of every week. He does not say that the disciples came together to break bread, as on a special occasion, but " when” the disciples came together, inferring evidently that it was their weekly custom so to do. The time to which St. Luke refers in this passage is about the year 56, and the time at which the book of the Acts was finished was the year 64. Therefore we have from this passage an evidence of the weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper for nearly thirty years after the crucifixion. In corroboration of this, let us now turn to St. Paul. St. Paul wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians in the year 56. In the eleventh chapter of that epistle he says, “ When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper ;" and then he proceeds to describe certain errors of which the church of Corinth had been guilty, in their manner of its celebration. In the tenth chapter of the same epistle, he says; “ Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.” From these two passages, we see, that the Lord's Supper was an established ordinance of the church of Corinth, and as he does not address them as at all peculiar in having this ordinance, we may reasonably infer that not only the church of Corinth, but that all the churches founded by the apostles, possessed at that time a regular established celebration of this sacrament. Then, advancing further to the gospel of St. John, who alludes to this sacrament as a thing well known and understood : “ Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life.”* And again, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.”+ And considering that St. John's gospel was published the last of all the scriptures, and quite at the close of the first century, we