« PoprzedniaDalej »
further observed: “it was not in the Apostle's power to conceal the outward part of the mystery from them, who by the countenance of their new teachers had been emboldened to break in upon the Eucharist, without being duly qualified; and therefore the only way that he had left to him, to prevent their further contempt and abuse of it, was to let them into the fuller knowledge of it.” Such an exception, as we can see so evidently the cause of it, confirms the rule which it is not to be denied S. Paul appears most carefully at all other times to have observed. And we have further proof how carefully our Saviour's caution was obeyed from the very obscure manner in which the ante-Nicene fathers, when they speak at all, speak of the Eucharist: so obscure indeed, especially near the apostolic age, that none could understand their import except those who had been fully admitted into the communion of the Church. No article relating to it was inserted into any Creed; and the very probable reason has been given, which must occur to every reader, that Creeds were forms of faith, to be taught the catechumens in order to their baptism: but not so the Eucharist; which was considered too sacred to be spoken of in words at length, but to the perfect only.” Take also,
* Johnson. Unbloody Sacrifice. settled in the Faith. “Difficulta
Vol. 1. p. 57. The same writer has some very forcible remarks upon the omission by S. Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews, of any notice of the prefiguration of the Christian Sacrifice, in the oblation of Melchisedeck: there was apparently, but for some powerful motive, every reason why he should then enter into it: and this, as S. Jerom tells us, was because he thought it not proper to discourse of that Sacrament familiarly to people, not yet
tem rei prooemio,” says that Father,
for example, the famous passage in S. Justin: in a part of his Apology, where he is giving an account of the
concealment of these mysteries (of the Sacraments) were in sum, to shew the great esteem they had of them, and which they by this means endeavoured to imprint upon all that were admitted to the knowledge and enjoyment of them: and at the same time to guard, and if possible secure them from the flouts and objections of Jews and heathens, and of all whom they thought too light and frothy, to be entrusted with things so very weighty and serious, and yet of so peculiar a nature, that there was nothing in the world, that could in all respects be compared to them. For they justly believed that a Divine Power went along with the Sacraments, which was reason enough why they should set the highest value upon them, and desire that others should do so too; and yet they knew the visible signs of these Sacraments to be beggarly elements, things in their own nature very cheap and common; and they might without the gift of prophecy, easily foresee, that the enemies of Christianity would always be ringing in the ears of all that were well affected to Christianity (as the Deists and Quakers are perpetually labouring to persuade our people) that there can be no such effects of Water, Bread, and Wine, as priests of the Christian Church would have them believe. And there is one thing peculiar to the Eucharist, which made it more liable to scoffs, than any other part of our religion;
which is that the Bread and Wine were believed to be the very Body and Blood of Christ; no wonder if they were much upon the reserve in this point; since all must be sensible, that nothing in the Christian Theology, could have afforded more agreeable entertainment to the drolls and buffoons of the age; for whatsoever is most extraordinary, and elevated above the condition of other things, which seem to be of the same sort, lies most exposed to profane wit and mirth, when that which gives it its worth and excellency, can only be believed and not seen : and no doubt Tertullian spoke the sense of all the learned Fathers of his own, and of the succeeding times, in those observable words, ‘Nil adeo quod obduret mentes hominum, quam simplicitas Divinorum operum, quae in actu videtur; et magnificentia, quae in effectu repromittitur.’” This very scarce work of John Johnson, has been long promised in a new edition: which is much to be wished for, as it would undoubtedly be productive of the best effects, in establishing a more sound view of the doctrine of the Blessed Eucharist, than, I am afraid, generally exists amongst us. It is not without faults: but as a whole, it reflects honour upon the Church of which its author was a Priest, and may claim a place in the highest rank of our standard works, for learning, judgment, and acuteness of reason
ceremonies of the Christians in their common worship; how carefully he speaks, how anxiously he seems to weigh every word, lest he should say, even upon such an occasion, too much. “Upon the day called Sunday,” he tells us, “we have an assembly of all who live in the towns or in the country, who meet in an appointed place: and the records of the Apostles, or the writings of the Apostles are read, according as the time will allow. And when the reader leaves off, the President” (3 tpostros) in a discourse admonishes and exhorts us to imitate such good examples. Then we all stand up together and pray: and, as we before said, when that prayer is finished, bread is offered, and wine and water. And the President then also, with all the earnestness in his power (éan ovvopolo avrò”) sends up prayers and thanksgivings. And the people conclude the prayer with him, saying, Amen. Then distribution is made of the consecrated elements: which are also sent to such as are absent by the deacons.” Such is S. Justin's description of the celebration of the Eucharist upon the Lord's Day, or Sunday, as the fathers usually call it in their apologies, because it happened upon the day which was dedicated to the sun, and therefore best known to the heathens by that name. In the section immediately preceding, he relates in almost the same language, the manner in which the newly baptized was admitted to and received his first communion, in which one circumstance is added, viz. the kiss; and thus, short and obscure as this account
* That is, the Bishop: and so zpatop, oux évoy obelxopsy, axx' Reeves renders the word. See his daoy 3vyap.sffa.” This has reference note upon the passage. Vol. I. p. to a written liturgy, and there 107. seems no ground for the opinion of those who would argue from these * Compare, from the thanks- words of S. Justin, for the use of giving in the Clementine Liturgy, extemporary prayer in the Service “euxaggroupsy rol, Qee wayro- of the Holy Communion.
must at the time have appeared, we can clearly trace these important parts of the Holy Service: the general and the eucharistical prayer; the kiss of peace; the oblation of the elements; the mixture of water with the wine ; the consecration of the elements, then no longer common bread and common wine,” but the Body and the Blood of Christ ; and their after distribution to those present, or communion. Let us not, by the way, pass on without remembering, that there would have been no need of so much carefulness to conceal these mysteries from the world, from those who were without, if the Eucharist had been indeed nothing more than what later ages have endeavoured to reduce it to, a mere refreshing of our memories, or a renewal of our covenant, or a symbol of mutual love. But from this jealousy arose the evil of unjust accusations against the Christians,” which, although terrible, they were content to bear, unprovoked to further explanation, with the bare reply of an indignant and unhesitating denial. I shall digress for one moment upon the important assertion of S. Justin, and of S. Irenaeus (in the note),
ait Tertullianus Apolog. cap. 7, de sacramento infanticidii, et pabulo, inde et post convivium incesto. Caecilius apud Minutium: Infantis sanguinem sitienter lambunt, hujus certatim membra dispertiunt, hac federantur hostia. Justinus Martyr in dialogo cum Tryphone: An vos etiam de nobis creditis, homimes nos vorare, et post epulum lucernis extinctis nefario concubitu promiscue involvi 2 Theophilus ad Autolycum, lib. 3. Istud praeterea et crudelissimum et immanissimum est, quod nobis intendunt crimen, nos humanis carnibus vesci.” Rerum Liturgic. lib. 1. 4.3.
that after consecration the elements are no longer to be looked upom as common Bread and Wine. So speaks S. Ambrose, to am objector: “ Forte dicas: Aliud video, quomodo tu mihi asseris quod Christi corpus accipiam ? et hoc nobis adhuc superest ut probemus. Quantis igitur utimur exemplis ? Probemus non hoc esse quod natura formavit, sed quod benedictio consecravit: majoremque vim esse benedictionis quam naturæ: quia benedictione etiam natura ipsa mutatur.—Ipse clamat Dominus Jesus ; Hoc est corpus meum. Ante benedictionem verborum coelestium alia species nominatur, post consecrationem corpus significatur. Ipse dicit sanguinem suum. Ante consecrationem aliud dicitur, post consecrationem sanguis nuncupatur. etc."* Again, in a remarkable place of his homilies, S. Cyril of Alexandria plainly lays down the same doctrine, as if our Blessed Lord invites His people to partake, still, of bread and wine ; but of something more. τον, και τιετε οινον, δv sxspozorz juv' εγω εμαυτον εις 3pwauv irop.ozorz, £yw εμzvtov τοις τοθουσι με exspozora."* And once more ; S. Irenæus, to the same effect. “ Quando ergo et mixtus calix, et factus panis percepit verbum Dei, et fit Eucharistia sanguinis et corporis Christi, ex quibus augetur et consistit carnis nostræ substantia ; quomodo carnem negant capacem esse donationis Dei—quæ de calice, qui est sanguis ejus, nutritur ; et de pane, quod est corpus ejus, augetur?"* To the above, which are but very few out of many