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The terms altar and table.
nione prohibere quenquam non possumus, nisi aut sponte confessum, aut in aliquo judicio ecclesiastico, vel sæculari nominatum, atque convictum'.' (Serm. 351. de Pœnitentia.) Extreme cases, however, may, and sometimes do arise, in which a minister is not only justified in withholding the sacrament, but would be culpable if he omitted to do so.
Both the terms altar and table appear to be used in Scripture with reference to the celebration of the Holy Communion. St Paul Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table (τραπέζης Κυρίου μεTéxe), and of the table of devils.' And in Heb. xiii. the Epistle to the Hebrews it is said, 'We
1 Cor.x. 21. says to the Corinthians,
have an altar (ἔχομεν θυσιαστήριον), whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.' Both terms are found in the writings of the early fathers; but the former is much the more common of the two; and Mr Wheatly has laid it down that the holy board was only once called the table in the Bingham, first 300 years. Altar is certainly the usual Ant. 11.442. name in Ignatius, Irenæus, Tertullian, and Cyprian. In subsequent writers the two names are found indifferently, the former having re
1 See a learned note on this subject in Stephens' Edition of the Prayer Book, p. 1063.
spect to the oblations of the Eucharist, the latter to the participation. In the first Prayer Book of Edward VI. the words altar, table, and God's board, were all used; but in the later revisions table alone was retained. In common language, however, the table is frequently spoken of as the altar; and that term is vindicated by some of our best divines'. It was also sanctioned by the convocation of 1640 in the following canon: We declare that this situation of the holy table doth not imply that it is, or ought to be, esteemed a proper altar, whereon Christ is again really sacrificed; but it is and may be called an altar by us, in that sense in which the primitive Church called it an altar, and in no other.' The sense here referred to is a figurative one, corresponding to that in which the Eucharist was called a sacrifice (Ovoía). The present The word will not be an improper occasion for explaining how apthe use of the word sacrifice, as applied to the the Lord's sacrament in the early church, and as it is at by the early present retained in our Communion-Service.
1 It was customary in the early Church, 1 To the before the celebration of the Eucharist, to present alms for the poor, bread and wine for the
See Bp. Sparrow's Rationale, and Nicholls' Notes on the Common Prayer.
2 To the thanksgivings.
3 To the dedication
holy feast of which they were about to partake, and other things required for the ministrations of the sanctuary, or for the maintenance of the clergy'. These contributions were regarded as offerings made to God for his service; and they were therefore called προστ popai, offerings; and not only that, but also Ovσiai, sacrifices. Nor was it unusual, either in sacred or classical Greek, to apply the word Ovola, a sacrifice, to an offering of inanimate things. Thus in Hebrews xi. 4, it is used to designate Cain's offering of fruits.
2 The service of praise and thanksgiving was called a sacrifice, Ovoía, in accordance with the language of the apostle, who exhorts us to offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually"?
3 The dedication of ourselves, our souls of ourselves and bodies, to the service of God, was likewise called a sacrifice3; and sometimes 'a reasonable sacrifice,' (as in our Prayer Book), according to the words of St Paul in Rom. xii. 1, ‘I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
1 Clem, Rom. ad Cor. 1. 44. Bingham, Ant. xv. 2.
3 Clem. Alex. Strom. v. p. 580.
4 The Eucharist was regarded as a me- 4 To the morial of the sacrifice of Christ, and the ele- itself. ments of bread and wine (when consecrated) as a representation of his body and blood. Thus St Chrysostom, speaking on this subject, Homil. xvii. says, 'We make a sacrifice, or, I should rather ad Hebr. say, a memorial of a sacrifice,' (áváμuvnow Ovoías). It was held to be not a repetition of Christ's sacrifice, nor yet a mere outward visible memorial of that sacrifice, but a memorial endued with spiritual efficacy; so that to partake of the consecrated elements is to partake spiritually of Christ, to apply to ourselves the benefits of his sacrifice. Each of the words sacrifice and memorial, if applied to the Sacrament without qualification, was liable to be misinterpreted the term sacrifice was, however, very generally adopted1.
This use of the word sacrifice, as applied to the Eucharist, is of later date than those which have been mentioned above, and does not occur in the fathers of the first two centuries. From it, and from the notion of the Eucharist which is connected with it, the Roman Church developed the dogma, that the Sacrament is not a memorial, but a repetition
1 See Suicer, Thesaur. in voc. Ovoía. Mr E. H. Browne On the Thirty-nine Articles, II. 519, 537.
of Christ's sacrifice; that the consecrated elements do not represent Christ's body and blood, but that they become his body and blood by transubstantiation.
The view of the Sacrament which considers it a memorial of Christ's sacrifice, endued with spiritual efficacy, (mentioned above under No. 4), is strictly consistent with the language of Scripture; and it pervades our CommunionService. Thus in the prayer before the consecration we say, 'Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood.' In these words the elements are regarded as representing (or in a spiritual sense, being) the body and blood of Christ; and to partake of the elements is regarded as the means of obtaining the benefits of his death. See also the exhortation to the communicants, the prayer of consecration, and the second of the thanksgivings in the post-communion. And it is in this sense that some of our most eminent and sound divines have denominated the Eucharist a commemorative sacrifice.' But though this view is fully recognised by our Church, the term sacrifice is not con