Page images

in power and energy — a dynamical presence. A supernatural, universal, illocal Presence can, in fact, hardly be otherwise conceived, and in the Giessen school, more particularly, the ubiquity of Christ's Humanity came to be regarded explicitly as one, not of existence, but of action or operation (actio, operatio). This brings it very near to the Calvinistic view of a spiritual Real Presence, with which Roman Catholic theologians (e.g., Bellarmine) insisted on identifying it.* By these steps the Lutheran doctrine was partially assimilated to the Reformed, with which, we have already seen, it is at one in rejecting in its entirety the doctrine of the Mass and the priestly functions of the clergy. Yet it is impossible not to feel how greatly the purity of the Evangelical principle in the Lutheran Church is compromised by the remains of this unspiritual and unscriptural view that still cleave to it, and how calamitous it would be if the Consabstantiation tenet should find sanction in the Anglican Church under cover of Articles which not only betray no trace of it, but by the explicit affirmation of the opposite doctrine directly exclude it.

The point we have reached is that the Church is only effectually safeguarded against the doctrine of the Mass, with its accompanying evils and abuses, by adhering firmly to the simple and Scriptural view of the Lord's Supper, which regards its blessing as one purely spiritual and internal. We go back here to the truly primitive antiquity—the doctrine of the New Testament itself. The Lord's Supper, in its pages, is a simple spiritual rite, charged, indeed, with the most profound significance, but free from all associations of mystical transformation of elements, priestly sacrifice, and oral manducation of the Saviour's body and blood, which after ages have grafted upon it.

It is a spiritual, and therefore also a reasonable † service, to which ideas of physical eating and drinking are foreign. Spiritual eating has for its correlative a spiritual object, and its organ is faith, not the mouth, which receives the material substances of bread and wine. The primary type of a correct observance of the Lord's Supper is surely the original Sapper itself, instituted by our Lord on the eve of His Passion. It will scarcely be contended that the first Lord's Supper was less a real Lord's Supper than those which the Church has since observed; yet how far is it removed from those ideas which Romanist and Ritualist now would make the very essence of it! There was a Real Presence in that first Supper, but in what sense ? Manifestly in the sense that our Lord was sitting personally in the midst of His Disciples, as now He is spiritually present wherever two or three are gathered together ; † but assuredly not in any veiled presence of His body and blood under the symbols which He handled. To suppose

* Schaff, "Creeds of Christendom," i. pp. 326, 334.

+ Rom. xii. 1. * Matt. xviii. 20. VOL, LXXIV.


with the Lutherans that in addition to His actual visible presence in the chamber, His Humanity, even in those days of His flesh, possessed some mysterious invisible ubiquity, in virtue of which He could also be present in the bread and wine which He distributed, is to travesty the holy scene, and intellectually degrade it by converting it into a species of thaumaturgy. His body and blood are given to be eaten and drunk—but, again, in what sense ? We have only to think of the occasion to see that a literal conversion of the elements into those realities, or a Real Fresence of them, is here out of the question. It is His broken body and His shed blood, as was formerly pointed out, which is represented in the symbols ; but not even the most literalising Sacramentarian will aver that Christ's body had yet been actaally broken, or His blood shed. The Sacrifice of the Cross bad not yet been offered ; how, then, could the body broken and the blood shed in it be literally presented in the bread and wine ? What more can be affirmed than that these realities are here symbolically presented to intelligence and faith ? The first Supper, held on the evening before the Sacrifice, pointed forward to it as a thing to come; every subsequent Lord's Supper points back to it as a Sacrifice once for all offered. But in neither the one case nor the other can it be imagined there is put into men's hands the very body broken and blood shed upon the Cross.

Zwinglianism ! it will be said. But if this is Zwinglianism, it is, so far as it goes, simple and incontestable Scripture truth. Bat Zwinglianism—or, as we prefer to say, the full Reformed view, which is that of the Anglican Articles also—has other elements, which give all the truth that can be Scripturally pleaded for in a doctrine of the Real Presence, and not one of which Zwingli would have repudiated. We may state the matter for clearness' sake in a brief series of propositions.

1. The Supper is a symbolical ordinance—a thing of "signs.” Zwingli is absolutely right here. The bread is bread, the wine is wine, nothing more, nothing less. The “is ” means

The “is” means " signifies.” • The only transmutation is that which faith effects in using the elements religiously as symbols of divine realities.

2. The Supper is a commemorative ordinance. It is that at all events, whatever more. Here, again, Zwingli is indubitably right. It is the memorial of the Lord's redeeming Passion, instituted by Himself, in which His people gratefully commemorate His Sacrifice, avow their debt to Him, and make public profession of their faith. No “ mere" matter, surely!

Dr. Schaff notes that this is now admitted by the ablest modern exegetes. Kahnis, who had defended the opposite view, wrote in 1861 that “the Lutheran interpretation of the words of institution must be given up." Oecolampadius long ago pointed out that in the Aramaic, which our Lord probably used, the “is " did not occur at all,

3. The Sapper presents realities. It is not & mere figure, but exhibits by symbol and word to the mind and to faith the very realities of which Christ spoke—His broken body and His shed blood. It is this that Zwingli, in fact, contended for as against all theories of a mysterious, occult presence in the bread and wine. The realities are the broken body and the shed blood of the historical transaction on the Cross. Not, however, as if the bare act of death were alone contemplated, but that, with all the benefit and grace proceeding from it, and with the remembrance that He who died is now risen again, and is the life-giving Head of His Church.

4. The Supper is a seal and pledge of grace—ratifies a covenant. That also Zwingli held. But the covenant thus ratified in the Sacrament is no outward or formal one. Behind it, as the condition of all interest in its promise, is the vital union of Christ with the members of His spiritual body-the Mystical Union of which St. John and the Epistles are full.*

5. The Supper is a spiritual feeding on the body and blood of Christ, and an act of living communion with Him. That Zwingli also taught. The eating and drinking, in accordance with the 6th chapter of St. John, is by faith—by faith, however, not as simply contemplative, but as appropriative as well. And the communion is not simply through memory with a historical Christ, but with an actually living and immediately present Saviour-One now in the midst of His people, and imparting Himself in all the fulness of His grace to them in the mode appropriate to His ordinance.

6. It follows from what precedes that the Supper not only exhibits but conveys grace. All the spiritual effects enumerated by the Archbishop are here included.

Whether, above all this, there is, as Calvin, Hooker, and others have supposed, something more mysterious still—& communication of a life-giving power from the glorified personality of the Saviour which nourishes body as well as soul into eternal life, we shall not inquire. The question is really one of the nature of the spiritual union between Christ and His Church, and affects the Supper only as involved in that.

There is, therefore, pace the Archbishop, a most Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Supper on the Reformed view—not less real, but infinitely more so, because it is inward and spiritual, and involves no change in the outward substances of the bread and wine. The Reformed view, to sum all up, knows of a symbolical presence of Christ in the elements, a proclaimed presence in the Word, a mystical presence in the indissoluble union between Christ and the members of His spiritual body, and a gracious presence in the power and plenitude of the gifts of His Spirit. Besides this, it will be difficult to show that Holy Scripture recognises any other.

* It is at the same time to be remarked as a feature of the Reformed doctrine, that the grace pledged and sealed in the Sacrament is not in its nature different from that exhibited and conveyed through other ordinances.

+ We may quote the following sentence from Dorner as expressing the idea meant: “But He is our Head as the glorified eternal King, able and willing to cause the powers of His entire theanthropic personality to stream into His members—the powers of eternal life, which, though primarily spiritual, and therefore accessible only to faith, benefit the entire believing personality, and are meant to transform even this mortal body into the likeness of His image” (Cf. Rom. viii. 11, &c.)-“System of Doct.,” iv. p. 323 (E.T.).


Only a final word can now be said on the second great root we mentioned of the perverted developments which issued in the Massviz., the idea of the priesthood of the clergy. This also has important bearings on the subject of the Archbishop's Charge. Rightly to estimate the doctrinal statements in this pronouncement, with their accompanying counsels and cautions, it is necessary to look, not only at the terms of the statements themselves, but at the context in which they stand in a general theory of the Church. We have seen that that which chiefly sustains the extravagant pretensions of the section of the clergy of whose unlawful practices complaint is made, is their belief in their priestly character and functions. The streak of Sacerdotalism is through them all. At this baleful idea of the priesthood of the clergy Luther struck with extraordinary energy in his “Freedom of a Christian Man,” and thereby, whether he intended it or not, made the whole edifice of Sacramentalism to totter. The Reformers in other countries did the same. Here also they went back to the most primitive antiquity, and neither in the functions of Apostles, nor in those of the presbyter-bishops and deacons, the prophets, teachers, and evangelists of the earliest Christian communities, found anght of the priestly idea. This is not a question, as it might be represented, of Episcopacy versus some simpler form of Church government

, . Hooker was a valiant defender of Episcopacy, but not of a priesthood. “In truth,” he says, “the word presbyter doth seem more fit

, and in propriety of speech more agreeable, than priest with the drift of the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ.” *

Hooker's moderate views were those of the men who settled the constitution of the Anglican Church, compiled its Prayer-book, and drew up Articles. It is a different circle of conceptions we enter altogether when claims are raised of divine right of Episcopacy, Apostolic Saccession, Grace of Orders conferring power to consecrate the elements in the Supper, and convert them in some sense into the body and blood of Christ, to sacrifice, to sit in the confessional, to pronounce priestly absolution, &c. This was language foreign to the Church of the Reformation.

It is a type of Church theory out of which all the


+ See Cranmer's opinions on the priesthood quoted in the “ Vindication" of the Papal Bull, p. 72.

* Bk. v. 78.

It is, per

Ritualistic extravagances which constitute the present offence are sure in time to blossom. What, then, is the attitude of the Archbishop to this theory? He lops at some of the branches which stray over the wall of legal prescription, but what has he to say to the root out of which they grow ? In what context of Church theory are his own admonitions set ? What, to put the matter in another way, constitutes his view of the title of the Anglican Church to be a branch of the Church Catholic ? Are Episcopal government, Grace of Orders, and unbroken Apostolic Succession of the essence of it ? haps, not an unjust inference from the recent controversy on the validity of Orders, and the reply made by the Archbishops to the Pope's Bull, that something like this is his conception. Then the type of Church theory he sets op is an exclusive one. The true fellowship of the Anglican Church-as probably he would admit—is with those branches of the Church which are recognised as Catholic, pre-eminently with the Greek and Roman Churches, and Nonconformists generally are unchurched. He only belongs to the Catholic Church who stands in communion with some branch of it through Bishop and Sacrament. Much might be said on this theory, but I content myself at present with remarking that, whatever the spirit of charity of its individual representatives, the priestly conception is already implanted in it out of which in the past has grown the whole mighty system of sacerdotal usurpation and pretension. Not from the basis of such an ecclesiastical theory is the gigantic Ritualistic evil in England to be effectually assailed.


« PreviousContinue »