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The Sixth Chapter of St. John contains Passages (from verse 25 to verse 36, and from verse 46 to verse 64) which refer to the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. x
In the present discussion, I think it very material, that the passages respecting the eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of Man, in the sixth chapter os St. John, should be generally understood (as they were certainly meant) to point out, the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the Eucharistical Feast on the one great Sacrifice.
I shall therefore, for the fake of establishing so important an opinion, call in a powersul auxiliary on my fide, the present Bishop of Chester; whose sermon on the subject, is not more admirable for. elegance of composition, than perspicuity c 4 and and force. I am myself convinced that the . passages in question reser to the solemn seast of the Eucharist, which our Saviour afterwards instituted, and for which he gradually prepared the minds of his disciples, by this discourse:
"With regard," fays Bishop Cleaver, "to the objection to the sacramental construEiion of these passages, drawn from the non.institution of the Sacrament at the time when this discourse was delivered, I wifl only oppose to it one plain fact, which is this; that the fame evangelist, St. John, has, in the third chapter of his Gospel, preserved a discourse of our Lord's with Nicodemus, which expressly mentions the sign and the thing signified, the necessity, and the good effects of Baptism, long before that Sacrament was instituted."
"There can therefore be noprefumption drawn against the application of this chapter to the institution of the Lord's Supper, from the time when this discourse was delivered, which would not equally militate against the application of the third chapter
to to the Sacrament of Baptism; an application which is, notwithstanding, univerfally allowed. It mould likewise be remembered by those who urge this objection, that the institution of Baptism, however early in the course of our Lord's ministry it was described and explained, was not enjoined till after this of our Lord's Supper."
"So much for the objection by itself confidered; but I would make a.surther use of this discourse upon Baptism, between which and that under consideration, there is more than an accidental resemblance."
"Our Saviour had told Nicodemus that he must be born again; Nicodemus replies to the impossibility of the thing, in the obvious and literal sense of the words. Jesus in answer, with peculiar solemnity and claim to attention, points out the possibility and the means of being born again, as well as the necessity of such regeneration: "Verily, Verily, I fay unto you, "except a man be born of water and of "the spirit, he cannot enter into the king« dom of God." To which, still remarkc 5 ing ing on the want of apprehenfion of Nicodemus, he adds, "If I have told you "earthly things, and you believe not, how "shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things."
"In the sixth chapter Jesus had faid, "The bread that I will give is my flesh, «* which I will give for the lise of the "world." The Jews again answering, as Nicodemus had done before, to the impossibility of the thing, in its literal sense, faid, " How cart this man give us his flesh "to eat." To which our Lord returns an answer, corresponding to that given to Nicodemus, even to the very turn of tha sentence: «« Verily, Verily, I fay unto you, "except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no <« lise in you." The purport of which words is repeated .and confirmed in the three next verses, to which he adds, still remarking on their want of apprehension, "Doth this offend you? What, and if ye "shall see the Son of Man ascend up "where he was before?" A reply so exactly parallel to that with which he had
concluded his converfation with this Master in Israel, that the bare juxta-position of these sentences will render each the comment upon the other. From which analogy, I cannot but think, that whoever will observe the style, manners and connection of these two discourses, will be of opinion, that St. John took pains industriously to shew, that the two institutions, which were to distinguish this Religion, made part of our Saviour's plan long besore they were actually enjoined. What confirms this notion is, that the only miracle which St. John relates after the other Evangelists, is this, of the miraculous increase of bread, a circumstance in itself highly remarkable, as the reason of it is obvious, because it gave an easy opportunity of introducing and explaining the nature of this Sacrament, as the occurrence relating to Nicodemus ' had afforded an opportunity of explaining the other. To which I must add, that he .is the only Evangelist who insists upon the facramental importance of either institution; and that his attention., in this instance, is persectly c 6 con