Anglican writers in the earlier and more technical portion of his subject, in claiming for the Holy Eucharist the name of a sacrifice, he would be saying no more than a hundred other writers have done before him. Even the Reformers themselves acknowledged the Holy Eucharist to be a sacrifice; the great body of Elizabeth's divines scarcely disputed the name, however they may have disavowed the reality; Andrewes and Bramhall, Brevint and Saravia, Cosin and Laud, the whole school of Caroline divines, followed by Wilson, Ken, the Non-jurors, Butler, Lake, and others,* and of the present generation the whole Tractarian party, and all advanced Anglicans—yes, and even his Lordship of London himself- have admitted that it is a sacrifice. Yes, but what kind of a sacrifice? Here is the whole question. Even the mutilated Communion Office of the Anglican Prayer Book declares through the mouth of the officiating minister as he stands at the Communion Table, that "here we offer and present to Thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls, and our bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto Thee:" and it teaches him to pray that God's "Fatherly goodness" may "mercifully accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving." But it is in none of these equivocal senses that Mr. Wilberforce intends to employ the term. Even the highest views of the Non-jurors, who, as is well known, separated from the communion of their Anglican brethren as much because they could not deny the doctrine of an Eucharistic sacrifice, as because they believed in the divine right of the Stuart dynasty,-rose no higher than to insist upon a Sacrifice of bread and wine, without admitting the doctrine of a supernatural change in the elements. And this view, too, Mr. Wilberforce condemns, as utterly unworthy of a place in the Catholic system, and by no means fulfilling the true conditions of a religion which, as contrasted with the Jewish system, is spoken of as "a better covenant, and founded upon better promises,' and as conveying the substance of which Judaism gave but the shadow. And not only this: but in reply to the

Perhaps the most complete and systematic view of all is that which is taken by an anonymous " Priest of the Church of England," who published at the end of the seventeenth, or beginning of the eighteenth century, a small volume entitled "Sacrifice the Divine Service." The book has recently been reprinted at Oxford.

Protestant controversialists, who are for ever bringing forward such passages as Hebrews ix. 12, and x. 10, 26, to disprove the reality of the Christian Priesthood, Altar, and Sacrifice, he asserts that "the true object of such texts is to assert, against the Jews, that there can be no real sacrifice except that of Christ; so that they entirely accord with the assertion that the sacrifice which is perpetually presented upon the altar is identical with that which was once offered upon the Cross."" Wherein would this service have been superior to the Jewish meat offerings," he forcibly asks, "unless it had been the reality of which the ancient sacrifices were a typical representation? Yet such is the view always taken by the Apostles respecting the relation between the Jewish Law and the Christian Ritual. . . . . And in this comparison the Eucharistic Sacrifice is represented as bearing its part.j


The Archdeacon further shows how the Eucharistic Sacrifice is but the realization of the mediatorial office of our Blessed Lord; and giving the Catholic definition of a sacrifice, as an offering involving the further idea of the slaughter of that which is offered, he declares that so far from the Sacrifice of the Cross having been made once for all," he renders the Ovolav eis tò dinvexès of St. Paul, (Heb. x. 12.) by the words "one perpetual sacrifice for sin," and attributes to our Blessed Lord the Priesthood after the order of Melchisedech in the full Catholic sense. What he means by this he further explains as follows:

"If the Holy Eucharist is to be called in any peculiar man. ner the Christian Sacrifice, it can only be by reference to that one perfect propitiation upon the cross, by virtue of which we have in heaven an abiding sacrifice. And hence it is, that the Holy Eucharist is discriminated from all other acts of common worship. For it is by this service only that the real intercession which is transacted in the Church's higher courts, is identified with the worship of its earthly members. If it were the sacramentum only, or external sign, which was presented before God in this service, it could have no greater value than pertains to the corruptible productions of this lower world: but since it is also the res sacramenti, or thing signified, it is that very sacrifice which Our Lord has rendered perfect by the taking it into Godhead, and available by offering it upon the cross. And again, if this oblation were presented merely by an earthly priest, we might doubt whether his own sins did not impede his actions; but it is the peculiarity of this service, that those who minister it here below are only representatives of Him by whom it is truly offered: He speaks through

their voice; they act by His power: so that the Church's offering finds a fitting minister in that Great High Priest, who sacrifices in heaven. The Holy Eucharist, therefore, is fitly called the Christian Sacrifice, not only because it is the chief rite of common worship, but because it is the peculiar act, wherein the effectual intercession which is exercised in heaven by the Church's Head, reaches down to this lower sphere of our earthly service. It is no repetition of the sacrifice of the cross, nor any substitution of another victim, for although once for all offered, that sacrifice, be it remembered, is ever living and continuous-made to be continuous by the resurrection of Our Lord.'"*—pp. 301.302.


[ocr errors]

* This last sentence is quoted by Mr. Wilberforce from the Pastoral Letter of Dr. Phillpotts of Exeter. But the force of the words is destroyed by other assertions of Dr. Phillpotts of an opposite kind. Moreover, how would his Lordship of Exeter stand the test, if he was asked whether he approves of the adoration of our Lord's Body as present in the Blessed Sacrament? Yet this is the very test proposed by the Archdeacon. We happen to know that his Lordship does not regard the remainder of the consecrated elements which are not consumed in the Church where he officiates, as verily and indeed" the Body and Blood of Christ. Dr. Cosin, too, Bishop of Durham, could express himself in terms as nearly identical as possible. Therefore, this is no new sacrifice," he writes, "but the same which was once offered (on the Cross,) and which is every day offered to God (the Father) by Christ in heaven, and continueth here still on earth, by a mystical representation of it in the Holy Eucharist. And the Church intends not to have any new propitiation or new remission of sins obtained; but to make that effectual, and in act applied to us, which was once obtained by the Sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross. Neither is the Sacrifice of the Cross as it was once offered up there, more cruento, so much remembered in the Eucharist, though it be commemorated, as regard is had to the perpetual and daily offering of it by Christ, now in Heaven in His everlasting Priesthood; and the reason was, and should be still, the juge sacrificium observed here on earth, as it is in heaven, the reason which the ancient Fathers had for their daily sacrifice." And yet, such is the inconsistency and mystification of Protestant authors in their theological statements, that this same Bp. Cosin wrote a long treatise, entitled the "History of the Popish Transubstantiation. What makes the matter worse, he wrote it for the benefit of Protestants in Paris, in order to prevent them from being gained over to the Catholic Church-a step which we feel sure that Mr. Wilberforce would be far from approving. The book was published in Latin in London in 1675, by Dr. Durell, and translated into English in the following year, by Luke de Beaulieu. It has lately been republished in the "Anglo Catholic Library."

[ocr errors]

Accordingly he thus sums up the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice:

"This service must partake of that efficacy which appertains to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, once for all; and the sacrifice of Melchisedech must be an application of the sacrifice on the Cross.

[ocr errors]

"The doctrine, then, of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, has its foundation in the truth of the Real Presence. It is grounded upon the same circumstance which has been shown to be characteristic of the Real Presence itself, namely, that Christ is really present because of the presence of His Body. For although Christ does not appear to offer now,' says St. Ambrose, yet Christ Himself is offered on earth, when His Body is offered.' So that the Eucharistic sacrifice rests upon the fact that all access to God is through the intercession of Christ; it implies that His intercession depends upon the merit of that slain Humanity which He presents before God; and that the same Humanity which is present naturally in Heaven, is the medium of His supernatural Presence in His Church's ordinances; so that there is one sacrifice but many altars."pp. 313-314.

With reference to the ordinary class of High Church Anglicans, who profess to believe in an Eucharistic Sacrifice, while they deny it in its Catholic and ancient sense, the following are Mr. Wilberforce's pointed and well aimed remarks:

"It cannot be expected that those who take the Zuinglian or Calvinistic view of this ordinance should see anything more in it, because they suppose that they are dealing only with a sacramentum, or external form, and deny the existence of the res sacramenti, or thing signified. But it would be surprising to find this notion shared by persons who believe in the Real Presence of Christ. If the effect of consecration be to join together the sacramentum and res sacramenti, why should persons exclude the one and offer up the other? Why should they exclude the reality or thing signified, and offer up the mere form and shell of the victim? Is not this to be deluded by a system of shadows? There is a consistency in denying that this service is a sacrifice at all: it is to reject the concurrent sentence of all antiquity; to divest the worship of the Christian Church of its reality, and to detract from the present efficacy of the Intercession of Christ: yet though a false system, it is harmonious with itself. But, to allow the Holy Eucharist to be a sacrifice, yet suppose that nothing is offered but its external shell and covering-that the Church honours God by presenting to Him the empty husk of its victim-is little consonant with the truth and actuality of the Christian dispensation. It is to substi

tute the shadows of the Law for the realities of the Gospel."p. 322.

The inward part of the Holy Eucharist having been thus fully stated, Mr. Wilberforce proceeds to the further question, what are the benefits accruing to Christians therefrom? And this question he answers as follows: showing how far he is from falling into the Capharnaite


"Though Christ's Body is orally received, yet It does not become part of us but we become part of Him: He is not resolved, as it were, into the structure of our minds, but we pass, on the contrary, into His divine organization. The sacramentum indeed, or outward part, is assimilated, like other food, to the body which receives it but the res sacramenti is an energizing principle, which takes up and quickens that upon which it is bestowed.


[ocr errors]

Now, such a mode of operation as this is spiritual, and not carnal; and addresses itself, not to the bodily organs, but to the inner man. Spiritual and corporal nourishment,' says a striking writer, follow contrary laws: in corporal nourishment the nutriment is converted into the substance of the thing nourished: but in the nourishment of the spiritual life, the thing nourished is converted into the nature of the thing which nourishes it, and of its nutriment; and the nutriment is not changed, but only the thing nourished.' That such should be the process, therefore, in the Holy Eucharist, shows the thing received not to be dead matter, which is to acquire life by being taken into the organization of the receiver, but a living principle, which has power to absorb and organize those by whom it is partaken. And this is the manner in which the Holy Eucharist is always described by ancient writers: the effect of participating of the Body and Blood of Christ is nothing else than that we pass into that which we receive:' 'as St. Paul says, a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, so the very smallest portion of the Eucharist resolves our whole body into itself, and fills us with its own energy.' The Body' (i. e. of Our Lord) which has been rendered immortal by God, having become present in ours, transforms and changes the whole of it to itself.' -pp. 352-353,

[ocr errors]

So much, then, for the speculative part of Mr. Wilberforce's book:-a work with which thus far we know of nothing that can be compared, as an instance of Catholic doctrine systematically elaborated by a long intellectual process and historical enquiry. In fact, with one or two exceptions, it is the ancient Catholic doctrine of the

* For example, the Archdeacon says nothing of the value of the

« ForrigeFortsett »