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charistical Sacrifice: “ From the rising “ of the sun to the going down of the “same my name shall be great among " the Gentiles : and in every place in“cense” (interpreted prayers and praises) “shall be offered unto my name, and a 6 PURE OFFERING” (pure because unpol luted with the blood of real victims): for my name shall “ be great among the heathen, " saith the Lord of Hosts *." ..
This was so very early applied to the Eucharist, that Mede, whose opinions are always respectable, thinks the antients had learned thus to apply it by tradition from the Apostles. It was so applied in the second century by Justin Martyr and Irenæus, the former of whom flourished about thirty years after St. John, and the latter was a scholar of Polycarp, St. John's disciple. .
By the Christian Sacrifice the learned MEDE thinks the antient Church understood not barely the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, but the whole act of worship, or solemn service of the
* Malachi, i. 11.
Church assembled, of which this sacred mystery, the Sacrament, was (as he says in allusion to a ring) the pearl and the jewel. No public service of the Church was in those times without the celebration of the Lord's Supper. According to his definition, the Sacrament is “an “ oblation of prayer and thanksgiving to “ God the Father, through Jesus Christ.” The sum of Mede's elaborate discussion seems to be, that the Eucharist, according to the antient Church, is a sacrifice of prayer and praise, through Jesus Christ, mystically represented in the creatures of bread and wine.
“The antient Church, says he, understood not, as many suppose, by the CHRISTIAN SACRIFICE, the mere Sacrament of the Body and Blood; but the whole SACRED ACTION(which Sacrificium properly means) or the whole solemn service of the Church assembled; of which this sacred mystery was then a prime and principal part : no public Service of the Church being without it. This observed and remembered, I define the Christian Sacrifice, er mente antique Ecclesiæ, in this manner:
66 An * The word ALTAR, strictly and properly speaking, is not the right name for the Communion Table; an altar strictly and properly implying a sacrifice ; but disputes about it, to the violation of Charity, are, certainly censurable ; yet such there have been.
+ “An Oblation of Thanksgiving and Prayer to God the Father, through Jesus Christ and his Sacrifice ; commemorated in the Creatures of Bread and Wine, with which God had FIRST (that is, in the Sacrifices of the earliest antiquity) been acknowledged as the LORD OF THE CREATURE.” - To dispute about a variety of names where the same thing is signified, is frivoloạs; and frivolous disputes are censured by the Apostle. If men choose to denominate the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, a sacrifice, in a large and comprehensive sense, as an act of peculiar solemnity, there can be no valid objection to it; for there is at present little danger of en. couraging the Popish doctrine of the sacrifice of the muss, the fear of which caused our Protestant divines, at one time, to take particular pains in preventing the name of sacrifice from being ever applied to the Eucharist *.
If the Sacrament be a sacrifice, it is a sacrifice (sui generis) of a peculiar nature. It is a spiritual and evangelical sacrifice. The oblation and the benefit are both of a transcendent kind ; and the whole transaction, a mysterious intercourse between man and his merciful Maker; in which the greatest good may be conveyed to the former, in any mode, approved by Infinite Wisdom, however unaccountable to the reason of minute philosophers and the cavilling spirit of minute theologists,
But as much false doctrine and mischief has arisen from the representation of the Sacrament as a sacrifice, rather than a Feast on the one great sacrifice, once made for all men; I have thought it proper to discuss the subject in this place, and to repeat, that the Sacrament is not a sacrifice itself, but a representation of the one GREAT SACRIFICE. I will only add that the use of the words sacrifice, altar, oblation, in an incorrect and inaccurate manner, should be avoided as much as possible; because it may appear to countenance the error of those who pretend that they do properly and truly offer unto God, CHRIST HIMSELF, included in a wafer, the Corpus CHRISTI contained in
a Morsel a Morsel of Bread, as a real and propitiatory sacrifice; than which it is not easy to conceive a more blasphemous absurdity*.
* On the use of the antient Sacrifices, as a standing representation of the ONE GREAT, GREAT', and uni• VERSAL SACRIFICE, the following passage from Dr. Holmes, the late Dean of Winchester, deserves our attention.
« Of Faith in the divine promise, the external expression, at PRESENT appointed, is similar to that which God accepted BEFORE. To the communicunt bread and wine are the body and blood of the Redeemer, after his coming, in the same sense as before his coining, SACRIPJCIAL BLOOD had been to the Offerer. In each of these two periods, the visible signs that shewed his death, had on that account a real SACRAMENTAL Virtue; aț the first, and at the last, God authorized a standing representation of the UNIVERSAL SACRIFICE; only with that difference of Effect, which respectively suited the fallen and restored states of Nature, and the opening and accomplishment of his Scheme of Redemption, Faith in the Promise of a future Deliverer, and the acccptcd Sacrifice as a sacramental sign of the future Effusion of his Blood, were both of them to the PENITENT real Means of Justification ; Faith in the Sacrifice, which that Redeemer has offered, and in the Promise of eternal Life which he has given, and the COMMUNION of his Body and Blood, which he has appointed as Sacramen. tal Signs of his Death, are also now real means of PreSENT GRACE and FINAL GLORIFICATION."
I will take occasion to add in this place, that to teach that the Sacrament is a Material Şacrifice, is to degrade ji to a Legal Ceremony instead of a Gospel Service.