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Christ's more intimate dwelling with us, or our Participation of his Divine Nature considered, as an Effect of, and Benefit annexed to, worthily receiving the Lord's Supper.
X Here is no idea that occurs more frequently throughout the New Testament, than the mystical union of Christ with all true believers. Two allusions are chosen by the sacred writers to express the intimacy of this union, one from the vegetable world, the other from the animal. Christ is represented as a vine, and true believers, as the branches. What closer connection can be conceived than this ; the branches of the tree deriving all their life and nourishment,and consequently growth, from the stem in which they vitally inhere? Christ is also represented as the head of a body, of which believers are the limbs or members.
Our Church, in her excellent Communion office, asserts, that those who receive the Sacrament worthily, " dwell in Christ, and Christ in them; that they are one with Christ, and Christ with them." In what can this union consist? Certainly in some degree of resemblance at least, though it cannot be any approximation to him, in power or in knowledge. In what then does it consist? Doubtless in his Holy Spirit's influence, or emanation on us, producing Godlike qualities, GoodNess of Heart, upright, honest intention, purity, and universal benevolence. How is it principally, and by Christ's appointment, to be effected? By worthy participation of the Sacrament. Man, through Divine mercy, is rendered, in the Eucharist, a partaker of the Divine nature. A food to the soul is supplied by the Sacrament, in consequence of which it is nourished, and arrives at that wonderful improvement in goodness and purity t which resembles in kind, though not in degree, the Divine; hencfc the Eucharist has been named, by great divines, The SaCrament Of Nutrition. What more in-.
tiniate tiraate union can exist, than that of the aliment with the body nourished by it?
As the daily waste of our bodies requires a supply of food, so likewise the decay of Grace, and the decline of goodness in our dispositions, render frequent repair and support necessary. We are susceptible of diminution and augmentation in Grace, as long as life continues, and "except ye eat the flesh of the Son of ** Man, and drink his blood, ye have no "life in you *:" the principle of life will be extinct without this food; and this food is afforded in the greatest plenty, at the feast of the Eucharist; a feast for ever to be repeated after the one great sacrifice.
Our Catechism expresses the true doctrine in terms which may perhaps be considered as too strong; since, from their strength, they are liable to misconstruction. It asserts, that the body and blood of Christ are verily and indeed taken in the Sacrament •f. The compilers, however, ever, could not mean, by "verily and indeed," to teach the doctrine of transubstantiation; for we know they abhorred it. If it be asked, what did they mean? I answer, that they meant, in opposition to the Romanists, that all, whatever our Saviour intended by eating his body, and drinking his blood, is really and truly taken in the Lord's Supper, notwithstanding
* John vi.
* * i f "The Sacraments and Symbols, if they be considered in their own nature, are just such as they seem, u Water,
Water, and Bread, and Wine. They retain the name» proper to their natures; but because they are made to be signs of a secret Mystery, and water is the Symbol of Purification of the Soul from Sin; and Bread and Wine of Christ's Body and Blood; therefore the Symbols and Sacraments receive the names of what themselves assign: tliey are the Body, and they are the Blood of Christ; that is, they are Metonymically such. But because yet further; they are Instruments of Grace in the hands of God; and by these his Holy Spirit Changes Our Hearts, and translates us into the Divine Nature; therefore, the whole work is attributed to them by a Synecdoche; that is, they do in their manner the work for what God ordained them, and they are placed there for our sakes, and speak God's language in our accents: and they appear on the outside. Wt receive the benefit of their ministry, and God receives the glory."—Bp. Taylor.
In Sacramentis ea Conjunctio est Signi et signati, ut inlegitimo Signi usu, ex. Promissionis divina Virtute, simul donetur signatum^Vossius, de Vi, & Efficacia.
there is no real and material flesh or blood either seen or tasted throughout the whole transaction. They meanttosay, that though the bread continues bread still, and the wine is but wine, yet, whatever our Lord intended, is verify and indeed received by the faithful, without the necessity of transubstantiation; to all intents and purposes of affording spiritual nourishment to their souls; sustentation of the heavenly life, and union with the divine nature;
This spiritual nourishment is that which is called grace, the grace of sanctification. The real presence is not indeed in the sacramental elements, but it is in the worthy receiver; man becomes Christ's by this glorious privilege of divine union, through the Spirit's influence; and this constitutes the Prime benefit of the Sacrament; which is undoubtedly the Holy Ghost's indwelling or assistance^ "If any man is Christ's, he has the Spirit of God dwelling in him."
The passages proving this assimilation of the divine with the human nature, this prime benefit of the Eucharist, in the sixth chapter of St. John, are so full and strong
H 2 that