Images de page
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

eating his flesh and drinking his blood, necessarily implies our eating and drinking his real flesh and his real blood; for how could we possess Christ as the everlasting life of our soul, if we eat and drink nothing but a figure; and, therefore, he goes on to give this as the reason of what he last said: "for my flesh," says he, "is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed;" how could this be so, if what he gives be nothing but a bit of bread ?" Again, " he that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood," says he, abideth in me and I in him," ver. 57. ; how strongly does this also confirm his real presence? By giving us his real flesh and blood, he is himself received within us, and abides in us, and we, living by this food the spiritual life of grace, abide in him, and are guided and directed by him. But this text would be evidently false, did he give nothing but a figure instead of the reality; for how could he be said to abide in us, and we in him, by means of this heavenly food, if he be not there? He then goes on to shew again the excellency of this food, saying, "As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever," ver. 58. Can a piece of common bread be said to be "the bread that came down from heaven?" Can a bare figure be more excellent than the manna, which was a most admirable figure of Christ in many of its properties? or can a bit of plain bread, merely taken in remembrance of Christ, be supposed to be a food by which we shall live. for ever?

It is manifest then, that every one of these texts enforce and inculcate the reality of Christ's flesh and blood in the plainest and strongest terms; and it is most certain they were understood in the real sense by all who were then present. Many of his

own disciples, hearing him speak in such a plain and strong manner, and not being able to understand how this could be, but, following the example of the unbelieving Jews, were scandalized at it, and said, "this saying is hard, and who can hear it?" ver. 61.; "but Jesus knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at this, and said to them, Doth this scandalize you?" ver. 62. Observe he does not say, you are in a mistake, you misunderstand me, which he certainly was bound to do, and would have done, had he not meant the reality of his presence as they understood him; but wellknowing they were under no mistake on that point, he endeavoured to convince them of the truth of what scandalized them, by proposing another miracle: "If then," says he, "you shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before?" ver. 63.; and seeing the hardness of their hearts, and their carnal mind, which hindered them from receiving the light of faith which he offered them, he adds, "It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing, ver. 64. It is the spirit of God that quickeneth the mind, by the gift of faith; but your fleshly minds hinder you from profiting by him. Just as he said above to the Jews, when they refused to believe him, and which he adds. here also, therefore did I say to you, that" no man can come to me unless it be given him by my Father," ver. 66. Immediately upon this, "many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him," ver. 67. Would Jesus Christ ever have let his own disciples leave him, and run headlong to their own perdition, had they been under a mistake about his meaning, and a mistake which he him-7 self had occasioned, without ever offering to undeceive them? It would be impious to imagine it; on the contrary, their fault only lay in their refusing to believe his word, which they understood in his true meaning; and, therefore, as

"Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that did not believe," vers. 65, he let them without saying a word more to retain them.

When they were gone, "Jesus said to the twelve, "will you also go away?" vers. 68. Here again we have another beautiful proof of the real presence. The twelve had been present all this time, had heard all that passed, had seen the Jews strive, and the disciples murmur and leave their master; they understood what their master said in the same literal sense the others had done; it could, indeed, bear no other meaning: but, when Jesus put the above question to them, "Simon Peter," in the name of the whole, "answered him, Lord to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed, and have known that thou art the Christ the Son of God," vers. 69. Behold the noble simplicity of their faith, they believe the words of their Master without the least hesitation; they look upon them as the words of eternal life; they believe them in that very meaning in which the others had refused to believe them; they believe them as containing a promise of giving them his real flesh to eat, and his real blood to drink and they believe him with a most firm and sincere faith, for this plain but noble reason, because "he is Christ, the Son of God," who cannot possibly be deceived himself, and who is absolutely incapable of deceiving his creatures, and whose almighty power is perfectly able to make good his word, and perform most exactly the promise he made them.

The second proof of the real presence is taken from the words of the institution of the holy Eucharist, as related by three Evangelists in their gospels, and by St. Paul, in his epistle to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. xi. Here we must observe, that the conversation held by our Saviour with the Jews and his disciples, as related above from St. John, happened some time before the institution of the bless

[ocr errors]

ed sacrament; in it we have the seen the apostles believed the words of their Master, and were persuaded that he then promised to give them a heavenly life-giving bread, and that this divine bread was his very "flesh for the life of the world;" consequently, from that day forward, they lived in expectation of his fulfilling this promise, and of his giving them this heavenly food. In the mean time they saw him perform numbers of miracles of all kinds, and that nature was, in every thing, obedient to his word. At length, when the days of unleavened bread was come, Jesus sat down with his twelve disciples to eat the Pasch," and whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke, and gave to his disciples, and said, Take ye and eat, this is my body. And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of this; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many, for the remission of sins," Matt. xxvi. 26. Now, what impression must this have made on the minds of the apostles? In what other light could they possibly consider what our blessed Saviour here did and said, but as a fulfilling the promise he had made some time before? He had promised to give them a heavenly bread, he had, in the strongest terms, assured them again and again, that this divine bread was his very flesh and blood; they then firmly believed that it was so, because he, whom they knew to be the Son of God, declared it was so; when, therefore, at the last supper, he fulfilled that promise, they were prepared to receive this heavenly food as his body and blood: they expected it, and, as such, from his sacred hands they received it. And, though their reason or senses might haved started difficulties, yet all these were obviated by their belief of his being God, and the numberless miracles they had seen him perform, which must have convinced

them experimentally, that he was able to do whatever he pleased, and to make good whatever he said.

Q. 16. What reasons are there to think that Christ meant the words of the institution, This is my body, This is my blood, in the literal and real sense, and not in the figurative sense?

A. There are many reasons for this of the strongest kind: (1.) When he promised beforehand to give this heavenly bread, he certainly meant, and promised to give in it his real flesh and blood, to wit, that flesh which he gave for the life of the world, as we have clearly seen; therefore, when he performed his promise at the last supper, he actually did so, and spoke these words, This is my body, as declaring that what he gave was his real body, his real flesh and blood. (2.) Because his apostles could not possibly understand his words in any other sense, considering what had passed before, and the belief they had of his being God; and, therefore, he would have egregiously deceived them, if he had meant them in any other sense himself than what he knew they must take them in. (3.) Because his words would have been a manifest lie, if what he gave his apostles was not his body, but only a bit of bread, as a figure of his body. (4.) Because, if what he gave his apostles was not his body, but only a bit of bread, then, when he held it out to them, and said, Take, eat, this is my body, he called a bit of bread his body, though he meant it only as a figure of his body; now, if this was so, he was guilty of a most gross and shameful absurdity; for nothing can be more absurd than to hold a bit of bread in one's hand, and say, this is the living body of a man ; it being contrary to the common practice of mankind, and the common laws of speech, to call one thing by the name of another, with which it has no manner of resemblance nor connexion, and that too, without giving the persons to whom it is said

[blocks in formation]
« PrécédentContinuer »