Images de page

such a guilt, by eating a bit of bread as a figure of Christ's body, is inconceivable; common sense even revolts at the thought of it; especially if we reflect that the manna and the paschal lamb were much more lively figures of Jesus Christ than a bit of bread, and yet it was never supposed, that those who eat the manna or the paschal lamb, when they were in the state of sin, were guilty of such a crime, or, indeed, of any crime at all, by doing so. This decision, therefore, of the Holy Ghost, manifestly implies, that our blessed Saviour's body and blood are truly and really present, even to the unworthy communicant, and grievously injured by him who receives in such an unworthy manner.

What follows still further confirms this; for the apostle adds, "he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment (or, as the Protestant translation has it, damnation) to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord," ver. 29. Here we see a most dreadful punishment annexed to the crime of receiving unworthily, and the point in which its guilt consists immediately adjoined. Is not our natural reason shocked to suppose that a God of infinite justice and mercy would in a manner, incorporate damnation to a soul for eating, while in the state of sin, a bit of bread as a figure of Christ? But we are no longer surprized at such severity, if we believe Jesus Christ to be really present in the holy sacrament, because we see, all at once, that the crime of receiving him into a soul sullied with mortal sin, must be of the most enormous guilt. But why is such a punishment annexed to such a crime ?-the apostle immediately adds, "not discerning the body of the Lord;" now how can be discern it, if it be not there? This then is their crime-this the source of their guilt, because they do not consider how great, how holy: a Being is present in this holy mystery, and treat him in so unworthy, and so injurious a manner.

Q. 18. Is there any thing further to be added concerning the Scripture proofs of the real presence? A. We shall only make one general observation upon the whole, which is this: in the several passages of Scripture which we have seen, there are about thirteen or fourteen different texts on this subject, and every one of them affirms, in the strongest terms, the doctrine of the real presence of the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the holy Eucharist; and, on the other hand, there is not one single text in the whole Scripture that affirms, or so much as insinuates, the contrary. What then are we to believe, or how are we to know the truth in this matter, if not from such strong and express declarations of God's holy word, so frequently repeated, and so forcibly inculcated? and what can we think of those who pretend to follow plain Scripture as their only rule, and yet go point blank against so many plain declarations of Scripture, without one single text of Scripture to authorize them for doing so? Our Saviour says, "The bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world;" and they say, it is not his flesh, but only a bit of bread. Christ says, "This is my body;" and they affirm, it is not his body; which shall we believe?

Q. 19. But does not our Saviour, at the very institution of this sacrament, immediately say, "Do this in remembrance of me?" and does not this expression imply that he is not present? for how can we be desired to remember one that is present with us?

A. Whatever this expression may imply, yet it certainly does not affirm, in plain terms, that he is. not present; consequently, it can never invalidate the plain meaning of so many other texts expressly affirming his real presence; for, though we cannot mistake the plain obvious meaning of these other texts, yet we may easily be mistaken in supposing

what an obscure text may imply. But to shew that these words, "Do this in remembrance of me,” by no means imply his absence, let us only consider another similar expression of the holy Scripture: the wise man says, "Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth," Ecclus. xii. 1. Shall we conclude from this that our Creator is not present with us in the days of our youth? This would be a very false and impious conclusion. The meaning of this text is plainly this, that our Creator, though always present with us, "for in him we live, and move, and have our being," Acts xvii. 28., yet he is not present with us in a visible or sensible manner; and in our youth, when the mind is so apt to be carried away with the dangerous objects about us, we are but too, too ready to forget his presence, and to do things that are offensive to him; therefore, the Holy Ghost cautions us against this danger, and exhorts us never to forget the divine presence; but always to conduct ourselves as remembering that we are exposed and open to his sight. In the same manner, though Jesus Christ be truly present in the holy Eucharist, yet he is not present in a sensible manner, but is hid from our bodily eyes under the sacramental veils; and as we might be in danger of forgetting his presence, and "of not discerning his body" there present, so as to receive him unworthily to our own damnation, or fail in the respect and veneration we owe to him; therefore, we are commanded, when we celebrate these holy mysteries, not to forget his presence; but remember that he is there, though not visible to our eyes, and consequently to behave ourselves in such a manner as his divine presence requires. So that this text, ifexplained by a similar passage of the Scripture itself, instead of implying his absence, is a very strong proof of his presence. But St. Paul gives us the precise sense of that expression, as directly intended by our Saviour; for,

in the account he gives of the institution of the holy Eucharist, which he received from Christ himself, after these words, "Do this in remembrance of me," he immediately adds, as the true sense and meaning of them, "for as often as ye shall eat this bread and drink this chalice, ye shall shew the death of our Lord until he come," 1 Cor xi. 26.; thereby declaring, that the remembrance which our Saviour here requires from us, is a remembrance of his passion and death, of which these holy mysteries are a mystical representation, and were instituted by him, to be a continual memorial of them till his second coming.

Q. 20. Does not our Saviour also say, "It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life?" John vi. 64. And does not this imply, that what he had been saying before, ought to be taken in a spiritual sense?

A. Certainly these words do not say, in plain terms, that what he had been saying before about his flesh and blood, ought to be taken in any such sense as can exclude his real presence in the holy Eucharist; and certain it is, that they were not understood in such a sense by his disciples; for their difficulty was solely about the reality of his presence; and after these words were spoken by him, "many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him," ver. 67., which they certainly never would have done, if these words of our Saviour had been intended to explain the meaning of all he had said in the figurative sense, and as intending only a figure of his presence in the holy Eucharist. It is also evident that these words are very obscure, when considered by themselves, and without their connexion with the context; and, therefore, can never be of any weight against the plain meaning of so many clear and express texts as go before. It is no less

manifest, that our Saviour does not speak here of his own flesh; for who will dare to say, that the flesh of Christ profiteth us nothing? since it was for us he took flesh, and in his flesh suffered and died for our salvation, and that he gave his flesh" for the life of the world;" therefore, we must conclude, that this text is far from making any thing against the real presence, and is not even spoken in relation to the holy sacrament at all; but that the proper meaning of it is, what we have seen above, that it is God's Holy Spirit which quickeneth our souls, and enables us to believe the mysteries revealed by God; but the fleshly carnal minds of these disciples hindered them from profiting by the graces which that Holy Spirit gave them, for believing the words of Christ, which are indeed, spirit and life to those who believe them.


Q.21. Does not our Saviour say, in another text, “ I am the vine, I am the door:" which must be taken in a figurative sense; and why not the words of the institution also?

[ocr errors]

A. The reason is very obvious. In these expressions, “I am the vine,” or the like, there is a manifest opposition between the terms of the assertion, which makes it absolutely impossible they should be true in the literal sense. The word I signifies a human person; the word vine signifies a tree: now it is evidently impossible, that a human person, and a tree, should be literally the same thing. But in the words of the institution, "this is my body," the word this signifies nothing of itself; but is equally applicable to any thing whatsoever; and in the words of the institution, it is applied to nothing till the whole sentence be finished; and then it is applied to Christ's body, which was then really present in his hand, and given to his apostles; so that in this expression there is not the smallest shadow of contradiction.

« PrécédentContinuer »