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Bath, Dec. 16, 1813.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
It is said of Christians, We being many are one Bread:
Are Christians changed into the essence of Bread, having the accidents of Body? It is said, This is the Lord's passover, Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.--I am the vine, I am the door. Are these expressions to be taken literally, or figuratively? How can Papists deny, but that the consecrated cup is changed into the New Testament? It is affirmed by St. Luke xxii. 20. This cup is the New Testament in my Blood.
THESE questions call back our attention to the subject of the real presence of Christ's Body and Blood, in the sacrament of the altar, and wbich should have been naturally introduced into that long and serious discussion. If they appear, however, in a separate article, and any confusion may be thought to arise from the circumstance, that confusion canuot, with any degree of justice, be imputed to me.
Io the consideration of the various subjects, which Mr. * * * * * * * has thought proper to bring forward to your view, step by step, I have endeavoured to follow his progress, with a design of convincing you, that no Catholic can feel a disposition, to shrink from any difficulty, which either his learning, or bis ingenuity is capable of suggesting. I agree with Mr. *
* and so will every other man, that the various expressions, which he has collected from different parts of the sacred writings, and which are stated in his question above, are to be understood in a figurative sense; and for reasons, which to every nian, who gives himself time for reflection, must appear as satisfactory, as they are just. They are expressions, which are of a character, and which were uttered, under circumstances, of a nature, very different from those of the words of Christ, employed, in the institusion of the sacrament of the Eucharist. On the latter occasion, we have seen, that no possible circumstance existed, which could have induced the Apostles to give to the words of our divine Lord, any interpretation, but one, which was literal. But in the instance before us, will Mr. * * * * * * * contend, that the case is, at all, of a similar nature ? On the occasion of the last supper, the words of Christ were spoken of an object, which was not of a general but of a determinate character, and which for that reason, as well as for other reasons, which I bave already stated, must have fixt on them only a literal meaning.
the occasion to which Mr. **** alludes, the object which is spoken of, is either of a general and indeterminate nature, or it is such, as, on the first view, is evidently designed to convey to the mind, nothing more than a figurative
If we wish to understand the real meaning of St. Paul, when he says, We being many are one Bread, let us read over the whole contest, and that meaning will both easily and naturally occur to our minds. His object, on the occasion in question, is to dissuade the people of Corinth, from partaking of those meats, which had been offered in sacrifice, to the Gods of the Heathens. The reasons which he assigns, for his instructions in this regard, arose, not from any idea, that the act itself was criminal, but from a conviction, that it was their duty to avoid every thing which could alarm the minds of their timid and scrupulous Brethren. He means to insinuate, that they ought, from a principle of christian charity, to accommodate themselves, even to the innocent weaknesses of each other: and in order to enforce this consideration, he reminds them, that the happiness which they enjoy, of partaking of the same Eucharistic Bread, is a circumstance, wbich ought naturally to connect them together in one body, attached to the interests of each other, as much, and as warmly as they were attached to
their own. This idea flows, so directly and so naturally out of his reasoning, that I do not see, how it is possible for any other to occur to the mind.
With respect to the next passage, Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, no man, who knows what was the object of the Jewish passover,what event it was intended to commemorate, and of what future event it was designed to be a figure, can possibly be in danger of mistaking its meaning. It was destined to remind the Jewish people, of the deliverance of their fathers, from the destructive hand of the exterminating angel of God, in consideration of the blood of the paschal lamb, which was sprinkled on the posts of their doors; and this event itself was designed to prefigure the redemption of the human race, by the effusion of Christ's Blood on the cross, Can it then
appear, in any degree, surprising to any man, who is not totally ignorant either of the nature, or of the use of figurative language, that the term in question, should be applied to the Saviour of Men? In the application of this term to the person of our Saviour, there can be neither more impropriety, nor greater danger of mistake, than in the application of the term of Lamb of God, which is given him more than once in the Seriptures.
The next passages which he calls up to his
assistance, I have noticed before; and as they do not refer to any specific and determinate object, and as they clearly and naturally convey ideas of personal properties possessed by our Saviour, it is evident, we cannot be mistaken, when we ascribe to them a figurative sense.
He does not say, I am this door, I am this vine, but he says, the door, and the vine; and these expressions he evidently employs, to signify that it is on his power, and his goodness alone we are to repose our hopes, either of entering into life eternal, or of acquiring those virtues, which are necessary to secure us the attainment of that invaluable object. He applies these terms to himself, in the same manner as he applies the title of “ husband-man" to his eternal Father, and the appellation, in another place, of " the way, the truth, and the life," to himself; and where the mind is not strongly biassed, by prejudice or by passion, in all these cases, the danger of mistake is equally small.
The next passage which he cites in his favor, is taken from St. Luke, and is in these terms, This cup is the New Testament in my Blood. On the subject of this passage, I think it necessary to say .very few words. A consideration of its concluding terms, and a reference to the other Evangelists will ascertain its real sense, and will sufficiently convince us, that it neither does, nor can mean any thing more, than that the cup which