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ART. IX.-1. The Substance of the Argument delivered before
the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council by Archibald John Stephens, LL.D., Q.C., in the Case of Sheppard v. Bennett (Clerk), with an Appendix containing their Lorships'
Judgment. London: 1872. 2. Judgment of the Right Honourable the Lords of the Judicial
Committee of the Privy Council on the Appeal of Sheppard v. Bennett from the Court of Arches : delivered 8th June,
1872. 'During the last twenty years we have witnessed within the
• Church of England three tremendous conflicts of opinion. The first of these was the endeavour of the High • Church party to suppress the Evangelical school in the struggle • between Bishop Philpotts and Mr. Gorham. The second was • the combination of these two parties to suppress the Liberal
theologians as represented in “ Essays and Reviews.” The • third was carried on between a large section of the High • Church party and the Evangelical school on the subject of * Ritualism.' So we wrote in 1866. On each of these conflicts we had expressed our opinion. We had pointed out in each the origin and growth of the controversy. We had in the two former instances defended, with all the earnestness and power of which we were capable, the wise and just course which the Supreme Court of Appeal had taken in pronouncing (to use the language of the old Roman law) 'vindicias secundum liber<tatem.' At the time when we touched on the third controversy, the contending parties had not yet come to a pitched • battle in the courts of law.' That pitched battle has now been fought--and decided.
On June 8, 1872, a Judgment was pronounced by the same high tribunal, on the case of an impetuous controversialist of the High Church party, Mr. Bennett, Vicar of Frome Selwood, who for various statements respecting the Real Objective
Presence in the Eucharist,' had been prosecuted by an association of the Evangelical school formed with the view of suppressing such opinions. This Judgment constitutes so natural a sequel to its two predecessors, and involves such important consequences, that we cannot but consider it accordingly. We shall therefore proceed, as before, first to indicate the history and nature of the controversy which led to the proceedings, and then describe the results, direct and indirect, of the Judgment itself.
I. The controversy is that which concerns the Nature of
Christ's Presence in the Eucharist, described as the Real Presence of Christ in that Sacrament.
It might have been thought that in a religion like Christianity, which is distinguished from Judaism and from Paganism by its essentially moral and spiritual character, no doubt could have arisen on a subject of this nature. In other religions, the continuance of a material presence of the Founder is a sufficiently familiar idea. In Buddhism, the
Lama is supposed still to be an incarnation of the historical Buddha. In Hinduism, Vishnu was supposed to be from time to time incarnate in particular persons. In the Greek and Roman worship, though doubtless with more confusion of thought, the Divinities were believed to reside in the particular statues erected to their honour; and the cells or shrines of the temples in which such statues were erected were regarded as the habita'tions of the God.' In Judaism, although here again with many protestations and qualifications, the “Shechineh' or glory of Jehovah was believed to have resided, at any rate till the destruction of the ark, within the innermost sanctuary of the Temple. But in Christianity the reverse of this was involved in the very essence of the religion. Not only was the withdrawal of the Founder from earth recognised as an incontestable fact and recorded as such in the ancient creeds, but it is put forth in the original documents as a necessary condition for the propagation of His religion. It is expedient ' for you that I go away.” If I go not away the Comforter ' will not
come unto you. Whenever the phraseology of the older religions is for a moment employed in the Christian Scriptures, it is at once lifted into a higher sphere. The
Temple of the primitive Christian's object of worship, the * Altar' on which his praises were offered, was not in any outward building, but either in the ideal invisible world, or in the living frames and hearts of men. There are, indeed, numerous passages in the New Testament which speak of the continued presence of the Redeemer amongst His people. But these all are so evidently intended in a moral and spiritual sense that they have in fact hardly ever been interpreted in any other way. They all either relate to the communion which through His Spirit is maintained with the spirits of men-as in the well-known texts, 'I am with you
always; · "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them ;''I will come to 'you ; ' • Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden '—or else they express that remarkable doctrine of Christianity, that the invisible God, the invisible Redeemer,
can best be served and honoured by the service and honour of those amongst men who most need it, whether by their characters or their suffering condition. He that receiveth you receiveth me.'
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto • them, ye have done it unto me.' Ye visited me.' The Church - the Christian community-is . His body.' None of these expressions have been permanently divorced from their high moral signification. No controversy concerning the mode of His presence in holy thoughts, or heroic lives, or afflicted sufferers, has rent the Church asunder. Stories, no doubt, more or less authentic, legends more or less touching, have represented these spiritual manifestations of the departed Founder in vivid forms to men. We have the well-known incident of the apparition of the Crucified to St. Francis on the heights of Laverna, which issued in the belief of the sacred wounds as received in his own person. We have the story of Benvenuto Cellini, who, meditating suicide in his dungeon, was deterred by a vision of the like appearance, from which he is said, on waking, to have carved the exquisite ivory crucifix subsequently transported on the shoulders of men from Barcelona to the Escurial, where it is now exposed to view in the great ceremonials of the Spanish Court. We have the conversion of the gay Presbyterian soldier, Colonel Gardiner, from a life of sin to a life of unblemished piety by the midnight apparition of the Cross and the gracious words, I have done so much for thee, and wilt thou do nothing ' for me?' Or again, in connexion with the other train of passages above cited, there is the beggar who received the divided cloak from St. Martin, and whom the saint saw in the visions of the night as the Redeemer showing it with gratitude to the angelic hosts. There is the leper tended by Št. Elizabeth of Hungary, who, when placed in her bed, appeared to be the Man of Sorrows, represented in the Vulgate reading of the 53rd of Isaiah as a leper, ‘smitten of God
and afflicted. There is the general Protestant sentiment as expressed in the beautiful poem of the Moravian Montgomery:
"A poor wayfaring man of grief
That won my love, I know not why.' But these stories, these legends, are, one and all, either acknowledged to exhibit the effect produced on the inward, not the outward sense; or even if some should contend for their actual external reality, they are acknowledged to be rare, exceptional, transitory phenomena, arising out of and representing the inner spiritual truth which is above and beyond them.
II. How is it then, we may ask, that the Presence in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper has ever been regarded in any other light? How is it that the expressions in the New Testament which bear on this subject have been interpreted in a different manner from the precisely similar expressions of which we have just spoken ?
These expressions, one would suppose, had been sufficiently guarded in the original context. In the very discourse in which the Saviour first used the terms which He afterwards represented in the outward forms of the parting meal-speaking of moral converse with Himself under the strong figure of eating His • flesh and drinking His blood,'—it is not only obvious to every reader that the literal sense was absolutely impossible, but He himself concluded the whole argument by the words which ought to have precluded for ever all question on the subject : • The flesh profiteth nothing; it is the spirit that quickeneth.'
This assertion of the moral and spiritual character of the Presence of Christ in the Sacrament, as everywhere else, has, as we shall see, never been wholly obliterated. The words of Ignatius, ' Faith is the body of Christ,' and Charity is the · blood of Christ ;' the words of Augustine, Crede et man• ducasti,' have ever found an echo in the higher and deeper intelligence of Christendom. But not the less, almost from the earliest times, and in almost every Church, a countercurrent of thought has prevailed, which has endeavoured to confine the Redeemer's Presence to the material elements of the sacred ordinance. We discover the first traces of it, although vaguely and indefinitely, in the prayer mentioned by Justin Martyr, and more or less transmitted through the ancient liturgies, that the bread and wine may become the · Body and • Blood.' We trace it in the peculiar ceremonial sanctity with which not only the ordinance but the elements came to be invested, during the five first centuries. We see it in the scruple which has descended even to our own time, which insists on fasting as a necessary condition of the reception * of the Com
• Perhaps, as this scruple in early times extended to both sacraments, it had not then, in regard to the Eucharist, assumed the gross corporeal form which it represents in later times. But it may be worth while to give as an instance both of the force with which it was held, and the utter recklessness of the example and teaching of Christ Himself, with which it was accompanied, the following passage VOL. CXXXVI. NO. CCLXXVII.
munion, in flagrant defiance of the well-known circumstances not only of its original institution, but of all the details of its celebration during the whole of the apostolic age. We see it again in the practice (which began at least as early as Infant Baptism, and which is still continued in the Eastern Church) of giving the Communion to unconscious infants. We see it finally in the innumerable regulations with which the rite is fenced about in the Roman Catholic, the Greek, and some of the Presbyterian Churches, as well as in the theories which have been drawn up to explain or to enforce the doctrine, and of which we will presently speak more at length.
But in order to do this effectually, we must recur to the question suggested above: “Why is it that the spiritual and obvious explanation, accepted almost without murmur or ex
ception for all other passages where the Divine Presence is • indicated, should have ever been rejected in the case of the
Eucharist, which, in its first institution, had for its evident object the expression of that identical thought?' It was a wise saying of Coleridge, ‘Presume yourself ignorant of a • writer's understanding, until you understand his ignorance;' and so in regard to doctrines or ceremonies, however extravagant they may seem to us, it is almost useless to discuss them unless we endeavour to see how they have originated.
1. First, then, it may be said that the material interpretation of this ordinance arose from a defect in the intellectual condition of the early recipients of Christianity, reaching back to its very beginning. The parabolical and figurative language of the Gospel teaching was (as is well known) chosen designedly. There were many reasons for its adoption, some accidental, some permanent. It was the language of the East, and therefore the almost necessary vehicle of thought for One who spoke as an Oriental to Orientals. It was the language best suited, then as always, to the rude, childlike minds to whom the Gospel discourses were addressed. It was the language
from even so great a man as Chrysostom : 'They say I had given the
Communion to some after they had eaten; but if I did this let my name be blotted out of the book of Bishops, and not written in the • book of orthodox faith. Lo ! if I did anything of the sort, Christ • will cast me out of His kingdom ; but if they persist in urging this,
and are contentious, let them also pass sentence against the Lord * Himself, who gave the Communion to the Apostles after supper.' (Ep. 128.) The full point of this extraordinary passage is hardly brought out with sufficient force in a recent work wh ch deserves commendation for its general accuracy and candour—The Life and Times of St. Chrysostom,' by the Rev. W. Stephens.