ePub 版

"a band of conspirators," and they and probably arising from inattention will go back to those councils which to the great scheme of Christian docthe universal Church acknowledges as trine on certain points, as come down such.

to our Church from the earliest times of Christianity--we think ought care

fully to be avoided. In the first serThe Christian Legacy; Peace, in Life,

mon especially, we find the distinction

insisted on between the Visible and Death, and Eternity. Fifteen Discourses. By the Rev. J. Hough, A.M.,

Invisible Church. If Mr. Boyle knew Minister of Ham, Surrey. London:

the mischief which had arisen from

this distinction, we are persuaded he Seeley. 1836. Pp. 279.

would have eschewed it. After all, is These are useful discourses; but such a distinction justified by Scrip. we are sure the writer will find few, ture? We are persuaded it is not. either Churchmen or Dissenters, either True, many Christians are so in name Calvinists or Armenians, who will only; but cannot this awful fact be agree with bim in confounding justifi- insisted on, without having recourse cation with the final acquittal at the to the unscriptural language about an day of judgment; which he does in Invisible Church? There is one only his second sermon. The Scriptures, body, just as much as there is one and our own formularies, speak of only spirit : and “we, being many, are justification as taking place in the one body.” present life.

Fifty-two Lectures on the Church

The Life and Character of John Howe,

M.A. Catechism. By S. WALKER, A.B.,

With an 'Analysis of his Curate of Truro. A New Edition,

Writings., By H. Rogers. "Lonwith four additional Sermons on the

don: Ball. 1836. Pp. 568. Creed, by the Rev. J. LAWSON; and

To those who are fond of the lives of a brief introductory Memoir, by the Rev. E. Bickersteith, Rector of will be very acceptable. Here they

the early Non-conformists, this book Watton, Herts. London: Hamil

will find all the whole controversy ton. 1836. Pp. 551.

wbich was stirred up at the RestoraThis volume is dedicated to the tion, dished up anew for the gratificalev. C. Simeon, of Cambridge. They tion of their appetite. Howe professed are able and powerful discourses; but his belief in the immortality of the we cannot give them an unqualified Non-conformists' principles : if he had recommendation, as they, in many possessed our experience, he would respects, inculcate the views of a School have been less prophetic. If he had of Theology, which we cannot cor- seen the principles of Dissent gradually dially approve.

perishing among the English Presbyterians, in Socinianism, and among the descendants of the first settlers in

the United States, as we have seen; Sermons on

some leading Points of and especially if he had seen the Christian Doctrine and Duty. Ву

principles of Dissent exemplified, as the Rev. J. BOYLE, B.C.L., Curate

we have lately seen, in the celebrated of St. Peter's and St. Mary's, Bar

trial about Lady Hewley's Charity, -Humber. London : Par- perhaps he would have conformed, ker. 1836. Pp. 310.

and thereby been the subject of abuse

among the Dissenters, even as he is These are very excellent and use- now of their praise. There are seve ful sermons. We observe, however, ral interesting scenes and anecdotes an occasional use of language, which

in the bork although in this instance counteracted by the general tone of the sermons,



JOHN VI. 53.

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye cat

the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life

in you.

Of all the discourses of our blessed Lord, that contained in this sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel, from which the text is taken, is perhaps the most difficult and obscure. Now, it is an interesting subject of inquiry, why our Lord should thus speak obscurely, instead of speaking with clearness and precision ; particularly as there are some passages of Scripture likely to mislead us in judging of his conduct in this respect. In the fourth chapter of St. Mark's Gospel it is recorded, that, when he was asked by his more intimate disciples and the twelve apostles, to explain one of his parables, he said, “ Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven; but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables ; that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand ; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them." Now, I need not observe that such expressions as these seem to imply that our Lord concealed the great truths of religion, in order to prevent the salvation of those that heard him, lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them; that, in fact, he sought and desired their ruin. He who has contemplated the character of Christ as delineated in his Gospel, will at once reject such a thought as impious that the merciful and compassionate Jesus, who shed tears at the grave of Lazarus, and wept over the impending destruction of Jerusalem, and who proclaimed it as his very office to seek and to save that which was lost, should have sought the ruin even of his bitterest enemies, would be a thing incredible. In all his words and actions, and in the whole tenor of his life, we can conceive him to have had but one object in view, that, viz. of promoting the salvation of all, If Jesus did not desire the salvation of all, he would no longer be the mericful Jesus of the New Testament; and we may boldly say, that any one who should represent him as speaking in parables, lest men should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them, spoke in terms the most injurious to his real character and design. And the fact is, that when St. Mark gives this reason for his speaking in parables, whatever our English translation of the Scriptures may seem to imply, he means to assert the direct contrary of this : he means to say, that the very object of his speaking in parables was to promote, and not to hinder, the salvation of his hearers—the words ought thus to be regarded. To the great bulk of the people these truths are spoken only in parables, on account of their prejudices; because, that seeing they see, and yet do not thoroughly perceive, and hearing they hear, and yet do not properly understand, so that their souls are not converted and their sins forgiven them; therefore I use parables, that the great and saving truths of the gospel may sink into their hearts in spite of their prejudices; and whereas, if literally propounded to them, they would at once reject them ; therefore I present them under such a form, that they may receive them in spite of their prejudices, and that thus their salvation may be promoted. Hespake, therefore, obscurely, and in parables, not that the saving truths of the gospel might be concealed from them, but because they could receive them in no other form : it was not in order that when they saw, they might not see; for the word should not be rendered in order that, but because, which totally changes the whole sense of the passage. He spake in parables, because that when they saw they did not perceive, and when they heard they did not understand, so that after all they were not converted, and their sins forgiven them. Their conversion, and their pardon, and justification, were the very ends our Lord had in view in thus speaking to them in parables. They were not yet fully prepared for the gospel ; and therefore he most mercifully propounded it to them in such terms as should not unnecessarily shock their prejudices, and hinder their salvation, but which might, as it were, gently insinuate into their minds such saving truths as they were able to bear ; and which, after the full revelation of it on the day of Pentecost, might at once bring it home to their hearts, as having been the doctrine all along preached by himself from the beginning.

Now, we may well suppose that our Lord had a similar reason for using such peculiarly obscure language as that contained in the text, and in the whole sixth chapter of St. John, whence it is taken. And, in the explanation of these words, the first thing to be especially attended to, is the meaning of the phrase of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of Man. And here I shall, 1st, show what these words do not signify ; 2dly, what they really do signify.

1st, then, I am to show what these words do not signify. Now, the common opinion of their meaning is, that they have an immediate reference to the holy sacrament of the altar. It is commonly supposed that they exclusively refer to that; but all the best expositors of Scripture have long been agreed, that so far from being exclusively spoken in reference to the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, they have no reference to it whatsoever, or, at least, contain only a remote and distant allusion to it, and by way of anticipation; for, at the time these words were spoken, the sacrament was not yet instituted, and therefore his hearers could never have, by the utmost stretch of imagination, understood them in such a sense. They were spoken, then, absolutely, and at once, with reference to the general plan of salvation, and not with an exclusive reference to any ordinance or institution of the gospel. We must not seek for their meaning in any rite or institution, but solely in the general doctrines of the gospel. It is true that they who receive the holy sacraments of Christ's body and blood, do by faith eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man; but it is not the outward ordinance, but the inward faith of the partakers, which effects this; and therefore we may conclude, that wherever this faith is, there men partake of the body and blood of Christ, even though they have not the outward ordinance. For this participation in the body and VOL. XVIII. NO. X.


blood of Christ is not exclusively confined to the holy sacrament of the altar ; it belongs equally to every ordinance in which faith is exercised. They who hear the word of God in faith, they who pray in faith, they who are baptised in faith (either in their own faith, or the faith of their parents and sponsors),--are all alike partakers of the body and blood of Christ, as well as those who receive the holy sacrament of the altar. When, in baptism, I consecrate the water of the font, repeating over it the words of Christ's own institution, and solemnly, and in faith, invoking over it the awful name of the holy and ever-glorious Trinity, three Persons in one God; when, I say, Brethren, I thus consecrate the waters of baptism, I see with the eye of faith the blood of Christ ; the waters become to the eye of my faith tinged, as it were, with the blood of Christ, and the baptised are not baptised with water, but with the precious blood of Christ; they are buried with him in his baptism of blood, and rise together with him to newness of life; yea, they no longer are regarded by the eye of faith as citizens of this lower world, but they are so united by this holy ordinance to Christ, that they ascend up into heaven with him, their head, and sit as members, and limbs, and portions of his body, on the very throne of Majesty in the heavens, for Christ is the great object of faith ; and wherever faith is, there is Christ; not merely Christ in one character or office, but Christ in all his glorious perfections and offices; not merely Christ crucified, dead, and buried, but Christ in his exaltation—the risen, the ascended, the glorified Jesus. Thus, you see, that by baptism we are made partakers of the body and blood of Christ, as well as in his holy sacrament of the altar. To be washed in baptism is to be purified by the blood of Christ, by his grace, and by his spirit.

To see this, however, is not the office of our bodily eyes, but of our inward eyes--the eyes of our soul; and (to use the words of the 29th Article of our Church) as "the wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as St. Augustine saith) the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ; yet in nowise are they partakers of Christ, but rather to their condemnation do eat the sign or sacrament of so great a thing ;" so, in baptism, it is only by faith that its waters become the precious blood of the Lamb, slain from the beginning of the world. But if faith is thus powerful to make the soul see Christ crucified and glorified in baptism, so also is it equally efficacious in every other act in which we approach to God. He that reads the word of God, and hears it preached, in the spirit of faith, is sprinkled with the blood of Christ by the very act of reading or hearing; the words of revelation are to him the body and blood of Christ. And so, again, in approaching God in prayer, whether it be private prayer or family prayer, or public prayer in the Church, he who prays in faith, thereby draws near to that throne of grace, which is sprinkled with the blood of our atonement; he approaches the altar of the cross, on which is offered up the crucified body of the spotless Lamb of God; and by this very act of worshipping in faith, he eats the flesh and drinks the blood of the Son of Man!

I have said thus much, brethren, in order to show you that these words of our Lord are to be applied generally to the whole of the gospel, and to every act of homage which Christians pay to their Almighty Benefactor, and not to be exclusively applied to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Yet, God forbid that any one should be led to conclude from hence that that sacrament is unnecessary; for though in every act of liomage performed in faith, the Christian really does partake of the body and blood of Christ, yet, no doubt, that holy sacrament is more peculiarly the sacrament of Christ's body and blood; it sets this peculiar doctrine before us in a more lively and special way than any other act of christian worship. The wine which is poured forth is expressly emblematical of Christ's precious blood-shedding, and the broken bread, of his pierced and broken body; and therefore in this act of Christ's own institution, we are more especially invited to contemplate and believe in the doctrine of the text. Still, as this holy rite was not yet instituted at the time when our Redeemer spake the words of the text, and as those words are applicable to every part and every act of christian worship, they must not be confined to that alone, but must be equally extended to every doctrine of the gospel, and to every act of christian worship.

In considering what these words do not signify, we have seen that they do not especially relate to the Lord's Supper; and there is yet, under this head, another observation to be considered. In Scripture, doctrine and instruction are frequently represented under the emblems of meat and drink; and to receive such instruction, or to believe in such doctrine, is often represented under the image of eating and drinking. It might, therefore, at first sight, be supposed that our Lord merely designed to represent, in a general and lively manner, the necessity of a belief in his doctrines ; but the words of the text, and the whole discourse whence they are taken, forbid us to think that this was all that was intended by them. Christ represents the work of God to be, not merely believing the doctrines he taught; but this was the work of God--to believe on Him whom he had sent; it was a belief in himself personally which he claimed : whilst the extraordinary expressions employed, of eating his flesh, &c., clearly force us to give some more special and definite meaning to them, than a bare and general belief in the doctrines of the gospel. And thus we are brought at once to consider the second object I proposed, viz. what is the precise and particular meaning of the text ? • 2dly. Now the expressions here used are evidently derived from the sacrifices of the Jewish temple. In those which were peculiarly sacrifices of atonement, the blood of the victim was sprinkled on the altar, and its whole body reduced to ashes ; but in others, which were those called peace-offerings, only a part of the victim was offered, whilst the worshippers eat of the remainder, in token of their peace and reconciliation with God. The paschal Lamb, however, was a sacrifice which partook of the nature both of atonement and a peace-offering : its blood was an atonement, and its flesh was eaten as a peace-offering. But even here its blood was sprinkled, and though the worshippers ate its flesh, they did not partake of the blood. And this is the great distinguishing point between the christian sacrifices of Christ, and those of the Jewish temple. The Jews feasted on the flesh only; but our Lord here declares that Christians must not only eat the flesh, but drink the blood of the Son of Man. In these words, then, he proposed himself to

« 上一頁繼續 »