In 1 Cor. x. 17; xi. 26, 27, 28, we are all p. 13said to partake of bread: “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.”
p. 11The wafer, therefore, or the piece of bread, is here said to be after consecration nothing less than a real, living Saviour, with body, soul, and divinity, to be worshipped with that holy, reverential worship which belongs exclusively to the God of heaven and earth, for that is the meaning of the word Latreia. There is something very awful in such a statement. It shows that there can be no peace with Rome—no compromise, no middle path. If they are right, we are awfully wrong. If we are right, they are guilty of idolatry. If all these pieces of bread are living Saviours, we have been terribly guilty in never worshipping any one of them; but if, on the other hand, they have remained bread still—plain, simple, unchanged bread—then we have idolatry of the most unquestionable character when that bread is exalted by the priest for adoration, and men fall down and worship it as the living God.In that passage it is perfectly clear that our Lord Jesus Christ is said to forgive, and the Church to absolve. The change of words is most remarkable, and clearly proves the doctrine. The Church is said to have power to absolve; and the Lord Jesus Christ is entreated to forgive. The minister, therefore, absolves, and at the same time prays that the Lord may forgive: and who can doubt that, when the troubled heart truly repents and believes in Him, the prayer is answered, the forgiveness granted, and the absolution, or declaration, ratified in heaven?His place, then, is heaven itself; and His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Father. In His real human body He has ever been like ourselves, in one place at one time. When He was here he passed from place to place; from Galilee to Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem to Galilee. So when Lazarus died He was absent from Bethany, and after his death He went there. Just so in His ascension He passed into the heavens, and, being there, He is as much absent from us in the body as He was absent from Martha and Mary in their deep anxiety about their brother. When present here, in His human person, He was absent there. Being present there, He is now absent here. 
- I. The contrast.
- Then, again, with the place there has been a complete change in His employment. He was here to found His kingdom and to make atonement. He is there to carry out the results of that atonement and to reign. His office was represented by the high priest of old, who first in the outer court offered the sacrifice, and p. 7afterwards went in before the mercy-seat to sprinkle the blood. So Christ Jesus here on earth offered Himself as the sacrifice, and now He is gone into the holy of holies there to present the blood before the mercy-seat of God. Thus He is described by St. Peter (Acts, v. 31) as being exalted to be a “Prince and a Saviour;” a Prince, because He is exalted as King of kings and Lord of lords; a Saviour, because as a living friend, He is saving those whom, when on earth, He redeemed by His blood. Every passage, therefore, which describes Him in His present condition, represents Him as in the possession of living power. Sometimes He is said to be reigning, as (1 Cor. xv. 25), “He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet.” Sometimes we see Him as the Priest (Heb. iv. 14), “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.” Sometimes He is the Advocate (1 John, ii. 1, 2), “If any man sin we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” and sometimes He is the loving Friend, watching the struggles of His faithful disciples, and waiting to welcome His dying servant in the solemn moments of his rough and stormy martyrdom. p. 8“Behold,” said Stephen, “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God;” and so, having seen it, he followed up the vision by the dying prayer, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts, vii. 56.)
- A glance at the text will show us that it refers to two subjects; the completeness of the sacrifice offered on the cross, as in the words, “after He had offered one sacrifice for sin for ever,” and the present session at the right hand of God; as in the words, “sat down at the right hand of God.” It is the second of these that we shall study this morning.
- 4. Nay more, it is contrary to the words of our Lord. The words, as given by St. Matthew (xxvi. 26-28) were: “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Of the bread, therefore, p. 14He said, “This is my body;” and of the wine, “This is my blood.” The bread did not represent the body and blood together, but the body only, and the wine the blood; or, if the doctrine of transubstantiation were taught, the passage would teach that the bread was changed into the body, and the wine into the blood. But the teaching of Rome defies all such distinctions, though thus plainly laid down by no less an authority than our Lord Himself, and fearlessly hurls her anathemas against all who do not believe that the bread, and the bread alone, is changed into body, blood, soul, and divinity, and becomes, to use their own expression, “a whole Christ,” to be exalted, carried in processions, and adored as a living God. The words themselves, taken literally, are dead against such a doctrine. I am not surprised, therefore, when I read our 28th Article, which says: “Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture.” But I am surprised that Christian people in the Church of England should sit so light as some seem to do to a heresy of so fearful a character, and that men p. 15should be so indifferent to truth as even to speak of the possibility of peace with Rome.
- The second is from the rubric in the service for the Visitation of the Sick, where we read—“Here shall the sick person be moved to make a special confession of his sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter.”
- The reconciliation of God to the sinner has been wrought out for us by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the great work of God incarnate, and He wrought it alone, in His great sacrifice of propitiation. Of this part of the work, therefore, the Apostle says,—“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.”
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