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to God, not from any virtue in the things offered, but because they all pointed to the One only Sacrifice which could take away sin, even the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. They were acts of faith in the coming Saviour, and as such were accepted of God.
St. Paul says, “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin. Wherefore, when He [our Lord Jesus Christ] cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a Body hast Thou prepared me.” Hence we learn that, because of the insufficiency of the sacrifices under the Law of Moses, Christ came down from heaven to be our Sacrifice, and to offer up His own Body and Blood for us.
And since there is only one Sacrifice which can now be acceptable to God the Father, even Jesus Christ himself, therefore did this same loving Jesus ordain a way in which we should continually offer Him to God the Father as our Sacrifice-as the precious Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.
This Sacrifice of the Gospel dispensation is called the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in which, under the outward and visible signs of bread and wine, we offer to God the Father the Body and Blood of Christ, made to be really present in a heavenly and sacramental way, by the almighty power of Christ Himself.
Our Lord Jesus Christ ordained the Eu stic Sacrifice the night before He died upon the Cross. As our great High Priest, He then offered Himself to God the Father under the outward elements of Bread and Wine. Christ is called in Holy Scripture,
a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek. What, then, was the nature of Melchisedek's sacrifice? He “brought forth bread and wine (the Bible tells us], and he was the priest of the most High God.”3 So our Lord Jesus, as the true Melchisedek, on that solemn night before He died for us, brought forth bread and wine; and, under these outward elements, offered the one true Sacrifice, which alone could take away sin, even Himself.
He had told His apostles beforehand, that He was the true Bread which came down from heaven: He had said to them, “The bread that I will give is My Flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”5 So, when the moment came that the priesthood of Aaron was to cease, and the course of Melchisedek to begin, “He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them [i.e. His apostles], saying, This is My Body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the New Testament in My Blood, which is shed for you.'
Observe that Christ says in these words, in which He set up the great Christian Sacrifice, “This is My Body which is given for you--My Blood which is shed for you.” In our Saviour's will and intention, His Body was given and His Blood shed after this His
From that moment He was a sacrificial Victim, devoted to death; His death upon the cross only completed the Sacrifice which He made of Himself, after His last supper with His apostles. Now, the Sacrifice which Christ offered, after His 3 Genesis xiv. 18.
5 St. John vi. 51. 4 St. John vi. 32, 33.
6 St. Luke xxii. 19, 20.
last supper, the night before His death, He willed that His duly ordained ministers should continually offer, even unto the end of the world. None but priests can offer a sacrifice, and therefore our Lord ordained His apostles to be the first priests under the New Law, or Gospel dispensation, and gave them this express command, “DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME: that is, offer My Body and My Blood to God the Father, under the sacramental veils of bread and wine, as the one true Sacrifice which alone can take away the sins of the world.
The Apostles obeyed our Lord's command. They ordained other priests, with power to offer this great memorial Sacrifice. St. Paul, who was not one of the original apostles, had, we find, received from them the power of offering this Sacrifice, and therefore the order of the priesthood; as none but priests can offer sacrifice. Alluding to their practice, St. Paul says, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He come.” And to make it clear that this same apostle taught that a real Sacrifice was offered to God in the Holy Eucharist, he says plainly, in his Epistle to the Hebrew Christians, “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle;"i.e. who still trust to Jewish ordinances. But if Christians have an altar, as St. Paul says they have, then they must have a Sacrifice to offer on it, and a priesthood to offer it. And what the Apostles continually did, they also ordained that their successors, the Bishops and Priests of the Church, should I Cor. xi. 26.
8 Heb. xiii. io.
continually do; and so, from the apostles' times to the present day, the Body and Blood of Christ have been continually offered up to God the Father, under the outward or visible elements of bread and wine. This is the great act of worship—the solemn liturgy of the Christian Church. This is that Pure Offering, which the prophet Malachi foretold should be made to God in every place among the Gentiles.'
Christ's priests, let it be borne in mind, do not pretend to renew Christ's death in the Holy Eucharist. The Sacrifice which they offer is a commemorative Sacrifice—a standing memorial of Christ's death-a continual celebrating and representing His death to God the Father; or, to use St. Paul's words, “a shewing the Lord's death till He come.” The Sacrifice is the same in substance as that which Christ offered at His last supper, and finished upon the cross. It differs only in the manner in which it is offered. It is not a bloody sacrifice, as were most of the Jewish sacrifices, and as was the Sacrifice which Christ finished upon the cross for us; but it is an unbloody Sacrifice, in which, by a way which Christ Himself set up, we make His Sacrifice always present, and offer and plead it as the only procuring cause of our salvation.
But further, our Lord Jesus Christ not only died upon the Cross as a Sacrifice for us, but He is always pleading that atoning Sacrifice in heaven. “ This Man," says St. Paul, speaking of Christ, “because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.”ı A perpetual priest implies a perpetual victim, for a priest must “needs have somewhat to offer." But 9 Mal. i. II.
1 Heb. vii. 24.
what prevailing victim is there, save the Man Christ Jesus? Therefore is Jesus both Priest and Victim. He is that “Lamb as it had been slain,”? which St. John saw in vision, “in the midst of the throne" on high. He is also the Great High Priest of our profession, Who having “entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us,”—“ever liveth to make intercession for us,”- ever presents Himself to God the Father on our behalf, as the one True Victim—“the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world,” once slain and never again to die, yet still ever before the throne, “a Lamb as it had been slain."
Now what Christ is continually doing for us in heaven, He wills that we should continually do also for ourselves and our fellow Christians upon earth. The two acts are, in the Holy Eucharist, made one.
We join in doing what Christ is doing; we present Christ to God the Father, as the Lamb slain to take away our sins, “as a full
, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice for our sins." We join in asking God to do for us what Christ is always asking Him to do for us, that is, pardon us, forgive us, and accept us, for the sake of Christ's merits and atoning Sacrifice.
Those Christians, therefore, who are never present when the Holy Eucharist is offered up, never plead for their pardon and forgiveness in that one way which Christ ordained that they should plead for it, the very night before He died upon the cross for their salvation. They never celebrate, in Christ's appointed way, the continual remembrance of the Sacrifice of
2 Rev. v. 6.