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The New Zealand Evangelist

On The Real Presence Of Christ In The Eucharist

On The Real Presence Of Christ In The Eucharist.

To the Editor of the “Independent.” Port Nicholson, St. Mary's, Hinau Hill, 15th Nov., 1849.

Dear Sir,—

May I beg, through the medium of your Journal to state, that I shall feel most happy if required of informing either verbally or by writing any body that may yet be desirous, for the explanation of the further difficulties urged against my letter on the most holy Eucharist, and just published by you. The objections appeared in the last number (XVIIth) of the New Zealand Evangelist. Now, as the Gentlemen of that publication refused, although the aggressors, to insert my answers, unless I were to pave them down to the small space required for mere negations, and as this would be too disadvantageous and hurtful to truth, I, therefore could not think of renewing my former request, and I have neither means nor time for employing a press solely for my use; although indeed in the present instance it requires great Christian forbearance, when amid so many other errors, we too find the assertion so grating to Christian ears—that Our Redeemer it may be “opened the door unperceived by his page 194 disciples,” and this is said in the face of the formal words of the Holy Spirit! “Jesus cometh, the doors being shut,” (St. John, xx 26 v.) no wonder that the equally formal words “This is my body,” of the same Holy Spirit, as given us by three Evangelists should be construed into a representative, instead of a real sense. This idea of our blessed Lord, opening the door unperceived by the Apostles is a travestie worthy of the German rationalist, who said that to a preposition, mistranslated the miracle of Jesus walking upon the sea owed its origin. He translated “Walking by the Sea,” instead of “walking on the Sea.” By such schools all that is miraculous in the relations of the New Testament has been evaporated away effectually, leaving nothing but the mere human realities behind. Thus does error fight, for ever in extremes and for ever in the dark. But so it must be, for what is private judgment when arrayed against the authority of God Church, which St. Paul calls the “Pillar and the ground of truth,” (I Tim: iii 15.) but an ineipient evne an advanced rationalism. For, if in fact, the reason of each man be the supreme arbiter in faith, it ought, on that account, to admit only what it can conceive. Under this system, prayer itself—prayer which takes root wherever a ray of faith subsists, prayer withers and dies, because as being essentially indemonstrable, cannot stand with rationalism, for, whoever in fact, believes that a mere motion of the human will produces a change in the spiritual or material order of the universe, and that “God obeys the voice of man,” performs the most profoundly mystical act of faith, since this act refers to an order of things entirely beyond the reach of reasoning and of sensation. Hence one is inconsistent if while retaining this belief he refuse to believe in any doctrine whatsoever, because removed beyond the evidences of his senses, or the conceptions of his reason. But if under rationalism prayer be abolished, can we then conceive any system of religion whatsoever? Having said thus much, on this piece of infidel criticism, which yet pressed by Christian charity I love to believe unintentional, I now cannot refrain from hoping that you will give me room, for a few cursory answers to the chiefer objections of the article just now in question, I am the more anxious for this act of kindness on your part, lest silence might be unworthily construed by some persons, and that to their own detriment. In my published letter, I said that Our Lord promised “His flesh “in the 6th chapter of St. John, and that the three Evangelists, Saints Mathew, Mark, and Luke, assure us that Our Lord subsequently fulfilled that promise when he gave to his. Apostles ’ that pledge of his love,” saying “This is my body,” “This is my blood.” But to return to the 6th of St. John, Our Lord's discourse properly begins at verse 35, and “Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life,” if it be asked to what refers the expression in verse 27th; I answer, to the Eucharist. This was the natural topic suggested by the miracle of the multiplied loaves, and of it our Lord designed to treat. The interruptions of the page 195 Jews, and their perverse asking of a new sign, led him to introduce (incidentally and parenthetically), the introductory discouse concerning faith. The very use of the verb in the future tense seems to intimate this. For Jesus as an object of faith was already given to the world, thus in the first portion of the discourse in the 6th chapter the present or past is used: “The Father giveth, the Father hath sent: “When afterwards he speaks of the gift that he shall give, he uses the future; “And the bread that I will give, is my flesh for the life of the world,” verse 52, precisely as in verse 27th, “which the Son of Man will give you.” St. John Chrysostom of the 4th Century, not of the eighth Century, when the docrine came to light, according to the present article! in the former article it was in the 13th. Century, so that we have already gained an antiquity of 500 years…. at this progressive rate, we shall speedily arrive at the Apostolic age, St. Chrysostom on verse 35 of 6th chapter writes thus: “I am the bread of life.” He (Christ) is going just now to speak of the mysteries (the Eucharist,) and first he thus discourses of his Divinity, “I am the bread of life.” For this is not spoken of that body whereof towards the end of his discourse, he says, “The bread which I will give is my flesh “; (v. 52) but as yet he speaks of his Divinity, (Hom: xliv vol, x. p. 229, Ed, 1603.) We thus evidently see by the light of those illustrious Saints, who walked as it were in the Aurora of Christianity, that Our Lord having declared to the multitude, that he was the living bread that came down from heaven (verses 35 and 48), has so far shewn how he is the food of souls, by the faith and charity with which He animates, and by the truth with which he nourishes them. But it remained for Him to explain a third manner of feeding which should include the other two—I mean the real partaking of His body and blood in the sacrament of his love. This He does in the latter part of the sixth of St. John, wherein is exclusively treated the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. In page 161, I find the article objecting verse 63 of St. John, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.” I believe that the sincere Christian will delight to hear on this text St. Augustin, of the fourth century, whom Calvin says, “was the best and most faithful witness of all antiquity,” (Lib, iv. of Institutes, cap. 14); and of whom Dr. Field says, in his Speculo Vera Ecclesice, “St. Augustin, the greatest of all the fathers, and worthiest divine of, the Church of God since the time of the Apostles,” On this text St. Augustin, thus speaks, “what means the flesh profiteth nothing? it profits nothing as they understood it; for they understood fieah as it is torn to pieces in a dead body, or sold in the shambles, and not as it is animated by the spirit: wherefore it is said, the flesh profiteth nothing in the same manner as it is said knowledge puffeth up. Must we then fly from knowledge? God forbid; what then means knowledge puffeth up? That is, if it be alone without charity; therefore the Apostle added, but charity edifieth. Join therefore charity to knowledge, and knowledge will be profitable, not by itself, but through charity: so also here the flesh page 196 profiteth nothing, viz., the flesh alone. Let the spirit be joined with the flesh, as charity is to be joined with knowledge, and then it profits much. For if the flesh profiteth nothing, the Ward would not have been made flesh, that He might dwell in us,” (St. Augt. Tract 27 in Joan). Our Lord then added these words to correct the misconceptions of the Jews, who thought that he meant dead flesh separated from the sonl and divinity. The Reviewer sadly mistakes when he says that the Hebrew language had no word to signify 'represent; and therefore was compelled to substitute to be; This objection was made by Clarke at the beginning of this century, and at first adopted by Mr. Horne, but subsequently expunged, as may be seen by looking to his edition of 1884, vol. 2, p. 449. He must then have been satisfied with its refutation, made by the truly learned Dr. Wiseman, now Catholic Bishop of London. Dr. Wiseman shews that the Syriac language (it was most probably in what was formerly called the Chaldaic, now the Syriac, that our Saviour conversed with His disciples), which was said by Clarke not to possess one word for to denote or represent, possesses on the contrary upwards of forty such expressions, while the Greek and Latin (as the English) possess but four or five. Dr. Lee; Professor of Oriental Literature, in his Prolegomena to Bagater's Polyglot Bible, acknowledges that the assertion of his friend Mr. Horne was quite wrong. Dr. Wiseman's work on this subject is called ‘HorSyriace; of which a copy is in the British Museum. The reviewer next objects that the Eucharist is frequently called’ Bread; by the Apostle St. Paul—True while the Apostle is repeating to the Corinthians the words of the institution, he calls it ‘bread.’ The same night in which he was be trayed, took bread (the matter of the Sacrament,) and giving thanks, broke, and said, ‘Take ye and eat: This is my body which shall be delivered for you, (1 Cor. xi. 24th v.) Does not the Apostle again, in 27th and 29th verses, call it emphatically’ The body of the Lord? and does he not assure us that the unworthy receiver is guilty of the body of Christ; This is a peculiar expression, and the learned illustrate it by a similar form in the Roman law, where a man guilty of treason or an offence against majesty is simply called ‘guilty of majesty; (reus majestatis,) that is of an injury or offence against it. Now if the majesty were not there, the crime could not be committed; so like wise, unless the body of our Lord were in the Eucharist, its abuse could not be called an offence against it—'guilty of the body.' Even we Catholics, who firmly believe that, after consecration, it is no longer bread, ‘but the true body of Christ,’ under that appearance, yet we, too, call it ‘bread, and shall it thence be inferred that we believe not a change to have taken place in the elements, though not perceivable by our senses? The Sacrament may then be called bread, and yet the real presence maintained, as it ought—for who can gainsay the words of our Saviour, ‘This is my body?’ If all our senses be deceived, the sense of hearing is not, and we know from the Apostle that ‘Faith cometh by hearin,' (Rom. x. 17) And we know, too, that its object fails not under the senses. In-page 197deed what is evident and demonstrated In itself, or by means of our senses, is not to believe, speaking rigorously, but to see (B. 30.) Now, (says the same great Apostle,) faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not (Heb. xi. 1.) We may for a moment illustrate the question, by a reference to the sacred volume in the 9th ch. of St. John—our Saviour restores a blind man to perfect eight, a long altercation ensues between himself and the obstinate Jews on the head of the miracle, but all beautifully tends to bring out the act in bolder relief, and to demonstrate the kindliness and power of Him ‘who went about doing good.’ The man's parents and friends attend the judicial enquiry: But they reason as we do: verse 17th we read, ‘They say again to the blind man; thus, after the recovery of his sight and the performance of a miracle upon him, yet is he called blind. Has then no miracle been wrought? Is this evidence of our Saviour's divinity to go for nought? A similar instance occurs in Moses, his rod was changed into a serpent, and yet it continued to be called a rod, from its original designation. Man, when a perfectly organized being, and standing forth in the beauty of his creation, is yet called ‘dust,’ because originally formed of it, by his ever adorable Maker! (For these instances see Exod. vii. 12 Gen. iii. 19.) We must then be reconciled with the common method of all languages, even when a change occurs, of still continuing the original name. The Reviewer objects with seemingly great confidence; “After Christ had said in St. Mathew xxvi. 29, ‘This is my blood,’ he said, ‘I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, &c.’ clearly, says the Reviewer, pointing out that the contents of the cup had undergone no change.” This conclusion, alas! has been too hastily arrived at. In the first place then I answer, that the Sacramental Cup might be called the fruit of the vine, because consecrated from wine, and retaining the likeness, and all the accidents or qualities of wine, In the next place, I answer, that Jesus Christ did not call the Holy Sacrament the fruit of the Vine: for he spoke of what was in the cup before it was consecrated, and before it he came his blood, as may be seen in reading the 22nd chapter of St. Luke, at the 14th verse, “And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve Apostles with him, and he said to them: with desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you before I suffer. For I say to you that from this time I will not eat it, till it be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God. And having taken the Chalice, he gave thanks, and said: take and divide it among you, far I say to you, that I will not drink of the fruit of the Vine, till the Kingdom of God come.” Up to the present moment we have no mention of the consecration of the Sacrament—But we have in the two following verses—19th and 20th. “And taking bread, he gave thanks and brake; and gave to them saying: This is my body which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me. In like manner the Chalice also, after he had supped, saying, This is the Chalice the New Testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you.” (see St. Luke, xxii. 14th to 20th.) Hence we page 198 see that it was not the Sacramental Cup, but that which was drank at the Passover which Our Lord called the fruit of the Vine. And I may here appropriately observe, that the Evangelist has after the words “This is the Chalice the New Testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you,” it therefore seems to follow very clearly that the Chalice contained Our Saviour's real blood, for assuredly it was not wine which was shed for our sins, or which dedicated the New Testament. The remainder of the Reviewer's arguments, specially his psychological ideas, militate against no arguments advanced by me. Let me in conclusion beg him to remember, that besides being a Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist is also a mystery, as St. Thomas Aquinas, with his usual acuteness and accuracy fails not to remark. He thus interrogates — “Our in Symbolo fidel non sit hoc mysterium insertum?” Why is not this mystery inserted in our Symbol of Faith? He says in reply, that it is implicitly contained in our expression of belief in God's Omnipotence. Dicendum, quod in Sacramento Eucharistiæ miraculose Corpus Christi continetur; et sic cocluditur Sub Omnipotentia.” — (Opuse v. c. 7. W. 254.) Had the Reviewer this real Christian idea of The glorious Sacrament, thus touched upon by St. Thomas, he then would not have gone setting before us the Miracles of the Elder Covenant, and asking why the Eucharist so differs from them. Thus in page 163 he says, “Whatever change was effected, was apparent to every one that could use his, senses and exercise his reason, &c.” Now this is considering the Eucharist in the same light as the restoring of a withered limb, or the raising of a paralytic. But these things were wrought, not so much for their own sake as in evidence of God's power, and our Lord's mission. They were performed to bring men to faith; like tongues they were “a sign to unbelievers, and not to believers. — (1 Cor. xiv. 22.) Now was the Eucharist proposed in this way? On the contrary, is it not for believers exclusively? Was it not rather the last seal and pledge of favour to complete perfect believers? ‘It is not, therefore to be brought down to the certainly lower level of wonderful works, performed to convince unbelieving obdurate, and unyielding men, of some truth, apart from the works themselves. Hence this wonderful Sacrament of the Eucharist is not to be subjected to, and tried by the same laws as other miracles. Of course the evidence of the senses may be the proper criterion, where the certainty of a change has to be believed as a motive anterior to, and, by grace, leading us on to faith. But of what could the Eucharist be intended? As an evidence of the transcendent love of God indeed, but strictly speaking, not of his power. Now this love it displays wonderfully to the believing soul, but to none other. It was known in the Ancient Church, as the “tremendous mystery,” veiled from the view of the faithful, concealed from the knowledge of the catchumens, screened by every solemn engagement from the surmises of the heathen. (All which precautions, if it were a mere empty figure of our Lord's body. have no meaning.) The fact is, that the holy Eucharist is a mystery part of the mystery of the Incarnation, and is therefore itself even page 199 as the mystery of the Incarnation an object of faith, and as such withdrawn from the sphere of philosophic scrutiny; except in as much as Philosophy may help to prevent the incursions of a profane hand reaching within its hallowed sanctuary. At his close the Reviewer says “that his view alone is rich for spiritual support and consolation.” Were this true, I should rejoice at it for his sake and those whom he represents, as every step in spirituality brings us nearer the goal of truth, for it is a truth of natural religion, that only in proportion to our attainments in holy obedience can we receive into our minds any just and accurate representation of spiritual realities; and hence those who are not really zealous and careful in aiming by all practicable means, at this obedience, live in the dim twilight caused by a most inadequate refraction of Gospel rays, when they might otherwise enjoy the full effulgence of their blaze. It is indeed most certain that every error, in relation to our Saviour's person or doctrine, exercises a more or less injurious influence on the piety and virtue of its possessors, whereas a right knowledge of his person and doctrine, forms the surest basis of a holy and happy life. It is impossible to over conceive the ennobling effects if duly disposed, of the Catholic Communion, on the human intelligence. It is the union with God, raised, if we may so speak, to its highest degree of intensity, and carried as far as it is possible to attain within the limits of our present existence. Beyond it would be heaven. If, in fact, while the Divine substance mingles with our substance, God were to transform in the same proportion our intelligence into his intelligence, and our will into his love, we should see him face to face. We should love Him with a love equal to that of clear intuition. Heaven is nought else—let us wait awhile: the day of transfiguration approaches. Earthly life is only the infancy of man.— Meanwhile, May the Lord direct our hearts in the Charity of God, and the patience of Christ. — (ii Thess., 3 c.)

Believe me,

Very truly, Your ob'd't. humble Serv't.,

J. J. P. O'Reily.

Miss. Ap. &e. (E.I.)

P.S. —

Since writing the above, one of the Proprietors of the Independent kindly applied to the Gentlemen conducting the Evangelist for the insertion of this answer, and they having obligingly acceded, in consequence, it is, of course, withdrawn from the Independent, and for this act of justice and courtesy, I return my best thanks. To elucidate truth is the object of discussion, and if conducted as it ever should, in a Christian spirit, I think, with God's blessing, it may greatly promote it.