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Title: Eight Sermons on The Priesthood, Altar, and Sacrifice
Author: Mayow, Mayow Wynell
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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ALTAR, AND SACRIFICE***


Transcribed from the 1867 James Parker and Co. edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org



                              Eight Sermons
                                    ON
                        THE PRIESTHOOD, ALTAR, AND
                                SACRIFICE.


                                * * * * *

                                    BY
                        MAYOW WYNELL MAYOW, M.A.,

         PERPETUAL CURATE OF ST. MARY’S, WEST BROMPTON, AND LATE
                    STUDENT OF CHRIST CHURCH, OXFORD.

                                * * * * *

    “The principles of Christianity are now as freely questioned as the
    most doubtful and controverted points; the grounds of faith are as
    safely denied as the most unnecessary superstructions; that religion
    hath the greatest advantage which appeareth in the newest dress, as
    if we looked for another faith to be delivered to the saints: whereas
    in Christianity there can be no concerning truth which is not
    ancient, and whatsoever is truly new, is certainly false.”—(BP.
    PEARSON ON THE CREED: _Epistle Dedicatory_.)

                                * * * * *

                            Oxford and London:
                           JAMES PARKER AND CO.
                                  1867.

                                * * * * *

                      [Picture: Decorative graphic]

                                * * * * *

                                  TO THE
                        RIGHT REV. FATHER IN GOD,
                               WALTER KERR,
                        LORD BISHOP OF SALISBURY,
             IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF A CONNECTION WITH HIS
                DIOCESE FOR NEARLY A QUARTER OF A CENTURY,
          AS A TOKEN OF REVERENCE FOR HIS OFFICE, AND UNFEIGNED
                        RESPECT FOR HIS CHARACTER,
                  AS SOME LITTLE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF MANY
                           KINDNESSES RECEIVED,
                 AND AS A HUMBLE TRIBUTE TO HIS CONSTANCY
                        IN DEFENDING THE FAITH IN
                          THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND,

                               This Volume

                      IS (BY PERMISSION) INSCRIBED,
          BY HIS LORDSHIP’S VERY FAITHFUL AND GRATEFUL SERVANT,

                               M. W. MAYOW.



ADVERTISEMENT.


THE following Sermons were preached at St. Mary’s, West Brompton, in
November and December, 1866.  They are now printed as a humble
contribution towards the defence of the Catholic doctrine of the
priesthood, the altar, and the sacrifice, in days when there seem no
limits to assault upon it, when there prevails every conceivable
confusion between what is Catholic and what is Roman, and when there is
the widest misapprehension of the principles of our Reformation.  If this
small volume should contribute in any way to a better understanding of
those principles, and to the vindication of the loyalty to our own Church
of such as, maintaining its Catholic character, desire equally to be
loyal to the Church Universal, (and believe in truth that there is no
antagonism between them,) it will not, I trust, be wholly useless.  If,
further, it should lead any, in the spirit of candour and of prayer, to
give more consideration to this doctrine than perhaps hitherto they have
done, and especially to consult larger and more learned works upon the
subject, I shall have great additional reason to be thankful.

It is, I hope, hardly necessary to add that there is no intention or
desire in anything here said to pass judgment upon individuals, either
within or without our own communion.  It will be found stated in the
following discourses how readily we believe that many receive the
benefits of the Christian altar and sacrifice who are yet unconscious of
them; whilst it is also willingly acknowledged, even as regards those who
more directly deny Catholic doctrine, that the present divided state of
Christendom, and the wide differences of teaching within our own
communion, make it a very different thing to be unable to see, (or even
to oppose,) the truth than would be the case if the Church were still
united, as of old, in one harmonious voice and one external communion, or
if there were a perfect unanimity among ourselves.  When, alas, even
priests are found to repudiate their priesthood, it must be admitted,
without reserve, that there is too much excuse for the laity being
uncertain and perplexed.  Whilst this teaches us to award the largest
measure of charitable construction to those who differ from us, it gives
only the more urgent cause both to state and vindicate the ancient faith,
and to shew that it was in God’s mercy preserved to us at the
Reformation.

I must not omit to say that I am indebted to Mr. Carter’s excellent
treatise for many facts, suggestions, and illustrations, even beyond
those which the references given explicitly acknowledge.

                                                                  M. W. M.

ST. MARY’S, WEST BROMPTON.
         _February_ 7, 1867.



CONTENTS.

                               SERMON I.

                                (p. 1.)

 Treasure in Earthen Vessels.—Faith, not Sight, the Recogniser of the
                              Priesthood.

    “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency
        of the power may be of God, and not of us.”—2 _Cor._ iv. 7.
                              SERMON II.

                               (p. 23.)

The Witness of the World, before Christ, to the Doctrine of Sacrifice.

                  “Thus did Job continually.”—_Job_ i. 5.
                              SERMON III.

                               (p. 45.)

    The Witness of the New Testament to the Doctrine of Sacrifice.

        “Are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the
                          altar?”—1 _Cor._ x. 18.
                              SERMON IV.

                               (p. 63.)

 The Testimony of the Early Church to the Doctrine of the Priesthood.

     “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for
      the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye
              shall find rest for your souls.”—_Jer._ vi. 16.
                               SERMON V.

                               (p. 79.)

  The Testimony of our Formularies to the Doctrine of the Priesthood.

    “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto
    them Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they
    are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are
    retained.”—_St. John_ xx. 22, 23.
                              SERMON VI.

                               (p. 97.)

                         The Christian Altar.

                 “We have an altar.”—_Heb._ xiii. 10.
                              SERMON VII.

                               (p. 113.)

                         The Christian Altar.

                 “We have an altar.”—_Heb._ xiii. 10.
                             SERMON VIII.

                               (p. 135.)

                 God Incarnate our Great High Priest.

“In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”—_Coloss._
                                ii. 3.



SERMON I.
Treasure in Earthen Vessels.—Faith, not Sight, the Recogniser of the
Priesthood.


                             2 CORINTHIANS iv. 7.
    “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of
                   the power may be of God, and not of us.”

THE words rendered “in earthen vessels,” are easy enough as to their
general sense.   _Ἐν ὀστρακίνοις σκεύεσιν_, (the Apostle says,) where
_σκεύος_ may stand for any kind of utensil or household stuff.  It is the
word used in St. Matthew, “How can one enter a strong man’s house and
spoil his _goods_;” {1} any of his household stuff or possessions; whilst
_ὀστράκίνοιν_, (the same word which gave its name to the well-known
Grecian _ostracism_, from the mode of voting,) signifying in its first
sense that which is made of shell and therefore brittle, is often used in
a derived sense for anything frail and liable to break, and when broken
not to be re-joined.  Therefore, again, it represents anything poor and
mean, as compared with other stronger or more precious material.  Thus,
in his second Epistle to Timothy, St. Paul uses the very same word to
denote those inferior vessels which are made for less honourable use:
“But in a great house, there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but
also of wood and of earth; _ὀστράκινα_;—and some to honour, and some to
dishonour.” {2a}

We cannot, then, err as to the general meaning of the text, if we take it
to express the fact that great gifts of God—treasure—may be, and are,
according to His will, and for good and wise reason, lodged in weak and
frail tenements, giving little outward sign of that which is hid within:
great riches enshrined in poor and mean caskets, even as the soul of man
dwells in the earthy tabernacle, (that red earth or clay which gave its
very name to Adam,) when “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the
ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became
a living soul.” {2b}

But St. Paul’s application of the figure here is somewhat different from
the illustration just used.  It is not life, or an immortal soul shrouded
in a mortal body, of which he speaks, but some special gift or gifts of
God for the use of His Church and people, which he declares had been
entrusted to vessels of little “form or comeliness.”  And it will be of
much interest and importance both to trace out what this treasure is, and
what are the vessels in which it is placed, as well as to insist upon the
fact that the treasure is not the less, because thus shrouded or
obscured; and that it gives no cause to deny the existence of the
treasure, that those who bear it seem either so like other men as they
do, or so little worthy in themselves of what they bear.

Now, to see what the treasure is, we need turn back but a little way.  In
the preceding chapter, speaking of himself and others charged with the
ministry of the Gospel, the Apostle says, deprecating all high thoughts
in those so honoured: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think
anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God, who also hath
made us able ministers of the New Testament;” and then, after thus
disclaiming all personal merit or glory, he goes on immediately to
contrast the glory of the Gospel with the glories of the earlier
dispensation.  “For if the ministration of death,” he says, “written and
engraven in stones was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not
stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance;
which glory was to be done away: how shall not the ministration of the
Spirit be rather glorious?  For if the ministration of condemnation be
glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.”
{3a}  Pursuing this thought a little further, and enlarging upon the
glories of the ministration of the Spirit of the Lord which giveth life,
he comes back; at the opening of the fourth chapter, more closely to the
subject of his ministry, and says: “Therefore, as we have received this
ministry, we faint not;” {3b} and after a word on the effect of the
Gospel which he preached, that it led to the “renouncing the hidden
things of dishonesty;” {4a} and another, as to its being sufficiently
manifested to every willing heart, and so, if hidden, hidden only “to
them that are lost, whom the God of this world hath blinded;” {4b} he
returns once more to what it was which he preached, and declares how this
great treasure,—“the unsearchable riches of Christ,” as he elsewhere
describes it,—was entrusted to poor and weak instruments; “for we
preach,” he says, “not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and
ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who commanded the
light to shine out of darkness,” (that is, in the natural world when He
said, “Let there be light:”) “hath shined in our hearts,” (that is, in
the new creation of the spiritual world,) “to give the light of the
knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.” {4c}  And
then, in the text, he seems to meet an objection, that if his call and
ministry in the Gospel were of so glorious a nature, the instruments
thereof would bear more or higher marks of glory themselves, he adds the
words of our text: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that
the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” {4d}

And now, brethren, again I ask, what is the treasure, and to whom
committed?  Surely the ministry of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ,
entrusted to human stewardship!

And who shall disparage this, or overlook it, or deny the gifts and
treasure of and in those who bear it, though they be but as earthen
vessels; though they look simply like other men; though they are “men of
like passions;” though they have few or no high marks or tokens, to be
discerned by man’s eye, of the greatness of the treasure which
nevertheless they bear?

This thought, this warning against denying God’s gifts when lodged in
earthen vessels, and so speaking against them as actually to make a new
Gospel totally unlike to that which has been from the beginning, is
especially a danger of our day: a day when men live so much by sight,
and, alas, so little by faith; when restless and free enquiry ranges over
every subject, and men pride themselves upon their refusal to submit to
any authority but their own reason, or their own mere opinion, or to
receive anything beyond that of which they can understand the mode and
assign the use.

Not, perhaps, the most unfrequent of these attacks of the present time is
directed against almost the very subject of our text: the reality of the
treasure or gifts bestowed upon the ministers and stewards of Christ’s
mysteries, because they are contained in earthen vessels.  Whereas St.
Paul fully claims and asserts that there is this treasure, and gives as
the sufficient reason for its being so lowlily enshrined, that thereby it
would be seen indeed that “the excellency of the power is of God, and not
of man;” {6} these objectors deny there can be any such treasure as it is
asserted there is, because it is not to their eye exhibited in or by,
glorious, or sufficiently distinctive, instruments.

Take a case in illustration, very near indeed to the argument of the
Apostle in this place.  If our Christianity in our beloved Church of
England is, and is to be, the Christianity which has been from the
beginning, it cannot be without a priesthood, and an altar, and a
sacrifice.  I do not propose at this moment to go into the proofs of
this, but rather to notice an objection which is sometimes triumphantly
put forward, by modern infidelity or ignorance, as fatal to all such
claims.  It is said, that if it were so that there is a priesthood,
(which it is intended to deny;—O sad and fearful thought!  That any
should be found to deny and refuse the chiefest means of applying to us
the pardon of the Cross): but if it were so, then, it is said this
priesthood must be seen to be such by some peculiar exhibition of its
powers, by some glorious or distinctive appearance in the
treasure-bearing vessels.  So it is said, Whatever there may be
elsewhere, the Church of England at least has no priesthood, and no
priests.  No!  Can any one believe (it is added) that they are priests
who are young men, as others, one day; and are ordained, with so little
outward difference, the next?  Can it be that prayers and a laying on of
hands, even by bishops, can effect such a change when all looks so nearly
the same?  No, truly!  If such there were, if such there be, if we are to
believe in a power given of this kind, if the priest can consecrate, and
offer upon the altar of God, let us see the difference.  Let the young,
who are to fill such an office, be educated, not as other young men are,
living with them in social life at our schools and Universities, but as
set apart for this from their earliest days.  Let them be known of all as
a separate kind or caste; let them have a distinctive dress; let them
give up social life; let them, above all, renounce the married state, and
give themselves up to pursue their avocation in the single life; and
then, perhaps, we may be more inclined to believe in their sacrificial
function; in their power to officiate sacerdotally at the altar; in the
committal to them of the power of the keys, and all which is included in
the idea of a distinct order and a priestly authority.  Now all this,
brethren, is mere man’s wisdom, setting forth, in truth, not what it
really desires to find as the mark of a priesthood, if it might have this
in vessels of gold or silver, but simply, if it may not disparage and
deny a priesthood of Christianity altogether, (which yet it desires to
do), at least delighting to deny it to _us_; to raise a prejudice against
it, and to drive from the Church of England (if it were possible) all
those who cleave to the statements of our formularies as they are, and to
the faith once for all delivered and handed down to us.

But observe, brethren, what all this really amounts to.  I am not saying
whether there should not be (unto the more edification), a more
distinctive theological education for the future priesthood than very
often there is among us.  I am not saying whether there might not, with
advantage, be some greater distinction in outward appearance or dress,
than we have among us generally, for those who minister in holy things.
(Let it, however, here be remarked, that the greatest objection and
hindrance as to this proceeds, as we well know, from the clamours of
those who would first deny us all priestly character, and then reproach
any who, claiming it, are anxious to mark it also by some outward
difference.)  I am not, however, now dwelling upon these things, nor even
on what are the advantages or disadvantages of a celibate clergy, but I
say that to suppose the presence or absence of these outward signs or
marks should affect the essence of the priesthood, and men being in
reality and truth ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of
God, in the full sense in which these words are understood in all the
primitive writings and liturgies of the Church of Christ, shews, not only
an ignorance of the very first principles of Christian worship, but a
strange overlooking of the truth taught in the text, and confirmed to us
in so many other places of Holy Scripture.  If St. Paul confessed that,
even with him, his ministry was confided to an earthen vessel; if there
were no need and no likelihood that any of the primitive stewards of
God’s mysteries should be distinguished as by a star upon their breast,
or any insignia of their rank in the Apostolic band, then it can amount
to nothing as a disproof of the priesthood of the ministry of the Church
of England, that those who serve at her altars have but the outward look
and bearing of other men.

We may even carry this argument further, if it may be so done with due
reverence and humility.  We may take, not merely prophets and Apostles,
but our blessed Lord Himself,—our King as well as our great High
Priest,—and say of Him, that, although of course it is not objectively
true that He had any of His gifts or powers in an earthen vessel, (save
in the sense that He took upon Him man’s nature, and so being of Adam’s
race—yet without sin—had His share of the earth of which Adam was
created); but though, I say, except thus, He held not anything in an
earthen vessel objectively, still, on the other hand, subjectively, to
man’s sight and apprehension, He veiled His Godhead, He emptied Himself
of His glory, He obscured His greatness, so that nearly throughout His
life and ministry He was passed over as a common man, or His claims
denied, and Himself treated as an impostor.  In spite of the holiness of
His life, the tenderness of His compassion, the purity of His precepts,
the marvels of His teaching, the abundance and power of His miracles, yet
He was not received or accepted generally as other than a common man.
The Jews were offended at Him.  He was to them “a stumbling block,” as He
was to the Greeks “foolishness.”  He came in no outward manifestation of
glory; He was not in kings’ courts; He had no armies or numerous
followers; He won no carnal victories; He did nothing “to restore the
kingdom to Israel,” in any sense which the Jewish nation could observe or
recognise; nay, in His very priestly acts, and in that greatest of them
in which He did in truth offer up the great sacrifice of all, He appeared
to man’s eye in no such aspect.  Even as a victim, He was only considered
as a malefactor put to death, whilst it may be well doubted whether even
His own Apostles had the least insight at the time into the nature of the
sacrifice He made; and none of them had a single thought or perception of
the priesthood which He exercised.  So, indeed, He seemed to have “no
form nor comeliness;” {10a} “His visage was so marred more than any man,
and His form more than the sons of men.” {10b}  He seemed to have all He
had in an earthen vessel, undistinguished and undistinguishable by the
vulgar eye from others who were around Him, or who had preceded Him, with
some pretensions to be teachers, or reformers of manners, but who had
disappeared and left no trace behind them.  Is it, then, so certain that
those who now “seek after a sign” before they admit any claim to “the
office of a priest in the Church of God,” and who look for various marks
and distinctions in outward show or appearance before they will entertain
the doctrine as belonging to the Church of England; is it, I say, so
certain that they would not have rejected Christ Himself, as not coming
up to their mark and requirement, if they had seen Him in the days of His
ministration upon earth?

But let us pass on from the priesthood of our Lord and Saviour, and turn
again for a moment to the Apostles and their fellow-labourers.  Observe,
I am not engaged in proving now their priestly character, nor the truth
of the sacrifices, or altars of the Christian religion; (we may come to
this another day;) but I am merely meeting the preliminary objection that
there can be no such things, at least, none such in the Church of
England, because our priesthood is not more manifestly set forth in
outward show to the eye of the world, by a more distinctive priestly
education, or a more distinctive priestly dress, or a more distinctive
(as is supposed) priestly life as separated from social life; and this
particularly by the exhibition of an unmarried clergy.  As I have before
said, I am not even giving an opinion on the advantages or disadvantages
of some of these things; but I am asking the plain broad question, What
right have we, from Scripture and Scriptural example, to say these
differences are needful to the existence of a priesthood?  Be the
priesthood and ministerial powers of St. Peter and St. Paul, and others
their companions, what they may, did they shew them forth as in vessels
of gold and silver, or were they not what we may call obscured,
undistinguished, not (in many particulars at least) dissevered from
social life, but just like other men; in short, with their treasure borne
in earthen vessels, however really great and precious in itself?

Carry your mind back, brethren, to Simon Peter with Andrew his brother,
to James and John, the sons of Zebedee, fishing on the sea of Galilee.
There is no reason, at I know of, to suppose that they wholly gave up
this their occupation immediately upon their endowments at the day of
Pentecost.  They certainly pursued them as long as their Lord was with
them, and after the Crucifixion.  Nay, after the Resurrection; after
Jesus had appeared unto the Eleven; after He had “breathed on them and
said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” and conveyed to them, (if any thing
could do so,) the priestly power, saying, “Whose soever sins ye remit,
they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are
retained,” {12} still Simon Peter said to the rest, “I go a fishing; and
they said unto him, We also go with thee.” {13a}  Will any one dare to
say, Had they been true priests of God, they must have pursued another
mode of life, and borne the marks of their office more demonstratively
and visibly before the eyes of men?  Will any say, We cannot receive it
that the hands, engaged one day in casting a hook into the sea, or
spreading or mending nets, can be those which exercise, the next, (or the
same if so it be,) the Christian ministerial office,—in breaking of
bread, and celebrating the most holy Christian mysteries?  Will any say
that the lips which called to their partners for help, or in direction as
to the safety or management of their boats and fishing, must therefore be
incapable of preaching the glad tidings of the Gospel, or of exercising
the commission given them of binding and loosing in the name of Christ?
Or, think of St. Paul, with his fellow-helper and companion in labour,
Aquila, working with their hands at their craft, “for by their occupation
they were tent-makers;” {13b} aye, even “working night and day,” that
they “might not be chargeable” to others: and will any say, Herein they
shewed themselves too like to other men to put forward any pretence or
claim to have or exercise any priestly or sacerdotal function.  Will any
again call to mind that St. Peter was certainly a married man; (“Peter’s
wife’s mother,” we read at one time, “was sick of a fever;”) as also
certainly was Aquila the companion in labour of St. Paul, (for he came
“with his wife Priscilla;”) or, once more, St. Paul’s own claim to the
right (though he did not exercise it, but still the right) to marry if he
thought fit; as he says, “Have we not power to eat and to drink?  Have we
not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other Apostles, and
as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” {14} will any consider so much,
and then say, you must needs have a celibate priesthood, if you are to
have any priesthood at all in the Church of Christ; or, if there be one,
it must be one so separated from all earthly pursuit as to be recognised
at a glance as of a different order?

Nay, my brethren, such things are surely no arguments of even a feather’s
weight in the mouth of any man against a true priesthood in the Church of
England; and one can hardly see how they can be supposed, by any
sober-minded thinker, to be either contained in, or deduced from, Holy
Scripture.  They are, in fact, objections merely playing with the
prejudices of those who have already come to a foregone conclusion, and
intended rather to point an unjust shaft at the Church of England,
through a mock admiration of the Church of Rome, than to advance the
cause of truth.  And this with no justice, even towards Rome herself,
either in praise or blame; for Rome herself may have something to say in
defence of her practice as to the distinctions with which she marks her
priesthood, if looked on merely as matters of expediency and not of faith
or doctrine; and at the same time, we certainly have no little reason to
maintain that in many of these things, (and however there may be
incidental disadvantages which we need not deny, on the ground of
expediency also,) yet we come the nearer of the two to the following of
the Apostles, in the not making too broad an outward distinction between
priests and people, and in the not having laid a yoke hard to be borne,
perhaps, as a wide and extended rule, too hard to be borne, upon our
priesthood’s neck; and, in short, that we are at any rate close upon the
very type and pattern which St. Paul mentions in our text, in that we too
have our treasure in earthen vessels, and may, in one sense at least,
rejoice that it is so, inasmuch as thereby it may be seen by all “that
the excellency of the power is of God, and not of us.”

Further, it needs surely no words to prove that such objections and such
line of argument in denial of our priesthood, can have but one effect, if
they have any, namely, to forward the interests of the Church of Rome.
This, I presume, ought in consistency to be the last wish of those who
use them.  But so it is, and in this way.  There is no more possibility
of any one, who has the knowledge of what Christianity has been from the
beginning, being moved by such assertions to disbelieve the great
doctrines of the priesthood, the altar, and the sacrifice, as belonging,
and necessarily belonging, to the Church Universal, than there is of the
words of the objectors moving mountains or drying up seas.  We can no
more unlearn the very first elements of the appointed mode of our
applying to Christ for His intercession on high for us miserable
sinners,—no more believe the Catholic truths which we have drunk in to be
mere human figments and superstitious inventions,—than we could return to
the system of Ptolemy, and believe the earth to be the centre round which
the sun and the stars revolve.  Nothing, therefore, can be gained in this
direction by those who propound such views.  But if it should be that
any, who know what the Church Universal holds and has ever held on these
points, should, by weakness or inadvertence, be shaken in their belief
that the Church of England maintains these doctrines and preserves this
sacerdotal order,—if any should come to think that perhaps after all she
has not a priesthood, and an altar, and a sacrifice, then such would no
doubt begin to fail in their allegiance to her, and be afraid longer to
trust their souls to her teaching or her keeping.  No well-instructed,
patient, humble-minded member of the Church of England can, I think, be
deceived by so sophistical an argument as that which we have been
considering; but, of course, all are not well instructed, nor, perchance,
are all patient or humble minded, and hence it may be, there _is_ a
danger.  But if there be this danger, or if any defections should follow
upon such defamation of our Church, those who put forth the libel must
have upon their conscience the weight of having aided the Church of Rome
against their Mother Church of England.

But to return; take but two brief illustrations further of our subject.
You will remember the contention between St. Paul and St. Barnabas
concerning “Mark, sister’s son to Barnabas,” whom “Paul thought not good
to take with them,” and how it “was so sharp between them that they
parted asunder one from the other.” {17a}  Again, you will recollect the
occasion when at Antioch St. Paul (as he says), “withstood” St. Peter “to
the face because he was to be blamed;” saying to him “before them all, If
thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do
the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”
Consider that “the other Jews dissembled likewise with him, insomuch that
Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation;” and to such a
point did this reach, that St. Paul declares he “saw that they walked not
uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel;” {17b} put all this
together and then say whether, upon the grounds of the objection urged,
any one might not far more plausibly have denied to the Apostles
themselves any just power or fitness to rule or teach authoritatively in
the Church of God, than any man can deny the priesthood of the Church of
England because its power is not more demonstratively shewn among us.

Or, for a second point, note this:—Does, or did ever, the admission to
the Christian covenant, and the wondrous gift of God, the new birth of
water and of the Spirit, by which, as the Apostle plainly teaches,
Christians are made the temples of the Holy Ghost; does it, or did it
ever, make such outward show of difference as will enable man to decide,
immediately and infallibly, who are Christ’s, and who are forfeiting or
have forfeited the gift bestowed?  Then, if there be not this palpable
manifestation as to the Christian life in each, why should there be a
more manifest and outward demonstration of the treasure of the
priesthood?  If the grace of Baptism be not thus self-evident, and ever
recognised by sight, why must the grace of Orders be so either?  Oh! when
shall we learn to believe instead of to cavil; to use the blessings God
gives us, not to dispute about them; to judge, not according to
appearance, but to judge righteous judgment; to believe there is a
treasure, even the treasure which the Church has ever believed and
declared to be in her ministry and stewardship, though it be contained in
earthen vessels?

One word more, brethren, of most serious weight and import, as to such
objections and I objectors.  Carry your mind back to the time of Christ,
to the labours of Apostles and Evangelists, and the infancy of the
Church, and see of what Spirit they are.  I am not speaking, remember, of
all who may, from one cause or other, not be able to receive the doctrine
of the Christian priesthood and altar, and who, we may well hope and
believe, many of them receive the blessing of these gifts of Christ,
though they know it not; but I speak of the particular objection with
which I have all along been dealing,—that there cannot be a Priesthood,
unless marked by striking outward differences visible by all.  And I ask,
what would have been the part taken, if the framers of such a test, being
consistent in their objection, had lived in the days of Christ on earth?
Surely we should have heard them saying, aye, in spite of His mighty
works and great High Priesthood, “Is not this the carpenter’s Son?  Is
not His mother called Mary, and His brethren James, and Joses, and Simon,
and Judas?  And His sisters, are they not all with us?” {19a}  What is He
different from another?  Or what more likely than that expecting
something different in show and demeanour in the great Apostle of the
Gentiles, they would have joined in the reproach: “His bodily presence is
weak and his speech contemptible!” {19b} and have rejected Him?

If these things shew us the dangers of such a line of argument, let them
keep us from any word said to countenance or support it.  It is a solemn
thought that we cannot, by even the most careless word of levity, express
approval of such assaults upon the ancient faith, or sympathy with those
who make them, without becoming sharers in their responsibility.  For it
is thus, by a few words here and a few there, that public opinion is
formed or strengthened; and what can be more awful than to have helped to
form it adversely to the truth of God, and in derogation of that
“ministry of reconciliation,” and those means of grace, which He has
appointed.  Surely the sin of such must be, like that of the sons of Eli,
“very great before the Lord,” when a prejudice is raised by which men, if
they do not “abhor,” are at least taught to deny and despise, “the
offering of the Lord.”  At the same time, let us pray earnestly for them,
for, we will hope and trust, “they know not what they do.”  Let us not
wish that they went out from us, but let us hope and pray that they may
be turned to better things.  Let us remember, too, as a ground of
charity, that many fall into error here because too much, for many years,
the teaching of the primitive Church and of Catholic antiquity has been
overlooked as a guide to the due understanding of the Scriptures; and
again, because the face of Christendom, alas, is not now so one and
undivided as to present all truth in due form, and mode, and weight, to
each man’s acceptance.  The glory of our Reformation is, indeed, that it
appeals to antiquity, and carries us back to the early Church; but these
later days have too much overlooked this great principle of the
Reformation.  So it has happened, that what is, alas, the misfortune and
the reproach of Christendom—I mean its divided state—may be, and we will
hope is, some palliation before God for defect in those who wish to
follow the truth, but are unable at the present moment to see or to
accept it.  So let us above all pray to the one great Lord of all, that
in His good time the Church may again be one, not only in its essence,
which it must be, (we believe in but “one holy Catholic and Apostolic
Church,”) but also in its life, and in a re-established communion of the
Saints; that being indeed, if it may be so, once more one, our Lord’s own
prayer for it may be fulfilled, and His promise accomplished, and “the
world believe that God hath sent Him.” {21a}  And let us ourselves,
brethren, ever remember that all we have in treasure is indeed in earthen
vessels, and let us for ourselves be content to be reviled and threatened
(yes, as the holy Apostle was, and his Lord and Master before him), for
“the disciple is not above his Master, nor the servant above his Lord.”
{21b}  Neither, indeed, let us count it a strange thing, “as though some
strange thing happened unto us,” {21c} if we have to “go forth bearing
the reproach of Christ” {22a} and His Apostles; nay, rather, “being
reviled, let us bless; being persecuted” (if so it be), “let us suffer
it; being defamed, let us intreat;” yea, let us be willing to be “made as
the filth of the world, and the off-scouring of all things,” {22b} so
that we may but do our Master’s work, and preserve His truth in the midst
of a crooked and perverse generation, and win souls to Christ, and, if it
may be so indeed, “finish our course with joy, and the ministry, which we
have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of
God.” {22c}



SERMON II.
The Witness of the World, before Christ, to the Doctrine of Sacrifice.


                                  JOB i. 5.
                         “Thus did Job continually.”

THAT which such a man as Job “did continually,” we shall naturally
conclude was well-pleasing in the sight of God.  The Almighty’s own
witness to his character is given in His Word addressed to Satan: “Hast
thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth,
a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?”
{23}  And when we couple this with the circumstances to which the text
relates, and the tone of the whole narrative, we shall find, I think,
more than a _prima facie_ probability that the act so mentioned was not
only right in itself, but that it bore a significant import, not merely
to those who lived near Job’s own time or in his own country, but to the
world at large.

What then is it to which the text alludes?

Job, we read, was a man of great substance as well as great integrity,
living in a very early time in the land of Uz.  Moreover, besides his
great possessions, we are told that he had seven sons and three
daughters.  And we find that his sons were used, “to feast in their
houses, every one his day;” and that on these occasions it was their
custom to “send and call for their three sisters to eat and to drink with
them;” a token, (as a well-known commentator has fairly enough
conjectured,) both of their harmonious family affection and of the good
order and conduct which prevailed in their feastings, or so holy a man as
Job would not have permitted his daughters to join in their festivity.
But, nevertheless, we read that Job in his anxious care was mindful to
intercede for them, even in case they might have erred or sinned in the
fulness of their rejoicing, or in the exuberance of their mirth.  “And it
was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent
and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered
burnt-offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may
be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.  Thus did
Job continually.” {24}

Here, then, we have no doubtful witness, not merely to the usage of
sacrifice, but to its acceptableness also in the sight of God, as a part
of worship and intercession.  And this is all the more, not merely
curious, but important, when we reflect upon the very early date almost
universally assigned to the events related in the Book of Job.  Whether
the record itself may have been composed at a somewhat later period, as
some have thought, yet all authorities are, I believe, agreed that the
time of Job’s life was contemporaneous with even the earliest part of the
life of Moses, and, therefore, that he did not derive his knowledge of
God from the institutions of the Jews, or live under the Mosaic
dispensation.  The consenting witness, both of the Jews themselves and of
the early Christian writers accepting their testimony, is that Job is the
same as Jobab, mentioned in the first book of Chronicles, who is there
named as the third in descent from Esau; so that he, as well as Moses,
was the fifth in descent from Abraham,—the one in the line of Esau, and
the other in the line of Jacob.  Moreover, it would appear that this Job
or Jobab was, if not absolutely what may be termed a king, yet a ruler
and a prince in the land called Uz, or Ausitis, a country on the
confines, probably, of Idumæa and Arabia.  If this be so, he would seem,
from the summary given in the first book of Chronicles, to have succeeded
Balaam in the sovereignty or chiefdom of that country.  “For,” (says that
narrative,) “these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before
any king reigned over the children of Israel; Bela the son of Beor,”
(undoubtedly the same as Balaam); “and the name of his city was Dinhabah.
And when Bela was dead, Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his
stead.” {26a}  Now we find in the book of Numbers, that Balaam the son of
Beor was killed in battle, fighting on the side of Midian in the last
year of the Israelites’ wandering in the wilderness, {26b} and supposing
Job’s trial to have taken place (as some ancient writers assert) some few
years after the Exodus, as he lived one hundred and forty years after
those events, he may very well have succeeded to the chief place among
the Idumæan or Uzzite people upon the death of Balaam.  The importance of
this to our present purpose lies in the fact, that he is thus a witness
to the antiquity and the use of sacrifice and burnt-offering, quite
independently of the institutions and commands of the Mosaic law.  If Job
were of man’s estate, and had sons and daughters of like estate also, (as
the narrative unquestionably implies,) even before his sufferings, he
must have been born not far in time from the birth of Moses, probably
some little while before him; and what he “did continually” in his own
country, and apart from Moses, is a witness to the practice and
acceptableness of sacrifice, anterior to the enactments of the law from
Sinai; and a witness, not merely, let us observe, to the use of
sacrifice, but to sacrifice by burnt-offering, when the victim was killed
and consumed upon the altar of God.

Now this leads us back to consider what is the probable origin of
sacrifice, and sacrifice of this kind, altogether; for it is thus
evident, that it was adopted into, and not originated by, the peculiar
institutions of the Jewish nation and law.

Now, of course we see at once where we must turn for the first account of
sacrifice.  The primal exercise of this mode of approach to God, is that
recorded in the fourth chapter of the book of Genesis, which shews at
once the need which the Fall had brought upon man of drawing nigh to God,
not without a propitiation; and at the same time exhibits, in sad
prominence, the first-fruits of that corruption of nature entailed by it,
which provoked the eldest-born of the world, in malignant envy of heart,
to slay his next born brother.

Let us turn, then, to a brief consideration of those events, as
illustrative of the origin and nature of sacrifice.

Look first to St. John’s and St. Paul’s account of the cause of Cain’s
quarrel against his brother Abel.  “And wherefore slew he him?” (says St.
John), “Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.”
{27a}  And St. Paul tells us wherein Abel’s righteousness and superiority
consisted: “By faith he offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than
Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying
of his gifts.” {27b}  The narrative in the Book of Genesis tells us the
same thing as to the fact that Cain’s offering was rejected and Abel’s
accepted; but without the Apostle’s comment we should not have precisely
traced the cause of this rejection and acceptance: but we know now that
it was _faith_ in the one and a _want of faith_ in the other, in which
the distinction lay; and also that somehow this difference was exhibited
in the gifts which they brought: “God” (of Abel) “testifying of his
gifts.”  By this, too, St. Paul tells us, “He being dead still speaketh;”
a statement which brings the whole matter home to ourselves.  The
narrative then is this: “And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a
tiller of the ground.  And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain
brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.  And Abel,
he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.
And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and
to his offering He had not respect.” {28}

This takes us back to the origin of sacrifice; and the first remark which
occurs is, that it would seem highly probable that its institution was a
matter of revelation from God to Adam; for though mere reason and moral
feeling might make the creature see the propriety of offering to the
Creator something of that which His bounty had bestowed, and possibly
might lead to the thought that it should be not mean, but good and
precious, yet there are so many attendant circumstances in the
institution, which it does not appear possible to account for upon the
hypothesis of the mere dictates of reason and feeling, that we can hardly
ascribe the practice to anything short of a communication of the divine
will to man.  However, be this as it may, it is plain that both Cain and
Abel were conscious of the duty of offering sacrifice or oblation in some
kind to God.  And each brought of that which he had.  So far, it might be
thought, Cain was not behind his brother.  “Abel was a keeper of sheep,
but Cain was a tiller of the ground.”  Cain brought of the fruit of the
ground, but Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock, and (it is
added) “of the fat thereof.”  Now it may be we are intended to note a
difference here,—that Abel’s offering, the firstlings and the fat,
denotes the earliest and the best: as if he hastened to acknowledge, in
all thankfulness and humility, that he was not worthy to touch or use
anything he had, until he had sanctified it by first offering of it to
God; and this, the first he had, and the best: whilst the more scanty
narrative as to Cain, that he merely brought of the fruit of the ground,
may mark that he took no heed to bring of the first, nor of the best.  He
would offer _something_ as an acknowledgment of God’s power,—perhaps,
too, of His goodness,—but not in that due spirit of unmeasured humility
and thankfulness, which alone was becoming in a son of Adam.  But this,
if it were so, does not seem to be all which is implied as to his lack of
faith.  To understand wherein this lay, we must remember the promise made
to our first parents after the Fall, of “the seed of the woman” who
should “bruise the serpent’s head.” {30a}  Faith in this seed, the hope,
the only hope of the world after Adam’s transgression, seems to be the
thing intended; and if we suppose that God was pleased to reveal to our
first parents some further particulars as to the mode of the atonement to
be made by shedding of blood, by which this hope was to be fulfilled, and
the victory to be obtained, we shall be furnished, not merely with a clue
to the difference in the acceptableness of the offerings of the two, but
also with a key to a large part of the Holy Scriptures, and an
understanding what manner of faith should be in every one of us, as well
as to much that is important as to the history and design of sacrifice.
Let it be granted, then, as highly probable, that to Adam a revelation
was given that in him, as the federal head of mankind, and by his
transgression, as deteriorating the whole race to spring from him, were
all men lost by nature, and further, that “without shedding of blood
should be no remission;” {30b} but that by a worthy sacrifice and
blood-shedding should the promised seed of the woman in due time effect a
reconciliation for them and their descendants, and reverse the evil and
the curse of their transgression.  Surely, then, from that time forward,
a faith in the efficacy of a sacrifice by blood would be required, and
would be acceptable to God.  Cain, then, would be evidently one who had
not this faith, who denied, and disbelieved, and did not look forward to,
this sacrifice, or cast himself upon this mercy.  By bringing of the
fruits of the ground, he may be considered to have made acknowledgment of
the power and goodness of God, in causing the seed to grow and the corn
to ripen; he may have done as much as we do, when we merely confess that
we must look to God for rain, and sunshine, and “fruitful seasons,
filling our hearts with food and gladness;” (therefore, by the way, let
us not think too highly of ourselves if we do confess so much; it is
right, but it is a very small part of religion:) he may have meant to
express thankfulness for blessing, but observe what he did not express.
He made no acknowledgment of sin; he exhibited no sense of unworthiness;
he confessed no shortcomings; he gave no sign of sorrow or repentance; he
asked no mercy; above all, he turned to no one out of himself—no
intercessor, no mediator between his God and him.  He shewed no sign of
looking to a Saviour to make atonement, atonement by blood: he looked to
no “Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world” in general, and his
own sins in particular.  He ignored, then, the whole promise which was
the sole hope of man.  He may have said, “God, I thank Thee,” but he
shewed himself to be wholly without the feeling “God be merciful to me a
sinner.”

But, on the other hand, Abel brought of the sheep or goats which were of
his flock.  He offered up not an unbloody sacrifice.  He laid the victim
on the altar, and believing God, as well as feeling his need of a
Saviour, he looked forward with the eye of faith to an expiation greater
than that of kids, or lambs, or bulls, or goats, to take away sin.  Nay
more, he shewed his sense of the need of an atonement out of and beyond
himself; for the blood of the victim offered described at once the sense
of his own blood being required as a penalty, if justice only held its
course and no expiatory sacrifice were found, and represented also, in
true type and figure, that better sacrifice, that more precious blood,
which should be shed in the fulness of the time to make such an
expiation, even that of “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of
the world.”

Now I have gone through this history with what I think is its probable
and satisfactory explanation, because not merely does it serve to shew
what the Apostle means when he tells us it was by faith that Abel pleased
God, and that God testified of his gifts, but also because the very same
remarks seem to apply to the whole history and intention of sacrifice, as
either commanded or accepted, or both, by Almighty God from the
beginning.  Take such to be the origin of propitiary sacrifice, and I
think nothing can more fully agree with, or illustrate, or be illustrated
by, the further progress both of the fact and doctrine as we find them,
first in the Holy Scripture, and, secondly, in the world at large, even
though by the world’s wickedness so fearfully perverted.  In perfect
accordance with such beginning of acceptable sacrifice we have the same
used and practised, and with the like acceptance, by Noah, Abraham,
Melchizedek, Isaac, and Jacob, {33a} and, indeed, by all the patriarchs
until the institution was embodied in the law of Moses.  As we know,
also, it was practised by all the heathen nations of antiquity of whom we
have any record, though with them its true meaning and intention were
fearfully lost and perverted.  Nor does the difference in the instance of
Abraham on one occasion, as to his being ready to offer a human sacrifice
in the person of his son (which was of course a wholly exceptional case
as regards the sacrifices of those knowing the true God), make any
difference as to the witness of the acceptableness of sacrifice by blood,
or the consuming the victim upon the altar.  It has, indeed, been
disputed whether Abraham were not the more easily reconciled to the idea
of sacrificing his son, or even incited to it, by the customary “fierce
ritual” of the Syrians around him; but independently of the utter
contradiction which this view would give to the account in Holy
Scripture, by the attribution of any other motive for Abraham’s conduct
than the command of God, received in all faith, and leading to all
obedience, it may well be doubted whether a perverse misinterpretation of
the sacrifice which Abraham was thus ready to make, and an utter
inattention to the real circumstances of that case, may not have been,
instead of in any way the _consequence_, rather the _cause_ of the
nations around falling into the practice of human sacrifice.  But, be
this as it may, we have the plain witness to the usage of sacrifice, and
its efficacy when performed according to the will of God.  Also, that it
prefigured the great sacrifice by the blood of a pure victim, as well as
in itself taught the lesson that (as afterwards expressed by the Apostle
to the Hebrews) “without shedding of blood is no remission.” {34}

And all this we see consolidated and confirmed, as well as more fully
expanded and defined, under the Law.  And especially there, a certain new
element in its administration is introduced, in the appointment of a
particular order for the performance of the service.  In all the earlier
usage, it would seem that the head of the family or tribe acted as the
ministering priest.  And there is no disproof of this, as far as I see,
in the account of even the first sacrifice of all.  For there is nothing
in the narrative in the Book of Genesis to shew that Cain and Abel were
themselves the acting priests (if we may so term it) in the sacrifice.
They may each, for aught that appears to the contrary, have brought their
offering to Adam, and it may have been by his hand that the different
oblations were placed before God, and presented or devoted to Him.  Such
as the office and privilege of the head or chief, would seem to have been
the recognised right and duty of such persons throughout the patriarchal
age; but as the rule of patriarchs in secular matters merged in that of
kings, as nations grew out of families, so the office of chiefs as
priests, however thus exercised by Noah, Abraham, Melchizedek, or Job,
seems to have been afterwards restricted to a tribe, or family, or other
persons, set apart for the special service, and denominated priests,
ἱερεῖς, or _sacerdotes_; names implying their dedication to holy things,
and their exclusive rights in many particulars to deal with them.  And
this theory of worship, if we may so call it, was not merely reduced to a
system by God’s law among the Jews, but also prevailed universally among
the heathen world from the very earliest times of which any records are
preserved.  Hesiod, Homer, Herodotus, bear witness to it, and the
universal practice of all nations substantiates it, whether in the
barbarian forms of the ancient Druidical or other worship in the ruder
peoples of the world, or in the more refined practice of Greece and Rome,
or in the grotesque or cruel rites of the eastern countries, or
absolutely barbarian tribes.  They all have their altars, their priests,
and their sacrifices, and in most, if not in all, the notion of
propitiation by the blood of the victim has prevailed.

It need hardly be added that in the provisions of the Mosaic Law all
these principles were embodied, so that, with every safeguard introduced
against the perversions, the sensuality, the materialism, and the
cruelty, which pervaded all forms and systems of idol worship, yet the
true worship of Jehovah, as established by Himself, embraced, and
contained, and stereotyped under the mark of His own approval, nay, of
His absolute command, the same three points, of an altar, a priesthood,
and a sacrifice; yes, a sacrifice in the sense of more than a mere
oblation or offering,—a sacrifice by blood of a victim slain, and
consumed in the very act of the commanded worship.  For it ought never to
be forgotten that amid all other offerings that were permitted,—nay, for
certain purposes enjoined, as, for instance, for thank-offerings, or for
mere legal purification,—yet, under the Jewish Law, the particular
sacrifice which was appointed for expiation of any moral offence was the
burnt-offering, where the victim, as I have said, was killed, and
afterwards consumed by fire upon the altar; {36} and this appears to have
no exception, unless it were in the case of the extremely poor, who might
offer the tenth part of an ephah of meal; but even then, I believe, it is
considered that this was placed upon a victim offered by others, or by
the priest, for the sins of the people, and so may be deemed to have made
a part of a sacrifice with blood.  So that, in truth, as St. Paul says to
the Hebrews, “almost all things are by the law purged with blood, and
without shedding of blood is no remission.”

We might say much on this head, and more particularly upon the
appointment of the Passover, and the light thrown by this institution
upon the typical character of sacrifice generally, and its relation to
the great sacrifice of all,—the Lamb slain, once for all upon the cross,
for the sins of the world; but the outline already given of the doctrine
taught by the sacrifice of Abel will readily suggest a key to the true
intention of the ever-recurring sacrifices of the Jews, and to the manner
in which they (although “the blood of bulls and of goats could never take
away sin,” yet) pointed to, and prepared the way for, our understanding
the nature of the sacrifice of Christ, and, indeed, were the great means
to elicit and foster faith in Him who should come, and to teach all the
world daily and continually to look to Him who alone is its salvation,
without whom, and whose mercy, no flesh should be saved at all.

We have brought, then, our statement, and I may say our argument, to this
point; first, generally that the whole world, with one consent, bears
witness to the usage of sacrifice.  The whole world from Adam to
Christ,—Patriarchal, Jewish, Gentile, Barbarian, Civilized, North, South,
East, and West, together (for the new world when discovered was found
herein not to be divergent from the old),—testifies, I say, with one mind
and one mouth, as to the Being of a God, so likewise to this usage of
sacrifice.  And again, secondly, and more particularly, the witness
agrees, that the sacrifice is made, (to speak generally,) not without
blood, and made for the purpose of reconciliation, after sin committed,
with the supernatural being or beings invoked, or for propitiation and
intercession in cases of favour sought.  Even, still further is there
accordant and consenting witness; that there will be, as necessary
accompaniments to the sacrifice, an altar on which it is to be made, and
a specially set apart order of men: priests (ίερεῖς, _sacerdotes_, or
however particularly designated), by whom these sacrifices should be
offered up, and intercessions made on behalf of the people.  So much the
whole world testifies generally, in spite of certain differences of
usage, and the fearful abominations which prevailed amongst those who did
not retain the true God in their knowledge:—the cruelty, licentiousness,
and abhorrent vice into which this worship, when it degenerated into idol
worship, everywhere sunk; which, however, it is plain, is no more an
argument against sacrifice, holily and obediently offered in accordance
with God’s appointment, than the superstitions of heathen invocation are
an argument against godly prayer and intercession.  And thus, too, we see
that this very idea of sacrifice, (without the vicious accompaniments,)
prevailed among God’s children from the first,—as with Abel, Noah,
Melchisedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job; whilst by God’s own sanction
and special command, and, with what in human affairs we should call the
most laborious care and pains, the whole system was, under Moses,
recognised, enlarged, defined, and embodied in a whole code of laws, to
be in their very minutest details carried out until the Mediator of a new
covenant should come, when that which was old should be ready to vanish
away.

But it is well worthy of all our care in examination, to see whether it
is the essence of this idea, and even mode, of worship which is done
away, or only its ceremonial and local detail, as established in the
Jewish Church and polity; whether—as all sacrifices before Christ were
intended to look forward to Him, and His precious, inestimable,
expiation, to be once made by blood and suffering upon the altar of the
cross—whether, I say, so it has not been His will to continue an altar
and a priesthood, and therewith and thereby a sacrifice
commemorative—but, though commemorative, nevertheless perfectly real and
true—by which the Christian Church may both look back to Him, then dying
once for all, and ever plead afresh the merits of His death before the
throne of God on high.  As Abraham looked forward, and “rejoiced to see
His day, and saw it, and was glad;” {40a} what if, so likewise, the
Christian Church is to look back on Him, and to rejoice; not merely to
see Him and be glad, but to be allowed also, according to His own will
and ordinance,—(aye, brethren, observe, of and by His own very
appointment, whereby His very body and blood are truly offered up to
God,)—allowed thus to plead, week by week and day by day, the very
all-prevailing merits of that same sacrifice upon the cross; yea, and be
the means of Himself graciously pleading it for His people ever afresh
before the mercy-seat of His Father.  O, my brethren, if this be so, who
can undervalue this great thing, or disparage it, or attempt to throw it
off, or deny it, or trample it under foot, without a sacrilege fearful to
think of?  But, again, if this be so, how is the Lamb of God, and His
precious blood-shedding, made, more than in any other way which we can
conceive, the centre towards which the whole world looks, from its
earliest to its latest day; from the moment of the promise that the seed
of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head, {40b} until that awful
hour when that same seed of the woman, the Son of Man, shall come in the
clouds of heaven with power and great glory?  I do not say, it is not
conceivable that the whole system and machinery (so to call it), of
priest, and altar, and sacrifice, might have fulfilled its purpose at the
hour of the crucifixion, and nothing remain of it, or like it, in the
Christian Church; nothing in the Christian ministry to answer to the
previous priesthood; nothing in it, but a set of teachers or expounders
of the Christian faith; a faith, however, be it remarked, in that case, a
very different thing from that which the Church has ever supposed it to
be, or (as I think) the Holy Scripture sets before us.  But even if all
this be conceivable, I do say, and I think no unprejudiced person should
dispute it, that the whole testimony and usage of all previous time in
this matter, the whole of what holy men “did continually” in relation to
it, not merely with God’s manifest approval, but even with His especial
sanction, and by His positive command, raises a very strong _prima facie_
presumption, that all this was not intended to be, and was not, thus
abrogated and done away; and that, at the very least, we ought to have
shewn us the most express and distinct proofs of its being thus
abrogated, before we can accept its abrogation.  We have been accustomed
to see, rather, that instead of being abrogated, the usage is changed and
glorified; changed from the shadow to the image, from wood and stone to
silver and gold, from a comparatively dead state to a glorious living
one, from the ministration of death to the ministration of life; but, if
this be not so, then, indeed, we may surely ask to see this reversal of
all which the economy of God’s dealings would seem to lead us to,
expressly promulgated and proved by the word of Christ or His Apostles;
so plainly set down as to need no explanation further; or else, so
explained by those who immediately followed them, and had the best means
of understanding their sense and design, as to leave us no ground for
reasonable doubt, or we must be excused if we cannot accept the mere
assertion of so improbable a thing as true, or believe the unchangeable
God to be so like a Man that He should thus repent.

A fair examination into this question is most important, but we cannot
enter upon it at the present moment.  We must necessarily defer it to
another day.  I trust, with God’s help and guidance, to resume our
subject on Sunday next, and endeavour further to see how the doctrine
really stands, taking, briefly but carefully, into consideration these
three points:—

1.  What is the testimony of the Holy Scripture as to the doctrine of the
Christian priesthood, altar, and sacrifice?

2.  How this has been understood by the Church from the beginning? and,

3.  How it has been received by our own branch of the Church Catholic,
the Church of England?

And I will only add now, whilst I pray that we may all strive simply to
know the will of God that we may do it, that there can be no more
practical matter than this to engage our thoughts and hearts.  For, if it
be so, that Christ has left Him no priests now on earth to minister at
His altars, and no sacrifice with which His people are concerned, a great
part of what so many believe, I might say, of what the Church of God for
eighteen hundred years and more has believed, to be of the essence of our
faith, is a mere fable and superstition; whilst if, on the other hand,
“it be truth, and the thing certain,” {43} that a Christian priesthood,
ordained by Christ Himself, and these sacrificial powers, and altar and
sacrifice, remain and must remain ever in His Church, what words shall
describe the misery and sin of those who are endeavouring to rob a whole
nation of their belief in such truth of God, and to pour more than slight
and contempt upon the ordinances of Christ; so that, in fact, they would,
if they could have their will and way, unchurch the Church of God in this
land, deny the virtue of His mysteries, and starve the children of God
who seek to receive at His altar the benefits of His sacrifice, humbly
waiting on Him there, and partaking of the sacrifice and feast ordained
by Him.

Oh! let us pray indeed that we may come to the consideration of so
weighty a matter, casting away all passion and prejudice and preconceived
opinion, and whatsoever may hinder us from seeing the truth of God, to
which may He of His mercy guide us.  And may He grant us also that we may
not merely know the truth, but when we know it follow it, in our daily
life and conversation, without turning aside to the right hand or to the
left.



SERMON III.
Witness of the New Testament to the Doctrine of Sacrifice.


                             1 CORINTHIANS x. 18.
      “Are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?”

I RESUME the subject upon which I have spoken on two previous Sundays—the
reality of the Christian priesthood, altar, and sacrifice.

I endeavoured to shew in the first of these discourses that it was no
argument against the truth of the priesthood that they who hold it have
“this treasure in earthen vessels,” that a priest is like and “of like
passions” with others, nay, is “weak as another man.”  In the second, I
pointed out that sacrifice was an institution as old as the days of our
first parents, and in all probability appointed directly by the Almighty
upon man’s fall, with some revelation of its predictive significance;
that certainly it met with His approval when duly and religiously
performed; and that it was by faith that those who took part in it
“obtained the witness that they were righteous:” {45} whence we were led
to consider more particularly its relation to the sacrifice upon the
Cross of “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world,” and
how from the beginning it looked forward, in its inner meaning, with a
preparing and expectant eye and heart, to that wonderful consummation.
We saw, too, that thus among God’s own chosen people, by special and
minute provision, this doctrine and usage of sacrifice were preserved
even as long as the elder dispensation lasted; whilst, though in terrible
and wicked perversion, both as to the object and the mode of worship,
they yet prevailed universally throughout the heathen world.  Admitting
it to be conceivable that in the Almighty’s will it might be intended
that sacrifice should altogether cease when once the great sacrifice was
completed; that, although He had appointed foreshadowing and predictive
rites of that wonderful event, He did not intend that there should be any
reflective or commemorative sacrifice to carry us back to it, or to apply
its virtue, or to plead its merits ever afresh before the throne of God;
we yet saw great reason to think this to be highly unlikely, and reserved
the point more particularly for further examination.  What is the
testimony which has been furnished to us upon it?  You will remember that
I proposed to consider this testimony under the three heads: first, what
Holy Scripture tells us; secondly, what has been the understanding by the
Church from the beginning of the declarations of Holy Writ; and thirdly,
what is the mind of our own Church in this matter?

Before, however, coming to these particulars, let me premise that it can
be but a brief summary of such evidences which it is possible to give
here.  The subject is so large, and the full testimony so extensive, that
it would require volumes to go through it.  Those who would study it in a
more complete manner will find it elaborately discussed in the discourses
on “The Government of Churches and on Religious Assemblies,” of Dr.
Herbert Thorndike, Canon of Westminster, about the middle of the
seventeenth century, (a very learned theologian); and in the three octavo
volumes of “Treatises on the Christian Priesthood,” by Dr. Hickes, Dean
of Worcester, some fifty years later; whilst there is a very thoughtful
and condensed statement of the whole matter in a small book by the Rev.
T. T. Carter, called “The Doctrine of the Priesthood.”

Let us now turn to our own enquiry, as some help (if it please God) to
those who may not be so likely, possibly may not have leisure or
opportunity, to consult larger works, but may yet have a godly anxiety
amid the bold assertions, and I fear we must say, in no small measure,
the irreverent scoffing of a free and licentious time, to learn the will
of God herein, that they may neither think nor do anything but what is
pleasing and acceptable in His sight.

Our question is, Has God willed, and has He revealed to us His will, that
in His Church, since the death of His Blessed Son upon the cross, there
shall be no priesthood, no altar, and no sacrifice?  And first, “What
saith the Scripture?” {48a}  I must take but a few out of many passages.

1.  We have, in our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, the following direction:
“If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy
brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar,
and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and
offer thy gift.” {48b}  Now if this direction be intended to be a guide
of conduct for Christian people in the Christian Church, can it be denied
that our Lord speaks of an altar to be used, and an offering to be made
thereon; and that, speaking to those who were constantly accustomed to
altars and sacrifices, His words must have conveyed to them the meaning
that an altar and a sacrifice would remain for them whilst they should be
practising the precepts of His religion?  If He did not intend so much by
this precept, the question surely arises, How shall we, with any
certainty, know what other portions of that or any of our Lord’s
discourses were designed for the instruction merely of the Jews who were
around Him, or should receive His teaching during the time that their
covenant lasted, but became immediately inapplicable and void in and
under the Christian dispensation?  Will any say that the precepts
concerning purity, meekness, government of the tongue, charity, are thus
limited? as, “Whoso looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed
adultery with her already in his heart;” or, “Whosoever is angry with his
brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment;” or, again,
“Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay;” or, once more, “Resist
not evil; love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them
that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute
you.” {49}  That these and other divine precepts of that same discourse
were injunctions to bind the Jews, to whom primarily they were spoken,
but require other proof or repetition before they can be conclusively
accepted as designed for Christians would seem strange indeed.  If no one
will say so, surely we must confess to a strong presumption in favour of
the doctrine of an altar and a sacrifice remaining in the Christian
Church.

But perhaps it may be said, Not so: we accept those other precepts as
belonging to the Christian Church, because they are simply moral precepts
applying to the heart, but the former passage relates to a ceremonial
usage of the Jewish polity, and may well be taken to be a mere adaptation
of what was then in well-known use; to inculcate, not an act or mode of
worship, but figuratively a frame of mind that would be required in
Christians.  So that, as the Jew would literally understand, he should go
his way from the temple and the altar, and be reconciled to any one to
whom he had done wrong, before he could there make his offering; so the
Christian in all time, though having no altar to which to come, and no
real offering or sacrifice in which to join, should yet learn to be in
peace and charity with all men, before he should esteem himself fit to
lift up his voice or heart in prayer to God; and that therefore our
Lord’s words, spoken “while as the first tabernacle was yet standing,”
{50} do not sufficiently prove any altar designed to exist in the
Christian Church.  Well, let us allow the utmost weight to such an
argument, and grant that the words in and by themselves might possibly be
so explained, and yet bear just a tolerable though not, I think, at all a
likely interpretation in such sense; but then, let us yet turn and see
whether the other and more natural meaning be not corroborated elsewhere,
where this gloss will not avail.  Remember the objection to the proof of
a Christian altar from those words is, that they were spoken whilst the
Jewish polity subsisted, and before the Christian Church was set up, and
therefore that it is only (as is asserted) by a figure, suitable enough
to Jewish ears, but not as really enunciating a truth or principle to
endure in the Christian Church, that they were uttered.  But shall we not
find a witness in Holy Scripture to the existence of this altar in the
new dispensation, which is free from this exception or construction?  I
turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews, and I find the Apostle writing, “We
have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the
tabernacle.” {51a}  Was not this written to Christians?  Does it not
speak to them expressly of their altar at which they are to eat?  Was it
not set down for their guidance and instruction?  Was it not written
after the great sacrifice upon the altar of the cross had been made, and
made once for all?

Was it not after the setting up of the Christian Church, and the
establishment of Christian worship?  Nay, is it not in an Epistle, the
very whole drift and scope of which is to contrast the usages and
provisions and teaching of the elder covenant with those of the new, and
to shew the superiority in each respect of that which had been ordained,
not by angels, but in the hand of the Son of God Himself. {51b}  And can
it therefore be that the inferior part or type in the one can lack the
corresponding superior part, or antitype, in the other with which it is
contrasted, and on which correspondency and contrast the whole argument
depends?  Will any one say, Yes, but still the Jewish temple had not then
been destroyed; the Jews’ visible altar and worship still existed, and it
is only by (again) an adaptation, as a mode of speech particularly
intelligible to the Hebrews, and by a very natural economy, that such
terms were employed.  But granting that the date of the Epistle is, with
all probability, rightly put some little time before the destruction of
Jerusalem, yet does not the very turn both of the argument and of the
expression of the Apostle shew that he is not making an application of a
figure, but a declaration of a fact?  Addressing Hebrews, but most
evidently converted Hebrews, Christians, to keep them firm in the faith,
and to enlighten them to the more full understanding in it, he presses on
them this point, that they have an altar; and not only so, but one
distinguished from the altar of the Jew; one at which “they have no right
to eat which serve the tabernacle.”  Take the whole passage together and
see its force: “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which
serve the tabernacle.  For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is
brought into the sanctuary by the High Priest for sin, are burned without
the camp.  Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with
His own blood, suffered without the gate.”  Where evidently the type, the
great day of atonement under the law, is contrasted with its antitype,
the great sacrifice of Christ upon the cross.  So far it might be perhaps
thought that our altar is only the cross; but then he continues: “Let us
go forth, therefore, unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach; for
here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.  By Him,
therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that
is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” {53}  Here it is
evident another sacrifice is to be made, even the sacrifice of praise
(which we must remember is the very phrase universally used in the
ancient Church for the Holy Eucharist).  Let us therefore (surely we are
to understand) follow after Christ, being content to bear His reproach
even as we offer to Him, ourselves, our souls and bodies, in and by the
sacrifice of His own appointing, the Eucharistic Sacrifice in the supper
of the Lord, at the enduring Christian altar as well as table.

But perhaps some may still say, We are not convinced.  The allusion to an
altar here may yet be figurative, or only adapting language to the mind
of the Jew, “while as the first tabernacle was yet standing;” and the
sacrifice of praise need not necessarily mean the Holy Eucharist, or, if
it do, may point to no altar or sacrifice by means of a priest, but
merely denote the lifting the heart in sincerity to God.

Now, although putting the whole argument together and reading the passage
by the light which the continuous belief of the Church throws upon it (as
we shall see presently), nothing, I think, can be more unlikely or
untenable than such an interpretation, still, for the moment, let us
allow it to throw a doubt upon the sense of the passage.  Let us, then,
turn to yet another place, and see if the witness of the Apostle is not
unmistakeable as to the doctrine of which we speak.

Take that passage in the first Epistle to the Corinthians in which our
text occurs, and see if it be possible to understand it in any sense but
in that which speaks of a present altar and a continually recurring
sacrifice, in which Christians have an interest and bear a part: “Are not
they which eat of the sacrifice,” says he, “partakers of the altar?” {54}
and this especially in contrast as to the conduct of those engaged in
idol worship, and those in Christian worship.  As truly, then, as the
idolater partook of his altar (though his idol be nothing), so, only much
more, does the Christian of the Christian altar.  And this cannot be the
one offering on the cross alone, however deriving all its virtue and
power from it, because in that case the Christian could not be said to
eat of the sacrifice in any continuous or recurring act.  The sacrifice
would be wholly past, and not present as the idol sacrifices were, and so
there would be no true parallel between the two things brought into
comparison.  Mark the progress of the argument: “What say I then? that
the idol is anything, or that which is offered in sacrifice to the idol
is anything?  But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice,
they sacrifice to devils and not to God;” that is, under the symbol of
the senseless wood or stone there lurked an acknowledgment of demoniac
power, so that, in fact, in the heart of those worshippers there was a
homage paid to Satan and his angels, and this was something wickedly
real, even though the idol was nothing.  For he immediately adds what
shews that this worship was not without its effect, an effect impressing
a character on those who shared in it; for he says, “And I would not that
ye should have fellowship with devils,” and why? because thus they would
lose all fellowship with God.  “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and
the cup of devils.  Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of
the table of devils.” {55}  Let it make no difficulty that it is called a
table here, as an altar above.  It is both, just as the other, the
heathen altar, was both, because in each case there was not merely a
sacrifice, but a feast upon a sacrifice.  As truly, then, as the Apostle
says that there is a heathen idolatrous sacrifice which Christians can
never have to do with, because if they do they would have fellowship with
devils, so does he, by the very parallel he draws, and the whole scope of
his argument, imply that Christians have a sacrifice, at which they can
be, and are to be, continually present; in and by which they have
fellowship with the Lord, which also is offered continually in their
assemblies, and of which they eat.  For as in the one there were the
heathen feasts upon the victims or offerings offered to devils; so in the
other there is the feast upon the Christian sacrifice, the offering made
in that continually recurring commemorative oblation to God of the body
and blood of Christ.  If this be not to be offered up continually, since
the one sacrifice completed as the propitiation by blood made once for
all upon the cross, then there is no coherency or force in the Apostle’s
argument; for there would be nothing in the Christian dispensation like,
or answering to, those sacrifices to devils which the heathen used, and
in which they were forbidden to join.  The teaching surely is, and must
be, as they who join in the heathen altar-worship are partakers of it,
and have fellowship thereby with those to whom it is really offered, so
they who join in the Christian sacrifice (not so made and passed in point
of time as to be incapable of continued and continual recurrence by
commemorative but real act) are thereby partakers in and of their feast
upon their sacrifice, and have therein fellowship with the Lord.  So this
is the continual memorial of the one “sacrifice upon the cross, and of
the benefits which we receive thereby,” also the appointed means of our
receiving those benefits.  And it would be absurd to think of the Apostle
describing the worship of idols as a real act of adoration and sacrifice
to devils, and as impressing a real character by a power upon them for
evil in those who join in such worship, and not to see that he must allow
an equal act of sacrifice, adoration, and homage in the sacrifice and the
altar which he speaks of as the Christian’s constant privilege to
frequent; and which is as much greater to impress a character for good
upon the Christian and to nourish him to life eternal, as the real
presence of the Body and Blood of Christ is greater than the idol, which
is nothing, or the things offered to idols, which are nothing.

Nor is there any escape, that I can see, from the force of this argument
of St. Paul, unless any one will try to evade it by saying: “Look back a
moment, and see if the whole argument does not belong to the Jew, and not
to the Christian.”  Will any one take this line and appeal to the words
immediately before the text?  True, it is written, “Behold Israel after
the flesh.  Are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the
altar?”  But if this be urged, I say, go back a little further still, and
observe the flood of light thrown upon the whole passage, in connection
not merely generally with Christianity, but especially and particularly
with the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, in this true
commemorative Sacrament, which is exactly where and how, we say, the
Christian sacrifice is offered by the Christian priests upon the
Christian altar.  After exhortation against yielding to temptation, and
declaration of the ever-ready help of God for those who will use it, “who
will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but will with
the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear
it,” the Apostle adds: “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.”  (Oh, let us also be wise
to hear and learn!  “Judge ye what I say.”)  “The cup of blessing which
we bless, is it not the communion of the Blood of Christ?  The bread
which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ?  For we,
being many, are one bread and one body: for we are all partakers of that
one bread.” {58}  And then all but immediately he adds, “are not they
which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?”  Can anything be
clearer than that, to the blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of
Christ, he attaches the teaching which follows so directly as to the
nature of the sacrifice and the altar?  Ah! but, it is said, he
interpolates words that you have omitted which alter the
application:—“Behold Israel after the flesh;” he says, and then adds,
“are not they which eat of the sacrifice partakers of the altar?”  Well,
and what do the parenthetical words mean?  Surely they must mean merely
this,—that, as his readers would allow such was the case under the law,
and with Israel after the flesh; and that Israel, as well as the heathen,
had an altar and a sacrifice, so it is also with Christians: as if he had
said, We Christians, by this blessed sacramental bond, are one body, even
as we are all partakers of that one Bread; and as you will all allow, the
partaking of a common sacrifice (for instance, that of the Paschal Lamb,)
signified this under the law and with “Israel after the flesh,” so you
must be prepared to admit as much under the Gospel, and with the true
Israel born anew of the Spirit.  Thus the interpolation does not for one
moment break the sequence or invalidate the force of the argument as to
the Christian sacrifice, but merely illustrates it by a parenthetical
allusion to what his hearers or readers would allow at once to have been
the case with Jewish rites, sacrifices, and altars: and the conclusion
from the whole is distinct and inevitable, that St. Paul,—speaking to the
Christians at Corinth as to men who would understand the whole force of
his argument, as being acquainted with Jewish customs, and living also in
the very midst of heathen idolatrous worship,—teaches as plainly that
Christians use a Christian altar, and offer up a Christian sacrifice, and
feast together upon it, and that this is undoubtedly the cup of blessing
which we bless, and the bread which we break, and that thereon follows
the blessedness of fellowship with the Lord; I say, teaches this as
plainly as he says there is, or has been, in Jewish worship a Jewish
altar and sacrifice, and as there is in heathen worship an altar and a
sacrifice to devils, and a partaking of the cup of devils, and of the
table of devils, and thereby the having fellowship with them.  And, (what
is particularly to the purpose of my citing this passage), herein is the
proof that the sacrifice referred to cannot be the one meritorious,
painful, bloody sacrifice upon the cross, once made and never to be
repeated; both because this was not (no one can say it was) the literal
breaking of bread, and the blessing the cup in the Holy Eucharist, and
because also, if that one sacrifice had been intended, there would have
been no parallel at all between the heathen sacrifices to which the
people were often called, and that sacrifice to which Christians on this
supposition could never be called.  Whereas if we do but allow, according
to the plain meaning of the words and of the argument, that there is a
true sacrifice to God, commemorative, but real, as ordained and appointed
by Christ Himself,—no repetition of blood or agony, but the presenting
afresh, and pleading afresh, yea, causing Christ Himself to plead afresh
for us in heaven, the merits of that one precious death,—then we have the
most manifest recognition and declaration of the very doctrine for which
we contend, and both many other passages of Holy Writ are made perfectly
clear,—(who will now doubt the sense of the other two Scriptures which we
examined?)—and the whole sense and usage of the Church from the beginning
is both explained and justified.

Our time has been so much taken up in examining what was, of course, the
most important question of all, the teaching of Holy Scripture upon this
point, that we have left ourselves no time to-day to consider the further
portion of our proposed subject, viz., what is the teaching of the Church
Catholic from the beginning, and its understanding of the written word on
this doctrine of sacrifice; and, yet again, what is the witness of our
own Church to her having most carefully preserved, held, and maintained
the same.  To this we will recur, if God will, another day; in the
meanwhile commending ourselves ever to His mercy, and all we think or do
to His grace and guidance.



SERMON IV.
The Testimony of the Early Church to the Doctrine of the Priesthood.


                               JEREMIAH vi. 16.
     “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the
    old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find
                            rest for your souls.”

THE next division of our enquiry is, the understanding of Holy Scripture
in the primitive Church as to the priesthood, the altar, and the
sacrifice, and its consequent doctrine thereupon.  Before, however,
proceeding to this examination, let me briefly remind you of the point in
the argument from Holy Scripture at which we have arrived, for our time
on Sunday last hardly permitted me to sum up the remarks then made.  The
last passage which we considered asks in the tone of unquestionable
affirmation, “Are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the
altar?”  The parallel, as I then pointed out, lies between those on the
one hand, who, eating of the heathen sacrifices, are partakers of the
heathen altar, and thus have fellowship with devils; and those, on the
other hand, who, eating of the Christian sacrifice, are partakers of the
Christian altar, and thus have fellowship with God.  For, I must repeat,
if St. Paul’s argument have not this meaning and significance, there is
no coherency in the things brought into juxtaposition, and nothing on the
one side to answer to the requirement of the other.  Observe further,
before we pass on, how the Apostle’s whole reasoning, as it stands,
excludes, and must exclude, the sense of the Christian sacrifice being a
mere figurative expression, and that which is eaten in it a mere
subjective thing, dependent upon the mind of the recipient for its being
there at all; for, if it were so in the Christian sacrifice, it must be
so in the idol sacrifice also.  But is it so in the latter?  Is it that
what is there eaten is a mere nothing in itself, dependent upon the mind
of the eater?  Is the partaking of the idol altar not an effect of an
actual eating?  Is the consequent fellowship with devils not the result
of such actual feasting upon an actual objective sacrifice?  And,
therefore, if the parallel has any force at all, must it not be that
there is a real objective presence of a sacrificial thing at the
Christian altar,—the _res sacramenti_, as in strict theological
phraseology it is termed,—by which he that eateth is partaker of the
altar, and the result of which is, his having fellowship with Christ and
God?  From which our inference was plain and direct that in St. Paul’s
understanding there is a Christian altar and a Christian sacrifice.  Such
was the conclusion from Holy Scripture at which we arrived.

I proceed now to shew further, that this, the natural and, as I think,
the necessary sense of that passage (supported by numerous other passages
of Holy Writ, some of which we have noticed, though many others we have
not had time particularly to examine), is the sense in which the Church
Catholic has ever understood the doctrine of the Scripture upon this
subject, and which our own Church carefully guarded and preserved at her
Reformation; thus maintaining, on so essential a point, her connection
with the Church from the beginning and in all times.

But yet, before we go into the proof of this, let it be remarked (for it
is very important in order to our seeing the full weight and bearing of
the facts and records to which we are about to refer) that these three
things—the priesthood, the altar, and the sacrifice—are what we may call
correlatives, and reciprocally imply one another.  As the word parent
implies a child, or brother, brother or sister; so, if there be an altar,
there will be a sacrifice, for the altar would be unmeaning without it,
would miss its aim and be purposeless if there were nothing to be offered
on it; and in like manner, if there be a sacrifice there will be an
altar, for it is contrary to the whole sense and usage of the word to
make such sacrificial offering to God, and not withal to sanctify some
special place and mode of oblation.  Again, if there be an altar and a
sacrifice, there will be a priesthood; unless the voice of the whole
world (over and above the constraining teaching of the Scripture) be in
error, and any man that pleases may “take this honour unto himself,”
{66a} and offer up “gifts and sacrifices” acceptably to God.

Premising, then, thus much, I proceed to call attention to the fact, that
the whole literature of Christianity from the beginning either states or
implies the doctrine of the priesthood, the altar, and the sacrifice,
which we have deduced also from Holy Scripture.  It is true that in the
very scanty writings which remain to us from the first century, we may
not find the word ‘priest’ applied to the Christian ministry.  But, as
Mr. Carter has well observed, “the real question is not whether the name,
but whether the idea, of priesthood is found to exist in the extant
writings of the Apostolic Fathers;” {66b} whilst for the absence of the
name it is not hard to assign satisfactory reasons.  In the first place,
the extant writings of that century are too few to let a negative
conclusion be built upon them.  They amount, I believe, in all, (if we
exclude the “Shepherd of Hermas,” a confessedly mere allegorical work,)
to not more than what would make about thirty pages of an octavo volume.
{66c}  Over and above this paucity of material on which to found an
argument, other reasons may readily be given for the term ‘priest’ not
occurring.  It may be sufficient here just to touch upon two.  First,
there might be great cause why the earliest Christian writers should not
designate those who ministered at their altars by a term which might have
been understood to imply that they claimed for them a descent from the
house of Aaron according to the flesh; which claim the Jews around them
would know in many instances to be unfounded, and which, therefore, to be
supposed to make, would lay them open to a charge of imposture; whilst
again, secondly, they might equally desire to keep clear of all mistake
as to their being confounded with the priesthood of the Gentiles, or
heathen world, so likely to involve them in the charge of offering up
bloody sacrifices like them; a charge which in fact we know, as it was,
they did not wholly escape; a wonderful and most unsuspicious witness by
the way (for it comes from those who had no thought to forward any
interests of Christianity), that Christians claimed to make a true
sacrifice in the Eucharist, for it is evidently this, perverted and
mistaken by the persecuting heathen, (as if, when they offered the Body
and Blood of Christ, they confessed to offering a human victim,) which
led to the accusation; a great evidence surely to the doctrine of the
real presence of Christ therein, for who could mistake the Eucharistic
doctrine of a large portion of modern Christianity for anything open to
such a charge, under which we know, upon the testimony of heathen
writers, the early Christians suffered reproach?

These two reasons, then, may suffice as to the term ‘priest’ not being so
early applied to the Christian ministry, and indeed we need no defence
upon the subject, because the whole idea of the priesthood prevails in
those early writings whether the word ‘priest’ be used or not, inasmuch
as there is constant mention of the sacrifice and the altar as in use in
the Christian Church.

As we proceed with the stream of Christian writing there is ample proof
of the universal holding and teaching of this doctrine.

I cannot, of course, pretend here to go through this evidence in detail.
We must rather look for a summary which may give the result of a fair
examination into the records left us, than make a series of extracts from
them.  We shall perhaps hardly find a more unexceptionable witness than
the learned writer Vitringa, cited by Mr. Carter in his work already
mentioned.  Speaking of the age shortly succeeding the Apostles, Mr.
Carter says: “As to the usage of this period there can be no surer
authority than that of Vitringa.  His extensive learning, directed
assiduously to this very point, and his zeal as a partizan, make his
testimony to be peculiarly conclusive.” {68}  His zeal as a partizan, be
it observed, was not in favour of the Catholic sense of the writings, nor
of any priesthood or altar, for Vitringa was a Dutch Presbyterian, who
lived about the middle of the last century, and wrote expressly to
explain away the evidence which nevertheless he adduces.  He acknowledges
that his own views are opposed to the unvarying testimony and belief of
the Catholic Church for sixteen hundred years.  His theory excludes all
idea of priesthood and equally of bishops, (not the name only, but also
the office,) chancels, altars, and oblations, and, indeed, any stated
ministry.  In fact, he regards the whole subject as a staunch
Presbyterian, and it is, therefore, certainly not with any bias in favour
of the doctrine which we are considering that he thus sums up the results
of his enquiries into the writings of those early centuries:—

“That Tertullian, in the beginning of the third century, calls the bishop
‘chief priest,’ (_summus sacerdos_); that before his time, in the second
century, Irenæus calls the gifts made at the Holy Eucharist, ‘oblations,’
(_oblata_,) and when consecrated by the prayer of the bishop, ‘a
sacrifice,’ (_sacrificium_); and that in Justin Martyr, a still more
ancient writer, the gifts are called ‘offerings,’ (_προσφοραὶ_); are
facts so certainly known to the learned, that it is needless to speak of
them at greater length.  In the subsequent writings of the Fathers, the
terms ‘priesthood,’ ‘Priest,’ ‘Levites,’ ‘altars,’ ‘offertories,’
‘sacrifices,’ ‘oblations,’ used in reference to the Church of the New
Testament, are so obvious and frequent that it can escape no one who has
even cursorily examined their writings.  In Eusebius, moreover, and the
rest of the ecclesiastical historians, and the canons of Councils, such
frequent mention occurs of these phrases, that it is evident they must
have struck deep root into the minds of men in those ages.” {70}  So much
is the testimony of a very learned man, and a most unsuspicious witness.

But there is a separate line of evidence to be drawn from another and
perhaps even still more convincing source: I mean the ancient liturgies
of the Church which have come down to us, and tell us in what way the
early Christians worshipped God; the place which they assigned to the
Holy Eucharist, and the light in which they regarded it in connection
with sacrifice, altar, and priesthood.  There are four liturgies, (and we
are to remember, the word in all ancient writings means merely and simply
the Eucharistic service,) which have been shewn to have been reduced to
writing in the course of the fourth century, and one of them in the
earliest part of it.  They bear their witness to the Church’s faith and
hope and teaching in those days, and even earlier, because it is
generally conceded that they were in use long before they were put into
writing, the days of persecution rendering it unsafe for the Christians
to have documents which might be seized, and turned against them; or
perhaps still more, the desire to preserve the mysteries of their faith,
and especially of the Holy Eucharist, from the inquisition of heathen
scoffing, indisposing them to keep any records which could be thus
profanely used.  Of course, after the Empire became Christian, under
Constantine, this reason ceased, and it was only what was natural that
the services which had been orally in use for years should now be reduced
to writing.  Now, these four liturgies were used at the four great
central sees of Christendom, and their subordinate branches, and so
pervaded the whole Catholic world.  “The first,” to use the words of a
learned writer, Mr. Palmer, the author of the _Origines Liturgicæ_, “is
the great Oriental liturgy, as it seems to have prevailed in all the
Christian Churches, from the Euphrates to the Hellespont, and from the
Hellespont to the southern extremity of Greece; the second was the
Alexandrian, which from time immemorial has been the liturgy of Egypt,
Abyssinia, and the country extending along the Mediterranean Sea to the
West; the third was the Roman, which prevailed throughout the whole of
Italy, Sicily, and great part of Africa; the fourth was the Gallican,
which was used throughout Gaul and Spain, and probably in the exarchate
of Ephesus, until the fourth century.” {71}

Now, the especially important bearing of these liturgies upon our subject
is this, that in spite of enough of difference to shew that they are
independent witnesses, they yet correspond most closely with one another
in all main features, and particularly in their witness to the
sacrificial doctrine, and the priestly office, in relation to the Holy
Eucharist.  And (as Mr. Palmer has pointed out), with regard to the one
first named, the Oriental, existing documents enable us to trace this
liturgy to a very remote period indeed, almost or quite to the Apostolic
age; for he reminds us that in the time of Justin Martyr, whose writings
are the “existing documents” of which he speaks, the Christian Church was
“only removed by one link from the Apostles themselves.” {72a}  Nor even
is this all; for there is yet a fifth liturgy, of a date still earlier
than these four already named, called the Clementine, and what is
particularly remarkable in it is, that it agrees with those four great
liturgies in all points where they agree with each other, as well as in
their general structure.

“Now, in all these liturgies alike,” says Mr. Carter, “the ancient
sacerdotal terms in question are ordinarily used.  In reading them, we
open upon a scene which represents a priesthood of different degrees,
with a complete ritual, ministering before God on behalf of the people,
offering sacrifices, and communicating heavenly gifts and benedictions.”
{72b}

I must forbear both any quotations to shew this, as well as defer any
further remarks upon the progress of events, or (which also is part of
our subject) on the careful attention, by our own Reformers and Revisers,
to preserve the teaching of the primitive Church in this matter.  If it
please God, yet once more we may return to the subject, and see how this
stands, as well as make some little practical application of the doctrine
to ourselves at this day, to some of our dangers and temptations in an
age so free-thinking and free-handling as the present.  Without
anticipating these things in any detail, let me yet just remind you that
the mere fashion, or usage, or clamour, or forgetfulness, or unbelief of
any age or time can make no difference in the truth of God, or in the
doctrine which has been from the beginning, or in the mysteries of His
kingdom.  That men should try to bring all things, however divine and
holy, however deep and mysterious, to the level of their own
understanding, and discard all which they may be unable to explain, need
be to us no matter of surprise.  The very same temper which in one
induces a disbelief in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, because the
doctrine is beyond the human understanding to fathom,—or leads another to
reject the mystery of the Incarnation, because it is ineffable and above
his comprehension,—or another to deny the regenerating gift and efficacy
of holy baptism, saying, “How can these things be?”—may readily bring
others to that hard state of scepticism which robs the Holy Eucharist at
once of its deep mysteriousness and of its hidden virtue; which therefore
rejects, and too often ridicules, the very idea of a priesthood and an
availing sacrifice, saying, “How should man have power with God?” or,
“How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” {74a} even though the
priestly power be derived from Christ’s own commission, and the
mysterious virtue assured by His own Word of Truth.  That there should be
some who, leaning too much to their own understanding, forsake the old
ways, and dislike and accuse those who desire to cleave to them; that
they should frame worldly arguments for worldly men, and even deceive
some who in heart and wish are not worldly, but rather unwary, or led
away by the mere voice of the multitude, or swayed by prejudice, or
betrayed through an ignorance of what has been from the beginning; that
_some_ should scoff when they cannot reason, and ridicule that which they
have not the heart to understand,—all this, I repeat, need not fill us
with either surprise or dismay, though perchance it may make us (not
wholly unwarrantably) deem that the latter days are come, or close
coming, upon us.  I say all this need not surprise us, for have not our
Lord and His Apostles warned us that such things must be?  “When the Son
of Man cometh,” He said Himself, “shall He find faith on the earth?”
{74b} as though it would exist but in a remnant.  And again, “If they
have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they
call them of his household?” {75a}  Why, then, should we expect to escape
such things?  But I said, also, we need not be dismayed at them.  Is
there not the exhortation, “Ye have need of patience?” {75b} and again
the encouragement, “In your patience possess ye your souls?” {75c} and
again the gracious promise, “He that endureth to the end shall be saved?”
{75d}  What though in the latter times some shall depart from the faith?
{75e}  What though “the time will come when men will not endure sound
doctrine.” {75f}  Shall this make any difference in our faith, or cast
any gloom upon our hope?  No!  Brethren, let us ever remember that what
we have to rely upon is, not “man’s wisdom,” nor “an arm of flesh:” what
we have to cleave to with all constancy is “that which was from the
beginning;” {75g} for it is this which gives us “fellowship with the
Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” {75h}

And surely here we may see and bless the goodness of God towards us in
this our Church of England that He put it into the hearts of our
Reformers not for one moment to think of making a new religion or a new
Church, but only (throwing off errors and corruptions) to go back to the
teaching of the early ages, and embrace the doctrine of the Church
universal.  If the Church of England had _begun_ at the Reformation, (as
sometimes men speak,) no man, who knew anything of the essentials of
Christianity could belong to her for a moment.  But, blessed be God, He
put it into the heart and minds of those who, in His providence, guided
the course of the English Reformation, to make it a maxim, _Stare super
antiquas vias_, to give heed to the injunction of the prophet: “Thus
saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths
where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your
souls.” {76}  It is this which has been, under God, our safeguard.  From
time to time assaults have been made to destroy our true Catholic
character and our bond of union with primitive Christianity; but God has,
of His mercy, hitherto, ever kept it in the heart of the rulers in our
Church to “ask for the old ways, and to walk in them.”  That our Church
has kept to the old ways is manifest from this, that the very persons who
disbelieve and desire to drive us from the ancient faith, are the same
who, as the means of doing so, are striving to new model our formularies
and alter our Prayer-book.  They feel no less than we that, whilst we
retain these, we cleave to the doctrine which has been of old; and they,
desiring to deprive us of the doctrine, are as anxious to alter our
formularies as we are to keep them unchanged.  And many of them would
perhaps, even more openly than they do, advocate extensive measures of
liturgical revision, in a doctrinal sense, but for the consciousness that
to shew too great anxiety on the point is too like a confession of how
much the Prayer-book is against them.  Surely these things are of great
weight when we would know what doctrine is most according to the mind of
the Church of England.  “I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.”
It is this same principle, too, of preserving the one faith once
delivered, which makes it so important to examine, as we are attempting
to do, the sense of Holy Scripture as attested by the consent of the
Church from the beginning, and as accepted by our own Church, upon so
grave and practical a subject as the priesthood, the altar, and the
sacrifice.  May God give us His illumination to see His truth as He has
seen fit to reveal it to us, and grace that where we see it, we may
boldly confess it; so shall we pass in safety the waves of this
troublesome world, so may we, perchance, be delivered from the strife of
tongues; or, if not, yet shall we learn not to fear man, nor be troubled
even if we cannot please men, remembering the witness of St. Paul, that
“if he pleased men, he should not be the servant of Christ.” {77}

And, brethren, let us all pray for an humble, meek, gentle, teachable,
believing heart, that we may not despise or refuse, or disbelieve God’s
mighty works, though His treasure be placed in earthen vessels; nor turn
our back upon His mysteries, though they transcend our utmost powers of
conception, nor neglect His call, be it what it may; to go forth, if it
be so, like Abraham, we know not whither; or, like him, to sacrifice our
dearest hope, if God demand it; or, like Daniel, to be cast even into the
den of lions; or, like the Apostles, to be made the very refuse of the
earth and the offscouring of all things,—so that we may but hold fast the
faith, and yet hand on again to those who shall come after the good
deposit committed to our charge.  If this, indeed, we are enabled to do,
we may well “thank God and take courage.”



SERMON V.
The Testimony of our Formularies to the Doctrine of the Priesthood.


                             ST. JOHN xx. 22, 23.
    “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them,
       Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are
        remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are
                                  retained.”

IN the brief outline which I have submitted in these discourses of the
evidences for the doctrine of the Christian priesthood, altar, and
sacrifice, I first met the objection sometimes made to there being any
such treasure (in our Church at any rate) because lodged in earthen
vessels; secondly, I traced, at least in part, the witness of the whole
world before Christ’s coming to the belief in, and usage of, sacrifice
and altar, with the necessarily attendant priesthood; and thirdly, I
adduced some very small portion of the proofs both from Holy Scripture
and from the universal consent of the early Church in its interpretation
of Scripture, that priesthood, altar, and sacrifice did not expire with
the law, but were intended to be continued, and were continued in and
under the Christian dispensation, in and under Him who was and is a High
Priest of surpassing power and dignity, not after the pattern or lineage
of the priests of the sons of Aaron, but “called an High Priest for ever
after the order of Melchizedek;” of Him who, fulfilling that royal type,
was “King of Righteousness,” and after that also “King of Salem, which is
King of Peace,” and yet, again, in like manner, “priest of the Most High
God,” and who “abideth a priest continually.” {80}

We brought our examination of this evidence to the fourth century of the
Christian era by, as I think it must be allowed, the summary of an
unexceptionable witness to the substance of the early Christian writings
upon that point, and by a reference to the five most ancient liturgies of
the Christian Church.  It is unnecessary to say a word as to the same
doctrine being the universally received doctrine of the Church from the
fourth century to the sixteenth, because its very opponents adduce the
teaching of that thousand or twelve hundred years, in this among other
things, as proving the great darkness and corruption which had then
fallen upon the Church, and obscured, in their view, the simplicity of
the Gospel.  So that, whatever may be thought of its orthodoxy, the fact
is not disputed, that for such period the whole of Christendom, with the
most insignificant exceptions, believed in the doctrine which we are
considering.  Whether, as is affirmed by such objectors, this universal
belief were a mark of the corruption and ignorance of “the dark ages,” as
the self-complacent pride of later times has designated them, (when
perchance in God’s judgment they may be as light itself compared with
much of the “philosophy and vain deceit” {81a} of this free-handling
nineteenth century, which so often “darkens counsel by words without
knowledge” {81b}); or whether such consent, following the track of the
earliest ages, be not rather the mark of a true understanding of the mind
of the Spirit pervading that body with which Christ has promised to be,
“even to the end of the world,” is another question.  It is one which I
need not now pursue, as what we have to say of the course taken and the
doctrine maintained by the Church of England at her Reformation will
throw a light upon the whole matter, which ought, I think, to be
sufficient for any understanding and faithful member of our Church.

Thus we are brought to the immediate subject of our further enquiry.  It
being admitted, as I think I have shewn it must be, that this doctrine of
the priesthood, altar, and sacrifice, is a doctrine founded upon, and
supported by, Holy Scripture; so understood by the Church at large from
the earliest times, so maintained with no faltering lips to at least the
sixteenth century; what, we ask next, is the evidence of the mind of our
own Church at the Reformation and since, as to her preserving or
rejecting it?

You will hardly expect me to go through all the evidence.
But—remembering what we said on Sunday last, that these three things are
correlatives, reciprocally implying each other, or each one the other
two, (the priest; the altar and the sacrifice;—the altar; the sacrifice
and the priest;—the sacrifice; the priest and the altar;)—let us turn to
some portion of the proof that our Church has fully intended and intends,
has accounted and accounts, those who in her carry on the services of the
sanctuary to be priests of God.

Now, observe, the three great offices embraced in the idea of a priest
are these:—first, that he is one who has commission to rule and teach;
secondly, one who has power to absolve; thirdly, one who has authority to
offer up sacrifice.  The first of these functions, though belonging to
the priesthood, is hardly to be called distinctive of it (as we may see
more clearly presently); the other two are of its essence, that is,
pertaining to none else; so that, on the one hand, he who has them both,
or even he who has, if it were so, either of them, is necessarily in a
true sense a priest; and, on the other, he who is a priest will have one
or other, or both of these powers, not indeed of himself, but committed
to him.  To see how this stands with us, who are ministers and stewards
of God’s mysteries in this our Church of England, we must turn to our
service-books, and especially to the Service for Ordaining Priests, to
see what is the commission given to each, and what we learn from this to
be the mind of the Church concerning them who are admitted to that holy
function.

Turn first, then, for a moment to the Preface, to “The Form and Manner of
making, ordaining, and consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons,
according to the order of the United Church of England and Ireland.”  We
find it there said: “It is evident unto all men diligently reading the
Holy Scripture and ancient authors, that from the Apostles’ time there
have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ’s Church; Bishops, Priests,
and Deacons.  Which offices were evermore had in such reverend
estimation, that no man might presume to execute any of them, except he
were first called, tried, examined, and known to have such qualities as
are requisite for the same; and also by public prayer, with imposition of
hands, were approved and admitted thereunto by lawful authority.  And
therefore, to the intent that these Orders may be continued, and
reverently used and esteemed, in the United Church of England and
Ireland; no man shall be accounted or taken to be a lawful Bishop,
Priest, or Deacon, in the United Church of England and Ireland, or
suffered to execute any of the said functions, except he be called,
tried, examined, and admitted thereunto, according to the form hereafter
following, or hath had formerly episcopal consecration, or ordination.”

Now this shews, I think, beyond dispute, that the Church of England holds
that no one, according to her mind and rule, is to be accounted or taken
to be a lawful bishop, priest, or deacon, without episcopal ordination or
consecration; for those who are ordained or consecrated according to the
forms which follow, unquestionably have it; and those who are or have
been admitted by any others, are not to be accounted lawfully admitted to
those Orders unless they have at some time been episcopally ordained.

We therefore find the authority and commission, in each case, given by
the laying on of a bishop or bishops’ hands, though, according to the
Scriptural warrant, accompanied also, in the ordination of priests, by
the laying on of the hands of the priests present.  Still it is evident
that these, without the bishop, are not esteemed competent to convey the
gift of Holy Orders.

But, next, what is the commission given?  Observe the difference between
that to deacons and to priests, and you will see the more clearly what is
of the essence of the priesthood.

To the deacon it is said, with the laying on of hands: “Take thou
authority to execute the office of a deacon in the Church of God
committed unto thee; in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Ghost;” and then, further: “Take thou authority to read the
Gospel in the Church of God, and to preach the same if thou be thereto
licensed by the bishop himself.” {85a}

But to the priest the corresponding, but far higher commission, is:
“Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a priest in the Church
of God, now committed unto thee by the imposition of my hands.” {85b}

Yes, it may be said, but what work?  We grant there is the use of the
word ‘priest,’ but the whole question turns upon the sense in which it is
used.  Oh, brethren, listen with simple hearts of reverence, loving and
seeking only the truth, to the solemn and awful words which follow:
“Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou
dost retain, they are retained; and be thou a faithful dispenser of the
Word of God, and of His holy Sacraments: in the Name of the Father, and
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.” {85c}

And then, further, delivering the Bible into the hand of each: “Take thou
authority to preach the Word of God, and to minister the Holy Sacraments
in the congregation where thou shalt be lawfully appointed thereunto.”
{85d}

Now, not only is there evidently in all this a general superior
commission given, but there is the particular and specific difference
which I affirm can only be accounted for by the intentional full
recognition of the priestly idea and priestly office as we have all along
explained and taken those terms.

And the words settle, as it seems to me, beyond dispute, another
question,—which yet is not another, though it may bear a separate word of
comment in our argument,—namely, whether the Church of England considers
our Lord’s ministerial commission to His Apostles to have been confined
to them, or whether it was His will, by virtue of His words, “As My
Father hath sent Me, even so send I you,” {86} that they should again
transmit the powers of the priesthood on to others after them?  For
observe particularly what words they are which are used by the bishop to
give this commission to the priest.  “Receive,” he says, “the Holy Ghost
for the office of a priest, in the Church of God;” and then, “Whose sins
thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain,
they are retained.”  Now from whence do these words come?  Who used them
before, and to whom did they then give a commission?  Let us turn to the
twentieth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, and we shall find the Divine
record: “Then said Jesus to them again,” (viz. to the Apostles,) “Peace
be unto you; as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.  And when He
had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the
Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and
whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” {87}

Now is there any one who denies that our Blessed Lord thus gave such
power to those to whom He then spoke, and on whom He then breathed?  I
suppose not.  It would be wholly to explain away and contradict His word
to say so.  It would be to prevent any one relying upon the plainest
meaning of anything to say so.  It would be to make every injunction He
ever gave, and every truth He ever uttered, without sense or force, so to
read such a passage, as that it gave no commission even to the Apostles.
If His Apostles did not receive from that commission a power to bind and
loose, to remit and retain sins, it must, I think, be hopeless for any
one to imagine any duties can be proved or any doctrines declared in
Scripture, or, we might add, by any words anywhere set down.  But then it
is said, We do not deny the commission as a personal thing to the
Apostles, but we say that it extended no further.  We say that if any
imagine such a power and authority to have been intended to be
transmitted further, or to be capable of being thus transmitted, he is in
a grievous error and mistake.  Now I am not arguing this question,
whether mine be the right understanding of the Scripture, but I say, is
it not as plain as the sun at noon-day that, right or wrong, it is the
understanding of the Church of England?  Surely her meaning here can no
more be questioned as to those to whom she applies them, than our Blessed
Lord’s intention can be questioned as to those to whom He addressed them.
What possible explanation is there of her appointing those words to be
solemnly used in her Ordinal at the time of, and in the ordaining a man
to be a priest, but that she believed the powers of the priesthood, as to
absolution, to be then and thereby given to that man according to the
will of God and Christ?  “I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.”
Would it not shew either an ignorance of the force of words which is
inconceivable, not merely in eminent theologians, which assuredly many of
our Reformers were, but in any one of sane mind, if the words appointed
to be so solemnly used, yet mean absolutely nothing?  Or, if not this,
must it not argue an impiety amounting to blasphemy for the Church of any
country to draw up for use a service such as this, and, playing
unmeaningly or deceitfully with such holy words, not to suppose any gift
of the Holy Ghost, or any power of absolution, to be conveyed to those to
whom they are addressed?  What could we esteem such a barren equivocation
with the holiest of things, if there were such design, but impious
mockery towards God and deceit towards man?

But further, we are not even left to such proof that our Church intends
no such mockery.  Turn to the work of the priest on this very point of
absolution, and what is the light thrown by this upon the words of
ordination?  I will pass over the Absolution both in our Morning and
Evening Prayers and in the Office of Holy Communion, as, though in each
case specifically limited to being given by the priest, they may be
thought to be capable of a sense chiefly or only declaratory, or
precatory.  But I ask you to turn to two other places—1. to the end of
the second Exhortation, as to the coming to Holy Communion; and, 2. to
the Office for the Visitation of the Sick.

In the former place, after explanation of the preparation, “the way and
means” to come worthily to that Holy Sacrament, we find the following:
“And because it is requisite, that no man should come to the Holy
Communion but with a full trust in God’s mercy, and with a quiet
conscience; therefore if there be any of you, who by this means” (namely,
his own private examination of his life) “cannot quiet his own conscience
herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel, let him come to me, or
to some other discreet and learned minister of God’s Word, and open his
grief; that by the ministry of God’s holy Word, he may receive the
benefit of absolution,” (What is the benefit if there be no power to
absolve?) “together with ghostly counsel and advice, to the quieting of
his conscience, and avoiding all scruple and doubtfulness.” {89}

Here then, surely, he who has been ordained a priest, and received the
Holy Ghost that he may remit or retain sins, is to exercise his ministry
in the absolution of the penitent soul.

But if it be said, There is no minute description or account of the mode
of absolution, it may still be but declaratory or precatory; I say, then,
turn once again to another place, and see if the form and method of the
absolution be not there actually all which we can suppose even an Apostle
himself could use.  In the Office for the Visitation of the Sick, when
the sick man is in the full contemplation of death, and perhaps death
very near at hand, the priest being solemnly engaged in his office of
preparing him for it, the distinct direction is given that the sick
person shall be “moved to make a special confession of his sins, if he
feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter.  After which
confession, the priest shall absolve him (if he humbly and heartily
desire it) after this sort.”  And the words are: “Our Lord Jesus Christ,
who hath left power to His Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent
and believe in Him, of His great mercy forgive thee thine offences;” (so
far we have the declaration of the power left to the Church, and either,
it may be said, declaratory or precatory words, “forgive thee.”  But this
is not all; immediately it is added), “And by His authority committed to
me, I absolve thee from all thy sins; in the name of the Father, and of
the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.” {90}

Now, brethren, I do not desire to say much in comment on such words as
these.  But I do say, and I know not how to avoid saying, first, if such
authority was committed to the priest, when was it committed to him, or
how, but at his ordination, and in and by “the form and manner of
ordering priests,” which we have before noted?  And, secondly, can any
reasonable being believe that the Church could have drawn up such a
service, and put such words into the priest’s mouth when dealing solemnly
and truly with a sick or dying man, and yet believe that such power of
absolution, as a part of the priest’s distinctive character and endowment
by God, had not been conferred upon him? or maintain that she thought our
Blessed Lord’s commission extended no further than to its first
recipients, and died out with the Apostles themselves, when still she
uses the words continually in her “ordering of priests?”  If it be
said,—Well: still we cannot believe this, and can only say that we
heartily desire to remove from our Prayer-book and Ordinal, as a
blasphemous fable and a dangerous deceit, all traces of such authority
being given,—I can only reply that this argument is wholly beside our
present question.  I am not now arguing whether such an interpretation
and use of Holy Scripture be the right interpretation and use, (though I
have given reasons before for feeling sure it is,) but I am shewing what
is the mind and understanding herein of the Church of England.  I am
silencing, if I may, (and in the judgment of right reason I cannot
conceive that I should fail in doing so,) the calumny that they who
maintain the doctrine of the priesthood are disloyal to the Church of
England, or deviating from the principles of the Reformation.  For, not
merely according to what right reason must, I think, enforce to be the
intention of those who drew up our formularies, but according to the
simple sense of those formularies, this doctrine and none other is the
only doctrine which can be made consistent with the documents themselves,
or which they can justly be taken to enunciate.  We have at times heard
not a little of the dishonesty of those who, it is said, have taken our
formularies in a non-natural sense, on the Catholic side, though in a
sense which they deemed they would fairly bear.  If this argument be good
for anything, against whom can it so conclusively be brought as against
such as will affirm that, when in the most solemn exercise of a bishop’s
office, the bishop says, “Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work
of a priest in the Church of God,” the Church intends that there is no
gift of the Holy Ghost bestowed, and no priest made at all?  Or, again,
when he says, adopting Christ’s own words of commission,—“Whose sins thou
dost forgive they are forgiven unto them, and whose sins thou dost
retain, they are retained;”—that in this there is no intention to teach
that the commission of Christ extended beyond the Apostles themselves,
and that no power of binding or loosing is conferred by this solemn act?
Or, yet again, who tell us that when the priest is instructed to exercise
this holy function of absolving penitents, either that they may come
“with a full trust in God’s mercy and with a quiet conscience” to the
Holy Eucharist, or, in the solemn moments of serious sickness, perhaps
the near prospect of death, (things and times surely beyond all others to
drive away the very notion of unreal or unmeaning words, which must also,
if they be such, be to the poor penitent most deceitful and misleading
words also); that then the Church gives her instruction to use the word
of absolution, and say, “By His authority committed unto me, I absolve
thee from all thy sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Ghost,” and yet means hereby only a mockery and a delusion; that
there is no such power, no such authority, no such absolving at all;
surely all this is not a mere non-natural sense which the words will
bear, though it may not be the most obvious at first sight, but is a
non-natural sense so monstrous that they will not bear it at all.

So much I say in proof of the mind of the Church of England upon the
subject of the priesthood, as involved in the priestly function of
absolution.  It is but a small part of what might be said, but it is as
much perhaps as our time will now permit, and I cannot understand it to
be less than sufficient (unless our Reformers in the sixteenth century,
and the Revisers of our Book of Common Prayer and offices since, are to
be esteemed either as the most incompetent or the most impious of men,)
to prove the point for which I have adduced the wording of our Ordinal,
and the comment upon this given by other parts of the Prayer-book,
namely, that our Church unmistakably maintains the doctrine of the
Christian priesthood, not merely the name but the thing, in the same
reality and power in which the Church universal has ever claimed and ever
maintained it.

And this remark may give us, if it please God, a wholesome thought with
which to conclude this morning.  Let us ever strive and pray, that we may
never for a moment be severed in heart or hope, or even in thought, from
the universal Church.  Let us love it, and cleave to it, as we
contemplate it one and undivided of old, however, alas, now distracted by
unhappy divisions.  Let us beware of encouraging a self-sufficient or
self-reliant temper, as if we shewed our wisdom or independence, by
isolating ourselves from that which has been the faith of the Church, not
here or there, but everywhere from the beginning.  If we can discover (as
in most points of importance we may if we will,) what are the truths
which have been held always, everywhere, and by all, (_semper_, _ubique_,
_ad omnibus_, according to the well-known rule of St. Vincentius,) we may
be certain that we shall run into no serious error, nor perverted
interpretations of Holy Scripture dangerous to our souls.  Individuals,
however gifted, may go astray.  Individual Churches may err, and have
erred, even in matters of faith; but the whole Church at large, the
Church Catholic, we may be sure, has not done so, nor ever shall, or how
should it be, what St. Paul tells us “the Church of God” is, “the pillar
and ground of the truth,” {95a} or how should be fulfilled our Blessed
Lord’s word and promise,—“The gates of hell shall not prevail against
It;” {95b} and again, “Lo!  I am with you alway, even unto the end of the
world.” {95c}  So, indeed, let us look upon Her with tender reverence as
the spouse of Christ.  “Oh! pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall
prosper that love Thee.” {95d}



SERMON VI.
The Christian Altar.


                              HEBREWS xiii. 10.
                             “We have an Altar.”

I RESUME our subject: the priesthood, altar and sacrifice in the
Christian Church, and the mind of the Church of England upon it.  On
Sunday last we treated of this in part, shewing in relation to it what
were the “old paths,” and pointing to the proof that our Church walks in
them, recognising and maintaining a true priesthood in those who minister
at her altars, by the solemn committal to them of the power of
absolution, a thing which she would not do upon any other hypothesis than
that of their possessing a true sacerdotal character.  We had not time to
say much upon the altar or the sacrifice.  Our text, however, now leads
us by no uncertain course to this portion of our subject, especially when
placed in connection with St. Paul’s emphatic question in another place:
“Are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?”  You
will remember that we examined both those passages on a former occasion,
{97} when we were regarding the scriptural testimony to the doctrine, and
I need not repeat what I then said.  But they will lead us on now
naturally,—after the remarks I made last week upon the Christian
priesthood, as borne witness to by the primitive Church, and maintained
in the Church of England,—to some consideration of the sacrifice also, as
borne witness to and maintained in like manner.

“We have an altar,” says the Apostle.  Of course it is in the celebration
of the Holy Eucharist that this altar is used, and the sacrifice made;
the great commemorative sacrifice of the Christian Church, wherein we do
not repeat, or attempt to repeat, (God forbid,) the one sacrifice,
oblation, and satisfaction once for all made upon the Cross, but yet are
allowed to present before God the Father, the memorial of that
ever-blessed offering, by the Body and Blood of Christ really present,
(though not after the manner of any “corporal presence of Christ’s
natural flesh and blood,” but) after a true though mystical and heavenly
manner; to present this, I say, according to His will and ordinance, by
which it is granted us to apply to ourselves the merits of His death and
passion, and to obtain His own prevailing intercession for us before the
throne of God; whereby, too, our souls and bodies, as we “eat of the
sacrifice are partakers of the altar,” and gain heavenly nourishment and
sustenance unto everlasting life.

We have seen already that such is the judgment and doctrine of the
primitive Church in its understanding of Holy Scripture, as shewn by the
early Christian writers, and by the ancient liturgies.  Also, that the
doctrine was maintained continuously for fifteen hundred years.  Our
question now is, What has our own Church said and done in this matter at
or since the Reformation?  Does she maintain, or does she reject, the
previous teaching of the Church Universal, and put something else in the
place of its doctrine, and its understanding of Holy Scripture upon the
subject?

We cannot here go into a minute history of all which was done at the
Reformation in this regard.  But I think we may, within reasonable
compass, arrive at a satisfactory general conclusion.  If we compare our
Church’s Eucharistic Office with the ancient liturgies which have been
preserved to us, we may see, I might almost say, at a glance, whether in
prayer, in praise, in oblation, in general design and structure, we
follow in their steps, or make “some new thing.”  It cannot be disputed
that in design and structure those liturgies all proclaim the doctrine of
priest, sacrifice, and altar.  This is interwoven with their whole
system.  It was the one understanding of Christians in those days as to
what their liturgies contained.  If, then, we find that the Church of
England follows carefully in their steps, and maintains in her
Eucharistic Office the whole substance of those liturgies,—at any rate,
all the main points in which they agree together, even though it be with
some differences of arrangement, such as might naturally be
expected,—surely we prove our point, and cannot doubt that our Reformers
had no design to break away from the ancient faith, though they would
cast off Roman error and Roman usurpation, and therefore that our Church
not only does not condemn, but adopts and continues, (as in truth she
never dreamed of any other thing,) the doctrine of the Church Universal
in this matter.

Take, then, the following short account of the structure, form, and usage
of the ancient liturgies.  I extract it from Mr. Carter’s book, as I know
of no better way to place it before you:—“The following brief digest,” he
says, “may give some idea of this system of devotion into which the mind
of Christendom was habitually casting itself in its communion with God.
It will be readily seen how the outline corresponds with our own
Eucharistic Office.  One or more collects; lessons from Holy Scripture; a
sermon, sometimes preceded by a hymn or anthem; prayers for the
catechumens, penitents, and others, who, with a benediction, were then
dismissed; the creed, the offertory, with the oblations of bread and
wine” (observe, first offered by being placed upon the altar); then,
“thanksgivings and intercessions, with a commemoration of the dead in
Christ.  Then, the more mystical portion of the Liturgy commenced, and in
all cases with the very same words, _Sursum corda_, (‘Lift up your
hearts’); a thanksgiving, closing with the _Ter sanctus_, (‘holy, holy,
holy’); intercessory prayers; consecration of the elements, with the
repetition of our Lord’s words of institution; a second oblation of the
now consecrated elements, (this was not always expressed in
words,—sometimes silently, and in act only); an invocation of the Holy
Ghost.  This is not found in the Roman nor in the Gallican
Liturgies;”—(so, observe, we do not forsake the doctrine of the sacrifice
if we have it not, for no one will suspect the Roman Church, which was
equally without it, of denying or disparaging that doctrine;)—then,
“intercessory prayers for the whole Church, the dead as well as the
living;”—(this, however, would be praying only for the dead in Christ,
for none other would be considered as part of the Church after the time
of probation is over: though in this world, and in the Church on earth,
the good and evil, the wheat and tares grow together, it is not so in the
Church beyond the grave:)—“the Lord’s Prayer; a benediction;
administration or communion; thanksgiving; _Gloria in excelsis_; final
benediction.” {101}

Now will any one take this account of the liturgies and usage of the
ancient Church, which on all hands confessedly is admitted to have held
the doctrine for which we contend, and then, comparing these with the
Eucharistic Service of our own Church, doubt for a moment that the Church
of England at the Reformation intended to preserve, and did preserve, the
ancient form and practice, and therefore the ancient faith, in this
matter? {102}

The Articles and Catechism of our Church are perfectly in accordance with
this conclusion.  Although the former, as we well know, were drawn up
rather to guard against current errors of that day than to state doctrine
upon points not brought into controversy, {103} they indirectly confirm
what has been said.  For instance, the Twenty-fifth Article, guarding
against the notion of a gross carnal presence of Christ in the Holy
Eucharist, expressed by the term ‘transubstantiation,’ might not be
called upon, within its proper scope, to say anything in the way of dogma
asserting the doctrine of sacrifice; but yet we find in it the statement
that sacraments “be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s
profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses and effectual signs
of grace,”—that is, signs effecting what they signify, and therefore, in
the case of the Holy Communion, effecting or procuring for sinners pardon
through Christ’s body broken and blood shed, even as there, “as often as
we eat that bread and drink that cup we do shew the Lord’s death till He
come,” {104} all which is in perfect accordance and harmony with the
doctrine of a true propitiatory commemorative sacrifice therein offered
up to God.

One point further in relation to the Articles I will notice, lest I seem
to overlook an objection.  It is sometimes said, If the doctrine of a
true and propitiatory sacrifice in the Holy Eucharist be admitted, there
is a contradiction to the Thirty-first Article, which tells us that “the
sacrifices of masses, in which it was commonly said that the priest did
offer Christ for the quick and dead, to have remission of pain or guilt,
were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.”  It is assumed that any
doctrine of a real and true sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ in
the Holy Eucharist must come under this condemnation, and so it is
sometimes thought that the whole question is thus decided.  But, not to
notice other points not without importance, but which we can hardly spare
time to go into now, one thing surely is evident,—that the whole Article
must be read together if we would rightly understand it.  It is: “The
offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation,
and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and
actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone.
Wherefore the sacrifices of masses, in the which it was commonly said
that the priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have
remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous
deceits.”  Now it is plain that the contrast here is between the one
satisfaction for sin made by agony and blood upon the cross, and any
supposed repetition of that painful and bloody sacrifice.  “There is none
other but that alone;” wherefore, for which reason, such attempts at
sacrifice as would repeat it, or such teaching as would imply that Christ
repeats it and suffers again, “are blasphemous fables and dangerous
deceits.”  If, then, in anything we say there were a doctrine of its
repetition, if we did not absolutely and entirely disclaim (as we all
along have done) any such attempt and any such view of the sacrifice of
the Christian altar, there would be a condemnation by the Article of our
teaching.  But certainly neither its terms nor its scope deal with any
view of a merely unbloody commemorative sacrifice, appointed to be
continually made in the Church of God so long as the world lasteth, by
which the sacrifice upon the cross is never supposed to be repeated, but
its sole merits applied to the believing and obedient heart, and the
prevailing pleading and intercession of the Son of God presenting our
prayers and praises, our penitence and offerings, before the throne of
the heavenly grace are secured, and He Himself, our Advocate with the
Father, is our propitiation.  This no more interferes with the one “full,
perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the
sins of the whole world, once offered” upon the cross, than His own
continued intercession at the right hand of God (and certainly “He ever
liveth to make intercession for us,”) {106} interferes with, or is
inconsistent with, the same.

So much I have thought it well to say on the Thirty-first Article,
because it is sometimes misunderstood and misapplied.

Next, I would say just a word as to the teaching of the Church Catechism,
which it would not be right to pass over.  I think it throws a further
light upon the doctrine of the sacrifice and the altar, for it not only
tells us that “the Body and Blood of Christ are verily and indeed taken
and received by the faithful in the Lord’s Supper,” (that is, the
baptized, Christian people, for so the word is always used in strict
theological language,) and therefore certainly that there is a real
presence of His Body and Blood; but it also says that that Holy Sacrament
was ordained “for the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death
of Christ, and of the benefits which we receive thereby,”—where, as in
the Communion Office itself, the term ‘remembrance’ is also to be
understood in its complete theological sense as the memorial, the
continual memorial before God, which by the offering up of the sacrifice
is made in the Holy Eucharist; all which is strictly accordant with the
doctrine of the primitive Church and the ancient liturgies; for, to sum
up with the words of the learned Mede, “They (the ancient Fathers)
believed that our blessed Lord ordained the Sacrament of His Body and
Blood as a rite to bless and invocate His Father by, instead of the
manifold and bloody sacrifices of the Law, . . . the mystery of which
rite they took to be this, that as Christ, by presenting His death and
satisfaction to His Father, continually intercedes for us in heaven, so
the Church semblably (i.e. in a like manner) approaches the throne of
grace by representing Christ unto His Father in those holy mysteries of
His death and passion.” {107}

If further proof still be required of our Church’s mind from the
Reformation downward, let it be noted how often this doctrine has been
assailed, and yet how, on every occasion, the Church has refused to
depart from the ancient rule and faith.  As one instance, take the fact,
that at the last revision in 1662, when the real meaning of the Puritan
objections was well and fully understood, and when the demand was
absolutely made by their leaders, both that the absolution by the priest
should plainly be made only declaratory, and that the word ‘priest’
should be wholly omitted and ‘minister’ substituted, the Church refused
both these demands: the bishops replying to the first, that the words as
standing in the Visitation Service were far nearer to those of Christ
Himself in the commission given, as these were, not, whose soever sins ye
declare to be remitted, but, “whose soever sins ye remit,” and to the
second, “It is not reasonable that the word ‘minister’ should be only
used in the liturgy; for since some parts of the liturgy may be performed
by a deacon, others by none under the order of a priest, viz. absolution
and consecration, it is fit that some such word as ‘priest’ should be
used for these offices, and not ‘minister,’ which signifies at large
every one that ministers in that holy office, of what order soever he
be;” {108} whilst yet again, it has been well noted, that the care of the
Church was increased in this last revision to preserve the distinction
and the doctrine dependent upon the word ‘priest,’ now that the
objections to it were the better understood.  For it has been pointed out
that the word ‘priest’ occurs ninety times in the first book of King
Edward the Sixth; fifty-five times in the second book, when the Puritan
influence of the foreign reformers obtained its height; whilst in our
present Prayer-book it occurs eighty-eight times: and an examination in
detail would shew that this restoration was made on principle, and that
wherever the term ‘priest’ is employed, more or less of the sacerdotal,
or strictly priestly character and authority is implied; whilst where the
term ‘minister’ is used, it is either as to simply a ministerial, as
distinguished from a sacerdotal act, or the meaning of the term is
determined by the previous use of the word ‘priest.’ {109}  So that as to
this whole ministration, we may well adopt the weighty and persuasive
language of Dr. Hickes, where, summing up a detailed argument against
Cudworth, who had invented the theory that the Holy Eucharist was only a
feast upon a sacrifice, and not a sacrifice itself, he says: “I have said
all this in defence of the old, against the Doctor’s new notion of the
Holy Eucharist, much more out of love to that old truth than to prove
Christian ministers to be proper priests.  For, it will follow even from
this,” (that is, from Cudworth’s own view,) “that they must be proper
priests, because, as none but a priest can offer a sacrifice, so none but
a priest can preside and minister in such a sacrificial feast as he
allows the Holy Sacrament to be.  Who but a priest can receive the
elements from the people, set them upon the holy table, and offer up to
God such solemn prayers, praises, and thanksgivings for the congregation,
and make such solemn intercessions for them as are now, and ever were,
offered and made in this Holy Sacrament?  Who but a priest can consecrate
the elements and make them the mystical Body and Blood of Christ?  Who
but a priest can stand in God’s stead at His table, and in His Name
receive His guests?  Who but a priest hath power to break the Bread, and
bless the Cup, and make a solemn memorial before God of His Son’s
sufferings, and then deliver His sacramental Body and Blood to the
faithful communicants, as tokens of His meritorious sufferings, and
pledges of their salvation?  A man authorized thus to act ‘for men in
things pertaining to God,’ and for God in things pertaining to men, must
needs be a priest; and such holy ministrations must needs be sacerdotal,
whether the holy table be an altar, or the Sacrament a sacrifice or not.”
{110}

To what conclusion, then, can we come but to that of the learned
Archbishop Bramhall?  “He who saith, Take thou authority to exercise the
office of a priest in the Church of God (as the Protestant consecrators
do), doth intend all things requisite to the priestly function, and,
among the rest, to offer a representative sacrifice, to commemorate and
apply the sacrifice which Christ made upon the Cross:”{111a}—or to the
brief but weighty saying of St. Jerome?  “Ecclesia non est, quæ non habet
Sacerdotes.” {111b}

Once more, brethren, we must pause, and as we do so, let us pray to Him
from whom “cometh down every good and every perfect gift,” {111c} that He
may give us His grace more and more to realize, and more and more to
thank Him for the great privileges which He has vouchsafed to us in His
“holy Catholic Church.”  “We have an altar” to which we may come, the
same blessed feast, of which we may partake, the same blessed sacrifice,
in which we may join, which has ever been in His Church from the
beginning.  As the Israelites were taught to remember, as to their land
flowing with milk and honey, that they “gat it not in possession through
their own sword, neither was it their own arm that helped them;” {111d}
Oh, so let us ever say with heart and voice, “Not unto us, O Lord, not
unto us, but unto Thy Name give the praise, for Thy loving mercy, and for
Thy truth’s sake.” {111e}



SERMON VII.
The Christian Altar.


                              HEBREWS xiii. 10.
                             “We have an Altar.”

IT may be well, before we proceed with our general subject, to call your
attention to one particular as to the course of our argument.  You may
have observed that I have not, except here and there incidentally,
entered into any examination of the nature of the Christian sacrifice
itself, any more than I have into any details or particulars of the
doctrine of absolution, such as its power and effect, or the necessary
limitations to be understood in its application.  And this has been done
advisedly, because I was not so much concerned, for instance, with the
doctrine of absolution in itself, as with it in relation to, and as a
proof of, the necessary existence of a sacerdotal power in those to whom
it is entrusted; and therefore if I shewed that such authority is, in and
by the Church of England, considered to be vested in those who minister
at her altars, I inferred thence, I think justly, the existence of a
priesthood in the mind of our Church.  This has been the object with
which I have referred to that doctrine in illustration, and not to
discuss the nature or define the powers of absolution itself.  As,
however, I have here touched upon it again, I may add, lest any mistake
or misconception arise, that no one pretends the efficient power to
absolve, (any more than to offer sacrifice,) lies in the priest himself.
He is but the instrument administering the grace of God.  The history of
the cure of the lame man at the beautiful gate of the Temple (which we
lately read) may well illustrate this.  Surely no one will deny that the
power to heal him was vested in St. Peter and St. John, whilst it is
clear also, beyond all dispute, that not by their “own power or holiness
had they made that man to walk.” {114}  What, then, is there incredible
in the affirmation that the power of the keys is vested in a priest as
the instrument, though all the authority and absolving power is from God
only; so that it is God and not man who pardons, and makes any man whole
from sin.  “Who, indeed, can forgive sins but God only?”  But he who is
invested with such authority, even instrumentally, is exactly what we
term a ‘priest;’ and our argument has been (to recur to it thus for a
moment) that the Church, which regards men as so endowed, regards them as
priests of God.

I return more generally to the declaration of the text, “We have an
altar;” and I will adduce one further illustration of the mind of the
Church of England hereon, by a reference to the foreign Reformation.
Take the two systems of Luther and Calvin, and what do we find?  Luther
was already a priest before he began the Reformation, and he had no
design to cast off the priestly element and character in his Reformation.
He and other priests who joined him did not cease to administer
Sacraments, or to teach their efficacy.  The Confession of Augsburgh,
which embodies the principles of the German Reformation, asserts
regeneration in baptism, private confession to a priest, the grace of
absolution, and the real presence in the Holy Eucharist.  It also fully
recognises (as with this teaching we should expect it would) the
priesthood in its true meaning.  Luther did not design or promulgate a
change of system in any of these doctrines.  What he did declare, under
the exigencies of his position, because no bishop joined him, was, that
for the purposes of continuing the priesthood and its powers, no
episcopacy was necessary, but that priests could make priests; as Mr.
Carter observes, a perfectly new doctrine in the Church of God.  But the
whole proceeding shewed that a sacramental system was maintained after
the pattern of the Church, nay, with true priests to administer it for a
time, but without the only ordained means of transmitting the same powers
to the succeeding generation.  Now how great a testimony is this to the
true doctrine, and how much light does it throw upon the acts of our own
reformers at home, who, with a true episcopate and the power of
succession unimpaired, were not likely to design a less perfect system
than the German Reformer admitted and maintained in his theory, though he
failed in the appointed means validly to carry it out.

And Luther’s testimony is all the more weighty when we remember that he
was one who had so little reverence for antiquity or authority, that at
one time he rejected and denied the inspiration of the Epistle of St.
James, because he could not make its teaching as to good works square
with his own theory of justification; and, at another time, absolutely
exhorted the elect to sin boldly and shamelessly that they might be fit
objects for the mercy of God, and because no sin which they could commit
could frustrate the grace of God toward them! and yet even such a man
wholly received and enforced the ancient doctrine of the priesthood, and
its accompaniments, the altar and the sacrifice.

Glance for a moment at the teaching of Calvin, and you will find another
theological aspect.  Calvin was not a priest; he had, therefore, no
authority to administer Sacraments; so he took the bold line of rejecting
the doctrine of a priesthood altogether.  He taught that Christ was the
only Priest of the New Testament, and that Christian ministers were only,
what such names as elders and pastors might denote, rulers and teachers
that is, in the Church of Christ.  This is the first of those three
functions which we spoke of in a former discourse, as connected with the
priesthood, but is just that one which we then said lacked the
distinctive character of the priesthood,—the power of absolution and of
offering sacrifice.  So much Calvin allowed to his ministry, but all else
he denied!

Now, it is obvious, that besides his own defect in point of orders, (that
he was not, like Luther, a priest,) his system was one to dispose him to
reject this doctrine; for what need of a priesthood, or any external
means of approaching God acceptably, when his theory and teaching was
that of individual election and reprobation, determined from all
eternity, according to the mere purpose of God?  How naturally would such
a system dispense with the priesthood?  Aye, and there seems hardly room
to doubt that it would equally well have dispensed with Sacraments.  But
here both the testimony of Holy Scripture, and the whole usage of the
Christian world, as to fact, were too strong for him.  He saw he could
not actually reject Sacraments, although his system might well do without
them.  It is true, there was evidence of the same kind, both in Scripture
and in antiquity, for the priesthood also.  But it was much easier to
discard the doctrine as a mere matter of opinion, (so he might call it,)
than to set aside things so plainly presented to the sight, as the facts
of the use of baptism, and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper,
everywhere established.  The bodily eye could see those usages, but could
not see the inner impress of the priesthood.  He could elude or deny the
one, but he dared not, even if he wished it, displace the other.  To
what, then, did he have recourse?  He kept the outward form and show of
Sacraments, as we may say, but denuded them of all their truth, mystery,
and power.  “He taught that they were bare signs; symbolizing, but not
conveying grace; or rather, he separated the sign from the thing
signified, making the one independent of the other.” {118}  Yet, as he
wished to keep them, so he saw that he must teach that there was some
good in them.  How did he contrive to give them this use in his system?
Why, he invented and taught that the faith of the receiver, and not the
act of consecration, is the cause of grace in Sacraments; not in the
sense that Sacraments do not profit the unworthy (which is true), but
that this subjective faith in the recipient is the sole cause of their
having power or virtue, (which is not true).  Thus he, in effect,
constituted every man his own priest, and led directly to the conclusion
further, that unless in each individual case, the receiver were
predestinated to life eternal, there was nothing in the Sacrament at all.
And so, again, we see the Christian ministry became, in Calvin’s system,
nothing but an organ of government and instruction, which the term
‘elder’ or ‘presbyter’ might sufficiently describe.  And all this, with
full deliberation and design on his part, because Calvin was far too
learned and able a man not to know that, if there were an altar and a
sacrifice, there must needs be a priesthood, which he had not, and was
determined to do without.

I should hardly have gone into this statement as to Calvin for its own
sake, but I think it worthy of notice, for the sake of a practical lesson
as to those who decry or deny the doctrine of the priesthood, call Christ
our only Priest, and make every man, in fact, his own Priest.  Surely we
may see that the root of all this is, not the teaching of the Church of
England, but absolute Calvinism and the teaching of the Helvetic
Confession, the embodiment of the views of the Swiss Reformers.  Those
who accept this teaching may, or may not, adopt with it, the
predestinarian part of Calvin’s scheme; but certainly they are adopting
to the letter his denial of a Christian priesthood, which denial, equally
certainly, the English Reformation did not accept.  “We,” then, “have an
altar,” however it may be that others may have rejected and cast it off,
and perhaps, alas, some among ourselves may be unconscious of it, or may
disbelieve it.

And this leads us to a few words further as to our position, when—I fear
there is no denying or concealing it—when some of the priests themselves
among us repudiate their priesthood, and thus follow the Swiss instead of
the English Reformation!  What must we say as to the effect of such
unbelief; first as to their ministrations and the effect upon their
flocks, and, secondly, as to themselves?

And, first, as to the first point.  Brethren, blessed be God, we do not,
and we need not, think that, even on this account, they do not offer up
the true sacrifice.  Turn, for your comfort, to the Twenty-sixth Article
of our Church, and you will see why I say so.  It is headed, “Of the
unworthiness of the ministers, which hinders not the effect of the
Sacraments;” and it tells us of them, as to “their authority in
ministration of the Word and Sacraments,” that “forasmuch as they do not
the same in their own name, but in Christ’s, and do minister by His
commission and authority, we may use their ministry, both in hearing the
Word of God, and in receiving of the Sacraments.  Neither is the effect
of Christ’s ordinance taken away . . . nor the grace of God diminished
from such as by faith and rightly do receive the Sacraments ministered
unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ’s institution and
promise. . . .”

Thus, even such have received the priesthood, and its indelible impress,
the _χαρακτὴρ_, (as it is theologically termed,) which cannot be
destroyed in them by any act or will of theirs.  Thus, their ministration
at the altar (so long as it be according to the rule and order of the
Church of England) is the offering a valid sacrifice, and their
distribution of the consecrated elements is the giving to be “verily and
indeed taken and received by the faithful, the Body and Blood of Christ.”
However, therefore, we may mourn for them, however we may feel in
addition to sorrow a godly shame on their account, yet we need not fear
that the flock is deprived of the needful food, nor defrauded of the
blessed intercession of the Lamb, pleading for His people at the right
hand of God, as often as the oblation is made, and the dread and blessed
sacrifice is (even thus) offered up.

As to such themselves (our second anxious question) what shall we say?  I
will say nothing of my own mind or thought, but rather adduce a weighty
passage which I have found upon the matter in the work of the learned Dr.
Hickes, whom I have mentioned more than once, as having so largely
treated on our present subject.  Even in his day, more than a
hundred-and-fifty years ago, these deniers of the grace given them, were
not unknown; and he thus speaks of them, going, you will observe, not so
much as I have done here, into the question of the effect of their
misbelief upon their ministrations to their flocks, but more particularly
into its effect upon themselves.  “I desire,” he says, “your late
writer,” (the author whom, in his dissertation, he was answering,) “and
such others as he, who have been led into their errors by these and other
writers since the Reformation,” (Cudworth he means more particularly, and
the novel theory propounded by him,) “to consider that, if the Holy
Eucharist be a sacrifice, as the Catholic Church believed in all ages
before that time, how far the defect of administering it only as a
sacrament may affect the holy office and the administration of it; and
whether the Communion administered by a priest, who neither believes
himself to be such, nor the Sacrament to be an oblation or sacrifice, can
be a Communion in or with the Catholic Church?  I say, I leave it to
themselves to consider these things, and I think they deserve their
consideration, and hope they will seriously and impartially ruminate upon
them, lest they should not ‘rightly and duly administer that Holy
Sacrament.’  The best of the Jewish writers tells us” (i.e. Maimonides),
“that it was a profanation of a sacrifice, if the priest thought, when he
offered up one sacrifice, that it was another; as if, when he offered a
burnt-offering, he thought it was a peace-offering; or if, when he
offered a peace-offering, he thought it was a burnt-offering.  Whether
that obliquity of thought, when it happened, had such an effect or no, I
shall not now enquire; but this I dare say, if a Jewish priest, who did
not believe himself to be a proper priest, nor the Jewish altar a proper
altar, nor the sacrifices of the Law true and proper sacrifices, had
presumed to offer while he was in this unhappy error, that he had
profaned the sacrifice, so far as he was concerned in it, and not offered
it up _ὁσίως καὶ ἀμέμπτως_, (holily and unblameably,) according to the
will of God, though according to all the appointed rites, nor in unity
and conjunction with the Jewish Church.  For the Jewish Church would not
have suffered such priests, if known, to minister among the sons of Aaron
and Zadoc; nor would the ancient Catholic Church have endured bishops and
presbyters without censure, who durst have taught that the Christian
ministry was not a proper priesthood, the Holy Eucharist, not a proper
sacrifice, or that Christian ministers were not proper priests.” {123a}

Oh, my brethren, for those who may have fallen into such error (not
knowing what they do), let us pray, in all tenderness and charity, that
they may be forgiven and enlightened; and for us all, priests and people
alike, let us make our petition that we may never fall into it; whilst,
as to whatever truth or privilege or blessing God has shewn or given to
us, let us “not be high-minded, but fear,” {123b} not being puffed up
because of our advantages, but all the more careful, because we confess
we have them, diligently to use them.

And this brings us to the great practical question to which this whole
enquiry leads.  “We have an altar.”  Do we, as we ought, use and profit
by our great privilege?  Do we indeed, individually and one by one, value
the altar, use the altar, bring our gift to the altar, join in the
services of the altar, become partakers of the altar, and thereby have
fellowship with the Lord?

Such questions, seriously considered, may furnish us with a most
important test as to our true state, particularly whether we believe the
doctrine, and whether we so live day by day as to be meet to take our
place and part in the altar worship.  Let me say a few words on these
points before I conclude.

First, do we really believe the doctrine?  If we do, surely we must
frequent the sacrifice.  We must see in the altar service the highest act
of our devotion.  We must perceive that here is the crown and completion
of all other worship, the sum and substance of our praises and
thanksgivings, the prevailing mode of petition for ourselves and of
intercession for others, the greatest and highest means of applying to
our individual wants and individual sins the mercies of God through the
ever-availing sacrifice of Christ.  Such persuasion of their dignity and
power has ever pervaded those who have believed in a priesthood, an
altar, and a sacrifice.  Heathen testimony witnesses to this, even amidst
all the corruption and debasement of idol worship.  The solemn, gorgeous,
awful sacrifice has ever been the central act of all devotion, that to
which all the people congregated, and to which, if they had any religion,
they delighted to be called.  We cannot here, and we need not, go into
the proofs of this from the poets or historians of antiquity.  We hardly
need adduce any proofs further than we have done already from Holy
Scripture to it.  We may, however, just recall the manner of the
sacrifice offered by Samuel previous to the anointing of Saul to be king
over Israel, when all the people would not eat until the Prophet came,
“because he doth bless the sacrifice.” {125a}  And the majesty of the
great feast and sacrifice at the dedication of Solomon’s temple; {125b}
and again, the solemn renewal of the covenant and worship of God by
Josiah, King of Judah, when he held the feast of the Passover unto the
Lord, such as had not been “from the days of the judges that judged
Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of
Judah.” {125c}  Let us remember, too, that the great Paschal sacrifice
and feast, itself the type of the true Lamb of God, was ordained to be
annually kept under the earlier dispensation, and was assuredly so great
and central a scene and act of Jewish devotion that to it the whole
nation was called, and called so stringently that he who observed it not
was to be cut off from the people. {125d}  What an intimation that he who
keeps not its far greater antitype, the Christian Passover in the
Eucharistic Sacrifice and feast, is cutting himself off from the people
of God under the new and better covenant!  Do we, then, all of us thus
frequent and delight in the Christian altar? and if not, why not?  Do we
suppose that holiness of life, less than that which may allow us to come
worthily to the Holy Eucharist, will be sufficient to let us come to
heaven?  Do we think that, though we are without the marriage garment
which we feel is needful for us to go to the Supper of the Lord on earth,
we can enter without it, to sit down at the great marriage of the Lamb in
the courts of heaven?  Can we believe that a heart less devoted to God,
and a love and obedience less perfect toward Christ than will permit us
to join in the highest act of thanksgiving in this world, will allow us
to join in the everlasting Hosannas of the world to come?  Or do we
imagine that such a service as that of the Christian altar is not
intended for us all, but is to be restricted to a certain few out of the
whole body of the baptized?  Surely, however widely such may seem to be
the practical belief (rather, I should say, unbelief) of our day, there
is no support for any such notion in either the Holy Scripture, or the
faith and usage of the Church Catholic, or in the principles of the
Reformation.  Not only is the whole teaching of the Bible, of the
primitive Church, and of our Articles, Canons, and Catechism against any
such view, but our very Eucharistic Office itself speaks plainly against
it also.  Not to mention more direct proofs in other ways, it is a great
mistake to suppose that office to design any division in its midst where
ordinary Christians have licence to depart, and a few select or chosen
are bidden to remain.  The not unfrequent custom of using a collect and
benediction after the sermon may perhaps, however well intended, have
fostered an error here.  This may seem to make an authorized close to the
service at that point, as if one service were now ended and another were
to begin.  It has, therefore, enabled people the more easily to forget
that we are then in the middle of the Office for Holy Communion, whilst
the usage itself (as well as the custom of saying a collect and the
Lord’s Prayer before the sermon) is certainly without authority, and
rather against than according to the mind of our Church; and although we
may perhaps not unreasonably, to avoid confusion, make a pause whilst
children and those who may be unable, at any particular time, to remain
for the celebration may leave, we are not to think that a certain
barrenness or awkwardness felt by such as then depart is without its
value in instruction.  If they who thus habitually absent themselves from
the sacrifice and feast of the altar, may be led to reflect from this
very feeling that the Church herself, by the gentle remonstrance of the
structure of her service, reminds them that they are leaving before the
service in which they are engaged is ended, this may surely give a
wholesome lesson.  Oh, if any _one_ even may be thus led to think, Why do
I depart? why need I go away? why do I refuse to join in the Christian
sacrifice, the highest act of thanksgiving and praise? why do I turn my
back upon my Saviour, present to pardon, to feed, and to save me?—if any
feel this, until meditating upon the love and the command of Christ, he
resolves, instead of departing, to come with his gift to the altar, and
taste and see how gracious the Lord is, shall he not find reason to bless
and praise God that He thus brings him to himself, and thankfully
acknowledge the wisdom of our Church, which has not appointed even the
semblance of a finished service in the middle of her holy Eucharistic
Office?

The opposite conduct to that of those who depart without communicating, I
mean that of such as remain without communicating, has, as we know, been
the subject of no small controversy in the present day.  I do not desire
here to enter into that dispute, but just so much I would observe: first,
that if any desire to remain, having perhaps already communicated at an
earlier service, or in a serious anxious wish to learn the will of God
better as to the Christian sacrifice, with a view to the becoming a
partaker of it; or, if any desire to join so far in it as to unite his
heart and voice with those who offer it, being a communicant, though he
may not design on that occasion to communicate, I do not conceive that
the priest would have the wish, or if he had, would have any authority,
to bid him depart.  Whilst, nevertheless, I deem it needful to observe,
secondly, that I see no warrant to think they are in anything but a
dangerous error who imagine (if, indeed, any do so) that the presence of
any one as a gazer upon, or witness of, the holy mysteries, is in any way
equivalent to communicating.  I do not see how such presence of one
looking on, even joining in words of praise, but habitually and
constantly doing no more; of one who is not a communicant, nor seeking to
become a communicant; of one who does not eat of the sacrifice though
present, perhaps often, at the offering of it, can be an act of worship
or adoration well-pleasing to Almighty God; can, in any way, make up for
his lack of understanding, or preparation, or obedience in that he does
not “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood,” without which,
our Lord Himself has told us, we have “no life in us.” {129}  To be
present in order to learn, and to learn in order to obey, we may indeed
hope will be an acceptable service, so far as it goes; but to gaze
constantly without obeying ever, and then to think nevertheless that we
“are partakers of the altar,” seems to me nothing less than a dangerous
self-deceit, and therefore certainly a practice not to be encouraged.

I sum up our remarks then, brethren, in this conclusion, that we should
all of us, with a depth of feeling beyond our words to express it, thank
our merciful God for His tender care and providence over us in this our
Church of England.  He has given us the treasure of the priesthood,
though in earthen vessels, handed down from His very Apostles themselves
by the laying on of hands, even according to the powers of their own
commission from Christ Himself.  He has shewed us the witness to the
doctrine of sacrifice, as exhibited in the world from Adam to Christ.  He
has confirmed the doctrine and the usage of the sacrifice and altar in
the Christian Church by His holy Word in the New Testament, and by the
records preserved to us of the early Church, telling us unmistakeably how
the Church, from the Apostles’ time downward, understood the Scriptures
in this respect.  He has let us know the mind of the Church at large to
have been one upon the doctrine for nearly sixteen hundred years; and,
blessed be His name, He “so guided and governed the minds” of those in
authority among us at the momentous period of our Reformation, and in all
revisions since, that our Church has ever maintained, and does maintain,
the doctrine of the Church Universal on the deep and mysterious, but, at
the same time, most important practical subject of the priesthood, the
altar, and the sacrifice.  Thus, in His mercy, our Church has made no
“new thing,” nor departed from “the old paths.”  She is one with the
Church of God in all times in this matter, and we need have no fears but
that if we come, one by one “with true penitent hearts and lively faith,”
to the altar of God and the table of the Lord among us, we may and do eat
of the sacrifice, are partakers of the altar, and have fellowship with
the Lord; that we have indeed preserved to us, in spite of the unbelief
among us, and the strife of tongues around us, all that true and holy
thing which the Church has ever had as Christ’s own appointed means for
the pardon of our sins and the sustainment of our spiritual life, by the
which we, with His “whole Church militant here on earth,” are allowed to
offer up the never-ceasing, unbloody, commemorative, propitiatory
sacrifice which the Church has ever offered, and by which she pleads
before the throne of God the power of the one great sacrifice upon the
cross for the pardon of sin, yea, even procures the pleading thereof for
our individual sins and transgressions by the Son of God Himself, our
“High Priest set on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the
heavens,” {131a} who “ever liveth to make intercession for us;” so that
we thus, in common with the whole Church of God, fulfil the Prophet’s
word, “From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same,
My name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense
shall be offered unto My name, and a pure offering: for My name shall be
great among the heathen, saith the Lord of Hosts.” {131b}

And if God has been thus gracious to us in all straits and perils in time
past, it would surely be a grievous want of faith not to put our trust in
Him for the time to come.  Though we know that for sin persisted in the
candlestick of a church may be removed, yet we will hope confidingly that
where He has preserved His truth so long He will still watch over it and
keep it; where, too, in the ordering of His providence, so great a door
seems set open before us; where, by our power and extended empire, our
vast colonial possessions and daily increasing colonial Church, (all His
own gift,) we seem fitted to be the means of His “way being known upon
earth, His saving health among all nations,” He will still cause the
light of His countenance to shine upon us; where, again, thousands, as we
verily believe, come before Him daily in humility, penitence, and prayer,
(like Daniel, interceding for his country and his people,) “crying
mightily unto Him” for support in all dangers, and aid in all
adversities; I say, we will hope indeed that He “will hear their cry and
will help them.”  Even in the day of thick darkness He can cause that “at
evening time it shall be light.” {132}  Whatever be our trial we need
not, on that account, deem ourselves forsaken.  Nay, unless we see it
plainly written that for our sins He has turned His face wholly from us,
we will not doubt, in all faith though in all humility, that He will
allow us to hand on to our children’s children, and to the “generations
which are yet for to come,” the same good deposit which we have ourselves
received.  If ever we seem to be disheartened or ready to faint by the
way, we will remember on whose word we rely and on whose arm we lean; we
will call to mind His wonders of old time; we will ever with all faith
and hopeful trust, knowing how with Him “all things are possible,” make
the prayer of the Psalmist continually our own, saying, “Turn us again, O
Lord God of Hosts: shew the light of Thy countenance, and we shall be
whole.” {133}



SERMON VIII. {135}
(Preached on Christmas Day.)
God Incarnate our Great High Priest.


                              COLOSSIANS ii. 3.
         “In Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

THE preceding verses will tell us “of whom speaketh” the Apostle this.
Having declared what great conflict he had for his converts at Colosse
and “for them at Laodicea, and for as many as had not seen his face in
the flesh,” he tells them that this his conflict and desire for them was,
that their “hearts might be comforted; being knit together in love, and
unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the
acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
in Whom,” he adds, “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

As there is nothing on which men may not make a controversy, so there has
been a question raised whether the meaning be, “in Whom,” viz. in Christ,
or, “in which,” viz. in the mystery of God, and the Father, and Christ,
“are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge?”  But we may well be
excused if we do not desire on such a day as this to run into criticism
of this kind; and I shall therefore take it at once for granted that the
plain and natural sense of the words is the true one, and that we have
here the Apostle’s declaration of and concerning Him of Whom he says just
afterwards unmistakeably, that “in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the
Godhead bodily,” {136} that He is the same “in Whom are hid all the
treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  And if they be so in Christ, as He
is, at the right hand of God, (for He was there undoubtedly when the
Apostle wrote this of Him,) so, being ever one and the same Eternal God,
“the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever,” they were equally in Him
in the days of His humiliation, “when for us men and for our salvation”
He took upon Him man’s nature.  As the Second of our Articles of
Religion, in the strictest theological language, expresses it: “The Son,
which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father,
the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took
man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that
two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood,
were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one
Christ, very God and very Man;” whereof, too, be it well observed, the
just and immediate consequence is, that He—“Who truly suffered, was
crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a
sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of
men,”—was this same one Person, very God, and very Man.  So that we speak
simple truth (though a mystery beyond even angelic powers fully to
understand or appreciate) when we say that God Himself was born of the
Virgin Mary; God Himself lay in that manger at Bethlehem; God Himself
grew up from infancy to manhood before men’s eyes; God Himself shed His
Blood, and died upon the Cross, to save the lost and guilty race of Adam,
whom by His Incarnation He made His brethren: even as the Apostle
declares to the disciples at Miletus, that God had “purchased His Church
with His own Blood;” {137a} and again, tells the Ephesians, that through
Christ “we have redemption through His Blood;” {137b} and again, the
Hebrews, that “by His own Blood entered in once into the holy place,
having obtained eternal redemption for us.” {137c}

This perfect union for ever of the two Natures in the one Person of Jesus
Christ our Lord it is of the highest importance for us to receive, or we
shall have unworthy notions of God, and what He has done for us.  We
shall, if we “divide the Substance,” making two Persons to be in Christ,
be in danger of believing that a mere man died for us; or else, that the
death of Christ was not, in a true sense, death at all; so that there
would be either a propitiatory sacrifice made for the sins of the world
by one less than God, or else no propitiatory sacrifice made at all.  In
either case, a denial of “the Lord that bought us.” {138}  In the one,
that He is the Lord; in the other, that He bought us.  For, as we see at
once, God, as God only, cannot die; and man, as man only, cannot make
propitiation for sin.  It is, of course, true that the Godhead,
considered in itself, is incapable of suffering, and therefore, the Son
of God, for this reason, (among many others, as we may well believe,)
took upon Him man’s nature, which was capable of suffering and death.
And not less true or less plain is it, that the Manhood, even in its best
and most perfect state, could not make atonement to God for sin, or
enable any man to “save his brother.”  But when God became Flesh, when
the Son of God became also the Son of Man, when the two natures in their
Perfection were thus joined in the Person of Jesus Christ: then God being
man could die, and man being God could not only live but give life.  So
Christ not only liveth ever, but He “giveth eternal life” {139a} to as
many as are His.  “Thus,”—to use the words of the well-known commentator
on our Articles, the present Bishop of Ely,—“thus we understand the
Scripture when it says that men ‘crucified the Lord of Glory,’ {139b}
when it says that ‘God purchased the Church with His own Blood,’ {139c}
because though God in His Divine Nature cannot be crucified, and has no
blood to shed; yet the Son of God, the Lord of Glory, took into His
Person the nature of man, in which nature He could suffer, could shed His
blood, could be crucified, could die.” {139d}  All this being done and
suffered by that one Person—Christ Jesus, God and Man—it is no figure or
fallacy but a simple truth, however wonderful, to say that God was born
in Bethlehem and died upon the cross at Calvary.  Thus, too, He the one
ever-blessed Son of the Highest, “in Whom were hid all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge,” could become unto us “wisdom and righteousness and
sanctification and redemption;” our Prophet, Priest and King, our
Sacrifice, our Mediator, our Intercessor, our ever-merciful and
ever-enduring Saviour, Who sitteth at the right hand of God, until He
shall come again with power and great glory to be also our Judge.

So very far have modern times gone in forgetfulness of the ancient faith,
that, I believe, it is sometimes considered a strange thing to give to
the Blessed Virgin the title of “the Mother of God,” as if it were a
novelty so to designate her.  Whereas, to deny her this title, and so in
fact to make two Persons to be in Christ,—one, God, not born of her; and
one, man, born of her,—is precisely the very and exact heresy of
Nestorius condemned by the Third General Council held at Ephesus in the
year 431, which decision was, and has ever since been, received by the
whole Church.  So that it is not merely truth so to designate her, but it
is absolutely heretical to maintain the contrary.  “Ever since the
Council of Ephesus, the Church has consecrated the peculiar title of
‘Theotokos’ (God’s parent, or Mother of God,) to denote the
incommunicable privilege of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in that she became
the mother of Immanuel, ‘God with us.’ . . .  For, though it is as man
that Christ is of the substance of His Mother born in the world, yet,
inasmuch as the Word took man’s nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin
of her substance, she may truly be styled ‘Mother of God,’ because ‘two
whole and perfect natures—that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood—were
joined in One Person never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God
and very Man.’” {140}

But let us turn back again for a moment to the thought of the text, that
in Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  There is
surely an emphatic force in the words “are hid,”—“_εἰσὶν ἀπόκρυφοι_,” not
merely ‘contained,’ but ‘laid up,’ ‘concealed,’—and if in a certain
sense, even now they are hid, because Christ our Lord does not manifest
Himself to the eye of sense in any visible form of glory, though He has
all wisdom and all knowledge ever inherent in Him, it may be said that
they were even more obscured, when, emptying Himself of His glory, “He
took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men,
and was found in fashion as a man.” {141}  Look upon Him as He was on
this day eighteen hundred and three-score and more years ago!  Think of
Him as a little infant, in the arms of His blessed Mother, or laid under
her watchful eye upon some rude pillow in the manger, and then consider
that _there_ was the God of all flesh, the great God of heaven and earth,
God the Son, ever one with the Father and the Holy Ghost, all-powerful,
all-knowing, all-creating, all-upholding, all-preserving, and say if
these treasures were not indeed hid and obscured!

But though obscured, the treasures were there nevertheless.  It were
impious to doubt or deny it.  When, then, we hear it asked, as sometimes
in these latter days of almost unlimited free enquiry it is, Are we to
imagine that in that little infant was centred the knowledge of all
history, all learning, all the secrets of nature as we term them, all the
devices of art, all the developments of science?  I think we cannot doubt
that the answer is, There was.  For what is there in any kind or
department of knowledge or science, or of things past, present, or to
come, which we can suppose the Almighty not to know?  This would be to
deny His attribute of Omniscience; and, therefore, to deny it of Christ,
God and Man, would be to deny His Godhead.  People think to escape this
consequence by saying that it is merely His human nature which was
ignorant,—that whilst as God He knew, yet as Man He did not know,—not
seeing that thus immediately they must fall into that other error before
mentioned.  For if they do not deny the Godhead, they must divide the
Substance of the Son.  Perhaps in their defence they will urge such
passages of Holy Scripture as that in which it is written, “Jesus
increased in wisdom and stature;” {142a} or where He Himself said,
concerning the Judgment, “Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no,
not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father,”
{142b} of which it may be sufficient to remark to-day, that the first
passage seems to imply no more than that His wisdom, as He grew in years,
and of course appeared to acquire human knowledge, increased, in the
sense of its being more manifested in the eyes of men, just as His bodily
stature increased in visible presence before them: whilst of the other,
(without going into all which may be said on a passage confessedly
difficult,) it may be enough to point out that He does not say even of
the Day of Judgment, that He, the God-Man, Christ Jesus, ever undivided
in His divinity and humanity, did not know it: but that the Son (Who must
be taken of course here to be the Son of Man), knoweth it not.  And if it
be thought that this admission grants all that the objector asked, and is
in fact but the enunciation of his own view, I should maintain that it is
not so, and for this reason, that it is a very different thing to say of
the One Person, Jesus Christ, that He, thus one and undivided, was
ignorant of anything, and to _contemplate apart_ His Godhead and His
Manhood, and so, in some sort, their attributes apart.  And I conceive
that here our Blessed Lord using the term “the Son” (not ‘_I_ know not,’
but _the Son_ knoweth not,) contemplates Himself as the Son of Man, and
speaks of Himself as viewed in that relation.  What modern unbelief seems
to delight to assert, is, that our Blessed Lord, as He stood and talked
and reasoned with the people, was ignorant or mistaken.  What we affirm
to be the really just and consistent sense of the passages adduced, is,
that _if_ His human nature be contemplated apart from His Divine, it
_might_ be taken to be thus ignorant; so, I would repeat, He is not thus
proclaiming that He, the God-Man, the One Christ, is ignorant, nor yet
dividing His Substance and becoming two, but merely contemplating apart
the Divine and human natures, which may well be done; and we may even go
so far as to say that _if_ we contemplate them as separated, then there
would be things unknown to the one, though known to the other, and _if_
they could be divided there would be a separate province of knowledge in
each; but that, as we must believe the two natures have ever been united
in one Person from the time of His taking our nature of the substance of
the Blessed Virgin Mary, so no one can ever predicate of Him, the thus
born Son of God and Son of Man; of Him “in Whom dwelleth all the fulness
of the Godhead bodily;” of Him “in Whom are hid all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge;” of Him “Who is over all, God blessed for ever,”
{144a} that it is possible there was, or is, or shall be anything,
whether “of things in heaven, or things in earth, or things under the
earth,” of which He was, or is, or shall be ignorant. {144b}

Turn then again, brethren, to the stable at Bethlehem.  Cast away, at
least on such a blessed day as this, the thoughts of controversy.  Come
to the sight which is to be seen in that lowly habitation “where the
stalled oxen feed.”  See the blessed Mother!  See the glorious Infant,
glorious and divine in Himself, howbeit He may look like any other child
of man, and with the eye of faith “behold thy God!”  Think of the wonders
of love in the condescension that He should be found in such an humble
guise and lowly place, only excelled by the marvel that He should abase
Himself to become man at all!  And then think that all this is no barren
spectacle, to be gazed upon indeed with wonder, but in which we have no
practical interest.  No, it all belongs to us, and has to do with us, in
matters of the very highest moment.  It is so important to us, that we
might say all other things are mere bubbles and trifles compared with it.
What should we be, and what would be our hope, if we had not the
Christmas season, and all which it has brought, to gild our year, and
gladden our hearts?  Think of what we are, and what are our prospects by
nature!  The children of Adam in his fallen state, and therefore “born in
sin and children of wrath.”  A degenerate race, from our very birth, with
the sure seed of the first and second death implanted in us, with a
corrupt nature, a depraved will, a heart estranged from God, exiles from
Eden, unable to return to it.  Even if we had the heart to seek it, only
doomed to find it barred against us, and “cherubims and a flaming sword
turning every way to keep the way of the tree of life,” on account of
both the original guilt and actual sins of men.  Thus, in ourselves with
no access again to God.  Placed, it is true, in a world of wonders, a
world adapted by Almighty wisdom to supply our wants and minister to our
comfort and gratification, apparently capable of almost unlimited
development in these things under the fertile mind and ever-busy hand of
man, yielding thus much enjoyment for the time, if we give ourselves to
enjoy it.  Even in more than such external things adapted to our
constitution, as furnishing the food for absorbing pursuit and high aim
in the acquisition of wealth or power, or in intellectual cultivation;
nay, more and more widely still, meeting the cravings of our nature by
supplying the field for sweet sympathies and home affections in the
varied scenes of domestic life and mutual love; but yet, after all, not
satisfying the yearnings of man’s heart or the aspirations of his being.
A world, too, however framed with all these means of comfort or
enjoyment, yet with much of pain, sorrow, sickness, bereavement, trial,
fear, and weakness in the lot of every child of Adam.  All this without;
and within, a conscience enough alive to make us uneasy, when we have
yielded to temptation, and broken the law written in our hearts, though
of no sufficient power to prevent our yielding to the one and breaking
the other, joined with a certain consciousness, indeed, of God’s
greatness and goodness, but not the heart to love Him.  So, with no light
in ourselves to see our way clearly, nor in ourselves any strength to
throw off our chains and turn to God; with dim forebodings of and even
earnest yearnings after something higher, better, and more enduring than
this world, and this earthly life and being, but with no apprehension to
grasp it, and no power to attain to it.  And then, as life wanes, and
death draws on, and conscience, it may be, pricks, and the evil one
himself, perchance, mocks and triumphs, and no remedy, in either external
things or in our own selves, is to be found,—how darkly and sadly does
the night close in upon man in his mere natural condition!  Survey him in
such aspect from his life’s beginning to its end, and what is there for
him but either blank despair or reckless levity (often the direct fruit
of despair), or a dark and corrupting superstition calling “evil good and
good evil, saying Peace, peace, when there is no peace,” and resulting in
the utmost dishonour to God, and the greatest licence of an unbridled
sensuality, even under the plea of religion? or else, if not this, an
utter unbelief, merely falling blindfold into judgment and eternity?
Yes: for when once man was lost by the Fall, no one could save himself
and no one could save his fellow.  As it is written, “No man may deliver
his brother, or make agreement unto God for him; for it cost more to
redeem their souls, so that He must let that alone for ever.” {147}

But now, men and brethren, think of Christmas-tide, and all it tells and
brings to us, and what a change is there!  On this appalling picture, on
this “day of darkness and gloominess, of clouds and of thick darkness, as
the morning spread upon the mountains,” {148a} “the Sun of righteousness
hath arisen with healing in His wings;” {148b} “the day-spring from on
high hath visited us; to give light to them that sit in darkness and in
the shadow of death.” {148c}  As we raise our eyes to the Christmas
morning the light dawns not merely on our eyes but on our hearts.  Here
we find the “seed of the woman” who reverses our curse, and the curse
upon the earth, by “bruising the serpent’s head.”  He comes, He comes,
the Saviour of the world, bringing “life and immortality to light through
the Gospel,” {148d} because He is God and Man.  “Unto us a Child is born,
unto us a Son is given: the government is upon His shoulder: His Name is
called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The
Prince of Peace.” {148e}  What can more declare His Godhead?  But
nevertheless He is “not ashamed to call us brethren;” {148f} nay, we are
told, it even “behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren,” and this,
that “He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things
pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”
{148g}  Yes, and although He is such “a great High Priest, the Son of God
passed into the heavens,” yet is He not one “which cannot be touched with
the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we
are, yet without sin.” {149a}  What can more declare His Manhood?  Like
unto us in all points, sin only excepted.  Like unto us, with perfect
manhood, human body and soul taken into the Godhead, so to be unto us
“both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life.”  As the
new federal Head of the human race; as the one, and only one, of the
descendants of Adam in whom sin found no place, and whose obedience was
perfect, “He is able to save to the uttermost all them that come to God
by Him.”  Thus is God Incarnate our great High Priest and only Saviour.
“To this end was He born, and for this cause came He into the world,”
{149b} and such is the mercy which we this day commemorate.  By this, the
Incarnation of the Eternal Son, is the cloud of thick darkness rolled
aside; by this, as the first manifested step (so to say) in our
redemption, is the veil lifted; by this, is hope revived; by this, joy
spread; by this, is Satan defied; by this, and by the consequences to
which it led and leads, is he conquered; by this, is the sting taken from
death, and victory wrested from the grave; this, is peace made for man
with God, and peace brought to man within himself; by this, is he enabled
to please God, for by the death of the Son made Man was the purchase and
gift of the Spirit, whereby alone he can be sanctified.  By Him, then,
(“the great God and our Saviour,” as St. Paul terms Him,) are “we
reconciled, and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;” by
Him, “being now justified by His Blood, we shall be saved from wrath
through Him:” and so truly “we joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
by Whom we have now received the Atonement.” {150}  He is the great High
Priest, with power in Himself as none other has, or can have, to offer up
the sacrifice and “make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”  He
is the immaculate Victim, the one only meritorious Sacrifice, “once
offered to bear the sins of many,” Whose “Blood speaketh better things
than that of Abel.”  He is the true Paschal Lamb, “without blemish and
without spot;” “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world;”
the Lamb “slain,” (in God’s design, and His own ever-merciful intention,)
“from the foundation of the world,” but manifested for this purpose “in
the fulness of the time.”  He is the great Physician, causing joy
wherever He goeth, because He can heal all diseases; He is the great
Lawgiver, proclaiming His will; He is the great Prophet, ordaining and
promulgating His method of salvation; He is the great King, setting up
His kingdom, marking out its boundaries, and ruling His subjects; He is
the great Captain, ordering His armies, displaying His banners, giving
out His weapons, going forth “conquering and to conquer;” He is the one
Mediator, He is the availing Intercessor; He is the Way, the Truth, and
the Life; He is the Sun and Centre of the whole mediatorial kingdom; He
is the Lord of this world and of the world to come!—And all this, because
He is (as He is and ever hath been) “God the Son: God of God, Light of
Light, Very God of Very God; of one substance with the Father;” and
because, in mercy to us, He became also the Son of Man, “conceived by the
Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary.”

Surely, then, this is a day “to be much observed unto the Lord,” a day in
which we do well indeed “to make merry and be glad;” so only that our
mirth be with sobriety, and our gladness with godliness.  If, indeed, He
had not come, if we had no Christmastide, and Christmas memories, and
Christmas teaching, and Christmas faith, where should we place our hope?
Truly, we should be “of all men most miserable.”  Whether God could have
forgiven man in any other way, without Himself becoming Flesh, and doing
all which Christ has done, we know not.  But it seems to be unlikely,
according to His attributes and will, inasmuch as St. Paul plainly says,
“without shedding of blood is no remission,” and (as we know,) “the blood
of bulls and of goats could never take away sin;” whilst again it is
declared, that God set forth His Son “to be a propitiation through faith
in His Blood, that He might be just, and the justifier of him which
believeth in Jesus:” {152} from which it would seem that God’s attribute
of justice could not be satisfied unless by the payment, by some one able
to pay it, of the penalty due to man’s transgression.  But whether it
could have been otherwise or not, otherwise it is not.  This is God’s
way, and undeniably it tells us more of God’s love, Who gave His
only-begotten Son; and of Christ’s tender compassion, Who shrunk not back
from all which He undertook, than if we had been saved by a forgiveness,
without an atoning sacrifice at all.  Therefore this mode, God’s mode of
pardon, as it supplies us with greater proofs of His love, so it gives us
higher motives for our own love and gratitude than any other mode which
we can conceive.  Therefore this day calls upon us all the more for
praise, adoration, thanksgiving, joy, and obedience.  Whatever else we
do, or learn, or think, we can never think aright, unless—in praising and
thanking God for all His mercies, and for the birth of Christ in human
nature, as the source, if we may so term it, of the Gospel scheme of
Redemption,—unless, I say, we attribute all we are in sanctification, and
all we have in hope, and all we feel in peace, to God and Christ.
Whatever be His way to bring us pardon, whatever laws He has set up in
His Kingdom, whatever means He has appointed,—whether His Holy Word, or
His Church, or His ministry of instruction or reconciliation,—all these
are but His instruments, and He Himself is the only efficient cause of
our salvation.  “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto His Name give the
praise.”  No; even the fruits of the Spirit, wrought in us by Him,
“albeit, indeed, they are the fruits of faith, and follow after
justification, though they are acceptable and pleasing to God in Christ,
yet can they not put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s
judgment.” {153a}  Nay, not faith itself can do this; for though, as the
means and instrument to lay hold on eternal life, faith may be said to
save us, yet, as the efficient cause of our salvation it would be heresy
to say so.  For it is plain, we are not saved by anything of ours, even
when wrought in us by God’s Spirit.  As one of our Articles says, they
are in grievous error “who say that every man shall be saved by the law
or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life
according to that law and the light of nature,” for that “Jesus Christ is
the only Name whereby men must be saved;” {153b} so, truly, no one may
affirm that we are saved, except instrumentally or conditionally, either
by good works, (even if they were good, in the sense of being blameless,
which none of ours are,) or by knowledge, or by the priesthood, or by
sacraments, or by the Church, or by the Bible, or by prayer, or even by
faith itself, for it is manifest that we are saved by Christ only, and by
none else, either thing or person.  He may have set forth, as He has
done, certain conditions of salvation; He may have appointed, as He has
done, certain means of applying to Him for mercy, and of obtaining mercy
from Him; He may have ordained, as He has done, certain channels of help
by which His grace flows to us, and enables us to receive His favour, and
the reconciliation with God, which He has purchased for us; but it is HE,
and He only, Who is the sole meritorious cause of all we have, and all we
are, and all we hope for.  So, truly, again we may repeat in the words of
the Apostle, that it is “Christ Jesus, Who, of God, is made unto us
Wisdom and Righteousness and Sanctification and Redemption;” not as if He
could be this to us (God forbid the thought!) if we persist in sin, or in
neglect of His way of life; but, as if (which is the truth), even if we
had done all, we should be but unprofitable servants; as if (which is the
truth) we are very far from having done all; as if (which is the truth)
anything we have done to please God has been only of Him and through the
purchased gift of His Spirit, and the communication to us of Himself.  So
that, indeed, we owe all to Him, and without Him are and must be lost
indeed.

Brethren, as we think of these things, and of all we owe to Him in and
for His abasement and humiliation in His Incarnation, should not “our
hearts burn within us?”  Oh, let them do so, with a reverent, loving,
grateful, joyful sense of His goodness; Who, “though He was rich, yet for
our sakes became poor;” Who has gladdened and cheered this otherwise dark
and gloomy World by His presence in it in human form and nature; Who,
since He came to it thus, has (though absent so far as the eye of sense
discerns) yet never left it to be as it was before, but, by the very
means of His Incarnation, dwelleth in it still,—dwelleth, aye, in us, and
we in Him, if we be His by the Spirit.  And all this, though He be so
wonderful, high, and mighty—nay, because He is so,—the very and eternal
God, born as on this day in the stable at Bethlehem!  In Whom, lying
there, in all appearance, a mere helpless, unknowing, human babe, in Whom
were still “hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;” and “in
Whom,” then as always, “dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”

Oh, my brethren, believe that He sees and knows every one of us; and how
we think of Him this day, and how we love and honour Him.  He loves and
longs for every one of us.  He wills us to rejoice (and “again I say
rejoice”) at the “good tidings of great joy which should be to all
people” from that day at Bethlehem.  Let our joy be, then, such as He
sanctions, such as leads us nearer and nearer to Him, both in the
exercise of dear and holy home affections, and in love to Him Himself;
and then we may hope we shall indeed bless Him, not only now but for
ever, that He has again brought us to this great and happy day.

When we gather, then, our families around us and see the aged, whom we
love, still permitted to be with us, (though, it may be, now infirm and
feeble,) let us rejoice in that hope, and the object of their faith,
which gilds and cheers their old age.  When we meet our fellows and
companions of our own time of life, knit with us in the tenderest bonds
of human affection, and enjoy with them some of that good which God’s
bounty allows us, let us rejoice in the thought that they and we have a
mutual share in things better than all which this world has to give, and
are heirs together of the same common salvation.  When we gather round us
our little ones, and thank God for the blessing He has given us in them,
and look forward not without anxious expectation to the future of their
life, yet let us not forget to bless and praise His name that, by the
Incarnation of His Son, He has permitted us to make our children His
children, and has made sure to them all the privileges of their adoption
and the promises of His covenant.  So may we, whichever way we look and
whatever meets our eyes, ever overflow with thankful joy that unto us “is
born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
{156}

                                * * * * *

           Printed by James Parker and Co., Crown-yard, Oxford.



FOOTNOTES.


{1}  2 St. Matt. xii. 29.

{2a}  2 Tim. ii. 20.

{2b}  Gen. ii. 7.

{3a}  2 Cor. iii. 5, 6–9.

{3b}  2 Cor. iv. 1.

{4a}  2 Cor. iv. 2.

{4b}  Ibid., 3, 4.

{4c}  Ibid., 5, 6.

{4d}  Ibid., 7.

{6}  2 Cor. iv. 7.

{10a}  Isaiah liii. 2.

{10b}  Ibid. lii. 14.

{12}  St. John xx. 22, 23.

{13a}  St. John xxi. 3.

{13b}  Acts xviii. 3.

{14}  Cor. ix. 4, 5.

{17a}  Acts xv. 36, 39.

{17b}  Gal. ii. 11–14.

{19a}  St. Matt. xiii. 55.

{19b}  2 Cor. x. 10.

{21a}  St. John xvii. 21.

{21b}  St. Matt x. 25.

{21c}  1 Pet. iv. 12.

{22a}  Heb. xiii. 13.

{22b}  1 Cor. iv. 12, 13.

{22c}  Acts xx. 24.

{23}  Job i. 8.

{24}  Job i. 5.

{26a}  1 Chron. i. 43, 44.

{26b}  Numbers xxxi. 8.

{27a}  1 John iii. 12.

{27b}  Heb. xi. 4.

{28}  Gen. iv. 2–4.

{30a}  Gen. iii. 15.

{30b}  Heb. ix. 22.

{33a}  Gen. viii. 20, xii. 8, xiii. 4, xiv. 18, xxii. 13, xxvi. 25,
xxxiii. 20.

{34}  Heb. ix. 22.

{36}  Calmet, under the head ‘Sacrifice.’

{40a}  St. John viii. 56.

{40b}  Gen. iii. 15.

{43}  Deut. xiii. 14.

{45}  Heb. xi. 4.

{48a}  Rom. iv. 3.

{48b}  St. Matt. v. 23, 24.

{49}  St. Matt. v. 32, 37, 43, 44.

{50}  Heb. ix. 9.

{51a}  Heb. xiii. 10.

{51b}  Gal. iii. 19; Heb. ii. 2, 3.

{53}  Heb. xiii. 10–15.

{54}  1 Cor. x. 18.

{55}  1 Cor. x. 19–21.

{58}  1 Cor. x. 13–17.

{66a}  Heb. v. 4.

{66b}  Carter on the Priesthood, p. 71.

{66c}  Ibid.

{68}  See Carter’s “Doctrine of the Priesthood,” p. 6.

{70}  _Vitringa de Synagogâ vetere_.  _Prolegomena_, cap. 2, quoted
Carter, pp. 54, 55

{71}  Palmer’s _Origines Liturgicæ_.  See Carter, p. 58.

{72a}  Palmer’s _Origines Liturgicæ_.  See Carter, p. 59.

{72b}  Carter, p. 60.

{74a}  St. John vi. 52.

{74b}  St. Luke xviii. 8.

{75a}  St. Matt. x. 25.

{75b}  Heb. x. 36.

{75c}  St. Luke xxi. 19.

{75d}  St. Matt x.

{75e}  1 Tim. iv. 1.

{75f}  2 Tim. iv. 3.

{75g}  1 John i. 1.

{75h}  Ibid. ver. 3.

{76}  Jer. vi. 16.

{77}  Gal. i. 10.

{80}  Heb. vii. 1–3.

{81a}  Coloss. ii. 8.

{81b}  Job xxxviii. 2.

{85a}  Ordering of Deacons in the Church of England.

{85b}  Ordering of Priests.

{85c}  Ibid.

{85d}  Ibid.

{86}  St. John xx. 21.

{87}  St. John xx. 21–23.

{89}  Second Exhortation in Communion Office.

{90}  Office for Visitation of Sick.

{95a}  1 Tim. iii. 15.

{95b}  St. Matt. xvi. 18.

{95c}  Ibid. xxviii. 20.

{95d}  Ps. cxxii. 6.

{97}  Sermon III.

{101}  Carter on the Priesthood, p. 61.

{102}  Some attempts have been lately made to throw doubt upon the
authenticity of the copies of the ancient liturgies which have come down
to us, as not certainly uninterpolated in places in later times.  But
whether there may be any ground at all for such suspicion or not, it is
evident that the inferences drawn from the liturgies, both in this
passage and in a former sermon, will not be affected.  For the argument,
as used in these sermons, is not dependent upon a phrase or a sentence
here or there, which, it may be alleged, is open to question, but is
based upon doctrine interwoven with their whole system, and pervading
their whole structure, and is what moreover is borne witness to, as thus
pervading them, by the whole mass of contemporary Christian writing.  The
liturgies, therefore, must not merely have been interpolated in places,
but almost entirely re-written in another sense, and the great bulk of
the writings of the Fathers forged to agree with this change, if the
argument above is to be shaken by the question raised concerning them.

I find a passage in Hickes’s Treatise, “The Christian Priesthood
Asserted,” which, though written more than a hundred and sixty years
before Mr. Carter’s book, seems almost as if it were a comment upon the
passage just cited, and the application which I have made of it.  He
says, “I believe no man in the world that was of any religion where
sacrifice was used, and that by chance should see the Sacrament of the
Holy Eucharist administered among Christians, as it was administered in
the primitive times, or as it is administered according to the order and
usage of the Church of England, but would take the bread and wine for an
offering or sacrifice, and the whole action for a sacrificial
ministration; and the eating and drinking of the holy elements for a
sacrificial entertainment of the congregation at the table of their God.
To see bread and wine . . . so solemnly brought to the table, and then . . .
brought by the deacon, in manner of an offering to the liturg or
minister, which he also taking in his hands as an offering, sets them
with all reverence on the table; and then, after solemn prayers of
oblation and consecration, to see him take up the bread, and say, in a
most solemn manner, ‘This is My Body,’ &c., and then the cup, saying as
solemnly, ‘This is My Blood,’ &c., and then to hear him with all the
powers of his soul offer up praises, and glory, and thanksgiving, and
prayers to God the Father of all things, through the Name of His Son, and
Holy Spirit, which they beseech Him to send down upon that bread and cup,
and the people with the greatest harmony and acclamation saying aloud,
‘Amen:’ after which also, to see the liturg, first eat of the bread and
drink of the cup, and then the deacon to carry about the blessed bread
and wine to be eaten and drunk by the people, as in a sacrificial feast;
and, lastly, to see and hear all concluded with psalms and hymns of
praise, and prayers of intercession to God with the highest pomp-like
celebrity of words; I say, to see and hear all this would make an
uninitiated heathen conclude that the bread and wine were an offering,
the whole Eucharistic action a sacrificial mystery, the eating and
drinking the sanctified elements a sacrificial banquet, and the liturg
who administered a priest.”—_Hickes’s_ “_Priesthood Asserted_,” _Library
of Anglo.-Cath. Theol._, _Oxford_, vol. ii. p. 105–7.

{103}  The scantiness of statements in the Articles, as to the
inspiration of Holy Scripture, may illustrate this.  Had it been possible
to foresee the boldness of unbelief which these days have brought to
light on this subject, or had our Reformers been now drawing up the
Articles, we may feel very certain they would not have been content to
leave that matter as it there stands.  But they were engaged with
practical errors of their own day, and not in stating all dogmatic truth
upon other points.  Many things were so fully assumed to be true as to
need no assertion of their truth.

{104}  1 Cor. xi. 26.

{106}  Heb. vii. 25.

{107}  Mede’s “Christian Sacrifice,” lib. ii. cap. 4, quoted in Carter,
p. 65.

{108}  Cardwell’s “Documentary Annals,” chap. vii, prop. 2.

{109}  Carter, p. 25, note 1.

{110}  Hickes’s Treatises, vol. ii. pp. 183, 184.

{111a}  Bramhall’s “Protestant Ordination Vindicated.”  Discourse vii. 3.

{111b}  St. Jerome, adv. Lucif. c. 8.  Carter, pp. 22, 23.

{111c}  James i. 17.

{111d}  Ps. xliv. 3.

{111e}  Ps. cxv. 1.

{114}  Acts iii. 12.

{118}  Carter, p. 28.

{123a}  Hickes’ “Christian Priesthood Asserted,” pp. 184, 185.

{123b}  Rom. xi. 20.

{125a}  1 Sam. ix. 11–13.

{125b}  1 Kings viii. 62–66.

{125c}  2 Kings xxiii. 22.

{125d}  “But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and
forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from
among his people: because he brought not the offering of the Lord in his
appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.”  (Numb. ix. 13.)

{129}  St. John vi. 53.

{131a}  Heb. viii. 1.

{131b}  Mal. i. 11.

{132}  Zech. xiv. 7.

{133}  Ps. lxxx. 19.

{135}  The following sermon, although perhaps in strictness hardly one of
this course, was preached almost immediately after the others, and, in
some measure, as a sequel to them.  It is evidently not unconnected with
their subject, inasmuch as the whole Doctrine of the Priesthood,—Christ
our High Priest, through His Manhood “able to be touched with the feeling
of our infirmities,” and the sacerdotal powers derived from Him to “the
ministers and stewards of His mysteries,”—is intimately related to, and
dependent upon, the doctrine of the Incarnation.

{136}  Col. ii. 9.

{137a}  Acts xx. 28.

{137b}  Ephes. i. 7.

{137c}  Heb. ix. 12.

{138}  2 St. Peter ii. 1.

{139a}  St. John xvii. 2.

{139b}  1 Cor. ii. 8.

{139c}  Acts xx. 28.

{139d}  “Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles,” by E. Harold, Lord
Bishop of Ely, Art. II. p. 69.

{140}  Owen’s “Introduction to the Study of Dogmatic Theology,” pp. 265,
266.  See also, “Pearson on the Creed,” Art. iii. § 3.

{141}  Philip, ii. 7, 8.

{142a}  St. Luke ii. 52.

{142b}  St. Mark xiii. 32; St. Matt. xxiv. 36.

{144a}  Rom. ix. 5.

{144b}  It may be observed that the above explanation does not in any way
impair the argument in our Lord’s reply to His disciples.  It furnishes
quite a sufficient reason why such mysteries as “when shall these things
be, and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the
world?” should be unrevealed to flesh and blood, that they are unknown to
be angels of heaven, and even to the Son of Man, if His humanity be
contemplated apart from His Divinity.

{147}  Ps. xlix. 7, 8.

{148a}  Joel ii. 2.

{148b}  Mal. iv. 2.

{148c}  St. Luke i. 78, 79.

{148d}  2 Tim. i. 10.

{148e}  Isa. ix. 6.

{148f}  Heb. ii. 11.

{148g}  Ibid. 17.

{149a}  Heb. iv. 14, 15.

{149b}  St. John xviii. 37.

{150}  Rom. v. 9, 11.

{152}  Rom. iii. 25, 26.

{153a}  Art. XII.

{153b}  Art. XVIII.

{156}  St. Luke ii. 11.





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