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much as it restricts one's meditations within the narrow limits of human interpretation: Whereas for my own part, I hesitate not to say that, in my estimation, the truly pious soul left to itself, and to the literal words of scripture, unencumbered with any laboured explications or learned definitions, would have loftier, and, it might be, more adequate conceptions of the sacrament itself, and of the design of its adorable author, than words could well express, or the most subtle theologian (his mind of necessity warped by existing systems of belief) could fully reach. Of one thing the devout partaker may rest assured, that when his blessed Saviour said, This is my body-this is my blood,' he had in these, to us incomprehensible, words, a fixed and determinate meaning; in firm belief of which, the church has always retained the words of institution in its liturgical service, as the very charter or warrant, by which its eucharistical administrations are authorized. In this case, I leave it to be seriously considered, whether it were not safer, as it is surely more piously humble, to accept of our Saviour's gifts, in his own words, and under his own meaning, though we ourselves should not altogether apprehend that meaning; than by affixing epithets of our own devising, such as natural body,' or 'figurative body,' (both of which epithets are equally unauthorised by Scripture), to run the risk of imposing upon the language of God incarnate an erroneous sense, and thereby of destroying our own individual claim to the benefits annexed. Dis
puters may call this by the opprobrious name of implicit faith, or by what other name they please; but in a case of such exceeding and eternal' interest, I would reckon such conduct to be of a very different description; and therefore would term it a manly testimony of becoming submission on the part of a finite creature, enjoying communion with God, who is infinite;' of which no one professing himself a christian needs to be ashamed. At the beginning it was confessedly so. Would to God that such a becoming example had been unceasingly followed! It would have saved trouble to the author of many a perplexed disquisition, and would have prevented much indecent wrangling, which I am afraid has been often employed, less with a view to discover divine truth, than to display human skill and learning; and more with a view to controvert an adversary's opinion, than to establish one's own.
Indeed, after all that has been said and written in the explication of this, in some respects inexplicable, subject, the idea of inscrutable mystery must continue to prevail in the mind of the humble and sincere believer. Nor is this more to be wondered at in this instance, than in many other instances of less moment, where a man is sensible of, and can describe the effects, though he neither distinctly knows the cause, nor the precise way and manner of operation. No man is so extravagantly regardless of the health and strength of his body, as to refrain from partaking of the food allotted for
purpose, until his reason be satisfied as to the and manner in which his health and strength are promoted by means of food. But many a man has, in this age of reason,' become thus regardless of the health and strength of his soul, so as to refrain from the food allotted for that purpose-because, forsooth, his reason is not satisfied as to the way and manner in which his spiritual health and strength are promoted by the consecrated elements of bread and wine. In the former case, it is deemed quite enough, that the operations of nature should be obvious to the feelings of sense, without starting doubts or raising controversies. In the latter case, analogy requires, that the operations of grace should be equally obvious to the feelings of faith-especially since it dare not be gainsaid, that both cases do alike depend upon the divine blessing, without which man's bodily sustenance, as well as the christian's sacramental nutriment, would be equally inefficacious.
But of all the novel deviations from the standard of primitive eucharistical doctrine, there is none among any denomination of christians whatever, which has less colour of excuse, or which has excited more well-founded opposition, than the Romish whim (for it deserves no better name) by which the ' cup of blessing' is denied to the laity. This wanton denial was first decreed by the Council of Constance, and afterwards ratified by the Council of Trent, which had the audacity to embody it in their creed,
creed, and by this means to make it part of the confession of both clergy and laity, that under one kind only whole and entire Christ, and the whole 'sacrament is received.' Surely such an act of arrogant effrontery, directly contrary to Christ's express institution, and (the church of Rome itself being judge) openly at variance with the universal practice of the christian church for more than a thousand years, requires no other confutation than fairly to state the fact. The faint shew of argument in vindication of this denial, which has been adduced from some fanciful inconveniences attending the administration of the cup to the people, is so exquisitely puerile-while resting its vindication on the superior dignity and honour due to the clergy, it is so glaringly' self-willed and presumptuous,' that it cannot but be matter of indignant surprise, how the many learned and worthy men of the papal communion have not, at least, shewed themselves ashamed of such vain and shallow pretences. Is there not a cause for such submissive silence? Undoubtedly there is and that cause is no other than the authority of the church, which, according to the Romanist's belief, is in every thing worthy of acceptation. In things indifferent all respect is, of a truth, due to church authority. But is this a thing indifferent? No reasonable man dare assert it to be so. It is a point of positive command, • Drink ye all of this; and protestants hold themselves bound to give the preference to the church's Head, lest they should fall under his severe displeasure,
sure, and meet with the same rebuke which he gave the Pharisees of old-full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your ' own tradition'.'
Ere I yet conclude this Letter, there is an observation or two due to a practice which has, by some zealous people, been earnestly contended for-it is the practice of giving the holy eucharist to infants. In some churches this practice was of early adoption, but at no period was it universally received. The plea on which there was, at one time, a wish to revive it, was the parallel which the ancients, who favoured the practice, drew between the two sacraments, from our Saviour's language- except ' a man be born of water and of the spirit, he can'not enter into the kingdom of God", compared with,' except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man,
and drink his blood, ye have no life in you". If the former passage, say the advocates of infant communion, make the sacrament of baptism necessary for children, the latter passage makes the sacrament of the Lord's supper equally necessary for them.
But let it be remembered, that although the two sacraments are of equal authority and obligation, they differ in the design, and in what may be called
1 St Mark vii. 9.
2 St John iii. 5.
3 St. John vi. 53.