Imatges de pÓgina
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that, up to this point, his repeated assertion, that he was himself the bread of life on which they were to feed, seems not to have produced any remarkable effect on the minds of his hearers: whatever force or meaning they attached to the expression, they evidently took no offence at it. Nor from any thing which has as yet been considered, I am quite ready to admit, could any allusion to the Sacrament be legitimately sustained. So far, no more could fairly be inferred by us from the words of our Lord, than was perhaps supposed by his immediate hearers, that, in some way, he was to be the author and support of life, to those who should believe on him. And the facility with which his previous language may be adapted to this view of the subject has led many to maintain, that the sole design of Jesus Christ, throughout the chapter before us, was to impress upon his hearers the necessity of a spiritual feeding on him; and peremptorily to exclude any reference to the Lord's Supper, in that part of his discourse which we have yet to examine, because hitherto there are no traces

of any intentional reference to it. This method of argument, however, besides being in itself inconclusive, proceeds (it may be said, I hope, without offence) upon a mistaken view of the sort of connection traceable between the several parts of our Lord's discourse on this occasion.

The truth is, he seems to have gone on throughout the conference which we are considering, after his usual custom; following up the ideas, which severally and successively suggested themselves to his own mind out of the previous observations, or reasonings of himself, or others; nor are we ordinarily to seek for any closer connection between the different parts of his discourses, than the knowledge of this habit will supply. It is the not attending to this, that has involved the consideration of the whole chapter in unnecessary difficulties. The first object of our Lord, in his dialogue with the Galilean Jews, unquestionably is, to withdraw their attention from the grosser conceptions of his character and office, which attracted their carnal minds, to a more spiritual contemplation of the benefits to be

procured, by embracing the offers of salvation and eternal life, which he came to make to the world. But this view of his mission, proposed to them under the idea (suggested by the great miracle which had gone before) of eating the bread of life, leads to that of feeding on him, as that bread, in a spiritual sense; and the idea of feeding upon him, in its fullest signification, gradually developing itself, leads him yet further, in the prospect of the great sacrifice which he was about to offer, and by which the eternal life he has been speaking of, was in fact to be purchased for them, to the idea of feeding on the sacrifice,-on that flesh, which he was to give for the life of the world. I, says he, again taking up and repeating the expression he had previously used, I am the living bread, which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread, which I will give, is

i dúow. The bread, that he will give, implies some future food;-something different from that on which they might then feed. But even then, in the sense of those who contend for a spiritual feeding by faith on his doctrine, exclusively, they might have so fed; what was to follow therefore was something different from that;—i. e.

my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

At this statement we read that the Jews strove among themselves, saying, How shall this man give us his flesh to eat1?

Now it is remarkable, that upon this expression of their astonishment, our Lord, so far from softening, or in any degree relaxing the force of his previous declarations, seems by what follows rather to aggravate the difficulty which already embarrassed his hearers. Without furnishing any clue to the interpretation of his language, he thus proceeds; Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no

life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and

drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are

the flesh of his sacrifice, under the symbols of bread and wine. 1 John vi. 52.

k John vi. 51.

dead; he that eateth of this bread shall live · for ever m

If obstacles existed to the reception of his doctrine before, they are any thing but removed by this supplementary declaration. An additional circumstance, not of difficulty only, but of horror, of a nature the most repulsive to all their habits and feelings, is introduced by the repeated mention of blood, as an article of food. Further, the life which they were to derive from this revolting banquet, is compared to that which the Son himself receives from his intimate connection with the Father. While the idea of a merely figurative and spiritual interpretation of his words, is opposed by the comparison of the food offered them, with that material manna, on which their fathers had been fed in the wilderness.

We need not be surprised, that a declaration so extraordinary should have excited their astonishment, or that a proposition so offensive to their habitual feelings and pre

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