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judices, should have caused the defection of a part of his followers; that from that time, many of his disciples should have gone back, and walked no more with him". The difficulties, which at the time presented themselves to the reception of his doctrine, were such, as would seem surmountable by nothing less than that faith in him, (the gift of his Father,) as possessing indeed the words, however in this instance incomprehensible, of eternal life, which, as appears from what follows, sustained on this very occasion the twelve in their adherence to him. Ignorant, as they probably yet were, of the fundamental fact, upon which the propriety of our Lord's expressions rested; the fact, that Jesus Christ was to be a real sacrifice of atonement and peace-offering to God; they wanted the first clue to their just interpretation. Ignorant, yet further, of the nature of the feast, by a participation in which the benefits of that sacrifice were to be communicated to the faithful; had they touched upon the confines of a right inter
n John vi. 66.
• John vi. 68.
pretation of his words, as referring to a sacrifice of some sort, they would still have been confounded at the notion of such a participation in the very body of Jesus.
Nor even to us, apart from the information which we derive from the institution of the Lord's Supper, does it seem possible to give a satisfactory account of the language of our Lord. Independently of the total want of any propriety in the expression, and the absence of any legitimate analogy, by which the use of such a metaphor might be vindicated, neither faith in the merits of Christ, nor the reception and meditation of his saving doctrine, (the usual resources of those who resist the application of the passage to the Sacrament,) can be accepted, as the thing intended by feeding on him; unless we are also prepared to admit, that the life which the Son hath in the Father', is by faith, or meditation only. No purely spiritual feeding again, however interpreted, would seem to correspond with the repeated notice of the ma
terial manna, on which their fathers had fed. Nor, lastly, can any interpretation of the words of our Lord be fairly considered as adequate to the occasion, which confounds under one idea what he has so obviously separated, by the distinct mention of his body and blood, four several times in the course of as many successive verses. It is inconceivable, that they should be thus mentioned, if they had not severally some distinct and appropriate reference. And what that reference should be, if all allusion to the Eucharist be rejected, it is impossible in the whole range of Scripture, in the history or the tradition of the church, to discover.
On the other hand, admit that reference, and all becomes clear and easy. Admit that our Lord's allusion in the former part of his conference with the Galilean multitude was to the life-giving sacrifice, which he was to offer for the sins of the world; and that in his subsequent discourse he was led, naturally and progressively, to the contemplation of that festival, by which the benefits of that sacrifice were to be com
municated to the believers in him; and we are well able to apply and account for every circumstance asserted by him, of himself, as the bread of life which came down from heaven, of his body and blood, as meat indeed, and drink indeed, and the occasion ・of life for ever to those who should partake in them.
The reality then of the reference to the Lord's Supper being so far established, it would remain for us to inquire, in what degree the doctrine of the Sacrament itself, as already deduced from other sources, is affected by the expressions used concerning it in this remarkable passage. The result of this inquiry has, however, of necessity, been in great measure anticipated in the previous discussion.
The most important assertions of our Lord, with respect to eating his flesh and drinking his blood, are, that by so doing we obtain eternal life, and the assurance of our resurrection; that we dwell in him, and he in us. These assertions are in exact
q John vi. 55.
John vi. 58.
t John vi. 56.
agreement with those previous notions, which we have obtained upon the subject of the Lord's Supper, from the consideration of the words and circumstances of institution, and the manner in which it is spoken of in the writings of St. Paul.
From them we have inferred, that as eating the bread and drinking the wine of the Sacrament, we are admitted to the benefits of the sacrifice of Christ, to the pardon of sin, reconciliation to God, the assurance of spiritual assistance here, and of everlasting life and happiness hereafter; so these very benefits appear to be conveyed to us in great measure, under the notion of our being, symbolically, and to all essential purposes, united to, and identified with him; of our being made one with him, by eating of that bread and drinking of that wine, which are the communion of his body and blood: that as, by the implied interchange and intercommunion of properties consequent upon this union of the Redeemer with the redeemed, we alike participate in the sufferings of his crucified, and the exaltation of his glorified body; in his