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tion, of his government of the Jewish people, of the sending of his only Son, the miracles, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of that only Son; but in after times this doxology was contracted into its present form for ordinary days; but on festivals and particular occasions, we enumerate more minutely those mercies with which the day is connected, such as on Christmas day, “Because thou didst give Jesus Christ, thine only begotten Son, to be born at this time for us:” on Easter day, “But chiefly are we bound to praise thee for the glorious resurrection of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord :" on Ascension day,
Through thy most dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who, after his most glorious resurrection, manifestly appeared to all his apostles, and in their sight ascended up into heaven to prepare a place for us :” on Whitsunday, “Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, according to whose most true promise the Holy Ghost came down, as at this time, from heaven, with a sudden great sound, as it had been a mighty wind, in the likeness of fiery tongues:” and upon the feast of Trinity, “Who art one God, one Lord ; not only one person, but three persons in one substance.”*
* The particular form of this thanksgiving has varied at different times and different churches; but all have invariably agreed in some form, as constituting the essence of the sacrament, The apostolical constitutions give a form of very says: “ Our Lord himself, before he brake bread and distributed it, gave thanks, and the church has thought fit to do the same. But because our Lord has not thought fit to prescribe any set form for this, but used one agreeable to the thing and the time; for this reason the church, according as matters and occasions required, has adopted peculiar forms of prayer and thanksgiving; and thus, according to the diversity of festival days, in which different benefits are commemorated,—the nativity of our Lord, the resurrection, ascension, descent of the Holy Ghost, &c.,—different forms of prayer have been composed, that thanks might be given to God for them.”
This Eucharistic hymn being concluded, as
now approaching more closely the actual communion, the priest turns again to the altar, and offers up, in the name of the congregation, a solemn address to God.
This is beautifully devised, because, as just been elevated to a somewhat enthusiastic exultation in the glories of our blessed Lord, we here allay our too-exuberant thoughts, and subdue them into a more gentle and composed demeanour, previous to our actual eating and drinking of the bread and wine. We are reminded once more of the real state of our case,
our unworthiness to approach these glories, our miserable demerits in all righteousness and holiness of life. 6. We do not presume to
come to the table of the Lord trusting in our own righteousness, but only in God's manifold and great mercies.
great length, which can be seen in Bingham, book xv., tending to three folio pages; others are not so long. Bishop Cosins
We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under God's table.” And then immediately follows
in which the priest, standing before God, with the bread and wine placed before him in decent order, invokes the Lord's blessing on the sacred symbols of the body and blood of Christ. In the ancient form of consecration, many additional expressions were used, which are now omitted.
The Holy Spirit was specially invoked to descend upon the bread and wine, and at the mention of blessing and sanctifying the elements, the sign of the cross was made in signification of the sacrifice which they typified. But this custom, savouring too much of the superstitions of the Roman church, was omitted in the reign of king Edward, principally owing to the scruples of Bucer, and the prayer was then expressed in the same words which we now employ
In this prayer of consecration there is no change of the bread and wine into any other substance than that which we behold. There
no whisperings or secret prayers, but the words are prayed to God audibly; and the bread and wine remain bread and wine in the sight of the people. The only difference is, that the bread being broken by the
hands of the priest, the wine being taken in the cup in imitation of Jesus at the last supper, and the prayer being offered to God that he may accept these creatures, (those created things,) as peculiarly and sacramentally representing the body and blood of Jesus, they become from that moment consecrated symbols and types. They are to the communicants the sacramental emblems of that sacrifice of which they desire to partake. They are holy and mystical, but no change in their substance can be for one instant admitted ; nor can we allow that the words of the priest are of any further efficacy, than by his prayer invoking the blessing of God. The whole prayer is most beautiful in its construction. It recites the suffering and death of Jesus, his command of the institution as a memorial of his death.* “By taking the bread into his hands and breaking it, he makes a memorial of our Saviour's body broken on the cross; by exhibiting the wine, we reminded of the blood shed for the sins of the world ; and by laying his hands upon each of them, at the same time that he repeats those words: “Take, eat; this is my body,' and • Drink ye all of this,' he signifies and acknowledges that this commemoration of Christ's sacrifice so made to God, is
* Wheatly, Com. Pray. p. 304.
a means instituted by Christ himself to convey to the communicants the benefits of his death and passion, viz., the pardon of their sins, and God's grace and favour for the time to come."*
* There has always been a difference of opinion on the question, how far the consecrating words of the priest affect the holy elements. The opinion of the church of Rome is, that a conversion of the elements into the actual body and blood of Christ, takes place upon the pronunciation of the words, “This is my body,” “This is my blood ;” but we maintain that the consecration takes place by the whole action of the priest, by the offering, the prayer, and more particularly by the benediction, by which the elements are transferred from their common and natural use, and are elevated to a sacred and mystical representation. There are evidently three steps in the prayer of consecration :-1. the oblation; 2. the invocation; and 3. the words of institution. “ All the churches in the world,” says Wheatly, “have thus in all ages used the words of institution; but none, except the church of Rome, ever attributed the consecration to those words only.” There was always a prayer for the descent of the Holy Ghost; and this, though omitted in our present liturgy, is found in the liturgy of Edward VI. “ Hear us, O merciful Father, we beseech thee, and with thy Holy Spirit and word vouchsafe to bless and sanctify these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the body and blood of thy most dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who in the same night,” &c. All mention of the Holy Ghost is now omitted; but though omitted, yet the meaning remains the same; and we manifestly attribute the consecration to the help of that Holy Spirit descending, at the instance of our prayers, to sanctify the gifts. We record the words of Christ's institution as the peculiar dedication of the elements to one especial service; but in no way imagine that the words of the priest, as