An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles – Article XXX

Article XXX.

Of both Kinds.

THE Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both the parts of the Lord’s Sacrament, by Christ’s ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.

De utraque Specie.

CALIX Domini laicis non est denegandus, utraque enim pars Dominici Sacramenti ex Christi institutione et præcepto, omnibus Christianis ex æquo administrari debet.

Section I. — History.

IT is not so much as pretended by the more candid Roman Catholics, that there is patristic authority for withdrawing the cup from the laity.

In the earliest account we have of the ministration of the Eucharist, that of Justin Martyr, we read that “the deacons gave to every one that was present to partake of the bread, over which thanks had been offered, and of wine mixed with water, and that they carried them also to those not present.”[1] This is fully confirmed by St. Cyprian, who speaks of the deacons as “offering the cup to those who were present.”[2] St. Chrysostom especially notices, that there was no distinction between priests and laymen in this respect: “Whereas under the old Covenant the priests ate some things, and the laymen others; and it was not lawful for the people to partake of those things, of which the priest partook; it is not so now, but one Body is placed before all, and one cup.”[3]

These and similar expressions of the fathers are fully borne out by the language of the ancient liturgies; from which we infer, not only that both elements were administered alike to clergy and laity, but that they were ministered separately. The fear of spilling the consecrated wine (of right to be regarded reverently, but in the course of time regarded superstitiously) led to the administering the two elements together, by dipping the consecrated bread into the cup; which custom still continues in the Eastern Churches. But the doctrine of transubstantiation naturally led to the belief that, inasmuch as the elements were wholly changed into the substance of Christ, therefore whole Christ, Body and Blood, was contained in either element; and hence that, if only one element was received, yet Christ was fully received under that one element.

It was not at first without opposition, both from councils and from eminent divines, that the custom which this belief gave rise to, gradually gained ground. Thus the XXVIIIth canon of the Council of Clermont (A. D. 1095) decrees, that all, who shall communicate at the altar, shall receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ under both kinds, if there be no provision to the contrary.[4] And in the next century, Geoffrey, Abbot of Vendome, censures the custom of a certain monastery, where both species were not administered separately, but the bread was steeped in the wine.[5]

In the time of the schoolmen, however, the question was pretty much discussed, whether it was lawful to receive in one kind only. They were by no means agreed that either element could be dispensed with. But the temptation to withhold the cup was great. Thereby the danger was avoided of spilling on the ground the sacred Blood of Christ. Thereby too, it was left in the power of the priesthood to dispense only so much as they chose, even of the ordinance of Christ.[6]

There was scarcely any corruption of Popery so much complained of by Wickliffe, Huss, and other early reformers, as this withholding from the faithful what they cherished, as a portion of their birthright. It was one of the abuses which, it was fondly hoped, the Council of Constance (A. D. 1415) would reform and eradicate. But so far from reforming it, that famous Council decreed that, as the reception of one element was sufficient for the receiving wholly both the Body and Blood of Christ, so the Eucharist should be received by the laity in one kind only.[7]

This decree led to serious results in Germany. The sects of the Calixtines and Taborites sprang up in opposition to it; the former protesting against the depriving them of an inalienable right and privilege, the latter not satisfied with protesting, but having recourse even to arms and violence.[8]

It is only further necessary to add, that, whilst every reformed Church in Christendom restored to the laity the cup in the Eucharist, the Council of Trent, following the Council of Constance, decreed anathemas against all who held, that both kinds were necessary to all the faithful — against all who denied that the Catholic Church had been led by just causes to order the laity and the non-ministering clergy to communicate under the species of bread alone — and against all who denied that whole Christ was received according to His own institution under one kind.[9]

Section II. — Scriptural Proof.

THE only passages in Scripture which can be appealed to, are those which relate to the institution of the Eucharist. In all of these there appears no difference between the bread and the cup, save only this: that in St. Matthew (xxvi. 27) our Lord is specially related to have used, concerning the latter, the words “Drink ye all of it,” and in St. Mark (xiv. 23) it is specially recorded, that “they all drank of it;” whereas, concerning the bread, it is only said, “Take, eat.” If therefore we can at all infer that one should be of more universal extent and applicability than the other, our inference should surely be rather in favour of the cup, than in favour of the other element.

But I believe it is never argued that Scripture gives authority for the withdrawing of the cup. The mode of argument is this. It is true, all the Apostles received both elements. But then all were priests. This therefore is not sufficient ground for assuming that the laity are of necessity to receive both elements. It is granted, that it is not a matter de fide and of absolute obligation to withdraw the cup from laymen, but merely a Church-ordinance, for greater decency and edification. It is indeed necessary to consecrate both bread and wine, in order to follow our Lord’s example; and, for the same reason, necessary that some one should receive them both. Hence the officiating priest always communicates in both kinds. But it is no injury to the rest, that they receive but in one kind, for whole Christ (Body and Blood and Spirit and Godhead) is received perfectly under either species; and therefore he who receives but one, has no need to receive more. It is a similar case to that when our Lord said to St. Peter, “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit” (John xiii. 10).

Now this is surely very unsafe reasoning. It is true, the Apostles were all ministers of Christ. But if this be ground for withdrawing the cup, it might be as well pleaded for withdrawing the Sacrament altogether from the laity. There were at that memorable Passover none present but our Lord and His Apostles. But surely the example was intended for all the Church. Besides which, the Church of Rome withholds the cup, not only from the laity, but even from all the clergy, except the consecrating priest; which clearly is inconsistent with the original institution, wherein our Lord did not drink of it Himself alone, but said, “Drink ye all of it,” and “they all drank.”

If we take St. Paul’s statements and reasonings in 1 Cor. x. xi., we shall find much ground to conclude that not only presbyters, but the people too, partook of the two elements. His addresses, warnings, exhortations in those two chapters are evidently general. We should almost infer, that they were rather to the laity, than to the clergy. It is more likely that laymen, than that clergymen, should have been guilty of partaking of idol feasts, and of neglecting to hallow the feast of the Eucharist. Now one argument by which he tries to persuade the Corinthian Christians not to eat what had been offered to idols is, “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils” (1 Cor. x. 21). This would be no great argument to laymen, unless they were permitted to drink “the cup of the Lord.” And in the following chapter he presses on them the duty of self-examination before communion, and of reverently partaking of that holy Sacrament, in terms which show clearly that all those whom he addresses, i. e. both clergy and laity, were wont to receive both the bread and the cup: “As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come; wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. But let a man (i. e. any man, whosoever receives the Sacrament) examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup” (1 Cor. xi. 27‒29).

With such strong evidence, that the cup was not only instituted by our blessed Lord, but also received by all His people, it is surely very hazardous to conclude from certain inductions of reason, that one half of His ordinance may be withheld from the great body of His Church. On what do we rest, as an assurance that we shall receive blessing in the use of Sacraments, but on our knowledge that we are acting in obedience to our Lord’s commands, doing as He has ordained that we should do, and therefore have a right to expect that He will give that grace which He has promised to give in the due administering of his ordinances? But if we, resting on our own fallible judgments, curtail His ordinances, and administer but half of what He has enjoined, what right have we to expect a blessing to rest upon us? A Sacrament is no Sacrament without these three requisites: the minister, the ordained elements, and the words of consecration. We should not think baptism valid, if we substituted sand for water; nor the Eucharist valid, if we substituted water for wine, or meat for bread; although the rite which of old answered to the Eucharist, was celebrated with the flesh of lamb. It leaves therefore a very serious question, whether the Sacrament is a valid Sacrament when there is only ministered one half of what Christ ordained, of what the Apostolic Christians received, and of what the Catholic Church administered for very many centuries after the Apostles.

It is quite clear that only one thing can give even a colour of pretence for this mutilation of the ordinance: namely, the hypothesis that the elements are transubstantiated, each element into the entire substance of the Saviour. If this hypothesis fail, the alternative remains, that the Sacrament is not as Christ ordained it, and that (unless He, of His mercy, supplies the deficiency) it is not such as to warrant us in the assurance that it is more than a piece of will-worship and human invention. We do not indeed wish to deny that those who, in faith and ignorance, receive a mutilated Sacrament, may receive the full blessing. We trust that such is the case, because we believe our gracious Lord will give the food of everlasting life, His own blessed Body and Blood, even through imperfect means (or, it may be, without means at all) to those who come to Him in faith and penitence, not with perverse neglect, but in unwilling ignorance. But this does not prevent us from saying, that the Eucharist without the cup is not the Eucharist ordained of Christ.

[It is worthy of remark that the Councils of Constance (Sess. XIII.) and Trent (Sess. XXI. chaps. I. III.) both admit, that our Lord instituted and administered in both kinds.

Constance also admits that the Primitive Church exhibited in both kinds; while Trent (Sess. XXI. chap. II.) says, that “the use of both species has, from the beginning of the Christian religion, not been infrequent.”

Constance appears to justify its action on the ground that as our Lord instituted after supper, and it was afterwards the rule to receive fasting, so the Church may also change Christ’s actual institution, and — quoad recipientem — the matter of the Sacrament. Surely, to state such reasoning is to answer it.

See Sir Humphrey Lynde’s Via Tuta, Sec. IX. Par. 6. — J. W.]

Notes

  1. Εὐχαριστήσαντος δὲ τοῦ προεστῶτος καὶ ἐπευϕημήσαντος πάντος τοῦ λαοῦ, οἱ καλούμενοι παρ ἡμῖν διάκονοι διδόασιν ἑκάστῳ τῶν παρόντων μεταλαβεῖν τοῦ εὐχαριστηθέντος ἄρτου καὶ οἴνου καὶ ὕδατος, καὶ τοῖς οὐ παροῦσιν ἀποϕέρουσι. — Justin. Apol. I. p. 97.
  2. “Ubi solennibus adimpletis calicem diaconus offerre præsentibus cœpit.” — Cyp. De Lapsis, p. 94, Fell.
  3. Οὐ καθάπερ ἐπὶ τῆς παλαῖας τὰ μὲν ὁ ἱερεὺς ἤσθιε, τὰ δὲ ὁ ἀρχόμενος · καὶ θέμις οὐκ ἦν τῷ λαῷ μετέχειν ών μετεῖχεν ὁ ἱερεὺς, ἀλλ’ οὐ νῦν, ἀλλὰ πᾶσιν ἓν ποτήριον. — Chrysost. Homil. XIV. in 1 Cor.
  4. See Dupin, Cent. XI. Vol. IX. p. 74.
  5. Dupin, Cent. XII. Vol. X. p. 138.
  6. It is a remarkable acknowledgment of Cardinal Bona, that “always, everywhere, from the very first foundation of the Church to the 12th century, the faithful always communicated under the species both of bread and wine.” “Certum est omnes passim clericos et laicos, viros et mulieres sub utraque specie sacra mysteria antiquitus sumpsisse, cum solemni eorum celebrationi aderant, et offerebant et de olatis participabant. Extra sacrificium vero, et extra ecclesiam semper et ubique sub una specie in usu fuit. Primæ parti assertionis consentiunt omnes, tam Catholici quam sectarii; nec eam negare potest, qui vel levissima rerum Ecclesiasticarum imbutus sit. Semper enim et ubique, ab ecclesiæ primordiis usque ad sæculum duodecimum, sub specie panis et vini communicarunt fideles: cœpitque paulatim ejus sæculi initio usus calicis obsolescere, plerisque episcopis cum populo interdicentibus ob periculum irreverentiæ et effusionis.” — Bona, Rev. Liturg. Lib. II. c. 18, n. 1, quoted by Bingham, E. A. XV. V. 1.
  7. Concil. Constant. Sess. XIII. See also Mosheim, Cent. XV. ch. II. § 8.
  8. Mosheim, Cent. XV. pt. II. ch. III. §§ 5, 6.
  9. Sess. XXI. Can. I. II. III.

 


E. Harold Browne

(Edward) Harold Browne was an English bishop, born at Aylesbury and educated at Eton and Cambridge. He was ordained in 1836, and two years later was elected senior tutor of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. From 1843 to 1849 he was vice-principal of St David’s College, Lampeter, and in 1854 was appointed Norrisian professor of divinity at Cambridge. His best-known book is the Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles (vol. i., Cambridge, 1850; vol. ii., London, 1853), which remained for many years a standard work on the subject and is still beloved today. In 1864 he was consecrated bishop of Ely.


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