An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles – Article XXXI

Article XXXI.

Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.

THE Offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.

De unica Christi oblatione in cruce perfecta.

OBLATIO Christi semel facta, perfecta est redemptio, propitiatio et satisfactio pro omnibus peccatis totius mundi, tam originalibus quam actualibus; neque præter illam unicam est ulla alia pro peccatis expiatio: unde missarum sacrificia, quibus vulgo dicebatur, sacerdotem offerre Christum in remissionem pœnæ, aut culpæ, pro vivis et defunctis, blasphema figmenta sunt, et perniciosæ imposturæ.

Section I. — History.

IT cannot be doubted that, from the very first, the fathers spoke of the Eucharist under the name of an offering or sacrifice. Clement of Rome writes of the bishops of the Church, as “unblamably and holily offering the gifts;”[1] where he is evidently alluding to the Eucharist. The gifts were the bread and wine, and the other offerings presented on the table of the Lord. The verb made use of is προσϕέρειν; so that Clement calls the Eucharist by the name προσϕορὰ, offering. Justin Martyr not only calls it προσϕορὰ, offering, but moreover θυσία, sacrifice. He quotes Malachi (i. 10, 11) as prophesying, “Of the sacrifices to be offered by us Gentiles in every place, i. e. the bread of the Eucharist, and the cup of the Eucharist.”[2] Irenæus cites the same prophecy, and applies it to the same Sacrament; saying that the prophet foretold “the new oblation of the new Testament, which the Church, receiving from the Apostles, offers throughout the world to God.”[3] Tertullian constantly speaks of oblations and sacrifices, using the word offer (offerre),[4] and so probably oblation[5] of the Eucharist; though the word sacrifice is applied by him rather to the sacrifice of prayer or praise.[6]

These are all authorities of the first two centuries; all witnesses within little more than a century from the Apostles. The question which occurs concerning them is, in what sense do they speak of offering and sacrifice?

Justin Martyr says: “The offering of fine flour, for those who were cleansed of leprosy, was a type of the bread of the Eucharist, which the Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to offer, in remembrance of His suffering.”[7] Clemens Romanus speaks of “offering the gifts.” Justin and Irenæus both refer to the “pure offering” of Malachi, which, though Justin after the LXX. translates it by θυσία, sacrifice, is in the Hebrew מִנְהָה mincha, i. e. an oblation. Now the mincha was an offering of meal or flour baked, or of parched corn. It is a “meat-offering” according to the English version; but, as Joseph Mede observes, we might more correctly call it a bread-offering.[8] Again, Tertullian speaks of the Christian sacrifice as a sacrifice of “pure prayer;” as Justin Martyr also had done before him.[9]

We have very similar witness from Clement of Alexandria and Origen. The former calls the sacrifice of the Church, “Speech exhaled from holy souls, whilst the whole understanding is laid open before God together with the sacrifice.”[10] And the holy altar, he says, is the righteous soul.[11] Origen, in like manner, frequently spiritualizes; but specially concerning the Eucharist he says, that “Celsus would give first-fruits to demons, so we offer first-fruits to God.”[12]

In all these fathers, then, we find no certain reference to any offering in the Eucharist, except the offering of the bread and wine in the way of gifts or oblations to the service of God; as the fine flour and the meat or bread-offerings were presented by the Jews, and with them a sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving. The use of the word θυσία, sacrifice, gives no contradiction to this statement: for besides that it is the rendering of the Hebrew mincha by the LXX. translators, it has been clearly proved that the word by no means of necessity implies an offering of a slain victim, though such was its primary signification; but that it is also applicable to all other kinds of offerings and oblations, whether it be in classical or biblical Greek.[13]

Very early we have express mention of a Christian altar.[14] But we can infer no more from the use of the word altar, than from the use of the word sacrifice. A sacrifice (θυσία) implies an altar (θυσιαστήριον). If the offering of the bread and wine, as first-fruits to God, be esteemed a sacrifice, then that whereon it is offered would be esteemed an altar. If the offering of prayer and praise be a sacrifice, the soul, from which they rise up to God, would be the altar. We need not question that these early fathers, as undoubtedly those after them, believed that the bread and wine offered to the Lord were offered in remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ, and so, that the Eucharist was a commemorative sacrifice. But it is remarkable, that even this view of the Eucharistic sacrifice does not expressly appear before the time of Cyprian. If the earliest fathers really believed that Christ in the Eucharist was offered afresh for the sins of the quick and dead, it is certainly a most extraordinary example of silence and reserve, that, for two centuries after Christ, they should never once have explained the sacrifice of the Eucharist in any manner, but either as an offering of first-fruits to God, like the mincha or fine flour of the Israelites, or else as an of fering of praise and thanksgiving and spiritual worship.

In Athenagoras indeed (A. D. 150) occurs, I believe, the first example of that remarkable expression, so universally adopted by later fathers, the unbloody sacrifice. “Of what service to me are whole burnt-offerings, of which God has no need? Although it be right to offer an unbloody sacrifice, and to bring the reasonable service.”[15] Mr. Johnson sees “no occasion to doubt, that he means the oblation of material bread and wine.”[16] It may be so; though we cannot with certainty say that he had the Eucharist in view at all. If he had, the very term, “unbloody sacrifice,” takes us back to the distinction among the Israelites between offerings of slain beasts, bloody sacrifices, and offerings of bread, flour, and fruits, unbloody sacrifices. And so the very name by which the Eucharist was so constantly called afterwards, and which possibly Athenagoras first applied to it, seems to place it, as a material offering, rather with the mincha, or bread-offering, than with the ὁλοκαύτωμα the burnt-offering, or bloody sacrifice of the Jews.

From the time of Cyprian, however, it is a fact too plain and notorious to need demonstration, that the fathers speak of the Eucharist as a sacrifice, with special reference to the Body and Blood of Christ, commemorated and spiritually present in that holy sacrament. St. Cyprian, referring to the priesthood of Melchizedek as a type of Christ’s priesthood, says, that “in the priest Melchizedek we see prefigured the Sacrament of the Lord’s sacrifice.”[17] “Who was more a priest of the most High God, than our Lord Jesus Christ, who offered a sacrifice to God the Father? and He offered the same which Melchizedek had offered, i. e. bread and wine, even His own Body and Blood.”[18] He then goes on to argue for the use of wine in the Eucharist, and not of water merely, which he considers essential for the perfect following of Christ, in His first institution of the sacrament. He says, that therefore Christ’s Blood is not offered, if there be no wine in the cup.”[19] “If Jesus Christ our Lord and God is Himself the High Priest of God the Father, and first offered Himself a sacrifice to His Father, and then commanded this to be done in remembrance of Him, then that priest truly performs the part of Christ, who imitates what Christ did, and then offers a true and full sacrifice in the Church to God the Father, if he so begin to offer, as he sees Christ to have offered before.”[20]

This is the first use of such language; but it was common from this time. The Roman Catholics claim it, as clearly proving that a true sacrifice and offering up anew of Christ in the Eucharist was believed in the earliest time. Protestants have, on the contrary, asserted that no material sacrifice is intended at all; that there is allusion only to a spiritual sacrifice, wherein the whole Church considered as Christ’s Body is offered to God.[21] We may be so said symbolically to offer up in sacrifice ourselves; and that is all.[22] Time and space will not permit a full investigation of the many passages which would elucidate this question, nor a full examination of the arguments. Against the Romanist theory the following facts appear to me fatal. First, there is the already noticed silence of all the fathers, till the middle of the third century, on so essential a part, if it be a part, of the Eucharistic doctrine. That Justin, Irenæus, Clement, Tertullian, and Origen, should never have known of it, or, knowing, should never have mentioned it, seems utterly incredible, if the doctrine were from the beginning. Secondly, if there were always offered in the Church a real sacrifice of Christ Himself, then no other sacrifice could be compared with it. It must far exceed in glory and in value everything besides. Yet we find the fathers preferring spiritual sacrifices even to the oblation in the Eucharist. “Will they drive me from the altars?” says Gregory Nazianzen. “But I know there is another altar, whereof these visible altars are but the figures. . . . . To that will I present myself; there will I offer acceptable things, sacrifice and offering and holocausts, better than the one now offered, as much as truth is better than a shadow. From this altar no one can debar me.”[23] Is it possible that any one should prefer an altar and a sacrifice, “all,” as he says, “the work of the mind” (ὅλον τοῦ νοῦ τὸ ἔργον), before the very offering up of the Saviour of the world? We may add, that the fathers too frequently speak of the sacrifice of Christians as spiritual sacrifices,[24] for us to imagine that they held a literal offering up of a literal sacrifice (that sacrifice being Christ’s Body and Blood) on the altar in the Eucharist.

But, on the other hand, it seems to me that we cannot at once dismiss the whole question without farther inquiring in what sense the fathers did see in the Eucharist the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, for the propitiation of our sins. Their language, from the time of Cyprian, is both too uniform and too strong, for us to doubt that it had a pregnant significance.

The Eucharist undoubtedly succeeded to, and corresponded with the Passover. The latter was the type; the former is the memorial of the death of Christ. One typical of the great sacrifice; the other commemorative of the same. The one was the great federal rite of the Jews; the other is the great federal rite of the Christians. In this view the fathers much considered it. And so, as they viewed the Passover as a typical sacrifice, they viewed the Eucharist as a commemorative sacrifice. We have already heard Chrysostom imagining and depicting, in his own fervid language, “the Lord sacrificed and lying, the priest standing by the sacrifice and praying,[25] &c.” And it is admitted by most persons, that the Lord’s Supper, if not a sacrifice, is yet (spiritually of course) a feast upon a sacrifice. Now the sacrifice feasted on is undoubtedly the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God. Our ordinary idea of offering a sacrifice, when that sacrifice is a living victim, is that it must be slain when it is offered. But the early Christians appear to have understood that, although Christ was once for all slain, and so did once for all offer up Himself to God; yet, that every time His sacrifice is commemorated, and that sacrifice spiritually fed upon, we do, as it were, present before God, plead before the Father, the efficacy of that great offering, the all-prevailing merits of His precious Blood. The same is true, more or less, in every act of devotion. No well-instructed Christian ever prays to God, without pleading the atonement and the death of Christ. So, in effect, at every prayer we present to the Father the sacrifice of His Son. But more especially, and with most peculiar significance, we may be said to plead His merits, to present His efficacious passion, and so, in a certain sense, to offer His all-prevailing sacrifice before the mercy-seat of God, when with the consecrated symbols of His Body and Blood before us, we approach the Table of the Lord, to be fed by Him with the food of everlasting life.

In this sense then, most especially, the fathers seem to have esteemed the Eucharist, not only a sacrificial feast, but also a sacrifice. It was indeed by a metonymy. The Eucharist was a remembrance (ἀνάμνησις) of the great sacrifice on the cross. And so it was called by the name of that which it recorded. But it was not only a remembrance to ourselves, it was also esteemed a special mode of pleading it before God; and therefore it was named a sacrifice. And as the sacrifice of the cross was the propitiatory sacrifice, so this too was called a sacrifice of propitiation, both because of its recalling that great propitiatory sacrifice, and because by enabling us spiritually to feed on, and to take the blessed fruit of that sacrifice to ourselves, it was the means of bringing home to our souls the pardoning efficacy of Christ’s death, the propitiation for sins which He has wrought.[26]

No doubt, the other notions concerning the oblations in the Eucharist were kept in constant view. First, the fathers esteemed it an offering or presenting of the gifts of bread and wine, and of the alms of the faithful to the service of God; secondly, as an offering of the sacrifice of prayer and praise; thirdly, as a presenting of ourselves, our souls and bodies, and so of the whole mystical body of the faithful, to the Lord; but, fourthly, they esteemed it a memorial of Christ’s sacrifice, a recalling of the efficacy of that sacrifice, and a pleading of its efficacy for the salvation of their souls.

This last notion it is which makes them use such solemn and awful language concerning it, which could not be applicable to the other views of it. Thus the Liturgy of St. James calls it the “tremendous and unbloody sacrifice.” St. Chrysostom calls it “the fearful and tremendous sacrifice.”[27] So also “most tremendous sacrifice.”[28] Yet the same father, when he enters into an explanation, tells us that it is not a new sacrifice, or an offering up of Christ afresh; for he says, “There is but one sacrifice; we do not offer another sacrifice, but continually the same. Or rather we make a memorial of the sacrifice.”[29] And so St. Augustine, “Christians celebrate the memorial of the same fully finished sacrifice, by sacred oblation and participation of Christ’s Body and Blood.”[30]

It is easy to see that, when the doctrine of transubstantiation had once been invented and defined, the doctrine of the fathers concerning the commemoration of Christ’s sacrifice in the Eucharist would be perverted into the Roman Catholic doctrine of the sacrifice of the mass. That doctrine is plainly enough expressed in the canons of the Council of Trent. Therein it is forbidden to deny, that a true and proper sacrifice is offered to God, — that Christ made His Apostles priests, on purpose that they might offer His Body and Blood, — that there is a propitiatory sacrifice for quick and dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, — that it profits others as well as the partakers,[31] &c.

From the belief, that in the mass there was a true offering up of Christ, not only for the benefit of the receiver, but anew for the sins of all the world, came naturally the custom, that the priest should offer the sacrifice, but the people should not communicate. Among the early Christians, all who did not communicate, left the Church. But, when the doctrine of the mass was once established, the people stayed to witness the offering up of the sacrifice, which they believed to be profitable both to them and to all the world, though the priest alone offered it, and the priest alone received. The Eucharist had, in fact, ceased to be a Sacrament. It had become, in the belief of the majority, a propitiatory offering, not a covenanting rite.

There was perhaps nothing against which the reformers generally were so strong in their denunciations, as against this. They deemed it derogatory to the one, full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, once offered on the Cross. “Christ,” says Luther, “once offered Himself; nor did He will to be offered up anew by any; but He willed that a memorial of His sacrifice should be observed.”[32] Calvin, after explaining the meaning of the word sacrifice as applied to the Eucharist by the fathers, does not blame them for the use of that term, but still regrets that they should have approached too near to Jewish notions. “Now that the sacrifice has been offered and completed,” he says, “God gives us a table where we may feast, not an altar on which the victim is to be offered. He has not consecrated priests to immolate, but ministers to distribute.”[33] He calls the sacrifice of the mass, the greatest abomination of all those erected against the Eucharist.[34]

The language of the English reformers is of still more interest to us. Let us hear Ridley, the most esteemed among them. “The whole substance of our sacrifice, which is frequented of the Church in the Lord’s Supper, consisteth in prayers, praise, and giving of thanks, and in remembering and showing forth of that sacrifice upon the altar of the Cross; that the same might continually be had in reverence by mystery, which, once only and no more, was offered as the price of our redemption.”[35] Elsewhere he acknowledges, that “the priest doth offer an unbloody sacrifice, if it be rightly understood;” which he explains by saying, that “It is called unbloody, and is offered after a certain manner and in a mystery, and as a representation of that bloody sacrifice.”[36] But the mass he calls, “a new blasphemous kind of sacrifice, to satisfy and pay the price of sins, both of the dead and of the quick, to the great and intolerable contumely of Christ our Saviour, His death and passion; which was, and is the only sufficient and everlasting, available sacrifice, satisfactory for all the elect of God, from Adam the first, to the last that shall be born to the end of the World.”[37]

The dread of the mass, which has prevailed generally among the reformed Churches, has made the majority of their members fear to speak at all concerning an Eucharistic sacrifice. Yet there have not been wanting, in the English Church especially, men of profound learning, deep piety, and some of them by no means attached to peculiar schools of doctrine, who have advocated the propriety of speaking of the Christian sacrifice, and of adopting, in some measure, the language of the primitive Church concerning it.

The first who spoke strongly and clearly to this effect, was the learned Joseph Mede (A. D. 1635). His discourse was originally a Sermon on Malachi i. 11, which he maintained to be prophetic of the Eucharistic offering. And the offering in the Eucharist he defines to be an oblation of prayer and praise, of bread and wine, analogous to the mincha of the old Testament, and a commemoration of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.[38] Dr. Cudworth shortly after wrote his treatise on The true notion of the Lord’s Supper, wherein he denied to the Eucharist the name of a sacrifice; but especially insisted that it was “a feast upon a Sacrifice.” Grabe, in the notes on his edition of Irenæus (A. D. 1702) maintained the sentiments of Joseph Mede; for which he was attacked by Buddeus, a learned Lutheran,[39] who accused him of advocating the sacrifice of the mass, and afterwards by others, though he was defended by Pfaffius, also a Lutheran.[40] Sentiments in accordance with Mede’s, and not much diverse from Grabe’s, were undoubtedly adopted by a large number of our divines: e. g. by Hammond,[41] by Archbishop Bramhall,[42] by Bishop Patrick,[43] by Bishop Bull,[44] by Hickes,[45] by John Johnson,[46] and many others.

Bishop Bull’s words may express the view which most of these divines have taken: “It is true, the Eucharist is frequently called by the ancient fathers an oblation, a sacrifice; but it is to be remembered that they say also, it is θυσία λογικὴ καὶ ἀναίμακτος, a reasonable sacrifice, a sacrifice without blood: which how can it be said to be, if therein the very Blood of Christ were offered up to God? … In the holy Eucharist we set before God bread and wine, ‘as figures or images of the precious Blood of Christ, shed for us, and of His precious Body’ (they are the very words of the Clementine Liturgy);[47] and plead to God the merit of His Son’s Sacrifice once offered on the cross for us sinners, and in this Sacrament represented, beseeching Him for the sake hereof to bestow His heavenly blessing on us. . . . The Eucharistical sacrifice thus explained is indeed λογικὴ θυσία, a reasonable sacrifice, widely different from that monstrous sacrifice of the mass taught in the Church of Rome.”[48]

Section II. — Scriptural Proof.

I. WE have seen, that in the mass the priest is said to offer up Christ afresh, as a true propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of quick and dead. That is to say, the mass is a repetition or iteration of the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.

This is in direct contravention of a large portion of the Epistle to the Hebrews. There (from ch. v. 1 to the end of ch. x.) St. Paul is showing the superiority of Christ’s priesthood to that of the Levitical priests; the superiority of the sacrifice of Christ over the sacrifices offered under the Law. Now the very line of argument which he takes, all rests upon the permanency of Christ, His priesthood, and His sacrifice. “They truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death. But this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood . . . . who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice first for His own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He did once for all (ἐϕάπαξ) when He offered up Himself” (Heb. vii. 23, 24, 27). So, again, having observed that the Jewish high-priest entered into “the Holiest of all once every year, not without blood” (Heb. ix. 7): he adds, that Christ, “not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own Blood entered in once for all (ἐϕάπαξ) into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (ver. 12). And again, “Christ is not entered into the holy places . . . . that He should offer Himself often . . . . but now once for all (ἅπαξ) in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many,” &c. (Heb. ix. 24, 26, 27, 28).

The first twenty-two verses of the 10th Chapter are devoted to farther insisting on this truth. The repetition of the Jewish sacrifices, St. Paul tells us, resulted from their imperfection. If they could have made “the comers thereunto perfect . . . . would they not have ceased to be offered?” (vv. 1, 2). But “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin” (v. 4). Hence, “every priest” under the Law “standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But He, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God . . . . For by one offering He hath perfected FOREVER them that are sanctified” (vv. 11, 12, 14). And the conclusion which is drawn is, that, as Christ has obtained remission for our sins, and “where remission of these is there is no more offering for sins” (v. 18); therefore we may “draw near with a true heart with a full assurance of faith” (v. 22); plainly, as being assured, that the one sacrifice, once offered, has been fully sufficient for all our sins.

Now, nothing can be plainer than this argument; and if it proves anything, surely it must prove, that to believe in the repetition of Christ’s sacrifice is to believe in its imperfection. And if it be imperfect, in what a state are we! — we, who are lost sinners, and who have no hope but in the efficacy of the atoning Blood of Christ. If that atoning Blood be not of infinite value, we are of all creatures most miserable. But if it be of infinite value, and if the Sacrifice be perfect, and “able to make the comers thereunto perfect,” then the Apostle assures us, that it cannot need, that it will not admit of, repetition. “The worshippers once purged shall have no more conscience of sins” (ch. x. 2). “We are sanctified through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all” (ver. 10). There is “a new and living way consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His Flesh” (ver. 20). And not only may we know, to our eternal comfort, that the one sacrifice has been full, perfect, and all-sufficient; but to our warning too we are told, that, “if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (ver. 26). All combines to assure us, that the one Sacrifice has been once offered, that it admits no addition, that it can never be renewed. It is once for all, as man’s death is but once. It is one and forever, as God’s judgment is one and to eternity (Heb. ix. 28).

We may therefore confidently adopt the strong language of our Article, that “the sacrifices of masses were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.”

II. Yet the Christian Church is said to be “an holy priesthood;” and is “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. ii. 5). Those spiritual sacrifices are, 1. The sacrifice of prayer and praise: “By Him let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of the lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. xiii. 15). 2. The sacrifice of alms and of the first-fruits of our substance: “To do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb. xiii. 16). 3. The sacrifice of ourselves to the Lord: “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν), Rom. xii. 1.

Hence, though the propitiatory sacrifice of our blessed Saviour has been offered once for all, never to be repeated; it is still our privilege and duty to offer Eucharistic sacrifices or thank-offerings — “a reasonable ministration”: — “acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Such Eucharistic offerings correspond, as we have already seen, with the thank-offerings, the wave-offerings, the meat-offerings, the unbloody sacrifices of the Jews; not with the bloody sacrifices, or offerings of atonement.

It was the belief of the whole ancient Church, that the Lord’s Supper consisted of two parts: one from God to us, God feeding as with the spiritual Body and Blood of His dear Son; the other from us to God, we sending up to Him the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, consecrating to Him of the fruits of our increase, and “presenting ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto Him.” Hence the whole ordinance was esteemed, not only as a feast, but also as an Eucharistic sacrifice, or thank-offering.

And moreover the Apostle has declared it to be a “showing forth (καταγγελία) of the Lord’s death till He come” (1 Cor. xi 26). It was therefore, as we have seen, esteemed by the fathers a commemoration, or “continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ.” And, not only did they think of it as reminding themselves of God’s infinite mercy to their souls, but also they believed it a proper occasion for pleading the greatness of that mercy before Him, from whom it comes down. It was a telling forth of Christ’s sacrifice to man, a supplicatory representing of it to God.[49]

Lastly, they believed the prophecy in Malachi (that “among the Gentiles, in every place, incense should be offered to God’s name, and a pure offering,” mincha purum, Mal. i. 11) to have especial reference to the spiritual sacrifices thus offered in the Holy Communion. And we, in accordance with the saints of old, and with the chief lights of our own communion, adopt such language in such a sense; though the doctrine of the sacrifice of the mass, as suppletory to the sacrifice of the cross, we may reject as monstrous, and fear as profane.

Notes

  1. ἀμέμπτως καὶ ὁσίως προσενέγκοντας τὰ δῶρα. — Clem. 1 Ad Corinth. c. 44.
  2. Περὶ τῶν ἐν πάντι τόπῳ ὑϕ’ ἡμῶν τῶν ἐθνῶν προσϕερομένων αὐτῷ θυσιῶν, τουτέστι τοῦ ἀρτοῦ τῆς Εὐχαριστίας, προλέγει τότε εἰπῶν, καὶ τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ δοξαζειν ἡμᾶς. — Dial. c. Tryph. p. 260; cf. pp. 344, 345.
  3. “Novi Testamenti novam docuit oblationem, quam Ecclesia ab Aposotlis accipiens, in universo mundo offert Deo.” — Lib. IV. c. 32, p. 323, Grabe. So quoting Matt. v. 23, 24: “Cum igitur offers munus tuum ad altare,” &c, he says, “Offerre igitur oportet Deo primitias ejus creaturæ.” — Lib. IV. c. 34, p. 325.
  4. “Non permittitur mulieri in ecclesia loqui, sed nec docere, nec tinguere, nec offerre.” — De Veland. Virginibus, c. 9.
  5. “Oblationes pro defunctis, pro natalitiis annua die facimus.” — De Corona Militis, c. 2.
  6. Sacrificamus pro salute imperatoris sed Deo nostro et ipsius, sed quo modo præcipit Deus, pura prece. Non enim eget Deus, Conditor universitatis, odoris aut sanguinis alicujus.” — Ad Scapulam, c. 2. Cf. Cont. Marc. Lib. IV. c. 1, where he calls Sacrificium mundum . . . . simplex oratio de conscientia pura. So De Orat. 28. “Hæc (i. e. oratio) est hostia spiritualis, quæ pristina sacrificia delebit.”
  7. τῆς σεμιδάλεως προσϕορὰ ἡ ὑπὲρ τῶν καθαριζομένων ἀπὸ τῆς λέπρας προσϕέρεσθαι παραδοθεῖσα, τύπος ἦν τοῦ ἄρτου τῆς εὐχαριστίας,ὃν εἰς ἀνάμνησιν τοῦ πάθους ησοῦς Χριστὸς Κύριος ἡμῶν παρέδωκε ποιεῖν. — Dial. pp. 256, 260.
  8. Mede, On the Christian Sacrifice, ch. III.
  9. τι μὲν οὖν καὶ εὐχαὶ καὶ εὐχαριστίαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἀξίων γινόμεναι, τέλειαι μόναι καὶ εὐάρεστοί εἰσι τῷ Θεῷ θυσίαι καὶ αὐτὸς ϕημι. — Dial. p. 345.
  10. θυσία τῆς ἐκκλησίας, λόγος ἀπὸ τῶν ἁγίων ψυχῶν ἀναθυμιώμενος, ἐκκαλυπτομένης ἅμα τῆς θυσίας καὶ τῆς διανοίας ἁπάσης τῷ Θεῷ. — Clem. Strom. VII. p. 848.
  11. βωμὸν δὲ ἀληθῶς ἅγιον, τὴν δικαίαν ψυχήν. — Ibid.
  12. Contra Celsum, Lib. VIII. c. 33.
  13. See Johnson’s Unbloody Sacrifice, ch. I. sect. 1. He shows, from classical authorities, that “to sacrifice is to give to the gods” (θύειν δωρεῖσθαι ἐστι τοῖς θεοῖς); and especially, that θυσία in the Gree, and sacrificium in the Latin, are the common rendering of מִנְהָה in the Hebrew. The Apostle calls Cain’s offering of fruits a sacrifice, θυσία as well as Abel’s offering of cattle. Heb. xi. 4. Hence, the Christian and theological application of the term, not only to animal, but also to inanimate offerings.
  14. θυσιαστηρίου. See Ignat. Ad Ephes. I. 5; Magnes. 7; Trall. 7; Philadelph. 4, &c.
  15. τί δέ μοι ὁλοκαυτωμάτων ὦν μὴ δεῖται ὁ Θεός; καί τοι προσϕέρειν δέον ἀναίμακτον θυσίαν, καὶ τὴν λογικὴν προσάγειν λατρείαν. — Legatio pro Christianis, ch. II. sect. 1.
  16. Unbloody Sacrifice, ch. II. sect. 1.
  17. “Item in sacerdote Melchisedec sacrificii Dominici sacramentum præfiguratum videmus.” — Epist. 63, p. 149. Oxf. 1682.
  18. “Num quis magis sacerdos Dei Summi quam Dominus noster Jesus Christus? qui sacrificium Deo Patri obtulit; et obtulit hoc idem quod Melchisedec obtulerat, id est panem et vinum, suum scilicet corpus et sanguinem.” — Ibid.
  19. “Unde apparet sanguinem Christi non offerri, si desit vinum calici.” — Ibid. p. 151.
  20. “Nam si Jesus Christus, Dominus et Deus noster, ipse est summus sacerdos Dei Patris; et sacrificium Patri se ip sum primus obtulit, et hoc fieri in sui commemorationem præcepit; utique ille sacerdos vice Christi vere fungitur, qui id quod Christus fecit imitatur; et sacrificium verum et plenum tunc offert in Ecclesia Deo Patri, si sic incipiat offerre secundum quod ipsum Christum videat obtulisse.” — Ibid. p. 155.
  21. This undoubtedly was one of the views which the fathers took of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. “Hoc est sacrificium Christianum; multi unum Corpus in Christo. Quod etiam sacramento altaris fidelibus nota frequentat Ecclesia, ubi ei demonstratur, quod in ea re quam offert, ipsa offeratur.” — Augustin. De Civit. Dei, Lib. X. c. 6, Tom. VII. p. 243.
  22. This seems to be Waterland’s opinion. See On the Eucharist, ch. XII.
  23. Θυσιαστηρίων εἴρξουσιν; ἀλλ’ οἶδα καὶ ἄλλο θυσιαστήριον, οὗ τύποι τὰ νῦν ὁρώμενα. . . . τούτῳ παραστήσομαι, τούτῳ θύσω δεκτὰ, θυσίαν καὶ προσϕορὰν καὶ ὁλοκαυτώματα, κρείττονα τῶν νῦν προσαγομένων, ὅσῳ κρείττον σκιᾶς ἀλήθεια. . . . τούτου μὲν οὐκ ἀπάξει με τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου πᾶς ὁ βουλόμενος. — Greg. Nazianz. Orat. XXVIII. Tom. I. p. 484, cited by Waterland, On the Eucharist, ch. XII.
  24. See for instance Euseb. Dem. Evangel. Lib. I. c. X., cited by Waterland, as above. Cyril of Jerusalem calls the Eucharist “a spiritual sacrifice, an unbloody service,” τὴν πνευματικὴν θυσίαν, τὴν ἀναίμακτον λατρείαν. — Cat. Mystagog. V. c. 6. St. Augustine describes the Christian sacrifice as the Sacrament or sacred sign of the invisible sacrifice. “Sacrificium ergo visibile invisibilis sacrificii sacramentum, hoc est, sacrum signum est.” — De Civitate Dei, Lib. X. c. 5, Tom. VII. p. 241. All such language is quite inconsistent with the notion of an actual offering up of Christ afresh for the sins of the world.
  25. Chrysost. De Sacerdotio, III. quoted under Art. XXVIII.
  26. Thus Cyril of Jerusalem, in the passage just cited, Cat. Mystagog. V. c. 6, speaks of the “spiritual Sacrifice, and the bloodless service over that sacrifice of provitiation,” ἐπὶ τῆς θυσίας τοῦ ἱλασμοῦ.
  27. ϕοβερὰ καὶ ϕρικώδης θυσία. — Homil. XXXIV. in 1 ad Corinth.
  28. ϕρικωδεστάτη θυσία.
  29. Οὐκ ἄλλην θυσίαν, ἀλλὰ τὴν αὐτὴν ἀεὶ ποιοῦμεν · μᾶλλον δὲ ἀνάμνησιν ἐργαζόμεθα θυσίας. — Homil. XVII. in Epist. ad Hebræos. See Suicer, s. v. θυσία, II. 2, Tom. I. p. 1421.
  30. “Hebræi in victimis pecudum quas offerebant Deo . . . . prophetiam celebrabant futuræ victimæ, quam Christus obtulit. Unde jam Christiani peracti ejusdem sacrificii memoriam celebrant, sacrosancta oblatione, et participatione Corporis et Sanguinis Christi.” — Contra Faustum, Lib. XX. c. 18, Tom. VIII. p. 345.
  31. Sess. XXII. Can. I. “Si quis dixerit in missa non offerri Deo verum et proprium sacrificium . . . . anathema sit.” Can. II. “Si quis dixerit . . . . in illis verbia Hoc faacite in meam commemorationem, Christum non instituisse Apostolos sacerdotes, aut non ordinasse, ut ipsi aliique sacerdotes offerrent Corpus et Sanguinem suum; anathema sit.” Can. III. “Si quis dixerit missæ sacrificium tantum esse laudis et gratiarum actionis ,aut nudam commemorationem sacrificii in cruce peracti, non propitiatorium, vel soli prodesse sumenti, neque pro vivis et defunctis, pro peccatis, pœnis, satisfactionibus, et aliis necessitatibus offerri debere; anathema sit.” The Creed of the Council has: “Profiteor in missa offerri Deo verum, proprium et propitiatorium sacrificium.”
  32. “Christus semel seipsum obtulit, non voluit denuo ab ullis offerri, sed memoriam sui sacrificii voluit fieri.” — De Abroganda Missa Privata, Tom. II. p. 249.
  33. “Mensam ergo nobis dedit in qua epulemur, non altare super quod offeratur victima; non sacerdotes consecravit, qui immolent, sed ministros qui sacrum epulum distribuant.” — Instit. IV. xviii. 12.
  34. Inst. IV. xviii. 1.
  35. Disputations at Oxford, Works, Parker Society, p. 211.
  36. Ibid. p. 250.
  37. A Piteous Lamentation, Works, p. 52. Compare Cranmer, Defence of the True and Catholic Doctrine, Bk. V., Works, II. pp. 447‒463.
  38. See Mede’s Works, p. 355. London, 1677. The discourse is most valuable, and deserving of all attention.
  39. Buddeus, De Origine Missæ Pontificiæ.
  40. Pfaffius, Irenæi Fragm. Anecdot.
  41. Practical Catechism, p. 413. London, 1700.
  42. Epistle to M. De la Milletière, Works, I. p. 54, Edit. Anglo-Cath. Library. “We do readily acknowledge an Eucharistical Sacrifice of prayers and praises; we profess a commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Cross; and, in the language of Holy Church, things commemorated are related as if they were then acted . . . . We acknowledge a representation of that action to God the Father: we acknowledge an impetration of the benefit of it: we maintain an application of its virtue. So here is a commemorative, impetrative, applicative sacrifice . . . . To make it a suppletory sacrifice, to supply the defects of the only true Sacrifice of the Cross, I hope both you and I abhor.”
  43. On the Christian Sacrifice.
  44. Answer to the Bishop of Meaux, Lect. III. Works, II. p. 251. Oxf. 1827.
  45. Treatise on the Christian Priesthood, ch. II.
  46. On the Unbloody Sacrifice.
  47. Constitut. Apostol. VII. 25.
  48. Bishop Bull, as above.
  49. There has been much questioning as to the propriety or impropriety of calling the Lord’s Table an Altar. The word appears to have been used by the fathers, even from the time of Ignatius. See Ign. Ad Ephes. V.; Tertullian, De Orat. XIX. &c. The only name by which we are certain that it is called in the new Testament, is τράπεζα Κυρίου, “the table of the Lord,” 1 Cor. x. 21. This, however, is put in opposition to the “table of demon-gods,” which was probably an altar. Also in Mal. i. 7, 12, “altar” and “table of the Lord” seem to be synonymous. In Matt. v. 23, whether our Lord speaks of things as they were under the Jewish economy, or prophetically of what should be in the Christian Church, cannot certainly be resolved; and therefore it cannot be concluded, whether he calls the Eucharistical table an altar or not. In Heb. xiii. 10, St. Paul says, “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.” This is by man thought conclusive in favour of the use of the term altar for the Lord’s table; for, though we may speak of the cross, on which the great Sacrifice was offered up, as the Christian altar, yet the Apostles could not have spoken of eating of the cross. The Christian feast is at the Eucharist, though the great Sacrifice was offered at the crucifixion. Hence it is contended, that the altar, at which Christians have a right to eat, must be the table of the Lord. The English reformers seemed, latterly at least, determined to give up the word altar, for fear of appearing to give sanction to the sacrifice of the mass. But the general language of Christians, both early and late, has been favourable to the use of it.

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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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