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low-partaking, of the body and blood of Christ.
Before adverting to the main topic of discourse I would observe, that no one who carefully examines the context could easily fall into the Popish error of maintaining that the outward elements in the Lord's Supper become actually transformed into the substance which they are designed to represent.
It is true that the Apostle here speaks of the communion of the blood and also of the body of Christ; but in the next verse he uses an expression which is inconsistent with the tenet of the Romanists respecting an actual change of the elements into the literal body and blood of the Saviour. “We,” he affirms,“ being many, are one bread and one body; for we all are partakers of that one bread.” It is evident that Paul here speaks of the consecrated element as still bread, notwithstanding its having been set apart to prefigure the body of
Christ. Hence the passage affords no warrant for the modern opinion of the Romanists, that the elements are changed from bread and wine into the actual body, soul, and divinity of Christ. The language of the Apostle, if fairly considered, affords a refutation of that assumption, — “We, being many,” he declares, “ are one bread.” How is that expression to be understood, if no method of interpretation but the literal can in any case be adopted ?
The doctrine of transubstantiation does so much violence to common sense, that upon that account alone it deserves to be repudiated as false. There is a broad fallacy in the attempt to place this doctrine upon the list of mysterious truths which have a claim to be received, notwithstanding they surpass the limits of man's comprehension. It is very true that revelation requires us to believe much that is beyond the reach of the human mind to comprehend or explain ; at the same time revelation does not require
us to believe anything which is plainly repugnant to sense, or which may be proved irreconcileable with the conclusions of human reason. But the doctrine of transubstantiation is so irrational, it offers such violence to the evidence of our own senses, that were there no other ground but this for rejecting the tenet it would be amply sufficient. The same method of interpretation by which the Church of Rome defends the doctrine of transubstantiation, if generally acted upon, would make us believe in a hundred absurdities equally opposed to the testimony of reason and common sense. If I am to take the expression of Christ, “ This is my body,” in its literal sense ; if — i.e. according to the creed of the Romanist-I am to believe, that when Christ uttered those words the bread which he then held in his hand was actually His body, even though His body was whole and unbroken ; according to the same mode of interpretation I might affirm that the literal cup, of
which Christ said, “ This cup is the New Testament,” was a literal book; or that when He said, “ I am the door,” He really was a literal door ; or that when Daniel exclaimed to Nebuchadnezzar, “ Thou art this head of gold,” he meant that Nebuchadnezzar was literally the golden top of an image ; or that when Paul, speaking of the rock in the desert, wrote, “ That rock was Christ,” he intended to affirm that it was the real Christ, and not a real rock which Moses struck in the wilderness.
It is a favourite theme with Romanists to boast of the antiquity of their creed. There is nothing in their creed against which we protest which cannot be proved to be novel compared with what the Apostles taught. The doctrine of transubstantiation, for example, was not introduced till the eighth century; nor was it fully defined and authorised till the sixteenth. It is a doctrine at variance with the plainest deductions of reason, and is not only unautho
rised by Scripture, but it is actually opposed to Scripture : it goes to overturn the nature of a sacrament1 by converting that which was intended to be a sign into the thing itself which the sign is to represent. It is the foundation of the idolatrous rite of the mass, and therefore one of the broad and unmistakeable proofs of the apostasy and corruption of the church by which the tenet is held, and enforced upon the belief of every one of her members.
It is unnecessary, however, to say another word upon this topic, at least upon the present occasion. I would scarcely have made the foregoing observations if it were not that the circumstances of the present times, the effrontery of Rome in putting forward her claims, the treachery of many within our own church, who, in place of driving away error, are endeavouring to lead others into it, make it the more necessary to omit no opportunity for reminding of the difference
1 See Article XXVIII.