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Let me take this opportunity to state that my observations on the Lectures on John vi. having been extended beyond my original design, I shall endeavour proportionally to compress my account of the Lectures on the words of Institution.
PART II. SECTION I.
THE MODE OF INTERPRETING THE WORDS OF INSTITUTION: MAY THEY BE UNDERSTOOD FIGURATIVELY?
DR WISEMAN, in his fifth lecture, fairly avows the feelings of triumph, with which he takes his stand upon the vantage-ground secured to him, as he conceives, by his disquisition on the sixth chapter of St John, and surveys the region which lies before him. If, indeed, he can look back with contentment, he certainly may be excused for looking forward with something like exultation. So far, he has been displaying his valour, rather than his discretion, in a cause which the more prudent of his own Communion had, on several accounts, not been forward to defend; but henceforth he is really fighting under the banners of the Church of Rome. Of this change of circumstances in his favour, the learned author, as I have already intimated, takes good care to inform us; by stating that, in establishing the exact meaning of the words of Institution, he has "a higher authority than any hermeneutical reasoning can supply-the positive decree of the Council of Trent, which expressly defined that they prove the Real Presence of Christ's body and blood in the adorable Sacrament." Dr Wiseman how
ever, notwithstanding the decisions of that famous Synod, having ventured to rely upon "hermeneutical reasoning" on the subject-my concern is with that reasoning, and not with the authority of the Council of Trent.
Before I proceed to my present undertaking, it is right to state that, in the fifth lecture, as well as in the following ones, Dr Wiseman has engaged in long discussions, with various writers, on points which, if not irrelevant, are certainly of very little consequence, to the subjects under consideration. By leaving such discussions for the most part unnoticed, I shall be enabled to bring each of the matters, which will for the moment successively occupy attention, more distinctly into view-and yet point out all that is really important—with no small abatement in my demands upon the reader's time. This, then, is my purpose-which I shall endeavour to carry into effect.
Setting aside some slight differences of expression, which need not now be particularized-in the short accounts, of the Institution of the Eucharist, prefixed to this section-the question may be reduced to this-When our Saviour (Matt. xxvi. 26) "took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat, THIS IS MY BODY" in what sense are we to understand the words, this is my body, to have been spoken? The Roman Catholic maintains that they are to be taken in the strictest literal sense which the words admit
of; insomuch that we are to conceive that what was previously bread instantly became, in actual substance, the material body of Christ. The Protestant holds that the words are to be taken figuratively; so that what was before simply bread became the symbol of the body of Christ. A similar difference of opinion exists between the Roman Catholic and the Protestant, with regard to the other part of the sacrament, arising from the words -"And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." The argument in each case is much the same. I shall therefore, for the sake of clearness, treat principally of the bread; referring to the cup, as circumstances may require.... The reader, then, will observe that the question, in fact, turns upon this point-namely, whether the verb substantive, Is, in the expressions, This is my body, This is my blood, compels us to suppose a change of the very substance of the bread and the wine, respectively, into the very substance of the body, and the blood, of Christ or leaves us at liberty to believe that the bread and the wine become, respectively, the symbols of the body, and the blood, of Christ.
The plan of discussion, laid down or acceded to by Dr Wiseman, is this: first, to consider whether the words may be taken figuratively-and secondly, whether they must be so taken.
One mode of argument, in favour of a figurative interpretation, has been, to produce texts bearing some resemblance to the words in question; texts in which, as all are agreed, the literal expression is but the means of conveying a figurative meaning. The occurrence of texts of such a kind affords good evidence of the character of Scripture language; and in that way tends to confirm the opinion that the figurative interpretation in debate may be the true one. Dr Wiseman has examined, by the light of hermeneutical principles, some texts which had been alleged with the design just mentioned; dividing them, for that purpose, into four classes, as follows:
Gen. xLi. 26. The seven good kine are seven years.
Gen. xvii. 10. This is my covenant between me and you.
Exod. xii. 11. It is the Lord's Passover.
Now if these expressions are, by common consent, to be understood figuratively, they certainly prove all that they can fairly be alleged for :namely, that, in our Lord's address to his disciples,