With the Imprimaturs and formal commendations of the Rt. Rev. G. F. Seymour, D.D., Bishop of Springfield; Rt. Rev. J. Scarborough, D.D., Bishop of New Jersey; Very Rev. E. A. Hoffman, D.D., Dean General Theological Seminary, and other eminent theologians.
Dissenters from the Church have long held as an assumed principle, and consequently as a basis for argument, and exhortation, that the Christian Church has no sacrifices, and therefore no sacerdotal priesthood to offer a sacrifice; and our dispensation is on every occasion violently contrasted with the pre-Christian, and Jewish Church in that respect. They, it is said, had sacrifices, and had a priesthood--the Aaronic one,--but both sacrifices, and priesthood were abrogated for ever at the Advent of Christ: at that time the old economy with all its rites, all its ceremonies, and all its channels for spiritual blessings--its sacraments--passed away, never again to return!
True, we may quote the saying of Malachi, prophetic of the "New Dispensation, "in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering" (Mai., i, 11); and again may point to the words of the Epistle to the Hebrews "we have an altar" (Heb., xiii, 10 ); and still further may instance St. Paul's words in his first Epistle to the Corinthians (x, 16-21), where the whole argument entirely turns on the sacrificial parallel between the Eucharist, and not only the Jewish sacrifices, but even the heathen ones.
Yet the above passages, like other inconvenient quotations, are explained away as being "merely spiritual, and therefore not to be taken in a literal sense," as if forsooth "spiritual" and "unnatural" were synonymous terms; while, on the other hand, great stress is laid upon these passages in St. Paul's writings that speak of the abrogation when Christ came, of the Jewish sacrifices, and Jewish priesthood. "Now just what this abrogation really means I will endeavor to show below; but will first call in question the [1/2] "prima facie" probability of such an utter sweeping away of old principles as this implies. We may well ask if the necessity for a sacrifice, and for a priesthood, as well as for a Church, is not a deeply laid one in the very foundations of human nature. Should it not he so, then why, it may be asked, had they so prominent, and all important a place in the Jewish dispensation? On the other hand, if there be this necessity, then on what grounds are these things abandoned now? Or to put the matter in another way, if a Church, an organization formed and commissioned by God to be His ambassador--His army--among men, is a necessity in such a world as this, if free willed beings can only be uplifted, and redeemed by brother men of like passions and sympathies, who are acting as agents solemnly commissioned by God to do this work, if, I repeat, such an organization is a necessity of the case, then does it not certainly follow that the fundamental offices and principles of the Church in one age or dispensation cannot he abrogated to nothingness, but must continue to be fundamental offices and principles in the succeeding age or dispensation. The applications of such principles to the minutiae of daily life alter, and must alter in every changing period; but the principles, assuredly, which are fundamental remain, and must remain constant.
Now both the pre-Christian, and post-Christian ages have had their Church; the pre-Christian period the Jewish, and the post Christian period the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; if the idea of a sacrifice, and of a priesthood was a fundamental one with the Jewish Church (as I believe it was), then both analogy and common sense will teach us that its fundamental character must continue unaltered in the Christian Church. True it is that, as the Apostles and Early Fathers again and again insisted, when Christ came, much that was Jewish, and belonged to the old dispensation waxed old, and passed away; but these, I repeat, were not fundamentals, b\it in every case such applications of these principles to every day life as were, in their very nature, transient, and temporary. The Aaronic priesthood, the Aaronic sacrifices, the Mosaic law, and customs, all these, so far as they were Aaronic, [2/3] and Mosaic were manifestly abrogated by the New dispensation; but the essential principles on which these things were founded just as manifestly must have been untouched. In short we can sum it up by saying that when the dispensation of the Jewish Church passed into that of the Christian Church whatsoever pertained to the Jewish part of it must needs have been temporary, and have died; but whatsoever belonged to the Churchly part of it was perennial, and must perforce have remained. This being allowed, then it certainly seems to me that the necessity for a sacrifice--an atonement--for sin, and of a priesthood to offer that sacrifice, are among the fundamental principles in the case.
"En passant" I may remark that many of those who cry out most loudly against any sacrifice, or priesthood in the Church, as being Jewish, and pre-Christian, are often precisely those who are most anxious to impart into the Christian faith much that is really and solely Jewish, and belonging to the transient minutiae of a dispensation that has gone. An organized Church, a God commissioned priesthood, valid and efficacious sacraments, and sacrifices for sins, these are all rejected as obsolete; but a seventh day Sabbatarianism, a tithing of the mint and cumin, a re-enactment of the ordinances of the Levitical code, all this is held to be of present obligation, and binding!
To return to my immediate subject, I will first lay down a formal thesis, and will then proceed to establish the same by the most weighty, and valid arguments that I can advance: and the thesis I will defend is this; first, that the Christian Church has in her Eucharist a sacrifice, far truer, more valid, and more complete, than any the Jewish Church ever had, or could have had; and secondly, that her officers--her priests--are sacrificing priests in certainly as true, as valid, and as complete a sense as the Aaronic Succession ever were.
I will now proceed to substantiate my first contention, namely that the Eucharist is a sacrifice, far truer, more valid, and more complete than any the Jewish Church ever had, or could have had. In the first place we may lay it down as an axiom that, in the full, and true sense of the word, there has been but one sacrifice, [3/4] and atonement for sin, namely that awful, and mysterious one made by our Lord on the Cross of Calvary, when He offered up His life for the sins of His people, and made thereby an atonement for them. The sacrifices of the Jewish Church were real, and valid, being instituted by God as such; but they drew their whole efficacy, and validity from the One Sacrifice that was then yet to be offered. The blood of bulls, and of goats "per se" manifestly could never have taken away sin; and that these sacrifices did take away sin, that they were real atonements, was due, and due entirely to the fact that they were prophetic--anticipatory--presentations of that One Offering, which at that time was still to be consummated on the Cross. The worshipper for whom the sacrifice was being made had to feel, in however dim and imperfect a manner, that his sacrifice was, as I have said, an anticipatory presentation--a dramatic foreshadowing--of that awful and mysterious Atonement: he may not, in fact could not, have had as full a realization of it as we have now; but a trusting faith in that mysterious, and dimly known atonement by Messiah he must have had, otherwise his sacrifice was to him a shedding of the blood of the offering, and nothing more; a rite, therefore, of no real validity, or effect. In short on the anticipatory presentation by the Jewish rite of that One Sacrifice depended its whole sacrificial nature, and apart from that it was no sacrament, or sacrifice at all.
Carrying down the analogy to the Christian Church we may say that the Holy Eucharist is, in a precisely similar way, a solemn re-presentation of the One Sacrifice on the Cross, in which the officiating priest, in touching symbols, pleads the efficacy of that atonement, and offers up to God that Mystical Body, and Blood; thus re-presenting to Him, in a dramatic, and vivid manner, that Agony and Passion, that One Sacrifice offered once, and for all on the Cross of Calvary, and ever being now pleaded for us by our Great High Priest before the Throne of God: inasmuch then as it is a re-presentation, it is, if only in this light, a true, and valid sacrifice in as real, and as full a sense as ever Jewish offering was. Apart from--dissevered from--that One Sacrifice, it is bread [4/5] and wine, and nothing more, a rite without meaning, or efficacy; treated as a "remembrance"--a rehearsal--a re-presentation to God--of that Passion, it is a showing forth of the Lord's death until His coming again, an offering up, and a partaking of the Very Body and Blood, insomuch that those who partake of it unworthily are guilty of profaning those Sacred Objects--guilty of the Body, and Blood of the Lord--because they discern not the Lord's Body.
But further: our Redeemer was not only offered for us on Calvary, but also rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and there, bearing in His hands the blood of the sin offering, ever pleadeth for us the Sacrifice He made. And with this Continual Offering in Heaven the Christian Eucharist is parallel, and in unison, being presented as the mystic shewbread by, and through the hands, or mediation of our Great High Priest above. In this further light then the Eucharist, inasmuch as it is both a clearer "showing forth," and is also an offering parallel to, and in unison with that constant offering above, is even more fully sacrificial than any Jewish, or pre-Christian rite could possibly be. And in truth we have, in our Lord's own words "this is my Body," "this is my Blood" (language such as never was applied to even the Passover), a sufficient warrant for us to hold that no analogy to Jewish rites can ever exhaust, or even adequately set forth, the full meaning of the Eucharist. In this sacrament of His Body, and Blood we assuredly have (as I will endeavor to show) a far holier, and a far deeper mystery than can pertain to any pre-Christian sacrament, a mystery that the human mind cannot now--if indeed ever--entirely fathom; yet we are surely entitled to say that whatever further blessing and mystery may be connected with the Eucharist, it must hold, if only on the preceding grounds, an even higher rank than any the Jewish Passover could claim, and must certainly be far more truly Sacrificial in any, and every sense, than could have been any sacrament of the "Pedagogic" Church.
That this parallel I have drawn between the Jewish sacrifices, [5/6] and the Christian Eucharist is real, and is no fancied, one of my own is abundantly evident from the following conclusive facts.
In the first place the Eucharist was, as we know, instituted by our Lord as a transformed--a Christianized--Passover Supper; that rite that was both the highest, and holiest sacrifice in the Jewish Church--the sacrifice of sacrifices--and was also, in its vivid symbolism, the most strikingly prophetic of them all.
Again, this doctrine of the Eucharist being an offering--a memorial--made to God (not to ourselves), to show forth our miserable "faith" and "holiness"! as some try to explain the "memorial") by, and through the mediation, or hands of our Great High Priest in Heaven, was the constant, unvarying, and universal teaching of Christendom for the first fifteen centuries of its history; no one, I think, possessing any knowledge of the subject will ever call this in question. Every Father, every Doctor, every heretic even, speaks with confident uniformity on this one point; and if, since their time, this unison of doctrine has unhappily been broken, it is owing, first of all, to a false and strained metaphysics in the Middle Ages; and secondly to an equally false and strained individualism at the period of the Reformation. Yet even now, I think, amid all the jarring teachings of sects, and of schools, it only needs to be clearly and plainly put for the Christian consciousness of every earnest believer to recognize its truth.
Still further we have the all important, and in itself conclusive fact that every liturgy--Eastern, or Western, ancient, or modern--all give reiterated testimony to this doctrine, which is the very soul, and substance of their text. "With this, and this key only, can we comprehend their structure, understand their language, and unlock many of their obscurities. Let the reader take up any of these liturgies--Roman Mass, or Coptic St. Basil, Armenian, or Mozarabic Rite, or the liturgy of St. Chrysostom,--read it carefully through, and see if what I say be not true. Such, and such only, is the direct meaning, and scope of the "prayer of [6/7] oblation" occurring after the consecration in every one; [Although in the present English "Use" it is misplaced after the Communion.] and such is also the meaning of that mystical, and very ancient "prayer of the angels," a post-consecration prayer found in the Roman, and the Sarum Canon of the Mass, and (in a slightly variant form) also in the liturgies of St. Chrysostom, St. James, and the Armenian Rite, and which asks that "our offerings may be carried up by the angels unto the heavenly altar." Such too is the solu-sion, and, I think, the only solution of that puzzle to Roman Canonists "the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified."
Fourthly, such is the only teaching at all compatible with the New Testament language on this point. "This is My Body," "show forth the Lord's death," "guilty of the Body and Blood," and the other Eucharistie passages are all utterly incomprehensible under any other theory. Even if we take, and carefully analyse the words "do this in remembrance of Me" that are so woefully misapplied, and relied upon by Zwinglianism to the exclusion of all else, we will, I think, find how entirely sacrificial they are. In the first place "do" (poieite) is the technical term used in offering a sacrifice; [Vide LXX. Exod: x, 25; xxix, 36, 39, 41; Levit: ix, 7, 23; xiv, 19, etc.] and secondly, and chiefly, 'remembrance,' or "memorial" (anamnhsiV) is always, and only used in the sense of a sacrificial offering, and memorial to God. Any forcing then of these words to signify merely a mnemonic rite, useful only as a reminder to ourselves, and as an advertisement to others of our wretched "faith" and "holiness"! does violence to their plain meaning, and is besides utterly alien to a sincere Christian spirit. [Vide LXX. Levit: xxiv, 7; Numb. x, 10; headings of Psalms, 37 (38) and 69 (70); and in the N. T. besides, only in Heb: x, 3.]
And finally we may say that this sacrificial doctrine is an integral, and coherent part of the Christian belief, being in strict theologic sequence from the prime verities of our Faith, namely the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Resurrection, the Session at the Right hand of the Father (from which, as shown above, it [7/8] directly follows), and the coming, and presence of the Holy Spirit in His Church.
But the parallel I have drawn between the Jewish sacrifices, and the Christian Eucharist does not stop here, but leads us on still further to a most profound, and holy mystery.
As an accurate study of the Jewish doctrine of sacrifices will, I think, show us, a communion--a partaking of the offering--was an integral, and necessary part of the rite. True, in a few abnormal cases (such as the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement, that of the red heifer, etc.,) this communion did not take place; but these rites were, strictly speaking, not atoning sacrifices at all, but were rather symbols of cursing, and destruction. On the other hand, in the sacrifices proper, and especially in their archetype, the passover lamb, this eating, and partaking was an essential, and never to be omitted feature, by which the worshipper made the rite his own, and entered into its blessings. [Levit: VII, 15; xxii, 30, etc.; vide also I Cor: x, 18.]
Now still carrying down the analogy, as we are surely entitled to do, are we not abundantly justified in saying that this "communion" is an integral part of the Christian Eucharist also; and that as a Eucharist in which the consecrating priest did not partake, would be a maimed, and incomplete rite, so too a. Eucharist in which the co-offering congregation do not partake is, to those who fail in this respect, an unfinished act of covenant, and communion with God. [That the faithful in the congregation are co-offerers, I will show further on.]
Especially is this evident if we bear in mind the true meaning of the Eucharist in its relation to the sacrifice on the Cross. It is, as I have already explained, a re-presentation of that One Sacrifice, parallel to, and in unison with the Continual Presentation Above. But it is even more than this: it is, in one sense, a continuation of that One Sacrifice--a partaking of that Passover Lamb then once offered,--the second part, and necessary completion of that Atonement there begun. This consideration will both elucidate, and enforce the meaning of those mysterious words [8/9] of our Lord "except ye eat My Flesh, and drink My Blood, ye have no life in you."
Now it may be said that we partake of Christ's Body in the Eucharist in two ways. First in a metaphorical way (so to speak) when we are re-vivified in the unity of His mystical Body, the Church. We entered, and were born into that Body by the waters of Baptism, and we are, as I have said, re-vivified in the corporate union--in that Body of which we are "members one of another--by the Eucharistic rite. But we are so drawn into closer union with the Body because, and only because we are, each, and all, severally drawn into closer union with the Head (I Cor., x, 17): and this brings me to the second, and ultimate feeding upon Christ, that real partaking of which the first, or metaphorical partaking is only the sign, and outward result.
Here we touch an unspeakable, and holy mystery; one too deep for human thought to fathom; and too holy to put into words, even if we could. Suffice it to use His own words, and say "he that eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in Him;" in other words, He Who is the Source of all life, gives us of Himself, and draws us into corporate union with Him. It is, I repeat, the continuation--the prolongation--of that awful Sacrifice on Calvary: as the Jewish sacrifice was, first slain, then eaten; so too the Christian Sacrifice has been slain, and is now mystically partaken of by the worshipper.
Looked at in this light then, the Christian Eucharist is not merely "more truly sacrificial than any Jewish rite," but is even "The Sacrifice"--is, in short, the reality, of which the Passover was but the type,--and is the necessary second half of that One Atonement begun on Calvary.
But there is yet another fact, underlying all the foregoing, that must, in no case be forgotten, or slurred over. This re-preaenta-tion to God of the One Sacrifice of the Atonement, this offering, parallel to, and in unison with the constant Sin Offering on High, above all, this Mystic Communion of the Body and Blood of our Lord, is all and only through the operations and grace of the Ever-present Holy Spirit, the Lord. and Giver of Life, working [9/10] in and through the Church of which He is the vivifying Soul. If we bear in mind this all important fact it will both give us a more correct appreciation of the Sacrament, and will also preserve us from that rationalizing, and belittling Zwinglian spirit, that has been so painfully in evidence during these last few centuries.
There are, finally, a few observations that present themselves in connection with the Eucharist as a "Communion," and which it will be well to make.
In the first place the fact of the Eucharist being a Sacrifice offered to God, and is further that awful "partaking," will warn us against the fearful profanation of making it a party or personal test. It is NOT the friendly supper of a close society, clique, or brotherhood (as Puritan thought wrongly has it); it is the Sacrament of Redemption for all mankind, given to His Church by the God Man. His ministering priest then who undertakes the fearful responsibility of withholding it from any applicant, must be able to plead the law of love, and say that he refused it lest he should condemn the unworthy applicant with the terrible guilt of profanation.
And this still further brings us to the consideration of serious faults of practice, both in our own Church, and in the Roman Obedience. Taking the latter first, it is, I think, clearly evident that the reservation of the cup is an unnecessary, and pernicious idiosyncrasy. Even if we do not at once condemn it em an incomplete "partaking," on the ground of the undoubted teachings of our Lord's own words, and of the Early Church, that the wine is the Mood, as the bread is the Flesh, of the broken and sacrificed Body of the Lord; and moreover that (as the Early Fathers Taught) each element has a separate and distinct office, the vivifying Flesh to purify the body for the Resurrection, as the atoning Blood to cleanse the soul from sin; yet even, I say, if we do not press this point, it is assuredly an uncalled for interference with the solemn institution of our Lord; and is, I repeat, an unnecessary and pernicious idiosyncrasy.
But even apart from this "reservation of the cup," we have, I think, in the prevalent, and constant practice of "non-communicating [10/11] attendance," and a practice too that some are trying to introduce into our own Church, a crying evil. True it is that non-communicating attendance is good so far as it goes. No one can come to Church, and reverently attend the Celebration of the Divine Mysteries, without becoming better thereby; it will conduce to worship, and worship of the highest order, strengthening the soul for daily life; it will increase reverence, and will doubtless, in short, give blessing. Yet when the utmost has been said, the fact still remains that the worship is incomplete, that the worshipper's offering has not been consummated, and made his own, and that he has NOT obeyed the dying command of our Lord to partake of the Eucharist of His Passion. Prayer is good, and attendance at God's Church is good; but first, and foremost comes the duty and privilege of celebrating Christ's Holy Eucharist, through which, and through which alone (as we believe) special grace is given.
But if the Roman custom of non-communicating attendance is wrong, what shall we say of our too prevalent Anglican custom of non-attendance at all. People will come to Matins, and Evensong, and will scarcely ever be absent from their places; yet after Matins, when the Sermon is ended, and the Canon of the Eucharist begun, they will constantly deliberately rise from their places, and go out, as if they had neither part nor lot in the matter! What faithful and earnest parish priest has not scon and agonized over this terrible fault, and thought how best to correct it? Man's words, and ideas are given in a sermon, and a thousand souls listen intently; the Eucharist of God's redemption is celebrated, and but a dozen or so of that thousand remain to keep the dying commands of their Lord! The most terrible punishment the Church can inflict on her children is the penalty of Excommunication; yet here are these multitudes of Churchmen, devout, and earnest too after a fashion, complacently visiting it upon themselves! My brethren, it is a terrible wrong, and the only excuse we can give is that it is not sufficiently realized, owing to its commonness. Surely if it was only clearly brought home to us, communicants would not be the, little tithe that they are, but all [11/12] professing Christians, if at all earnest in their faith, would come to God's Altar more regularly, and frequently, and thus obtain special grace and blessing, and be more perfectly members of their Lord.
Having thus shown, I trust, that the Eucharist is, in a true, a real, and a valid sense, a Sacrifice, I will now proceed to substantiate the second part of my thesis, namely that the Church's officers--her priests--are sacrificing priests is certainly as true, as valid, and as complete a sense as ever were any of the Aaronic line; in other words, that as our Christian Eucharist is a true and valid sacrifice, so also must its ministers be sacrificing priests; and furthermore since "no man taketh this honour unto himself, save he that is called of God, as was Aaron," it therefore follows that to be valid ministers of this sacrament, and true officers--priests--of the church, a man must be able to point to a legal commission from God by orderly succession.
Yet against any such theory as this our dissenting friends wax particularly eloquent. "A priest--a mediator--an interloper--between me and my God!" they will exclaim, "away with such a notion! I have one priest, and one only, Jesus Christ Himself, and I need no other. Besides which all Christians are 'kings and priests to God,' and no special class of men ought to arrogate to themselves such a title."
To such statements as these we may at once reply that it seems rather inconsistent to deny all priesthood, and in the next breath to claim it for all Christians! But going deeper than this we may say that such a contention is based on a fundamental mistake. The statement that "man needs no mediator between him. and his God" [Ego et Rex Meus!] has its foundations on purely Deistic principles, and entirely overlooks the fact that man is a sinner, and therefore in need of an atonement--a sacrifice,--and a mediator to offer that atonement, or in other words, a priest. The mode of thought that would lead us to reject the Church's mediation, in her priesthood, and in her sacrifices, would logically lead us to also reject the mediation of Christ Himself. This is still more evident if we bear [12/13] in mind that (as I will show below) the Church's mediation, in her priesthood and sacrifices, is simply and entirely another aspect of Christ's one mediation, and is in no sense, and in no way, a distinct, or parallel one.
To elucidate my meaning I will, first of all, define what, to my mind, is the true and exact meaning of a "priest," and having done that will then proceed to substantiate my thesis of a Christian priesthood; and furthermore to show the exact bearing and scope both of the "High Priesthood of Christ," and of the "priesthood of all Christian people."
A "priest" then, to put the matter shortly, is a mediator--an ambassador--between God and man, an intermediary, representing God to man, and man to God. Inasmuch as he represents God to man, he must come to man formally and legally commissioned by God with his message of "thus saith the Lord": inasmuch as he represents man to God, he must draw near to God "within the veil" bearing in his hands the blood of the sin offering; or in other words, he must be a sacrificing priest, offering to God an atonement for the sins of his (i. e. the priest's) people. Furthermore to do all these things, and do them perfectly--to fitly and fully represent both God and man,--he must be perfectly sympathetic with God and man, must be in fact both very and true God, and very and true man.
Now all these pre-requisites have been fulfilled, and only fulfilled in our Lord and Saviour Christ. He, and He only is both God and man; able therefore, on the one hand, as the Beloved Logos and Son, to effectually plead with the Father; and on the other, to sympathize with us His brethren,--to be "touched with the feeling of our infirmities,"--inasmuch as He, the "Son of Man," "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin:" able, again, as Very God, to speak with full authority to man, all things having been committed unto Him, as the Logos, by the Father; and also able, as very Man, to atone for our sins, in that He has, bearing His own blood as a Sin-offering, "entered in once into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
In the full sense of the word then we have, and mankind has, [13/14] but One Priest, Him namely Who is both Sacrifice and Priest. Nevertheless He had His delegates and representatives--the Aaronic priesthood--under the old dispensation, who, inasmuch as they were His representatives, were therefore real and valid priests able to offer sacrifice, and to atone for the sins of their people.
True it is that being human, and also intensely Jewish, they were able, in a large degree, to fulfill one pre-mruisite for the priesthood, that namely of fitly representing the Jewish people to God. They were Jews of Jews, sympathetic with all the foibles and faults of their race, and therefore men who could "have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way, for that they themselves also were compassed with infirmity." Yet even here only He Who took man's nature upon Him could be, in the fullest sense, sympathetic with every man, Jew and Gentile, Who in that He Himself both suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.
The Aaronic priesthood again might also fairly claim to possess the full legal credentials of ambassadors from God to man, and to be able to solemnly announce "thus saith the Lord," for they were the orderly successors of him, namely Aaron, who was so commissioned. Yet here too the Aaronic commission was not direct, but mediate through "the Angel of the Covenant," that is our Lord Himself, to Wliom alone was the full and immediate commission given.
But it is in the highest sacerdotal function of all, that namely of offering a sacrifice and atonement for the sins of the people, that their representative character, as delegates of the One High Priest, is most clearly seen. As I have already shown, the sacrifices "of bulls and of goats" in themselves could have no possible benefit, but drew all their efficacy from the fact of their being anticipatory presentations of that One Sacrifice on the Cross. So too the men who offered these sacrifices, the Aaronic succession, were sacrificing priests because, and only because, they were typical--prophetic--representatives of the Messiah Who should come: and furthermore since no man would dare, or indeed was able, to "take this honour unto himself, but he that is called of [14/15] God," Aaron was so "called," and solemnly appointed to this high office; an office which was to be orderly devolved in turn to the legal succession of his sons; and which only ceased to be in their line at the coming of Him of Whom these sons of Aaron were the deputies; and Who, on account of their mismanagement of His vineyard--the Church--took it from them, and "gave it to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof," namely to us Gentiles.
The priesthood of the Aaronic line then was a real and valid one; and yet in no sense, and in no way did it at all conflict with the One Priesthood of Christ, any more than the authority of a foreign consul, or representative clashes with that of his government at home: the Jewish priest then, I repeat, was a real, valid, and effectual one, just because he was the lawful delegate and representative of Him Who is the One Priest, and Source of all priesthood.
Now carrying down the analogy to the Christian ministry we may say that the true, and legal officers of the Church--those who inherit by the Apostolic Succession the duties and rights granted to the Apostles by Christ--are sacrificing priests, inasmuch as they are the lawful and orderly representatives of Him Who is the Sole Priest in His own right.
To Christ Himself, and to Him only, belongs the fountain head of all authority and blessing to the world, for all things have been committed unto Him as the Logos and Mediator by the Father; He, and He only therefore, can of His own right, bind or loose, intercede for, bless, and govern; fulfill, in short, all the varied priestly duties. But to His chosen Apostles, as His deputies, He delegated His priestly powers, saying unto them, and unto Peter as their head "whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven" (St. Matt., xvi, 19; xviii, 18); and again "Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained" (St. John, xx, 23); [Compare also "that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins" (St. Matt: ix, 6).] and furthermore commissioning them to preach to all [15/16] nations the Gospel given into His charge by the Father, saying "all power is given unto Me * * * go ye therefore," etc. (St. Matt., xxviii, 18, 19; vide also St. Luke, xxii, 29, etc). They became in fact, I repeat, His deputies in all the functions of His priesthood; exhorting to repentance, delivering His Gospel, and absolving, as the ambassadors from God to man; representing the people and offering up the Atonement for their sins, in the symbolic sacrifice of the Eucharist, as ambassadors from man to God: they fulfilled then all the functions of the priesthood, both on its authoritative, and on its sacrificial side; and this, I again repeat, because, and only because, they were the formally commissioned delegates, and representatives of Him who was the One Priest; for in their own right they were men, and nothing more.
Then we learn, from the records of the New Testament, that, as the Church expanded, and grew too large for their individual oversight and care, these Apostles appointed in their turn men to be their deputies, giving to the said deputies a certain specified portion of the plenary powers delegated to them by Christ. Thus, in the first place, the "serving of tables," or in other words the material and financial side of Church government, was solemnly committed by ordination to seven chosen "deacons;" then, as the Church grew into foreign lands, the higher and more spiritual duties were devolved upon the "presbyters;" and finally, when the Apostles were about to be taken away by death, ruling "bishops" were appointed, to whom were committed in full the powers derived from Christ, and who are therefore rightly called "the successors of the Apostles." Church history further tells us that these successors of the Apostles ordained in their turn other bishops and clergy to succeed them, and that from that time until now the Apostolic Succession, has never failed, but has been passed on, not through one line merely, or even a score, but in a thousandfold mesh, crossing and re-crossing at every point, so that any failure of continuity is historically utterly impossible.
And furthermore this grace of "Orders" in the Apostolic Succession is no mere formal legality, but is a living and life giving fact, by reason of the ceaseless indwelling of the Holy Spirit of [16/17] God. He Who was first given by our Lord, over abides in His Church, correcting her sins, overruling her mistakes, guiding her councils, sanctifying with effectual grace her ritual acts, and being, in short, the living and vital Soul of that organic Bride of the Lord.
Such then is the "Apostolic Succession," and such are its mighty claims and privileges. A clergyman in that succession claims to be, in his rank as "deacon," "priest," or "bishop," the successor and heir of the Apostles in their diaconal, priestly, or episcopal functions, as the case may be; claims to speak to men, and to rule the Church, by their deputed authority; and in addition, if he be in "priest's orders," to offer to God the sacrifice of the Eucharist, as a rehearsal of the One Atonement--a showing forth of the Lord's death till He come.
It follows from this that one not in that succession has no valid claim to either of these two classes of functions and privileges, i. e., to be either an authoritative preacher, or a sacrificing priest.
He has in the first place, no valid claim to be an authoritative preacher, for unless the preacher's authority is derived historically from Christ, through the Apostles, and their successors the Bishops, it has no possible basis either in calm reasoning, or in common sense. For, on the one hand, any claim based on "Congregational principles" is, in clear thinking, utterly absurd; popular suffrage may appoint a lecturer, or exhorter: but his authority, clearly, is only that of his constituents; and his popular election is, manifestly, totally inadequate to create him an ambassador from Christ. On the other hand, any claim to authority based on a supposed direct inspiration is certainly, it seems to me, a delusive phantasy: in other words, the various exhorters who profess to derive their commission and authority from on High are assuming a position that is, not merely intellectually, but. religiously untenable. To their claim of a personal and individual "call" and commission from God direct, not only can we demur, and ask for a clearer proof of this call than the man's mere "ipse dixit" and imagination, but we can still further reply that this claim is, on religious grounds, false and heretical.
 As I have already quoted, to the Son is committed all things, and He is therefore the fountain head of all blessing and authority: the criterion then, and test of apostleship is that of being immediately commissioned by Him, of being the first links in the chain of authority. The apostleship, say of Paul, rests upon this direct commission, and on no other grounds, and could it be shown that he was not personally, and directly commissioned by Christ in a miraculous manner after our Lord's Ascension, as the other Apostles were personally and directly appointed by Christ when on earth, if I repeat, this miraculous personal commission could be shown to be baseless, then St. Paul's claim to Apostleship would be utterly destroyed': the test then--the touchstone--of Apostleship is this direct and immediate commission by Christ, which they, and they alone had. Now those excellent people who claim a direct "call," and inspiration from on High would perhaps hardly press their claim did they but realize that in so doing they are, at this late age of the Church, claiming an Apostle's rank and privileges.
But even this does not put the matter quite so strongly as it should be put. In thus professing a direct and immediate "call" and commission from Above, they are claiming authority rather from God the Father, than from God the Son; claiming in fact to be, not merely founders of new dispensations, but new Christs new Messiahs, new High Priests to the World, new LOGOI of GOD.
Such arrogations need only to be thus plainly stated for their preposterous character to be seen; and I believe that I am fully justified in thus analyzing the logical basis of the claim to a direct commission from God, apart from, and superior to, any authority based on a historical Succession from the Apostles. Tn this connection we can well notice the words of St. Paul "how shall they preach except they be sent?" (Rom., x, 15). Should a man go forth with the message of "thus saith the Lord" without being so formally commissioned and "sent," even if he be not a wilful deceiver, is he not one self-deceived by his own unbridled imagination?
 But observe that all this is spoken of an authoritative preacher. ISTo doubt it is true that any man should be free to attempt to explain what he can, and to give his own individual opinions, so long of course as the said freedom does not degenerate into license; but before he can speak as a doctor--a teacher--of the Church, in other words, before he can take upon him the authoritative side of the priesthood, with all it implies (i. e., not merely teaching, but also ruling, absolution, etc., and in short "the power of the Keys"), he must perforce be legally "sent," and be in the orderly historical Apostolic Succession.
The same thing is equally true of the sacrificial side of the priesthood. Before a man can offer valid sacrifices to God in the Eucharist he must be a priest, with a commission to do so, derived from the same Apostolic Succession.
Probably if they were questioned in set terms on this point, these self-appointed delegates and ministers would warmly repudiate any such sacerdotal power; nevertheless in professing to perform the duty, that was first committed to the Apostles, of celebrating and rehearsing the Memorial of the Lord's Passion they are, in plain fact, arrogating to themselves full sacerdotal functions.
As T think I have already clearly shown, the Christian Eucharist is a sacrifice in a full, true, and valid sense; this being so a moment's thought will convince us that legal and valid priests are, of necessity, the only competent ministers of that sacrifice. If we turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews, and follow out the writer's train of thought, we will sec how strongly he insists upon the necessity for a legal and regular priesthood. Following the words I have already quoted, namely, that no man taketh the priesthood unto himself, lie states that even CHRIST glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest, but was legally appointed as such by the Father. Now if even He was not self-appointed, what shall we say of the multitude of man made, and self made "priests" of the present day who arrogate to themselves not only the preaching, but the Eucharistic functions as well of the true priesthood. If a man solemnly professes to be able to rehearse the tragedy of the [19/20] Atonement--to give the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord--to offer the Eucharist,--and is able to point to no higher source of His authority than his own self will, or the self will of those around him, are we not abundantly justified in saying that such assumptions, even if not wilfully blasphemous, are at best only vain, and empty pretensions?
We may then lay it down as an absolute axiom that the sacrifice of the Christian Eucharist needs as its officiant a legal, sacrificing priest; which, legal priest can only be one who is commissioned as such by Christ; and that not directly, for so only were the Apostles, but indirectly by the orderly and legal Apostolic Succession; and finally that outside of that Succession there are no valid priests, and therefore no valid Eucharists, any more than during the Jewish period there were, outside of the Aaronic Succession, valid priests, or valid sacrifices for sin.
"En passant" I may remark that this, however, is not the case with the other Sacrament of Baptism, and that because it is not a sacrificial act (and therefore sacerdotal), but is rather in the nature of a personal pledge to God--a vow of enlistment into His army, the Church. In accordance with this view the Church has solemnly ruled that while her clergy, as her officers, are the ordinary and regular ministers of this Sacrament, yet a solemn Baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, by not only a layman (or woman), but even by a Jew, Turk, Infidel, or Heretic, with the "intention" of duly making the recipient a Christian, is perfectly valid, although irregular, and may not be reiterated under pain of sacrilege and excommunication. "We may parallel this in the Jewish Church by noting that while any one could circumcise (the rite corresponding to Baptism), yet only the Sons of Aaron could offer valid sacrifices.
But "sacrificing priests" being necessary for a valid Eucharist, there is one question that will occur to the thoughtful student, and that must of necessity be answered, namely the case of those clergymen of the "Evangelical School" who formally deny in set terms the existence of any sacrifice, or of any sacerdotal ministry. Can they, it may be asked, in such a case, be fairly said [20/21] to be sacrificing priests, and the Eucharists they celebrate to be valid sacrifices? Furthermore, are they able, when thus denying Catholic doctrine, to hand on the Apostolic Succession? Can they, in short, be valid priests; and can their successors, in as much as they are their successors, even when convinced of the truth and necessity of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, be valid and true priests, capable of offering that Sacrifice?
It will, of course, be at once evident that such a question is of prime importance to us clergy of the Anglican Communion and Succession, who, while not admitting the superiority of the Bishop of Rome over our consciences and Church, yet claim to be the Church of the Anglo-Saxon race, and therefore true and legal priests of the Holy Catholic Church, with our Apostolic Succession preserved intact and inviolate; to be, in short, fully valid and true priests, ministering fully valid and true Sacraments.
To such a claim as this the Roman controversialist objects the well-known fact of the "Evangelical School's" formal denial in set terms of any sacrifice in the Eucharist, and pointing to the prevalence of such views within this century, asks if any revival now of Catholic teaching can make good the broken chain of Catholic Succession. This is evidently a serious argument, and one that must be met and thoroughly refuted.
It is, of course, open for us to reply by pointing to the fact that there has never ceased to be in our Communion a "High Church" or "Catholic School;" a scliool which was always the larger one, even when in the Georgian era many of the higher ecclesiastics (owing to Whig patronage) were men of looser views, until the "Evangelical revival" of this century gave, for a few score years, the balance of power into the hands of that school. In consequence then it might fairly be argued that we are the inheritors of a broad stream of Catholic doctrine that has never failed.
But happily an even better reply is open to us, namely that in truth and reality in the Anglican Communion the "intentio faciendi quod facit Ecclesia" has never been wanting, either of her priests to offer the Sacrifice of the Eucharist, or of her Bishops to ordain men possessed of the power to offer that sacrifice.
 No doubt this truth is, unhappily, often obscured by language which certainly appears, at first sight, to deny the sacrificial character of that Rite; but this, I submit, is rather a difference in language than in ideas. Thus the "31st Article "bluntly states that "the sacrifices of masses, in which it was commonly said that the priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain and guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits," and similar denials are constantly being made by "Evangelical" divines: but what is controverted here is the doctrine, thought (but, I believe, wrongly) to be Roman, that the Eucharist, or "Mass," is a repetition, or reiteration of the ONE Sacrifice on the cross; a very different notion to its being, as it is, a re-presentation of that one Sacrifice. Such a re-iteration is by right warmly denied, opposed as it is both to Christian consciousness and to the plain argument of the writer to the "Hebrews," who in the IX chap. 25 and 28 verses, says clearly "nor yet that He should offer Himself often as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with the blood of others; for then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world." * * * "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many."
On the other hand, every priest of the Anglican Communion--"Evangelical" as well as "High Churchman"--when he celebrates the Eucharist, does so with the deliberate intention of doing what the Church has always done in this Rite; namely, of rehearsing that Sacrifice--"showing forth the Lord's death,"--and of spiritually feeding on the mystical Body and Blood of the Lord; and every bishop, when he says "Receive ye the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a priest in the Church of God," deliberately ordains the postulant to the duty of performing that Rite. Controversies innumerable there; have, alas, been over the full doctrine of the Eucharist; but the point on which T have laid stress has never been called in question: it is evident then, as I have already stated, that the duo "intention" in celebrating the Eucharist has never been wanting.
But there is one requisite that proceeds "intention," and that is due commission by Apostolic Succession. A merely man [22/23] appointed, or self-appointed minister might have all possible "intention," and yet his Celebration be invalid for want of due commission; that is, in fact, the real key of the whole question.
As I have already stated, the sacrifice of the Christian Eucharist needs as its officiant a priest legally commissioned as such by Christ through the Apostolic Succession. Furthermore we may lay it down that such a legal priest will offer real sacrifices to God just so far, and only so far, as he realises that his ritual acts are re-presentations of the One Sacrifice on Calvary; in other words, just as far as he has due "intention;" and that apart from such "intention" his celebrations are ritual acts alone, and nothing more. But still further; such acts of his--such rising, or not rising, as the case may be, to the full privileges of his position--do not either validate, or invalidate the fact of his succession. In other words, if he has been solemnly commissioned to the office and work of a bishop in the Church of God, and has therefore the plenary Apostolic Succession, he can hand on that Successsion by solemnly commissioning in his turn men to be priests, and bishops: all that is asked, all that can be asked, is that this commissioning should be solemnly and seriously done, i. e., be done with the due "intention" of making a priest, or a bishop; which "intention," in this case, must not be understood of the inner "intention" (which can only be known to God and the man himself, and manifestly therefore cannot be in evidence) but rather of the outward and formal "intention" that gives to all concerned a reasonable presumption that the act in question is duly performed "rite et recte." That he may not have a full appreciation of his own full powers and dignity, that he even may not have a sincere faith in his acts, or a full "ex animo" inner "intention," all this, I repeat, cannot affect or invalidate the fact of his succession, or his power (if he be not merely a "sacrificing priest," but also a "bishop," possessed with plenary powers) of outwardly and officially handing on that Succession; although his unbelief, or want of appreciation, or even thoughtlessness and preoccupation of mind, can all invalidate the due sacrificial nature [23/24] of his Celebrations by dissevering them from their well spring of Grace.
If unworthy or ignorant heirs could invalidate the ritual legal succession, what shall we say of many of the Sons of Aaron, did they always rise to their high privileges? What again shall we say of the multitude of unworthy clergy in Italy, France, and Spain, in the past few centuries, have they invalidated their succession by their want of "inner intention?" Or ("reductio ad absurdum") does one act of unbelief, or even of thoughtlessness and want of due "intention" in one Celebration debar a priest from ever again duly offering the Sacrifice? Surely not! And if not, then the canon I have laid down must be accepted; namely, that while personal unbelief, or even want of due realisation of the blessing, can, and does, invalidate the sacrificial nature of the rite, yet it does not, and cannot, invalidate the general power to realise that blessing; nor again does it invalidate the succession so that it cannot be handed on; and that because such succession is, in no sense, a sacrificial act, but is rather an outward, legal, and formal commission.
"Well now, of course, the bearing of all this on the question of our English succession can be clearly seen. In the first place, as I have already stated, all "schools" in our Anglican Communion are at one in their real "intention" in offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice, however much they may appear to differ, the said difference being, as I have said, rather a matter of words than of things. True it is that a sound form of words is of inestimable benefit, by conducing to clearness of thought, and thus conserving the faith: the man who denies in set terms "the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist," meaning thereby what he fancies is Roman doctrine, namely, the repetition of Christ's Sacrifice, is extremely liable to see but dimly, and even to altogether loose his grasp on the true doctrine of the re-presentation of the One Sacrifice; nevertheless, I repeat, the real unity of duo "intention" in the Eucharist is practically universal.
But even were it not so, yet this, while invalidating the specific Celebration, would not, and could not, break the chain [24/25] of Apostolic Succession, and hence the power of reviving the due sacrificial nature of the Eucharist at any point in the chain; any other position, as I have shown, is utterly untenable and entirely overlooks the vast distinction between a spiritual sacramental act, and a formal and legal succession.
So then we may claim for our brethren of the "Evangelical school,"equally with ourselves, that they are valid priests, offering valid sacrifices, even although they may not realise the fullness of their privileges; and furthermore even were their unbelief such as to bar the blessing to themselves, yet they cannot bar it to their successors: in short, this objection to the Catholicity of our Anglican branch of the Church is an untenable one, and by our pointing to our orderly and legal succession--a succession too not inherited through one channel only, but through a net work of scores--we can abundantly verify our claim to an inheritance in the Apostolic Succession; and our right therefore to offer to God the High and Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist.
The next point that claims our intention is that of the priesthood of all Christian people; a fact which, as I have said above, is often advanced as being incompatible with any specific priesthood, apart from the general company of believers. Yet a short consideration will, I think, show us that this general priesthood, so far from being contradictory to a specific priesthood, is, on the contrary, entirely congruous with it, being in fact but a further application and continuance of the same laws.
Thus St. Peter speaks of Christians as "an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ;" and again "but ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people" (I St. Peter II, 5. 9); while St. John repeats the same idea by saying that Christ hath made us "kings and priests unto God" (Rev. I, 6, and V, 10). Now these expressions may be exactly paralleled by referring to Exodus XIX. 5, 6, where it is said that the Jewish nation "shall be a peculiar treasure to Me * * * and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation." Yet this general priesthood of the Jewish people; assuredly did not, in any sense, [25/26] exclude the specific priesthood of the Sons of Aaron; for when Korah, Dathan, and A hi ram rose in rebellion, saying (probably in reference to this very passage) "ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them," we know the fearful punishment that awaited their selfwill and aggrandisement.
No, what is meant by a general priesthood of the people, both under the Jewish dispensation and under the Christian, is something far different to that. As I have already explained, in the full and ultimate sense of the word, there is but one priest--one mediator--one offerer of the sacrifice--namely. Christ Him self. But to His delegates--the Sons of Aaron under the Old Dispensation, the Apostles and their successors under the New--has been committed, in virtue of their representative power, the deputy priesthood to the Church: but the same relation that the Clergy bear to the Church, that the Church, in virtue of its nature bears to the world at large; it is as if they were concentric circles in which the center radiant point is Christ, the inner circle His clergy, and the outer one His Church: or in other words, the clergy can be said to be an "ecclesiola"--the Church of the Church--and conversely, the Church to be a priest to the world--"a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." This conception of the Church, which is the "Catholic" one (i. e. that of the Early Church, and of the Greek, Anglican, and Roman, Communions of the present day), is, however, quite distinct and opposite to the vulgar "Puritan" or "Dissenting" idea. "Puritanism," like its prototype "Pharisaism," looks upon the "Church" as the "invisible" sum total of an aggregation of units, said units being "pure and holy" persons, having definite relations to God above, but little or nothing with each other; units whose principle, if not sole end in life is to ensure their own salvation. In contradistinction to this idea is that conception of the Church mentioned above, namely the "Catholic" one, which makes it, not an "invisible" aggregation of units, but a visible organic body--an army--having an organic life from the Holy Spirit, and an organic commission from Christ through the Apostolic [26/27] Succession; enlistment into whose ranks is by the Baptismal Vow, whereby we are made members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whose life is quickened and sustained by her Eucharists, by the due offering of which Mystic Sacrifice she becomes incorporated into the Body of her Lord. Under this conception, the main purpose of the Church is not, the individual salvation of its members--"sauve qui pcut"--but to God's ambassador and agent in uplifting the world; to be, in short, God's priest to mankind.
This conception of the Church is not only the one accepted by probably nine-tenths of the professing Christian world of to-day, but was moreover the unchallenged theory of Christendom for the first fifteen centuries of its history (an argument irresistible to anv one with an educated historical sense) and still further is, without any doubt, the ideal underlying the whole of the New Testament. Not only is this evident by what it plainly tells us of the Church--of its commission by Christ to preach His Gospel, and "bear the Keys," but it is even more convincingly shown by the atmosphere, so to speak, of the whole. The parables of our Lord descriptive of her work--such as the "tares," the drag net," the "wicked husbandmen"--the fact of her Great Example being the "friend of publicans and sinners"--coming, not to form a club of the "unco guid," but to call sinners to repentance--and finally her long, fierce fight against sin and Satan, whether man would hear, or whether they would forbear, all these things abundantly show that the New Testament ideal of the Church is assuredly the "Catholic" one; namely, that she is indeed the army of the Lord--His priest to the world--in that she acts as the authoritative ambassador from God to man, and is able to say "thus saith the Lord."
We may still further add, in reference to this subject, that the underlying idea, and fundamental error of "Pharisaism," or "Puritanism" is the conception of God as an angry and morose Deity, from whom personal salvation has to be bitterly and hardly wrung; while in contradiction to this damnable lie, Christ came preaching that God was no angry Despot, but the loving [27/28] FATHER of All, Whose pleasure was in the salvation of every man; and further more that sin and corruption not the Father and Life, was the true giver of damnation to the world. From this Gospel--this goodly and godly news--of Christ, the Church deduces her wide open doors, her large hearted love for mankind, and in short her Catholicity.
It is the duty then, not only of the Church at large, but of every individual member of the Church--laymen, as well as priest--in his due order, to realize, and act, upon the realization, that he is God's ambassador--His priest--to the world; a world of sinful men, and therefore in danger of perishing; but yet of men, not lost fiends, and therefore capable of being uplifted and saved.
But not only has the Church as a whole this one aspect of the priestly character, i. e. the power and duty of preaching to the world by word and by deed, but she also has the other priestly office, namely the offering of sacrifice.
.Now this feature of the priesthood, as I have already explained, is essentially of a spiritual nature, differing therein from the preaching functions, which are essentially outward and formal: when the priest then, in the Celebration of the Eucharist, presents to God the solemn sacrifice of the Mystic Body and Blood, the offering is made, not by him, the officiant, only, but equally by the people through him; and this co-offering of the Eucharist is the second and sacrificial aspect of the priestly duties and privileges of all Christian people. This great truth of the co-offering of the laity is recognized in the Consecration prayers of every liturgy, ancient or modern, all of whom tire written in the first person plural, and all of whom end with a general "Amen," which universally must be said by all the faithful to signify their agreement with, and participation in, the Holy Offering. This is not merely an individual conception of my own, but the "priesthood of all Christian people" was so expounded, and so illustrated by the old doctors of the Church, Justin Martyr, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Tertullian, Augustine,. etc., etc.
 So too hare we the definite categorical statement that the laity are co-offerers with the priest in a pro-anaphoral "bidding" prayer found in the Roman, ["Orate fratres ut meum ac vestram sacrificium acceptabile fiat apud Deum Patrem Omnipotentem."] and the Sarum Missal, ["Orate fratres et sorores pro me, ut meum pariterque vestru, acceptum sit Domino Deo nostro sacrificium."] and in a similar prayer in the Mozarabic Use; ["Our priests offer the oblation to the Lord God * * * also all the priests, deacons, clerks, and surrounding people, offer it m honor of the saints for themselves and theirs."] also in the post-consecration prayer "In behalf of all, and for all, we offer Thee Thine own of Thy own" occurring in the liturgies of "St. Chrysostom," "St. Basil" and the "Armenian Kite," and (in a slightly variant form) in the Uses of "Sarum," and of "St. James," St. Mark," and the "Coptic St. Basil;" and similar prayers are found in the liturgy of "Theodore the Interpreter," the Ethiopia Use, etc., etc. In fact the Church has ever clearly taught that the layman (or woman) is, by virtue of his "lay ordination" in Confirmation--that "scaling" of his Baptismal Vow--a real sharer in the grace of the Apostolic Inheritance, although for convenience sake the term "Apostolic Succession" is usually reserved for the Succession in "Holy Orders." The layman then, as such, has a definite rank and "order," and not a mere absence of "order," and the whole structure of the liturgy testifies to this fact. We may contrast this free and full appreciation by the Church of the dignity and privileges of the "lay priesthood," with the utter lack of such appreciation that we find in Puritanism, with its audience of hearers (not co-worshippers) listening to their preacher "exercising his gifts." But the Church also bears in mind the highly important fact that this privilege is from Above, not from below--from Christ, through His Church, and not from a common humanity by popular delegation.
Such then is the "priesthood of the laity," a priesthood that extends not only to the preaching or ambassadorial powers, but also to the sacrificial or Eucharistic functions; and yet a priesthood that in no way contradicts or nullifies the specific priesthood [29/30] of the clergy, any more than it does that of the prime High Priesthood of Christ; but on the contrary a general priesthood that is, with the specific sacerdotal powers of the clergy, a congruous extension and application of that One Priesthood.
This brings us to another consideration. If the laity be priests in this real and true sense, can they, it may be asked, exercise their priesthood apart from the clergy; or are the clergy the necessary authoritative representatives and heads. In other words, can a layman, in virtue of his lay priesthood, offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice, not merely indirectly through the hands of his priest, but directly through his own; and if not, why not?
To refute such a claim to direct sacrificial powers it is only necessary to refer back to the source of this priesthood. As I have already explained, the Great Immediate High Priest is Christ alone: but His Apostles, as His official representatives, were valid and efficient priests; and their successors the clergy, as their successors and representatives, are also valid and efficient priests: and lastly, lay Churchmen also are priests--representatives of Christ--to the world, and to God; but it is by virtue, and by virtue only, of their membership in the Church; or in other Words, by their connection with the primary representatives of Christ, the clergy. If then they sever themselves from the clergy, they thereby cut themselves off from the official channel by which alone Christ hath promised to send His blessing: our Lord may, and doubtless does, send grace otherwise, especially to the heathen world; but, I repeat, His only promised, or covenanted way is through His representatives, His clergy.
If then a layman, relying upon his "lay priesthood," revolts against God's established order, and refusing to allow the clergy to officiate, determines to offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice to God with his own hands, is not his act sacrilegious, and evidently vain and useless? Is not, in truth, such a deed of self will and aggrandisement an act, not merely of sacrilege, but almost of blasphemy against God; requiring, as it does, the Almighty to give His blessing, not as He wills, but as we choose; can such an act receive blessing; is it not rather a deadly sin? Such was the [30/31] sternly punished sin of Korah and his company, to which I have already alluded; and such is the fearful sin of multitudes of self guided sectaries at the present day; men who, like Jeroboam, have rejected the Church of God and devised a religion to replace it out of their own imaginations, and to the heinousness of whose offence even earnest and thoughtful men are strangely blind.
But yet there is a sense, and a very real sense, it seems to me, in which the faithful layman may exercise his priesthood apart from the operation of the priesthood of the clergy, and that is in quite a possible case; namely, when the officiating priest is secretly an unbeliever, or even is merely careless and inattentive. In such a case the ritual act of the priest is, manifestly, to him a ritual act alone, and nothing more. But surely it need not be so to the faithful worshipper. If he lifts up his heart on High, and, as a co-offerer, presents to God that Mystic Sacrifice of the Body and Blood, and finally, if he still further makes that Offering his own by "partaking" of the same, who can doubt but that to him, and in spite of the failure of the officiating priest, it is a due, proper and efficacious Sacrifice?
In this sense then, and it is a very important one, we are each and all--priests and people--holy priests to God, offering up to Him on the secret altars of our hearts the Mystic Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of our Lord. And this Sacrifice we not only spiritually offer, in the fullest and deepest sense, in the Eucharist--that acme and sum of all prayer--but also, in a lesser degree and sense, in every Christian prayer, when we come to God pleading the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Lord. Yet it hardly seems necessary to add that this inner spiritual sense, while essential to the validity of the Sacramental ritual, in no sense and in no way renders obsolete and useless that Sacramental ritual, which is its necessary embodiment and instrument. "Spirit" and "matter," here as elsewhere, arc not mutually exclusive, as the vulgar seem to think, but on the contrary are as mutually dependent for their several expression as they are in the body and soul of man.
And still again; this "spiritual" apprehension of the Sacramental [31/32] grace is not a self delusive imagining, or putting something into the Sacrament that was not there before (this is where Puritanism, with its entirely subjective fancies, goes so fearfully astray); it is rather the sole way of benefiting by the spiritual grace already there. In short, those for whom the Sacraments, are designed, and who are benefited by them are, not the learned, the cultured, the imaginative, but the sincere; and those who are, on the contrary, "condemned" by them are, not the ignorant, the simple, the unimaginative, but the wicked and unfaithful: they are in fact, Catholic, and adapted by God to all mankind, and not merely to a special type or clique; and the "priest"--clerical or lay--who ministers them, in no sense creates them, but is merely the channel of their covenanted grace.
Such then are the true powers and limitations of the sacerdotal functions of the clergy, of the priesthood of all Christian people, and of the Eucharistic Sacrifice offered to God by them; powers all having no existence apart from Christ, but which in Him, and through Him are real and valid.
And I would here like to re-emphasize a fact to which I have already referred, and that is that ALL the forementioned powers, privileges, and graces are through, and only through the gift of the Holy Spirit, abiding in, and working through His Church. He is the Prime Agent underlying all our activities for good; and it is through Him, and through Him alone that the Church can be the Bride of her Lord; and as the "mother of all living" bear into salvation, on the one hand, the souls of men; and on the other, offer up spiritual Sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
I will add, however, before I close, a few more arguments in support of the foregoing propositions, and will first recur to one already mentioned, and that no light one, namely that this view of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and of the Christian Priesthood, is no recently devised theory of a few theologians, but was the unanimous teaching of the first millenium and a half of Christian history, as it is the doctrine of nine-tenths of the professing Christian world of to-day. When we read the Church history of the above period controversies of all kinds come before us, and [32/33] heretical sects of the most diverse kinds arise, denying, or perverting various Christian doctrines. But every teacher, and every authority--Liturgies, Councils, Doctors of the Church and minor writers--heretical or heterodox, as well as Catholic, speak with one voice here; amidst all the babel of opinions, no one, not even the wildest, visionary, ever thought of calling in question cither the sacrificial character of the Eucharist, or the sacerdotal character of the clergy. The weight of this argument is irresistible to any one who values a logical consistency with the historic channels of our faith; who, in short, attaches due importance to the rule "quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus creditum est."
Another point that is often strangely overlooked is as follows: how often, nowadays, do men speak and write as if the Christian Church's system of faith and ritual was a structure slowly built up from primal nothingness; as if the first ages were "simple" and blank, form, color, and ritual being later growths, brought in, as some even say, from heathenism. Yet history plainly teaches us that the very contrary was the fact; the Church sprang into being full born, so to speak, with an organization and a message complete, yet needing to be unfolded (not created) in the succeeding centuries. Its Apostles and leaders were men who had been spiritually and mentally nurtured in the full and elaborate Judaic system; and who, therefore, without a thought of doing otherwise, would naturally carry with them into the Church that they were founding the ritual system in which they had been trained--its chanting of psalms, its forms of prayers, its priestly vestments,--yet all, of course, adapted and modified to suit their new environment. An obscure, and sadly neglected, but yet most entrancing study is that of this transmutation of the Jewish ritual into the ritual of the Early Church; the "eighteen prayers" of the Jews becoming the "Morning Office;" the "ephod" and "prayer veil" (probably) reappearing in the "surplice" and "stole;" ["To give the modern English names of the "stoicharion" or "alb" and the "epitrachelion" or "orarion."] the Passover ritual, and service of the Temple sacrifice [33/34] forming the model for the Celebration of the Christian Eucharist; and so on: these analogies have yet to be fully and accurately worked out, and will repay 'a rich harvest to the fortunate explorer. But among the things thus brought over was certainly the Jewish sacrificial atmosphere. As we know, the Passover was transformed by our Lord into the Eucharist; what then was more natural than that the Apostles should still retain the sacrificial aspect of the rite, only changing it to a Christian standpoint; for whereas the Passover looked forward to Messiah, the Eucharist looks backward; but both rites, as I have shown, hinge on Christ. In fact it is "prima facie" incredible that the Apostles did not hold "Sacrificial views" of the Eucharist, and the "onus probandi" of showing the contrary rests on those who deny it; while for positive proofs we have, not only the undesigned hints in their words ("show forth the Lord's death," "guilty of the Body and Blood" etc.), but also, what is even more weighty, the unanimous voice of their disciples and successors, a unanimity utterly inexplicable on any other supposition.
In truth this "Sacramental view," strange as it, unhappily, may appear to multitudes of earnest religious people, is nevertheless, as I trust I have shown, in congruous and vital sequence from the logical core of our Faith; and upon its real, although sometimes unconscious appreciation depends the life of true Christianity. For we are able, as "priests," to "offer" the Atonement to God, and to "partake" of the Body and Blood of our Lord--become, in short, in both respects, one with our Head--because, and only because He has first become one with us--has, in other words, taken our nature upon Him, and become the "Son of Man.-" As Sacramentalists, then, have often pointed out, the keystone of the Faith, and the well spring of all its grace, is this fact of the Incarnation, and all it means and carries with it, namely, the Atonement, the Resurrection, the Ascension and Session at the Eight Hand of the Father, and the Ever present Gift of the Holy Ghost.
For the vital essence of Christianity--that which makes it Christianity--is not in its ethical teaching; neither is it the truth of [34/35] man's immortality, and accountability for sin; nor the fact of the existence of the Godhead; nor even of His Triune nature; all these things were more or less clearly taught by far older beliefs, and are, in no sense, distinctive marks of our Faith, but are rather, I would say, instinctive truths, forming part of our great inheritance of Natural Religion. But the differential doctrine of the Christian Faith is the Incarnation of the Logos of God. Hence it is that, when a full ritual is used, at the clause in the Nicene Creed "and was Incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man," we bow in humble adoration before His Altar, for thai is the center doctrine--the heart--of the whole Christian Faith; and if that be not true, our belief has no foundation in verity at all.
It need not surprise us then if history abundantly shows that the logical sequence of Puritanism is to Unitarianism and Unbelief: the Church is rejected, and as a consequence her Sacramental doctrine also cast off, the Sacraments being cut away from their vital connection with Christ, and made dead and meaningless ritual forms, fit then only to be rejected as useless, and even pernicious lumber; as a result of this rejection of the God appointed means, the obscured truths of the Incarnation and Atonement are themselves lost sight of, and denied, and the Nemesis of Unbelief overtakes the Puritan Societies: the sad and fearful sequence has then been worked out, No Church! No Sacraments!! No Christ!!!
Let us, then, ever hold fast the vital connection between the Sacraments and our Lord; and in consequence use, and honor them as efficient, and necessary channels of His grace. We must, in brief, recognize the Church, not as a "voluntary society," but as the "army of the Lord"--His priest to the world--through the grace of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who is its Life Giver, and Life Sustainer; we must accept our Baptismal Vow, not as a more formal observance, but as a solemn Sacramental oath, swearing us into that army for weal, or for woe; and finally, we must think of the Eucharist as a prevailing Sacrifice unto God, offered to Him in our Great High Priest through the grace of the [35/36] Holy Spirit by the hands of His clergy, the priests of His Church; but yet not as their offering only, but as equally that of all earnest and faithful soldiers of His name.
Now to Him Who hath made us by His own blood, kings and priests unto God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.