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rejoices to find new fields of sacrifice for its exercise. "Thanksgiving! this is our worship, and in the form of thanksgiving our religion embraces everything that life on earth can bring before it.” 1
The Thanksgiving Sacrificial. - Thanksgiving, then, is the main purpose of the service, but, as we have seen, thanksgiving in a new way, a peculiarly solemn way, in act as well as word. It is sacrificial thanksgiving. We place ourselves beside our LORD in that act which foreshadowed the loss of all that we count precious. We rehearse the scene of the upper chamber, point by point. We take the bread, give thanks, break it, use His words over it; take the cup, again give thanks, again use His words. We set forth His Death, we lift It up on high, we magnify It as our only boast, our chief glory, our one hope. And in so doing, the veil between Heaven and earth is lifted, and we find ourselves one with Him in that ceaseless presentation of "Himself for us in the inexhaustible virtue of His past suffering." At the altar we do with Him what He Himself does in Heaven. Although He is forever seated there, as one whose toils are over, yet He is a 'Priest upon His throne' (Zech. vi. 13), and is perpetually engaged in presenting on our behalf the life which He once for all laid down, and has
1 H. S. Holland, "Creed and Character," p. 305.
taken again, and never needs to lay down from henceforth. By means of that Sacrament which He puts into our hands we do the same." Our act means, of necessity, that we pledge ourselves to its spirit. We there and then confess that the life of self-oblation is the best life; that to give is better than to receive; to lose, greater than to gain. We then and there dedicate " ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice to God."
It depends upon and demands Communion.—It is when we realize that the purpose of the service is that we may be made one with our LORD, both in act and spirit, in the pleading of His great oblation, that we see the necessity of Communion. We are so stained and defiled with sin that we cannot appear before GOD in our own behalf at all. The GOD whom we worship is "a consuming fire," and can only be approached by Him who is "the Way." "No man cometh unto the Father, but by ME.' ." It is true that we now have boldness in spite of "the frankest recognition of our sins;" but only to use the entrance into the Holiest which He has provided. And there is no entrance into the Divine Presence save in "the Blood of Jesus," i. e., "in the power of the human life of the LORD offered up and 'Mason, "Faith of the Gospel," 3d edition, p. 330. 2 S. John xiv. 6.
The fresh and living way
made available for us."1 into the Holiest which He has consecrated for us is the way of His Flesh. In some way we must share in the virtue of His humanity, be sprinkled with His blood, before we can join Him in the exercise of His Priestly Office. So the LORD made His disciples one with Him in His work upon the Cross by first giving them His Body and His Blood. Though He knew they could not understand, though He prophesied they would all forsake Him and flee, yet He willed they should be identified with Him in His Great Oblation upon the Cross: "I and the children which GOD hath given Me.”2 And so He comes in each Communion to incorporate us with Him, that we may stand with Him as priests before the Father, clothed in the marriage garment of His righteousness, inspired by His spirit, strengthened by His life. There could be no Eucharist without Communion.
THANK-OFFERING IS THE INTERPRETATION WHICH THE CHURCH HAS GIVEN THE LORD'S SUPPER.
How the Church in her Liturgies has interpreted our Lord's intention in the Eucharist. It would be
1 Bishop Westcott, on Heb. x. 19.
2 Heb. ii. 13.
impossible within the limits of a short chapter to show fully how the principle running through the ancient Liturgies, as well as those now in use throughout the catholic world, is one of thanksgiving. "The very earliest of all-that given in 'The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles,' a form of words with which some branch of the Church of the first century observed the commemoration appointed by our Blessed LORD-has thanksgiving for its main purpose."
An account of the Eucharist given by Justin Martyr (A. D. 139) is to the same effect: "When we have finished the prayers we salute one another with a kiss. Then bread and a cup of water and mixed wine are offered to him who takes the lead amongst the brethren. And when he has taken them, he sends up praise and glory to the Father of all, through the Name of the Son and the Holy Ghost, and he gives thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things from Him, and this food is called among us the Eucharist." And so we might go on, taking every description or form of ancient celebration, and finding plain testimony to the Eucharistic spirit. It may suffice, however, to direct attention to those leading features which are common to all Liturgies,
1 E. Burbidge, "Liturgies and Offices of the Church," pp. 24, 25. 2 Justin Martyr, Apol. I., cap. 65, 66. Quoted by Burbidge, p. 27.
both ancient and modern. These are the Offertory, the Sanctus, and the Consecration and Oblation. Their intention is obvious enough. The Offertory is the willing offering of our substance; the Sanctus, the reverent offering of our praise; and the Great Oblation, the mystical offering of the precious Sacrifice of Christ once made upon the Cross. Sacrifice, which is the essential spirit of thanksgiving, is the inspiration of all. So we see that the words which we apply to our own service, "our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving," may be applied to them all. Not that we are to suppose that the office of Communion is made up of three separate acts of thanksgiving; there is but one Eucharist; the “Offertory ” and “Sanctus” are preparatory to the Offering of the Great Oblation, and, incorporated with It, they become pleasing to God. They are the means by which we are enabled to understand something of Its great significance; they entered largely into that act which was not only a sacrifice of the Body prepared," but a glorification of the Father, a proclamation to the world of His Holiness; ' and by our share in them we are taught how we may be in spirit as well as in act' one with Him who is a Priest forever." 2
Every Liturgy, then, which any branch of His
1 Rom. iii. 25, 26.
2 Heb. vii. 17.