Images de page

ate at their Passover, nor any bread or meat ordered to be eaten on any public occasion.

Neither can this flesh or this bread be, as some have imagined, the material flesh or body of Jesus. For, first, this latter body was born of the Virgin Mary; whereas the other is described as having come down from heaven. Secondly, because, when the Jews said, "How can this man give us his flesh?" Jesus replied, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing:" that is, Material flesh and blood, such as mine is, cannot profit any thing in the way of quickening, or cannot so profit as to give life eternal: this is only the work of the Spirit. And he adds, "The words I have spoken to you, they are Spirit, and they are Life."

This bread then, or this body, is of a spiritual nature. It is of a spiritual nature, because it not only giveth life, but preserveth from death. Manna, on the other hand, supported the Israelites only for a time, and they died. Common bread and flesh nourish the body for a time, when it dies and perishes; but it is said of those who feed upon this food, that they shall never die.

This bread or body must be spiritual, again, because the bodies of men, according to their present organization, cannot be kept for ever alive. But their souls may. But the souls of men can receive no nourishment from ordinary meat and drink, that they should be kept alive, but from that which is spiritual only. It must be spiritual, again, because Jesus Christ describes it as having come down from heaven.

The last conclusion which the Quakers draw from the words of our Saviour on this occasion is, that a spiritual participation of the body and blood of Christ is such an essential of Christianity, that no person who does not partake of them can be considered to be a Christian; "for, except a man eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, he has no life in him."

[ocr errors]

The Quakers, therefore, believe that this address of Jesus Christ to his followers, near Capernaum, relates wholly to the necessity of the souls of men being fed and nourished by that food which they are alone capable of receiving; namely, that which is of a spiritual nature, and which comes from above. This food is the Spirit of God, or, in the language

language of the Quakers, it is Christ. It is that celestial Principle which gives light and life to as many as receive it and believe In it. It is that spiritual Principle which was in the beginning of the world, and which afterwards took flesh. And those who receive it are spiritually nourished by it, and may be said to sup with Christ; for he himself says, "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any voice and open hear man the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me *.”


This Supper, which Jesus Christ enjoins, is that heavenly manna on which the Patriarchs feasted before his appearance in the flesh, and by which their inward man became nourished, so that some of them were said to have walked with God; for these, according to St. Paul, "did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ †."

This Supper is also "that daily bread," since his appearance in the flesh; or, as the

* Rev. iii. 20. VOL. II.

2 D

+ 1 Cor. x. 3, 4.


old Latin translation has it, it is that supersubstantial bread, which Christians are desired to pray for in the Lord's Prayer, that bread which, according to good commentators, is above all substance and above all created things: for this bread fills and satisfies. By extinguishing all carnal desires, it leaves neither hunger nor thirst after worldly things. It redeems from the pollutions of sin. It so quickens, as to raise from death to life; and it gives therefore to man a sort of new and divine nature, so that he can dwell in Christ and Christ in him.

This Supper, which consists of this man-, na, or bread, or of this flesh and blood, may be enjoyed by Christians in various ways. It may be enjoyed by them in pious meditations on the Divine Being, in which the soul of man may have communion with the Spirit of God, so that every meditation may afford it a salutary supper, or a celestial feast. It may be enjoyed by them when they wait upon God in silence, or retire into the light of the Lord, and receive those divine impressions which quicken and spiritualize the internal man. It may be en


joyed by them in all their several acts of obedience to the words and doctrines of our Saviour. Thus may men every day, nay every hour, keep a communion at the Lord's table, or communicate, or sup, with Christ.


The question then is, Whether Jesus Christ instituted any new Supper, distinct from that of the Passover (and which was to render null and void that enjoined at Capernaum), to be observed as a ceremonial by Christians ?-Quakers say that no such institution can be collected from the accounts of Matthew, or of Mark, or of John-the silence of the latter peculiarly impressive in the present


Ir appears then that there are two Suppers recorded in the Scriptures; the one enjoined by Moses, and the other by Jesus Christ.

The first of these was of a ceremonial nature, and was confined exclusively to the Jews; for to Gentile converts, who knew nothing

2 D 2

« PrécédentContinuer »