Images de page

spoken. They believe, however, on an examination of the whole of the narrative of St. Luke on this occasion, that no new institution of a religious nature was intended. They believe that Jesus Christ did nothing more than celebrate the old Passover; that he intimated to his disciples, at the time he celebrated it, that it was to cease; that he advised them, however, to take their meals occasionally, in a friendly manner, together, in remembrance of him; or if, as Jews, they could not all at once relinquish the Passover, he permitted them to celebrate it with a new meaning.

In the first place St. Luke, and he is joined by all the other evangelists, calls the feast now spoken of "the Passover." Jesus Christ also gives it the same name; for he says, "With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer."

Jesus Christ, according to St. Luke, took bread, and brake it, and divided it among his disciples. He also took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it among them. But this, the Quakers say, is no more than what the master of every Jewish family did on the Passover-night. Nor is it any more, as will

have already appeared, than what the Jews of London, or of Paris, or of Amsterdam, or of any other place, where bread and wine are to be had, do, on the same feast, at the present day.

But though Jesus Christ conducted him-self so far as other masters of families did, yet he departed from the formula of words that was generally used upon these occasions. For, in the first place, he is described to have said to his disciples, that "he would no more eat of the Passover, until it should be fulfilled in the kingdom of God;" and a little further on, that "he would not drink of the fruit of the vine, till the kingdom of God should come;" or, as St. Matthew has it, "till he should drink it new with them in his Father's kingdom."

By these words the Quakers understand, that it was the intention of Jesus Christ to turn the attention of his disciples from the type to the antitype, or from the paschal lamb to the Lamb of God, which was soon to be offered for them. He declared that all his Passover-suppers with them were in future to be spiritual. Such spiritual Passovers, the Quakers say, he afterwards ate


with them on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit of God came upon them; when their minds were opened, and when they discovered, for the first time, the nature of his kingdom: and these spiritual Passovers he has since eaten, and continues to eat, with all those whose minds, detached from worldly pursuits and connections, are so purified and spiritualized as to be able to hold communion with God. It is reported of him next, that "he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave to his disciples, saying, This is my body, which is given for you."

On these words the Quakers make the following observations: The word "this" does not belong to the word "bread;" that is, it does not mean, that this bread is my body. For the word "bread" in the original Greek is of the masculine, and the word "this" is of the neuter gender. But it alludes to the action of the breaking of the bread; from which the following new meaning will result: "This breaking of the bread, which you now sec me perform, is a symbol or representation of the giving, or, as St. Paul has it, of the breaking of my body for you."

In the same manner, the Quakers say that


the giving of the wine in the cup is to be understood as a symbol or representation of the giving of his blood for them.

The Quakers therefore are of opinion, when they consider the meaning of the sayings of Jesus Christ, both with respect to the bread and to the wine, that he endeavoured again to turn the attention of his disciples from the type to the antitype, from the bread and wine to his own body and blood, from the paschal lamb that had been slain and eaten to the Lamb that was going to be sacrificed; and, as the blood of the latter was, according to St. Matthew, for the remission of sins, to turn their attention from the antient object of the celebration of the Passover, or salvation from Egyptian bondage, to a new object, or the salvation of themselves and others by this new sacrifice of himself.

It is reported of him again by St. Luke, after he had distributed the bread, and said, "This is my body which is given for you," that he added, "This do in remembrance of me.


These words the Quakers believe to have no reference to any new institution, but they contain a recommendation to his disciples to meet in a friendly manner, and break their


bread together in remembrance of their last supper with him; or if, as Jews, they could not all at once leave off the custom of the Passover, in which they had been born and educated, as a religious ceremony, to celebrate it, as he had then modified and spiritualized it, with a new meaning.

If they relate to the breaking of their bread together, then they do not relate to any Passover or sacramental eating, but only to that of their common meals; for all the Passovers of Jesus Christ with his disciples were in future to be spiritual-and in this sense the primitive Christians seem to have understood the words in question; for in their religious zeal they sold all their goods, and, by means of the produce of their joint stock, kept a common table and lived together: but in process of time, as this custom, from various causes, declined, they met at each other's houses, or at other appointed places, to break their bread together in memorial of the Passover-supper. This custom, it is remarkable, was denominated the custom "of breaking of bread;" nor could it have had any other name so proper, if the narration. of St. Luke be true. For the words "do this in remembrance of me" relate solely, as

« PrécédentContinuer »