The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84
Appendix C. — The Holy Sacrament
The Holy Sacrament.
The sacrament instituted by our Lord, being the most substantial and profitable ordinance of our Christian Church, has always been seriously attacked by Satan through his followers, in order to mutilate, to corrupt, and to destroy the object for which our Lord instituted it. The Romish Church makes its members believe that the words spoken by our Lord, "This is my body .... this is my blood," were uttered in a natural sense. They say : "In the sacrament of the altar, by virtue of God's word spoken by the priest, the natural body of Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, and his natural blood, is really present under the form of bread and wine. After the consecration there remaineth no substance of bread and wine, neither any other substance than the substance of God and man."
The doctrine thus set up teaches that the bread and wine is, by the consecration of the priest, converted into the natural flesh and blood of Christ. That would mean that our Lord, by instituting the ordinance, has provided a meal for the members of his Church, to feast upon his natural flesh and blood for the sustenance of their body; for natural flesh and blood is nothing more than nourishment for the body.
In opposition to that erroneous and superstitious doctrine of the Romish Church, and to make the mystery involved in that holy ordinance more comprehensible to common minds, some Churches have chosen to administer the ordinance in bread and wine as tokens or emblems of the body and blood of Christ, and leave out altogether the words spoken by our Lord, "This is my body .... this is my blood," by which he instituted it.
What tokens or emblems may mean is easily to be understood. But what does that mean other than natural food for the body ? Surely mere bread and wine is nourishment for the body, and nothing else. Tokens or emblems are representations, and not the things they represent, however much they may talk round about it. The ordinance, thus administered, is even more erroneous, if possible, than as administered by the Romish Church. It is manufactured by man, and is a mockery of the holy ordinance; it is not as Christ instituted it, and is not of him; nor does he own it with his blessing, for instead of producing life it causes death; it is a corrupt, mutilated practice. God is his own interpreter. He allows no man to dictate to him how to do anything.
We shall not, however, spend much time in remarking upon what is wrong in the practice of others, but proceed to search for and to understand the true meaning, and how' the ordinance is to be the true sacramental ordinance instituted by our Lord and Saviour, and in the administration of which only can it be profitable to our souls.
Our Lord Jesus, when instituting this holy ordinance, called the bread his body, and the wine his blood. (Luke xxii. 10, 20; Matth. xxvi. 26; Mark xiv. 22, 23, 24; 1 Cor. xi. 23—26; and x. 16.) These words cannot be changed, under the pretence that they are too mysterious and that we do not understand them; if we take such a liberty in one instance, we may find sufficient cause to alter the whole Scripture. We are bound to let the Word stand as it is spoken, and then search out its meaning; and if we do this with an upright heart, and with a desire to know its real truth, our Lord will not let us come short in the knowledge of it, providing we ask him for it.page 56
In the Gospel of St. John, our Lord Jesus clearly and repeatedly speaks of eating his flesh, and drinking his blood; and that he who eateth not his flesh and drinketh not his blood has no life (spiritual life) in him : "For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed" (John vi. 53, 55). These words are so plain, and being repeatedly spoken, no misinterpretation can possibly take place. What we have to do is to endeavour to understand the meaning which our Lord intended to convey to us by these mysterious sayings, which are so deep and full of meaning that no natural mind is ever prepared to understand them; and hence the errors and misconceptions. It requires experimental knowledge to bring out its meaning. Those who are alive know what life is, and are able to taste the food and discriminate what is wholesome for the support of that life. So it is with spiritual life : he who is alive in God knows what that life is, and how it was obtained, and longs for the support of that life, and is also prepared to taste the provision ordained and prepared for the support of that life by partaking of it; but no one else can know it—it is a rock on which head knowledge becomes shipwrecked.
Perceiving that his disciples were dull of comprehension, Jesus corrected their misunderstanding of what he had said of the eating of his flesh and the drinking of his blood: "It is the Spirit," he said, "that quickeneth; the (natural) flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." (Verse 63.) Let us now proceed to search out the meaning, in what sense Christ could have used these words "my flesh" and "my blood," seeing and tasting it to be simply bread and wine.
Our first parents, previous to their falling away, were alive in God, and that life was maintained and nourished by God's spiritual presence in their hearts. But when they believed in the serpent, the devil took possession of their hearts by right of conquest, by which God was dethroned, and consequently the channel of life and spiritual substance ceased. The unclean spirit who then possessed them deluded them with the unclean "lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John ii. 16), in which lusts the present unconverted world corrupt themselves to the present day. The channel of life was reopened, however, in the Mediator and restorer of mankind, Christ, when God said, by the proclamation to Adam and Eve and their posterity, and in defiance of that old serpent called the Devil, and Satan (Rev. xii. 15): "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed : It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Genesis iii. 15).
Thus was war declared between these two princes, the Prince of Light and the Prince of Darkness. That battle was fought when the Mediator was manifested in the flesh; and fought the battle for man as the second Adam; when the woman's seed crushed the serpent's head on the cross, and in return received a broken body. And on that ground our Lord calls that spiritual substance incorporated in the ordinance of the sacrament, under and with the bread and wine, (if duly consecrated by the minister of the Church,) "my flesh," (body,) and "my blood." Because it was on that ground alone that Christ died and shed his blood on the cross at Golgotha, that man's sins, which stand as a partition between God and man, may by forgiveness be removed, and God and man reconciled. And by such reconciliation God's blessings are enjoyed in fulness, and all his goodness flows again into man's soul.
In the second book of Samuel, chapter xxiii., v. 17, we find a similar expression, where King David called the water drawn from the well at Bethlehem, the blood of the men who had placed their lives in jeopardy by drawing it.
Further, we read in various passages of Scripture the expression, "being washed in the blood of the Lamb;" also in hymns, &c., the same idea is often expressed, as being washed or cleansed in the blood of Christ, or blood of the Lamb; but no one would ever say that, having been pardoned of his sins, he had washed himself or that he was washed in the real and natural blood of Christ.