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The New Zealand Evangelist

Remarks On The Rev. J. J. P. O'Reily's Letter

Remarks On The Rev. J. J. P. O'Reily's Letter.

We have admitted the foregoing letter into our pages, not because we were the aggressors, for we were not so; unless the publishing of an extract from page 200 Horne's Introduction to the Study of the Scriptures, after the work has passed through nine editions,—an extract in which there was neither a personality nor a mis-statement of fact—can be called an act of aggression; and if so, every article we publish containing protestant doctrine may be regarded in the same light. We give insertion to the letter, that our readers may see a specimen of the argumentation on the other side of the question, and that our opponent may have every reasonable advantage at our hands; but with the distinct understanding that we are under no obligation to keep our pages open for such lengthy communications, in support of sentiments which we firmly believe to be erroneous and absurd.

In our passing remark on John xx, 26, “The doors being shut,” &c., which is characterised as a “piece of infidel criticism,” but charitably attributed to our ignorance, we have taken the same, or substantially the same view as some of the most pious, learned, and judicious commentators; such as Jeremy Taylor, Whitby, Scott, Dr. A. Clarke, and Dr. Bloomfield; men as far removed from German rationalism as from Popish superstition. But all that Mr. O'R. has said makes nothing in support of his views.

Our remarks on John vi. have not been answered. Did our space permit we could easily show, even on the evidence of writers of the Church of Rome, that there is no reference to the Eucharist in that chapter. The very first axiom assumed by Euclid, is, that things equal to the same thing are equal to one another. Christ teaches us, that eating his flesh and drinking his blood will save us, and that nothing else will save us. He teaches us also, that believing on him will save us. and that nothing but believing on him will save us. It appears, therefore, clear as the axiom of Euclid, that eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of Man, must mean the same thing as believing in the vicarious sufferings and atoning death of Jesus—appropriating to ourselves the offered Saviour, and all the blessings procured page 201 by his incarnation, obedience, sufferings, and death. We are no where taught that the Eucharist and nothing but the Eucharist will save us.

We are accused of changing our dates 500 years in our last article. We are surprised at the lack of care or the lack of candour which could lead to such a statement. We said that the doctrine of Christ's bodily presence in the Eucharist was first started in the beginning of the eighth century, and that in the thirteenth century it was established by Pope Innocent III. During the five centuries it was an open question, could it be called a doctrine of the Church of Rome? The immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary is a doctrine held by many Romanists, and should the present Pope, as he proposes, establish it, as Innocent III did transubstantiation, we should certainly be justified in saying that it was not held by the Church of Rome till the nineteenth century; although some might call it a “divine dogma,” and tell us that it was held by some of the fathers who lived in the very “aurora of Christianity.”

We are told that we sadly mistake when we say that the Hebrew language had no word to signify represent. Be it observed, however, that this objection was made, not by Clarke at the beginning of this century, but by Du Moulin two centuries before. As it happens we have lying before us, three editions of Horne, and feel surprised that the writer of the letter could set forth such an incorrect statement as he has done. Horne has altered his article in his seventh edition; he has left out some matter to make room for other arguments, but his statements respecting the Hebrews are substantially the same as in the sixth. His very words are,—both in his seventh edition of 1834, — the edition referred to by Mr. O'R.,—and in his ninth edition of 1846,—“The Hebrews having no particular word denoting to represent, supply its place by the verb substantive.” Indeed, it was from this very edition, and this very page, that the original extract was taken, which called forth Mr. O'Reily's letter, (and in our last article we took no higher ground than in page 202 the former,) and yet he tells us that Mr. Horne in that very place has expunged his statement, and must have been satisfied with Dr. Wiseman's refutation. We have not the means of testing his references to Drs. Wiseman and Lee, but if they are of a piece with his reference to Horne, we have no hesitation in saying that they carry no authority. Mr. Horne may be wrong in his statement, but one thing is certain, that he was not satisfied with its refutation by Dr. Wiseman, since he published it not only in his seventh edition of 1834, but in his ninth edition of 1846. Dr. Clarke may be wrong, when he says “that in the Hebrew, Chaldee, and Chaldeo-Syriac languages, there is no term which expresses to mean, signify, denote, “although we can hardly believe that if the Syriac contains “upwards of forty such expressions” they should all have escaped Dr. Clarke's notice; but we did not take Dr. Clarke's ground, and hence we are not called to defend his position. We have adduced a number of passages from both the Old and New Testaments. which shew clearly that it is a prevailing idiom in Scripture to employ the verb to be in the sense of represent, and that by interpreting this is my body, as meaning this represents my body, we are doing no violence to the language of Scripture; and this is all that appears necessary to establish the argument. We never asserted that Christ was compelled to use the words to be, but that this was the natural mode of expression for to represent. It would have been much more convincing, if, instead of referring us to Dr. Wiseman's Horæ Syriacæ lying in the British Museum, and Dr. Lee's Prolegomena, contained in Bagster's Polyglott, Mr. O'R. had furnished us with a list of passages from the Old or New Testament, in which words signifying to represent are used; and had shewn us that it would have been idiomatic, or in accordance with the current language of Scripture, for our Saviour to have said, this represents my body, &c., supposing that he intended, as we believe he did, to convey that meaning; till this be shown, we hold, that when we explain this page 203 expression according to the principles of common’ sense, and the current idiom of Scripture, we are holding the truths revealed by the Holy Spirit.

In proof of our assertion that we are warranted from the context to explain ‘This is my body, this is my blood', figuratively as much as ‘I am the door,’ &c., we simply request our readers to examine for themselves, 1 Cor. x. xi., and on the ‘fruit of the vine,’ Math. xxvi. 27–29, Mark xiv. 23–25, as well as Luke xxii. 14–20, and they will find the words ‘bread,’ ‘cup,’ and the ‘fruit of the vine,’ used indiscriminately, after as well as before, Christ said ‘This is my body’ &c. The objection drawn from the case of the blind man, the rod of Moses, and Man being called still dust, goes for nothing, till we have the same evidence for the change of the bread, that we have for the miracle, in the blind man receiving his sight,the rod becoming a serpent, and the dust being organised and animated with a living soul. The proof of the dust being changed into man is so clear, that calling him dust can lead to no mistake; it is not so with the bread in the Eucharist.

Our limits will not allow us to review all the arguments advanced in this letter, and with a word or two on one other topic we shall dismiss it at present; we refer to the Fathers. On this subject we may remark that as the Eucharist is a standing ordinance in the Church, for all times and all places, intended for all the adult members of Christ's Visible Church, we may safely conclude that its nature will be plainly taught in Scripture; and in the plain, common sense interpretation of the Scripture, the meaning of the institution will be obvious to all, if they will only study it with diligence and prayer; and that any view of this subject that cannot be supported by Scripture alone, is not worth holding. Fathers, that the mere general declaration of the Fathers, where they are simply using the language of Scripture, or are evidently speaking loosely or figuratively, can prove nothing either on the one side or the other. That this is the character of the quotations that Mr. O'R. has brought forward, may be easily shown. As it page 204 was not till after the Arian Controversy was discussed so fully in the Council of Nice, A.D. 325, that the orthodox writers found it necessary to be so exact in their expressions when speaking of the Trinity; so it was not till the doctrine of transubstantiation was brought forward with such prominence, that those who held the Scriptural view of the Eucharist found it necessary to be so exact in the use of terms when speaking of the Lord's supper. Those who may wish to see how the sentiments of the Fathers coincide on this point with the Protestant view, will find apposite quotations from their writings in Du Moulin's Buckler of the Faith, pp. 513—523, (London, 1623.) Dr. A. Clarke's Com. Math. xxvi. Dr. Elliot's Delineation of Roman Catholicism, Edited by the Rev. J. S. Stamp, pp. 165—168, (London, 1844, 8 vo.) and a list of other authors is given by Horne, vol. ii, p. 449. We select a few specimens of the shortest. Tertullian of the second century says—“The bread which he had taken and distributed to his disciples, he made his body by saying ‘This is my body,’ that is, ‘the figure (figura) of my body.'” Augustine, who has been so often quoted against us, says—“The Lord did not doubt to say, ‘this is my body,’ when he gave the sign (signum) of his body.” and Jerome informs us that Christ did not offer water but wine as a type (in typo) of his blood.

What a carnalizing idea it produces of religion to have the flesh and blood of the Son of God mingling with our flesh and blood! Such a carnal fellowship as this we disavow. But there is a spiritual fellowship that we ardently long after, and which the commemoration of his death, by the divinely appointed symbols, is pre-eminently calculated to promote; a delightful sense of Christ's ineffable love to us, and the exciting within our souls of an ardent love and affection to our ever blessed Redeemer in return. Our desire is that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith; that so we may be rooted and grounded in love;—that we may have the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge; and in this way be filled with all the fulness of God.