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view as late as the beginning of the fourth cen-
tury :

"What then does God require from man but
worship of the mind which is pure and holy ?
It is justice only which God requires. In this is
sacrifice, in this is the worship of God."

1 Professor A. V. G. Allen, who gives these quotations,
comments thus upon them : " These utterances belong to


Now, I ask you, is it conceivable that if the early
Church had held any view of the Eucharist as a
Sacrifice in the least degree corresponding to yours,
her representative men would have used such language
as this, that they would have refrained from meet-
ing the pagan attack with an exposition of this
doctrine ?

But still further, when we turn to the early patristic
accounts of the Lord's Supper which have come down
to us, we find the same marked absence of any
reference to the sacrificial idea.

I will not insist on the evidence from the Teaching
of the Twelve Apostles, for to us also its teaching
appears defective. It does not represent the full
Christian consciousness as we find it in the New
Testament. Nevertheless you have to reckon with
the fact that this very early document, which was
widely esteemed in the Church, prescribes Eucharistic
prayers wherein there is not a trace of the sacrificial
idea. But when we come to Justin Martyr, about

the Church of the first three centuries. Another motive was
destined to become influential, which should so reverse the
spirit and the action of the Christian Church that not only
would language like this become unfamiliar and unwelcome,
but it would even appear as hostile to the principles of
Christian worship in a later age" (Christian Institutions,
p. 451). It was this reversal of the Apostolic and primitive
conception which it required the Reformation to reverse.


the middle of the second century, we have two
detailed accounts of the manner of celebrating the
Eucharist. Here is one of them :

" There is then brought to the president or leader
among the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed
with water ; and he, taking them, gives praise and
glory to the Father of the Universe through the name
of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at
considerable length for our being considered worthy to
receive these things. And when he has concluded the
prayers and thanksgivings, all the people express assent
by saying Amen. And when the president has given
thanks, and the people have expressed assent, those
who are called by us deacons give to each of those
present, to partake of the bread and wine mixed with
water, over which the thanksgiving was pronounced
and to those who are absent they cany away a

Justin's second account is practically to the same

Again you observe there is no trace of any sacrificial
idea connected with the Eucharist. There is no
offering up of the elements. Yet you would have us
believe that this was in the early Church, and must
be now, an essential part and the prominent part or
the Sacrament.

The burden of proof is upon you.


The passages of Scripture on which you rely do
not bear out your contention.

The Church of the second century was taunted
with its lack of altar and sacrifice.

The descriptions of the Eucharist as celebrated in
the Church of the first two centuries are conspicuously
silent on the subject. And yet you say that this is
" Catholic teaching."

" You build the highest castle of your religion
upon a guess."

How then, you ask, did this idea take its rise ?
How did the Church come (as it did after the third
century) to see in the Eucharist a Sacrifice, to make
oblation of the elements ?

In explaining this we shall account for that general
impression which remains in your mind after studying
the New Testament, and also the frequent references
in early Christian literature to " sacrifice " and
" offering."

One finds in your handbooks those passages which
contain references to Ova-La^ sacrificium^ or oblatio y
in support of this sacrificial theory of the Eucharist,
without the slightest attempt to understand their true
meaning. Fortunately, it will not be necessary to
discuss these cases in detail ; for they all fall under
one general rule, which I give on the authority of the
greatest living master of historical theology. " Thus,


apart from one instance in the Apostolic Constitutions
(f) 7rpo(T<f>opa TOV o-w/iaro? teal rov ai/iaro?) we have
no proofs that before the time of Eusebius in the East
men spoke of an offering of the Body of Christ in the
Lord's Supper." *

The time of Eusebius corresponds with the first
quarter of the fourth century ; and if we go back from
this late point to the close of the second century, we
may make the rule absolute. There is in the first
two centuries no case where "sacrifice" or any
cognate word is used in Christian literature to signify
a sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ.

Christianity stood forth before the world unique
and supreme in its possession of a spiritual conception
of God. This carried with it as a corollary a relation
between God and man which is fundamentally ethical
and spiritual. This relation may find natural expres-
sion in outward forms, and may by them be assisted,
but is in itself primary, prior to all forms, and in-
dependent of them.

" In accordance with the purely spiritual representa-
tion of God, it was firmly held that only a spiritual
service was well-pleasing to Him, and that all cere-
monies were done away. Since, however, according
to Old Testament and Apostolic tradition, it was just

p l Harnack, Dogmengeschkkte, i. p. 391.


as firmly held that Divine worship was sacrifice, the
Christian homage to God was regarded from the point
of view of a spiritual sacrifice. In the most general
sense it was understood as a sacrifice of heart and of
obedience, as also the sanctification of the whole
personality in soul and body to God."

" In the most special sense what was accounted as
the sacrifice (jirpotr^opd, S&pa) was the prayers, sent
up by the worshippers in the Divine service of the
congregation, and the gifts offered along with them,
out of which the communion elements were taken,
and which were applied, partly to a common meal,
partly to the support of the poor." l

This quotation from Harnack refers to the first
period of the Church's history as an organized com-
munity, and covers the writings of the Apostolic
Fathers, of Justin, of Clement, and of Irenaeus.

In a word the Church, being taught by the Spirit
that sacrifices were no longer necessary, learnt of the
same Spirit that all worship is sacrifice.

The early Church recognised that the one final and
sufficient offering of a propitiatory character had been
offered by Christ upon the Cross that the only offer-
ing by man which coulii be well-pleasing in God's
sight was the surrender of himself. This last concep-
tion fully accounts for all language whether in the
1 Harnack, Dogmengeschichte, i. p. 173.


New Testament or in early Christian literature which
seems to have a sacrificial significance.

It is the conception underlying St. Paul's appeal
that the Romans should " present their bodies a living
sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is their
reasonable service," that is to say " their spiritual
worship " (\oyifcr) \arpeia).

These are the "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to
God by Jesus Christ " which St. Peter exhorts his
converts to present.

The sacrifice rendered by Christians according to
the writer to the Hebrews is the " sacrifice of praise
to God," "the fruit of our lips " (Heb. xiii. 15).

For this sacrifice, internally one of self-surrender,
externally one of praise and thanksgiving, which was
required of the individual, the Church provided in its
public worship a symbolic expression. Praise and
prayer, worship and adoration were the spiritual
sacrifices of the Christian ; and the offering or his
substance, the presentation to God for the use of the
poor and the sick of bread and wine and the fruits of
the earth, was the solemn expression of his surrendered
will. Now as these things took place at the weekly
gathering for worship which found its climax in the
" breaking of bread," the idea of " sacrifice " in this
spiritual sense came almost inevitably to be associated
with the Eucharist.


We find the first trace of this in the Teaching of
the Twelve Apostles, where the ceremony is described
as "sacrifice of thanksgiving." From this point
forward the description becomes common, and an
ever-widening entrance is made for the introduction
of Old Testament ideas and Old Testament terms in
connection with sacrifice. The habit of regarding all
prayers as sacrifices, the mistaken interpretation of the
passage in Malachi, the gradual separation of the
Eucharist from the common meal of which it was
at first a part, all these and other influences served to
strengthen and deepen the sacrificial conception. But
even in Justin and Irenaeus the chasm is not bridged
which divides the spiritual sacrifice of thanksgiving in
connection with the Eucharist from a Eucharist which
is in any sense an offering of the body and blood of
Christ. Down to the end of the second century and
even later, it remains true that " the sacrifice in the
Lord's Supper is, in its character and main purport,
that is to say apart from the alms-offering which in
practice was connected with it, nothing else than a
sacrifice of prayer." *

Among the offerings made at this service of weekly
worship were bread and wine, and of them a portion
was set aside for the purpose of fulfilling the Lord's

1 Harnack, Dogmengesckichte, \. p. 179.


command, " Take and eat this, Drink this, Do this,
in remembrance of Me." The offerings of the people
became the elements of the Eucharist ; and in them
the Church of the first two centuries recognised the
" pure " or " unbloody " sacrifice of Malachi. Her
Qvala, or Trpo<r<f)opd was internally the surrendered
heart, symbolically the " offertory."

It is in this connection between the offertory and
the Eucharist that we find the simple explanation of
many allusions which are pressed into the service of
your theory. It is of course impossible for me now to
discuss severally the numerous passages to which I
refer. But I can seriously assure you that every
passage in the writings of the first two centuries
where the idea of sacrifice is connected with the
Eucharist is naturally and wholly explained by one
of three ideas. The reference is either to the offering,
the oblations of the gifts of the people, or it is to the
offering, the sacrifice of the people themselves to God,
or it is to the " sacrifice of prayer."

Take a few illustrations.

i. Prayer as "sacrifice." Justin Martyr says, "I
also assert that both prayers and thanksgivings, made
by those who are worthy, are the only perfect and
well-pleasing sacrifices to God." i

1 Justin, Dial. 1 1 7. The word translated " thanksgiving "



Clement of Alexandria writes : " We worship God
through prayer, and send up this sacrifice as the best
and worthiest after righteousness."

Irenaeus, again, has the same idea : " The Saviour
enjoined us to offer offerings, but not those that are
made by means of senseless beasts or incense, but by
spiritual praise and glory and thanksgiving, and by a
spirit of friendliness and benevolence towards our

And Origen in like manner : " The bread that is
called * eucharist ' is to us a symbol of thanksgiving
towards God." 1

2. The people of Christ as sacrifice. This concep-
tion enjoys an authority which we have seen to be
wholly lacking to your theory. It is strictly in accord-
ance with the teaching of the New Testament. St.
Peter, writing not to the clergy, but to the Christian
community, "strangers scattered throughout Pontus,"
etc., reminds them : " Ye also ... are built
up ... an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual
sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." And
the material of such sacrifices is plain from St. Paul's
exhortation to the Romans : " I beseech you therefore
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,

1 Clem. Strom, vii. 6, 3 1 ; Iren. iii. 1 8, 3. Cyril also speaks
of the hymns and praises offered by the angels and the
redeemed in heaven as " unbloody sacrifices." .


holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual wor-

In both cases there is an emphasis on the word
translated " spiritual " ; a contrast is plainly intended
with the sacrifices of the Jews, and possibly those ot
the heathen, in their external and material character. 1

It is this " offering up of the Gentiles " which St.
Paul looks upon as the end and crown of his ministry,
the purpose of the grace given to him by God (Rom.
xv. 1 6). As the agent in this offering, the Christian
minister, in a certain restricted sense, may be said to
have a " priestly consciousness." But the one offering
and sacrifice to be made by man, referred to in the
New Testament, is this offering of the " congregation
of faithful men," "sanctified by the Holy Spirit,"
which is " the body of Christ." 2

Many phrases in early Christian literature and litur-
gies find their explanation in this most Christian con-
ception that the Church, the Body of Christ, is the
true sacrifice acceptable to God. The finest exposi-

1 It is interesting to notice that the word Aoyijo;, trans-
lated " spiritual," is in the Testament of the Twelve Patri-
archs bracketed with "unbloody"; XoyiKj; KCU dvat/ia/cros
7rpo<r$opa of the sacrifice which the angels offer to God

2 See an article on " Ministering in Sacrifice," in the
Expositor for February, 1900.


tion of it that I know is given by Augustine in the
chapter of the de Civitate which he entitles " Of the
True and Perfect Sacrifice." Weigh well these sen-
tences :

" The true sacrifice is accordingly every work
which is wrought in order that we may abide by a
sacred fellowship in God."

" It is done verily in order that the whole redeemed
state itself, that is the congregation and society of the
saints, may be offered as a universal sacrifice to God
through that great Priest who offered Himself in the
Passion for us, in order that we might be the body or
so great a Head, according to the form 01 a servant."

And then, after quoting the verse in Romans xii.,
he adds : " This is the sacrifice of Christians many
one body in Christ. And this the Church displays in
the Sacrament of the altar familiar to the faithful,
wherein is made plain to her that in that which she
offers she herself is offered."

There can be no doubt that rrom very early times
these two ideas of praise and prayer as sacrifice and or
the people as sacrifice found both a link and a form or
expression in the service called the Eucharist. That
service found its climax naturally in the offering up or
the gifts of the people. The mediaeval corruptions of
the Lord's Supper began when, by a misunderstanding
of the Words of Institution, due to many concurrent


causes, this spiritual sacrifice of thanksgiving and sur-
render was transformed into a material sacrifice or

It is a curious and striking ract that, after all the
changes it has undergone, the Roman Missal still
retains indubitable traces of this, the primitive concep-
tion. In the Ordinary of the Mass the oblation of the
elements takes place before consecration. It is the
wnconsecrated " Host," the simple bread which the
priest offers to God, saying, " Accept, O Holy Father,
this unspotted Sacrifice " (Immaculata Hostia), and
this he offers " for all faithful Christians, both living
and dead."

And your own Communion Service not only is
without any oblation of the consecrated elements what-
ever (an omission which Mr. Sadler " regrets "),* but

1 I may point out that it you are determined to insist on
the " Catholic " view of the Eucharist, this Sacrament of the
English Church lies under grave suspicion of being invalid,
because of the absence from your liturgy of any Epiklesis or
Invocation of the Holy Ghost, which has always been
regarded by the Catholic Church as essential to consecration.
John Ernest Grabe, a profound student of these matters in
the seventeenth century, came to the conclusion that through
this defect in your service the consecration is, if not null
and void, yet so uncertain and doubtful, that he preferred
to leave the Church of England and connect himself with a
Church in London where a different and more satisfactory


preserves its own indelible record of the Scriptural and
primitive practice. In the prayer for the Church
Militant, which occurs of course before the consecra-
tion, solemn oblation is made of the gifts and offerings
of the people : while in one of the prayers after the
Communion oblation is made, not of the elements, but
of the people : " Here we offer and present unto Thee,
O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a
reasonable, holy and lively sacrifice unto Thee." This
is the one sacrifice which is required of the Church,
the one sacrifice which the Church can offer.

The chasm between this, the primitive conception
of worship as the expression of sacrifice, and the
" Catholic " view of the Eucharist as a memorial (and
later a propitiatory) sacrifice may not seem wide, but
beyond doubt is very deep. The Church stood in
safety on one side of this chasm down to the end of
the second century. But already, under various in-
fluences, ideas were being pushed forward which

form of service was in use (see Grabe, De Forma Consecrationis,
p. 89). In my own Church the Epiklesis is never omitted.
Further, you depart from " Catholic " not merely primi-
tive practice by kneeling at the Lord's Supper, which is a
Western innovation, and a late one ; and you make a still
wider breach between yourself and the " undivided "
Church if you adopt the use of unleavened bread in the
Sacrament, which is a Roman innovation not older than the
ninth century.


tended to throw over it a bridge. The man who
completed the bridge over which the Church so disas-
trously passed was Cyprian. It is an unworthy
attempt on the part of your controversialists to dis-
credit this estimate of Cyprian's influence as due
merely to "Protestant" prejudice. The judgment of
Bishop Westcott may dispose of that. " The writings
of Cyprian mark a new stage in the development of
ecclesiastical thought and language. In them the
phraseology of the Levitical law is transferred to
Christian institutions. The correspondence between
the old system and the new is no longer generally that
of the external and material to the inward and spiritual,
but of one outward order to another." l

And the important point to notice is that the forces
to which he yielded, the conceptions of God and His
relation to man to which he gave embodiment, were
not of specifically Christian origin.

On the one hand there were the influences of
Judaism made powerful by the uncritical use of the
Old Testament. Devoid of any sense of historical
development, the Church of that period saw no alter-
native between casting overboard the Old Testament
altogether, and putting it absolutely on the same plane
as the New. Marcion and other heretics did the
former, Cyprian and other Catholics did the latter.
1 Westcott, Hebrews, p. 458.


They put Mosaic ritual and organization on the same
level of authority with Apostolic injunctions and
example. The threefold ministry of high priest,
priest and Levite must needs find its counterpart in
bishop, priest and deacon ; the sacrifice of the
temple its parallel in the sacrifice of the altar. Vest-
ments, incense, etc., were taken over from the Jewish
ritual into the Christian Church. That which had
been at best temporary and typical, which had been
" done away " in the perfect work and revelation of
Christ, was now revived as though it were permanent
and eternal in its value. It would be rash to say that
there was a " movement for introducing sacerdotalism "
in the modern sense of concerted action and conscious
purpose. But the steps of the process can be traced
without difficulty. The whole movement of Mon-
tanism is only to be understood and explained as a
reaction of the primitive consciousness of the Church
against the intrusion of non-Christian elements, ele-
ments which had been transcended by Christianity,
such as sacrifice, priesthood and hierarchical authority.
I do not mean, of course, that we are to see in Mon-
tanism a survival of primitive Christianity, but that
Montanism never could have had the success it attained
if there had not been a widespread perception that a
change of profound importance was threatening the
character and organization of the Church.


This process, which affected all sides of Christian
thought and worship, was crystallized into definite
results through the teaching of Cyprian.

" Cyprian was the first to co-ordinate a specific
sacrifice, namely the sacrifice of the Eucharist, with a
specific priesthood."

" He was the first to describe the * Passion of the
Lord,' nay, the * Blood of Christ ' and the ' Dominica
hostia ' as the material of the Eucharistic oblation." 1
It is not to the Apostles, but to Cyprian, not to
Jerusalem, but to Carthage, not to the new Testa-
ment, but to the tract de Eleemosynis that you must
look for the source of " Catholic teaching."

At the same time a large though an unascertained
influence must be ascribed to the prevailing ideas and
practices of surrounding religions. Into this subject I
cannot now enter, but would merely draw your atten-
tion to the many investigations which have recently
been made into the connections between the "Catholic"
cultus as developed in these centuries and the religious
mysteries of Egypt and of Greece.

But whoever may have been responsible, whatever
may have been the subtle causes at work to produce
this profound and most unfortunate change in the
Church's conception of the Eucharist, it is sufficient

1 Harnack, Dogmengeichicbte, \. p. 390.


for me to have shown you, as I think I have done, that
the idea of the Eucharistic sacrifice is neither Scrip-
tural nor primitive. Even if you modify it to a
"pleading of the sacrifice of Christ," you have no
support from Scripture nor from the testimony of the
early Church. The Scriptural language which is
commonly adduced in its support has an entirely
different reference, while the whole tenor of thought
and practice in the first two centuries is distinctly
against it. If you have any respect for primitive
tradition, still more if you are sincere in your appeal
to Scripture, the Anglo-Catholic interpretation of the
Eucharist must be abandoned.



" So it was with the Christian priesthood. For com-
municating instruction and for preserving public order, for
conducting religious worship and for dispensing social chari-
ties, it became necessary to appoint special officers. But
the priestly functions and privileges of the Christian people
were never regarded as transferred or even delegated to
these officers. They are called stewards or messengers of
God, servants or ministers of the Church, and the like ;
but the sacerdotal title is never once conferred upon them.
The only priests under the Gospel, designated as such in
the New Testament, are the saints, the members of the
Christian brotherhood." BISHOP LIGHTFOOT




WE come now to the difficult and involved question
of the Christian ministry and the claim you make
that it has a specifically priestly character. The
question is difficult, because the further we pene-
trate into " Catholic doctrine " the more do we seem
to part with the New Testament as our authority
and to be referred to inferences, combinations and
presuppositions, the true value of which it is almost
impossible to assign.

Let me point out at once that I am not concerned

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Online LibraryCharles Archibald Anderson ScottEvangelical doctrine Bible truth → online text (page 10 of 16)