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 Issues | Five Fundamentals | Holy Communion

Five Fundamentals of the Faith

by the Rev J.W.Hayes.

The Church Book Room 1924

Holy Communion - Reformed Teaching

Let us now try to understand what our Reformers meant by the word, “pledge,” “instrument”, “symbol” or “seal.”  It signified a rightful “conveyance,” as the giving of a staff, ring, twig, sod or key, under the old Feudal laws. Another suggestive and helpful illustration, is that of the usual legal document - which involves that although the grant be, in words, immediate, yet it cannot become truly effective until certain conditions are fulfilled.  Waterland's chapter on this subject is worthy of careful study, and we will close this part of our subject by quoting some of his words:-

Frequently in human affairs things or persons are considered very differently from what they really are in themselves, by a kind of construction of law; and they are supposed to be, to all intents and purposes, and in full legal effect, what they are presumed to serve for, and to supply the place of..”  “A deed of conveyance, or any like instrument under hand and seal, is not a real estate, but it conveys one; and it is in effect the estate itself, as the estate goes along with it, and as the right, title, and property (which are real acquirements) are, as it were, bound up in it. If any person should seriously object, in such a case, that he sees nothing but wax and parchments, and that he does not apprehend how they can be of any extraordinary value to him, or how he is made richer by them, he might be pitied for his unthinking ignorance or simplicity; but if, in a contrary extreme, he should be credulous enough to imagine that the parchments themselves are really the estate, are so many houses, or tenements, or acres of glebe, enclosed in his cabinet, he could not well be presumed to be far short of distraction.”

This interpretation entirely does away with any misconception as to what the elements mean. In other words, Christ is not ON the table, but AT the table, to welcome and to bless all who are worthy recipients of His Grace. Hence the idea of reservation for possible purposes of adoration, is abhorrent as well as contrary to our Articles of Faith. No true soul can bear to think of the Divine Master as a prisoner in a Pyx, or Tabernacle, but rather as present in the heart and sanctifying the personality throughout. This also, is why priestly vestments are not desired nor Masses acknowledged.  Colours, lights and vestments are nothing in themselves, but they are usually the sure indications of doctrines. Lord Halifax leaves us no room to doubt on this point, for he says: “We (Anglo-Catholics) value the vestments, other reasons apart, because they are a witness to the fact that the Lord's Supper is neither more nor less than the Mass in English.”  The true Churchman must say to this: “God forbid.”

This section of our subject may well conclude with the evidence of some well-known writers, viz.:-

Bishop Ridley, viz.: “Why dost thou set up again many altars of Idolatry, which by the word of God were justly taken away? Oh I Why hast thou overthrown the Lord's table? Why dost thou daily delude the people, masking in thy Masses, in the stead of the Lord's Holy Supper?” (Ridley's works, ed. Parker Soc. P. 409) ; or again on P. 119.

“If ye be desirous to know what things do offend me in the Mass, and seem to repugn most manifestly against God's Word, they be these: (a) The strange tongue (Latin); (b) The want of showing of the Lord's death; (c) The breaking of the Lord's Commandment of having a Communion (by celebrating solitary Masses); (d) The Sacrament is not communicated to all under both kinds, according to the Word of the Lord; (e) The sign is servilely worshipped for the thing signified; and (f) Christ’s passion is injured forasmuch as this Mass sacrifice is affirmed to remain for the purging of sins.”

Bishop Geste, in 1548, wrote that “The Priest Mass” as he calls it, is to be “hated and detested, for both it and the Communion cannot be jointly regarded. Whoso loveth the one must needs hate the other-for why, they be contraries.” (Dugdale's Life of Geste. P. 140).

Bishop Jeremy Taylor finishes by saying: “A sacramental Presence means not being in a place, but being in relation to a person.”

So say Peter Martyr, Alasco, Cranmer, Ridley, Herman, Shype, Tyndale, Martin Bucer, Latimer, Burnet, Jensel, Thirlwall, Beveridge, Stillingfleet, Wordsworth and Ryle.

The Black Rubric at the end of the Communion Service denounces such idolatrous practices, while the office for the Communion of the sick explains, that if Repentance and Faith are present the sacrament is duly effective, under these peculiar circumstances, viz.: “He doth eat and drink the body and blood of Our Saviour Christ profitably to his soul's health, although he doth not receive the Sacrament with his mouth.”

The Church of England doctrine, then, is not only directly contrary to that of both the Greek and Roman churches, but it is entirely in harmony with sub-apostolic custom.

(See Ignatius “To the Trallians”.  “I desire the bread of God, the bread of life which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born in the end of time, of the race of David and of Abraham; and I desire to drink his blood, which is incorruptible love and life eternal.”  (1st sec. A. A. C.). Chap. viii. 100 A.D.  “The Apology of Aristides” 140 A.D. “The Didache” 120 A .D. “The Octavius” of Minutius Felix, 200 A.D.)

The true doctrine was founded on the explanation given by our Lord of His own words, in John 6, 63, viz.: “The flesh profiteth nothing.” It was the only doctrine taught by the Catholic Church of the earliest periods, and the meaning of the word Catholic is, as Vincentius of Lerins said in 443 A.D.: “The faith that has been held always, everywhere and by all.”  This faith we hold notwithstanding the thunders of the Papal Bull “Unam Sanctam” where Rome says: “We declare, affirm, define and pronounce that it is altogether necessary for Salvation that every human creature should obey the Roman Pontiff.”  But, after this, is it any wonder that his priests, according to Bernardine of Sienna, presume to call Deity down on their altars, vis.: “The priest may in a certain manner be called the creator of his Creator.”  (St. Liguori's “Selva.” P. 32.)

The Romish doctrine called comitancy is clearly stated in the Decrees of Trent (Sess. XIII. in re Eucharistia. cap. III.), viz.: “His body under the species of bread, and his blood under the species of wine, by virtue of the words of consecration: His body also under the species of wine, and His blood under the species of bread, and His soul under each species, through the natural connection and concomitance by which all the parts of Christ Our Lord, who has risen from the dead, no more to die, are closely connected together: and His Divinity through the wonderful and hypostatical union thereof with His body and soul, that it is most certain that all is contained under either species and under both; for Christ, whole and entire, exists under the species of bread and in every particle thereof, and under the species of wine and in all its parts.”  This, of course, is why the priest considers it unnecessary to give the wine to the laity. A word may be advisable here on the variety of doctrine known as Con-substantiation. The Lutherans are supposed to hold it. In reality it does not imply a change of substance in the bread and wine, after consecration, but the idea is, that with, and by means of, the consecrated elements, the true natural body and blood of Christ are  communicated to the receiver. (See Brown on the Articles. P. 678.)

 

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