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in simplicity and sincerity, desiring to know, and willing to obey, shall inherit an abiding state, in which he shall feel no hunger, and suffer no thirst. The whole of this language, you perceive, is highly figurative, and the same mode of speech is maintained throughout the chapter.
" Your fathers," continues our Lord, “ did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead :- This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if a man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” All this his hearers seem most preposterously to have taken in a literal sense ; for they “strove among themselves, saying, how can this man give us his flesh to eat ?" To this Jesus makes no direct reply, but continues the allusion : “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day: for my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth
flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” We will now inquire, first, what is couched under this figure,—what doctrine these words inculcate when divested of their allegorical dress; and secondly, whether they are at all applicable to that sacred rite, which, in commemoration of our crucified Master, we are now about to celebrate.
Jesus Christ, according to his own express declaration, condescended to assume a human shape that he might “give light and life to the world;" that mankind might be instructed in the knowledge of God, and fashion their lives by his law. In this discourse, He invites the people among whom He had previously manifested his divine power, to receive Him as the Messenger of GOD,—as the Saviour of the world,-as that Messiah, the Anointed of the Lord, so long promised by a race of prophets, High Priest of good things to come, of whom all the oblations and victims of their law were but types and emblems; who,“ by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, should enter once into the holy place, having obtained, for all, eternal redemption.”
Thus to receive Christ, as their supreme legislator, and spiritual high-priest, He taught them, was to partake of the bread which came down from heaven: His statutes and judgments, His righteous laws, and sanctifying institutions, would strengthen and sustain their souls, as effectually as the bread of this earth would nourish and support their bodies. Except, therefore, ye thus “ eat the flesh of the Son of man,"_embrace His doctrine, as divinely inspired, and regulate your conduct by His precepts,-except “ye drink His blood," — avail yourselves of that oblation which He offers once for the sins of all,ye
have no life in you,”-no spiritual life,-no part in that heavenly inheritance, of which your promised land was only the shadow. whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood," -whoso acknowledges me and my religion before men, and makes it the rule of his life and manners,—whoso accepts my mediation, reverences my ordinances, and shows himself my disciple, by
cheerful conformity to all that I teach and to all that I enjoin,-he “ hath eternal life,”—hath a share in the endless felicity of my kingdom; and I, whose voice “all that are in the graves shall hear,” “ will raise him up at the last day."
This, I conceive, is the sense in which the Israelites of those days were to understand these figurative and forcible expressions. And here I will just observe by the way, that however strange and repulsive such ideas might appear to an abstracted philosopher of Greece or Rome, there could be nothing new, or repugnant, in the doctrine of atonement through the blood of a vicarious sufferer, to the Hebrew tribes, with whom such things were familiar from their infancy : “For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people, according to the Law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you: Moreover, he sprinkled likewise with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry: And almost all things are by the Law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."
In a word, then, the sincere reception of Christianity is eating “ the true bread which the Father giveth us from heaven ;" and whosoever thus spiritually eateth the flesh of the Son of man and drinketh His blood,--whosoever becomes His disciple in heart and mind, as well as in name and outward show,—“ shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.”
This interpretation is confirmed by what our great Master further declares in the sequel. When many of the disciples, on hearing such bold language, exclaimed, “ This is a hard saying; who can hear it ?" “ Doth this offend you ?” he rejoins—“ It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” It is the spiritual sense, the thing signified, that gives vigour and animation, and the true import to discourse ;-and to this you are to look; not to the literal meaning. We may
therefore conclude that “to eat the flesh, and drink the blood of Christ,” “ to dwell in Him and He in us," is to become “ of the same mind;" to be his disciples indeed; to accept him gratefully as our Redeemer, as the Lord our Righteousness; to plead his atonement, to imitate his example, and to keep his commandments.
Secondly, We were to inquire whether these words are at all applicable to the sacred rite,