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- Religious Reality - 10/25 -


presence is specially manifested through the Bread which embodies Him and the Wine which is His Blood. Bread and wine, solemnly set apart for the purpose of communion and hallowed by the Spirit in response to the prayer of the Church, possess henceforward a significance which did not belong to them before. They are now vehicles or sacraments of the Body and Blood of Christ.

The purpose of the manifestation of Christ's Presence in Holy Communion is that we should receive Him, and a participation in the service which stops short of actual communion is so far incomplete. But it is gratuitous to assume that the reality of the sacramental Presence is limited to the moment of actual or individual reception, and it is untrue to say that attendance at the service, apart from individual reception, is unmeaning. The habitual attendance of persons who are not regular communicants--unless it be in the case of those who for any reason are as yet unconfirmed--falls short of full discipleship and is intrinsically undesirable. But this objection does not apply to attendance at the service on the part of communicant Churchmen who yet on a particular occasion do not communicate: and to attend throughout the service without personally communicating is a procedure infinitely preferable to the irreverent modern custom, still prevalent in too many parishes, of leaving the Church in the course of a celebration of the Communion, and before the consecration has taken place. It is unfair to those who are preparing to receive Communion that their devotions should be disturbed by the noisy egress of a large body of worshippers. It is also quite unintelligible that any Churchman who considers seriously the meaning of the Eucharist should be content to depart before the liturgical drama has reached its climax.

As regards actual reception of Holy Communion, it is a partaking of Christ, who gives Himself therein to His disciples to be in them a spiritual principle of life and power. S. Paul discovers in the Eucharist a spiritual food and drink which is the reality to which the Manna and the Water from the Rock of Hebrew story correspond as types and shadows, and he declares that the Bread which we break is a sharing of the Body of Christ, and that the Cup of Blessing which we bless is a sharing of His Blood. At the same time the Communion is not to be interpreted in any gross or carnal manner, or in such a way as to give colour to the ancient taunt of Celsus, the heathen critic, that Christians were self-confessed cannibals. The Fourth Gospel, which, in a context that is in a general sense eucharistic, ascribes to our Lord strong phrases about the necessity of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, proceeds in the same context to explain that "it is the Spirit that giveth life," that "the flesh," in itself, "profiteth nothing." "The sayings which I have spoken unto you are spirit and are life." In other words, we are to understand that when our Lord uses the terms "flesh" and "blood" He means the Spirit of which His life in the flesh was the expression, and the Life of which His outpoured Blood was the principle: that the inward reality of the Eucharist is to be discovered, not in any quasi-material fleshly embodiment which the Bread conceals, or in any quasi-literal Blood, but rather in the Spirit and the Life of Christ Himself. The Bread is His Body in the sense that it is an embodiment of His Spirit: the Wine is His Blood in the sense that it mediates His Life. The sacrament is to be understood as a "point of personal contact with Jesus Christ." Rightly to receive Communion is to hold spiritual converse with the risen Lord and to find in Him the Bread of Life, the food and sustenance of the soul. So it is that the Eucharist, at once supremely natural and wholly supernatural, is the meeting-place of earth and heaven. From one point of view our worship is in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. It is "with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven," that we laud and magnify GOD'S Holy Name. We join in an eternal act of worship, which is that of the whole Church, the departed with the living, whose adoration ascends continually before the throne of GOD.

If we like to express it so, we are pleading the eternal sacrifice: we are uniting ourselves, in desire and in intention, with Christ's eternal self-devotion and oblation of Himself. Calvary itself was in a sense but the enacted symbol, the supreme outward expression, of our Lord's sacrifice, of which the inward essence is eternal. It is the self-offering of a Will that was wholly dedicated to GOD on others' behalf, obedient even unto death, and through death triumphant: the Will of One "who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to GOD," and who now, being ascended into the heavens, for ever liveth to make intercession for us. Looking at the Eucharist from this point of view we are bold to approach the Throne of GOD and to offer Christ on our behalf--"Behold the Lamb of GOD that taketh away the sin of the world": but we proceed also to offer ourselves in Christ--"Here we offer and present unto Thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy and lively sacrifice unto Thee."

And so doing we are made one with Christ and one in Him with each other. The Eucharist has a social aspect which is too little regarded. It is the sacrament of Holy Fellowship. "We that are many are one Bread, one Body," wrote S. Paul, "for we all partake of the one Bread." The Holy Communion is the sacrament of the unity of all Christians in Christ. The scandal of a divided Christendom shows itself perhaps most of all in the fact that it prevents inter- communion. For that very reason it appears to many persons unreal, and therefore wrong, to practise isolated acts of inter-communion while ecclesiastical differences remain unresolved: it is to conceal the fact of actual disunion beneath the cloak of immediate sentiment. Yet there is a true sense in which, through the Spirit, we _are_, in the act of communion, made one with the fellowship of all faithful people whether in the sphere of this earthly life or in the world that is beyond death and tears: with all those, of whatever race or rank or age or country, who amid whatever diversity of language and liturgy and denominational loyalty, have named the name of Christ and received the life of Christ in obedience to His command as they understood it. There is no bond comparable to this bond, and no equality like the equality of those who, high and low, rich and poor, one with another, kneel side by side as brothers and sisters at the common Table of the Lord.

And lastly there is a further point. The Body of Christ is a broken Body and the Blood is Blood that is shed. "This is My Body which is for you"--for you, and never for Myself. The Bread is the Bread of Sacrifice and the Cup is the Stirrup-cup of Service: and part, surely, and a great part, of the meaning of the words, "Do this in remembrance of Me," is "Break your bodies in union with My Body broken: give your lives in sacrifice for others, as I have given Mine." The Eucharist, rightly regarded, is the mainspring and motive-power of service, the principle of a life that is crucified. And all those who in their day and generation have spent their lives unselfishly and used themselves up in promoting causes not their own are partakers in that Holy Fellowship.

At this present time of war and tumult, when all the powers of Hell are abroad and leagued together for the onset, we think of that which alone can be the redemption of war, even the self-devotion of those who, hating the whole devilish business and going into it only because they saw no alternative to Duty's clear and imperative call, have been counted worthy to show forth the love than which no man hath greater, even to lay down their lives for their friends. There is no one so unfortunate as not to have known some such men. And at the Communion Service "in the act of conscious incorporation into the fellowship of the love of Jesus," it may be given to us in some measure to understand these things, and to know that we are become partakers in the power of a world-wide crucifixion, a fellowship of broken bodies and lives poured out in Christ: and to know also--with a knowledge that is not of this world--that somehow, in it and through it, the Spirit of GOD in Christ will bring redemption.

So wonderful, so many-sided, and so full of meaning is this Sacrament: so great is the measure of their loss who, professing and calling themselves Christians, are content to ignore the last injunction of the Christ to His disciples on the night before He died that we might live.

CHAPTER X

THE LAST THINGS

"It is appointed unto men once to die, and after death the judgment."

"He shall come again in glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose Kingdom shall have no end."

"I believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting."

Jesus Christ spoke in symbolical language of His coming in the clouds of heaven as Son of Man with power and great glory, and declared that the Divine verdict upon the lives and deeds of men should be determined by their relationship to Him and to His ideals. Both in the days of the Apostles, and for the most part among succeeding generations of Christian people down to the present time, it would seem that a more literal signification was attached to His words than they will really bear. The truth of the Divine Judgment upon men's lives nevertheless stands. "GOD is a great Judge, strong and patient: and GOD is provoked every day." We must, however, be careful, in thinking of the reality of Divine Judgment, to interpret the justice of GOD in the light of the Christian revelation of His Love. The attitude of GOD towards sinners is never anything but love, though a love that is holy and righteous, and never merely sentimental. GOD as Christ reveals Him can never impose or inflict a merely external penalty upon a sinner, other than the supreme penalty of being simply what he is, viz. a soul who by his own deliberate actions has separated himself from goodness and from GOD. It is important in thinking of the Judgment to remember that the essence of judgment is neither the sentence nor the penalty: it is simply the verdict, whereby moral and spiritual realities are revealed, shams and disguises are stripped off, and evil is separated from good. [Footnote: The associations of an English law-court, in which the verdict is the work of the jury, are here misleading.] If our Lord, speaking in parables, declared, of such as had neglected to do good, that "these shall go away into eternal punishment," a considerable body of orthodox opinion in the Christian Church has always held that the punishment in question consists essentially in the "penalty of loss"--the loss of goodness and of GOD, the loss of capacity for the life which is life indeed--rather than in any imagined "penalty of sense," or purposeless prolongation of pain. The imagery which our Lord employed to describe the spiritual condition known as "hell" is taken from the Valley of Hinnom, a ravine just outside the walls of Jerusalem, in which fires were continually maintained for the destruction of refuse, and maggots preyed on offal. The imagery is sufficiently terrible; but it suggests the destruction of waste products in GOD'S creation, rather than the prolonged torture of living beings. It may well be that a soul, which by persistent and deliberate rejection of every appeal of the Divine Love even to the very end--in this life or beyond--has become so wholly self-identified with evil as to be finally incapable of life in GOD, passes, of necessity, out of sentient existence altogether. We do not know. What we do know is, in the first place, that wickedness is of its very nature instinct with the eternal quality of "hell"; and, in the second


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