Eucharistic Sacrifice

While I am still working on “authority” . . .

Jeffrey Steel of Meam Commemoriationem has alerted me to a both a website and blog of Brian Douglas, and Australian Anglican priest, that deal with Anglican eucharistic theology. It is a large project, particularly the website, and deserves attention (although I wish he would darken the print; reading it is a bit of an eye strain).

Fr. Douglas’s internet endeavours have inspired me, as I toil away on other projects, to post something now that I have held in reserve for just such a moment.

Some years ago (I forget the circumstances), I picked up pamphlet, edited by one J. E. Barnes and published by the Society of St. Peter and Paul in 1975, that contained extracts illustrating the eucharistic theology of a number of 17th century Anglican theologians, particularly as it related to eucharistic sacrifice. The pamphlet, “Testimonies to Anglican Teaching on the Eucharistic Oblation by XII Classical Anglican Divines,” is a useful introduction to the subject. I present the texts here, with links to biographical and critical material as well as in some cases to the full texts themselves. Make of them what you will . . .

BTW, not all of the authors given below have links, as you can see. If anyone knows or wants to suggest some, particularly for those divines who have no links, please let me know. Also, I propose a contest for the reader who can suggest the fairest (i.e. least polemical without glossing) website to go to for William Laud. A quick look around the internet suggests to me that he still inspires passions sufficient to make this a less than easy task.

I. RICHARD FIELD, (1561-1616), Dean of Gloster.

A MAN may be said to offer a thing unto God, in that he bringeth it to his presence, setteth it before his eyes, and offereth it to his view, to incline him to do something by the sight of it, and respect had to it. In this sort Christ offereth himself and his body once crucified, daily in heaven, and so intercedeth for us . . . And in this sort we also offer him daily on the altar, in that, commemorating his death and lively representing his bitter passions endured in his body upon the cross, we offer him that was once crucified and sacrificed for us on the cross, and all his sufferings, to the view and gracious consideration of the Almighty, earnestly desiring, and assuredly hoping, that he will incline to pity us and shew mercy upon us, for his dearest Son’s sake.

From Of the Church, 1606.

2. FRANCIS WHITE, (c. 1564-1638), Bishop of Ely.

TOUCHING the name and title of sacrifice, our Church giveth the same to the Holy Eucharist; and that, not only in respect of certain pious actions annexed unto it, to wit, prayer, thanksgiving, alms, etc., but in regard of the Eucharist itself, wherein, first, the outward elements of bread and wine receiving the calling of God are made sacred, and appointed to divine worship, and become instruments of grace to men. Secondly, the Body and Blood of Christ, present to the soul, are by the faith and devotion of the Pastor and people which receive these mysteries, presented and tendered to God, with request, that He will vouchsafe for the merit thereof, to bestow grace and remission of sins, and other benefits upon them.

From The Orthodox Faith and Way to the Church, 1617.

3. WILLIAM LAUD, (1573-1645), Archbishop of Canterbury.

AT and in the Eucharist we offer up to God three sacrifices: one by the priest only; that is the commemorative sacrifice of Christ’s death, represented in bread broken and wine poured out. Another by the priest and people jointly; and that is the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. . . The third, by every particular man for himself only: and that is the sacrifice of every man’s body and soul.

From Conference With Fisher, 1639.

4. HERBERT THORNDIKE, (1598-1672), Prebendary of Westminster.

THAT the eucharist may very properly be accounted a sacrifice propitiatory and impetratory both, in this regard—because the offering of it up to God, with and by the said prayers, doth render God propitious, and obtain at His hands the benefits of Christ’s death which it representeth—there can be no cause to refuse, being no more than the simplicity of plain Christianity enforceth.

From An Epilogue, Bk. III, 1659.

5. HAMON L’ESTRANGE, (1605-1660), An Anglican layman.

THE whole action of the sacred Communion is elemented of nothing but sacrifices and oblations. So in our Church, so in the Apostolick, which should be the grand exemplar to all; . . . The second sacrifice is the consecration of the elements, and presenting them up to God by the prayers of the minister and congregation, whereby they become that Sacrament for which they are set apart and deputed.

From The Alliance of Divine Offices, 1659.

6. HENRY HAMMOND, (1605-1660), Canon of Christ Church, Oxford.

[THE end for which the eucharist was instituted] . . . a commemoration of the death of Christ, a representing His passion. to God, and a coming before Him in His name, first to offer our sacrifices of supplications and praises, in the name of the crucified Jesus, and secondly, to commemorate that His daily continual sacrifice or intercession for us at the right hand of His Father now in heaven.

From A Practical Catechism, 1644.

7. JEREMY TAYLOR, (1613-1667), Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore.

AS Christ is pleased to re-present to His Father that great sacrifice as a means of atonement and expiation for all mankind, and with special purposes and intendment for all the elect, all that serve him in holiness; so He hath appointed that the same ministry shall be done upon earth too, in our manner according to our proportion; and therefore hath constituted and separated an order of men who, by “showing forth the Lord’s death” by sacramental re-presentation, may pray unto God after the same manner that our Lord and High Priest does; that is, offer to God and re-present in this solemn prayer and sacrament, Christ as already offered; so sending up a gracious instrument, whereby our prayers may, for His sake and in the same manner of intercession, be offered up to God in our behalf, and for all them for whom we pray, to all those purposes for which Christ died.

From The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living, 1650.

8. DANIEL BREVINT, (1616-1695), Dean of Lincoln.

THIS Sacrifice, which by a real oblation was not to be offered more than once, is by an Eucharistical and devout Commemoration to be offered up every day. This is what the Apostle calls, “to set forth the death of the Lord”; to set it forth I say as well before the Eyes of God his Father as before the Eyes of all men: . . . the sacrifice, as ’tis itself and in itself, it can never be reiterated; yet by way of devout Celebration and Remembrance it may nevertheless be reiterated every day.

From The Christian Sacrament and Sacrifice, 1673.

9. GEORGE BULL, (1634-1710), Bishop of St. David’s.

THEY [the ancient Fathers] held the Eucharist to be a commemorative sacrifice, and so do we. This is the constant language of the ancient liturgies: “we offer by way of commemoration”, according to our Saviour’s words when He ordained this holy rite, “Do this in commemoration of Me”. In the eucharist then, Christ was offered, not hypostatically as the Trent fathers have determined (for so He was but once offered) but commemoratively only, and this commemoration is made to God the Father, and is not a bare remembering, or putting ourselves in mind of Him. In the Holy Eucharist therefore, we set before God the bread and wine as ‘figures or images of the precious blood of Christ shed for us, and of His precious body’, (they are the very words of the Clementine Liturgy) and plead to God the merit of His Son’s sacrifice once offered on the cross for us sinners.

From Answer to a Query of the Bishop of Meaux, 1705.

10. GEORGE HICKES, (1642-1715), Dean of Worcester.

THE Eucharistical sacrifice is . . . a federal commemorative sacrifice, in which as Christ represents unto God His passion, and the merits of it, as our High-Priest in heaven, so in this sacrifice the priests upon earth in conjunction with it, present, and commemorate the same unto Him, setting before Him the symbols of His dead body and blood effused for our sins.

From The Christian Priesthood Asserted, 1707.

11. JOHN JOHNSON, (1662-1725), Vicar of Cranbrook.

THE true and full notion of the Eucharist is, that it is a religious feast upon Bread and Wine, that have first been offered in sacrifice to Almighty God, and are become the mysterious Body and Blood of Christ . . . We do not think we offer another Sacrifice, but only continue and perpetuate that which Christ offered; yet neither are we so stupid as to believe that the sacrifice we offer is substantially the same with that offered by Him. We pretend not that His own natural Body is, or can be, sacrificed again, but only His Sacramental; and therefore we allow that it is commemorative: but we cannot see the consequence which our adversaries would draw from thence, viz. that it is not a real and proper sacrifice . . . It is therefore sufficiently clear, that God does apply the effects of the great Sacrifice to us in the Eucharist; and that in order to obtain this application, we must apply to Him by Sacrifice, even the Sacrifice of Christ’s Body and Blood.

From The Unbloody Sacrifice, 1724.

12. CHARLES WHEATLY, (1686-1742), Fellow of St. John’s College, Oxford.

Since the Death of Christ hath reconciled God to Mankind, and his Intercession alone obtains all good things for us, we are enjoined to make all our Prayers in his Name; and as a more powerful way of interceding, to represent to his Father that his Death and Sacrifice by celebrating the Holy Eucharist.

From A Rational Illustration Upon The Book of Common Prayer, 1710.


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