The Bread of Life Who Came Down From Heaven

The reality and truth of the sacrament of the Eucharist has been proved by two indisputable reasons: 1) by the law whereby the Old Testament was sanctioned; 2) by the law whereby the institution of the Passover, or the sacrifice for the sake of freedom, was made obligatory upon the Jews. For the reality and truth of the prefigured facts of the New Testament can be inferred from the reality and truth of the types of the Old. In the present article we are to prove the truth of our faith also by means of the words which Christ spoke to His disciples concerning the mystery in advance, before He delivered it to His disciples. The question whether Christ meant the words “body” and “blood” as we understand them and believe was state at the outset. This question Christ Himself solves with what He taught at Capernaum as related by John the Evangelist in the sixth chapter of his gospel.

In talking with the Jews and urging them to work, not for the sake of perishable food, but for the sake of food that endures unto life everlasting, Christ called Himself the bread of life come down out of heaven, that anyone might eat thereof and live for ever. “I am the bread descended from heaven; if an one eat of this bread he shall live forever.” Then He explains that He means by the word “bread” His own flesh. “And the bread which I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” When the Jews, being scandalized at this, said, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat,” Jesus said to them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, an drink His blood, ye have no life in you. He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood hath life everlasting; and I will raise him up in the last day.” And in order to remove all possible doubt about this, He adds, “For my flesh is truly food, and my blood is truly drink. He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood abideth in me, and I in him.” Here Christ clearly teaches that His body is truly food and His blood truly drink, and that without such food and drink everlasting life cannot be given to us mortals. But how is the body of Christ given to be eaten, and His blood to be drunk. This He taught and delivered to us through the mystery of the Eucharist when He said: “Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you.” Drink ye of it all. For this is my blood of the New Testament which is shed for you and for many others for the remission of sins.” Here, then, you can see that Christ interprets His meaning by word and deed. He called His flesh bread of life everlasting, and He called the bread of the mystery of the Eucharist His body, and the cup His blood. To the congregation at Capernaum He taught that He was to give His own flesh and His own blood for food and drink, that those who eat and drink of it may have life everlasting. At the supper of Holy Thursday He fulfilled the promise, and delivered the sacrament through which the new passover is eaten and drunk, which is to say the body and blood of the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world and freeth our souls from the slavery of the supersensible Pharaoh. Just as in the case of that typical passover anyone who failed to eat of it was condemned to death, as also anyone who failed to mark his doorposts with the blood of the lamb sacrificed, so in the case of the real passover, or Easter, he that fails to eat the body of the Lamb of God, and to drink His blood, is condemned to death. “Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” Since, therefore, Christ called the bread and the cup of the mystery of the Eucharist His flesh and blood, since this bread is the cause of life everlasting to those who eat it, while in those who do not eat it there is no life, but death everlasting, since Christ could not have made it a law to eat mere bread and to drink mere wine, as a condition to unite with Him and enjoyment of life everlasting, it can safely and indisputably be concluded that Christ mean the words “body” and “blood” as we understand them and believe. Others (Protestants), since they say that they do not eat the body of Christ, but mere bread, and drink mere wine, it follows that these persons have no life in them, that they do not abide in Christ, nor does Christ abide in them; that they are apostles of hell, and not of heaven; and that they are working for the destruction of souls, and not for their salvation. Woe, then, to them, and woe to those who follow them. Christ, then, called the Devil a manslayer because he kills a man by means of the commandment which God gives him that he may have life everlasting. For instance, the commandment, “Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you. Drink ye of it all; for this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many others for the remission of sins.” This commandment, I say, was given us that we might have life everlasting, that we might abide in Christ, and Christ in us. By traducing the mystery and instilling thoughts of unbelief, the Devil slays those who give credence to him by means of the life-giving commandment of Christ. For Christ can never act contrary to His own words, and disregard His own nature. And since He said, “Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, ye have no life in you,” He cannot give everlasting life to men who have violated this commandment, even on the supposition that they have kept every other commandment; for Christ would thus be repudiating His own words, which is impossible. Well knowing the impossibility of this, the Devil persuades the Protestants to violate the life­-giving commandment of Christ, and to keep the rest, from which they can derive no benefit inasmuch as they have violated the commandment of life everlasting. The gates of Paradise cannot be opened to a Protestant who has not eaten the flesh of the Son of man, nor drunk His blood, even though it be supposed that he has not committed any other sin, and that he has achieved all the other virtues. The reason of this impossibility arises from the fact that Christ cannot repudiate Christ, the Truth cannot deny Itself. So open your eyes, Protestants, and see the trap of the Devil in which you have been caught. Save yourselves, and do not become the cause of the destruction of others.

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