时间：<2020-06-01 22:55:51 作者：9j华速物流jlS 浏览量：9777
THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION.
What, then, is the relationship between our sacrifice and His? and how are they connected? There can be no doubt on this subject if we turn to the text, where we read, “I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.” It is, therefore, the deep sense of unmerited mercy that is to p. 43call out the willing sacrifice from a saved and thankful people. This is just how it stands in our Communion Service. We first come with the confession of sin; we then partake of the sacred feast; and seek, by God’s grace, to realise in living faith the body broken and the blood shed for our sins; after which, but not before, we “offer and present to Him ourselves, our souls and our bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto Him.” Our sacrifice, therefore, is the result of our deep sense of unmerited mercy shown in His perfect sacrifice on the cross. It is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It is the willing offering of those who have found mercy, and are most deeply and humbly thankful for it.Here, then, is our delightful assurance. We look back to the work of the cross, and there see the whole burden of all our sin borne by Him, and so put away for ever. We ask no further sacrifice, for we know that He made there upon the cross “a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world;” and we now look to our Blessed Saviour as reigning and saving. Because He reigns we know that all is rightly ordered, and because He saves we believe that we ourselves shall be safe for eternity. We see many things in the world that are altogether opposed to what we think best; but we know that God has put all things under His feet, and given Him to be the Head over all things to His Church; and, therefore, that all is in His hand, and all will work together for good. We find deep sin in ourselves, and we know how hard a thing it is really to walk with God. We find defect in our prayers, defect in our faith, defect in our service, defect in our best efforts, p. 9defect everywhere; but we look up to yonder throne, and there we find a loving Saviour; one who knows our deep need,—one who has died for us,—one who loves us,—one who can feel with us, and who vouchsafes to act as our Priest and Advocate, so that in the midst of all our shortcomings and deficiencies we may, in His Name, and through His most precious blood, “come boldly to the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”One thing is perfectly clear. It is not done by the offering of any fresh sacrifice. This was the chief duty of the Jewish priests, but it forms no part of that of the Christian minister. From one end of the New Testament to the p. 56other you can find no allusion to any such thing as a Christian sacrifice for sin. The one sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ was once and for ever, final, complete, and sufficient for all the sins of the whole world. The work of sacrifice is finished, as we are taught in the words, “To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself;” and if there can be no sacrifice, it is perfectly plain that there can be no sacrificing priest. Nor can the idea be gathered from the Prayer-book any more than it can from the New Testament. There is not an allusion there, either to a sacrifice or a sacrificing priest, except where it says, in Art. xxxi., “The sacrifices of masses, in the which it was commonly said that the priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.” There is no Christian sacrifice recognised by the Church of England but the thankful dedication of heart and life on the part of those who have been saved by the sacrifice of the Lord. But this sacrifice requires no priest to offer it. It may rise at any moment, and from any place, from the depths of any thankful heart. Thus, according to our Communion Service, all offer p. 57it together, and the whole congregation having together met around their Father’s table, and together tasted the joys of their Father’s love, together bring their sacrifice, and say, “Here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee.”
And let me add, that I believe there are many troubled consciences who would find great assistance in their difficulties if they acted more on the advice of the Communion Service. It is a hard thing to bear a burden alone, and I am thoroughly persuaded there are many who might find great help under serious and painful difficulties from the confidential opening of the heart’s wound to a clergyman or Christian p. 66friend. I have known many such cases, and I believe that our just dread of the Romish confessional—and no one can dread it more than I do—combined with our national shyness of character, cuts off many from that which might be an important help to them in their anxious struggle for the peace of God.
4. Nay more, it is contrary to the words of our Lord. The words, as given by St. Matthew (xxvi. 26-28) were: “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Of the bread, therefore, p. 14He said, “This is my body;” and of the wine, “This is my blood.” The bread did not represent the body and blood together, but the body only, and the wine the blood; or, if the doctrine of transubstantiation were taught, the passage would teach that the bread was changed into the body, and the wine into the blood. But the teaching of Rome defies all such distinctions, though thus plainly laid down by no less an authority than our Lord Himself, and fearlessly hurls her anathemas against all who do not believe that the bread, and the bread alone, is changed into body, blood, soul, and divinity, and becomes, to use their own expression, “a whole Christ,” to be exalted, carried in processions, and adored as a living God. The words themselves, taken literally, are dead against such a doctrine. I am not surprised, therefore, when I read our 28th Article, which says: “Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture.” But I am surprised that Christian people in the Church of England should sit so light as some seem to do to a heresy of so fearful a character, and that men p. 15should be so indifferent to truth as even to speak of the possibility of peace with Rome.
p. 11The wafer, therefore, or the piece of bread, is here said to be after consecration nothing less than a real, living Saviour, with body, soul, and divinity, to be worshipped with that holy, reverential worship which belongs exclusively to the God of heaven and earth, for that is the meaning of the word Latreia. There is something very awful in such a statement. It shows that there can be no peace with Rome—no compromise, no middle path. If they are right, we are awfully wrong. If we are right, they are guilty of idolatry. If all these pieces of bread are living Saviours, we have been terribly guilty in never worshipping any one of them; but if, on the other hand, they have remained bread still—plain, simple, unchanged bread—then we have idolatry of the most unquestionable character when that bread is exalted by the priest for adoration, and men fall down and worship it as the living God.It is, of course, impossible to attempt a discussion of the whole subject, so that we must confine our thoughts to the lessons from this one passage,—“He hath committed to us the ministry of reconciliation;” and there will be in it quite sufficient important matter, as the words will suggest three most important points,—the authority of the ministry, the object of the ministry, and the means by which that object is accomplished.One thing is perfectly clear, that these sacrifices are not a supplement to the one great sacrifice for sin. They are not intended to supply any deficiency in the great work of our Blessed Lord. There is no deficiency there; and if there were, nothing that we could do would supply it. There is no deficiency, for by the “one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” And if there were deficiency, how could man supply it? Is there not something dreadful in the thought of a patchwork atonement, partly by the Son of God and partly by man; partly perfect, and partly imperfect; partly pure in all the infinite purity of God, and partly defiled with all the defilements of a fallen and sinful manhood? No! the propitiation is perfect, unmixed, and undefiled for ever. It is the sacrifice of the Son of God, and it stands alone for all eternity.
“Nothing in my hand I bring:
The sense of reverence may take a wrong as well as a right direction. It led John himself to worship an angel, and to bring on himself the severe reproof which he has so faithfully recorded, and it may lead misguided men to give that which is not God the worship due to God alone. But while we think this, let none fall short in the deepest reverence. None can adore Him enough; none can be holy enough in His presence and at His feet. But it p. 17is the living Saviour at the right hand of God whom we will adore. It is the Prince on the throne, the Priest at the right hand of the Father. It is the living, reigning, triumphant Saviour, “far above all principalities and powers, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come;” and not a small piece of lifeless bread, which is said to have been turned into God by the miraculous powers of a priest.
In this present world we are in a mixed condition, and however truly we may be walking with God, there is the old man and the old nature left. It is just the same with us as it was of old with Canaan. Israel had taken possession, but the Canaanites were still in the land. So, even when the Lord Jesus has taken possession of the heart, there are sins still abiding there—tempers, lusts, covetousness, selfishness, pride, and a thousand others—some prevailing in one character and some in another. Now of all these the Christian man must be prepared to make a sacrifice—his temper, his pride, his ambition, his covetousness, his self-love; he must be prepared to bring all to the altar, without mercy and without reserve. Thus, in Col. iii. 5, St. Paul addresses those who are risen with Christ, and says, “Mortify therefore,” or put to death, or sacrifice, “your members which are of the flesh: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” There is no occasion to be shut up within the walls of a nunnery for this; nor will the walls of a nunnery p. 37in the least help us to it, for they are just as effectual in shutting sin in as in shutting it out. Here is work for home life, and for all classes in home life—for husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants: we all have our great temptations, so we all have to throw ourselves heart and soul into the great struggle, and with an unsparing hand deal resolutely with besetting sin.
Again: it is not the office of the minister to forgive sins. If our Lord, in His words of John xx. 23, had really connected such a power with the ministry of reconciliation, it is most extraordinary that in all the many portions of the New Testament which relate to the ministry there is no allusion to it. There are three whole Epistles directed exclusively to the chief pastors of the Church, besides several addresses to presbyters both in the Acts and Epistles; and is it not a most remarkable fact, that there is not a single allusion in any one of these passages or epistles to the forgiveness of sins, as forming a portion of the ministry of reconciliation? There are full directions respecting preaching, praying, reproving, instructing, and behaviour to all the different classes of the flock, but of forgiveness of sin by the minister, not one word can you find anywhere; and yet forgiveness itself is the great subject of the p. 58whole New Testament. But it is always traced at once, without any intermediate mediation, to the Lord Himself. It is always ascribed to His blood, His redemption, and His grace, and is never once connected in any way with any power of forgiveness bestowed by a priest. I am not now dwelling on any one particular passage, but rather on the omission of the whole subject from the word of God; and I cannot but think that that omission is a proof, beyond contradiction, that the Apostles, writing by inspiration, did not understand our Lord as teaching in these words that the forgiveness of sin by a priest formed any part of the ministry of reconciliation.