As this pamphlet shows, all of your worst suspicions about the origins and meaning of the christian sacrament of communion are correct.
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The Lord s Supper, or the Holy Communion, is declared by Bishop Gore to be the greatest of all the sacraments of the Church, and the Council of Trent described it as the most excellent of the sacraments. The general impression among Christians is that this rite was formally instituted by Jesus Christ himself the night before his crucifixion but a critical examination of the New Testament texts descriptive of the institution shows clearly how utterly groundless that impression is. The oldest account of it, in I Corinthians Xi. 2325, is as follows
For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, how that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed tool. bread and when he had given thanks, be brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood this do, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
Now, the Corinthian Church was founded about the year 52 Or 54 A.D., upwards of twenty years after the crucifixion and the first Epistle was probably written in 57. The chronology of Paul s life is practically unknown. We cannot ascertain the date of his conversion. Taking the Acts and the Epistles as they stand, all we are sure of is that there was an interval of several years between his conversion and the visit to Corinth, during a portion of which time he was in claw association with the disciples at Damascus, and particularly at Antioch. In Gal 1. 18. Paul tells us that three years after the momentous change he went up to Jerusalem, where he spent a whole fortnight as Peter s guest. Even prior to his conversion, he must have been intimately acquainted with the believers, otherwise, being a thoroughly conscientious man, he could not have persecuted them with such severity. Now, with such facts in mind, there is no possible escape from the conclusion that the revelation concerning the institution of the Lord s Supper which he claims (I Cor. Xi. 2325) to have received from the Lord is wholly contradicted by all relevant facts recorded. If Jesus had actually enjoined his disciples on the very last night of his life to observe such a rite as Paul describes, is it likely or credible that those present on so tragic an occasion would have forgotten all about it? Is it not, rather, absolutely certain that the witnesses of so solemn a scene would have not only retained the liveliest recollection of it to the end of their days, but also shown their loyalty to their Lord in scrupulous obedience to his loving command? Had that been the case, Paul could not have been ignorant of it, and a special revelation on the subject would have been superfluous.
As a matter of fact, there is no evidence whatever that the Apostolic Church practiced any rite corresponding to the Lord s Supper or the Eucharist. There is not the faintest trace of such an institution in the Epistle of James. The fourth Gospel, the three Epistles attributed to John, the second Epistle of Peter the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Book of Revelation contain no direct allusion thereto. In other words, all the non-Pauline portions of the New Testament are silent on the subject. Even the Book of the Acts, presumably written by a friend and companion of Paul, makes no mention of the Holy Communion, either directly or indirectly. That the breaking of bread incidentally referred to in this document was not identical with the Lord s Supper is frankly admitted by orthodox divines, such as Professor Vernon Bartlet, and Dr. A. J. Carlyle, who, writing of the sacrament of spiritual solidarity, say
And they were adhering steadfastly to the Apostles teaching and to the fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers. These last were the special forms in which the fellowship took effect and we read farther on that they daily broke bread in domestic gatherings. Such table-fellowship the Jew were wont to hallow with prayers which invested common meal, with sanctity and solemn joy. Much more would Messiah s followers do so. Neighboring brethren would naturally form a unit of such fellowship, a house-church. ... Such informal, domestic, daily breaking of bread is to be distinguished from the more formal meetings on-the Lord s Day for worship and religious fellowship, when the Bread came to be broken with clearer reference to the Last Supper, with its special associations and explanatory word so showing forth the Lord s death (Christianity in History, PP. 46, 47).
The sacramental breaking of bread came to be known as the Agape, or Love-feast, which, throughout the latter half of the first century, coexisted with the Eucharist but they were two distinct institutions, though, eventually, the former was superseded by the latter. The authors just quoted significantly add There is no sign that the breaking of bread in Acts ii. 42, 46, was on the lines of the Last Supper. There is no allusion to the wine, which was integral to its symbolism, nor, indeed, to anything connecting this breaking of bread formally with the death of Jesus.
It inevitably follows from the foregoing statements that Paul s alleged revelation touching the institution of the Holy Communion enshrines a deliberate falsehood. The most excellent of the sacraments owes its origin as an ordinance of the Christian Church, not to Jesus, but to Paul. A plausible objection to this view is based on the accounts of the institution found in the Synoptic Gospels. Take Luke s version first xxii. 1420 Verses 19 and 20 are taken bodily from I Cor. xi. 2325, and are absent from some of the earliest copies of this Gospel. No two accounts are the same, though the three have clearly borrowed from Paul. It should be borne in mind, also, that the Synoptic Gospels are much later productions that I Corinthians, their probable dates being, Mark s about 70 A.D., Luke s between So and 95, and Matthew s possibly as late as 100, and that, in their present forms, the three versions of the Lord s Supper are interpolated from Paul. The most important question at this stage, however, is, why did Paul represent the Eucharist as having been instituted by Christ just before his death rather than by himself?
Much depends upon our answer to that question, and, in order to discuss it intelligently, we must keep vividly before our minds the indisputable fact that the early Christians were by no means the ideally peaceable and happy family they are usually imagined to have been. On the contrary, they were divided into at least four bitter factions between whom there was displayed the very opposite of brotherly love (I Cor. i. 12). In particular, there were two parties, the Apostolic and the Pauline, or the Judaic and the Gentile, which were absolutely irreconcilable. Paul was not one of the original twelve Apostles, nor was he the one chosen by the Church to take the place of the traitor, Judas. In reality, he was self-appointed to the exalted office, thereby raising the Apostolate to the unlucky number of thirteen. Indeed, Paul prided himself upon the alleged fad that he was indebted neither for his knowledge of the Gospel nor his election to the Apostolate to any human authority whatsoever, but directly to the risen and glorified Lord who appeared and spoke to him in spiritual visions and immediate revelations. He claimed for himself, not only independence of the twelve apostles, but also the right to preach a radically different Gospel from theirs. Consequently, the pillar-Apostles looked upon him, not merely with mild suspicion, but with positive disapproval, jealousy, and hatred, branding him as a false apostle and a liar (Rev. ii. 2), and comparing him to Balaam, who taught the children of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication (Rev. ii. 14). He was the perverter of their law, the man of scoffing, and as such they anathematized him in the name of their common Lord. Echoes of the violent conflict are still audible in some of the Pauline Epistles, notably those to the Corinthians and Galatians, from which we learn that the fury and contempt were not all on one side.
Paul s Gospel differed fundamentally from, and was, in fact, almost diametrically opposed to, the Jerusalem Gospel, its supreme emphasis being laid on the person and work of Christ, his atoning death and triumphant resurrection, while, to James and his party, the all-important elements were the life and teaching of the God-sent Jesus. Nov the Eucharist has to do almost exclusively with the vicarious sacrifice on the Cross, and Paul ascribed its institution to Christ on the eve of that transcendent world-tragedy in order to facilitate its adoption by the Gentile Churches founded by himself. It was a species of deception or fraud which at that time was not regarded as morally reprehensible, but it invested the Sacrament with all the. authority and glamour attaching to the name of the supposed Founder of the Christian religion. By the time the Synoptic Gospels assumed their final form, Paulinism had triumphed all along the line, and become the predominant version of Christianity. Jesus the teacher had become the Saviour of the world.
THE LORD S SUPPER
It is necessary to bear in mind that the divisions and dissensions which rent the primitive Church asunder were caused almost entirely by the revolutionary ministry of the apostle Paul. Christianity began. as a revised version of Judaism. It arose in direct fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, and was intended for the Jewish nation alone. The kingdom of God which Jesus had preached so assiduously signified a new era of political emancipation and independence for the children of Israel. At the Last Supper, Jesus is represented as being convinced that the long-continued vassalage of his people was about to end, and that the inauguration of the new society would immediately follow. Foreseeing his own death and resurrection as the only means to that end, he is made to say
With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer for I say unto you, I will not eat it until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he received a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, Take this and divide it among yourselves for I say unto you, I will not drink from henceforth of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come. And be took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body (Luke xxii. 1519).
In the revised version the passage ends thus This is my body which is given for you this do in remembrance of me. And the cup in like manner, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you. In the edition of the Greek New Testament by the distinguished scholars, Westcott and Hort, those words are bracketed as forming no part of the original text, because of their absence from the Codex Bezae and several old Latin MSS., as well as the Old Syriac. Now, assuming the historicity of the most ancient copies of the Last Supper narratives, there is certainly no indication in them of any intention, on the part of Jesus, to inaugurate a new rite. He simply speaks of the meal as the last he would partake in prior to the advent of the new order of things. It was an old sacramental repast eaten for the last time under existing circumstances. Besides, there is nothing whatever to show that the disciples looked upon the episode in any other light. Although the Book of the Acts mentions three times the custom of breaking bread, there is absolutely nothing said to connect it either with the Last Supper or with the Eucharist and from this the only legitimate inference we can draw is that from the very first the followers of Jesus practiced and enjoyed table-fellowship. In this, however, here was nothing unique or new. It was common to all religious and semi-religious communities. The Essenes gathered together at the conclusion of each day s work and partook of a holy supper, consisting of bread and water. We read of certain disciples who entered Emmaus one evening and sat down to meat, when bread was taken, blessed, broken, and distributed by a ghostly visitor. The Egyptians, also, had a sacred meal every fiftieth day, and this also consisted of bread and water. The Jews often substituted wine for water and. we know that wine came to be freely used at the Christian Love-feasts. in course of time, indeed, the Love-feast developed into a magnificent banquet, to which all the worshippers were invited.
Paul, born and bred at a great centre in the Pagan world, instinctively perceived that, if the Christian Church was to become an irresistible power in the earth, something more profoundly and dramatically suggestive than an ordinary convivial repast was needed something that would appeal to the sense of wonder and supply the imagination with ample scope, working on a background of ignorance and fear. A supernatural religion is not amenable to reason and common sense its very staff of life is mystery. To Paul, Christianity was the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory. To him also it was the death and resurrection, not the life and teaching, of Christ that supremely mattered and so he raised the tragedy an Calvary into the domain of mysteries, treating it as a lost and ruined world s sole hope of deliverance. Such was his doctrine of the atoning sacrifice on the Cross, and this mystery of mysteries he resolved to embody in a rite which he called the Lord s Supper. Both the doctrine and the rite were repulsive to the Jerusalem Church, from which emissaries were sent out to do their utmost to counteract such dangerous heresies. Paul referred to these emissaries as certain who came from James, false brethren privily brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty ... .. to whom, he adds, we gave place in the way of subjection not for an hour. He was strong enough to withstand all their attacks. Though they called his apostleship in question, denied his right to preach, characterized his Gospel as a lie, he persevered in his mission and prospered exceedingly.
Curiously enough, Paul did not try to abolish the Love-feast in order to introduce the Eucharist. He inaugurated his own rite as a valuable addition to the existing ordinances of the Church. The Agape and the Eucharist coexisted until the beginning of the fifth century. As time went on new Agapae sprang into existence. There were banquets given at marriages and funerals, and in honour of the martyrs. Of the Martyrs Love-feasts Milman writes thus
By a noble metaphor, the day of the martyrs death was considered that of their birth to immortality and their birthdays became the most sacred and popular festivals of the Church Hymns were sung in their praise (much of the early Christian poetry was composed for these occasions) the history of their lives and martyrdoms was read (the legends which grew up into so fertile a subject for Christian mythic fable) panegyrical orations were delivered by the best preachers. The day closed with an open banquet, in which all the worshippers were invited to partake. The wealthy Heathens had been accustomed to propitiate the Manes of their departed friends by these costly festivals the banquet was almost an integral part of the Heathen religious ceremony. The custom passed into the Church and with the Pagan feeling, the festival assumed a Pagan character of gaiety and joyous excitement, and even of luxury (History of Christianity, vol. iii. PP. 3245).
As a rule, the Love-feasts were accompanied by the Lord s Supper, and Canon Robinson says that they were not always distinguishable from it. But at an early date the Love-feasts became objectionable because of men who were spots or blots upon them, when they feasted together and provided without scruple for themselves alone (Jude 12)men who counted it pleasure to revel in the daytime, who were a stain and a disgrace, reveling at the Love-feasts (2 Peter ii. 13). These descriptions of what often occurred at the Agape show conclusively that it and the Eucharist were never convertible terms, although they were usually celebrated the one after the other. When the common supper preceded the communion, it sometimes happened that not a few approached the Lord s Table in a state of hilarious intoxication, which gave rise to serious disorders and unseemly quarrels. And yet Paul, while strongly disapproving of such humiliating scenes and solemnly warning the brethren against them, did not recommend the discontinuance of the Love-feast, well knowing that ultimately the Lord s Supper would inevitably supplant it. Even at Corinth in Paul s own day, the excesses at the Love-feast were such as to disqualify many for participation in the Eucharist. He says
When you come together in the church I hear that divisions exist among you, and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When therefore ye assemble yourselves together, it is not possible to eat the Lord s Supper, for in your eating each one taketh before other his own supper and one is hungry and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and drink in? or despise ye the Church of God, and put them to shame that have nothing? (I Cor. xi. 1822).
The transition from the Jewish to the Gentile type of Christianity is an intensely interesting and instructive story but the most important point in connection with it is that, if it had not taken place, the probability is that the religion of Jesus would never have survived the inevitable conflict with Pagan cults. Jesus Christ owes his immortality to the Pauline movement in the first three centuries. The Christian Church is essentially a Pauline institution, and the soul of Paulinism, the secret of its vitality and power, is Christ crucified. After all, the pillar-Apostles were nobodies, and their Gospel would have died with them. it was Paul s bolder, wholly irrational Gospel that captured the Western world and the sublime irrationality of his Gospel found materialization in the Sacrament of the EUCHARIST.
A CRITICAL examination of the Pauline doctrine of the Lord s Supper proves its irrationality beyond the possibility of a doubt. In I Cor. x. 16 we find the following eye-opening definition The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ? The Greek word for communion is Koinonia, which comes from a verb meaning, to have in common, to divide, to share and Professor Preserved Smith, in an excellent article in the Monist for May 1918, renders the verse thus The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a sharing of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a sharing of the body of Christ? Taking this definition in conjunction with the words ascribed to Jesus in I Cor. Xi. 2325, we are in possession, germinally, of the Catholic dogma of the Eucharist. Of the bread, Jesus is made to say, This is my body, which is (broken) for you, and of the wine, This is the new covenant in my blood. Protestants maintain that the bread and win are but symbols of the body and blood of Christ but Paul states definitely that they are the body and blood of Christ. He represents Jesus as saying, not This represents, symbolizes, or stands for, but unequivocally, This is my body, and This is the new covenant in my blood. The Protestants are fully justified in basing their objection to such teaching upon its unreasonableness and utter impossibility but they overlook the undeniable fact that the author of First Corinthians believed it to be literally true. Paul would have been the first to admit that in the natural order bread and wine could not become the body and blood of Christ but then he was the champion of a supernatural order, and what be saw on the Lord s Table was a mighty miracle. Even in Hymns Ancient and Modern the same miracle is sung
Draw nigh and take the Body of the Lord, And drink the holy Blood for you outpoured. Saved by that Body and that holy Blood, With souls refreshed we render thanks to God.
To Dryden, as to Paul, Nature was set at defiance, or transcended, on the Lord s Table, and reason appeared in bondage to belief.
Can I my reason to my faith compel, And shall my sight and touch and taste rebel? Superior faculties are set aside Shall their subservient organs be my guide?
John Earl Russell, in number viii. of his Essays on the History of the Christian Religion, erroneously fathers the doctrine of Transubstantiation on Paschasius Radbert, one of the most prominent theologians of the ninth century but his lordship s summary of Radbert s views on the Lord s Supper is accurate According to this monk, the elements ceased entirely to be what they still seemed to be to the outward senses. The bread and wine, it was affirmed, were annihilated, being changed into the body and blood of the Redeemer. The bread and wine used in the Sacrament, it is true, were to the researches of chemical science not different from any other bread and wine placed on a table f or food or refreshment, but in the minds of Christians, the real body and blood of Christ (p. 110).
Earl Russell is entirely mistaken, however, when he says that the Church of England has justly declared that Transubstantiation in the Supper of the Lord cannot be proved by Holy Writ but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions. As a matter of fact, though the first to employ the term Transubstantiation was Hildebert, Archbishop of Tours, at the beginning of the twelfth century, the idea can be traced back to the Apostle Paul, and Paul claimed to have received it by revelation of Jesus Christ. At bottom, from the first, as Harnack admits, the faith required was blind faith and, of course, It miracle is the favourite child of faith, and after the miracles of the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, the miracle of Transubstantiation is not so unbelievable. At the end of the third century Transubstantiation was firmly held by the Church, for Porphyry, who was opposed to the eating of flesh and the drinking of blood in general, denounced it in the following violent terms
Is it not, then, bestial and absurd, surpassing all absurdity and bestial coarseness, for a man to eat human flesh and drink the blood of his fellow tribesman or relative, and thereby win life eternal? Why, tell me what greater coarseness could you introduce into life, if you practice that habit? What further crime will you start, more accursed than this loathsome profligacy? The ear cannot bear to bear it mentioned-and by it, I am far from meaning the action itself, I mean the very name of this strange, utterly unheard-of offense.
It is true that there always were a very few who vigorously opposed and rejected this doctrine, holding the view that the Lord s Supper was a memorial or commemorative rite merely and it is also true that up to the eighth century no definite theory or dogma had been framed by an Council of the Church. But the majority of the divines loyally adhered to the Pauline position. Even Augustine, who is often claimed by the Protestants as a supporter of the symbolical theory, was in reality a transubstantiator, for be declares that genuine members of the Catholic Church are truly said to eat the body and drink the blood of Christ. He that dwelleth not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwelleth not, neither eateth his flesh nor drinketh his blood. At the second Council of Nicaea, 787, it was decreed that the elements in the Lord s Supper are the very body and blood of Christ, not figures. This was reaffirmed at the fourth Lateran Council in 1215, and at the Council of Trent in 1551.
During the Protestant Reformation, Transubstantiation was hotly repudiated. The Reformers could not agree as to the exact sense in which Christ is present in Eucharist, but they were all of one mind in their opposition to the Catholic vim,. Luther taught that the bread and wine are not changed in their substance when the words of consecration are spoken by the priest. In England, under Henry VIII., the Protestants attacked the Sacrament of the Mass with the utmost scurrility and bitterness. in ballads and mystery plays the doctrine of Transubstantiation was held up to ridicule, and we read of a certain lawyer who had the audacity to raise a dog in his hands when the priest elevated the Host. This greatly irritated the king, who in belief, remained a Catholic almost to the end, and the Act of the Six Articles was passed, the object of which was to abolish diversity of opinions in religion. The first article was as follows
That in the blessed Sacrament of the altar, by the strength and efficacy of Christ s mighty word, it being spoken by the priest, was present really under the form of bread and wine, the natural body and blood of Jesus Christ, and that after consecration there remained no substance of bread and wine, nor any other, but the substance of Christ.
Whoever denied this Article was to be burnt at the stake, and for a time the cruellest persecution was practiced.
It may be objected that the Protestant doctrine of the Eucharist was more reasonable than the Catholic, which is doubtless true but, after all, of what advantage is it to attempt to make an essentially supernatural doctrine reasonable? In point of fact, there was no real gain in endeavouring to present a fundamentally absurd dogma in a somewhat less ludicrous light. Besides, whilst the _Reformers were agreed in combating Transubstantiation, wide differences existed among them in their estimate of the significance of what was called the Real Presence, Luther, for example, introducing the tenet of Consubstantiation.
It would be difficult to exaggerate the stupidity of the Catholic dogma of Transubstantiation. In the twelfth century the custom of admitting children to the Lord s Table was abolished, for fear the bread and wine, being converted into the body and blood of Christ, might be dropped in the distribution of them. Another custom which had been gradually growing up in the Church now became confirmed, namely, that of withholding the wine from the laity. Alexander of Hales, an Englishman and a noted Schoolman, defended this custom, and the ground on which the defense was based was the preposterous doctrine of concomitance, which was invented by that incomparable intellectual acrobat, Thomas Aquinas. By concomitance was meant the presence of the complete Christ-body and bloodin each element on the Table, so that to communicate in one kind only was regarded as sufficient. When laymen complained of the refusal of the cup to than, they were assured that they lost nothing inasmuch as after consecration the bread was the blood as well as the body of Christ. The reader is doubtless familiar with Swift s scathing satire on this silly theory in his Tale of a Tub. Peter is represented as singing the praises of a brown loaf in the following fashion
Bread, says he, dear brothers, is the staff of life in which bread is contained, inclusive, the quintessence of beef, mutton, veal, venison, partridge, plum-pudding, and custard and, to render all complete, there is intermingled a due quantity of water, whose crudities are also corrected by yeast or barm, through which means it becomes a wholesome fermented liquor, diffused through the mass of the bread. Upon the strength of those conclusions, next day at dinner, was the brown loaf served up in all the formality of a city feast. Come, brothers, said Peter, fall to, and spare not, here is excellent mutton or bold, now my hand is in, I will help you. At which word, in much ceremony, with fork and knife he carves out two good slices of a loaf, and presents each on a plate to his brothers.
Of course, the brothers were puzzled and disappointed at bread instead of the promised mutton, but the only explanation offered them was this
Look ye, gentlemen, cries Peter in a rage, to convince you what a couple of blind, positive, ignorant, willful puppies you are, I will use but this plain argument by G, it is true, good, natural mutton as any in Lead,hall market, and God confound you both eternally if you offer to believe otherwise,
ITS VALUE TO THE CHURCH
TRANSUBSTANTIATION Was, from the first, virtually the only doctrine of the Church, though it was not formulated into a hard-and-fast theory till much later. Ignatius, only about sixty years later than Paul, speaks of the Eucharist as the flesh of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the drug of immortality to Justin Martyr the flesh and blood of Christ were the soul s food, and became its very life by assimilation Irenaeus saw in the bread after its consecration a supernatural element as well as a natural, the supernatural element being the mysterious presence of the crucified Christ in both bread and wine and Clement of Alexandria, though by no means a typical mystic, employed language which, to many, justifies his inclusion in the list of advocates of Transubstantiation. Origen, characterized as the most profound exponent of the Christian mysteries, says that in this Sacrament, Christ is the heavenly bread given to all who are spiritually able to digest him. Indeed, Harnack tells us that the Fathers were all Sacramental theologians and the founder of the cult was Paul. What were they all setting up? At once the most stupid and most powerful superstition imaginable. Speaking of the movement generally, Harnack, the greatest living authority on the subject, says
One is convinced that all Christians with one accord attributed a magical force, exercised especially over demons, to the mere utterance of the name of Jesus and to the sign of the Cross and then one can read the stories of the Lord s Supper told by Dionysius of Alexandria, a pupil of Origen, and all that Cyprian is able to narrate as to the miracle of the host. Putting these and many similar traits together, one feels driven to conclude that Christianity has become a religion of magic, with its centre of gravity in the Sacramental mysteries (Expansion of Christianity, vol. i., pp. 2923).
It is beyond controversy that Paul attached magical value to the Sacrament of the Holy Communion. He believed that it produced a magical effect for weal or woe upon all participants. His words remind us of the ancient custom of giving holy food to those accused of crime, whom it poisoned if they were guilty. On the Communion table was magic food, and those who consumed it without a due sense of its real character were visibly punished. He that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body. What form the judgment or punishment was supposed to take appears from the next verse For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep that is, have died. What Paul wants to impress upon the reader s mind is, that worthy participation in the Lord s Supper results in magical benefit, while the effect of unworthy participation is magically disastrous. Naturally, such a doctrine was calculated to be of immense service to the Church. As Bousset rightly observes Behind these words we catch glimpses of definitely sacramental feeling, the belief in the marvelous virtue of sacred food for weal or woe. Inevitably the celebrant of the rite was invested with superhuman dignity and glory. Speaking of him, Cyprian, the famous Bishop of Carthage, who suffered martyrdom, says The priest imitates what Christ did, and offers then in the Church to God the Father a true and complete sacrifice. The passion of the Lord is the sacrifice we offer. Cyril of Jerusalem describes the effect of participation thus By taking the body and blood of Christ, you become one body and one blood with him. For thus we become Christ-bearers by his body and blood being digested into our members. Now, the bread and wine became the body and blood of Christ, by a mighty miracle, just as the celebrant pronounced the words of consecration, with the result that the priest was regarded and honored as a semi-Divine being. It was Cyprian who laid the foundation of the priestly caste in the Church, and it is to him we are indebted for some of the silliest stories of the magical effect of taking the sacred food. When persecution prevailed under Decius Christian courage was lacking, and at Carthage, in particular, many Christians were subject to paroxysms of weakness, the number of the lapsed forming a considerable proportion. Some there were who even offered the condemned Pagan sacrifice, and when their readmission into Church fellowship became a subject of hot controversy, Bishop Cyprian opposed it with ferocity. Milman quotes the prelate s 91 energetic language in denunciation of those who lad committed the horrible crime of sacrificing, and then adds
Some of them died of remorse , with some the guilty food acted as poison. But the following was the most extraordinary occurrence, of which Cyprian declares himself to have been an eyewitness. An infant had been abandoned by its parents in their flight. The nurse carried it to the magistrate. Being too young to cat meat, bread, steeped in wine offered in sacrifice, was forced into its mouth. Immediately that it returned to the Christians, the child, which could not speak, communicated the sense of its guilt by cries and convulsive agitations. It refused the sacrament (then administered to infants), closed its lips, and averted its face. The deacon forced it into its mouth. The consecrated wine would not remain in the contaminated body, but was cast up again. In what a high-wrought state of enthusiasm must men have been who would relate and believe such statements as miraculous? (History of Christianity, vol. ii., p. 190.)
Cyprian tells another equally unbelievable tale about a little girl who, having eaten some meat sacrificed to idols, became possessed by evil spirits. Going afterwards to the Lord s Table, she refused to communicate and fell into fits. In the Acts of Thomas, composed probably at the commencement of the third century, we read of a young man who, having murdered his mistress, went and took the communion, as if nothing had happened but the hand that performed the sacrilegious deed immediately withered up. Confess thy crime, the Apostle is said to have exclaimed, for the Eucharist of the Lord hath convicted thee.
To those who communicated worthily, however, believing the bread and wine to be the very body and blood of Christ, the Sacrament was a talisman and charm against weakness, sickness, and death. The moment the consecration formula was officially repeated, a miracle tool, place far greater than that of turning water into wine. The bread and wine were annihilated so far as their substance was concerned, though retaining their former colour, taste, and weight, and in their place were the body and blood of Christ, the food and drink of mind and body. Consequently, the bread and wine are not surrogates or substitutes for the body and blood of the Redeemer they are his body and blood. It follows, therefore, that Do this in remembrance of me is a wholly irrelevant phrase, because the Eucharist is in no real sense a commemorative service, but a service of participation in and thanksgiving for a present sacrifice to God the Father. It is a dramatic representation of what transpired on Calvary nineteen hundred years ago.
This was a view of the Lord s Supper for which the Church was prepared to fight with all her might. As time went on, the doctrine grew more and more bold, and independent theologians arose to challenge it, like Ratramnus in the ninth century and Berengar in the eleventh but the ultimate effect was to confirm the orthodox belief and to make the doctrine still more rigid. The Maw, by being constantly repeated, became the central act of worship, and the people believed that the priest performed a literal miracle every time. Strange things were said to happen, such as the transformation of the host into a lamb. There were masses when no people were present, and Masses, said in private, for the benefit of the dead. Berengar was a much stronger opponent of Transubstantiation than Ratramnus. He cleverly and most logically exposed the absurdity and harmfulness of the belief but the Church, at Council after Council, condemned him. The master whom he followed was John Scotus, one of the keenest and subtlest logicians of the Middle Ages but the Church excommunicated Berengar and committed the writings of Scotus to the flames. In the end, Berengar succeeded in winning Pope Hildebrand, at least partly, to his side but it was foreseen by the generality of the priests that the adoption of Berengar s views would prove ruinous to the welfare of the Church, and some of them did not hesitate to charge Hildebrand himself with infidelity. Milman paints the result of the momentary defection
The priests power, as it was afterwards intrepidly stated, of making God the miracles which became, or had become, so common, to prove not the spiritual but the grosser material transmutation, fell away at once and with it bow much of sacerdotal authority, sacerdotal wealth, sacerdotal dominion! -some might suppose of true and humble reverence for the mystery of the Eucharist (History of Latin Christianity, vol. iv., P. 118).
Thus the Eucharist fed the vanity and love of power so strongly implanted in the priestly mind. It is an appeal from objective authority to the credulity of the ignorant. Fancy a man of God having the effrontery to assure his simpleminded dupes that he had seen and touched the form of a child on the altar, and that after he had kissed it, it resumed the appearance of bread. We inwardly smile as we read such puerile stories, but the bulk of the people of the Dark Ages sincerely though ignorantly believed in their absolute truth. Consequently, Masses became the most popular and profitable of Church ordinances. There were, and still are, Masses ordinary or regular, and extra. ordinary or. occasional Masses simple, half-double, and double Masses black, dry, high, and low all contributing to swell the revenue of the Church, and to confer more and more power upon the priesthood which naturally blossomed the worst type of priestcraft.
ITS NON-CHRISTIAN ORIGIN
The argument has hitherto been based on the assumption that the modern orthodox theory as to the dates, and genuineness of the Pauline first Epistle to the Corinthians and the Synoptic Gospels is correct. From these documents as they stand, when exegetically examined, the inference is inescapable that the Lord s Supper, as a Christian ordinance, was instituted by Paul, not by Jesus, though, for obvious reasons, Paul ascribed its institution to his Master. I am fully aware that Van Manen, for example, held that all the Pauline Epistles are forgeries of the second century, say, of the years 1301-40. Thomas Whittaker, an ardent disciple of the eminent Dutch critic, in his Origins of Christianity, maintains that First Corinthians is a work of the second century, but reluctantly admits that there is abundant external evidence of its existence at a date which cannot be placed later than 140. Curiously enough, Mr. Whittaker states that the Apology of Aristides, written possibly as early as 125, shows acquaintance with the Pauline writings, especially with the Epistle to the Romans. In the year 139, Marcion made a handsome donation of money to the Church at Rome, and Marcion is known to have been a great student of the Pauline Epistles, and to have undertaken to restore the true text of them. During the last quarter of the first century, Ignatius was bishop of Antioch, and he is believed to have written letters in which he refers to the Epistles of Paul. According to Eusebius, Ignatius suffered martyrdom in the year 109, and it is possible that his alleged letters were written during the first nine years of the second century. It is also asserted that in Clement of Rome s Epistle to the Corinthians, sent about 95, there are at least thirty passages which clearly imply his intimate knowledge of the Pauline Epistles. But no reliance can legitimately be placed on any writings attributed to either Ignatius or Clement, because many scholars regard them as spurious. What is fairly certain is that in the year 140 Marcion issued an expurgated edition of the Pauline Epistles, which clearly proves that at that time those Epistles were not only in existence and well known, but that already there were variant editions of them.
Now, so far as the argument concerning the origin of the Lord s Supper is concerned, it is wholly immaterial when or by whom I Corinthians was written. Even if we were to pronounce the man Paul a mere myth, it would not alter the fact that there are New Testament documents entitled Pauline Epistles, whoever may have been the author or authors, and that there is a Pauline style, as distinguished from Petrine or Johannine. Beyond all dispute, there was a Pauline theology which differed fundamentally from the Judaic or Jerusalem theology and it is equally incontrovertible that the Eucharist could not have originated in a Church in which the doctrine of the Atonement had no place. Granting that the famous passage about the institution of the rite in I Cor. xi. is an interpolation, as Mr. J. M. Robertson avers, the fact remains that the rite is an integral part of the Pauline theology, and is altogether as out of place in the Synoptical Gospels as it would have been meaningless in the Jerusalem Church. There is, therefore, no escape from the conclusion that the Lord s Supper is in every respect a Pauline institution, congruous to that theological system and to no other.
Now comes a most pertinent question, is the Lord s Supper a Pauline invention, a new thing under the sun, or did Paul (or a group of men who worked and wrote in that name) adopt and adapt an institution already in use in the Pagan world? Paul claims, or is represented as claiming, that he was informed in a vision that Jesus had instituted it on the night of his betrayal, and that he introduced it into the Corinthian Church solely on that account. We know, however, that Paul made predictions by the word of the Lord which were falsified by the event. Speaking of the Second Coming in I Thessalonians iv. he assured his readers-that it would come to pass in their own lifetime
We that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. Up to the present history has given the dire& lie to that word of the Lord. Today, after nineteen centuries, the faithful are still anxiously waiting for the long-delayed second coming of their Lord. In Gal. i. II, 12 Paul says
I make known to you, brethren, as touching the Gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ.
As a matter of fact his Gospel came to him from the Pagan world, from the mystery religions which dominated the GrecoRoman communities at the commencement of our era, and the avenue along which it travelled was the Hellenized mind of such men as the Apostle Paul. Paul was a wholesale borrower and adapter. The revelation of Jesus Christ was as illusory as the word of the Lord, and by both Christendom has been largely misled to this day. The truth cannot be disguised that in no sense whatever was the substance of the Pauline Gospel original. Documents of pre-Christian dates have been found which contain all particulars about an eternal Divine Mediator, Son of God, who, of his own descended to earth, lived aid died for man, rose again, and then rejoined his Father in heaven, If we look close, says Professor Bousset, the result emerges with great clearness, that the figure of the Redeemer as such did not wait for Christianity to force its way into the religion of Gnosis, but was already present there under various forms. Professor Gilbert Murray well says
The Gnostics are still commonly thought of as a body of Christian heretics. In reality there were Gnostic sects scattered over the Hellenistic world before Christianity as well a after. They must have been established in Antioch and probably in Tarsus well before the days of Paul and Apollos. Their Saviour, like the Jewish Messiah, was established in men s minds before the Saviour of the Christians. lie occurs notably in two pre-Christian documents, discovered by the keen analysis and profound learning of Dr. Reitzenstein the Poimandres revelation printed in the Corpus Hermeticum, and the sermon of the Naassenes in Hippolytus, Refutatio Omnium Haeresium, which is combined with Attisworship (Four Stages of Greek Religion, p. 143).
Paul found, ready to his hands, in his native town, a Gospel of salvation through faith in a risen Redeemer. It has been proved from linguistic evidence, says Preserved Smith, that Paul was saturated in the current conceptions of the mystery religions. Then he adds that prominent among such conceptions was that of the eaten body of the SaviourGod, who in human form should live, suffer a violent death, and rise again. Describing the origin of the Eucharist, the same divine observes The idea and form of this institution were suggested by Paul, who conceived them in a vision, on the model of the Pagan mysteries. In fact, as soon as any institution was established, firmly or otherwise, it was fathered on Christ, or at least on the Apostles (The Monist, May, 1918).
That there was a Pagan rite corresponding to the Lord s Supper is demonstrated by the contemptuous references to it found in the writings of the Christian Fathers. Justin Martyr, born in the year 100, was well versed in the philosophies of his time, and is distinguished as one of the earliest Christian apologists. And yet, in telling the story of the Holy Communion as be, had learned it in the Memoirs of the Apostles, which he possessed, be says Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. Tertullian, another apologist, who flourished in the latter half of the second century, said of Christianity that it would endure as long as the Roman Empire, and that the duration of the Empire would be coeval with that of the world. He could not find words sufficiently strong and mordant in which to denounce the Pagans and their Gods. As Milman says, every sentence of his Apology breathes scorn, defiance, menace. Reminded that so many of the doctrines taught by Christians were to be found in Paganism, this Father retorted thus Whence is it, then, that you have all this, so like us, in the poets and philosophers? The reason simply is, that they have taken it from our religion. Again If they maintain their sacred mysteries to have sprung from their own minds, in that case ours will be reflections of what are later than themselves, which by the nature of things is impossible. Once more, blinded by prejudice, he swears that the Devil, by the mystic rites of his idols vies with even the most essential things of the sacraments of God.
Let us now return to the traditional Paul, from whom, probably, both Justin Martyr and Tertullian took their cue. He recognized the existence of an institution, in full operation at Corinth, which closely resembled the Lord s Supper established there by himself. So similar were the two that even his own converts were in danger of assuming that the one was practically as good as the other. He warned them, however, that the Pagan rite was morally degrading in that it signified fellowship with evil spirits. He said Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils ye cannot partake of the table of the Lord, and of the table of devils. What we see here, at its lowest and worst, is the Christian incapacity to exercise even common fairness in the treatment of a non-Christian religion. The Greek word translated here devil never means devils in classical literature, but is one of several terms for gods, deities, ghosts. Of course, to Paul, as an ambassador of the Cross, the very Gods of the Pagans were evil spirits, veritable devils, and so they have been regarded by Christians from his day to ours, their own Deity alone being pronounced ideally noble and good.
Meantime, the noteworthy point is the outward similarity between the Pagan and Christian rites. To Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and other Fathers, they were identical, and their only explanation of the identity was that the Devil had, for once, stolen a march upon the Lord, which was no explanation at all. And yet an entirely natural and satisfactory explanation is within our reach, which, when fully discerned and clearly stated, under mines completely every form of supernaturalism.
The chief feature of Christianity has always been its absolute exclusiveness. It claims to be the only true and perfect religion in the world. The tradition is that this postulate was laid down by the Apostle Peter when, speaking of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, he declared And in none other is there salvation, for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved (Acts iv. 12). This principle of exclusiveness, once duly enunciated and believed, was bound to give rise to persecution. Hence Paul was the most intolerant of men, and, under the cloak of humility, the most conceited. Asserting that the Gospel came to him by revelation from above, he could brook no opposition to nor the least deviation from it. Those who differed from him were guilty of perverting the Gospel of Christ. Writing to the Galatians, he said Though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any Gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. In Acts xiii. 612, be the passage historical or legendary, we have an illustration of the cruel, brutal intolerance of the Christian spirit, and of how it delights in inflicting suffering and loss upon opponents. , Elymas was not even a nonChristian, but, according to Van Manen, one of the older and very conservative disciples of Jesus and yet Paul is represented, in the final redaction of the Acts, as fastening his eyes on him and saying, 0 full of all guile and all villainy, thou son of the Devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? Then the record informs us that as a punishment for his blasphemous audacity the poor fellow was smitten with blindness, and that, on witnessing the savage miracle, the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, became a Christian!
Paul displayed the same intolerant spirit in dealing with the Lord s Supper at Corinth. Corinth was now a Roman city, and once more prosperous, though lack. ing much of her ancient splendor but to Paul her* main interest lay in the fact that she was a Pagan city, and Paganism was to him the embodiment of all that was wicked and corrupt and hateful, as his famous caricature in the first chapter of Romans abundantly shows. In First Corinthians he makes no direct attack upon it but inferentially even here he leaves no room to doubt the utter contempt in which he held it. He says
Look at the people of Israel. Do not those who eat the sacrifices share with the altar ? What do I mean ? you ask. That an offering made to an idol, or the idol itself, is anything? No what I say is that the sacrifices offered by the Gentiles are offered to demon.. and to a Being who is no God, and I do not want you to share with demons. You cannot drink both the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake at the table of the Lord and at the table of demons (I Cor. x. 1821).
That was Paul s exact attitude to the Paganism of his day. A Pagan God was, as to reality, only an idol, an image, a phantom of the mind, and as to character, a demon, an evil spirit, a devil. Now, what right bad Paul, whoever he may have been, whether an individual or the name in which a theological party spoke and wrote-what right had Paul to sneer at the Pagan worship in such offensive and entirely unjustifiable terms? In classical Greek daimon was one of the names by which the Deity was spoken of but in. Schrevelius Greek Lexicon we are informed that among sacred writers (it signifies) an unclean spirit, a devil. In this estimate of Pagan religion, Judaism and Christianity were in perfect agreement but, for an that, it was an estimate rooted and grounded in ignorance and prejudice. There was no valid justification whatever for characterizing the Corinthian Pagan Sacrament as a devilish orgy. There are many exceedingly wise passages in First Corinthians, such as the purely ethical maxims in X. 2329, and particularly the eloquent hymn to love in xiii. but every now and then the hard, inhuman, Christian exclusiveness and intolerance step in and vitiate the whole. From the extreme vehemence of the language used, one naturally infers that Paul s own converts, complaints against whose behavior had evidently reached him, were not above attending and joining in the Pagan sacramental services, possibly to the neglect of, if not in preference to, their own. It seems to me that it was with some such information in his mind he was moved to exclaim, It cannot be done there is no more heinous sin on the calendar the contrast being that at one Table you offer sacrifice to God in Christ, and at the other, to the Devil and all his angels.
It was a fundamentally wrong attitude of mind, and contributed in no small measure to the growth and development of the feeling of disgust and hatred which the Pagans cherished towards the Christians as a class. Tacitus, who wrote somewhere between the years 115 and 117, describing the horrible punishment which Nero inflicted upon the Christians for their suspected share in the burning of Rome, speaks of them as
Men, who, under the vulgar appellation of Christians, were already branded with deserved infamy. They derived their name and origin from Christ, who in the reign of Tiberius, had suffered death, by the sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate. For a while this dire superstition was checked, but it again burst forth, and not only spread itself over Judea, the first seat of this mischievous sect, but was even introduced into Rome, the common asylum which receives and protects whatever is impure, whatever is
atrocious. The confessions of those who were seized, discovered a great multitude of their accomplices, and they were all convicted, not so much for the crime of setting fire to the city, as for their hatred of human kind (Annals, xv.,44).
The burning of Rome occurred in the year 64, possibly while the traditional Paul was still living and what we learn from that passage in the Annals is that the attitude of the Christianity towards the Pagans was identical with the attitude of the latter towards the former, and that the Christians were held in the same detestation in 1 7 as in 64. This proves that their habitual participation in the Sacrament of the Lord s Supper did not result in the elevation and ennoblement of their character. In other words, there was no indication whatever in their social behaviour from day to day that their Eucharist possessed any virtue that did not belong to the corresponding Pagan rite. Hence we legitimately contend that Paul had no warrant for calling the Gentile Gods mere idols, or for asserting that the sacrifices of the Gentiles were offered to devils. The simple truth is that they drank the Cup and partook of the Table, not of devils, but of the God or Gods in whom they verily believed, just exactly as the Christians did. They were practically all Deists, Atheists among them at any time being very few and far between. Besides, if any merit attached to religious rites, and if we were to strike a balance, it would be found to be more in favour of the Pagan than of the Christian. Church people talk glibly of supernatural grace being bestowed upon worthy participants but supernatural grace is itself a myth, and the belief in its reality, though it may and often does induce a state of emotional inebriation of a most enjoyable kind, has no appreciably good effect on character. Indeed, so far as the influence it exerts upon those who adopt it is concerned, Christianity is essentially a nonmoral religion. It is a well-known fact that those who profess to eat the body and drink the blood of the Godman are not, on an average, one whit superior to those who never communicate at all. It is a certainty that long before the close of the first century the Lord s Supper was in general use, that during the first ten centuries it became more and more a solemnity in the Church but it is even more incontrovertible still that for the whole of that period Christendom kept sinking lower and lower morally, and ultimately reached a depth of degradation which the world had never previously touched.
At present, however, the point of chief interest is the practical, universality of the rites. Every supernatural religion, ancient and modern, has its magic food, its ritual meal, its Divine sacrifice. In Japan there is a small and disappearing tribe known as the Ainos. They chiefly inhabit the island of Yesso, and are quite different in race and character from the Japanese. They were probably the original occupants of the country and it has always been their custom to make a cereal offering and call it an eaten God. In Buru, an island of the East Indian Archipelago, there is an ancient and Pagan tribe of Indians who partake of a sacramental repast which they describe as eating the soul of the rice. The Arabs used to sacrifice boys to the morning star, but when boys could not be obtained they seized a white camel, mortally wounded it, and then sucked its blood and ate its raw and still living flesh, the camel being the stuff out of which Gods were made. Curiously enough, it was by no means uncommon to administer a purgative prior to partaking of this ritual meal to prevent the sacred food from being contaminated through contact with profane nourishment. That is the true explanation of the Catholic injunction to take the communion on an empty stomach. Whatever form the sacred meal may take, at bottom it always signifies the eating of a God. Professor Preserved Smith says The god must either be eaten, or united with the worshippers in sexual intercourse. Both ideas have coloured the language and thought of all religions, including Christianity.
We are now confronted with a question the importance of which cannot be exaggerated, namely, how did the idea of God-eating originate in the mind of primitive man? The answer is that, in all probability, it was suggested by, or derived from, that of man-eating. This answer, however, necessitates a further question, which is, what led to the practice of consuming human flesh? It is undeniable that men were in the habit of eating one another long before they dreamed of even the possibility of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Divine Beings, and it may be worth our while to endeavour to trace the somewhat obscure process by which anthropophagy arose and then evolved into theophagy.
It is certain that cannibalism was never a universal custom of mankind, though apparently there never was a time when it did not prevail more or less in almost every tribe. It is also highly probable that in the majority of instances the habit had a religious origin, It is true that in times of famine even highly civilized races have been compelled to practice cannibalism, but it is true that under stress of hunger people will do things which in ordinary circumstances they hold in the greatest horror. At the same time, it must be remembered that savages do not draw a line of demarcation between man and the lower animals, the difference between them being one of degrees only, not at all of kind. Man and the animals belong to the same great kingdom of life. Consequently, man being by nature carnivorous, it that to a savage eating a man is, in itself, no more and disgusting than eating an ox or a sheep. We can never be just to cannibals until we realize that their point of view is fundamentally different from ours. Nevertheless, it is doubtful that among any savage tribe cannibalism was ever primarily resorted to in order to satisfy hunger, or because Use of the scarcity of other food, though there was always a strong tendency to cultivate a confirmed craving for human flesh. As a rile, at first, the controlling motives were those of magic and religion. It may be true, as Tylor observes, that the North American Indians were accustomed to eat the flesh and drink the blood of their enemies cut of revenge but it is also to be borne in mind that enemies usually displayed a vast amount of courage on the battlefield, and that when slain they were eaten in the confident hope of acquiring whatever good qualities they possessed. Tylor, in his Early History of Mankind says
An English merchant in Shanghai, during the Taeping siege, met his Chinese servant, carrying the heart of a rebel, which he was taking home to eat to wake him brave.
The same notion prevails among the natives of Australia and New Zealand, as well as among the North American Indians. The heart is so highly prized because it is believed to be the seat of courage. Pliny tells us that in the estimation of the Druids to murder a man was to do an act of greatest devoutness, and to eat his flesh was to secure the highest blessings of health.
But the chief motive to cannibalism was purely religious. The Fijians consumed human flesh because the Gods, who were enormous eaters, delighted in it. Cannibal feasts in honour of the Gods were quite common in savage and semi-civilized communities thousands of years before the Gospel Jesus was heard of. Intensely interesting as well as instructive it would be to trace the process, by which such primitive feasts developed into worldwide institutions. As is now well-known, many of the ancient deities were nothing but natural objects and forces personified. Not only the heavenly bodies, such as sun, moon, and star, but also the cloud, the wind, the thunder, the lightning, and the ocean wave became mighty divinities, who were the authors of the mysterious phenomena which primitive man both witnessed and experienced, some of which were of such a nature as to lead him to infer that the powers above were angry with him for he knew not what. Destructive storms blasted his harvests, earthquakes came and robbed him of his loved ones, volcanoes stood open wide, belching outrageous flame and boiling lava which destroyed his cities with their inhabitants and as he contemplated such catastrophes the only conclusion possible to him was that they were but so many signs of the Divine wrath against him. Hence, in course of time, there arose a whole system of offerings and sacrifices whose object was to placate or appease the offended rulers in the heavens-to bribe them into a friendlier attitude and behaviour. We read that when the Israelites were in Egypt, oppressed most cruelly by their taskmasters, Moses implored Pharaoh to let them go into the desert to sacrifice to Jehovah, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with sword (Exod. v. 3). But there were other sacrifices which were sacramental and magical concerning which the late Professor Robertson Smith writes thus.
It is perfectly clear in many cases that such sacrifices are associated with cannibalism, a practice which always means eating the flesh of men of alien and hostile kin. The human wolves would no more eat a brother than they would eat a wolf but to eat an enemy is another matter. Naturally enough traces of cannibalism persist in religion after they have disappeared from ordinary life, and especially in the religion of carnivorous Gods. Thus it may be conjectured that the human sacrifices offered to the wolf Zeus (Lycaeus) in Arcadia were originally cannibal feasts of a wolf tribe (Encyclopedia Britannica, Ninth Edition, vol. xxi., p. 136).
Dr. Robertson Smith, though an orthodox divine, was an honest, painstaking, and courageous critic, and the admission made in that extract is highly significant, as well as fully justified by numerous well-attested facts. Our point, however, is that it was anthropophagy that led to theophagy or in plain English, that the God-eating Sacrament gradually grew out of sacramental man-eating. In the evolution of humanitarianism, animal sacrifices were substituted for human but the principle involved remained the same. It mattered not of what the sacrifices consisted, slain men or slain animals, banquets were given to which the God and dead relatives were invited but the amazing miracle was that when the God came down to share the delicacies with his worshippers, it was himself in the form of a bull, a lamb, or a goat that he ate, and it was his own blood that he drank as wine, because the moment the words of consecration were spoken by the officiating priest, all the elements provided for the feast were converted into the God s body and blood. It is a most remarkable fact that among the Aryans of ancient India, centuries prior to our era, the doctrine of Transubstantiation was both taught and practiced. When rice-cakes were offered in sacrifice as surrogates for human beings, the priest uttered certain magical words, and there remained no substance of rice-cakes, nor any other, but the substance of human bodies. The Aztecs, who founded a powerful empire in the valley of Mexico four or five hundred years before the discovery of America, had the sacramental custom of making twice a year, in May and December, a dough image of the great God, Huitzilputzli, which they broke in pieces and consumed. It appears that the paste was made of beds and maize by Aztec virgins. Then, after a dreadful holocaust of victims, the mighty miracle was performed, and the priests distributed the dough, no longer dough, but the body and blood of Huitzilputzli. After supplying full details concerning these instances of Transubstantiation in the Golden. Bough, Frazer comes to the following conclusion
On the whole it would seem that neither the ancient Hindoos nor the ancient Mexicans had much to learn from the most refined mysteries of Catholic theology.
It is now clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Lord s Supper, the greatest of all the sacraments of the Church, is the surviving relic in Christendom of early cannibalism, cannibalism being both in origin and nature profoundly religious. The Aztecs totally disapproved of the consumption of human flesh as ordinary food, and even captives of war they never ate except when sacrificially slain. They abstained from eating the flesh of fellow-citizens because their moral sense condemns the habit. In any form and for whatever purpose resorted to, cannibalism was horrible in the extreme but as Mr. J. Al. Robertson well says, it was strictly a matter of religion.
After a captive had been sacrificially slain in ordinary course, his body was delivered to the warrior who captured him, and was by him made the special dish at a formal and decorous public banquet to his friends. It was part of the prescribed worship of the Gods. That the Mexicans were no longer cannibals by taste is shown by the fact that in the great siege by Cortes they died of starvation by thousands. They never ate fellow-citizens only the sacrificially slain captives (Pagan Christs, P. 393).
The transition from Anthropophagy to theophagy was extremely subtle. In some instances a captive was taken at random in others, a young man, of unblemished body, was selected to represent the Supreme Being for a year. During that period he was held in Divine honour, and all alike worshipped him. When the year was up he was slain in sacrifice, and another chosen to take his place for another year. During his year of God-ship the young man lived on the fat of the land, at the expiration of which time the priest cut open his breast with a stone-knife and plucked out his heart, which be offered to the Sun-God. Then his legs and arms were duly cooked and prepared for the table, and sacramentally eaten. In course of time, animals were substituted for men, and dough images of both Gods and men were introduced but it was really immaterial of what the sacrifices consisted, for ere the feast actually began the magic words of consecration spoken by the priest converted the substance of the food and drink on the table into the substance of the Deity, who came down to participate in the sacramental meal. In every case, either directly or indirectly, it was a God that. was sacrificed, himself to himself, and it was a God that was consumed at each sacramental feast, the underlying belief being that the mana, virtue, or qualities of the thing eaten passed into the eater. As Grant Allen puts it
If men eat the bodies of their fathers, who are their family and household Gods, they will also naturally eat the bodies of the artificial gods of cultivation, or of the temporary kings who die for the people. By eating the body of a God you absorb his divinity he and you become one he is in you and inspires you (The Evolution of the Idea of God, p. 118).
In point of fact, the world teemed with Saviour-Gods long before Jesus Christ was ever heard of, all of whom died a violent death for the world s redemption, rose again, and became the food and drink of their followers. Isis drank the blood of Osiris, and deepest love for him welled up in her heart in consequence but it was in a goblet of wine that she quaffed it. In every such case, wine was not a surrogate or substitute for, but by a miracle actually became blood. There stood the wine, which in outward appearance and taste remained wine throughout but the great miracle took-place whilst the priest repeated seven times Thou art wine and not wine, but the bowels of Osiris. Under Mithraism the flesh and blood of the Divine Bull conferred immortality on all who tasted them and it is well known that the Mithraic celebration of the Eucharist was conducted in an almost identical manner with that now in use in Christendom. But Mr. Preserved Smith is of opinion that, of all the mysteries known to us, that of Dionysus bears the closest resemblance to that of Christ, and that may simply be because Paul was more intimately familiar with it than any of the others. Dionysus was preeminently God of the wild mountains, a God of Intoxication and Inspiration, and giver of immortal life. He belongs to the group of Tree and Vegetation, Gods already popular in Greece, and his worship was added to that of the others, whilst the reward of loyalty to him was perpetual intoxication beyond the grave.
When admitted into the Olympian hierarchy, Dionysus was designated the youngest of the Gods, son of Zeus. By the sixth century B.C. his religion had been merged into and become known as Orphism, and was the most fashionable of all religions for a long time. Professor Gilbert Murray supplies the following interesting and instructive sketch of it
It seems possible that the savage Thracians, in the fury of their worship on the mountains, when they were possessed by the God and became wild beasts actually tore with their teeth and hands any bares, goats, fawns, or the like that they came across. There survives a constant tradition of inspired Bacchanals in their miraculous strength tearing even bulls asunder- a fact, happily, beyond the bounds of human possibility. The wild beast that tore was, of course, the savage God himself. And by one of those curious confusions of thought, which seem so inconceivable to us and so absolutely natural and obvious to primitive men, the beast torn was also the God. The Orphic congregations of later times, in their most holy gatherings, solemnly partook of the blood of a bull, which was, by a mystery, the blood of DionysusZagreus himself, the Bull of God, slain in sacrifice for the purification of man.
It is noteworthy, and throws much light on the spirit of Orphism, that apart from this sacramental tasting of the blood, the Orphic worshipper held it an abomination to eat the flesh of animals at all. The same religious fervour and zeal for purity which made him reject the pollution of animal food, made him at the same time cling to a ceremonial which would utterly disgust the ordinary hardened flesh-eater. It fascinated him just because it was so incredibly primitive and uncanny because it was a mystery which transcended reason (The Athenian Drama, pp. 1678).
Enough has now been advanced, I trust, in disproof of the oft-repeated contention that Christianity is a Divinely revealed religion, wholly different from and infinitely superior to every other religion under the sun.
The truth is that everything in it which savours of supernaturalism has been derived from older cults, just as Christmas was from the Roman Saturnalia, and Easter from an ancient Spring Festival observed by every nation from time immemorial. As already abundantly shown, this is specially true of the God-eating Sacrament. It has come down from prehistoric times, and in all essential points is the same today as it was three and four thousand years ago. But there never was a time when its truth was not challenged by the more enlightened members of the different communities involved. No one can read the great religious drama, entitled The Bacche, by Euripides, without realizing that there were those who doubted and denied, in spite of the cruel persecution that overtook all opponents of the dominant ritual. We cannot but feel humiliated as we read of the women of Thebes leaving their homes, neglecting all their duties, and disporting themselves like maniacs on Mount Cithaeronwidly singing and dancing and tearing in pieces everything they came across but the thoughtful men and women held themselves aloof, smiling in their sleeves, or weeping bitter tears of pity. As time went on the number of the unbelieving non-participants increased, whose attitude at last found accurate expression in Cicero s well-known words When we call corn Ceres and wine Bacchus we use a common figure of speech but do you imagine that anybody is so insane as to believe that he feeds on God? Alas, even in Cicero s day, millions did entertain such a wild belief, and millions still hold it in the twentieth century. We are convinced that the Lord s Supper embodies the crudest and wildest superstition this world has ever seen and our only hope springs from the undeniable fact that as a result of the growth and dissemination of natural knowledge and common sense the faith in it is rapidly declining. In this country strenuous attempts are being made by the Catholic party in the Anglican Church to revive the ancient Pagan and medieval Christian attitude of childlike reverence for and utter trust in this supreme mystery. In organs, like the Church Times, we are constantly meeting with such expressions as The adorability of the Blessed Sacrament, After consecration there is no bread and no wine left in the Sacrament, Since the whole substance of the bread and wine is changed into the whole substance of the Body of Christ, and the whole substance lament the notorious disregard of, and disbelief in, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord, and his adorable Presence in that Sacrament. The trend of the age is decidedly away from all such absurd superstitions, and confronted by common sense the long reign of the priest is assuredly nearing its close. The childish dreams of the Church are being increasingly discredited, the well-nigh universal cry being for realities. For countless ages dreams have invested the priests with limitless power, and filled the Church s coffers with a superabundance of gold but their days are now numbered, for it is being more and more widely realized that, in the words of Dryden
Dreams are but interludes which fancy makes, When Monarch Reason sleeps.