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the prophets, as the time permits, are read. Then, when the reader has finished, the president delivers an oration, in which he instructs the people, and encourages them to imitate things so delightful. After this we all rise up in common, and pour forth our prayers, and when the prayers are over, bread is brought forward, and wine mixed with water; and a distribution and communion is made to every one present of these elements, over which the thanks have been given, and they are sent to the absent by the deacons. They also who are rich and are willing, each according to his own will, contributes as seems good to him, and the collection is deposited in the hands of the president: from this source he affords assistance to orphans and widows, and those who, on account of disease or any other cause, are in want, or in prison; or, to sum up all in one word, the president is the guardian of all indigent persons.” Nothing can possibly be more full, or more satisfactory, than this account of the Lord's Supper, as it was observed about the middle of the second century; nothing also can be more similar to our own method of celebrating it at present, making reasonable allowance for the change of time and manners.
But we have still further references: Irenæus,*
* IRENÆUS, A.D. 178, a disciple of Polycarp, and Polycarp a disciple of St. John, so that we have in him a direct apos-. tolical communication. Bishop of Lyons, in France, suffered martyrdom, A.D. 202.
in the middle of the second century, in describing the Eucharist, writes as follows: “We offer unto him (God) his own gifts, thereby declaring the communication and truth both of flesh and spirit; for as the bread which is of the earth is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two parts, the one earthly, the other heavenly, so all our bodies receiving the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, whilst they live in hopes of a resurrection ; but we offer these things to him not as if he stood in need of them, but as giving him thanks for his gifts, and sanctifying the creature.” So also Clement of Alexandria.* “ The blood of the Lord is twofold. For in one sense it is fleshly, by which we are freed from corruption, in the other spiritual, by which we are anointed; and this it is to drink the blood of Christ, to partake of the purification of the Lord ; and the mixture of these, that is, of the drink and of the word, is called the Eucharist, an admirable and beautiful grace of which those who partake in faith, are made holy in body and soul.” And the same author again, “Christ blessed the wine, and said, “Take it, and drink : this is my blood,'--the holy stream of the church—the Word poured forth for the remission of sins.'
* CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA,-A.D. 194, originally a heathen philosopher, afterwards presbyter of Alexandria.
THE THIRD CENTURY.
Here we find Tertullian* about the year 220, thus speaking: “Every one offers a small alms monthly, or when he will, or as he can, for no one is compelled, but he makes a voluntary oblation. It is not expended in feasting, drinking, and abusive excesses, but in feeding and burying the poor, in providing for orphans and aged people, and such as suffer shipwreck or languish in the mines, or in banishment, or in prison. Only one part of it is spent upon a sober feast of charity, where the poor has a right to feed as well as the rich." And to shew that as yet no change from the simple doctrine of our Redeemer was at all ventured upon, he says, in another place, “The bread being received and distributed to his disciples, he made it his body by saying, “This is my body,' that is, “The figure of my body.' ”I
Again, Origen,ll in the year 230, thus asserts : “ We eat the bread that was offered to the Creator with prayer and thanksgiving for the gifts that he has bestowed upon us, which bread is made a holy body by prayer, sanctifying those that use it with a pious mind."*
* TERTULLIAN,—towards the end of the second century and commencement of the third ; originally a heathen, but when converted to Christianity is not known.
+ Tertull. Apol. c. 39. I Contr. Marc. lib. iv.
| ORIGEN,—born at Alexandria, a pupil of Clement, before mentioned, a catechist of Alexandria, and afterwards Presbyter, one of the most illustrious of the fathers. Died at Tyre, A.D. 254.
In another place, commenting on the words “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man,” he says, “It is not the matter of the bread, but the word which is spoken over it, which profits him that eats it worthily, and this, indeed, as a typical and symbolical body.”|
Again, commenting on the old testament, he goes out of his way to refer to the new testament for the purpose of disproving any notion but that of simply and spiritually eating the sacred elements, and he says, “ There is also in the new testament, the letter which kills him who does not spiritually understand it. For if you follow this command, Unless you eat my flesh, and drink my blood,' according to the letter, this letter kills; but if you understand it spiritually it does not kill, but there is a vivifying spirit in it."I Once more, in his commenting on the words, “Take, eat; this is my body,"|| he says, “For God, the Word, , did not call that visible bread which he held in his hands, his body; but the word in the
Origen contra Celsum lib. 8, p.
399. † Origen Matt. xv. 11.
| Levit. Hom. vii. Matt. xxvi. 26.
mystery of which that bread was to be broken; nor did he call that visible drink his blood; but the word in the mystery of which that drink was to be poured forth.”
Another father of this century, St. Cyprian,* is equally conclusive as to the practice and opinions of the church : addressing a rich woman who had neglected to make an offering, he says,
“ You are rich and wealthy, and think that you celebrate the Lord's Supper, yet do not at all respect the corban. You come to the Lord's Supper without a sacrifice ; you take away a part of the sacrifice which the poor has offered.”+ The same father, in his epistle to Cæcilianus, speaks of mixing water with the wine, and mentions the reason for which it was done : “We see, that in the water the people are represented, but in the wine the blood of Christ; and when in the cup the water is mixed with wine, the people is made one with Christ; and the believers and
* St. CYPRIAN.–An African, born at Carthage, supposed to have been converted to Christianity, A.D. 246, and made bishop of Carthage, A.D. 248. Being commanded by the Emperor Valerian to offer sacrifice to the gods, which was the usual test of denying Christianity, St. Cyprian answered, “ I will not." The pro-consul, by command of the Emperor, said, “ It is decreed that Cyprian shall be beheaded." To which the excellent bishop replied, "God be praised :” he was then beheaded, A.D. 258. + Cyprian, de Oper, and Eleemos. See the note upon Justin Martyr, quoted at p. 42.