The following article was penned by Bro. John Thomas in 1859 in response to a correspondent on the subject: “Is the Lord’s Table a Sacrificial Altar?” – we reproduce it for the benefit of our readers, as it touches on certain aspects of our ecclesial arrangements today:
A sacrament (from the Latin Sacramentum, an oath) is defined by ecclesiastical speculators to be “an outward and spiritual grace.” The Roman Mother has “Seven Sacraments,” but her Protestant Daughters and their Abominations, recognize only two of them, which they style Baptism and Eucharist. Their sacrament of Baptism consists in sprinkling the face of a babe at any time from its first breath, and making upon its forehead the sign of a cross with the finger of an ordained administrator, dipped in water, either previously “consecrated” or consecrated in the act of using it for the sprinkling. This is “the outward and visible sign” which ought to be styled Rhantism, or Sprinkling; for there is no baptism or dipping in the case, the fingers of the clerical sorcerer exepted.
But of what is this rhantism the sign? It is said to be “the sign of an inward and spiritual grace” operated upon the immortal soul of the babe, which in the process is regenerated, cleansed from all sin, and ingrafted into the body of Christ! This marvellous work is sacramentalism, the hypostasis or basis of which is, abstract spirit without, operating upon concrete spirit within, the babe! Hence faith is not necessary to sacramentalism, either in clergyman or subject: water, the form, and abstract spirit are all that are necessary; even an ordained administrator may be dispensed with, if it be thought the babe would die before the person could arrive. Hence nurses and doctors’ apprentices often administer “the outward and visible sign”
In all this theological sorcery and spiritual legerdemain the spirit is supposed to be subservient, or in the water. That is, when the words “I baptise thee, &c.,” are uttering or uttered, Holy Spirit strikes into the water, as it were, and makes it holy water. Hence, what the spiritual sorcerers call “holy water” may be styled spirit suspended in water. The Devil is said to hate this very much, so that it has become proverbial to signify intense hatred, as “he hates virtue as the Devil hates holy water”. But the contrary is true. The Devil is very fond of holy water, for he uses it abundantly in all his lustrations. When a pagan, he used it freely; and when he became a Catholic, and filled his wardrobe with popish, protestant and sectarian investments for public occasions, according to the community he found himself among, he has always called the pint basin or “font,” with “the outward and visible sign”.
But, how doth this water regenerate? How is the “spiritual grace” it contains made “inward,” and blended with “the soul”? Not by any mental or moral process assuredly, because the subject of “the sign” is incapable of thought, being simply a newborn animal. The mental and moral being excluded, the physical alone remains. We have seen the mesmerised drink pure water, and vomit at the unexpressed will of the operator; after the same example therefore, we may suppose, that the clerical sorcerer mesmerizes the little animal by his manipulations, and wills the regeneration if it’s “immortal soul”; by which will, the “spiritual grace” in the water being en rapport with his spirit, strikes “inward,” and blending itself with “the particle of the Divine Essence”- divina particular aurae – “the soul,” washes, sanctifies, justifies, and save it: so that being thus generated or born again, its body may be buried in consecrated ground with “christian burial,” and itself become “a little angel with wings,” flying about with its companions like clouds of gnats on a summer’s eve, “beyond the realms of time and space” – somewhere “beyond the skies!!”.
THE BREAD AND WINE
But what has all about clerical rhantism to do with our correspondent’s difficulty? Much every way. Her difficulty relates to the subject of the remission of sins. “For a number of years,” says she, “I supposed that if a believer committed sin, he received remission thereof by confession of the same, and partaking of the bread and wine, viewing it as a sacrificial altar, to which we were commanded to come for the purpose.” This supposition is sacramentalism – REMISSION OF SIN BY A SACRAMENT; the foundation corner of the Apostasy, of whose wine all peoples, and nations, and tongues have drunk to intoxication, so that when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth, he finds them “drunk” and wallowing in the mire – Rev. 17:2,6; 18:3. We have dwelt upon the Sacrament of Rhantism as a familiar example of sacramentalism – “an outward and invisible sign of the inward and spiritual grace” of remission of sin from “the soul” of a new born animal. Only think of it reader; the sin of a part of Deity, called the “immortal soul” purged away by subvenient spirit suspended in a few drops of water trickling from the fingers of an old wife, parson, or apocathary’s apprentice! Are you not astounded at the magical effects of “holy water”? But look at the absurdity – Satan will have it that “the soul” is immortal, or deathless; and yet the sin cleansed out is said to be of that deathless soul: but the Scriptures saith, “the wages of sin is death;” how, then, can there be sin in the soul, and that soul deathless or immortal?
Again, Satan admits that God is sinless, and that his parts partake of the nature of his whole. Now Satan teaches that the human soul is a particle of God’s essence; how, then, can that soul just born, innocent of all action whatever, be sinful, and “in danger of the pains of hell for ever?”
That fact is, that Satan is a deceiver and deceived. He is lost in “his depths as they teach” (Rev. 2:24). His sacramentalism has bewildered him; and he is stultified by “the sentiments of all christendom,” in which he piously and clerically ministers to the admiration of the Devil in all his manifestations of the flesh.
SUPPOSED REMISSION OF SIN
Now as to Eucharistic Saramentalism, or the remission of sin by confession and partaking of the bread and wine, the eating of the bread and wine is the “outward and visible sign;” and the remission of sin is the “inward and spiritual grace;” or abstract spirit, communicated. The sacrament of the Eucharist, or of Thanksgiving, differs from the sacrament of Rhantism, or Sprinkling, not in the theory of its opus operatum, or work operated, but in the form and subject. The vehicle through which the “grace” is transmitted”, is bread and wine instead of water; and the subject one that has been satanically rhantized or aspersed. An unsprinkled animal cannot be admitted to “the altar”.
The unsprinkled are brought to the convenicle pint-basin, or to the parochial font, and no further towards the clerical sanctum; but the besprinkled, Satan’s own newborns, are admitted to the altar-rail, and permitted to eat a “wafer,” or if they belong to the reformed synagogue, to eat bread and drink wine for the healing of their immortal souls, that is, for the remission of any sin or defilement the incorruptible and deathless soul may have contracted, since it was cleansed “by grace” in the water, or by a previous eating. In Satan’s papistical synagogue, the ministers keep the decanter to themselves; while they give the wafer to their dupes. Satan’s ministers love good cheer above all things, and always take care of number one.
They persuaded the foolish people that there was such virtue in their ministry that by repeating the words of Jesus over a wafer, they call the “host,” and over a tankard, or cup, of wine, they could convert the wafer into the flesh, and the wine into the blood, of Christ, so that, when these elements were before the people, they beheld Christ really present – sacrificially. The process developing this result, they call it “the Sacrifice of the Mass;” and the thing itself, “the Real Presence.” Only think of the sorcery! A devil of a priest, the very antitype of Judas, whom Jesus styled a devil (Jno. 6:70), takes a little flour, water, and salt, makes it into a paste, and then mutters over it in Latin, Hoc est corpus meum (“this is my body”), and instantly the words pass through his lying lips, the wafer-dough becomes the actual flesh that was crucified! By this sorcery, the cannibal makes his god, and eats him!
But the process does not stop here. He takes a cup of wine (the best, doubtless he can find in the market, as he intends, selfish tippler that he is, to drink it all himself,) and mumbles over it, Hoc est sanguis mea (“this is my blood”), and instantly the wine becomes the real blood that poured from the heart of Jesus when “filled with iron, and the shaft of a spear.”
But, behold the creature’s “depth” or subtlety! He says, to the people, this blood was poured out for you; but it is not lawful for you to drink it; but for the priest only. You may eat of the wafer; and in eating of this, you, in effect, take also the blood, for the blood pervades all the flesh. Oh! Ye knaves, ye children of the devil, enemies of all God’s righteouseness, witnessed by the law and the prophets! Ye say that ye have turned wine into real blood? Suppose ye had, why do you not pour it upon the ground, and cover it with dust?- Lev. 17:13-14. Who gave you a dispensation to do as worship what it was not lawful for Peter and the other apostles, nor for any Gentile christians to do? Ye hypocrites, ye generation of vipers, ye deceivers and destroyers of the people, hear what the apostles say to you, and to all who profess the faith of Jesus:- “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which, if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well” – Acts15:28-29.
Hear this, ye blood-drinking priests “it is a necessary thing that ye abstain from blood”: but ye pretend to make it, and to drink it too! But what is the use of talking to you about what the Scripture teacheth, except, indeed, for the benefit of your dupes, who perchance may read it. Your “wisdom” is from beneath, and your mission therefrom to deceive the world, and to make the Word of God of none effect by your traditions.
But Luther, a sorcerer himself, taught his contemporaries that his brother priests did not effect what they pretended—that they did not convert the substance of the dough and wine into the real blood, flesh, and bones of Christ; but that the words uttered over them brought Christ down into a mystical union with the dough and wine: which were not consubstantial with the iron, when heated to redness. This was only a modification of the original absurdity; the absurdity essentially remained. The bread and wine were eaten sacramentally by all sorts of ignoramuses, whose “immortal souls” were healed by the con, or “grace”, while the substance, or bread and wine, were digested in the usual way.
After Luther, Zwinglius and Calvin, two other sons of the Sorceress declared that the monk of Wittemburg, though a little more rational than most of his order, was still very wide of the true exposition. They admitted that the Eucharist was “a sacrament”, but taught that the bread and wine were only emblems of the body and blood of Jesus, and to be eaten as such for the reception, in some way or another, of “an inward and spiritual grace”. This dogma of Zurich and Geneva is the sacramentalism of the Parliamentary Superstition of Britain, and of American Sectarianism. Until quite recently, “infidels” and “deists” used to take the Sacrament of the Eucharist as a qualification for a seat in Parliament, to which they had been elected. People of all sorts of opinions, and of no opinion (we say nothing of “faith” in their ease), take the sacrament at the parochial altar rails from the hands of the ministers duly authorised to administer ordinances by Satan. Being ignorant of Bible Christianity, any “grace” they are supposed to obtain gets into their “immortal souls” sacramentally; and the bread and the wine become to them “a sacrificial altar”.
Men’s opinions on the nature of the Eucharist used to define their position, in the beginning of the controversy of Rome. If they confessed the Real Presence in the Sacrament, they passed for good Catholics; but if they denied it, they were deemed to be Protestants, and worthy of the stake. The question was put to the Princess Elizabeth, while under surveillance in the reign of her sister, “the bloody Queen,” what she thought of the bread and wine in the Eucharist. But she, perceiving the snare, replied, saying,
Christ was the Word that spake it;
He took the bread and brake it;
What he did make it,
That I believe—and take it.
But what he did make it, she pretended not to say.
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER
But the truth is, the institution is not a “sacrament” at all. Apart from an enlightened mind, the bread and the wine are of no more benefit to the eater, than immersion for the person dipped. Immersion is a sign; and the eating of the bread and of the wine is a sign. The former is a burial and a rising again from the water, in which the believer was put out of sight. It is memorial of his death to sin, and his resurrection to a new moral existence; and a sign of his resurrection from the grave of earth, to live and reign with Christ a thousand years. But it is a memorial and sign of these things only to him who is the possessor of the “One Faith”; to all others, it is neither—Rom. 6:2-11; 1Cor. 15:29; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:26-29.
The latter is also memorial and significant. It memorializes the breaking of the body of Jesus for his brethren, and the outpouring of his blood for the dedication for the Abrahamic Covenant, by which covenant so dedicated, all the believers of it’s promises are sanctified in putting on Jesus as it’s Anointed Mediator. It memorializes the body as the victim and altar on which sin was condemned, and upon which the iniquity of all the faithful was laid. All in Jesus are therefore “in the altar” – partakers of the Altar “of which they had no right to eat who served the Tabernacle” – Heb. 13:10; and of which they could not possibly eat, being without faith. It is a sign of feeding on Christ, the bread of heaven, “whose flesh is meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed”; for as bread and wine nourish the outward man upon physical principles, so the testimony, or unadulterated milk of the Word concerning Christ in his sufferings and glory, understood and believed, is mental and moral nourishment upon which the faithful feed, and grow, and become strong. It is a sign of this spiritual eating, digesting, and assimilating of the word of Christ or “the Spirit, which” says John, “is the truth” – 1John v 6. This is the bread that came down from heaven—the Spirit-truth”; “if any man eat this bread, he shall live in the age”: for it is the spirit that maketh alive; the flesh profits nothing; spirit is, and life is, the words which I speak to you.” “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye show the Lord’s death until he come”- 1 Cor. 11:26. It memorializes the first coming, and reminds the partaker continually that he will certainly appear again, not to suffer, but to conquer and to reign.
It is manifest, then, that without understanding of the truth, it is impossible to eat in the true sense of the institution. It must be eaten in faith with the unleavened (cakes) of purity and truth—1 Cor. 5:8. An ignoramus cannot do this, for “ignorance alienates from the life of God” – Eph. 4:18; such can only eat unworthily, not discerning the Lord’s body in it’s spiritual relations.
The bread and the wine are no altar at all, but memorials of the altar. That altar, we have seen, is Jesus: and the saints in him, the worshippers thereat. About three or four years after the death of the Apostle John, Ignatius, in one of his letters, says, “Let no-one mistake: if any man is not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God. The altar was the place of sacrifice; therefore, all within it, are in a suffering state. If they offend, they have the privilege of approach to the Father through their advocate Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, who is the covering for their sins, and to cleanse them from all unrighteousness—1 John 1:9; 2:1,2. They eat bread and drink wine as the memorial of this: not as a sacrificial altar, sacramentally imparting the remission of sins.
John Thomas, Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come
Whilst we agree with Bro Thomas’ that the bread and the wine of Messiah’s appointed memorial do not change into anything else by the priest’s blessing, the use of clumsy and inaccurate language can give the wrong impression. Countless times we have heard brethren in their prayers say, “we pray for a blessing upon the bread” or “upon the wine”. But what is the “blessing” sought for? What difference is there between bread blessed, and bread unblessed? Surely none: the bread and the wine remain natural bread and natural wine, and it is the simple partaking thereof which provides a memorial of the sacrifice of Messiah. The language is vague, inaccurate, and must surely fall into the category of what Bro Robert Roberts called: “prayers that smell of the old Roman cask; prayers that are unreasonable, that could not be answered, that are a mere rattle of words, and in their implications are an unintelligent shutting of the eyes to facts, and an insult to the majesty of God” (1893)