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2021-03-09 14:25:39

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One thing is perfectly clear. It is not done by the offering of any fresh sacrifice. This was the chief duty of the Jewish priests, but it forms no part of that of the Christian minister. From one end of the New Testament to the p. 56other you can find no allusion to any such thing as a Christian sacrifice for sin. The one sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ was once and for ever, final, complete, and sufficient for all the sins of the whole world. The work of sacrifice is finished, as we are taught in the words, 鈥淭o wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself;鈥 and if there can be no sacrifice, it is perfectly plain that there can be no sacrificing priest. Nor can the idea be gathered from the Prayer-book any more than it can from the New Testament. There is not an allusion there, either to a sacrifice or a sacrificing priest, except where it says, in Art. xxxi., 鈥淭he sacrifices of masses, in the which it was commonly said that the priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.鈥 There is no Christian sacrifice recognised by the Church of England but the thankful dedication of heart and life on the part of those who have been saved by the sacrifice of the Lord. But this sacrifice requires no priest to offer it. It may rise at any moment, and from any place, from the depths of any thankful heart. Thus, according to our Communion Service, all offer p. 57it together, and the whole congregation having together met around their Father鈥檚 table, and together tasted the joys of their Father鈥檚 love, together bring their sacrifice, and say, 鈥淗ere we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee.鈥

Let any one search the Scriptures, and they must be convinced that this is the truth there plainly taught. But what can be more palpably contradictory to it than to suppose that He is present, in body, soul, and divinity, in the form of the small piece of lifeless bread which we receive in the Lord鈥檚 Supper? In other words, that there is not only the one Saviour in heaven at the right hand of God; but that there are two or three hundred living Saviours collected together on the table every time that the Lord鈥檚 Supper is administered. I am not surprised if some of you feel shocked at such a statement, and I know that there is enough to shock any religious mind. I am shocked at it myself, and am sorry to have to make it. But this is the real teaching of p. 10the Church of Rome. The decree of the Council of Trent is as follows:鈥斺淚f any man shall say that the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, together with his soul and divinity, and, in short, that a whole Christ, is not contained, truly, really, and substantially, in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist; but shall say that he is in it only in sign, or figure, or power, let him be anathema.鈥 (Sess. xiii. Can. 1.) Another decree goes on to declare, 鈥淚f any man shall say that in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ the only begotten Son of God, is not to be adored, and that outwardly with the worship of latreia, and that he ought not to be carried solemnly about in processions, or that he ought not to be set before the people that he may be worshipped, and that the worshippers of him are idolaters, let him be anathema!鈥 (Sess. xiii. Can. 6.) [10]

A man might bring any number of lambs, goats, and bullocks, and lay them all on the altar; but, unless by the eye of faith he looked to Christ, he would, after all, carry guilt with him in his conscience; and the still small voice within would bring him in guilty before God. The sense of guilt demanded repetition; but p. 26unless the heart looked forward, through that sacrifice, to the coming Christ, no offering, however often repeated, was sufficient: the conscience remained uneasy still, and the sense of guilt clung to the soul.Rom. xii. 1.

I. What, then, is the nature of the sacrifice? or, What is it we are to offer? It is not a lamb, or a goat, or a bullock, but, according to the language of our Communion Service, the offering which we are to render is ourselves. 鈥淗ere we offer and present unto thee ourselves, our souls and bodies.鈥 Just so we read of the p. 35churches of Macedonia, 鈥渢hat they first gave their own selves unto the Lord.鈥 A moment鈥檚 thought will suffice to show that such a sacrifice as this is much more costly than any other. It would be a light matter to sacrifice a bullock, but it is a very costly one to sacrifice Self鈥攁n easy thing for the wealthy prince to bring a thousand lambs to the altar, but a hard thing for either rich or poor to bring his own will to be crucified with Christ.

For the decision of this point, let us compare the 18th and 19th verses. In v. 18 we read,鈥斺淕od hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.鈥 But in v. 19 there is a slight variation; but one of great importance in the exposition of the passage; for we there find鈥淗ath committed to us the word of reconciliation.鈥 The word of reconciliation, therefore, is the substance of the ministry: the grand work is to make known the perfect reconciliation wrought out for us in Christ Jesus, to act on the example set us by St. Paul himself, when he burst out in the grand appeal which follows, and said,鈥斺淣ow, then, we are ambassadors for Christ. As though God did beseech you by us, we pray p. 63you in Christ鈥檚 stead, be ye reconciled unto God.鈥

4. Nay more, it is contrary to the words of our Lord. The words, as given by St. Matthew (xxvi. 26-28) were: 鈥淎nd as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.鈥 Of the bread, therefore, p. 14He said, 鈥淭his is my body;鈥 and of the wine, 鈥淭his is my blood.鈥 The bread did not represent the body and blood together, but the body only, and the wine the blood; or, if the doctrine of transubstantiation were taught, the passage would teach that the bread was changed into the body, and the wine into the blood. But the teaching of Rome defies all such distinctions, though thus plainly laid down by no less an authority than our Lord Himself, and fearlessly hurls her anathemas against all who do not believe that the bread, and the bread alone, is changed into body, blood, soul, and divinity, and becomes, to use their own expression, 鈥渁 whole Christ,鈥 to be exalted, carried in processions, and adored as a living God. The words themselves, taken literally, are dead against such a doctrine. I am not surprised, therefore, when I read our 28th Article, which says: 鈥淭ransubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture.鈥 But I am surprised that Christian people in the Church of England should sit so light as some seem to do to a heresy of so fearful a character, and that men p. 15should be so indifferent to truth as even to speak of the possibility of peace with Rome.

The text stands very near the conclusion of a most important argument, in which the Apostle has been drawing the contrast between the Jewish sacrifices under the ceremonial law and the one perfect sacrifice wrought out for us by p. 19the Son of God on the cross. The contrast commences with the 25th verse of the 9th chapter, and extends to the 14th verse of the 10th; after which we are led to the practical application of the whole epistle. Let us, then, first, carefully study the point of contrast, and then the reason of it.

鈥淣othing in my hand I bring:

2. But the sacrifice goes farther, and involves the dedication of our powers to the Lord鈥檚 most sacred service. The text implies this when it says, 鈥淧resent your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.鈥 There is clearly, therefore, to be service,鈥攁 service involving the active use of human powers. In some cases the body has been actually surrendered to bleed, or burn, in martyrdom. Many a noble man of God has given his body to be burnt rather than acknowledge the doctrine of the Mass. To this, however, we are not called. But still there may be sacrifice without martyrdom, dedication without death, and such a surrender of the living powers as may correspond to the description, 鈥淭hat they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him that died p. 38for them, and rose again.鈥 This is the secret of the missionary spirit; this it is which has led some of the noblest young men in our Universities to abandon all home prospects, and to devote their whole lives to the great work of proclaiming Christ in distant lands. This, again, is the spirit that at this present time is stirring thousands of our own people at home, devoted men and devoted women, to spend their lives labouring for God, helping the poor, comforting the afflicted, nursing the sick, and striving in every possible way to make known the sweetness of the sacred Name which has brought life and peace to their own souls.But here a question will arise in the minds of all those who really desire to make this sacrifice to the Lord, viz. What does it practically involve? What is the real meaning of it? What will be the practical result of such a sacrifice in our own life and character? Some will tell us that it involves the necessity of conventual life, a separation from common duties, and the seclusion of a nunnery, or the vows of a sisterhood. Let any one read this chapter through, and he will see at a glance that this is not the meaning of the Apostle. There are no rules there for a monastic order, but there are very full directions for common business, and common life. All such ideas, therefore, may be dismissed at once. That is not the meaning of the sacrifice. Then, what is? What p. 36is the sacrifice which we, living at home, are to offer to God?

Now, on what does all this tremendous fabric rest? What is there in the word of God to warrant it? What is there in the Scriptures of truth to give a sanction to such a system? So far as the word of God is concerned all hangs on the one text, 鈥淭his is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.鈥 p. 12To these words Romanists appeal again and again, as if they taught the doctrine, whereas the most cursory study of the different passages in which they are contained is sufficient to show that they mean nothing of the kind.

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And let me add, that I believe there are many troubled consciences who would find great assistance in their difficulties if they acted more on the advice of the Communion Service. It is a hard thing to bear a burden alone, and I am thoroughly persuaded there are many who might find great help under serious and painful difficulties from the confidential opening of the heart鈥檚 wound to a clergyman or Christian p. 66friend. I have known many such cases, and I believe that our just dread of the Romish confessional鈥攁nd no one can dread it more than I do鈥攃ombined with our national shyness of character, cuts off many from that which might be an important help to them in their anxious struggle for the peace of God.



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