SEARCH THE ARCHIVE

? SEARCH TIPS
Exact phrase, enclose in quotes:
“keyword phrase here”
Multiple words, separate with commas:
keyword, keyword

The Zwinglian view of the Lord’s Supper is known as the symbolical view. Concerning this view of the Lord’s Sipper, Rev. Hoeksema writes in his Dogmatics as follows: “The traditional and generally accepted representation of the Zwinglian view is that this reformer did not really see a sacrament at all in the Eucharist. According to him the Lord’s Supper was a mere feast of commemoration. In the Lord’s Supper there was really no operation of God in Christ, but rather an act on the part of the church. Now it is doubtful whether this representation of the view of that Reformer does complete justice to him. It is true that he seems to belittle the supernatural element in the sacrament. Sometimes he rather stresses the act of believers rather than the work of God and the operation of Christ through His Holy Spirit in the Lord’s Supper; and he leaves the impression that to him the supper mainly serves the purpose to c6mmemorate the death of Christ. Nevertheless, there are also expressions in his writings that seem to prove the contrary. Besides, in the First Helvetic Confession, which is supposed to conform to the Zwinglian view, we read in Article 21 . . . .” 

We wish to quote from the Second Helvetic Confession. This Confession was composed in 1566. It is the most elaborate and most catholic among the Swiss Confessions. It was adopted, or at least highly approved, by nearly all the Reformed Churches on the Continent and in England and Scotland. And although it cannot be declared with certainty that all that is contained in this confession can be attributed to Zwingli himself, yet one may doubt whether Zwingli’s conception of the Lord’s Supper was merely that of a feast of c6mmemoration and nothing more.

Article XXI of the Second Helvetic Confession OF THE HOLY SUPPER OF THE LORD 

“The Supper of the Lord (which is called the Lord’s Table, and the Eucharist, that is, a Thanksgiving) is; therefore, commonly called a supper, because it was instituted by Christ at his last supper, and does as yet represent the same, and because in it the faithful are spiritually fed and nourished. For the author of the Supper of the Lord is not an angel or man, but the very Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who did first of all consecrate it to his Church. And the same blessing and consecration does still remain among all those who celebrate no other but that very Supper, which the Lord did institute, and at that do recite the words of the Supper of the Lord, and in all things look unto the one Christ by a true faith; at whose hands, as it were, they do receive that which they do receive by the ministry of the ministers of the Church. 

“The Lord, by this sacred rite, would have that great benefit to be kept in fresh remembrance which he-procured for mankind; to wit, that by giving up his body to death and shedding his blood he had forgiven us all our sins, and redeemed us from eternal death and the power of the devil, and now feeds us with his flesh, and gives us his blood to drink: which things, being apprehended spiritually by a true faith, do nourish us up to life everlasting. And this so great a benefit is renewed so oft as the Supper is celebrated. For the Lord said, ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ (Luke 22:19). 

“By this holy Supper also it is sealed unto us, that the very body of Christ was truly given up for us, and his blood shed for the remission of our sins, lest our faith might somewhat waver. And this is outwardly represented unto us by the minister in the sacrament, after a visible manner, and, as it were, laid before our eyes to be seen, which is inwardly in the soul invisibly performed by the Holy Spirit. Outwardly, bread is offered by the minister, and the words of the Lord are heard: ‘Take, eat; this is my body’; and, ‘Drink ye all of it; this is my blood’ (Matt. 26:26-28Luke 22:17-20). Therefore the faithful do receive that which is given by the ministers of the Lord, and do eat the bread of the Lord, and do drink of the Lord’s cup. And at the same time inwardly, by the working of Christ through the Holy Spirit; they receive also the flesh and blood of the Lord, and do feed on them unto life eternal. For the flesh and blood of Christ is true meat and drink unto life eternal; yea, Christ himself, in that he was delivered for us, and is our Saviour, is that special thing and substance of the Supper; and therefore we suffer nothing to be put in his place. [These words certainly show that the observance of the Lord’s Supper is more than a mere remembrance feast—H.V.] 

“But that it may the better and more plainly be understood how the flesh and blood of Christ are the meat and drink of the faithful, and are received by the faithful unto life eternal, we will add, moreover, these few things: 

“Eating is of divers sorts. (1) There is a corporealeating, whereby meat is taken into a man’s mouth, chewed with the teeth, swallowed down, and digested. After this manner did the Capernaites in times past think they should eat the flesh of the Lord; but they are confuted by him (John 6:30-63). For as the flesh of Christ could not be eaten bodily, without great wickedness and cruelty, so is it not food for the body, as all men do confess. We therefore disallow that canon in the Pope’s decrees. For neither did godly antiquity believe, neither yet do we believe, that the body of Christ can be eaten corporeally and essentially, with a bodily mouth. 

“(2) There is also a spiritual eating of Christ’s body; not such a one whereby it may be thought that the very meat is changed into the spirit, but whereby (the Lord’s body and blood remaining in their own essence and property) those things are spiritually communicated unto us, not after a corporeal, but after a spiritual manner, through the Holy Spirit, who does apply and bestow upon us those things (to wit, remission of sins, deliverance, and life eternal) which are prepared. for us by the flesh and blood of our Lord, sacrificed for us; so that Christ does not live in us, as we live in him; and does cause us to apprehend him by true faith to this end, that he may become unto us such a spiritual meat and drink, that is to say, our life. For even as corporeal meat and drink do not only refresh and strengthen our bodies, but also do keep them in life; even so the flesh of Christ delivered for us, and his blood shed for us, do not only refresh and strengthen our souls, but also do preserve them alive, not so far as they be corporeally eaten and drunken, but so far as they are communicated unto us spiritually by the Spirit of God, the Lord saying, ‘The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world’ (John 6:51): also it is the spirit that gives life: ‘the flesh’ (to wit, corporeally eaten) ‘profiteth nothing; the words which I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life’ (John 6:63). And as we must by eating receive the meat into our bodies, to the end. that it may work in us, and show its efficacy in us (because, while it is without us, it profiteth us not at all); even so it is necessary that we receive Christ by faith, that he may be made ours, and that he live in us, and we in him. For he says, ‘I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth in me shall not thirst any more (John 6:35); and also, ‘He that eateth me, shall live through me; and he abideth in me, and I in him’ (John 6:50.) 

“From all this it appears manifestly, that by spiritual meat we mean not any imaginary thing, but the very body of our Lord Jesus, given to us; which yet is received by the faithful not corporeally, but spiritually by faith: in which point we do wholly follow the, doctrine of our Lord and Saviour Christ, in the 6th chapter of John. And this eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood of the Lord is so necessary to salvation that without it no man can be saved. But this spiritual eating and drinking takes place also without the Supper of the Lord, even so often as, and wheresoever, a man does believe in Christ. To, which purpose that sentence of St. Augustine does happily belong, ‘Why dost thou prepare thy teeth and belly? Believe, and thou hast eaten.’ 

“(3) Besides that Former spiritual eating, there is asacramental eating of the body of the Lord; whereby the believer not only is partaker, spiritually and internally, of the true body and blood of the Lord, but also, by coming to the Table of the Lord, does outwardly receive the visible sacraments of the body and blood of the Lord. True it is, that by faith the believer did before receive the food that gives life, and still receives the same; but yet, when he receives the sacrament, he receives something more. For he goes on in continual communication of the body and blood of the Lord, and his faith is daily more and more kindled, more strengthened and refreshed, by the spiritual nourishment. For while we live, faith has continual increasings; and he that outwardly does receive the sacrament with a true faith, the same does not only receive the sign, but also does enjoy (as we said) the thing itself . . . . 

“We do not, therefore, so join the body of the Lord and his blood with the bread and wine, as though we thought, that the bread is the body of Christ, more than after a sacramental manner; or that the body of Christ does lie hid corporeally under the bread, so that it ought to be worshipped under the form of bread; or yet that whosoever he be who receives the sign, receives also the thing itself. The body of Christ is in the heavens, at the right hand of his Father; and therefore our hearts are to be lifted up on high, and not to be fixed on the bread, neither is the Lord to be worshipped in the bread. Yet the Lord is not absent from his Church when she celebrates the Supper, The sun, being absent from us in the heavens, is yet, notwithstanding, present among us effectually: how much more Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, though in body he be absent from us in the heavens, yet is present among us; not corporeally, but spiritually, by his lively operation, and so as he himself promised, in his Last Supper, to be present among us (John 14, 15 andJohn 16). Whereupon it follows that we have not the Supper without Christ, and yet that we may have meanwhile an unbloody and mystical supper, even as all antiquity called it . . . . 

“We therefore disallow those who have taken from the faithful one part of the sacrament, to wit, the Lords cup. For these do very grievously offend against the institution of the Lord, who says, ‘Drink ye all off this’ (Matt. 26:27); which he did not so plainly say of the bread.”

This Confession, although we cannot say that all that is contained in it can be attributed to Zwingli himself, is supposed to conform to the Zwinglian view of the Lord’s Supper. And it cannot be denied that the presentation of this sacrament in this 21st article, as quoted above, is much in agreement with the reformed view of the same. According to this article, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is not merely a remembrance feast, and Christ is not merely present symbolically, only in the signs as such, but He is also present Himself, spiritually, by His lively operation, even as He Himself promised, in His Last Supper, to be present among us. 

—H.V.