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1. Names or Appellations of this Sacrament

Antiquities of the Christian Church
XVI. Of the Lord's Supper

1. Names or Appellations of this Sacrament

Men of all religious denominations have, generally, concurred in regarding the sacrament of the Lord's supper as the most solemn rite of christian worship, the grand characteristic of the religion of Christ. For a full understanding of the doctrines and usages connected with this institution, a knowledge of the various names by which it has been distinguished is indispensable. A full knowledge of these, with all their relations to the times and places in which they were used, would almost furnish a history of the sacrament itself. These names are exceedingly numerous; and, although retaining a general similarity of meaning, yet each has been chosen out of regard to some peculiar views relating to the doctrine of the sacrament, or from a preference for some peculiar mode of administration.

  1. The term, the Lord's supper, *, sacra coena, coena Domini, has an historical reference to the institution of the rite by our Lord, on the night in which he was betrayed. Matt. 26:20, 31, 1 Cor. 11:23. Some have erroneously maintained that the passage in 1 Cor. 11:23 relates, not strictly to the participation of the sacramental elements, but to the feast which accompanied the distribution of these elements. But it has been abundantly shown that the early christian writers understood and used the term according to the explanation given above. 
  2. The table of the Lord, *, mensa Dei, denotes much the same as the Lord's supper, a festival instituted by the Lord. Tertulliaa styles it conmvium Dominicum. The context of 1 Cor. 10:21 forbids the supposition that a common table was used for this purpose. The apostle uses the term * as synonymous with * an altar. We are constrained, therefore, to believe that a table was set apart for this sacred purpose, like that of the shew-bread, a mensa mystica, a table sacred to the purpose of celebrating the Lord's supper.
  3. The following scriptural expressions are also employed in a sense partly literal and partly figurative, to denote the sacrament: bread, – the breaking of bread. Acts 2:42, 20:7 comp. 27:35, Luke 24:35 – the eating of bread, John 6:23 – the Lord's body, or his flesh, John 6:53 – the cup of the Lord, 1 Cor. 10:21 – the cup of the New Testament, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 10:21 – blood. The custom of breaking the bread, and of administering but one element, has been derived from the foregoing passages.
  4. The new testament in my blood, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25. It has, however, been disputed whether this phrase can, with propriety, be applied to the sacrament of the Lord's supper.
  5. Communion, *, communio. This is by far the most common appellation of the solemnity in question. It has been current in all ages, and among all parties. It has been used, both in a doctrinal and mystical sense; and in an historical and ecclesiastical signification.

    In a doctrinal sense, it has been supposed to represent our reconciliation to God, and our union with him. Others have supposed it to represent our union and fellowship with Christ. This participation with him, according to some, is through his presence in the elements. Others understand by it the union of believers in spirit, with their spiritual head; and others, again, the union of believers among themselves in the bonds of christian love.

    In an historical and ecclesiastical sense, communion denotes a participation in all the mysteries of the christian religion, and, of course, church-fellowship, with all its rites and privileges. Hence the term excommunication.

    In a liturgical sense it denotes, sometimes the partaking of the sacrament, and sometimes the administration of it.

  6. Agapae, *, love feast, feast of heaven. The expression in Jude 1:12, 2 Pet. 2:13, may refer either to the Lord's supper, or to the festival accompanying it.
  7. Eucharist, *, a very ancient and general appellation, founded on the scriptural expression *, Matt. 26:27, Mark 14:23, Luke 22:19, 1 Cor. 11:24. The name eucharist, thanks-giving, was applied to this ordinance, because gratitude for the divine mercy and grace is the chief requisite in those who partake of it. 
  8. * celehratio laudis, benedictio, thanksgiving, synonymous with the preceding, Matt. 26:26, Mark 14:22, 1 Cor. 10:16. After the fifth century, this became the name for the consecrated bread which was set apart for the poor, and for the ministers of the church.
  9. *, oblatio, oblation. The literal signification of this word is, a sacrificial offering, corresponding to the Hebrew **, and the Syriac corban. It finally became synonymous with **, *, a sacrifice. It is applied to the elements used in celebrating the Lord's supper. The later Greek writers used the word *, in a moral, rather than a literal sense, in allusion to the customary exhortation, sursum corda! "Lift up your hearts." The leading idea of the Latin, offertorium, is a voluntary offering; but it appears to have been applied especially to the consecrated bread. 
  10. *, sacrifice. This term is, with great propriety, used by early christian writers to denote the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ, once offered for the sins of the world. Other epithets of a similar import are sacrificium spirituale, sanctum, mysticum, rationale, etc, but more frequently, *, the bloodless sacrifice. After the seventh century, it began to be used to designate the mass, which was offered in the Roman Catholic church for the dead, and accordingly fell into disuse with the evangelical church.
  11. *, mysterium, mystery. This, coupled with the adjectives, *, etc., awful, tremendous, is familiar phraseology with Chrysostom and Gregory Nazianzen; but they seem to use it with reference to the ritual, rather than to any implied doctrine. The Lord's supper, as the last and most solemn rite of the secret discipline, was styled by Pseudo-Dionysius, * perfection of perfections. The name *, which this ordinance received from its connection with the secret discipline, became the favorite phrase for setting forth the wonderful presence of the body and blood of Christ, which finally ended in the doctrine of transubstantiation. 
  12. *, used by Cyril of Jerusalem and Theodoret, with special reference to the secret discipline. After the termination of that system, it appears not to have been used by evangelical writers.
  13. *, congregatio, coetus, conventus sacer, a solemn assembly. This phrase is of similar import with that of communion, with the additional idea of a solemn and public transaction. It indicates that this, in the primitive church, was the most important and solemn act of public worship.
  14. *, operatio sacra, sacred ministration. Supposed to have been derived from the expression, ministering the gospel of God, Rom. 15:16; and used in the same general and figurative sense.
  15. *, public service, liturgy. This, and its kindred terms, as used in the New Testament, relates to the service of the priesthood; and was, probably, used in the same sense by Chrysostom and Theodoret, etc. It became, however, the practice, both in the Eastern and Western churches, to apply this epithet to the sacrament of the Lord's supper. But in the Roman Catholic church, it finally gave place to the name mass.
  16. Mass. This word has undergone a change from its simple origin and meaning, to another, more entirely different in use and signification than any other. Passing by various theories respecting the origin of this word which have been advanced and refuted, it will be sufficient briefly to set forth its true etymology.

    The word is undoubtedly derived from the Latin missa, which stands for missio, or dimissio populi, with direct reference to the ancient mode of dismissing the people at the close of religious worship. From being a participle, it has become a noun substantive, for missio like remissa, ae, for remissio, or offensa, ae, for offensio.

    By the secret discipline of the ancient church, none but believers were permitted to be present at the celebration of the Lord's supper. During a certain portion of religious worship all were allowed, indiscriminately, to attend. At the close of this part of the service, the catechumens and unbelievers of every description, were dismissed by the deacon who said, Ite! missa est sc. ecclesia, Depart! the assembly is dismissed. From this custom the religious service, which had just been concluded, was called missa catechumenorum. the service of the catechumens. Then followed the missa fidelium, the service of the faithful, or of believers. Hence the change from missa to mass, the latter being only a slight modification of the former word.

    Protestants have uniformly rejected this term with abhorrence, because of the abuses which, under this name, have been connected with the sacrament, both in ancient and modern times, whilst they have protested against the charge of a want of regard for the real missa or mass of the primitive church.

    The above is a brief summary of the author's remarks on the subject of mass. The reader is referred to various authorities in the index. 

  17. Sacramentum altaris, sacrament of the altar. This phrase is used in common by the Greek, Roman, and Lutheran churches. Bui the reformed church reject the phrase, because of their aversion to the word altar.

    But, without the addition of the word altar, that of sacrament alone has, very generally, been used to denote the ordinance in question, this being the principal rite of religious worship; and, by way of emphasis, denominated the sacrament.

  18. Besides the foregoing appellations in common use, and having a peculiar signification, there are many others of less frequent occurrence, and more general character, the knowledge of which may be of importance as conveying ideas respecting the nature, significancy, dignity, and efficacy of the ordinance which they describe.

The most of these are derived from relations of the bread and the wine; the body and blood of Christ. In this point of view the holy sacrament is represented as spiritual nourishment, the life and strength of the soul, etc. The terms body and blood, food and drinks bread and wine, were at first used in the same sense. Afterwards, in consequence of the prevailing custom of administering only one element, these terms were separated, and the ordinance was denoted by the appellations of body, food, bread, or blood, drink, wine, etc. The following are some of the expressions in question.

  1. Corpus Christi, body of Christ.
  2. Cibus Dei, s. Domini, food of God or the Lord:
  3. Cibus coelestis, heavenly food.
  4. Cibus angelorum, angels' food.
  5. Cibus viatorum, mortalium, aegrotorum, food of travellei mortals, the sick, etc.
  6. Manna coelestis, heavenly manna.
  7. Panis supersubstantialis, equivalent to living bread or bread indeed. The expression "our daily bread," in our Lord's prayer was applied to the consecrated bread. Hence the expression above.
  8. Panis Dei, s. Domini, bread of God,
  9. Panis vitae, bread of life.
  10. Panis coeleslis, heavenly bread.
  11. *, viaticum, provisions for a journey. It was an ancient custom to administer the sacrament to the sick in the last stages of life, and also to put the sacred elements in the coffin of the deceased. Hence the appellation above. Death was, to the ancient Christian, a journey from this to the eternal world, and the sacrament furnished the needful provisions for that journey. But the custom of administering the sacrament to the dying, was finally abandoned.
  12. *, participation, communion, i.e. with saints or with Christ, etc.
  13. *, pledge, pledge of eternal life, 2 Cor. 1:22, 6:6, and Eph. 1:14.
  14. *, medicamentum, medicina corporis et mentis, purgatarium, amnletum, and other phrases, expressive of medicinal properties for the soul.
  15. Sacramenlum pads, the reconciling ordinance, a favorite expression of Chrysostom.
  16. The terms applied to baptism were often transferred to the Lord's supper, such as *, already mentioned; *, light, life, salvation, hope, purification, access to the Father by Christ, with assurance of adoption. 

The holy sacrament, from the eleventh century, became the ordeal for proving the guilt or innocence of persons suspected, or accused of crimes; and, throughout the nations of Europe, was also employed as the means of ratifying an oath, asseveration, or execration. The names of the holy sacrament are familiar in the dialect of the profane in every language. Even a celebrated christian queen, in her paroxisms of rage, was accustomed to swear by the blood of God!

Suiceri Observatt. sacr. p. 91: Casauboni Exercit. 16. ad Baronii. annal. p. 450 seq.: Jo. Gerhaidi Loc. theol, lorn. x. p. 3.

Ad uxor. lib. ii. c. 4.

Jo. Gerhard. Loc. iheol. torn. X. p. 4,5: Corpus juris eccl. Saxon. S. 136, 137.
(No tag #3 appears in Rev. Lyman Coleman's translation.)

Justin Martyr, Apol. i. c. 65, 66. p. 220: Iren. adv. haeres. lib. iv. c. 34: Clem. Al. paedag. lib. ii. c.2. p. 178.

Constitut. Apost. lib. viii. c. 13.

Chr. Mattb. PfafF. notae in Irenaei fragmenta anecdota. Hagae, 1715. 8. p. 128.

De Hierarch. eccl. c. 3.

Jo. Gerbard. x. p. 8.

Bona, Rer. llturg. lib. ii. c. 1. p. 2. ed. Colon.: J. Stepb. Duranti. De Rit. eccl. cath. lib. xxi. 1: Gerbard. Loc. Theol. x. p. 10: Isidor. Hispal. etymol. lib. vi. c. 19: Guil. Durandi Ration, div. off. lib. iv. c. 1.

The following sentence in Costeri Institut. Chr. lib. i, c. 6, consists of extracts from various writers, chiefly from Bernhard of Clairvaux: – Eucharistia est medicina aegrotis, perigrinantibus via; debiles confortat, valentes delectat, languorem sanat, sanitatem servat; fit homo mansuetior ad correctionem, potentior ad laborern, ardentior ad amorem, sagacior ad cautelam, ad obedientiara proniptior, ad gratiarum cautiones devotior; hie dimittuntur peccata quotidiana, expelluntur potestates Satanae, dantur vires ad ipsum etiam martyrium subeundum; minuitur in minimis peccatis sensus, in gravioribus tollitur omnino consensus, denique afferuntur omnia bona; quia homo communicans in id transit, quod sumit. – The following expressions are from the language of the Council of Trent (Cone. Trident, Sess. xiii. p. 77–86, ed. Lugd. I677–8): – Eucharistia est symbolum unitatis et carilatis, qua Christus omnes Christianos inter se conjunctos et copulates esse voluit. – Symbolum rei sacrae, et invisibilis gratiae forma visibilis. – Spiritualis animarum cibus. – Panis angelorum.– Animae vita, perpetua sanitas mentis. – Antidotum liberans a culpis et peccatis. – Fignus futurae gloriae.

(* denotes Greek text in Rev. Lyman Coleman's translation.)

(** denotes Hebrew text in Rev. Lyman Coleman's translation.)


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