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Christ. The Church has therefore a twofold priesthood, internal and external; the internal, which is hidden and universal in every member; the ex
; ternal, which is visible and particular, delegated to the sacerdotal order by Christ Himself. The external priesthood is the expression and embodying of the internal, which thereby fulfils its ministry of sacrifice and worship. It is as the ministry of the body to the powers and endowments of the soul; as speech is to thought, or power to will. But whether internal or external, it is all one priesthood still; the priesthood of Christ descending from the Head to the body, whereby He offers the body in Himself, and the body, in and for itself, offers Him unto the Father.!
In this, then, we see what is the Christian sacrifice. It is Christ in heaven offering Himself in visible presence; and on earth, by His ministering priesthood, offering Himself in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. Though manifold in operation, and various in kinds and accidents, it is still all one sacrifice, one priesthood, one continuous act of memorial and exhibition to the Father, of union and application to the Church. In one word, then, what is it that we offer unto God? It is the infinite merits of His Son; the infinite price which, by His incarnation and His death, He
i S. Aug. de Civ. Dei, lib. x. 19; xxii. 10.
has paid for our redemption. These merits He has given to His Church. They are hers, because they are His. Having nothing of her own, no riches, no “ upper or nether springs,” no “raiment of needlework,” “no form or comeliness," no dowry
‘” of her own, He has endowed her with Himself : Christ is the dowry of the Church. This is the sole and only foundation of our hope. Through Him, and in Him alone, we come unto the Father. Every prayer must pass through His merits. Every work of repentance, faith, and love, must ascend through His one sacrifice of Himself. Blessed poverty, to have nothing, that we may possess Christ! for then “all things are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.” Verily, for our sakes He became poor, that we by His poverty might be made infinitely rich. Wonderful mystery of eternal love! As all the multitude of stars hide their borrowed light in the brightness of the morning sun, and all mountains, lands, and seas are fulfilled with the overflow of his one universal splendour ; so all shadows and types of sacrifice, offered up through the long weary night of expectation, vanished before the one great oblation made upon the cross. And now from the highest heaven that infinite atonement sheds itself abroad in all the earth. Wheresoever there is an altar in the name of Christ, there is the
memorial of His cross. “ The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”I The sacrifices of one nation, impure, and with blood of beasts, have passed away, and the words of the prophet are fulfilled : “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto My name, and a pure offering.” Even so as Thy prophet hath spoken ; in Thy holy Church throughout all the world Thy name is glorified; the incense of perpetual prayer goes up before Thee, and the pure oblation, the Lamb without blemish and without spot, is laid alway upon Thine altar. Blessed mystery, too little realised, even by those who trust in it. The world cannot receive it, “because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him.” “ The Light” even now “ shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not." Let us strive more clearly to discern this great object of faith, Christ evermore offering Himself for us. Evermore : not “ that He should offer Himself often; for then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world ; but now once in the end of the world hath
i Isaiah ix. 2.
2 Malachi i. 11.
3 St. John i. 5.
He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself;"not often, but evermore : reconciling us continually, after all our sins of wilfulness, ignorance, infirmity; making stedfast the peace He has wrought between God and us upon the
Let this thought dwell in us continually, that all our hope may be in Him alone. Day by day let us draw near to Him, to wash our soiled robes and make them white in the blood of His only sacrifice. In that fountain we must wash ourselves, our souls and bodies, our sins and our good works, our prayers and our repentance. And when these are washed, what can remain unclean ? Above all, let us ever adore Him more and more in His blessed Presence with us in the sacrament of His love. To that let us come as to the foot of His cross, in sorrowing faith and loving hope ; praying that, as He suffered a poor penitent with unclean lips to kiss His feet at supper, and to stand all cleansed beside His cross on Calvary, so He may suffer us, all trembling with our conscious
, guilt, to touch Him through the sacrament of His atonement, lest we die. Let us come to Him, saying, “ If I must die, Lord, rather will I die here at Thy feet, than afar off ; if haply even the shadow of Thy sacrifice may fall upon me, and under it I be found at last, resting in hope at that day.”
Heb. ix. 26.
THE FEAST OF THE OLD CREATION AND THE NEW.
Zech. ix. 17.
" How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty! Corn
shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.”
ECHARIAH wrote this prophecy when he
and his brethren of the captivity were in Babylon. All through the earlier part of the book he has been foretelling the return of God's people and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. This is the literal intention of his words: “ Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem : and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth ; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain. Thus saith the Lord of hosts ; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of