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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Andrewes: Resurrection and Eucharist

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Preached before the King’s Majesty at Whitehall on the sixth of April, A.D. MDCVI., being Easter Day.

Text: Rom. 6:9-11

The sermon resonates with two major themes: 1) the knowledge of Christ’s dying to sin and being raised to life in God and 2) our account for that knowledge in our similarity of dying ourselves to sin and being raised to live unto God in Christ. The living unto God was all of His grace breathed into us and bringing us to life through repentance from sin and dead works and living unto God in Christ. Andrewes quoting St. Augustine says sine Me nihil potestis facere; ‘without Me you are able to do nothing.’ For Andrewes then it is this same Spirit and life that are joined to the elements that make the Blessed Sacrament. The Eucharist for Andrewes is the means of opening our eyes
to the best and surest sense we know, and therefore most to be accounted of. There we taste and there we see; taste and see how gracious the Lord is. There we are made to drink of the Spirit, there our hearts are strengthened and stablished with grace. There is the Blood which shall purge our consciences from dead works, whereby we may die to sin. There the Bread of God, which shall endue our souls with much strength; yeah, multiply strength in them, to live unto God; yea, to live to Him continually; for he that eateth His flesh and drinketh His blood, dwelleth in Christ, and Christ in him; not inneth, or sojourneth for a time, but dwelleth continually. And, never can we more truly, or properly say, in Christo Jesu Domino nostro, as when we come new from that holy action, for then he is in us, and we in Him, indeed. And so we to make full account of this service, as a special means to further us to make up our Easter-day’s account, and to set off a good part of our charge…Thus using His own ordinance of Prayer, of the Word, and Sacrament, for our better enabling to discharge this day’s duty, we shall I trust yield up a good account, and celebrate a good feast of His resurrection.
It is in our tasting the goodness of the Lord in the bread and in the wine, the body and the blood of Christ whereby in our union with him through this sacrament of grace we are to give an account of what we have seen and tasted in the grace of God in Christ in this holy action. The Eucharist for Andrewes theologically and ethically calls the Church to a holy life by the holy action of receiving the strengthening grace through the Spirit. It is a means of our drinking of the Spirit. There are numerous benefits given to us through the sacramental vehicle of grace. For Andrewes it is without doubt a real receiving of this grace that is to be displayed in the real accounting of it that we are to demonstrate.

Andrewes echoes the teaching of the Eucharist as a propitiatory sacrifice when he says, “There is the Blood which shall purge our consciences from dead works, whereby we may die to sin.” The Eucharist as a propitiatory sacrifice was denied by many Edwardian Reformers and those on the continent as well. The Eucharist reapplies that work of Calvary in the receiving of the Blood anew. This is not something magical for Andrewes where repentance from dead works and sin is not required. The whole point of his sermon on Romans 6:9-11 was the two-fold emphasis stated above where he made sure to emphasise that mere knowledge or even ascent to knowledge was enough but what was required was a knowing and accounting for what we know by dying ourselves to sin and living unto God in Christ Jesus. Andrewes could not be convicted of the charge that was swirling around this debate that the Eucharist had become in Rome’s dogma a propitiatory sacrifice that was independent of the sacrifice of Calvary. Matter of fact, that charge against Rome does not stand up against the evidence of Rome's own explanations of the connection between the Cross and Offering in the first Eucharist. The quotation shows that the opposite is true for Andrewes as well. It is what John Johnson went on to say in his work Unbloody Sacrifice. Francis Clark uses Johnson, who was a late 17th century Anglican divine, as an example of one who insists that the Eucharistic propitiation is by way of application of the one sacrifice at Calvary.
'Tis agreed on all hands that the merit and satisfaction whereby our sins are forgiven flow purely from the Grand Sacrifice; but I am now speaking of 'the actual application of these merits and this satisfaction, which was the end for which all Sacrifices under the Law, and the Eucharistical Sacrifice under the Gospel, were appointed by God.’
It is in this aspect that Andrewes seems to understand the Eucharist as a propitiatory sacrifice. In the above quote Andrewes is quite intent on keeping this aspect of the Eucharist’s work in our lives in its proper union with Christ and not something altogether separate. He speaks of this union as something that is in continuum for the Christian that is realized in the eating and drinking of the body and blood of Christ. He references John 6:33, 56 as support for his position. The Eucharist seals our union with Christ for Andrewes. He says, ‘that there is never a time where we can say with more affirmation and confidence than at the action of Holy Communion that we are in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ For Andrewes this creates a real vital union between Christ and his people. It is in the reapplication of the one sacrifice of Christ where our consciences are cleansed and we are enabled to carry out the charge given to us to continue living unto God in Christ and dying unto our sin in his death as well. Both dying and living is what it means for Andrewes to account for our knowledge of God’s work for us in Christ whereby through the right use of the means of His grace in prayer, word and sacrament we are given the means to carry out the charge given to us. That charge is to live as 'bread broken on behalf of the world.'

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    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
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