Thursday of Week 27
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AP XXIV 25-33, Of the Mass (continued)
25] Now the rest are eucharistic sacrifices, which are called sacrifices of praise, Lev. 3:1f.; 7:11f.; Ps. 56:12f., namely, the preaching of the Gospel, faith, prayer, thanksgiving, confession, the afflictions of saints, yea, all good works of saints. These sacrifices are not satisfactions for those making them, or applicable on behalf of others, so as to merit for these, ex opere operato, the remission of sins or reconciliation. For they are made by those who have been reconciled. 26] And such are the sacrifices of the New Testament, as Peter teaches, 1 Pet. 2:5: An holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices. Spiritual sacrifices, however, are contrasted not only with those of cattle, but even with human works offered ex opere operato, because spiritual refers to the movements of the Holy Ghost in us. Paul teaches the same thing Rom. 12:1: Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable, which is your reasonable service. Reasonable service signifies, however, a service in which God is known, and apprehended by the mind, as happens in the movements of fear and trust towards God. Therefore it is opposed not only to the Levitical service, in which cattle are slain, but also to a service in which a work is imagined to be offered ex opere operato, The Epistle to the Hebrews 13:15, teaches the same thing: By Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually; and he adds the interpretation, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. He bids us offer praises, i.e., prayer, thanksgiving, confession, and the like. These avail not ex opere operato, but on account of faith. This is taught by the clause: By Him let us offer, i.e., by faith in Christ.
27] In short, the worship of the New Testament is spiritual, i.e., it is the righteousness of faith in the heart and the fruits of faith. It accordingly abolishes the Levitical services. [In the New Testament no offering avails ex opere operato, sine bono motu utentis, i.e., on account of the work, without a good thought in the heart.] And Christ says, John 4:23. 24: True worshipers shalt worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth [that is, from the heart, with heartfelt fear and cordial faith]. This passage clearly condemns [as absolutely devilish, pharisaical, and antichristian] opinions concerning sacrifices which, they imagine, avail ex opere operato, and teaches that men ought to worship in spirit, i.e., with the dispositions of the heart and by faith. [The Jews also did not understand their ceremonies aright, and imagined that they were righteous before God when they had wrought works ex opere operato. Against this the prophets contend with the greatest earnestness.] Accordingly, 28] the prophets also in the Old Testament condemn the opinion of the people concerning the opus operatum, and teach the righteousness and sacrifices of the Spirit. Jer. 7:22-23: For I spoke not unto your fathers, nor commanded them, in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices; but this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey My voice, and I will be your God, etc. How do we suppose that the Jews received this arraignment, which seems to conflict openly with Moses? For it was evident that God had given the fathers commands concerning burnt offerings and victims. But Jeremiah condemns the opinion concerning sacrifices which God had not delivered, namely, that these services should please Him ex opere operato. But he adds concerning faith that God had commanded this: Hear Me, i.e., believe Me that I am your God; that I wish to become thus known when I pity and aid; neither have I need of your victims; believe that I wish to be God the Justifier and Savior, not on account of works, but on account of My word and promise; truly and from the heart seek and expect aid from Me.
29] Ps. 50:13,15, which rejects the victims and requires prayer, also condemns the opinion concerning the opus operatum: Will I eat the flesh of bulls? etc. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me. The Psalmist testifies that this is true service, that this is true honor, if we call upon Him from the heart.
Likewise Ps. 40:6: Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; mine ears hast Thou opened, i.e., Thou hast offered to me Thy Word that I might hear it, and Thou dost require that I believe Thy Word and Thy promises, that Thou truly desirest to pity, to bring aid, etc. Likewise Ps. 51:16-17: Thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. Likewise Ps. 4:5: Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust [hope, V.] in the Lord. He bids us hope, and says that this is a righteous sacrifice, signifying that other sacrifices are not true and righteous sacrifices. And Ps. 116:17: I will offer to Thee the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. They call invocation a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
30] But Scripture is full of such testimonies as teach that sacrifices ex opere operato do not reconcile God. Accordingly the New Testament, since Levitical services have been abrogated, teaches that new and pure sacrifices will be made, namely, faith, prayer, thanksgiving, confession, and the preaching of the Gospel, afflictions on account of the Gospel, and the like.
31] And of these sacrifices Malachi 1:11 speaks: From the rising of the sun even 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. The adversaries perversely apply this passage to the Mass, and quote the authority of the Fathers. A reply, however, is easy, for even if it spoke most particularly of the Mass, it would not follow that the Mass justifies ex opere operato, or that, when applied to others, it merits the remission of sins, etc. The prophet says nothing of those things which the monks and sophists impudently fabricate. 32] Besides, the very words of the prophet express his meaning. For they first say this, namely, that the name of the Lord will be great. This is accomplished by the preaching of the Gospel. For through this the name of Christ is made known, and the mercy of the Father, promised in Christ, is recognized. The preaching of the Gospel produces faith in those who receive the Gospel. They call upon God, they give thanks to God, they bear afflictions for their confession, they produce good works for the glory of Christ. Thus the name of the Lord becomes great among the Gentiles. Therefore incense and a pure offering signify not a ceremony ex opere operato [not the ceremony of the Mass alone], but all those sacrifices through which the name of the Lord becomes great, namely, faith, invocation, the preaching 33] of the Gospel, confession, etc. And if any one would have this term embrace the ceremony [of the Mass], we readily concede it, provided he neither understands the ceremony alone, nor teaches that the ceremony profits ex opere operato. For just as among the sacrifices of praise, i.e., among the praises of God, we include the preaching of the Word, so the reception itself of the Lord’s Supper can be praise or thanksgiving; but it does not justify ex opere operato; neither is it to be applied to others so as to merit for them the remission of sins. But after a while we shall explain how even a ceremony is a sacrifice. Yet, as Malachi speaks of all the services of the New Testament, and not only of the Lord’s Supper; likewise, as he does not favor the pharisaic opinion of the opus operatum, he is not against us, but rather aids us. For he requires services of the heart, through which the name of the Lord becomes truly great.
(…to be continued)
Today’s reader: Matthew Carver
Matthew Carver lives in Nashville, Tenn., and works as a freelance artist and translator. His interests include languages, liturgy, hymnody, and church history. A selection of his work is viewable online on his blog, HYMNOGLYPT.