That All-Atoning Sacrifice

From An Eirenicon (1866).

In celebrating the Holy Eucharist, the church pleads to “God, who, of his tender mercy did give his only son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption, who made there, by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.” But that sacrifice, once made, lives on in heaven. There our Lord still bears the marks of the wounds which for us and our salvation he received…

There our Lord pleads that all-atoning sacrifice. There, for these 1800 years, has he lived to make intercession for us, generation after generation, yea, for each one of our sinful race. But since his perpetual intercession for us — which is an article of faith contained in plainest words of Holy Scripture — does not interfere with that one atonement made upon the cross, neither does any pleading of that one meritorious sacrifice which was finished there on the cross, add anything. Our Lord’s oblation on the cross sufficed for the sins of the whole world. And it is that one sacrifice which we plead when we say “through Jesus Christ our Lord” at the end of each prayer.

Our Lord Jesus, as we confess to God, “did institute, and in his Holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death until his coming again,” that we might plead to the Father that same sacrifice. In the Holy Eucharist we do in an action what we do in words in our prayers. I am persuaded that, on this point, the Church of England and the Church of Rome might be reconciled by explanation of the terms used. The Council of Trent, in laying down the doctrine of the sacrifice of the mass, claims nothing for the Holy Eucharist but an application of the one meritorious sacrifice of the cross. An application of that sacrifice the Church of England believes also… If you say that the Eucharist applies to the faithful the propitiation made by the sacrifice on the cross, no Protestant will dispute this.

Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882) was a priest who served as Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford for more than fifty years. He was among the primary leaders of the Oxford Movement, Anglicanism’s Catholic revival. He wrote several of the Tracts of the Times, and sacramental confession and religious sisterhoods were restored in the Church of England through his influence. His treatise An Eirenicon is an attempt to harmonize the doctrines of the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, written in response to the concerns of fellow Anglicans who feared that Catholic claims obliged them to leave their own church. He is commemorated on September 18 on the liturgical calendars of several Anglican churches.


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