'Who agree in everything else that relates to the Sacrament': Burnet on Lutheran Eucharistic teaching

Following on from the series of posts on how the High Church tradition in the late 17th and early 18th centuries viewed Lutheranism, we turn to Burnet's An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion (1699). Burnet's 'Low Church' and Latitudinarian stance does not lead to a different appraisal of Lutheran Eucharistic doctrine.  Rather, there is the same understanding that the distinctives of Lutheran teaching on the Sacrament - 'consubstantiation' and 'ubiquity' - are to be regarded as merely speculative views that do not detract from agreement 'in everything else that relates to the Sacrament', both in terms of teaching and practice.  

For as in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, both Lutherans and Calvinists agreeing in the same Devotions and Acts of Worship, a mere Point of Speculation concerning the manner in which Christ is present, ought not to divide those who agree in everything else that relates to the Sacrament; every one may in that be left to the Freedom of his own Thoughts, since neither Opinion has any Influence on Practice, or on any part either of Publick Worship, or of Secret Devotion (from the Preface).

But yet after all, this is only a Point of Speculation, nothing follows upon it in practice, no Adoration is offered to the Elements; and therefore we judge that Speculative Opinions may be born with, when they neither fall upon the Fundamentals of Christianity, to give us false Ideas of the Essential parts of our Religion, nor affect our practice, and chiefly when the Worship of God is maintained in its Purity (on Article 28).

Alongside this, we can note Burnet's cautious acceptance that the language of 'real Presence' is 'innocent of itself, and may be lawfully used':

With this I conclude all that belongs to the first Part of the Article, and that which was first to be explained of our Doctrine concerning the Sacrament: By which we assert a real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ; but not of his Body as it is now glorified in Heaven, but of his Body as it was broken on the Cross, when his blood was shed and separated from it. That is, his Death with the merit and effects of it, are in a visible and federal Act, offered in this Sacrament to all worthy Believers.

By Real we understand True, in opposition both to Fiction and Imagination ... In this Sense we acknowledge a real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament.

Not only was such Eucharistic teaching shared by the High Church tradition in the late 17th and early 18th centuries (and remained commonplace into the early 19th century), it was also similarly understood to provide a basis of Sacramental agreement with the Lutherans, being the key shared affirmation which rendered 'consubstantiation' and 'ubiquity' unimportant speculative opinions.


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