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consent to the words of Christ; but never so much as speak or think, How is this done?” In your faith be as particular and minute, as Christ was in his expressions of it", but no more. He hath told us, “This is his body,' • This is his blood :' believe it, and so receive it: but he hath not told us how it is so, - it is behind a cloud, and tied up with a knot of secrecy : therefore let us lay our finger on our mouth, and worship humbly, But he that looks into the eye of the sun, shall be blind; and he that searches into the secrets of majesty, shall be confounded with the glory.
The next inquiry is,
What is the use of faith in this sacrament?- It is tied but to little duty, and a few plain articles : what, then, is the use and advantage of it? To what graces does it minister, and what effects does it produce? To this the answer is easy, but yet such as introduces a further inquiry: Faith, indeed, is not curious, but material : and, therefore, in the contemplation of this mysterious sacrament and its symbols, we are more to regard their signification than their matter ; their holy employment than their natural usage; what they are by grace, than what they are by nature ; what they signify, rather than what they are defined. Faith considers not how they nourish the body, but how they support and exalt the soul; that they are sacramental, not that they are also nutritive; that they are made holy to purposes of religion, not that they are salutary to offices of nature; that is, what they are to the spirit, not what they are to sense and disputation. For to faith Christ is present; by faith we eat his flesh, and by faith we drink his blood; that is, we communicate not as men, but as faithful and believers • : the meaning and the duty, and the effect of which, are now to be inquired.
1. It signifies that Christ is not present in the sacrament corporally, or naturally, but spiritually: for thus the carnal and spiritual sense are opposed. So St. Chrysostom upon those words of Christ: “ The flesh profiteth nothing : what is it to understand carnally ?" To understand them simply
n Non patiar nie quicquam nescire de eo quem amem.
Plin. • Tò não rñc niottác loti. - Chrysost. Homil. 2. in 2 Tim. Tigos may proti pò grão Ouvevepyeiras. - Idem. Et S. Cyril. in defens. ana them. idem asserit. In Johan. hom. 46. Vide etiam August. in Psal. 98.
and plainly as they are spoken. For they are not to be judged as they seem; but all mysteries are to be considered with internal eyes, that is, spiritually. For “ the carnal sense does not penetrate to the understanding of so great a secret,” saith St. Cyprian.-“For, therefore, we are not devourers of flesh, because we understand these things spiritually :” so Theophylact.
2. Since the spiritual sense excludes the natural and proper, it remains that the expression which is natural, be, in the sense, figurative and improper : and if the holy sacrament were not a figure, it could neither be a sign, nor a sacrament. But, therefore, it is called the body and blood of Christ,' because it is the figure of them, as St. Austin P largely discourses; “For so, when Good Friday draws near, we say, “to-morrow or the next day is the passion of our Lord ;' although that passion was but once, and that many ages since: and upon the Lord's day, we say, 'to-day our blessed Lord arose from the dead,' although so many years be passed since: and why is no man so foolish as to reprove us of falsehood, - but because, on these days, is the similitude of those things, which were done so long since. Was not Christ once sacrificed? and yet he is sacrificed still on the solemnities of Easter, and, every day, in the communion of the people : neither does he say false, who, being asked, shall
that he is sacrificed :' for if the sacraments had not a similitude of those things whereof they are sacraments, they would be no sacraments at all: but, most commonly, by their similitudes things receive their names.” Thus Tertullian expresses this mystery: “ This is my body; that is, 'the figure of my body.' And St. Gregory Nazianzen calls the passover, because it ‘antedated the Lord's Supper, “a figure of a figure.”
3. But St. Austin added well, “ The body of Christ is truth and figure too." The holy sacrament is not only called the Lord's body and blood, for the figure, similitude,
p Epist. 23. ad Bonifac. Vide eundem contr. Adimantum, cap. 12. Non dubitavit dicere Dominus, hoc est corpus meum,'cum signum daret corporis sui. Dicitur item ab Origine et Chrysostom [in cap. 26. Mat. homil. 83.] • Typris et symbolum :' ab eodem Origine, S. Basilio, et S. Ambrosio, et aliis, exemplum, exemplar, et imago.'
9 Contr. Marcion. lib. iv.
and sacramentality; but for the real exhibition and ministration of it. For it is truly called the body of Christ, because there is joined with it the vital power, virtue, and efficacy of the body: and, therefore, it is called by St. Austin ", The intelligential, the invisible, the spiritual body.'-By St. Jerome, * The divine and spiritual flesh:'--the celestial thing,' by St. Irenæus ;-' the spiritual food, and the body of the Divine Spirit,' by St. Ambrose. For, by this means, it can very properly be called “the body and blood of Christ':' since it hath not only the figure of his death externally, but internally it hath hidden and secret, the proper and divine effect, the life-giving power of his body: so that, though. it be a figure, yet it is not merely so; not only the sign and memorial of him that is absent, but it bears along with it the very body of the Lord, that is, the efficacy and divine virtue of it. Thus .our blessed Saviour said of John the Baptist, that Elias is already come,' because he came in the power and spirit of Elias. As John is Elias, so is the holy sacrament the body and blood of Christ, because it hath the power and spirit of the body of Christ. And, therefore, the ancient doctors of the church, in their sermons of these divine mysteries, use the word. ' nature' and substance,' not understanding these words in the natural or philosophical, but a theological sense, proper to the schools of Christians; by substance,' meaning the power of the substance ;' by nature,' the gracious effect of his natural body:' the nature, and use, and mysteriousness of sacraments so allowing them to speak, and so requiring us to understand.
4. And now to this spiritual food must be fitted a spiritual manner of reception; and this is the work of faith ; that spiritual blessings may invest the spirit, and be conveyed by proportioned instruments, lest the sacrament be like a treasure in a dead hand, or music in the grave. But this. I choose rather to represent in the words of the fathers of the church, than mine own: We see,” saith St. Epiphanius',
Laus fidei est credere quod non vides.
• Immortalitatis alimonia datur, à communibns cibis differens, corporalis substantiæ retinens speciem, sed virtutis divinæ invisibili efficientia probans adesse præsentiam.- S. Cyprian. de cena Dom.
* In Anchorat. VOL. XV.
"what our Saviour took into his hands, as the Gospel says, • He arose at supper and took this; and when he had given thanks, he said, This is my body:' and we see it is not equal, nor like to it, neither to the invisible Deity, nor to the flesh; for this is of a round form, without sense : but by grace he would say, · This is mine.' And every one hath faith in this saying: for he that doth not believe this to be true as He hath said, he is fallen from grace and salvation. But that which we have heard, that we believe, that it is his.”--And again; “ The bread indeed is our food, but the virtue which is in it, is that which gives us life; by faith and efficacy, by hope and the perfection of the mysteries, and by the title of sanctification, it should be made to us the perfection of salvation. For these words are spirit and life; and the flesh pierces not into the understanding of this depth, unless faith come*. - But then, the bread is food, the blood is life, the flesh is substance, the body is the church.”—“For the body is indeed shown, it is slain, and given for the nourishment of the world, that it may be spititually distributed to every one; and be made to every one the conservatory of them to the resurrection of eternal life;" *saith St. Athanasiusy.-" Therefore, because Christ said, * This is my body,' let us not at all doubt, but believe, and receive it with the eye of the soul, for nothing sensible is delivered us; but by sensible things, he gives us' insensible or spiritual :"~So St. Chrysostom_" For Christ would not, that they, who partake of the divine mysteries, should attend to the nature of the things which are seen, but let them (by faith) believe the change is made by grace." “For according to the substance of the creatures, it remains after consecration the same it did before; but it is changed inwardly by the powerful virtue of the Holy Spirit; and faith sees it, it feeds the soul, and ministers the substance of eternal life: for now faith sees it all, whatsoever it is b.”
From these excellent words, we are confirmed in these
** Autor lib. de cæna Dom.:- Fides non habet meritum, cui humana ratio præbet experimentum.- S. Greg.
Arcanum coeli Dominus pro tempore celat,
Et fidei major merces exinde sequatur. - Petr. Blesers. , De peccat. in Spir. S. * S. Chrysost. ubi supra in Matth. ii. 6. . Theodoret. dial. 1. u Bertram. de corp. et sang Domini.
two things. 1. That the divine mysteries are of very great, efficacy and benefit to our souls. 2. That faith is the great instrument in conveying these blessings to us. For as St. Cyprian affirms “, “ The sacraments, of themselves, cannot be without their own virtue; and the Divine Majesty does. at no hand, absent itself from the mysteries.” But then, unless by faith we believe all this that Christ said, there is nothing remaining but the outward symbols, and the sense of Aesh and blood, which profits nothing. But to believe in Christ, is to eat the flesh of Christ. “I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me, shall not hunger d;" that is, he shall be filled with Christ: " And he that believeth in me, shall not thirst.” Coming to Christ,' and 'believing in him,' is the same thing; that is, he that believes Christ's words, and obeys his commandments; he that owns Christ for his Lawgiver and his Master, for his Lord and his Redeemer; he who lays down his sins in the grave of Jesus, and lays down himself at the foot of the cross, and his cares at the door of the temple, and his sorrows at the throne of grace; he who comes to Christ to be instructed, to be commanded, to be relieved, and to be comforted; - to this person Christ gives his body and blood, that is, food from heaven. And then the bread of life, and the body of Christ, and eating his flesh, and drinking his blood, are nothing else but mysterious and sacramental expressions of this great excellency,--that whoever does this, shall partake of all the benefits of the cross of Christ, where his body was broken, and his blood was poured forth for the remission of our sins, and the salvation of the world. But still, that I may use the words of St. Ambrose", “Christ is handled by faith, he is seen by faith; he is not touched by the body, he is not comprehended by the eyes."
5. But all the inquiry is not yet past: for thus we rightly understand the mysterious propositions ; but thus we do not fully understand the mysterious sacrament. For since coming to Christ in all the addresses of Christian religion, that is, in all the ministries of faith,- is eating of the body and drinking the blood of Christ, what does faith in the reception of the blessed sacrament that it does not do without it? Of this I have already given an account": but here I am to
Jolin, vi. 35.
i Chap. 1, sect. 2.
e Ubi supra.