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participation of Christ, who thereby imparteth himself even his whole entire Person as a mystical Head unto every soul that receiveth him, and that every such receiver doth thereby incorporate or unite himself unto Christ as a mystical member of him, yea of them also whom He acknowledgeth to be his own; secondly, that to whom the person of Christ is thus communicated, to them He giveth by the same sacrament his Holy Spirit to sanctify them as it” (He) “sanctifieth him which is their head; thirdly, that what merit, force or virtue soever there is in his sacrificed body and blood, we freely, fully and wholly have it by this sacrament; fourthly, that the effect thereof in us is a real transmutation of our souls and bodies from sin to righteousness, from death and corruption to immortality and life; fifthly, that because the sacrament being of itself but a corruptible and earthly creature must needs be thought an unlikely instrument to work so admirable effects in man, we are therefore to rest ourselves altogether upon the strength of his glorious power, who is able and will bring to pass that the bread and cup which He giveth us shall be truly the thing He promiseth.”Bk. V. ch. lxvii. $ 7.
“Let it therefore be sufficient for me presenting myself at the Lord's table to know
what there I receive from him, without searching or inquiring of the manner how Christ performeth his promise ; let disputes and questions, enemies to piety, abatements of true devotion, and hitherto in this cause but over patiently heard, let them take their rest; let curious and sharp-witted men beat their heads about what questions themselves will, the very letter of the word of Christ giveth plain security that these mysteries do as nails fasten us to his very Cross, that by them we draw out, as touching efficacy, force, and virtue, even the blood of his gored side, in the wounds of our Redeemer we there dip our tongues, we are dyed red both within and without, our hunger is satisfied and our thirst for ever quenched ; they are things wonderful which he feeleth, great which he seeth and unheard of which he uttereth, whose soul is possessed of this Paschal Lamb and made joyful in the strength of this new wine, this bread hath in it more than the substance which our eyes behold, this cup hallowed with solemn benediction availeth to the endless life and welfare both of soul and body, in that it serveth as well for a medicine to heal our infirmities and purge our sins as for a sacrifice of thanksgiving ; with touching it sanctifieth, it enlighteneth with belief, it truly conformeth us unto the image of Jesus Christ; what these elements are in themselves it skilleth not, it is enough that to me which take them they are the body and blood of Christ, his promise in witness hereof sufficeth, his word He knoweth which way to accomplish; why should any cogitation possess the mind of a faithful communicant but this, O my God thou art true, O my soul thou art happy!”—Bk. V. ch. lxvii. § 12.
As to the nature of the unspeakable Gift bestowed in the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, there has been, comparatively, little dispute amongst Christians, and this is a matter for much thankfulness. At the close of the sixteenth century, when Hooker wrote his great treatise, it was very generally agreed amongst Christians, the followers of Zwinglius 1 excepted, that in the Eucharist the faithful receive the spiritual food of the Body and the Blood of Christ. Hooker speaks of "a general agreement” existing in his day, “concerning that which alone is material, namely, the real participation of Christ and of life in his body and blood by means of this sacrament.” 2
1“ Zwingli maintained that the Supper was no more than a tessera, or sign of communion between man and man .. In the plainest sense he taught an entire absence of spiritual grace." -A. P. Forbes, An Explanation of the XXXIX. Articles, 3rd ed. 1878, p. 499.
3 Bk. V. ch. lxvii. $ 2.
They grant that these holy mysteries received in due manner do instrumentally both make us partakers of the grace of that body and blood which were given for the life of the world, and besides also impart unto us even in true and real though mystical manner the very Person of our Lord himself, whole, perfect, and entire.”] This teaching was, with comparatively insignificant exception, universally held in Hooker's day. That this was his own view is abundantly evident from his language found in the extracts quoted above - of which, Mr. Keble describes Hooker
fearlessly pouring himself out in the most glowing words and most transcendental thoughts of the deepest and most eloquent of the Fathers.” 2
But when we come to inquire what was then believed in regard to the relation of the Gift or Presence to the earthly elements of bread and wine, we find ourselves at once in the midst of a storm of distressing controversy. The question then raised and debated was, as it still is, briefly this—Is the Presence of Jesus Christ in regard to the Eucharist objective, or is it merely subjective? is our Lord mysteriously present in the elements previous to, and irrespective of, reception ? are the Body and the Blood of Christ sacramentally identified with the bread and wine independently of participation ?-or, is His Sacred Presence merely of the nature of a spiritual Gift bestowed and appropriated in the very act of reception ? Amongst the general agreement as to the reality of the Gift, this question alone remained to be solved. Hooker states, “ There remaineth now no controversy saving only about the subject where Christ is? Yea even in this point no side denieth but that the soul of man is the receptacle of Christ's presence. Whereby the question is yet driven to a narrower issue, nor doth any thing rest doubtful but this, whether when the sacrament is administered Christ be whole within man only, or else his body and blood be also externally seated in the very consecrated elements themselves.” 1
1 Bk. V. ch. lxvii. $ 8. ? Keble, On Eucharistical Adoration, 3rd ed. 1867, ch. iv.
Hooker's main answer to this question is that “the fruit of the Eucharist is the participation of the body and blood of Christ;” 2 that whilst it is a matter of faith to believe that the sacraments are instruments whereby God works grace in the souls of men, it is not a matter of faith to believe how He so acts in the sacraments; and that “the real presence of Christ's most blessed body and blood is not 1 Bk. V. ch. lxvii. $ 2.
2 Ibid. $ 6.