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the sacrament, the Spirit operates with the word in the ministry of man; in baptism, the Spirit operates with the word in the ministry of God. For here God is the preacher, the sacrament is God's sign, and by it he ministers life to us by the flesh and blood of his Son, that is, by the death of Christ into which we are baptized.
And in the same divine method the word and the Spirit are ministered to us in the sacrament of the Lord's supper. For as in baptism, so here also there is a word proper to the ministry. "So often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye declare the Lord's death till he come." This, indeed, is a word of comfort. Christ died for our sins;' that is, our repentance which was consigned in baptism, shall be to purpose; we shall be washed white and clean in the blood of the sacrificed Lamb". This is verbum visibile;' the same word read to the eye and to the ear. Here the word of God is made our food, in a manner so near to our understanding, that our tongues and palates feel the metaphor and the sacramental signification: here faith is in triumph and exaltation but as in all the other ministries evangelical, we eat Christ by faith, here we have faith also by eating Christ: thus eating and drinking is faith, it is faith in mystery, and faith in ceremony: it is faith in act, and faith in habit: it is exercised, and it is advanced: and, therefore, it is certain that here we eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ, with much eminency and advantage.
The sum is this. Christ's body, his flesh and his blood, are, therefore, called our meat and our drink, because by his incarnation and manifestation in the flesh he became life unto us: so that it is mysterious, indeed, in the expression, but very proper and intelligible in the event, to say that we eat his flesh and drink his blood, since by these it is that we have and preserve life. But because what Christ began in his incarnation, he finished in his body on the cross, and all the whole progression of mysteries in his body, was still an operatory of life and spiritual being to us,-the sacrament of the Lord's supper being a commemoration and exhibition of this death, which was the consummation of our redemption
St. Aug. tom. vi. contra Faustum. lib. xix. c. 19. et tom. ix. in Evang. John. tract. 80.
by his body and blood, does contain in it a visible word, the word in symbol and visibility, and special manifestation. Consonant to which doctrine, the fathers, by an elegant expression, call the blessed sacrament, the extension of the incarnation.'
So that here are two things highly to be remarked.
1. That by whatsoever way Christ is taken out of the sacrament, by the same he is taken in the sacrament: and by some ways here, more than there.
2. That the eating and drinking the consecrated symbols is but the body and lesser part of the sacrament: the life and the spirit is believing greatly, and doing all the actions of that believing, direct and consequent. So that there are in this, two manducations, the sacramental, and the spiritual: that does but declare and exercise this; and of the sacramental manducation,-as it is alone, as it is a ceremony, as it does only consign or express the internal,-it is true to affirm, that it is only an act of obedience: but all the blessings and conjugations of joy, which come to a worthy communicant, proceed from that spiritual eating of Christ, which, as it is done out of the sacrament very well, so in it and with it, much better. For here being, as in baptism, a double significatory of the spirit, a word, and a sign of his own appointment, it is certain he will join in this ministration. Here we have bread and drink, flesh and blood, the word and the spirit, Christ in all his effects, and most gracious communications.
This is the general account of the nature and purpose of this great mystery. Christians are spiritual men, faith is their mouth, and wisdom is their food, and believing is manducation, and Christ is their life, and truth is the air they breathe, and their bread is the word of God, and God's Spirit is their drink, and righteousness is their robe, and God's laws are their light, and the apostles are their salt, and Christ is to them all in all, for we must put on Christ, and we must eat. Christ, and we must drink Christ: we must have him within us, and we must be in him: he is our vine, and we are his branches: he is a door, and by him we must enter: he is our shepherd, and we his sheep: Deus meus et omnia:' 'he is our God, and he is all things to us:' that is, plainly, he is our Redeemer, and he is our Lord: he is our Saviour and our
teacher by his word and by his Spirit he brings us to God, and to felicities eternal, and that is the sum of all. For greater things than these we can neither receive nor expect: but these things are not consequent to the reception of the natural body of Christ, which is now in heaven; but of his word and of his Spirit, which are, therefore, indeed his body and his blood, because by these we feed on him to life eternal. Now these are, indeed, conveyed to us by the several ministries of the Gospel, but especially in the sacraments, where the word is preached and consigned, and the Spirit is the teacher, and the feeder, and makes the table full, and the cup to overflow with blessing.
That in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, there are represented and exhibited many great Blessings, upon the special account of that sacred Ministry, proved in general.
IN explicating the nature of this divine mystery in general, as I have manifested the nature and operations and the whole ministry to be spiritual, and that not the natural body and blood of Christ is received by the mouth, but the word and the Spirit of Christ, by faith and a spiritual hand,—and, upon this account, have discovered their mistake, who think the secret lies in the outside, and suppose we tear the natural flesh of Christ with our mouths: so I have, by consequent, explicated the secret which others, indefinitely and by conjecture and zeal, do speak of, and know not what to say, but resolve to speak things great enough. It remains now that I consider for the satisfaction of those that speak things too contemptible of these holy mysteries; who say, 'it is nothing but a commemoration of Christ's death, an act of obedience, a ceremony of memorial, but of no spiritual effect, and of no proper advantage to the soul of the receiver.' Against this, besides the preceding discourse convincing their fancy of weakness and derogation, the consideration of the proper excellences of this mystery, in its own separate nature, will be very useful. For now we are to consider how his natural body enters into this economy and dispensation.
For the understanding of which we are to consider, that Christ, besides his spiritual body and blood, did also give us his natural, and we receive that by the means of this. For this he gave us but once, then, when upon the cross he was broken for our sins; this body could die but once, and it could be but at one place at once, and heaven was the place appointed for it, and at once all was sufficiently effected by it, which was designed in the counsel of God. For by the virtue of that death, Christ is become the author of life unto us and of salvation; he is our Lord and our lawgiver; by it he received all power in heaven and in earth, and by it he reconciled his Father to the world, and in virtue of that he intercedes for us in heaven, and sends his Spirit upon earth, and feeds our souls by his word; he instructs us to wisdom, and admits us to repentance, and gives us pardon, and, by means of his own appointment, nourishes us up by holiness to life eternal.
This body being carried from us into heaven, cannot be touched or tasted by us on earth; but yet Christ left to us symbols and sacraments of this natural body; not to be, or to convey that natural body to us, but to do more and better for us; to convey all the blessings and graces procured for us by the breaking of that body, and the effusion of that blood: which blessings, being spiritual, are, therefore, called his body spiritually, because procured by that body which died for us; and are, therefore, called our food, because by them we live a new life in the spirit, and Christ is our bread and our life, because by him, after this manner, we are nourished up to life eternal. That is, plainly thus,-therefore we eat Christ's spiritual body, because he hath given us his natural body to be broken, and his natural blood to be shed, for the remission of our sins, and for the obtaining the grace and acceptability of repentance. For by this gift and by this death he hath obtained this favour from God, that by faith in him and repentance from dead works, by repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, we may be saved.
To this sense of the mystery are those excellent words of
a John, vi. 51.
the apostleb: "He bare our sins upon his own body on the tree, that he might deliver us from the present evil world, and sanctify and purge us from all pollution of flesh and spirit; that he might destroy the works of the devil; that he might redeem us from all iniquity; that he might purchase to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works; and that we, being dead unto sin, might live unto righteousness." "Totum Christiani nominis et pondus et fructus mors Christi" "All that we are, or do, or have, is produced and effected by the death of Christ."
Now, because our life depends upon this death, the ministry of this life must relate to the ministry of this death, and we have nothing to glory in but in the cross of Christ': the word preached is nothing but Jesus Christ crucified: and the sacraments are the most eminent way of declaring this word for 'by baptism we are buried into his death,' and by the Lord's supper we are partakers of his death: we communicate with the Lord Jesus as he is crucified; but now since all belong to this, that word and that mystery that is highest and nearest in this relation, is the principal and chief of all the rest; and that the sacrament of the Lord's supper is so, is evident beyond all necessity of inquiry, it being instituted in the vespers of the passion, it being the sacrament of the passion, a sensible representation of the breaking Christ's body, of the effusion of Christ's blood; it being by Christ himself intituled the passion, and the symbols invested with the names of his broken body, and his blood poured forth, and the whole ministry being a great declaration of this death of Christ, and commanded to be continued until his second coming. Certainly by all these it appears, that this sacrament is the great ministry of life and salvation: here is the publication of the great word of salvation, here is set forth most illustriously the body and blood of Christ, the food of our souls; much more clearly than in baptism, much more effectually than in simple enunciation, or preaching and declaration by words: - for this
b Rom. v. 10. Col. i. 21, 22. Tit. ii. 12. Heb. ii. 14. Heb. ix. 1 Pet, i. 18. 1 Pet. ii. 24.
e Tertul. lib. iii. c. 8. con. Marcion.
d Figura est ergo præcipiens, passione Domini esse communicandum, et suaviter atque utiliter recondendum in memoria, quòd pro nobis caro ejus crucifixa et vulnerata sit.-S. Aug. de Doctr. Christ. lib. iii.