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imagine other than only a mystical participation of Christ's both Body and Blood in the Sacrament; neither are their speeches concerning the change of the elements themselves into the Body and Blood of Christ such, that a man can thereby in conscience assure himself it was their meaning to persuade the world, either of a corporal consubstantiation of Christ with those sanctified and blessed elements before we receive them, or of the like transubstantiation of them into the Body and Blood of Christ. Which both to our mystical communion with Christ are so unnecessary, that the Fathers, who plainly hold but this mystical communion, cannot easily be thought to have meant any other change of sacramental elements, than that which the same spiritual communion did require them to hold. These things considered, how should that mind which, loving truth and seeking comfort out of holy mysteries, bath not perhaps the leisure, perhaps not the wit nor capacity, to tread out so endless mazes as the intricate disputes of this cause have led men into, how should a virtuously disposed mind better resolve with itself than thus ? Variety of judgments and opinions argaeth obscurity in those things whereabout they differ: but that which all parts receive for truth, that which every one having sifted, is by no one denied or doubted of, must needs be matter of infallible certainty. Whereas, therefore, there are but three expositions made of, “ This is my Body:" the first, This is in itself before participation really and truly the natural substance of my Body, by reason of the coexistence which my omnipotent Body bath with the sanctified element of bread, which is the Lutheran's interpretation; the second, This is in itself and before participation the very true and natural substance of my Body, by force of that Deity, which with the words of consecration abolisheth the substance of bread, and substituteth in the place thereof my Body, which is the Popish construction; the last, This hallowed food, through concurrence of divine power, is, in verity and truth, unto faithful receivers, instrumentally a cause of that mystical participation, whereby as I make myself wholly theirs, so I give them in hand an actual possession of all such saving grace as my sacrificed Body can yield, and as their souls do presently need, this is to them, and in them, my Body: of these three rehearsed interpretations, the last hath in it nothing but what the rest do all approve and acknowledge to be most true; nothing but that which the words of Christ are, on all sides, confessed to enforce; nothing but that which the Church of God hath always thought necessary; nothing but that which alone is sufficient for every Christian man to believe concerning the use and force of this Sacrament; finally, nothing but that wherewith the writings of all antiquity are consonant, and all Christian Confessions agreeable. And as truth, in what kind soever, is by no kind of truth gainsayed; so the mind, which resteth itself on this, is never troubled with those perplexities which the other do find, by means of so great contradiction between their opinions and true principles of reason grognded upon experience, nature, and sense: which albeit, with boisterous courage and breath, they seem oftentimes to blow away; yet whoso observeth how again they labour and sweat by subtilty of wit to make some show of agreement between their peculiar conceits and the general edicts of Nature, must needs perceive they struggle with that which they cannot fully master. Besides, sith of that which is proper to themselves, their discourses are hungry and unpleasant, full of tedious and irksome labour, heartless, and hitherto without fruit; on the other side, read we them or hear we others, be they of our own or of ancienter times, to what part soever they be thought to incline, touching that whereof there is controversy, yet in this, where they all speak but one thing, their discourses are heavenly, their words sweet as the honeycomb, their tongues melodiously tuned instruments, their sentences mere consolation and joy, are we not hereby, almost even with voice from Heaven, admonished which we may safeliest cleave unto? He which hath said of the one Sacrament, 'Wash and be clean,' hath said concerning the other likewise, 'Eat and live. If, therefore, without any such particular and solemn warrant as this is, that poor distressed woman coming unto Christ for health could so constantly resolve herself, “May I but touch the skirt of his garment, I shall be whole, what moveth us to argue of the manner how life should come by bread, our duty being here but to take what is offered, and most assuredly to rest persuaded of this, that can we but eat, we are safe? When I behold with mine eyes some small and scarce discernible grain or seed, whereof Nature maketh a promise that a tree shall come, and when afterwards of that tree any skilful artificer undertaketh to frame some exquisite and curious work, I look for the event, I move no question about performance either of the one or of the other. Shall I simply credit Nature in things natural? shall I in things artificial rely myself on art, never offering to make doubt? and in that which is above both Art and Nature refuse to believe the Author of both, except he acquaint me with his ways, and lay the secret of his skill before me? Where God himself doth speak those things which, either for height and sublimity of the matter, or else for secrecy of performance, we are not able to reach unto, as we may be ignorant without danger, so it can be no disgrace to confess we are ignorant. Such as love piety will, as much as in them lieth, know all things that God commandeth, but especially the duties of service which they owe to God. As for his dark and hidden works, they prefer, as becometh them in such cases, simplicity of Faith before that knowledge, which curiously sifting what it should adore, and disputing too boldly of that which the wit of man cannot search, chilleth for the most part all warmth of zeal, and bringeth soundness of belief many times into great hazard. Let it therefore be sufficient for me, presenting myself at the Lord's Table, to know what there I receive from him, without scarcbing 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 bath in it more than the substance which our cyes behold, this
Cup ballowed 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!" Thus, therefore, we see, that howsoever men's opinions do otherwise vary; nevertheless, touching Baptism and the Supper of our Lord, we may with one consent of the whole Christian world conclude they are necessary, the one to initiate or begin, the other to consummate or make perfect, our life in Christ.
68. In administering the Sacrament of the Body and of faults Blood of Christ, the supposed faults of the Church of Eng- the Form land are not greatly material, and therefore it shall suffice to of admi. touch them in few words. “ The first is, that we do not use the Holy in generality once for all to say to Communicants, 'Take, nion. eat, and drink;' but unto every particular person, Eat thou, drink thou,' which is according to the Popish manner, and not the form that our Saviour did use. Our second oversight is, by gesture; for in kneeling there hath been Superstition: sitting agreeth better to the action of a supper; and our Saviour using that which was most fit, did himself not kneel. A third accusation is, for not examining all Communicants, whose knowledge in the mystery of the Gospel should that way be made manifest; 'a thing every where, they say, used in the Apostles' times, because all things necessary were used ; and this in their opinion is necessary, yea, it is commanded, inasmuch as the Levites are 2 Chron. commanded to prepare the people for the Passover; and ex- **XV.6. amination is a part of their preparation, our Lord's Supper being in place of the Passover. The fourth thing misliked is, that against the Apostle's prohibition, to have any fa- 1 Cor. miliarity at all with notorious offenders, Papists being not of the Church are admitted to our very Communion, before they have by their religious and Gospel-like behaviour
Num. ix. 13.
purged themselves of that suspicion of Popery which their former life hath caused. They are dogs, swine, unclean beasts, foreigners and strangers from the Church of God; and therefore ought not to be admitted, though they offer themselves. We are, fifthly, condemned, inasmuch as when there hath been store of people to hear Sermons and Service in the Church, we suffer the Communion to be ministered to a few. It is not enough, that our Book of Common Prayer bath godly exhortations to move all thereunto which are present. For it should not suffer a few to communicate, it should by Ecclesiastical discipline and civil punishment provide that such as would withdraw themselves might be brought to communicate, according both to the
Law of God and the ancient Church-canons. In the sixth Can. ix. and last place, cometh the enormity of imparting this SacraApost.
ment privately unto the sick.” Thus far accused, we anii . Brac. swer briefly to the first,* that seeing God by Sacraments
doth apply in particular unto every man's person the grace which himself hath provided for the benefit of all mankind, there is no cause why administering the Sacraments we should forbear to express that in forms of speech, which he by his Word and Gospel teacheth all to believe. In the one Sacrament, ' I baptize thee,' displeaseth them not. If Eat thou,' in the other offend them, their fancies are no rules for Churches to follow. Whether Christ at his last Supper did speak generally once to all, or to erery one in particular, is a thing uncertain. His words are recorded in that form which serveth best for the setting down with historical brevity what was spoken; they are no manifest proof that he spake but once unto all which did then communicate, much less that we in speaking unto every Communicant severally do amiss, although it were clear that we herein do otherwise than Christ did. Our imitation of him consisteth not in tying scrupulously ourselves unto his syllables, but rather in speaking by the heavenly direction of that inspired divine wisdom, which teacheth divers ways to one end; and doth therein control their boldness, by
* Besides that it is good to leave the Popish Form in those things, which we may so conveniently do, it is best to come as near the manner of Celebration of the Supper which our Saviour Christ did use, as may be. And if it be a good argument to prove that therefore we must rather say, Take thou, than Take ye, because the Sacrament is an application of the benefits of Christ, it behoveth that the Preacher should direct his admonitions particularly one after another, unto all those which hear his Sermon, which is a thing absurd.' T. C. lib. i. p. 166.