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such in a natural sense and manner, it is still only the object of faith and spirit; and if it be affirmed only to be spiritual, there is then no danger to faith in admitting the words of Christ's institution, "This is my body." I suppose it to be a mistake, to think whatsoever is real must be natural; and it is no less to think spiritual to be only figurative: that is too much, and this is too little. Philosophy and faith may well be reconciled; and whatsoever objection can invade this union may be cured by modesty. And if we profess we understand not the manner of this mystery, we say no more but that it is a mystery; and if it had been necessary we should have construed it into the most latent sense, Christ himself would have given a clavis, and taught the church to unlock so great a secret. Christ said, "This is my body, this is my blood:" St. Paul said, "The bread of blessing that we break is the communication of the body of Christ, and the chalice which we bless is the communication of the blood of Christ ;" and "We are all one body, because we eat of one, bread "." One proposition, as well as the other, is the matter of faith, and the latter of them is also of sense; one is as literal as the other: and he that distinguishes in his belief, as he may place the impropriety upon which part he please, and either say it is improperly called "bread,” or improperly called "Christ's body;" so he can have nothing to secure his proposition from error, or himself from boldness, in decreeing, concerning mysteries, against the testimonies of sense, or beyond the modesty and simplicity of Christian faith. Let us love and adore the abyss of Divine wisdom and goodness, and entertain the sacrament with just and holy receptions; and then we shall receive all those fruits of it, which an earnest disputer, or a peremptory dogmatizer, whether he happen right or wrong, hath no warrant to expect upon the interest of his opinion.
4. In the institution of this sacrament, Christ manifested, first, his almighty power; secondly, his infinite wisdom; and, thirdly, his unspeakable charity. First, his power is mani
e 1 Cor. x. 16, 17.
d Chrysost. notat Apostolum non dixisse panem esse μstoxùv, sed noivarlar TOũ cŃμatos XEISTOũ, ut indicaret ita participati corpus Domini, ut fiant unum participans et res participata, sicut verbum et Dei caro. Ο μετέχων partem aliquam sibi vindicat, xavavav totius particeps est.
fest, in making the symbols to be the instruments of conveying himself to the spirit of the receiver: he nourishes the soul with bread, and feeds the body with a sacrament; he makes the body spiritual, by his graces there ministered, and makes the spirit to be united to his body, by a participation of the Divine nature. In the sacrament, that body which is reigning in heaven, is exposed upon the table of blessing; and his body, which was broken for us, is now broken again, and yet remains impassible. Every consecrated portion of bread and wine does exhibit Christ entirely to the faithful receiver; and yet Christ remains one, while he is wholly ministered in ten thousand portions. So long as we call these mysterious, and make them intricate, to exercise our faith, and to represent the wonder of the mystery, and to increase our charity; our being inquisitive into the abyss can have no evil purposes. God hath instituted the rite in visible symbols, to make the secret grace as presential and discernible as it might; that, by an instrument of sense, our spirits might be accommodated, as with an exterior object, to produce an internal act. But it is the prodigy of a miraculous power, by instruments so easy, to produce effects so glorious. This, then, is the object of wonder and adoration.
5. Secondly: And this effect of power does also remark the Divine wisdom, who hath ordained such symbols; which not only, like spittle and clay toward the curing blind eyes, proclaim an almighty power, but they are apposite and proper to signify a duty, and become to us like the word of life; and from bread they turn into a homily. For, therefore, our wisest Master hath appointed bread and wine, that we may be corporally united to him; that as the symbols, becoming nutriment, are turned into the substance of our bodies; so Christ, being the food of our souls, should assimilate us, making us partakers of the Divine nature. It also tells us, that from hence we derive life and holy motion; " for in him we live, and move, and have our being." He is the staff of our life, and the light of our eyes, and the strength of our spirit; he is the viand for our journey, and the antepast of heaven. And because this holy mystery was intended to be a sacrament of union, that lesson is morally represented in the symbols; that as the salutary juice is expressed from many clusters running into one chalice, and the bread is a
mass made of many grains of wheat; so we also, (as the apostle infers from hence, himself observing the analogy,) should" be one bread and one body, because we partake of that one bread." And it were to be wished, that from hence, also, all Christians would understand a signification of another. duty, and that they would often communicate; as remembering that the soul may need a frequent ministration, as well as the body its daily proportion. This consideration of the Divine wisdom is apt to produce reverence, humility, and submission of our understanding, to the immensity of God's unsearchable abysses.
6. Thirdly: But the story of the love of our dearest Lord is written in largest characters; who not only was at that instant busy in doing man the greatest good, even then when man was contriving his death and his dishonour; but contrived to represent his bitter passion to us, without any circumstances of horror, in symbols of pleasure and delight; that "we may taste and see how gracious our Lord is," who would not transmit the record of his passion to us in any thing that might trouble us. No love can be greater than that, which is so beatifical as to bestow the greatest good; and no love can be better expressed than that which, although it is productive of the greatest blessings, yet is curious also to observe the smallest circumstances. And not only both these, but many other circumstances and arguments of love, concur in the holy sacrament. 1. It is a tenderness of affection, that ministers wholesome physic, with arts and instruments of pleasure: and such was the charity of our Lord, who brings health to us in a golden chalice; life, not in the bitter drugs of Egypt, but in spirits and quintessences; giving us apples of paradise, at the same time yielding food, and health, and pleasure. 2. Love desires to do all good to its beloved object; and that is the greatest love, which gives us the greatest blessings: and the sacrament, therefore, is the argument of his greatest love; for in it we receive the honey, and the honey-comb; the paschal lamb, with his bitter herbs; Christ with all his griefs, and his passion, with all the salutary effects of it. 3. Love desires to be remembered, and to have his object in perpetual representment: and this sacrament Christ designed to that purpose, that he, who is not present to our eyes, might always be present to our spirits.
4. Love demands love again; and to desire to be beloved, is, of itself, a great argument of love: and as God cannot give us a greater blessing than his love, which is himself, with an excellency of relation to us superadded; so what greater demonstration of it can he make to us, than to desire us to love him, with as much earnestness and vehemency of desire, as if we were that to him which he is essentially to us, the author of our being and our blessing? 5. And yet, to consummate this love, and represent it to be the greatest and most excellent, the holy Jesus hath in this sacrament designed, that we should be united in our spirits with him, incorporated to his body, partake of his Divine nature, and communicate in all his graces; and love hath no expression beyond this, that it desires to be united unto its object. So that what Moses said to the men of Israel," What nation is so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is, in all things for which we call upon him?" we can enlarge in the meditation of this holy sacrament: for now the Lord our God calls upon us, not only to be nigh unto him, but to be all one with him; not only as he was, in the incarnation, flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone, but also to communicate, in spirit, in grace, in nature, in Divinity itself.
7. Upon the strength of the premises, we may sooner take an estimate of the graces which are conveyed to us, in the reception and celebration of this holy sacrament and sacrifice. For, as it is a commemoration and representment of Christ's death, so it is a commemorative sacrifice as we receive the symbols and the mystery, so it is a sacrament. In both capacities, the benefit is next to infinite. First: for whatsoever Christ did at the institution, the same he commanded the church to do, in remembrance and repeated rites; and himself also does the same thing in heaven for us, making perpetual intercession for his church, the body of his redeemed ones, by representing to his Father his death and sacrifice. There he sits, a high priest continually, and offers still the same one perfect sacrifice; that is, still represents it as having been once finished and consummate, in order to perpetual and never-failing events. And this, also, his ministers do on earth; they offer up the same sacrifice to God, the sacrifice of the cross, by prayers, and a commemorating rite and representment, according to his holy institution. And as
all the effects of grace and the titles of glory were purchased for us on the cross, and the actual mysteries of redemption perfected on earth, but are applied to us, and made effectual to single persons and communities of men, by Christ's intercession in heaven; so also they are promoted by acts of duty and religion here on earth, that we may be "workers together with God," (as St. Paul expresses it°;) and, in virtue of the eternal and all-sufficient sacrifice, may offer up our prayers and our duty; and by representing that sacrifice, may send up, together with our prayers, an instrument of their graciousness and acceptation. The funerals of a deceased friend are not only performed at his first interring, but in the monthly minds and anniversary commemorations; and our grief returns upon the sight of a picture, or upon any instance which our dead friend desired us to preserve as his memorial: we "celebrate and exhibit the Lord's death," in sacrament and symbol; and this is that great express, which, when the church offers to God the Father, it obtains all those blessings which that sacrifice purchased. Themistocles snatched up the son of king Admetus, and held him between himself and death, to mitigate the rage of the king, and prevailed accordingly. Our very holding up the Son of God, and representing him to his Father, is the doing an act of mediation and advantage to ourselves, in the virtue and efficacy of the Mediator. As Christ is a priest in heaven for ever, and yet does not sacrifice himself afresh, nor yet without a sacrifice could he be a priest; but, by a daily ministration and intercession, represents his sacrifice to God, and offers himself as sacrificed: so he does upon earth, by the ministry of his servants; he is offered to God, that is, he is, by prayers and the sacrament, represented or "offered up to God, as sacrificed;" which, in effect, is a celebration of his death, and the applying it to the present and future necessities of the church, as we are capable, by a ministry like to his in heaven. It follows, then, that the celebration of this sacrifice be, in its proportion, an instrument of applying the proper sacrifice to all the purposes which it first designed. It is
e 2 Cor. vi. 1.
Iste calix, benedictione solenni sacratus, ad totius hominis vitam salu. temque proficit; simul medicamentum et holocaustum, ad sanandas infirmitates et purgandas iniquitates, exsistens. - S. Cyp. de Cana Dom.