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is nothing but Christ himself; the body that died upon the cross, is broken in the hand of him that ministers, and by the teeth of him that communicates : and when God gives us his Son in this divine and glorious manner, with heaps of miracles to verify heaps of blessings, how shall not he with him give us all things else? They who teach this doctrine, call the holy sacrament, “ The host; the unbloody sacrifice; the flesh of God; the body of Christ; God himself; the mass; the sacrament of the altar.” I cannot say that this is too much, but that these things are not true; and although all that is here said, that is of any material benefit and real blessing, is true, yet the blessing is not so conferred, it is not so produced.
A third sort of Christians speak indefinitely and gloriously of this divine mystery; they speak enough, but they cannot tell what; they publish great and glorious effects, but such which they gather by similitude and analogy, such which they desire, but cannot prove; which indeed they feel, but know not whence they do derive them : they are blessings which come in company of the sacraments, but are not always to be imputed to them; they confound spiritual senses with mystical expressions, and expound mysteries to natural significations; that is, they mean well, but do not always understand that part of Christian philosophy, which explicates the secret nature of this divine sacrament. And the effect of it is this, that they sometimes put too great confidence in the mystery; and look for impresses which they find not; and are sometimes troubled that their experience does not answer to their sermons, and meet with scruples instead of comforts, and doubts instead of rest, and anxiety of mind in the place of a serene 'and peaceful conscience. But these men, both in their right and in their wrong, enumerate many glories of the holy sacrament, which they usually signify in these excellent appellatives, calling ito, “« The supper of the Lord; the bread of elect souls, and the wine of angels; the Lord's body; the new testament, and the chalice of benediction; spiritual food; the great supper;
the divinest and archisymbolical feast; the banquet of the church; the celestial dinner; the spiritual, the sacred, the mystical, the formidable, the rational table; the supersubstantial bread; the bread of God; the bread of life; the Lord's mystery; the great mystery of salvation; the Lord's sacrament; the sacrament of piety; the sign of unity; the contesseration of the Christian communion; the divine grace; the divine making grace; the holy thing; the desirable; the communication of good; the perfection and consummation of a Christian; the holy particles; the gracious symbols ; the holy gifts; the sacrifice of commemoration; the intellectual and mystical good; the hereditary donative of the New Testament; the sacrament of the Lord's body; the sacrament of the chalice; the paschal oblation; the Christian passport; the mystery of perfection; the great oblation; the worship of God; the life of souls; the sacrament of our price and our redemption :” and some few others much to the same purposes : all which are of great and useful signification; and if the explications and consequent propositions were as justifiable, as the titles themselves are sober and useful, they would be apt only for edification, and to minister to the spirit of devotion, That, therefore, is to be the design of the present meditations, to represent the true, and proper, and mysterious nature of this divine nutriment of our souls; to account what are the blessings God reacheth forth to us in the mysteries, and what returns of duty he expects from all to whom he gives his most holy Son.
I shall only here add the names and appellatiyes which the Scripture gives to these mysteries, and place it as a part of the foundation of the following doctrines : it is, by the Spirit of God, called “, “ The bread that is broken; the.cup of blessing; the breaking of bread; the body and blood of the Lord; the communication of his body; and the com: munication of his blood; the feast of charity or love; the Lord's table, and the supper of the Lord.” Whatsoever is consequent to these titles we can safely own, and our faith may dwell securely,--and our devotion, like a pure flame, with these may feed, as with the spices and gums upon the altar of incense.
a 'Ayaan, 2 Pet. ii. 13. 1 Cor. xi. 20, and 29. 1 Cor. x. 16. Jude, v. 18. Acts, vi. 2.
d, called the foli Isteries,
SECTION II. What it is, which we receive in the Holy Sacrament. . It is strange, that Christians should pertinaciously insist upon carnal significations and natural effects in sacraments and mysteries, when our blessed Lord hath given us a sufficient light to conduct and secure us from such misapprehensions. " The flesh profiteth nothing: the words which I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life;" that is, the flesh is corruption, and its senses are ministers of death: and this one word aļone was perpetually sufficient for Christ's disciples. For when, upon occasion of the gross understanding of their Master's words by the men of Capernaum, they had been once clearly taugbt, that the meaning of all these words was wholly spiritual; they rested there, and inquired no further : insomuch that when Christ, at the institution of the supper, affirmed of the bread and wine, “That they were his body and his blood, they were not at all offended, as being sufficiently before instructed in the nature of that mystery. And besides this, they saw enough to tell them, what they eat was not the natural body of their Lord : this was the body which himself did or might eat with his body: one body did eat, and the other was eaten; both of them were his body, but after a diverse manner. For the case is briefly this:
We have two lives", a natural and a spiritual; and both must have bread for their support and maintenance in proportion to their needs, and to their capacities; and as it would be an intolerable charity to give nothing but spiritual nutriment to a hungry body, and pour diagrams and wise propositions into an empty stomach; so it would be as useless and impertinent to feed the soul with wheat, or flesh, unless that were the conveyance of a spiritual delicacy.
4. 4 Duplex vita, duplicem poscit panem. S. Aug. Oportuit autem, nan solum primitias nostræ naturæ iv participationem venire melioris, sed omnes quotquot veljut homines et secunda nativitate nasci, et putriri cibo novo, et huic nativitati accommodato, atque ita prævenire mensuram perfectionis.Damasc. de Fide Orthod. I. c. iv. 14.
Et quoniam spiritualis est Adam, oportuit nativitatem spiritualem esse, similiter et cibum.-Id. ibid.
In the holy sacrament of the eucharist, the body of Christ, according to the proper signification of a human body is not at all, but in a sense, differing from the proper and natural body; that is, in a sense more agreeing to sacraments; so St. Jerome expressly, “ Of this sacrifice which is wonderfully done in the commemoration of Christ, we may eat; but of that sacrifice which Christ offered on the altar, the cross,- by itself, or in its own nature, no man may eat."“ For it is his flesh, which is under the form of bread, and his blood, which is in the form and taste of wine : for the flesh is the sacrament of flesh, and blood is the sacrament of blood : for by flesh and blood that is invisible, spiritual, intelligible, the visible and tangible body of our Lord Jesus Christ is consigned, full of the grace of all virtues, and of divine majesty;" so St. Austino. “ For, therefore, ye are not to eat that body which you see, nor to drink that blood which my crucifiers shall pour out: it is the same, and not the same; the same invisibly, but not the same visibly. For until the world be finished, the Lord is above, but the truth of the Lord is with us. The body in which he rose again, must be in one place, but the truth of it is every where diffused.” For there is one truth of the body in the mystery, and another truth simply and without mystery. It is truly Christ's body both in the sacrament, and out of it; but in the sacrament it is not the natural truth, but the spiritual and the mystical d.
“And therefore it was that our blessed Saviour, to them who apprehended him to promise his natural body and blood for our meat and drink, spake of his ascension into heaven, that we might learn to look from heaven to receive the food of our souls, heavenly and spiritual nourishment;" said St. Athanasius'. -" For this is the letter, which, in the New Testament, kills him who understands not spiritually what is spoken to him, under the signification of meat and flesh, and blood and drink ;" so Origen .-“ For this bread does not go into the body, (for to how many might his body suffice for meat ?) but the bread of eternal life supports the substance of our spirit; and, therefore, it is not touched by the body, nor' seen with the eyes, but by faith it is seen and touched;" so St. Ambrose 8. -" And all this whole mystery hath in it neither carnal sense nor carnal consequence;" saith St. Chrysostom." But to believe in Christ is to eat the bread; and, therefore, why do you prepare your teeth and stomach ? Believe him, and you have eaten him :" they are the words of St. Austin. For faith is that intellectual mouth,' as St. Basili calls it, which is within the man, by which he takes in nourishment.
b In Levit. et liabetur de consecrat. dist. 2. secundum se.. e Habet. de Consecrat. dist. 2. Epist. ad Iren. d Vide eund, in Johạn. tract. 50. • In Tract. verb. Quicunque dixerit verbum in filiuni hominis. f In Levit. c. X. hom. 7.
But what need we to draw this water from the lesser cisterns? We see this truth reflected from the spring itself, the fountains of our blessed Saviour: “ I am the bread of life; he that cometh unto me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall not thirst :” and again, “ He that eats my flesh, hath life abiding in him, and I will raise him up at the last day!.” The plain consequent of which words is this, That, therefore, this eating and drinking of Christ's flesh and blood, can only be done by the ministries of life and of the Spirit, which is opposed to nature, and flesh, and death. And when we consider, that he who is not a spiritual and a holy person, does not feed upon Christ, who brings life eternal to them that feed on him,-it is apparent that our manducation must be spiritual, and, therefore, so must the food; and, consequently, it cannot be natural flesh, however altered in circumstances and visibilities, and impossible or incredible changes. For it is not in this spiritual food, as it was in manna, of which our fathers did eat, and died'; but whosoever eats this divine nutriment, shall never diem. The sacraments, indeed, and symbols, the exterior part and ministries, may be taken unto condemnation, but the food itself never. For an unworthy person cannot feed on this food, because here to eat Christ's flesh is to do our
• De Sacram. lib. v. c. 4. et in Luc. lib. v. c. 8.
John, vi. 35. v. 5. 4. 56.
m Res ipsa, cojus sacramentum est, omni homini ad vitam, nulli ad exitium, quicunqne ejus particeps fuerit. S. Aug. tract. 16 in Joh. de Resur, car. c. 37.