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CHAPTER I. The Spiritual Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Lord's
Supper. Those words which our Blessed SAVIOUR used in the institu- , tion of the blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, “ This is My Body which is given for you; thiş is My Blood which is shed for you, for the remission of sins ;" are held and acknowledged by the Universal Church to be most true and infallible : and if any one dares oppose them, or call in question Christ's veracity, or the truth of His words, or refuse to yield his sincere assent to them, except he be allowed to make a mere figment, or a bare figure of them, we cannot, and ought not, either excuse or suffer him in our Churches; for we must embrace and hold for an undoubted truth whatever is taught by Divine Scripture. And therefore we can as little doubt of what CHRIST saith, John vi. 55, “ My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed ;" which, according to St. Paul, are both given to us by the consecrated Elements ; for he calls the Bread, “the Communion of Christ's Body," and the Cup," the Communion of His Blood.”
Hence it is most evident, that the Bread and Wine, (which according to St. Paul are the Elements of the holy Eucharist), are neither changed as to their substance, nor vanished, nor reduced to nothing, but are solemnly consecrated by the words of Christ, that by them His blessed Body and Blood may be communicated to us.
And further it appears from the same words, that the expres. sion of Christ and the Apostle, is to be understood in a sacramental and mystic sense ; and that no gross and carnal presence of body and blood can be maintained by them.
And though the word Sacrament be no where used in Scripture to signify the blessed Eucharist, yet the Christian Church, ever since its Primitive ages, hath given it that name, and always called
the presence of Christ's Body and Blood therein, Mystic and Sacramental. Now a Sacramental expression doth, without any inconvenience, give to the sign the name of the thing signified; and such is as well the usual way of speaking, as the nature of Sacraments, that not only the names, but even the properties and effects of what they represent and exhibit, are given to the outward Elements. Hence (as I said before) the Bread is as clearly or positively called by the Apostle, the Communion of the Body of Christ.
This also seems very plain, that our Blessed Saviour's design was not so much to teach, what the Elements of Bread and Wine are by nature and substance, as what is their use and office and signification in this mystery; for the Body and Blood of our Saviour are not only fitly represented by the Elements, but also, by virtue of His institution, really offered to all, by them, and so eaten by the faithful mystically and sacramentally ; whence it is, that “ He truly is and abides in us, and we in Him."
This is the spiritual (and yet no less true and undoubted than if it were corporal) eating of Christ's Flesh, not indeed simply as it is flesh, without any other respect, (for so it is not given, neither would it profit us), but as it is crucified and given for the redemption of the world ; neither doth it hinder the truth and substance of the thing, that this eating of Christ's body is spiritual, and that by it the souls of the faithful, and not their stomachs, are fed by the operation of the Holy Ghost ; for this none can deny, but they who being strangers to the Spirit and the divine virtue, can savour only carnal things, and to whom, what is spiritual and sacramental, is the same as if a mere nothing.
As to the manner of the presence of the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, we that are Protestant and Reformed according to the ancient Catholic Church, do not search into the manner of it with perplexing inquiries; but, after the example of the Primitive and purest Church of CHRIST, we leave it to the power and wisdom of our LORD, yielding a full and unfeigned assent to His words. Had the Romish maintainers of Transubstantiation done the same, they would not have determined and decreed, and then imposed as an article of faith absolutely necessary to salvation, a manner of presence, newly by them invented, under pain of the most direful curse, and there would have been in the Church less wrangling, and more peace and unity than now is.
Mustrated from Protestant Authorities. So then, none of the Protestant Churches doubt of the real (that is, true and not imaginary,) presence of Christ's Body and Blood in the Sacrament; and there appears no reason why any man should suspect their common confession, of either fraud or error, as though in this particular they had in the least departed from the Catholic faith.
For it is easy to produce the consent of Reformed Churches and authors, whereby it will clearly appear, (to them that are not wilfully blind) that they all zealously maintain and profess this truth, without forsaking in any wise the true Catholic faith in this matter.
I begin with the Church of England ..... It teacheth therefore," that in the Blessed Sacrament, the Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten ; so that to the worthy receivers, the consecrated and broken Bread is the communication of the Body of Christ; and likewise the consecrated Cup the communication of His Blood; but that the wicked, and they that approach unworthily the Sacrament of so sacred a thing, eat and drink their own damnation, in that they become guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ.” And the same Church, in a solemn prayer before the consecration, prays thus ; “Grant us, gracious Lord, so to eat the Flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink His Blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by His body, and our souls washed through His most precious blood; and that we may evermore dwell in Him, and He in us." The Priest also, blessing or consecrating the Bread and Wine, saith thus; “ Hear us, O merciful Father, we most humbly beseech Thee, and grant that we receiving these Thy creatures of Bread and Wine according to Thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution, in remembrance of His Death and Passion, may be partakers of His most blessed Body and Blood.”.... The same, when he gives the Sacrament to the people kneeling, giving the bread, saith ; "The Body of our LORD Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life." Likewise when he gives the cup, he saith, “ The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul to everlasting life.” Afterwards, when the Communion is done, follows a thanksgiving ; “ Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank Thee, for that Thou dost vouchsafe to feed us, who have duly received these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of Thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ;" with the Hymn, Glory be to God on high, &c. Also in the public authorised Catechism of our Church, appointed to be learned of all, it is answered to the question concerning the inward part of the Sacrament, that “it is the Body and Blood of Christ which are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper." And in the Apology for this Church, writ by that worthy and Reverend Prelate Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury, it is expressly affirmed, " that to the faithful is truly given in the Sacrament the Body and Blood of our LORD, the life-giving Flesh of the Son of God which quickens our souls, the Bread that came from Heaven, the Food of immortality, grace and truth, and life ; and that it is the Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, that we may abide in Him, and He in us; and that we may be ascertained that the Flesh and Blood of Christ is the food of our souls, as bread and wine is of our bodies."
The right Reverend Doctors, T. Bilson, and L. Andrews, Prelates both of them, thoroughly learned, and great defenders of the Primitive Faith,.... made it most evident by their printed writings, that the Faith and Doctrine of the Church of England is in all things agreeable to the holy Scriptures, and the Divinity of the Ancient Fathers. And as to what regards this mystery, the first treats of it, in his Answer to the Apology of Cardinal Alan, and the last in his Answer to the Apology of Cardinal Bellarmine, where you may find things worthy to be read and noted as follows. “Christ said, This is My Body; in this, the object, we are agreed with you, the manner. only is controverted. We hold by a firm belief, that it is the Body of CHRIST, of the manner how it comes to be so, there is not a word in the Gospel; and because the Scripture is silent in this, we justly disown it to be a matter of faith; we may indeed rank it among tenets of the school, but, by no means, among the Articles of our Christian Belief. We like well of what Durandus is reported to have said, “We hear the word, and feel the motion, we know not the manner, and yet believe the presence;' for we believe a real presence no less than you do. We dare not be so bold as presumptuously to define any thing concerning the manner of a true presence; or rather, we do not so much as trouble ourselves with being inquisitive about it; no more than in Baptism, how the Blood of Christ washeth us: or in the Incarnation of our Redeemer, how the divine and human natures were united together. We put it in the number of sacred things, or sacrifices, (the Eucharist itself being a Sacred Mystery,) whereof the remnants ought to be consumed with fire ; that is, (as the Fathers elegantly have it,) adored by faith, but not searched by reason.”
As for the opinion and belief of the German Protestants, it will be known chiefly by the Augustan Confession, presented to Charles the Fifth by the Princes of the Empire, and other great persons. For they teach, that “not only the bread and wine, but the Body and Blood of Christ, are truly given to the receivers ;" or, as it is in another edition, that “the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, and distributed to the communicants in the Lord's Supper;" and refute those that teach otherwise. They also declare, " that we must so use the Sacraments, as to believe and embrace by faith, those things promised which the Sacraments offer and convey to us." Yet we may observe here, that faith makes not those things present which are promised; for faith, as it is well known, is more properly said to take and apprehend, than to promise or perform : but the Word and Promise of God, on which our faith is grounded, and not faith itself,) make that present which is promised; as it was agreed at a conference at St. German, betwixt some Protestants and Papists; and therefore it is unjustly laid to our charge by some in the Church of Rome, as if we should believe, that the presence and participation of Christ, in the Sacrament, is effected merely by the power of faith.
The Saxon Confession, approved by other churches, seems to be a repetition of the Augustan. Therein we are taught, that “Sacraments are actions divinely instituted; and that, although the same things or actions in common use, have nothing of the nature of Sacraments, yet when used according to the divine institution, Christ is truly and substantially present in the Communion, and His Body and Blood truly given to the receivers ; so that He testifies that He is in them; as St. Hilary saith, these things taken and received make us to be in Christ, and Christ to be in us.'
The Confession of Wittemberg, which in the year 1552, was