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world. In the first place, the signs are bread and wine, which represent to us the invisible nourishment which we receive from the body and blood of Christ. For as in baptism God regenerates us, incorporates us into the society of his Church, and makes us his children by adoption; so we have said, that he acts towards us the part of a provident father of a family, in constantly supplying us with food, to sustain and preserve us in that life to which he hath begotten us by his word. Now the only food of our souls is Christ; and to him, therefore, our heavenly Father invites us, that being refreshed by a participation of him, we may gain fresh vigour from day to day, till we arrive at the heavenly immortality. And because this mystery of the secret union of Christ with the faithful, is incomprehensible by nature, he exhibits a figure and image of it in visible signs, peculiarly adapted to our feeble capacity; and as it were, by giving tokens and pledges, renders it equally as certain to us as if we beheld it with our eyes: for the dullest minds understand this very familiar similitude, that our souls are nourished by Christ, just as the life of the body is supported by bread and wine. We see, then, for what end this mystical benediction is designed; namely, to assure us that the body of the Lord was once offered as a sacrifice for us, so that we may now feed upon it, and feeding on it, may experience within us the efficacy of that one sacrifice; and that his blood was once shed for us, so that it is our perpetual drink. And this is the import of the words of the promise annexed to it: “Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you.” The body, therefore, which was once offered for our salvation, we are commanded to take and eat; that seeing ourselves made partakers of it, we may certainly conclude, that the virtue of that oblation will be efficacious within us. Hence, also, he calls the cup “the new testament,” or rather covenant, in his blood. (d) For the covenant which he once ratified with his blood, he in some measure renews, or rather continues, as far as relates to the confirmation of our faith, whenever he presents us that sacred blood to drink.
(d) Matt. xxvi. 26, 28. Mark xiv. 22, 24. Luke xxii. 19, 20. 1 Cor. xi. 24, 25.
II. From this sacrament pious souls may derive the benefit of considerable satisfaction and confidence; because it affords us a testimony that we are incorporated into one body with Christ, so that whatever is his, we are at liberty to call ours. The consequence of this is, that we venture to assure ourselves of our interest in eternal life, of which he is the heir, and that the kingdom of heaven, into which he has already entered, can no more be lost by us than by him: and, on the other hand, that we cannot be condemned by our sins, from the guilt of which he absolved us, when he wished them to be imputed to himself, as if they were his own. This is the wonderful exchange which, in his infinite goodness, he has made with us. Submitting to our poverty, he has transferred to us bris riches; assuming our weakness, he has strengthened us by his power; accepting our mortality, he has conferred on us his inmortality; taking on himself the load of iniquity with which we were oppressed, he has clothed us with his righteousness; descending to the earth, he has prepared a way for our ascending to heaven; becoming with us the Son of man, he has made us, with himself, the sons of God.
III. Of all these things we have such a complete attestation in this sacrament, that we may confidently consider them as truly exhibited to us, as if Christ himself were presented to our eyes, and touched by our hands. For there can be no falsehood or illusion in this word, “Take, eat, drink; this is my body which is given for you; this is my blood which is shed for the remission of sins." By commanding us to take, he signifies that he is ours: by commanding us to eat and drink, he signifies that he is become one substance with us. In saying that his body is given for us, and his blood shed for us, he shews that both are not so much his as ours, because he assumed and laid down both, not for his own advantage, but for our salvation. And it ought to be carefully observed, that the principal and almost entire energy of the sacrament lies in these words; “Which is given for you;--which is shed for you:” for otherwise it would avail us but little, that the body and blood of the Lord are distributed to us now, if they had not been delivered for our redemption and salvation. Therefore they are represented to us by bread and wine, to
teach us that they are not only ours, but are destined for the support of our spiritual life. This is what we have already suggested; that by the corporeal objects which are presented in the sacrament, we are conduced, by a kind of analogy, to those which are spiritual. So, when bread is given to us as a symbol of the body of Christ, we ought immediately to conceive of this comparison, that, as bread nourishes, sustains, and preserves the life of the body; so the body of Christ is the only food to animate and support the life of the soul. When we see wine presented as a symbol of his blood, we ought to think of the uses of wine to the human body, that we may contemplate the same advantages conferred upon us in a spiritual manner by the blood of Christ: which are these, that it nourishes, refreshes, strengthens, and exhilarates. For if we duly consider the benefits resulting to us from the oblation of his sacred body, and the effusion of his blood, we shall clearly perceive that these properties of bread and wine, according to this analogy, are most justly attributed to those symbols, as administered to us in the Lord's Supper.
IV. The principal object of the sacrament, therefore, is not to present us the body of Christ, simply, and without any ulterior consideration, but rather to seal and confirm that promise, where he declares that his “fesh is meat indeed, and” his “blood drink indeed,” by which we are nourished to eternal life; where he affirms that he is “the bread of life,” and that he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever;" (C) to seal and confirm that promise, I say; and, in order to do this, it sends us to the cross of Christ, where the promise has been fully verified, and entirely accomplished. For we never rightly and advantageously feed on Christ, except as crucified, and when we have a lively apprehension of the efficacy of his death. And, indeed, when Christ called himself “the bread of life,” he did not use that appellation on account of the sacrament, as some persons erroneously imagine, but because he had been given to us as such by the Father, and shewed himself to be such, when, becoming a partaker of our human mortality, he made us partakers of his divine immortality;
(e) John. vi. 35, 55_-58.
when, offering himself a sacrifice, he sustained our curse, to fill us with his blessing; when, by his death, he destroyed and swallowed up death; when, in his resurrection, this corruptible flesh of ours, which he had assumed, was raised up by him, in a state of incorruption and glory.
V. It remains for all this to be applied to us; which is done in the first place by the gospel, but in a more illustrious manner by the sacred supper, in which Christ offers himself to us with all his benefits, and we receive him by faith. The sacrament, therefore, does not first constitute Christ the bread of life; but, by recalling to our remembrance that he has been made the bread of life, upon which we may constantly feed, and by giving us a taste and relish for that bread, it causes us to experience the support which it is adapted to afford. For it assures us, in the first place, that whatever Christ has done or suffered, was for the purpose of giving life to us; and, in the next place, that this life will never end. For as Christ would never have been the bread of life to us, if he had not been born, and died, and risen again for us; so now he would by no means continue so, if the efficacy and benefit of his nativity, death, and resurrection, were not permanent and immortal. All this Christ has elegantly expressed in these words: “The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world:” (f) in which he clearly signifies, that his body would be as bread to us, for the spiritual life of the soul, because it was to be exposed to death for our salvation; and that it is given to us to feed upon it, when he makes us partakers of it by faith. He gave it once, therefore,
, to be made bread, when he surrendered it to be crucified for the redemption of the world: he gives it daily, when, by the word of the gospel, he presents it to us, that we may partake of it as crucified; when he confirms that presentation by the sacred mystery of the Supper; when he accomplishes within, that which he signifies without. Here it behoves us to guard against two errors: that, on the one hand, we may not, by undervaluing the signs, disjoin them from the mysteries with which they are connected; nor, on the other hand, by ex
() John vi. 51.
tolling them beyond measure, obscure the glory of the mysteries themselves. That Christ is the bread of life, by which the faithful are nourished to eternal salvation, there is no man, not entirely destitute of religion, who hesitates to acknowledge: but all are not equally agreed respecting the manner of partaking of him. For there are some who define in a word, that to eat the flesh of Christ, and to drink his blood, is no other than to believe in Christ himself. But I conceive that, in that remarkable discourse, in which Christ recommends us to feed upon his body, he intended to teach us something more striking and sublime; namely, that we are quickened by a real participation of him, which he designates by the terms of eating and drinking, that no person might suppose the life which we receive from him to consist in simple knowledge. For as it is not seeing, but eating bread, that administers nourishment to the body; so it is necessary for the soul to have a true and complete participation of Christ, that by his power it may be quickened to spiritual life. At the same time, we confess that there is no other eating than by faith, as it is impossible to imagine any other; but the difference between me and the persons whose sentiment I am opposing, is this: they consider eating to be the very same as believing; I say, that in believing we eat the flesh of Christ, because he is actually made ours by faith, and that this eating is the fruit and effect of faith: or, to express it more plainly, they con. sider the eating to be faith itself; but I apprehend it to be rather a consequence of faith. The difference is small in words, but in the thing itself it is considerable. For though the apostle teaches that “Christ dwelleth in our hearts by faith,” (s) yet no one will explain this inhabitation to be faith itself. Every one must perceive that the apostle intended to express a peculiar advantage arising from faith, of which the residence of Christ in the hearts of the faithful is one of the effects. In the same manner, when the Lord called himself “the bread of life," (h) he intended not only to teach that salvation is laid up for us in the faith of his death and resurrection, but also that, by our real participation of him, his