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king, named Astiages, which had heard by a prophecy, that one Cyrus should have the rule and dominion over his realm, after his departure: which thing troubled the said king very sore, and therefore he sought all the ways and means how to get the the said Cyrus out of the way, how to kill him, so that he should not be king after him. Now, he had
a nobleman in his house, named Harpagus, whom · he appointed to destroy the said Cyrus; but howso
ever the matter went, Cyrus was preserved and kept alive, contrary to the king's mind. Which thing when Astiages heard, what doth he? Thus he did: Harpagus, the nobleman, which was put in trust to kill Cyrus, had a son in the court, whom the king commanded to be taken, his head, hands, and feet to be cut off, and his body to be prepared, roasted, or sodden in the best manner that could be devised. After that, he biddeth Harpagus to come and eat with him, where there was jolly cheer, one dish coining after another : at length the king asked him, “ Sir, how like you your fare?” Harpagus thanked the king, with much praising the king's banquet. Now the king, perceiving him to be merrily disposed, commanded one of his servants to bring in the head, hands, and feet of Harpagus' son, which when it was done, the king shewed him what manner of meat he had eaten, asking him how he liked it. Harpagus made answer, though with a heavy heart; " Whatsoever pleaseth the king, that also pleaseth
And here we have an ensample of a flatterer or dissembler : for this Harpagus spake against his own heart and conscience : surely, I fear me, there be a great many of flatterers in our time also, which will not be ashamed to speak against their own heart and conscience, like as this Harpagus did, which had no doubt an heavy heart, and in his conscience the act of the king misliked him: yet for all that, with his tongue he praised the same. So I say," we read not in any story, that at any time any father had eaten his son willingly and wittingly. And this Harpagus, of whom I rehearsed the story, did it unawares. But the Almighty God, which prepared this feast for all the world, for all those, that will come unto it, he offereth his only Son to be eaten, and his blood to be drank: belike, he loved his guests well, because he did feed them with so costly a dish.
Again, our Saviour, the bridegroom, offered himn -self at his last supper, which he had with his disciples; his body to be eaten, and his blood to be drank. And to the intent that it should be done to our great comfort, and then again to take away all cruelty, irksomeness, and horribleness, he sheweth unto us, how we shall eat him, in what manner and form: namely, spiritually, to our great comfort. So that whosoever eateth the mystical bread, and drinketh the mystical wine worthily, according to the ordinance of Christ, he receiveth surely the very body and blood of Christ spiritually, so as it shall be most comfortable unto his soul. He eateth with the mouth of his soul, and digesteth with the stomach of his soul, the body of Christ. And to be short, whosoever believeth in Christ, putteth his hope, trust, and confidence in him, he eateth and drinketh him. For the spiritual eating, is the right eating to everlasting life, not the corporal eating, as the Capemites understood it. For that such corporal eating, on which they set their minds, hath no commodities at all; it is a spiritual mcat, that feedeth our souls.
But I pray you, how much is this supper of Christ regarded amongst us, where he himself exhibiteth unto us his body and blood ? How much, I say, is it
regarded, how many receive it with the curate or minister ? O Lord, how blind and dull are we to such things, which pertain to our salvation ? But I pray you, wherefore was it ordained principally? Answer: It was ordained for our help, to help our memory withal, to put us in mind of the great goodness of God, in redeeming us from everlasting death, by the blood of our Saviour Christ : yea, and to signify unto us, that his body and blood is our meat and drink for our souls, to feed them to everlasting life. If we were now so perfect, as we ought to be, we should not have need of it; but to help our imperfectness, it was ordained of Christ : for we be so forgetful, when we be not pricked forward, we have soon forgotten all his benefits. Therefore, to the intent that we might better keep it in memory, and to remedy this our slothfulness, our Saviour hath ordained this his supper for us, whereby we should remember his great goodness, his bitter passion and death, and so strengthen our faith : so that he in. stituted this supper for our sake, to make us keep in fresh memory his inestimable benefits. .
But, as I said before, it is in a inanner nothing regarded amongst us, we care not for it, we will not come unto it. How many be there, think ye, which regard this supper of the Lord, as much as a tester *? But very few, no doubt of it: and I will prove that they regard it not so much. If there was a proclamation macle in this town, that wliosoever would come unto the church at such an honr, and there go to the communion with the curate, should have a tester; when such a proclamation were made, I think truly, all the town would come and celebrate the communion to get a tester. But they will not come to receive the body and blood of Christ,
· * Sixpence.
the food and nourishment of their souls, to the augmentation and strength of their faith. Do they not more regard now a tester, than Christ? But the cause which letteth us from celebrating of the Lord's supper, is this: we have no mind nor purpose to leave sin and wickedness; which maketh us not to come to this supper, because we be not ready nor meet to receive it. But I require you in God's behalf, leave your wickedness, that ye may receive it worthily, according unto his institution. For this supper is ordained, as I told you before, for our sakes, to our profits and commodities. For if we were perfect, we should not need this outward sacrament: but our Saviour, knowing our weakness and forgetfulness, ordained this supper, to the augmentation of our faith; and to put us in remembrance of his benefits. But we will not come: there come no more at once, but such as give their holy loves from house to house, which follow rather the custom than any thing else.
Our Saviour Christ saith in the gospel of St. John; “ I am the living bread, which came down from heaven." Therefore, whosoever feedeth on our Saviour Christ, he shall not perish, death shall not prevail against him: his soul shall depart out of his body, yet death shall not get the victory over him. He shall not be damned, he that cometh to that marriage; to that banquet, death shall be unto him but an entrance, or a door to everlasting life. “The bread, that I will give, is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” As many as will feed upon him, shall attain to everlasting life: they shall never die, they shall prevail against death : death shall not hurt them, because he hath lost his strength. If we would consider this, no doubt we would be more desirous to come to the cominunion, than we be; we would not be so cold, we would be
content to leave our naughty living, and come to the Lord's table.
Now ye have heard, what shall be the chiefest dish at this marriage, namely the body and blood of Christ. But now there be other dishes, which be sequels or, hangings on, wherewith the chiefest dish is powdered : that is, remission of sins. As, the Holy Ghost, which ruleth and governeth our hearts : also, the merits of Christ, which are made ours : for when we feed upon this dish worthily, then we shall have remission of our sins, we shall receive the Holy Ghost. Moreover, all the merits of Christ are ours, his fulfilling of the law is ours, and so we be justified before God; and finally attain to everlasting life. As many, therefore, as feed worthily of this dish, shall have all those things with it, and in the end everlasting life.
St. Paul saith; “ He which spared not his own Son, but gave him for us all : how shall he not with him give us all things also ?” Therefore, they, that be in Christ, are partakers of all his merits and benefits of everlasting life, and of all felicity. He that hath Christ, hath all things, that are Christ's : he is our preservation from damnation, he is our comfort, he is our help, our remedy. When we feed upon him, then we shall have remission of our sins : the same remission of our sins is the greatest and most comfortable thing that can be in the world.
O what a comfortable thing is this, when Christ saith, “ Thy sins are forgiven unto thee!" And this is å standing sentence : it was not spoken only to the same one man, but it is a general proclamation unto us all: that is, to all and every one that believeth in hiin, that they shall have forgiveness of their sins. And this proclamation is cried out daily by his minis. ters and preachers, which proclamation is the word of grace, the word of comfort and consolation. For