« PreviousContinue »
the bread which grows from the earth, receiving the calling of God, that is, blessed by prayer and the word of God, is not now common bread, but the eucharist, consisting of two things, an earthly, and a heavenly; so also our bodies receiving the eucharist, are not now corruptible, but have the hope of resurrection."-And again: "When the mingled chalice and the made bread receives the word of God, viz. is consecrated and blessed, it is made the eucharist of the body and blood of Christ. out of those things, by which our body is nourished, and our substance does consist: and how shall any one deny that the flesh is capable of the gift of God, which is eternal life, which is nourished by the body and blood of Christ ?" And St. Ignatius calls the blessed eucharist, áðavarías páguanov, the medicine of immortality;' for the drink is his blood, who is ἀγάπη ἄφθαρτος καὶ ἀένναος Can, "incorruptible love and eternal life;"σußona Tñs nμerégas avarτáreas, so the fathers of the Nicene council," the symbols of our resurrection ;"-"the meat nourishing to immortality and eternal life," so St. Cyril of Alexandria;—“ for this is to drink the blood of Jesus, to be partakers of the Lord's incorruptibility," said St. Clement'." For bread is food, and blood is life, but we drink the blood of Christ,himself commanding us, that, together with him, we may, by him, be partakers of eternal life;" so St. Cyprian2.
6. Because this is a ministry of grace by bodily ceremonies, and conveys spiritual blessings by temporal ministrations, there is something also of temporal regard directly provided for our bodies by the holy sacrament. It sometimes is a means in the hand of God for the restoring and preserving respectively of our bodily health, and secular advantages. I will not insist upon that of St. Gorgonia, who, being oppressed with a violent headach, threw herself down before the holy table, where the sacrament was placed, and prayed with passion and pertinacy, till she obtained relief and ease in that very place: nor that of St. Ambrose, who, having trod upon a gentleman's foot afflicted with the
* ̓Αντίδοτον τοῦ μὴ ἀποθανεῖν.
y Τοῦτ ̓ ἔστι πιεῖν τὸ αἷμα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ, τῆς κυριακῆς μεταλαβεῖν ἀφθαρσίας.-- Εpist. ad Ephes.
"Aut quicunque sit auctor Sermon. de cœna Domini.
* Vide St. Ambros. in Orat. Fuuebri Satyri fratris, et St. Aug. lib. xxii. de Civitat. Dei, cap. 8.
gout, in the time of ministration, gave him the holy symbols, and told him it was good for his sickness also, and that he presently found his cure. I myself knew a person of great sanctity, who was afflicted to death's door with a vomiting, and preparing herself to death by her viaticum,' the holy sacrament, to which she always bore a great reverence; she was infinitely desirous, and yet equally fearful, to receive it, lest by her infirmity she should reject that, which, in her spirit, she passionately longed for: but her desire was the greater passion, and prevailed; she received it, and swallowed it; and, after great and earnest reluctancy, being forced to cast it up,- in zeal, and with a new passion, took it in again, and then retained it, and from that instant speedily recovered, against the hope of her physician, and the expectation of all her friends.-God does miracles every day; and he who, with spittle and clay, cured the blind man's eyes, may well be supposed to glorify himself by the extraordinary contingencies and sacramental contacts of his own body. But that which is most famous and remarked, is, that the Austrian family do attribute the rise of their house to the present grandeur, to William, earl of Hapsburgh, and do acknowledge it to be a reward of his piety in the venerable treatment and usage of these divine mysteries. It were easier to heap together many rare contingencies, and miraculous effects of the holy sacrament, than to find faith to believe them now-a-days; and, therefore, for this whole affair I rely upon the words of St. Paul', affirming that God sent sicknesses, and sundry kinds of death, to punish the Corinthian irreverent treatment of the blessed sacrament;' and, therefore, it is not to be deemed, but that life and health will be the consequent of our holy usages of it: for if by our fault it is a savour of death, it is certain, by the blessing and intention of God, a savour of life. But of these things in particular we have no promise; and, therefore, such events as these cannot, upon this account of faith and certain expectations, be designed by us in our communions. If God please to send any of them, as sometimes he hath done, it is to promote his own glory, and our value of the blessed sacrament, the great ministry of salvation.
b 1 Cor. xi. 26.
7. The sum of all I represent in these few words of St. Hilary .. "These holy mysteries, being taken, cause that Christ shall be in us, and we in Christ." And if this be more than words, we need no further inquiry into the particulars of blessing consequent to a worthy communion; for "if God hath given his Son unto us, how shall not he, with him, give us all things else?" "Nay, all things that we need, are effected by this," said St. Clement of Alexandria, one of the most ancient fathers of the church of Christ: "Eucharistiæ qui per fidem sunt participes, sanctificantur et corpore et anima" "They, who by faith are partakers of the eucharist, are sanctified both in body and in soul.”
Fonte renascentes, membris et sanguine Christi
"How great, therefore, and how illustrious benefits" (it is the meditation of St. Eusebius Emissėnus) " does the power of the divine blessing produce! you ought not to esteem it strange and impossible; for how earthly and mortal things are converted into the substance of Christ, ask thyself, who art regenerated in Christ,- Not long since, thou wast a stranger from life, a pilgrim and a wanderer from mercy, and, being inwardly dead, thou wert banished from the way of life. On a sudden, being initiated into the laws of Christ, and renewed by the ministries of salvation, thou didst pass suddenly into the body of the church, not by seeing, but by believing; and, from a son of perdition, thou hast obtained to be adopted a son of God, by a secret purity; remaining in a visible measure, thou art invisibly made greater than thyself, without any increase of quantity; thou art the same thou wert, and yet very much another person in the progression of faith; to the outward nothing is added, but the inward is wholly changed; and so a man is made the son of Christ, and Christ is formed in the mind of a man. As therefore suddenly, without any bodily perception, the former vileness being laid down, on the sudden thou hast put on a new dignity, and this that God hath done, that he hath cured thy wounds, washed off thy stains, wiped
e Hæc, sumpta et hausta, faciunt ut nos in Christo et Christus in nobis sit. Lib. viii. de Trinit. habetur de consecrat. dist.
Lib. ii. pæd. cap. 2.
away thy spots, is trusted to thy discerning, not thy eyes; So when thou ascendest the reverend altar to be satisfied with spiritual food, by faith regard, honour, admire the holy body of God; touch it with thy mind; take it with the hand of thy heart, even with the draught of the whole inward man."
Practical Conclusions from the preceding Discourses.
THE first I represent in the words of St. Austin, who reduces this whole doctrine to practice in these excellent words: "Let this whole affair thus far prevail with us, that we may eat the flesh, and drink the blood of Christ, not only in the sacrament, which many evil persons do, but let us eat and drink unto the participation of the Spirit; that, as members, we may abide in the Lord's body; that we may be quickened by his Spirit; and let us not be scandalized, because many do temporally eat and drink with us, who yet, in the end, shall find eternal torments:" that is, let us remember, that the exterior ministry is the least part of it: and externally and alone it hath in it nothing excellent, as being destitute of the sanctity that God requires, and the grace that he does promise, and it is common to wicked men and good. But when the signs and the thing signified, when the prayers of the church and the Spirit of God, the word and the meaning, the sacrament and the grace, do concur; then it is πολλῆς γέμον δυνάμεως, “ it is a venerable cup, and full of power," and more honourable than all our possessions; "it is a holy thing," saith Origen," and appointed for our sanctification." For Christ in the sacrament is Christ under a veil: as without the hand of faith, we cannot take Christ, so we must be sure to look here with an eye of faith; and whatsoever glorious thing is said of the holy sacrament, it must be understood of the whole sacrament, body and spirit, that is, the sacramental and the spiritual communion.
a Tract. 17. in Johan, dentibus à vilitate secretum. D. Ποτήριον τὸ φρικτόν.—Chry.
Contenti sint ad venerationem figuris defen-
e “Αγιόν τι καὶ ἁγίαζον τοὺς χρωμένους.
2. Let no man be less confident in his holy faith and persuasion concerning the great blessings and glorious effects, which God designs to every faithful and obedient soul in the communication of these divine mysteries, by reason of any difference of judgment, which is in the several schools of Christians concerning the effects and consequent blessings of this sacrament. For all men speak honourable things of it, except wicked persons and the scorners of religion and though of several persons, like the beholders of a dove walking in the sun, as they stand in several aspects and distances, some see red, and others purple, and yet some perceive nothing but green, but all allow and love the beauties: so do the several forms of Christians, according as they are instructed by their first teachers, or their own experience, conducted by their fancy and proper principles, look upon these glorious mysteries, some as virtually containing the reward of obedience, some as solemnities of thanksgiving and records of blessings, some as the objective increases of faith, others as the sacramental participations of Christ, others as the acts and instruments of natural union; yet all affirm some great things or other of it, and, by their differences, confess the immensity and the glory. For thus manna represented to every man the taste that himself did like; but it had in its own potentiality all those tastes and dispositions eminently; and altogether, those feasters could speak of great and many excellencies, and all confessed it to be enough, and to be the food of angels: so it is here, it is that to every man's faith, which his faith wisely apprehends; and though there are some who are of little faith, and such receive but a less proportion of nourishment, yet by the very use of this sacrament, the appetite will increase, and the apprehensions grow greater, and the faith will be more confident and instructed; and then we shall see more, and feel more. For this holy nutriment is not only food, but physic too; and although to him who believes great things of his physician and of his medicine, it is apt to do the more advantage; yet it will do its main work, even when we understand it not, and nothing can hinder it, but direct infidelity, or some of its foul and deformed ministers.
3. They who receive the blessed sacrament, must not suppose that the blessings of it are effected as health is by