Christian praiers to be said before, at, and after ye receiue the holie Communion, and first: An effectuall meditation of the right Christian beleefe in the holie Sacrament of the Lords supper, and of the woor∣thie and fruitefull receiuing the same, to our comfort and saluation; to be diligentlie read before you receiue.
O My soule, let vs now carefullie con∣sider first, whether we bee come; namelie, to the celestiall table, hea∣uenlie banket, greate feast, costlie repast, and sumptuous supper of the most puissant, glorious, mightie, and magnificent King of kinges, and Lord of lordes, Iesus Christ thy Page 569 most mercifull maker, righteous redeemer, souereigne sauiour, and deere spouse; and that of necessitie, as both forced therevnto by his iust commandement, and also allured and inuited by his mercifull promises.
Secondlie, O my soule, let vs rightlie knowe, and diligentlie marke, what things are heere presentlie set before vs on this holie Table, and prouided for vs in this blessed banket to taste of; namelie, that the dein∣tie dishes, and the refection and meate which we must in verie deede seeke for onelie in this sacred supper, are no vaine ceremonies, no bare signe, no vntrue figure of a thing absent, no earthlie bodie, no carnall meate, nor anie fleshlie substance; but as the sacred Scripture saith, and other holie men doo rightlie tearme and call them, The Bread and Cup of the Lord; a heauenlie refection; the sweet deinties of our sauiour; the nou∣rishment of our soules; an inuisible meate; a spiritu∣all foode; a ghostlie substance: which all are heere now most mercifullie offered, and exhibited vnto vs, and all other faithfull soules, as the soueraigne preseruatiue against death; the conseruatorie to euerlasting life; the comfortable medicine of the soule; the salue of im∣mortalitie; the pledge of eternall health; the defence of faith; the hope of the resurrection; the memorie of Christ; the annuntiation of his death: finallie, the communion of the bodie and bloud of the Lord Iesus, in a maruellous incorporation, which by the holie Ghost (the verie bond of our perfection with Christ) is through faith wrought in the soules of the faithfull, whereby not onlie their soules doo liue to eternall life; but also they surelie trust to win to their bodies a re∣surrection to immortalitie. In the which also, we may not onlie heare, see, taste, and knowe the mercie of God our Creator sealed; the sanctification by Christ our re∣deemer towards vs confirmed; the remission of our sinnes through the holie Ghost our comforter and re∣generator Page 570 fullie satisfied and established: but also most sensiblie and effectuallie to our further comfort, in deed feele wrought in vs; the tranquillitie of conscience; the increase of faith; the strengthening of hope; and the long spreading abroad of brotherlie loue and kind∣nesse, with manie other sundrie maruellous graces and benefits of God, most profitable vnto vs. Which things well considered and weighed, my soule, O with what feruent affection and earnest zeale ought they now to inflame our hart, and kindle our mind, greedi∣lie to couet and desire the participation of these most holie mysteries; yea, often to long and hunger after this healthsome bread, and continuallie thirst for this diuine, heauenlie, and blessed food!
Thirdlie and lastlie, O my soule, let vs aduisedlie call to mind, and well vnderstand the cause, wherefore wee are now come vnto this holie table of the Lord: which indeed is onlie to this end; that we should now be god∣lie ghests, not idle gazers; hungrie eaters; not ster∣uing lookers on; to feede our selues, and not to hire others to feed for vs: that so we may liue by our owne meate, and not perish for hunger, while other deuoure all. We are come togither, I saie, O my soule, with this congregation assembled, presentlie to celebrate a sacrifice, not priuatelie in one kind for the dead, nor to make a mysterie a sacrifice, nor of a communion to make a priuate eating, nor of two parts to haue but one, nor yet to applie it for the dead, and so we to loose the fruit that are aliue. No no, my soule; God forbid that we should come to celebrate this holie mysterie after anie such sort, or to anie such vse or purpose. For that were to declare our selues vnwoorthie of the Lord, yea to be accursed of him, for committing such spirituall blasphemie and robberie. But knowe, that we are come hither now publikely and openly at this the Lords boord, to minister & doo that, which he him∣selfe, Page 571 a little before his death, vouchsafed in his owne person most wiselie, kindlie, and louinglie to inuent, prouide, institute, ordeine, doo, establish, and command; as a most necessarie waie and meane for it, the better to take some place in vs; and not to be frustrate of it end and purpose. Yea, to doo that which his holie Apo∣stles also afterward, togither with the godlie fathers in the primitiue Church both vsed, practised, authori∣sed, and confirmed; according as it was deliuered and giuen by the first author thereof onelie: that is to saie, euen openlie and publikelie to celebrate, in the Lords most happie commemoration and remembrance, at this his holie table, the heauenlie memorie of that most maruellous worke, and deere bought benefit of our redemption and saluation, wrought by Christ Ie∣sus, to our endlesse consolation, profit, commoditie and eternall saluation, in his (with all reuerence named) most pretious death, painfull crosse, & bloudie passion.
And wite thou well, O my soule; that like as Mo∣ses, Aaron, and Phinees long since did somtimes eate Manna in the wildernesse, then spirituallie vnder∣standing those visible things: euen so now, we in like maner spirituallie vnderstanding these holie myste∣ries, (for it is the spirit that quickeneth and giueth life, the flesh profiteth vs nothing, as saith our Saui∣our) must here also spirituallie hunger, spirituallie taste, spirituallie eate the flesh of Christ, and spiritual∣lie drinke his bloud indeed, in these holie mysteries, by faith onlie, and assured constant beleefe; that the bles∣sed bodie of Christ was crucified, and his pretious bloud shed vpon the Crosse for our saluation. And so receiue this the Lords supper, euen for a token, badge, or cognizance of this faith and saluation in Christs merits; declaring therby euermore his death and pas∣sion, with thanks-giuing, vntill he come.
Neither must we now so much as once dreame of Page 572 anie grosse or carnall eating, or fleshlie feeding; or thinke that we are come at this present to feed our sen∣ses and bellie to corruption, (for that were baselie to abiect and bind our selues to the elements and crea∣tures, and so to declare our selues drowned in deed in the dirtie lake of blindnesse and ignorance:) but onlie and in truth to nourish and feed our inward man to immortalitie, and life euerlasting: namelie, that as our outward man is nourished by letting in this bodi∣lie meat into the stomach, that is helthsome and sound to be digested; so our inward man may be spirituallie fed and satisfied, by receiuing the meate thereof into our soule and hart, sound and whole in faith. And ther∣fore we shall not need now at this present time, in doo∣ing these things, to whet our teeth, O my soule; but (as S. Cyprian saith) with sincere faith to breake and diuide this holie bread. For surelie, without faith, (which indeed is the onelie instrument most necessarie, in the right vse of all these holie mysteries) it is impos∣sible to please God heerein; neither can the vnbelee∣uers and faithlesse folke feed vpon the Lords pretious bodie, nor enioie the eating and drinking of this so high and diuine nourishment of spirituall food. Yea, to haue anie other eating, than spirituallie by faith one∣lie, is plaine idolatrie. It behoueth vs therfore, O my soule, diligentlie to ponder, weigh and consider of these things: that now at the last we may, not onelie vnfei∣nedlie and thoroughlie trie, prooue, and examine our selues, our owne consciences and liues: but also hum∣blie acknowledging our faults vnto God, hartilie re∣penting our former sinfull life, asking mercie of GOD the Father for Christs sake, and gladlie forgiuing all our offenders, effectuallie and carefullie there withall plucke vp, euen the verie roots of heathenish infideli∣tie, and all distrust in Gods mercifull promises, to the end we may thereby, in verie deed, shew our selues liue∣lie Page 573 plants of the fruitfull oliue, liuing branches of the true vine, and woorthie members of Christs mysticall bodie; euen such as haue our life, our abiding, our vni∣on, and as it were our incorporation with him.
Finallie, O my soule; we must not now, like chatte∣ring Iaies, so much regard or consider these earthlie elements, and terrene creatures, which we see with our corporall eie, and still remaine so: but especiallie and in deed haue respect to the heauenlie graces and benefits, which our faith beholdeth in and by them. Neither must we by anie meanes cleaue to these infe∣riour or base things, which lie here beneath, and are visiblie discerned: but leauing them altogether, wee must rather resemble and plaie the parts of the E∣gles, who flie & mount vp thither, where the dead bo∣die lieth; that is, giuing credit to the words of Christ, who saith: The words that I speake are spirit and life. And againe; remembering that God willeth such as will be true worshippers of him, to worship him in spi∣rit and truth, we must now so behold the bread and wine with our naturall eies, that we may neuerthe∣lesse especiallie lift vp the eies of our mind to heauen, and looke vp by faith vpon the holie bodie and bloud of our Lord and Sauiour Iesus Christ, God and man, as he is there sitting at the right hand of God his Fa∣ther, in equall glorie, power, and maiestie: alwaies see∣king it there, where the sunne of righteousnesse euer∣more shineth; continuallie holding fast, and still clea∣uing by faith onlie to the rocke, whence we may sucke in deed the sweetnes of euerlasting saluatin. So shall we, O my soule, now repenting hartilie our former fowle life, being in perfect loue and charitie with all men, maruelling with reuerence and feare at these sa∣cred things; now touching these holie and fearfull my∣steries with our mind, receiuing them with the hand of our hart, and taking them fullie with our inward Page 572〈1 page duplicate〉Page 573〈1 page duplicate〉Page 574 man by faith onelie, be sure at this holie table euen now presentlie to receiue; not onlie the outward Sa∣crament; but the spirituall thing also; not the figure, but the truth; not the shadowe, but the bodie: and that not to death, but to life; not to our destruction, but to our saluation: which God, euen our owne God, for his mercies sake grant vs now effectuallie to doo, through the onelie merits of our Lord and Sauiour Jesus Christ: to whom be all honour, glorie, dominion, pow∣er and praise, for euer and euer,