Of the fourth Action, with the reasons why the Sacrament is to be eaten and drunken.
THe fourth and last Action made mention of in this Sacrament, is the eating of the bread, and the drinking of the wine, after wee have taken them from the hands of Christ: to signifie unto us, that Christ crucified is the life and food of a Christian that receiveth him. Here are the degrees of faith: first we take Christ, and then we eat him. There are none that finde any nourishment or relish in the blood of Christ, but those who have received him, and so have an interest, propriety, and title to him. He must first be ours, before we can taste any sweetnesse in him; ours first in possession and claime, and after ours in fruition and comfort. For all manner of sweetnesse is a consequent and effect of some propriety which we have unto the good thing which causeth it; unto the which the neerer our in∣terest is, the greater is the sweetnesse that we finde in it. In naturall things we may observe, how nothing will be kindly nourished in any other place or meanes, than those unto which nature hath given it a primitive right and sym∣thy. Page 54 Fishes perish in the aire, and Spice-trees dye and wither in these colder Countries, be∣cause Nature had denyed them any claime or propriety unto such places.* We are all bran∣ches, and Christ is a Vine: now no branch re∣ceiveth juyce or nourishment, unlesse first it be inserted into the stock. If we are not first ingrafted into Christ, and so receive the right of branches, we cannot expect any nourish∣ment from him.* As the name which was written in that white Stone, was knowne unto him only that had it, so in these mysteries which have the impresse and character of Christs Passion on them; Christ is knowne and enjoyed onely by those, who first take him, and so have a hold and right unto him. But why is it that Christ in this Sacrament should be eaten and drunken? Cannot the benefit of his Passion be as well conveighed by the eye as by the mouth? It was the joya of Abraham that he saw Christs day, the com∣fortb of Simeon that hee had seene Gods sal∣vation, the supportc of Stephen that hee saw Christ in his kingdome, the faithd of Thomas that he saw his resurrection; and why is it not enough that wee see the passion of Christ in this Sacrament, wherein he is crucifiede be∣fore our eyes? Certainlyf if wee looke into the Scriptures wee shall find nothing more common, than the Analogie and resemblance betwixt spirituall grace and naturall food. Page 55 Hence it is that we so often read ofg Manna from Heaven, Water from the Rock, Trees in Paradise, Applesi and Flagons for Christs Spouse, Wisdomes feastk, and the marriage feastl of hungringm and thirsting, and sucking of marrow and fatnesse, and Milken, and Ho∣ney, and infinite the like expressions of divine grace: the reasons whereof are many and im∣portant. First, to signifie the benefit we re∣ceive by Christ crucified, exhibited unto us in his last Supper, by thato Analogie and simi∣litude which is betwixt him and those things we eat and drink. Now meates are all either Physicall, common, or costly, either for the re∣storing, or for the supporting, or for the de∣lighting of nature; and they have all some of those excellent properties of goodp which Aristotle hath observed, either to conserve nature entire, or to restore it when it hath beene violated, or to prevent diseases ere they creep upon it. And all these benefits do the faithfull receive by Christ. First, his body and blood is an Antidote against all infections of sin, or feare of death. When he said, Feareq not, it is I. It was an argument of comfort which no temptation could repell. Secondly, it hath a purging and purifying property. Ther blood of Christ clenseth us from all sinne. Thirdly, it hath a quickning, preserving, and strengthning power. Christs is our life, and ourt life is hid with Christu, and Christ liveth Page 56 in us, and he hath quicknedw us together with Christ, and we area able to do all things through Christ that strengtheneth us. And lastly, it hath a joying and delighting proper∣ty, I rejoyceb in nothing but in the Crosse of Christ: I countc all things dung that I may winne Christ, and I protestd by our rejoycing which we have in Christ. Whether we want Physick to cure us, or strong meats to nou∣rish us, or sweet meats to delight us, Christ is unto us all in all, our health, our strength, our joy.
Secondly, the Sacrament is eaten and drunken, to signifie the necessity we stand in of Christ crucified: many things there are usuall in the life of man both for delight and profit; beautifull and pleasant objects for the eye; melody and harmony for the eare; oint∣ments and odours for the smell; curiosities and luxuriancies of invention for the fancie: but there is no faculty of nature that doth so immediately concurre to the support and pre∣servation of the whole man, as the sense of Tasting, which is, as it were the Sluce & in-let to life; without which we have not so much as a capacity of that delight, which other objects of an inferiour and subordinate nature can af∣ford: even so many things theree are where∣in the children of God may and ought to take pleasure and solace, even as many as we ac∣knowledge from God for blessing; but there Page 57 is nothing in the world which is the object and principle of our life, but only Christ: no quality in man, which is the Instrument and Organ of our life, but onely a lively and ope∣rative faith, by which only we tastef how gra∣cious the Lord is. The justg shall live by faith; and I liveh by the faith of the Son of God: and wherei the body is, thither do the Eagles flye, that they may eat and live.
Thirdly, the Sacrament is eaten and drun∣ken to shew unto us the greedy desire which is and ought to be in the hearts of Beleevers towards Christ crucified. There is no one faculty in man will so much put to its utmost for procuring satisfaction, as this of Tasting if once brought into anguish or straits. Because as Deathk in the generall is most terrible, so much more that lingringl death which con∣sumes with famine; and therefore no power of nature more importunate and clamorous for satisfaction; no motive stronger to worke a love, and attempt a conquest on any nation, than an experience of such excellent com∣modities as may from thence be obtained for the releeving of this one faculty. And there∣fore Almighty God when he would provoke the people to forsake Egypt, and comfort them with the newes of a better Countrey, describes it by the plenty that it brought forth; Im will bring you to a Land which floweth with Milke and Honey. And when Page 58 the people murmured against God in the Wildernesse, all that hatred of Egypt which the tyranny of the Land had wrought in them, all the toyle and servitude that was redoubled on them, was wholly swallowed up by the one consideration of flesh-potsb and Onions which they there enjoyed. Andc when by Gods appointment Spies were sent into Ca∣naan, to enquire of the goodnesse of the Land, their Commission was to bring of the fruit of the Land unto the people, that thereby they might be encouraged unto a desire of it. And we finde how the Roman Emperours did strictly prohibit the transportation of Wine, or Oile, or other pleasant commodities unto barbarous Nations, left they might prove ra∣ther temptations to some mischievous de∣signe, than matters of mutuall intercourse and trafique. No marvell then if the Sacrament of Christ crucified, who was to be the Desireeof all Nations, the desire of whom was not on∣ly to transcend and surpasse, but even (after a sort) to nullifief all other desires, be received with that faculty which is the seat of the most eager and importunate desire.
Fourthly, we eat and drink the Sacrament, to intimate unto us the conformity of the faithfull unto Christ. As in all the appeties and propensions of naturall things we finde an innate amity, betwixt the natures that doe so incline towards, or imbrace one another, so Page 59 principally in this maine appetite unto food, is there ever found a proportion betweene nature and its nourishment: insomuch, that younga Infants are nourished with that very matter of which their substance consisteth. Whatsoever hath repugnant qualities unto nature, she is altogether impatient of it, and is never quieted till one way or other she dis∣burthen her selfe. And thus is it, and ought to be betwixt Christ and the faithfull; there is a conspiracyb of affections, motions, passi∣ons, desires, a conformity of being in holi∣nesse, as well as in nature, a similitude, parti∣cipation, and communion with Christ in his death, sufferings, glory. All other things in the world are very unsuitable to the desires of faith, nor are able to satiate a soule which hath tasted Christ, because we finde some∣thing in them of a different, yea, repugnant nature, unto that pretious faith by him infus'd:* no man having tasted old Wine desireth new, for he saith the old is better: and therefore howsoever the wicked may drinke iniquity like water, and rolec it under their tongue as a sweet thing; yet the children of God, who have beene sensible of that venimous quality which lurketh in it, and have tasted of that bread which came downe from Heaven, ne∣ver dthirst any more after the deceitfull plea∣sures, the stolnee waters of sinne; but no soo∣ner have they unadvisedly tasted of it, but pre∣sently Page 60 they feele a warre in their bowels, a strugling and rebellion betweene that faith by which they live, and that poyson which would smother and extinguish it, which by the effi∣cacy of faith, whereby wea overcome the world, is cast out and vomited up in an hum∣ble confession, and so the faithfull do re-gaine their fellowship with Christ, who as he was by his m•rits our Saviour unto remission of sins,b so is he by his holinesse our example, and by his Spirit our head, unto newnesse of life.