Meditations on the holy sacrament of the Lords last Supper Written many yeares since by Edvvard Reynolds then fellow of Merton College in Oxford.
Reynolds, Edward, 1599-1676.

CHAP. XI.

Of other Reasons why the Sacrament is eaten and drunken, and of the manner of our union and incorporation into Christ.

FIfthly, wee eat and drinke the Sacrament of Christ crucified, to signifie that reall and neere incorporation of the faithfull in∣to Christ their head; for the end of eating is the assimulation of our nourish∣ment and the turning of it into our owne na∣ture and substance, whatsoever cannot bee assimulated is ejected: and thus is it between us and Christ; whence it commeth that wee so often read of thec Inhabitation of Christ in his Church, of his more peculiar presencedPage  61 with and in his people, of our spirituallc in∣grasture into him by faith, of those more neere and approaching relations of Bro∣therhood d, and coinheritancee between Christ and us, that mutuall interest, fellow∣ship, and society which wee have each to other, with infinite other expressions of that divine and expresselesse mixture whereby the faithfull are not only by a consociation of affectionsf and confederacy of wills, but by a reall though mysticall union ingrafted, knit, and as it were joynted unto Christ by the sinew of faith, and so made heires of all that glory and good which in his person was pur∣chased for his members, and is from him dif∣fus'd on them as on the parts and portions of himselfe. So that it pleaseth Gods spirit (as someg do observe) so farre sometimes to ex∣presse this union betwixt Christ and his Church, as to call the Church it selfe by the name of Christ, and every where almost to in∣teresth himselfe in the injuries and suffrings of his Church, yeai to esteeme him self incom∣pleat and maimed without it. And here this mysticall unity between Christ & his Church being by eating and drinking so expressely sig∣nified, and in the Sacrament so gratiously ob∣signated unto us, it will not be impertinent to enlarge somewhat on so divine a point: wher∣soever any thing hath so inward a relation and dependancy on something else, as that it Page  62 subsisteth not, nor can retaine that integri∣ty of being which is due unto it, without that whereon it dependeth, there is necessarily re∣quir'd some manner of union between those two things by meanes whereof the one may derive unto the other, that influence and ver∣tue whereby it is preserved: for broken, dis∣continued and ununited parts receive no suc∣cour from those from which they are divided. (All manner of activity requiring a contract, and immediatnesse between the Agent and the subject) and this one proofe of that omni∣presence and immensity which we attribute unto God, whereby he fillethb all creatures, bestowing on them all that generall influence and assistance of his Providence whereby they livec and move and have their being.

But besides this universall presence of God wherwith he doth equally fill all things by his essence, which were from eternity wrapped up in his power and wisedome; there is a more speciall presence and union of his unto the creature; according as he doth in any of them exhibit more expresse Characters of his glorious Attributes: In which sense he is said to be ind Heaven, because hee doth there more especially manifest his power, wise∣dome, and majesty; ine the soft and still voice because there his lenity was more conspicu∣ous, in the burning bushf and in the light cloud, because in them his mercy was more Page  93 express'd, in the mount Sinah*, because there hisherrour was especially declared. Ac∣cording unto which different diffusions of himselfe on the Creature and dispensation of his Attributes, God (without any impeach∣ment of his Immensity) may be said to be ab∣sent, to depart, and to turne away from his Creature, as the words are every where in the Scriptures used. Thus is God united to the creature in generall, by the right of a Cre∣ator, upholdingi all things by his mighty word, without the participation whereof they could not but be annihilated and resol∣ved into their first nothing: but besides, there is a more distinct and nobler kind of union unto his more excellent Creature, man? for as there are some things which partake only of the vertue and efficacy, others which par∣take of the Image and nature of the Sunne; as the bowels of the earth recceive only the vertue, heat and influence, but the beame re∣ceives the very Image and forme of it, light: so in the creatures, some partake of God only as an Agent, as depending on his eternall pow∣er from whence they did originally issue, and by which they doe now still subsist, and so receive only some common Impressions and foot prints of divine vertue, whereby they declarek his glory, others partake of the Imagel of God, of the divinem nature as Saint Peter speaks, and receive from him those two Page  64 speciall properties wherein principally con∣sists the Image of God, holinesse and happinesse, that giving perfection to our working, and this to our being, (which two satisfie the whole compasse of a created desire) and so declare his love; some acknowledge God as their maker, others as their Father, in them is dependance and gubernation only, in these is cognition and inheritance. The bond of this more speciall union of the reasonable creature unto God, was originally the Law of mans creation, which did prescribe unto him the forme, and limits of his working, and subordination unto God, which knot he by his voluntary aversation violating and unty∣ing, there did immediately ensue a dis-union between God and man, so saies the Pro∣phet, your sinnesuhave separated between you and your God. Now as the parts of a body so long as they are by the naturall bonds of joynts and sinewes united to the whole, doe receive from the fountaines of life, the heart and the braine, all comfortable supplies for life and motion, which are due unto them; but being once dissolved and broken off, there then ceaseth all the interest which they had in the principall parts: so as long as man by obedience to the Law, did preserve the union between God and him intire, so long had he an evident participation of all those graces spirituall, which were requisite to the Page  65 holinesse and happinesse of so noble a crea∣ture: but having once transgress'd the Law, and by that meanes broken the knot, he is no more posses'd of that sweet illapse and in∣fluence of the spirit, which quickneth the Church unto eternall life; but haveing united himselfe unto another head, and sub∣jected his parts unto another Prince, even the Princex that ruleth in the children of disobedience, hee is utterly destitute of all di∣vine communion an alieny from the common∣wealth, and by consequence from all the pri∣viledges of Israel, a stranger from the cove∣nant of promise, unacquainted with, yee un∣able to conceive aright of spirituall things, quite shutz out from the Kingdome, yea with∣out God in the world. And thus farre wee have considered the severall unions, which are between the creatures either in generall as creatures, or in particular as reasonable, and God consider'd in the relation of a Crea∣tor, which will give great light to understand both the manner and dignity of this mysticall and evangelicall union betwixt the Church and Christ consider'd under the relation of a Redeemer, by whom we have re-uniona and accesse to the Father; in whom only he hath acceptedb us againe, and given unto us the adoption of children. Now as in the union of God to the creatures, we have before ob∣served the differences of it, that it was either Page  66 generall unto all, or speciall unto some, in which he did either more expressely manifest his glory, or more gratiously imprint his Image: so also in the union of Christ unto us, we may observe something generall whereby he is united to the whole mankind, and some∣thing speciall whereby he is united unto his Church, and that after a double manner; ei∣ther common unto the whole visible assem∣blie of the Christians, or peculiar and pro∣per unto that invisible company who are the immediate members of his misticall body.

First, thenc all man kind may be said to be in Christ, in as much as in the mistery of his incarnation hee tooke on him the selfe same nature, which maketh us to be men, and wher∣by hee is as properly man as any of us,d sub∣ject to the same infermities, liable and naked to the same dangers & temptations, moved by the same Passion, obedient to the same lawes with us, with this only difference, that all this was in him sinlesse and voluntary, in us sinfull and necessary.

Secondly, besides this, there is a farther uni∣on of Christ unto all the Professors of his truth in knowledge and explicite faith, which is by a farther operation infusing into them the light of truth, and some generall graces that which make them serviceable for his Church; even as the root of a tree, will some∣times so farre enliven the branches as shall Page  67 suffice unto the bringing forth of leaves, though it supply not juyce enough for solid fruit: for whatsoever graces the outwad professors of Christianity do receive, they have it all derived on them from Christ; who is the dispencer of his Fathers bounty, and who inlightneth every man that commeth in∣to the World.

Thirdly, there is a more speciall and neere union of Christ to the faithfull, set forth by the resemblances of buildingc, ingrastured, memberse, marriagef, and other the like si∣militudesg in the Scriptures, whereby Christ is made unto us the Originall, and well-spring of all spirituallh life and motion, of all ful∣nesse iand fructificationk. Even as in naturall generation, the soule is no sooner infus'd and united but presently there is sense and vege∣tation derived on the body: so in spirituall new birth, as soone as Christ is formedl in us as the Apostle speakes, then presently are we quicknedm by him, and all the operations of a spirituall life, sense of sin, vegetation, and growth in faith, understanding and know∣ledge of the mysterie of godlinesse, taste and relish of eternall life, begin to shew them∣selves in us. Wen are in Christ by grace, even as by nature we were in Adam. Nowo as from Adam there is a perpetuall transfusion of Ori∣ginall sin on all his posterity, because we were all then not only represented by his person, Page  68 but contained in his loynes; so from Christ, who on the Crosse did represent the Church of God, ande in whom we are, is there by a most speciall influence transfus'd on the Church, some measuref of those graces, those vitall motions, that incorruption, purity, and holinesse, which was given to him without measure; that he alone might be the Authorg and Originall of eternall salvation, the conse∣crated Princeh of glory to the Church: from which consecration of Christ, and sanctificati∣on of the Church, the Apostle inferres a uni∣on betweene Christ and the Church; for he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are of one. And all this, both union or associati∣on with Christ, and communion in those hea∣venly graces which by spirituall influence from him are shed forth upon all his mem∣bers, is brought to passe by this meanes origi∣nally, becausei Christ and we do both par∣take of one and the selfe-same spirit, which spirit conveighs to the faithfull, whatsoever in Christ is communicable unto them. For as the members naturall of man are all conserv'd in the integrity and unity of one body, by that reasonable soule which animates, enlivens, and actuates them, by one simple and undivi∣ded information, without which they would presently fall asunder and moulder into dust: even so the members of Christ are all firmely united unto him, and from him receive all vi∣tall Page  69 motions, by meanes of that common Spi∣rit, which in Christ above measure, in us ac∣cording unto the dispensation of Gods good will, worketh one and the selfe-same life and grace; so that by it, we are all as really com∣pacted into one mysticall body, as if we had all but one common soule. And this is that which we beleeve touching ourafellowship with the Sonne, as S. Iohn cals it; the cleere and ampleb apprehension whereof is left un∣to that place where both our union and like∣nesse to him, and our knowledge of him shall be made perfect.

Sixtly, we eat and drink the Sacrament of Christs Passion, that thereby we may expresse that more closse and sensible pleasure which the faithfull enjoy in receiving of him. For there is not any one sense whose pleasure is more constant and expresse, than this of Ta∣sting: the reasons whereof are manifest. For first it followes by the consequence of oppo∣sites, that that faculty when fully satisfied, must needs be sensible of the greatest plea∣sure whose penury & defect brings the extrea∣mest anguish on nature. For the evill of any thing being nothing else but an obliquity and aberration from that proper good to which it is oppos'd. It must needs follow, that the greater the extent and degrees of an evill are, the more large must the measure of that good be in the distance from which that evill con∣sisteth. Page  70 Now it is manifest that the evill of no senses is so oppressive and terrible unto na∣ture, as are those which violate the taste and touch (which later is ever annexed to the for∣mer;) no ugly spectacles for the eyes, no howles or shrikings for the eare, no stench or infection of aire for the smell, so distastefull, through all which the anguish of a famine would not make a man adventure to purchase any food, though affected even witha noisome qualities. Secondly, the pleasure which na∣ture takes in any good thing, is caused by the union thereof to the faculty, by meanes whereof it is enjoyed; so that the greater the union is, the more necessarily is the pleasure of the thing united. Now there is not any fa∣culty whose object is more closely united un∣to it than this of Tasting: in Seeing, or Hea∣ring, or Smelling, there may be a farre di∣stance betweene us and the things that do so affect us, but no tasting without an immediate application of the object to the faculty. Other objects satisfie though without me, but meats never content nor benefit till they be taken in. Even so is it with Christ and the faithfull: many things there are which affect them with pleasure, but they are without, and at a di∣stance; onely Christ it is, who by being and dwellingb in them, deligheth them. Lastly, we eat and drink the Sacrament of Christ cru∣cified, that therein we may learne to admire Page  71 the wisdome of Gods mercy, who by the same manner of actions doth restore us to life, by which we fell from it. Satan and Death did first assault our eare, and then tooke pos∣session of us by the mouth; Christ and faith chose no other gates to make a re-entry and dispossesse them. Thus as* skilfull Physitians doe often cure a body by the same meanes which did first distemper it, quench heats with heat, and stop one flux of blood by ope∣ning another: so Christ that he may quell Sa∣tan at his owne weapons, doth by the same in∣struments and actions, restore us unto our primitive estate by which he had hurried us downe from it. That those mouthes which were at first open to let in death, may now much more be open, not only to receive, but to praise him, who is made unto us the Author and Prince of life.