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.
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Of the two first ends or effects of the Sacrament, namely the exhibition of Christ to the Church, and the union of the Church to Christ. Of the reall Presence.

HAving thus farre spoken of the na∣ture and quality of this holy Sa∣crament, it followes in Order to treate of the Ends or Effects thereof, on which depends its necessity, and our comfort: our Sacraments are nothing else but Euangelicall Types or shadowes of some more perfect substance; for as the Legall Sa∣crifices were thea shadowes of Christ expe∣cted, and wrapped up in a Cloude of Pre∣dicting, and in the loines of his Predecessors: so this new mysticall Sacrifice of the Gospell is a shadow of Christ risen indeed, but yet hid from us under the Cloud of those Heavens which shall containe him untill the dissolution of all things; for the whole heavens are but as one great cloud which intercept the lustre of that Sunne of Righteousnesse who enligh∣teneth every one that commeth into the world: now shadowes are for the refreshing of us a∣gainst the lustre of any light unto which the weaknesse of the sense is yet disproportioned: as there are many things for their owne smal∣nesse Page  82 imperceptible, so some for their magni∣tude doe exceed the power of sense, and have a transcendency in them which surpasseth the comprehension of that faculty unto which they properly belong. No man can in one simple view looke upon the whole vaste frame of Heaven, because he cannot at the same mo∣ment receive the species of so spreading and diffused an Object, so is it in things Divine, some of them are so above the reach of our imperfect faculties, as that they swallow up the understanding, and make not any immedi∣ate impression on the Soule, betweene which and their excellency there is no great dispro∣portion. Nowadisproportion useth in all things to arise from a double Cause; the one naturall, being the limited Constitution of the faculty whereby even in its best sufficiency, it is disa∣bled for the perception of too excellent an Object, as are the eyes of an Owle in respect of the Sunne.

The other Accidentall, namely by some violation and distemper of the faculty even within the compasse of its owne strength; as in sorenesse of eyes in regard of light, or lamenesse in regard of motion.b Great cer∣tainly was the mystery of mans Redemption, which poted and dazled the eyes of the An∣gels themselves: so that betweene Christ and man there are both these former Disproportions observable.

Page  83 For first of all, man while he is on the earth, a Traveller towards that Glory which yet he never saw, and which the tongue ofc Saint Paul himselfe could not utter is altogether e∣ven in his highest pitch of Perfection unquali∣fied to comprehend the excellent mystery of Christ either crucified, or much more, glori∣fied: and therefore our manner of assenting in this life, though in regard of the authority on which it is grounded (which is Gods owne Word) it be most evident and infallible, yet in its owne quality it is not so immediate, and expresse as is that which is elsewhere reserved for us;d for hereafter we shall know even as we are knowne, by a knowledge of Vision, fruiti∣on and possession, heere darkly, by stooping and captivating our understandings unto those divine Reports which are made in Scripture, which is a knowledge of Faith, distance and expectation; wee doe I say, heere bend our understandings to assent unto such truths as doe not transmit any immediate species or irradiation of their owne upon them, but there our understandings shall be raised unto a grea∣ter capacity, and bee made able without a se∣condary report and conveyance to apprehend clearely those glorious Truths, the evidence whereof it did heere submit unto, for the in∣fallible credit of God, who in his Word had revealed, and by his Spirit obsignated the same unto them; as theaSamaritans knew Page  84Christ at first, onely by the report of the Wo∣man, which was an assent of Faith, but after when they saw his Wonders, and heard his Words, they knew him by himselfe, which was an assent of vision.

Secondly, as the Church is heere but a tra∣velling Church, therfore cannot possibly have any farther knowledge of that Countrey whi∣ther it goes but onely by the Mappes which describe it, the Word of God, and theseb few fruites which are sent unto them from it, the cfruits of the Spirit, whereby they have some taste and relish of the World to come: so moreover is it even in this estate, by being enclosed in a body of sinne, (which hath a darkning property in it, and addes unto the na∣turall limitednesse of the understanding, an accidentall defect and sorenesse) much disabled from this very imperfect assent unto Christ the Object of its Faith: for as sinne when it wastes the Conscience and beares Rule in the Soule, hath a power like Dalila and the Phili∣stines, to put out our eyes, (asdVlysses the eye of his Cyclops with his sweet wine) a power to e corrupt Principles, tof pervert and make crooked the very Rule by which we worke; conveying all morall truths to the Soule, as some concave glasses use to represent the spe∣cies of things to the eye, not according to their naturall rectitude or beauty, but with those wrestings, inversions, and deformities Page  85 which by the indisposition thereof they are framed unto; so even the least corruptions unto which the best are subject, (having a na∣turall antipathy to the evidence and power of divine Truth) doe necessarily in some manner distemper our understandings, and make such a degree of sorenesse in the faculty as that it cannot but so farre forth bee impatient and unable to beare that glorious lustre which shines immediately in the Lord Christ. So then we see what a great disproportion there is be∣tweene us and Christ immediately presented; and from thence wee may observe our necessi∣ty, and Gods mercy in affoording us the re∣freshment of a Type and Shadow.

These Shadowes were to the Church of the Iewes many, because their weaknesse in the knowledge of Christ was of necessity more than ours, in as much as they were but ana in∣fant, wee an adult and growne Church, and they looked on Christ at a distance, wee neare at hand, hee being already incarnate; unto us they are the Sacraments of his Body and Bloud in the which wee see and receive Christ as weake eies doe the light of the Sunne, through some darke Cloud, or thicke Grove: so then one maine and principall end of this Sacra∣ment is to bee an instrument fitted unto the measure of our present estate for the exhibiti∣on or conveyance of Christ with the benefits of his Passion unto the faithfull Soule, an end Page  86 not proper to this mystery alone, but com∣mon to it with all those Legall Sacraments which were the more thicke shadowes of the Jewish Church: forb even they in the red Sea did passe through Christ who was their Way, in thec Manna and Rocke did eate and drinke Christ who was their Life, in the Bra∣sen Serpent did behold Christ who was their Saviour, in their daily Sacrifices did prefigure Christ who was their Truth, in their Passeo∣ver did eate Christ by whose Bloud they were sprinkled; for howsoever betweene the Legall and Euangelicall Covenant there may be sundry dCircumstantiall differences: as first in the man∣ner of their Evidence, that being obscure, this perspicuous, to them aePromise onely, to us a fGospell. Secondly, in their extent and compasse, that being confined togIudea this universall to allh Creatures. Thirdly, in the meanes of Ministration, that by Priests and Prophets, this by thei Sonne himselfe, and those dele∣gates who were by him enabled and authori∣sed by a solemne Commission and by many excellent endowments for the same service.

Lastly, in the quality of its durance, that being mutable andb abrogated, this toc con∣tinue untill the consummation of all things; yet notwithstanding in substance they agree, and though by sundry wayes doe all at last meet in one and the same Christ, who like the heart in the middest of the body, comming Page  87 himselfe in person betweene the Legall and Evangelicall Church doth equally convey life and motion to them both; even as that light which I see in a starre, and that which I re∣ceive by the immediate beame of the Sunne, doth originally issue from the same Fountaine, though conveyed with a different lustre, and by a severall meanes.

So then wee see the end of all Sacraments made after the second Covenant (for Sacra∣ments there were even in Paradise before the Fall) namely to exhibite Christ with those bene∣fits which hee bestoweth on his Church unto each beleeving Soule; but after a more espe∣ciall manner is Christ exhibited in the Lords Supper, because his pretence is there more no∣table; for as by Faith wee have the evidence, so by the Sacrament wee have the presence of things farthest distant and absent from us. A man that looketh on the light through a sha∣dow doth truely and really receive the selfe same light which would in the openest and clearest Sun-shine appeare unto him, though after a differentd manner; there shall wee see him, as Iob speakes, with these selfe same eyes, here with a spirituall eye after a mysticall man∣ner: so then in this Sacrament wee doe most willingly acknowledge a Reall, True, and Per∣fect Presence of Christ, not in, with, or under the Elements considered absolutely in themselves, but with that relative habitude and respect Page  88 which they have unto the immediate use where∣unto they are consecrated; nor yet so doe wee acknowledge any such carnall transele∣mentation of the materials in this Sacrament; as if the Body or Bloud of Christ were by the vertue of Consecration, and by way of a locall substitution in the place of the Bread and Wine in, but are truly and really by them, though in nature different, conveyed into the Soules of those who by Faith receive Him. And therefore Christ first said, Take, Eate, and then, This is my Body; to intimate unto us (asa learned Hooker observeth) that the Sa∣crament, however by Consecration it be chan∣ged fromb common unto holy Bread, and se∣parated from common unto a divine use, is yet never properly to bee called the Body of Christ till Taken and Eaten, by meanes of which Actions (if they bee Actions of Faith) that holy Bread and Wine doe as really con∣vey whole Christ, with the vitall influences that proceed from him unto the Soule, as the hand doth them unto the mouth, or the mouth unto the stomacke. Otherwise if Christ were really and corporally present with the conse∣crated Elements severed from the act of faith∣full Receiving, the wicked should as easily re∣ceive him with theirc teeth, as the faithfull in their Soule, which to affirme is both absurd and impious.

Now Christs Presence in this holy Sacra∣ment Page  89 being a thing of so important consequence and the consideration thereof being very pro∣per to this first end of the Sacrament, the ex∣hibiting of Christ (for to exhibite a thing is nothing else but to present it, or to make it present unto the party to whom it is exhibited) It will not be impertinent to make some short digression for setting downe the manner, and clearing the trueth of Christs Reall Presence, the understanding whereof will depend upon the distinguishing of the severall manners in which Christ may bee said to bee present. First then, Christ being an infinite Person hath in the vertue of his Godhead an infinite and unlimited Presence, whereby hee so filleth all places as that hee is not contained or circum∣scribed in them, which immensity of his ma∣king him intimately present with all the Crea∣tures is that whereby they are quickened, sup∣ported and conserved by him; for by him all things consist, and hee upholdeth them all by the Word of his power, and in him they live and move and have their being. But this is not that Presence which in the Sacrament wee affirme, because that presupposeth a Presence of Christ in and according to that nature where∣in he was the Redeemer of the World, which was his humane nature. Yet in as much as this his humane nature subsisteth not but in and with the infinitenesse of the second Person; there is therefore (in the second place) by the Page  90Lutherans framed another imaginary Presence of Christs humane Body, (after once the Di∣vinity was pleased to derive glory in fulnesse on it) which giveth it a participated ubiquity unto it too, by meanes whereof Christ is cor∣porally in or under the Sacrament all Elements. But this opinion as it is no way agreeable with the truth of the humane nature of Christ, so is it greatly injurious to his Divinity: for first, though Christs humane nature was in regard of its Production extraordinary, and in regard of the sacred union which it had with the Divi∣nity admirable, and in regard of communica∣tion of glory from the Godhead, and of the unction of the Holy Ghost farre above all o∣ther names that are named in heaven or earth, yet in its nature did it ever retaine the essenti∣all and primiive properties of a created sub∣stance, which is to bee in all manner of perfe∣ctions finite, and so by consequence in place too, for glory destroies not nature, but exalts it, nor exalts it to any farther degrees of Perfecti∣on than are compatible to the finitenesse of a Creature, who is like unto us in regard of all naturall and essentiall properties▪ but these men give unto Christs Body farre more than his owne divine nature doth, for hee glorifies it onely to bee the Head, that is, the most ex∣cellent and first-borne of every Creature, but they glorifie it so farre as to make it share in the essentiall properties of the divine nature; Page  91 for as that substance unto whom the intrinsecall, unseparated, and essentiall properties of a man belong, is a man necessarily (man being nothing else but a substance so qualified) so that being unto which the divine attributes doe belong in that degree of infinitenesse as they doe to the divine Person it selfe must needs bee God; and immensity wee know is a proper attribute of the Divinity, implying infinitenesse, which is Gods owne Preroga∣tive; neither can the distinction of ubiquity communicated, and originall or essentiall salve the consequence: for God is by himselfe so differenced from all the Creatures, as that it is not possible any attribute of his should bee participated by any Creature in that manner of infinitenesse as it is in him; nay it implies an inevitable contradiction that in a finite nature there should bee roome enough for an infinite attribute. We confesse that in as much as the humane nature in Christ is inseparably taken into the subsistence of the omnipresent Sonne of God; It is therefore a truth to say, That the Sonne of God, though filling all places, is not yet in any of them separated or asunder from the humane nature, may by the vertue of the communication of the properties; it is true likewise to say that the Man Christ is in all Places, though not in or according to his humane nature. But now from the union of the Manhood to the Godhead to argue a coexten∣tion Page  92 or joynt-presence therewith is an incon∣sequent argument, as may appeare in other things. The Soule hath a kinde of immensity in her little world, being in each part thereof whole and entire, and yet it followes not be∣cause the Soule is united to the Body, that therefore the Body must needs partake of this Omnipresence of the Soule, else should the whole body be in the little finger, because the Soule unto which it is united is wholly there. Againe, there is an unseparable union betweene the Sunne and the beame, so that it is infallibly true to say, the Sunne is no where severed from the beame, yet wee know they both oc∣cupy a distinct place: againe, Misleoe is so united to the substance of the Tree out of which it groweth, that (though of a different nature) it subsisteth not but in and by the sub∣sistence of the Tree, and yet it hath not that amplitude of place which the Tree hath.

Letting goe then this opinion, there is a third Presence of Christ, which is a carnall Phy∣sicall, locall Presence, which wee affirme his humane nature to have onely in Heaven: The Papists attribute it to the Sacrament, because Christ hath said, This is my Body: and in matters of fundamentall consequence, hee u∣seth no figurative or darke speeches; to this wee say, that it is a carnall Doctrine, and a mi∣stake like that of Nicodemus, and of Origen, from the Spirit to the letter. And for the dif∣ficulty, Page  93 it is none to men that have more than onely a carnall eare to heare it: for what dif∣ficulty is it to say that then the King gives a man an Office when hee hath sealed him such a Paent in the right whereof that Office be∣longeth, and is conveyed unto him? And if Christ bee thus locally in the Sacrament, and eaten with the mouth, and so conveyed into the stomacke: I then demand what becomes of him when and after hee is thus received into the stomacke? If hee retire from the accidents out of a man, then first accidents shall be left without any substance at all under them to sustaine them, and which is (if any thing can bee) yet more absurd, bare accidents should nourish, bee assimulated and augment a substance; for it is plaine, that a man might bee nourished by the Bread; yea, the Priest by intemperate excesse made drunke with the consecrated Wine; unto which detestable effects wee cannot imagine that God by a more especiall concurrence and miracle would enable the bare accidents of Bread and Wine. But if Christ stay, and doe corporally unite himselfe to the Receiver; then I see not how all they that receive the Sacrament, being phy∣sically and substantially united to Christs Bo∣dy have not likewise a naturall union to his Person too, that being no where separated from this, which is blasphemous to affirme.

Secondly, how Christs Body may not bee Page  94 said to have a double subsistence, Infinite in the second Person, and Finite in all those with whom he is Incorporated.

Leaving then this as a fleshly conceit, wee come to a fourth Presence of Christ which is by Energy and power; thus where two or three bee gathered together in his Name,* Christ is in the middest of them by the powerfull wor∣king of his holy Spirit; even as the Sunne is present to the Earth, in as much as by its influ∣ence and benignity it heateth and quickeneth it. For all manner of operation is by some manner of Contact betweene the Agent and the Patient, which cannot bee without some manner of presence too; but the last manner of Presence is a Sacramentall Relative, mysticall Presence. Understand it thus, The King is in his Court or Presence-chamber onely locally, and physically; but representatively he is where∣soever his Chancellour or subordinate Judges are, in as much as whatsoever they in a Legall and judiciall course doe determine, is accomp∣ted by him as his owne personall act, as being an effect of that power, which though in them as the instruments, doth yet originally reside no where but in his owne Person; just so Christ is locally in Heaven, which must con∣taine him till the restitution of all things, yet having instituted these Elements for the sup∣ply as it were of his absence, hee is accompted present with them, in as much as they which Page  95 receive them with that reverend and faithfull affection as they would Christ himselfe doe together with them, receive him too, really and truly, though not carnally or physically, but after a mysticall and spirituall manner. A reall Presence of Christ wee acknowledge, but not a locall or physicall; for Presence reall (that being a metaphysicall terme) is not opposed unto a meere physicall or locall absence, or distance, but is opposed to a false imaginary, phanta∣sticke presence; for if reall presence may bee understood of nothing but a carnall and locall presence, then that speech of Christ, Where two or three bee gathered together in my Name, there am I in the middest of them; cannot have any reall Trueth in it, because Christ is not locally in the middest of them. This reall Presence being thus explained may bee thus proved, The maine end of the Sacra∣ment (as shall be shewed) is to unite the faith∣full unto Christ, to which union there must of necessity be a Presence of Christ by meanes of the Sacrament, which is the instrument of that union. Such then as the union is, such must needs bee the presence too: since Presence is therefore only necessary that by meanes there∣of that union may be effected. Now united unto Christ we are not carnally, or physically, as the meat is to the body, but after a mysticall manner, by joynts and sinewes, not fleshly but spirituall: even as the faithfull are united to each other in Page  96 one mysticall Body of Christ, into one holy aspirituall Building, into one fruitfull olive, into a holy, but mysticall marriage with Christ. Now what Presence fitter for a Spirituall union than a spirituall presence. Certainly, to confine Christ unto the narrow compasse of a piece of Bread, to squeeze and contract his Body into so strait a roome, and to grinde him betweene our teeth is to humble him (though now glo∣rified) lower than hee humbled himselfe, hee himselfe to the forme of a servant, but this to the condition of a monster. That Presence then of Christ which in the Sacrament wee acknowledge is not any grosse Presence of cir∣cumscription, as if Christ Jesus in Body lay hid under the accidents of Bread and Wine; as if hee who wasa wont to use the senses for wit∣nesse and proofe of his Presence,* did now hide from them,* yea deceive them under the ap∣pearances of that which hee is not; but it is a spirituall Presence, of energie, power, and concomi∣tancy with the Element, by which Christ doth appoint that by and with these mysteries, though not in or from them, his sacred Body should bee conveyed into the faithfull Soule: and such a Presence of Christ in power, though ab∣sence in flesh as it is most compatible with the properties of a humane Body, so doth it most make for the demonstration of his power, who bcan (without any necessity of a fleshly Pre∣sence) send as great influence from his sacred Page  97 Body on the Church, as if hee should descend visibly amongst us. Neither can any man shew any enforcing reason why unto the reall exhi∣bition and reception of Christ crucified there should any more physicall Presence of his bee required, than there is of the Sunne unto the eye for receiving his light, or of thed roote unto the utmost branches for receiving of vi∣tall sappe, or of thee head unto the feete for the receiving of sense, or of the land andf pur∣chase made over by ag sealed Deed for recei∣ving the Lordship; or lastly, (to use an in∣stance from the Jesuites owne Doctrine out of Aristotle) of a finall Cause in an actuall exi∣stence to effect its power and causality on the the will: for if theh finall Cause doe truely and really produce its effect, though it have not any materiall, grosse Presence, but onely an intellectuall Presence to the apprehension: why may not Christ (whosei sacred Body, however it bee not substantially coextended (as I may so speake) in regard of ubiquity with the Godhead, yet is in regard of its coopera∣tion, force, efficacy unlimited by any place or subject, it having neither spheare of activity, nor stint of merit, nor bounds of efficacy, nor necessary subject of application, beyond which the vertue of it growes faint and uneffectuall) why may not hee, I say, really unite himselfe unto his Church by a spirituall Presence to the faithfull Soule, without any such grosse and Page  98 carnall descent, or rehumiliation of his glori∣fied Body unto an ignoble and prodigious forme? So then to conclude this digression, and the first End of this Sacrament together; when Christ saith, This is my Body, wee are not otherwise to understand it than those o∣ther Sacramentall speeches of the same nature, aI am the Bread of Life, Christ was that rocke, and the like, it being a common thing not one∣ly inb holy Scriptures, but even inc prophane Writers also to call the instrumentall Elements by the name of that Covenant of which they are onely the Sacrifices, seales, and visible con∣firmations, because of that relation and neere resemblance that is betweene them.

The second End or Effect of this Sacrament which in order of Nature immediately follo∣weth the former is to obsignate, and to en∣crease the mysticall union of the Church un∣to Christ their Head; for as the same opera∣tion which infuseth the reasonable soule (which is the first act or principle of life naturall) doth also unite it unto the body, to the making up of one man; so the same Sacrament which doth exhibite Christ unto us (who is the first act and originall of life divine) doth also unite us together unto the making up of one Church. In naturall nourishment the vitall heate being stronger than the resistance of the meat, doth macerate, concoct, and convert that into the substance of the Body; but in this spirituall Page  99 nourishment, thec vitall Spirit of Christ ha∣ving a heate invincible by the coldnesse of Nature doth turne us into the same image and quality with it selfe, working aa fellowship of affections and confederacy of wills: and as the body doth from the union of the soule unto it receive strength, beauty, motion, and the like active qualities; so also Christ being united unto usb by these holy mysteries, doth comfort, refresh, strengthen, rule and direct us in all our waies. Wee all in the vertue of thatc Covenant made by God unto the faith∣full and to their seed in the first instant of our being doe belong unto Christ that bought us, after in thed Laver of Regeneration, the Sa∣crament of Baptisme, we are farther admitted and united to him: our right unto Christ be∣fore was generall from the benefit of the com∣mon Covenant; but in this Sacrament of Baptisme my right is made personall, and I now lay claime unto Christ not onely in the right of his common Promise, but by the effi∣cacy of this particular Washing, which sea∣leth and ratifieth the Covenant unto mee. Thus is our first union unto Christ wrought, by the grace of the Covenant effectively, and by the grace of Baptisme (where it may bee had) Instrumentally, the one giving unto Christ, the other obsignating and exhibiting that right by a farther admission of us into his Body. But now wee must conceive that as Page  100 there is a union unto Christ, so there must, as in naturall bodies, be after that union, ae gro∣wing up, till wee come to our 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the measure of the fulnesse of Christ. This growth being an effect of the vitall faculty is more or lesse perfected in us, as that is either more or lesse stifled or cherished: for as in the soule and bo∣dy, so in Christ and the Church. We are not to conceive the union without any latitude, but capable of augmentation, and liable to sun∣dry diminutions, according as are the severall meanes which for either purpose wee apply unto our selves. The union of the soule and body, though not dissolved, is yet by every the least distemper slackned, by some violent diseases almost rended asunder, so that the body hath sometimes more, sometimes lesse hold-fast of the soule; so heere wee are in the Covenant and in Baptisme united unto Christ; but wee must not forget that in men there is by Nature aa roote of bitternesse, whence issue thoseh fruites of the flesh, a spawne and wombe of actuall corruptions, where sinne is dailyc conceived and brought forth, a mare mortuum, a lake of death, whence continually arise all manner of noysome and infectious lusts; by meanes of which our Union to Christ (though not dissolved) is yet daily weakened and stands in need of continuall confirmation; for every sinne doth more or lesse smother and stoppe the principle of life in Page  101 us, so that it cannot worke our growth which we must rise unto with so free and interrupted a course as otherwise it might. The Principle of life in a Christian is the very same from whence Christ himselfe according to his crea∣ted Graces receiveth life, and that is thed Spi∣rit of Christ, ae quickning Spirit, and af streng∣thening Spirit. Now as that great sinne which is incompatible with faith doth bidde defiance to the good Spirit of God, and therefore is more especially called The sinne against the holy Ghost, so every sinne doth in its owne manner and measureg quench the Spirit that it cannot quicken, andh grieve the Spirit that it cannot strengthen us in that perfection of degrees as it might otherwise: and thus is our union unto Christ daily loosened and slackened by the distempers of sinne: for the reestabli∣shing whereof God hath appointed these sa∣cred Mysteries, as effectuall instruments, where they meet with a qualified subject, to produce a more firme and close union of the Soule to Christ, and to strengthen our Faith which is the joynt and sinew by which that union is preserved, to cure those i wounds, and purge those iniquities whose property it is to sepa∣rate betwixt Christ and us, to make usa submit our services, to knit our wils, to conforme our affections, and to incorporate our persons into him; that so by constant, though slow pro∣ceedings we might be changed from glory to Page  102 glory, and attaine unto the measure of Christ, there where our Faith can no way bee impai∣red, our bodies and soules subject to no decay, and by consequence stand in no need of any suchb viaticums as wee heere use to strengthen us in a journey so much both above the Perfe∣ction, and against the corruption of our pre∣sent Nature.