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.


Of three other Ends of the holy Sacrament, the fellowship or union of the faithfull, the obsigna∣tion of the Covenant of Grace, and the abroga∣tion of the Passeover.

NOW as the same nourishment which preserveth the Union betweene the Soule and Body, or head and members, doth in like manner pre∣serve the Union betweene the members themselves: even so this Sacrament is as it were the sinew of the Church, where∣by the faithfull, being allc animated by the same Spirit that makes them one with Christ, are knit together in a bond of Peace, conspi∣ring all in a unity of thoughts and desires, ha∣ving the same common Enemies to withstand, the same common Prince to obey, the same Page  103 common rule to direct them, the same com∣mon way to passe, the same common Faith to vindicate, and therefore the same mutuall en∣gagements to further and advance the good of each other; so that the next immediate effect of this Sacrament is to confirme the Union of all the members of the Church each to other in a Communion of Saints, where∣by their prayers are the more strengthened, and their adversaries the more resisted: for as in naturall things,d Union strengtheneth motions naturall, and weakeneth violent; so in the Church, Union strengtheneth all spiri∣tuall motions, whether upward as meditations and prayers to God, or downeward as sympa∣thy, and good workes towards our weake Brethren, and it hindereth all violent motions, the strength of sinne, the darts of Satan, the provocations of the World, the Judgements of God, or whatever evill may bee by the flesh either committed or deserved. And this Union of the faithfull is both in the Elements and appellations, and in the ancient ceremo∣nies, and in the very act of eating and drin∣king most significantly represented.

First, for thea Elements, they are such as, though naturally their parts were separated in severall graines and grapes, yet are they by the art of man moulded together and made up into one artificiall body consisting of divers homogeneous parts: men by Nature are dis∣joynted Page  104 not more in being, than in affections and desires each from other, every one being his owne end, and not any way affected with that tendernesse of Communion, or bowels of love, which in Christ wee recover; but now Christ hath redeemed us from this estate of enmity, and drawing us all to the pursuite of one common end, and thereunto enabling us by one uniforme rule his holy Word, and by one vitall Principle his holy Spirit; wee are by the meanes of this holy Sacrament after the same manner reunited into one spiri∣tuall Body, as the Elements (though original∣ly severall) are into one artificiall masse. And for the same reason (as I conceive) was the bholy Passeover in the Law commanded to bee one whole Lambe, and eaten in one Fami∣ly, and not to have one bone of it broken, to signifie that there should bee all unity, and no Schisme or rupture in the Church which is Christs Body.

Secondly, for the appellations of this Sa∣crament, it is commonly called The Lords c Supper, which word, though with us it im∣port nothing but an ordinary course and time of eating, yet in other Language it expresseth that which the other appellation retaines, Communion or fellowship: and lastly, it was called by the AncientsaSynaxis, a collection, gathering together, or assembling of the faith∣full, namely into that unity which Christ by Page  105 his merits purchased, by hisb prayer obtained, and by his Spirit wrought in them; so great hath ever beene the Wisedome of Gods Spi∣rit and of his Church, which is ruled by it, to impose on divine institutions such names as might expresse their vertue and our duty: as Adams Sacrament was called thec Tree of Life; the Iewes Sacraments, thed Covenant, and thee Passeover; and with the Christians, Baptisme is calledf Regeneration, and the Lords Supperg Communion, that by the names we might bee put in minde of the power of the things themselves.

Thirdly, for the Ceremonies and Customes annexed unto this Sacrament in the Primitive times, notwithstanding for superstitious abu∣ses some of them have beene abolished, yet in their owne originall use they did signifie this uniting and knitting quality which the Sacra∣ments have in it, whereby the faithfull are made one with Christ by faith, and amongst them∣selves by love.

And first they had a custome ofh mixing Wa∣ter with the Wine (as there came Water and Blood out of Christs side) which, however it might have a naturall reason, because of the heate of the country, and custome of those Southerne parts, where thei use was to cor∣rect the heate of Wine with Water; yet was it by the Christians usd not without a mysti∣call and allegoricall sense; to expresse the Page  106 mixture (whereof this Sacrament is an effe∣ctuall instrument) of all the People (who have faith to receive it) with Christs Blood;k Wa∣ter being by the Holy Ghost himselfe inter∣preted for People and Nations.

Secondly, at the receiving of this holy Sacra∣ment their custome was tol kisse one another with an holy kisse or a kisse of love, as a testifi∣cation of mutuall dearenesse, it proceeding from thea exiliency of the spirits and readi∣nesse of Nature to meet and unite it selfe unto the thing beloved; for love is nothing else but a delightfull affection arising from an attractive power in the goodnesse of some excellent Object, unto which it endeavoureth to cleave and to unite it selfe, and therefore it was an argument of hellish hypocrisie in Iudas, and an imitation of his father the Divell, (who trans∣formeth himselfe into an Angell of Light for the enlargement of his kingdome) to use this holy symbole of love for the instrument of a hatred so much the more devilish than any, by how much the object of it was the more divine.

Thirdly, after the celebration of the divine Mysteries, the Christians, to testifie their mu∣tuall love to each other, did eate in common together; which Feasts from that which they did signifie (as the use of God and his Church is to proportion names and things) were cal∣led blove-feasts, to testifie unto the veryc Hea∣then, Page  107 how dearely they were knit together.

Fourthly, after receiving of these holy my∣steries, there were extraordinary oblations and dcollections for refreshing Christs poore mem∣bers, who either for his Name, or under his hand did suffer with patience the calamities of this present life, expecting the glory which should be revealed unto them: those did they make the Treasures of the Church, their bo∣wels the hordes and repositaries of their piety, and such as were orphanes, or widowes, or aged, or sicke, or in bonds condemned to Mine-pits, or to the Islands, or desolate places, or darke Dungeons (the usuall punishments in those times) with all these were they not ashamed in this holy worke to acknowledge a unity of condition, a fellowship and equality in the spirituall Privileges of the same Head, a mu∣tuall relation of fellow-members in the same common Body, unto which if any had grea∣ter right than other, they certainly were the men, who were conformed unto their Head in suffering, and did goe to their Kingdome through the same path of blood which he had before besprinckled for them.

Lastly, it was thea custome in any solemne testimoniall of Peace to receive and exhibite this holy Sacrament, as the seale and earnest of that union which the parties whom it did concerne had betweene themselves. Such hath ever beene the care of the holy Church in all Page  108 the customes and ceremoniall accessions whe∣ther of decency or charity which have beene by it appointed in this holy Sacrament, that by them and in them all, the concinnation of the Body of Christ, the fellowship, sympa∣thy, and unity of his members, might be both signified and professed: that as wee have all but one Sacrament, which is the Food of life, so wee should have butb one Soule, which is the Spirit of life, and from thence but one heart, and one minde, thinking, and loving and pursuing all the same things, through the same way, by the same rule, to the same end. And for this reason amongst others I take it, it is that our Church doth require in the Re∣ceiving of these Mysteries a uniformity in all her Members, even in matters that are of them∣selves indifferent, that in the Sacrament of u∣nity there might not appeare any breach or Schisme, but that as at all times, so much more then, wee shouldc all thinke, and speake, and doe the same things, least the manner should oppose the substance of the celebration.

Lastly, if we consider the very act of eating and drinking, even therein is expressed the fel∣lowship and the union of the faithfull to each other, ford even by Nature are men directed to expresse their affections or reconcilements to others in feasts and invitations, where even epublique Enemies have condescended to termes of fairenesse and plausibility, for which Page  109 cause it is noted for one of thef Acts of Ty∣rants, whereby to dissociate the mindes of their Subjects, and so to breake them when they are asunder, whom all together they could not bend, to interdict invitations and mutuall hospitalities, whereby the body poli∣ticke is as well preserved as the naturall, and the love of men as much nourished as their bodies. And therefore whereaIoseph did love most, there was the messe doubled, and the nationall hatred betweene the Iewes and Aegyp∣tians springing from the diversity of Religions (whoseb worke it is to knit and fasten the affe∣ctions of men) was no way better expressed than by theirc mutuall abominating the tables of each other. So that in all these circumstan∣ces we find how the union of the faithfull unto each other is in this holy Sacrament both sig∣nified and confirmed, whereby (howeverd they may in regard of temporall relations stand at great distance, even as great as is betweene the Palace and the Prison) yet in Christ they are all fellow-members of the same common Bo∣dy, and fellow-heires of the same common King∣dome, and spirituall stones of the same common Church, which is ae name of unity and Peace. They havef one Father who deriveth on them an equall Nobility, one Lord who equally go∣verneth them, one spirit who equally quickneth them, one Baptisme which equally regenerateth them, one faith which equally warrants their in∣heritance Page  110 to them, and lastly one sinew and bond of love which equally interesteth them in the joyes and griefes of each other, so that, as in gall other, so principally in this divine friend∣ship of Christs Church there is an equality and uniformity, be the outward distances how great soever.

Another principall End or Effect of this holy Supper is to signifie and obsignate unto the Soule of each Beleever his personall claime and title unto the new Covenant of Grace. We are in a state of corruption, sinne, though it have received by Christ a wound of which it cannot recover, yet ash beasts commonly in the pangs of death use most violently to struggle and often to fasten their teeth more eagerly and fiercely where they light; so sinne here,i that body of death,k that besieging, encompassing evill, thatlCananite that lieth in our members, being continually heartened by our arch enemy Satan, however subdued by Is∣rael, doth yet never cease tol goad and pricke us in the eyes, that we might not looke up to our future Possession, is ever raising up steemes of corruption to intercept the lustre of that glo∣ry which wee expect, is ever suggesting unto the Beleever matter of diffidence and anxiety, that his hopes hitherto have beene ungroun∣ded, his Faith presumptuous, his claime to Christ deceitfull, his propriety uncertaine, if not quite desperate; till at last the faithfull Page  111 Soule lies gasping and panting for breath un∣der the buffets of this messenger of Satan. And for this cause it hath pleased our good God (a who hath promised never to faile nor forsake us) that wee might not be swallowed up with griefe to renew often our right, and exhibite bwith his owne hands (for what is done by his Officers is by him done) that sacred Body with the efficacy of it unto us, that wee might fore-enjoy the promised Inheritance, and put, not into our chests or coffers which may haply by casualities miscarry, but into our very bo∣wels, into our substance and soule the pledges of our Salvation, that wee might at this spiri∣tuall Altarc see Christ as it were crucified be∣fore our eyes,d clinge unto his Crosse, and graspe it in our armes, sucke in his Blood, and with it salvation, put in our hands with Tho∣mas, not out of di••idence, but out of faith in∣to his side, and fasten our tongues in his sacred wounds, that being all over dyed with his Bloud, wee may use boldnesse, and approach to the Throne of Grace, lifting up unto hea∣ven in faith and confidence of acceptance those eyes and hands which have seene and handled him, opening wide that mouth which hath received him, and crying aloud with that tongue which having tasted the Bread of Life hath from thence both strength and arguments for prayer to move God for mercy: this then is a singular benefit of this Sacrament, the often Page  112 repetition and celebration whereof is as it were the renewing, or rather the confirming with more and more seales our Patent of life; that by so many things, in thee smallest where∣of it is impossible for God to lye, wee might have strong consolation who have our refuge to lay hold on him who in these holy Myste∣ries is set before us; for the Sacrament is not onely afSigne to represent, but a Seale to exhi∣bite that which it represents. In the Signe wee see, in the seale wee receive him. In the Signe wee have the image, in the seale the be∣nefit of Christs Body, for* the nature of a Signe is to discover and represent that which in it selfe is obscure or absent (asa words are called signes and symboles of our invisible thoughts) but theb property of a Seale is to ratifie and o establish that which might other∣wise bee uneffectuall; for which cause some have called the Sacrament by the name of a cRing, which men use in sealing those writings unto which they annexe their trust and credit. And as the Sacrament is a Signe and Seale from God to us representing and exhibiting his benefits, so should it bee a signe and seale from us to God, a signe tod separate us from sinners, a seale to oblige us to all performances of faith and thankfulnesse on our part required.

Another End and Effect of this holy Sacra∣ment was to abrogate the Passeover, and testifie the alteration of those former Types which Page  113 were not the commemorations, but the predi∣ctions of Christs Passion: and for this cause our blessed Saviour did celebrate both those Suppers ate the same time, (but the new Sup∣per after the other, and in the evening, where∣by fwas figured the fulnesse of time) that there∣by the presence of the substance might evacu∣ate the shadow:g even as the Sunne doth with his lustre take away all those lesser and substituted lights, which were used for no o∣ther purpose but to supply the defect which there was of him. The Passeover however in the nature of a sacrifice it did prefigure Christ, yet in the nature of a Solemnity and annuall commemoration it did immediately respect the temporall deliverance of that People out of Egypt, by the sprinkling of their doores with blood, which was it selfe but a shadow of our freedome from Satan: so that their Sa∣crament was but the Type of a Type, and there∣fore must needs have so much the weaker and more obscure reference unto Christ; even as those draughts doe lesse resemble the face of a man which are taken from a former piece;h or that light the brightnesse of its originall which shines weakly through a second or third refle∣xion. Besides this small light which shined from the Passeover on the people of the Iewes, and by which they were something though darkly enabled to behold Christ, was but like the light in a house or family, which could Page  114 not shine beyond the narrow compasse of that small people, and therefore it was to bee eaten in such aa family, to signifie, as I conceive, that the Church was then but as a handfull or houshold in respect of that fulnesse of the Gentiles which was to follow. Now then the Church being to enlarge its borders, and to bee coextended with the World, it stood in need of a greater light, even that Sunne of Righteousnesse, who was now to be as well the blight to lighten the Gentiles, as he had beene formerly the Glory of his People Israel. And therefore we may observe that this second Sa∣crament was not to bee eaten in a private sepa∣rated Family, but the Church wascto come toge∣ther, and to stay one for another, that in the conflu∣ence of the People, and the publikenesse of the action, the encrease and amplitude of the Church might be expressed. Besides the Gen∣tiles were uninterested in that temporall Deli∣verance of the Iewes from Pharaoh, it being a particular and nationall benefit, and therefore the commemoration thereof in the Paschall Lambe, could not, by them, who in the loines of their ancestours had not beene there deli∣vered, be literally and with reflexion on them∣selves celebrated. Requisite therefore in this respect also it was, in as much as thed partition wall was broken downe, and both Iew and Gentile were incorporated into one head,* that nationall and particular relations ceasing, such Page  115 a Sacrament might bee reinstituted; wherein the universall restoring of all mankinde might bee represented. And certainely for a man at mid-day to shut his windowes from the com∣munion of the generall light, and to use onely private lampes of his owne, as it is towards men madnesse, so it is impiety and Schisme in Religion. There is betweene the Gospell and the Legall Ceremonies (as I observed) the same proportion of difference as is betweene houshold Tapers and the common Sun-shine, as in regard of the amplitude of their light, and of the extent of their light, so in the dura∣tion of it likewise; for as Lampes within a small time doe of themselves expire and pe∣rish, whereas the light of the Sunne doth ne∣ver waste it selfe: even soaIewish rites were by Gods institution perishable and temporary, during thatb infancy of the Church, wherein it was not able to looke on a brighter object, but when in the fulnesse of time the Church was growne unto a firmer sense, thenc in the death of Christ did those Types likewise die, and were together with the sinnes of the World cancelled upon the Crosse. Amongst thedPersians it was a solemne observation to nullifie for a time the force of their Lawes, and to extinguish those fires, which they were wont idolatrously to adore, upon the death of their King, as if by him both their policy and Religion had beene animated: even so at the Page  116 death of our blessed Saviour were all those Legall Ordinances, those holy fires, which were wont to send up the sweet savour of in∣cense, and sacrifices unto heaven, abolished he (who before had substituted them in his roome, and by an effectuall influence from himselfe made them temporary instruments of that pro∣pitiation, which it wasc impossible for them in their owne natures to have effected) being him∣selfe come to finish that worke which was by them onely foreshadowed, but not begunne, much lesse accomplished.