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.
Page  137

CHAP. XVI.

Of the manner after which we are to celebrate the memory of Christs Passion.

BUt wee may not presume that wee remember Christs death as hee requires, when either with an historicall memory, or with a festivall solemnitie onely, wee celebrate, or dis∣course of it, except we doe it with a practicke memory, proportioned to the goodnesse and quality of the thing remembred. And first we must remember Christ with a memory of faith, with an applying and assuming memo∣ry, not onely in the generall, that he died; but in particular, that the reason of his death was my salvation and deliverance from death. Pilate and the unbeleeving Iewes shall one day see him whom they have peirced, and remember his death, Iudas shall see and re∣member him whom he kissed, the Devill shall see and remember him whom he persecuted, and in every one of these shall their remem∣brance produce an effect of horror and trem∣bling, abecause they remember him as their Iudge. If our remembrance of the love and mercy of his death, not onely testified, but Page  138 exhibited, and obsignated unto us, were no other than that which the wicked spirits have of his justice and severity, it could not be but that wee should as readily beleeve, as they do tremble at his death.

And indeed (if wee obserue it) the remem∣brance of Christs death, and the faith in it are one and the same thing; for what else is faith but a review and reflection of our thoughts upon Christ, a multiplied, and reiterated as∣sent unto the benefits of him crucified? and what is remembrance, but the returning of the minde backe unto the same object about the which it had been formerly employed? The remembrance of Christ is nothing else but the knowledge of Christ repeated, and thebknow∣ledge of Christ is all one with the beliefe in him, they which are not by faith united unto him, are quite ignorant of him. And there∣fore we finde that Saint Peers second deniall of Christ, is by the Evangelists diversly rela∣ted. In somecI am none of his, in others I know not the man: and certainely, if the one had been true, the other had been true too, for all compleate knowledge must have a commen∣suration to the objects that are knowne, and the ends for which they are proposed. Now all divine objects, besides their truth, have to∣gether annexed a goodnesse which is applicable to those that know it; so that to professe the knowledge of it, and yet not know how to ap∣ply Page  139 it to our owne use, is indeed therefore to be ignorant of it, because there is no other end why it should be knowne, then that there∣by it might be applyed. And therefore in the Scripture phrase, a wicked man and a foole are termes equivalent, because the right knowledge of divine truths,* doth ever inferre the love and prosecution of them; for every act in the will, whether of imbracing, or abominating any object, is grounded on some precedent Iudg∣ment of the understanding. Nothing that by the ultimate dictate of each particular and practicall judgment is proposed as to∣tally and supremely good, can possibly bee by the Will refused, because therein it must needs resist the impresse of Nature, which leads every, as well voluntary as necessary Agent, unto an infallible pursuite of whatsoever is propos'd unto it, as a thing able by the acces∣sion of its goodnesse, to advance and perfect the nature of the other: and therefore who∣soever beleeve not in Christ Iesus, and his death, nor doe imbrace and cling unto it, with all the desires of a most ardent affection, can∣not possibly bee said to know him, because however they may have some few, broken, faint, and floating notions of him, yet hee is not by this knowledge propos'd unto the Will, as its sole and greatest good (for then he could not but be embraced) but is in good earnest by the practick judgment underva∣lued Page  140 and disesteemed, in comparison of other things, whose goodnesse and convenience un∣to sensuall and corrupt nature, is represen∣ted more cleerely. Many men may bee able to discourse of the death of Christ, after a speculative, and scholasticall man∣ner, so profoundly, as that another who truely beleeves in him, shall not be able to understand it: and yet this poore soule that desires to know nothing but him, that accounts all things else dung in comparison of him, that endevours to be made conformable unto him in the com∣munion and fellowship of his sufferings, that can in Christs wounds see his safety, in Christs stripes his Medicine, in Christs anguish his peace, in Christs Crosse his triumph; doth so much more truely know him, as a man that is able safely to guide a ship through all the coasts of the world, doth better know the regions and situati∣ons of Countries, than he who by a dex∣teritie that way is able to draw most ex∣act and Geographicall descriptions.* Boyes may bee able to turne to, or to repeate severall passages of a Poet or Oratour more readily than a grounded Artist, who yet notwithstanding knowes the elegancy and worth of them farre better: and a Stage-player can haply expresse with grea∣ter life of passion the griefes of a distres∣sed Page  141 man, than hee can himselfe, although al∣together ignorant of the weight and oppres∣sion of them.

It is not therefore Logicall, Historicall, Speculative rememhrance of Christ, but an experimentall and beleeving remembrance of him, which wee are to use in the recei∣ving of these sacred misteries, which are not a bare Type and resemblance, but a seale also, confirming, and exhibiting his death unto each beleeving soule.

Secondly, we must remember the death of Christ, with a remembrance of thankefulnes for that great love which by it wee enjoy from him: certainely he hath no dram of good na∣ture in him, who for the greatest benefit that can befall him doth not returne a recompence of remembrance,a which costs him nothing. Our salvation cost Christ a pretious price, his owne bloud, and shall not we so much as lay up the memory of it in our mindes, that wee may have it forth-comming to answer all the objections that can be made against our title to salvation? consider with thy selfe the feare∣fulnes and horror of thy naturall estate, wherin thou wert expos'd to the infinite wrath of Al∣mighty God, whom thou therfore being both finite and impotent wert no way able to ap∣pease, subiect to the strokes and terrors, not onely of thine owne Conscience, a bosome Hell, but of that most exact Page  142 justice, which it is as impossible for thee to sustaine with patience, as with obedience, to satisfy. The creatures thine enemies thine owne heart thy witnes, thy Creator, thy Judge, eternity of expreslelesse anguish, gnawing of conscience, despaire of delive∣rance, & whatsoever misery the most search∣ing understanding can but imagine thy sen∣tence, for according to his feare, so is his wrath, from this, and much more hath the death of Christ, not onely delivered thee, but of a cast away, an enemy, a deplored wretch, weltring in thine owne bloud, rotting & stinking in thine owne grave, hath restored thee not only to thine originall interest, and patrimony, but unto an estate so much more glorious then that could have been, by how much the obedience of Christ, is more pretious, then any thy innocency could possibly have performed. Consider the o∣dious filthines of sinne, the pertinacious ad∣herence thereof unto thy nature, so that no∣thing but the incarnation, and bloud of the Sonne of God, the Creator of the World could wash it out; consider the Justice, and undispensable severity of our God a∣gainst sinne, which would not spare the life of his owne Sonne, nor be satisfied with∣out a Sacrifice of infinite, and coequall vertue with it selfe: consider that it was thy sinne, which were thy associates with Page  143Iudas, and Pilate, and the Iewes to crucify him: It was thy Hypocrisy which was the kisse that betraid him, thy covetousnes the thornes that crowned him, thy oppression, and cruelty the nayles, and Speares that peirced him, thy Idolatry and superstition the knee that mocked him, thy contempt of religion the spittle that defiled him, thy anger and bitternes the gall, and vnegar that distasted him, thy Crimson, and re∣doubled sins the Purple that dishonord him, in a word thou wert the Iew that kild him. Canst thou then have so many members as weapons wherewith to crucify thy Saviour, and hast thou not a heart wherein to recog∣nize, and a tongue wherewith to celebrate the benefits of that bloud which thy sinnes had powred out? The fire is queched by that water which by its heate was caused to runne over, and shall not any of thy sins, be put out by the over-flowing of that pre∣tious bloud which thy sinnes caused to run out of his sacred Bodie? Lastly, consider the immensitie of Gods mercie, and the unutterable treasures of his grace, which neither the provocations of thy sinne, nor the infinite exactnes of his owne justice could any way overcome, or constraine to dispise the worke of his owne hands or nor to compassionate the wretchednes of his creature though it cost the Humiliation Page  144 of the Sonne of God, and the exinanition of his Sacred person to performe it. Lay together all those considerations, and cer∣tainly they are able even to melt a heart of Adamant into thoughts of continuall thankfulnes towards so bountifull a Re∣deemer.

Thirdly, wee must remember the death of CHRIST with a Remembrance of O∣bedience even the commands of God should be sufficient to inforce our obedience. It is not the manner of Law-makers to use in∣sinuations, and plausible provokements, but peremptory, and resolute injunctions upon paine of penalty: but our God deales not onely as a Lord, but as a Father, he hath delivered us from the penalty, and now ra∣ther invites, then compels us to obedience, least by persisting in sinne we should make voyd unto our selves the benefit of Christs death, yea should crucify him a fresh, and so bring upon our selves not the benefit but the guilt of his bloud. Is it nothing thinke we that Christ should die in vaine, and take upon him the dishonor, and shame of a servant to no purpose? and disobedi∣ence, as much as in it lyes doth nullify, and make voyd the death of Christ: Is it nothing that that sacred Bloud of the co∣venant should bee shed onely to be troden, and trampled under foote as a vile thing? Page  145 and certainely he that celebrates the memo∣ry of Christs death in this holy Sacrament with a willfully polluted soule, doth not commemorate the Sacrifice, but share in the slaughter of him; and receives that pretious blood not according to the institution of Christ, to drinke it, but with thea purpose of Iudas and the Iewes, to shed it on the ground; a cruelty so much more detestable then Caines was, by how much the blood of Christ is more pretious than that of Abel. In the phrase of Scripture, sinning against God, and forgetting of him, or casting of him behinde our backe, or bidding him depart from us, or not having him before our eies, are all of equall signification, neither is any thing cald remembrance in divine dialect which doth not frame the soule unto affe∣ctions befitting the quality of the object that is remembred. Heb is not said to see a pit, though before his eyes, who by Starre-gazing or other thoughts falls into it; nor hee to remember Christ, though presen∣ted to all his senses at 〈◊〉, who makes no regard of his presence. Divine knowledge, being practicall, requires advertence and consideration, an essicacious pondering of the consequences of good or evill, and there∣by a proportionable governement of our se∣verall courses, which who so neglecteth, may bee properly said to forget, or to bee ig∣norant Page  146 of what was before him, though not out of blindnesse, yet out ofbinconsiderate∣nesse, as not applying close unto himselfe the obiect represented, which if truely re∣membred, would infallibly frame the minde unto a ready obedience and conformitie thereunto.

Lastly, Wee must remember the Death of Christ with Prayer unto God, for as by faith wee apply to our selves, so by prayer wee re∣present unto God the Father that his death as the merit and meanes of reconciliation with him: as prayer is animated by the Death of Christ (which alone is that cha∣racter that addes currantnesse unto them) so is the Death of Christ not to bee celebrated without Prayer, wherein wee doe with confi∣dence implore Gods acceptance of that sa∣crifice for us, in which alone hee is well∣pleased. aOpen thine eyes unto the supplica∣tion of thy servants, to hearken unto all for which they shall call unto thee, was the Prayer of Sa∣lomon in the consecration of the Temple. What, doth God hearken with his eyes unto the prayers of his people? Hath not hee that made the eare an eare himselfe, but must be faine to make use of another faculty unto a different worke? Certainely unlesse the eye of God be first open to looke on the bloud of his Sonne, and on the persons of his Saints bathed and sprinkled therewith, his eares can Page  147 never be open unto their prayers. Prayer doth put God in minde of hisb Covenant, and Covenants are not to bee presented without seales; now the seale of our Covenant is the blood of Christ, no Testament is of force but by the death of the Testator, whensoever therefore wee present unto God the truth of his owne free Covenant in our prayers, let us not forget to shew him his owne seale too, by which wee are confirmed in our hope therein. Thus are wee to celebrate the death of Christ, and in these regards is this holy worke called by thed Antients an unbloo∣dy sacrifice, in a mysticall and spirituall sense, because in this worke is a confluence of all such holy duties, as are in the Scripture called spirituall sacrifices: and in the same sence was the Lords Table ofttimes by them called an Altar, as that was which the Reubenites e∣rected on the other side of Iordan, not for any proper sacrifice, but to bee a patterne and memoriall of that whereon sacrifice was offered.