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  6

CHAP. II.

Sacraments are earnests and shaddowes of our expected glory made unto the senses.

THE Promises, and word of grace with the Sacraments, are all but as so many sealed Deeds to make over unto all successions of the Church, so long as they continue legitimate children and observe the Lawes on their part required, an infallible claime and title unto that Good which is not yet revealed, unto that inheri∣tance which is as yet laid up unto that life which is hid with God, and was never yet fully opened or let shine upon the earth. Even in Paradise there was a Sacrament; a tree of life inded it was, but there was but one; whereas Adam was to eat of all the fruits in the Garden: He was there but to taste sometimes of life, it was not to bee his perpetuall and only food. We read of a Tree of life in the beginning of the Bible, and of a tree of life in the end too; that was in Adams Paradise on earth, this in Saint Iohns Paradise in heaven: But that did beare but the first fruits of life, the earnest of an after fulnesse. This bare life in abundance, for it bare twelve manner of fruits, and that every moneth, which shewes both the compleat∣nesse, Page  7 and eternity of that glory which wee expect. And as the Tree of Paradise was but a Sacrament of life in heaven, so Paradise it selfe was but a Sacrament of heaven. Certain∣ly Adam was placed amongst the dark and shady trees of the Garden, that he might in an Embleme acknowledge, that he was as yet but in the shadow of life, the substance whereof he was elsewhere to receive. Even when the Church was pure, it was not perfect; it had an age of infancy, when it had a state of innocence: Glory was not communicated unto Adam himselfe without the vaile of a Sacrament: the light of God did not shine on Paradise with a spreading and immediate ray; even there it was mixed with shadowes, and repre∣sented only in a Sacramentall reflex, not in its owne direct and proper brightnesse. The Israelites in the wildernesse had light indeed but it was in a cloud, and they had the pre∣sence of God in the Ark,* but it was under se∣verall coverings;* and they had the light of God shining on the face of Moses,* but it was under the vaile;* and Moses himselfe did see God, but it was in a cloud: so unca∣pable is the Church while encompassed with a body of sinne, to see the lustre of that glory which is expected. Certainly as the Sonne of God did admirably humble himselfe in his hypostaticall union unto a visible flesh, so doth he still with equall wonder and lowlinesse Page  8 humble himselfe in a Sacramentall union un∣to visible Elements.* Strange it is that that mercy which is so wonderfull, that the An∣gels desire to look into it, so unconceiveable as that it hath not entred into the thought of man; of such height, and lenghth, and breadth, and depth, as passeth knowledge, should yet be made the object of our lowest faculties: That that which is hid from the wise and prudent in mans little world, his mind and spirit, should bee revealed unto the babes, his senses: It were almost a contradi∣ction in any thing, save Gods mercy, to bee so deep as that no thought can fadome it, and yet so obvious that each eye may see it;* Han∣dle mee and see, for a spirituall substance hath not flesh, was sometimes the argu∣ment of Christ; and yet handle and see, take and eat, for a spirituall grace is con∣veyed by flesh, is the Sacrament of Christ. So humble is his mercy that since we cannot raise our understandings to the comprehensi∣on of divine mysteries, he will bring downe, and submit those mysteries to the apprehen∣sion of our senses.* Hereafter our bodies shall be over-clothed with a spirituall glory by a reall union unto Christ in his kingdome;* mean time that spirituall glory which wee grone after, is here over-clothed with weak and vi∣sible elements, by a Sacramentall union at his Table. Then shall sense be exalted and made a Page  9 fit subject of glory, here is glory humbled,* and made a fit object of sense; Then shall wee see as wee are seen, face to face; here wee see but as in glasse darkly; in the glasse of the crea∣ture, in the glasse of the word, in the glasse of the Sacraments. And surely these are in them∣selves cleer and bright glasses, yet we see even in them but darkly, in regard of that vapour and steeme which exhaleth from our corrupt nature, when we use them: and even on these doth our soule look through other darke glasses, the windowes of sense. But yet at the best they are but glasses, whose properties are to present nothing but the pattern, the shaddow, the type of those things which are in their substance quite be∣hind us, and therefore out of sight: so then in generall, the nature of a Sacrament is to be the representative of a substance, the signe of a covenant, the seale of a purchase, the fi∣gure of a body, the witnesse of our faith, the earnest of our hope, the presence of things distant, the sight of things absent, the taste of things unconceivable, and the knowledge of things, that are past knowledge.