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  15

CHAP. IIII.

Whence Sacraments derive their value and be∣ing, namely from the Author that insti∣tuted them.

BUt why are not the instruments more glorious where the effects are so admirable? whence is it that there should lie so much power in the narrow roome of so small and common elements? It had been worth the creating of a new creature, to be made the pledge of a new covenant; the first fruits are of the same nature with their crop, and earnest useth to be paid in coine of the same quality with the whole after-summe. If then Sacraments are the earnests of our glory, why are not the faithfull instead of eating a morsell of bread, taken up with St Paul into the third heavens? why are they not in stead of drinking a sip of wine transformed with their Saviour; and have with Steven a vision of him at the right hand of the father? how discursive is foolish pride when it would prescribe unto God? vaine man who undertakest to instruct thy maker in stead of praysing him? to censure his benefits when thou shouldst enjoy them? wilt thou not receive salvation without thine owne counsell, or art thou so foolish as to Page  16 conceive nothing precious without pompe? and to judge of the things conveighed by the value, and quality of the instrument that con∣veighs it? tell me then, why it is that water a vulgar element, is held in a Cisterne of lead, and thy wine a more costly liquor, but in a vessell of wood? Tell me the reason why that wax which in the shop haply was not priz'd at a penny, should by cleaving unto a small parcell of parchment be valuable unto a million of money? Tell me why should that clay, which while it lay under foot was vile and dishonourable dirt,* when it was applyed by Christ unto the eye of a blind man, be advanc'd unto the condition of a precious and superna∣turall salve? Is not even in works of Art, the skill of the workman more eminent in the nar∣rowest and unfittest Subjects? Are not the Iliads of Homer more admirable in a Nutshell than in a volume? doe not Limmers set the highest value on their smallest draughts?a and is there not matter of admiration, and asto∣nishment in the meanest and most vulgar ob∣jects? And what madnesse is it then by those reasons to undervalue faith, which are the ar∣guments to confirme it? as if the power of an Agent were not there greatest where the subject on which hee worketh doth conferre least;* as if the weaknesse of the element did not adde unto the wonder of the Sacrament. If it were an argument of Christs miraculous Page  17 power to feed five thousand with so few loaves, why should not the miracle of his Sa∣crament be equall which feeds the whole Church with so slender elements? certainly they who any way dis esteeme the seeming meanesse and emptinesse of the Sacrament, en∣tertaining but low and vulgar conceits there∣of, stumble at that same stone of foolishnesse, by which the Gentiles fell from their salva∣tion. But wilt thou needs know both the rea∣son why we use no other Sacraments, and why these carry with them so much vertue? one answer resolves both. It is the Majestie of the same King that coynes his mony, and that values it; he that frames a private mint, or imposeth another rate, is in both equally a traitor; in the former by stealing the Kings authority,* in the other by altering i: the same Author did both institute the Sacra∣ment and value it; from the same power did it receive the necessity of its being, and the efficacie of its working. In covenants or con∣veyances the articles and instruments may be haply drawne by some Lawyer, but the con∣firmation of them by hand and seale, are ordi∣narily performed by the men themselves who are interessed in them. A Secretary may write the letter, but his Lord will himselfe subscribe and seale it. Thus the pattent of Gods covenant hath been drawn out for the benefit of Gods Church by many selected and Page  18 inspired instruments, unto whom God did dictate so much of his will by divine sugge∣stion, as his pleasure was to acquaint and edifie his Church withall. But when hee comes to confirme this his gift by hand and seale, behold then an immediate presence of his owne; then comes Gods owne finger, that is in the phrase of Scripturea, his spirit to write as a witnesse in the soule;* and then doth God stretch out his owne hand, and reach unto us that Supper which is the seale to obsignate unto the senses the infallible truth of those covenants, and our evident in∣terest in those benefits, which were before proclaimed in the pattent of his word. The bApostle delivered nothing as it were by a se∣cond hand to the Corinthians, but what hee had formerly received from the Lord. Di∣vine things are unto usc deposited, we must first be receivers,* before deliverers.