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 the Circumstances of the Institution, namely the Time and Place.

AND as the Author, so the Circum∣stances of the Institution do not a little adde unto the excellency of this Sacrament: first for the cir∣cumstance of Time;* It was the same night wherein he was betrayed:* in the evening Page  25 and after Supper. In the evening or night, a time fit to prefigure a passion, and eclipse, his especially who was the Sunne of righte∣ousnesse, and the light of the world; a passi∣on that brought darknesse on the very foun∣taine of light, the Sunne, even in the midday: In the evening,* to note that now the fulnesse of time was come, wherein Christ was to ac∣complish the redemption of the world. In the evening or twylight when the Passeover was celebrated, learne from the condition of the time the nature as of that Legall,* so in some sort of this Evangelicall Sacrament; it is but a shaddow and dark representation of that light which shall be revealed. It hath but the glim∣merings, and faint resemblances of that mer∣cy which redeemed us, of that glory which expecteth us. In the evening at the eating of the Paschall Lamb, to note that Christs active obedience to the commands of the Law went together with his passive obedience to the curse and penaltie of the Law.* He first cele∣brated the Passeover that therein he might re∣stifie his performance of the Law, and then he instituted his own Supper, that therin he might prefigure his suffring of the Law.*In the even∣ing after the Passeover, to signifie the abolish∣ing both of the Evening, and of the Passeover, the plucking away of Moses his vail, of all those dark & misty prefiguratiōs of that light, which was within a few dayes to rise upon the world. Page  26 He would first celebrate the Passeover, and there nullifie it,* to make it appeare unto the world that he did not therefore abrogate that holy ordinance, because he oppugn'd it, but because hee fulfil'd it, and therefore to the substance hee joynes the shaddow, the Lamb of the Jewes, to the Lamb of God, the true sacrifice, to that which was typi∣call, that the brightnesse of the one, might abolish and swallow up the shaddow of other. In the evening at the time of unlea∣vened bread, to signifie that we also (it is the Inference of the Apostle) should keep our Feast not with the leavened bread of malice,* or of wickednesse, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth: That we should not venture to play the hucksters with so di∣vine and pure mysteries,* by adulterating them with either the mixture of humane inventi∣ons, or with the mud of our owne sinfull affe∣ctions. In the evening at the time of Supper, to note the most wiling & ready, yea, the forward and greedy resigning himselfe into the hands of bloody and cruell men;* to signifie that un∣to him it was meat and drink not only to doe, but to suffer his Fathers will. In the evening of that same night,* wherein he was betrayed to give first a warrant unto his Church, of his approaching passion, which, though so intol∣lerable for the quality and burthen of it, that it could not but amze his humanity, and draw Page  27 from him that naturall and importunate ex∣pression of the desire he had to decline it,* yet in their elements did hee ascertaine the Church,* that as he came to drink of the brook in the way, so hee should not shrink from drinking the very bitterest part of it.

And secondly in the night wherein hee was betrayed, to forearme his poore disciples with comfort against the present losse of him, and against all that anguish which their tender hearts must needs suffer at the sight of that bloody and savage usage, which Iudas and the Jewes would shew towards their Master. And therefore in these elements he acquaints them with the nature and quality of his passion, that it should be as Bread to strengthen, and as Wine to comfort the faint hearted, to con∣firme the knees that tremble, and the hands that hang downe. Thirdly it was the night wherein he was betrayed,* to let us under∣stand that these words were the words of a ding man, and therefore to be religiously ob∣served,* and that this Sacrament was the work of a dying man,* and therefore in its nature a Gift or Legacy. In his life time hee gave his Church, his Word, and his Miracles, he went about doing good, but now in his passion he bestowed that which added weight and value, to all his other gifts, himselfe. Other men use to bequeath their bodyes to the earth, from whence it came;* but Christs body was Page  28 not to see corruption, and therefore hee be∣queath'd it unto the Church. It was his bo∣dy by his hypostaticall and reall but it is ours by a mysticall and spirituall union.* Whatsoever fulnesse is in him,* of it have we all received; whatsoever graces and merits flow from him as the head, they trickle down as farre as the skirts of his garment, the mean∣est of his chosen: the paines of his wounds were his, but ours is the benefit; the suffrings of his death were his, but ours is the mercy; the stripes on his back were his, but the balme that issued from them ours; the thornes on his head were his, but the Crowne is ours; the holes in his hands and side were his, but the blood that ran out was ours: in a word, the price was his, but the purchase ours. The corne is not grinded, nor baked, nor broken for it selfe; the grape is not brized nor pres∣sed for it selfe; these actions rather destroy the nature of the elements than perfect them; but all these violations that they suffer are for the benefit of man. No marvell then if the Angells themselves stoop and gaze upon so deep a mysterie, in which it is impossible to decide whether is greater the Wonder or the Mercy.

If we look unto the Place* where this Sa∣crament was celebrated even there also shall we find matter of meditation,* for we may not think that two Evangelists would bee so ex∣presse Page  29 and punctuall in describing the Place, i there were not some matter of consequence to be observed in it. First then it was a bor∣rowed roome,* he that had no hole where to lay his head in, had no place where to eat the Passeover. We may not then expect in Christs new Supper any variety of rich and costly dishes; as his Kingdome is not, so neither is his Supper of this world. It was not his purpose to make our worship of him a chargeable ser∣vice, and to enjoyne us such a table, as should six our thoughts on the meats rather than on the substance which they resembled. Hee knew that where the senses are overcharg'd faith lies unexercis'd: and therefore he pro∣portion'd his Supper both to the quality of his own estate, which was poore, & to the con∣dition of our weaknesse, apt (as the Church af∣ter in her love-feasts found) to be rather temp∣ted than edified in too much variety of out∣ward meats.* It was likewise an upper roome, to note the dignitie and divinenesse of this Sa∣crament, and that property of lifting up the hearts, which it should work in the receivers of it.* Our thoughts and affections while con∣versant about these mysteries should not lie groveling on the earth, but should be raised unto high and noble contemplations.* And this particular of the place may seeme to have been imitated by the Churches, in place∣ing the Lords Table and celebrating the Lords Page  30 Supper in the Chancell or upper roome of the Temple; besides, it was a spatious and great roome, and so it should bee, for it was a great Supper, the Supper of a King. The Dis∣ciples were then the type & representative of the whole Catholick Church, which was now by them to be begotten unto God, and ther∣fore the Chamber must needs be a resemblance and Modell of the whole world throughout which the sound of Christs name, and the memory of his passion, should in his Supper be celebrated untill the end of all things, and then no marvell if it were a great Chamber. Lastly, it was ready spread, fitted, trimmed, and prepared. So sacred a mysterie as this may not be exhibited in an unfitted, or uncleane place, much lesse received into a corrupt and unprepared soule. The body of Christ was never to see corruption, and therefore it will never be mix'd with corruption. It lay first in a cleane womb, it was after buried in a virgin Sepulcher; it then was taken into the brightest heavens, and it still resides in molten and purifide hearts. He that had the purity of a Dove, will never take up the loding of a Crow. Here then we see from these cir∣cumstances with what reverence and prepara∣tion, with what affection and high esteeme we should receive these sacred mysteries. The gift of a dying friend (though of con∣temptible value) is yet greatly prized for the Page  31 memory of the donor; for though the thing it selfe be small, yet is it the pledge of a great love.* The words of a dying man, though for∣merly vile and vaine, are for the most part se∣rious and grave, how much more pretious was the gift of Christ, who is the Almoner of Almighty God, and whose only businesse it was to give gifts unto men: how much more sacred were his last words,* who all his life time spake as never man spake. The very presence of a dying man estamps on the mind an affe∣ction of feare and awe, much more should the words and gifts of him who was dead and is alive againe. Certainly he hath a flinty soule whom love as strong as death,* and death the work of that love cannot melt into a sympa∣thie of affection. In summe: the Time of this Sacrament was a time of passion, let not us be stupid; it was a time of passeover, let not our soules be unsprinkled; it was a time of unleavened bread, let not our doctrine of it, be adulterated with the leaven of heresie, not our soules in receiving, tainted with the lea∣ven of malice; it was the time of betraying Christ, let not our hands againe play the Iudas by delivering him unto jewish and sinfull soules, which will crucifie againe unto them∣selves the Lord of glory; let not us take that pretious blood into our hands rather to shed it, than to drink it, and by receiving the body of Christ unworthily, make it as the sop was Page  32 to Iudas even an harbenger to provide roome for Satan. Againe the place of the Sacrament was a high Roome, let not our soules lie sink∣ing in a dungeon of sin; it was a great roome, let not our soules be straightned in the enter∣taining of Christ; it was a trimmed roome, let not oursoules be sluttish and uncleane when then the King of glory should enter in: but as the Author of those mysteries was holy by a fulnesse of grace, the elements holy by his blessing, the tyme holy by his ordination, and the place holy by his presence; so let us by the receiving of them bee transformed as it were into their nature, and bee holy by that union unto Christ, of which they are as well the instrumentall meanes whereby it is in∣creased, as the seales and pledges whereby it is confirm'd.