A briefe homily wherein the most comfortable and right vse of the Lords Supper, is very plainly opened and deliuered, euen to the vnderstanding of the vnlearned and ignorant. Made to be vsed throughout the Diocesse of Lincolne, before euerie celebration of the Lordes Supper, in all such churches and parishes as haue not a sufficient hable preacher allowed vnder the hand and authentike seale of the Bishop there, and to be read by the minister of each such place, so distinctly and in such sorte, that all which shalbe then assembled, may well heare and marke the same.
Cooper, Thomas, 1517?-1594.
Page  [unnumbered]Page  [unnumbered]

A BRIEFE HOMILY, wherein the moste comfortable and right vse of the Lordes Supper, is very plainely opened and deliuered, euen to the vnderstanding of the vnlearned and ignorant.

THat wee doe not come negligently to the Lordes ta∣ble, wherevnto we nowe prepare our selues, let vs call these thinges fol∣lowing to our re∣membrance. This Sacrament vsed according to the instituti∣on of Christ, consisteth of two parts, that is, the outwarde signes, which are Bread and Wine: and the inwarde thing, whiche is the body and bloud of our Sauiour Christe, the true foode of our soules, which onely nouri∣sheth vs to eternall life. Now as man con∣sisteth of two partes, body, and soule: so the body feedeth vpon the outward elements of Breade and Wine, but the soule feedeth in deede, and truly, vpon Iesus Christ crucified. The outwarde eating by the instrumentes of the bodie, causeth all our senses, our hea∣ring, our seeing, our feeling, our tasting, to helpe our inward eating by faith, and by the same quickeneth, stirreth, strengtheneth, and increaseth our faith, that we may eate the Page  [unnumbered] bodie and bloud of Christe more effectually and fruitefully. For when the faithfull Chri∣stian heareth the wordes of Christes institu∣tion sound in his eares.*This is my body that is giuen for you, &c. This is my bloud that is shed for the remission of your sinnes. It stirreth vp his faith (for faith is by hearing) to lay strong holdfast vpon this promise, and in his heart, doeth assure himselfe, that Christe died and shed his bloud not onely for the redemption of the whole world generally, but for his al∣so perticularly, and that he vndoubtedly, is partaker of that blessed worke of our redem∣ption.* When we heare these wordes. Doe this in remembraunce of me. Our faith is assu∣red that it is Christes commandement, that we should vse this Sacrament, to cal to our remembrance, the benefit of our saluation by the death of Christe, and in heart and minde, at all times, but then especially, to shewe our selues truely thankefull to him, for the same. When our sight beholdeth on the Table, the Breade and Wine by Christes ordinaunce broken, and powred out, for vs to vse, our faith is moued thus to thinke: as surely and truely, as my bodily eyes be∣holde vpon the table of the Lord, the crea∣tures of Breade and Wine, as the outward parte of his Sacrament, and see the same broken and powred out for me: so assured∣ly doe I with the eye of my faith, beholde the body and bloud of Christe broken and Page  [unnumbered] shedde for me vpon the altar of the crosse, and the same my sauiour sitting now on the right hand of God the father, with the same bodie and bloud, now glorified: wherewith vpon the crosse, he paide the price of my re∣demption. When we see the Minister offe∣ring to vs the bread and the cup, and we re∣ceiue the same in our hand, and by our sense feele them inwardly in our heartes, our faith is moued to haue this cogitation. As tru∣ly as our Sauiour Christe vpon the Crosse, by his bodie broken and his bloud shedde, wrought our redemption, and offered the benefite thereof, to all that would beleeue generally: so truely am I assured, that now in the vse of this holy sacrament by his mini∣ster, he offereth the same to me particular∣ly, to be applied to my selfe. And as surely as my hande receiueth the outwarde crea∣tures: so surely, by my faith, doe I receiue Christe himselfe, and in my heart feele him, and with my spirituall armes imbrace him, as the onely price, and meanes of my salua∣tion. When we eate of the holy bread, and drinke of the reuerende Cuppe, and by our taste haue sense of the sweetenesse of them, and feele them passe downe into our sto∣macke there to rest, that they may be ac∣cording to their nature, meanes to nou∣rishe and strengthen our bodie, and to con∣tinewe it in life, our faith is stirred vppe by these senses thus to thinke. Euen as Page  [unnumbered] certainely, as my taste feeleth, the sweete∣nesse of Bread and Wine, and thereby per∣ceiueth in deede, that their operation, is to nourishe and strengthen my body, and to quicken my natural spirites, which without such nourishment, would perish: euen so the taste of my faith and sense of my heart, doeth feele the sweetnes of Christ his bodie & bloud broken and shedde for mee and all mankinde vpon the crosse, and perceiueth it thereby to be the only foode of my soule, without which, should perish both soule and bodie, eternally. And as certainly as I feele with bodily sense that the bread and wine passeth into my sto∣macke, and there according to their propor∣tion feede, strengthen and quicken my natu∣rall bodie and spirites: so assuredly doe I with my inward and spiritual sense, perceiue the bodie and bloud of Christ, and the whole benefite of his death and passion to passe in∣to the stomack of my soule, and bosome of my heart, there through the strength of a true Christian faith, to be laide vp, wrought, and digested, as that onely nourishment that ke∣peth the life of the soule, and preserueth me, both soule and body to eternal life. They that will Christianly & charitably, and in the feare of God, weigh and consider these thinges, I trust, will not thinke, either that we make light account of the externall sacrament, or in our doctrine teach a single and sleight ma∣ner of eating of Christ by faith, as the fauou∣rers Page  [unnumbered] of ye Church of Rome do charge vs. And I appeale to the consciences of all them that folow their doctrine, whether euer they were taught to take such sweete instruction and comfort, in the vse of that blessed sacrament, or no? These good fruites of that sacrament are much furthered and increased by sundrie other godly cogitations, which the Scrip∣tures teach true Christians to vse in the ad∣ministration of it.* The word of God teacheth that the vse of the externall Sacraments, is a maner of confession, wherby men acknow∣ledge them selues before God and the world, that they are Christians. Therfore the faith∣full receiuer, when he commeth to the sacra∣ment, thinketh this with himselfe: I by com∣ming to this place, protest before God and his Angels, and before all the creatures of heauen and earth, that in my heart, I detest the religion of Iewes, Turks, Infidels, He∣retiques, and all other that denie saluation to come by the death of Christ, & I acknow∣ledge my selfe vnfaignedly, to be of the nom∣ber of them, that hope to haue the fauour of God, and to be saued by the mercie and pas∣sion of Christ onely. The worde of God tea∣cheth that sacraments,* are as it were seales to confirme the truth of Gods promises, and to strengthē our faith. Therfore by this seale of the Lords supper, we assure our selues, that we are partakers of all ye legacie, which Christ our sauiour in his last wil bequeathed Page  [unnumbered] to vs, that is, that his bodie was broken vp∣on the crosse for our redemption, & his bloud shed for the remissiō of our sinnes. The scrip∣tures teach,* that in the vse of the sacramēts, through faith we be vnited vnto Christ, and ingraffed into his mysticall bodie, so that we liue now onely by him, & whatsoeuer is his, by the truth of his promise, is ours also. The word of God teacheth that the sacrament of the Lordes supper is a linke of vnitie, that knitteth vs together, as members of one mi∣sticall bodie, and therefore that we ought to be ioyned in mutuall loue, & charitie among our selues, and that it is a foule reproch both to Christ our head, and to the whole bodie, if we hate, hurte, or hinder one another. For by the vse thereof, we confesse that we are all members of one bodie, all seruants of one Maister, all children of one Father, all sub∣iectes vnder one Lord and king, & all parta∣kers of one redemption, all heires of one he∣ritage, and gift of eternall life. And in so ma∣ny linkes of vnitie, to be at discorde among our selues, is in Gods iudgement, an hea∣uie testimonie against vs, in the day of his wrath.* Finally, the word of God, teacheth vs, that the Sacrament of the Lordes sup∣per, is our heauenly feast, in which the lambe of God that taketh away the sinnes of the world, is offered vnto vs, spiritually to feede vpon in our faith, that by him (as I haue be∣fore declared) we may be nourished, streng∣thened, Page  [unnumbered] and preserued to eternall life. And ther∣fore, that we ought to be very careful, so to pre∣pare our selues, that we may be worthie guests for that blessed table. Wherefore I thinke it ne∣cessarie, in a word or two, to teache you, howe Christians should prepare themselues, as wor∣thy guestes, to come to the Lordes Supper. And how that may be done, S. Paul in gene∣rall wordes, briefely sheweth.*Let euerie man (saith he) proue himselfe, and so let him eate of this Bread, and drinke of this Cup. The meanes there∣fore, to come worthily to it, is to proue, and trie our selues, whether those thinges be in vs, which the worthie guestes of that table, should haue. First therefore, we must looke vnfaigned∣ly into our selues, whether we haue an appe∣tite, or desire to eate of that blessed foode, for a loathing stomach, neuer perfectly digesteth a∣ny meate that it receiueth, but turneth it to the hurt of the bodie. This appetite or desire can∣not be in vs, vnlesse it be wrought by the sharpe sauce of seuere repentance for our sinnes, which we shall the better prepare, if we examine our selues by the perfect rule of Gods iustice in his lawe, and consider how farre we are from the same, & what daunger hangeth ouer our heads for the want thereof. God saith in his lawe:*Thou shalt loue the Lord thy God, with al thy hart, with all thy soule, with all thy minde, with all thy strength, and thy neighbour as thy selfe: that is, we should loue, we should hate, we should feare, we should hope, for nothing but in God, and to his Page  [unnumbered] glorie: we should think and muse vpon nothing in our minde & vnderstanding, but that which may make to the honour and glorie of God: we should imploy all the powers of our bodie and all our worldly gifts to the same end: we should do nothing to any other man, which we would not willingly, be content should be done vnto vs. If we examine our selues by this rule, we shall see we be so farre from that we should be, that almoste we haue not one braunch thereof in vs, whiche will more euidently appeare, if we wil trie our selues by euery particular com∣mandement rightly and truely vnderstanded. Seeing then we be so farre from the iustice of Gods lawe, the curse thereof must needes be due vnto vs.* For God saith, Cursed is he whoso∣euer keepeth not all thinges written in the Booke of his law. In this maner if we examine our selues sincerely, we shall throughly knowe, what we are in the sight of God, as well by the corrupti∣on of our nature, as by the course of our euill and naughtie life: we shall haue sense of our owne sinne: we shall hate and detest it: we shal from the bottome of our heartes be sorie for it: with trembling mindes, we shal feare the hea∣uie iudgement of God against vs, and so will be stirred vp in vs, that godly appetite, & greedy desire to eate of that spirituall meate, whiche onely can satisfie our troubled conscience, & cure our repentant, and broken heartes. But though the appetite, & desire be neuer so great, in vaine he commeth to any table, that hath no mouth Page  [unnumbered] to eate, nor strength of stomacke to digest.* A true and strong Christian faith, is the mouth of the soule, and the power wherewith we doe receiue and digest Christe Iesus crucified, as the foode of our saluation. We must looke ther∣fore to our selues, first whether we knowe and vnderstand the mistery of our redemption: that is, that the vnspeakeable mercie of God,* sent downe the seconde person in Trinitie, to take fleshe of the blessed virgin, to liue in the shape of a most contemptible man in this world, and in the end to suffer cruel death for the redemption of mankinde. Secondly, whether we feele in our heartes a strong perswasion that we also through the merciful promises of God are par∣takers of the same worke of our redemption.* For a true Christian must not onely haue a ge∣nerall knowledge, but also by a firme faith, he must haue a particular application of the same to him selfe. Furthermore, as it is necessarie to haue, both a desire to eate stirred by a sense and feeling of true repentance, and also an assured faith to receiue and digest this wholesome and comfortable medicine of our soule:* so because God bestoweth not his mercie by his Sonne Christ in vaine, or to the end we should stil con∣tinew in sinne: we must further trie our selues, whether we feele an vnfained desire to rise to a newnesse of life, and in earnest studie, hereafter to amend our former faultes, and to frame our selues to a godly and honest conuersation, that God in vs may be glorified, and the mouthes Page  [unnumbered] of the enemies stopped. Lastly we must examine our consciences, whether we haue a feruent & great desire to call to our remembrance the vn∣estimable benefite of our redemption,* made by the price of his body and bloud, and to acknow∣ledge and confesse the same vnfainedly, before God, and the worlde, and to yeelde vnto him, most heartie thankes for the same, and the resi∣due of his benefites, not at this present time onely, but euer hereafter, vntill the time of his comming. This is the godly and Christian tri∣al of our selues, which if we do vse, by the grace of Gods spirite working in vs, we shall be∣come, either worthie guestes, or much more fit then otherwise we should be without such tri∣all. Happily some will thinke that this admo∣nition, is a terrour and torment to their consci∣ences, to feare men from comming to this bles∣sed Sacrament, rather then an exhortation or incouragement vnto it. For if the danger, be in it selfe so great,* as the vnworthie receiuer ea∣teth dampnation to himselfe, and the prepara∣tion and triall so straight, as you haue made it, it were better neuer to come to it. For what one is there among a thousand that doeth in this manner trie his conscience? or if he doe, he must needes feele so great want and imperfection, either in sorrowe for his sinnes, or in sense of Gods wrath, or in weakenesse of his faith, or in the study of new life, or in the coldnesse of his charitie, or in his feblenesse to giue thanks, & to set forth the glorie of God, or in al these things, Page  [unnumbered] that he must needes be ouerwhelmed in consci∣ence, and feared to make himselfe partaker of these holy misteries. But (dearely beloued) Let not this feare shake our consciences, nor driue you backe from this blessed table.* This exami∣nation and triall must be within the bounds of humane frailtie, and God in this, as in all other doinges, for Christ his sake, will vse his mercie and clemencie, for he knoweth our corruptions and imperfections, and will haue regard of our infirmities. Onely let vs not be secure, slack and negligent, but feeling by this triall great want in our selues, let vs with lowly, humble, & con∣fessing heartes, acknowledge the same, and say vnto God. I am sorie (O Lord) for my sinnes, but not as the grieuousnesse of them requireth, augment (O Lorde) by thy spirite, the sense of thy wrath in mee. I beleeue and knowe with o∣ther Christians, that thy sonne hath shedde his bloud for me, but increase my faith, (O God,) & helpe mine vnbeleefe. I desire to liue according to the calling of a Christian, but the fleshe and the world maketh this study colde in me: there∣fore doe thou strengthen me with thy blessed spirite. I knowe it is my bounden duetie to yeeld vnto thee immortall thankes, aswell for all other thy benefites, as principally for the whole worke of our redemption by the death of thy dearely beloued sonne. But I feele this zeale to be so faint and feeble, that it is nothing according to my duetie, and for that cause, I lift vp mine eyes to the throne of thy mercie, & Page  [unnumbered] humbly desire thee, to pardon al my imperfecti∣ons, and to heale all mine infirmities. The sense and knowledge of my weaknes, may not feare me, frō this holy table. For this heauenly feast, is a medicine for them that be sick, a comfort to them that be penitent sinners, a free and libe∣rall gift, to such as be poore and haue nothing of them selues.* Christ in this feast is giuen as meat, without which, we know, we must of ne∣cessitie perish. And he is giuen as life vnto vs, & therefore without him, we can haue nothing but death. The best worthinesse, that we can bring to these reuerend and holy misteries, is, that we confesse our owne vnworthines, that thy mercie may make vs worthy: that we de∣spaire in our selues, that thy grace may comfort vs: that we humble our selues, to the end thy goodnesse may raise vs vp: that we accuse our selues, to the end thy sonne by his merite may iustifie vs. For though of our selues we are ha∣ble to do nothing: yet by him, we shalbe hable to do all thinges. These or like cogitations if we haue in preparing our selues, to that blessed nourishment of our soules: he that breaketh not a bruised reede, nor putteth out smoking flaxe, will not cast aside our infirmitie, but wil mer∣cifully receiue vs. The sorrowfull Father, which with care for his sonne cried vnto Christ. I beleeue Lord,*but helpe mine vnbeleefe, Though his faith, as it might appeare, was very weake yet obtained he his purpose at Christ his hand to haue his sonne by miracle healed. If our Page  [unnumbered] faith be but as a graine of mustard seede,* yet it wil much preuail with Gods mercie. The Apo∣stles of Christ which were admitted to his last supper, were notwithstanding weak, & touched with many infirmities, although thei were not altogether wicked & faithlesse, as Iudas was: they beleeued in Christ, they loued Christ, & they loued one another, & yet at the very table of the Lord, they shewed their weaknes. Peter not wt∣out some reproch of ye residue, preferred himself before thē al,*Though al other (saith he) be offēded by thee, yet wil not I be offended by thee. They am¦bitiously contended among themselues, which of them shold be the greater. I wil not mentiō, that immediately after Supper, they through timerousnes fled from Christ, & for the time for∣soke him, which was an euident token, of the weaknes of their faith, after the knowledge of his doctrine, & experience of many & wonderfull miracles. Yet it pleased the great mercie of our sauiour, fauourably to accept them, and to ad∣mit them as singular instrumēts of his grace. We may not therefore, for our weakenes, & im∣perfection despaire or refuse the comfort of that heauenly table, but rather let vs in all dutifull sort, approch thervnto, & pray most hartily (eue∣rie one of vs al) that we may be fit and worthy guestes for the same, which God our Father grant vs for his sonnes sake, Christ Iesu our sa∣uiour, by the working of his moste holy, & com∣fortable spirite, to whom be all honour, prayse, and glorie, for euer and euer. Amen.

FINIS.