A Treatise of the Sacraments Gathered out of certain Sermons
95 min read
95 min read
These be cases not of wit, but of faith ; not of eloquence, but of truth ; not invented or devised by us, but from the Apostles and the holy Fathers and founders of the Church by long succession brought unto us. We are not the devisers thereof, but only the keepers ; not the masters, but the scholars. Touching the substance of religion, we believe what the ancient Catholike learned Fathers believed : we do what they did : we say what they said. And marvel not, in what side soever ye see them, if ye see us join unto the same. It is our great comfort that we see their faith and our faith to agree in one.
John Jewel, An Answer to M. Harding’s Conclusion (1565)
I have opened unto you the contents of the Lord’s Prayer, and showed you upon whom we ought to call, and what to ask : and the Articles of our Christian Faith, in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost ; of the Church, of Remission of Sins, of the Resurrection, and of life everlasting, etc. And I have opened unto you the Ten commandments, and, in them what our duty is towards God, towards our Prince and Magistrates, towards our Parents, towards our neighbour, and towards our selves. All this have I done simply and plainly, without all show of learning, that it might the better sink into our hearts.
Now I think good to speak of the Sacraments of the Church, that all you may know what they are, because you are all partakers of the holy Sacraments. Christ hath ordained them, that by them he might set before our eyes the mysteries of our salvation, and might more strongly confirm the faith, which we have in his blood, and might seal his grace in our hearts. As Princes seals confirm and warrant their deeds and charters : so do the Sacraments witness unto our conscience, that God’s promises are true, and shall continue for ever. Thus doth God make known his secret purpose to his Church : first, he declareth his mercy by his word : then he sealeth it, and assureth it by his Sacraments. In the word we have his promises : in the sacraments we see them.
It would require a long time, if I should utter that might be said in this matter : especially in laying open such errors and abuses, as have crept into the Church. But I will have regard to this place, and so frame my speech, that the meanest and simplest may reap profit thereby. That you may the better remember it, I will keep this order : I will show you, what a Sacrament is ; Secondly, who hath ordained them ; Thirdly, wherefore they were ordained, and what they work in us ; Fourthly, how many there are: and then I will briefly speak of every of them.
A Sacrament is an outward and visible sign, whereby God sealeth up his grace in our hearts, to the confirmation of our Faith. Saint Augustine saith : Sacramentum est invisibilis gratis visibile signum : “A Sacrament is a visible sign of grace invisible.” And that we may the better understand him, he telleth us what thing we should call a sign : “A sign is a thing that besides the sight itself, which it offereth to the senses, causeth of itself some other certain thing to come to knowledge.” In Baptism, the water is the sign : and the thing signified is the grace of God. We see the water, but the grace of God is invisible : we cannot see it. Moreover he saith : Signa, cum ad res divinas adhibentur, Sacramenta vocantur : “Signs, when they be applied to godly things, be called Sacraments.” The signification and the substance of the Sacrament, is to show us, how we are washed with the passion of Christ, and how we are fed with the body of Christ. And again : “If sacraments had not a certain likeness and representation of the things whereof they be Sacraments, then indeed they were no sacraments.” And because of this likeness which they have with the things they represent, they be oftentimes termed by the names of the things themselves. Therefore after a certain manner of speech ( and not otherwise ) the Sacrament of the body of Christ is the body of Christ, and the sacrament of the blood of Christ is the blood of Christ ; so the Sacrament of faith, is faith.
Who hath ordained the Sacraments ? Not any Prelate, not any Prince, not any Angel, or Archangel, but only God himself. For, he only hath authority to seal the charter, in whose authority only it is to grant it. And only he giveth the pledge, and confirmeth his grace to us, which giveth his grace into our hearts. Chrysostom saith : Divinum & integrum non esset mysterium, si quicquam ex te adderes : “The mystery were not of God, nor perfect, if thou shouldest put any thing to it.” In the days of Noah, when God determined to be merciful unto his people, and never to drown the whole world with water, he said : “I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of the covenant between me and the earth ; and when I shall cover the earth with a cloud, and the bow shall be seen in the cloud, then will I remember my covenant which is between me and you, and between every living thing in flesh, and there shall be no more waters of a flood to destroy all flesh.”
In like manner, when God would witness and establish to Abraham, and his seed after him, the promise of his mercy, he himself ordained a sacrament to confirm the same : “This is my covenant which ye shall keep between me and you, and thy seed after thee. Let every man child among you be circumcised.” Thus God ordained the sacrament of circumcision. This sacrament was a seal of God’s promise to Abraham, and a seal of Abraham’s faith and obedience towards God. By this sacrament man was bound to the Lord : and by the same sacrament God vouchsafed to bind himself to man. But how is the sacrament formed ? of what parts is it made ? Augustine saith : Accedat verbum ad elementum, & fit Sacramentum : “Join the word of Christ’s institution with the sensible creature, and thereof is made a Sacrament.” Join the word to the creature of water, and thereof is made the Sacrament of Baptism : take away the word, then what is the water other than water ? The word of God and the creature make a sacrament. But why were sacraments ordained ? he telleth you : In nullum nomen religionis, ceu verum. &c : “Men cannot be gathered together to the profession of any religion, whether it be true or false, unless they be bound in the fellowship of visible signs or sacraments.” The first cause why they were ordained is, that thereby one should acknowledge another, as followers of one household, and members of one body. So was all Israel reckoned the children of Abraham, because of their circumcision ; and all such as were uncircumcised were cut off from the people, and had no part in the commonwealth of Israel, because they were uncircumcised : Even as we take them that are not baptized to be none of our brethren, to be no children of God, nor members of his Church, because they will not take the Sacrament of Baptism. Another cause is, to move, instruct, and teach our dull and heavy hearts, by sensible creatures, that so our negligence in not heeding or marking the word of God spoken unto us, might be amended. For if any man have the outward seal, and have not the faith thereof sealed within his heart, it availeth him not : he is but an hypocrite and dissembler. So the circumcision of the foreskin of the flesh taught them to mortify their fleshly affections, and to cut off the thoughts and devices of their wicked hearts. Therefore said Stephen to the Jews, “Ye stiffnecked and of uncircumcised hearts and ears, you have always resisted the holy Ghost.”
So, when in Baptism our bodies are washed with water, we are taught that our souls are washed in the blood of Christ. The outward washing or sprinkling doth represent the sprinkling and washing which is wrought within us : the water doth signify the blood of Christ. If we were nothing else but soul, he would give us his grace barely and alone, without joining it to any creature, as he doth to his Angels : but seeing our spirit is drowned in our body, and our flesh doth make our understanding dull ; therefore we receive his grace by sensible things.
Chrysostom saith : Aliter ego, & aliter incredulus disponitur. Ille cum, &c : “I am otherwise affected, than is he which believeth not. When he heareth of the water of Baptism, he thinketh it is nothing else but water : but I see ( not the creature only, which mine eyes do see, but also ) the cleansing of my soul by the holy Ghost. He thinketh that my body only is washed : I believe that my soul is thereby made pure and holy : & withal, I consider Christ’s burial, his resurrection, our sanctification, righteousness, redemption, adoption, our inheritance, the kingdom of heaven, and the fullness of the spirit.” For I judge not of the things I see by my bodily eyes, but by the eyes of my mind.
When one that is unlearned, and cannot read, looketh upon a book, be the book never so true, never so well written, yet because he knoweth not the letters, and cannot read, he looketh upon it in vain. He may turn over all the leaves, and look upon all, and see nothing : but another that can read, and hath judgment to understand, considereth the whole story, the doughty deeds, grave counsels, discreet answers, examples, promises, threatenings, the very drift and meaning of him that wrote it. So do the faithful receive the fruit and comfort by the Sacraments, which the wicked and ungodly neither consider nor receive. Thus do the Sacraments lead us, and instruct us to behold the secret and unknown mercies of God, and to carry ourselves to the obedience of his will. And this is the other cause, why Sacraments were ordained.
Thirdly, they are seals and confirmations of God’s promise. S. Paul saith : “Abraham received the sign of circumcision, as the seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had when he was uncircumcised.” By these, we stop the mouth of heretikes. For if they deny that our Lord Jesus Christ was delivered to death for our sins, and is risen again for our justification ; we show them our Sacraments, that they were ordained to put us in remembrance of Christ, and that the use of them, we show the Lord’s death till he come. We tell them, these are proofs and signs, that Christ suffered death for us on the cross. As Chrysostom saith : “Laying out these mysteries, we stop their mouths.”
What, are they nothing else but bare and naked signs? God forbid. They are the seals of God, heavenly tokens, and signs of the grace, and righteousness, and mercy given and imputed to us. Circumcision was not a bare sign. “That is not circumcision, which is outward in the flesh,” saith Paul, “but the circumcision of the heart.” And again : “In Christ ye are circumcised with circumcision made without hands, by putting off the sinful body of the flesh, through the circumcision of Christ.” Even so is not baptism any bare sign. Baptisma eius, saith Chrysostom, etiam passio eius est : “Christ’s baptism, is Christ’s passion.” They are not bare signs : it were blasphemy so to say. The grace of God doth always work with his Sacraments : but we are taught not to seek that grace in the sign, but to assure ourselves by receiving the sign, that it is given us by the things signified. We are not washed from our sins by the water, we are not fed to eternal life by the bread and wine, but by the precious blood of our Saviour Christ, that lieth hid in these Sacraments.
Bernard saith : Datur annulus ad investiendum, &c : “The fashion is to deliver a ring, when ownership and possession of inheritance is given : the ring is a sign of the possession. So that he which hath taken it may say, The ring is nothing, I care not for it ; it is the inheritance which I sought for. In like manner, when Christ our Lord drew nigh to his passion, he thought good to give ownership and possession of his grace to his disciples, and that they might receive his invisible grace by some visible sign.”
Chrysostom saith : In nobis non simplex aqua operatur : sed cum accepit gratiam spiritus, abluit omnia peccata : “Plain or bare water worketh not in us, but when it hath received the grace of the Holy Ghost, it washeth away all our sins.”
So saith Ambrose also : Spiritus Sanctus descendit, et consecrat aquam : “The holy Ghost cometh down, and halloweth the water.” And, praesentia Trinitatis adest : “there is the presence of the Trinity.” So saith Cyril : Quemadmodum viribus ignis aqua, &c : “As water thoroughly heat with fire, burneth as well as the fire : so the waters which wash the body of him that is baptized, are changed into divine power, by the working of the holy Ghost.” So said Leo, sometimes a Bishop of Rome : Dedit aquae, quod dedit matri. Virtus enim altissimi, & obumbratio Spiritus Sancti, quae fecit ut Maria pareret salvatorem, eadem fecit, ut regeneret unda credentem : “Christ hath given like preeminence to the water of Baptism, as he gave to his mother. For that power of the Highest, & that overshadowing of the holy Ghost, which brought to pass that Mary should bring forth the Saviour of the world, hath also brought to pass, that the water should bear anew, or regenerate him that believeth.”
Such opinion had the ancient learned Fathers, and such reverend words they used, when they entreated of the Sacraments. For it is not man, but God which worketh by them : yet is it not the creature of bread or water, but the soul of man that receiveth the grace of God. These corruptible creatures need it not : we have need of God’s grace. But this is a phrase of speaking. For the power of God, the grace of God, the presence of the Trinity ; the holy Ghost, the gift of God, are not in the water, but in us. And we were not made, because of the sacraments : but the Sacraments were ordained for our sake.
Now for the number of sacraments, how many there be : it may seem somewhat hard to say, and that it cannot be spoken without offence. For men’s judgments herein have swerved very much : some have said, there are two : others, three : others, four : and others, that there are seven Sacraments. This difference of opinions standeth rather in terms, than in the matter. For a Sacrament in the manner of speaking which the Church useth, and in the writings of the holy Scripture, and of ancient fathers, sometimes signifieth properly every such Sacrament which Christ hath ordained in the new Testament, for which he hath chosen some certain element, and spoken special words to make it a Sacrament, and hath annexed thereto the promise of grace ; sometimes it is used in a general kind of taking, and so every mystery set down to teach the people, and many things that indeed and by special property be no Sacraments, may nevertheless pass under the general name of a Sacrament.
The Sacraments instituted by Christ are only two : the Sacrament of Baptism, and of our Lord’s Supper, as the ancient learned fathers have made account of them. Saint Ambrose, having occasion of purpose to entreat of the Sacraments, speaketh but of two. De Sacramentis, saith he, quae acceptistis, sermonem adorior : “I begin to speak of the sacraments which you have received.” And yet in his whole treatise, divided into six books, he writeth but of two : his book is extant, if any man doubt this, he may see it.
S. Augustine reckoneth them to be but two : Haec sunt Ecclesiae gemina Sacramenta : “These be the twin Sacraments of the Church.” Again he saith : Quaedam pauca pro multis, eademque factu facillima, &c : “Our Lord and his apostles have delivered unto us a few sacraments instead of many : and the same in doing most easy, in signification most excellent, in observation most reverend, as is the Sacrament of Baptism, and the celebration of the Body and Blood of our Lord.” Thus Augustine and Ambrose, unto whom I might also join other ancient fathers, reckon but two Sacraments. Let no man then be offended with us for so doing ; we do no new thing, but restore the ordinance of Christ, and keep the example of the holy fathers.
What then, do we refuse Confirmation, Penance, Orders, and Matrimony ? Is there no use of these among us, do we not allow them ? Yea, for we do confirm, and teach Repentance, and minister holy Orders, and account Matrimony, and so use it, as an honourable state of life. We visit the sick among us, and anoint them with the precious oil of the mercy of God. But we call not these Sacraments, because they have not the like institution. Confirmation was not ordained by Christ : Penance hath not any outward element joined to the word : the same may be said of Orders. And Matrimony was not first instituted by Christ : for God ordained it in paradise long before. But in these two, we have both the element and the institution. In Baptism, the element is water ; in the Lord’s supper, bread and wine. Baptism hath the word of institution : “Teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” The Lord’s Supper in like manner hath the word of institution : “Do this in remembrance of me.” Therefore these two are properly and truly called the Sacraments of the Church, because in them the element is joined to the word, and they take their ordinance from Christ, and be visible signs of invisible grace.
Now, whatsoever lacketh either of these, it is no Sacrament. Therefore are not the other five, which are so reckoned, and make up the number of seven, in due signification and right meaning taken for sacraments. For in such sort as these are called sacraments, that is because they signify some holy thing, we shall find a great number of things which the godly learned fathers have called sacraments ; and yet, I trow, we must not hold them as sacraments ordained to be kept and continued in the church : for then should there be not seven, but seventeen sacraments.
S. Bernard calleth the washing of the Apostles feet a Sacrament : Ablutio pedum Sacramentum est quotidianorum peccatorum : “The washing of feet is the Sacrament of daily sins.” So Leo calleth the Cross of Christ a Sacrament. Crux Christi quae salvandis est impensa sidelibus, & sacramentum est, & exemplum : “The Cross of Christ, which was given to save the faithful, is both a Sacrament, and also an example.” Tertullian calleth the whole state of Christian faith religionis Christianae Sacramentum, “the Sacrament of Christian religion.” S. Hilary in diverse places saith : Sacramentum orationis, Sacramentum esuritionis, Sacramentum sitis, Sacramentum fletus, Sacramentum Scripturarum : “The Sacrament of prayer, the Sacrament of fasting, the Sacrament of thirst, the Sacrament of weeping, the Sacrament of the Scriptures.” Thus much for the number, that by the institution of Christ there are but two Sacraments, as Cardinal Bessarion confesseth : Haec duo sola Sacramenta in Evangeliis manifeste tradita legimus : “We read that these two only Sacraments were delivered us plainly in the Gospel.”
I will now speak briefly of the Sacraments in several, and leave all idle and vain questions, and only lay open so much as is needful and profitable for you to know. Baptism therefore is our regeneration or new birth, whereby we are born anew in Christ, and are made the Sons of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. It is the Sacrament of the remission of sins, and of that washing which we have in the blood of Christ. We are all born the children of wrath, and have our part in the offence of Adam. S. Paul saith : “By one man sin entered into the world.” Augustine saith : Non dixit, veniet super eum, sed manet super eum. Respexit originem &c : “Christ said not, it shall come upon him ; but it abideth on him : He had regard to our offspring, when he saith, the wrath of God abideth on him. Upon which when the Apostle also looked,” he said, “and we our selves also were sometimes the children of wrath. That which in Adam was imputed to his offence, and not to be of nature, is now in us, which are come of Adam, become natural.” Therefore saith the Prophet, “Behold, I was born in iniquity, and in sin hath my mother conceived me.” So that we all have cause to cry out and moan with S. Paul : “I see another law in my members rebelling against the law of my mind, and leading me captive unto the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? ” Hereof speaketh our Saviour : “That which is born of the flesh is flesh : and that which is born of the spirit, is spirit.” And for this cause, saith he, “Except a man be born of the water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
For this cause are infants baptized, because they are born in sin, and cannot become spiritual, but by this new birth of the water & the spirit. They are the heirs of the promise : the covenant of God’s favour is made unto them. God said to Abraham : “I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” Therefore saith the Apostle : “If the root be holy, so are the branches.” And again : “The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband : else were your children unclean : but now are they holy.” When the Disciples rebuked those that brought little children to Christ, that he might touch them, he said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.” And again, “Their Angels always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”
The kingdom of heaven is of such, saith Christ : not only then of those, but of other like infants, which shall be in all times.
As God took the seed of Abraham to be partakers of the covenant which he gave to Abraham : so he appointed that every man child of eight days old should be circumcised. “And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac, when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.” May we think that the promise of God hath an end, so that it reacheth not to our children ? or might the children of the Jews receive the sign of the covenant, and may not the children of the Christians ? Whatsoever was promised to Abraham, the same is also performed unto us. We enjoy the same blessings, and free privilege of God’s favour. S. Paul to the Galatians saith : “Know ye, that they which are of faith are the children of Abraham ? ” Again : “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs by promise.”
Now is the sign of the Covenant also changed, and Baptism is in stead of Circumcision, as S. Paul declareth, and calleth them circumcised, which are baptized. “In whom” ( meaning Christ ) “also ye are circumcised, with circumcision made without hands, by putting off the sinful body of the flesh, through the circumcision of Christ, in that you are buried with him through baptism.” Our Saviour giveth charge to his Apostles, to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The apostles baptized not only such as professed their belief, but whole households. The keeper of the prison was baptized, with all that belonged unto him. So was Cryspus, the chief ruler of the Synagogue, and his household, and the household of Stephanas. Infants are a part of the church of God : they are the sheep of Christ, and belong to his flock. Why should they not bear the mark of Christ ? they have the promise of salvation : why should they not receive the seal whereby it is confirmed unto them ? they are of the fellowship of the faithful. Augustine saith : Ubi ponis parvulos non baptizatos ? profecto in numero credentium : “Where place you young children, which are not yet baptized ? Verily in the number of them that believe.” Why then should not they be partakers of the Sacrament together with the faithful ?
And as the children of the faithful by right ought to be baptized : So such others also as were born of unbelieving parents, and were aliens from the common wealth of Israel, and were strangers from the covenant of promise, and had no hope, if they acknowledge the error in which they lived, and seek the forgiveness of their former sins, may well receive this Sacrament of their regeneration. So when they which heard Peter, “were pricked in their hearts,” and said to Peter and the other Apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do ? ” Peter said unto them, “Amend your lives, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Iesus Christ, for the remission of sinnes.” They were buried with Christ by Baptism into his death, and made partakers of his blood, and continued in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship.
Christ, saith the Apostle, “loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify it and cleanse it by the washing of water through the word.” Again : “According to his mercy he saved us by the washing of the new birth, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” For this cause is baptism called salvation, life, regeneration, the forgiveness of sins, the power of God to resurrection, the Image and pledge of resurrection, and the weed of immortality. And yet are not these things wrought by the water : for then what need had we of Christ ? what good did his passion ? what doth the holy Ghost work in our hearts : what power or force is left to the word of God ?
Augustine saith : Quare non ait, mundi estis propter Baptismum quo loti estis : nisi quia etiam in aqua veroum mundat ? detrahe verbum, & quid est aqua nisi aqua ? ” “Why doth not Christ say, Now ye are clean, because of the Baptism wherewith ye are washed : saving that because in the water it is the word that maketh clean ? take away the word, and what is water more than water ? ” It is the covenant, and promise, and mercy of God, which clotheth us with immortality ; assureth our resurrection, by which we receive regeneration, forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. His word declareth his love towards us : and that word is sealed and made good by Baptism. Our faith, in which are Baptized, and our continuance in the profession which we have made, establisheth in us this grace which we receive. As it is said : Verus Baptismus constat non tam, &c : “True Baptism standeth not so much in washing of the body, as in the faith of the heart.” As the doctrine of the apostles hath taught us, saying, “By faith purifying their hearts.” And in another place : “Baptism saveth us, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the examining of a good conscience before God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Therefore Jerome saith : “They that receive not Baptism with perfect faith, receive the water ; but the holy Ghost they receive not.”
The water wherein we are baptized doth not cleanse the soul : but “the blood of Iesus Christ his Son doth cleanse us from all sin.” Not the water, but the blood of Christ reconcileth us unto God, strengtheneth our conscience, and worketh our redemption. We must seek salvation in Christ alone and not in any outward thing. Hereof saith Cyprian : Remissio peccatorum, sive per Baptismum, sive per alia Sacramenta donetur, proprie spiritus sancti est. Verborum solennitas, &c : “The remission of sins, whether it be given by baptism, or by any other Sacraments, do properly appertain to the holy Ghost. The solemnity of the words, and the invocation of God’s holy Name, & the outward signs appointed to the ministry of the Priest by the institution of the Apostles, work the visible outward Sacrament. But touching the substance thereof, it is the holy Ghost that worketh it.” S. Ambrose also saith : Vidisti fontem, vidisti Sacerdotem &c : “Thou hast seen the water, thou hast seen the Priest, thou hast seen those things which thou mightest see with the eyes of thy body, and with such sight as man hath : but those things which work and do the deed of salvation, which no eye can see, thou hast not seen.”
Such a change is made in the Sacrament of Baptism. Through the power of God’s working the water is turned into blood. They that be washed in it receive the remission of sins : their robes are made clean in the blood of the Lamb. The water itself is nothing : but by the working of God’s spirit, the death and merits of our Lord and Saviour Christ are thereby assured unto us.
A figure hereof was given at the red sea. The children of Israel passed through in safety : but Pharaoh and his whole army were drowned. Another figure hereof was given in the Ark. The whole world was drowned, but Noah and his family were saved alive : Even so in the fountain of baptism, our spiritual Pharaoh the Devil, is choked : his army, that is, our sins are drowned, and we saved. The wicked of the world are swallowed in concupiscence and vanities, and we abide safe in the Ark : God hath chosen us to be a peculiar people to himself ; we walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit, therefore we are in Christ Jesus, and there is now no condemnation unto us.
Now, touching the Minister of this Sacrament, whether he be a good man or an evil man, godly or godless, an Heretike, or a Catholike, an Idolater or a true worshipper of God : the effect is all one, the value or worthiness of the Sacrament dependeth not of man, but of God. Man pronounceth the word, but God settleth our hearts with grace : man toucheth or washeth us with water, but God maketh us clean by the Cross of Christ. It is not the minister, but Christ himself which is the lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.
Again, whether the infant be signed with the sign of the cross, or be put into the water once or thrice ; whether one or two or three, or more be Godfathers, or witnesses of the Baptism, it maketh nothing to the virtue of the Sacrament ; they are no part thereof : without these, baptism is whole and perfect. Hereof Gregory saith, In una fide nihil officit consuetudo Ecclesiae diversa : “The Faith being one, the diversity of customs hurteth nothing.” Christ left no order for the use of these things, neither did by his word or example require them. The Church of God hath liberty to dispose herein, as may be most fitting for decency and godliness.
Some make doubt of those infants, the children of the faithful, which depart before baptism, whether they be saved or not. What, shall we say that they are damned? It is a hard matter, and too curious for man to enter into the judgments of God : his mercy is infinite, and his purpose secret. He showeth mercy unto those upon whom he will have mercy. Who can appoint him, or set him an order what he shall do? It is not good, nor standeth with Christian reverence to be contentious and busy in searching out, or reasoning of matters, which the wisdom of God hath hid from our knowledge.
Yet if any would fain be resolved : he may thus safely reason. It is true, that children are born in sin, and that by the sin of one man death hath entered into the world, and that the reward of sin is death : but who knoweth, if God have forgiven them their sin? Who is his Counsellor, who knoweth his meaning? Our children are the children of God. He is our God, and the God of our seed. They be under the covenant with us. The soberest way is to speak least, and to leave them to the judgment and mercy of God.
Howbeit, if any should despise, and of willfulness refuse this holy ordinance, so that they would in no case be baptized, or suffer their children to be baptized ; that were damnable. Otherwise the grace of God is not tied so to the ministration of the Sacrament, that if any be prevented by death, so that he cannot be received to the fellowship thereof, he should therefore be thought to be damned. For many have suffered death for God’s cause, for their faith in Christ, who never were baptized : yet are they reckoned, and are indeed blessed Martyrs. So Valentinianus a Christian Emperor died without baptism : yet doeth Ambrose commend him, and nothing doubteth but that he is saved. He saith : Audivi vos dolere, quod non acceperit &c : “I have heard that you are grieved, because he took not the Sacrament of Baptism. Tell me, what other thing is there in us, but our will, and our desire ? ” Again, “He which was endued with thy spirit, O God, how might it be, that he should be void of thy grace ? Or, if this move you, because the mysteries were not solemnly ministered : are not the Martyrs crowned, if they be only novices ( that be not yet Christened ) ? But if they be washed in their blood, then is he also washed in his godliness and in his desire.” S. Augustine saith : “He is not deprived from the partaking and benefit of the Sacrament, so long as he findeth in himself that thing, that the Sacrament signifieth.”
Constantinus the great, was the first Christian Emperour : yet was not baptized until the time of his death. Qui, cum Nicomediae ageret ( saith Theodoretus ) languore gravatus, nec ignorans vitae huius incertum, gratiam baptismatis est adeptus : “Who, when he was at Nicomedia, being grievously sick, and knowing the uncertainty of this life, was baptized.” The thief upon the cross was not baptized : Yet Christ said unto him, “This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” The Prophet Jeremy and John Baptist were sanctified in their mothers wombs. By these few it may appear, that the Sacrament maketh not a Christian, but is a seal and assurance, unto all that receive it, of the grace of God, unless they make themselves unworthy thereof, and that no man may despise this holy ordinance, and keep back his infants from baptism, for in so doing he procureth his own damnation. In time of ignorance many could see this, and acknowledge it, that the outward baptism by water was not necessary unto salvation, so that the children or others, that died without it, were for lack thereof damned. The Church hath always received three sorts of baptism : the baptism of the spirit, or of blood, or of water. If any were prevented by death, or hindered by cruelty or persecution, so that they could not receive the sacrament of baptism at the hands of the minister, yet having the sanctification of the holy ghost, or making their faith known by their suffering, they were born anew, and baptized. God hath his purpose in us & our children. Before we be born, when we had done neither good nor evil, he hath mercy and compassion on us. Judgment appertaineth unto God. He knoweth who are his. No man knoweth the things of God, but the spirit of God only. And thus much of the sacrament of baptism, which is the badge and cognisance of every Christian. If any be not baptized, but lacketh the mark of God’s fold, we cannot discern him to be one of the flock. If any take not the seal of regeneration, we cannot say, he is born the child of God. This is the ordinary way, let us use it, let us not despise nor postpone to receive the Sacraments : they are the means, by which God maketh sure his good will towards us.
It shall not be amisse, to speak a word or two of the naming of your children. Some are herein overseen, they refuse to call their children by the names of holy men and women, because they think it to savour somewhat too much of religion, and therefore either they name them at adventure, having no regard at all, how they be named : or else they give them the names of Heathen men, and call them Julius, Caesar, Hercules, Lucretia, Scipio, or such like. These, although they were notable in wisdom, learning, chastity, boldness, and in conquests ; yet were they Heathen men, and knew not God. The name is nothing, it commendeth us not to God. Yet may a Christian father be ashamed to call his child by the name of such, who were enemies to the cross of Christ.
Chrysostom, a godly father, saith, Non solum hic parentum monstratur pietas, sed et magna erga pueros diligentia &c : “In this thing,” that is, in the naming of their children, “both the godliness of the parents, & also their great care for their children is declared. And how have they forthwith and from the beginning taught the children which were born unto them, giving them warning, by the names wherewith they call them, that they should practise virtue ! They did not give names at adventure and without reason, as is used now a days. For now men say, let the child be called after the name of his grandfather, or great grandfather : but our old fathers did not so. They took all heed to call their children by such names, which should not only provoke them to virtue which carried the names, but should teach all others much wisdom, whosoever should remain many years after them.” Again he saith : “See how great understanding they of old time had, that even the women named not their children rashly or by chance, but called them by names that foreshowed such things as might happen after.” And of Leah, Jacob’s wife, he maketh a special commendation. Vidisti quomodo non simpliciter, neque temere nomina natis indiderit : Vocavit eum Simeon, quoniam audivit ( inquit ) Dominus : “See how she nameth not her children simply, nor at adventure : she called him Simeon, because ( saith she ) the Lord hath heard.” Therefore he saith, Igitur nos ne vulgaria nomina pueris indamus, neque avorum, &c : “Let not us therefore give names unto our children that are common names, or because they were the names of our grandfathers or great grandfathers, or of such who have been famous for their parentage : but rather let us call them by the names of such as have excelled in virtue, and have been most faithful towards God.” Let them carry the names of the Apostles, of the Prophets, of the Martyrs, of such who have been constant in the faith, and have suffered death for Christ’s sake. That so they may be taught by their name to remember whose name they bear, and that they neither speak nor do any thing unworthy of their name.
As, if any be called John, that he pray for grace, and desire to be filled with grace : that he give witness of Christ, that he is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world : that he rebuke vice boldly, as John did in Herod, though he were a mighty prince. Or, if he be called Paul, that he so become a follower of Paul, as Paul was of Christ : and say with Paul, “That I might live unto God, I am crucified with Christ. Thus I live, yet not I now, but Christ liveth in me : ” and hear Christ speaking unto him as did Paul, and fall down and say, “Lord, what wilt thou that I do ? ” So let him, that is called Thomas, touch the bosom of Christ, and handle his wounds, and make a good confession as Thomas did, and say, “My Lord, and my God.” Let Matthew forsake his custom, even the deceitful gains of the world, and follow Christ. Let Daniel remember Daniel, and though he should be thrown into the den of lions, or be burnt in the fire, or suffer any cruel torments, yet let him not therefore forsake God, but put his whole trust in him. Thus should our names teach us, that whether we write them, or utter them, or hear them spoken, they may put us in mind of Christian duty and godliness.
The other Sacrament of Christ’s Shurch is the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, which some have called the Sacrament of the Altar : some the Sacrament of the holy table : some the Sacrament of bread and wine : but we most properly may call it the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. And that we wander not at large, but may stand in certain ground, I will expound those words of our Saviour : “This is my body ; ” and, “This is my blood of the new Testament, that is shed for many : for the remission of sins.”
This matter these two or three hundred years late past, hath been encumbered with many questions and much controversy. Some say, the words are plain. Christ himself spake them : he is almighty, and can do whatsoever he will : he hath not spoken otherwise than he meant : if we expound them by signs and figures, we take away the force of the holy mystery, and make nothing of it : the words must be taken even as they lie, they must not have any other construction. Therefore at this day, many wise men, which yield from other points of superstition, and in many other things receive the truth, stand here, and stick at this, and cannot yield.
I will declare the whole matter simply, and plainly, and submit myself to the understanding and capacity of all men. That which I will utter herein shall not be of myself, but of the fathers of the Church : not of those which have been of later years, but of the most ancient : not of the heretikes, but of the most Catholike, which ever have been the enemies and confounders of Heretikes. I will show the use, and order, and faith of the Primitive Church which was in the times of the Apostles, and of Tertullian, Cyprian, Basil, Nazianzen, Jerome, Augustine, Chrysostom, and other Catholike and godly learned Fathers. Let no man regard me, or my speech : I am only a finger : these are clear and bright stars. I do but show them unto you, and point them, that you may behold them. God give us grace that we may see them truly, and by them be able to guide and to direct our way. Let us lay aside all contention, and quietly hear that shall be spoken. Whatsoever shall be said, if it be true, if it be ancient, if it be Catholike, if it be so clear as the Sun beams, let us humble our hearts, and believe it. There is no truth but of God. Whosoever resisteth the truth, resisteth God.
First, I will show you, that we do truly and indeed eat the body of Christ, and drink his blood. And this shall be the foundation, and key of entrance into all the rest.
Secondly, I will open these words, “This is my body,” and there how, by what sort, in what sense and meaning, the bread is the body of Christ.
Thirdly, that the bread abideth still in former nature and substance as before : even as the nature and substance of water remaineth in Baptism.
Fourthly, how the body of Christ is eaten : whether by faith, or with the mouth of our body : and how the body of Christ is present in the Sacrament.
Fifthly, what difference is between the body of Christ, and the Sacrament of the body of Christ.
Sixthly, how we ought to prepare our minds, and with what faith and devotion we must come to the receiving thereof.
We say, and believe, that we receive the body and blood of Christ truly, and not a figure or sign ; but even that body which suffered death on the Cross, and that blood which was shed for the forgiveness of sins. So saith Christ ; “My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” And again : “Except ye eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” And again : “He that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” We say, there is no other substantial food of our souls : and that he is divided among all the faithful ; and that he is void of salvation, and the grace of Christ, whosoever is not partaker of his body and blood. This we say, and may not flee from it hereafter.
Yet, lest haply any should be deceived, we say this meat is spiritual, and therefore it must be eaten by faith, and not with the mouth of our body. Augustine saith : Ut quid paras dentes & ventrem ? crede, & manducasti : “Why preparest thou thy teeth and thy belly ? believe, and thou hast eaten.” And again, Nolite fauces parare, sed cor : “Prepare not your jaws, but your heart.” As material bread nourisheth our body, so doth the body of Christ nourish our soul, and is therefore called bread. Deus panis intus est animae meae, saith Augustine : “God is the inward bread of my soul.” For we receive him, and eat him, and live by him. But hereof hereafter more at large.
Now, let us consider the Words of Christ, “This is my body,” and, “This is my blood.” These words, you say, are plain, open, easy, and manifest. So are they : yet albeit they are plain, they must have a right construction. The plainest words that be, unless they be duly expounded, may breed error. S. John saith, “The word was made flesh.” These words are plain, yet of these plain words Apollinaris did breed an heresy. Christ saith, “My Father is greater than I.” His words are plain : yet did the Arians gather thereof an heresy, that Christ is not equal with his Father. Christ saith of John Baptist : “This is Elias, which was to come.” He saith not, he doth signify Elias, but, he is Elias. The words are plain : yet were there some that stood in the maintenance of their error thereby, and said, that the soul of Elias did abide in John Baptist. Christ saith, “If thine eye cause thee to offend, pluck it out, and cast it from thee ; ” And, “If thy hand or foot cause thee to offend, cut them off, and cast them from thee.” The words are plain : yet he meaneth not, that you should pick out your eyes out of your head, nor chop off your hands or feet from your body. John saith of Christ, “He will baptize you with the holy Ghost, and with fire.” These words are plain, yet hereof some raised this error, that children at the time of their baptism, should be marked in the forehead with a hot burning iron. S. Paul saith : “He hath made him to be sin for us, which knew no sin.” The words are plain : yet Christ never sinned. He is the Lamb of God, in whom there is no spot. He is hereby said to be the Sacrifice for sin. Christ saith, “They two shall be one flesh.” And, “They are no more two, but one flesh.” These words are plain : yet if you try the words by common sense, it is not so ; they are not one, but two of several flesh. Christ saith : “You are the salt of the earth : you are the light of the world.” The words are plain : yet indeed, the Apostles were neither material light, nor material salt. Christ said of Judas : “One of you is a devil.” The words are plain : yet Judas in nature and substance was not a Devil.
S. Paul saith of Melchisedech : “He was without father, and without mother, without kindred, and hath neither beginning of his days, neither end of his life.” These words are plain : yet indeed he had father and mother, and was a man, and was born, and died as other men. So he saith, “The rock was Christ.” So Moses saith : “The life of all flesh is his blood.” And so is Christ called a Lamb, a Lion, a worm, a way, a bridegroom, a head, a door, a vine, the light, bread, water, a garment. These speeches, and infinite others the like, are plain, open, and evident : yet are they not true as the words sound them, and literally. For Christ is not a lamb in substance and nature, but a spiritual lamb. So is he a spiritual garment, spiritual light, spiritual water, and spiritual bread.
Christ said to Nicodemus : “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” These words are plain : yet Nicodemus mistook them, and was deceived, and said : “How can a man be born that is old ? Can he enter into his mother’s womb again and be born ? ” Christ meant the spiritual birth of the soul and the spirit, not the natural and corporal birth of the body.
And to come nearer to the matter in hand, when Christ said : “I am the bread which is come down from heaven ; ” and, “except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you ; ” and, “My flesh is meat indeed ; ” and, “My blood is drink indeed : He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever ; ” the Capernaites thought these words plain enough : therefore they say, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat ? This is an hard saying, who can hear it ? ” And they departed away from him. Then said Jesus, “The words that I speak unto you are spirit and life.” Upon occasion hereof, S. Augustine writeth thus : Spiritualiter intelligite quod loquutus sum vobis. Non hoc corpus, &c : “Understand ye spiritually that I have spoken unto you. Ye shall not eat this body that ye see, neither shall ye drink that blood that they shall shed that shall crucify me. I have recommended unto you a certain sacrament : being spiritually understood, it will give you life.” Even so Chrysostom : “What is it that he saith, ‘The flesh profiteth nothing?’ He speaketh it not of flesh indeed ; God forbid : but of such which take the things carnally that are spoken. And what is it to understand carnally ? Even to take things simply as they be spoken, and to seek no further meaning. For the things which are seen are not so to be judged of : but all mysteries should be considered with inward eyes, that is, spiritually.”
Again upon these words : “If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever,” he saith, Partem vero sive doctrinam hoc in loco, & salutem, & fidem in se, sive corpus suum dicit : utrumque enim animam fortiorem reddit : “He calleth bread in this place, either doctrine and salvation and faith in him, or else his body : for either of these maketh the soul stronger.” S. Paul saith : “He that eateth or drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh his own damnation.” Damnation is a spiritual thing, which is not received in by the mouth, or broken with the teeth. So Christ saith : “This Cup is the new Testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Yet now is not his blood shed any more : for he is risen, and dieth not.
And these words which are so plain, if they be examined, will not be so plain to yield the sense, unto which they are forced. It is written : “He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body.” This bread is my body. The bread was still bread, and neither flesh nor his body. And, “This cup is the new Testament.” In due, and right, and open meaning, the cup cannot be the new testament. Here we see, how the words are not all so plain, but must have a reasonable construction. It is a rule in the law : In fraudem legis facit, qui verbis legis salvis, sententiam eius circumvenit : “He doth wrong to the law, that following only the bare words, defraudeth the meaning of the Law.”
Origen saith : Est et in novo Testamento litera, quae occidit eum, &c : “There is also in the new Testament a letter which killeth him that doth not spiritually understand those things which are spoken. For if he follow this after the letter, where it is said, Except ye eat my flesh, and drink my blood ; this letter killeth.” Mark if ye take the word of Christ barely and nakedly, and as the letter soundeth, it killeth. S. Augustine saith, In allegoria omni haec regula tenenda est, ut pro sententia praesentis loci consideretur, quod per similitudinem dicitur : “This rule is to be kept in every allegory, that what is spoken by similitude, be weighed by the meaning of the present place.” Jerome saith, Non in verbis Scripturarum est Evangelium, sed in sensu : “The Gospel is not in the words of Scriptures, but in the meaning.” And, Non in superficie, sed in medulla ; non in sermonum foliis, sed in radice rationis : “It is not in the outward show, but in the inner marrow : not in the leaves of words, but in the root of reason.” When Christ said, “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.” The Jews, following the bare letter, did bear false witness against him, saying ; “We heard him say, I will destroy this Temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.”
We may not take the letter in all places of the Scripture as it lieth. The Scriptures stand not in the reading, but in the understanding. By taking the bare letter, the Jews found matter to put Christ to death. Origen saith : “There is a letter in the New Testament, which killeth.” Jerome saith : “The Gospel is not in the words of the Scripture, nor in the outward show, nor in the leaves ; but in the meaning, in the marrow, and in the root, which are hid, and not open and manifest.” So that they may not be taken by the bare sound, but must have some other construction.
But what shall be the construction of these words, “This is my body ? ” Whose interpretation or judgment of them shall stand ? The learned men which have been of late years, and which yet live, are suspected. Let us hear the elder ancient Fathers, whom there is no cause that any should suspect : they were not Sacramentaries, nor Zuinglians, nor Lutherans : they were not divided into any of these sects.
Tertullian, an ancient Father, who lived more than 1300. years since, expoundeth them thus : Acceptum panem, & distributum Discipulis, corpus suum illum fecit, dicendo ; Hoc est corpus meum : id est, figura Corporis mei. Figura autem non esset, nisi veritatis esset corpus. Caeterum vacua res, quae est phantasma, figuram capere non potest : “Christ taking the bread, and distributing it to his disciples, made it his body, saying, ‘This is my body,’ that is to say, this is a figure of my body. But a figure it could not be, unless there were a body of a truth, and indeed. For a void thing, as is a phantasy, can receive no figure.” Chrysostom saith : Si mortuus Christus non est, cuius Symbolum ac signum hoc Scramentum est ? “If Christ died not, whose sign and whose token is this Sacrament ? ” Again : “The very body of Christ it self is not in the holy vessels, but the mystery or Sacrament thereof is there contained.”
Augustine, against the Heretike Adimantus, writeth : Non dubitavit Dominus dicere, Hoc est Corpus meum, cum signum daret corporis sui : “Our Lord doubted not to say, This is my Body, when he gave a token of his body.” And in another place : “Christ took Judas unto his table, whereat he gave unto his Disciples the figure of his body.” S. Jerome saith : “Christ represented the verity of his body.”
S. Ambrose saith : “Before Consecration, it is called another kind : after Consecration, the body of Christ is signified.” And again : “In eating and drinking” ( that is, in receiving the holy Communion ) “we signify the body and bloud of Christ that was offered for us.” So also Gelasius saith : Imago & similitudo corporis et sanguinis in actione mysteriorum celebratur : “The image & similitude of his body and bloud is showed in the action of the mysteries.” It would be overlong to lay forth unto you what other reverend old Fathers have written to like effect, and have expounded those words of Christ by such terms as you have heard, of sign, figure, token, image, and likeness. I trust no man be offended : these speeches are not mine own, but the speeches of most ancient Fathers, and have been spoken or written, and continued in the Church, these 1200. 1300. and well near 1400. years, and never condemned in them as false, though many of late times have sought otherwise to understand the words of Christ. The Gloss upon the Canons joineth herein with the Fathers : Dicitur Corpus Christi, sed improprie : ut sit sensus, Vocatur Corpus Christi, &c : “It is called the body of Christ, but unproperly : the meaning thereof may be this, It is called Christ’s body, that is to say, it signifieth Christ’s body.”
Therefore doth S. Augustine give us good and wholesome advertisements : thus he writeth to Bonifacius : “Unless Sacraments had a certain likeness of the things of which they be sacraments, then indeed they were no Sacraments. And of this likeness oftentimes they bear the names of the things themselves that are represented by the sacraments.” And again : “In sacraments we must consider, not what they be,” ( in substance and nature, ) “but what they signify.” Again he saith : “It is a dangerous matter, and a servitude of the soul, to take the sign instead of the thing that is signified.” And again : “If it be a speech that commandeth, either by forbidding an horrible wickedness, or requiring that which is profitable, it is not figurative : but if it seem to require horrible wickedness, and to forbid that is good and profitable, it is spoken figuratively. Except ye eat ( saith Christ ) the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. He seemeth to require the doing of that which is horrible, or most wicked : it is a figure, therefore, commanding us to communicate with the passion of Christ, and comfortably and profitably to lay up in our remembrance, that his flesh was crucified and wounded for us.” In another place he saith, “It is a more horrible thing to eat man’s flesh, than to kill it : and to drink man’s blood, than it is to shed it.” Again he saith, “We must beware, that we take not a figurative speech according to the letter : for thereto it pertaineth,” that the Apostle saith, “the letter killeth.” Besides that which hath been showed you out of the godly learned old Fathers, how they have expounded these words, whosoever will advisedly consider these principal sentences, or rather rules of S. Augustine, shall be helped much, and directed to the due and Catholike construction and meaning of them.
The next matter, and the third of the six is, whether the bread and wine abide still in former nature and substance as before, even as the nature and substance of water remaineth in the Sacrament of Baptism. There are some that say, by virtue of these words, Hoc est corpus meum, the bread is changed into the body of Christ, that the substance of bread is gone, and nothing remaining, but only accidents ; that is, a show, and appearance, and likeness of bread. They say, it seemeth to be the same it was, but it is changed : it seemeth to be bread, but it is not bread : and the wine, by the taste and colour, seemeth to be wine, but it is not wine. They say we may not believe our eyesight, nor stand to the judgment of our senses. They say, Christ is almighty, he spake the word, and all things were made : he hath said, Hoc est corpus meum, therefore it is now no more bread, but his body : and that this is the faith of the Church, in which we were born and christened.
Indeed, this hath lately been received as a matter of faith. But if we examine it well, we shall find it to be an error, and no point of faith. I say it hath been received of late : for our old Fathers never believed it, as I will declare, and prove, and let you see, that it hath not been the Catholike faith, nor the Faith of Primitive Church, nor of the Apostles of Christ, therefore no faith at all. The opening of this matter will be somewhat dark, and wherewith you have not been acquainted : but give me your attendance, lend me your senses, and I trust by the grace of God I shall make it plain.
They say, the bread is changed, and done away utterly : and that it is no bread, though it seem to be bread : that in this case we may not trust our eyes, but lean to faith. Mark I say, they tell us, that the bread remaineth not, and for trial hereof they require us not to lean to any other thing than faith. We will then close and shut up our senses, and hearken what Christ, what S. Paul, what the holy Fathers of the Church, who are best able to instruct our Faith, have spoken.
S. Paul to the Corinthians, in one piece of a Chapter, calleth it bread four times. Read the place, ye shall find it so in the eleventh of the first Epistle. “The Lord Jesus in the night that he was betrayed, took bread.” And, “As often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye show the Lord’s death till he come.” Again : “Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” And again : “Let a man therefore examine himself, and so let him eat of this bread, and drink of this cup.” They say it is not bread ; but Paul saith, and so many times saith, it is bread. And of the wine, Christ said after he had given thanks, and it was consecrate, and after his Supper, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine henceforth, until that day when I shall drink it new with you in my father’s kingdom.” The fruit of the vine is wine : therefore the selfsame fruit of the vine, the selfsame wine in substance, did abide still after consecration as before.
S. Augustine calleth this holy mystery, Sacramentum panis & vini : “The Sacrament of bread & wine.” Justinus Martyr saieth, Diaconi distribuunt unicuique prasesentium de pane in quo gratiae actae sunt : & de vino & aqua ad eos qui non sunt praesentes deferunt : “The Deacons divide unto every one of them that are present part of that bread over which thanks were given : and they carry of the wine and water to such as are not present.” Again he saith : Alimento humido & sicco admonemur, quae propter nos Deus dei filius perpessus sit : “By dry and moist food” ( whereby he meaneth the sacrament ) “we are taught what things God the Son of God hath suffered for us.” What meant he by dry food, but bread ? or by moist food, but wine ? It cannot be avoided, but that he thought that bread and wine remain after the consecration. He lived 1400. years since. And before him Ignatius : Unus pants omnibus fractus : “It is one bread which is broken for all.” So Irenaeus, who also lived 1400. years since, saith : Eum calicem, qui est creatura, &c : “He made that cup, which is a creature, his body, by which he increaseth our bodies. Therefore when the cup of mixture, and the bread which is broken, receiveth the word, it is made the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, by which the substance of our flesh is increased and nourished.” He saith, after Consecration it is a creature, and such a creature as nourisheth the substance of our flesh.
Origen, who lived well nigh 1400. years since, saith : Ille cibus qui sanctificatur per verbum Dei, perque obsecrationem, iuxta id quod habet materiale, in ventrem abit, & in secessum eiicitur : “The meat which is sanctified by the word of God & by prayer, as touching the material substance thereof, goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the privy.” Certainly, unless bread, in the substance and nature of bread, did remain in the sacrament, these words were too horrible to be spoken. Dionysius saith : Pontifex opertum panem aperit, & in frusta concidit : “The Bishop uncovereth the bread that was covered, & cutteth it in pieces.” He noteth, that the loaf of the communion was of some bigness, and that the minister after consecration divided it, and gave to every man a portion.
S. Cyprian writeth : Dedit Dominus noster in mensa, in qua ultimum cum apostolis participavit convivium, &c : “Our Lord at the Table, whereat he received his last Supper with his Disciples, with his own hands gave his own body, by the hands of ye souldiers, to be wounded.” He maketh a difference between that which Christ gave upon the Cross, and that which he gave at the Table. At the Table he gave bread and wine ; upon the Cross he gave his body and blood. Again he calleth the bread after Consecration, Panem ex multorum granorum adunatione congestum, “Bread made” ( not of forms and accidents, but ) “of the substance and moulding of many corns.”
Ambrose saith : Quanto magis operatorius est sermo Dei, ut sint quae erant, & in aliud commutentur ? “How much more effectual is the word of God, that the bread and wine may be” ( in substance and nature ) “the same that they were before, and yet be changed into another thing ? ” They are changed into a Sacrament, which they were not before, and remain bread and wine, which they were before. Chrysostom saith : In similitudinem corporis & sanguinis Christi, panem & vinum secundum ordinem Melchisedech, nobis ostendit in Sacramento : “He showed us in a Sacrament bread and wine, after the order of Melchisedech, to be the likeness of the body and blood of Christ.” What should I stand to trouble you with the rest ? As these say, so say the other : that the things which are seen in the Sacrament are bread and wine.
But, say they, it is called bread, because it was bread, or because it hath a likeness of bread. A pretty shift, but it will not help. For S. Augustine saith : Quod videtis, panis est & calix : quod vobis etiam oculi renunciant : “The thing that you see is the bread and the cup : which thing your eyes do testify.” Gelasius saith : Non desinit esse substantia panis, vel natura vini. Et certe imago vel similitudo corporis & sanguinis Christi in actione mysteriorum celebratur : “There leaveth not to be the substance of bread, or the nature of wine. And indeed the image or representation, and likeness of the body and blood of Christ is published in the ministration of the mysteries.” He saith, it leaveth not, it remaineth, it is still ( not the form or appearance, but ) the substance and nature.
Chrysostom saith, Natura panis in Sacramento remanet : “The nature of bread remaineth in the Sacrament.” * And Theodoretus : Signa mystica post sanctificationem non recedunt a natura sua : manent enim in priori substantia, & figura, & forma : “The mystical tokens or sacraments after the Consecration, depart not from their own nature : for they remain still in their former substance, and form, and figure.” Not only in form and figure, not only in show, but it remaineth bread and wine in nature & substance. Likewise Cyrillus : Christus fragmenta panis dedit Discipulis : “Christ gave fragments or pieces of bread to his Disciples.” It was very bread divided into sundry pieces. And Rabanus saith : Sacramentum ore percipitur, & in alimentum corporis redigitur : “The Sacrament is received with the mouth, and is turned into the nourishment of the body.”
Bertramus saith : Secundum creaturarum substantiam, quod fuerunt ante consecrationem, hoc et postea consistunt : “Touching the substance of the creatures ( of bread and wine ) they abide the same after, as they were before the consecration.” Even so saith Clemens : Vinum esse illud quod benedictum est ostendit, rursus dicens, Non bibam amplius ex hoc germine vitis : “Christ showed that that was wine which was blessed, by saying again, I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine.” I will bring forth no more witnesses in this matter ; you have enough, and so many as may satisfy any reasonable man. You see the consent of the old Doctors ; I know not how any thing may be more plainly set down and declared.
Why then, say you, how came transubstantiation into the Church ? How it came in, I cannot show you. The husbandman, that findeth his field overgrown with cockle and ill weeds, knoweth not how they come. They grow of themselves, he soweth them not. But when, or since what time it hath been received and allowed of, I will tell you. It was first determined and enacted in the council of Lateran, under pope Innocentius the Third, in the time of king John, king of England, and in the year of our Lord 1215. that is, 350. years ago, and not before. Then was it first so named, and made a matter of faith, and never before. This I speak not of myself ; they that maintain that error confess it ; the most learned, and wisest, and sagest of them say it. And yet then was it no Catholike faith, for it was only received in the Church of Rome ; the other Churches over all the world received it not, as appeareth by a Council holden at . * Therefore, if transubstantiation be a matter of faith, it is a new late found faith, and no old and Catholike faith. In the time of our great grandfathers it was not so taken. Afterward Pope Honorius 3. commanded that it should be kept under a canopy, and that the people should worship the Sacrament. And after him Urbanus 4. made a new holiday in honour of it, which he called Corpus Christi day. And all these things have been done within these few years. For before, in the times of Augustine, Jerome, Chrysostom, and the old Fathers, they were never heard of. But to return to that we have in hand, whether the bread and wine in the Sacrament remain in their proper nature : Yes verily, for so is it avouched by our Saviour, by S. Paul, by Ignatius, Justinus, Irenaeus, Origen, Dionysius, Cyprian, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Augustine, Gelasius, Theodoretus, Cyrillus, Bertramus, and Rabanus. By so many good and lawful witnesses it appeareth, that the bread and wine remain in the same nature and substance as before.
I seek not to astonish you by bringing in such a heap of Authors : nor yet to seek mine own glory thereby, God is my witness, and his Christ. If I would seek mine own commodity, I should hold my peace, and not unfold these errors, wherewith the Church of God hath been disquieted these late years. As for glory, I have none in these things : shame come upon them that seek the glory and commendation of men : our glory is to discharge our conscience, and to speak the truth, that we may be blameless in the day of our Lord.
And yet in speaking thus of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, and denying the strange and new learning of transubstantiation, and making it known, that the bread and wine continue still that they were before, we do not conceive basely or unreverently of the sacrament : we do not make it a bare or naked token. Let no man be deceived. We do both think and speak soberly, and with reverence of the holy mysteries. As we cannot call them more than they are, so may we not esteem them less than they are by the ordinance and institution of Christ.
We say, they are changed, that they have a dignity and preeminence which they had not before ; that they are not now common bread, or common wine, but the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ : a holy mystery : a covenant between Christ and us : a testimony unto our conscience that Christ is the Lamb of God : a perfect seal and sufficient warrant of God’s promises, whereby God bindeth himself to us, and we stand likewise bounden unto God, so as God is our God, and we are his people.
In baptism, the nature and substance of water doth remain still : and yet is not it bare water. It is changed, and made the sacrament of our regeneration. It is water consecrated, and made holy by the blood of Christ. They which are washed therein are not washed with water, but in the blood of the unspotted Lamb. One thing is seen, and another understood. We see the water, but we understand the blood of Christ. Even so we see the bread and wine, but with the eyes of our understanding we look beyond these creatures : we reach our spiritual senses into heaven, and behold the ransom and price of our salvation. We do behold in the Sacrament, not what it is, but what it doth signify. When we receive it with due reverence and faith, we say, as said Gregorius Nyssenus ; Ego aliam escam agnosco, quae, &c : “I know another kind of meat, bearing the likeness and resemblance of our bodily meat, the pleasure and sweetness whereof passeth only into the soul.” It goeth not into the mouth or belly, but only into the soul, and it feedeth the mind inwardly, as the other outwardly feedeth the body.
We say as S. Augustine : Ipse est panis cordis nostri : “Christ is the bread of our heart.” And as S. Basil : Est spirituale os interioris hominis, quo nutritur recipiens verbum vitae, quod verbum est panis, qui descendit de coelo : “There is a spiritual mouth of the inner man, by which he is nourished by receiving ( Christ ) the word of life, which is the bread that came from heaven.” In this mystery of the death of Christ, his death and passion is renewed to our remembrance. We are so moved to sorrow for our sins, which have been cause of his death : and to be thankful for the great mercy of God, which by this means wrought our redemption, as if we did see him present before our faces hanging upon the Cross. We know that Christ hath left his Sacraments to his Church, that they might be helps to lift us up into Heaven. By them we are joined with Christ, and made partakers of his passion.
Next, let us consider, how and after what sort we eat the body of Christ in the Sacrament. And here, I beseech you, that you may take the comfort of the body and blood of Christ, to give good ear. For of mistaking this mystery, grew the first error in the Church. When the Disciples of Christ heard Christ speak of this matter, and understood him not, they were offended, and shrunk back, and departed. If we take the words of Christ in such meaning as they did, we shall be deceived and offended, as they were.
This it is then which we have to consider, whether the body of Christ go into our mouth and our bodies, as other meats : or whether it be received spiritually, as a spiritual meat, and so pass into and nourish our soul. Hereof somewhat was said before, by the way and shortly. But for clearer understanding of the same, we have to weigh and declare, that the eating of the body of Christ is not gross or corporal, but ghostly and spiritual, as a peculiar work of the mind.
The truth hereof is founded in our Creed, and is an article of our Christian faith. We believe that Christ did rise again from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God in glory. So saith S. Paul, “If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.” And again : “Our conversation is in heaven, from whence we also look for the Saviour, even the Lord Jesus Christ.” Christ himself saith to his Disciples : “It is expedient for you that I go away.” And : “The poor always ye have with you, but me ye shall not have always.” So S. Peter saith, “Whom the heaven must contain, until the time that all things be restored, which God had spoken by the mouth of all his holy Prophets since the world began.”
Which speeches have occasioned the old ancient learned Fathers, to teach the people after this sort, touching the body of Christ. Vigilius, a godly Bishop and Martyr, saith : Caro Christi cum esset in terra, non erat in coelo : & nunc, quia est in coelo, non est utique in terra : “The flesh of Christ when it was in earth, was not in heaven : and now, because it is in heaven, doubtless it is not in earth.” Ambrose saith : “Seek the things that be above, and not the things that be upon earth. Therefore we must seek thee neither upon the earth, nor in the earth, nor according to the flesh, if we list to find thee.”
S. Augustine saith : “According to the flesh that the word received : according to that he was born of the Virgin : according to that he was taken of the Jews : according to that he was nailed to the Cross : according to that he was taken down, and lapt in a shroud, and laid in the grave, and rose again, and showed himself. In this respect it is true that he said : Ye shall not evermore have me with you.”
And again he said : Donec saeculum finiatur sursum est Dominus, &c : “Until the world be ended, the Lord is above : yet notwithstanding even here is the truth of the Lord. For the body wherein he rose again must needs be in one place.” So Cyrillus said : Christus non poterat in carne versari cum Apostolis postquam ascendisset ad patrem : “Christ could not be conversant together with his Disciples in his flesh, after he had ascended unto his father.” It would be tedious to allege all that might be said to like purpose. Thus Christ, and Paul, and Peter : thus Vigilius, Ambrose, Augustine, Cyril, and all the old Catholike fathers say ; and we are taught to believe, that Christ is not corporally in the Church, but is ascended into heaven, and that he hath given to his body immortality, but hath not taken from the same the nature of a body. Vigilius having cause to prove this same article against Eutyches, shutteth up the matter thus : Haec est fides & professio catholica, quam Apostoli tradiderunt, martyres roboraverunt, & fideles huc usque custodiunt : “This is the Catholike faith and profession, which the Apostles have delivered, the martyrs have confirmed, and the faithful hitherto do continue.”
The body then which we eat is in heaven : above all Angels, and Archangels, and powers, and principalities. Our meat is in heaven on high, and we are here below on the earth. How may it be, that we may reach it, or taste, or eat it? Here let us imagine, that there are two men in every man, and that every man is flesh and spirit, body and soul. This man thus doubled, must be furnished with double senses : bodily to serve the body, and spiritual to serve the soul. He must have eyes of the body, and eyes of the soul : ears of the body, and ears of the soul. Spiritual senses are quick, sharp, and lively. They pierce any thing, be it never so thick : they reach any thing, be it never so far off. Christ saith of Abraham, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day : he saw it, and was glad.” He saw it, not with his bodily eyes, but with the inner eyes of the soul.
When we speak of the mystery of Christ, and of eating his body, we must shut up and abandon all our bodily senses. And, as we cannot say that we see him with our bodily eyes, or hear him with our bodily ears, or touch him with bodily feeling : so likewise can we not, and therefore may we not say, we taste him, or eat him with our bodily mouth. In this work we must open all the inner and spiritual senses of our soul : so shall we not only see his body, but hear him, and feel him, and taste him, and eat him. This is the mouth, and the feeling of faith. By the hand of faith we reach unto him, and by the mouth of faith we receive his body.
Touching the eating of Christ’s body, Saint Augustine taught the people on this wise : Crede, & manducasti. Credere in Christum, hoc est, manducare panem vivum : “Believe in Christ, and thou hast eaten Christ. For, believing in Christ, is the eating of the bread of life.” Believe that he is that Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. Believe that there is no other name given unto men, wherein we shall be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ. Believe that he hath paid the ransom for the sins of the whole world. Believe that he hath made peace between God and man. Believe, that it is he, which hath reconciled all things by his blood. Here is nothing to be done by the mouth of the body. Whosoever thus believeth, he eateth, he drinketh him.
Clemens saith : Hoc est bibere sanguinem Iesu, participem esse incorruptionis eius : “This is the drinking of the blood of Jesus, to be made partaker of his immortality. ” Tertullian saith : “He must be received in cause of life : he must be devoured by hearing : he must be chewed by understanding : he must be digested by faith.” Thus did Christ himself teach his Disciples to understand him, “The words which I speak are spirit and life.” S. Jerome therefore saith : Quando audimus sermonem domini, caro Christi, & sanguis eius in aures nostras infunditur : “When we hear the word of God, the flesh of Christ, and his blood is poured into our ears.”
The Patriarchs and Prophets, and people of God, which lived before the birth of Christ, did by faith eat his flesh, and drink his blood. S. Paul saith : “They did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink of the same spiritual drink.” Whosoever believed in Christ, they were nourished by him then, as we are now. They did not see Christ : he was not yet born : he had not yet a natural body, yet did they eat his body : he had not yet any blood, yet did they drink his blood. They believed that it was he, in whom the promises should be fulfilled, that he should be that blessed seed, in whom all nations should be blessed. Thus they believed, thus they received, and did eat his body.
But, say some, the fathers of the old law were in darkness, in a shadow, and a figure : it was meet they should receive the Sacrament spiritually, or the body of our Lord spiritually : but all otherwise with us, unto whose benefit the sacraments of the new Testament work the thing itself that they signify : so that we receive Christ really, bodily, and with the mouth of our bodies.
S. Paul telleth us, the fathers of the old Law did eat the same spiritual meat, that is to say, the same Christ, that we eat. So saith S. Augustine : Sacramenta illa fuerunt, in signis diversa : in rebus quae significabantur, paria : “These things were Sacraments, in the outward tokens diverse, but in the things signified, all one with ours.” Likewise saith Leo : Mysteria pro temporum ratione variata sunt : quum fides, qua vivimus, nulla fuerit aetate diversa : “The Sacraments are altered according to the diversity of times : but the faith whereby we live was ever in all ages one.” If they did eat the same meat ; if the things, that is, the matter of their Sacraments were all one with ours ; if their faith was all one with our faith : what difference is there between their and our eating ? As they did eat Christ by faith, and not by the mouth of the body : so we eat Christ by faith, and not by the mouth of our body.
To make this somewhat more evident, let us take the judgment of the fathers. They teach us plainly, that the spiritual eating of Christ’s body by faith is the true eating : and that we do not grossly, fleshly, really, or naturally eat him in the Sacrament. S. Cyprian saith, the body of Christ est cibus mentis, non ventris : “It is meat for the mind, not for the belly : ” Not for the teeth to chew, but for the soul to believe. Cyrillus saith : Sacramentum nostrum, hominis manducationem non asserit, mentes credentium ad crassas cogitationes irreligiose inducens : “Our Sacrament avoucheth not the eating of a man, leading the minds of the faithful in ungodly manner to gross ( or fleshly ) cogitations.” Athanasius saith : Quot homnibus suffecisset corpus eius, &c : “Unto how many men could Christ’s body have sufficed, that he should be the food of all the world ? Therefore he made mention of his ascension into heaven, that he might withdraw them from corporal and fleshly understanding.” What thing may be spoken more plainly ? it were unpossible his natural body naturally received might suffice all the world : to let them see he had no such meaning, he speaketh of his, going up into heaven. Spiritually then, he is received of every one, and is digested, and becometh the nourishment of all the world.
S. Augustine expounding these words of Christ, “Whoso eateth of this bread shall not die,” saith thus : Quod pertinet ad virtutem sacramenti, non quod pertinet ad visibile sacramentum. Qui manducat intus, non foris : qui manducat in corde, non qui premit dente : “That pertaineth to the virtue and effect of the Sacrament, not that pertaineth to the visible sacrament. He that eateth inwardly, and not he that eateth outwardly : that eateth with his heart, not that bruiseth ( the Sacrament ) with his tooth.” Thus is Christ’s body received, as these holy fathers say : not to the filling our contentation of the body, not with mouth or tooth, but with spirit and faith, unto the holiness, and sanctification of the mind. After this sort we eat his flesh, and drink his blood.
Therefore wicked men, and such as believe not, receive not the body of Christ : they have no portion in it. So saith Origen : Est cibus verus, quem nemo malus potest edere, &c : “The body of Christ is the true food, which no evil man can eat : For, if the evil man could eat the body of our Lord, it should not be written, he that eateth this bread shall live for ever.” Ambrose saith : Hunc panem qui manducaverit, non esuriet : est esca sanctorum : non morietur morte peccatoris, quia remissio peccatorum est : “He that eateth this bread shall not hunger : it is the food of those that are holy. He shall not die the death of a sinner : because it is the remission of sins.” S. Augustine saith : Qui discordat a Christo, nec panem eius manducat, nec sanguinem bibit, &c : “Whoso disagreeth from Christ, neither eateth his bread, nor drinketh his blood : although he daily receive the Sacrament of so great a thing without difference, to the judgment of his presumption.” And again : Qui in me non manet, &c : “He that abideth not in me, and in whom I do not abide, let him not say, or think, that he either eateth my body, or drinketh my blood.” And again : Caecus interius panem Christum non videt. Et beatus est ? Hoc non dicet, nisi pariter caecus : “He that is blind in his heart within, seeth not Christ that is our bread. And is he blessed ? No man will say so, unless it be one as blind as he.”
Chrysostom saith : “Where the carcasse is, there are Eagles : The carcasse is the body of Christ, in respect of his death. But he nameth Eagles, to show, that whoso will approach to this body must mount aloft, and have no dealing with the earth, nor be drawn and creep downward, but must evermore flee up, and behold the Sun of justice, and have the eye of his mind quick and sharp. For this is a table of Eagles,” ( that fly on high ), “not of Jays” ( that creep beneath ). So saith S. Jerome : “Let us go up with the Lord” ( into heaven ) “into that great parlour, spread and clean : and let us receive of him above, the cup of the new Testament.” He saith, They that rise not up by faith, receive not the cup of Christ. So saith Hilary : “The bread that came down from heaven, is not received, but of him that hath our Lord, and is the member of Christ.”
This is the undoubted meaning of the old fathers, that the wicked are not partakers of the passion of Christ, because they lack faith, whereby only Christ is received of us. As Augustine saith : “How shall I hold Christ being absent ? how shall I thrust my hand up into heaven, that I may hold him sitting there ? Send up thy faith, and thou holdest him. ” By this means we draw nigh to Christ, we hide ourselves in his wounds, we suck at his breast, we feed of his body, and comfortably lay up in our mind, that his flesh was crucified and wounded for our sakes.
Now let us examine what difference is between the body of Christ, and the Sacrament of the body. It behooveth us to take each part aright as it is, lest we be deceived and take one for another. Origen saith : Simpliciores nescientes distinguere, &c : “Simple men, not being able to discern what things in the Scriptures ought to be applied to the outward man, and what to the inner, being deceived by the likeness of words, have turned themselves to a sort of peevish fables, and vain fantasies.” Therefore saith Chrysostom : Magnum crede mini bonum est, scire quid sit creatura, & quid sit Creator, &c : “Believe me, it is a great matter to understand what is the creature, and what is God the Creator : what are the works, and what is the workman.” The difference herein is this : A Sacrament is a figure or token : the body of Christ is figured or tokened. The Sacrament bread is bread, it is not the body of Christ. The body of Christ is flesh, it is no bread. The bread is beneath, the body is above : the bread is on the table, the body is in heaven : the bread is in the mouth, the body in the heart. The bread feedeth the outward man, the body feedeth the inward man. The bread feedeth the body, the body feedeth the soul. The bread shall come to nothing ; the body is immortal, and shall not perish. The bread is vile, the body of Christ glorious. Such a difference is there between the bread, which is a Sacrament of the body, and the body of Christ itself. The Sacrament is eaten as well of the wicked as of the faithful : the body is only eaten of the faithful. The Sacrament may be eaten unto judgment : the body cannot be eaten but unto salvation. Without the Sacrament we may be saved : but without the body of Christ we have no salvation, we cannot be saved. As S. Augustine saith : Qui non sumit carnem Christi, non habet vitam : & qui eam sumit, habet vitam, & eam utique aeternam : “He that receiveth not the flesh of Christ, hath not life : and he that receiveth the same, hath life, and that for ever.”
Such a difference maketh Epiphanius : Hoc est rotundae figurae & insensibile, quantum ad potentiam, &c : “This thing ( that is, the Sacrament ) “is of a round form,” ( for it was a great thick round Cake, ) “and touching any power that is in it, utterly void of sense. But we know that our Lord is whole sense, whole sensible, whole God, whole moving.” Again, S. Augustine saith for the difference of them : “The Sacrament” ( of Christ’s body ) “is received of some unto life, of some unto destruction : but the thing itself,” ( that is, the flesh of Christ ) “whereof this is a sacrament, is received of all men unto life, and of no man to destruction, whosoever shall be partaker of it.”
Of the difference which is between a figure of any thing, and the thing itself, Chrysostom saith : Audisti fuisse figuram, ne ergo mirare, neque omnia require in typo : neque enim typus esset, si omnia quae veritati accidunt haberentur : “Ye have heard that it was a figure, therefore marvel not, and being a figure, require not all things to agree : for otherwise it were no figure.” These and such like reasons no doubt moved the godly Father to say as we have learned to say : Aliud est Sacramentum, aliud res sacramenti : “The Sacrament is one thing, and the matter of the sacrament” ( which is Christ’s very body ) “is another thing.” And therefore he saith : Honorem, tanquam religiosa habere possunt, stuporem tanquam mira non possunt : “These things” ( speaking of the Sacrament of Christ’s body ) “may have honour, as things appointed to religion : but wonder, as things marvellous, they cannot have.” Thus are we plainly taught by the Catholike learned Fathers, to put a difference between the Sacrament, and the body of Christ : and that the one of them is not really lapped up or shut within the other : that the one ( as Epiphanius saith ) is utterly void of sense : the other whole sense, and whole sensible ; that the one is received to destruction unto some, as S. Augustine saith : the other is received of all men unto life ; that the one is a figure, as Chrysostom saith : the other a truth.
It remaineth, that we consider how we ought to prepare our hearts : and with what faith and reverence we should resort to these holy mysteries. We may not come, as we use to do to our usual meats. For here, in a mystery and Sacrament of bread, is set before us the body of Christ our Saviour ; and his blood in the Sacrament of Wine. We see one thing, we must conceive another thing. Therefore we must in such manner be affected, as if we were present to behold his death upon the cross, and the shedding of his blood for our sins.
Let us set before our eyes that dreadful tragedy, and the causes and effects of his death : that so our hearts may be the rather moved to yield that allegiance, obedience, and reverence, which is due. We were the children of wrath, the enemies of God, shut up under sin, and the heirs of everlasting damnation. In this case “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have life everlasting.” And as Saint Paul saith : “God sent his own Son in the similitude of sinful flesh, and by sin condemned sin in the flesh.” There was no other thing in heaven or earth, which would be taken for our ransom. Therefore was the Son of God brought before the Judge, and arraigned as a thief, and condemned, and scourged, and put to death : his side was opened with a spear, and the blood flowed out : and he said, It is finished : that is to say, the price for man is now paid. Thus, “being in the form of God, he thought it no robbery to be equal with God : but he made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made like unto men, and was found in shape as a man. He humbled himself, and became obedient unto the death, even the death of the Cross.” He gave his body to be crucified, and his blood to be shed for our sakes. There was no other sacrifice left for sin : woe worth the sin of man, that was the cause of the death of Christ.
What were the effects of his death ? What followed ? “God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name, that at the name of Iesus should every knee bow : and that every tongue should confess that Iesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” God spake out of the heavens, and said : “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” He crowned him with glory and honour : he hath not only advanced Christ, but us also together with him : “And made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus : He hath made us like to the Image of his Son.” Thus hath he made us an acceptable people, and hath renewed the face of the earth : see that now he saith not, as he did to Adam, Thou art earth, and shalt return to earth : but he saith, Thou art heaven : an immortal and undefiled inheritance that fadeth not away is reserved in heaven for thee. This is the effect, and value of the death of Christ.
All these things are laid before us in the holy table, if we have eyes to see and behold them. There may we see the crucifying of his body, and the shedding of his blood, as it were in a glass. Therefore Christ saith, Do this in remembrance of me : in remembrance of my benefit wrought for you : in remembrance of your salvation purchased by me. S. Paul saith : “As often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye show the Lord’s death till he come.”
In this Supper lieth a hidden mystery. There is the horror of sin, there is the death of our Lord for our sin represented, how he was wounded for our sins, and tormented for our iniquities, and led as a lamb to the slaughter. There may we see the shame of the Cross : the darkness over the world : the earth to quake : the stones to cleave asunder : the graves to open, and the dead to rise. These things may we see in the Supper : this is the meaning of these holy mysteries.
Therefore let every one examine himself, and search and weigh his own heart, whether he be the child of God, and a member of the body of Christ : and so let him eat of this bread, and drink of this cup. The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is a holy food, the seal of our faith, the assurance of God’s promises, and a covenant between God and man. He that doth unworthily thrust himself to this table, eateth and drinketh his own damnation. When a sick man, of a weak and feeble stomach, sitteth down to eat with them that are whole, whatsoever he eateth or drinketh, it doth increase his sickness. To them that perish, the word of God is a savour of death unto death. “Whoso disagreeth from Christ, neither eateth his bread, nor drinketh his blood,” as saith S. Augustine.
If any of us come to the Sacrament of the body of Christ, and yet make ourselves the members of the Devil, we tread Christ under our feet, we regard not his body crucified, nor his blood shed for us ; we regard not the price of our salvation, we are guilty of his death, we betray the innocent blood, we are fallen from grace, and Christ hath died in vain for us.
Let us remember Christ was forsaken, scorned, buffeted, crucified, and left upon the Cross : he was “a worm, and no man,” a reproach among men. Nature itself yearned, and yielded at the sight hereof. The whole land grew dark, the earth did quake, the Sun lost his light, the powers of heaven were moved, the rocks were cloven, the veil of the Temple rent, the thief repented, and said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom : ” the Centurion glorified God, and said, “Of a surety this man was just.”
Where is the power of Christ’s death now ? Where is the force and power of his word ? By these means he speaketh to thee, and calleth, saying ; Behold, O man, thus have I sought thee : these things I suffer for thy sake, that thou shouldest eat my flesh, and drink my blood, and be made one with me : that thou mightest come into me, and I into thee. I have made thee a member of my body, “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” Thou that wallowest in thy sins, thou Sodom and Gomorrah, thou child of destruction, which hast rejoiced in my shame, and art not moved with the pains which I have suffered, what might I do for thy sake, to save thee, that I have not done? What might I suffer, and have not endured it? O be a partner of my death, that thou mayest have part in my resurrection.
Let us die with Christ ; let us be crucified unto the world. Let us be holy Eagles, and soar above. Let us go up into the great parlour, and receive of our Lord the cup of the new Testament. There let us behold the body that was crucified for us, and the blood which was shed for us. There let us say, This is the ransom of the world : this was once offered, and hath made perfect for ever all them that believe : this entered once into the holy place, and obtained everlasting redemption for us : this standeth always in the presence of God, and maketh intercession for us : this is the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world : ” by this body I am now no more earth and ashes : by this, I am now not a bondman, but made free. This body hath broken the gates of hell, and hath opened heaven. In this are all the treasures of God’s mercy : by this the prince of darkness is cast forth : in this body shall he come again to judge the quick and the dead.
Let no unclean or filthy person, no adulterer, no usurer, no cruel extortioner, or devourer of God’s people, offer himself to the receiving of this Sacrament. If any be such a one, I require him by the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and by the Judge of the quick and the dead, that he come not to the Lord’s table : that he betray not the Son of God. “It were better he had never been born, and that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he thrown into the sea.” Let us not deceive ourselves : God will not be mocked. He receiveth damnation, that receiveth unworthily.
Let us fall down before our Lord, and give thanks unto him : Let us say, “What shall I give unto the Lord, for all that he hath given unto me ? I will take the Cup of Salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.” Let us say, O Lord our Lord, how wonderful is thy name in all the world. Let us say, Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me praise his holy name. Let us purpose and promise amendment of our life : let us go out with Peter, and weep : let us fall at Christ’s feet with Mary Magdalene, and with our tears wash his feet : let us say with David, I have sinned to the Lord : let us say with the prodigal Son, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against thee, I am no more worthy to be called thy Son : let us say, Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy. Thou art my God. I am thy servant. O save me for thy mercy’s sake. Let us offer up our bodies, a living, pure, holy, and acceptable sacrifice to God. So shall we be partakers of the death of Christ, and of his resurrection.
Thus have we briefly gone through the whole matter of the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, and followed the same order which was set down. First, that we do in the sacrament truly eat the body of Christ. Secondly, what is the meaning of the words, Hoc est corpus meum. Thirdly, whether the bread remain in nature and substance. Fourthly, whether it be eaten with the mouth of the body, or by faith only. Fifthly, what difference is between the body of Christ, and the mystical signs. Sixthly, how we must be prepared, and with what devotion we ought to come to receive this Sacrament.
Having thus treated of the Sacraments of the new Testament, and said so much as is needful for you to know of them both, as well of baptism, which is the sacrament of our regeneration, as of our Lord’s supper, which is the Sacrament of our refection or nourishment : I will now in few words speak something of confirmation, of matrimony, of ecclesiastical ministry which some call holy orders, of repentance or penance, and of extreme unction, which some of late years have called Sacraments, and by joining these to the other, have made up the number of seven sacraments, and so have charged the Church with five Sacraments more than Christ did ever ordain.
For these five want either the word, or the element, or both ; and therefore may not be taken for true Sacraments. Such as have with all their skill showed themselves helpers and furtherers of our adversaries, yet have plainly confessed that they are not sacraments of Christ’s institution. Alexander of Hales saith of Confirmation : “The sacrament of confirmation, as it is a sacrament, was not ordained either by Christ or by the Apostles, but afterward in the Council of Melda.” Which council was kept many years after Christ. And Durandus saith of matrimony : “Matrimony, in due and proper kind of speech, is no sacrament.” And Bessarion a Cardinal, confesseth ( as it was showed before ) that in due and right consideration, none of these five may be called sacraments : “We read” ( saith he ) “that these two only sacraments were delivered us plainly in the Gospel.”
First, of confirmation, which is so called because that which was done on our behalf in baptism is ratified and confirmed : many parents had not such due care as they ought in the godly bringing up of their children : so that many children knew not, whether they were baptized or no : many were never taught, what covenant was made between them and God in their baptism : many swerved away from Christian profession, and carried themselves to the fellowship of the heathens : and of the sons of God, became the sons of the Devil. Upon this occasion, the Church of God laieth charge upon the parents, and the witnesses of the baptizing of young children, that they teach them the ways of the Lord, and to know the holy mystery that they have received, and what they have promised and professed in Baptism ; that they put them in mind, how God hath called them out of the kingdom of darkness unto his wonderful light, and to the fellowship of the saints in light.
When the children of the Christians were thus brought up, and had learned the religion of Christ, and to walk in the ways of godliness, they were brought to the Church, and by their parents presented unto the Bishop : and yielded a reason of their faith openly, before the whole congregation ; they professed they would so believe, that they would live and die in that faith. Then the Bishop and all the people fell down on their knees, and prayed unto God that he would continue the good thing he had begun, and the Bishop, laying his hand upon them, commended them unto God. This was the ratifying of the profession which they made by others at their baptism, and for that cause called confirmation.
Now, whether it be a sacrament : and when I say a Sacrament, I mean a ceremony commanded by God in express words. For God only hath the authority to institute a sacrament. Sacraments are confirmations and seals of the promises of God, and are not of the earth, but from heaven. As Christ saith : “The baptism of John, whence was it ? from heaven or of men ? ” Chrysostom saith, the mystery were not of God, nor perfect, if thou shouldest put any thing to it. Mark, and judge, and yourselves shall see, whether this were a sacrament instituted by Christ. Augustine said : Accedat verbum ad elementum, & fit sacramentum : “Join the word to the creature, and it is made a sacrament.” This creature or element is visible, as are water, bread and wine. The word which must be joined, is the commandment and institution of Christ : without the word, and the commandment and institution, it is no sacrament.
I protest, that the use and order of confirmation rightly used is profitable, and necessary in the Church, and no way to be broken. But all that is profitable and necessary is not a sacrament. Christ did not command it ; he spake no word of it. Look and read if you doubt it ; Christ’s words are written, and may be seen. You shall never find that he commanded Confirmation or that he ever made any special promise to it. Therefore may you conclude, that it is no sacrament. Otherwise, being rightly used, it is a good ceremony, and well ordained of our ancient fathers. The Apostles laid their hands on them, and confirmed them, which were baptized of John. But that proveth not this confirmation : that was extraordinary, it was a miracle. The Holy Ghost came down upon them, and lightened their hearts by this laying on of the Apostles’ hands. But it is not so now, the Holy Ghost doth not now descend in visible form upon those which are confirmed : there is no such miracle wrought. There is no need, that it should so be. There was no commandment, either to appoint it to the Church, or to continue it until the coming of Christ, and the end of the world. Therefore it is no sacrament by the institution of Christ. Hitherto of the use : now somewhat of the abuse.
Nothing so good and holy, but it may be abused. The word of God hath been abused to heresies, to necromancy, to charms, and sorcery, and witchcraft. The supper of the Lord was abused in the time of S. Paul. He telleth the Corinthians : “This is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.” Less marvel then, if this happen to a ceremony. Time rusteth and consumeth all things, and maketh many a thing to prove naught in the end, which was first devised for good. The brazen serpent at the first was made by Moses, and set up for good purpose. But afterward it was abused : the children of Israel did burn incense unto it, and therefore Ezechias brake it in pieces.
The first abuse in confirmation was, that it was done in a strange tongue, that no man might understand what was meant. Then, that they received to confirmation such children, and so young, as were not able to make profession of their faith : so that the infant promised, he knew not what : and the bishop ratified and confirmed, where there was nothing to be confirmed : he set to his seal, where there was nothing to be sealed. These abuses were far unmeet for the Church of God.
Besides these, there was great abuse in the manner of doing. For thus the bishop said : Consigno te signo crucis ; & confirmo te chrismate salutis : “I sign thee with the sign of the cross, and confirm thee with the oil of salvation.” Thus they used to do, these were their words : “with the oil of salvation.” They took not this of Christ, nor of his Apostles, nor of the holy ancient Fathers. It agreeth not with our Christian faith to give the power of salvation unto oil. He that seeketh salvation in oil, loseth his salvation in Christ, and hath no part in the kingdom of God. Oil is for the belly, and for necessary uses of life. It is no fit instrument, without commandment or promise by the word, to work salvation.
More, they said he was no perfect Christian that was not anointed by the bishop with this holy oil. This was another abuse. For whosoever is baptized receiveth thereby the full name of a perfect Christian, and hath the full and perfect covenant and assurance of salvation : he is perfectly buried with Christ ; doth perfectly put on Christ, and is perfectly made partaker of his resurrection. Therefore they are deceived, that say, no man is a perfect Christian that is not marked with this oil. Else the Apostles, and holy Martyrs were but half Christians, because they lacked this oil. Else, what hope and comfort might the poor Fathers have ? In what state shall he think to find his child, if he die before confirmation, and pass without perfect Christendom ? Verily they write thus : Sine oleo chrismatis nemo potest sisti ante tribunal Christi : “Without the oil of Chrism, no man can appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”
Again, they say, confirmation is more honourable than baptism ; because any Priest may baptize, but confirmation is given only by a Bishop, or a Suffragan. So do they give a greater preeminence to confirmation, which is devised by man, than to the holy sacrament of baptism, which Christ himself ordained. I need not speak more hereof, the error is so gross, so thick, so sensible and palpable.
Again, when they blessed or hallowed their oil, they used these words : Fiat, Domine, hoc oleum, te benedicente, unctio spiritualis ad purificationem mentis et corporis : “O Lord, let this oil, by thy blessing, be made a spiritual ointment, to purify both soul and body.” * O Christ Jesu, where was thy cross, where was thy blood, and the price of thy death and passion, when a drop of oil was of power to work remission of all sins, to save and defend against all the darts of the wicked spirits, and to refresh both body and soul ? Yet so were we taught, so were we led. I feign not these things : the words may be seen. Neither do I speak this to bring you to a misliking or loathing of our late fathers : but only that we may humble our hearts, and give thanks to God that hath brought us out of that darkness, and given us better knowledge.
Now a word or two of the bringing up of children, and preparing them to confirmation. Wherein I would God the old order were duly observed, that they were instructed perfectly to know religion, and their duty to God : and so might be brought before the Congregation, and make an open profession of their faith, with promise, that neither tribulation, nor anguish, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor fire, nor sword, nor life, nor death, shall ever make them deny their faith. Hereof might much be spoken, but I will be short.
The whole standeth in knowledge and in the fear of God : that they may know God, and walk before him in reverence and in fear, and serve him in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life. The Jews are a miserable people, they live in error, they die in their own blood : yet have they so much understanding, that they bring up their children in the knowledge of God, and that knowledge they teach out of the word of God. They remember what charge God gave them : “Thou shalt teach them thy sons, and thy sons sons.”
Therefore, a father must teach his child, what God is : That he is our father, that he hath made us, and doth feed us, and giveth us all things needful, both for body and soul : that he is our Lord, and therefore we must serve him, and obey him, and do nothing whereby he may be displeased : that he is our Judge, and shall come to judge the quick and the dead, and that all men shall come before him, to receive according as they have done in the flesh. He must put his child in mind of his baptism, and teach him that it is a covenant of God’s mercy to us, & of our duty to God : that it is a mystery of our salvation, that our soul is so washed with the blood of Christ, as the water of baptism washeth our body. So must he also teach his child the mystery of the Lord’s supper : what & how he receiveth there to his comfort : that as the bread is broken, and the wine poured out, so the body of Christ was crucified, and his blood shed for the remission of sins : that if we believe in Christ, we are through the promise of God so certainly nourished in our souls to everlasting life, by the passion of Christ Jesus our Saviour, as our bodies are truly nourished with the creatures of bread and wine. Thus Paul was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and instructed according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers. Thus Timothy was brought up to know the holy Scriptures of a child. How are we become so superstitious ? Why have we been so delighted in darkness ? why is it so hard a matter to remove us from the errors wherein we have lived ? Why had we rather fall down before dumb things, and worship them, and continue still in ignorance, rather than hearken unto the word of God ? Why have we played the part of the Jews, and cried Crucifige upon our dear friends and kinsmen ; upon those whom we could not justly accuse of any crime ; who offended us no ways, but in that they did point us to Christ, and called us to seek salvation only in him ? Hereof there cannot any better cause be yielded than this, that we were ignorantly bred up, without knowledge of God, without understanding of his word. The wise man saith : “Teach a child the trade of his way, and when he is old he shall not depart from it.” And again : “Whoso awaketh unto wisdom betimes shall have no great travail : for he shall find her sitting at his doors.”
Therefore wicked rulers, as Julianus, Licinius, Maximinus, and such others, have forbidden that children should be brought up in the knowledge of God. They taught them to blaspheme Christ and holy men, and to speak ill of them before they knew them. But let us look upon our children as upon the great blessings of God. They are the Lord’s vessels ordained to honour ; let us keep them clean : they are Christ’s lambs and sheep of his flock ; let us lead them forth, into wholesome pasture. They are the seed plot of heaven ; let us water them, that God may give the increase : their Angels behold the face of God, let us not offend them : they are the Temples and Tabernacles of the Holy Ghost, let us not suffer the foul spirit to possess them, and dwell within them.
God saith, Your children are my children. They are the sons of God. They are born anew, and are well shapen in beautiful proportion : make them not monsters. He is a monster whosoever knoweth not God. By you they are born into the world ; be careful also that by your means they may be begotten unto God : you are careful to train them in nurture and comely behaviour of the body ; seek also to fashion their minds unto godliness. You have brought them to the fountain of baptism, to receive the mark of Christ ; bring them up in knowledge, and watch over them that they be not lost. So shall they be confirmed, and will keep the promise they have made, and will grow unto perfect age in Christ.
Of marriage I shall need say the less, the matter is so known and common. This fellowship was first ordained by God himself in Paradise. God himself said : “It is not good that man should be himself alone : I will make him an helper meet for him.” God, which fashioned man, and breathed in him the breath of life, and knoweth his very heart and reins, said ; It is not good, it is not fit, that man should be himself alone. Although man were in Paradise, although he were in the perfection of virtue, yet saith God he hath need of a helper. Christ disdained not to be at a Marriage ; he honoured it both by his presence and by the working of a miracle. S. Paul saith : “Marriage is honourable in all men, and the bed undefiled.” In all men, saith he, in the Patriarchs, in the Prophets, in the Apostles, in Martyrs, in Bishops.
That all the apostles, S. John only excepted, were married, appeareth by Ignatius, Clemens, and Eusebius. Spiridion was a married bishop, and yet he was thereby nothing hindered, neither to discharge his duty nor to any other godly purpose. Tertullian was a Priest, and married, as appeareth by his own book, written to his wife. Gregory, S. Basil’s brother, was Bishop of Nyssa, yet married. Another Gregory was bishop of Nazianzum, yet married, and nevertheless a faithful servant and steward of the mysteries of God. Hillary was bishop of Poitiers, yet married. All these were holy, and godly, and chaste in body and in spirit, and yet were married. Gregory Nazianzen saith : “Marriage is worthy of praise, for the quietness and contentation that is in it. ” And Clemens Alexandrinus saith : “As well marriage as also chastity have their peculiar offices pertaining to God.” And Chrysostom saith : “Marriage is void of fault, and is no hindrance to virtue.” Again : “So precious a thing is matrimony, that with the same thou mayest be promoted even to a Bishop’s chair.”
What are they then, that call marriage uncleanness, filthiness, a work of the flesh ? that say it defileth a man, and therefore God’s ministers may not be married ? How can they thus speak, that have any knowledge of that which God hath spoken ? May we not worthily say unto such despisers of lawful matrimony, that which S. Bernard in like case said ? Fingunt se amore castitatis ista dicere, cum ea maqis causa turpitudinis fovendae, & multiplicandae adinvenerint : “They bear us in hand, that they speak these things for love of chastity : whereas indeed they have devised the same, to the end to nourish and increase their filthiness.” Or, as Augustine sometime said to ye Manichees : Non concubitum, sed ut ab Apostolo longe ante dictum est, vere nuptias prohibetis : “Ye forbid not copulation : but as it was long ago forespoken by the Apostle, indeed ye forbid very marriage.” If you mark these few words which I delivered, it will easily appear, how reverend an account is to be made of that state of life. For if you regard the necessity thereof, God found it good to give man a wife : if the antiquity, it was ordained in the beginning of the world : if the place, in Paradise : if the time, in the innocency of man. If you regard any thing the rather, because of him that ordained it, God was the author of marriage : even God which made heaven and earth, and which is the father of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you seek the allowance, Christ approved it by his birth in marriage, and by his presence at marriage. If the dignity, it is honourable : if among whom, in all men of all estates, of all callings : in Prince, in subject, in Minister, in Priest, and in people. It is honourable in Prophets, honourable in Apostles, in Martyrs, in Bishops.
Marriage is honourable in all men, but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Their portion shall be with the infidels, they shall be cast into utter darkness, their worm shall never die, their fire shall never be quenched, they shall go down headlong into the fire that is prepared for the devil and his Angels. “Be not deceived,” saith Saint Paul, “neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor wantons, nor buggerers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Now are we to speak in the next place of the ministery of the Church, which some have called holy orders. Shall we account it a Sacrament ? there is no reason so to do. It is a heavenly office, a holy ministry or service. By such as have this office, God lighteneth our darkness, he declareth his mind to us, he gathereth together his scattered sheep, and publisheth unto the world the glad tidings of salvation. The Patriarchs did bear this office. This was the office of the Prophets. God saith : “I have sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up every day, and sending them.” Again he saith : “I have put my words in thy mouth.” Therefore when they taught the people of God, the Prophets signed their speech thus ; The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it : the Lord hath said ; The voice and the word of the Lord : hear the word of the Lord.
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent his Son, and hath spoken unto us by him. He became our Prophet, to show us the will of his Father. He saith : “I have not spoken of myself : but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” Hereof S. John saith : “No man hath seen God at any time.” He is invisible, he is incomprehensible, no mind can conceive him, no eye can see him : but “the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” Of him the Father said : “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased : hear him.” Hearken unto him, receive his word, credit him, believe him. No doubt the Ministry of the Gospel is highly to be esteemed, seeing our Saviour was not ashamed to publish the will of his Father in his own person : yet it appeareth not, where ever he did ordain it to be a Sacrament.
He appointed that the comfort thereof should be carried into all nations, and gave that charge unto his Apostles, “Go teach all nations.” Again : “What I tell you in darkness, that speak you in light : and what you hear in the ear, that preach you on the houses.” He saw the people, and had compassion on them, he saw they were dispersed, and scattered abroad like sheep without a shepherd, and that they perished, because they had no knowledge of the will of God. Therefore he saith : “Pray the Lord of the harvest, that he would send labourers into the harvest.” Therefore he ordaineth them to this ministery, “I will make you fishers of men.” And sendeth them forth, “As my Father sent me, so send I you.” And : “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He willed them to call the people to repentance, and to preach the Kingdom of God.
By this ministery, God hath gathered to himself an acceptable people, and hath brought them to the obedience of the Gospel of Christ, and hath turned the hearts of the fathers unto their children, and so made it to be the foundation of Religion. They that exercise this ministry are the eyes of Christ, the pillars of the Church, the interpreters of God’s will, the watchmen of the Lord’s tower, the leaders of Christ’s sheep, the salt of the earth, the light of the world. Daniel saith : “They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever.” Not that there is any so great wisdom, or eloquence in men : they are but weak, they are unfit to do this service. Esay saith of himself, “I am a man of polluted lips.” And Jeremy saith : “O Lord God, behold, I cannot speak, for I am a child.” So saith S. Paul : “I have planted, Apollo watered, but God gave the increase. So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” So said Saint John, that he was not Christ, nor that Prophet, but the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, and not worthy to unloose the latchet of his shoe that should come after him.
The power, whereby they did conquer the world, was not in them, but in the word which they preached. “It is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth.” It is like a fire, and like a hammer that breaketh a stone. “When ye received of us the word of the preaching of God,” ( saith S. Paul to the Thessalonians ), “ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is indeed the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe.” The power of an earthly Prince is great. The wise man saith : “The fear of a king, is like the roaring of a lion.” Yet is a prince but mortal : and the law of a prince is but mortal : it hath no power to force the conscience. But the word of God doth break into the heart, it forceth a way into the conscience : it is sharper than any two-edged sword : it entereth through, even to the dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit, because it is the word of God.
For, it is no man, but God that speaketh, as Christ telleth the Apostles : “It is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your father which speaketh in you.” So saith the Prophet Zachary : “He spake by the mouth of his holy Prophets, which have been since the world began.” The Prophets, and Apostles, and holy men of God were but instruments. It was God which gave his holy Spirit, which gave them tongues to speak, and words to utter. Therefore said Christ : “I will give you a mouth, and wisdom, where against all your adversaries shall not be able to speak nor resist.” Though men be but simple, yet the word they deliver is mighty : though they be mortal, the word of the Lord endureth for ever.
Where this word is received, it is fire, and burneth : it is a hammer, and breaketh the hardness of the heart : it is mighty in operation : it cleanseth the inner man : it openeth the conscience : it is a savour of life unto life : it is the means of salvation. He that receiveth this word and believeth, shall be saved. This is the word of reconciliation. God hath committed it unto us.
If any hide this word, he slayeth the people : He is a dumb dog. Of such God saith : “Behold, I will come against the Prophets, that steal my word every one from his neighbour.” They are thieves and robbers. “Woe be unto you Interpreters of the Law : for ye have taken away the key of knowledge,” ( saith Christ ) “ye entered not in your selves, and them that came in ye forbade.”
And again : “Woe be unto you Scribes, and Pharisees, hypocrites, because ye shut up the kingdom of heaven before men : for ye yourselves go not in, neither suffer ye them that would enter, to come in.” Of these, and against them God speaketh by the Prophet Jeremy : “Woe be unto the Pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture.” And by the Prophet Zachary : “O idle shepherd that leaveth the flock.” Thou hast ears, and hearest not : thou hast eyes, and seest not : thou hast a tongue, and speakest not : and a heart, but understandest not : thou art an Idol ; Christ said to thee, feed my Lambs, feed my sheep, but thou carest not for them. Thou hast the room of an Evangelist, and Pastor, and Teacher : but thou gatherest not the Saints together : thou doest not the work of the ministery : thou buildest not up the body of Christ. They shall perish in their wickedness, but their blood will I require at thy hands.
Here note, this ministery of the Church was not ordained to offer sacrifice for forgiveness of sins. Whosoever taketh that office upon him, he doth wrong and injury to the death and passion of Christ. He only is called of God “an high Priest after the order of Melchisedech.” He only, “by his own blood, entered in once into the holy place, and obtained eternal redemption for us.” He only, “with one offering hath consecrated for ever them that are sanctified.” He only hath said, Consummatum est : “It is finished.” The ransom or price for man’s salvation, and for forgiveness of the sins of the world is paid in me, in my death upon the Cross. Of him alone, and only of him, hath it been spoken : “This is my well beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And by Esay : “With his stripes only we are healed. It is he only, which hath made of both one.” It is he only, “which did put out the hand writing of ordinances that was against us : he even took it out of the way, and fastened it upon the Cross.” He alone is our high Priest, the Lamb of God, the Sacrifice for sins, the Altar, the Propitiation for sins, and redeemer of the World. He only hath appeased the wrath of God. He only appeareth in the sight of God, to make intercession for our sins. All others whatsoever, Apostles, Prophets, Teachers and Pastors, are not in office to offer any propitiatory sacrifice : but are called to the ministery of the Saints, to the edification of the body of Christ, and to the repairing of the Church of God.
Thus much of the holy ministery of the Church, which standeth in the setting forth of the mystery of our salvation, both by the preaching of the word of God, and by the due and reverend ministration of the Sacraments. The principallest part of this office is, to preach repentance, that so we may amend our lives, and be converted unto God. So Joel the Prophet followed his ministery, saying : “Rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful.” So S. Paul teacheth, “That true circumcision is by putting off the sinful body of the flesh : ” that it is in mortifying our members that be on the earth, “Fornication, uncleanness, the inordinate affections, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry : ” that it is in putting away all these things, “wrath, anger, maliciousness, cursed speaking, filthy speaking out of your mouth, in putting off the old man with his works,” and putting on the new, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.
So John Baptist said : “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. Prepare ye the ways of the Lord, and make his paths straight.” So our Saviour Christ, when he began to preach, said : “Amend your lives, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
Therefore it will not be amiss now to speak of repentance, which some of late years have changed into penance, and thereof have also made a Sacrament. Here it behooveth to rip up the whole life of man. There is not any man that liveth, and sinneth not. God saith : “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” The Prophet Jeremy saith : “The heart is deceitful and wicked above all things, who can know it ? ” S. John therefore saith : “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and truth is not in us.” Of himself S. Paul saith : “I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” Of himself the Prophet David saith : “There is nothing sound in my flesh, because of thine anger : neither is there rest in my bones, because of my sins. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head, and as a weighty burden they are too heavy for me.” He saith : “If thou, O Lord, straitly markest iniquities, O Lord, who shall abide it ? ” So saith the Wise man : “A just man falleth seven times.”
God is a righteous God, and the avenger of all them that offend. S. Paul saith : “The wages of sinne is death.” And the Prophet Ezekiel : “The soul that sinneth shall die.” For this cause then God ordained the ministry of his word, and appointed certain to this office, that they should warn his people of their sins, and fear them by the terror of God’s assured displeasure and heavy wrath. As is seen by that to Esay : “Cry aloud, spare not : lift up thyself like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins.” So S. Paul unto Timothy : “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, which shall judge the quick and dead at his appearing, and in his kingdom, preach the word : be instant in season and out of season : improve, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
So would God have our filth laid open before our eyes, that we might weigh and judge our own hearts, that every man might make charge upon himself, and say, I am an unprofitable servant, my righteousness is as a foul and stained cloth. My soul hath sinned, and hath deserved to die the death.
In this case, some fall into desperation, and say, as sometimes did Cain : “My sin is greater than can be pardoned.” God withdraweth his mercy from me, I am unworthy of it. I have offended against the holy Spirit of God : mine own conscience accuseth me. I have no part in the kingdom of God and of Christ : there is no sacrifice left for my sins. Thus the wicked live in trembling and agony, as did Cain : thus they leave their life with horror and misery : so have they no grace to repent, no taste nor feeling of the mercy of God.
But the children of God, though they be wounded, yet they find relief in the certain hope of God’s mercy. Though they say, I am a sinner, my sins are more in number than the hairs of my head ; I have offended against heaven and earth ; yet they know that Christ came to call sinners to repentance, and that he healeth those that are sick ; That he said, “Come unto me all ye that are weary and laden, and I will ease you.” For what laieth he on his shoulders with joy ? Is it not the lost sheep ? Wherefore doth the woman light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it ? Is it not for the piece of silver which she had lost ? Over whom had the father compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him ? Was not this done for him which was dead, but lived again, and for him which was lost, but was found again ? “The Son of man came to save that which was lost.” And, “There is joy in the presence of the Angels of God for one sinner that converteth.”
God is merciful, and his mercy endureth for ever. So saith the Prophet David : “Mercy is with the Lord.” By the Prophet Ezekiel : “I desire not the death of him that dieth,” saith the Lord God. It is the will of God “that all men shall be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.” By Esay the Prophet, God saith : “If your sins were as crimson, they shall be made as white as snow. For I, even I am he that putteth away thine iniquities for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” The children of God hear this, and are glad. They lift themselves up in the faith of the mercy of God : they see the filthiness of their sin : they know though the wrath of God be kindled against sin, yet he doth not utterly destroy those that have sinned, but such as continue in their sins without repentance : they know God will not despise an humble and contrite heart.
Therefore they say, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, for no flesh is righteous in thy sight.” Take away the iniquity of thy servant. They say, “Why art thou heavy, O my soul, and why art thou unquiet within me ? Wait on God : for I will yet give him thanks for the help of his presence.” They say, there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. Though I should walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because thou art with me. They say, “If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart.” Thus are we taught by the Office of the Ministry, and by the word of God, to see our selves, to know our weakness, to repent our sins, to believe the forgiveness of our sins, and to turn unto God.
We are taught to lay open and acknowledge our sins, not to hide them, but to make confession of them. This is done two ways : either in the secret thought of thy heart before God, or else in the hearing and presence of men. David made confession of his sins before God : “I acknowledged my sin before thee, neither hid I mine iniquity. I said, I will confess against myself my wickedness unto the Lord, and thou forgavest the punishment of my sin.”
And again : “I know mine iniquities, and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, against thee only have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight.” Such a confession made Daniel : “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly : yea, we have rebelled, and have departed from thy precepts, and from thy judgments. For we would not obey thy servants the Prophets, which spake in thy name to our Kings, to our Princes, and to our Fathers, and to all the people of the land.” Even so the Prophet Esay : “Behold, thou art angry, for we have sinned. We have all been as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy clouts, and we all do fade like a leaf, and our iniquities like the wind have taken us away. But now, O Lord, thou art our Father : we are the clay, and thou art our potter, and we all are the work of thy hands.” This is true and Christian Confession. We are required after this sort to examine ourselves, and confess our sins before God : who doth not so, he shall not find mercy and forgiveness of his sins.
The other sort of confession made unto men, I do not condemn. It may do much good, if it be well used. S. James commendeth it among the faithful : “Acknowledge your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” He speaketh not of Priest or Minister, but of every one of the faithful. Every Christian may do this help unto another, to take knowledge of the secret and inner grief of the heart ; to look upon the wound which sin and wickedness hath made, and by godly advice and earnest prayer for him, to recover his brother. This is a private exhortation, and as it were a Catechizing or instructing in the faith, and a means to lead us by familiar and special conference, to examine our conscience, and to espy wherein we have offended God. The use and practise hereof is not only to be allowed, but most needful and requisite, if so the superstition, and necessity, and conscience, which many have fondly used and put therein, be taken away.
That the Priests should hear the private confessions of the people, and listen to their whisperings : that every man should be bound to their auricular confession ; it is no commandment or ordinance of God. It is devised and established by men, and was lately confirmed by Innocentius the third. The Church of God, in the time of our elder fathers, was not tied to any such necessity. Chrysostom saith : Non dico. ut confitearis conservo tuo peccata tua : dicito Deo, qui curet ea : “I will thee not to confess thy sins to thy fellow-servant,” ( that is, to the Priest, ) “confess them unto God, that may heal them.” Again he saith : Cogitatione tua fiat delictorum exquisitio : sine teste sit hoc iudicium, solus Deus te confitentem videat : “Examine thy sins in thy heart within thee : let this judgment be without witness, let God only see thee making thy confession.” And again : Non dico tibi, ut te prodas in publicum, neque ut te apud alios accuses : sed obedire te volo Prophetae dicenti, Revela Domino viam tuam. Apud Deum ergo, &c : “I say not to thee, that thou openly show forth thyself, nor that thou accuse thyself in ye presence of others : but I will have thee obey God, which sayeth, Disclose thy ways unto the Lord.” Confess thy sins therefore before God : declare thine offences, and make thy prayer for them before God, which is the true and righteous Judge. Make thy confession not with the tongue, but in the record of thine own conscience.
Likewise S. Augustine : Quid mihi est cum hominibus, ut audiant confessiones meas, quasi ipsi sanaturi sint omnes languores meos ? Curiosum genus ad inquirendam vitam alienam, desidiosum ad corrigendam suam : “What have I to do with men, that they should hear my confessions, as if they could heal all my wounds or diseases ? They be a curious sort, in searching out the life of others, and slothful in correcting their own life.” S. Ambrose saith : Lavat lachryma delictum, quod voce pudor est confiteri : “The tear washeth away that offence which shame would not suffer to confess in speech.” The Church of God in Graecia never received it. And Erasmus witnesseth, it was not used in the time of S. Jerome. Apparet tempore Hieronymi nondum institutam fuisse secretam admissorum confessionem : “It appeareth, that in the time of S. Jerome” ( which was four hundred years after Christ ) “secret confession of sins was not yet ordained.”
And Beatus Rhenanus, a man of great reading, saith : Tertullianus de clancularia ista confessione admissorum nihil loquitur, neque eam usquam olim praeceptam legimus : “Tertullian speaketh nothing of this secret confession of sins : and we read not any where that it was commanded in times past.”
By these testimonies of Chrysostom, Augustine, Ambrose, and by the observation of Erasmus and Rhenanus it may appear, that this secret confession in the ear of the Priest, hath not been taken to be necessary : and that it is not of God’s determinate appointment, but an ordinance of man. As the Gloss upon the Decrees something plainly confesseth : Melius dicitur, confessionem institutam fuisse aquadam universalis ecclesiae traditione, potius quam ex novi vel veteris Testamenti authoritate : “It is better said, that confession was appointed by some tradition of the universal Church, than by any authority, or commandment of the New or Old Testament.” *
Now, in a word or two, I will somewhat speak of satisfaction or recompence for offences which we have done, whereby we satisfy and make amends to the full contentation of him that is offended. Such a recompence the Law required : “An eye for an eye : a tooth for a tooth : a hand for a hand : a foot for a foot.” Such amends for such harm : so much for so much : and this was accounted due and lawful satisfaction.
This is of two sorts ; either that which is done unto God, or that which is done unto men. We are never able to satisfy and make amends unto God. We must always confess that we are unprofitable servants, and unworthy to stand in his presence : and by no means able of ourselves to make recompence for that we have offended him. Our only and full satisfaction for our trespasses done against him is the blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Thief upon the Cross called upon Jesus : “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” He knew he had offended God, but found not how he might make amends, otherwise than by the righteousness of Christ. Jesus answered him : “Verily I say unto thee, today thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” To day, that is, by and by. He refuseth him not, nor feareth him that God will refuse him, because he had done amiss, and made no recompence ; but promiseth him, because he repented and believed, that he shall be saved. Paul was thrown down a persecutor, and raised up a preacher. What amends might he make in so short time ?
S. Cyprian saith : Sanguis tuus, O Christe, non quaerit vindictam : “Thy blood, O Christ, looketh not for any revenge.” And saint Ambrose : Lachrimas Petri lego, satisfactionem non lego : “I read of Peter’s tears, but I read nothing of any satisfaction he made.” For our whole life cannot sufficiently acquit us from the guiltiness of one sin : much less is any man able to work or deserve the forgiveness of all his sins.
The only things that God requireth of us when we have sinned, are that we sorrow for our sins, and amend our lives. So John the Baptist spake to the Pharisees, “Bring forth fruit worthy amendment of life.” So S. Paul calleth the Ephesians to make recompence for their former naughtiness : “Cast off lying, and speak every man the truth to his neighbour. Let him that stole steal no more, but let him rather labour, and work with his hands the thing that is good.” Other recompence God looketh not for at our hands.
But when the godly have taken offence at any our doings that are evil, we must give all heed to content their minds, and reconcile ourselves again unto them. It hath been an ancient order in the Church of God, that, if any had openly offended the congregation, he should come openly again before them to satisfy them by amends. There he fell down on his knees, confessed his fault, wept, and lamented for it : prayed the brethren that they would forgive him, and would also pray unto God to be merciful unto him. There the whole congregation fell down before God : their hearts melted : their eyes gushed out in tears : they held up their hands : prayed together for him, and gave thanks to God, that their brother, which had been lost, was found again. Such satisfaction was it, which hath been made to the Church of God.
The last of those which some have of late misused, and counted one of the Sacraments of the Church, is Extreme unction. And this they have founded upon the words of Saint James : “Is any sick among you ? Let him call the Elders of the Church, and let them pray for him, and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord ; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up : and if he have committed sin, it shall be forgiven him.”
For the better understanding of which words, consider that God is merciful to the sons of men, and showeth forth his mercy at sundry times by sundry ways. And to leave the examples of the Old Testament : in the time of the Gospel, he hath given to some the gift of tongues, and hath made them able, being simple men, to speak the wonderful works of God in tongues which they never learned. To some he hath given the gift of power, and of the operation of great works. By this power, many signs and wonders were wrought by the hands of the Apostles. At the word of Peter, Ananias and Saphira his wife fell down dead. In this power Paul struck Elymas the sorcerer with blindness.
To some he gave the gift of healing. By this S. Peter healed a man which was a cripple from his mother’s womb, and said : “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk : and he took him by the right hand, and lift him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.” They were able to make the blind see ; the lame to walk ; the lepers to be clean ; the dead to receive life again. For when he sent forth his Apostles to preach, “Christ gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every sickness and every disease.”
These things they wrought, sometimes by their shadow. as many were healed by the shadow of Peter : sometimes with their word : sometimes with handkerchiefs : sometimes by laying on of hands, and by touching : sometimes with oil, as in the sixth of S. Mark : “They cast out many Devils, and they anointed many that were sick with oil, and healed them : ” even as Christ also by many sundry ways healed many. He healed sometimes, though he were absent : sometimes by his word : sometimes by mourning and sorrowing : sometimes by touching : sometimes with spittle and dust : for at that time the Church had the especial gift of working miracles.
Therefore S. James putteth them in mind, that they despise not to use the means which God hath appointed : that whosoever falleth into sickness, he call for the Elders, and that they use their gift of healing, and anoint him with oil, because it hath pleased God thereby to work health. This was the manner and order of those times. Even as Christ used dust and spittle ; so S. James willeth them to use oil for the restoring of health. As the Corinthians did abuse the gift of tongues, and were taught by S. Paul how to use it better : so did many abuse the gift of healing, and were therefore warned by S. James how they should use it better. As the gift of tongues was not to last for ever, but only for a time : so the gift of healing was not to continue ever, but for a time. Christ saith ; “When thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face.” He doth not in these words give an universal commandment that must ever be kept in our fasting, that we use the ceremony of anointing ; but meaneth thereby, that in our fast we be fresh and merry. Even so S. James, in saying, “anoint him with oil,” doth not set down an order, whereunto he would have the Church of God tied for ever : it is not an universal commandment, that the after ages should do the like ; but only a particular ordinance for the time, to use the gift of healing. This is the meaning of his words.
Let us mark, what abuses have grown by mistaking them. S. James speaketh of bare and simple oil : They understand it of their oil, which they consecrate and hallow in unadvised order. For these words the Bishop useth when he consecrateth it : Ave sanctum oleum, chrisma, balsamum : “Hail, O holy oil, and chrism, and balsam.” Again : Exorciso te, immunde spiritus, in nomine patris, & filii, & spiritus sancti, ut recedas ah hoc oleo, ut possit effici unctio spiritualis, ut spiritus sanctus possit in eo habitare : “I adjure thee, thou unclean spirit, in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy ghost, that thou depart from this oil, that it may be a spiritual ointment, and that the holy ghost may dwell in it.” Again : Emitte quaesumus, sancte pater, spiritum sanctum paracletum tuum de coelis in hanc pinguedinem olivae, ad refectionem corporum, & sanationem animarum : “O holy father we beseech thee send down thy holy spirit the comforter from heaven into this fatness of the olive, to the refreshing of body and soul.”
In like sort they are taught to pray over the sick : Per hanc sanctam unctionem, et suam piissimam misericordiam ignoscat tibi Deus, ut per hanc unctionem habeas remissionem omnium peccatorum : “By this holy anointing, and by his great mercy God pardon thee, that by this anointing thou mayest have remission of all thy sins.” I devise not these things, I imagine them not of myself, nor report them untruly. The Bishop in such words blesseth the oil : and with such words doth the Priest anoint the sick with oil : in their books it is easy to be seen. Now judge you if this were S. James doctrine, or if this order were kept in the Church in the time of the Apostles. Would you think that S. James gave courtesy by bowing his body, and saying Ave to the oil ? Did he speak words of conjuration to drive forth the evil spirit ? Would he ever say that the oil doth heal both body and soul ? Or that remission of all sins is given by anointing ? S. James knew that remission of sins is not given by any creature : that there is no name in heaven or earth by which we are saved, but the name of Jesus only : that the holy Ghost resteth not, nor dwelleth in oil, but in the hearts of the faithful : that God giveth health, not in respect of the corruptible creature, but at the prayers of the Church, which are offered up to him by his Son our Saviour. So great difference is there between the late meaning and the meaning of S. James.
Such use of the oil we have not, neither doth the Church of God allow it. Yet hold we the rule of the Apostle in visitation of the sick. When any is sick among us, the Minister cometh unto him, and discreetly instructeth him in what sort he should prepare himself to depart this life, and so leadeth him to comfort, and laboureth to make him strong in the certain hope of everlasting life.
Thus he saith : Brother, you are entering the way of all flesh. All the sons of Adam are heirs of this sentence of God upon Adam : “Thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.” Man that is born of woman is of short continuance, and full of trouble. He shooteth forth as a flower, and is cut down : he vanisheth also as a shadow, and continueth not. Humble thyself under the mighty hand of God. He is our good father, and doth correct those children whom he loveth. Blessed is he, whom the Lord doth chastise and instruct in his ways.
Here is the proof and trial of your patience and faith : remember the patience of Job, in all his miseries he praised the name of the Lord. Although ( said he ) he should kill me, yet will I put my trust in God. Although my bowels be consumed within me, and my members of my body be rent asunder, and the pangs be never so great, yet can I not but trust in him. Love not the world, nor the things that be in the world The world passeth away, and the lust thereof. The wise man saith, “I have considered all the works that are done under the Sun, and behold all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” Again : “Great travail is created for all men, and an heavy yoke upon the sons of Adam, from the day that they go out of their mother’s womb, till the day that they return to the mother of all things.” Christ hath therefore willed us to wake, and be ready, because we know not in what hour our Master will come. He saith, “Behold, I come as a thief : blessed is he which watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and men see his filthiness.”
Examine your self, consider how and in what things you have offended God, make a true and humble confession of your sins : say with David, “I have sinned against the Lord, and I will confess against myself my wickedness unto the Lord.” Call to mind how you have gotten your goods, how you have used them, and whether you have delighted in them, or put any confidence in them. Call to mind how you have taken care for your children and servants, if by your good means, they have been nurtured in the fear of the Lord. In these, and such other parts of your life, lay open your sins, let them come forth before you, acknowledge them against yourself unto the Lord : say boldly, because you may say it truly, I am an unprofitable servant : I have not done that which I ought to have done : there is no good thing dwelling in me : the law in my members hath prevailed against the law of my mind. It cannot be, but God will cast his eyes upon you, and will hear you, and will pardon the wickedness of your sins.
What wanteth in you to the fullness of righteousness, is already satisfied in the righteousness of Christ. God hath said, and sworn, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live.” And again : “If the wicked will return from all his sins that he hath committed : all his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him.” The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. For as high as the heaven is above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our sins from us. Christ himself saith, “God so loved the world, that he hath given his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have life everlasting.” And S. Paul : “God setteth out his love toward us, seeing that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us : much more then being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Thus in time of sickness are we put in mind to examine and view our sins, and to solace ourselves in that bloodshedding of Christ.
Farther, he that is sick, is counselled to call to mind what any man hath trespassed him, and to forgive them : because God is the God of love : and if any man hate his brother, he abideth in death : and we are commanded to say, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us : ” and if we do forgive men their trespasses, our heavenly Father will also forgive us. But if we do not forgive men their trespasses, no more will our heavenly father forgive us our trespasses. That so, all we which are redeemed with one price, by the precious blood of the unspotted Lamb, may join together as partakers of one inheritance, and the children of one Father, and so go forward to one glory by one way, and become all one in Jesus Christ our Lord.
In this case, the good Father calleth his son unto him, and exhorteth him in this manner. My son, hearken unto me : these be the last words which I shall speak unto thee. Thou seest in me the weakness and decay of flesh : thou shalt be as I am now. One passeth before another, the world and the beauty thereof fade away, and come to an end. Trust not the world, it will deceive thee : walk advisedly : know that thou shalt give an account of thy doings.
Deceive no man by wrongful dealing : increase not thy goods by extortion, nor by usury : he that giveth his money unto usury shall not enter into the Tabernacle of the Lord. He that taketh usury of his neighbour killeth him without a sword. The Lord will avenge it : he will not bless ill gotten goods : they cannot prosper : they will never continue, nor remain unto the third heir.
My son, in all thy doings fear the Lord. If thou fear the Lord, thou shalt prosper : and in the day of thine end, thou shalt be blessed. Meddle not much with other men’s business, lest thou be entangled with controversies : abhor the slanderer and double tongued. Let my doings, which am thy father, be ever before thine eyes. Those few goods which I have were truly gotten. I have not gathered them of the tears, and heaviness, and undoing, or hindering of any. Be faithful to thy wife, and besides her, know none other. Help thy neighbour according to thy power : and turn not thy face from the poor and needy. Be merciful after thy power. If thou hast much, give plenteously : if thou hast little, do thy diligence gladly to give of that little. Be not slow to visit the sick : whatsoever thou takest in hand, remember the end, and thou shalt never do amiss.
As for me, I have passed the vanities and miseries of this world. The Lord hath given, and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord. He is the Lord my God, let him do with me as it seemeth good unto him. I know that this shall hasten my salvation : And that Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. I have not so lived, that I am ashamed to live : neither am I afraid to die, for we have a gracious Lord. I know, that if my earthly house of this tabernacle be destroyed, I have a building given of God, that is, an house not made with hands, but eternal in the heavens. They that die in the Lord are blessed, they shall rest from their labours. Christ is unto me both in life, and in death, advantage. In such sort do the godly prepare themselves to their journey out of this life.
Then the Minister prayeth, that he may be constant in this faith : he strengtheneth him, and confirmeth him in it. He exhorteth the sick to commend himself unto God : he prayeth unto God, that he will give his Angels charge over him, to keep him and defend him, that he fall not into temptation.
He teacheth him to say, O Lord, in thee have I trusted, let me never be confounded. Come, Lord Jesus, come, and take me unto thee : Lord, let thy servant depart in peace : thy kingdom come. I am thy son, thine am I, O save me : into thine hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit, thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. In this state he dieth, and hath his eyes always fastened upon God, and so seeth how indeed the dead are blessed which die in the Lord.
Thus doth the Church of God instruct all men to live, and to die, and to be in
readiness. Thus are the sick among us anointed with the inner and invisible oil of the mercy of God. Thus are they put in mind to have the oil of faith, and of a good conscience, and that their lamps may ever be burning, that so they may enter in with the bride-groom : that the day spring from on high may visit their hearts : and that it may be said unto them, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit ye the kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world.”