The Supper Of The Lord, otherwise called The Holy Communion or Sacrament of the body and blood of our saviour Christ, has been of many men, and by sundry ways, very much abused, but especially within these four or five hundred years. Of some, it has been used as a sacrifice propitiatory for sin, and otherwise superstitiously, far from the intent that Christ did first ordain the same at the beginning, doing therein great wrong and injury to his death and passion. And of other some, it hath been very lightly esteemed, or rather condemned and despised, as a thing of small or none effect. And thus between both the parties hath been much variety and contention in diverse places of Christendom.
Therefore to the intent that this holy sacrament or Lord’s Supper, may hereafter neither of the one-party be condemned or lightly esteemed, nor on the other party be abused to any other purpose, than Christ himself did first appoint and ordain the same, and that so, the contention on both parties may be quieted and ended, the most sure and plain way to cleave unto holy scripture. Wherein whatsoever is found, must be taken for most sure ground and infallible truth, and whatsoever can not be grounded upon the same (touching our faith) is man’s device, changeable and uncertain. And therefore here are set forth the very words that Christ himself and his apostle saint Paul spoke, both of the eating and drinking of Christ’s body and blood, and also of the eating and drinking of the sacrament of the same.
The First Point
First, as concerning the eating of the body and drinking of the blood of our saviour Christ, he himself speaks in the sixth chapter of Saint John in this way:
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”John 6:53-58
Of these words of Christ, it is plain and manifest, that the eating of Christ’s flesh and drinking of his blood, is not like to the eating and drinking of other meats and drinks. For although without meat and drink man cannot live, yet it follows not, that he that eats and drinks, shall live forever. But as touching this meat and drink of the body and blood of Christ, it is true, both he that eats and drinks them, has everlasting life, and also he that doesn’t eat and drink doesn’t have everlasting life. To eat that meat and drink that drink, is to dwell in Christ and to have Christ dwelling in him.
And therefore no man can say or think, that he eats the body of Christ or drinks his blood, except he who dwells in Christ and has Christ dwelling in him. So you have heard of the eating and drinking of the very flesh and blood of our saviour Christ.
Now as touching the sacraments of the same, our saviour Christ did institute them in bread and wine, at his last supper, which he had with his apostles the night before his death. At which time, as Saint Matthew says:
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”Matthew 26:27-29
This thing is rehearsed also of Saint Mark in these words:
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”Mark 14:22-25
The Evangelist Saint Luke mentions the matter in this way:
When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.Luke 22:14-20
Hitherto you have heard all that the Evangelists declare, what Christ said or did at his last supper, concerning the institution of Communion and sacrament of his body and blood. Now you shall hear what Saint Paul says concerning the same, in the tenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, where he writes:
Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.1 Corinthians 10:16-17
And in the eleventh chapter he speaketh in this manner:
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 11:23-30
By these words of Christ rehearsed of the Evangelists, and by the doctrine, also of Saint Paul (which he confesseth that he received of Christ) two things are to be noted:
First that our saviour Christ called the material bread which he brakes, his body, and the wine (which was the fruit of the vine) his blood. And yet he spake not this, to the intent that men should think, that material bread is his very body, or that his very body is material bread: neither that wine made of grapes is his very blood, or that his very blood is wine made of grapes, but to signify unto us (as Saint Paul says) that the cup is a communion of Christ’s blood that was shed for us, and the bread is a communion of his flesh that was crucified for us. So that although in the truth of his human nature, Christ be in heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father, yet whosoever eateth of that bread in the supper of the Lord, according to Christ’s institution and ordinance, is assured by Christ’s own promise and testament, that he is a member of his body, and receiveth the benefits of his passion, which he suffered for us upon the Crosse. And likewise, he that drinks of that holy cup in that supper of the Lord, according to Christ’s institution, is certified by Christ’s legacy and testament, that he is made partaker of the blood of Christ, which was shed for us. And this meant Saint Paul when he saith:
Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?1 Corinthians 10:16
So that no man can condemn or lightly esteem this holy communion, except he that condemns also Christ’s body and blood, and pass not whether he has any fellowship with him or no. And of those men, Saint Paul says:
For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.1 Corinthians 11:29
The Second Point
The second thing which may be learned of the aforesaid words of Christ and Saint Paul is this: that although none eats the body of Christ and drinks his blood, but they have eternal life, (as appeareth by the words before recited of Saint John) yet both the good and the bad do eat and drink the bread and wine, which be the Sacraments of the same. But besides the Sacraments, the good eats to everlasting life, the evil to everlasting death. Therefore Saint Paul says:
Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.1 Corinthians 11:27
Here Saint Paul says not, that he that eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, eats and drinks the body and blood of the Lord, but is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But what he eats and drinks Saint Paul declares, saying:
For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.1 Corinthians 11:29
Thus is declared the sum of all that scripture speaks of the eating and drinking, both of the body and blood of Christ, and also of the sacrament of the same.
And as these things be most certainly true, because they were spoken by Christ himself, the author of all truth, and by his holy apostle Saint Paul, as he rescued them of Christ, so all doctrines contrary to the same, be most certainly false and untrue, and of all Christian men to be eschewed, because they be contrary to God’s word. And all doctrine concerning this matter, that is more than this, which is not grounded upon God’s word, is of no necessity, neither ought the people’s heads to be busied or their consciences troubled with the same. So that things spoken and done by Christ, and written by the Holy Evangelists and Saint Paul, ought to suffice the faith of Christian people, as touching the doctrine of the Lord’s supper, and holy communion or sacrament of his body and blood.
Which thing being well considered and weighed, shall be a just occasion to pacify and agree with both parties, as well them that hitherto have condemned or lightly esteemed it, as also they which have hitherto for lack of knowledge or otherwise, ungodly abused it.
Christ ordained the sacrament to move and stir all men to friendship, love, and concord, and to put away all hatred, variance and discord, and to testify a brotherly and unfeigned love between all them that be the members of Christ: but the devil, the enemy of Christ, and of all his members, hath so craftily juggled herein, that of nothing riseth so much contention as of this holy sacrament.
God grant that all contention set aside, both the parties may come to this holy communion with such a lively faith in Christ, and such an unfeigned love to all Christ’s members, that as they carnally eat with their mouth this sacramental bread and drink the wine, so spiritually they may eat and drink the very flesh and blood of Christ which is in heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of his father. And that finally by his means, they may enjoy with him the glory and kingdom of heaven.
Although, in this treatise of the sacrament of the body and blood of our saviour Christ, I have already sufficiently declared the institution and meaning of the same, according to the very words of the gospel and of Saint Paul, yet it shall not be in vain somewhat more at large to declare the same, according to the mind, as well of holy scripture, as of old ancient authors, and that so sincerely and plainly, without doubt, ambiguities, or vain questions, that the very simple and unlearned people, may easily understand the same, and be edified thereby.
And this by God’s grace is my only intent and desire, that the flock of Christ dispersed in this realme (among whom I am appointed a special pastor) may no longer lack the commodity and fruit, which springs of this heavenly knowledge. For the more clearly it is understood, the more sweetness, fruit, comfort, and edification it bringeth, to the godly receivers thereof. And to a clear understanding of this sacrament, diverse things must be considered.
First, that as all men of themselves are sinners, and thorough sin be in God’s wrath, banished far away from him, condemned to hell and everlasting damnation, and none is clearly innocent, but Christ alone so every soul inspired by God, is desirous to be delivered from sin and hell, and to obtain at God’s hands, mercy, favour, righteousness, and everlasting salvation.
And this earnest and great desire are called in scripture, the hunger and thirst of the soul: with which kind of hunger Dauid was taken when he said:
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?Psalm 41:1, 2
Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.Psalm 62:1
And this hunger the self-poor sinful soul is driven unto, through the law, which shows her the horridness of sin, the terror of God’s indignation, and the horror of death and everlasting damnation.
And when she sees nothing but damnation for her offences, by justice and accusation of the law, and this damnation is ever before her eyes than in this great distress the soul being pressed with heaviness and sorrow, seeketh for some comfort, and desireth some remedy for her miserable and sorrowful estate. And this feeling of her damnable condition and greedy desire of refreshing is the spiritual hunger of the soul.
And who so ever hath this godly hunger, is blessed of God, and shall have meat and drink enough, as Christ himself said:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.Matthew 5:6
And on the other side, they that see not their own sinful and damnable estate, but think themselves holy enough, and in good case and condition enough, as they have no spiritual hunger, so shall they not be fed of God with any spiritual food.
For as almighty God feeds them that be hungry, so does he send away empty all that be not hungry.
But this hunger and thirst are not easily perceived of the carnal man. For when he hears the holy ghost speak of meat and drink, his mind is by and by in the kitchen and buttery, and he thinks upon his dishes and pots, his mouth and his belly. But the scripture in sundry places uses special words, whereby to draw our gross minds from the fantasy of our teeth and belly, and from this carnal and fleshly imagination. For the Apostles and disciples of Christ, when they were yet carnal, knew not what was meant by this kind of hunger and meat, and therefore when they desired him to eat, to withdraw their minds from carnal meat, he said unto them:
I have other meat to eat, which you know not.John 4:32
And why knew they it not? Forsooth because their minds were gross as yet, and had not received the fullness of the spirit. And therefore our saviour Christ, minding to draw them from this grossness, told them of another kind of meat, then they phantasied (as it were) rebuking them, for that they perceived not, that there was any other kind of eating and drinking, besides that eating and drinking, which is with the mouth and the throat. Likewise when he said to the woman of Samaria:
But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.John 4:14
They that heard him speak those words, might well perceive, that he went about to make them well acquainted with another kind of drinking, than is the drinking with the mouth and throat. For there is no such kind of drink, that with one’s drinking can quench the thirst of a man’s body forever. Therefore, in saying: He shall never be thirsty again. he did draw their minds from drinking with the mouth, unto another kind of drinking whereof they knew not, and unto another kind of thirsting, wherewith as yet they were not acquainted. Also when our saviour Christ said:
And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”John 6:35
He gave them a plain watchword, that there was another kind of meat and drink, then that, wherewith he fed them at the other side of the water: and another kind of hunger and thirsting, then was the hungering and thirsting of the body. By these words, therefore, he drove the people to understand another kind of eating and drinking, of hungering and thirsting then that, which belongs only for the preservation of temporal life. Now then as the thing that comforts the body, is called meat and drink, of a like so the scripture calls the same thing that comforts the soul, meat and drink.
Wherefore as he before, in the first note, is declared the hunger and drought of the soul, so is it now secondly to be noted, what is the meat, drink, and food of the soul.
The meat, drink, food and refreshing of the soul, is our saviour, Christ, as he said himself:
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35
For as meat and drink do comfort the hungry body, so does the death of Christ’s body, and the shedding of his blood comfort the soul when she is after her sort hungry. What thing is it that comforts and nourishes the body? In truth, meat and drink. By what means then shall we call the body and blood of our saviour Christ (which do comfort and nourish the hungry soul) but by the names of meat and drink? And this similitude caused our saviour to say:
For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.John 6:55
For there is no kind of meat that is comfortable to the soul, but only the death of Christ’s blessed body: nor no kind of drink, that can quench her thirst, but only the blood-shedding of our saviour Christ, which was shed for her offences. For as there is a carnal generation, and a carnal feeding and nourishment so is there also a spiritual generation, and spiritual feeding.
And as every man by carnal generation of father and mother, is carnally begotten and born into this mortal life, so is every good Christian spiritually borne by Christ into eternal life.
And as every man is carnally fed and nourished in his body by meat and drink, even so, is every good Christian man spiritually fed and nourished in his soul by the flesh and blood of our saviour Christ.
And as the body lives by meat and drink, and thereby increases and grows from a young babe into a perfect man, (which experience teaches us) so the soul lives by Christ himself, by pure faith eating his flesh and drinking his blood. And this Christ himself teacheth us in the sixth chapter of John, saying:
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.John 6:53-57
And this Saint Paul confessed of himself, saying:
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:19, 20
The Third Point
The third thing to be noted is this, that although our saviour Christ resembles his flesh and blood to meat and drink, yet he far passes and excels all corporal meats and drinks. For although corporal meats and drinks do nourish and continue our life here in this world, yet they begin not our life. For the beginning of our life we have of our fathers and mothers, and the meat, after we are begotten, do then feed and nourish us, and so preserve us for a time. But our saviour Christ is both the first beginner of our spiritual life, (who first begetteth us unto God his father) and also afterwards he is our lively food and nourishment
Moreover, meat and drink doth feed and nourish only our bodies, but Christ is the true and perfect nourishment, both of body and soul. And besides, that, bodily food preserveth the life but for a time, but Christ is such a spiritual and perfect food, that he preserves both body and soul forever. As he said to Martha:
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.John 11:25,26
The Fourth Point
Fourthly it is to be noted, that the true knowledge of these things, is the true knowledge of Christ, and to teach these things, is to teach Christ, and the believing and feeling of these things is the believing and feeling of Christ in our hearts. And the more clearly we see, understand and believe these thynges, the more clearly we see and understand Christ, and have more fully our faith and comfort in him.
And although our carnal generation and our carnal nourishment, be known to all men by daily experience, and by our common senses, yet this our spiritual generation and our spiritual nutrition, be so obscure and hid unto us, that we can not attain to the true and perfect knowledge and feeling of them, but only by faith, which must be grounded upon God’s most holy word and sacraments.
And for this consideration our Saviour Christ has not only set forth these things most plainly in his holy word, that we may hear them with our ears, but he has also ordained one visible sacrament of spiritual regeneration in water, and another visible sacrament of spiritual nourishment in bread and wine to the intent, that as much as is possible for man, we may see Christ with our eyes, smell him at our nose, taste him with our mouths, grope him with our hands, and perceive him with all our senses. For as the word of god preached, puts Christ into our ears, so likewise these elements of water, bread and wine, joined to gods word, do after a sacramental manner, put Christ into our eyes, mouths, hands and all our senses.
And for this cause Christ ordained baptism in water, that as surely as we see, feel and touch water with our bodies, and be washed with water, so assuredly ought we to believe, when we be baptised, that Christ is verily present with us, and that by him we be newly borne again spiritually, and washed from our sins, and grafted in the stock of Christ’s own body, and be apparelled, clothed, and harnessed with him, in such wise, that as the devil hath no power against Christ, so has he none against us, so long as we remain grafted in that stock, and be clothed with that apparel and harnessed with that armour. So that the washing in water of baptism is, as it were, the showing of Christ before our eyes, and a sensible touching, feeling and groping of him, to the confirmation of the inward faith, which we have in him.
And in like manner Christ ordained the sacrament of his body and blood in bread and wine, to preach unto us, that as our bodies be fed, nourished, and preserved with meat and drink, so (as touching our spiritual life towards God) we be fed, nourished and preserved by the body and blood of our saviour Christ, and also that he is such a preservation unto us, that neither the devils of hell, nor eternal death, nor sin, can prevail against us, so long as by true and constant faith, we are fed and nourished with that meat and drink. And for this cause Christ ordained this sacrament in bread and wine (which we eat and drink, and be chief nutriments of our body) to the intent, that as surely as we see the bread and wine with our eyes, smell them with our noses, touch them with our hands, and taste them with our mouths, so assuredly ought we to believe, that Christ is our spiritual life and sustenance of our souls, like as the said bread and wine is the food and sustenance of our bodies. And no less ought we to doubt, that our souls be fed and live by Christ, then that our bodies be fed and live by meat and drink. Thus our saviour Christ, knowing us to be in this world (as it were) but babes and weaklings in faith, hath ordained sensible signs and tokens, whereby to allure and draw us to more strength and more constant faith in him. So that the eating and drinking of this sacramental bread and wine, is as it were a showing of Christ before our eyes, a smelling of him with our noses, a feeling and groping of him with our hands, and an eating, chewing, digesting and feeding upon him to our spiritual strength and perfection.
The Fifth Point
Fifthly it is to be noted, that although there be many kinds of meats and drinks, which feed the body, yet our saviour Christ (as many ancient authors write) ordained this sacrament of our spiritual feeding in bread and wine, rather than in other meats and drinks, because that bread and wine do most truly represent unto us the spiritual union and knot of all faithful people, aswell unto Christ, as also emerges themselves. For like as bread is made of a great number of grains of corn, ground, baked, and so joined together, that thereof is made one loaf: And an infinite number of grapes be pressed together in one vessel, and thereof is made wine, likewise is the whole multitude of true Christian people spiritually joined, first to Christ, and then among themselves together, in one faith, one baptism, one holy spirit, one knot and bond of love.
The Sixth Point
Sixthly, it is to be noted, that as the bread and wine which we do eat, be turned into our flesh and blood, and be made our very flesh and very blood, and be so joined and mixed with our flesh and blood, that they be made one whole body together, even so be all faithful Christians, spiritually turned into the body of Christ, and be so joined unto Christ, and also together among themselves, that they do make but one mystical body of Christ, as Saint Paul says:
For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.1 Corinthians 10:17
And as one loaf is given among many men, so that everyone is partaker of the same loaf: and likewise one cup of wine is distributed unto many persons, whereof every one is partaker, even so, our saviour Christ (whose flesh and blood be represented by the mystical bread and wine in the Lord’s supper) does give himself unto all his true members, spiritually to feed them, nourish them, and to give them continual life by him. And as the branches of a tree, or member of a body, if they are dead or cut off, they neither live, nor receive any nourishment or sustenance of the body or tree, so likewise ungodly and wicked people, (which be cut off from Christ’s mystical body, or be dead members of the same) do not spiritually feed upon Christ’s body and blood, nor have any life, strength or sustentation thereby.
The Seventh Point
Seventhly it is to be noted, that whereas nothing in this life is more acceptable before God, or more pleasant unto man than Christian people to live together quietly in love and peace, unity and concord: this sacrament does most aptly and effectuously move us thereunto. For when we are made all partakers of this one table, what ought we to think, but that we are all members of one spiritual body? (whereof Christ is the head) that we are joined together in one Christ, as a great number of grains of corn be joined together in one loaf? Surely they have very hard and stony hearts, which with these things be not moved. And crueller and unreasonable be they then brute beastes, that can not be persuaded, to be good to their Christian brethren and neighbours (for whom Christ suffered death) when in this sacrament they are put in remembrance, that the son of God bestowed his life for his enemies. For we see by daily experience, that eating and drinking together, makes friends, and continues friendships. Much more than this ought the table of Christ to move us so to do. Wild beasts and birds are made gentle by giving them meat and drink, why then should not Christian men wax meek and gentle with this heavenly meat of Christ? Hereunto we be stirred and moved as well by the bread and wine in this holy supper, as by the words of holy scripture recited in the same. Wherefore whose heart this holy Sacrament, Communion and supper of Christ, will not kindle with love unto his neighbours, and cause him to put out of his heart all envy, hatred and malice, and to give in the same all amity, friendship, and concord, he deceives himself, if he think that he has the spirit of Christ dwelling within him.
But all these aforesaid godly admonitions, exhortations and comforts, do the Papists (as much as liveth in them) take away from all Christian people, by their transubstantiation.
For if we receive no bread nor wine in the holy communion than all those lessons and comforts be gone, which we should learn and receive by eating of the bread, and drinking of the wine. And that fantastical imagination gives an occasion to utterly subvert our whole faith in Christ. For if this sacrament bee ordained in bread and wine (which be foods for the body) to signify and declare unto us our spiritual food by Christ, then if our corporal feeding upon the bread and wine be but fantastical (so that there is no bread nor wine there to feed upon, although they appear there to be) than it does us to understand, that our spiritual feeding in Christ is also fantastical, and that indeed we feed not of him. Which sophistry is so devilish and wicked, and so much injurious to Christ, that it could not come from any other person, but only from the devil himself, and from his special minister Antichrist.
The eighth thing that is to be noted is, that this spiritual meat of Christ is body and blood, is not received in the mouth, and digested in the stomach (as corporal meats and drinks commonly be) but it is received with a pure heart, and a sincere faith. And the true eating and drinking of the said body and blood of Christ, is with a constant and a lively faith to believe, that Christ gave his body, and shed his blood upon the Cross for us and that he does so join and incorporate himself to us, that he is our head, and we are his members, and flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones, having him dwelling in us, and wee in him. And herein standeth the whole effect and strength of this sacrament. And this faith God worketh inwardly in our hearts by his holy spirit, and confirms the same outwardly to our ears, by hearing of his word: and to our other senses, by eating and drinking of the sacramental bread and wine in his holy supper.
What thing than can be more comfortable for us, than to eat this meat and drink this drink? Whereby Christ certifies in us, that we are spiritually and truly fed and nourished by him, and that we dwell in him, and he in us. Can this be shown to us more plainly, than when he says himself:
He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.John 6:56
Wherefore whosoever doth not condemn the everlasting life, how can he but highly esteem this sacrament: How can he but embrace it, as a sure pledge of his salvation? And when he sees godly people devoutly receive the same, how can he but be desirous oftentimes to receive it with them? Surely no man that well understands and diligently weighs these things can be without a great desire to come to this holy supper.
All men desire to have God’s favour, and when they know the contrary, that they be in his indignation, and cast out of his favour, what thing can comfort them? Now, what vexes their minds? What troubles their consciences? All God’s creatures seem to be against them, and do make them afraid, as things being ministers of God’s wrath and indignation towards them. And rest and comfort cannot be found, neither within them, not without them. And in this case, they hate both God and the devil: God as an unmerciful and extreme judge, and the devil as a most malicious and cruel tormentor.
And in this sorrowful heaviness, holy scripture teaches them, that our heavenly father can by no means be pleased with them again, but by the sacrifice and death of his only begotten son, whereby God hathe made a perpetual amity and peace with us, does pardon the sins of them that believe in him, makes them his children, and gives them to his first begotten son Christ, to be incorporate into him, to be saved by him, and to be made heirs of heaven with him. And in the receiving of the holy supper of our Lord, we be put in remembrance of his death, and of the whole mystery of our redemption. In the which, supper is made mention of his testament, and of the aforesaide Communion of us with Christ, and of the remission of our sins by his sacrifice upon the cross.
Wherefore in this sacrament (if it be rightly received with a true faith) we bee assured that our sins be forgiven, and the league of peace and the testament of God is confirmed between him and us, so that whosoever by a true faith does eat Christ’s flesh, and drink his blood, has everlasting life by him. Which thing when we feel in our hearts, at the receiving of the Lord’s supper, what thing can be more joyful, more pleasant or more comfortable unto us?
All this to be true, is most certain by the words of Christ himself, when he did first institute his holy supper, the night before his death, as it appeareth as well by the words of the Evangelists, as of Saint Paul.
In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.1 Corinthians 11:25
And Saint Paul says:
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.1 Corinthians 11:26
And again. Christ said:
For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:28
This doctrine here recited, may suffice for all that be humble and godly, and seek nothing that is superfluous, but that which is necessary and profitable. And therefore unto such persons may be made here an end of this book. But unto them that be contentious Papists and idolaters, nothing is enough. And yet because they shall not glory in their subtle inventions and deceptive doctrine, (as though no man were able to answer them) I shall desire of the reader’s patience, to suffer me a little while, to spend some time in vain, to confute their most vain vanities. And yet the time shall not bee altogether spent in vain, for thereby shall more clearly appear the light from the darkness, the truth from false sophisticated subtleties, and the certain word of God, from men’s dreams and fantastical inventions.
Where the Papists vary from the truth of God’s word
But these things can not manifestly appear to the reader, except the principal points be first set out, wherein the Papists vary from the truth of God’s word, which be chiefly four:
First variation: That the bread and wine do not remain after consecration
First, the Papists say that in the supper of the Lord, after the words of consecration (as they call it) there is none other substance remaining, but the substance of Christ’s flesh and blood, so that there remains neither bread to be eaten, nor wine to be drunk. And although there be the colour of bread and wine, the savour, the smell, the size, the fashion, and all other (as they call them) accidents, or qualities and quantities of bread and wine, yet (say they) there is no very bread nor wine, but they be turned into the flesh and blood of Christ. And this conversion they call Transubstantiation, that is to say, turning of one substance into another substance. And although all the accidents, both of the bread and wine, remain still, yet (say they) the same accidents, be in no manner of thing, but hang alone in the ayre, without anything to stay them upon. For in the body and blood of Christ (say they) these accidents can not be, nor yet in the air, for the body and blood of Christ and the air, be neither of that size, fashion, smell, nor colour, that the bread and wine be. Nor in the bread and wine (say they) these accidents can not be, for the substance of bread and wine (as they affirm) be cleanly gone. And so there remaineth whiteness, but nothing is white: there remain colours, but nothing is coloured therewith: there remaineth roundness, but nothing is round: and there is size, and yet nothing is sized: there is sweetness, without any sweet thing: softness, without any soft thing: breaking, without anything broken: division, without anything divided: and so other qualities and quantities, without anything to receive them. And this doctrine they teache as a necessary article of our faith.
But it is not the doctrine of Christ, but the subtle invention of the Antichrist, first decreed by Innocent the third, and afterwards at large set forth by scholarly authors, whose study was ever to defend and set abroad to the world all such matters, as the Bishop of Rome had once decreed. And the devil by his minister Antichrist, had so dazzled the eyes of a great multitude of Christian people in these latter days, that they sought not for their faith, at the clear light of God’s word, but at the Romish Antichrist, believing whatsoever he prescribed unto them, yes though it was against all reason, all sense, and God’s most holy word also. For else he could not have been such an Antichrist, except by having been so repugnant unto Christ, whose doctrine is clean contrary to this doctrine of Antichrist. For Christ teaches, that we receive very bread and wine in the most blessed supper of the Lord as sacraments to admonish us, that as we are fed with bread and wine bodily, so we be fed with the body and blood of our saviour Christ spiritually. As in our baptism, we receive very water, to signify unto us, that as water is an element to wash the body outwardly, so be our souls washed by the holy ghost inwardly.
Second variation: Christ’s body is substantially, corporally, and naturally, in or under the accidents of the sacramental bread and wine
The second principal thing, wherein the Papists vary from the truth of God’s word, is this. They say, that the very natural flesh and blood of Christ, which suffered for us upon the cross, and sits at the right hand of the father in heaven, is also really, substantially, corporally, and naturally, in or under the accidents of the sacramental bread and wine, which they call, the forms of bread and wine. And yet here they vary not a little among themselves. For some say, that the very natural body of Christ is there, but not naturally, nor sensibly. And others say, that it is there naturally and sensibly, and of the same size and fashion that it is in heaven, and as the same was borne of the blessed virgin Mary, and that it is there broken and torn in pieces with our teeth. And this appears partly by the scholarly authors, and partly by the confession of Berengar, which (Pope) Nicholas the second constrained him to make, which was this. That of the sacraments of the Lord’s table the aforesaid Berengar should promise to hold that faith, which the aforesaid Pope Nicholas and his counsel held, which was, that not only the sacraments of bread and wine, but also the very flesh and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, are sensibly handled of the priest in the altar, broken and torn with the teeth of the faithful people. But the true catholic faith, grounded upon God’s most infallible word, teaches us, that our saviour Christ (as concerning his human nature and bodily presence) is gone up unto heaven, and sits at the right hand of his father, and there shall he tarry until the end of the world, at what time he shall come again, to judge both the quick and the dead, as he says himself in many scriptures.
I forsake the world (he said) and go to my Father (John 16:28). And in another place he says: You shall always have the poor among you, but me you shall not ever have (John 12:8). And again he says: Many hereafter shall come and say: Look here is Christ, or look there he is, but believe them not (Matthew 24:23). And Saint Peter says in Acts, that heaven must receive Christ, until the time that all things shall be restored (Acts 3:21).
And Saint Paul writing to the Colossians, agrees hereto, saying:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.Colossians 3:1
And Saint Paul speaking of the very sacrament says:
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.1 Corinthians 11:26
Till he comes says Saint Paul, signifying, that he is not there corporally present. For what speech was this, or who says of him that is already present until he comes? For until I come, signifies that he is not yet present. This is the catholic faith, which we learn from our youth in our common Creed, and which Christ taught, the Apostles followed, and the martyrs confirmed with their blood. And although Christ in his human nature substantially, really, corporally, naturally and sensibly, be present with his father in heaven, yet sacramentally and spiritually he is here present in water, bread and wine, as in signs and sacraments, but he is indeed spiritually in the faithful Christian people, which according to Christ’s ordinance be baptised, or receive the holy communion, or unfeignedly believe in him. Thus have you heard the second principal article, wherein the Papists vary from the truth of God’s word, and from the catholic faith.
Third variation: That the wicked partake of Christ
Now the third thing, wherein they vary, is this.
The Papists say, that evil and ungodly men receive this sacrament, the very body and blood of Christ, and eat and drink the self-same thing, that the good and godly men do. But the truth of God’s word is contrary, that all those that be godly members of Christ, as they corporally eat the bread and drink the wine, so spiritually they eat and drink Christ’s very flesh and blood. And as for the wicked members of the devil, they eat the sacramental bread and drink the sacramental wine, but they do not spiritually eat Christ’s flesh nor drink his blood, but they eat and drink their own damnation.
Fourth variation: The sacrifice of the Mass
The fourth thing, wherein the Popish priests dissent from the manifest word of God, is this. They say, that they offer Christ every day for a remission of sin, and distribute by their Masses, the merits of Christ’s passion. But the prophets, apostles and evangelists do say, that Christ himself in his own person made a sacrifice for our sins upon the Cross, by whose wounds all our diseases were healed, and our sins pardoned, and so did never no priest, man, nor creature but he, nor he did the same never more than once. And the benefit hereof is in no man’s power to give unto any other, but every man must receive it at Christ’s hands himself, by his own faith and belief, as the prophet says.
HERE ENDS THE FIRST BOOK