A defence of the true and catholic doctrine of the sacrament of the body and blood of our saviour CHRIST, with a confutation of sundry errors, concerning the same, grounded and established upon God’s Holy Word and approved by the consent of the most ancient doctors of the Church.
Made by the most Reverend in GOD Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England and Metropolitan.
This book is divided into five parts
- The first is of the true and catholic doctrine and use of the sacrament of the body and blood of our saviour CHRIST.
- The second is against the error of Transubstantiation.
- The third teaches the manner of how CHRIST is present in his holy supper.
- The fourth is of the eating and drinking of the body and blood of our Saviour CHRIST.
- The fifth book is of the oblation and sacrifice of our saviour CHRIST.
A Preface To The Reader
Our Saviour Christ Jesus, according to the will of his eternal Father, when the time thereto was fully accomplished, taking our nature upon him, came into this world from the high throne of his Father, to declare unto miserable sinners, good news, to heal them that were sick, making the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, to set prisoners at liberty, to show that the time of grace and mercy has come, to give light to them that were in darkness and the shadow of death, and to preach and give pardon and full remission of sins to all his elected. And to perform the same, he made a sacrifice and oblation of his own body upon the crosse, which was a full redemption, satisfaction, and propitiation for the sins of the whole world. And to commend this his sacrifice unto all his faithful people, and to confirm their faith and hope of eternal salvation in the same, he has ordained a perpetual memory of his said sacrifice, daily to be used in the Church to his perpetual laud and praise, and to our singular comfort and consolation, That is to say, celebration of his holy supper, wherein he does not cease to give himself with all his benefits to all those that duly receive the same supper, according to his blessed ordinance. But the Romish Antichrist, to deface this great benefit of Christ, has taught that his sacrifice upon the cross is not sufficient hereunto, without another sacrifice devised by him, and made by the priest, or else without Indulgences, Beads, Pardons, Pilgrimages, and such other paltry, to supply Christ’s imperfection. And that Christian people can not apply to themselves the benefits of Christ’s passion, but that the same is in the distribution of the Bishop of Rome, or else that by Christ we have no full remission, but be delivered only from sin, and yet remaineth temporal pain in Purgatory due for the same, to be remitted after this life by the Romish Antichrist and his ministers, who take upon them to do for us, that thing, which Christ either would not, or could not do. O heinous blasphemy and most detestable injury against Christ. O wicked abomination in the temple of God, O pride intolerable of Antichrist, and most manifest token of the son of perdition extolling himself above God, and with Lucifer exalting his seat and power above the throne of God. For he that takes upon him, to supply that thing which he pretended to be perfect in Christ, must needs make himself above Christ, and so very Antichrist. For what is this else, but to be against Christ, and to bring him in contempt? As one for either for lack of charity would not, or for lack of power he could not, with all his bloodshed and death, clearly deliver his faithful, and give them full remission of their sin, but that the full perfection thereof must be had at the hades of the Antichrist of Rome and his ministers? What man of knowledge and zeal to Gods honour, can with dry eyes see this injury to Christ, and look upon the state of religion brought in by the Papists, perceiving the true sense of Gods word subverted by false glosses of mans devising, the true Christian religion turned into certain hypocritical and superstitious sects, by people praying with their mouths and hearing with their ears they wish not what, and so ignorant in God’s word, that they could not discern hypocrisy and superstition from true and sincere religion? This was of late years the face of religion within this realm of England and yet remains in diverse realms. But thanks be to almighty God and the King’s majesty [Edward VI], with his father [Henry VIII], a prince of most famous memory, the superstitious sects of Monks and Friars (that were in this Realm) be cleanly taken away, the scripture is restored unto the proper and true understanding, the people may daily read and hear Gods heavenly word, and pray in their own language which they understand, so that their hearts and mouths may go together, and be none of those people of whom Christ complained, saying: These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Thanks be to God many corrupt weeds be plucked up, which were wont to rot the flock of Christ and to let the growing of the Lord’s harvest.
But to what avail is it to take away beads, parades, pilgrimages, and such other like Popery, so long as. The chief roots remain unpulled up whereof so long as they remain, will spring again all former impediments to the Lord’s harvest, and corruption of his flock. The rest is but branches and leaves, the cutting away whereof, is but like topping and lopping of a tree, or cutting down of weeds, leaving the body standing, and the roots in the ground, but the very body of the tree, or rather the roots of the weeds, is the popish doctrine of Transubstantiation of the real presence of Christ’s flesh and blood in the sacrament of the altar (as they call it) and of the sacrifice and oblation of Christ made by the priest, for the salvation of the quick and the dead. Which roots if they are suffered to grow in the Lord’s vineyard, they will overspread all the ground again, with the old errors and superstitions. These injuries to Christ be so intolerable, that no Christian heart can willingly bare them. Wherefore seeing that many have set to their hands, and whetted their trowels, to pluck up the weeds, and to cut down the tree of error, I not knowing otherwise how to excuse myself at the last day, have in this book set to my hand and axe with the rest to cut down this tree, and to pluck up the weeds and plants by the roots, which our heavenly Father never planted, but were grafted and sewn in his vineyard by his adversary the devil, and Antichrist his minister. The Lord grant, that this my travail and labour in his vineyard, be not in vain, but that it may prosper and bring forth good fruits to his honour and glory. For when I see his vineyard overgrown with thorns, brambles, and weeds, I know that everlasting work appertaineth unto me, if I hold my peace, and put not to my hands and tongue, to labour in purging his vineyard. God, I take to witness (who seeth the harts of all men thoroughly unto the bottom) that I take this labour for none other consideration, but for the glory of his name, and the discharge of my duty, and the zeal that I bear toward the flock of Christ. I know in what office God has placed me, and to what purpose, that is to say, to set forth his word truly unto his people, to the uttermost of my power, without respect of person, or regard of thing in the world, but of him alone. I know what account I shall make to him hereof on the last day, when every man shall answer for his vocation, and receive for the same good or ill, according to as he has done. I know how Antichrist has obscured the glory of God, and the true knowledge of his word, overcasting the same with mysteries and clouds of error and ignorance, thorough false glosses and interpretations. It pities me to see the simple and hungry flock of Christ, led into corrupt pastures, to be carried blindfolded, they know not whether, and to be fed with poison instead of wholesome meats. And moved by the duties, office and place, whereunto it hath pleased God to call me, I give warning in his name unto all that profess Christ that they flee far from Babylon, if they will save their souls, and to beware of that great harlot, it is to say, the pestiferous sea of Rome, that she makes you not drunk with her pleasant wine. Trust not her sweet promises, nor banquet not with her, for in steed of wine she will give you sower dregs and for meat, she will feed you with rank poison. But come to our redeemer and saviour Christ who refreshes all that truely come unto him, be their anguished and heaviness never so great. Give credit unto him, in whose mouth was never found guile, nor untruth. By him you shall be clearly delivered from all your diseases, of him, you shall have full remission, of pena [punishments] and culpa [faults]. Here it is that feeds continually all that belongs to him, with his own flesh that hung upon the cross, and gives them the drink of the blood flowing out of his own side, and makes to spring within them, water that floweth unto everlasting life. Listen not to the false incantations, sweet whisperings and crafty ignomies of the subtle Papists, wherewith they have this many years deluded and bewitched the world, but listen to Christ, give ear unto his words, which shall lead you the right way unto everlasting life, there with him to like ever as heirs of his kingdom.