Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man that hopes in Him. In that sacrament is Christ, because it is the Body of Christ, it is therefore not bodily food but spiritual. Whence the Apostle says of its type: Our fathers ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink, for the Body of God is a spiritual body; the Body of Christ is the Body of the Divine Spirit.
Your excellent Majesty inquireth, whether State of the Body and Blood of Christ, which in the Church is taken by the mouth of the faithful, in two be made so in a mystery or in truth; that is, whether it containeth any hidden thing, which lieth open to the eye of faith alone; or whether without the veil of any mystery, the sight gazeth on that Body outwardly, which the eye of the soul inwardly beholdeth, so that the whole matter standeth forth open and manifest. And, whether it be the very same Body which was born of Mary, suffered, died, and was buried, which rose again, ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father.
The Father knoweth the Generation of the Son; the Son knoweth the design of the Father; the Father designeth, and the Son knoweth, and the works are done by the Spirit, There is no division intervening, because there is but One Will to intervene. There is no confusion in the intermingling, since there is a perfect order there. For suppose not, because They are blended, that there is any confusion neither, because They are distinct, fancy to thyself that there is any division. They are blended, though not confounded ; and distinct, though not divided.
It is better for a man to be silent and be [a Christian], than to talk and not to be one. It is good to teach, if he who speaks also acts. There is then one Teacher, who spoke and it was done; while even those things which He did in silence are worthy of the Father. He who possesses the word of Jesus, is truly able to hear even His very silence, that he may be perfect, and may both act as he speaks, and be recognised by his silence.
The priests indeed are good, but the High Priest is better; to whom the holy of holies has been committed, and who alone has been trusted with the secrets of God. He is the door of the Father, by which enter in Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the prophets, and the apostles, and the Church.
Wherefore, clothing yourselves with meekness, be renewed in faith, that is the flesh of the Lord, and in love, that is the blood of Jesus Christ. Let no one of you cherish any grudge against his neighbour. Give no occasion to the Gentiles, lest by means of a few foolish men the whole multitude [of those that believe] in God be evil spoken of.
For what does any one profit me, if he commends me, but blasphemes my Lord, not confessing that He was [truly] possessed of a body? But he who does not acknowledge this, has in fact altogether denied Him, being enveloped in death.
It is well to have specifically holy places, and things, and days, for, without these focal points or reminders, the belief that all is holy and “big with God” will soon dwindle into a mere sentiment. But if these holy places, things, and days cease to remind us, if they obliterate our awareness that all ground is holy and every bush (could we but perceive it) a Burning Bush, then the hallows begin to do harm. Hence both the necessity, and the perennial danger, of “religion”.
Behold, dearly beloved brothers, how much I deem that a reason has been given for why our Lord and Saviour freed the human race from the power of the Devil not through power but through humility, not through violence but through justice. For this reason let us, to whom the divine compassion gave so many benefits with no preceding merits of our own, labour as much as we are able with the help of that same divine compassion so that the grace of so great a love should not produce a judgment for us but a reward.
It is a good thing, I reckon, to leave to posterity good children. This is the case with children of our bodies. But words are the progeny of the soul. Hence we call those who have instructed us, fathers. Wisdom is a communicative and philanthropic thing. Accordingly, Solomon says, My son, if you receive the saying of my commandment, and hide it with you, your ear shall hear wisdom. He points out that the word that is sown is hidden in the soul of the learner, as in the earth, and this is spiritual planting.
You allow us to be harassed, plundered, and persecuted, the multitude making war upon us for our name alone. We venture, therefore, to lay a statement of our case before you — and you will deem from this discourse that we suffer unjustly, and contrary to all law and reason — and we beseech you to bestow some consideration upon us also, that we may cease at length to be slaughtered at the instigation of false accusers.
The doctrines of the Lord, then, are three: the hope of life, the beginning and the completion of it. For the Lord has made known to us by the prophets both the things which are past and present, giving us also the first-fruits of the knowledge of things to come, which things as we see accomplished, one by one, we ought with the greater richness of faith and elevation of spirit to draw near to Him with reverence. I then, not as your teacher, but as one of yourselves, will set forth a few things by which in present circumstances you may be rendered the more joyful.
For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines.
Watch over your life, that your lamps are never quenched, and that your loins are never unloosed. Be ready, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.