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saying, “ The word of God is called flesh and blood;" for so the eternal wisdom of the Father calls - to every simple soul that wanteth understanding, Come, eat of the bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled :" and that we may know what is this bread and wine, he adds, “ forsake the foolish and live, and go in the way of understanding.” Our life is wisdom; our food is understanding. The rabbins have an observation, that whenever mention is made in the book of the Proverbs of eating and drinking, there is meant nothing but wisdom and the law; and when the doctors, using the words of Scripture, say, " Come and eat flesh, in which there is much fatness,” they would be understood to say, “ Come and hear wisdom, and learn the fear of God, in which there is great nourishment and advantage to our souls.” Thus - wisdom' is called "water,' and understanding' bread,' by the Son of Siracht; “ With the bread of anderstanding shall she feed him, and give him the water of wisdom to drink.” It is by the prophet Isaiah u called 56 water and wine;" and the desires of righteousness are called “ hunger and thirst” by our blessed Saviour, in his sermon on the mount*. And in pursuance of this mysterious truth, we find that God y, in his
threatens a “ famine of hearing the words of the Lord;" when we want God's word, we die with hunger, we want that bread on which our souls do feed. It was an excellent commentary which the Jewish doctors make upon those words of the prophet “, “ With joy shall ye draw waters from the wells of salvation; " that is, “from the choicest or wisest of the just men," saith Rabbi Jonathan a; from the chief ministers of religion, the heads of the people, and the rulers of the congregation ; because they preach the word of God; they open the wells of salvation, from the fountains of our Saviour, giving drink and refreshment to all the people. Thus the prophet Jeremiah b expresses his spiritual joy, and the sense of this mystery : “ Thy words were found and I did eat them, and thy word was unto me the joy and
s Moreh Nevoch. lib. i. c. 30.
+ Ecclus. xv. 3. Isaiah, ly. 1, 2.
* Matt. v. 6.
Isaiah, xii. 3.
rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts : the same with that of our blessed Saviour, “ My words are spirit, and they are life,” they give life and comfort, they relish our souls, and feed them up to immortality.
As the body or flesh of Christ is his word, so the blood of Christ is his spirit in real effect and signification. For as the body without blood is a dead and lifeless trunk, so is the word of God without the Spirit, a dead and ineffective letter: and this mystery we are taught in that incomparable epistle to the Hebrews : for "by the blood of Christ' we are sanctified; and yet that which sanctifies us in the Spirit of grace, and both these are one: for so saith the apostle ; 66 the blood of Christ was offered up for us, for the purification of our consciences from dead works ;” but this offering was made through the eternal Spirit;' and, therefore, he is equally guilty, and does the same impiety, he who does “ despite to the Spirit of grace, and he who accounts the blood of the covenant an unholy thing d;" for by this Spirit and by this blood we are sanctified; by this Spirit,' and by the blood of the everlasting covenant°,' Jesus Christ does perfect him in every good work, so that these are the same ministry of salvation, and but one and the same economy
of God. Thus St. Peter affirms, that by the precious blood of Christ,' we are redeemed from our vain conversation, and it is everywhere affirmed, that we are "purified and cleansed by the blood of Christ,' and yet these are the express effects of his Spirit: for by the Spirit we mortify the deeds of the body,' and we are justified and sanctified in the name of our Lord Jesus by the Spirit of our God.' By which expressions we are taught to distinguish the natural blood of Christ from the spiritual; the blood that he gave for us, from the blood which he gives to us: that was indeed by the Spirit; but was not the same thing, but this is the Spirit of grace, and the Spirit of wisdom. And, therefore, 'as our fathers were made to drink in one spirit, when they drank of the water of the rock,' so we also partake of the Spirit when we drink of Christ's blood, which came from the spiritual rock when it was smitten : for thus according to the doctrine of St. John, the water, and
c Heb. ix. 14.
d x. 29.
e xiii. 20.
the blood, and the Spirit, are one and the same glorious purposes.
As it was with our fathers in the beginning, so it is now with us, and so it ever shall be, world without end : for they fed upon Christ, that is, they believed in Christ, they expected his day, they lived upon his promises, they lived by faith in him : and the same meat and drink is set upon our tables : and more than all this, as Christ is the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world, so he shall be the food of our souls in heaven, where they “who are accounted worthy, shall sit down and be feasted in the eternal supper of the Lamb;" concerning which blessedness, our blessed Saviour saith f, “ Blessed is he that eateth bread in the kingdom of God: ", for he hath appointed to his chosen ones, to eat and drink at his table in his kingdom : ' plainly teaching us, that by eating and drinking Christ, is meant in this world to live the life of the Spirit, and in the other world it is to live the life of glory : here we feed upon duty, and there we feed upon reward: our wine is here mingled with water and with myrrh, there it is mere and unmixed : but still it is called meat and drink, and still is meant grace and glory, the fruits of the Spirit and the joy of the Spirit; that is, by Christ we here live a spiritual life, and hereafter shall live a life eternal .
Thus are sensible things the sacrament and representation of the spiritual and eternal), and spiritual things are the fulfillings of the sensible i. But the consequent of these things is this : that since Christ always was, is, and shall be, the food of the faithful, and is that bread which came down
f Luke, xiv. 15.
Ζωήν κληρονομήσουσ' αιώνοςχρόνον, αυτοί
Sibyl. Erythr. Orac.-Luk. xxii. 30. h Eâ formâ quâ semper carnalia 'in figuram spiritualium antecedunt.Tertul. de Baptis.
1 Τα νοητά πληρώματα των αισθητων· το γάρ φαγείν σύμβολόν εστι τροφής ψυχικής τρέφεται γαρ η ψυχή αναλήψει των καλών και πράξει των κατορθωμάτων.-Phil. Αι.
In ratione sacrorum, par est animæ et corporis causa, nam plerumque, quæ non possunt circa animam fieri, fiunt circa corpus. Servius in illud Virgilii ' vittasque resolvit,' et lib. iv. 512. “In sacris quæ exhiberi non poterunt, simulabantur et erant pro veris.'
from heaven: since we eat him here and shall eat him there, our eating both here and there is spiritual: only the word of teaching shall be changed into the word of glorification, and our faith into charity, and, all the way, our souls live a new life by Christ, of which eating and drinking is the symbol and the sacrament. And this is not done to make this mystery obscure, but intelligible and easy. For so the pains of hell are expressed by fire, which to our flesh is most painful,—and the joys of God by that which brings us greatest pleasure, by meat and drink, and the growth in grace, by the natural instruments of nutrition,--and the work of the soul, by the ministries of the body,—and the graces of God, by the blessings of nature: for these we know, and we know nothing else; and but by fantasms and ideas of what we see and feel, we understand nothing at all.
Now this is so far from being a diminution of the glorious mystery of our communion, that the changing all into spirituality is the greatest increase of blessing in the world : and when he gives us his body and his blood, he does not fill our stomachs with good things : for of whatsoever goes in thither, it is affirmed by the apostle, that “ God will destroy both it and them,” but our hearts are to be replenished, and by receiving his Spirit we receive the best thing that God gives: not his lifeless body, but his fesh with life in it; that is, his doctrine and his Spirit to imprint it, so to beget a living faith, and a lively hope, that we may live, and live for
4. St. John ", having thus explicated this mystery in general of our eating the flesh, and drinking the blood of Christ, added nothing in particular concerning any sacraments, these being but particular instances of the general mystery and communion with Christ. But what is the advantage we receive by the sacraments, besides that which we get by the other and distinct ministries of faith, I thus account in general.
The word and the Spirit are the flesh and the blood of Christ, that is the ground of all. Now, because there are two great sermons of the Gospel, which are the sum total and abbreviature of the whole word of God, the great messages of
the word incarnate, Christ was pleased to invest these two words with two sacraments, and assist those two sacraments, as he did the whole word of God, with the presence of his Spirit, that in them we might do more signally and solemnly what was in the ordinary ministrations done plainly and with out extraordinary regards.
“ Believe and repent,” is the word in baptism, and there solemnly consigned : and here it is that by faith we feed on Christ: for faith, as it is opposed to works, that is the new covenant of faith as it is opposed to the old covenant of works, is the covenant of repentance: repentance is expressly included in the new covenant, but was not in the old: but by faith in Christ we are admitted to the pardon of our sins, if we repent and forsake them utterly. Now this is the word of faith; and this is that which is called the flesh or body of Christ, for this is that which the soul feeds on, this is that by which the just do live: and when, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, the waters are reformed to a divine nature or efficacy, the baptized are made clean, they are sanctified and presented pure and spotless unto God. This mystery', St. Austin rightly understood when he affirmed, that “ We are made partakers of the body and blood of Christ, when we are in baptism incorporated into his body;" “we are baptized in the passion of our Lord:” so Tertullian m, to the same sense with that of St. Paul, buried with him by baptism into his death :” that is, by baptism are conveyed to us all the effects of Christ's death; the flesh and blood of Christ crucified are, in baptism, reached to us by the hand of God, by his holy Spirit, and received by the hand of man, the ministry of a holy faith. So that it can, without difficulty, be understood that as in receiving the word, and the Spirit illuminating us in our first conversion, we do truly feed on the flesh and drink the blood of Christ, who is the bread that came down from heaven ; so we do it also, and do it much more in baptism, because in this, besides all that was before, there was superadded a rite of God's appointment. The difference is only this, that out of
! Ad infantes apud Bedam,
Tingimur in passione Domini. Tertul. lib. de Bapt. 'AVTITUTOY Tŵn toi Xpustoũ traInpátwr, S. Cyril. vocat baptismum -Catech. 11.