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Out of the Doctrine of the Church of
For the satisfying of a Scrupulous Friend.
Anno 1 631.
Har Christ Jesus our Lord is truly present, and re
ceived in the blessed Sacrament of his body and blood, is so clear and universally agreed upon, that he can be no Chriftian thar doubts it. But in what manner he is
both present and received is a point that hath exercised many wits, and cost many thousand lives ; and such as some Orthodox Divines are wont to express with a kind of scruple, as not daring to speak out; For me, as I have learn’d to lay my hand on my mouth where God and lais Church have been filent and to adore those mysteries which I cannot comprehend, so I think it is possible we may wrong our selves in an over-cautious fear of delivering sufficiently-revealed truths ; such I take this to be which we have in hand; wherein as God hath not been sparing to declare himself in his word, so the Church of England our dear Mother hath freely opened her self in such sort as if she mcant to meet with the future fcruples of an over-tender posterity.
Certainly there can be bur two wayes wherein he can be imagined to be present, and received; eicher corporally, or spiritually: That he should be corporally present at once, in every part of eve. ry Eucharistical Element through the World, is such a Monster of opinion as utterly overthrowes the truth of his humane body, defroyes the nature of a Sacrament, implies a world of contradictions, baffles right reason, transcends all faith, and in short, confounds Heaverrand Earth; as we might casily show in all particulars if it were the drift of my discourse to meddle with those which profess themselves not ours: who yet do no less then we cry down the gross and Capernaitical expression which their Pope Nicholas prescribed to Berengarius ; ayd cannot but confess char their own Card. Bellarmine advises this phrase of Christs corporall prefence should be very sparingly, and warily taken up in the hearing of their people : but my intention only is to satisfic those Sons of the Church,who disclaiming from all opinion of Tranfubftantiation, do yer willingly imbrace a kind of irresolution in this point, as holding it safest not to inquire into the manner of Christs presence.
What should be guilty of this nice doubtfulness I cannot conceive, unless it be a misconstruction of those broad speeches, which antiquity (not suspecting to unlikely commentaries ) hath upon all occasions been wont to let fall concerning these awful mysteries.For what those Oracles of the Church have divinely spoken in reverence to the Sacramental union of the signe, and the thing fignified in this sacred bufiness, hath been mistaken,' as literally and properly meant to be predicated of the oucward Element: hence have grown those dangerous errors, and that inexplicable confusion which hath fince infested the Church.
When all is said, nothing can be more clear, then that in respect of bodily presence the Heavens must contain the glorified humanity
of Christ uncill his return to judgment. As therefore the Angel could say, to the devour Maries after Chrifts resurrection secking for him in his grave, He is risen, be is not here ; fo they still say to us secking for his glorious body here below: He is afcended, be is not bere ; It ihould absolutely lose the nature of an humane body if it Mar.162 should not be circumscriptible. Glorification doth not bercave it 6. of the truth of being what it is. It is a true humane body, and therefore can no more according to the natural being even of a body glorified, be many wheres at once, thon according to his personal
, being it can be separated from that Godhead which is at once every
where; Let it be therefore firmly secled in our souls as an unEdoubted truth, That the humane body of Christ in respect of corpo
ral presence is in Heaven, whither he visibly ascended, and where he fits on the right hand of the Father, and whence he thall come again with glory : a parcel of our Creed which the Church learn’t of
I : the Angels in Mount Olivet; who caught the gazing disciples that
this fame Jesus which was taken up from them into Heaven, shall fo come in like manner as they saw him go into Heaven, which was with wonderfull glory and magnificence. Far be it from us then to think that the blessed humanity of the Son of God should so disparage it self, as where there is neither necefficy nor use of a bodily descent to steale down, and conveigh himself insensibly from Heae ven to Earth daily, and to hide up his whole sacred body in an hundred thousand several pixes at once.
It is a wonder that superstition it self is not ashamed of so absurd and impossible a fancy; which it is in vain for Men to think they can (alve up with a pretence of omnipotence : we question not the power of God, but his will : and do well know he cannot will absolure contradiétions, Deus hoc potenter non potest, as one said truly.
That which we say of Christs presence, holds no less of his reception; for so do we receive him into us as he is present with us,neither can we corporally receive that which is bodily ablent: although besides the common incongruity of opinion, the corporal receiving of Christ hath in it a further prodigiousness, and horrour : all the Novices of the Roman Schools are now asham'd of their Popes Dentibus teritur, but when their Doctors have made the best of their own Tenent, they cannot avoid St. Austins flagitium videtur præcipere; By how much the humane Aesh is and ought to be more dear, by fo
much more odious is the chought of cating it, neither let them imaginc they can escape che imputation of an hateful favageness in this act, for that it is not presented to them in the form of Hesh, whiles they professe to know it is so, howsoever it appeareth : Let some skilful couk so dress mans flesh in the mixtures of his artificial haines, and taft full sauces, that it cannot be discerned by the sence, yet if I shall afterwards understand that I have eaten it, though thus coverto
ly conveyed, I cannot but abhorr to think of so unnatural a diet; Job.6. Corporally then to ear ( if it were possible ) the flesh of Christ, as 63. it could (in our Saviours own word ) profit nothing, so it couldbe
no other then a kinde of religious Cannibalisme, which both nature and grace cannot buc justly rise against.
Since therefore the body of Christ cannot be said to be corporally present, or reccived by us, it must needs follow that there is no way of his presence or receit in the Sacrament but spiritual, which the Church of England hath laboured so fully to express both in her holy Liturgic , and publickly-authorized homilies, that there is no one point of divine truth which she hath more punctually and plainly laid down before us :: What can be more evident then thar which she hath said in the second exhortation before the Communion ? thus,
Dearly beloved, forasmuch as our duty is, to render to Almighty God our heavenly Father most hcarry thanks for that he hath given his Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, not only to dye for us, but allo, co be our spiricual food and sustenance, as it is declared unto us, as well by Gods word, as by the holy. Sacraments of his blessed budy and blood, &c. Lo, Christ is in this Sacrament given to us, to be our spiritual food, in which regard also this facrament is in the same exhortation called a Godly and heavenly feast, where to that we may come holy and clean, we muft search and examine our own consciences (not our chops and mawes) that we may come and be received as worthy Partakers, of such an Heavenly
But that in the following exhortation is yet more pregnant, chac we should diligently cry and examine our faith before we prílune to eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For as the benefit is great if with a true penitent heárt, and lively faith we reccive that holy Sacrament, (for then we spiritually cat the flesh of Chrift,
: and drink his blood, then we dwel in Christ, and he in us, we be
one with Christ, and Christ with us, ) so is the danger great if we t receive the same unworthily. What termes can be more expressc?
it is bread and wine which we come to receive, that brcad and thac wine is sacramental. It is our heart wherewith we receive that lacrament, it is our faith whereby we worthily receive; this receit and manducation of the flesh of Christ is spiritually done , and by this spiricual receir of him, we are made one with him, and he wich
us; by verruc, then, of the worthy receic of this sacramental bread 2:
and wine we car the flesh and drink the blood of Christ spiritually ; and there growes hereby a reciprocal union betwixt Christ and us, neither is he otherwise one with us, then we are one with him, which can be no otherwise then by the power of his institution, and of our faith.
And that no man may doubt what the drift and purpose of our blessed Saviour was in the institution and recommendation of this blessed sacrament to his Church, it followes in that paffage ; And to the end that we should alway remember the excceding great love of our master and onely Saviour Jesus Christ chus dying for us,
and' che innumerable benefits which by his precious blood-Thedding he hath obtained to us, he hath instituted and ordained holy mysteries as pledges of his love, and continual remembrances of his death to our great and endleffe comfort : If therefore we shall look upon and take these sacred elements as the pledges of our Saviours love to us, and remembrances of his deach for us, we shall not need, neither indeed can we require by the judgment of our Church to see any other value on them : But withall that we may not fleightly conceive of those mysteries, as if they had no further worth then they do outwardly show, we are taught in that prayer which the Minister knecling down at Gods board is appointed to make in the name of all the communicants before che confecration, that whiles we do duly receive those blessed elements we do in the same act, by the power of our faith eat the flesh, and drink the blood of Chrift ; lo effi ctual and inseparable is the facramental union of the fignes thus instituted by our blessed Lord and Saviour, with the thing thereby signified; for thus is he prescribed to pray; Grant us therefore gracious Lord so to eat the fich of thy dear Son Jelus Christ, and to drink his blood that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and