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as the Christians came together, there was collection made and gathered for the relief and sustentation of the poor; whereof it is written in the first epistle to the Corinthians, the eleventh chapter, and fifteenth verse; and also in the second epistle to the Corinthians, the eighth chapter, and ninth verse.
The third thing is the breaking of the bread, the token of the new and everlasting covenant, which Christ upon the cross confirmed with his body and blood. This did the holy apostles and faithful believers use thus after the instruction of Christ. They took the bread; the same was broken, and to every one a portion given, which they did eat, giving thanks unto their heavenly Father, who had purged them from sin through the blood of Jesus Christ his dear Son; and so held they the joyful and glorious memorial of Christ's death.
Thus ought all faithful believers to do likewise : when they come together, as appertaineth, then with the breaking of the bread, and distribution of it among themselves, they must be mindful of the precious death and passion of Jesus Christ, rendering unto him perpetual thanks therefore. For Christ did not institute and ordain this his supper in vain, but thereby to make his church mindful and put them in remembrance of his death; and that over and besides faith, which inwardly liveth in the heart, the outward senses also might have somewhat to stir and draw them unto that, which faith inwardly considereth and looketh upon. These tokens are instituted, to signify and represent unto us high and great things, to gather together and unite the church; that, being dispersed every where over the face of the whole earth, might gather together into one communion and fellowship in Christ, and be made partakers of his promises, and enjoy those comfortable blessings which he hath promised from the beginning, namely, such as be faithful and true believers; and that the exterior and outward sense might from all corporal things be withdrawn to that which is spiritual. For the eyes see the bread, which representeth the body of Christ : they see, as the bread is broken, so was the body of Christ broken upon the cross for our sins; and that as the wine is poured in and out, so was the precious blood of Jesus Christ shed to wash away all our sins. The ears do hear Christ's words spoken by the minister in the person of Jesus Christ; by the which the promise is renewed, by which means those that are his, and of his church, are by a certain feeling and comfort in their souls and consciences refreshed. The taste upon the tongue, the smell in the nose, and likewise the handling, and so each other member in his several office, every one of them hath his delight and operation, in confessing, acknowledging, and doing his service unto faith.
But for what cause our Saviour Christ did specially use bread and wine before any other corporal things, to signify his death and shedding of his blood, it may well and easily be perceived by the nature of faith. With bread is the body fed and sustained, with wine are men's hearts made merry.
Forasmuch then as faith, the life of our souls, through the flesh of Christ spiritually eaten is nourished and sustained ; and seeing our mind is moistened and refreshed with true and perfect joy through the blood of Christ shed for us ; there was nothing more meet, nothing more expedient, nothing more necessary for this sacrament, than bread and wine.
Moreover, through the blood of Christ are all other oblations and sacrifices clean laid aside: and therefore Christ, minding to finish the high sacrifice upon the cross, testified and declared beforehand, that his body being offered up, and his blood shed, should be sufficient to wash away all men's sins, and that from thenceforth there should not need any other sin-offering, in the which there must blood be shed. Therefore would he with evident and plain words testify and say: “ This is my body, which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me. This is the cup of the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for many to the forgiveness of sins.” To the intent then that this excellent and worthy propitiation and sacrifice should not [be lost]' out of their eyes and hearts, he added visible signs, not bare signs, but seals of his covenant, as was the circumcision and passah, and common tokens of love and friendship amongst men, even bread and wine, which have no blood, to declare that all blood for sin is only in Jesus Christ.
Christ's mind was also, in one body to couple and knit together the whole multitude of his church. To signify this,
[1 A word is here wanting in the original edition.]
there' was nothing more apt and fit than wine and bread: for like as out of many corns is made one paste and one bread, and like as out of many grapes one wine floweth together; even so by faith and love become they all one body, that eat of one bread and drink of one cup.
And even from the beginning of the world it hath always been the use among men, that with bread and wine they have made and confirmed great friendship and league : and even so Christ with the distributing of the bread among his disciples would establish an everlasting friendship with them.
The fourth thing now in the church of Christ is prayer ; namely, as Christ taught them to pray unto the Father of heaven, that the kingdom of his Son might still grow and increase, that his glory might arise and spread itself throughout all the world, that his name might be hallowed, and his will fulfilled, &c.
This is the necessariest thing of all: and if we lack this, in vain are all our good works, in vain are all the honest actions of a civil life, in vain are all godly exercises; nothing prospereth we go about, no oblation is sanctified, all is impurity, that we either do or think. The holy apostle Paul willeth us to pray continually : God granteth not the presence of his Spirit to any thing but unto prayer. Without the presence of God's Spirit, unprofitable is the word preached, unprofitable are the sacraments ministered, unprofitable shall all things be unto us; so that prayer is most requisite. Let us therefore pray unto Almighty God, to increase in us the spirit of prayer, that with our soul and spirit we may pray continually for spiritual gifts, that they may daily increase in us to his glory. Grant this the great giver of all good gifts, for his mercy sake! To whom be all honour, glory, power, dominion, and thanks, for ever and ever.
[1 Old edition, that there.]
A PRAYER. O MERCIFUL God, preserve our hearts from pride, from vain-glory, and from shameful covetousness : give us grace to abide in thy holy vocation, and to be thankful for thy grace; that the fall of thy apostle being always before our eyes, we may walk in thy fear before thee. For if we stand, we must take heed that we fall not, neither despise those that as yet do not stand. Make us to continue [in] thy grace; for nothing have we, saving only that which we have received of thee. And if of weakness we fall, put thy hand under us, O Lord, and suffer us not to despair in sin; but
us with repentance and sorrow for our offence to resort unto thee. O keep us, that we neither despair, nor betray thy dearly beloved Son, whom thou through thy gospel dost send unto us; for without him is no safeguard, but eternal death and damnation. From which keep us, good Lord, for thy mercies' sake. Amen.
A FAYTHFVL and moft Godly treatyle concernyng the most sacred facrament of the blelled body and bloud of our sauiour Christ compiled by John Caluine, a man of no les lernyng and literature then Godly studye, and example of lyuyng. And trandlated into Lattyn by Lacius a man of lyke excellencie, and now last of al, trandatyd into Englishe bi a faythful brother, no lelle desyrous to profite the weake brothers than to exercise ye talent of the Lorde to his honoure and glorye.
daher bnto is added the order that
Luke. 19. Chapter.