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of all joys and pleasures that chance to the head. For as the loaf whereof we eat is made of many grains, and the cup of wine whereof we drink is made of many grapes, and yet is but one cup of wine, and the loaf but one loaf; even so are we that believe in Christ but one body with him, and he our head, notwithstanding we be many in number, and of divers nations, estates and conditions. For as in the body be divers members serving to divers uses, so are there in the congregation of Christ, which Paul calleth the body of Christ, divers estates; some apostles, some preachers, and some teachers.” 1 Cor. xii. And as in the body is no member, whereunto is not appointed his peculiar and necessary office; so in the congregation of Christ is there none estate or condition, but it is profitable, yea, necessary to the other.
“This is a great mystery,” saith Paul, “the mystery, I Ephes. v. say, of Christ and his congregation;" for it is his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. Not that the congregation or church is that natural body that died on the cross, nor we, the members of the same church, the flesh and bones of the same: but for that it was that congregation, it was we, the members of this church, that caused Christ to take our nature upon him, that therein he might satisfy for our sins, making us partakers with him in this satisfaction; and so are we his body and members, that is to say, his body and members were and are the price wherewith we were redeemed out of the captivity and thraldom that we were in. This mystery is great, and far above the beastly man's capacity. But if we will be given to the Spirit, the Spirit shall minister unto us abundantly the understanding thereof. For it is a common phrase or manner of speaking amongst us: when any hath bestowed his money upon any kind of merchandise, we say, Lo, here is my xx li. or here are his hundred marks; shewing forth the wares that were bought with my xx li. or his hundred marks, so that here the thing bought beareth the name of the price. In like manner doth Paul call the congregation redeemed by Christ's body, his very body, his flesh, and his bones, because it is the merchandise that was bought with his body, his flesh, and his bones. The most sacred sacraments also of the body and blood of Christ are called his body and blood, because they declare unto us what the body and blood of Christ be unto us, none otherwise than I call this book the
of the Lord, because it declareth the supper of the Lord. So
Note the subtlety of the devil.
that here thou mayest see, gentle reader, wherein thou hast been so far and so long deceived. Forsooth, in that thou hast not known nor considered the causes, why these most holy sacraments bear the names of that they represent, shew, or declare unto us; but hast grossly persuaded thyself with the carnal and fleshly Jews, that Christ spake carnally, minding to turn the substance of the bread and wine into the substance of his body and blood, when he said unto his disciples, “This is my body.” But doubtless, good christian brother, our most cruel enemy hath in this point uttered even the greatest part of his malicious practice. He hath not failed always to beat into our heads the omnipotency of God, who could by his word make all things of nought; his verity, which will not suffer him to leave ought undone that he saith is or shall be done; and then his words at his last supper, “This is my body," &c. Here laboureth he with tooth and nail, as they say, to keep us in the plain letter, that we measure not these words by the scriptures of like phrase. The verity itself, saith he, hath spoken it; wherefore it cannot be otherwise. The only Almighty, which created all things by his word, hath said it: it is not therefore impossible that it should be so. Thou art a christian man, and hast professed to believe all the words of Christ to be true, though thy reason cannot comprehend the manner how. And wilt thou, with the carnal and fleshly Jews, doubt in the performance of the words that thy Saviour shall speak ? He said that a virgin should bring forth a child : and wilt not thou believe it, because thou canst not by reason be persuaded that it is possible for a virgin to bring forth a child? What could the obstinate Jews do more, than blindly and obstinately say, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat, and his blood to drink ?” And wilt thou be as obstinate as they, and think it impossible for him to give thee his flesh, (yea, his very natural flesh), and blood under the form of bread and wine? Oh, subtle serpent! Oh, crafty dissembler! Now changest thou thyself into an angel of light. Thou madest the Jews abhor Christ's words, because the law, which they professed, taught them that it was abominable to eat the raw flesh, or drink the blood of any beast, much more of a man. And because they should not consider and understand the spiritual eating of his body, and drinking of his blood by faith, thou puttest them in mind of the corruptible manna that the fathers did eat in wilderness; and that, notwithstanding that bread came from heaven, yet was it not of such lively force that it might preserve the eaters thereof from death. Yea, thou heldest them in opinion, that it was not possible for Christ to give them his flesh to eat, and his blood to drink, after such sort that their stomachs might away withal. Wherefore they said: “How can this fellow give us his flesh to eat, and his blood to drink ?” But here thou comest unto us with the contrary. Thou biddest us believe, that he was able to change bread and wine into his flesh and blood, that we might thereby away with the devouring thereof. Thus thou playest on both hands; with them, because they should not look for any spiritual eating or drinking of Christ's flesh and blood; and with us, that we should not regard the spiritual eating and drinking, but that we should most regard the fleshly devouring of the bread and wine : so that neither the Jews neither we can come to the true eating of Christ's flesh and drinking of his blood by unfeigned faith in him and his merits.
Here mayest thou plainly see, most dearly beloved in the Lord, by what means our ghostly enemy hath spoiled us of the use of these most precious jewels, the sacraments of Christ's body and blood; and how he laboureth daily in his members, the wicked papists, to withhold from us the knowledge of the spiritual eating and drinking of Christ, which beginneth now to spread the world over all. Let us run, therefore, unto our present and only succour in this great danger. To Christ, I say, let us run, most humbly beseeching him, our Saviour and Redeemer, plenteously to pour out of his Spirit of knowledge upon us all, that we may daily more and more find out the hid and secret abominations, to the utter extirpation and rooting out of the same. And in the mean time let us pray together, that it may please the Lord to augment the number of his faithful, turning Sauls into Pauls, that the hard hearts may be mollified, by hearing the persecutors preach Christ whom they persecuted. The Spirit of truth be with you all! So be it.
It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the
flesh profiteth nothing
at all. John vi.
[1 Old edition, this.]
[2 Old edition, be.]
134, 4, for timorously read temerously. 137, 4, for Nebuchadnezzar read Nabuchodonosor. 138, 3, after felt insert no. 160, 19, for Joshua's read Josue's. 185, 11, dele in a while. 222, 4, to be very good indeed: so the old edition; but it should
evidently be, to be very God indeed. 257, 23, for take upon read take upon him. 443, 34, for held read hold.
I N D E X.
amendment of life in adversity, 168 ;
offered a more excellent sacrifice than of scripture, 169; other examples,
Cain, 27, 8; the first martyr, 29. 174.
Agony of our Saviour, considerations
God, 95; sent for the punishment ingly, 257; intended to declare unto
ble, ib.; an evidence that he is man,