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of the things and affections of the world, shall be inebriated with the pleasures of religion, and rejoice in sacraments, in faith and holy expectation. But the love of money, and the love of pleasures, are the intrigues and fetters to the understanding. But he only is a faithful man who restrains his passions, and despises the world, and rectifies his love, that he may believe aright, and put that value upon religion as that it become the satisfaction of our spirit, and the great object of all our passionate desires; pride and prejudice are the parents of misbelief, but humility and contempt of the world first bear faith upon their knees, and then upon their hands.
Of the proper and specific Work of Faith in the Reception of the Holy Communion.
HERE I am to inquire into two practical questions. 1. What stress is to be put upon faith in this mystery: that is, How much is every one bound to believe in the article of this sacrament, before he can be accounted competently prepared in his understanding, and by his faith?
2. What is the use of faith in the reception of the blessed sacrament? and in what sense, and to what purposes, and with what truth it is said, that, in the holy sacrament, we receive Christ by faith?
How much every Man is bound to believe of this Mystery.
If I should follow the usual opinions, I should say, that, to this preparatory faith, it is necessary to believe all the niceties and mysteriousness of the blessed sacrament. Men have introduced new opinions, and turned the key in this lock so often, till it cannot be either opened or shut; and
• Frænentur ergo corporum cupidines,
Prudent, in Cathemerin
they have unravelled the clue so long, till they have entangled it. And not only reason is made blind by staring at what she never can perceive, but the whole article of the sacrament is made an objection and temptation even to faith itself. And such things are taught by some churches and some schools of learning, which no philosophy did ever teach, no religion did ever reveal, no prophet ever preach, and which no faith can ever receive: I mean it in the prodigious article of transubstantiation;' which I am not here a to confute, but to reprove upon practical considerations, and to consider those things that may make us better, and not strive to prevail in disputation. That, therefore, we may know the proper offices of faith in the believing what relates to the holy sacrament, I shall describe it in several propositions.
1. It cannot be the duty of faith to believe any thing against our sense; what we see and taste to be bread, what we see and taste and smell to be wine, no faith can engage us to believe the contrary. For, by our senses, Christianity itself and some of the greatest articles of our belief were known by them", who from that evidence conveyed them to us by their testimony; and if the perception of sense were not finally to be relied upon, miracles could never be a demonstration, nor any strange event prove an unknown proposition; for the miracle can never prove the article, unless our eyes or hands approve the miracle; and the divinity of Christ's person, and his mission and his power, could never have been proved by the resurrection, but that the resurrection was certain and evident to the eyes and hands of so many witnesses. Thus Christ to his apostles proved himself to be no spirit, by exposing his flesh and bones to be felt: and he wrought faith in St. Thomas by his fingers' ends; the wounds that he saw and felt, were the demonstrations of his faith. And in the primitive church, the Valentinians and Marcionites, who said Christ's body was fantastical, were confuted by no other argument but of sense. For sense is the evidence of the simple, and the confirmation of the wise: it can confute all pretences, and reprove all deceitful subtilties: it turns opinion into knowledge, and doubts into
a Vide Real Presence,' per totum.
b. 1 John, i. 1, 2, 3.
that is the High Priest, would be made a sacrifice; and the great Shepherd of our souls, would be a lamb, and be slain for us. Thee, his God and Father, he appeased, and reconciled unto the world, and freed all men from the instant anger. He was born of a virgin, born in flesh; he is God, and the Word, and the beloved Son, the first-born of every creature, according to the prophecies which went before him, of the seed of Abraham and David, and of the tribe of Judah.
He who is the Maker of all that are born, was conceived in the womb of a virgin; and he that is void of all flesh, was incarnate and made flesh: he was born in time, who was begotten from eternity: he conversed piously with men, and instructed them with his holy laws and doctrine: he cured every disease and every infirmity: he did signs and wonders among the people: he slept, and ate, and drank, who feeds all the living with food, and fills them with his blessing: he declared thy name to them, who knew it not: he enlightened our ignorances: he enkindled godliness, and fulfilled thy will, and finished all that which thou gavest him to do.
All this when he had done, he was taken by the hands of wicked men, by the treachery of false priests and an ungodly people, he suffered many things of them, and, by thy permission, suffered many things of reproach. He was delivered to Pilate the president, who judged him that is the Judge of the quick and dead, and condemned him who is the Saviour of all others. He who is impassible, was crucified; and he died, who is of an immortal nature; and they buried him, by whom others are made alive; that, by his death and passion, he might free them for whom he came, and might dissolve the bands of the devil, and deliver men from all his crafty malices.
But then he rose again from the dead; he conversed with his disciples forty days together; and then was received up into heaven, and there sits at the right hand of God his Father.
We, therefore, being mindful of these things, which he did and suffered for us, give thanks to thee, Almighty God, -not as much as we should, but as much as we can; and here fulfil his ordinance-and believe all that he said; and know and confess that he hath given us his body to be the
food, and his blood to be the drink of our souls; that in him we live, and move, and have our being; that by him we are taught, by his strength, enabled, by his graces, prevented, by his Spirit, conducted,-by his death, pardoned, -by his resurrection, justified,-and by his intercession, defended from all our enemies, and set forward in the way of holiness and life eternal.
O grant that we and all thy servants, who, by faith and sacramental participation, communicate with the Lord Jesus, may obtain remission of our sins, and be confirmed in piety, and may be delivered from the power and illusions of the devil; and being filled with thy Spirit, may become worthy members of Christ, and at last may inherit eternal life; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
OF CHARITY, PREPARATORY TO THE BLESSED SACRAMENT.
THE second great instrument of preparation to the blessed sacrament is charity: for though this be involved in faith, as in its cause and moral principle,-yet we are to consider it in the proper effects also of it, in its exercise and operations relative to the mysteries. For they that speak distinctly, and give proprieties of employment to the two sacraments, by that which is most signal and eminent in them both respectively, call baptism the sacrament of faith,' and the eucharist the sacrament of charity;' that is, faith in baptism enters upon the work of a good life; and, in the holy eucharist, it is actually productive of that charity, which, at first was designed and undertaken.
For charity is that fire from heaven, which unless it does enkindle the sacrifice, God will never accept it for an atonement. This God declared to us by the laws given to the sons of Israel and Aaron. The sacrifice that was God's portion, was to be eaten and consumed by himself, and,
thropy, and was, for ever after, wisely wary not to come near a river. He that speaks against his own reason, speaks against his own conscience; and therefore, it is certain, no man serves God with a good conscience, that serves him against his reason. For though, in many cases, reason must submit to faith, that is, natural reason must submit to supernatural,—and the imperfect informations of art, to the perfect revelations of God;-yet, in no case, can true reason and a right faith oppose each other: and, therefore, in the article of the sacrament, the impossible affirmatives concerning transubstantiation, because they are against all the reason of the world, can never be any part of the faith of God.
3. Whatsoever is matter of curiosity, that our faith is not obliged to believe or confess. For the faith of a Christian is pure as light, plain as a commandment, easy as children's lessons it is not given to puzzle the understanding, but to instruct it; it brings clarity to it, not darkness and obscurity. Our faith in this sacrament is not obliged to inquire or to tell, how the holy bread can feed the soul, or the chalice purify our spirits; how Christ is united to us, and yet we remain imperfect even then, when we are all one with him that is perfect: there is no want of faith, though we do not understand the secret manner how Christ is really present, and yet this reality be no other but a reality of event and positive effect: though we know not that sacramental is more than figurative, and yet not so much as natural, but greater in another kind. It is not a duty of our faith to discern how Christ's body is broken into ten thousand pieces, and yet remains whole at the same time; or how a body is present by faith only, when it is naturally absent: and yet faith ought to believe things to be as they are, and not to make them what, of themselves, they are not. We need not to be amazed concerning our faith, when our overbusy reason is amazed in the article; and our faith is not defective, though we confess we do not understand how Christ's body is there incorporeally, that is, the body after the manner of a spirit,—or though we cannot apprehend how the symbols should make the grace presential, and yet
e Ubi ad profunditatem sacramentorum perventum est, omnis Platonicorum caligavit subtilitas.-S. Cyprian. de Spir. S.