By Lewis Bayly
The worthiness of this sacrament is considered three ways: First, By the majesty of the author ordaining; Secondly, By the preciousness of the parts of which it consists; Thirdly, By the excellency of the ends for which it was ordained.
(1.) Of the Author of the Sacrament.
The author was not any saint or angel, hut our Lord Jesus, the eternal Son of God. For it pertains to Christ only, under the New Testament, to institute a sacrament; because he only can promise and perform the grace that it signifieth. And we are charged to hear no voice but his in his church (Matt. xvii. 5.) How sacred should we esteem the ordinance that proceeds from so divine an author.
(2.) Of the Parts of the Sacrament.
The parts of this blessed sacrament are three: First, The earthly signs signifying; Secondly, The divine word sanctifying; Thirdly, The heavenly graces signified.
First, The earthly signs are bread and wine, in number two, but one in use (1 Cor. xi. 23, &c.; Prov. ix. 5.)
Secondly, The divine, word is the word of Christ's institution, pronounced with prayers and blessings by a lawful minister (Heb. v. 4; Numb. xvi. 40; 1 Cor. x. 16.) The bread and wine without the word are nothing but as they were before; but when the word comes to those elements, then they are made a sacrament; and God is present with his own ordinance, and ready to perform whatsoever he promises. The divine words of blessing do not change or annihilate the substance of the bread and wine, for if their substance did not remain it could be no sacrament; but it changes them in use and in name. For that which was before but common bread and wine to nourish men's bodies, is, after the blessing, destinated to an holy use, for feeding of the souls of Christians. And where before they were called but bread and wine, they are now called by the name of those holy things which they signify, the body and blood of Christ: the better to draw our minds from those outward elements to the heavenly graces, which by the sight of our bodies they represent to the spiritual eyes of our faith. Neither did Christ direct these words, "This is my body, this is my blood," to the bread and wine, but to his disciples, as appears by the words going before, "Take ye, eat ye." Neither is the bread his body, but in the same sense that the cup is the New Testament, viz. by a sacramental metonymy And St. Mark notes plainly that the words, "This is my blood," &c., were not pronounced by our Saviour till after that all his disciples had drunk of the cup (Mark xiv, 23, 24.) And afterwards in respect of the natural substance thereof, he calls that the fruit of the vine, which, in respect of the spiritual signification thereof, he had before termed his blood (verse 25), after the manner of terming all sacraments. And Christ bids us not to make him, but to do this in remembrance of him; and he bids us eat not simply his body, but his body as it was then broken, and his blood shed; which St. Paul expounds to be but the communion of Christ's body, and the communion of his blood (1 Cor. x. 16;) that is, an effectual pledge that we are partakers of Christ and of all the merits of his body and blood. And by the frequent use of this communion, Paul will have us to make a shew of the Lord's death till he come from heaven (1 Cor. xi. 26; Acts iii. 21; i. 11), and till we, as eagles, shall be caught up into the air to meet him who is the blessed carcase and life of our souls (Matt. xxiv. 27, 28.)
Thirdly, The spiritual graces are likewise two: the body of Christ, as it was with the feeling of God's anger due to us, crucified; and his blood as it was, in the like sort, shed for the remission of our sins. They are in number two, but in use one, viz. whole Christ, with all his benefits, offered to all, and given indeed to the faithful. These are the three integral parts of this blessed sacrament, the sign, the word, and the grace. The sign without the word, or the word without the sign, can do nothing; and both conjoined are unprofitable without the grace signified; but all three concurring make an effectual sacrament to a worthy receiver. Some receive the outward sign without the spiritual grace, as Judas, who, as Austin saith, received the bread of the Lord, but not the bread which was the Lord. Some receive the spiritual grace without the outward sign, as the saint thief on the cross, and innumerable of the faithful who dying desire it, but cannot receive it through some external impediments; but the worthy receivers to their comfort receive both in the Lord's Supper.
Christ chose bread and wine, rather than any other elements, to be the outward signs in this blessed sacrament: First, Because they are easiest for all sorts to attain unto; Secondly, To teach us that as man's temporal life is chiefly nourished by bread and cherished by wine, so are our souls by his body and blood sustained and quickened unto eternal life. Christ appointed wine with the bread to be the outward signs in this sacrament, to teach us-First, That as the perfect nourishment, of man's body consists both of meat and drink; so Christ is unto our souls not in part, but in perfection, both salvation and nourishment; Secondly, That by seeing the sacramental wine apart from the bread, we should remember how all his precious blood was spilt out of his blessed body for the remission of sins. The outward signs the pastor gives in the church, and thou dost eat with the mouth of thy body; the spiritual grace Christ reacheth from heaven, and thou must eat it with the mouth of thy faith.
(3.) Of the Ends for which this holy Sacrament was ordained.
The excellent and admirable ends or fruits, for which this blessed sacrament was ordained, are seven.