By Lewis Bayly
4. To feed the souls of the faithful, in the assured hope of life everlasting. For this sacrament is a sign and pledge, to as many as shall receive the same according to Christ's institution, that he will, according to his promise, by the virtue of his crucified body and blood, as verily feed our souls to life eternal, as our bodies are by bread and wine nourished to this temporal life. And to this end, Christ, in the action of the sacrament, really giveth his very body and blood to every faithful receiver. Therefore the sacrament is called the "communion of the body and blood of the Lord." (1 Cor. x. 16.)
And communication is not of things absent, but present; neither were it the Lord's Supper, if the Lord's body and blood were not there. Christ is verily present in the sacrament, by a double union: whereof the first is spiritual, between Christ and the worthy receiver; the second is sacramental, between the body and blood of Christ, and the outward signs in the sacrament. The former is wrought by means that the same Holy Spirit, dwelling in Christ and in the faithful, incorporates the faithful, as members to Christ their head, and so makes them one with Christ, and partakers of all the graces, holiness, and eternal glory, which are in him, as sure and as verily as they hear the words of the promise, and are partakers of the outward signs of the holy sacrament.
Hence it is that the will of Christ is a true Christian's will, and the Christian's life is Christ, who liveth in him (Gal. ii. 20.) If ye look to the things that are united, this union is essential; if to the truth of this union, it is real; if to the manner how it is wrought, it is spiritual. It is not our faith that makes the body and blood of Christ to be present, but the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him and us. Our faith doth but receive and apply to our souls those heavenly graces which are offered in the sacrament.
The other, being the sacramental union, is not a physical or local, but a spiritual conjunction of the earthly signs, which are bread and wine, with the heavenly graces, which are the body and blood of Christ, in the act of receiving: as if, by a mutual relation, they were but one and the same thing. Hence it is, that in the same instant of time that the worthy receiver eats with his mouth the bread and wine of the Lord, he eateth also with the mouth of his faith the very body and blood of Christ: not that Christ is brought down from heaven to the sacrament, but that the Holy Spirit by the sacrament lifts up his mind unto Christ, not by any local mutation, but by a devout affection; so that, in the holy contemplation of faith, he is at that present with Christ, and Christ with him.
And thus believing and meditating how Christ's body was crucified, and his precious blood shed for the remission of his sins, and the reconciliation of his soul unto God, his soul is hereby more effectually fed in the assurance of eternal life, than bread and wine can nourish his body to this temporal life. There must be, therefore, of necessity in the sacrament, both the outward signs, to be visibly seen with the eyes of the body, and the body and blood of Christ, to be spiritually discerned with the eye of faith. But the form, how the Holy Ghost makes the body of Christ, being absent from us in place, to be present with us by our union, St. Paul terms a great mystery (Eph. v. 32), such as our understanding cannot worthily comprehend.
The sacramental bread and wine, therefore, are not bare signifying signs, but such as wherewith Christ indeed exhibits and gives to every worthy receiver, not only his divine virtue and efficacy, but also his very body and blood, as verily as he gave to his disciples the Holy Ghost, by the sign of his sacred breath, or health to the diseased, by the word of his mouth, or touch of his hand or garment: and the apprehension by faith is more forcible than the most exquisite comprehension of sense or reason. To conclude this point. This holy sacrament is that blessed bread which, being eaten, opened the eyes of the disciples at Emmaus, that they knew Christ (Luke xxiv. 30, 41.)
This is that lordly cup, by which we are all made to drink into one Spirit (1 Cor. xii. 13.) This is that rock, flowing with honey, that reviveth the fainting spirits of every true Jonathan that tastes it with the mouth of faith (1 Sam. xiv. 27.) This is that barley loaf, which, tumbling from above, strikes down the tents of the Midianites of infernal darkness (Judges vii. 13.) Elias's angelical cake and water preserved him forty days in Horeb (1 Kings xix. 6, 7, 8;) and manna, angels' food, fed the Israelites forty years in the wilderness (Psal. lxxviii. 24, 25; Exod. xvi. 35;) but this is that true bread of life, and heavenly manna (John vi. 32, 35, 49, 50), which if we shall duly eat, will nourish our souls for ever unto life eternal (ver. 51, 58.) How should, then, our souls make unto Christ that request from a spiritual desire, which the people of Capernaum did from a carnal motion, "Lord, evermore give us this bread?" (John vi. 34.)