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Question 76. What is it then to eat the crucified body, and drink the shed blood of Christ?

Answer. It is not only to embrace with a believing heart, all the sufferings and death of Christ, and thereby to obtain the pardon of sin and life eternal; but also, besides that, to become more and more united to his sacred body, by the Holy Ghost, who dwells both in Christ and in us; so that we, although Christ is in heaven, and we on earth, are, notwithstanding, ďflesh of his flesh and bone of his bone;Ē and that we live and are governed for ever by one Spirit, as members of the same body are by one soul.



This Question has respect to the thing which is signified by the Lordís supper. The eating of the body, and the drinking of the blood of Christ is not corporal, but spiritual, andĒ embraces, 1. Faith in his sufferings and death. 2. The forgiveness of sins, and the gift of eternal life through faith. 3. Our union with Christ through the Holy Spirit, who dwells both in Christ and in us. 4. The quickening influence of the same Spirit.  Hence to eat the crucified body and to drink the shed blood of Christ is to believe that God receives us into his favor for the sake of Christís merits, that we obtain the remission of our sins, and reconciliation with God by the same faith, and that the Son of God, who having assumed our nature united it personally with himself, dwells in us, and joins us to himself, and the nature which he assumed, by granting unto us his Spirit, through whom he regenerates us, and restores in us light, righteousness, and eternal life such as belongs to the nature which he took upon himself. Or to express it more briefly, it is to believe to obtain the remission of sins by faith to be united with Christ, and to become partakers of his life, or to be made like unto Christ by the Holy Spirit who works the same things both in Christ and in us.

This eating is that communion which we have with Christ, of which the Scriptures speak, and of which we make confession in the Creed, which consists in a spiritual union with Christ, as members with the head, and branches with the vine. Christ teaches this eating of his flesh in the sixth chapter of John, and confirms it in the supper by external signs. It is in this sense that the ancient fathers, such as Augustin, Eusebius, Nazianzen, Hilary and others, explain the eating of Christís flesh as we shall hereafter show. It is plain, therefore, that neither the doctrine of transubstantiation which the Papists advocate, nor a corporal presence of Christ, and the eating of his body in the bread with the mouth, which many defend, can be established from the language which is employed in reference to the supper, which promises the eating of Christís body.



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