TWENTY-NINTH LORD’S DAY.
Question 79. Why then doth Christ call the bread his body, and the cup his blood, or the new covenant in his blood; and Paul the “communion of the body and blood of Christ?”
Answer. Christ speaks thus not without good reason, namely, not only thereby to teach us, that as bread and wine support this temporal life, so his crucified body and shed blood are the true meat and drink whereby our souls are fed to eternal life; but more especially by these visible signs and pledges to assure us, that we are as really partakers of his true body and blood, (by the operation of the Holy Ghost,) as we receive by the mouths of our bodies these holy signs in remembrance of him; and that all his sufferings and obedience are as certainly ours, as if we had in our own persons suffered and made satisfaction for our sins to God.
Seeing then that the words of Christ, This is my body, do not teach transubstantiation, nor consubstantiation, we must now enquire, Why, then, does Christ call the bread his body, and the cup his blood; that is, why does he attribute the names of the things signified to the signs? There are two reasons on account of which Christ thus speaks. The first is on account of the analogy which there is between the bread and the body of Christ. The other is on account of the certainty, or the confirmation of what the signs and things signified, exhibit jointly in the lawful use of the sacraments. The correspondence, or analogy which there is between the bread and the body of Christ consists in these things:1. As bread and wine support this temporal life, so the body and blood of Christ are the true meat ;and drink by which our souls are fed unto eternal life. 2. As bread and wine are received with the mouth, so the body and blood of Christ are received by faith which is the mouth of the soul. 3. As bread is not taken into the system whole, but is eaten, being broken; so the body of Christ is received, being sacrificed and broken upon the cross. 4. As bread and wine do not profit those who eat and drink them without any appetite or desire, and as it is necessary for us to come to the table hungry and thirsty; so the body and blood of Christ profit us nothing unless we come to his table hungering and thirsting after righteousness. 5. As out of many grains one meal is ground and one bread is baked, and as out of many berries pressed together one wine floweth; so we, being many, are, by the use of these signs, made one body, and grow up into one body with Christ, and among ourselves. The certainty, or confirmation of oar faith is in like manner a reason why Christ affirms of the signs, what is peculiar to the thing signified. For the signs declare that the sacrifice of Christ is accomplished, and that for our salvation, as certainly, as we have the signs; yea, that we are fed with the crucified body and shed blood of Christ as certainly as we receive the sacred signs of the body and blood of Christ.
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