THE copies of this treatise collated
for the present reprint have been that in Day’s folio edition of Barnes,
Tyndale, and Frith. No date appears to have been assigned to the composition
of this treatise; but it is placed, in Day, as the last of those there
said to be “imprinted according to his [Tyndale’s] first copies, which
he himself set forth.” On the other hand we find Tyndale, in a letter which
he wrote to Frith soon after Christmas 1532, requesting him to “meddle
as little as he could with the question of the presence of Christ’s body
in the sacrament,” that the difference between them and the Lutherans might
not give offense; and adding, that he had stopped Joye from publishing
a treatise on that topic. And though Frith’s imprisonment induced Tyndale
to publish ‘a short and pithy treatise,’ defending his friend’s views on
this very subject, in April 1533, he chose to do it anonymously. The present
treatise, therefore, could not have been published till a later date than
the one just mentioned. But, besides this, if Stoughton has reprinted an
earlier edition, and has not done it with extraordinary carelessness, the
incorrectness of some of the imitations of Hebrew words in English letters
is so glaring, (that of Mahond Dane for example,) that it can only be accounted
for by supposing that Tyndale had no opportunity of revising the printer’s
work; who, where Tyndale’s letters were not distinct, could only conjecture
what they were intended for. When this is considered, and also the great
obscurity in the composition of some of its paragraphs, the reader will
perhaps think that Stoughton has described it more correctly as compiled,
than Day as set forth, by Tyndale; whose MS. may have been in the hands
of some friend, at the time of his imprisonment or martyrdom, and may thus
have been printed without his revising care.
A FRUITFUL AND GODLY
To understand the pith of the sacraments, how they came up, and the very meaning of them, we must consider diligently the manners and fashions of the Hebrews, which were a people of great gravity and sadness, and earnest in all their doings, if any notable thing chanced among them; so that they not only wrote, but also set up pillars, and marks, and divers signs to testify the same unto their posterity, and named the places where the things were done with such names as could not but keep the deeds in memory. As Jacob called the place where he saw God face to face Pheniel, that is, God’s face.And the place where the Egyptians mourned for Jacob seven days, the people of the country called Abel Miram, that is, the lamentation of the Egyptians; to the intent that such names should keep the gests and stories in mind.
And likewise in all their covenants they not only promised one to another and sware thereon, but also set up signs and tokens thereof, and gave the places names to keep the thing in mind. And they used thereto such circumstances, protestations, solemn fashions, and ceremonies, to confirm the covenants, and to testify that they were made with great. earnest advice and deliberation, to the intent that it should be too much shame and too much abomination, both before God and man, to break them ever after.
As Abraham, when he made a covenant of peace with Abimelech king of the Philistines, after they had eaten and drunk together, and sworn, he put seven lambs by themselves, and Abimelech received them of his hand, to testify that he there had digged a certain well, and that the right thereof pertained to him. And he called the well Beersheba, the well of swearing, or the well of seven, because of the oath, and of the seven lambs; and by that title did Abraham his children challenge it many hundred years after. And when Jacob and Laban made a covenant together, Genesis 31: they cast up an heap of stones in witness, and called it Galeed, the heap of witness; and they bound each other, for them and their posterity, that neither part should pass the heap to the other’s countryward, to hurt or conquer their land: and Laban bound Jacob also, that he should take no other wives besides his daughters, to vex them. And of all that covenant they made that heap a witness, calling it the witness-heap; that their children should inquire the cause of the name, and their father should declare unto them the history.
And such fashions as they used among themselves, did God also use to themward, in all his notable deeds, whether of mercy in delivering them, or of wrath in punishing their disobedience and transgression, in all his promises to them, and covenants made between them and him.
As when after the general flood God made a covenant with Noah and all mankind, and also with all living creatures, that he would no more drown the world, he gave them the rainbow to be a sign of the promise, for to make it the better believed, and to keep it in mind for ever; and he said: “When I bring clouds upon the earth, I will put my bow in the clouds, and will look on it, and remember the everlasting covenant made between God and all living creatures.”
And Abram (which signifieth an excellent father) he named Abraham, the father of a great multitude of people; because he had promised to make him even so, and that his seed should be as the stars and as the sand of the sea innumerable. And that name gave he him as a seal of the promise to confirm it, and to strengthen the faith of Abraham and his posterity, and to keep the promise in mind, that they might have wherewith to bind God and to conjure him, as Moses and the holy prophets ever do, holding him fast to his own promise, and binding him with his own words, and bringing forth the obligation and seal thereof, in all times of necessity and temptation.
After that he made a covenant with Abraham, to be his God, and the God of his posterity, and their shield and defender; and Abraham promised for him and his seed to be his people, and to believe and trust in him, and to keep his commandments; which covenant God caused to be written in the flesh of Abraham, and in the males of all his posterity, commanding the males to be circumcised the eighth day, or to be slain: which circumcision was the seal and obligation of, the said covenant, to keep it in mind, and to testify that it was an earnest thing, whereby God challenged them to be his people, and required the keeping of his laws of them, and faith to trust in him only, and in no other thing, for help and succor, and all that can be needful and necessary for man; and whereby he condemned the disobedient and rebellious, and punished them; and whereby also the godly challenged him to be their God and Father, and to help and succor them at need, and to minister all things unto them according to all his promises.
And though the seal of this covenant were not written in the flesh of the females, yet it served the womankind, and bound them to God, to trust in him, and to keep his laws, as well as it did the men children; and the womankind, not circumcised in the flesh, yet through the help of the sign written in the males loving God’s law, and trusting wholly in him, were truly circumcised in the heart and soul before God. And as the maid-children, believing and loving God, whereunto the outward circumcision bound them, were truly circumcised before God; even so the males, having the flesh circumcised, yet not believing nor loving God, whereunto the outward circumcision bound them, were uncircumcised before God, and God not bound to them, but had good right thereby to punish them: so that neither circumcision, or to be uncircumcised, is aught worth (as St Paul saith, Romans 2.) save for the keeping of the law; for if circumcision help not to keep the law, so serveth it for nought, but for to condemn. And as the woman kind uncircumcised were in as good case as the males that were circumcised; even so the infants of the maids, which died uncircumcised, were in as good case as the infants of males which died circumcised. And in as good case by the same rule were the men-children that died before the eighth day: or else let them tell why.
The covenant, made between God and Abraham, saved the man-child as soon as it was born, yea, as soon as it had life in the mother’s womb: for the covenant, that God would be God of Abraham’s seed, went over the fruit as soon as it had life; and then there is no reason but that the covenant must needs pertain to the males as soon as to the females. Wherefore the covenant must needs save the males unto the eighth day; and then the covenant was, that the rulers should slay the males only, if their friends did not circumcise them; not that the circumcision saved them, but to testify the covenant only. And then it followeth, that the infants that die unbaptized, of us Christians, that would baptize them at due time and teach them to believe in Christ, are in as good case as these that die baptized: for as the covenant made to the faith of Abraham went over his seed as soon as it had life, and before the sign was put on them; even so must needs the covenant, made to all that believe in Christ’s blood, go over that seed as soon as it hath life in the mother’s womb, before the sign be put on it. For it is the covenant only, and not the sign, that saveth us; though the sign be commanded to be put on at due time, to stir up faith of the covenant that sayeth us. And instead of circumcision came our baptism; whereby we be received into the religion of Christ, and made partakers of his passion, and members of his church; and whereby we are bound to believe in Christ, and in the Father through him, for the remission of sins; and to keep the law of Christ, and to love each other, as he loved us; and whereby (if we thus believe and love) we calling God to be our Father, and to do his will, shall receive remission of our sins through the merits of Jesus Christ his Son, as he hath promised.
So now by baptism we be bound to God, and God
to us, and the bond and seal of the covenant is written in our flesh; by
which seal or writing God challengeth faith and love, under pain of just
damnation: and we (if we believe and love) challenge (as it is above rehearsed)
all mercy, and
And though the outward circumcision, by the which God challengeth them to do him service, yea, whether they would or not, and by the which they were taught to believe in God, and in the seed of Abraham that should come and bless all the world, and to love the law; and certified them also, on the other side, of the good-will of God, if they so did; though (I say) it was the chief and most principal sign, (for so are such ceremonies called in the Hebrew, because they yet signify other things than appeareth to the outward sense,) yet God gave them divers other signs, both to stir up faith in the promise made them, and also to keep the benefit of the mercy of God in mind.
As in Exodus 13, all the first-born, both of man and beast, are sanctified and dedicated unto the Lord, for a remembrance that the Lord slew all the first-born of Egypt; this did God command to be observed, that their children should ask why: and he commanded their fathers to teach their children, when they should ask what was meant thereby.
Also Exodus 20, the Sabbath is commanded to be observed, to be a sign, and to testify that God had sanctified and dedicated or chosen them, that they should be his people, to keep his laws, and that he would be their God, to keep them; and to testify also, that God hath created all things of nought in six days, and rested the seventh.
Also Numbers 10, where Almighty God commanded the children of Israel to blow a trumpet, when they entered into battle against their enemies; and promised that they should be thought upon before the Lord their God, and saved from their enemies. And likewise in their solemn feasts God commanded them to blow trumpets over the sacrifice; to be a sign unto them, that God would think on them, according to the covenant made in the blood of the sacrifice. Lo, the trumpets were commanded to be blown; not that God delighted in the noise of the trumpets, but in the faith of his people.
Also Numbers 15, the Israelites are commanded to make yellow gards upon their garments, to put them in remembrance to keep his commandments, that they should do nothing after their own imagination, nor observe any fashion that pleased their own eyes. Whereby ye see that ceremonies are not a service to God, but a service to man; to put him in mind of the covenant, and to stir up faith and love, which are God’s spiritual sacrifices, in man’s heart, etc.
And Joshua 4, when the water of Jordan had given place to go over by dry ground, God commanded Joshua to take twelve stones out of the bottom of Jordan, and to pitch them on the land, to keep the deed in memory; and commanded, when the children should ask what the stones meant, that their father should teach them.
In the 2 Kings 11, Ahijah the prophet tare the cloak of Jeroboam in twelve pieces, and bade him take ten; in sign that he should reign over ten of the tribes.
In 2 Kings 13, Eliseus made Joash king of Israel open a window eastward toward the Syrians, and made him to shoot out an arrow, and said, “It is the arrow of victory through the Lord against the Syrians.” And that did he to stablish the king’s faith in God, that he should with God’s help overcome the Syrians; and then he bade the king smite the ground with an arrow, and the king smote it thrice; whereby he prophesied, and certified the king, that he should thrice overcome the Syrians.
And Isaiah, in his 20th chapter, was commanded to go naked and barefoot; to be a sign that Egypt, in whom the children of Israel trusted, should be so carried away of Nabuchadnezzar.
And Jeremiah, in his 27th chapter, cometh among the people with bonds and chains put about his neck, and sheweth them unto all the kings of those countries, in token that they must be all under the yoke of Nabuchadnezzar king of Babylon. God so used to give them signs, that they would not believe without signs; as ye may see not only in the old Testament, but also in the new, how the Jews asked Christ, saying, “What sign dost thou shew us?” etc.
And Paul (1 Corinthians 1.), “The Jews asked signs.”
Also Zacharias, John Baptist’s father, asked a sign; and the angel gave it him. Christ’s mother also asked a sign, and the angel gave her Elizabeth to a sign.
And unto the shepherds gave the angel a sign;
as ye read Luke 2
And this sign Pesah, beside that it was a seal of the promise to be delivered the same night, to stablish that faith, and commanded to be observed ever after yearly, to keep the benefit in memory; it was also a very prophecy of the passion of Christ, describing the very manner and fashion of his death, and the effect and virtue thereof also. In whose stead is the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ come, as baptism in the room or stead of circumcision.
To see how Christ was prophesied and described therein, consider and mark, how that the kid or lamb must be with out spot or blemish; and so was Christ only of all mankind, in the sight of God and of his law. It must be taken up the tenth day of the first month, which is the tenth day of the first new moon in March; for so count they their months from the new moon, and begin there in the time of March with us. And the same day came Christ to Jerusalem, there to be offered and to suffer his passion.
It must be offered the fourteenth day of the same month at night: and the same hour began Christ’s passion; he was the same hour betrayed, and persecuted all night, and taken in the morning early. The fear of death was the same hour upon him, neither slept he any more after, but went immediately, as soon as he had comforted his disciples, into the place where he was taken, to abide his persecutors; where also he sweat water and blood of very agony conceived of his passion so nigh at hand.
The blood stricken on the posts saved them, that they were not plagued with the Egyptians, and delivered them out of the captivity of Pharao. And the blood of Christ, stricken on the posts of our consciences with a sure faith, delivereth us from the captivity of Pharao the devil, and smiting of his angels, etc. There might not a bone thereof be broken: no more were there of Christ’s, though the two that were hanged with him had either of them his legs and his arms broken.
Moreover, that it was a very prophecy of the death of Christ, and of the virtue of his passion, it is made the more manifest by the words of Christ himself (Luke 22): for the night before his passion, when he had eaten Pesah with his disciples, he said, “I will no more eat of it henceforth, till it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” As who should say, ‘This memorial which we yearly have hitherto observed, was once fulfilled in the kingdom of this world, when your fathers were delivered out of bondage and servitude of the Egyptians. But it hath yet another signification, hitherto unknown unto you, which must be fulfilled spiritually in the kingdom of God by my passion that is at hand, and blood that now shall shortly be shed; by the which ye shall be delivered out of the power of Satan, sin, and hell, and made heirs of the kingdom of heaven. Neither was it the lamb’s blood that delivered you then: (for what regard hath God in the blood of sheep and calves?) but the blood of Christ (whom that lamb figured, and described his innocence, pureness, and obedience to his Father, and compassion to mankind-ward, whose feeble nature he had put on with all the infirmities of the same, save sin) did then deliver you, to bring you to the faith of this deliverance, and to make you through faith partakers thereof.’
Many things there be in the scripture, which have a carnal fulfilling, even there where they be spoken or done; and yet have another spiritual signification, to be fulfilled long after in Christ and his kingdom, and yet never known till the thing be done. As the serpent of brass which Moses hanged up in the wilderness, though it took effect carnally in the wilderness, yet it so describeth the lifting up of Christ upon the cross, and the virtue of his passion, that no tongue could better declare it, to make the heart feel it.
If ye ask: Why they may not be known till they be done, and what such prophecy may help? I answer, If men did understand them before they were done, they would endeavor to let the fulfilling of them; and when the signification is fulfilled, then to see how plainly it was described in the scripture doth exceedingly confirm the faith thereof, and make it better to be understood.
And when this Pesah was fulfilled spiritually in the kingdom of heaven by the death and bloodshedding of Christ, it ended there: and in the room thereof (concerning that spiritual signification) came the sign of the sacrament of the body and blood of our Savior Christ, as baptism came instead of circumcision; things more easy, and less painful and tedious to be observed, and more gentle, to provoke and entice the heathen. For as the lamb described the death of Christ to come, and the manner of his passion, by which we should be delivered; even so doth the ceremony of the body and blood of Christ testify unto us, that he hath given himself to death for us, and redeemed us already, if we believe and cleave fast to the profession of our baptism, to walk therein, or will (if any tempest had driven us out of the right course) return to the right way again.
This to be so, the words of the institution declare, which are these (1Corinthians 11): "The Lord Jesus, the night that he was betrayed, took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body that shall be given for you: this do in remembrance of me. And likewise he took the cup, when supper was done, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood; this do, as often as ye shall drink it, in the remembrance of me.”
Here ye see by these words, that it was ordained
to keep the death of Christ in mind, and to testify that his body was given
and his blood shed for us. And, Luke 22: “This is my body, that is given
for you; this do in remembrance of me. And this cup is the new testament
in my blood, which shall be
Lo, here ye see again that it was instituted to keep the death of Christ in mind; and to testify wherefore he died, even to save us from sin, death and hell, that we should seek none other means to be delivered with; for there is none other name for us to be saved by, but only by the name of Jesus. Acts 4. For as the children of Israel, stung of the fiery serpents, could have none other remedy to save them from present death, than to go and behold the brasen serpent hanged up by Moses in the wilderness, which looking on only healed them; even so, if the sting of death, which is sin, have wounded the soul with the working of the law in the consciences, there is none other remedy than to run to Christ, which shed his blood, hanging upon the cross, and to his everlasting testament and merciful promise, that it was shed for us for the remission of our sins. If thou be stung with conscience of sin, and the cockatrice of thy poisoned nature hath beheld herself in the glass of the righteous law of God, there is none other salve for remedy, than to run to Christ immediately, and to the Father through him; and to say, ‘Father I have sinned against thee, and thy godly, holy, and righteous law, and against my brother, whom I ought of all right to love, for thy sake, as well as myself: forgive me, O Father, for thy dear son Jesus Christ’s sake, according to thy most merciful promises and testament; and I will ask my brother forgiveness (if the peace, I mean, be not made already), and will make to my power such satisfaction to him as shall seem right in his eyes, if he be reasonable; or as the congregation shall assign, or faithful men thereunto appointed by the congregation, or such as I and he shall agree upon; and will endeavor myself to do so no more, with the help of thy grace. And I will submit myself to the wholesome ordinance of the congregation, according to the doctrine of thy son Jesus and of his faithful apostles.’ For there is none other name given under heaven whereby we shall be saved, but only the name of Jesus.
Hereof ye see that the sacrament is an absolution of our sins, as often as we receive it, where it is truly taught and understood, and received aright.
Hereof ye see also, that as the Hebrews wrote their stories in covenants and signs, giving their signs such names as could not but keep them in mind; so God the Father did follow the ensample of the people (or they following him) and commanded his promises, covenants and prophecies, to be written in gestures signs and ceremonies, giving them names that could not but keep his covenants in mind. Even so Christ wrote the covenant of his body and blood in bread and wine; giving them that name, that ought to keep the covenant in remembrance.
And hereof ye see, that our sacraments are bodies of stories only; and that there is none other virtue in them, than to testify, and exhibit to the senses and understanding, the covenants and promises made in Christ’s blood. And here ye see that where the sacraments, or ceremonies, are not rightly understood, there they be clean unprofitable.
And as the circumcision in the flesh, their hearts still uncircumcised, hating the law of God and believing in their own imaginations, were circumcised to their damnation; and as the baptized in the flesh only, the heart still unclean, neither believing in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, neither loving their neighbor for Christ’s sake, are baptized also unto their greater damnation, (for though God hath right to all men, because he hath created and made man, yet to all such persons by reason of the sign and badge, and of their own consent, grant and promise, he hath more right to the calling of them to the keeping of his law, if they trust in him only; or to damn them, because when they know their duty, or might if they would, the sign moving them, and giving them an occasion to ask thereafter, and yet do it not;) even so all that come to the sacrament for any other purpose than it was ordained and instituted for, that is to say, to seek absolution of their sins, with a set purpose to sin no more, as nigh as they can, and to call to emory the benefits of the passion of Christ, with the meditation to weaken the flesh, and to strength the spirit against her, and to give thanks again; that is to say, to call to mind how much he is bounden, for Christ’s sake to love his neighbor, to help his need, and to bear his infirmity and to forgive him, if he have offended and desire forgiveness, promising to amend, whereunto Christ bindeth all that will be partakers of his blood; the same, I say, come thereto to their greater damnation. I pass over with silence the wicked and damnable doctrine of these servants of mammon, which for lucre pervert the true use of the sacrament, and hide it from the people for their gain teaching it to be a sacrifice instituted of God to help the souls of the dead in purgatory, and that it will make men rich, and bring them to such promotion as Christ never promised his disciples, but forbade it them.
Some will say, This sacrament needed not, baptism is enough; baptism is a receiving into religion, and there is the covenants made, what we shall do and what we shall have: and baptism is a sign whereby God hath right to us, and we to God and to Christ; and whereby every man hath right to call other to do their duties, and to rebuke them that will not. Neither our salvation so greatly standeth in that or any other sacrament, that we could not be saved without them, by preaching the word only. Nevertheless God hath written his will, to have his benefits kept in memory, to his glory and our benefit, and namely this benefit of all benefits, wherein only the pith of our salvation resteth. Therefore though the effect of it be signified by baptism, and though we be baptized to believe in the death of Christ, and to die with him by the mortifying of the flesh; yet doth this sacrament, through the rehearsing of the covenant, and breaking of the bread, and pouring out of wine, much more lively express the whole story, and keep it better in memory, by daily repeating thereof, and hath more might and vehemency to heal the conscience stung with fresh sin. For the nature of man is so weak, so feeble, and so frail, that he cannot but sin, as there is no man that liveth and sinneth not.
And when he is so fallen, then the law looketh upon him with so terrible a countenance, and so thundereth in his ears, that he dare not abide, but turneth his back and to go; and the enemy assaileth him on the other side, to persuade him that God hath cast him away, saying, ‘They that be God’s have power to keep his law: thou hast not, but breakest them; ergo, thou art a cast-away and a damned creature:’ and hell gapeth, and setteth open her mouth beneath to devour him. And the flesh also wrestleth with the spirit, to keep him down, and to take him prisoner, and to stop his mouth, that he cry no more upon her, that she might sin at pleasure without all fear.
The careless swine, that consent unto sin, feel not these things; neither yet the hypocrites, that have put a visard on the face of the law, and make her look with such a countenance as pleaseth them: but the poor folks, that have the eyes open, and consent, and fain would do the law, they feel that cannot be expressed with tongue. Neither is there living any man, that feeleth the virtue and power of the blood of Christ, which hath not first felt the strong pains of hell.
Seeing then that man is so sick, so prone and
ready to fall, and so cruelly invaded when he hath sinned of the fiend,
the flesh, and the law, that he is oft put to flight, and feared and made
to run away from his Father; therefore hath the God of all mercy, and of
infinite pity and bottomless
Now when the words of the testament and promises are spoken over the bread, “This is my body that shall be broken for you,” “This is my blood that shall be shed for you;” they confirm the faith: but much more when the sacrament is seen with the eyes, and the bread broken, the wine poured out or looked on; and yet more when I taste it and smell it. As ye see when a man maketh a promise to another with light words between themselves, and as they be departed, he to whom the promise is made beginneth to doubt whether the other spake earnestly or mocked, and doubteth whether he will remember his promise, to bide by it or no;: but when any man speaketh with advisement and deliberation, the words are then more credible; but yet if he swear, it confirmeth the thing more; and yet the more if he strike hands, if he give earnest, if he call record, if he give his hand-writing, and seal it; so is the promise more and more believed. For the heart gathereth, ‘Lo, he spake with advisement and deliberation; and with good sadness he sware; he clapped hands, called records, and put to his hand and seal: the man cannot be so reigned without the fear of God, as to deny all this; shame shall make him bide by his promise, though he were such a man that I could not compel him if he would deny it.’ If a young man break a ring between him and a maid; doth not the fact testify and make a presumption to all men, that his heart meant as his words spake?
Manoah, Samson’s father, when he had seen an angel,
Judges 13, he said to his wife,
And thus we dispute: God sent his Son in our nature,
and made him feel all our infirmities that move us to sin; and named him
Jesus, that is to say, Savior, because he should save his people from their
sins. Matthew 1. And after his death he sent his apostles to preach the
things or tidings, and to thrust it in at the ears of us, and set up a
sacrament of it, to testify it, to be a seal of it, to thrust it in, not
at the ears only by the rehearsing of the promises and testament over it,
neither at our eyes only in beholding it, but beat if; in through our feeling,
tasting and smelling also; and to be repeated daily, and to be ministered
to us. He would not (think we) make half so much ado with us if he loved
us not, or if he would not have us fain come, and be as merciful to us
as he was to his friends in the old time, that fell and rose again. God
so then used to the Jews (to whom all ceremonies were first given, and
from whom they came to us) even such fashions as they used among themselves,
in all his promises and covenants, not for his necessity, but for ours;
that such things should be a witness and testimony between him and us,
to confirm the faith of his promise, that we should not waver nor doubt
in them, when we look on the seals of his obligations, wherewith he hath
bound himself; and to keep the promises and covenants better in mind, and
to make them the more deep sink into our hearts, and to be more earnestly
regarded, and that we should ask what such things meant, and why God commanded
them to be observed; that ignorance should not excuse, if we know not what
we ought to do and believe: for natural reason ought to teach us that the
outward, corporal, and bodily
And he that, being of a lawful age, observeth a ceremony and knoweth not the intent, to him is the ceremony not only unprofitable, but also hurtful, and cause of sin; in that he is not careful and diligent to search for it, and he there observeth them with a false faith of his own imagination, thinking, as all idolaters do and ever have done, that the outward work is a sacrifice and service to God. The same therefore sinneth yet more deeper and more damnable. Neither is idolatry any other thing than to believe that a visible ceremony is a service to the invisible God; whose service is spiritual, as he is a spirit, and is none other thing than to know that all is of him, and to trust in him only for all things, and to love him for his great goodness and mercy above all, and our neighbors as ourselves for his sake: unto which spiritual serving of God, and to lead us to the same, the old ceremonies were ordained.
These be now sufficient concerning the intent and use of the ceremonies, and how they came up. Now let us consider the words of this testament and promises, as they be rehearsed of the three evangelists, Matthew, Mark and Luke, and of the apostle Paul: for John, which wrote last, touched nothing that was sufficiently declared of other. Matthew, in the twenty-sixth, thus saith: “When they were eating, Jesus took bread, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave his disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body: and he took the cup, and thanked, and gave it them, saying, Drink ye all of this; for this is my blood, which is of the new testament, that is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26)
First, ye see by these words, that the body was given to death, and the blood shed, for the remission of sins, and that for many. But who are these many? Verily, they that turn to God, to believe in him only, and to endeavor themselves to keep his law from henceforth. Which many yet, in respect of them that love not the law, are but very few, and even that little flock that gave themselves wholly to follow Christ. Wherefore if any man think he believe in Christ, and have not the law written in his heart, to consent that his duty is to love his brother for Christ’s sake as Christ loved him, and to endeavor himself so to do, the faith of that same man is vain, and built upon sand of his own imagination, and not upon the rock of God’s word; for his word, unto which he hath bound himself, is, that they only which turn to God, to keep his laws, shall have mercy for Christ’s sake. “Drink of it all, for it is my blood of the new testament.’” “for it is,” that is to say, the drink that is in the cup, or, if ye list, the cup is “my blood of the new testament,” taking the cup for the drink, by a manner of speaking used in all tongues; as when we say, ‘ I have drunk a cup of wine,’ we take there the cup for the wine. “My blood of the new testament,” that is to say, My blood, for whose shedding sake this new testament and covenant is made to you, for the forgiveness of sin.
The old testament made between God and your fathers in mount Sinai, in which life was promised to them only that kept it, and to the breakers death, wrath and vengeance, and to be accursed, and no mention made of mercy, [which]was confirmed with blood, Exodus 24. Moses offered half the blood to God, and sprinkled the people with the other half, to confirm the covenant and to bind both parties: neither was there any covenant made that was not confirmed with blood, as it is rehearsed in Hebrews 4; and as we see in the books of Moses, whose custom of blood-shedding was not only to confirm those old covenants, but also to be a prophecy of the blood that should be shed to confirm this testament. That old, cruel, and fearful testament, which drew the people away, so that they durst not abide the voice of thunder, nor the terrible sight of the fire, but went and stood afar off, was confirmed with the blood of calves: but this new and gentle testament, which calleth again, and promiseth mercy to all that will amend, as it is a better testament, so is it confirme with a better blood, to make men see love, to love again, and to be a greater confirmation of the love promised. For if he gave us his Son, what will he deny us? If God so loved us, when we were sinners and knew him not, that he gave his Son for us; how much more loveth he us now, when we love again, and would fain keep his commandments!
In the old covenants the people were sprinkled with blood of calves without, in their bodies, to bind them to keep the law; else we were bound to just damnation, for the breaking of it. Here it is said, “Drink of it every one,” that your souls within may be sprinkled, and washed through faith, with the blood of the Son of God for the forgiveness of sin, and to be partakers of a more easy and kind testament, under which, if you sin through fragility, you shall be warned lovingly, and received to mercy, if you will turn again and amend.
Mark, in the fourteenth: “And as they did eat, Jesus took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to them, and said, Take, eat; this is my body: and he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he took it to them, and they all drank of it: and he said to them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.” This is all one with Matthew, as is aforesaid.
Luke, in the twenty-second: “And he took bread,
and when he had given thanks, he brake it and
Here is also to be noted, that the cause of the institution was to be a memorial, to testify that Christ’s body was given, and his blood shed for us. And again, where Matthew and Mark said, “This is my blood in the new testament;” Luke saith, “This cup is the new testament in my blood which shall be shed for you.” This is a strange speaking, and far from the use of our tongue, to call the sign and confirmation by the name of the thing that is signified and confirmed. The testament is, that Christ’s blood is shed for our sins: and Christ saith, “This cup is that testament;” signifying thereby, that the thing that is meant by this ceremony is, that we believe that his blood-shedding is the remission of our sins; which is the very testament.
Paul, 1 Corinthians 11, saith on this manner: “That which I delivered unto you I received of the Lord. For the Lord Jesus, the same night in the which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take ye, and eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye shall shew the Lord’s death until he come.”
As Matthew and Mark agree in these words, so do Lucas and Paul. And as it is above declared upon the words of Luke, and so here by oft repeating one thing: (“This do in remembrance of me. This cup is the new testament in my blood. This do as oft as ye drink it in the remembrance of me.” Again, “As oft as ye shall eat of this bread and drink of this cup, so oft ye must declare the Lord’s death:”) by this often repeating, I say, ye may evidently perceive that the cause, intent, and whole purpose of the institution of this sacrament was to testify and confirm the faith of the testament made in the death of Christ; how that, for his sake, our sins shall be forgiven.
So, “Do this in the remembrance of me:” that is to say, ‘Take bread and wine, and rehearse the covenant and testament over them, how that my body was broken, and my blood shed for many: and then give them to the people to eat and drink, to be a sign and earnest, and the seal of the testament; and cry upon them, without ceasing, to believe in me only for the remission of sins, and not to despair, how weak soever they be, only if they hang on me, and desire power to keep the law after my doctrine and example of my life, and do mourn and be sorry because they cannot do that good thing which they would.’
For, saith Paul, “Whosoever shall eat of this bread or drink of the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord:” that is to say, whose receiveth the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ with an unclean heart, not forsaking the old lusts of the flesh, nor purposing to follow Christ, and to be to his neighbor as Christ was to him, only merciful; the same sinneth against the body and blood of Christ; in that he maketh a mock of the earnest death of Christ, and, as it is written Hebrews the tenth, “treadeth Christ under foot, and counteth the blood of the testament wherewith he was sanctified as an unholy thing, and doth dishonor to the Spirit of grace.”
Of this ye may perceive again what the sacrament meaneth, and what the intent of the ordinance was, and how such ceremonies came up, and whence they had their beginning, and what the fruit thereof is, and what is therein to be sought. And though this were enough, so that I might here well cease; yet, because the unquiet, scrupulous, and superstitious nature of man, wholly given to idolatry, hath stirred up such traditions about this one sacrament most specially, I cannot but speak thereof somewhat more, and declare what my conscience thinketh in this matter.
Ye shall understand therefore that there is great dissension, and three opinions, about the words of Christ, where he saith, in pronouncing the testament over the bread, “This is my body;” and in pronouncing it over the wine, “This is my blood.”
One part say that these words, “This is my body,” “This is my blood,” compel us to believe, under pain of damnation, that the bread and wine are changed into the very body and blood of Christ really: as the water at Cana Galilee was turned into very wine.
The second part saith, ‘We be not bound to believe that bread and wine are changed; but only that his body and blood are there presently.’
The third say, ‘We be bound by these words only to believe that Christ’s body was broken, and his blood shed for the remission of our sins; and that there is no other satisfaction for sin than the death and passion of Christ.’
The first say these words, “This is my body,” “This is my blood,” compel us to believe, that things there shewed are the very body and blood of Christ really. But bread and wine, say they, cannot be Christ’s natural body; therefore the bread and wine are changed, turned, altered, and transubstantiated into the very body and blood of Christ. And they of this opinion have busied themselves in seeking subtilties and similitudes to prove, how the very body and blood might be there under the similitude of bread and wine only, the very bread and wine being thus transubstantiated.
And these men have been so occupied in slaying all that will not captive their wits to believe them, that they never taught nor understood that the sacrament is an absolution to all that thereby believe in the body and blood of Christ.
The second part grant with the first, that the words compel us to believe that the things shewed in the sacrament are the very body and blood of Christ. But where the first say ‘bread and wine cannot be the very body and blood of Christ,’ there they vary and dissent from them, affirming that bread and wine may, and also is, Christ’s body really, and very blood of Christ; and say, that ‘it is as true to say that bread is Christ’s body, and that wine is his blood, as it is true to say Christ being a very man is also very God.’ And they say, ‘As the Godhead and manhood in Christ are in such manner coupled together, that man is very God, and God very man; even so the very body and the bread are so coupled, that it is as true to say that bread is the body of Christ, and the blood so annexed there with the wine, that it is even as true to say that the wine is Christ’s blood.’
The first, though they have slain so many in and for the defense of their opinion, yet they are ready to receive the second sort to fellowship, not greatly striving with them or abhorring the presence of bread and wine with the very body and blood, so that they yet by that means may keep him there still, and hope to sell him as dear as before, and also some to buy him, and not to minish the price.
The third sort affirm, that the words mean no more but only that we believe, by the things that are there shewed, that Christ’s body was broken and his blood shed for our sins, if we will forsake our sins and turn to God to keep his law. And they say that these sayings, “This is my body,” and, “This is my blood,” shewing bread and wine, are true as Christ meant them, and as the people of that country, to whom Christ spake, were accustomed to understand such words, and as the scripture useth in a thousand places to speak. As when one of us saith, ‘I have drunk a cup of good wine,’ that saying is true as the man meant; that he drank wine only, and not the cup; which words haply, in some other nation’s ears, would sound that he drank the cup too. And as when we say of a child, ‘This is such a man’s very face;’ the words are true, as the manner of our land is to understand them, that the face of the one is very like the other. And as when we say, ‘He gave me his faith and his truth in my hand,’ the words are true as we understand them; that he struck hands with me, or gave earnest in sign or token that he would bide by his promise. For the faith of a man doth alway rest in his soul, and cannot be given out, though we give signs and tokens of them. Even so, say they, we have a thousand examples in the scripture, where signs are named with the names of things signified by them: as Jacob called the place, where he saw the Lord face to face, Pheniel, that is, God’s face, when he saw the Lord face to face. :Now it is true to say of that field, that it is God’s face, though it be not his very face. The same field was so called to signify that Jacob there saw God face to face.
The chief hold and principal anchor that the two first have, is these words,“This is my body: This is my blood.” Unto these the third answereth as is above said. Other texts they allege for themselves, which not only do not strength their cause, but rather make it worse: as the sixth of John; which they draw and wrest to the carnal and fleshly eating of Christ’s body in the mouth, when it only meaneth of this eating by faith. For when Christ said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you,” this cannot be understood of the sacrament. For Abraham had life, and all the old holy fathers; Christ’s mother, Elizabeth, Zacharias, John Baptist, Simeon, Anna, and all the apostles, had life already by faith in Christ; of which not one had eaten his flesh, and drunken his blood, with their bodily mouths. But truth it is, that the righteous liveth by his faith; ergo, to believe and trust in Christ’s blood is the eating that there was meant, as the text well proveth. If they say, We grant that life cometh by faith; but we all that believe must be baptized to keep the law and to keep the covenant in mind; even so all that liveth by faith must receive the sacrament: I answer, The sacrament is a confirmation to weak consciences, and in no wise to be despised; howbeit many have lived by faith in the wilderness, which in twenty, thirty, or forty years have not received the sacrament. Notwithstanding, this oration is nothing to the purpose. For Christ spake to the blind and unbelieving Jews; testifying to them, that they could have no life except they should first eat his flesh, and drink his blood: ergo, this eating and drinking is meant only of that thing that first bringeth life into the soul, and that is faith, by your own confession. And therefore must it be understood of faith only, and not of the sacrament.
And Matthew, the last [chapter]: “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world;” which may well be understood, and so was it of old doctors, by his spiritual being with us by faith, and in his Spirit. And so may that text of Matthew 18, be understood: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” There is many times two or three good men that meet together in Christ’s name, where the sacrament is not. And Paul (Ephesians 3) boweth his knees for the Ephesians to God, “That he would give them his riches, to be strengthened with his Spirit, that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith.” Where the heart then believeth in Christ, there dwelleth Christ in the heart; though there be no bread in the heart, neither yet in the maw.
The two first parties taking the old doctor’s to be on their side, I answer, Many of the old doctors spake so mystically that they seem sometimes to affirm plainly that it is but bread and wine only concerning the substance, and that it is a figure of the body and blood of Christ only; and sometimes, that it is his very body and blood: therefore it were needless to wade any further herein.
And unto them of the second opinion, that the bread is his very body, I answer, Ye must remember that the old doctors as earnestly call it a sacrifice, as they do Christ’s body. But that ye deny: and say, with the epistle to the Hebrews, that he was but once sacrificed for altogether, when he offered and sacrificed himself to the Father for our sins, and can now no more be sacrificed. Christ dieth no more now, and therefore is no more sacrificed. Neither do we properly offer him to God. But he in his mortal flesh offered himself for us to God the Father, and purchased therewith a general pardon for ever. And now doth God the Father proffer him, and giveth him to us. And the priests, in God’s stead, proffer him and give him unto the people, for a remission and absolution of their sins daily, if they by the moving and stirring of the sacrament believe in the body and blood of Christ.
Wherefore ye ought of no right to be angry with
them of the third opinion, though they deny the doctors, where they seem
to say that the sacrament is the very body of Christ; as they
And unto them of the first opinion I answer, with the same reason, that it is impossible that the sacrament should be a very sacrifice. For neither the sacrifices of the old law which prophesied the sacrificing of Christ, neither yet our redemption, was fulfilled that night. For if the scriptures and prophecies were then fulfilled, and we then redeemed, Christ died on the morrow in vain; and false are the apostles and evangelists, that preach his body-breaking and blood-shedding under Pontius Pilate, by the persecution of Caiaphas and Annas, to be our redemption.
Moreover, for all the breaking and dividing of the sacrament of his body among his apostles, his body abode still alive; and for all the pouring out of the sacrament of his blood, of the pot into the cup, and out of the cup into the mouths and bellies of his disciples, he bled as fresh on the morrow as though he had bled then nothing at all.
He was verily much more easily sacrificed that night, in the breaking and dividing of the bread and pouring out of wine, than he was on the morrow. The sacrament was that night, no doubt, but a description of his passion to come; as it is now a memorial of his passion past. He instituted the manner of the sacrament then, and taught his disciples also that they after understood, when he was risen again, and not then, as they never had capacity to understand him when he spake of his death. For they then imagined carnally of Christ (as the Jews yet do) that Christ should never die, (as he did not, concerning his Godhead,) but should live ever bodily, as he now doth concerning his resurrection.
Wherefore, seeing that all the doctors with one accord call the sacrament so earnestly a sacrifice, they cannot otherwise understand than that they so say after the use of the scripture only, because it is the memorial of the sacrifice of his death and blood-shedding. Why should they then of right be offended, if we understand the doctors after the same manner, when they call it his body and blood; and that they so call it after the use of the scripture, because that it is only a memorial of his body and blood?
As concerning the transubstantiation: I think that such a speech was among the old doctors, though they that came after understood them amiss. Their hearts were gross, through busying themselves too much with worldly business. For the bread and wine are but only bread and wine, till the words of the testament be rehearsed over them; and then they cease to be any more bread and wine in the hearts of the true believers: for the heart, after these words once spoken, thinketh only upon the covenant made in the body and blood of Christ, and through faith eateth his body, and drinketh his blood; though the eyes, and other senses, perceive nothing but bread and wine: as when a man sometime seeketh for text in the bible, he seeth paper and ink and the figures of letters; yet his heart not once thinketh of any other thing than on the words and sense of his text.. And thereof, no doubt, came up this transubstantiation through false understanding.
Another thing is this, none of those wicked heretics which denied Christ to be very God, or any of them that denied Christ to be man or to have a very body, save a fantastical body, did cast the true believers in the teeth at any time, of the faith of Christ’s body present in their sacrament everywhere; which thing it is not like but they would have done, if that opinion had then been a general article of the faith.
Neither was there any heresy, or diversity of opinion, or disputing about the matter, till the pope had gathered a council to confirm this transubstantiation: wherefore it is most likely that this opinion came up by them of latter days.
Furthermore, all the law and prophets seek, all that Christ did or can yet do, is to bring us to believe in him, and in God the Father through him, for the remission of sins; and to bring us unto that which immediately followeth out of that belief, to love our neighbors for his sake as he loved us. Wherefore if Christ did put his bodily presence in the sacrament, and would we should believe it; it is done only to bring us to this faith. Now is this faith no where less had, than where that opinion is most strong; neither so cruelly persecuted of Jew or Turk, as of them that most fervently defend that opinion. True faith maketh a man to love his brother: but that opinion maketh them to hate and slay their brethren, that better believe in Christ than they of that opinion do; and that murder do they, for fear of losing that they have gotten through that opinion.
Item, they of this opinion, instead of teaching us to believe in Christ, teach us to serve Christ with bodily service, which thing is nought else but idolatry. For they preach, that all the ceremonies of the mass are a service to God by reason of the bodily works, to obtain forgiveness of sins thereby, and to deserve and merit therewith. And yet Christ is now a spiritual substance with his Father, having also a spiritual body; and with the Father to be worshipped, in spirit only. And his service in the spirit is only to believe in him for the remission of sin, to call upon him, and give him thanks, and to love our neighbors for his sake.
Now all works done to serve man, and to bring him to this point, to put his trust in Christ, are good and acceptable to God; but, done for any other purpose, they be idolatry and image-service, and make God an idol or bodily image.
Again, seeing the faith of the testament in Christ’s blood is the life of the righteous, from the beginning of the world to the end; and forasmuch as the sacrament was instituted only to bring to this life; now when they which think not the body to be present in the sacrament have by the preaching and confirmation of the sacrament obtained this life or stedfast faith in Christ’s blood, and by the daily use of the sacrament are more and more hardened therein, and in the love that springeth thereof; what reasonable cause have the contrary part (which believe the body present, and bread turned into the very body as flesh, bones, hair, sinews, nails, and all other, as he was put on the cross, of length and quantity, I cannot tell what) to rail on us as. heretics, hate, persecute, and slay us most cruelly as enemies? Christ saith, Qui contra me non est, mecum est, “He that; is not against me is with me.” Now they that believe in Christ for the remission of their sins, and for his sake love their foes, are not Christ’s enemies; ergo, they be on Christ’s side. Why then should they, that boast themselves to be Christ’s friends, slay them? Faith in Christ’s blood, and in the Father through him, is God’s service in the spirit . And so have they, which believe not the bodily presence, served God a long time, and thereto been holpen by the sacrament. The other part fallen therefrom through preaching the body present, serving God with bodily service, (which is idolatry, and to make God an idol or image,) in that they trust in the goodness of their works (as they which serve tyrants), and not in the goodness of God through trust in the blood of Christ: ergo, they that believe not the bodily presence (not a little thereto compelled through the wicked idolatry of the contrary belief) are not to be thought so evil as the other would have them seem to be.
Paul teacheth, (1 Corinthians 13) that if a man had all other gifts that God can give man, and had not charity to love his neighbor, it helpeth not. For all other gifts, and the remission in Christ’s blood also, are given him of God, to bring him to love his neighbor; which thing had, a man hath all; which not had, a man hath nothing.
And, Philippians 2, how sweetly and how vehemently conjureth he them to draw all one way, to be of one accord and one mind or sentence; and to do nothing of strife or of vainglory, that is to say, of hate or disdain one of another, or of affection to himself for to seem glorious; but each to prefer other through meekness, and to have his [own] opinion suspect, and to fear lest he hath not obtained the understanding; rather than of presumption to his own wit to despise and hate the contrary party, and persecute as a tyrant! And in the third of the same, Paul saith: “Let as many as be perfect,” (that is to say, be truly taught, and know the law truly, and her office, and the office and effect of faith, and know which be good works before God, and what the intent of them is,) “let us,” saith he, “so far as we be come, proceed in one rule, that we may be of one accord. “ Now hitherto we be all come, and this general rule have we gotten, that faith only justifieth, that is to say, that the sin is forgiven only for Christ’s sake; and again, that our duty is to love our neighbors no less than Christ loved us: wherefore let us proceed forth in this rule, and exhort each other to trust in Christ, and to love each other as Christ did; and in this, wherein we all agree, let us be wise only and fervent, and strive who shall be greatest and go foremost.
And in that which is not opened to all parties, let us be meek, sober, and cold; and keep our wisdom secret to ourselves, and abide patiently, till God open it to other also. The cause why the third part say that this word (is) compelleth us not to believe the bodily presence of Christ to be there is this. The Jews (say they) are wont ever to name the memorial and signs of things with the very name of the thing signified; that the very name might the better keep the thing in mind: as when Jacob, Genesis 32, turned home again out of Mesopotamia, saw the angels of God come against him, he called the place where he saw them Mahanaim, an host; because that his posterity in time to come, when they heard the field, which was none host, yet so called, should ask why it was so named, that their elders might thereby have an occasion to teach that Jacob saw there an host of angels.
And again in the same chapter, when the angel that wrestled with him had blessed him, and was departed, Jacob called the name of the place Pheniel, God’s face; that the people in time to come should ask why it was called God’s face, and their elders should answer, because Jacob saw there God face to face, that the name should keep the thing in mind.
And again, in the thirty-third, where he had made
booths, or houses of boughs for his beasts, he named the place Succoth,
that is, booths.
Also, Ezekiel 12, God commanded the prophet to remove with all his goods, after such manner as conquerors carry the people captive from country to country; and when he had done, the Lord said unto him, “This prophecy is the captain, or prince, of Jerusalem;” when yet it was but an ensample to him, how he should be served.
Finally, where Matthew and Mark say, “This cup is my blood of the new testament, Paul and Luke say, “This cup is the new testament in my blood.” Now must the sense, of the words of the two first, Matthew and Mark, be all one with the senses of the words of the two last, Luke and Paul. The words of Luke and Paul are: “This cup is the new testament made in my blood,” or for my blood’s sake.
Now the testament is, that his blood was shed for our sins; but it is impossible that the cup or his blood should be that promise. Wherefore the sense must needs be, that it is the memorial and seal of the testament only. And therefore where Matthew and Mark say, “This cup is my blood of the new testament,” the sense must needs be also, that it is the memorial and seal thereof; only calling, after the use of the Hebrews, the sign with the name of that which is signified; that is to say, calling the wine, which only signifieth the blood, with the name of the blood. And then it followeth that the bread is called his body after the same manner, because it is the sign of his body.
These and like examples move the third part to affirm, that we be not bound to believe that the bread is the very body of Christ, though it be so called; nor that the bread is transubstantiated into the body: no more than the things here rehearsed are that they be called, or transubstantiated into the very things which they be called.
The other will answer, Though this memorial were not the things whose names they bear, yet it will not follow that it should be so here in the sacrament. For they that gave such other names had no power to make the things so to be: but Christ is very God, and hath power to make his body to be every thing and every where. I answer, That God cannot make every of his creatures God too; neither can it be proved less repugnant that a creature should be every where, than that he should be God.
Moreover, though God, where he appeared to Jacob, had pitched a stone on an end, and called it God’s face; yet had we not been any more bound to believe that it had been the very face of God, than if Jacob had done it. The almightiness of God standeth not in that he is able to do all that our foolish, lewd thoughts may imagine. But because all power is his and of him, and that he doth all he will, and hath made all of nought, and can bring all to nought again, and can do all that includeth not contrary to the truth and verity that God hath put in his creatures; and because he can do things impossible for man, or any other creature to do, or to think how they should be done; therefore he is called the Lord Almighty. But because to brawl about such possibility or impossibility is the lust of sophisters, and also the desire of the devil to quench the profession of our baptism, and to wipe out the image of Christ out of our hearts, and a thing endless; therefore I count it wickedness to wade forth in it, and to give them that seek it an occasion perpetually to scold. The negative may a man hold, till they can prove the affirmative.
Moreover, if bread be the very body of Christ, whether abiding the very body still or transubstantiated, and enjoy the glory of the soul of Christ, and also of the Godhead, it seemeth impossible to be avoided but that Christ was made man and died: also bread, which seemeth to some a great inconvenience. Howbeit that great promotion of bread, and also that high power of priests above all angels, I amit also, to avoid all brawling. But one reason I have, unto which I cleave somewhat, and it is this.
All that is between God and man in the scripture is for man’s necessity, and not for any need that God hath thereof. And other spiritual profit can none have by that faith in the sacrament, than to be taught thereby to believe in Christ our Savior, and to do good to his neighbor. :Now is that belief and love had as well, and rather better, (as is above proved,) without such faith than with it: ergo, where the scripture compelleth to no such belief, it is wickedness to make it a necessary article of our faith, and to slay them that cannot think that it ought to be believed.
Notwithstanding all these reasons, and the damnable idolatry which the papists have committed with the sacrament, yet, whether they affirm the body and blood to be present with the bread and wine, or the bread and wine to be turned and transubstantiated into the body and blood, I am therewith content (for unity’s sake) if they will there cease, and let him be there only to testify and confirm the testament or covenant made in Christ’s blood and body; for which cause only Christ instituted the sacrament. But and if they will rage further with their blind reasons of their subtle sophistry and devilish idolatry, and say, where Christ’s blood is, there is his body, and where his body is, there is his soul, and where his soul is, there is the Godhead and the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and there men ought to pray, and say, ‘O Father, which art present with thy Son Christ, under bread and wine, or in form of bread and wine’ — if (I say) they so rave, then as the old prophet for like idolatry denieth God to dwell in the temple, or to have pleasure in sacrifice of blood of goats, sheep and calves; even so deny I the body of Christ to be any more in the sacrament, than God was in the golden calves, which Jeroboam set up to be prayed to, the one in Bethel, and the other in Dan: for though God be present everywhere, yet if heaven of heavens cannot compass him to make him a dwelling-place (as the scripture testifieth), and much less the temple that was at Jerusalem, how should he have a dwelling-place in a little wafer or crumb of bread? God dwelleth not in the temple; neither did our fathers, which were of the true faith in the old testament, pray to God as present in the temple: but the name of God only was in the temple, 1Kings 8 and his law and covenants and wonderful deeds were therein written in signs, and were there preached and testified continually of the true priests and prophets unto the people. The fathers of the true faith came thither furthermore, for the fervent love which they had towards the laws and covenants of God. For the which prophets Solomon prayed so. earnestly unto the Lord God, saying: “Hear thou, O God, in heaven thy dwelling-place, and do all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all nations of the earth may know thee, and fear thy name, as do this people Israel, etc.” Read the third book of Kings, the eighth chapter. When God delighted only in the faith of the offerer, which believed in God only for all mercy, taking the sacrifice for a sure token and earnest of the mercy of God, certified by that sign, that ‘God loved them, and was at one with them for Christ’s sake to come: as we should be certified by the sacrament of God with us for Christ’s death that is past. And Christ taught us in our prayers to look up to heaven and say, Our Father, which art in heaven; and he himself in all his prayers did lift up his eyes to heaven to his Father; and so did he when he instituted the sacrament, and rehearsed the words of the covenant over bread and wine, as it is written Matthew 26; Mark 19; Luke 22; 1 Corinthians 11; in these words, “Jesus took bread,” etc.
Christ, though he affirmed himself to be the Son of God, and his Father to be in him, yet he taught not his disciples to direct the prayer to the Father in him, but up to the Father in heaven; neither lift he up his eyes, or prayer, to his Father in the sacrament, but to his Father in heaven. I know divers, and divers men know me, which love me as I do them: yet if I should pray them, when I meet them in the street openly, they would abhor me; but if I pray them where they be appointed to meet me secretly, they will hear me and accept my request. Even so though God’s presence be everywhere, yet will he be prayed to up to the place only where we shall see him, and where he would have us to long for to be.
Moreover if I grant you that the blood of Christ is in the cup, it will [not] follow that his body is there also; neither when I grant that his body is in the bread, or under the form of bread, will it follow that his soul is there too. Christ made the bread the sacrament of his body only: wherefore as the bread is no similitude of his blood, so am I not bound or ought to affirm, that his blood is there present. And he did institute the wine to be the sacrament of his blood only. And haply it was red wine, the more lovely to represent it. :Now as the wine in no similitude doth represent the body, so am I not bound, nor ought to affirm, that his body is there present.
Ye say that Christ is so mighty, that though he stood mortal before his disciples’ eyes, yet he was able to make the same body that same time to be in the sacrament immortal, and to be under every little piece of bread or of the sacrament, though it be no greater than a mote in the sun, and that as long, as great, and thick as he stood before them. If he were so mighty, why is he not as mighty to make his blood to be alone, and his body alone? His blood, body and soul were each alone at his death, and while the body lay in the sepulcher.
Finally, Christ said, “This is my blood that shall be shed:” ergo, it is true now, This is my blood that was Shed. Now the blood of Hales, and the blood that is in many other places, men say is the blood that was shed; ergo, that blood is in the sacrament, if any be: but I am not bound to believe or ought to affirm, that the blood that is at Hales is animate with the soul of Christ, or that his body is there present.
Wherefore, to avoid this endless brawling, which the devil no doubt hath stirred up, to turn the eyes of our souls from the everlasting covenant made us in Christ’s blood and body, and to nosel us in idolatry, which is trust and confidence in false worshipping of God; and to quench first the faith to Christ-ward, and then the love due to our neighbor; therefore methinketh that the party that hath professed the faith of Christ, and the love of his neighbor, ought of duty to bear each other, as long as the other opinion is not plain wicked through false idolatry, nor contrary to the salvation that is in Christ, nor against the open and manifest doctrine of Christ and his apostles, nor contrary to the general articles of the faith of the general church of Christ, which are confirmed with open scripture; in which articles never a true church in any land dissenteth.
There be many texts of the scripture, and therefore diversely expounded of holy doctors, and taken in contrary senses, when no text hath contrary senses indeed, or more than one single sense: and yet that hurteth not; neither are the holy doctors therefore heretics, as the exposition destroyeth not the faith in Christ’s blood, nor is contrary to the open scripture or general articles. No more doth it hurt to say that the body and blood are not in the sacrament. Neither doth it help to say they be there, but hurt exceedingly, if ye infer that the soul is there too, and that God must be there prayed to; when, as our kingdom is not on the earth, even so we ought not to direct our prayers to any God in earth, but up where our kingdom is, and whither our Redeemer and Savior is gone, and there sitteth on the right hand of his Father, to pray for us, and to offer our prayers unto his Father, and to make them for his sake acceptable. Neither ought he, that is bound under pain of damnation to love his brother as Christ loved him, to hate, to persecute, and to slay his brother for blind zeal to any opinion, that neither letteth nor hindereth to salvation that is in Christ: as they which pray to God in the sacrament not only do, but also through that opinion, as they have lost love to their neighbors, even so have they lost the true faith in the covenant made in Christ’s blood and body: which covenant only is that which saveth. And to testify this, was the sacrament instituted only.
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