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 Issues | Lord's Supper | Jewell on the Sacraments

On The Sacraments

By the Right Rev. John Jewell, Bishop of Sarum

(Taken from Veritatis Viribus No 1 by The Ladies League)
One of the most authoritative statements of the teaching of the Church of England respecting the Sacraments is contained in the following extract from the Apology of the Church of England, by Dr. Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. This work was published with the consent of the Bishops, and was generally recognised at the time as the best explanation of the position of the English Church. It was ordered to be provided in all Churches in the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. and was chained up, like the Bible and one or two other books, for common reading, and it is expressly referred to in the Canons of 1603-4 (Canon 30.) as a recognised authority. In 1609, Archbishop Bancroft, in a letter to his suffragans, urged that every parish should buy a copy of the works of Bishop Jewel, "that the whole realm might be furnished with them." Jewel's works were edited about fifty years ago by Dr. Jelf, Principal of King's College, London, and one of the most trusted members of the Oxford School of that day; and a convenient edition of the Apology, also edited by him, is published by the S.P.C.K.


Moreover, we allow the Sacraments of the Church, that is to say, certain holy signs and ceremonies, which Christ would we should use, that by them He might set before our eyes the mysteries of our salvation, and might more strongly confirm our faith which we have in His blood, and might seal His grace in our hearts. And these Sacraments, together with Tertullian, Origen, Ambrose, Hierom, Chrysostom, Basil, Dionysius, and other Catholic fathers, do we call figures, signs, marks or badges, prints, copies, forms, seals, signets, similitudes, patterns, representations, remembrances, and memories. And we make no doubt, together with the same doctors, to say, that these be certain visible words, seals of righteousness, tokens of grace; and do expressly pronounce, that in the Lord's Supper there is truly given unto the believing the body and blood of the Lord, the flesh of the So11 of God, which quickeneth our souls, the meat that cometh from above, the food of immortality, grace, truth, and life, and the Supper to be the communion of the body and blood of Christ; by the partaking whereof we be revived, we be strengthened, and be fed unto immortality; and whereby we are joined, united, and incorporate unto Christ, that we may abide in Him, and He in us. Besides, we acknowledge, there be two Sacraments, which, we judge, properly ought to be called by this name; that is to say, Baptism, and the Sacrament of thanksgiving. For thus many we see were delivered and sanctified by Christ, and well allowed of the old fathers, Ambrose and Augustine. We say, that Baptism is a Sacrament of the remission of sins, and of that washing, which we have in the blood of Christ ; and that no person which will profess Christ's Name, ought to be restrained or kept back therefrom; no, not the very babes of Christians: forsomuch as they
be born in sin, and do pertain unto the people of God.

We say, that Eucharistia, that is to say, the Supper of the Lord, is a Sacrament; that is to wit, an evident token of the body and blood of Christ, wherein is set, as it were, before our eyes, the death of Christ, and His resurrection, and what act soever He did whilst He was in His mortal body ; to the end we may give Him thanks for His death, and for our deliverance: and that, by the often receiving of this Sacrament, we may daily renew the remembrance of that matter, to the intent we, being fed with the [true] body and blood of Christ, may be brought into the hope of the resurrection, and of everlasting life, and may most assuredly believe, that the body and blood of Christ doth in like manner feed our souls, as bread and wine cloth feed our bodies. To this banquet we think the people of God ought to be earnestly bidden, that they may all communicate among themselves, and openly declare and testify both the godly society which is among them, and also the hope which they have in Christ Jesu. For this cause, if there had been any, which would be but a looker-on, and abstain from the Holy Communion, him did the old fathers and bishops of Rome in the primitive
Church, before private mass came up, excommunicate, as a wicked person, and as a pagan. Neither was there any Christian at that time which did communicate alone, whiles others looked on. For so did Calixtus in times past decree, “that after the consecration was finished, all should communicate, except they had rather stand without the church-doors; because thus (saith he) did the Apostles ppoint, and the same the holy Church of Rome keepeth still.”

Moreover, when the people cometh to the holy communion, the Sacrament ought to be given them in both kinds: for so both Christ hath commanded, and the Apostles in every place have ordained, and all the ancient fathers and Catholic bishops have followed the same. And whoso doth contrary to this, he (as Gelasius saith) committeth sacrilege. And therefore we say, that our adversaries at this day, who having violently thrust out, and quite forbidden the holy communion, do, without the word of God, without the authority of any ancient council, without any Catholic father, without any example of the primitive Church, yea, and without reason also, defend and maintain their private masses, and the mangling of the Sacraments, and do this not only against the plain express commandment and bidding of Christ, but also against all antiquity, do wickedly therein, and are very Church robbers.

We affirm, that bread and wine are holy and heavenly mysteries of the body and blood of Christ, and that by them Christ Himself, being the true bread of eternal life, is so presently given unto us, as that by faith we verily receive His body and His blood. Yet say we not this so, as though we thought that the nature and substance of the bread and wine is clearly changed, and goeth to nothing: as many have dreamed in these later times, which yet could never agree among themselves, of this their dream. For that was not Christ's meaning, that the wheaten bread should lay apart his ow11 nature, and receive a certain new divinity; but that He might rather change us, and (to use Theophylac’s words) might transform us into His body. For what can be said more plainly, than that which Ambrose saith: “Bread and wine remain still the same they were before; and yet are changed into another thing:” or, that which Gelasius saith : “The substance of the bread, or the nature of the wine, ceaseth not so to be:” or, that which Theodoret saith: “After the consecration the mystical signs do not cast off their own proper nature; for they remain still in their former substance, form, and kind:” or, that which Augustine saith : “That which ye see is the bread and cup, for so our eyes tell us: but that which your faith requireth to be taught, is this: the bread is the body of Christ, and the cup is His blood:” or, that which Origen saith: “The bread which is sanctified by the word of God. as touching the material substance thereof, goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the privy:” or, that which Christ Himself said, not only after the blessing of the cup, but after He had ministered the communion: I will drink no more of this fruit of the vine. It is well known that the fruit of the vine is wine, and not blood.

And in speaking thus, we mean not to abase the Lord's Supper, that it is but a cold ceremony only, and nothing to be wrought therein; (as many falsely slander us we teach). For we affirm, that Christ doth truly and presently give His own self in His Sacraments; in Baptism, that we may put Him on; that we may eat Him by faith and spirit, and may have everlasting life by His Cross and blood. we say not, this is done slightly and coldly, but effectually and truly. For although we do not touch the body of Christ with teeth and mouth, yet we hold Him fast, and eat Him by faith, by understanding, and by the Spirit. And it is no vain faith which cloth comprehend Christ: and that is not received with cold devotion, that is received with understanding, with faith, and with spirit. For Christ Himself altogether is so offered and given us in these mysteries, that we may certainly know we be flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bones: and that Christ “continueth in us, and we in Him.” And therefore in celebrating these mysteries, the people are to good purpose exhorted, before they come to receive the Holy Communion, to lift up their hearts, and to direct their minds to heaven-ward: because He is there, by whom we must be full fed, and live. Cyril1 saith, when we come to receive these mysteries, all gross imaginations must quite be banished. The Council of Nice (Mansi 2.888), as is alleged by some in Greek, plainly forbiddeth us to be basely affectioned or bent towards the bread and wine, which are set before us. And, as Chrysostom very aptly writeth, we say, “that the body of Christ is the dead carcase, and we ourselves must be the eagles”: meaning “thereby that we must fly high, if we will come unto the body of Christ. “For this table,” as Chrysostom saith, “is a table of eagles, not of jays.” Cyprian also, "this bread,” saith he, “is the food of the soul, and not the meat of the belly.” And Augustine, “How shall I hold Him,” saith he, which is absent? How shall I reach my hand up to Heaven, to lay hold upon Him that sitteth there?” He answereth, “Reach hither thy faith, and then thou hast laid hold on Him."

Jewel’s Apology of the Church of Engalnd, Part 2, chap 10, div 1,2 etc

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