Confessio Catholica:

Concerning the Sacraments

The sacraments are seals of the righteousness of faith, as supplements and seals to the promises of grace, in testimony of God’s grace towards us, to the confirming of faith and imprinting the promises of God on our hearts.

But the stipulation and promise of grace always precedes the sacraments, by which the promises are sealed as it were with a seal. They are of two kinds: those of the Old and the New Testaments. The sacraments of the Old Testament were circumcision and sacrifices in the literal sense. There are other signs placed in natural things, such as the rainbow and the skin of animals: they are not sacraments strictly speaking. They are called signs of holy things because they lead us to divine things.

The Parts of the Sacraments

The sacraments have two parts, as man too consists of two parts, spiritual and bodily. The sign is a bodily thing, sensible, of earthly material, which serves the bodily part of man for the strengthening of faith. What is symbolized is the spiritual and heavenly thing, and is given to man’s spiritual part, i.e., to the soul through faith in the promise.

The Difference between the Sacraments

The signified and heavenly thing is the same in the sacraments of both Old and New Testaments, i.e., Christ and the grace of God. Only this heavenly thing is more obscurely presented in the Old Testament and more clearly, more tangibly, in the New (as is taught in 1 Cor. 10). There are differences in the signs because the matter of the sacraments is different. The presence of the signs signifies everywhere by a heavenly mode the heavenly presence of the things symbolized, but those of the Old Testament signify Christ offered, Himself sacrificed for our sins. The signs of the New Testament signify the heavenly and spiritual presence of the things symbolized–Christ who had by then been offered and sacrificed for our sakes. From this, the fathers called the sacraments of the Old Testament significative (significativa); the sacraments of the New Testament are exhibitive (exhibitiva) signs. The sacraments in themselves will not save us, but are signs of the righteousness of faith and salvation. Romans 4 and Peter also say that salvation does not consist of the water that washes away the filth of the body, but our consciences are reconciled with God by the power of the passion and resurrection of Christ. “I baptize you with water, the Messiah himself with fire and spirit” (cf. Matt. 3:16; Luke 3:16; John 1:26), adding to the sign the thing symbolized. On the part of God, the sign and the thing signified as objects of the sacrament are always bound together and never separated. For in the Word, as in the sacraments too, Christ is offered to the good and evil alike (Rom. 4; Mark 16; Matt. 3; Jerome, on Ps. 77; Titus 3; Eph. 5; Augustine, On Faith, chap. 3; Book 9, on John, chap. 1, 3; Doctrine of the Church, chap. 74; Cyprian, On Baptism, Book 4; letter 7). The true offering and application of the thing signified or the efficacy of the sacrament, however, occurs only in the believing elect, those apprehending Christ in the promise. When, through the unbelief of men, the things signified become separated from the signs, and men make use of the sacraments apart from their legitimate purpose, those who receive them unworthily, without faith and self-examination, do not profit thereby; indeed, with respect to them, the sacrament is a judgment and a mere shadow (1 Cor. 11). When we say that the sacraments save us, or that in baptism we put on Christ, we take the sacraments in themselves out of respect for the ordinance of Christ, using a metonymy as a figure for the thing signify. For the signs really testify that we are saved and that we put on Christ spiritually in the promise, just as the signs exhibit bodily, so the spiritual things signified are exhibited to the soul by faith. So teach the Scriptures and the fathers.

By faith, the elect put on Christ in the signs or sacraments or the thing itself, in the application itself spiritually in the promise. The reprobate, being without faith, put Him on only outwardly in the sacrament, i.e., they receive the signs (Lombard, Book 4, Dist. 4; Augustine, on baptism; Book 5, chap. 24).

Concerning the New Testament Sacraments,
Which Are Two Properly and in Order

Baptism is a sacrament instituted by the Lord, from water, in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as a witness to our regeneration and engrafting into the eternal covenant of God through the remission of our sins in the blood of Christ and for the confirmation of our faith in the promise (Augustine, Book 2).

The substance of baptism consists of its element, i.e., water, and the word of institution of Christ, for the lawful and proper purpose of baptism. These things are necessarily required for baptism. The Antichrist has added to them as corrupt practices salt, oil, spittle, and superstitious exorcism, with the ungodly opinion of godparents concerning lamps and clothing. We approve of the pious being present at the explanation of the sacrament of baptism, as at the preaching of the Word; we do not consider the custom of godparents necessary because of its bad reputation. We baptize every person that comes to be baptized, who are not dogs and pigs, of whatever age, infants and adults. After the baptismal sermon, we immerse either the whole body or sprinkle and pour water on the head, although the significance of baptism signifies total immersion. After preliminary exhortation and prayer, we explain the evangelical stipulations in the new covenant: what God requires of us in Christ; what He promises us; and how we place ourselves under an obligation to God in Christ through baptism. We repudiate all sordid matters, both papist stipulations and legalities. For only Christ, who made the covenant, was able to respond and give satisfaction to God. Only the Lord could have opposed sin, the world, and the devil, and overcome the power of the hostile enemies of heaven. In baptism, we testify that we have long opposed these in Christ and will continue to do so in faith and the strength of Christ with the aid of the Holy Spirit.

What Relationship, Unity, and Connection Is There
between the Sign and Thing Signified

God has, by His own authority, counsel, will, ordinance or institution and promise (connected to the sacraments) united and bound together by heavenly means and union, the sign and the thing signified; not confusing or transforming or blending together natures and substances with things signified, as if wine and water, iron and fire were mixed together; but each persists in its own matter and form; and only the purpose, condition and name of the sign is changed, not the substance. That is, as Augustine, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Jerome, Ambrose, and others teach, the signs, apart from their purpose, similarities, and the mystery of things being signified, assume only the names of the things signified metonymically, metaphorically, or synecdochically. The signs do not lose their nature, essence or form, but lose their own names by which they are called (such as water, circumcision, bread, wine, or the cup) and assume the names of signs from the purpose of the sacrament: i.e., the water of baptism is called purification, remission of sin, the laver of regeneration, washing away of sins. Circumcision is called a covenant; the bread of the Lord’s Supper is called the body, the wine, the blood, the cup the new covenant. All these retain their matter, substance, form, taste, and natural properties; only conditionally, sacramentally, in their use and end or purpose, are they changed and the names of the things signified applied to the signs. In which sense, Christ, or the body of Christ, is the bread, and His blood is the drink of wine, i.e., not substantially, not by transubstantiation, as if Christ were transformed into wheat bread, a vine, a lamb, a gate, a door, a road, a worm substantially, but only by a metonymical and metaphorical appellation ; by the union and bringing together of names. In the same sense, bread is the body of Christ, i.e., by a metonymical and metaphorical appellation, not substantially by transubstantiation.

Concerning Twofold Baptism

Inward baptism is the washing of the blood of Christ, by the grace of God in the righteousness of Christ through the Holy Spirit renewing, cleansing, and destroying our sins and regenerating us by the Spirit giving us a new heart. This is called fire and Spirit (it is spoken of in Ezek. 16; Isa. 4, 12; Zech. 13). “We are saved by baptism” (1 Peter 3:21; Gal. 3; Augustine, Book 2, 6; Lombard, Book 4, Dist. 4; Cyprian, on baptism; Chrysostom). Outward baptism is a washing of water, being consecrated in the name of the Trinity. This is the sign of the remission of sins and of inward baptism. By this baptism, we are baptized into the sign of the remission of sin, i.e., in witness of the remission of sin and heavenly benefits. The sacraments are not applications of the objects of the sacrament or of the things signified. For the application is the work of the Holy Spirit through faith in the promise. The Word is the instrument of the application of salvation. The sacraments are the witnessing seals of the application of grace, salvation, and remission of sin through faith (Basil, On the Holy Spirit, chap. 15; Jerome, on Isaiah 12, Jeremiah, Ezekiel 16, Zechariah 13).

The Meaning of Baptism

First, it means that having become the enemies of God through our impurities and on account of our sins, we have need of reconciliation and purification. Further, it shows that we are reconciled gratis to God. Third, why we are reconciled to God. And it instructs us in Christ (Augustine, Book 3; on baptism; the fathers on baptism and on Rom. 6; Lombard, Book 4, Dist. 3, 4). Concerning the process of baptism and the manner of and cause of reconciliation, it means the following four things: the pouring of water and washing of infants means that our sins are washed away with the blood of Christ, which was shed for us. The laying back (reclinatio) of the candidate for baptism means that Christ was incarnate for us, suffered, and died; and that our sins have been crucified and buried in Christ (Rom. 6; Col. 2, 3).

The raising up (elevatio) of the candidate means that Christ rose from the dead for our justification (Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15), that we too might rise with Christ from the death of soul and body to new life (Rom. 6; Col. 2; Council of Toledo; Gregory, Epistle 41, On Confession; D. 4, Decrees; Moralia, Book 3.42). Fourth, the wrapping up, and clothing of the candidate after washing signify that we put on the righteousness of Christ and the new life, and, therefore, are reconciled (Rom. 6; Gal. 3; Col. 2). Fifth, it shows renewal from the Spirit and from water through being put to death and made alive from the dead (John 3; Matt. 3). Sixth, that we are freed from the power of darkness and are in the kingdom of God, received into the eternal covenant of God. Seventh, it is proof of the stipulations and obligations made by God in Christ. The stipulations of God are that the reborn acknowledge God the Father, and none other than the Father of the Lord Jesus as true God, one in essence, three in person, and worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Then, that by the grace of God the price of redemption has been paid in the ransom of Christ alone. The fullness, i.e., its every cause and part of salvation, is in Christ. Third, that the reborn, putting on the armor of Christ and strengthened in faith, should do the will of God proclaimed in the Word, follow the Holy Spirit that rules and governs, and resist the enemies of the kingdom of God: sin, death, the devil, the world and their voluptuous pleasures. For they are set free from the power of all these through Christ (1 John 2, 5; 1 Peter 2, 5; Rom. 5, 6, 8; Gal. 5; Eph. 4, 5). Therefore, baptism is not a stipulation, either a renunciation, or an obligation, but it is only a sign of God’s stipulation and the renunciation and obligation of Christ, which the Lord made in our name to God. Thus this reason of the stipulation is noted (1 Peter 3; Heb. 6; Gal. 3). Baptizing for the dead means to testify by baptism to the resurrection of the soul from sins, and the resurrection of the body or flesh through Christ. We review and explain the parts of the (Apostles) Creed in baptism. Together with the Holy Spirit, we forbid the administration of the Word and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper by women and by persons not lawfully elected, called, and ordained (as Paul does in 1 Tim. 2 and 1 Cor. 14). We reject baptism of midwives because of the false opinion that unbaptized infants will be redeemed through outward washing, but without it will be damned (Augustine, to Fortunatus, Books 2, 6). They are in error that baptize the unborn infant in its mother’s womb (4 Dist., on consecration). A woman, even if a saint, may not venture to baptize (Council of Carthage). Let no one baptize except a priest.

Those too whom we bar from performing the office of teaching and preaching the Word are likewise excluded from the administration of the sacraments as unfit persons. They suppose that that which is greater is permissible, but that which is less is not. Since Scripture prefers the offices of prophesying and preaching to that of baptism, the greater thing is to preach than to administer baptism. The sign of baptism is not repeated, but what it signifies is repeated (Titus 1; 1 Cor. 9; Gal. 2; 1 Tim. 3). The Baptism of Christ, John, and the Apostles The baptism of Christ was suffering, giving satisfaction, or the payment of the antilytros or price of our redemption. Furthermore it is fire and Spirit, i.e., the power and efficacy of His merit, suffering, death, sacrifice, and resurrection, which is called eternal Spirit, inward sanctification, the grace of God, purification of the Holy Spirit, the washing away of sins, the putting off of the old man and the circumcision of the heart (Rom. 2, 6; Gal. 3, 5; Col. 2; 1 Peter 3). The baptism of John the Baptist was in water, for repentance and remission of sin. That is, John, as a servant, displayed in water the sign of repentance, conversion, or regeneration and remission of sin; he testified to the Messiah by baptism. He baptized in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as did the apostles, with power and efficacy, i.e., the Holy Spirit communicated the thing signified in the promise of baptism in heavenly fashion to the believing elect, as He also does now. The apostles likewise baptized in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, testifying of remission of sin in the grace and merit of Christ (Acts 2, 3, 4, 5, 13; Matt. 16; Luke 24). Baptizing in the name of Jesus signifies two things. First baptizing into the death, resurrection, or in the merit of Christ (Rom. 6; 1 Peter 3; Eph. 5). Then to baptize in the name of the whole Trinity, which has reconciled us with itself in Christ, showing effectively by the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the believing elect by the laying on of hands, which occurred miraculously from the apostles. To baptize for the dead and for the remission of sin is nevertheless to testify by an infallible sign to the resurrection of the dead; the remission of sins on account of Christ, through faith are given to the elect only (Acts 2; 1 Cor. 15).

Will the Unbaptized Perish?

All those who are not baptized by fire and the Holy Spirit in the inward washing of Christ will be lost as vessels of wrath, even if they have been baptized outwardly. The elect, however, even if (because of sudden death) they have not been baptized, have nevertheless been baptized inwardly by the Holy Spirit in fire, i.e., in the merit of Christ and the grace of God.

Of this, it is said: if someone is not born of water and Spirit, i.e., from the grace of God in the merit of Christ through the Holy Spirit purifying him internally, he will not be saved.

Do the Sacraments Confer Grace and Give Salvation?

The outward signs of the sacraments, because they are corruptible things, will be lost, as Christ says in John 6 (Lombard, Book 4, Dist. 18). They cannot bestow salvation, are not able to confer grace, but only testify of the grace of God and salvation in Christ, which is spiritually exhibited to the elect in the promise. Thus Scripture teaches (Augustine, Book 9, on John; Book 8, on the Psalms).”I baptize you with water” (John 1:26), the Messiah will baptize with fire and Spirit. “The fathers ate manna and died” (John 6:49). Judas ate the sacrament and perished (Council of Orange).

Concerning the Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament consisting of things earthly and heavenly, in memory of the passion and death of Christ, for the strengthening of our faith, the heavenly sustenance of our souls, signifying our communion and union with Christ and the church of Christ (1 Cor. 10, 11; Matt. 26; John 6; Augustine, Book 5; Epistle 118; Book 9, on John; sermons 21, 26, 49; Lombard, Book 4, Dist. 8). The essence of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper: first, the sign is bread and wine; this is called the foundation. The thing signified or the object of the sacrament is the body and blood of Christ, or the new covenant, i.e., the efficacy of Christ’s body and blood, remission of sin, the gift of the Holy Spirit, reconciliation. The logicians (dialectici) call this the end, the purpose (terminus). The relation is the appointing of the signs to the proclamation of the memory of Christ, i.e., the form itself and the legitimate goal of the Supper (Chrysostom, sermon on the Lord’s Supper on John chap. 6; Ambrose, On the Sacrament; 1 Cor. 11).

These things are necessarily required for the essence of the Lord’s Supper. For just as it is impossible for the substance and matter of our souls and bodies to be the same, or that things heavenly or spiritual be of the same matter as bodily things, so it is impossible for the sign and the thing signified (the bread and the body of Christ) to be the same in substance and matter. The substance of the sacrament would be destroyed if the bread were to become the body of Christ in matter and substantial form. The true sacrament has to consist of two distinct and separate matters and forms (Matt. 26; John 1, 15; Ignatius, to the Philippians; Clement, Book 2; Justin Martyr, Second Apology; Irenaeus, Book 4, chap. 34). As the proclamations show (the bread is the body, the cup is the wine or the new testament), circumcision is a covenant, Christ a rock, a vine, a lamb. Therefore, we repudiate the papist transubstantiation. We also deny that the tokens of the Lord’s Supper (bread, wine and cup) become really substantially the things symbolized, i.e., body, blood and the new testament, because to teach that is tantamount to transubstantiation. For one species cannot become in substance another form and type, unless it possesses the substance and form of that other species. That can only be through transubstantiation. The bread is not in substance the body of Christ unless it possesses the substance, matter, and form of the body of Christ. Therefore, the substantiators and the transubstantiators are eaters of flesh and fall into the trap of contradictions.

The union of the sign and the thing signified takes place in the sharing of purpose and name (Augustine, Books 8, 9). The signs (the bread and wine) only assume the names of the things signified, i.e., the body and blood, not their essence or form on account of the mystery of signification. Furthermore, these signs assume the names of the things signified so as to present and display the heavenly, spiritual, and mystical character of the signs signified to the soul through faith in the promise; just as the signs are present to the mouth bodily and displayed to the body presently, so the things signified, the body and blood of Christ, are really present to our souls (not our bodies) spiritually, through faith in the promise, and are exhibited to elect believers.

The wicked receive only the bare signs, being destitute of faith by which it is possible to receive the things signified. The believing elect receive in the promise by faith the sign together with the thing signified, for they possess both the hand and the mouth of body and soul, i.e., faith.

Christ is present, the body and blood of Christ and the communion of the real body are present in person in the Supper, but spiritually in the promise and are present through faith to the regenerated soul. They are not present through the bread, in the bread, under the bread, but on account of the promise and in the promise. The flesh of Christ is not communicated bodily to the body, but to the soul spiritually. Christ does not say: let this bread become my body. Rather He said, “This is my body:’ By the name of His body, He indicated (insignit) bread. The fathers all teach thus. Those who call the Lord’s Supper a miracle speak foolishness; as well as those who defend  transubstantiation and the presence of the body by the nature of a miracle, whereas sacrament and miracle are very different with regard to both their species and differentia. The virgin conceives by the Holy Spirit in one way; and Christ is lamb, vine, and rock, worm, lion, sin in another way.

The Bread Is the Body

Paul and Luke explain the phrase “This is my blood” figuratively through metonymy, putting the effect for the cause; thus is explained, “This cup is the new testament in my blood:’ Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10, expounds the expression “This is my body” figuratively: The bread is communion of the body of Christ (v. 16), to show in what sense the signs are mystically (mystice) or sacramentally united with the things signified; and that the body and blood of Christ are communicated to us spiritually and in a mystical use by faith in the promise, not bodily; and that we are united to Christ spiritually, not bodily. Therefore, they do right such as Bede, Origen, Nazianzus and others, that explain the expressions “This is my body” and “This is my blood” metonymically, i.e., a sign or figure of the body of Christ (Lombard, Book 4, Sentences; Augustine, Book 9, on John). For God (Gen. 17) and Paul (Rom. 4) explain the expression”Circumcision is a covenant;” as “It is a sign of the covenant, the seal of the righteousness of faith” (v. 11). We repudiate the foolish words of the pettifoggers, as those of sacramentarians and eaters of flesh. The fathers teach, as do the papist teachers on the Creed that Christ ascended into the heavens according to the flesh. The bread we receive in the Lord’s Supper, from whatever seed or grain it may be baked, is only bread. Whatever kind and form of bread the church uses commonly and in ordinary life, the same is administered at the Lord’s Supper. So did Christ and the apostles in general, for Christ also used ordinary bread when He took unleavened bread, and the apostles, when they took leavened bread. Whatever bread was used in Judea, Greece, Asia, Europe, and Africa, that the apostles used without any superstition We condemn those who superstitiously bewitch the conscience, force the bread of the Antichrist with altars and popish rubbish. Among the weak for a time, we tolerate this matter and form of immolation along with altar and vestments, for they are condemned with the same name of anathemas. But where the weak have been strengthened in their faith, there we eject from the church signs and titles, or bonds of idolatry, altars, images and popish vestments together with the superstitious bread. For we do not wish to emulate the pope as Antichrist in his bread and rubbish (Isa. 44; Zech. 9), but we desire to follow Christ and the apostles in a free and holy manner. Finally, we reject these signs of idolatry from the church in order that they may not shame and ruin posterity. Third, Scripture requires that the substance, purpose, and name of idolatry be abolished among the pious (Hos. 2). Whatever the color of the wine is, we approve it. Whatever liquid men use in their countries for wine that we use in the Supper. We forbid the use at the Lord’s Supper of milk and meat. We have no precepts about the kind, form, or quality of the bread and wine. The Council of Florence: the body of Christ is made from bread both leavened and unleavened. Platina testifies in the Life of Gregory that the Roman Church used leavened bread until the year 111; and he says that it was the First Council of Alexandria that established unleavened bread. Nicephorus states that the churches used leavened bread. Pope Gregory says that whether we use leavened or unleavened bread, we become one body (on Kings). We permit reception of the sacrament by hand or mouth. But since through superstition, they dare not take it in their hands, we give it into their hands following the example of Christ; we present it to all communicants in this manner. We receive it standing or seated as we please. We forbid the superstition of genuflecting, bowing down, and spreading out the hands, as these are signs of adoration.

Concerning the Presence of Christ

The whole of Christ personally, together with the whole Trinity in being, in power, and in presence fills all things everywhere (Epiphanius, On Heresies, Book 3.2; Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh; Lombard, Book 4, Dist. 10). Christ is present everywhere according to His divine nature and power, for the divinity of Jesus is infinite (Origen, Book 3, on Matthew 18, 26, 28; Lombard, Book 4, Dist. 10; Augustine, Tractate 50; Book 9; Ambrose, Book 3; Pss. 3, 10, 14).

According to the nature of His human body and its property of location, He ascended into heaven by a change of place and sits in one certain location (Basil, letter 44; on the Holy Spirit). Christ according to His body occupies a definite place on the right hand of God. Christ the man, with regard to His body, is present in two ways (On Consecration, D. 2; Irenaeus, Book 3; Hilary, Book 8; On the Trinity). First, by His power, efficacy, and spiritual union and communion, as the vine is present in the branches, and the head is present in the members through the veins by the sharing of its natural strength. In this way, the body of Christ is spiritually present to the reborn soul through true faith in the promise, by the work of the Holy Spirit. Further, with regard to the unity of His person, insofar as the body and the Word (logos) are one entity (hyphistamenon), He is one infinite person (so says Augustine on John 3 and 6; letter to Dardanus). Insofar as the flesh is not one with the Word (i.e., in nature and property), He is not present. But insofar as He is one with the Word (i.e., in personal union, in efficacy and merit of redemption), to that extent the body is present with the Word to the elect (chapters 7 and 8 of the 5th Council of Constantinople teach the personal union of the natures and the presence of the body in that personal union; Augustine, Book 9; on John, chap. 3; Cyril; Chrysostom, the same in the same place; Augustine, on Psalms 77, 98; Books 8, 9; on John, chaps. 3, 6; Fulgentius, Book 2, to Trasamundum). What is Participation of the Natural Bread with the Body of Christ?

Since Cyril, Hilary, and Chrysostom say that we are naturally united with Christ by the eating of His body (just as Hilary writes of the Trinity in Book 8; Chrysostom, Cyril, and Theophylact, on John, chap. 6), they teach the same concerning natural participation. They do not mean the carnal combination of the body of Christ with our bodies in the way that foods are combined with our bodies; nor that the union of His body with our souls takes place by bodily digestion (Augustine, on John, chaps. 5, 6, 15). But as Christ explained metaphorically, the eating of His body and our union with it by the parable of the vine and the branches (John 5, 6, 15), but Paul of the head and the body (Eph. 4; 1 Cor. 12), so the fathers understand natural participation metaphorically. For as the vine is naturally and really or truly shares itself with the branches, the head with the members, so Christ shares Himself and His own power really with the elect in a heavenly and spiritual manner (2 Cor. 5; Gal. 3, 5; Ezek. 11), through the substantial and natural operation of the Holy Spirit. He regenerates us by His own real grace, forming us into new creatures and giving us new hearts and spirits.

However, this spiritual participation takes place in a heavenly fashion and by a mysterious eating; by faith through the Holy Spirit, not by way of carnal alteration or digestion, as occurs in physical generation and digestion. For the body of Christ is not digested, nor is it combined with our bodies like digestible food; but the body of Christ communes with reborn souls by faith, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, the fullness of God that dwells within Him (John 5, 6, 15; Col. 1, 2). So Cyril and Hilary explain themselves. Indeed, Christ says that His body is profitable and we eat it by the Spirit and faith. Christ’s dwelling in it, His sharing it, or the heavenly and spiritual communion are to the spiritual part of our souls, namely, takes place spiritually in the spiritual benefits of Christ, i.e., communion in the righteousness and life of Christ, and not as if the substance of the body of Christ were combined with our bodies like other foods. However, it is called natural or real participation because the true spiritual benefits of Christ are communicated to us by faith and really nourish our souls, as foods nourish our bodies. Therefore, natural participation signifies spiritual communion. What Sort of Locution is “This is my body”?

Also Concerning the Eating of the Body of Christ

We eat the body of Christ first sacramentally in a mystery, according to the recognition and connection of the sign to the thing signified, i.e., insofar as the sign has the name “body” and the sacrament is from the institution of God. To that extent, we eat not the thing, nor the substance of the body, but the figure or sign; the mystery of the body is contained in the name (On Consecration, D. 2). Thus the good and the bad eat the mysterious body of Christ in the sign, but they do not, as Cyprian puts it, chew bodily the substance of the body. For as Cyprian says (on the Lord’s Supper), the body of Christ, chewed and digested, would be of no profit. All the fathers teach this in their explanations of John and in dissertations on the Lord’s Supper.

The other eating is the spiritual or heavenly. This takes place only through faith and in the promise. However, the spiritual eating means that we receive Christ with true faith in the promise, together with His body and all His benefits by the work of the Holy Spirit, that we may draw from Christ as a living fountain salvation, righteousness and life, and may apply them to our souls by the heavenly union and bond, as the vine communicates naturally and really life-giving vigor and life to the branches, and the head to the members. And this eating in faith (i.e., the application and communication of benefits drawn from the body of Christ) takes place through the operation of the Holy Spirit. Faith is the instrument of eating. However, the eating of the body itself is the act of faith in the eating (i.e., the application and imparting to us of the spiritual benefits of Christ) and the fruit of faith, which draws from the body of Christ life and righteousness (thus the fathers teach concerning John 6). Further, the spiritual soul (anima spiritualis) draws spiritual benefits from the body of Christ with its spiritual instrument, by its mouth, i.e., its faith, from the hands of the spiritual ministers, i.e., the Holy Spirit, by spiritual means, namely, from the promise; and that soul is united and enlivened not by combination or blending with the substance and material of the flesh of Christ, but by the spiritual benefits, i.e., the righteousness, salvation, and life drawn from the body of Christ; and it is with these that the soul is united and by which it lives (Ambrose, On the Sacrament, Book 5, chap. 4; On Consecration, D. 2; Augustine, on John 6). As is the soul, so must the spiritual food be on which it lives; the body of Christ, however, is a body. Therefore, the soul does not fuse with the flesh of Christ, but with the spiritual blessings laid up in the body of Christ. As the infant takes into its mouth its mother’s breast, but is united with the milk and not with the flesh of the breast, so the soul receives by faith the body of Christ, but in the promise drinks in spiritual blessings, draws to itself heavenly benefits from the body of Christ and is united to them.

How Do Cyprian, Ambrose, Theophylact, and Chrysostom Teach That the Nature of the Elements of the Sacrament Are Changed?

The fathers speak of a figurative (mystica), spiritual, and sacramental change, not a bodily change of the elements (Augustine, on Matthew 26, Luke 22, Tractate on the Supper on John 6), i.e., they do not say that the substance or matter and form of the elements is lost, as the believer’s in transubstantiation foolishly do, but that their nature remains, i.e., the substance, matter and form, the substantial and accidental aspects of the elements (which they sum up as their “nature”): the use, purpose, and condition are changed. Just as the nature of men is changed in regeneration into a heavenly nature, even though the body and soul of a man remains. Ambrose adduces this and other similar examples of change, and in Book 4, chapter 4 he says, concerning the sacraments and those who have been initiated into the sacraments, that when consecration takes place the bread becomes the body of Christ, not by the taking away of the substance of the bread, but by the bestowing upon the bread the grace of the body of Christ and thence imposing “body of Christ” by name. By the consecration of the bread by giving thanks and by means of the priest, the bread is freed from the appellation “bread” and is deemed worthy of assuming the name of the body of Christ; although the nature of bread remains in it (Chrysostom, to the Emperor; On the Monastic Life). Cyprian: the bread has changed not in its image or form but in its nature, and has become body by means of the omnipotent power of the Word. For the purpose of imparting the Holy Spirit, it has gone as far as the closest fraternal association, but not to consubstantiality. We helpless mortals have been taught by palpable evidence that the effect of the life is in the sacraments, that we are not so much united with Christ by a bodily translation as a spiritual one. The body of Christ does not profit us if we eat it, baked and cooked, with our mouths (Ambrose, On the Sacraments, Book 5). The holy bread entered the sin-polluted mouth of Judas. Therefore, the wicked do not eat the body of Christ, save sacramentally. Even those that eat worthily do not eat the body of Christ with their mouths; just as His body is not given to the body, rather the soul of the elect receives in heavenly fashion the whole of Christ by faith in the promise, really and truly as John 6 declares (Augustine, Cyril, Chrysostom, Theophylact; John 6; 1 Cor. 11; On Consecration, D. 2; Augustine, on Psalms; Jerome, on Leviticus). The apostle also teaches that the blessed eat the bread worthily and that he that eats it unworthily eats damnation. The apostle does not say that he who eats the body of Christ worthily or unworthily sins against His body, but he that eats the Lord’s bread worthily or unworthily. He that eats the Lord’s body will live; the wicked will die; therefore, they do not eat it. The body of Christ may only be received by faith, and the wicked have no faith. The fathers also teach that the reprobate receive the sacrament alone, without the object reality) of the sacrament, i.e., without the body and the new covenant. For the object of the sacrament is the body, the blood, and the new covenant (as these sayings reveal, “The bread is my body, the cup is a new covenant”) (Lombard, Book 4, Dist, 9, 12). The scholastics wickedly divide the object of the sacrament into separable cause and effect, as if the wicked received the body of Christ, but not its effect, i.e., remission of sin, grace, and life. Jesus says, “He that eats my body will live” (cf. John 6:55). So say Irenaeus, Augustine, and Cyprian concerning the object of the sacrament. As we have testified above according to the evidence and interpretations of Paul and the fathers (Tertullian, against Marcion; Cyprian, sermon on the Lord’s Supper; Augustine, sermon, ad infae.; Book 9, on John, chap. 6; on Psalm 98; On Consecration, D. 2), we maintain this saying to be a figurative expression, i.e., a change of name (methonymicam). Augustine and others call it a change of image (metaphoricam). In the expression”this cup is a new covenant” are both changes of name and of image. The fathers teach that the body of Christ is represented, revealed, and symbolized by the bread of the Lord’s Supper: as Augustine, Ambrose, Origen, Tertullian, Irenaeus and others say. And it is not unusual for the verb is to be used instead of means, especially in the mysterious, figurative, and sacramental sayings in such as Matthew 13. The reapers are angels (Cyprian, Book 1, letter 6; Epiphanius, Ancoratus; Jerome, to Hidibia; Clement, Book 2, chap. 5; Ambrose, Books 4, 5, on those who have been Initiated into the Sacraments; Augustine, letter 23, to Boniface). The bread in characteristic fashion is called the body of Christ, in accordance not with the righteousness of the thing, but with its mysterious significance, as the sacrifice of the priest is called the passion of Christ (On Consecration, D. 2; Jerome, on Ephesians).

The Vessels of the Lord’s Supper

Scripture mentions a drinking vessel or cup. Therefore, we accept any kind of vessel, be it of glass, wood, gold, silver, and clay, or of brass and any kind of metal, only avoiding abuse, luxury, superstition, and disgrace. We reject popish chalices and patens on the grounds of superstitious abuse. For the Lord wishes that the remnants of Baal be banished from the church, so that we should not even name them (+los. 13:2; 2, ?3). “I will take from their mouths the innocent blood and draw from between their teeth their loathsome prey” (Zech. 9:7; Ezek. 16; Baruch 6; Nah. 1, 2; Hag. 1, 2).

Altars belonged to the sacrificial priesthood of the Old Testament and along with sacrifice represented the death and cross or immolation of Christ. They were figures, shadows, or parables, and, together with the Aaronic vestments, signified the priesthood and advent of Christ. With the sending of Christ, therefore, the old sacrificial rite ceased — sacrifice, altar, vestments, together with all the ceremonies pertaining to the Old Testament priesthood, as darkness flees at the coming of light (Heb. 7, 8, 10; 1 Cor. 10; Col. 2). They act against the advent and priesthood of Christ that seek to institute the figures of altars and the Levitical priesthood, and deny that Christ was sent as the true embodiment and light of the Old Testament shadows. Christ, the apostles, and the prophets wore everyday clothing, even when distributing the sacraments. Thus now too, pious priests may wear modest, everyday attire. Even the councils forbid superstitious luxury in the clothing of bishops and priests (On Consecration, D. 11; decree of Pope Lucius; Constantinople, 6).

“The Hungarian Confessio Catholica (1562),” in Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, ed., James T. Dennison, (Grand Rapids Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010), 2:4508-524. [Underlining mine.]

[Brief Biographical information from Dennison:

This confession with three names–Debrecen, Catholica, Agrovalliensis–is a lengthy Reformed confession written at the request of the church in Debrecen in 1561 by Peter Mélius Juhász (1536-1572) and Gregory Szegedi (1511-1569). György Ceglédi/Czeglédi, Protestant pastor at Varad/Nagyvarad, is also regarded as a joint author. The Confessio catholica de praecipuis fidei articulis exhibita was then printed with the title Confessio Agrovalliensis (“Confession of the Eger Valley”) in 1562 because the Reformed church in the Eger Valley (Egervölgyi) had asked the Debrecen church to send them a copy of the Mélius-Szegedi document.

Agrivalliensis or the Eger Valley is a region in northeastern Hungary where a small fort manned by about 2,000 citizens had courageously turned back a long siege by the Ottoman Turks a decade earlier (1552). The Protestant faith took hold of these folk with so much power that the Habsburg emperor, Ferdinand I (1503-1564), accused the city of treason, i.e., rejection of the Roman Catholic faith as promulgated by the Counter-Reformation Jesuit Council of Nagyszombat (Trnava, Tyrnau) on April 23, 1560. Having learned of Mélius and Szegedi’s confession, the believers in Eger asked that they be permitted to send a copy of the Debrecen Confession to the king. However, they asked that the cover or title page be altered from its original wording, Confessio catholica or Confessio Debreceniensis, to that listed above. The valiant soldiers, nobles, and common citizens gathered to swear their allegiance via this statement of “true and Catholic faith and doctrine:’ King Ferdinand had threatened to remove their pastor, but based on this confession, the citizens of Eger refused and declared that they would abandon the fort as a defense against the Turks if they were not permitted to retain their pastor and their confession. This action is the first substantive example of a congregation in Hungary swearing the Reformed faith in concert.

A consequence of the adoption of the confession was a formal separation between the Saxon Hungarians who favored the Lutheran Augustan Confession, and the Reformed Hungarians who favored the Reformed theology of Geneva, Zurich, and Strasbourg. Matthias Hebler (11571) was the leader of the Lutheran faction which officially separated in 1564 following the Council of Enyed (modern Aiud in Romania).]

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