The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
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What do you say, O blessed Paul? When you would appeal to the hearer's reverence, when you are making mention of awful mysteries, do you give the title of cup of blessing to that fearful and most tremendous cup? Yea, says he; and no mean title is that which was spoken. For when I call it 'blessing,' I mean thanksgiving, and when I call it thanksgiving I unfold all the treasure of God's goodness, and call to mind those mighty gifts. Since we too, recounting over the cup the unspeakable mercies of God and all that we have been made partakers of, so draw near to Him, and communicate; giving Him thanks that He has delivered from error the whole race of mankind ; that being afar off, He made them near; that when they had no hope and were without God in the world, He constituted them His own brethren and fellow-heirs. For these and all such things, giving thanks, thus we approach. How then are not your doings inconsistent, says he, O you Corinthians; blessing God for delivering you from idols, yet running again to their tables?
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the Blood of Christ? Very persuasively spoke he, and awfully. For what he says is this: This which is in the cup is that which flowed from His side, and of that do we partake. But he called it a cup of blessing, because holding it in our hands, we so exalt Him in our hymn, wondering, astonished at His unspeakable gift, blessing Him, among other things, for the pouring out of this self-same draught that we might not abide in error: and not only for the pouring it out, but also for the imparting thereof to us all. Wherefore if you desire blood, says He, redden not the altar of idols with the slaughter of brute beasts, but My altar with My blood. Tell me, What can be more tremendous than this? What more tenderly kind? This also lovers do. When they see those whom they love desiring what belongs to strangers and despising their own, they give what belongs to themselves, and so persuade them to withdraw themselves from the gifts of those others. Lovers, however, display this liberality in goods and money and garments, but in blood none ever did so. Whereas Christ even herein exhibited His care and fervent love for us. And in the old covenant, because they were in an imperfect state, the blood which they used to offer to idols He Himself submitted to receive, that He might separate them from those idols; which very thing again was a proof of His unspeakable affection: but here He transferred the service to that which is far more awful and glorious, changing the very sacrifice itself, and instead of the slaughter of irrational creatures, commanding to offer up Himself.
4. The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the Body of Christ? Wherefore said he not, the participation? Because he intended to express something more and to point out how close was the union: in that we communicate not only by participating and partaking, but also by being united. For as that body is united to Christ, so also are we united to him by this bread.
But why adds he also, which we break? For although in the Eucharist one may see this done, yet on the cross not so, but the very contrary. For, A bone of Him, says one, shall not be broken. But that which He suffered not on the cross, this He suffers in the oblation for your sake, and submits to be broken, that he may fill all men.
Further, because he said, a communion of the Body, and that which communicates is another thing from that whereof it communicates; even this which seems to be but a small difference, he took away. For having said, a communion of the Body, he sought again to express something nearer.