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V. Of The Sacrament Of The Altar
In the same manner as we have heard regarding Holy Baptism, we must speak
also concerning the other Sacrament, namely, these three points: What is it?
What are its benefits? and, Who is to receive it? And all these are established by
the words by which Christ has instituted it, and which every one who desires to
be a Christian and go to the Sacrament should know. For it is not our intention to
admit to it and to administer it to those who know not what they seek, or why they
come. The words, however, are these:
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread;
and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and gave it to His disciples, and
said, Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you: this do in remembrance of
After the same manner also He took the cup when He had supped, gave thanks,
and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; this cup is the new testament in My
blood, which is shed for you for the remission of sins: this do ye, as oft as ye
drink it, in remembrance of Me.
Here also we do not wish to enter into controversy and contend with the
traducers and blasphemers of this Sacrament, but to learn first (as we did
regarding Baptism) what is of the greatest importance, namely that the chief point
is the Word and ordinance or command of God. For it has not been invented nor
introduced by any man, but without any one's counsel and deliberation it has
been instituted by Christ. Therefore, just as the Ten Commandments, the Lord's
Prayer, and the Creed retain their nature and worth although you never keep,
pray, or believe them, so also does this venerable Sacrament remain
undisturbed, so that nothing is detracted or taken from it, even though we employ
and dispense it unworthily. What do you think God cares about what we do or
believe, so that on that account He should suffer His ordinance to be changed?
Why, in all worldly matters every thing remains as God has created and ordered
it, no matter how we employ or use it. This must always be urged, for thereby the
prating of nearly all the fanatical spirits can be repelled. For they regard the
Sacraments, aside from the Word of God, as something that we do.
Now, what is the Sacrament of the Altar!
Answer: It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in and under the
bread and wine which we Christians are commanded by the Word of Christ to eat
and to drink. And as we have said of Baptism that it is not simple water, so here
also we say the Sacrament is bread and wine, but not mere bread and wine,
such as are ordinarily served at the table, but bread and wine comprehended in,
and connected with, the Word of God.