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In conclusion, since we have now the true understanding and doctrine of the
Sacrament, there is indeed need of some admonition and exhortation, that men
may not let so great a treasure which is daily administered and distributed among
Christians pass by unheeded, that is, that those who would be Christians make
ready to receive this venerable Sacrament often. For we see that men seem
weary and lazy with respect to it; and there is a great multitude of such as hear
the Gospel, and, because the nonsense of the Pope has been abolished, and we
are freed from his laws and coercion, go one, two, three years, or even longer
without the Sacrament, as though they were such strong Christians that they
have no need of it; and some allow themselves to be prevented and deterred by
the pretense that we have taught that no one should approach it except those
who feel hunger and thirst, which urge them to it. Some pretend that it is a matter
of liberty and not necessary, and that it is sufficient to believe without it; and thus
for the most part they go so far that they become quite brutish, and finally
despise both the Sacrament and the Word of God.
Now, it is true, as we have said, that no one should by any means be coerced or
compelled, lest we institute a new murdering of souls. Nevertheless, it must be
known that such people as deprive themselves of, and withdraw from, the
Sacrament so long a time are not to be considered Christians. For Christ has not
instituted it to be treated as a show, but has commanded His Christians to eat
and drink it, and thereby remember Him.
And, indeed, those who are true Christians and esteem the Sacrament precious
and holy will urge and impel themselves unto it. Yet that the simple-minded and
the weak who also would like to be Christians be the more incited to consider the
cause and need which ought to impel them, we will treat somewhat of this point.
For as in other matters pertaining to faith, love, and patience, it is not enough to
teach and instruct only, but there is need also of daily exhortation, so here also
there is need of continuing to preach that men may not become weary and
disgusted, since we know and feel how the devil always opposes this and every
Christian exercise, and drives and deters therefrom as much as he can.
And we have, in the first place, the clear text in the very words of Christ: Do this
in remembrance of Me. These are bidding and commanding words by which all
who would be Christians are enjoined to partake of this Sacrament. Therefore,
whoever would be a disciple of Christ, with whom He here speaks, must also
consider and observe this, not from compulsion, as being forced by men, but in
obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to please Him. However, if you say: But
the words are added, As oft as ye do it; there He compels no one, but leaves it to
our free choice, answer: That is true, yet it is not written that we should never do
so. Yea, just because He speaks the words, As oft as ye do it, it is nevertheless