WEDNESDAY AFTER TRINITY SUNDAY
OF OTHER FIGURES OF THE BLESSED EUCHARIST
Consider first, that the sacrifice of Melchisedech, Gen. xiv. 28, in bread and wine, was another figure of the sacrifice and sacrament of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, as Melchisedech himself and his priesthood was an illustrious figure of Christ and his eternal priesthood, as we learn from Psalm cx. 4, and Heb. vii. And so like wise in the law of Moses, all those sacrifices commonly called peace-offerings, in which both the priest and the people were partakers of the victim, were also figures of Christ sacrificed for us and received by us. So many ways was the divine majesty pleased, both before the law and in the law, to show forth to us not only the sacrifice in which his Son should be both our priest and victim, but also the sacrament by which he should communicate his own flesh to us. Learn from hence, my soul, what reverence, what devotion thou owest to these tremendous mysteries, the very figures of which were so sacred and so venerable. It was a great crime if any one that was not clean and pure presumed to approach these ancient sacrifices what purity, then, is the Christian obliged to bring with him when he approaches the truth, of which these were but the shadows.
Consider 2ndly, that God appointed twelve loaves, made of fine flour, to stand always in his temple, before the veil of the Sanctum Sanctorum, or the inward sanctuary, placed there upon a table, made for that purpose of incorruptible wood, and overlaid with gold; and that the clearest frankincense should be put upon them; ‘that the bread might be for a memorial of the oblation of the Lord, by an everlasting covenant,’ Lev. xxiv. 5, 6, 7, 8. These loaves, called the holy bread, and the loaves of proposition or shew-bread, were also a figure of the holy Eucharist. They always stood before the Lord in his temple, as an offering made to him by his people, as a figure of that solemn offering which should be afterwards daily made under the form of bread in the church of Christ; the clearest frankincense was put upon them, to denote the pure prayer and devotion with which this offering was to be made; and they stood before the veil with the golden candlestick and the altar of perfumes, to signify that the sovereign means to bring our souls to God and to introduce us within the veil, into his eternal sanctuary, would be the right use of the bread of life which we have in the blessed Eucharist, joined with devout prayer and the lights and graces of the Spirit of God, signified by the seven branches of the golden candlestick.
Consider 3rdly, that the tree of life planted in the midst of the earthly Paradise, Gen. ii. 9, ‘was also a figure of the blessed sacrament.’ The fruit of this tree had that excellent property that if sin had not banished us from that happy abode we should have been maintained thereby in a constant vigour, strength, and health, and so should have never died. O how well does the blessed Eucharist answer this noble figure! seeing we here feed upon life itself in its very source, and by frequently and worthily approaching it receive a plentiful supply of heavenly grace, for the maintaining of the vigour, strength, and health of the soul; that so we may never incur the second death, but may pass from life to life, from the life of grace to the life of glory; from life concealed under sacramental veils to life seen and enjoyed without shadow or change to all eternity.
Conclude, from all these ancient types and figures, so noble and so expressive of the blessed Eucharist and its fruits, to raise thy thoughts and heart above this earth and all that is earthly in the use of this heavenly sacrament. And assure thyself that this divine mystery, so many ways prefigured both in the law of nature and in the law of Moses, must needs be something far superior to all types and figures.