Thomas Ken and "the real communication" of the Lord's Body and Blood

Lord I believe, that the Bread that we break, and the Cup that we drink, are not bare signs only, but the real Communication of Thy Body, and Thy Bloud, and pledges to assure me of it, and I verily believe, that if with due preparation I come to Thy Altar, as certainly as I receive the Outward Signs, so certainly shall I receive the thing signified, even Thy most Blessed Body and Bloud, to receive which inestimable Blessing, O merciful Lord, do Thou fit and prepare me. Amen, Amen  - Thomas Ken, A Manual of Prayers for the Use of the Scholars of Winchester College (1675).

Ken's prayer abounds with classic motifs of Reformed eucharistic theology: "the real Communication" of the Lord's Body and Blood, "due preparation" (the need for faithful reception), and the conjunction of sign and thing signified.

This is seen when we compare Ken's words with those of Calvin:

Hence when we see the visible sign we must consider what it represents, and by whom it has been given us. The bread is given us to figure the body of Jesus Christ, with command to eat it, and it is given us of God, who is certain and immutable truth. If God cannot deceive or lie, it follows that it accomplishes all which it signifies. We must then truly receive in the Supper the body and blood of Jesus Christ, since the Lord there represents to us the communion of both ...

We must confess, then, that if the representation which God gives us in the Supper is true, the internal substance of the sacrament is conjoined with the visible signs; and as the bread is distributed to us by the hand, so the body of Christ is communicated to us in order that we may be made partakers of it - Short Treatise on the Supper of the Lord, 16 & 17.

Ken, staunch High Churchman and later Non-Juror, points to how the sacramental piety of the High Church tradition was an expression of the richness of Reformed eucharistic theology.


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