"In the heavenly effect": Taylor and the unseen gift in the Eucharist

Following on from yesterday's post, we see the same dynamic Augustinian emphasis on the contrast between sight and faith, sign and thing signified in Jeremy Taylor's The Real Presence and Spiritual of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. He quotes from Augustine referring to the John 6 discourse:

That which I have spoken, is to be understood spiritually: ye are not to eat that body, which ye see: I have commended a sacrament to you, which, being understood spiritually, will give you life (3.21).

Taylor emphasises that "being understood spiritually" is not to be placed in opposition to 'Real'.  Earlier in the same work he declared "the spiritual is also a real presence" (1.6).  Now, following the quote from Augustine, he again affirms:

here is reality enough in the spiritual sumption to verify these words of Christ, without a thought of any bodily eating his flesh (3.21).

Thus, of the gift of the Lord's body and blood, he says:

It is not touched by the body, it is not seen with the eyes (3.13).

And so, "Christ is really taken by faith, by the Spirit", not "taken by the mouth" (1.13), for the 'This' in the words of Institution refers to "not this which you see, but this which you do not see" (6.8).  What, then, of what is seen?  Against transubstantiation, Taylor insists on its reality:

Shall we now say, our eyes are deceived, our ears hear a false sound, our taste is abused, our hands are mistaken? It is answered, Nay; our senses are not mistaken (10.2).

But the Augustinian contrast calls us to move beyond what is seen and sensed:

for, in this case, we do not finally rely upon sense, or resolve all into it; but we trust it only for so much as it ought to be trusted for; but we do not finally rest upon it, but upon faith, and look not on the things proposed, but attend to the words of Christ, and though we see it to be bread, we also believe it to be his body, in that sense which he intended (10.8).

That "sense which he intended" is, Taylor insists, "The doctrine of the church of England, and generally of the Protestants":

It is bread in substance, Christ in the sacrament; and Christ is as really given to all that are truly disposed, as the symbols are; each as they can; Christ as Christ can be given; the bread and wine as they can; and to the same real purposes, to which they are designed; and Christ does as really nourish and sanctify the soul, as the elements do the body (1.4).

This draws us to understand the significance of the dynamic contrast between sign and thing signified, "for the spiritual sense is the most real, and most true":

Christ is more truly and really present in spiritual presence, than in corporal, in the heavenly effect, than in the natural being (1.7).

Because there is a dynamic contrast between sign and thing signified, because "the conversion is figurative, mysterious, and sacramental" rather than "proper, natural, and corporal" (1.13), the mystery is deeper, the encounter with and participation in the Crucified and Risen Lord is more - not less - real:

and, therefore, we are, to the most real purposes, and in the proper sense of Scripture, the more real defenders of the real presence of Christ in the sacrament (1.7).


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