53.Verily, verily, I say to you. The just resentment which Christ felt, (159) when he saw his grace rejected with such haughty disdain, constrained him to employ this oath. For he does not now make use of simple doctrine, but likewise mingles threatenings for the purpose of striking terror. He denounces eternal perdition against all who refuse to seek life from his flesh; as if he had said, “ you hold my flesh in contempt, rest assured that there remains for you no other hope of life.” The vengeance that awaits all despisers of the grace of Christ is, that with their pride they miserably perish; and the reason why they must be urged with plainness and severity is, that they may not continue to flatter themselves. For if we threaten with death those diseased persons who refuse to take medicines, what must we do with wicked men, when they strive, as far as lies in their power, to destroy life itself?
Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man. When he saysthe flesh of the Son of man, the expression is emphatic; for he reproves them for their contempt, which arose from perceiving that he resembled other men. The meaning therefore is: “ me as much as you please, on account of the mean and despicable appearance of my flesh, still that despicable flesh containslife; and if you are destitute of it, you will nowhere else find any thing else to quicken you.”
The ancients fell into a gross error by supposing that little children were deprived of eternal life, if they did not dispense to them the eucharist, that is, the Lord’ Supper; (160) for this discourse does not relate to the Lord’ Supper, but to the uninterrupted communication of the flesh of Christ, (161) which we obtain apart from the use of the Lord’ Supper. Nor were the Bohemians in the right, when they adduced this passage to prove that all without exception ought to be admitted to the use of the cup. With respect to young children, the ordinance of Christ forbids them to partake of the Lord’ Supper; because they are not yet able to know or to celebrate the remembrance of the death of Christ. The same ordinance makes the cup common to all, for it commands us all to drink of it, (Mat_26:27.)