Eighth Conversation Transubstantiation
N*. Good-evening all.
James. Pray sit down, gentlemen.
N*. Well, we are here again to pursue our inquiry into the subject we had arrived at, and examine whether the doctrine of the Romish creed can be held to be the truth. I suppose we may at once enter on the point which it was understood we should speak of—transubstantiation. Perhaps the best way, if our friends agree to it, would be to state from unquestionable Roman Catholic authorities, what the doctrine maintained by them is.
Mr. R. We could not pursue a better method. We can then follow out the proofs and testimony on which it is based, though the plain words of Scripture are the strongest, and it seems to me, conclusive.
N*. Well, we cannot take better authority than the Council of Trent to begin with. “But since Christ our Redeemer said that that which He offered under the form of bread, was truly His body, it has therefore been ever the persuasion of the church, and this holy Synod now anew declares, that, by the consecration of [the] bread and wine, conversion of the whole substance into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord takes place, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood. Which conversion is conveniently and properly called, by the holy Catholic church, transubstantiation.” (Sess. XII, c. 4.)
That we may complete this account I may add the Canons I and II of the same Session XII.
“If any one shall have denied that in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist are contained truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently, a whole Christ; but shall have said that they only are in it as in a sign, or figure, or virtue, let him be anathema.”
“If any shall have said that in the very sacred sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains together with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and shall have denied that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of bread into the body, and of the whole substance of wine into blood, the forms of bread and wine only remaining; which conversion indeed the Catholic church most aptly calls transubstantiation, let him be anathema.”
“If any shall have denied that in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist under each form, and under every part of each form, when separation is made, a whole Christ is contained, let him be anathema.”
Canon VI declares it is to be adored with divine worship.
The Catechism of the Council of Trent, which explains and enlarges on it, is even more precise. (Part ii, c. 4, Sec. 33.) Not only the true body of Christ, and whatever belongs to the true body, as bones and nerves, but also a whole Christ is contained in the sacrament. It is then added, that, by the words of consecration, the bread becomes the body, and the wine the blood; but that, by concomitance the blood, soul and divinity will be with the body in the bread and so conversely of the wine (see 34). What I have now cited gives the doctrines to us on the highest authority, clearly enough. Any reasons of Bellarmine or others we can take up when needed.
R. This is quite sufficient for us as a statement of it.
N*. Well, I affirm all this to be a delusion and a fallacy.
R. That is strong language, Mr. N.; when so many Fathers and holy men have received and taught it, and when it is the common faith of the church in all ages. What you have to meet is the plain statement of Scripture, “This is my body” —words so definite that your own Luther could not get over them.
N*. We will take the statements of Scripture up first then. That it was always the persuasion of the church I wholly deny. That superstition and very high-flown statements are found in the Fathers as to what we receive, I freely admit. But not only was it not the uniform persuasion of the church, but the best known and most esteemed Fathers taught expressly the contrary, and it was not authoritatively established as a dogma in the West, for centuries; and, though gradually dropped into as a general persuasion after John Damascene, never in the Greek church as a body. This we will examine; but before we turn to the Fathers, we will turn to the Scriptures themselves, “This is my body,” and chapter 6 of John’s Gospel.
Allow me however to say that every Christian acknowledges the great and blessed privilege granted to us in the institution of the Lord’s supper—that feeding on Him, though not there only, is the very way of life to the soul. Nor is there anything more touching, than that He, the blessed Saviour, should care that we should remember Him, and should even desire with desire to eat the last Paschal supper with His disciples before He suffered. This is not the question; but whether the bread and wine are physically changed into the body and blood of Christ, so that there is no bread and wine there at all; but that Christ, a whole Christ, and that expressed in a profane way, His bones and nerves, alone is there. They admit that it is called bread after consecration, and seek to account for it, saying it is so called, because it has the appearance of it; as when Abraham saw the three men who really were angels. And that it still retains the quality natural to bread, that of supporting and nourishing the body.
R. But where do you find that admitted?
N*. In Part II, Section 40 of the catechism of the Council of Trent. The difficulty really is of answering what has no solid ground at all. They admit that “the exposition of this mystery is most difficult.” At any rate, it is such that “the whole substance of the bread is changed by the power of God into the whole substance of the body of Christ, and the whole substance of the wine into the whole substance of the blood of Christ, without any change in our Lord” (41). Before we examine the positive statement of Scripture, which really presents no difficulty whatever, there are some difficulties on the Roman Catholic view of it, I should like to present to you. The pouring out the wine into the cup, is, you say, a kind of figure of Christ’s shedding His blood. In Sec. 76 on the Eucharist too, the catechism of the Council of Trent declares that it is the same sacrifice with that of the cross. At any rate the essence of the doctrine we are treating is that the blood of Christ is really there, the wine being changed into it in the cup, and by concomitance the body, which is under the form of bread, also. First, it is inconsistent (and grossly so) to say it is in His body, and shed out of His body too; I have already remarked that if it is in the body, not shed, there is no redemption. Satan has mocked you with a sacrifice of non-redemption. But I go further: Did not Christ shed his blood on the cross for us?
R. Surely, it was a bloody sacrifice.
N*. And now He is entered into glory, though, thank God, and wondrous truth it is, still a man, and there according to the efficacy and power of His precious blood. But He is not there in His body and unshed blood in the state in which He lived on earth.
R. No; He has a spiritual and glorious body and dieth no more. His blood has been shed, and if we speak of His entering in, not without blood, it is as shed upon the cross.
N*. But then, how can we have the body, blood, soul and divinity all in one true present person? By the cup it celebrates His blood being shed. It is the very basis of our hopes. There is then no such whole living Christ, as the One into whom you profess to change the bread, and indeed the wine by concomitance too. As to the cup, it is a contradiction, for it is there professedly as shed, to shew it is, and yet it is in the body all the time. But there is no such Christ now, as a Christ living in flesh and unshed blood: He is glorified in heaven. The Eucharist or Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the cross: that of course (sacramentally if you please) includes shedding of blood of a Christ who first offers Himself alive to God down here: and such you make the bread by consecration. But there is no such Christ; I do not mean merely that you do not put Christ to death now, but there is no Christ now who is such as could die, and shed His blood. He is actually, livingly, in a state in which He cannot be offered in sacrifice. The Christ which is now, though the same blessed Person, as to His state cannot be a Christ on the cross, nor the same sacrifice offered, nor a Christ living in flesh and blood on the earth, capable of being sacramentally or otherwise, so offered. A glorified Christ cannot be a Christ living on earth capable of dying, nor a Christ offered as a victim of propitiation by blood-shedding. You cannot in truth, life, or reality bring Him back into this condition in any sense. He is not now a Christ who can be sacrificed. If you transubstantiate the bread into the Christ that is now, He cannot be a sacrifice, nor one shedding blood, nor flesh and blood as He was: hence not the same sacrifice. You cannot either make Him again what He was on the cross. No such Christ can or ever will, exist.
Is He in the Mass an existing Christ, glorified?
R. No; we hold it is sacramentally His body broken, and blood shed, the sacrifice of the Mass.
N*. Then it is no true Christ. There is none such now. Can He be now truly, really, and substantially the dying Christ on the cross?
R. Well, Christ is now in glory, He cannot die, or be as He was on the cross.
N*. Then you have no Christ in the Eucharist; not a glorified one, for it is His death and blood-shedding which is there set before us, as we all know. Not a dying one on the cross, or the blood yet unshed in the body, for there is no such Christ now. Transubstantiation is a wicked fable, as Mr. D. once owned it. It is neither a glorified, nor a dying Christ, truly really and substantially. It is no Christ at all.
Bill M. Well, Mr. R., which do you think it is? for I do not think it can be Christ as He is now in glory, if we think of the cross, because He is not there now; nor such as He was then, and surely it is not a Christ glorified that we have set before us in the Mass, but the sacrifice of Christ. But that cannot be now. I do understand doing it in remembrance, but I cannot see how it can be a glorified Christ, if it be a sacrifice, nor how a Christ as He was on the cross can be really and truly there, for there is none such now. I begin to see into it more clearly than I did.
N*. You have lost a glorified Christ, for He cannot be in any sense a sacrifice again, and a crucified one you cannot have, for there is none such now; and in fact you have lost both.
D. But what then is taught and given to us there?
N*. I have all Christ’s institution, and a most blessed one too. That which we do, as He told us to do in remembrance of Him, and find grace and refreshment, comfort and sanctifying power from Himself in doing it, to say nothing of the deep thanksgiving and deeper affections it awakens in us. I hold it to be as to institutions, the highest privilege. That is not the question, but this conversion of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, His soul and divinity being there, and as I quoted, and the catechism of the Council of Trent says, His bones and nerves.
D. But all the holy Fathers teach it.
N*. I am not concerned in what they teach, but they do nothing of the kind. I do not justify what they say, for the grossest superstition and immorality and heresy is found in them, but they do not teach that. The very doctrine of substance and accidents is scholastic Aristotelism. The system of seven sacraments is from Lombard. In the tenth century it was largely discussed, the greatest doctors denying it, and was never settled as a church dogma till 1215, by the same Pope and council that established the Inquisition, at the time the papacy was in its highest pitch of power, in fact governed the world, and all was in a state of infamous corruption, as we have seen. There is another thing which curiously points out how, when the Canon of the Mass was framed, I suppose substantially in the seventh century, there was no such thought. In consecrating the cup, following, I apprehend, the Vulgate, it reads in reciting Christ’s words at the institution, “which shall be poured out.” That is, it makes Christ not institute a sacrifice or offer Himself at the institution of the Eucharist, but declare that He was going to be sacrificed and His blood shed on the cross. Strange to say, the Canon of the Mass is a positive denial of the pretended sacrifice in the Eucharist. Christ speaks of it as a thing to take place afterwards, not as anything then accomplished in any sense. It is ‘effundetur,’ not ‘effunditur.’
D. But in the Greek it is not so, it is to ekchunomenon.
N*. That merely gives it its character, for it certainly in fact was not poured out yet, and confirms really the general idea. It is the poured out blood which is represented there, and as we have said no such Christ (that is Christ in such state as dead upon the cross, his blood poured out), exists now, while the true spiritual commemoration of it is most precious. But it is not the question, what is in the Greek. First, the Vulgate is the authentic Bible of the Roman Catholics, not the Greek: and secondly, I am not yet inquiring what the truth of the institution is in itself, but shewing that the very Canon of the Mass treats it as no actual offering, but representing what was yet to be accomplished, saying not, “my blood poured out” but “my blood which shall be poured out.”
R. It is curious it should be so put, and the fact is unquestionable. The fact too that the living glorified Christ cannot be sacrificed, and that if it be now a real living true Christ, it must be a glorified One, perplexes me, but I fear reasoning about it. The blessings and benefits of it are more pressed upon us than its nature.
N*. I understand that. The pastor is directed in the catechism of the Council of Trent so to do, except with more mature members of his church. Nor would I deny that in receiving, however false the whole thing is, pious souls may think for themselves of the true sacrifice of Christ upon the cross, though not with intelligence. But if the service itself is false, it is a very serious thing. Your worship is all false, though it may be ignorantly so. If you have a true Christ, body, soul, and divinity there, the only true One is in glory, and cannot be a sacrifice at all: He cannot now in thought or sacramentally be a sacrifice. If it is what was on the cross, there is no such Christ in existence. And remember I am not now reasoning against the sacrifice of the Mass of which we have spoken; but you cannot convert the bread and wine into a true, real living Christ as now in this world and crucified when none such exists, nor into a dead one, for there is none such now. If into a glorious One, He is not in a condition to be a sacrifice. A commemoration of it, done in remembrance of Him, shewing forth His death till He come, that we can all understand, and wonderful grace too, that the Lord can care for such poor creatures remembering Him.
James. It is so indeed, wonderful grace. It seems all plain to me.
Bill M. I see it cannot be a real living Christ there, and it is hard to think that the priest should make Christ out of a piece of bread; but the passage, “This is my body,” what do you make, sir, of that?
D. I was just going to ask the same question, and there are other passages as “the communion of the body of Christ,” and John 6; the unworthy eaters being guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. And why should we cast a doubt on the omnipotency of God?
N*. It is not a question of God’s omnipotency, which, in the true sense of it, no Christian denies. But God has revealed His ways of dealing and acts in grace and truth according to those ways. Thus, working by the Lord Himself or by His followers to confirm the blessed word of His grace, He gave miracles, sensible signs, works of power which all men could see and multitudes did see, so as to accredit those who announced the truth. The miracle was a plain proof of the senses to confirm the testimony. But here the alleged miracle, which is not the revelation of any new truth, is the thing we are called upon to believe; not only with no testimony to it, but with the fullest testimony against it in every possible way, to sight, taste, touch and smell, and even, as is admitted, nourishing powers, it is and remains bread and wine, can be eaten by an animal, decay, become corrupt, nay, we learn from Corinthians could make people drunk, in a word in every way contradicts the alleged miracle, the very idea of which is founded on a heathen philosophical system of substance and accidents adopted by the schoolmen in the middle ages, never dreamt of in the early church, and a chimaera without any real foundation, a mere philosophical thing without proof. Some hidden essence clothed in various appearances, which essence was the substance of bread, while all we can see, taste, or feel, are accidents; the substance becomes, they say, Christ, and these accidents remain. Nor is Christ brought down from above, for then, they say, there would be a change of place1 (Cat. Council of Trent, Euch. Part ii, 37 and 44), and space would be in question which, though they speak of a true body, bones and nerves, is not they admit, tenable. It is a creation of Christ2 there taking the place of what was bread in this philosophical idea of abstract substance. And if Christ does not change His place and come there it must be a creation of His soul too or changing, if they prefer it, the bread into His soul. And is it then the same soul? If it be His soul as in glory, He does not change His place; if not, is it another? Is it His soul, if He has not changed His place? I am called upon, not to believe a divine truth helped by the confirmation of visible works of power addressed to my senses, but a contradiction and a philosophical fancy in admitted contradiction to the evidence of my senses. This is not what Scripture calls a miracle. What is the truth I learn there? Christ’s sacrifice is a truth already revealed, only with a declaration that it cannot be repeated. There is no revelation of any truth in transubstantiation, and no proof of it; but every proof which God does use in miracles contradicting it. And the thing itself, a repetition of Christ’s sacrifice forbidden to the believer by the word of God. It is the contrary to a miracle, and a mere fable. Your appeal to the omnipotence of God, which no one denies— though what is contrary to truth, to what He has revealed, to Himself, He cannot do—is only throwing dust in peoples’ eyes, the wiles of the enemy. The question is what has He done, not what He can do, of which indeed we are no judges, morally speaking. For I repeat He can do nothing inconsistent with Himself or His wisdom. God, it is said, who cannot lie: and of His wisdom we are no competent judges, knowing it only as it is revealed in Christ. Further we know divine truth only as it is revealed. The question is: Has He revealed that in the Lord’s supper He has, and that the priests can turn bread into the body, blood, and soul, and divinity of Christ, as our poor Irish friends say, “make God”? It is really a monstrous supposition, without any truth revealed in it, or any testimony to it. But we will examine what Scripture says. All the direct testimony for it is: “This is my body,” and “This is my blood” of the New Testament, “which is,” or as you say “which shall be shed for you and for many.” Now in ordinary language, nobody would dream of such a use of the words as would make it a change of the bread into the body. Supposing there were two pictures, and I were to say, “That is my mother, and that her sister,” who would dream that the pictures were transubstantiated into my mother and aunt?
D. Yes, but you have no power to do it, and the Lord had.
N*. I do not pretend to the power, nor raise any question as to what the Lord could do. The question is as to the force of the words He used, not His power. Such words are used every day without a thought of what is called by the name of a thing being the thing itself or changed into it. Nothing is commoner in the use of language. No one would think when the object named was not already actually materially what was named, that it meant anything but a representation of it. Nor would such a thought as transubstantiation enter into anybody’s head when such language is used. When the thing named is there, it states the fact, as “That is my mother,” when she is present; but it never means “is changed into.”
And it is actually certain that in the other part of the Eucharist the Lord does so speak according to usual language, not meaning any change. “This cup is the New Testament in my blood.” No person dreams that the cup was changed into the New Testament. That is, the Lord uses the usual language of men in such cases. It is a fact that He does so, and they are, though insisting on the literal words, obliged to change them to make them answer: that is what the cup contains, not what is literally said; but even so the blood is not the New Testament, and another gospel gives it differently: “This is my blood of the New Testament,” shewing that there is no thought of a literal application of the words. And note, in the Mass, the words used are, “This is the cup of my blood of the new and eternal covenant”—words, remark, never used by Christ at all; so that insisting on their literal accomplishment, because of His saying it, has no ground at all. Besides literally they cannot be used, as is admitted, if they were spoken by Him, because the cup itself is spoken of, not the wine, so that it is necessarily figurative, proving that all the Lord said, so far as the words are the Lord’s, He spoke figuratively (just as we ever speak in such cases); for to say He spoke figuratively as to the wine, where they are forced to admit it, and not as to the bread, is absurd. But further as to the bread. It must be remembered Christ was sitting there with His disciples and held the bread in His hands, gave thanks and broke it. Were there two Christs, two bodies, in one of which He sat, the other which He Himself broke? I am aware that Augustine says we are to believe in a certain way Christ held Himself in His own hands. If it was literally, truly, and substantially, there were two Christs. God may be said to be everywhere; but were His body and blood and soul, for these are personal and individual, in the loaf as well as in Himself? Besides you now pretend, it is a glorified Christ, for there is no other living Christ now, but Christ was not glorified then. Was it one Christ, unglorified, sitting at table, and another glorified He held in His hand? But you say too it is the same sacrifice as the cross. But Christ was sitting at the table, and there was then no sacrifice on the cross at all, and so your own Mass puts it, “it shall be shed”; really it is “which is shed” (not that it was yet, but that it was the figure of it as so shed, was given to them in that character), but it was not so shed yet, shewing it was a figure. It was given to them as a memorial, and a figure; there was no sacrifice as yet, no blood shed. Christ was there a living Christ, not yet sacrificed, not yet of course risen and glorified. That He should institute it as a memorial before He went, as He says, “Do this in remembrance of Me”: we can easily understand, but the elements could not be really and substantially a sacrificed Christ, for He was sitting there not sacrificed, His blood not shed. The notion of the Mass contradicts all the facts; all Christ said, all He did, and all He was. Is it not, Mr. R., the sacrifice of Christ we have in the Mass, the same as on the cross?
R. Surely, so we are taught.
N*. Was Christ sitting at the table such?
R. No, not yet. He was just on the point of being offered a sacrifice.
N*. Then how could “This is my body “constitute Him a sacrifice?
R. We hold it changed the substance of bread into His body.
R. No, He was not yet glorified.
R. No, He was not yet sacrificed on the cross.
N*. But the cup was His blood poured out, was it not?
N*. Then that part of it was as sacrificed on the cross.
R. Well, it was poured out in a figure.
N*. It certainly was not yet poured out in fact. Nay, your Mass says, “shall be shed.” But we have now touched the truth of the matter. It is a figure and the bread a figure. You must make the two parts answer to one another, the blood shed, the body offered. But the Christ sitting at the table was not that; that is, it was not Himself. St. Augustine may talk of holding Himself in His own hand. If it be a mere figure and manner of speaking it is all very well, but He could not really hold Himself, and while alive on earth hold Himself as offered on the cross, and His blood poured out. And what He did, He told His disciples to do. If He did what represented Himself crucified, such He commanded them to do. The blood was shed blood, the body an offered body, and that Christ was not really. It was so as taking the place of the passover by a better redemption; Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. And so Israel was to say: “It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover,” the memorial of a deliverance which had been wrought long ago; then a real sacrifice, repeated yearly: with us repetition is forbidden as denying the perfectness of Christ’s once for all; but a blessed memorial which Christ Himself instituted of that which was fully accomplished on the cross.
But it is perfectly clear that the living unsacrificed Lord could not hold Himself in His own hand as crucified or glorified. The true living Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity, could not be truly and substantially in what is the same sacrifice as the cross, for He was there at the table, His body not offered, His blood not shed.
Bill M. But surely, Mr. R., you do not think the Lord held Himself in His own hand, and that with His blood shed out of His body too? I begin to see it is all an invention of men, or of the enemy, and a wicked one, to destroy simple faith in the one true offering of Christ upon the cross once for all.
R. Well, I am not prepared to solve the difficulties Mr. N. has raised: they had never been before my mind. I took it all piously I trust, for granted, and the grosser material part of it did not arrest my mind.
D. And surely it is much better so to take it. It was just the way the Jews were offended when the Lord spoke of eating His flesh, and drinking His blood.
R. I cannot quite see with you in that, Mr. D., because if it is false it is a very grave error, and what is false about the Lord especially cannot sanctify, and by error we always lose some truth which it displaces. I see this far with our friend M., that the abiding and unchanging efficacy of Christ’s one sacrifice, which it is said, cannot be offered often, is in question in it, and it is this which makes it grave for me.
D. But I would not deny the efficacy of Christ’s one sacrifice. The Mass, as you know, as held, is that same sacrifice, and the church by the Eucharist applies the benefit of it.
R. This does not satisfy me, because Christ upon this system does offer Himself often. It is not the church’s applying it merely; that, as far as I see at present, would not trouble me, but we are taught that Christ offers Himself there, and for the living and dead, where there is no sacramental application. It is a truly propitiatory work. Can that be done now when Christ is in glory, and Christ be often offered? I begin to fear I am not in the truth, and I desire to be, and yet I am afraid too to be led away. But we have got back, Mr. N., to the sacrifice of the Mass.
N*. Never mind that, Mr. R.; as you said before, the subjects run into one another so much that it is hard to separate them, for transubstantiation is the very basis of the Mass, as is evident.
R. Perhaps you would take up the Scriptures; we may look into the Fathers afterwards. I cannot call to mind any answers in our writers to the objections you have raised, but they quote other scriptures. Milner attacks the established church and others for their inconsistency, but otherwise merely refers to the passages we are examining and turns to the Fathers.
N*. Milner takes care not to quote the Canon of the Mass: “This is the chalice of my blood of the new and eternal covenant!” He quotes Matthew and Mark, saying, “This is my blood of the New Testament,” which is not in the Canon, and adds, “Luke is nearly the same.” Otherwise he has no proofs at all, only he avoids the Canon of the Mass which shews the absurdity of taking it literally. Bellarmine really gives little else than a few words on John 6 to which we will refer.
But allow me to state what is the real truth as to this doctrine, before I examine the scriptural statements in order to shew negatively that it is not taught there. The doctrine of transubstantiation is simply the fruit of the scholastic use of Aristotle in the middle ages. It depends, on the face of it, on the difference of substance and accidents. The substance of bread is changed into the substance of the Lord’s body, the accidents of bread remain. Without this theory, the idea could not exist. But this theory of a particular substance and accidents was a mere metaphysical theory, without any real foundation. We have got nowadays to molecules and atoms infinitely minute, which may be called perhaps substance or essential matter; but all this Aristotelian theory of an imaginary substance and accidents in material objects, is a mere groundless fancy. We see different qualities which awaken sensations in us; colour, form, hardness, etc., and the mind recognises there is something there. Of this conviction, which in relation to us creatures I do not dispute, Aristotle and the schoolmen, who were as a rule wholly under his influence, made a distinct but imaginary substratum in which the various qualities were inherent. There was the substance of bread, etc. But this was a mere philosophical notion, a mere theory of the heathen Aristotelian school, adopted by the schoolmen, and has no other foundation whatever. But the whole doctrine of transubstantiation, and even the word, depends on it, cannot exist without it, is the mere expression of it, only bringing in a miracle on the ground of it, as to the Lord’s supper.
D. But do you mean to say that the Holy Catholic church, in its most solemn and essential rite, founds its doctrine on a piece of heathen metaphysics? It is a dreadful and irreverent thought.
N*. Most irreverent is the fact that they have done so, in itself, and it shews the wretched state into which the professing church had fallen. But I affirm it distinctly, and, what is more important, the Roman church affirms it. In the catechism of the Council of Trent, De Eucharistiae Sacramento, I read Section 26:3 “There are these three things most deserving of admiration and veneration, which the Catholic faith unhesitatingly believes, and confesses to be accomplished in this sacrament by the words of consecration; the first, that the real body of Christ, the same that was born of the Virgin, and sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven, is contained in this sacrament; the second, that, however remote from and alien to the senses it may seem, no substance of the elements remains in the sacrament; the third, an easy consequence of the two preceding, although the words of consecration express it principally, that the accidents, which present themselves to the eyes or other senses, exist in a wonderful and ineffable manner without a subject (sine ulla re subjecta esse). All the accidents of bread and wine we indeed may see: they inhere however in no substance, but exist by themselves; whereas the substance of the bread and wine is so changed into the body and blood of our Lord, that the substance of bread altogether ceases to exist.” Now the Catechism is not content here with stating the real presence according to the Aristotelian and scholastic system, but formally, in the third wonder, bases the whole doctrine and alleged essence of the sacrament on that system. Part of the miracle is that the accidents, that is, all that man’s mind can know, are all there without any substance or substratum to inhere in. They could not hold the colour, form, and other apparent qualities to be those of Christ, yet there they are. So they make a miracle of these sensible qualities being there without any existing substratum. They are sensible qualities of nothing, for Christ and no bread is there!4 They have a thousand other subtleties to make it out. It is Christ’s body, now at the Father’s right hand, the body born of the Virgin Mary, but not as extended in space, nor divided when the bread is broken, but all a whole Christ as they say in each part. Now I agree that all this is most painfully irreverent; but it is the irreverence of Roman doctrine. And the whole of it founded, and avowedly founded, on the mediaeval adoption of Aristotelian doctrine of substance and accidents, on logical predicables, not on divine truth at all.
D. But it is not founded on this. It is founded on “This is my body,” and “He that eateth my flesh,” and other scriptures.
N*. We will look at these scriptures; but, taking them even as you now do, they only state the fact that it is Christ’s body: but transubstantiation is what we speak of, and that is based and avowedly based on the false metaphysical notion of the middle ages. And they felt in a measure where this had brought them, for, in further expounding this third miracle, they tell the pastor in the Catechism to caution the people not to inquire into it too anxiously. But they repeat the wonder of the metaphysical miracle; it defies (see c. 43) our powers of conception, nor have we any example of it in natural changes, nor in the work itself of creation. The change itself is the object of our humble faith, the manner of that change is not to be the object of too curious inquiry. So he is to use the same caution in explaining the mysterious manner in which the body of the Lord is contained, whole and entire, under the least particles of the bread. I quote a part of Canon 44 to shew how completely it is this metaphysical theory which is in question. The pastor is to teach that Christ our Lord is not in this sacrament as in a place; for place regards things themselves inasmuch as they have magnitude; and we do not say that Christ is in the sacrament inasmuch as He is great or small— terms which belong to quantity; but inasmuch as He is a substance, for the substance of the bread is changed into the substance of Christ, not into His magnitude or quantity. Is not all this wretched and depraving irreverence and substitution of false metaphysics for divine teaching enough to drive away any spiritual mind from such doctrine? What is become of Christ for the soul? Irreverence, yes, it is; but where is it found? In what the pastor is told by Rome to teach his parishioners. But this was not all the abominable effect of this: it was laboriously discussed by the Roman Catholic doctors, if a mouse ate it, what became of Christ! or according to Matthew 15, or if it was burnt, or any other accident happened; and on this plea the wine was taken from adults.
D. But do you not think it very sad that thoughts so unworthy of this deep mystery should be put forth, as the Reformers did, in order more advantageously to pull down a holy doctrine held and taught by the holiest Fathers of the church? It tends to lower and degrade Christ, and it is painful to hear.
N*. Most painful, I admit; but you are altogether wrong in your statement. We will speak of the Fathers by-and-by. It does tend to degrade Christ. All spiritual apprehension is lost in this doctrine, and the Roman doctors, not liking to retain that in their knowledge, as the heathen of old the truth of the Godhead, have been allowed of God to fall into these degrading thoughts, and worship with divine worship that which a mouse can eat: and though the divinity is there with the soul, body and blood, it is all inert, and cannot hinder the mouse’s eating it, nor move nor give a sign of life, and what ought to have been a symbol of Christ’s dying love, and dealt with, in so using it, as being such. But they have carnalised and degraded everything in their sacramental system. But I was not thinking or speaking of the Reformers. I cannot say how they used it against the Roman Catholics, save as Bellarmine charges them and Berengarius with doing so. I speak of the most celebrated doctors and popes of the Romish church who discussed these questions elaborately: Peter Lombard, whose influence was supreme in theological schools, Innocent III, Alexander of Hales, and Thomas Aquinas who rivalled Lombard in his influence.
Lombard, after insisting at length that the unworthiness of the priest did not invalidate the consecration of the sacrament, adds, “That indeed it may be soundly said that the body of Christ is not taken by brute animals, though it may seem so. What, therefore, does the mouse take, or what does it eat, God knows.” Pope Innocent III is more precise (de sacro altaris mysterio, c. 4, 11), “If it is sought what is eaten by the mouse when the sacrament is devoured, or what is consumed when the sacrament is burned, it is answered that as the substance of bread is miraculously converted when the Lord’s body begins to be under the sacrament, so in a certain miraculous manner it returns, when itself (that is, the body) ceases to be there. Not that substance of bread returns which passed into flesh, but that in its place something is miraculously created, although its accidents may be thus devoured as well as eaten.” Alexander of Hales, it seems, taught otherwise. Bonaventura, a more spiritually-minded man, a mystic, holds that however this opinion may be sustained, it can yet never be so sustained that pious ears should not have a horror in hearing that the body of Christ should be in the belly of a mouse, or in a sewer. No wonder. Yet the famous Thomas Aquinas supported this view, because the other derogates from the truth of the sacrament; and his authority prevailed. Now these are the highest authorities of that age: Lombard was some 400 years before the Reformation; Innocent, 300; Thomas Aquinas 50 or 60 years after Innocent. His statement will be found in Part III of his Summa, quæst. LXXX, Art. 3. His doctrine is that, as long as the species or form of bread and wine remains, the body of Christ is there, whether it be sinner or animal that has taken it. As to the subtleties as to species and accidents and substance, as to which we may read folio pages, I leave them. They only shew, when faith and spiritual perception are gone, the degradation to which the holiest things are reduced. Thomas Aquinas, and so Bellarmine, excuses what the more pious mystic Bonaventura says, and justly, cannot but give horror to a Christian mind, such as a mouse eating Christ, by comparing it to Christ’s voluntary humiliation in going to the cross. Can any one go lower? This was not the Reformation, Mr. D., but the full bloom of Roman orthodoxy and learning.
R. This is all very distressing; it militates against all piety and right feeling.
N*. I entirely sympathise with you. I have referred to it that we may know what transubstantiation means, and Mr. D. may see whether what I have said as to its being based on the scholastic or Aristotelian distinction of substance and accidents be well founded or not. Any one who will take the unedifying trouble of reading Thomas Aquinas’ Summa, Part III, quaest. 74 to 80, will soon see whether it be so or not. It may be seen in other writers, but here you have it in its fullest development, and we have seen it laid down in the Catechism of the Council of Trent. I do not enter into the endless arguments of these reasoners, such as Thomas Aquinas and Bellarmine, as to how the change takes place. What is not cannot be changed into what is, neither can, according to their metaphysics, one substance be changed into another. They arrive at its being simply divine power, it being impossible that such a change can take place according to the nature of things. Secondly, they have endless discussions how Christ’s body is in heaven and the same body in thousands of places on earth. This is settled partly by divine power, and partly by this doctrine of substance and accidents, that Christ is there not materially and in extended magnitude, but His substance, and so in every particle a whole Christ if the species of bread and wine remains. They also discuss largely whether Christ is broken when the bread is broken: the more probable opinion is He is not, as He is only substantially (not materially) present, or in bodily extension, or by a change of place. Yet they say His body, blood, soul, and divinity are all there, but in a different way. For if the wine be changed into His blood, how, they inquire, can it be under the species of bread? They say it happens in a different way, that sacramentally the bread is changed into His body, but as His whole Person is there, the blood and divinity are there, not by sacramental transubstantiation, but by necessary concomitancy, and so the body and all else under the species of wine. The common expression in Ireland is that the priest “makes God.” All this is the effect of the loss of true spiritual communion and feeding upon Christ, and turning to bad metaphysics. I have heard a poor peasant there striking his hand upon his stomach, say, “I have God in my belly, sir,” and why not, if it can be in that of a mouse? And in a public argument on the subject, the Roman champion (being confounded by his adversary telling him he did not believe in transubstantiation, or as they say that the priest could make God) insisted he did, and the other confounded him by saying, “Why God cannot do that!” All this, you will say, is irreverent folly. I quite agree, but it is where this wretched heathen philosophy has led the followers of the Roman system. Well, I think we have sufficiently pursued the inquiry as to what transubstantiation means.
R. I feel so too: I had no idea such things were involved in it, but took it as it was taught.
N*. I do not doubt it, dear sir, and therefore it is I have thus far gone into it; for there are pages of subtleties all depending upon scholastic ideas of substance and accidents which we may leave untouched. But these poor Irish were as simple and sincere as you could be, ignorant if you please, but drawing a perfectly just conclusion, though a gross one, from this wretched materialising what is spiritual. But we will turn to Scripture.
R. By all means. After all, it is the only thing which gives us a sure resting-place.
Bill M. But simple souls, sir, do not know of all these shocking profane thoughts as to Christ being eaten by a mouse, and the like. They have only a kind of terror about the body and blood of Christ, but it is mortal sin if they do not receive it at Easter, and then they are absolved in order to do it, and then they are all right until the next time.
N*. They do not, M., I quite admit and thankfully too. But the effect even on them is what you say. Instead of spiritual persons with holy reverence celebrating the memorial of Christ’s death, humbled in the sense of the infinite love which brought Him there for us, while they wait for Him who so loved them; but with holy joy and thanksgiving (which is the very name of the ordinance, eucharistia) that He has so loved them and washed them from their sins in His own blood, so that saved by Him they can wait for Him with joy, feeding on Him and living by Him meanwhile, they go on with dread if they have divine life, or, as generally is the case, get clear for a time as the Jews did with their repeated sacrifice, and then go on as carelessly as before with a conscience at ease but unpurged till the year comes round, and the same ceremony goes on again.
R. This is but too often the case, but some go with piety and love to the Lord.
N*. I do not deny it, but I have lived too much among the Roman Catholics, not to know what is habitually the case. And those who are pious go, as I have said, with dread. It is not the Eucharist, thanksgiving, for those whom the Lord has loved and saved by His precious death, and waiting for Him from heaven.
R. You speak as if a Christian were always confident and assured of his salvation.
N*. Certainly. If he fails in any way he has to humble himself and be heart-broken before God about his failure, and have his heart fully before God about it; but “we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” We know our relationship as redeemed to God by Christ, by His Spirit dwelling in us. A disobedient child has to mourn over and confess his fault, but it does not raise the question if he is a child.
R. I cannot say I am there.
N*. The system you belong to cannot bring you there nor even allow it. It would destroy all its influence. But it is yours. For I have no right nor wish to doubt that you love the Lord: only you do not know the perfectness of His redemption.
R. But I do not doubt the Lord’s having accomplished our redemption.
N*. I do not question it. But He says that those who believe are justified from all things. You say you believe, but do not know whether you are justified. How is that?
R. I am afraid of being presumptuous or thinking too well of myself.
N*. I do not assuredly ask you to think well of ourselves. It was just poor Job’s case, and he had to learn to abhor himself; and so have we all. What gives peace is that God is satisfied with Christ’s work who died for us, and His raising Him from the dead is the witness of that. And it is no presumption if He has borne your sins, and the terrible debt is paid: to believe it is and to own His love in doing it.
R. But what are we to do about the sins that we are guilty of since?
N*. Since when?
R. Since we were forgiven, since our baptism.
N*. In the outward sense, you had committed none before it, so that as to this it did not do much for you. But allow me to ask you how many of your sins did you commit since Christ bore them?
R. Why, all of them; I was not born, of course.
N*. All of them. That is the point. If Christ bore all my sins and I through grace believe in Him, the whole matter is settled as to their being put away. God works by His word and Spirit in us, so that we are brought to repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; we have a new life, are born of God; and there are various ministrations of grace by the way. But the matter is settled with God for my soul as to forgiveness and salvation. As the Lord said to the poor woman, “Thy sins are forgiven thee; thy faith hath saved thee”; and He did not deceive her, nor say it for her alone.
R. It is a serious question. Is it indeed so?
N*. Well, I can only leave and commend you to His grace who can make all clear to our souls. Shall we turn to John 6?
R. If you please.
N*. In the first place many Roman Catholic writers admit that it does not apply to the Eucharist. Bellarmine gives quite a list of them, only he says their motives were more right than the Protestants’, and that as good Catholics they must hold it does, for the Roman Catechism and other church authorities hold it does. But he evidently feels he is on weak ground here. And it is perfectly certain, taking their own view of the Eucharist, that eating Christ’s flesh and drinking His blood in John 6 does not apply to it. No Roman Catholic holds that every one that receives the Eucharist is finally saved: but this is positively affirmed of those who eat Christ as the act is spoken of in this chapter. It is not merely that they have life by it, nor that they live by it, but that He will raise them up on the last day. This is positively declared of every one who eats Christ’s flesh and drinks Christ’s blood as here spoken of.
R. Where is that?
N*. The Lord declares four times over in the chapter that He will raise up certain persons, to whom He has given eternal life, at the last day: verses 39, 40, 44; and lastly, verse 54, make it dependent on their eating His flesh and drinking His blood, and unfold this truth. They had no life in themselves without it, they dwelt in Him, and He in them, but he that ate of that bread was to live for ever. Christ was their life, and, as possessed of that life, they would never die. In a word, they who ate Christ as spoken of in that chapter would live for ever, and be raised up in blessing. No one pretends that all who partake of the Eucharist will live for ever. It is not of this rite then that the passage speaks, for those who eat as here spoken of will live for ever. Do you believe that everybody that partakes of the Eucharist is surely and eternally saved?
R. No, surely not.
D. Nor do I for a moment.
N*. Then it is perfectly certain that John 6 does not refer to the Eucharist, for the Lord says, “If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.” Again: “Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Now this leaves no loophole for controversy. He has everlasting life; this, a person may say, he may lose; but the Lord shuts out this evasion of the truth by adding, “I will raise him up at the last day.” That is, He connects final blessing with the present possession of eternal life by those who eat His flesh and drink His blood. And all confirms it: “he that eateth me shall live by me.” Now we all admit, that every one who receives the Eucharist is not necessarily finally saved, but the persons spoken of in John 6 are. It does not therefore apply to partaking of the Eucharist.
D. But this must be taken with the conditions attached to it in the gospel. He has this in eating the grace of eternal life; and if he perseveres, he will be raised up for glory.
N*. I find no “if he perseveres” in the passage. It attaches eternal life, and consequent raising up by Christ, to the eating, shewing that it is a real spiritual possession of Christ by faith through the Holy Ghost. And the whole chapter confirms this thought, that it is Christ personally, not Christ in the Eucharist. He is first spoken of as coming down from heaven, and then as sacrificed, giving His body and shedding His blood, and then as ascending up where He was before. Bellarmine, who has really very little to say on the point, insists on His saying, “I will give”; and that if it referred to spiritual feeding on Christ by faith, they could do it then or at any time, and He need not say, “I will give”; while in the institution He says, “This is my body.” But this has no force whatever. First, in the Mass, we have seen it is “shall be shed,” so that his argument falls to the ground. And when He says, “I will give,” what does He refer to? Clearly to His death, His blood shed out, the sacrifice of Himself, as it is said, “He gave himself for our sins; loved us and gave himself for us.” It is what He was going to do. He was the bread of life come down from heaven. That cannot be said of the Eucharist, nay, the Catechism of the Council of Trent (Euch. P. 2, 37, 44) denies it, even in the change which takes place, for then it would have to do with locality and space. It was the Son of God, come forth from the Father, the Word made flesh; and whoever believed on Him had everlasting life; He was that bread of life then: “I am that bread of life”; but He had yet to give Himself for the life of the world, and people to be saved must believe on Him as the crucified Saviour as well as the incarnate Saviour, but if they really did, He was a Saviour, and they were saved. And the grand testimony that He was such by His death was, that He ascended up whence He was before. Those taught of God came to Him; but He must die to save them. Nothing really can be simpler. Whoever ate of that bread, according to the sense of that chapter, would live for ever. Bread that came down from heaven (which is professedly denied of the Eucharist) and One giving Himself on the cross for the life of the world, and then ascending up where He was before, which is impossible to apply to the Eucharist: but it is the same Person of Christ spoken of all through. Nor could the Eucharist give itself and its life. When the thing is examined into, it is absurd nonsense to apply it to the Eucharist. This living Christ, body, soul, blood, divinity, has no sense or feeling, is as inert and helpless as the bread it appears to be, and the wine that can be drunk by the lips of men.
Bill M. We have never believed, Mr. R., that he who received the Mass would live for ever in eternal life.
R. No, that is not the doctrine of the church; his final state depends on what he does afterwards.
Bill M. But John 6 says, He who eats that bread will live for ever; so it cannot mean receiving at the Mass, but having Christ really in one’s soul some other way. Whatever people get in the Mass, they do not get that.
JR. They may get the grace of eternal life, and then lose it perhaps.
Bill M. But that is not “shall live for ever”; and eternal life and then being raised up as having eternal life.
R. No, it is not, nor do I deny that when you look through the chapter, it seems to refer to the Lord Jesus Christ personally, not to the sacrifice of the Mass.
N*. I really do not see how a person can doubt it. Especially when we see how the Lord speaks of coming down from heaven, giving His flesh and blood, and ascending up where He was before, which cannot apply to an ordinance, but plainly to Himself in Person. “The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” “I am that bread of life.” He was it then personally, when no Eucharist could be in question. Then He says, “I will give,” which He was going to do, and so introduces His flesh and blood separated in death, and then, as we have seen, His ascension. The Jews rejected both, would not own He came down from heaven, nor think they could eat His flesh and drink His blood, taking it in a carnal sense. You really give it this sense, though you cover it under the term sacramentally and species of bread and wine; for you say there is no bread there, but truly, really and substantially the body and blood of Christ with His soul and divinity. But we have nothing to do with Jewish unbelief, and the Lord treats the Jews there as hopeless reprobates, and indeed all through John’s Gospel, for we take the words spiritually, as Christ in the chapter itself tells us to do (v. 63). “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” As for Dr. Milner, he takes it all for granted, saying, “After which [the miracle] He took occasion to speak of this mystery, saying,” etc. The extreme weakness of both Bellarmine and Milner on this point is most striking.
But it proves more. It proves that, in speaking of eating Him and drinking His blood, such language refers to spiritually feeding on Christ, not on any actual reception of the Lord’s body and blood. A person who eats, as here spoken of, lives by the life of Christ, has eternal life, abides in Him, and is raised up into glory. But it proves more; it proves that the terms used on this subject by the Lord and recorded in the New Testament are used, not literally, but figuratively. Christ declares His Father gave them the true bread from heaven. Do the teachers of transubstantiation mean to say that Christ was really bread? Surely not. Yet He says, “I am that bread of life.” “He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.” He was not physically nor substantially bread come down from heaven; that is, “is” was figuratively and spiritually used. Again, the bread which He gives is His flesh which He would give for the life of the world. As bread, as a figure, He was come down from heaven, incarnate in the world. The bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. This bread means Him who came forth from the Father, and came into the world, the Word made flesh, the Son of God. He was the living bread come down from heaven. But incarnation was not sufficient alone to save us. He must die, or He would have abode alone, and the bread He gives is His flesh which He had taken, and this He gives for the life of the world. Here we have the cross, the propitiation made for sin. The Eucharist is for believers, His people. This giving His flesh is for the world; and he that eats not this, and drinks not His blood, has no life in him. But the Lord’s supper none can truly eat but those who have life in them already, and even if only formally, it is as Christians they do it, not as the unsaved world, to which He came that men might live and be forgiven through Him; and as we have seen he who does eat has eternal life, and will have part in the resurrection of life—he will live for ever. In a word, no eternal life without the cross, without shedding of blood. Hence the blood too must be drunk. It must be shed and taken into the heart, as shed, to be of any use. Without shedding of blood there is no remission. It was not a Messiah to the Jews they were to believe in, true as that was, but One come down from heaven incarnate in the world, and giving Himself and shedding His blood for the world. So must He be received, so fed upon, and thus men would have eternal life. Hence, having spoken of incarnation and death, He adds, “What and if ye see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?” You make giving His flesh for the life of the world, after His ascension, contrary to the order of the chapter. Thus, when Christ is said to be bread, it is a mere figure. The bread was Christ in the flesh which He was going to give for the life of the world.
D. But then He speaks of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, which He gives for the fife of the world.
N*. Surely. He gives Himself literally on the cross, His blood being poured out, for it is to be drunk. He actually gave Himself for the life of the world upon the cross, and there His blood was shed, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. And if this drinking of blood were literal, the poor Roman Catholics could not be saved; they never get it at all. They are told that they get it in the body, but that is not poured out; they must drink it to have life. And it refers to Christ as He then was in incarnation and so dying (before His ascension which comes afterwards); and such as do so eat Him, feed in heart on Him as incarnate and dying for us, are eternally saved (v. 54), and men have no spiritual life at all if they do not. That Christ’s blood should be shed now that He is in glory is perfectly impossible, contrary to all truth and Scripture. And the blood-shedding here spoken of is after His incarnation as head come down from heaven, and before His return thither; in a word it is His blood as shed on the cross as incarnate down here, shed indeed for redemption, but closing all association with man in the flesh, given for the life of the world, none other. And indeed, whereas we know that He shed His blood for man on the cross, there is not a trace of His taking His blood again, though in its spiritual efficacy it is presented to God, but as shed, apart from Him who presents it on high. That His body was raised, every Christian believes—a man is no Christian who does not; but not that He took back His blood and went up to heaven, having it in Himself as if He had not shed it and died. And indeed it cannot be; for we are to be conformed to His image, that He may be the firstborn among many brethren: and it is said of us, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. But what is essential is that Christ’s blood can in no sense be shed now. It must be drunk spiritually in memory that He did shed it, or not at all. Hence Christ puts eating His flesh and drinking His blood, and eating Him together, that is faith in His Person and death so as to live by them. Only the recognition of the shedding of His blood, and the drinking of it as so shed, is essential. We have no life else. Now it cannot be shed, and at the same time be in His body as the bread come down from heaven. If it be in His body, then there is no redemption at all. The words He spake were spirit and life: shed blood is salvation. If it be a glorified body, it is impossible. If it be looked at as His body down here, there is no redemption at all.
R. What you say I cannot resist the force of. But, as you have said, many esteemed Catholic authors do not apply John 6 to the sacrament of the altar. Still there are principles in what you say which go beyond John 6, and raise the whole question as to what that sacrament is, or what blood there can be for us to drink as spoken of in John 6, save as figuratively. That a glorified Christ cannot shed blood now is clear, and that He gave His flesh for the life of the world on the cross is certain. I confess I am perplexed, and it distresses me. We do, as Bill M. said, attach so much importance to the Mass and sacrament of the altar, and boast, as against Protestants, that we have a sacrifice and they have none.
N*. But, remark, Mr. R., if you believe that the blessed Lord gave His flesh and shed His blood on the cross for us, and in your heart feed on the bread which came down from heaven incarnate and sacrificed for us, you have exactly what Hebrews 9, 10, speak of, a sacrifice once offered of perpetual efficacy and never to be repeated, He being ascended on high and seated there now. You have eternal life, nay, shall live for ever. Whatever the privilege of partaking of the Eucharist, which I hold to be very great, it is by that one sacrifice once offered and blood once shed, as Scripture tells us, really received into the heart by faith, that we are sanctified and perfected in conscience, and have assurance, in John 6, of eternal life.
R. I see clearly what you mean, but it is, for us, if we are to receive it, an immense revolution in the mind.
N*. It is, Mr. R., but a blessed one. Only allow me to remark that the foundation of faith remains, only cleared of much that both obscures and mars it, the Person and work of the blessed Son of God; only so as to give peace to the conscience and joy to the heart, instead of dread and bondage.
But we may turn, I think, to the apostle Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29. One thing is clear, that he calls it bread after the giving of thanks as before, has no idea of its being anything else (vv. 26, 27). For him it was bread and the cup after the Lord had said, “This is my body,” as before. The words He uses as to the cup are that the cup is the new covenant, as in Luke. There is not a trace that He counted it anything but what it was, evidently. It is done in remembrance of Christ, which could not be if He was then giving Himself. Was Christ the offerer, doing it in remembrance of Himself? We shew forth the Lord’s death, but He cannot die as now glorified: the notion of a sacramental putting to death a glorified Jesus is as horrible as it is contrary to all truth. It is a remembrance of what was His death, and His death is over for ever. All He says supposes it to be constantly bread and wine all through. That is what a man eats or drinks unworthily, when he is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. So that in saying this He has no idea it is not still bread.
R. Let us turn to the words of institution.
N*. We will. Let us, however, carry this with us, that the Lord, speaking in John 6, uses this figurative language. He was the bread come down from heaven. If we remember the occasion on which the rite was instituted, the phraseology is very easy to understand. God, when redeeming Israel out of Egypt, had had the blood of the lamb sprinkled on the doorposts and said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over … “; and they ate the lamb. Of this they were to keep up the memorial, and, if their children inquired, were to say “This is the Lord’s passover,” when He did not pass over at all; but they celebrated the memorial of it. Christ our passover has been sacrificed for us, where, note, the apostle has no idea but of the one sacrifice of Christ accomplished long ago; and we are to keep the feast with no renewed one, as indeed we have seen that there was to be no more sacrifice for sins; and our feeding on Him is not physically or materially, but spiritually in our souls, in thankful faith for what He has wrought, our conscience being, through the unchangeable efficacy of His blood, perfected for ever before God.
Now let us consider the supper itself. It was to be observed in remembrance of the true Paschal Lamb, Christ just about to be offered, not a memorial of redemption from Egypt as Jews, but from sin and the flesh and Satan by an “eternal redemption obtained” for us. This Christ clearly sets before them, speaking of His blood shed for many, His blood of the new covenant. It was the true passover sacrifice of the Lamb of God, and that, and not deliverance from Egypt, was to be perpetually remembered. Nothing can be clearer than this, and it gives its character to the whole scene. It was the Jewish passover, and another and better, for the whole world and eternity, was just going to be substituted for it in the sacrifice of the true Paschal Lamb, giving His flesh for the life of the world, shedding that blood which by faith cleanses from all sin, yea, by the shedding of which alone remission is obtained. He takes the elements furnished by the supper as symbols of this. And mark here, not one word, as Roman Catholics have admitted, is said in Scripture of changing anything in any way, no such thought is ever expressed in any way. He says, with the bread in His hands, This is my body.
D. But excuse me, sir, if it was His body, it must have been changed, for He had taken the bread into His hand.
N*. If it means literally His body. But as to this, your saying “it must,” is the admission that there is nowhere any statement that there is a change. Can you refer to any actual statement that such a change takes place?
R. Well, I can call to mind no scripture, but I cannot pretend to know the Scriptures well.
Bill M. I never thought of that, and if there be none, it does make all the difference as to the doctrine. It is only man’s way of explaining if it be really His body.
N*. They are not agreed how to explain it themselves. Many did not hold it to be a change, holding that a substance could not in the nature of things be changed and be not itself; they thought that the bread disappeared miraculously and the body came in its place without changing the appearance of the elements, but as the underlying substance. Into all this we need not enter. It is only important to shew that the whole was from human reasoning. But it is held by many schoolmen, and even by Cajetan, Luther’s opponent, that it cannot be proved by Scripture. Bellarmine (3, 23) admits it may be so, “it is not altogether improbable,” seeing most learned and acute men as Scotus have so held. Quoting Cameracensis, many others5 whom I need not recall, might be cited. But let us turn to the words. Are we to believe that Christ held His body in His own hand and His blood poured out too? I know Augustine says He bore His body in a certain manner in His hand (quodammodo), but this “in a certain manner” just shews that it was not really and substantially in His hand, which would be grossly absurd. But what they call the real body of Christ He did hold in His hand and gave thanks and brake it. Did He hold His own body? Or did the living Christ hold the dead Christ with the blood shed out in His hand? Indeed, a bone of Him was not to be broken,6 but did He break His own body in any sense? or was it bread?
James. Surely, Mr. R., you do not think He took His own body in His hand, and broke it.
R. I do not wish to say much; we will continue our examination of the passage.
N*. The apostle Paul has at any rate settled it. In speaking of the communion of the body of Christ (that is, as the passage makes evident, our spiritual identification with Christ as the Gentiles were identified with their idols in partaking of the idol sacrifices, and the Jewish priests with the altar of Jehovah by eating of the sacrifices offered there), he declares what we break to be bread. Where this communion, that is, takes place, it is still bread. And so little does he attach the thought of any substantial change to it, that he is content to say, “The cup which we drink.” He saw the broad plain fact which all saw and acted in before him. It was bread He broke, and a cup they drank of. The spiritual sense was communion with the body and blood of Christ, association with it, and if so they could not be associated with demons too. But remark further, it is “Christ crucified” which is in question. He is viewed in the Eucharist not as sitting, true as that may be, thank God at the right hand of God; but as often as we eat that bread and drink that cup, we shew forth the Lord’s death till He come. What we eat is bread, and what we drink is the cup, the plain, Sensible, evident fact; but what we set forth and declare in it, is Christ’s death—His body given for us, His blood shed for us; we do it in remembrance of Him. There is no such Christ to be changed into. There is now no dead Christ, no shed blood substantially to be found. And this is no mere playing with words, it is the essence of the rite, what we shew forth. It is His blood as shed that is set forth, and His death. It is Christ’s dying that is the meaning of the rite, and that must be remembrance. He cannot die now. Hence, as so presented in John 6, it comes after His coming down from heaven, and before His ascending up where He was before, as of course His death necessarily did. For in John His death itself, not the memorial of it, is spoken of. But it cannot be in remembrance of a present living Christ in heaven. It is in remembrance of Him once humbled and dying, a state passed and gone for ever. Further He could give no such Christ at the last supper: His blood was not then poured out. The state spoken of, He was not in. He could not say, “This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for many,” as a present substantial real thing; there was none such. Giving it to be observed as a memorial of its shedding on the cross, that we can all understand; but He could not hold His own shed blood in His hand, for it was yet in His body. A figure of what would be is plain enough. Hence, as we have seen, your Vulgate says, “which shall be poured out,” acknowledging it was not so then. The truth is the word (ekchunomenon) does not say “had been” or “would be,” but gives it that character; it was shed blood which was of any avail; that must be drunk, or there was no life, without that shedding there was no remission. When the Lord said, “Take eat,” He had not yet consecrated it by the words said to do so by the Roman Catholic doctrine. As has long ago been urged, when He took and brake it, and said this, it was the bread He had taken in His hand. It was the bread which He took and brake they were to eat as such, as His body, but not a word of being changed into it, and do it in remembrance of Him who was gone, and to eat it in remembrance of that which, though the one foundation of every blessing, was a passing thing in His history; His death and blood-shedding could not be an abiding present thing. And this embarrasses their doctors. They say (Bellar. 4, 22, 17) that the priest’s drinking of the cup7 is more for the sacrifice than the sacrament (a distinction unknown of old to Christendom), as the people get the blood in the body all the same, but that the shedding of blood is thus set forth. But then the priest takes it as shed, the people as in the body. And if the priest in eating the bread have taken it as in the body, it is before the shedding of the blood, and there is no sacrifice, no redemption, no remission: and according to Bellarmine, it is the priest’s eating it which is his putting Him to death, a sad office to perform, so that he has taken Him to feed on Him before there was any sacrifice, and yet the consecration had taken place which turned it into His body. But such irreverent confusion is the necessary consequence where so holy and blessed a memorial of Christ’s death is turned into a profane materialism; and yet after all, taken in sufficient quantity, it nourishes the body, yet there is no substance of bread at all: the accidents do it.
The note of the Rhemish translation of Matthew 26 also distinguishes the sacrifice and the sacrament, that the sacrament by concomitancy is the whole body, blood, soul, and divinity of the Lord, but that for the sacrifice it is the bread changed specifically into the body, and the wine into the blood—that being the condition of Christ in making the sacrifice, so that His body is apart for the sacrifice and His blood apart, but all together in the sacrament. But Paul knows no such difference: the bread which we break is the communion of His body, and the cup which we bless, the communion of His blood, so that the distinction made in the alleged sacrificial part is yet by Paul declared to be the communion, and on the other hand, as often as we eat that bread and drink that cup, which is the alleged sacramental part, he says, we do shew forth the Lord’s death till He come; but in His death it is admitted that the blood was separated from the body, shed for us, so that the attempt to make this difference to meet the evident testimony to death and the shedding of Christ’s blood in the sacrament— for it was shed blood they were to drink—only brings in increased confusion. The use of “is “for “represents” is too common to dwell upon. That rock “was” Christ. The seven kine “are” seven years, the seven ears of corn “are” seven years. So we do constantly; I shew a picture and say, “That is my mother,” and so on.
D. But we should look at it in faith, and take it, as really what the Lord called it.
N*. But what the Lord took and broke is called bread, and the cup the blood of the new covenant. Paul calls three times over what we eat bread, and I suppose he had faith. He says the bread they broke which is confessedly mere bread, was what was the communion of the body of Christ and the cup the communion of His blood. So that he formally puts the identification with the body and the blood of Christ in that which is confessedly mere bread. Nor, as I have said, is there anywhere a hint of any change. So that Bellarmine, as we have seen, admits that it is not improbable that it cannot be found in Scripture.
R. I feel that it stands on much less solid ground than I thought, and though I feel that it is an important principle to receive things in simplicity by faith, yet where it is our most solemn religious rite, and remission of sins depends upon it in this world and even in purgatory, one needs a sure foundation for that faith; and here our greatest doctors treat it as not improbable that it cannot be proved by Scripture, and in examining it by Scripture, and the reality of the sacrifice of the blessed Lord, it is difficult to see how they agree. We shew forth Christ’s death and yet we are told the blood is in the body, and this is sought to be set straight by distinguishing the sacrifice from the sacrament. But I do not see that this separation has any solid ground at all. But it is difficult to get rid of an impression or conviction which seemed to have been faith, and it is not only a matter of instruction and persuasion, but interwoven with every religious feeling we have. And then to think we have been worshipping what is only a little bread and water really. Still my comfort is that it was done supposing it was Christ, and Him my soul would worship still.
N*. Amen, dear Mr. R.! My spirit goes with everything you have said. I do not doubt a moment your having done it in the purpose of your heart to Christ, and, as your words suggest, that worship remains which turned—forgive me if I seem hard—not a bit of paste into Christ, but Christ into a bit of paste you could put into your mouth. God forbid we should ever lose heart-worship to Christ, alike due to Him, and the best treasure to us; only it is in spirit and in truth that worship is truly offered, not in outward things. And I can fully sympathise with you on the difficulty of getting rid of long cherished impressions. Only experience of human nature tells us that false ones of a superstitious nature are harder to get rid of than any. They are suited to human nature, and prop up human nature, whereas the truth is spiritually enjoyed and foreign to human nature. “Because I tell you the truth, therefore ye believe me not.” The Jews were circumcised, the Gentiles not: that they could boast in and cherish, when all its value was gone. You have a sacrifice, you think, and we have not, and that does not humble you. To drink of the cup of Christ, where we had no part but our sins, and His infinite life-giving love was made good, always humbles. We have full liberty with the Father through it, not dread, but it bows down the soul in the sense of His goodness; and it is that, and Himself who did it, the Lord’s supper brings to us, while we wait for Him till He comes. Blood taken as in the body is setting aside the whole force and meaning of the ordinance: and shed blood is not to be found, nor a Christ in death in existence then or now. There is no such Christ to be transubstantiated into, nor was there then. Your Mass not only pretends to be a sacrifice when there can be no more, but it sets aside the whole force and meaning of the Eucharistic rite, taken as received by the faithful.
R. But this is putting it in a very strong way, Mr. N.
N*. I do not doubt there may be personal piety in those receiving it, ignorant of what it involves; but I believe, as far as a rite can do it, the Roman Catholic rite involves the foundations of our relationship with God. It denies that one sacrifice once offered suffices for ever, and that there can be no more offering for sin, and hence, the true and perfect purging of the conscience once for all of those who receive that sacrifice by faith; and it gives a fancied presence of Christ in substance, when there is no such Christ at all, setting aside the spiritual feeding on Him as the bread come down from heaven, with the blessed remembrance of His dying and efficacious blood-shedding. You have the blood in the body, which is no shewing forth His death at all, but a denial of the very point and meaning of the rite so precious to true Christians.
R. I see it is very serious and makes Christianity, as to its present reality, a different thing. But do you not think all things are possible with God?
N*. It is not a question of what is possible, or whether such things as we may imagine are not what God has instituted and revealed. The Mass and transubstantiation are contrary to what He has revealed and the historical facts of Scripture, and its fundamental doctrines too. According to Scripture there can be no more sacrifice for sin. According to you, Christ was holding His own shed blood in His hand when it was at that time unshed in His body.
Bill M. Why, Mr. R., it is as plain as possible: how could Christ give us His blood shed, when it was there in His body not shed? There could not be two, and if it was not shed, there is no redemption, and in heaven in glory He does not shed His blood. I never thought it was so plain, and then if John 6 refers to it, we never drink it at all, and have no life in us.
R. My dear Bill M., you do not take into account the effect of education and habit, and whatever piety you have being connected with it. You had not been brought up in this way; I was from a child.
Bill M. I hope I did not offend, sir; I only meant to say how clear it all seemed to me. I do not doubt, what you say makes a great difference. And I was brought in by thinking it was the church when I knew nothing about it, and was glad to get forgiveness ready settled for me, for I knew I was a sinner.
R. Oh, I have not a thought of any offence. I am very glad you speak plainly what you feel about it. But it is to me an anxious serious thing, if I have been wrong all my life. I do not say I have, but I cannot answer what I have heard, and I see you are all happy and I am not.
D. But you seem to me to forget altogether the teaching and authority of the church of God.
N*. What church? Yours says that it cannot be proved by holy writ, but is repugnant to the plain word of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of the sacrament, etc. How you ritualists reconcile your maintenance of it to your conscience, honest people do not understand. I know they plead the “words in which it was commonly said,” as not being against the formal doctrines of the Roman Catholics, but only against current notions; but that refers to the offering of Christ (Art. XXXI), and there is nothing of the kind in the one I have quoted. (Art. XXVIII.) So that the authority of the church, what you own to be such, will not help you here. As to the Roman Catholic body it was never decreed till 1215 in the fourth Lateran Council, and was rejected by the ablest doctors. So Scotus whom Bellarmine declares was a most acute and learned doctor, though he does not agree with him; but there were many others, as Rabanus Maurus, Bertram. As to the Greek church, indeed the whole church for centuries, it wholly rejected it, superstitious as it had become and disposed to magnify the Eucharist. And what all the early church held as alone consecrating the elements has to this day no place in the Roman service. Nothing can be more distinct than the testimony of the early Greek Fathers against transubstantiation, which we will look into just now. After John Damascene, the doctrine and at last the name gradually prevailed. It used to be called transelementalism.
But we have not quite done with Scripture: the Lord, speaking of the cup, says, “This is my blood of the new covenant shed for many,” and again expressed in a different form, shewing that no importance was attached to the letter of the statement, as if it were a literal fact. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” That is, He speaks of the import and value of the symbol. No one can say that the cup was a covenant. I might give deeds and say, “There is the house conveyed to you,” and every one would understand it, and no one would think the parchment was a house. Yet if “This is my body” is literal, so is “This cup is the new covenant,” and Paul, who received this directly by revelation from the Lord, gives it in this form: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”: has no thought of any literal blood. It suffices to him to speak of it as the new covenant in Christ’s blood, and he calls it bread when thus given and broken, and not only when so broken but when eaten by the faithful (1 Cor. 11:26); they “eat this bread,” and drink the cup, and shew forth the Lord’s death. Yet they are associated or spiritually identified with Christ’s body and blood, as the Jews with Jehovah their God, and the Gentiles with their gods in eating the sacrifices. But what the faithful did was to eat bread and drink of a cup, but both, the symbol of the Lord’s death who gave His flesh and shed His blood for the life of the world. And even when doing it in the profane and unworthy manner which made the Corinthians guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, it was still eating of that bread and drinking of that cup. If one should spit on my mother’s picture, he is insulting my mother, guilty of doing so to me. And there is a much deeper sense of the value of the blessed Lord’s death, and realisation of union and communion with Him when spiritually realised, than when we materially take it into our mouths and stomachs. The truth is, the whole thing is a delusion.
D. But what do you make of the uniform teaching of the Fathers, Mr. N.?
N*. There you are, I dare say, in your element, Mr. D. The traditions and doctrines of men have all weight with those of the school you belong to. But you know it is written, “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,” and I suspect, like many who rest upon them, you have not searched them. A man’s writing a thousand years ago does not make his word to be more the truth in the least. They were not inspired. We are specially taught in view of the turning away from the truth which had already begun in the apostle’s days, the mystery of iniquity being already at work, and warned that evil men and seducers would wax worse and worse, so that the last days of the church would be perilous times—we are warned, I say, to hold fast by the Scriptures, to know of whom we have learned anything; that that which was in the beginning should abide in us. Hearing the apostles themselves, is made a test of truth. In a word, we are carefully warned against trusting anything but what came out first and by inspiration from God, which no one pretends was the case with those you call the Fathers, who after all were only prelates and doctors of bygone ages whose doctrine was very loose and uncertain. The Fathers generally before the Council of Nice were unquestionably unsound as to the divinity of the Lord, and, after it, the church was whatever the Emperor made it. Athanasius was excommunicated, the Luciferians who held by him were condemned as a sect by Jerome. Hosius, who presided at Nice, gave way; two popes were Arians, or consecrated by the Arians, Felix and Liberius, and the universal church displayed a scene of dispute and contention which never ended in the East till sunk under the power of the Turks, and in the West till Bernard (the last of the Fathers) declared Antichrist was sitting at Rome. But none hardly of the early Fathers were sound in the faith. As to this particular doctrine as we have seen, one whom Bellarmine calls a most learned and acute doctor did not believe it. John Scotus declares it was never known to be of faith till the fourth Council of Lateran in 1215. And all Bellarmine has to say is that it was in a Roman Council, in the case of Berengarius; that is in 1060 and 1079.
D. But if these Fathers were not inspired, they were nearer the fountain head; they must have known better than we do. Besides there is the uniformity of the testimony.
N*. There is no such uniformity. Even Bellarmine says it is not surprising if, before the heresy sprang up, the earlier Fathers should use expressions which may be made a bad use of (De Euch. II, 37, 6) “in malam partem trahi”; a plain confession that they do use what denies transubstantiation. He says this in speaking of Bernard, the last of the Fathers so-called, and so late as the eleventh century, adding that if some did, we must take their other plain statements, for it is certain (constat) they must have all agreed. And this is the consent of the Fathers! But I have no need to get what is nearer the fountain head, that is, the inspired testimony of God, when I have that testimony itself. We have God’s own word, and that word written save a very small part for all the faithful, and we are warned to hold fast to it, to that which was from the beginning, and that is practically a warning against the Fathers. They are just those who were not from the beginning, who lived when, as the apostle warns us, after his decease, from within and from without perverse men and wolves would arise. When I sit down to read the Scriptures, I sit down to know what God says to me; I cannot do so with these Fathers. To say the least, they must be judged like other men, human authors.
D. And do you feel yourself competent to judge these holy men?
N*. I do not feel the need to read them at all, any more than other books; but if I do, I am bound to judge their teaching by the word of God. If I have my father’s express orders, and some one comes to tell me what he thinks, I must know if this statement accords with what my father has expressly said. Nothing can pretend to compare with the word of God.
D. But you may misinterpret it.
N*. So I may the Fathers. But, mark, I have a promise in reading the one, and none for reading the others. Besides as to a great many I do not admit that they were holy men. Cyril of Alexandria was a thorough ruffian.
R. That is strong language, Mr. N.
N*. I appeal to history. He was both at Ephesus, and heading riots at Alexandria, nothing less: and a heretic, an Eutychian as it is called, to boot.8 The famous Jerome was one of the most abusive, intemperate, violent men possible. Many were respectable enough, but I cannot venture my soul on such men as these, nor on any men; I can on the word of God. But we will speak of them. Now I admit that many of them speak in the strongest way of Christ’s being there after consecration, our partaking of Him whom we do not see there, and the like—speak of tremendous mysteries, and that they early fell into gross superstition; but we shall find abundant passages to shew that transubstantiation was not the faith of the church, and that even the contrary was taught and urged by the Fathers in their arguments against the Eutychians and earlier heretics.
But let us look at them. We must not confound the real presence and transubstantiation as Milner carefully does. I regret to say he is not to be trusted. He quotes a regular succession of popes, carefully concealing that there were sometimes three, at other times two, with Europe divided between them; that one drove out another, and set up himself in his place, and when there were three, all three were deposed by the Council of Constance, and another set up by it. So here he quotes English divines, who hold the real presence as though they meant the same thing as Rome; he quotes Cosins’ book, which is an elaborate treatise against transubstantiation. Milner gives as his view what is wholly false: he says, “Bishop Cosins is not less explicit in favour of the Catholic doctrine: he says, ‘it is a momentous error to deny that Christ is to be adored in the Eucharist we confess.’” There is no such sentence in Cosins at all. And as to Hooker the words he quotes are there, but Hooker does not use this language to make con-substantiation or transubstantiation a matter of indifferent speech, but to prove both unnecessary to the enjoyment of the promise. As to Ignatius, the passage is not found in the longer copy of the Epistle to the Smyrnseans at all, but it is found in the shorter. Theodoret quotes it, but there is little doubt that these epistles are spurious. At any rate Milner has falsified the passage, for it looks like nonsense as it stands. What is read is, “They withdraw from the Eucharist and prayer,” which last word Milner has changed into “oblations.” It can have no authority, and refers to the denial of Christ’s incarnation, in respect of which the Eucharist was greatly used as an argument against the Gnostics who denied that Christ had really come in the flesh, a truth so distinctly recognised in the Eucharist.
The testimony of Justin Martyr is against the doctrine; he says, “Then we all stand up together and make prayers, and, as we have before said, when we have ceased prayer, bread is brought, and wine, and water, and the president offers up prayers and thanksgivings as well as he is able, and the people assent, saying, Amen. And the distribution and reception of that over which thanks have been given takes place to each, and it is sent to those not present by the deacons.” And a little before, more distinctly, “Then bread and a cup of water and wine is brought to him who presides over the brethren. He, having received them, offers up praise and glory to the Father of all things, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and makes long thanksgiving that we are accounted worthy of these things by Him, and having finished the prayers and the thanksgiving, all the people present exclaim assent, saying, Amen. And the president having given thanks, and all the people exclaimed assent, those who are called deacons amongst us, distribute to each of those present to receive [it] of the bread and wine and water over which thanksgiving has been made, and carry it away to the absent. And this food is called amongst us the Eucharist [thanksgiving], of which it is not lawful for any one to partake, but one who believes what is taught us to be true, and has been washed for the forgiveness of sins and the laver of the new birth, and so living as Christ taught. For we do not receive this as common bread or common drink, but as by the word of God. Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh, had both flesh and blood for our salvation; so also the nourishment over which thanks have been given of the word which is from Him, of which our flesh and blood by conversion are nourished, we have been taught to be the flesh and blood of that Jesus made flesh.” Now this statement upsets the Roman Catholic doctrine entirely. First, what the deacons carry is bread and wine and water to each; Justin has no idea of any transubstantiation. They are after the thanksgiving what they were before; bread, wine, and water is what was distributed and received. Next, it is of these elements they partake, God’s creatures for which they thank Him. It is not a whole Christ to each, but of the elements offered each gets a portion, and, what is a key to multitudes of statements, what is confessedly bread and wine and water, they esteem the body and blood of Christ. But, further, they nourish our body and blood. The idea of being changed and substantially Christ is totally foreign to his mind.
Irenæus is formal and positive in his denial of it; he speaks (lib. 4, 17:33, 34) of offering God’s creatures to Him, and explicitly as sent, created by Him, practically as Justin, for the sacrifice was always of His creatures to God before the giving of thanks. But that is not all. Recognising that we receive Christ in the partaking of the rite, he says, proving the resurrection of the body, “For as the bread which is from the earth, receiving the invocation, is now not common bread, but the Eucharist consisting of two things, earthly and heavenly: so also our bodies receiving the Eucharist are no longer corruptible, having the hope of resurrection.” Now I am not answering for all Irenaeus’ doctrine, for he was not sound on very important truths, but his statement is a flat denial of transubstantiation. Remark here further that this epiklesis (Irenaeus as now read has ekklesis) is that to which he attributes its not being ordinary bread, and this is wholly left out by Rome!
But to proceed. Tertullian says in terms against the Marcionites (v. 40): “Having taken bread and distributed it to His disciples, He made that His body, saying, This is my body, that is, the figure of my body. But it could not have been a figure unless the body had been a truth.” Now this is as plain as can be, and shews what these ancients mean when they speak of making it His body or its being His body. He is proving against Marcion that Christ had really a body. If it was merely a phantasm and nothing really, there could not be a figure of what was nothing. Tertullian never could have had an idea of such a thing as transubstantiation in speaking thus. Origen (Horn. 7 on Lev.) says if according to the letter you should follow this very thing which is said, “Unless you shall have eaten my flesh and drunk my blood,” the letter kills… but if you understand it spiritually, it does not kill, but there is in it a life-giving spirit. I cannot find what Dr. Milner quotes in this Horn. 7, but just preceding what I have quoted above, Origen referring to John 6, “If you are sons of the church, if imbued with evangelical mysteries, acknowledge what we say that it is of the Lord, lest perchance he that is ignorant let him be ignorant; acknowledge that they are figures which are written in the divine volumes, and therefore examine them as spiritual, not carnal, for if you receive them as carnal, they hurt and do not nourish you.” This is his whole subject. Jesus therefore because He was altogether pure, all His flesh is food, and all His blood is drink; because all His work is holy, and all His speech true, therefore all His flesh is true food, and His blood true drink, for with the flesh and blood of His word, as with pure food and drink, He gives to drink, and renovates every race of men. Again in Comm. on Matthew, torn. 11, “But if everything (Matt. 15) that enters into the mouth goes into the belly and is cast out into the draught, the very food also consecrated by the word of God and prayer, according to what itself consists of materially, goes into the belly and is cast out into the draught; but, according to the prayer which is added to it, it becomes useful according to the proportion of faith, and makes the mind become clear-sighted, looking on that which profits. Nor is it the matter of the bread, but the word spoken over it which helps him who eats not unworthily of the Lord, and thus far of the typical and symbolical body. But many things may be said concerning the Word which became flesh, and true food which he who eats lives altogether for ever, which no wicked person can eat; for if he could, he adds, it would never have been written that every one that eats of this bread shall live for ever.” Whatever else Origen held, he did not hold transubstantiation. The dialogues against the Marcionites (attributed to him but not his it appears) are equally clear. Taking up the common argument of those days, we read: “But if as they say He was without flesh and blood, of what flesh and what body, or of what blood, giving both the bread and the cup as images, did He command His disciples to remember Him?”
We may next turn to Cyprian, the letter Dr. Milner refers to, “That the cup, which is offered in remembrance of Him, is offered mixed with wine.” That is, what is offered is wine; he is reasoning against there being only water. “For when Christ says, I am the true vine, the blood of Christ is not water but wine, for His blood by which we are redeemed and sanctified cannot be seen to be in the cup when wine fails in the cup by which the blood of Christ is shewn forth, which is preached by the sacrament and testimony of all the scriptures.” So in the same letter to Cæcilius he calls after the consecration of the fruit (creatura) of the vine; “we find the cup mixed which the Lord offered, and that it was wine which He called His blood. Whence it appears that the blood of Christ is not offered if wine be wanting in the cup; but how shall we drink new wine of the fruit of the vine in the kingdom of the Father, if in the sacrifice of God the Father, we do not offer wine?” Now this, however little spiritual apprehension there may be as to the new wine of the kingdom, is clean against transubstantiation. “I wonder,” he adds, “that in some places, wine is offered in the cup of the Lord, which alone cannot express the blood of Christ. So we see that in the water the people are to be understood, but in the wine the blood of Christ is to be shewn forth: if both are united, a spiritual and heavenly sacrament is celebrated.” He held the sacrifice they offered to be the passion of the Lord, quoting I Corinthians 11:26 (Ep. 63, Cæcilio). So Athanasius (Ep. 4, ad Serapionem de S. So.) on John 6:62, “For here also He speaks both of Himself, flesh and spirit, and distinguishes spirit from flesh, that, believing not only what appears but what is invisible of Him, they might learn that what He was saying was not carnal but spiritual. For, for how many men would the body suffice for food, that this should be the nourishment of the whole world? Therefore He reminds them of the ascension of the Son of man into heaven, that He might draw them away from corporeal thought, and for the rest might learn that the flesh of which He spoke was heavenly food from above and spiritual nourishment given from Himself; ‘for what I have said to you,’ says he, ‘is spirit and life,’ as much as to say what is manifested and given for salvation of the world is the flesh which I carry, but this and the blood from it of me shall be spiritually given to you as food. So that this (nourishment) may be spiritually reproduced (anadidothai) in each, and be a preservative for all for resurrection to eternal life.” So earlier Clemens Alexandrinus (Pædagogus lib. I, 6 and lib. 2, 2). I cite the last as more short and simple. “He used wine, for He is a man also Himself, and He blessed indeed the wine, saying, Take, drink; for this is my blood, the blood of the vine.” He did not think it was transubstantiated. He is arguing against the Encratites who would not use it.
Cyril of Jerusalem uses language as strong in appearance as may be, but not that the substance is changed, but that faith sees the body there, and he really uses language which shews he never thought of such a change. Thus in the very place where he uses the strongest language, he says (Cat. 22, Myst. 4), “Do not regard (proseche) the bread and the wine as merely such (psilois), for they are the body and blood of Christ according to the Lord’s declaration.” They were still bread and wine, but to be received as the body and blood of Christ by faith, and citing Psalm 23 (22), interpreting it as a mystical table, apprehended by the understanding (noeten). I quote this the rather because it shews how the passages which speak of Christ’s flesh and blood do not contemplate any change of the substance; faith receives it; it is noeta, received by the mind. As bread suits the body, so the word the soul. So in 3, “For in the figure (tupo) of bread, His body is given to you, and in the figure of wine, His blood.” They are the tupoi, figures, of the body and blood. So Gregory Nyssen: (oratio octava) in his praise of Gorgon calls them the antitypes (antitupa) of the precious body and blood. There is one passage of Gregory Nazianzen which I must read before I turn to the Latins, shewing how Christendom had sunk into Judaism, but shewing most clearly the vagueness of their thoughts. I am almost ashamed to go through the quantity of passages I collected on the subject, but I do not myself attach the smallest authority to the uncertain and superstitious thoughts of the Fathers; but for you, or at least to clear your mind from the notion that it was a settled doctrine of faith, corrupt and superstitious as Christendom had become, I go through them.
R. Do not, I beg you, let it weary you. I can understand that, at your point of view, it is wearisome; but for me it is still a question of what is or was the faith of the church. I have ever held it to be unchanging, and the consent of the Fathers has been held ever as the solid ground of it, as embodying the tradition of the church and authoritatively interpreting Scripture. I see strong statements in what you have quoted as to its being, when consecrated, the body of Christ, but generally as to what we receive, not exactly transubstantiation.
N*. Note then these points. They do not speak as yet of transubstantiation, though, as I have fully admitted, they use very strong language as to receiving the body; such as Prostestants, many of them, the Anglican church for instance, still do. Further, supposing some declared it in terms and others stated the contrary, what is become of their authority or the consent of the Fathers? It is a mere private opinion, not the faith of the church.
R. That is true.
N*. The Council of Trent expressly takes, as you say, the ground of the consent of the Fathers, and that we have not certainty on this point. But I will quote then Gregory Nyssen: he is speaking on baptism, in the discourse, eis ten emeran ton photon, etc. “Wherefore despise not the lavatory, nor count it of little value, as if a common thing on account of the use of water, nor esteem it of light moment, for that which is wrought is great, and wonderful effects exist from it. For this holy altar also, at which we assist, is common stone according to its nature nothing different from other stone flags which build our walls,9 and adorn our pavements, but since they have been consecrated to the service of God, and have received the blessing, it is a holy temple, a spotless altar, not now touched by all, but only by the priests, and these in offices of piety. The bread again is in the first place common, but when the mystery shall have sanctified it, it is called the body of Christ. Thus the mystic oil, thus the wine, being of small worth before the blessing, after the sanctification which is of the Spirit, each of them works excellently. The same power of the word makes a venerable and honoured priest, by the new [force] of the blessing, separated from the profaneness of the many. For yesterday and the day before one of the many and of the people, he is suddenly presented as a leader, a president, a teacher of piety, initiator into hidden mysteries, and these things he does, nothing changed within, in body or in form, but being according to what appears, the same as he was, but changed as to his soul for the better, by a certain invisible power and grace, and thus applying the mind to many things, what appears to the sight is contemptible, but great things are effected.” Now the comparisons made here exclude the idea of transubstantiation. But the passage does more and shews that when the writers of this age speak of its becoming the body of Christ, it does not the least mean transubstantiation; and further that when they spoke of what appeared, they had no idea of a form and a totally distinct substance behind. There was nothing changed in body or in form. Chrysostom, if we are allowed to count his letter to Cæsarius as genuine, is quite clear on the point. He says, reasoning against Apollinarius, “For as before the bread is sanctified we call it bread, but divine grace sanctifying it by means of the priest, it is freed from the appellation of bread, but it is held to be worthy of the appellation of the Lord’s body, although the nature of bread remains in it, and we announce it not as two bodies, but as one.” Now if this be not Chrysostom’s it is quoted as such by John Damascene, Anastasius and the Fathers; it is an early writing of nearly the same age (the Jesuit Hardouin holds it is Chrysostom’s), and plainly shews that the positive doctrine of the bread’s remaining bread caused no scandal then. But Chrysostom himself at any rate, (and where pressing, as he is famous for doing, the importance of this ordinance) speaks of it as distinct from other food. “Do not look at it as bread, nor think of it as wine, for it does not as other food go into the draught. But as wax put to the fire does not lose any part nor leave anything superfluous, so also here reckon the mysteries to be consumed by the substance of the body” (De Poen. Horn. 9, 2, 350). This is transubstantiating into us. How little his mind is occupied with literal transubstantiation is evident from the way he repeats word for word in the second discourse on the betrayal by Judas what he says in the first, save the last words. In the first (11, 3 and 4), after saying the words “This is my body “made it the body of Christ, etc., he compares it to “Be fruitful and multiply,” which was efficient through succeeding generations; so these. And in the first discourse, he concludes by “Make it a perfect sacrifice”; in the second, “will ever increase with grace those worthily partaking of it.” The. wicked who partake increase their condemnation. But there is no thought of its being Christ Himself at any rate. The Homily on “Nolo vos ignorare” implies equally that it is spiritually Christ’s blood, not literally. Now in Chrysostom we have the Eucharist spoken of rhetorically beyond all the Fathers, and receiving Christ’s body and blood; but I find no trace of his not considering it as in fact bread and wine. “We are not to consider it such: they who receive worthily receive Christ.” On its being His body, he is plain enough, and saints receiving it; but he does not seem to have thought of transubstantiation in the modern sense. He speaks of the bread and the cup, and indeed when coming to the table to be looking up like an eagle to the sun, to Christ, and there applying “where the carcase is the eagles will be”; but all is such rhetoric that as doctrine it proves little. This is Homily 24 on 1 Corinthians. Were we to take the imperfect work on Matthew as Chrysostom’s, the denial of transubstantiation would be as clear and strong as possible. “In these sanctified vessels, in which the true body of Christ is not contained but the mystery of his body “(Chrys. Opera, ed. B., 6, 63, Appendix).10
D. But you can hardly say it is, or cite it for any doctrine.
N*. Certainly not. But I cite nothing of the Fathers for any doctrine: I should not think of doing so, but the Scriptures alone. I cite them for history; and although I do not think that this work can be considered Chrysostom’s, though cited for centuries as such by popes,11 and in Roman church services, and though only condemned by Pope Paul IV in the copies which were full of errors; yet (all the evidence carefully weighed) from its unsound doctrine, citation of the Vulgate, and other marks, it cannot be reasonably thought to be his, or even of the same age. But it was early, and historically shews that such a doctrine as the elements not being Christ’s body did not hinder popes and the Romish church services using it; and, I repeat I quote the Fathers only as history. I have only one quotation from the true Chrysostom to make; where he treats (in Horn. 82 and 83 on Matthew 26:26-28) on the institution of the Lord’s supper, he explicitly calls (7, p. 783, ed. Ben.) the sacrament symbols—tinos sumbola ta teloumena. Yet this is in a passage where he insists that Christ drank His own blood to make it more tolerable and easy for the disciples so to do, a point on which the ancients and ancient liturgies disagree. But we learn this, on a point treated before, that being a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice according to Chrysostom, and very justly, there could not be a transubstantiation of a now glorified Christ, nor indeed of a then living one; but an actually sacrificed Christ exists only in memory.
But we may now turn to plainer statements than the rhetoric of the golden-mouthed, Theodoret in his Dialogues, Dialogue I (vol. 4, Paris, 1642). He had been saying that the Saviour changes the names (giving the name of the thing to the symbol, and of the symbol to the thing, calling Himself a vine), and attributes the name of blood to the symbol. Eranistes asks why? He answers: “The purport is obvious to those who are initiated into the divine mysteries. He desired that those who participate in the divine mysteries should give heed to the nature of those things which are seen; but, by the change of names, have faith in the change which is made by grace. For He who called His body natural wheat and bread, and again called Himself a vine, honoured the visible symbols with the appellation of body and blood, not changing the nature, but adding grace to nature.” So what follows: “Of what thinkest thou that all-holy food to be the symbol and figure? The divinity of Christ the Lord, or of His body and blood?” This leaves no obscurity as to his thoughts; and “symbol” is the word we have seen Chrysostom use, who with Theodore of Mopsuestia were his theological masters.
But we have another, if possible, stronger passage in Dialogue II, the more striking because it is expressly the point in discussion. His adversary Eranistes denied two natures in Christ. The Word, he said, was made flesh. There was only one nature remaining; and he insists that flesh after the ascension was absorbed into the divine substance. Not only so, but he brings in the Lord’s supper to prove it. “As therefore,” he says, “the symbols of the Lord’s body and blood are one thing before the priest’s invocation, but after the invocation are changed and become another thing, so the Lord’s body after ascension is changed into the divine substance.” Orth.: You are taken in the net you have woven, for neither after the consecration do the mystical symbols leave their own nature, for they remain in their previous substance (ousias), form, and kind, and are visible and tangible as they were before, but they are thought to be what they have become, and are believed and worshipped as being these things which are believed. Noeitai de apas egeneto kai pisteuetai kai proskunetai os ekeina onta apais pisteuetai. These statements of so well-known and esteemed a father puzzled the Roman Catholic critics. Their discussions about it you may find in the fifth or posthumous volume by Garnier, a Jesuit, de fide Theodoreti (Paris, 1684, 478). The passages are in vol. 4 at the beginning. This was written about a.d. 446.
The truth is, one reading the Fathers cannot but see that, however rhetorical they may be about it, the thought of transubstantiation could not have been in their minds. I do not refer now to positive statements already quoted, but to collateral statements. Thus Cyprian writing against those who would have only water, says, If wine were not there, there was no figure of the blood; that the wine was the figure of the blood and the water of the Christian people. Who would think of transubstantiation here? So Augustine, It is said the rock was Christ; and insists that it is not said the rock signified Christ, but was Christ (Contra Adamantium 12, 5, and in sec. 3). So the Lord did not hesitate to say, in giving the sign of His body to His disciples, This is my body. And again (Er. in Psa. 3:1), when the great and admirable patience of our Lord received [Judas] to the feast in which He commended and delivered to His disciples the figure of His body and blood. But were I to cite all Augustine says on the subject I should not soon close. It is a point he insists on continually, so that Cardinal Du Perron had to write a book (Refutatio, etc., Paris, 1624) to explain away what he says. On Cone. Ad. 12, 3 he says, you must introduce “according to you,” that is, the Manicheans, which is really only a confession of the force of the passage. Tertullian, Cyril, Gaudentius, and others constantly declare a figure is not the truth, but the imitation of the truth.
I turn to Gelasius. Baronius and Bellarmine have tried to deny that he was Pope Gelasius, as it was awkward to have a pope denying transubstantiation, and there were two other Gelasiuses. But there is no real ground to question it, nor does it change the fact that a Father of the church, so-called, taught it, if he were not pope. They have ascribed it to Gelasius Cyzicenus, but those versed in such studies have no doubt that the treatise “De Duabus Naturis in Christo” is the work of the pope. Gelasius was pope in 492. Gelasius Cyzicenus was archbishop in 476. There was another of the name a century before, but he is not in question. We must ascribe it to the pope. He says, writing against the Eutychians and using the argument common to the Fathers, “Certain sacraments which we take of the body and blood of Christ are a divine thing, on account of which and by the same we are made participators [consortes] of the divine nature; and yet it does not cease to be the substance or nature of bread and wine. And certainly the image and similitude of the body and blood of Christ are celebrated in the action of the mysteries. It is therefore shewn to us evidently enough that that is to be felt by us in the Lord Christ Himself which we profess, celebrate, and are,12 that as they pass, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, into this that is divine substance, remaining however in the propriety (that which was proper to them) of their own nature, so that principal mystery itself whose efficacy and virtue they truly represent” (Gel. de D. N. Ch.). Such indeed was the constant argument of the day against the Eutychians. If one only read the Dialogues of Theodoret, which I have quoted, it will be found to run through them, as we have seen in the much earlier Irenaeus arguing against other heretics.
R. This reasoning of Irenaeus and Theodoret and Gelasius seems to me, I confess, to be of great force. There is no mistaking its import; because the comparison of the two natures in Christ and the denial of them by the heretics, and in Theodoret where his Eutychian opponent sought to make good his argument of Christ being made flesh or transubstantiated, and being met by Theodoret by the contradiction of its being so in the Eucharist, as an acknowledged truth too, leaves no question what their faith was, and it is confirmed by the other statements you have quoted. I do not understand how they can say the Fathers taught it.
N*. I am glad you see the force of the statements of these Fathers. Indeed the argument against Eutychianism in Theodoret and Gelasius, and of Irenaeus against the Gnostics or Docetae, leaves no doubt as to the common faith of the church; while they held, some in a very strong way, the participation in a spiritual sense in Christ’s body, making it as Irenaeus did effectual for the resurrection; so that Chrysostom also has to guard against its being a physical effect, or the wicked would arise with Christ’s glorious body (a strange conclusion); yet that transubstantiation evidently, in the proper sense of the word, was unknown.
Bill M. Sure enough, if it was His body, and was transubstantiated into ours who partake of it outwardly, the wicked would be transubstantiated into His pure and glorious body. I do not believe that.
D. But you see that the holy archbishop and doctor guards against it.
Bill M. How can he guard against it? He sees what I never thought of: what a terrible consequence flows from it! But either it is only received spiritually by true faith, or if it be its own efficacy, it must change one as well as the other, and I cannot help saying, though it is a shocking thought, the mouse’s too. They may bring judgment on a wicked man perhaps by it, but at any rate the poor mouse is innocent. I do not know what its worth really is, but none of these notions can be true.
D. I wonder so ignorant a person as you can speak so confidently about so holy a mystery, tremendous or fearful, as those holy men justly called it.
Bill M. I am an ignorant man, sir, and all this I never knew, or I might have been spared going wrong. But can you, sir, deny what we have been hearing, or can you explain how the wicked, if they really partake of it (and if it is it, they must partake of it, as I thought I did), do not get their bodies raised in glory, or what comes of it when an animal eats it?
D. I do not pretend to explain anything, but receive it by faith as the church holds and gives it; and you had confessed and received absolution before you took it.
Bill M. That is true, but I was not a bit really changed. I tried to behave myself just at the time, and ate nothing till I partook of it, but I never thought of sin or salvation as I do now. It was only just being safe through these things being done for me, and I had my conscience easy for a moment, but I was not a really changed man at all, and if I did not receive at Easter, I was in mortal sin; so they told me. For my part, though I was not exactly a bad liver, I believe I was in mortal sin all the time.
D. I dare say you were, and, not having faith in the holy mystery, got no good of it.
Bill M. Excuse me, sir, I did believe it; I accepted all the priest told me, and joined the Catholics because I did, and did all they bid me. I was in earnest, but I was as to sinfulness just what I was before. I do not pretend to understand much, but that I know for certain; I have nothing to pretend to now, but I know I see the difference.
R. But, Mr. D., we are inquiring whether the views Bill M. and I myself have held are true. You who have very lately adopted them after having long utterly rejected them as blasphemies and dangerous deceits, have appealed to the Fathers, and when we examine them, though some, and especially Chrysostom, use very strong language as to the sacrifice of the Eucharist, yet, as it would seem, one after another teaches what clearly denies transubstantiation. You appealed to them: we have examined them, and do not find your assertion as to what they held, made good. Our friend, Bill M., on the other hand, declares that he was not a changed man in point of fact when he partook of the Eucharist in the Mass. Now Catholics hold that man is born again in baptism, but few or none maintain baptismal grace, and therefore penance is needed, and, perhaps, renewal of heart is called for. Now we know, alas! that multitudes who partake at Easter are not changed men in the least in their lives, nor those even who frequent the celebration of mass and receive oftener. This is notorious. It may be their own fault, but the fact is so; so that you cannot complain of Bill M., when he says it was his own case. It will not do; if we are to believe that what we all confess to be a little flour and water by consecration becomes God, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of the Lord Jesus, we can do so, scorning the convictions of one who has had his eyes, he alleges, opened as to real godliness, and this partaking of Christ producing no effect of the kind. It may be painful to have one’s faith shaken, but we must find somewhere divine authority for divine faith.
D. But there is the church, sir.
R. The church teaches that she believes quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, and we are told to interpret Scripture by consent of the Fathers. Now this we cannot say we have as to transubstantiation. For if some did believe in it (which is not yet apparent), certainly a great many did not, and early ones; so that both rules fail. You talk of the Fathers and the church, but they do not, in primitive times at least, make good your assertion. But I confess I should like to continue our search into these ancient authorities.
N*. We will return to our quotations. I have only given such as I have found in those of these ancient authors which I myself have access to; but these are really sufficient. I will add one quoted from a collection, not having Procopius of Gaza. “For He gave the image of His own body to His disciples no longer admitting [or accepting] the bloody sacrifices of the law,” and then it speaks of the purity of the bread by which we are nourished, as the whiteness mentioned in the prophecy as to Judah, a common reference in the Fathers.13
I go on to Eusebius in his Demonstratio Evangelica from whom Procopius draws it (lib. I, 10, Paris, 1628, p. 37). After speaking of Christ’s sacrifice supplanting all the Jewish figures of it, he says: “We who believe in him are free from the curse of Moses and justly since they daily celebrate the remembrance [upomnesin] of his body, and of his blood”; and (38) “Christ having offered for us all an offering [thuma] and sacrifice as slain [sphagion] and given to us a memorial, for (or instead of) a sacrifice [ami thusias] to offer continually to God.” The sphagion, the actual sacrifice, Christ had offered to His Father (anenegke, a sacrificial term for offering up on the altar); but He delivered there to us also a memorial to be continually presented to God (prospherein the bringing up as such), in place of, to serve instead of, a sacrifice. And again (p. 39), saying how according to Psalm 45 Christ had offered Himself a sacrifice to God in place of the old Jewish sacrifices: “As therefore we have received to celebrate the memorial of this sacrifice on a table by symbols both of His body and His blood, according to the rites of the new covenant,” and then he goes on to cite Psalm 23, as a table spread in the presence of their enemies, etc. Now he speaks of unbloody and intelligent offerings, but they are for men only symbols and memorials. So in book 8 at the very end of the very first part (apo tes geneseos) after the preface (p. 380) he says, commenting partly on the blessing of Judah, which the Fathers are very fond of, and partly on the prophecy of Zechariah: “For by the wine which is the symbol of His blood, those who are baptised to His death and believe in His blood, are purged from their old evils.” And after speaking of it as mystic food, and quoting the Lord’s words, he adds: “for again He delivered to His own disciples the symbols of the divine dispensation to make it the image of His own body [ten eikona tou idiou somatos].” They were no longer to use bloody sacrifices, nor slain offerings [sphagia] of divers animals as under Moses; but He “taught them to use bread [as] a symbol of His own body” (Eusebius, Dem. Ev.). I have gone a little backwards in date, for Eusebius was in Constantine’s time, early in the fourth century; but this does not weaken his testimony, which is plain enough.
I turn now to Ambrose, a pious man doubtless, but as superstitious as the most bigoted heart could wish. Our friend Dr. Milner says he passes by Tertullian, Cyprian, etc., but cannot Ambrose, and quotes, as they all do, a treatise De Mysteriis, and another De Sacramentis. But all these things have to be looked into. It is one of the painful things in these inquiries that you cannot trust such writers as Dr. Milner. In the first place, the first treatise is doubtful, and the second is very generally rejected. They both, however, take exactly the same ground as to doctrine. Bellarmine holds them to be genuine, being quoted by subsequent doctors: I will therefore take notice of them. One thing is quite certain, that according to the Romish doctrine both are heretical. There is a good deal of nonsense in them and extraordinary applications of Scripture; but this we must expect from the Fathers. The author, whoever he is, says that the angels also doubted, when Christ rose. The powers of the heavens doubted seeing that flesh ascended into heaven. At last they said: “Who is this King of glory?” and when some said, “Lift up your heads,” etc., others doubted, saying, “Who is this King of glory?” “In Isaiah also thou hast the virtues of the heavens doubting, saying, ‘Who is this that cometh from Edom?’”
Bill M. But do you think the angels and heavenly powers doubt that way, sir?
N*. In truth, I do not. I give it only as a specimen of patristic interpretation. We read the angels came and ministered to Christ, and they told the women He was risen; but nothing is too absurd for the Fathers. However we will say no more of them. But in the first treatise, he states that the washing of baptism clears from actual sins, and refers to the Lord’s word to Peter, “Ye are clean,” in John 13; but that then He washed their feet, and that was what cleansed from original sin, because, as the devil had tripped him up, he wanted the soles of his feet cleansed (Cap. 5, or §32, p. 335, 2, Benedictine edition). The same is repeated in De Sacramentis. (Lib. 3, cap. 1, 9, p. 364.) Now the Romish doctrine holds distinctly that original sin is done away by baptism. In this second treatise it is noticed this was not done in Rome. The editors state that it was in various places in France.
R. But it is alleged these treatises are not genuine, so that Ambrose may not be chargeable with all this.
N*. It is possible: yet the catechism of the Council of Trent founds its doctrine on them (De Ecc. 2:32). Bellarmine and Milner quote it as particularly to their purpose, being (like Cyril’s) the teaching of catechumens and thus of those admitted already. As the Lord’s supper was kept a secret from others, they liked, like the heathen, to have initiation and mysteries, and used the terms. But let us see how they speak of them. In the “De Mysteriis,” he does speak of changing the nature as is alleged, but it is not in a material sense; for in the next paragraph (9, 53, p. 340), though begotten miraculously, he says, The flesh of Christ is true [flesh] which is crucified, which is buried, truly therefore it is the sacrament of His flesh. But a sacrament of a thing is never the thing itself, as is urged by Augustine, Tertullian, etc. In the De Sacramentis, lib. 4, cap. 4, §15, p. 369, “If therefore such great force is in the word of the Lord Jesus, that things began to be which were not, how much more does it operate that they should be what they were, and be changed into another thing?” And the comparison which follows shews that, while they thought people received Christ, they had no thought of a corporal or physical change in insisting on its being the body of Christ after consecration. He says, referring to baptism, “There thou wast thyself, but thou wast an old creature: afterwards when thou wast consecrated, thou begannest to be a new creature: dost thou wish to know how a new creature? Every one that is in Christ is a new creature.”
We afterwards find a direct denial (lib. 4, cap. 7, §27, 28, p. 372) of the doctrine of the Epistle to the Hebrews. But this belongs to the whole doctrine of the offering of the Mass, and I will not enter farther into it. It is a fundamental question as to what Christian redemption is.
R. But it is this which troubles me in the doctrine, I am free to confess. It seems to militate against the efficacy of Christ’s offering offered once for all, and the statement that there is no more offering for sins.
N*. Surely it does. I will quote for you then what I have alluded to. The words run thus. After reciting the prayer of the service of the Mass which blasphemously prays that the offering may be received like that of Abel and Melchizedec and carried by the angels to the altar on high, he says to the catechumens: “Therefore, as often as thou receivest, what doth the apostle say to thee? As often as we receive, we announce the Lord’s death. If we announce death, we announce remission of sins. If, as often as the blood is shed it is shed for the remission of sins, I ought always to receive it that my sins may be always forgiven. I who always sin ought always to have the medicine.” Now if we read Hebrews 10 this is in open and flagrant opposition to it. No honest mind can read the two and not see it. The whole effect of Hebrews 10 is to shew there can be no repetition of the sacrifice, and that the forgiveness is complete and full.
R. I confess I cannot reconcile them. Hebrews 10 is very strong; I do not say I realise it, but certainly I cannot reconcile it with the doctrine of the Mass.
D. But these are the private opinions of the Fathers.
N*. No doubt; but it is, you say, by the consent of the Fathers, Scripture is to be interpreted. Now, if even some Fathers teach transubstantiation, which in the modern and scholastic sense I deny, certainly many we have cited teach the contrary, and there is no consent. Strange to say, the canon of the Mass itself calls it bread, after the consecration.
R. How is that?
N*. After the consecration, and adoration by the consecrating priest, both of the bread and of the wine, he says in the prayer, commencing, “Unde et memores,” etc.—We offer to thy illustrious majesty of thy gifts (donis et datis) a pure victim, a holy victim, an immaculate victim, the holy bread of eternal life, and the cup of eternal salvation.
D. But this may mean Christ as the bread of life.
N*. I suppose it may be taken so, but then the blasphemy of the following prayer comes out in all its grossness; in which it is asked that God may deign to look upon it with a propitious and serene countenance, and to accept them as He had deigned to accept the gifts of His righteous servant Abel, etc. There can be little doubt that the prayer is borrowed from the ancient offerings before consecration, but as it stands it is really blasphemy.
R. It is strange and perplexing, but, Mr. N., we are not accustomed to examine these things.
N*. I am aware you are not, but when they are examined, their real and unscriptural, and here really blasphemous, character comes out at once. But Ambrose has made us wander a little from our subject. We may turn to Augustine— along with Jerome the most influential of the Latin Fathers, as to doctrine more so. But of Jerome first, as he has not much on the subject.
Jerome, as superstitious as any monk could wish, knew of no such doctrine. Referring to the corn and wine and oil of which the Psalm speaks, he says, Of which the bread of the Lord is made, and the type of His blood is filled, and the blessing of sanctification is shewn, etc. (Com. in Jeremiam, 6, 31, 4,1063, ed. Vall.). And again when he introduces Jovinian, denouncing his antimonastic teaching, to combat it he makes him say: In type of His blood, He offered not water, but wine. It is of course said that Jovinian was a heretic, not that there is the least proof he was; but Jerome has no thought of combating this, but only the use of the wine as justifying the rejection of such asceticism. It passes with him as a matter taken for granted, with both as a matter known by all. But there is more than this. In meeting Jovinian’s statement so given by him, and speaking of the abstemiousness of Christ, he says it is written, He never was a slave to His throat or to His belly, that is, abstained from drink or gluttony, the mystery excepted (that is, the Lord’s supper), where He made it the type of His passion (in typum passionis expressit)—gave it that character and turned it into that.
I may turn to Augustine in his Tractatus 26; he is full of its being spiritually eaten. Many ate the manna, he says, who pleased the Lord, and are not dead. Why? Because they understood visible food spiritually, they hungered spiritually, tasted spiritually, and were satisfied spiritually. For we also at this day receive visible food, but the sacrament is one thing, the virtue of the sacrament another. So again (Ssc. 15): The sacrament of the unity of the body and blood of Christ is prepared in some places daily; in some at certain intervals on the Lord’s table, and is taken from the Lord’s table by some to life, by some to ruin; but the thing itself of which it is the sacrament is for every man to life, to doubt to ruin whoever has partaken of it. The many receive of the altar and die, die by receiving. And after speaking of Judas, he says: See therefore, brethren, that ye eat the heavenly bread spiritually; and if forgiven, approach in security, it is bread, not poison. After referring to the unity of the body the church, he says: This therefore is to eat that food, and to drink that drink, to abide in Christ, and have Christ abide in oneself, and through this he who does not abide in Christ, and in whom Christ does not abide, beyond doubt does not eat His flesh nor drink His blood, but rather eats to his own judgment the sacrament of so great a thing. In the Tractatus 45, he is comparing Israel and Christians. The Red Sea is baptism, etc., “the same faith with different signs,” and again, “See then, faith remaining, the signs varied.” There the rock is Christ: for us Christ is what is placed upon the altar, and is a great sacrament of the same Christ. They drank of the water that flowed from the rock: “If you attend to the visible form, it is different: if to the intelligible signification, it is the same; they drank the same spiritual drink.” This comparison of that rock was Christ with the Lord’s supper, because both were a sign of Christ, he very often repeats. We have seen in Tr. 45 on St. John; again in Tr. 26, 27.
I will quote enough to give his thoughts. He says in general (De Civ. D., 10,5) Sacramentum, id est sacrum signum, I cite as a key to many passages. As all things that have a signification seem in a certain way to fill the role (sustinere personas) of those things which they signify, as is said by the apostle, the rock was Christ, since the rock of which that is said signified indeed Christ. So again, Quaest. in Lev. 3:57, he refers to Pharaoh’s dream, the seven ears are seven years, and “That rock was Christ”; for he does not say the rock signifies Christ, but as if He was this, what substantially He was not, but by signification. Again on John, Tract. 63: As therefore Scripture is accustomed to speak, he, calling the things that signify as if they were the things signified, largely insists in the questions on Leviticus already quoted, as to the life being the blood. Referring to this principle, he says (Contra Ad. 12, 3) (besides what I have said above) that it does not belong to me to say what becomes of the soul of a beast; I may also interpret that precept as applying to it as a sign (in signo positum). For the Lord does not hesitate to say, “This is my body,” when He gave the sign of His body.
In the treatise De Doctrina Christiana (referring to John 6) 3, 26 (16) He interprets eating His flesh and drinking His blood as a figure, which is, according to the truth of the mystery, done in baptism. If a preceptive expression seems to command a crime or act of wickedness … it is a figure. “Unless ye eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, ye have no life in you.” It seems to command an act of wickedness or crime, it is therefore a figure telling us to have communion with the passion, and laying up sweetly in memory that His flesh was crucified and wounded for us. In the Enarratio on Psalm 98:9, he says, speaking of eating His flesh, “It is the Spirit that quickens. Understand what I say spiritually. You are not going to eat this body which you see, nor drink that blood which those who will crucify me are about to pour out. I have commended to you something sacramental (sacramentum aliquid): spiritually understood, it will vivify you. Although it is necessary that that should be visibly celebrated, yet it ought to be invisibly understood.” I may quote one passage more from Tr. on John, Tr. 26 (on John 6), “The manna signified this bread: the altar of God signified this bread. They were sacraments; in the signs they were diverse; in the thing signified, they are alike … all have eaten the same spiritual food. The same spiritual indeed, for the bodily is different, for they had the manna; we another thing, but as to the spiritual what we have.”
Now you know, Mr. R., that to maintain transubstantiation you have, believing that Christ is in heaven as a man, to hold that Christ is not in extension as filling space in the Eucharist. This is distinctly held and asserted, but only as substance according to the unfounded and obsolete scholastic material philosophy. But though Chrysostom and Ambrose in East and West speak in the strongest terms rhetorically, the doctrine of the ancient Fathers was not transubstantiation, but the contrary. Such a thing was never thought of as its not being bread, only they would say it was not common bread, after the epiklesis or invocation to which they attributed the change, which made it a sacramental figure of Christ’s body and blood, efficacious in blessing where faith was, as Augustine diligently insists. It is historically certain, that some of the greatest scholastic doctors, as Scotus, did not hold it; that even down to the Reformation it was said by the Romish doctors and prelates that it could not be proved by Scripture, so that Bellarmine says this is probable; and that it never was decreed as a dogma till 1215. Bellarmine asserts that a local Roman council had a short time before. The contrary doctrine was used as an argument to prove that Christ had taken flesh and had two natures. Of all the Fathers, Cyril is perhaps the strongest in the Catechetical discourses which he delivered, says Jerome, when a young man. Not only he speaks of the bread and wine as Christ’s body and blood, but calls them, in his lecture on the sacramental service, a sacrifice of propitiation.
But, after all, I do not see any sign of the thought of transubstantiation, unless in the comparisons he makes, and these have no value, because in these the form was changed as Moses’ rod into a serpent, and the water into the best wine, known to be such by tasting; whereas Cyril told them they are not to mind the taste: in the form (tupo) of the bread and wine they have the body and the blood which will sanctify body and soul, and being distributed into our members, we become, as Peter says, partakers of the divine nature. “But,” he says, “do not regard (proseche) [them] as mere (psilois, the word constantly so used) bread and wine.”
Now Cyril teaches it is a propitiatory sacrifice, and good for souls dead in their sins or without any, and refers to intercession of saints, but I do not think that he had the thought that there was no bread and wine there. He uses the word tupos (Cat. 13, 19) as do the other Fathers constantly, for the figure, as did the Latins typus. This is used by Theodoret as equivalent to symbol, and antimpos, the word used in the Hebrews for the tabernacle compared with heaven. Procopius uses it as identical with image or effigy, on Genesis 49:12. So that far as Cyril went in the system of superstition, it is (I think) plain he did not believe in any real change of substance. The strongest term he uses is metabebletai, cap. 23, Myst. 5, 7; the Holy Spirit sanctifies and changes all it touches, but it is clear that this cannot be said of everything. Was Christ changed, transubstantiated, when the Holy Ghost came upon Him? or the hundred and twenty on the day of Pentecost? A change took place, but there was no transubstantiation, and this is so clearly the case that he uses the same language in Cat. 21, Myst. 3, as to the anointing: it is not mere (psilon) oil, but efficient for communicating the Spirit, comparing it in terms with the Eucharist. “For as the bread of the Eucharist after the invocation of the Holy Ghost is not mere bread, but the body of Christ, so this holy ointment is no longer mere [ointment] but the charisma of Christ made effectual by the presence of His divinity, and is symbolically applied to thy forehead and other senses. And while the body is anointed with visible ointment, the soul is sanctified with the holy and vivifying Spirit.” (Compare 23, 7, and the language of 22, Myst. 4, 6.) He calls it tupon of bread (Cat. 13). If you desire to see the uncertainty and absurdity of the Father’s interpretation, read this Cat. 13, 21. The idea of transubstantiation was foreign to Cyril; but what his language shews is that, with these Fathers, those who use the strongest do not mean transubstantiation thereby as now held at Rome.
R. But Cyril’s language is very strong.
N*. It is the strongest, I believe, used, and therefore I refer to it, and false doctrine I believe, if Scriptures be true, as to its being a propitiatory sacrifice. But this is the force of my argument, that the strongest language does not mean what is now taught; for he says, after the invocation, the bread is not mere bread, using the same words as to the ointment, where there can be no supposition of any sort of change, and which he makes merely efficacious in the anointed and expressly compares with the Lord’s supper.
D. But why should we not take his statements simply, that it is the body? These great Fathers whom you treat so lightly use language which all those who reject the Catholic doctrine decline using.
N*. Why should a man have authority because he wrote fourteen centuries ago?
D. Because of the universal reverence of the church, and being nearer the fountain-head.
N*. In the first place they were four and five hundred years from the source, a lapse of time which disappears in the distance. They had fallen into the doctrines and commandments of men; and, remark, the early Fathers held unequivocally the contrary doctrine: replying to the Docetæ and afterwards to the Eutychians that there being two things in the Eucharist proved that there was more than one in Christ.
R. That is true.
N*. And further if these later Fathers held it, which I do not admit, the consent of the Fathers is a fable, for it is certain that the earlier ones did not, but insisted that the bread was there. I would now shew that the doctrine was not made a matter of faith in the church till quite late in its history. I might quote a multitude of passages from the Fathers to the same purpose as those I have already brought forward, which are to be found in treatises on the subject, but what I have given is sufficient. I add some lower down in age. Thus Ephrem, archbishop of Antioch in the sixth century, quoted by Photius, Bibl. 229, to prove there was no confusion of natures in Christ, compares the case of the Eucharist (as Irenaeus had done with the Docetæ, which was indeed usual in writing against the Eutychians), and says, “Thus the body of Christ, which is received by the faithful, does not put off substance known by the senses, and remains unseparated from the grace known by the thought; and baptism, while it becomes wholly spiritual and one thing, preserves what is proper to it as perceived by the senses, I mean water, and does not lose what it has become. So Facundus about the same time, “The sacrament of adoption [baptism] may be called adoption, as the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ consecrated in the bread and wine is said to be His body and His blood, not that His body be bread or His blood wine, but because the bread and wine are the sacrament of His body and blood, and therefore so called by Christ when He gave them to His disciples.”14 Bede, in the eighth century, is express. (Compare Luke 22 and Psalm 3.) In the last he says, “Neither did He exclude him [Judas] from the most sacred supper in which He delivered to His disciples the figure of His most holy body and blood.” So in the Ambrosian office, so-called, it is said, “which is the figure of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.” With this we must remember that the elements are constantly called types and antitypes. I now turn to Bernard.
In his sermon on the supper of the Lord which is much more one on indwelling sin, he says, however, “A sacrament is called a sacred sign or sacred secret. Many things indeed are for themselves alone, others to designate other things, and they are called signs. That we may take an example from common things, a ring is given, absolutely a ring, and has no signification; it is given as the investiture of some inheritance and it is a sign so that he who receives it can say, The ring is nothing worth, but the inheritance which I seek. In this manner therefore, the Lord, drawing near His passion, took care in His grace to give investiture to His own, that invisible grace might be afforded [prsestaretur] by a certain visible sign. To this purpose all the sacraments were instituted.” Then he goes through these; the partaking of the Eucharist, washing the feet, and baptism. He had said these would be enough for them. He was the last of the Fathers so-called, and was after Berengarius as to whom the question had been very rudely agitated. Aucalaurius, deacon of Metz, in the ninth century, says (De Euch. Off. 1, 29), “For sacraments are somewhat to resemble these things whereof they are sacraments … the sacrament of the body of Christ is in some manner the body of Christ. For sacraments should not be sacraments if in some things they had not the likeness of that whereof they are sacraments. Now by reason of this mutual likeness they oftentimes are called by what they represent,” 3, 24. Yet he also uses language which is tantamount to transubstantiation, so uncertain were these men.
D. But these are very late, and can hardly be called Fathers.
N*. Exactly so, I cite them not as any authority, but to shew how late a doctrine which subverts transubstantiation passed current in Christendom as orthodox and right. Bernard is generally counted the last of the Fathers: I have already quoted him shewing that till the twelfth century the most eminent men of their day held this with impunity. Bernard had more influence in his day than any man in Christendom.
D. But it was opposed and condemned in Berengarius.
N*. It was, but that did not hinder multitudes of eminent men from holding and defending it. It was in the ninth century especially discussed, and both doctrines were held and taught. There were partial condemnations of this denial of transubstantiation, Paschasius Radbert leading the way for the doctrine. Rabanus Maurus, the most famous man of his day in the middle of the ninth century, was wholly opposed to it, as was John Scot Erigena, Ratramnus, or Bertram who wrote a little later. So we have Alfric in a homily ordered to be read in the Anglo-Saxon churches; the last in the tenth century,15 Berengarius in the eleventh, and he was called up about it! All these wrote against transubstantiation; as we have seen, Bernard did too in the twelfth. Paschasius Radbert first wrote insisting on it in the ninth, Lanfranc afterwards against Berengarius. In 1215 it was established as a dogma, in the time of Innocent III, who established the Inquisition and set on foot the crusades against the Albigenses and Waldenses.
Let us look a little into these cases, for this is the true epoch of the establishment of the doctrine by Rome. I may first mention the second Council of Constantinople of three hundred and thirty-eight prelates (Hard. Cone. 4, 367; 2nd Cone, of this Action 6) in 754. The Council was against images, but they say, “you could not bring the divine mfiniteness of Christ in glory into a painted finite image,” and adds, “he chose no other form under heaven or type to give the image (eikonisai) of His incarnation than the Eucharist which “He gave to His initiated (mustais) for a type and effectual remembrance… He ordained the substance of bread to be offered having no way the form of a man that idolatry might not be brought in.” They call “the bread of the Eucharist” a true image (apseude eikona) of his natural flesh (phusikes sarkos). And a good deal more; but this suffices. His flippant respondent Epiphanius objects to calling it an image after it has been consecrated, saying it has never been so called; a statement so notoriously false that the Roman Catholic annotators have corrected it and cited instances in the margin.
The second of Nice (787) brought in images again under the influence of Irene; put down under Leo, they were set up again under Theodora his widow, and a festival established in commemoration. In England (792) and at Frankfort under Charlemagne (794), where some eight hundred prelates were assembled, the second Council of Nice was condemned. So was the doctrine in the Council of Illiberis in Spain at the same epoch, noticed here to shew the dates of these questions. Up to 824 purity as to this was maintained. In the middle of the ninth century Paschasius Radbert introduced transubstantiation in the West, as John of Damascus some few years before the Council of Constantinople (654) in the East, just a century before Radbert. Sirmondi, in a short life prefixed to Radbert’s works in the Bib. Max. Pat. says (14, 353), “He first so explained the genuine sense of the Catholic church, that he opened the way to others who in numbers wrote afterwards on the same subject.” And Bellarmine says he was the first author who wrote seriously and copiously concerning the verity of the body and blood of the Lord in the Eucharist.
Paschasius Radbert does not speak of transubstantiation, but he does speak of the Eucharist being really the body and blood of Christ; and that body and blood which was born of the virgin and which suffered, as there could not be any other. That as Christ as man was created in the virgin’s womb by the power of the Holy Ghost, so by the operation of the Holy Ghost it is Christ in the Eucharist—faith knows Him to be there as it would the divinity in Christ hanging on the cross. There is nothing of the school doctrine of substance and accidents, and so far from its being a church dogma, he says in his second treatise, to Frudegarde who doubted through reading Augustine, that many doubted. The whole work is tie reasoning of an individual to prove his point. He fully holds it is the flesh of Christ, but speaks of eating it spiritually interiorly; and that he who is not dwelling in Christ, though he seems to receive it with his mouth, does not really.
D. But you do not mean that Radbert did not believe in transubstantiation?
N*. I do not say that exactly. That he believed the Eucharist was the true body and blood of Christ is quite clear. But the scholastic view, brought in later by Lombard, was not yet established. He was the first that spoke as plainly as he did, but he does not bring it out as it was brought out afterwards, and has no thought of it being a dogma of the church, but twice over in his second letter says many doubted it. And he puts baptism, the chrism, and the Eucharist on the same ground, but he holds that it was the same body that hung upon the cross. He calls it a figure, but says it was the truth of the thing too as Christ was as to God. What I insist on with Sirmondi and Bellarmine is that he was the first that propounded the doctrine; and this tells the whole story: it is a doctrine which came in quite late and was opposed, as we shall now see, by the greatest men of the age.
Bertram or Ratramnus I need hardly quote. The Emperor Carolus Calvus had asked him the question whether it was literally or figuratively Christ’s body, and the book is to shew it was the latter. His doctrine is the usual doctrine of the Fathers, that by faith they partook of Christ’s body and blood in spiritual efficacy, but that literally it was bread and wine as before, and as we have seen others do, he refers to baptism and anointing as a similar case, nobody pretending the water or oil was changed, only it became spiritually efficacious. In the preface, London, 1688, a list of those who taught the same doctrine at the same time, beginning with Charles the Great to Alcuin, is given. Alfric, whom I have named, is a proof how Ratramn was received, as his statements are taken from Ratramn. The whole history of the writers of this age shews it was now first introduced, and at once called in question. Rabanus Maurus, the greatest man of his day, opposed it. He says (De Institutione Clericorum, 1, 31), “Because the sacrament is one thing, the virtue of the sacrament another; for the sacrament is received by the mouth; by the virtue of the sacrament the inward man is satiated; for the sacrament is reduced into an aliment of the body, but by the virtue of the sacrament the dignity of eternal life is obtained.” And just before, “and as the invisible God appeared in visible flesh, so also He demonstrated an invisible thing by visible matter,” and again as Melchisedec offered bread and wine, the great high priest should do the same. He says (Penitential, 6, 33), “For some of late, not thinking rightly of the sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord, have said that the very body and blood of our Lord which was born and in which the Lord Himself suffered on the cross and rose out of the sepulchre … [in opposition] to which error as far as we could in writing to the Abbot Egilus, we have opened up what is really to be believed about His body”; where, for what specifically was spoken, a blank was left in the copy, but plenty is left. In my copy of Rab. Maur. (lib. 6 on Matt.) he tells us He (Christ) “substituted the sacrament of His body and blood for the flesh and blood of the Lamb and breaks the bread which He handed to the disciples, to shew that the fraction of His body was not without His own voluntary act.” “Because therefore the bread strengthens the body, and wine produces blood in the flesh, that refers mystically to the body of Christ, this to His blood.” There is no doubt that Rab. Maurus was wholly opposed to the doctrine, though held to be the greatest light in his day. There is a curious circumstance, shewing how we have to be on our guard in these inquiries. The works of Fulbert of Chartres were published in Paris. Referring to eating Christ’s flesh, it is said, “It seems to command a crime or atrocity. It is therefore a figure, saith the heretic, commanding only communion with the passion of the Lord.” But some one reminded the publisher that the words were Augustine’s own. Unless the fraud was still more wilful, in the hope nobody would look to the errata, he puts in the errata that the words: “the heretic saith,” were not in the MS.
R. But do you mean that the text was wilfully changed?
N*. Judge for yourself. He tells us the words were not in the MS.
R. This is very bad.
N*. Surely it is, but they changed Ambrose in the same way. He writes, speaking of the elements, that “they should be what they were, and be changed into another thing,” they published it as “what they were should be changed into another thing.” They changed passages in the imperfect work on Matthew, ascribed to Chrysostom, from a direct testimony against transubstantiation to the contrary; leaving the part out or boldly changing it. The Benedictine edition has restored in Ambrose what flatly, in terms, contradicts transubstantiation. John Scot Erigena at this time also wrote clearly against this new doctrine. His book was not condemned for two hundred years. But the Emperor Charles asked Ratramn, a man much looked up to, to write his well-known book against the new notion. No Roman Catholic denies this, though they at one time attempted to father it on others. It only proves, says a Jesuit, “that the heresy of Calvin was not new.”
Thus what history clearly shews is that the introduction of this doctrine in the West was in the ninth century. But it was then and afterwards strenuously resisted by doctors, prelates, and emperors; it was then in no sense a doctrine of the church. But it gradually prevailed; and controversy broke out afresh when Berengarius maintained the ancient doctrine, and appealed to Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, etc. He was brought before several Councils under Leo IX, Victor II, and Nicholas II. In one he was made to sign a confession prepared by Cardinal Humbert, which says at the end, that the body and blood of Christ are handled and broken by the hands of the priests and ground with the teeth of the faithful and sensible (sensualiter), not sacramentally only but in truth. The marginal gloss warns us to apply this only to the visible form, or we should be worse heretics than Berengarius. (Corp. Jur. Can. Deer, tertia pars, Dis. 2, cap. 42; Lyons, 1671, pp. 19, 31.) He speaks in the beginning of having held it was only sacramentally. (Bar. 1059, 13, 14, 17, 152-3.) John Erigena was also condemned: this was at Rome by the Pope and a hundred and thirteen prelates. Berengarius yielded to fear, but went on afterwards with his doctrine, and wrote against his recantation and denounced the Council. He was again cited by Pope Hildebrand, the most violent of popes who forced celibacy on the clergy. In this Council, Rom. 6 (Hard. 6, 1583), it is declared that the major part held the literal body and blood were there, but that many thought thus, and others thus, and a fast appointed and three months given to Berengarius, having had three days’ discussion in the synod. Berengarius signed a confession that the bread was substantially changed. As some state, he sold all he had and worked for his livelihood. Lanfranc, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote against him and brought the doctrine to England. But at the time, as the English historians of the middle ages declare, almost all the English, French, and Italian bishops agreed with Berengarius; he had been acquitted at Tours, signing a confession which is not extant that I know. Lanfranc was his great opponent, and we have to learn all relating to him chiefly in Lanfranc’s abusive statements. In the Council of Vercelh” (1050), where Lanfranc was and Berengarius sent two, John Erigena was condemned, and Berengarius. I should have noticed that Erigena was murdered by the students where he taught, it is said at the instigation of the monks.
D. But Berengarius was a worthless man, denying his own oath, and teaching the contrary of what he had sworn to.
R. I do not see that this proves much as to the history of the doctrine, Mr. D.; it proves his weakness.
N*. Berengarius was reputed both a holy and learned man. His denial at Rome of what he held proved his weakness assuredly, but we have never been tried or we might have to put our hand in the fire as Cranmer, for signing a confession he was gradually drawn into. It appears the prelate of Angers, where he was archdeacon, agreed with him, and he was defended by many of the French clergy; no doubt when he got back among them his courage, which had failed when alone among his enemies, revived. Lanfranc, then a monk in France, pursued his point with relentless and abusive violence.
But the question is not the character of Berengarius but the history of transubstantiation, and I hardly know how it would be made clearer than by the facts we have been surveying. The Roman historian admits there was only a majority in the Roman council, and decided after three days’ discussion. It was not then a dogma of the church. That the doctrine at length prevailed in the Roman church we all know. I quote a summary (from Gieseler, 3rd Div. chap. 5, sec. 77) by Algenis of the current opinions about 1130. “Some think the bread and wine are not changed, but that it is only a sacrament, as the water of baptism and oil of the chrism; they say that it is called the body of Christ not truly but figuratively. Others say that the bread is not only a sacrament but that Christ is, as it were, embodied in the bread [impanatum] as God was personally incarnate in flesh. Others that the bread and wine are changed into flesh and blood, but not that of Christ, but of some son of man holy and accepted of God, that what Christ said may be fulfilled, ‘unless ye eat the flesh of [a] Son of man [carnem filii hominis] ye will not have life in you.’ Others, that evil in the consecrator annulled the invocation of the divine name. Others, that it was really changed; but by evil in recipients it returned into a mere sacrament.” Now it is perfectly impossible a person, presbyter and afterwards monk, could write in this way if it had been a fixed dogma of the church. I have already referred to Bernard in the middle of the twelfth century (Sermo 1, in Coena Dom. 2). Indeed the mystics generally took the spiritual as contrasted with the material side. Finally in the fourth Council of Lateran under Innocent III in 1215, it was decided to be the faith of the church.
Other circumstances confirm this. It was then the giving the communion to children began to be set aside, it continued locally for two or three centuries; the cup began to be withheld from the laity, although by many such a practice was entirely condemned. Gratian (De ret p. 3, Dist. 2, 5, 12) quoting Pope Gelasius that they should take it in both species or not at all. And this was general, but the withdrawal of the cup began now. Alexander Hales (whose works I have not) discusses it at large. In two centuries the cup was universally refused to the laity. On all these things I do not insist for their own sake, but as a testimony to the epoch of establishing transubstantiation. It was when the Bible was forbidden in the Council of Toulouse and the Inquisition established to root out the Albigenses, and the celibacy of the clergy insisted on to the universal ruin of morals; when the papacy was at the height of its power and morality at its lowest ebb, and when as Bernard says Antichrist was seated at Rome.
D. But the decree was founded on the church’s authority by the consent of the Fathers.
N*. We can read the Fathers for ourselves and see if that is true, without blasphemously discussing, as Innocent and Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventura and others do, what becomes of the Lord if a mouse eats Him or any other accident happens to the helpless elements, though His Godhead (they say) is there. And we have cited them; and though superstition grew apace, it is not true that there was any consent of Fathers. Many taught exactly the contrary, as we have seen in their controversy with the Docetae and Eutychians; in fact, Cyril of Jerusalem is the only one who at all draws near it; and a vast array of the doctors of the previous centuries opposed the doctrine. The first who really held it was a Greek Father, John Damascene, and there it was identified with the re-establishment of image worship. This was in the seventh century, but a few years after him the Council of Constantinople declared the bread to be the only image of Christ. Damascene says that if Basil calls it a figure (antitupon) he must mean before consecration,16 he adds it was not by the body in heaven coming down, but by a conversion of the elements. That it was called so before as well, we have already seen; so that the only effect of this testimony is to recognise the force of the word, and to prove that he was conscious that the word was used and meant to be as a figure. Though thus taught practically by Damascene in the eighth century in the East, it was never made a dogma there till Peter the Great in 1725, though prevailing gradually. In the West, we have seen that it was introduced by Radbert a century after Damascene, and made a dogma of Rome in the thirteenth century; the earlier Fathers being clearly against it, and in the ninth century it was discussed and combated, and not only privately but in a Roman Council. The progress of superstition is seen indeed in John Damascene, he refers, as we have often seen in the Fathers, to the oil of the chrism and the water in baptism,17 to which divine grace was added by means of the invocation of the Holy Ghost, which was, and in the Greek church is still, what consecrates the elements. These are only set apart by the words, This is my body, as a preparatory service in what is called the prothesis, and then carried in procession to be consecrated on the altar. But the language of John Damascene does shew the progress of superstition, for the strongest part of his statement is, as the editor annotator of his works, Lequien, a Roman Catholic of the order of preachers (Paris, 1712) remarks, and as is easily seen, is taken from the letter to Caesarius attributed to Chrysostom, and of that epoch, though not probably his. Now this says, “Divine grace sanctifying it [the bread] by means of the priest, it is indeed freed from the appellation of bread, but is esteemed worthy of the appellation of the Lord’s body even though the nature of bread has remained in it, and it is called not two bodies, but one body of the Son,” whereas in Damascene we have, “By the invocation and coming of the Holy Spirit they are supematurally transformed (uperphuos metapeiountai) into the body of Christ and the blood, and they are not two, but one and the same thing.” This, “although the nature of bread remains in it “has passed away, but so had some 400 years time. A century later Paschasius Radbert first publicly introduced it in the West as we have seen. But Damascene’s views were not then publicly adopted. Some six years before his death, the Council of Constantinople (754) called as general, but not received in the West, nor in the East beyond the Emperor’s rule, declared the elements in the Lord’s supper to be the only image of Christ.18 Still though never dogmatically established, the superstitious feeling grew. I may add that in the Russian part of the Greek church, it is since Peter the Great’s time in a certain sense established by law. It seems that through the efforts of Rome and the propaganda, persons from Eastern countries who had received their education there had widely propagated the views with which they had been imbued at Rome. Peter the Great brought many clergy in from the Ukraine, where Romish influence was considerable, and only then (1725) imposed on everyone consecrated bishop, an oath “that he believes and understands that the transubstantiation of the body and blood of Christ in the holy supper as taught by the Eastern and ancient Russian doctors is effected by the influence and operation of the Holy Ghost when the bishop or priest invokes God the Father in these words, ‘and make this bread the precious body of Christ.’” Thus since Peter the Great’s reign there has, at least by the prelates, been a positive profession of transubstantiation in Russia; but by invocation of the Holy Ghost and not as at Rome, but this is only since the beginning of the eighteenth century; that was rather late in the day. The way it came about was this: It seems Rome had been very active in seeking to win and influence the Greek church, which though itself corrupt enough, was a standing witness against her pretended catholicity, and against some of her doctrines. It had had to do with the struggles in the case of Cyril Lucaris, who had embraced evangelical doctrine and was strangled by the Porte, as was the Cyril of Berrhcea who supplanted him. By like intrigues the Ukraine or Little Russia, and the provinces at the mouth of the Danube and neighbourhood in what had once been Polish, had been very much Romanized, at the same time the clergy had at least received some education at Rome. Peter the Great, who was the ecclesiastical reformer of Russia and remodelled the whole church and monastic system, brought in thence (the Russian clergy being utterly brutish), at least educated men, and then (1725) introduced the oath as to transubstantiation. Mogilas, Metropolitan of the Ukraine, had made a catechism, confirmed in 1643 by the patriarchs, and in vogue till the Synod’s Catechism by the Archbishop of Novgorod in 1766 supplanted it. I do not question that the superstition insisted on by John Damascene had borne its fruits. At the time of the Reformation, the Wurtemberg divines wrote to the patriarch Jeremias, sending the confession of Augsburg, and in his answer he quotes the words of John Damascene; he says it is the body of Christ, not a type, he calls it bread when consecrated; nor is there a hint of substance and accidents. The best account perhaps of transmutation in the Greek church will be found in Covel (p. 122, c. 5, Camb., 1782). But all is evidently quite modern. I thought I might notice the Greek church to complete our review.
This much I think we have seen: first in searching Scripture, it cannot be said that Christ, in giving the bread and the wine, was present a glorified Christ as actually existing, for then there can be no shed blood, as is evident, and He was not yet so glorified: nor would it be what He was then, for His blood was not shed. Its being done after He was gone and glorified, in remembrance of Him and His sacrifice, is as simple as it is blessed. Next, in the Fathers, we have found that many of them, though speaking in the highest terms of the Eucharist, insist earnestly on the exact contrary of transubstantiation. And this is true of the very early ones reasoning against the Docetae; and then, somewhat later, others in writing against the Eutychians, say things which modern Roman Catholics hold to be ‘prave dicta,’ and others excuse, saying, when the dogma was not settled they spoke in a way liable to be abused, ‘in malam partem trahi.’ We have seen that in the West, Paschasius Radbert was the first who positively and clearly expounded the doctrine, that is, in the ninth century, and that it was never formally decided to be the doctrine of the church till 1215. There was a great deal of intriguing of the Western powers at Constantinople on this subject to augment their influence, but into this I need not enter. I may note, however, that in Peter the Great’s bishops’ oath (and which is indeed its object), and all the Eastern documents I have come across, the change, as in ancient liturgies, is invariably attributed to the invocation of the Holy Ghost, and distinctively to that, the epiklesis of the early Fathers. This is wanting wholly in the Roman missal, so that an orthodox Greek does not hold the elements to be consecrated at Rome at all. In the Romanized liturgies of other bodies, as Armenians and Ethiopians united to Rome, in the former we find in the invocation bread changed into consecrated bread. The Ethiopic goes further, and says, “This bread, that is, the body of Christ.” They have not taken away the invocation, but changed it so as to make it an already consecrated bread. In the ancient liturgies, the oblation was before the consecration, from the very ancient habit of bringing the fruits of the earth in kind before the celebration of the Lord’s supper. In all, we find the virgin Mary prayed for, not doing which Epiphanius notices as the distinction of a divine Person, as Christ, and many other traces, not of what was primitive then came in. In Justin Martyr’s time, the president prayed and thanked as best he could, but at any rate of early times. The change in praying to instead of for saints is noticed in a question in the Corpus Jur. Can., and puzzled the Pope who could not account for it; only saints, could not, he said, be prayed for. But of this we have spoken. But as Scripture really cannot honestly be tortured to mean it, so that the Fathers shew that transubstantiation was not the doctrine of the early church, no honest man who has read them can deny; rapidly as superstition and immorality grew, and dark and ignorant as the so-called Fathers were.
R. It is distressing. I do not see how it is possible that Christ could have held Himself in His own hand, and broken Himself, and had His blood shed, it being truly and really Himself, when He was sitting there, and assuredly now His blood cannot be shed. I see too that Milner’s statement cannot be trusted, and that the early Fathers, whatever we may think of the authority of their views, did not hold transubstantiation as we do, and that it was made a dogma very late indeed, and yet I may say all our system depends on it.
N*. I might add as a confirmatory fact historically, that the feast of Corpus Christi never existed till after the dogma was established: first instituted in the diocese of Liege, dropped for a while, and then re-established in 1311. Other fables are connected with it, but the vision of a certain Juliana appears to have been its origin. At any rate the festival of Corpus Christi was not established before this.
R. My heart still clings to my old belief, yet I see I have no adequate ground for it.
N*. Trust God, Mr. R. He helps infallibly those that look to Him. It is written, “They shall be all taught of God,” and “if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” Search the word of God. You have ever a glorified Christ above, one who once hung upon the tree for us in love, the one real sacrifice of never-ending nor changing value, always before God accepted of Him, and on which true faith ever rests, while it feeds daily upon it, and of which the Lord’s supper is the special memorial and presentation, where we discern the Lord’s body, and are united as one body in Him. I commend you to Him and His grace.
R. Thank you. I must search the word and count on His goodness to guide me. We have to thank our kind friends here for receiving us and allowing us to occupy their house and time.
James. It is I that thank you, sir, and Mr. N. for coming here to my poor cottage. I have learnt much I never knew, though through grace I confided in Christ and His blessed work. My part was naturally to learn, but all is clearer to me than ever it was.
Bill M. I am sure I am thankful. Why I never thought of such things, and I see my salvation in Christ much better than I did.
N*. Well, we will commend each other now heartily to God. We all need His constant grace; and let us remember one another before Him and look to the faithful Saviour to help us on.
The reader is referred for other Dialogues on Romanism to Doctrinal, Vols. 5, 6 and 8.
1 One of the reasons for not keeping the wine with the bread is, that it might ferment and become acid.
2 They allege it is not a creation, but a change; but to have the body and soul of Christ, really, where there was only bread, He not changing His place, is creation. For that exists which did not exist before. They call it, however, a change.
3 I give Donovan’s translation printed at the Propaganda press, Rome, superiorum permissu, with the imprimatur of the Master of the sacred palace, and of the vicegerent of Rome.
4 At the same time they admit an esse (something existing) in the accidents, so that, if one ate enough of the hostia, the body would be nourished by it [Thomas Aquinas, III, 77, 6] and Cat. Cone. Trent II. 40, already quoted.
5 The schoolmen Biel and Occam and the Bishop of Rochester are quoted by Cosins; so further Ocean says, it is better and more scriptural to say the bread remains; and Scotus. It was no dogma of faith before Innocent III.
6 The word “broken” in 1 Corinthians 11:24 is not genuine.
7 The officiating priest alone takes the cup in the Roman ritual.
8 He spent the property of the church of Alexandria, which was immense, in bribing the court and Empress-sister against Nestorius.
9 Trichous a rare word, if found elsewhere at all. See Valpy’s Steph. under thrigkos. It is not in Suicer’s Thesaurus. The sense is plain enough.
10 These words were left out, not in the earliest editions, but in one or two early ones, and then others said they are wanting in some copies. No doubt, they had left them out. There is no doubt of their genuineness. The Benedictines own they are pravè dicta.
11 Pope Nicolas I quotes it as his in the ninth century.
12 Quaere if sumus be not a mistake for sumimus? Then it would be we take, as at the beginning of the quotation.
13 The original Greek is found in the margin in Albertinus from a MS.
14 This I quote from a collection of passages.
15 Alfric (he lived about 990) writes thus: “After true nature that water is corruptible water, and after ghostlye mysterye hath hallowing might, so also if we behold that holye housell after bodily understanding, then see we that it is a creature corruptible and mutable. If we acknowledge therein ghostlye might, then understand we that life is therein, and that it giveth immortalitie to them that eate it with faith. Much is betwixte the invisible myghte of the holy housell, and the visible shape of his proper nature. It is naturally corruptible bread and corruptible wine, and is by the myghte of God’s word truly Christ’s body and hys blood. Not so notwithstanding bodely but ghostlye. Much is between the body Christ suffered in, and the body that is hallowed to housell. The body that he suffered in was borne of the flesh of Mary with blood and with bone, with skinne and with synowes in human limmes, with a reasonable soul living. And his ghostlye body which we call the housell is gathered of many cornes, without bloude and bone, without lymme, without soule and there fore nothing is to be understood therein bodily, but all is ghostlye to be understood.” I might add much more: one sentence may suffice. “Thys mysterye is a pledge and a figure, Christ’s bodye is truth itself… And He (the Saviour) bad them not eate that bodye which He was going about with, nor that blood to drink which He shed for us, but He meant with those words that holy housell which ghostly is His body and Hys bloude.” (Treatise at the end of Wm. Law’s Demonstration. Testimony of Antiquities, 33.)
16 In Basil’s liturgy it is expressly called bread, “this holy bread “after consecration.
17 His words as to the Eucharist are that the divinity being added to the bread, makes it the body of Christ (de Fid. Orth. lib. 4, 112), certainly not the Romish doctrine.
18 Image worship was restored in the East under Irene (787), but put down for a time by Leo Armenius, refuted in the Caroline books and by the Synod of Frankfort (794), and Paris (825).