Romanism: an Answer to the Pamphlet of a Romish Priest, Entitled "The the Testimony": Part 5

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But we are arrived at the sacraments.
As to baptism, except Quakers, all own it as a Christian ordinance, so that the scriptures you quote for that are freely accepted. Moreover every true or even orthodox Christian admits we are all born in sin: only I do not admit the application of John 3 to baptism. There is an allusion to what you have quoted from Ezekiel, which has nothing to do with baptism; but from the very words you quote (and reading the whole passage makes it still plainer), it refers to the restoration of the Jews; and the figure of baptism refers to the reality; just as John 3 does also, where the Lord is telling Nicodemus that he must not marvel because He said to him that they, Jews, who thought themselves already children of the kingdom, must be born again. It was a sovereign operation of God, going like the wind, and hence could embrace Gentiles; but he, as a master in Israel, ought, from his own prophets, to have known that such new birth was needed for Israel, as the passage from Ezekiel, for example, shows. The Lord tells us, that the water which really cleanses is the word: “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” (John 12:48; 15:348He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:48)
3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. (John 15:3)
); and Paul, “that he might sanctify and cleanse it [the church] by the washing of water by the word.” (Eph. 5) Baptism refers to this true cleansing, and so does John 3
As to confirmation, you have produced scriptures which show that the apostles, and apostles alone, conferred the Holy Ghost by laying on their hands; as to “the bishop, the successor of the apostles in the ministry,” complete and absolute silence. In the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, in which, according to your system, we might have expected it, not a word is to be found. The laying on of the apostles' hands conferred it, and that it might be clear that Paul was as great an apostle as the rest (Acts 19), a case is recorded in which he also did so. You have quoted some other passages which prove anything but this. “He who hath confirmed or established us with you in Christ” —was Paul confirmed along with them? This is too ridiculous. He, at least, says he never went near the other apostles to be confirmed, nor ever received anything from them. When, therefore, he says,” confirmeth us with you in Christ,” it is preeminently clear, he was speaking of nothing of the kind. Besides, βεβαιῶν is not the rite of confirmation. And further, it is God here, not an apostle or a bishop, who has done it. As to anointing, we read:
Ye have the unction of the Holy one, and ye know all things.” Again, why not finish Eph. 1, “in whom also, &c., ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise which is the earnest of our inheritance, till the redemption of the purchased possession?” Is confirmation the earnest of the inheritance? But if you say that it is the thing itself which is, and that confirmation is the sacrament by which it is received, then the text speaks of the thing (as it surely does), and not of any sacrament at all. That is, it has nothing to do with the matter. Now that sealing and anointing are the reality of the thing, and not any rite, we have the certainty, because the word of God says, that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.” (Acts 10:3838How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Acts 10:38).) And again, speaking of Him, “Him hath God the Father sealed.” (John 6:2727Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. (John 6:27).) No one will have the folly to say, it could mean a sacrament as to Christ.
The history of confirmation is clear enough; we hear of it first, early in the third century, but not separate from baptism, but conferred at the same time, and with nothing to say to a bishop. In the next, however, it was soon left to the bishop to do. This separation of it from baptism, and leaving it to the bishop, was not established in the east nearly so soon. It continued an act of the baptizing minister, and is treated even by Jerome as that part of baptism by which the Holy Ghost is received, only left to the bishop in order to maintain his dignity. I give some quotations which show this.
First, there is Tertullian, De Baptismo, vii. viii. Having spoken of the water, he says, “Next going out of the laver we are anointed with the blessed unction, according to the former discipline (i.e., the Jewish), with which they were accustomed to anoint with oil out of a horn for the priesthood, with which Aaron was anointed by Moses, whence Christ has His name from chrism, which means anointing Then the hand is imposed calling and inviting the Holy Ghost in the way of blessing.” We see it is distinctly given as a part of baptism, without thinking of a bishop, and that the laying on of the apostles' hands as its source never entered his mind.
In a commentary, commonly attributed to Ambrose, in 4 Ep. ad Ephesians (given in Keble's note to Hooker), we read, In Egypt, Presbyters sealed or signed (i.e., confirmed), if the bishop is not present. And in the Apostolic Constitutions, lib. vii. 43, 44 (caput 28 in J. G. Cot.) the form of baptism and prayer to be used by the priest, is given, and then it is said, And after this when he shall have baptized him in the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, he shall anoint him with myrrh, adding, Lord God unbegotten, &c., cause that this anointing may be efficacious in the baptized, so that the fragrance of thy Christ may remain firm and stable in him, &c. Afterward there is a prayer for purity, vigilance, &c., by the coming of the Holy Ghost. Now, the Apostolical Constitutions are of the fifth century,1 so that the anointing and confirmation was still the baptizing minister's office. When they were composed, it is very possible they were Alexandrian, certainly Greek and Eastern.
In Cyprian's time (256), they were brought in the west to the bishop, but on their baptism. Referring to the case of Samaria, he says, “which also is done among us now; that those who are baptized in the church are offered to the presidents of the church, that by our prayer, and the imposition of hands, they should obtain the Holy Ghost, and be perfected by the Lord's mark.” —Ad Jub. 73 (p. 202). And so much was it held to be a part of baptism, that (Ep. 72) the African council say to Pope Stephen, insisting that heretics should be rebaptized as well as have hands imposed, “Then, indeed, at length they are fully sanctified, and can be sons of God, if they are born of both sacraments, since it is written, ‘unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' “Every one knows that all solemn acts or mysteries were called a sacrament in those days; there were seventy or even a hundred of them, for aught any one can tell, if we take the word. I cite this to show that it was considered as part of baptism. Eusebius quotes a letter of Cornelius (Pope) to the same effect as to a baptism of Novatus,2 on what seemed a death-bed; “for he,” the dying man, “did not get the other things which it is necessary to receive according to the rule of the church, nor was sealed by the bishop; and not having got this, how should he get the Holy Ghost?” That is, this was the part of baptism by which, on their system, men got the Holy Ghost-Euseb. lib. vi. 43 (p. 244). We have already seen that these same bishops (to whom Cyprian says, persons were brought to be confirmed and anointed, so as to receive the Holy Ghost), he also says, were running through all the provinces to make money by fraud. What a picture of the “Catholic church!”
But there remains a quotation from Jerome which will complete the history of this rite3— “I do not indeed deny that this is the custom of the churches, that the bishop runs off to those who have been baptized, far from the greater cities, by presbyters and deacons, to lay on his hands for the invocation of the Holy Ghost.” “But if you ask in this place why we, baptized in the church, should not receive the Holy Ghost, unless by the hands of the bishop, which we assert to be given in true baptism, learn that this rite descends from that authority, that after the ascension of the Lord, the Holy Ghost descended on the apostles; and in many places we find the same practiced Otherwise if the Holy Ghost came down only on the demand of a bishop, they are to be pitied who, baptized by presbyters or deacons, in small towns or castles, or in remote places, have fallen asleep before they have been visited by bishops.”
Remark here, that he overthrows entirely the doctrine of Pope Cornelius, just cited from Eusebius. What a mess these Fathers make of it! “But sometimes the safety of the church depends on the dignity of the chief priests, for if a certain extraordinary power, eminent above all, were not given to him, there would be as many schisms in the church as priests. Thence it happens, that without anointing, and the command of the bishop, neither a presbyter nor a deacon has the right of baptizing, which however frequently, if necessity compels, we know to be lawful for the laity to do. For, as one receives anything, so also he is able to give, it, unless also the eunuch indeed, baptized by Philip, is to be believed to be without the Holy Ghost.” I quote this as showing—first, that it was a part of baptism; next, that the bishop did it merely as a matter of order and human arrangement, and that after all it was all as good without him if need was, being re. served merely to maintain order and his dignity, and that even Jerome had not the smallest idea of his conferring the Holy Ghost exclusively as the successor of the apostles. He goes into the case of Samaria; but his reasoning, though to the point as to Lucifer, his adversary, has nothing to do with our subject. For this he only refers to its coming on the apostles (of course, therefore, without laying on of hands), and insists, if the bishop was not there, it was had all the came, quoting as a proof the eunuch of Ethiopia.
I thought a plain history of the facts would be the best means of dispelling the mists and halo which surround the word “Fathers.” The earliest, Tertullian, “a most ancient writer, and a man of great erudition” according to the author, speaks of it as a part of baptism done in imitation of Judaism. Gradually this part was reserved to the bishops for order's sake, but declared by Jerome not to be essential, but a matter of order, and got established gradually like other superstitious corruptions of early practices as it is now used. Jerome, “that most learned Father and doctor of the church,” is unfortunate, for he very satisfactorily refutes on the point what the pope had laid down. Indeed, as I have said, you may prove anything but the truth by the Fathers. They said what suited them in their controversies.
But I have another little word to add here. The author, in the quotation alleged to be from Jerome, after the words, “And having invoked the Holy Ghost, lays his hands on them,” continues, “Where will you ask is this written? In the Acts of the Apostles,” &c. Not a word of this latter part is in what Jerome says; on the contrary, he goes on to prove it can be had without it. The author, I suppose from quoting secondhand without reading the Fathers, has fallen into a sad mistake here. It is the adversary of the orthodox—namely, Lucifer, or a Luciferian—whom Jerome, under the name of “Orthodox” is confuting, who says this. It gives us such a clue to the origin of these different rites, that I will quote it. Indeed Lucifer has in many things, perhaps, the best of it. “Are you ignorant,” says this honest but stern resister of Arianism in every shape (Jerome, it appears, rather agreed with Cyprian, that heretics should be rebaptized, which the pope would not allow), “that this is the custom of the churches, that hands should be afterward laid upon the baptized, and that the Holy Ghost should be invoked? Do you ask, Where is it written? In the Acts of the Apostles. Even if the authority of the scripture was not to be had, the consent of all the world on this point would have the force of a precept. For many other things also, which, through tradition, are observed in the churches, have assumed (usupaverunt) to themselves the authority of a written law."4 That is just it. Lucifer was a very faithful, but, as it appears, rigid and somewhat violent man. He was banished by Constantius for refusing to condemn Athanasius. He refused to receive Arian bishops as bishops on retracting their error, and said they must come as laymen. However Jerome is refuting him in the work quoted from; and the author has quoted Jerome's adversary as Jerome himself. What security for the faith!
I turn to penance. Your quotations of scripture prove that you have as little consulted it as you have the Fathers. You say, “Matthew and John record the same event” namely, Christ's coming to His apostles after His resurrection. John states a part of the communication Christ made to His disciples at this interview—the power of forgiving sins; Matthew another part—the power of baptizing and teaching all nations whatsoever Christ had commanded them; and in conclusion, Jesus Christ assures them that He would remain with them to “the end of the world.” This you do, in order to shew that the power to forgive sins remains to the end of the world. How can you expose your own ignorance to such a degree, or presume on that of others? The interview mentioned in John 20 was in Jerusalem, the day of the resurrection; and Matt. 28, in Galilee afterward, the last thing, recorded by him before the Lord's ascension. The whole fabric falls, being incorrect in every part. Now how comes it that for other things the bishops are successors of the apostles, as you tell us? and here “a person must have a very perverse heart, and covered with a dense spiritual blindness,” not to see that, on the contrary, all priests are their successors, proving both by the same text of Matthew, which says nothing about either, and thus can be arbitrarily applied to one as well as the other? Again, you quote, “Hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation,” as referring to penance (2 Cor. 5) But the apostle declares that this was preaching the gospel. “Now we are ambassadors for Christ; as though God did beseech by us, we pray in Christ's stead be reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Yet you dare to say, “Can language convey more expressively, more definitively, or more clearly, the power which God gave to the priests, of reconciling the world to him by the ministry of religion?” All this is foolish trifling. What do you mean by the ministry of religion? The apostle speaks of beseeching by the gospel in Christ's name; you, of penance. Are you going to put the world under penance? Is this your embassy?
But, further, you have not given a correct account of penance, as Romanists teach it.
You say, “the necessary dispositions—namely, contrition of heart, and a firm purpose of turning from his evil ways.” This is not a real account of Romish penance. The catechism of the Council of Trent, according to which you are ordered to teach your parishioners, states the contrary. The “integral parts are contrition, confession, and satisfaction. “We sin against God by thought, word, and deed; when recurring to the power of the keys, we should, therefore, endeavor to appease His wrath, and obtain the pardon of our sins by the very same means by which we offended His supreme Majesty. In further explanation, we may also add, that penance is, as it were, a compensation for offenses which proceed from the free will of the person offending.” Again— “On the part of the penitent, therefore, a willingness to make this compensation is required, and in this willingness chiefly consists contrition.” But still more clearly, after quoting the council of Trent, it is said: “From this definition, therefore, the faithful will perceive that contrition does not simply consist in ceasing to sin, purposing to enter, or having actually entered, on a new life: it supposes, first of all, a hatred for sin, and a desire of atoning for past transgressions.” You have left all this out. It is easy to talk of contrition of heart; but it chiefly consists in the willingness to make compensation, satisfaction—to atone by one's own free will.
But there is another part of the doctrine you have omitted. “Contrition” (it is still the catechism which is instructing us), “it is true, blots out sin; but who is ignorant that, to effect this, it must be so intense, so ardent, so vehement, as to bear a proportion to the magnitude of the crimes which it effaces? This is a degree of contrition which few reach; and hence, through perfect contrition alone, very few, indeed, could hope to obtain the pardon of their sins” (by that they could do without a priest or confession). “It therefore became necessary, that the Almighty, in His mercy, should afford a less precarious and less difficult means of reconciliation and of salvation; and this he has done, in His admirable wisdom, by giving to His church the keys of the kingdom of heaven. According to the doctrine of the Catholic church—a doctrine firmly to be believed and professed by all her children—if the sinner have recourse to the tribunal of penance, with a sincere sorrow for his sins, and a firm resolution of avoiding them in future, although he bring not with him that contrition which may be sufficient of itself to obtain the pardon of sin, his sins are forgiven by the minister of religion through the power of the keys.”
Justly, then, do the holy Fathers proclaim that “by the keys of the church the gate of heaven is thrown open;” that is, to sinners who have not repented as they ought: those who have do not want the keys. Penance then is substitution for adequate and right repentance—it is making the conscience easy when it has not properly repented, that is, hardening it. Who does not know this to be the case? A conscientious soul, grieved with sin, is miserable because it has not done its penance in a right spirit; a careless sin-loving heart goes to confession in order to receive at Easter, as they say, and begins its score of sins again merrily, when the old one is wiped out. It is sorry, no doubt, for having committed them when they are over—who would not?—and afraid not to receive when Easter comes round, and for the moment proposes to do no more such. Real thorough contrition is not required; penance supplies its place. Contrition, he is taught by his “church,” chiefly consists in this willingness to make satisfaction or compensation; and so be gets absolution for the past, and begins over again. Can there be a more iniquitous system?—not a notion, taken up by the ignorance of these poor sinners, but established by the deliberate teaching of what calls itself the “church.” Now, I believe that remission of sins is, or ought to be, administered in the church of God still: first, in reconciling the world—which has nothing to say to the matter we are on now, even as to ordinances, because restoration or penance, whatever form it has, belongs to the church. Heathens are received by baptism, not by penance: whenever a poor Jew or heathen is received into the church, he receives, as to his present manifest standing, forgiveness; he stands before God as a forgiven man: all recognize that be enters by baptism. Further, if a person be justly excommunicated for sin, being a Christian, he is, on restoration, forgiven his sin as to his public standing before God; so that the forgiveness of sins, in this sense of the word, as to a man's manifest standing and condition on the earth, does continue, and will, as long as the church subsists.
The history of confession I have already given. Auricular confession is a very modern introduction—it was needed when an easy way of letting off sin was wanted coincidently with the growth of priestly power.5 The passage of James, “Confess your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed,” is the plain proof that confession to a priest was unknown. It was a useful mutual exercise of charity, so that chastisement might be removed, when the heart was right before God. Was it to priests that many came and confessed their deeds in the passage cited from the Acts, when they burned their books of magic? The reason why baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is valid, and “I absolve thee from thy sins, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” is not, is a very simple one; it is this—Christ positively ordained one, and did not so much as hint at the other. Besides, you know very well that in case of necessity a layman, nay a woman, can baptize a child; will you allow the same power in penance? If not, why do you assimilate them, as if one proved the other?
You quote Chrysostom. But he wrote urgently against confession to a priest, as we have already seen. I do not deny that Christ gave power to His church to forgive sins in the sense I have explained it. I believe it to be a glorious truth, that whosoever is rightly in the church is enjoying the absolute full unlimited forgiveness of all his sins. But we are talking of auricular confession to a priest, and of satisfaction and penance substituted for real full contrition, in order to have it.
I come now to the Eucharist. I have already remarked that you have not ventured to say one word for the mass; you seek to justify transubstantiation, not the sacrifice. You quote John 6. There are three points in this chapter as to Christ; He is the bread come down from heaven, i.e., the incarnation; there is His flesh and blood, i.e., His death; and His ascending up where He was before. In all we are to own Him. The Lord's supper most preciously presents Him in one of these. It presents a dead Christ the body broken, and the blood shed. You say the Jews took Him literally, but they certainly knew nothing about the Lord's supper. “The disciples,” you add, “knew likewise that Christ meant what He said.” “The sublime mystery they did not comprehend.” But then they did not understand Christ at all, but took Him quite wrong; and therefore the Lord corrects them and says, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing.” He takes care they should understand He did not mean them to rest in the letter of what He said. They took Him according to the letter. They were quite wrong. Many, supposing He meant it literally, went away. The rest held to Him, because His words were eternal life.
You urge that God could make man out of slime, Eve out of a rib, and a pillar of salt out of Lot's wife. No doubt; but when He made a man, he was a man in form; He did transubstantiate the mud. But a man was a man to all intents and purposes, not to all intents and purposes (save your telling us otherwise) unchanged mud. He did not look or taste like slime, remain unable to move, speak, think, and go on as before. So of Eve: nobody, when she was changed, could take her for a rib. God gave proof to man of the change; so in the case of Lot's wife. Here there is none—no sign of God's power of any kind. We must believe, we are told, not reason—yes, if God has taught it.
You quote John 6 and you quote, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven,” words as plain as, “this is my body.” Am I to believe that Christ was transubstantiated into living bread? The words are just as plain, just as positive: why not believe them? Are we to eat Him incarnate and alive on earth? Where? Yet “he that eateth of that bread shall live forever.” In the Lord's supper I cannot, for His body is presented broken, not whole; His blood shed, not in His body. But, again, the Lord declares that whosoever eats Him, as He describes, is fully and finally saved.6 They “shall live forever.” They “have everlasting life, and he will raise them up at the last day.” “They abide in Christ, and Christ in them.” That is, it is the real vital saving possession of Christ by faith in the perfect efficacy of His life and work, in which those who possess will abide, and Christ raise them up consequently at the last day. But this is confessedly not true of all who partake of the Eucharist. That is, the passage does not refer to it; it refers to what the Eucharist refers to. Further, the terms of the institution preclude the literal sense; for, whatever image He employed, it could not then be literally Himself; because His body was not yet given, His blood was not yet shed, and this is what it is expressly a sacrament of. The Lord plainly slims what He meant in saying, “This cup is the new testament in my blood,” which is clearly a figure; and “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine.” (Matt. 26) Nothing can be plainer. But the Lord did not really hold in His hand a broken body and shed blood; for His body was not broken and His blood was not shed. Yet that is of the very essence of the truth, for it was shed for the remission of sins, and there was no remission without it. In a word the testimony is as plain as possibly can be, that the literal sense is untrue and impossible: shed blood there was none. Now Christ is glorified. There is no dead Christ; it cannot be He in reality—He in the letter; for there is no such Christ in reality as broken and His blood shed. He is alive for evermore. 1 Cor. 10 is the plainest of all in reality;7 it speaks of the body as broken.
As regards a mouse eating it, I am not fond of such arguments, because, though I do not believe lifeless bread to be my living Lord, save as faith realizes Him, yet it is a memorial of Him, and there is no profit in irreverent associations. Yet you have in nothing met the argument in the smallest degree. According to your system, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ are there; yet it cannot help itself against a mouse. The argument has the same bearing as Isaiah's. The idolater makes a fire with part of a tree, warms himself, roasts at it, and says of the rest, It is a god, and worships it. Here a mouse eats it: it is turned into corruption; and you adore the rest as God. The argument may be a painful one, but it is complete. He cannot deliver himself, says Isaiah: a deceived heart has turned him aside; he cannot say, I have a lie in my right hand. When the Lord says, “Do this in remembrance of me,” it was saying it was a memorial of Him when He was gone, not His presence. But there is no life in the wafer. It is monstrous to say it is God, and eat it literally, let Fathers say what they may. It is not a living Christ: were it so, it were no sacrifice either, nor shedding of blood. I live by the life of a living Christ; I feed, commemoratively, on a dying one (such as, blessed be God, He can be no more, and is not now). Hence the cup, and drinking the cup, are essential to the import of the sacrament, and that the blood be nowhere else; for, if not shed, there is no remission.
And now mark the amazing import of this point. The poor Romanist does not partake of the cup. The reason, as is alleged, that it is all the same, is what is called the doctrine of concomitancy—that each element contains all—that in the bread the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ are all found. Now, if the blood be in the body, there is no sacrifice, no redemption, no remission of sins. Without shedding of blood, says the Holy Ghost (Heb. 9), there is no remission. Now, if the blood be in the body, it is not shed; that is, the poor Romanist—and I do not reproach him with it, but what calls itself the Catholic church, and the enemy of souls—the poor Romanist has the sacrament of there being no redemption, or no remission of sins; for, as he receives it, His blood is yet in the body. Think how the enemy has mocked his poor soul! No doubt the Fathers spoke of it as the flesh and blood of Christ; but they say plainly now—I repeat I do not cite them as of weight, for there is no one less worthy of authority than they—but, as an historical fact, they any sufficient (not certainly to show that they were not superstitious enough, but) that superstition had not traveled in five centuries as far as it had in fifteen. It went faster with the people than even the clergy, in some respects, for they brought in their heathen habits. Of this anon. I will quote enough from them to show that, when it suited them in argument, they say the contrary of Romish doctrine: it is very possible, when it suits them or their imagination is at work, they teach it too. It just shows what they are worth. The mere saying, “flesh and blood,” means nothing.
But to the point. First when the controversies as to the two natures of Christ were on foot, and yet earlier, on the possibility of His taking flesh, which the Gnostic heretics denied, they insist on the bread being there when He is spiritually or divinely present, as a proof that the two things can be together. Here their whole point was, that it was still bread; just as His flesh, as a living man, was true flesh, which the heretics denied. Thus Tertullian: “He made the bread, received and distributed to His disciples His body, saying, This is my body, that is, the figure of my body; but it would not have been a figure unless the body was truly such; for an empty thing, which is a phantasm, cannot have a figure.” The reader must know that early heretics denied that Christ had a real body: Tertullian argues, from the Eucharist being a figure of His body, that the body must be real. Irenaeus argues in the same way, and is very positive as to the bread being there after the consecration, of which he speaks a “For when the bread, which is from the earth, receives the invocation of God, it is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two things, earthly and heavenly; so our bodies,” &c. So Augustine (after saying that people said Christ was immolated at Easter, and constantly, though He never was but once long ago, and could be but once) says, “For if the sacrament had not a certain similitude of these things whereof they are sacraments, they would not be sacraments at all; but; from this similitude they receive, for the most part„ even the name of the things themselves.” What can be plainer? “For the Lord did not hesitate to say, This is my body, when He gave the sign of His body.” “The feast at which He commended and delivered to His disciples the figure of His body and of His blood” (on Psa. 3). “He who abides not in Christ, and in whom Christ does not abide, beyond all doubt neither eats His flesh nor drinks His blood. although he eats and drinks for judgment on himself the sacrament of so great a thing.” —In Joann. Tract. xxvi. 18. Chrysostom is quoted also, as saying, “Before the bread is sanctified we call it bread; but, divine grace sanctifying it through the ministry of the priest, it is freed from the name of bread, and judged worthy of the appellation of the Lord's body, although the nature or bread remains in it.” —Epist. ad Caesarium.
This last quotation has a very curious history. It was quoted by Peter Martyr. The Romanists cried, Forgery. Peter Martyr deposited it at Lambeth. It was taken away in Queen Mary's reign. Bigot published it at Paris (he was a Romanist). The edition was suppressed, but the Archbishop of Canterbury got the sheets as they passed through the press, and published it in England; and others have done so.
These may suffice to show that, rapidly as superstition grew, four or five centuries (that is, as long ago as Edward III.) had not sufficed to obliterate the original doctrine of the church of God. It was made a dogma of the church only in the thirteenth century, in the Lateran Council, under Innocent III., the bloody instigator of the crusades against the Albigenses in the south of France, and the establisher of the Inquisition. In the tenth, it was openly disputed, many prelates supporting the writer; and in the ninth was openly maintained, and the author not condemned as heretical at all, that transubstantiation did not take place. The reader may remark that several of the quotations I have given are from writers whom the author has quoted, skewing, when speaking soberly, how little they attributed to their own words the force which is attributed to them; or rather they spoke rhetorically about it in discourse, and showed at other times it was only rhetoric. Again, what a ground to put our faith upon in order to receive it! But I will add some other passages of the Fathers, skewing distinctly, as a learned Romanist has admitted, that, up to Chrysostom, the church did not really hold transubstantiation as a doctrine, however rhetorically individuals may have spoken. I attach no kind of importance to their opinion but historically, as the Romanists lean on them; it shows what a broken reed his way of assuring true doctrine is, and that is our point now.
The passage of Justin Martyr quoted by the author proves the contrary of that for which he cites it. Justin treats the Eucharist as bread, wine, and water, and as nothing else literally. The author has not, as so often has occurred, given the whole passage. “This food,” he begins: what food? Hear Justin. “Those called among us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread, and wine, and water, over which thanks have been given, and carry it away to the absent, and this food is called among us Eucharist. For we do not receive these things as common bread nor as common drink; but in the same way.” (This the author has entirely changed, I suppose, as usual, quoting from a text-book. How honest they are—that is, the instructors of the Romish body—we have seen by this time.) “As by the word of God, Jesus Christ, our Savior, being made flesh, had flesh and blood for our salvation, so also the nourishment by which flesh and blood, through change [into them], are nourished, over which thanks have been given, through prayer of the word which is from Him, we have been taught to be the flesh and blood of that Jesus made flesh.” Now here, whatever it was to their faith, it was really and substantially bread and wine and water, such as nourished the natural body. No Romanist could say that bread and wine and water were given to be partaken of by each person present, nor that they took what nourished their body, on being changed into it. Hence the author, or his text-book, omits it.
Theodoret, in answering the Eutychians who held that there was only one nature in Christ, says, “He that called His own natural body wheat and bread, and gave it the name of a vine, He also honored the visible symbols or elements with the name of His body and blood, not changing their nature, but adding grace to nature.” Dial. i. tom. iv., p. 17. The Eutychian heretic Eranistes (Dial. ii. p. 85, Ed. Schulze iv. 126), says, “As the symbols of the Lord's body and blood are one thing before the invocation of the priest, but after invocation are changed and become another thing, so also the body of our Lord, after its assumption, was changed into the divine substance.” Theodoret replies, “Thou art taken in thine own net, which thou hast made; for neither do the mystical symbols depart from their own nature after consecration, for they remain in their former substance, figure and form,"οὐσὶας καὶ τοῦ σχήματος καὶ τοῦ εἴδους. This is most unequivocal.
Indeed the controversy with the Eutychians and Monophysites, who confounded the divine and human natures in Christ, proves clearly that transubstantiation was not believed in. They used the fact of its being still bread and wine against the Eutychian doctrine, as they had against the Gnostics the fact of their being material creatures.
So Ephrem of Antioch, “The body of Christ which is received by the faithful does not depart from its own sensible substance, and yet it is united to spiritual grace; and so baptism, though it becomes wholly a spiritual thing, and but one thing, yet it preserves the property of its sensible substance, I mean water, and does not lose what it was before.” Quoted by Photius, god. i. 229.
Pope Gelasius writing also against Nestorians and Eutychians on the two natures in Christ, says, “Doubtless, the sacraments of the body and blood of Christ which we receive are a divine thing, on account of which, by them, we become partakers of the divine nature, and yet the substance or nature of bread and wine does not cease to exist.” Facund. Lib. ix. c. 5. As the sacrament of His body and of His blood, which is in the bread and consecrated cup, we call His body and blood, not that the bread be properly His body, and the cup His blood, but because they contain in them the mystery of His body and blood. Hence the Lord also Himself called the bread He had blessed, and the cup which He delivered to His disciples, His body and blood.
This may suffice. The real historical truth is that, when they departed from the simplicity of scripture, they got into the doctrine of a union of grace and bread in the sacrament, and then into a kind of consubstantiation, such as Luther held. When Paschasius Radbert had taught something more than this, he was violently opposed by many church authorities. Berengarius, who taught the contrary, was at last, and indeed more than once (though supported by church authorities), being persecuted by Hinemar, forced to retract; and at last, as I have said, in 1215 transubstantiation was made a dogma of the faith, but never before.
Next we have extreme unction, for which you have not much to say. What has the account in the Acts, of the Apostles healing the sick by anointing them, to do with extreme unction? Intimated by Mark, says Trent. Why intimated? Was healing the sick the sacrament of dying men, to go prepared into God's presence? This is too absurd. And James says, “is any sick?” —not when they are dying, but when chastened for sickness for sin— “Let him send for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” That is, he was to be healed by their prayers; and, if sin occasioned it, be forgiven and relieved, not “prepared” to die. So the quotation you give from Augustine states— “Will deserve to obtain the restoration of his health;” and it is most certain that for centuries, up to Bede's time—that is, the ninth century, it was looked at as a remedy to restore health. The Greek church so uses it still, and the Council of Trent says, it may be so interdum. Indeed there is nothing to be said for it, as the short article of the author shows.
And why, if extreme unction wipes away the very remains of sin, do people who have had it go to purgatory? What ineffectual means all the Romanist sacraments are! A man is absolved, but that will not do; he has his viaticum, the Eucharist, in which is remission, they say, but that will not do;—extreme unction to wipe off the remains of sins— “reliquias peccati abstergit” (Conc. Trid., Bess. xiv. c. the poor man goes to purgatory after all to burn there for them himself; and then they say masses for him to get him out, though they could not keep him out. How different the peace of him who trusts the word of the living God, who believes His testimony! “The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth from all sin.” “By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” “Being justified by faith we have peace with God.... and the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us;” “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Such is the peace given, and the certainty of divine love, by the faith of the gospel. We know no hard God who will keep us down to the last farthing: Christ has paid it for us, bearing our sins in His own body on the tree. The Lord grant many poor souls laboring under this cruel bondage may know His love who gave His Son for sinners, and the salvation which is in Christ!
As to the sacrament of holy orders, you quote passages which prove that, by the laying on of the apostles' hands, gift was bestowed on Timothy; another, to show that he was designated by prophecy. I do not doubt either. When you can show me gift so bestowed, or a man marked out by prophecy for it, I shall own it with delight; but still you will not have proved that he is a priest. The scripture owns no priesthood now but Christ's, and that of all saints, in the sense in which all Christians are kings and priests He “hath made us kings and priests to God and his Father.” “Ye are a royal priesthood,” says Peter.
But the New Testament has not the smallest trace whatever of priests as an order. The priesthood of Christ is exercised on high; all Christians follow Him there in spirit. Romanists have returned in this, as in all their system, to Judaism, and Judaism after it is set aside; so that they are the beggarly elements of this world, just like heathenism, as which the apostle treats them in the Gal. 4:9-119But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain. (Galatians 4:9‑11). The New Testament speaks of a ministry as characteristic of Christianity—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Every true Christian blesses the Lord for it, however it may have been abused. But priesthood there is none, save Christ and all true Christians; it is distinctive of, and essential to, Christianity that there is not, save as we all are priests. That is, we all go within the vail rent, directly and with boldness into the presence of God, where Christ is entered for us, into the holiest of all. The assertion of a priesthood (Christ apart) between us and God is a denial of Christianity. You do not attempt to quote anything till five centuries after Christ.
As to the word sacramentum, none in the least degree acquainted with the early ecclesiastical writers can attach the least importance to it, for they called every mystery a sacrament. Thus, one says there are three sacraments in baptism. Augustine says the number seventeen is a great sacrament; that one hundred and fifty-three, being three times fifty, the pentecostal number, with three, the number of times it is taken, has great weight, and if you begin with one, and go on adding each number up to seventeen, you will have one hundred and fifty-three (I leave my reader to try), and that is the meaning of the one hundred and fifty-three great fishes taken at the Sea of Tiberias. As I was on the word sacrament, I gave this one little example of Patristic matter, so that it may be understood why I said a child's book now would not contain such nonsense as they have: I think my reader will excuse my giving him any great quantity of it.
As to the obligation of marriage, it cannot be held too highly; instituted in Paradise, and confirmed by the Lord Himself, its sanctity (I doubt not) is the providential bond of all moral order in the world. If, as the apostle teaches us, one be wholly given up to the Lord's work without any snare to himself, it is all well. After what I have said of sacrament, I shall not be expected to insist on the word, one way or another. In Ephesians it is simply, in the original, “This is a great mystery; but I speak of Christ and the church.” That is, the union of the church to Christ, as His body, is a great mystery—she is His bride.