FROM SCRIPTURE, FROM TRADITION,
AND FROM THE WRITINGS OF SOME OF THE MOST EMINENT
CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT AUTHORS WHO HAVE
TREATED ON THE SUBJECT;
IN SIXTEEN LETTERS,
WITH NOTES AND APPENDICES,
THE LORD BISHOP OF EXETER,
AND DEDICATED BY PERMISSION
TO HIS IMPERIAL AND ROYAL MAJESTY THE
EMPEROR OF AUSTRIA, KING OF HUNGARY,
BY M. D. TALBOT.
The Church of England does not expound these words literally, nor yet figuratively; for she neither believes in trail -substantiation nor in consubstantiation, neither real presence nor yet real absence, and to confess the truth, I repeat here what I said in one of my former works, I do not well know what she believes in that particular,—and what is worse, to the best of my understanding, she does not know herself. For the Catechism which is put into the hands of children and the common people (wherein surely the articles of faith must, if anywhere, be clearly and plainly expounded) teaches " that the body and blood of Christ are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's supper;" which, I am sure, is the very same with the doctrine of the Council of Trent—her " verily and indeed " being the selfsame thing with that Council's "vere et realiter." Yet if you should ask the majority of her divines of the present day, whether the body and blood of Christ be, verily and indeed, in the sacrament? they will answer you, No (1) If you ask them further, how can you then, verily and indeed, take and receive the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament, if it be not there ? Some will answer you, " That though his body and blood be not there, yet when you take the bread and wine, you take at the same time the body and blood of Christ to all the intents and purposes of the sacrament;" but this i« such a riddle, that it surpasses my skill to unfold. Others say, " That by an act of faith you do verily and indeed take and receive the body and blood of Christ when you receive the elements." But if you urge the difficulty further, and tell them, that " to receive the body and blood of Christ by faith, is no more to receive it verily and indeed, than to receive an idea or representation of a thing to which you give assent, is to receive the thing itself." But suppose it were, they must admit of Christ's body being in several places at once, which is the inconvenience they would wish to avoid, by rejecting the real presence in the sacrament; for if one in London, and another in York, or elsewhere, should at the same time (as is very possible) verily and indeed take the body and blood of Christ, then surely the body must be in two different places at once. If you urge, I say, the difficulty thus far, you are not likely to get any answer which either you or any one else can understand. So that though the Church of England has many advantages over the Lutherans and Calvinists, yet in this she is neither so reasonable as they, nor so consistent with herself, nor yet with common sense.
The faith of Protestants then is doubtful, wavering, without a knowledge of what to adhere to; nevertheless, their celebrated Keformers, Zuinglius, Calvin, Beza, Carlostadius, (Ecolampadius, Muntzer, (the disciple of Luther, and chief of the Anabaptists,) Melancthon, and a great number more, when they apostatized from the Church in communion with the See of Rome, every one of them boasted he possessed a perfect knowledge of the Scriptures, but soon afterwards they divided into different sects; the frightful diversity in their interpretations, frequently of the whole of a passage itself, is an evident demonstration that it was the spirit of erroneous novelty which actuated them, and not the spirit of God, which is always the same; and consequently that neither Protestants, nor any who do not submit to the inspired decisions of the Catholic Church, can be certain of anything, neither as regards the number of the books of Scripture, nor of the fidelity of the translations, nor of the true reading of the texts, and of necessity their faith is purely human, and insufficient to guide to eternal life. But the Apostles and the Councils of the Roman Catholic Church have invariably spoken the same language, because they were animated by the spirit of God, an evident proof that they were inspired by the Holy Ghost, and this is the reason why they invariably express the same sentiments upon the revealed articles in every age, and in every Council, although these Councils were composed of so many different nations, and of so many different dispositions and tempers; there never was held a Council but commenced by confirming and ratifying what the preceding Councils had decided on as articles of faith, and all that according to the infallible word of Jesus Christ, who promised to his Church that the gates of hell should never prevail against her.
1 The learned Julius Vindex clearly proves that the doctrine of the real presence (if the most eminent Divines of the Church of England are to be believed) is no less the real doctrine of the Church of England that it is that of the Church of Rome. See Letter II. of this series,