Thursday, 29 December 2016

The Catholic Doctrine Of The Eucharist. Part 5.



It is always with delight that I appeal to an enlightened public, being ever sure to find justice at their hands; I therefore conjure them previous to their reading these letters, to peruse with attention this note, which will point out to them the disagreeing systems of Protestant writers concerning the origin and antiquity of transuh-stantiation, that this generous public may see how little they can depend upon the veracity of these Protestant witnesses, who all contradict one another.

Dr. "Whitaker attributes the invention of transubstantiation to Innocent III., in the fourth Council of Latcran, in the beginning of the thirteenth century.— (Whitaker's Answer to the Jesuit Durceus, p. 480.) Dr. Cousins, in his History of Transubstantiation, p. 150, will have it invented about the middle of the twelfth century. Mr. Fox, in his Acts and Monuments, (edition 1576,) p. 1121, tells us, that the denying of it began to be accounted heresy in the time of Berengarius, that is, in the middle of the eleventh century. Joachim Camerarius, in his Historic Narratio, $c. p. 161, goes a step higher, and tells us that transubstantiation had quiet possession of the Church from the middle of the ninth century. Dr. Tillotson, in his Discourse against Transubstantiation, p. 306, confesses it to have been defended (at least as far as it imports Christ's corporeal presence in the sacrament) by the second Council of Nice, which consisted of three hundred and sixty bishops, in the 8th century. Dr. Humphreys (Jesuitism, P. 2, p. 626) assures us, it was imported amongst other Popish wares into England by St. Gregory the Great, and by St. Augustine the Monk, in the end of the sixth century. The Centuriators of Magdeburg find it in the writings of the Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries.— (See Centur. 4, Col. 295; Cent. 5, Col. 517.) In fine, Adamus Francisci, a learned Protestant, in his Margarita Theologica, p. 186, not being able to discover any beginning of this doctrine, contents himself with telling his reader, that the Popish transubstantiation crept early into the Church.

Such is the concord of these witnesses who pretend to charge the Church of Christ with innovations; like to those who were formerly suborned against her divine spouse, (Mark xiv. 56,) their witnesses agree not together. I entreat of my readers to bear in mind that the learned Protestant divine, Dr. Whitaker, one of the greatest and most determined enemies of the Catholic Church, was not ashamed to acknowledge, that no reliance can be placed on the veracity of Protestant writers.— (See Vindication of Mary, Vol. 3, p. 54.) That most profound Protestant theologian, Dr. Thorndyke, one of the greatest lights of the Anglican Church, is obliged, as an act of justice, to acknowledge, in speaking of the Church of Rome, " I must accept the Church of Rome for a true Church, as in the Church of England I have always known it accepted; seeing there be no question made but that it continueth the same visible body, by the succession of bishops and laws that were first founded by the Apostles. There remaineth therefore in the Church of Rome the profession of all the faith necessary for the salvation of Christians to believe either in point of faith or morals." How glorious, how triumphant for Catholics to hear such language from the very mouths of their opponents. " But many Protestants will still not admit," says an eminent Catholic prelate, " that the doctrine of the primitive Catholic Church was the same with that which the Church in communion with the See of Rome professes at present, and would willingly have their followers to believe that the faithful in the first centuries were Protestants." But unfortunately for them the school-master is abroad, and he directs the public to ask, " If this be so ? when and how did their posterity become Papists ? In what year of the Lord did this pestilent heresy of Popery (as some Protestants call it) first creep into the Church? Who was the first author of it? In what place was it first broached ? What opposition did it first meet with at its appearance from the zeal of the pastors of the Church? What disturbances did it cause? What Councils were held on this occasion, &c. ? or was this the only change in religion, the only heresy which crept into the world, without author, without date, without disturbance, without resistance, so that the whole world by a strange revolution from Protestant became Papist, though no one knew how nor when? On the contrary, we can trace up Protestancy to the very year it was first broached, viz., 1517- We can name the day when their first preacher laid the foundation of their religion; when we could have truly said to them, your profession had no being yesterday. We can tell the author, the place, the first and chief abettors of their doctrine; the disturbances it caused, the resistance which it met with, the books written on both sides, £c. We can do the same with regard to Arianism, and all other heresies or innovations in religion. Let Protestants do as much, or not accuse us of innovations. Let them name the Pope or Bishop of Rome for these eighteen hundred years that brought into the Church a religion different from that in which his immediate predecessor both lived and died; which as they certainly cannot do, it is a plain demonstration that the faith of the Church of Rome was never changed."

Now the real and substantial presence of Christ in the sacrament, and transubstantiation, the immediate consequence of the real presence, have ever been the doctrine of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, " the pillar and ground of truth," as I have demonstratively proved in these letters; it is therefore for my readers to consider whether they will accept the literal sense of these words of the Saviour for their belief, " This is my body, this is my blood," which has ever been the explanation given to them by an infallible authority in matters of faith, namely, by the Church of all ages; or if they prefer the Protestant figurative sense given to these same words, " This is my body, this is my blood," by a Church but of yesterday ? as I have shewn. "Let my readers also bear in mind, that the different Protestant sects differ widely among themselves on the meaning of these words; for example, the Lutheran firmly believing in the real presence, the Calvinist as sternly denying it, and this recollect on one of the greatest dogmas of Christianity. Surely they both cannot be right; therefore, I maintain, that common sense tell us that there must be an infallible authority on earth to lead all into the right way, and to give us the true meaning of Scripture, which is and has been continually twisted and perverted by heretics for the very worst purposes. We are also commanded by the Saviour, under the most dreadful penalties, to hear the Church, that is, to obey the Church, and which the Apostle calls, " the ground and pillar of truth." Now surely the Church here meant, cannot be the Protestant Church, which, 1 repeat, dates her rise from the year 1517; it can refer to no other but to the Church in communion with the See of Rome, the Church of all ages.

I shall here briefly notice for the information of my readers, one of the great arguments that Protestants make use of against this great dogma of Catholic faith, on account of these words which our Lord added to the institution, " Do this for a commemoration of me." (See Appendix, where I have treated at large on these words.) We do not make, say they, a commemoration of a thing that is present; for which reason, if the body of Christ had been present in the eucharist, he never would have proposed it as a memorial. To this I answer, that the Evangelists were so far from imagining that the explication of these others, " Do this for a commemoration of me," that the latter are not even mentioned either by St. Matthew, or St. Mark, who are the first that left in writing the words of the institution of the holy eucharist. In reality it is clear they are not inserted to explain these words, " Take eat, this is my body," but to point out the disposition of mind in which we ought to perform the action which Jesus Christ had just ordained, that is, of receiving and eating his body. I maintain that Protestants are unable to prove from Scripture that one cannot, as they say, make a commemoration of an object that is present; neither does reason oppose it.—(See the Rev. J. Waterworth on the Penal Laws.)


It is certain that our Lord had delivered to the Apostles instructions of the greatest importance concerning the Eucharist before he instituted it. It is most probable that he had given others, which are not come down to us, to confirm them in the faith of this incomprehensible mystery, which had met with so great an opposition when first proposed. The silence of the Evangelists cannot properly be objected here, as they only give us a part of our Lord's discourses on each subject. There is little room to doubt, but that something explanatory of this point was inserted in the blessing that preceded these words, " This is my body," even in the hymn of thanksgiving after communion. Protestants themselves have remarked, that the Jews, on their festivals, commonly added something on the subject of the feast to their usual benedictions, so that hence we cannot doubt but our Lord spoke of the holy eucharist in the blessing and in the canticle after supper.


I honestly confess that in early life, from what some of my Protestant relatives had told me of the novelties of Romanism, particularly regarding transubstantiation, and in what I found in many eminent Protestant authors concerning the late innovations of those doctrines controverted between the two Churches, I began to have doubts of the verities taught by the present. Roman Church; much more when enquiring how late these doctrines were introduced into the Church, I was generally told by my Protestant relatives that they were not imposed on the faithful before the Council of Trent, about two hundred'and seventy years ago; but when I compared the date of the Protestant Reformation with that of this Conucil, I plainly perceived that the protesting against these errors was begun and very near perfected before these errors were (as Protestants assert) then imposed; which, though it seemed extraordinary, and which might have passed with others as a reasonable answer to the objection of novelty, yet I resolved to peruse the Councils themselves, and, de point en point, note the time when these doctrines were in Council established.

1. I began with the Pope's supremacy, which I found confirmed in the General Council of Chalcedon, Act. 16, (one of the first four General Councils which are acknowledged by the Church of England,) above one thousand three hundred and ninety-three years ago, six hundred and thirty Fathers present, and about the year of our Lord 451; and relation had to the first Council of Nice, Can. 6, which was held two hundred and twenty-five years after the death of St. John the Evangelist. This supremacy was also allowed, professed, and taught by the most ancient Fathers after the Apostles, and acknowledged by Melancthon, Luther, Bucer, Bilson, Dr. Cooper, Bunny, Fulke, Middleton, Osiander, the Centurists, and many others too numerous here to mention.

2. Those books which Protestants call apocrypha, were taken into the canon of the Old Testament in the third Council of Carthage, signed by St. Augustine the Great, Baruch only was not named, because it was looked on as an appendix to Jeremiah, whose Secretary he was.— (Can. 47.)

3. The unbloody sacrifice of the mass in the sixth Council of Constantinople, about one thousand one hundred and fifty-seven years ago, (Can. 32,) and also in the ninth Council of the Apostles it was decreed, " That a bishop shall communicate when sacrifice is made.

4. Veneration and respect for holy Saints' relics, (according to Apostolical tradition,) as also of Martyrs and of holy images, in the second Council of Nice, three hundred and fifty fathers present, Act 3, Anno Dom. 780. See more in Act 7> with the general consent of ancient Fathers.

5. Communion in one kind sufficient.—See the Council of Constance, Sess. 13, and practised in the Church thirteen hundred and fifty-years since.

6. Purgatory, and many more too long to relate, in the Council of Florence, and believed in the primitive times.

7. And lastly, the doctrine of transubstantiation confirmed in the great Council of Lateran, in which there were near twelve hundred prelates present, (See Letter XV. on this Council,) and in seven or eight other Councils before that of Trent; and all the controverted points, particularly and by name declared by many eminent Protestants themselves to have been brought into England by Augustine the Monk above eleven hundred and fifty-seven years since.

Indeed when I had diligently examined this truth, and found it most evident, beyond all possibility of any just and reasonable contradiction, I was much scandalized at the disingenuity of Protestant writers, who, whilst they accuse others of fallacy, of imposture, and of impudence, presume to advance so great and demonstrable a falsehood, in a matter of fact, that nothing but the most complete ignorance can excuse them, and expose themselves to the greatest censures of rashness and of indiscretion, as uncharitable and unjust to those whom they call their enemies, as also unsafe, and abusing the credulity of their friends. It is with the deepest regret that I am obliged to use any language which can in the least wound the feelings of any one, but my duty to the public forces me to tell the truth.

I submit every word contained in this work to the supreme judgment of the Apostolic See, adhering with heart and soul to the solemn declaration made by St. Jerome, in his Epistle to St. Damasus Pope, " It is with your Holiness I hold it; that is to say, I live in communion with the Chair of Peter. Upon that Kock I know the Church has been built."— (Epist. xiv. ad Damasum.)