Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The Catholic Doctrine Of The Eucharist. Part 14.



Again, " For under the appearance of Bread, he gives us his Body; and under the appearance of Wine, he gives us his Blood." And a little after, " Though your senses seem in this to oppose you, yet faith must confirm you; do not judge the thing by the taste, but let faith assure you, beyond all doubt, that you partake of the Body and Blood of Christ."— (Gate. Mystag. 3.)

Here is a great Bishop, an eminent witness of antiquity, one who flourished upwards of 1430 years since, and who no doubt was very well acquainted with the faith of the Catholic Church of his time touching this point; here is a careful pastor expounding Christ's words, and catechising his flock in the very language of the present Roman Catholics. He tells them, that since Christ said that the Bread and Wine were his Body and Blood, they must believe that the Bread and Wine were changed into his Body and Blood. He illustrates this change by a familiar comparison of the water which Christ changed into wine, and enforces the belief of the possibility of the other, by the actual existence of this change which they had both read and believed. He tells them, that under the appearance of Bread they receive the Body, and under the appearance of Wine they receive the Blood of Christ; and that though their senses may tell them that it is still bread, yet that faith must correct that mistake; that they must not judge what it is by the taste, but must believe that it is the Body and Blood of Christ, whatever their senses may suggest to the contrary. Did ever any Roman Catholic speak plainer concerning transubstantiation ?

I ask you here, could any Roman Pontiff, or Pastor, from the time of St. Peter till now, have enforced the belief of this great mystery with more cogent arguments, than to tell his hearers, 'that since Christ said, this is my Body, we must believe it is so. Since he changed water into wine, we have no reason to doubt but his omnipotence is sufficient to change wine into his Blood, though it appears to our eyes, to our taste, to our smell, that the thing is otherwise, yet we must not, in this important business, rely upon the relation of these senses, hut upon the sense of hearing, because " Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," which word we are here only required to believe ? all which are the reasonings of St. Cyril. Now, my Lord Bishop, what Protestants may think of this great Prelate, I shall not determine; but this I am certain of, that had he written this since the Reformation, they would all have looked on him to be as great a Papist as ever put pen to paper.

St. Gregory of Nyssen, speaks thus to the same purpose: " I do believe, that the Bread sanctified by the word of God, is changed into the Body of God the Word."— (Orat. Gate. cap. 37.)

St. Ambrose takes the greatest pains to impress this truth on the ignorant people, he says: " That Bread, before the sacramental words, is Bread; but when the consecration comes to it, of the Bread is made the Flesh of Christ. Let us prove this. How can that which is Bread be the Body of Christ? By consecration. By what and by whose words is the consecration performed ? By the words of the Lord Jesus. For all other things which are said, do give praise to God, there is a prayer premised for the people, for kings, and for others; but when the priest comes to make the venerable sacrament, he does no more use his own but Christ's words. Therefore the word of Christ maketh the sacrament. What word of Christ ? Even that word, by which all things were made. The Lord commanded, and the Earth was made; the Lord commanded, and every creature was engendered. You see then how efficacious the word of Christ is. Seeing then there is so much power in the word of the Lord Jesus, as to cause things that were not, to have a being. How much more efficacious is it, to make the things that are extant to to changed into another thing? Heaven was not, the Sea was not, the Earth was not; but hear him who says, He said, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created. That I may answer you then, it was not the Body of Christ before the consecration, but after the consecration; I say unto you, that it is then the Body of Christ; He said, and it was made; He commanded, and it was created."— 1 I shall not trouble your Lordship with any reflections of mine upon this passage, it being, in my opinion, so plain, and so much to the purpose, that it cannot possibly require any thing to strengthen it.

St. Chrysostom says: "That the sacrifice of the altar which we offer in many places, is every where the same sacrifice, because we always offer one Christ, and consequently it is the same sacrifice. And what (says he) are there many Christs, because he is offered in many places? No, surely; but it is everywhere the same Jesus Christ; here whole and entire, there whole and entire, one only body everywhere. As then it being offered in many places, it is always the one same body; it is always the same one sacrifice." — (Hom. 17, in Ep. ad Heb., see Hom. 41, in 1 Cor. Hom. 21, in Act. Apostol.) Is not this manner of reasoning just? then the same body may be in two places, without its form, its matter, or its substance being multiplied.

Some Critics have doubted whether the books whence this quotation is taken belong to St. Ambrose, because the style is different from the rest of the works of this Father; but the best and ablest Critics agree that they are either St. Ambrose's, or of some other Bishop near his time, who dilates upon what St. Ambrose wrote concerning the Eucharist.