Monday, 9 January 2017

The Catholic Doctrine Of The Eucharist. Part 13.



"The same immolation was made in the consecration of the chalice, when our Saviour said, This is my Blood of the New Testament shed for many for the Remission of Sins. For by this consecration the Blood of our Saviour is represented apart, which also does evidently declare, that his Body was made a sacrifice, according to the likeness of those of the Jews, who coming to immolate the beast, did kill it, separating the blood from the body with a sword, as our Saviour with his omnipotent word, instead of a piercing sword, made his Blood present in the cup, as separated from his Body, and so represents the immolation thereof. And albeit, the Body and Blood was not actually separated, and that the Body was in the cup, and the Blood was in the Body, under the accidents of Bread; yet notwithstanding by reason of the form of Bread, separated and set apart, they appear separated to represent this immolation; and the Blood was truly shed, not after the manner of Aaron's bloody sacrifice, in which blood was drawn from the veins in its proper form, but after the manner of Wine. Our Saviour used also the present tense, saying, This is my Blood shed; this is the chalice of my Blood shed for the remission of Sins; to signify that this which was in the chalice, to wit, his Blood (for the wine could not be shed for the remission of sins) was already poured into the chalice, by an unbloody effusion, as it was the next day by bloody effusion on the Cross. And when the holy Fathers did sometimes turn the words of consecration into the future tense, saying, shall be shed, instead of which is shed; they contraried not the sense we now give, for they all did affirm the real presence of our Saviour's Blood in the chalice, but they referred the words of our Saviour not only to the present pouring forth which was then made, but also to that which was to be made, as well upon the Cross by bloody sacrifice once, as in the Eucharist by unbloody sacrifice, even unto the end of the world."

I have the more willingly cited this place at large, because it explains at once the reason of consecrating the Blood apart, though it is with the Body, and no less clearly shews how unjustly Protestants charge us with taking the words of the institution only in the future sense, whereas both this, and other authors, as also the notes of the Rheims Testament, and our writers commonly use the very same arguments, and almost the same words, to prove the present signification as Protestants do. It was really an unheard of ignorance or most unfair dealing on the part of this eminent Protestant Divine, to misrepresent the Catholic doctrine concerning the present point as regards the words of the institution, so it is a very great weakness in him to use the same argument, to prove that which Christ gave was bread. I shall touch on this subject again in a future letter. For it is no more than what young logicians, of a few days' schooling, are taught to laugh at. It runs thus: he says, " What he took, that he blessed; and what he blessed, that he brake; and what he brake, that he gave; what he gave, that they received; therefore what they received was bread, for that was what he took." " Now this is exactly," as a very learned Catholic Divine says, " the trifling argument of school boys, to prove that you eat a living lamb. As follows: what you bought, that you took; what you took, that you had for supper; what you had for supper, that you eat; therefore you eat a living lamb, for that was what you bought." But as in this induction there is omitted the preparing the lamb for supper, so in the former induction there is omitted the consecration imparted in the words, saying, This is my Body; it should run thus, what he took, what he brake, what he gave, saying, this is my Body, could not be bread. For then the words would not have been true, because Bread cannot be truly his Body, and yet remain truly Bread. This eminent Protestant Divine says again, " That it savours of impiety to suppose that our blessed Lord, in speaking on so extraordinary a subject, did not make use of the most apt, and adequate words, whereby to let his Disciples into his meaning." And can it be imagined that the words, this is my Body, are the most apt and adequate words to express that it was Bread he gave them, and not his Body. Yet turn the point as you please, my Lord Bishop, it will be certain in the end, that either it is not truly Bread, or not truly his Flesh; but if it be properly and literally the one, it is improperly and metaphorically the other. Accordingly the great body of Christians throughout the world, judging it most unreasonable to take the words he spoke on so extraordinary a subject, in a most improper and uncommon metaphorical meaning, did for many ages, and do still, agree to understand them in the proper and literal sense of his true Body.

And I prove it thus.

1st. The orthodox Christians from the beginning, understood Christ's words in a literal sense, or, which is the same thing, believed the real presence of Christ's body in the sacrament. I produce St. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, to bear witness. This great Patriarch in his Epistle to Nestorius, speaks thus of the Eucharist: " God forbid that we should receive it as common flesh, nor yet as the flesh of a man sanctified, and united to the word, by a conjunction of dignity; but we receive it as it truly is, the quickening and proper flesh of the Word himself." This letter was read and approved of in the Third General Council, which, no doubt, it never would have been, had it contained anything contrary to the orthodox faith, so that having received authority and approbation from these Fathers, I shall no longer consider it as the doctrine of an individual, but as the faith of the whole General Council. Now can it be supposed, that this General Council should approve and place on record a letter which declares the real presence, in as clear and in as plain a manner as it is possible for words to express, unless it had been, at that time, the faith of the whole Catholic Church? And can it be supposed for one moment, that the Catholic Church in those fair days of her youth, as the Calvinists term it, should believe that Christ's proper flesh, as the said letter expresses it, was in the sacrament, unless they had understood Christ's words in a literal sense, and received the same doctrine from their immediate ancestors ? Or can it be imagined that these ancestors should be of this belief, unless they had likewise received it from their ancestors, and so up to the very period of the Apostles ? This is, surely, to any man of sense, but more especially to the Church of England, (which professes to receive the Acts and Decrees of this Council,) a demonstration that from the beginning of Christianity to the period of this Council, all the orthodox Christians did both believe the real presence, and understand Christ's words in a literal sense.

2nd. The orthodox Christians from the beginning understood these words of Christ, this is my Body, in a sense of transubstantiation ? For this truth we have the unanimous consent of the ancient Fathers of the Church; many of whom, in their familiar discourses to the common people, illustrate this conversion by the change of the water into wine, of Aaron's rod into a serpent, of the river Nile into blood, &c. &c. And it is very observable in all their discourses on this subject; and whenever they speak of this change, they have recourse to the omnipotent power of God, to which alone they ascribe it, which surely would be useless had there been no real change in the case. St. Cyril of Jerusalem speaks thus concerning this change: " Therefore since Christ has said of the Bread, this is my Body, who dares any longer to doubt it ? And since he himself so positively affirmed, saying, this is my Blood, who ever doubted, so as to say, that it was not his Blood? In times past, at the wedding in Cana of Galalea, he changed water into wine, which had a certain likeness to blood; and shall we not think him worthy to be believed, that he could change wine into his blood ? "