Monday, 24 April 2017

The Catholic Doctrine Of The Eucharist. Part 50.


It is demonstrated, that the diagonal is incommensurable with the sides of the square j yet it is impossible to account for this incommensurability. The senses tell such as view from the base one of the largest pyramids of Egypt, (it is, according to Herodotus, 800 feet high, and its base covers eight acres of ground,) that its summit resembles almost a spire; were all mankind assembled in the same place, they would say, that the top of that pyramid terminates in a point; yet reason, which judges of the altitude and proportions of the object, assisted by art and experience, correct that mistake, and tells us, notwithstanding the general voice of the senses of mankind, that the top of a pyramid is a platform, capable of containing fifty persons. Are we not, therefore, justified in asserting, that were all mankind to deny, that God revealed the doctrine of Transubstantiation, (for it is foolish to reject a fact revealed to us by God, because we do not think it possible,) would not faith have a right to correct that general error, as we see reason has a right to correct the error of the senses and imagination with regard to the pyramid ? The evidence of our senses, no doubt, is often of very great use, but they are not so on many occasions; our senses do not even distinguish between poison and a wholesome remedy; the sight as well as taste are deceived in the common beverage of adulterated tea and coffee; we know their bad qualities only from their effects.

Locke says, he cannot assent to a proposition, which affirms " the same body to be in two distinct places at once;" it seems this philosopher forgot, that the human soul, which though an immaterial substance, " is a body in its peculiar manner of existence," says Tertullian, (2 Advers. Prax. c. 7,) " The human soul is a body in a certain sense," says St. Augustine, (Cont. Ep. Fund. c. 16,) and exists in every part of the human frame at one and the same time; the voice of the orator is heard by the whole and every part of the assembly, and although but only one, is heard in many places at once. There is no parallelogram, how small soever, which may not be extended from the earth to the heavens in infinitum, without becoming at the same time of greater capacity; hence had an angel the power to reduce himself to a point, and of course to a line, he might occupy any given extension or length whatever, and he would at the same time be present in heaven and on earth. Had Locke reflected, that a burning torch or stick twirled with rapidity, appears to be at the same time coexistent with every part of a circle, he would then have perhaps admitted that a body could be, by Almighty power, in two places at once, and that what is possible in appearance to the creature, is possible in reality to the Creator, with whom all things are possible.

But let us examine Locke's opinion upon Protestant principles: Protestants profess to believe, that in eating the bread and drinking the wine, they receive spiritually by faith the body and blood of Christ; a Protestant therefore animated with faith, may receive the body and blood of Christ as often as he uses bread and wine at his ordinary meals, or on other occasions, though he be neither priest nor minister; for it is not the consecration made by the minister, but the faith of the receiver, according to Protestants, which renders the body and blood of Christ spiritually present. Let us now suppose, that the Protestant population of the British empire amounts to ten millions of persons, and that twenty thousand of that number receive the sacrament on the same day and moment, and render Christ's body and blood spiritually present, by their faith, at the same instant. Here, then, are the body and blood of Christ not only in two places, but in twenty thousand places at one and the same instant. It is strange, that a solution so simple escaped the penetration of this philosopher.

But the great objection against Transubstantiation, is that of Tillotson, which has been employed by Hume and other Protestant writers. They say, that " this doctrine is contrary to the reason and sense of mankind." Yet, it is not more contrary to sense and reason than the doctrine of the Trinity. Trinity and unity, in one and the same respect, is a contradiction; but in different respects, there is not even the shadow of a contradiction; for the unity is in respect of the nature, the Trinity in respect of the persons. Tran-substantiation is not more contrary to sense and reason, than that the Sun and every fixed star should be greater than the earth; that he who appeared to Joshua, (v. 13, 14,) and to the holy women, should be an angel. But if God revealed it to them, that he who appeared to be a man, was not a man but an angel, must they have believed God or their senses? If they said, they would believe their senses rather than God, they would be guilty of downright blasphemy. " Our senses," says Tillotson, " afford us a physical certainty, that the substance of bread exists wherever we see its appearances." It is astonishing that Protestants, who are so well informed in other respects, have not well considered that the same objection may be proposed against the Incarnation; and that they themselves are obliged, as professing that mystery, to give the solution; for we take it for granted, that they admit revelation. Had not they who perceived all the visible characters of human nature in Christ, an apparent physical certainty, that he was a human person ? How then could they believe his divinity, or the mystery of the incarnation? What became in this case of the evidence of sense? The same as in the Eucharist; we see the appearances of bread, but not the body of Christ, except by faith. Sense could not discover the divine nature in him " in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead corporally. The Jews could not perceive the divine nature in him, when he said: " I and the Father are one," (St. Mark xvi. 5, and Matt, xxviii. 5,) for which they were going to stone him, " because," said they, " thou being a man, makest thyself God." According to this fine Protestant principle, we should believe no miracles, not even those of Christ himself, unless we had seen him perform them.