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Will it be believed that these, and many others who held the same opinions, were all eminent divines, and members of the English Protestant Church, some of them posterior to the last revisal of the 39 Articles, () and only a very few years prior to the time when members of Parliament were called upon to swear precisely to what they are at the present moment; namely, that they believed this doctrine in the sense in which it was commonly understood by English Protestants.
But while the oath remains the same, the doctrine appears to have differed; preserving only one characteristic of its former qualities--that of being as vague and indeterminate as ever. While the creed of the Established Church always appears at first sight to inculcate a true and real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament, it invariably alters its course, either by admitting every possible variety of opinion, through the vagueness of its definitions ; or, by Catechistical
(0) In 1634, the Convocation of the Irish Bishops denounced an excommunication against those who affirmed that any of the articles of the Church of England were in any part superstitious or erroneous. Twenty-eight years afterwards, they were discovered to be both.
(C) Dr. Andrews died 1626; Laud (executed) 1644; Montague, 1641; Archbishop Bramhall, 1663; Cosin, 1671; Hooker, 1660; Parker, 1575; Nowell, 1602; Taylor, 1667; Wake, 1736; Usher, 1656.
explanations, doing away with the reality of the presence altogether; or by stating things in such contradictory terms, that it still contrives to leave the doctrine itself involved in mystery, doubt, and darkness. “ Its original framers knew that the Christian world was divided into two parties: the one consisting of the Catholics and the Lutherans, who contended for the real presence of Christ's body, though they differed as to the manner of that presence; the other of the Zuinglians an Calvinists, who rejected the real presence and admitted nothing more than a bare figure and memorial of the death of Christ. By appearing to admit both opinions into different parts of the articles, catechism, and rubrics, they opened a door for proselytes from either party, who might thus become orthodox churchmen, and still retain their favourite opinions. Thus, the original articles published by the authority of Edward VI.contained a long paragraph against the real and bodily presence,' as they term it ;(a which paragraph, though it was subscribed by both houses of Convocation, in the reign of Elizabeth, was omitted by the command
(d) The first communion service, drawn up by Cranmer, Ridley, and other Protestant bishops and divines, and published in 1548, clearly expresses the real presence, declaring that “the whole body of Christ is received under each particle of the Sacrament.” Burnet, T.7. p. 1.
of that female head of the Church.” “ The design of government,” says Burnet,“ was at that time much turned to the drawing over the body of the nation to the reformation, in whom the old leaven had gone deep; and no part of it deeper than the belief of the corporeal presence of Christ in the Sacrament; therefore it was thought not expedient to offend them by so particular a definition in this matter, in which the very word real presence was rejected.”(6) In like manner, in the second Book of Common Prayer, published by Edward VI., was inserted a long rubric, rejecting “ all adoration unto any real presence of Chrisťs natural flesh and blood.” This also was laid aside by order of Elizabeth. “ It being the Queen's design,” says Wheatley,“ to unite the nation as much as she could in one faith, it was therefore recommended to the divines, to see there should be no definition made against the aforesaid notion, but that it should remain as a speculative opinion not determined, but in which every one might be left to the freedom
(e) Burnet, Exposition of the xxxix Articles, p. 308. “ This part of the article was omitted, in 1562, probably with a view to give less offence to those who maintained the corporeal presence, and to comprehend as many as possible in the established church.” Bishop of Lincoln's Elements of Christian Theology, vol. 2, p. 483.
of his own mind.”ls 'King James imitated the caution of his predecessor; and in commissioning Bishop Overal, then Dean of St. Paul's, to add to the catechism the explanation of the Sacraments, he was careful that the real presence should be taught in such a manner as might satisfy the patrons of that doctrine.(e)
The 28th Article of the Church of England declares that “ the body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the supper, only after a heavenly and spiritual manner.” Catholics say the same. “ The Holy Synod openly and plainly professes that in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, after the consecration of the bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and man, is truly, really, and substantially present under the appearances of those sensible objects. Nor in this is there any repugnance, that Christ, according to his natural manner of existence, should always remain in heaven at the right hand of his father; and that, at the same time, he should be present with us, in many places, really, but sacramentally, in that way of existence which, though in words we can hardly express it, the mind, illuminated by faith, can conceive to be possible to God, and which we are
In Wheatley's Illustration of the Book of Common Prayer,
(8) See Dr. Lingard's Tracts
bound firmly to believe; for so all our ancestors, as many as were members of the true Church of Christ, who wrote on the subject of this holy sacrament, openly professed.”(4)
Dean Nowell, in his Catechism for Schools, first published in 1570, says the same.
“ The body and blood of Christ are given to the faithful in the Lord's Supper, are received, eat, and drank by them, only after a heavenly and spiritual manner, but truly and really [verè tamen atque reipsá J. So that when it was asserted by a Catholic controvertist, that, according to the doctrine of the Church of England, the bread of the supper is but a figure of Christ, Bishop Montague had some reason to answer; “ Is but a sign, or figure, and no more!-Strange!—and yet our formal words are, This is my body; this is my blood. This is, is more than this figureth, or designeth: a bare figure is but a phantasm. He gave substance, and really subsisting essence, who said, “ This is my body, this is my blood.”(6)
“ I know,” says the elegant and learned writer from whom this argument is taken, “ that both this divine, and others who have held a similar language, have on other occasions taught the contrary doctrine; but this corroborates my assertion, since it shews that in endeavouring to defend
(*) Council of Trent, Sess. xiii. c. 1. p. 86. (1) New Gag. p. 250. 1624.