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the tenets of the established creed, they were compelled, first, to acknowledge a real presence, and then to explain it away till it meant a real absence.” The article says, “the body of Christ is given, &c."-Now, Archbishop Wake's catechism, entitled, The Principles of the Christian Religion Explained, asks this question : “ Are the body and blood of Christ really distributed to every communicant in this sacrament ?" And the answer is, “ No, they are not. For then, every communicant, whether prepared or not, would alike receive Christ's body and blood there. Is not this contradictory to the Article? The Article says, “ the body of Christ is given ;”--the Archbishop's catechism, that it is not given. “ That which is given,” says he,“ by the priest to the communicant, is, as to its nature, the same after the consecration that it was before; viz. bread and wine, only altered as to its use and signification.” He says again : “ That which is given by the priest, is, as to its substance, bread and wine; as to its sacramental nature and signification, it is the figure or representation of Christ's body and blood, which was broken and shed for us. The very body and blood of Christ as yet it is not. But being with faith and piety received by the communicant, it becomes to him, by the blessing of God, and the grace of the Holy Spirit, the very body and blood of Christ.”—We have seen, that the Article at first says the body of Christ is really present, for
how can it be given, if it be not there? yet at last it asserts that it is not there; and that to bring it there, it must first be received by faith. In the Archbishop's definition a real and true presence is also expressed ; and yet when the Bishop asks how the bread and wine become to the faithfuland worthy communicant the very body and blood of Christ, he replies: “As it entitles him to a part in the sacrifice of his death, and to the benefits thereby procured to all his faithful and obedient servants !" If this has any meaning at all, it signifies that, instead of a real presence of the body and blood of Christ, there is in the sacrament a title to the inheritance of the merits of his death ; that is, some spiritual benefit, but by no means the very body and blood of Christ, as he had said before !
The late Bishop of Durham, in his celebrated Explanation of the Doctrine of the Lord's Supper, thus expresses himself: “To eat Christ, is to incorporate with the mind the spiritual food of faith and righteousness. To eat Christ, is to imbibe his doctrines, to digest his precepts, and to live by his example. We eat Christ, by having him in our minds, and meditating on his life and sufferings. To eat Christ, is to believe in him; and to eat his flesh is to keep up the remembrance of him, especially of his death. To eat the body of Christ, therefore, and to drink his blood at the sacrament, are figurative terms to denote an act
of faith, by which we profess our faith in Christ, and commemorate his death, by eating the representative and vicarious elements of bread and wine.” Hence, to eat the body and drink the blood of Christ, is to eat, not his body, but bread, as a representation and substitute for his body; and to drink, not his blood, but wine, as a representation and substitute for his blood. Yet, a few pages afterwards the Bishop says: “To think and believe, are as really acts of the mind, as to eat is an act of the body. What is done by the mind, is as truly done, as what is done by the body. The body of Christ is therefore as truly, as verily, and indeed, received by faith, as the bread is by the mouth ?”—What are we to understand from all this? What is the sense in which ENGLISH Protestants understand it? I confess that to me it is wholly and entirely unintelligible and contradictory; but not one tittle the more so than every other explanation of this doctrine to be found in Catechisms, Charges, Sermons, or even in the Articles of Faith of the Established Church.(W
But it is useless to multiply proofs of the discordant opinions of prelates and members of the establishment of the present day, and to show that too many of them reject the real presence
() See this argument pursued more at length in Dr. Lingard's Tracts.
altogether, and attempt to explain the whole by a figurative meaning. I will only notice another and a very remarkable instance of the contrariety of opinions between prelates of the Established Church at the time when the oath was framed, and of the period in which we live. When the Duke of York asked Archbishop Sheldon, in the time of Charles II., if it were the doctrine of the Church of England, that Roman Catholics were idolators ? he answered, “ that it was not; but that young men of parts would be popular, and such a charge was the way to it.”(6) While in the reign of George IV., Dr. Burgess, Bishop of St. David's, tells us that “they who do not hold the worship of the Church of Rome to be idolatrous, are not Protestants, whatever they may profess to be!") I would ask, whether contradictions and absurdities like these were ever found in Catholicity?
Hence it appears clear, that the oath no longer bears the same signification now that it did when it was first established, and may at any time go round again to the sense in which English Protestants held it in former times; but not, perhaps, till, cameleon-like, it has caught a dozen different hues, from the colour of the politics or fancies of the day; for it seldom happens that the opinions of
( Burnet, Hist. of his own Times. 1673. (k) Protestant's Catechism, p. 46.
men pass from one position to its reverse, except through numerous gradations. Is it not, then, preposterous to call upon us to swear to so variable, contradictory, and incomprehensible a doctrine as this appears to be in the hands of English Protestants ?
(1) See note at the foot of
155. The contrariety of opinion that has ever been so remarkable amongst the prelates of the Establishment in England, appears likewise to have prevailed about this same period in the Irish branch of the Protestant church. While many of the archbishops and bishops of Ireland, with Archbishop Usher at their head, declared that “the religion of the Papists was superstitious and idolatrous,” &c.; and “that to consent that they might freely exercise their religion, was a grievous sin:"* Dr. Jeremy Taylor, bishop of Down, much to his credit for candour and discernment, says; “ The object of their (the Catholics) adoration in the sacrament is the only true and eternal God, hypostatically united with his holy humanity, which humanity they believe actually present under the veil of the sacrament; and if they thought him not present, they are so far from worshipping the bread, that they profess it idolatry to do so. This is demonstration that the soul has nothing in it that is idolatrical; the will has nothing in it but what is a great enemy to idolatry.”+ About the same time, in England, Thorndyke, prebendary of Westminster, argues thus: “Will any Papist acknowledge that he honours the elements of the Eucharist for God? Will common sense charge him with honouring
* See Plowden's Hist. of Ireland, vol. i. c. 4. + Liberty of Prophecying, Sect. 20.