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But even if I knew what I was called upon to believe, yet, under the view which I take of the
that in the sacrament, which he does not believe to be there?” I But Dr. Porteus, bishop of London, a few years ago, charged Catholics with “senseless idolatry,” and with “worshipping the creature instead of the creator."$ It is really extraordinary, but not less true, that prelates and divines of the Church of England should, in this enlightened age, require to be sent back to periods of comparative barbarism (when there was at least as much inflammable matter in the polemical world, as there is at present) to learn candour, fair dealing, liberality, charity, and common sense. Let them take a lesson from Dr. Parker; and, while they blush at the contrast, would to God they would apply his reasoning in the cause to which his candid mind directed it, namely, the abrogation of the Test. black a crime as idolatry,” says he, “is not lightly to be charged upon any party of Christians, on account of the foulness of the calumny, and the barbarous consequences that may follow upon it. Before so bloody an indictment is preferred against the greatest part of the Christian world, the thing should be well understood. The charge is too big for a scolding word. It is a piece of inhumanity that outdoes the ferocity of the cannibal, and damns at once both soul and body; and yet after all, we have no other ground than the rash assertions of some popular divines, who have no other measures of truth than hatred to Popery, and therefore never spare hard words against that church; running up all objections against it into
| Just Weights and Measures, c. 19.
§ Confut. p. ii. c. 1.
question, I could not possibly subscribe to any such misconstructions of the ancient doctrine of Christendom on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist: For, in conformity with this doctrine, I most firmly and steadfastly believe, and am ready solemnly and sincerely to call God to witness my belief, that Transubstantiation does verily and truly take place in the sacrament of the Eucharist, and in the manner in which it is taught and explained in the Catholic Church.
In the first place, I believe it because the Catholic Church has always taught it; she has taught it, because it was revealed to her from heaven; and
atheism and blasphemy, of which idolatry is the greatest instance. As to the use of images in the worship of God, I cannot but wonder at the confidence of these men to make so bold a charge against them in general, when the images of the cherubims were commanded by God him. self (Exod. xxv. 18.); which instance is so plain and obvious to every reader, there being nothing more remarkable in all the Old Testament than the honour done to the cherubim, that 'tis a much greater wonder to me, that those men who advance the objection of idolatry so groundlessly, can so slightly rid themselves of so pregnant a proof against it; till therefore it can be proved that the papists worhip the images of false gods as supreme deities, or the true God by corporal images and the representations of his divine nature, there can be no footing for idolatry in Christendom.”ll
|| Parker's Reasons for abrogating the Test.
of its revelation from heaven there is abundant and incontrovertible proof. Yes, if there be one tenet of Christianity more clearly defined, or more frequently illustrated in the sacred writings than another; if there be one article of faith which it appeared to be the object of our Saviour to enforce more strongly upon our minds than usual; if there be one mystery to which more importance is given, or to which more consequence is attached, it is the doctrine of Transubstantiation. It is a singular circumstance, that Transubstantiation should have been the characteristic both of the first and of the last miracle which our Saviour performed in the course of his sacred ministry,—the conversion of water into wine at the marriage feast of Cana, and the conversion of bread into his body, and of wine into his blood, at the last supper.
Like every other tenet of her creed, the Catholic Church can trace the belief in Transubstantiation up to the very æra of the Apostles, by an unbroken series of authentic history, by the luminous evidence of those unexceptionable attestators of truth, the Fathers of the Church.(m)
But why should we have recourse to the testimony of history, and the opinion of the Fathers, while we have the evidence of the Scripture, and the words of Christ himself to guide us? It is impos
(m) See APPENDIX, p. xviii, where these testimonies are adduced at some length.
sible for any one, with an unbiassed judgment, to read the 6th chapter of the Gospel of St. John, and disbelieve in the real and substantial presence of the body and blood of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. We there see the express declaration of Christ : I am the bread of life; the bread that I will give is my flesh :() and we see the sense in which his words were understood, and the manner in which they were received, by the unbelieving Jews, who incredulously asked; How can this man give us his flesh to eat ? Instead of denying that this was his real and literal meaning, and undeceiving
(m) It may be here observed, “ that if Christ had wished to inculcate the Catholic doctrine, he could not have done it in terms better adapted to the purpose; and if he meant to inculcate the doctrine of the Church of England, he could hardly have selected words more likely to lead his disciples into error.” (Lingard's Tracts, p. 215.)
During the period of our Saviour's sojournment upon earth, he was God under the appearance of man; and though he proved his divinity by miracles, yet those miracles were momentary and passing, and left mankind without any evidence that was perceptible by the senses, in testimony of so incomprehensible a mystery as a God made man.
And why should we require more in the sacrament of the Eucharist? Instead of the Son of God under the appearance of man, we behold him under the semblance of bread and wine, and we have his own word in attestation of the fact.
those who heard him; instead of ceasing to tempt their faith by what he had no intention of forcing upon it; he only confirms his own assertion, and their interpretation of it: Except, he replied, you eat of the flesh of the son of man, and drink of his blood, you
shall not have life in yoů. His disciples, like the members of the Established Church, were still obdurate, and, like them, they exclaimed: This
If the second person of the blessed Trinity, united with the nature of man, but veiling his divinity under the form of an infant, had been presented in common with a hundred other infants before any indifferent person, would it have been possible to distinguish him from the rest ? Why then should we look for any peculiar distinction in a consecrated host, over one that is not so i If the son of God could appear amongst men as an infant child, preserving his divinity without altering the ordinary appearances of human nature ; why can he not equally veil his divinity under the appearance of bread, without changing the appearance of that bread to the visual faculties of man? And why can he not also delegate the power to do so to his minister,-he who gave power to the rod of Aaron to convert the waters of the Nile into blood, and that blood into water again,—he who was able, by one single word, to call a whole world from nothingness ?
The remark of Tertullian, that he believed in Transubstantiation because it was impossible to have been the offspring of the human mind, is worthy of observation. He did not disbelieve and reject it, because it appeared extraordinary and inexplicable! but feeling it impossible that it could have originated with man, he referred it entirely to God.