« PredošláPokračovať »
I. Give me leave then to take notice, in the first place, that the Sacraments of the Church have all along been, and are to this day, standing monuments of the truth of Christianity against Atheists, Deists, Jews, Turks, Pagans, and all kinds of infidels. They bear date as early as the Gospel itself; and have continued, without interruption, from the days of their Founder. They proclaim to the world, that there once was such a person as Christ Jesus; that he lived, and died, and was buried, and rose again ; ; and that he erected a Church, and drew the world after him, maugre all opposition ; (which could never have been effected without many and great miracles ;) and that he appointed these ordinances for the preserving and perpetuating the same Church, till his coming again. The two Sacraments, in this view, are abiding memorials of Christ and of his religion, and are of impregnable force against unbelievers, who presume either to call in question such plain facts, or to charge our most holy religion, as an invention of men.
II. But besides this general use of the Sacraments against unbelievers, they have been further of great service all along, for the supporting of particular doctrines of prime value, against misbelievers of various kinds; as may appear by an historical deduction all the way down from the earliest ages of the Church to the present times.
No sooner did some misbelieving Christians of the apostolical age endeavour to deprave the true Gospel doctrine of God made man, rejecting our Lord's humanity, but the Sacrament of the Eucharist, carrying in it so indisputable a reference to our Lord's real flesh and blood, bore testimony against them with a force irresistible. They were so sensible of it, that within a while they forbore coming either to the holy Communion, or to the prayers that belonged to it b, merely for the sake of avoiding a practice contradictory to their principles. However, this was sufficient intimation to every honest Christian, of the meanest capacity, that their principles must be false, which obliged them in consequence to vilify and reject the plain and certain institutions of Christ. There was no need of entering into the subtilties of argument; for the thing declared itself, and left no room for dispute. Such was the valuable use of this Sacrament, at that time, for supporting truth and detecting error, for the confirming the faithful in the right way, and for confounding seducers.
a The Docete, or Phantasiaste, χονται, διά το μή ομολογείν την ευχαριwhom in English we may call Vision- στίαν σάρκα είναι του σωτήρος ημών aries; men that would not admit that 'Incoû Xplotoù, &c. Ignat. ad Smyrn. our Lord assumed realflesh and blood, c. vii. p. 4. Le Clerc well comments but in appearance only; considering upon this passage: Quod quidem conhim as a walking phantom or appari- venienter ceteræ suæ doctrinæ facietion, in order to take off the scandal bant: cum enim Eucharistia sit inof the cross, or for other as weak stituta ad celebrandum memoriam reasons. Some short account of them corporis Christi pro nobis fracti, et may be seen in my Importance, vol. sanguinis effusi, non poterat celebrari, iii. p. 402, 547. or a larger and more ex instituto Christi, ab hominibus qui distinct one in Buddæus's Eccles. mortuum non esse Christum putabant, Apostol. p. 550—570.
nisi sibi ipsi contradicerent. Eccl. 6 Ευχαριστίας και προσευχής απέ- Hist. p. 568, 569.
III. In the century next following, the Valentinian Gnostics corrupted the faith of Christ more ways than one, but particularly in pretending that this lower or visible world was not made by God most high, but by some inferior power or æon. Here again the Sacrament of the Eucharist was of signal service for the confuting such wild doctrine, and for the guarding sincere Christians against the smooth insinuations of artful disputers. It was very plain, that the bread and wine in that Sacrament were presented before God, as his creatures and his gifts; which amounted, in just construction, to a recognising him as their true Creator: and it was absurd to imagine that God should accept of, and sanctify to heavenly purposes, creatures not his own. Besides, our Lord had chosen these creatures of the lower world to represent his own body and blood, and called them his body and blood, as being indeed such in Divine construction and beneficial effect to all worthy receivers : a plain argument that he looked upon them as his own and his Father's creatures, and not belonging to any strange creator, with whom neither he nor his Father had any thing to do.
These arguments, drawn from the holy Eucharist, were triumphantly urged against those false teachers, by an eminent Father of that timed: who, no doubt, made choice of them as the most affecting and sensible of any; being more entertaining than dry criticisms upon texts, or abstracted reasonings, and more likely to leave strong and lively impressions upon the minds of common Christians. At the same time they served to expose the adversaries to public shame, as appearing along with others at the holy Communion, while they taught things directly contrary to the known language of that Sacrament.
c Tertullian afterwards makes use of Contra Marcion. lib. i. cap. 14. the same argument, against the same d Nostra autem consonans est senerror, as espoused by the Marcion- tentia Eucharistie, et Eucharistia rurites : and he strengthens it further, sus confirmat sententiam nostram : by taking in the other Sacrament also. offerimus enim ei quæ sunt ejus. Iren. Sed ille quidem (Deus noster) usque lib. iv. cap. 18. p. 251. edit. Bened. nunc nec aquam reprobavit Creatoris, Conf. cap. xxxii. p. 270. Conf. Terqua suos abluit
-nec panem quo tull. contra Marcion. lib. i. cap. 14. ipsum corpus suum repræsentat.
IV. The same deceivers, upon some specious pretences, (but such as no cause can want, that does not want artful pleaders,) took upon them to reject the doctrine of the resurrection of the body; conceiving that the unbodied soul only had any concern in a life to come e. Here again, the Sacrament of the Eucharist was a kind of armour of proof against the seducers. For as the consecrated bread and wine were the authentic symbols of Christ's body and blood, and were, in construction and certain effect, (though not in substance,) the same with what they stood for, to all worthy receivers ; it was manifest, that bodies so incor. porated with the body of Christ must of course be partners with it in a glorious resurrection. Thus was the Eucharist considered as a sure and certain pledge to all good men, of the future resurrection of their bodies, symbolically fed with the body of Christ. For like as the branches partake of the vine, and the members of the head, so the bodies of the faithful, being by the Eucharist incorporate with Christ's glorified body, must of consequence appertain to it, and be glorified with it. This is the argument which the Christian Fathers of those times insisted upon, and with this they prevailed ; as it was an argument easily understoods and sensibly felt, (by as many as had any tender regard for the Sacraments of the Church,) and as it expressed to the life the inconsistent conduct of the new teachers, proclaiming them to be self-condemned. Wherefore they were put in mind over and over, to correct either their practice or their principles ; and either to come no more to the holy Communion, or to espouse no more such doctrines as were contrary to ith.
e Basilides, probably of the first corporal or local presence supposes century, taught this doctrine. Iren. Christ's body and blood to be received lib.i.cap.24.p.102. Afterwards, Cerdo by all communicants, both good and also, and Marcion, lib. i. cap. 27. p.106. bad, Irenæus's arguments will by no The Valentinian Gnostics also taught means favour that hypothesis, nor the same, lib. v. cap. 1. p. 292.
consist with it. His reasoning will f Ignat. Epist. ad Ephes. cap. xx. extend only to good men, realmembers p. 19. Irenæus, lib. iv. cap. 18. p. of Christ's body, men whose bodies, 251. lib. v. cap. 2. p. 294. Tertull. de by the Eucharist worthily received, Resurr. Carnis, cap. viii. p. 330. (perseverance supposed,) are made Rigalt. Conf. Athanas. Epist. iv. ad abiding members of Christ's body, flesh, Serap: p. 710. edit. Bened.
and bones. The argument, so stated, & Notwithstanding the plainness of proves the resurrection of such perthe argument, a very learned and in- sons; and it is all that it directly genious Lutheran declares, that he proves : which however was sufficient does not understand it, can make no against those who admitted no resursense or consequence of it. (Pfaff. rection of the body, but denied all. Notæ in Iren. Fragm. 84, 85.) I N. B. The argument is of as little suppose the reason is, because it force on the hypothesis of transubstanagrees not with the Lutheran notion tiation; as is plain from what has of the presence : for indeed, as such been hinted of the other.
V. In the same century, or beginning of the next, when the Marcionites revived the old pretences of the Visionaries, rejecting our Lord's humanity ; the Eucharist still served, as before, to confound the adversaries: for it was impossible to invent any just reply to this plain argument, that our Lord's appointing a memorial to be observed, of his body broken and of his blood shed, must imply, that he really took part of flesh and blood, and was in substance and in truth what the Sacrament sets forth in symbols and figuresi
VI. When the Encratitæ, or Continents, of the second century, (so called from their overscrupulous abstemiousness,) had contracted odd prejudices against the use of wine, as absolutely unlawful; the Sacrament of the Eucharist was justly pleaded, as alone sufficient to correct their groundless surmisesk: but rather than part with a favourite principle, they chose to celebrate the Communion in water only, rejecting wine ; and were from thence styled Aquarians'. Which practice of theirs served however to detect their hypocrisy, and to take off the sheep's clothing: for nobody could now make it any question, whether those so seemingly conscientious and self-denying teachers were really deceivers, when they were found to make no scruple of violating a holy Sacrament, and running directly counter to the express commands and known practice of Christ their Lord.
VII. When the Praxeans, Noetians, and Sabellians, of the second and third centuries, presumed to innovate in the doctrine
h *H try youny álaçatwoav, î rò tasma, figuram capere non posset. Trpoopépet tà eipnuéva Tapalteicow- Tertull. adv. Marc. lib. iv. c. 40. p. gav. nuôp để gópbopos 1 yeoun ri 458. Conf. Pseud. Origen. Dialog. tỏxaptoria, can củyaptria... c- contr. Marcion. lib. iv. p. 853. edit. Baloi Tv yuáunv. Iren. lib. iv. cap. Bened. 18. p. 251.
k Vid. Clem. Alex. Pædag. lib. ii. Acceptum panem, et distributum cap. 2. p. 186. Stroin. lib. i. p: 359. discipulis, corpus illum suum fecit, Epiphan. Hæres. xlvii. 3. Theo: Hoc est corpus meum, dicendo; id est dorit. Hæret. Fab. lib. i. cap. 21. figura corporis mei. Figura autem Philastrius Hær. Ixxvii. p. 146. Aunon fuisset, nisi veritatis esset corpus : gustinus Hær. cap. lxiv. ceterum vacua res, quod est phan
of the Trinity, by reducing the three Persons of the Godhead to one ; then the Sacrament of Baptism remarkably manifested its doctrinal force, to the confusion of those misbelievers. There was no resisting the pointed language of the sacramental form, which ran distinctly in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghostm. It seems, that those men being con. scious of it, did therefore change our Lord's form, and baptized in a new one of their own"; not considering, that that was plunging deeper than before, and adding iniquitous practice to ungodly principles. But the case was desperate, and they had other
way left to make themselves appear consistent men. In the mean while, their carrying matters to such lengths could not but make their false doctrine the more notorious to all men, and prevent its stealing upon honest and well disposed Christians, by ignorance or surprise. Such was the seasonable use of the Sacrament of Baptism in that instance; detecting error, and obstructing its progress, and strongly supporting the true faith.
VIII. When the Arians, of the fourth century, took upon them to deprave the doctrine of the Trinity in an opposite extreme, by rejecting the Deity of our Saviour Christ, “who is “ over all God blessed for ever° ;" then again the same Sacrament of Baptism reclaimed against novelty, and convicted the misbelievers in the face of the world. It was obvious to every impartial and considering man, that the form of Baptism ran equally in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and that it could never be intended to initiate Christ's disciples in the belief and worship of God and two creatures”. The new teachers however, in prudence, thought proper to continue the old form of baptizing, till the Eunomians, their successors, being plainer men, or being weary of a practice contradictory to their principles, resolved at length to set aside the Scripture form, and to substitute others more agreeable to their sentiments 9. This was intimation sufficient to every well disposed Christian, to be
m Vid. Tertull. adv. Prax. cap. 26, the Trinity, ch. ix. or in my eighth 27. Hippol. contra Noet. cap. xiv. sermon per tot. vol. ii. or in Athana
sius, p. 510,633. edit. Bened. Vid. Bevereg. Vindic. Can. lib. 9 Epipban. Hær. lxxvi. Greg. ii. cap.
6. p. 252. Bingham, Eccles. Nyssen. contr. Eunom. lib. x. p. 278. Antiq. lib. xi. cap. 3. p. 7.
Theodorit. Hæret. Fab. lib. iv. cap. o Rom. ix. 6.
3. Socrates, Eccl. Hist. lib. v. cap. P A full account of this argument 24. Theodorus, Lect. lib. xi. p. 576. may be seen in Bishop Stillingfleet on edit. Cant.