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Of Catechumens, or unbaptized Persons. THE blessed sacrament, before him that hath no faith, is like messes of meat set upon the graves of the dead'; they smell not that nidour, which quickens the hungry belly; they feel not the warmth, and taste not the juice; for these are provided for them that are alive, and the dead have no portion in them. This is the first great line of introduction, and necessary to be examined: we have the rule from the apostle'; "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your ownselves. Know ye not your ownselves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" As if he had said, 'Ye are reprobates; and Jesus Christ shall never dwell in you, except by faith; without this, you can never receive him; and, therefore, examine strictly yourselves concerning your faith.'
a Te sine dulce nihil, Domine,
But the necessity of this preparation by faith hath a double sense, and a proportionable necessity. 1. It means, that no unbaptized person can come to the holy communion. 2. It means that those that are baptized, have an actual and an operative faith, properly relative to these divine mysteries, and really effective of all the works of faith. Of this we have the most ancient and indubitable records of the primitive church for in the apology, which Justin Martyre made for the Christians, he gives this account of the manner of dispensing the holy eucharist: " it is lawful for none to participate of this eucharistical bread and wine, but to him who believes those things to be true which are taught by us, and to him that is washed in the laver of regeneration, which is to the remission of sins, and who lives as Christ hath com
Prudentius, hymno 3. ante cibum.
b2 Cor. xiii. 5.
· Οὐδενὶ δούλῳ μετασχεῖν ἔξόν ἐστι ἢ τῷ πιστεύοντι ἀληθῆ εἶναι τὰ δεδιδαγμένα ὑφ' ἡμῶν, καὶ λουσαμένῳ ὑπὲς ἀφέσεως ἁμαρτιῶν καὶ εἰς ἀναγεννήσεως λουτρὸν, καὶ οὕτως βιοῦντι ὡς ὁ Χριστὸς παρέδωκεν.
manded.”—“ Shut the profane and the unhallowed people out of doors," so Orpheus sang. None comes to this holy feast but they whose sins are cleansed in baptism, who are sanctified in those holy waters of regeneration, who have obedient souls, ears attentive to the sermons of the Gospel, and hearts open to the words of Christ. These are they who see by a brighter light, and walk in the warmth of a more refreshing sun; they live in a better air, and are irradiated with a purer beam, the glories of the Sun of Righteousness; and they only are to eat the precious food of the sacrificed Lamb: for, by baptism, we are admitted to the spiritual life; and, by the holy communion, we nourish and preserve it.
But although baptism be always necessary, yet alone it. is not a sufficient qualification to the holy communion, but there must be an actual faith also in every communicant. Neither faith alone, nor baptism alone, can suffice; but it must be the actual faith of baptized persons, which disposes us to this sacred feast; for the church gives the communion neither to catechumens, nor to infants, nor to madmen, nor to natural fools.
Catechumens not admitted to the Holy Communion.
Of this, besides the testimony of Justin Martyr, St. Cyril of Alexandria gives this full account: "We refuse to give the sacraments to catechumens, although they already know the truth, and, with a loud voice, confess the faith of Christ; because they are not yet enriched with the Holy Ghost, who dwells in them, who are consummated and perfected by baptism. But when they have been baptized, because it is believed, that the Holy Ghost does dwell within them, they are not prohibited from the contact and communion of the body of Christ. And, therefore, to them, who come to the mystical benediction, the ministers of the mystery cry with a loud voice, Sancta sanctis,'' Let holy things be given to sanctified persons,' signifying, that the contact and sanctification of Christ's body does agree with them only, who, in
• Θύρας δ ̓ ἐπίθεσθε βεβήλοις.
Solis fervor alit, ventosaque pabula libat.
Idyl. 1. Claud. Gesner, vol. II. p. 635.
their spirits, are sanctified by the Holy Ghost." And this was the certain and perpetual doctrine and custom of the church; insomuch, that, in the primitive churches, they would not suffer unbaptized persons so much as to see the consecration of the holy mysteries, as is to be seen in many ecclesiastical records. The reason of this is nothing, but the nature and analogy of the thing itself. For we first come to Christ by faith, and we first come to Christ by baptism; they are the two doors of the tabernacle, which our Lord hath pitched, and not man. By faith we desire to go in; and by baptism we are admitted. Faith knocks at the door; and baptism sets it open: but until we are in the house, we cannot be entertained at the master's table: they that are in the highways and hedges, must be called in, and come in at the doors, and they shall be feasted. The one is the moral entrance, and the other is the ritual. Faith is the door of the soul, and baptism is the door of the man. Faith is the spiritual address to God, and baptism is the sacramental. Baptism is, like the pool of Siloam, appointed for healing; it is salutary and medicinal: but the Spirit of God is that great angel, that descends thither, and makes them virtual; and faith is the hand, that puts us in. So that faith alone does not do it; and, therefore, as the unbaptized must not communicate, so neither will baptism alone admit us; and, therefore, infants and innocents are yet uncapable, But that is the next inquiry.
Of communicating Infants.
Question. Whether infants are to be admitted to the holy communion?
WHETHER the holy communion may be given to infants, hath been a great question in the church of God; which, in
'Dionys. Eccles. hierarch. Microlog. observ. Eccles. c. 51. in biblioth. Patr. Cabas. exposit. liturg. c. 15, 16. Germanus Patr. Const. in Rerum Eccles. Theoria. Durandus ration. Divin, offic. 1.4. & 1. 6. Albertus Magnus de officio Missæ, tract. 3. c. 25. Alcuinus de Divin, offic. Aquinas Summ. 3. q. 80, art. 4.
this instance, hath not been, as in others, divided by parties and single persons, but by whole ages; for from some of the earliest ages of the church, down to the time of Charles the Great, that is, for above six hundred years, the church of God did give the holy communion to newly baptized infants. St. Cyprian recounts a miracle of an infant, into whose mouth, when the parents had ignorantly and carelessly left the babe, the Gentile priests had forced some of their idol sacrifice but when the minister of the church came to pour into the mouth the chalice of our Lord, it resisted, and, being overpowered, grew sick, and fell into convulsions. By which narrative the practice of the church of that age, is sufficiently declared. Of the matter of fact there is no question: but they went further.
The primitive church did believe it necessary to the salvation of infants. St. Austin believed that this doctrine and practice descended from the apostles; that without both the sacraments no person could come to life, or partake of the kingdom of heaven: which when he had endeavoured to prove largely, he infers this conclusion: "It is in vain to promise salvation and life eternal to little children, unless they be baptized, and receive the body and blood of Christ; since the necessity of them both is attested by so many, so great, and so divine testimonies." And that this practice continued to the time of Charlemagne, appears by a constitution in his capitular, saying, "That the priest should always have the eucharist ready; that, when any one is sick, or when a child is weak, he may presently give him the communion, lest he die without it." And Alcuinus recites a canon, expressly charging, that " as soon as ever the infants are baptized, they should receive the holy communion before they
a Lib. de lapsis.
bSi ergo, ut tot et tanta Divina testimonia concinunt, nec salus nec vita æterna baptismo et corpore et sanguine Domini cuiquam expectanda sunt, frustra sine his promittitur parvulis. Lib. i. de peccat, merit. et remiss. c. 20. & c. 24. Vide eundem de verbis Apostoli, ad Bonif. Epist. 23. ad Vitalem Epist. 106. cont. duas epistol. Pelagian. lib. i. c. 22. & lib. iv. c. 4. lib. contra Julian. c. 2. & S. Cyprian. lib. iii. Test. ad Quirin. c. 25. Autor Hypognost. in operibus S. August. Idem ait expresse S. Paulinus Epist. Nolanus epist. 12. ad Severum. S. Cyril. Hieros. Catech. 3. c. 1. Idem dixit P. Innocentius. Capit. Caroli Mag. lib. 1. c. 161. Alcuin. lib. de divinis offic. Idem videre est in Ordine Romano, quem edidit Michael Hittorpius.
suck, or receive any other nourishment." The same also is used by the Greeks, by the Ethiopians, by the Bohemians and Moravians: and it is confessed by Maldonate, that the opinion of St. Austin and Innocentius, that the eucharist is necessary even to infants, prevailed in the church for six hundred years together,
But since the time of Charles the Great, that is, for above eight hundred years, this practice hath been omitted in the western churches generally; and in the council of Trent it was condemned as unfit, and all men commanded to believe, that though the ancient churches did do it upon some probable reasons, yet they did not believe it necessary. Concerning which, I shall not interrupt the usefulness which I intend in this discourse, by confuting the canon; though it be intolerable to command men to believe in a matter of fact contrary to their evidence, and to say that the fathers did not believe it to be necessary, when they say it is, and used it accordingly: yet because it relates to the use of this divine sacrament, I shall give this short account of it.
The church of Rome, and some few others, are the only refusers and condemners of this ancient and catholic practice; but, upon their grounds, they cannot reasonably deny it. 1. Because infants are, by them, affirmed to be capable of the grace and benefits of the eucharists; for to them who -put no bar (as infants put none), the sacraments, by their inherent virtue, confer grace; and, therefore, particularly, it is affirmed, 'that if infants did now receive the eucharist, they should also receive grace with it: and, therefore, it is not unreasonable to give it to them, who, therefore, are capable of it, because it will do them benefit; and it is, consequently, upon these grounds, uncharitable to deny it:-for,
2. They allow the ground, upon the supposition of which the fathers did most reasonably proceed; and they only deny
c Maldonatus in Johan. 6. Num. 116.
a Vide Hierem. Petr. C. P. doctor. exhor. ad Germanos. Alvarez in itin. Ethiop. Joachimum Vadianum in notat. lib. i. fol. 14. de Sacram. Eucharistiæ. Concil. Trid. Sess. 21. Can. 4.
• Μόνου γὰς αὐτοῦ καὶ Θεὸς στηρίσκεται·
Agatho apud Aristot. ethic. vi. c. iii.—Wilkinson, p. 234.
Franc. à Victor. de Euchar. n. 75.