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designed, whatever propositions it tends to persuade, to what duties soever it does engage, to what state of things soever it ought to efform us, and whithersoever the nature and intention of the grace does drive us,-thither we must go, that we must do, all those things we must believe, and to that end we must direct all our actions and designs. For the nature of faith discovers itself in the affairs of our religion as in all things: if we believe any thing to be good, we shall labour for it; if we think so, we shall do so. And if we run after the vanities of the world, and neglect our interest of heaven, there is no other account to be given of it, but because we do not believe the threatenings and the laws of God; or that heaven is not so considerable' as those sottish pleasures and trifling regards, for which all pains is too much, though we think all labour and all passion is too little. PlutarchTM tells, that when Poverty desired to have a child, she lay with the god Porus, their god of plenty, and she proved with child, and brought forth Love: by which they intended to represent the nature of the divine love; it is born of a rich father, and a poor mother; that is, it proceeds from a contempt of the world, and a value of God, an emptiness of secular affections, and a great estimate of wisdom and religion.
But therefore it is, that God and the fruits of his garden, and the wealth of his treasure, and the meat of his table, and the graces of his Spirit, are not gustful and delicious, because we dote upon mushrooms and coloquintida. But as manna was given in the desert, and it became pleasant when they had nothing else to eat, so it is in the sweetnesses of religion: we cannot live by faith, and rejoice in the banquets of our Saviour, unless our souls dwell in the wilderness; that is, where the pleasures and appetites of the world may not prepossess our palates, and debauch our reasonings". And this was mysteriously spoken by the psalmist, "The broad places of the wilderness shall wax fat, and the hill shall be encircled with joy;" that is, whatsoever is barren and desolate, not full
1 ὅσον γὰς τίμιόν ἐστι τὸ πιστευόμενον, τοσοῦτον ἀγαπητόν —Just. Mart.
· τὴν Πενίαν (λέγων), τέκνων δεομένην, τῷ Πόρῳ καθεύδοντι παρακλιθῆναι, καὶ κυάσασαν ἐξ αὐτοῦ τεκεῖν τὸν Ερωτα, φύσει μακρὸν ὄντα καὶ παντοδαπὸν, ἅτε δὴ ατρὸς μὲν ἀγαθοῦ καὶ σοφοῦ καὶ πᾶσιν αὐτάρκους, μητρὸς δὲ ἀμηχάνου καὶ ἀπόρου, κ. τ. λ.-De Isid. et Osir. Xyl. t. ii. pag. 374. D. (J. R. P.)
" Delicata est Divina consolatio, quæ non datur admittentibus alienam. -S. Bernard.
of the things and affections of the world, shall be inebriated with the pleasures of religion, and rejoice in sacraments, in faith and holy expectation. But the love of money, and the love of pleasures, are the intrigues and fetters to the understanding. But he only is a faithful man who restrains his passions, and despises the world, and rectifies his love, that he may believe aright, and put that value upon religion as that it become the satisfaction of our spirit, and the great object of all our passionate desires: pride and prejudice are the parents of misbelief, but humility and contempt of the world first bear faith upon their knees, and then upon their hands.
Of the proper and specific Work of Faith in the Reception of the Holy Communion.
HERE I am to inquire into two practical questions. 1. What stress is to be put upon faith in this mystery: that is, How much is every one bound to believe in the article of this sacrament, before he can be accounted competently prepared in his understanding, and by his faith?
2. What is the use of faith in the reception of the blessed sacrament? and in what sense, and to what purposes, and with what truth it is said, that, in the holy sacrament, we receive Christ by faith?
How much every Man is bound to believe of this Mystery.
If I should follow the usual opinions, I should say, that, to this preparatory faith, it is necessary to believe all the niceties and mysteriousness of the blessed sacrament. Men have introduced new opinions, and turned the key in this lock so often, till it cannot be either opened or shut; and
• Frænentur ergo corporum cupidines,
Prudent. in Cathemerin.
they have unravelled the clue so long, till they have entangled it. And not only reason is made blind by staring at what she never can perceive, but the whole article of the sacrament is made an objection and temptation even to faith itself. And such things are taught by some churches and some schools of learning, which no philosophy did ever teach, no religion did ever reveal, no prophet ever preach, and which no faith can ever receive: I mean it in the prodigious article of transubstantiation;' which I am not here* to confute, but to reprove upon practical considerations, and to consider those things that may make us better, and not strive to prevail in disputation. That, therefore, we may know the proper offices of faith in the believing what relates to the holy sacrament, I shall describe it in several propositions.
1. It cannot be the duty of faith to believe any thing against our sense; what we see and taste to be bread, what we see and taste and smell to be wine, no faith can engage us to believe the contrary. For, by our senses, Christianity itself and some of the greatest articles of our belief were known by them, who from that evidence conveyed them to us by their testimony; and if the perception of sense were not finally to be relied upon, miracles could never be a demonstration, nor any strange event prove an unknown proposition; for the miracle can never prove the article, unless our eyes or hands approve the miracle; and the divinity of Christ's person, and his mission and his power, could never have been proved by the resurrection, but that the resurrection was certain and evident to the eyes and hands of so many witnesses. Thus Christ to his apostles proved himself to be no spirit, by exposing his flesh and bones to be felt and he wrought faith in St. Thomas by his fingers' ends; the wounds that he saw and felt, were the demonstrations of his faith. And in the primitive church, the Valentinians and Marcionites, who said Christ's body was fantastical, were confuted by no other argument but of sense. For sense is the evidence of the simple, and the confirmation of the wise: it can confute all pretences, and reprove all deceitful subtilties it turns opinion into knowledge, and doubts into cer
b 1 John, i. 1, 2, 3.
a Vide Real Presence' per totum.
tainty it is the first endearment of love, and the supply of all understanding. From what we see without, we know what to believe within: and no demonstration in the world can be greater than the evidence of sense. Our senses are the great arguments of virtue and vice: and if it be not safe to rely upon that evidence, we cannot tell what pleasure and pain is and a man that is born blind, may as well have the true idea of colours, as we could have of pain, if our senses could not tell us certainly; and all those arguments from heaven, by which God prevails upon all the world, as oracles, and Urim and Thummim, and still voices, and loud thunders, and the daughter of a voice, and messages from above, and prophets on earth, and lights and angels, all were nothing: for faith could not come by hearing, if our hearing might be illusions. That, therefore, which all the world relies upon for their whole religion;-that which to all the world is the great means and instrument of the glorification of God, even our seeing of the works of God, and eating his provisions, and beholding his light;-that which is the great ministry of life, and the conduit of good and evil to us; we may rely upon for this article of the sacrament: what our faith relies upon in the whole, she may not contradict in this. Tertullian said, that "it is not only unreasonable, but unlawful, to contradict the testimony of our sense, lest the same question be made of Christ himself, lest it be suspected that he also might be deceived, when he heard his Father's voice from heaven." That, therefore, which we see upon our altars and tables, that which the priest handles, that which the communicant does taste,—is bread and wine; our senses tell us that is so; and, therefore, faith cannot be enjoined to believe it not to be so. Faith gives a new light to the soul, but it does not put our eyes out; and what God hath given us in our nature, could never be intended as a snare to religion, or to engage us to believe a lie. Faith sees more in the sacrament than the eye does, and tastes more than the tongue does, but nothing against it: and as God hath not two wills contradictory to each other, so neither hath he given us two notices and perceptions of objects, whereof the one is affirmative, and the other negative, of the same thing.
See Real Presence,' sect. 10.
2. Whatsoever is against right reason, that no faith can oblige us to believe. For although reason is not the positive and affirmative measure of our faith, and God can do no more than we can understand, and our faith ought to be larger than our reason, and take something into her heart that reason can never take into her eye,-yet, in all our creed, there can be nothing against reason. If true reason justly contradicts an article, it is not of the household of faith. In this there is no difficulty; but that, in practice, we take care that we do not call that reason which is not so. For although a man's reason is a right judge, yet it ought not to pass sentence in an inquiry of faith, until all the information be brought in; all that is within, and all that is without it,—all that is above, and all that is below; all that concerns it in experience, and all that concerns it in act; whatsoever is of pertinent observation, and whatsoever is revealed for else reason may argue very well, and yet conclude falsely it may conclude well in logic, and yet infer a false proposition in theology: but when our judge is fully and truly informed in all that, where she is to make her judgment, we may safely follow it whithersoever she invites us.
If, therefore, any society of men calls upon us to believe, in our religion, what is false in our experience,—to affirm that to be done, which we know is impossible it ever can be done;-to wink hard that we may see the better;—to be unreasonable men, that we may offer to God a reasonable sacrifice; they make religion so to be seated in the will, that our understanding will be useless, and can never minister to it. But as he that shuts the eye hard, and with violence curls the eye-lid, forces a fantastic fire from the crystalline humour, and espies a light that never shines, and sees thousands of little fires that never burn, so is he that blinds the eye of his reason, and pretends to see by an eye of faith: he makes little images of notion, and some atoms dance before him; but he is not guided by the light, nor instructed by the proposition; but sees like a man in his sleep, and grows as much the wiser as the man that dreamt of a lycan
d See this largely discoursed of in the Rule of Conscience, lib. i. chap. 2. Rule 3.