Page images
PDF
EPUB

it was from merely seeking to impose doctrines without sufficient proof to satisfy the conditions of our principle of faith. For the functions of a general Council being to define what the Church has always taught, as such unanimity among the ancient Fathers and among later divines was not discovered as could meet the intensity of proof required, it manifestly drew a distinction between the two passages, and did not sanction the words of promise with a formal dogmatical precision. This was evidently shown in the twenty-first Session, where the decree relating to communion under one kind, was framed. For, in the contests with the Hussites, who urged the necessity of all receiving the cup, upon the strength of texts in Jo. vi., many Catholic divines, following the footsteps of some among the Fathers, had denied that the discourse related to the blessed Sacrament. When, therefore, that decree was drawn up, and that chapter was referred to, a clause was added to this effect:"utcumque juxta varias Sanctorum Patrum, et doctorum interpretationes intelligatur."* This clause was introduced by the congregation appointed to prepare the decree, in consequence of objections urged against it by Guerrero, Archbishop of Grenada, on the ground that the Council would thereby appear to define that the chapter relates to the Eucharist. Cardinal Seripandus, who presided, observed that the question on this chapter being twofold, one on the use of the cup with heretics, the other on the meaning of the chapter between Catholics, it never was the intention of the congregation to step in between the parties of the latter difference, but only to deny the consequences drawn by the former.* The clause " utcumque" was then introduced. Salmeron and Torres exerted themselves to prevail on Cardinal Hosius, and other members of the Council, whom Pallavicini enumerates, to have the clause expunged. They were formally heard upon the subject, and the following adjudication was given :-“Cum ea geminæ interpretationis opulentia de S. Joannis testimonio ecclesia frueretur, quarum utraque probationem ab hæreticis inde deductam impugnabat, ad unius tantummodo paupertatem non esse redigendam.” The reasons given are, that the interpretation in question was not new, nor even so modern as the controversies with the Bohemians, and that many divines of name had preferred it.f Hence Estius expressly writes, and other divines acknowledge, that there is not the same strength in the proof drawn from the discourse in St. John, as in the words of institution. I

* Sess. xxi. cap. 1.

This controversy is important in many respects.

* Pallavicini, “ Vera Concilii Tridentini Historia," Antwerp, 1670, tom. iii. p. 64.

+ P. 69.
# “ Comment. in iv. Libros Sentent.” Par.

6, p. 114; Jan. senius of Ghent “Commentar." ad loc. Hawarden“ Church of Christ," vol. ii.

p.

176.

[ocr errors]

First, inasmuch as it proves how false are the assertions commonly made, that the Council blindly decreed whatever it listed, without any consideration of grounds or arguments; since so far from wishing, at anycost, to seize upon a strong confirmatory proof such as it might have drawn from Jo. vi., it prudently refrained from defining any thing regarding it, because the tradition of the Church, however favourable, was not decided for it, as for the other argument. Secondly, although when arguing with Protestants we waive the authority of the Council and argue upon mere hermeneutical grounds, and can support one proof on these as strongly as the other, yet to the mind of the Catholic who receives his faith from the teaching of the Church, the evidence of the dogma is in the argument on which we are now entering, and which has been pronounced by her definitive on the subject.

This consideration must suffice to gain your attention in favour of the important matter which I am about to propose to your consideration.

The argument from the words of institution, strange as it may seem, is not so easy to propose in a hermeneutical form, as that from Jo. vi., and that on account of its extreme simplicity. We believe that the body and blood of Jesus Christ are truly and really present in the adorable Eucharist, because, taking bread and wine, he who was Omnipotent, said, “ This is my body, this is my

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

blood.” Here is our argument: and what can we advance, to prove a strict accordance between our doctrine and that of our Saviour, stronger and clearer, than the bare enunciation of our dogma beside the words which he used in delivering it. " This is my body," says our Lord; “I believe it to be thy body," replies the Catholic. “This is my blood,” repeats our Redeemer; “I believe it to be the figure of thy blood,” rejoins the Protestant. Whose speech is here yea, yea? who saith amen to the teaching of Christ? Is it the Catholic or the Protestant ? You must plainly see that we have nothing more or better to say for ourselves than what Christ has already said ; and that our best argument consists in the bare repetition of his sacred and infallible words.

This, however, is not our only course of argument; our opponents do not let us get through the question on such easy terms. So far are we from receiving any credit for our absolute belief in Christ's words, that we are generally greeted in no conciliatory terms, for our simple-hearted faith.

Dr. A. Clarke, whose work I shall now have often to mention as the great armoury of Protestants in this controversy, designates those who hold the Catholic belief on the Real Presence, as " the most stupid of mortals.” On one occasion he says of us, “ he who can believe such a congeries of absurdities cannot be said to be a volunteer in faith, for it is evident the man can have neither

faith nor reason.”* This is not very complimentary; ; but when I consider how very parallel to these and such like expressions are the taunts formerly cast by Julian the Apostate, and his fellows, on the Galileans—the equivalent for Papists in ancient controversy-because they believed a mere man to be God, against the evidence of their senses, on his bare word that he was God, I own I feel not only comforted, but proud at finding ourselves placed in a situation so similar as our ancestors in Christianity, with relation to our modern adversaries. I could occupy you long by extracts from Protestants, full of the most ribald scurrility when speaking of this blessed institution. But considering them, as we must do, at least ignorantly blasphemous, I will not shock your ears, nor pollute my lips, by repeating what can in no manner strengthen their case with virtuous or sensible men.

From what I have before remarked, it is clear that we entrench ourselves behind the strong power of our Saviour's words, and calmly remain there till driven from our position. The aggression must come from the other side; and the trouble taken by its divines to prove that our interpretation is incorrect, sufficiently evinces that they are aware of our strength.

* "A Discourse on the nature, institution and design, of the holy Eucharist, commonly called the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper,” 2d ed. Lond. 1814, p. 51.

« PreviousContinue »