Page images
PDF
EPUB

sense: first by remarking, that it affirms the real presence; which is not denied by protestants, the carnal sense being excluded. He says further, that it “ seems to be against transubstantiation; but we may understand by nature, the appearance, and consistency of bread.” Against this construction it appears plainly, that “the nature of bread” is distinguished from “the name of Christ's body.” And besides, the weight of the father's argument against the Appollinarians rested on this very circumstance. For they contended, that the divine nature was to the body of Christ, what the soul of man is to his body. But Chrysostome never intended to deny the reality of Christ's body, after the mystical union which he affirmed. Accordingly, to support the analogy, there must be real bread, after the sanctification of it by prayer.

Of all the fathers of the first four centuries, perhaps Chrysostome has been carried the furthest on the present subject. The following instance shall be given, as a clue to his meaning, and as a help to distinguish between doctrine and metaphor, in what he says, on this subject.

Commenting* on the words of the institution, he says, that by sensible things, Christ presents what is to be contemplated by the understanding. He compares the subject to baptism, in which the water is an object of sense; but the gift is intellectual, being regeneration. He returns to his point and says, that as the soul is in the body, intellectual things are given in such as are sensible. Then, indulging the ardour of his genius, he expresses himself as follows—" Some now say, we wish to see his” [Christ's] “shape, his figure, his clothes, his shoes. Behold, you see him, you touch him, you eat him. And you desire to see his clothes: but he himself is given to you, not only to be seen, but to be touched, and to be eaten, and to be taken within." If these glowing expressions be divested of the light thrown on them by the context and they have been

. In Matth. Hom. 82.

Apaypari.

so quoted-St. Chrysostome must be exceedingly misunderstood. If there be any doubt of this, it is but to cast the eye a little lower on the same page; where, with an increased glow of zeal, he tells his audience, that their tongues were made red, with the blood taken in the Eucharist. This is a strong instance to show, that in estimating such sayings of such an orator, due distinction must be made between unadorned doctrine and figure.

However great the integrity and the talents of this eloquent father; the well known fervour of his mind, may have made him inattentive to definite expressions on this subject; when strong figure would swell his flood of eloquence, and increase the effect of it on an admiring audience. He was much more likely to express himself with precision, in such a composition as that addressed argumentatively and deliberately to Cæsarius. *

The present author would be misunderstood, were he conceived of as believing, that the question is to be brought to the test of what was held by the many eminent men, who flourished in the fourth century. Further he knows, that they spoke commonly of a change made in the elements by the act of consecration; conceiving of this change as superinducing a heavenly virtue on the elements, but not destroying their substantial properties. That they expressed the former sentiment in language which led to transubstantiation, shall not be here denied; but is considered as fruitful of caution, as to whatever may lead to the same result. Among the arguments which should clear them from the charge of that extremity of errour, is the fact of their occasionally speaking of the bread and the wine, as remaining after the consecration. Of their sense in this respect, evidence may be seen in the consecration prayer in the twelfth chapter of the eighth book of the apostolical constitutions. There exists no doubt, that it was used in the Churches, in the fourth century. In it, after the repetition of the words of the institution, at which the Roman Church believes the change of the elements to take place, the bread and the wine are called by their proper names; and the Holy Ghost is besought "to make* this bread and this wine the body and the blood of Christ,” to the receivers: which is very exceptionable language, on the supposition of an essential change of properties already made.

* This is a consideration which may enable us to apprehend his meaning in various parts; as where he says [in Ep. ad Philipp. ] “ We can do no otherwise than prevail, when the tremendous sacrifice lies in open view." He has similar ex. pressions in his book “Of the Priesthood:” but even in that treatise, he often speaks rhetorically. At any rate, what he says in it is incidental; and not with the professed view of giving definite ideas of the subject. Even from that celebrated work, the following instance may be given; to show that his peculiar manner should be attended to, in order to guard against the influence of figure in one place [Lib iii. Cap. 6.] he exclaims—" Oh the miracle! oh the goodness of God! who at the very time when he sits at the right hand of his father, is handled by all, and delivers himselt to all who are willing to receive him!” This is certainly very strong language. But who can hesitate to consider it as metaphori. cal; after finding, in the sentence immediately preceding, such language as this— When you behold the Lord slain, and the priest standing over the sacrifice and pouring out prayers, and the surrounding croud dyed with bloud, do you think that you are among mortals, and that you stand on earth?" Can the ardour which prompted the evident metaphor of the latter quotation, be thought unequal to the language of the other, in the way of metaphor also?

The pressure of this difficulty was felt by cardinal Bona, in writing his celebrated treatise on liturgical subjects. He takes notice of the above recited order in the prayer of consecration; acknowledging it to be in ancient liturgies; especially the Mozarabick: the same which so long stood its ground in France and Spain, until born down by the all-controlling weight of “ The Roman Order." The learned cardinal says, that some suppose the order of the words in the prayer to have been originally different; which he disallows, as disproved by the ancient manuscripts. But he gives two ways, in which the fact had been accounted for. Some thought, that the officiating priest is represented as carried beyond himself, in the contemplation of the mystery; and the opinion of the cardinal is, that there is nothing absurd in the priest's praying for that which had been already granted. Is not this solution rather suited to the extravagance of an extempore petition, in a single act of devotion, than to well weighed and edifying forms, made use of throughout extensive coun. tries, and for several ages? He says, that others distinguish between the true body of Christ, which is made by the words of the institution, and his mystical body -the Church: in behalf of which the priest prays, that the members of it may be one body with Christ. The cardinal adds, that there are other solutions, which he omits. It is here supposed, that there can be no so. lution consistent with transubstantiation; in the way of which, there will always remain the stubborn fact of the consecration prayer above referred to.

* The Greek word is “ atopain." The proper Latin word as given by Cotelerius, is " exhibeat."

Lib. įi, cap. 13.

According to Dr. Covel, in his “ Account of the Greek Church” in 1772, and speaking as lately an eye witness, the practice continued to that time, as in the fourth century, to pray for the sanctifying of the ele. ments, after the reciting of the words of the institution: by which, according to the Church of Rome, the transubstantiation is effected.

Ecclesiastical history furnishes testimony sufficiently decisive on the present subject. The lateness of the introduction of the custom of elevating and adoring the Host—there being no mention of the doctrine, in the controversy with those who held the humanity of the Saviour to have been in appearance only—and the circumstance, that the heathen never reproached Christians as to this point, although it might so pertinently have been made an offset aga nst them, under the provocations of argument and of sarcasm, because of the worship paid to senseless matter; are unanswerable evidence of the late origin of a doctrine, which could not have begun but in ages of ignorance and superstition; however it may be continued by prejudice, and

by the link binding it to a body of theological opinions, which must stand or fall with their associate.

To contract the present view of the subject, to the single circumstance of the elevation and the worship of the Host: there needs no better evidence of the late. ness of it, than what cardinal Bona has written in his work above referred to. In regard to the Latin Church* he abandons the subject; acknowledging, that he knew not when it was introduced into the Churches of Italy; and not discovering any traces of it in the other Latin Churches, until he lights on the mention of it by two authors, found in Gaul in the beginning of the fourth century: from whence he says, it was carried in the next century into Germany; wherein, of course, it was before unknown. He is displeased with some unnamed writer, whom he pronounces heterodox, for dating the origin under Innocent the Third, in the beginning of the thirteenth century: urging against him the two authorities, which he affirms to apply to the twelfth.

The cardinal has better hopes from the testimony of the Greek Church. He says, that its writers testify to the elevation of the Host from ancient times-he does not say from the beginning. He states the object of the elevation to be that it may be adored by the people. Here are two points to be kept separate: the fact of the elevation, and the purpose—that of adoration. To the latter, there does not apply a single au. thority presented. The question, then, is reduced to the elevation.

In relation to this point, there is produced the Pseudo Dionysius; whose writings are now acknowledged by Roman Catholick criticks to have been a shameless forgery. The liturgies of St. James, St. Chrysostome and St. Basil, are also mentioned: but

Ibid. Section 2. + When cardinal Bona wrote, the fact referred to was not so generally admitted as at present. This is mentioned in justice to an author, who seems to have possessed too much integrity, to produce in evidence a document known by him to be a forgery.

« PreviousContinue »