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saying to what was once a piece of bread, that it is the body of Christ, because the body of Christ never was, nor do the papists pretend that it ever was, a piece of
When Jesus said, "This is my body," what did he refer to by the demonstrative pronoun this? The text says he took bread, blessed, and brake it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body," that is, this bread is my body. If the pronoun be referred to body, then the meaning will be, this body is my body, which is nonsense. Besides, the construction of the passage will not bear this interpretation. Take the words then literally, they say nothing of any change, conversion, or transubstantiation; they merely affirm that the bread is the body of Christ; the wafer is not either exclusively, but both equally. An adherence to the strict letter of the text, therefore, involves the papist in the absurdity and impiety of worshipping bread. And although they may contend, if they please, that that bread is the body of Christ, this will not exculpate them from the charge of idolatry; for the text says nothing of soul or divinity; and to worship bread, if it were really the body of Christ, would be as gross idolatry, as to worship his glove, or sandal.
But bread is not, and cannot be, while it retains the properties of bread, a real human body; because it contains not any of the vital and essential parts of a human body. That cannot be a human body which has neither head, nor heart, nor stomach, nor liver, nor nerves, nor veins, etc. And the most acute priest, after all his juggling tricks over the bread, cannot point out to us any one of these essential parts of a human body. An ox eats grass, and by the process of the animal economy, this grass is changed into flesh and blood; but still flesh and blood are not grass; nor do people cut grass when eating a piece of beef. The popish absurdity would derange all our notions of things, and reduce us to mere drivelling idiots. We might as well call a yard of riband a real bar of iron,
and a mushroom a real elephant, as call a bit of bread a real human body. Only understand the words in question as we must and do understand all similar modes of speech, in all other parts of the Bible, and all mystery and difficulty vanish in a moment. "In the same form of expression God speaks of the pascal lamb," etc.* The form of expression used by our Lord is common in all languages, our own not excepted. Thus I go into a popish chapel and see a group of beautiful figures. I inquire who they are, and am told, as my informant points to each, This, sir, is the virgin Mary, this is our blessed Saviour, and this is St. Peter." A papist would think I had lost my reason, if I understood by his answers that the personages named were really and corporally present. He means no more than that the figures represent the virgin Mary, etc. When a cunning priest is called a fox, and his silly dupes, geese, it is not supposed, however strong the resemblance may be in some points, that these good catholics, with their pastor, are really changed into the animals by which they are represented.
But how many bodies has Jesus Christ? When Jesus took the bread and said, "This is my body," did he hold one body in the hand of the other? Then he had two bodies. And yet the papists are obliged to believe that he had but one. Which was it then? The body that spoke? If so, the other was only a figurative body. Was it the pastry body? Then the other ceased to be the body of Christ. The true body in this case was eaten by the Apostles under the accidents of bread, and there were only the accidents of a human body left to be crucified. The Mahommedans and some ancient heretics maintained the latter opinion, which destroys the reality of his sacrifice, and the doctrine of atonement; for neither life nor blood could be offered by a mere phantom in the human shape. But if we believe the papists, there may
be a thousand hosts existing at the same time in different places, and each of these containing the body of Christ, whole and entire; and yet they assure us that Jesus Christ has but one body. A more impudent and abominable lie was never imposed upon human credulity. What they say on the properties of a glorified body, is all wide of the mark. Dilate or compress it as you will, and let it move with nearly the rapidity of thought, yet it is a body, and as such is an extended substance, and in its dimension and motion is related to space. The papists hold that "under either kind, Christ is received whole and entire." The whole body of Christ then is compressed within a wafer not exceeding the eighth of an inch in thickness, and an inch in diameter. Suppose a thousand of these wafers on as many altars, no two of which are less than a mile distant from each other. It is not possible, no not even to God himself, for each of these wafers to possess Christ's body whole and entire at the same time, because the assertion contains an absolute contradiction, and God cannot be the author of a contradiction. If Christ have but one body, and it be whole and entire on the altar at London, it cannot at the same time be on the altar at York. But here the expansive power of matter is resorted to: the wing of a fly it is said may be dilated sufficiently to cover the whole earth; and therefore the body of Christ may be in London and York at the same time; it may cover the earth, and therefore be on a thousand altars at once. Admitting this rarefaction and diffusion of the body of Christ, it necessarily follows that a thousandth part of his body cannot be on each altar, since his body must fill the intermediate space between them, or it cannot be "whole and entire" at all; and even then it cannot possibly be whole and entire in every wafer, because it is extended many hundred miles; for God can no more compress a thousand miles of space within the space of
an inch, than he can make twice two to be no more than three.
It is a most perplexing subject to the papist, that
the accidents or properties of bread and wine remain, after the substance is supposed to be changed into flesh and blood. Thus the wafer, after the priest has spent all his art upon it, looks like bread, smells like bread, feels like bread, tastes like bread. It also wants all the properties of the new substance into which it is said to be changed. Though a papist stakes his salvation upon it, that the wafer is a human body, yet it presents none of the qualities of a human body, as limbs, muscles, bones, blood, etc. Here we have accidents without their proper substance, and a substance without its proper accidents. Here all analogy fails. It is pretended that "the divine power can as easily change one substance into another, as it made the world out of nothing;" and that it can be done in the same manner, as when by Moses the rivers were changed into blood, and water into wine by our Saviour Christ.* The first example is not to the point, as there was not a change of one substance into another, but a creation out of nothing; and great as the power was which was exerted on that occasion, it did not involve in it a contradiction, which I have demonstrated transubstantiation does. The world produced possessed the accidents proper to a world, and it is only by these that we know it to be a world; but the wafer does not possess the accidents of a human body. The world produced out of nothing was not, nor could be, made into a world which previously existed; but the bread is pretended to be changed into a body that was pre-existent. Moses changed water into blood, and Christ water into wine; but in both cases there was a change of accidents corresponding to the change of substance. To make the cases parallel, the rivers of Egypt should have presented the same appearance after being changed into blood as before. But if the rivers had still been water to their sight, smell and taste, not a fool in Egypt would have been credulous enough to believe that
* Abstract of the Doway Catechism, pages 70, 71.
Moses had wrought the miracle.
And if the accidents
of water had remained after our Saviour had produced the wine; that is, if it had looked and tasted like water, the ruler of the feast, who "knew not whence it was,' would not have complimented the bridegroom as he did in the following words: Every man at the beginning," etc. (John ii. 10.) Any body may perform these popish miracles; the difficulty is to find persons sufficiently blockish to believe them. I can convert a popish priest into a sausage: I have only to say, laying hand upon my his head, "This is my sausage," and the work is done. No one ought to stagger because the priest is not changed in appearance; I have all the popist arguments to demonstrate that the thing is a sausage, in the form of a priest. These are a species of miracles which you are required to believe not only without evidence, but in opposition to the evidence of all the senses that can take cognizance of them. Let one have impudence enough to affirm the miracle, and another be fool enough to believe it, nothing more is required.
But there cannot be the accidents of bread and wine without the substances of bread and wine. "The eucharist has the colour, taste and accidents of bread and wine; and yet faith, which supplies the defects of the senses, assures us it is neither the one, nor the other."* Then this assurance of faith is a lie; for there cannot be the colour, taste, and accidents of bread and wine, where there is, in truth, no bread and wine. Other substances may give a taste similar to that of bread and wine; but it is impossible to taste of bread and of wine, where there is neither the one nor the other. There is, it is admitted, a taste of bread, and therefore there is no deception of the senses here to be corrected by faith, or anything else. The eucharist must be bread, if those who taste of it, taste bread. As the accidents of the eucharist are those of bread and wine, they cannot be, and indeed are not, pretend
*Poor Man's Catechism, p. 212.