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not wish you to separate, without a few such as I have just indulged in. There are a great many other observations that offer themselves, but the time has flown too rapidly, and I have only space again to assure you, as I have done before, that if I have touched lightly upon some points, and seemed to omit others, it has been solely and exclusively through feeling sensible, that almost every evening I have detained you here longer than it became me, and that I have trespassed by a desire of communicating too much, rather than by withholding any thing that appeared useful.*
* Acta XX, 20.
LECTURE THE FOURTEENTH
JOHN vi. ll.
“ And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he
distributed to them that were sat down; in like manner also the fishes, as much as they would.”
ALTHOUGH, my brethren, not accustomed to attach
great importance to such accidental coincidences, I will acknowledge that I felt some pleasure on discovering, when, brought this evening, by my arrangement of the topics to be discussed in your presence, to the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist, that it was precisely the very lesson proposed to us by the Church, in the Gospel of the day. For I cannot but hope that the blessing of God will be more abundant on our labours, when our teaching is not merely in accordance with, but even in its outward forms all regulated by that authority which He has appointed to govern and instruct us. Thus I shall enter with confidence at once upon the task which I have assigned myself; and as the course which we shall have to pass over this evening will be rather protracted, and as, even to do it but partial and tolerable justice, it will be necessary for me to omit many merely special and digressive questions which will present themselves in our way, I will, without further pre face, enter at once on the great object now before us. It is no other than to examine the grounds on which the Catholic Church proposes to us her belief on this subject,--the most important, the most solemn, the most beautiful, the most perfect of all I have proposed to treat of,—the True and
Real Presence of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar.
This doctrine of the Catholic Church, which perhaps of all other dogmas, has been most exposed to misrepresentation, or, at least, certainly to scorn and obloquy, is clearly defined in the words of the Council of Trent, where we are told, that the Catholic Church teaches, and always has taught, that in the Blessed Eucharist, that which was originally bread and wine, is, by the consecration, changed into the substance of the Body and Blood of our Lord, together with His soul and divinity, in other words, his complete and entire person; which change the Catholic Church has properly called Transubstantiation.* Such, my brethren, is our belief; and I will proceed to lay before you, in this and subsequent discourses, the grounds whereupon we hold this doctrine; which, to those who have not embraced it, appears most incomprehensible, and repugnant, and which forms with too many the greatest bar to their uniting themselves with our communion; but which to every Catholic is the most consoling, the most cheering, and in every way the most blessed portion of his creed.
Now, before entering on the arguments from Holy Writ, regarding this point, it is important that I should lay down clearly before you, the principles which will guide me in the examination of Scriptural texts. I have had, on another occasion, opportunity to remark, how there is a vague and insufficient way of satisfying ourselves regarding the meaning of Scriptural texts:—that is to say. when reading them over and having in our minds a certain belief, we are sure to attach to them that meaning, which seems either absolutely to support it, or is, at least, reconcilable with it. It is in this way, that many most opposite opinions are by various sects, equally held to be demonstrated in Scripture. Certainly there must be some key, or means of interpreting it more securely; and on the occasion alluded to, when I had to exa
Sess, xiii. c. ir.
mine several passages of Scripture, I contented myself with laying down, as a general rule, that we should examine it by means of itself, and find the key in other and clearer passages, for the one under examination. But on the present occasion, it is necessary to enter more fully into an exposition of a few general and simple principles, which have their foundation in the philosophy of ordinary language, and in common sense, and which will be the principles that I shall seek to follow.
The ground-work of all the science of interpretation is exceedingly simple, if we consider the object to be attained. Every one will agree, that when we read any book, or hear any discourse, our object is to understand what was passing in the author's mind when he wrote or spoke those passagesthat is to say, what was the meaning he himself wished to give to the expressions which he then wrote or uttered. At this moment, for instance, that I am addressing you, it is obvious, from every conventional law of society, that I wish and mean you to understand me. I should be trifling with your good sense, your feelings, and your rights, if I intended otherwise; and thence it follows, that I express myself to the best of my power, in the
that I believe most conducive to convey exactly to your minds, the ideas passing in mine at the moment I am relating them. In fact, the object of all human intercourse, pursuant to the established laws of social communication, is to transfuse into other minds the same feelings and ideas that exist in one; and language is nothing more than the process whereby we endeavour to establish this communication.
It is evident that we have here two terms, which are to be equalized, the mind of the speaker and that of the hearer; and if the process of communication be properly performed, the one must thoroughly represent the other. To illustrate this by comparison,-if, from the lines which you see impressed on paper from a copper-plate, you can reason, and that infallibly, to those inscribed on the plate, so can you,
in like manner, if you see only the plate, just as correctly reason to the impres