Chapter III.--The nature and end of this new Mass: and upon what gross mistake it is of late brought in, to offer and to sacrifice the Son of God.
Hereafter we will take Mass, not according to the primary notion, as it was taken anciently, for that part of Divine worship, where the elements of Bread and Wine were by the priest both consecrated to God, and distributed to the people; which is the Supper of the Lord in St. Paul, 1 Cor. xi. 20, and Legitima Missa, [Durant. Rational. l. iv. c. 1. fol. 42; Walafrid. de Reb. Eccles. c. 22. page 349. Edit. Rom. 1591.] that is, the only due and lawful administration of the holy Sacrament in the old Latin Church; but, as it is now a days abused and understood by Roman Catholics, for that other solemn service of theirs, whereby they do pretend to offer unto God the Body and Blood of his Son.
How Mass came to be changed from that to this, that is, from being a Sacrament, to the being a Sacrifice, and from the sacramental communication of the body and blood of Christ to men, to a proper and real offering of the same body and blood to God, must be a very great wonder to any Christian, who knows no other Rule of his Faith and worship than the institution of his Saviour.
For, what we call properly Sacrament, is a Divine Ordinance, whereby Christ offers himself and his blessing to faithful people who receive them: and Sacrifice is, as it were, an opposite kind of ordinance, whereby this faithful people are to offer and give up themselves, their praises, their prayers, and all such good works as God, in his mercy, will be pleased to accept of.
This, whether Sacrament or Sacrifice, is not like some ceremonies, which custom or tradition, and lawful human authority can freely bring in, and set up in the Church: it is an essential part of the religion itself, over which none hath any instituting power, but that eternal God, who is to be worshipped by it. For who else could prescribe the ways, either wherewith God will tie Himself to send blessing upon his Church; or fix the terms upon which He will be well served and pleased, when his Church returns them to Him; especially after those laws and judgments, wherewith in former times God hath so exemplarily expressed his mind, against all attempts of this kind? Num. xvi., 2 Chron. 26.
Now, it is certain, that whatsoever our God and Saviour was pleased to order in this matter, as far as four infallible authors, St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. Paul can express it, concludes all, both what He did, and what He commanded us to do, within the compass of a Sacrament to men. "He took bread. He blessed it; and He gave it to his disciples, saying, Do this, take, eat, &c." That it should be a Sacrifice wherein He should, either offer Himself, or command his Church to offer Him up to God his Father, it appears neither by any word, nor by any act of his; for there, both his words and actions are directed immediately to his disciples: and such special addresses to men, are neither usual ceremonies, nor likely proofs of any solemn Sacrifice and adoration to God.
This strange attempt of offering in Sacrifice the very Son of God to God his Father, is the pitiful abortive of a strange and pitiful mistake.
It is very true, the celebrating of this blessed ordinance, which our Saviour instituted for a standing Sacrament and memorial of his Passion, must needs be completed by such Christian duties, as are evidently true evangelical oblations, and Sacrifices. For pious communicants cannot look, nor must look, upon that solemn representation of what Christ suffered for their sins, without an humble and contrite heart, which, in the sight of God, is a very great Sacrifice: nor without a sensible and thankful heart, both to God the Father, who gave his Son, and to God the Son, who gave Himself, which is a Sacrifice of praise: nor without offering their very bodies and souls, and consequently what they have and can do; which under the Gospel must be continually the holy, and living, and reasonable oblation. Rom. xii. 1.
From the very time of the Apostles, as far as we are able to trace up holy antiquity, whensoever Christians met together, in order to public worship, they began it with these oblations: and would have thought it as unlawful in their time, as it was under the law, to appear before the Lord with empty hands. Therefore they had them usually full, (besides other oblations, as their hearts or exigencies did suggest,) [St. Iren. l. 4. c. 34.] with bread and wine: by which however small oblations, they, (as the Israelites before them did with a few handfuls of corn,) meant to engage and sanctify unto the Lord the whole harvest, that is, their very persons, and in a manner their estates. Thus, according to St. Augustine's divinity, [L. 10. de Civ. c. 6. ut sup. Ep. 59. ad Paulin.] the Church was offered in that very oblation which she did offer. Hence it is, that this father tells [St. Aug. ap__d. Fulg. de Bapt. Ethiop. c. ult. Isid. Hispal. in Levit. c. 6.] his new Christians, that this oblation of bread and wine, made of many grains and grapes, doth represent the mystical body of Christ, that is, the Church made of many united members; according to that of St. Paul. 1 Cor. 10, 17. Because there is one bread, we being many, are one. And the better to represent the unity and union of this body. St. Ambrose [Ambr. i. c. 11.] thinks, that St. Paul will have the Corinthians stay all one for another, at the holy communion, that the oblation of those many might be offered also at one time. Moreover, to the same purpose ancient [Honor. Gemm. Animae. l. i. c. 66. Durant. Ration. l. 4. c. 53.] and good authors tell us, that this oblation, which is to be made at one time, was of several measures of meal, (which the priest took care to collect out of several families,) made into one great loaf; which represented, both at the offertory, all the members offering themselves to God as one body; and in the sacrament, the body of Christ likewise, feeding and maintaining all these members.
These oblations of bread and wine, which all communicants were indispensably obliged to bring before communion: and which holy fathers [St. Iren. l. 4. c. 32.] commend, as the general Christian Sacrifice, that succeeded Jewish Offering, were brought, either from a table standing in some further place of the Church, where the people had laid them down: or else immediately from the hands of the [Ordo Rom. 9 et 13.] people into the Choir, upon the holy Table or Altar, where the bishop, or in his absence, some other priest, did present them unto God, with most devout prayers, (and some of them are yet to be found in the Roman [Miss. Rom. Dominic. 5. post Fentec.] Missal,) that God would be pleased propitiously to look down upon the oblations, which the people did presume to offer to Him, as He did once upon the sacrifices of Abel, of Noah and of Samuel, &c. And this is the ancient Evangelical sacrifice of bread and wine, which, as St. Fulgentius [Fulgent. de Fide ad Petr. c. 19. St. Theodoret. Psalm. 110. St. August. de Civ. l. 17. c. 17.] affirms, the holy Catholic Church, spread over the whole world, offers continually to Christ, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, in faith and charity.
This Sacrifice being done, immediately after, the primitive Church proceeded to the celebration of the Holy Sacrament: for which she constantly used some part of those offerings, which the people had presented before: thereby imitating, as near as it was possible, both the example of Jesus Christ, who, for the use of the Communion, which he instituted at his last supper, took some of that Bread and Wine which he had sanctified before at the Paschal Oblation: and the nature of those other more ordinary Sacrifices, (whereof the Christian eucharist is a most signal antitype,) which Moses called Shelomim, that is, sacrifices of peace; where first the Israelites did lay their offerings at God's altar, and where God having graciously accepted of them, did then with part of these, as with a banquet of his own goods, treat them liberally, and bid them to eat and drink, and to rejoice before him at his table. Deuter. 16. 11. So that we have a complete emblem of a perfect communion, where Christian people declare by their small oblations, that whatsoever they have is God's: and where God, infinite in mercy, accepting of small offerings, returns and improves them into great sacraments and here both representing, and sacramentally presenting the body and blood of his Son, declares also thereby, that whatsoever he hath, and whatsoever his Son hath purchased with that body and blood,--heaven, mercy,--and immortal happiness, becomes his people's.
To this purpose it was, that so much of that bread and wine, as might well serve that all the communicants should have a convenient portion, being taken and set a part out of these offerings, the Bishop or Priest did consecrate with these solemn prayers; that according to our Saviour's merciful institution, (which in some Churches, was read before, and in others after) [Liturg. S. Jacob. Ed. Morel. p. 26. Liturg. S. Bas. p. 58. Liturg. S. Chrysost. p. 100. & 101.] God would be pleased to send down on these Sacraments, the Holy Ghost; and so sanctify them, that they might be the precious body, and the precious blood of his Son, to them, who should receive worthily, &c.
Now here is the Babel, where for want of attending the order and language of holy fathers, after ages have tumbled upside down the nature of these holy things. The Roman Church doth misapply the sacramental expressions of the body and blood of Christ, which the people are to receive, to the sacerdotal prayers and offices belonging to the bread and wine, which both Priest and people are to offer: and, on the other side, by misapplying these same prayers that concern only the bread and wine, which was anciently offered, to the other part of the service, that doth concern only the sacramental administration of the body and blood of Christ, which is to be received, hath so confounded and shuffled these two offices, out of their due and proper places, that the Priest says concerning the body of Christ, what he should say concerning the offerings of the people, namely, that God would be pleased to accept of the Sacrifice of his Son, as he did once of that of Noah, &c., which is improper, or blasphemous: and then, instead of offering to God these sacrifices of bread and wine, which the people have brought from home, he takes upon him to present God with his own Son: and the Son Himself with his own body, (upon pretence that the holy fathers say sometimes, offer to Christ,) [St. August. Epist. 118. ad Januar. c. 7. St. Fulgent. de Fide ad Petrum. c. 19.] which is both absurdity and sacrilege. By these means, and with the same dexterity, that the fellow in [St. Iren. adv. Haeres. l. 1. c. p. 26. Edit. 1570.] St. Ireneus did, out of the precious stones belonging to a royal image, which he had broken, made a fox; Roman Priests have, out of these disjointed and misconstrued pieces of ancient worship, made up their Mass. Thus, by shuffling tales, and disjointed parcels of holy Scripture, have the Jews made up their Talmud, and Mahomed his Alcoran: with this sad difference withal, that neither Jews nor Turks have such a dismal impertinency, as is that, which the Mass mainly drives at: namely, that the worshipper should really offer, and really Sacrifice, his own God.