Chapter IV.--The untruth and impiety of this Mass offering.
The main intention of the Mass, is first to offer up to God the Father, the Body and Blood of his Son. This Body and Blood, since his resurrection, is not without the soul; nor the soul and body without the eternal Godhead. So whole Christ, [Concil. Trident. Sess. 13. c. 1 ; Bellarm. de Euchar. l. i. c. 2.] both God and man, both the Saviour of all men, and the Head of all angels, the great God blessed for ever, is before a Roman priest, the ordinary victim, which he may, whensoever he pleases, (so it be not after a meal,) both lay his hands upon, offer up, and sacrifice, as really and properly, as Aaron could have offered a calf. This is the grand object of Rome's Catholic religion; and whosoever every morning goes to that Church, it is in order to have some share in this unreasonable service.
For, both in reason and Scripture, we are to offer ourselves to God, which St. Paul calls our reasonable service. Rom. xii. 1. We must likewise offer our prayers, praises, elevation of hearts, tears of contrition, virtuous thoughts, just and charitable vows and works, &c., [St. Chrysost. Hebr. 6. Hom. 11. Moral.] which, in opposition to the flesh and blood of levitical Sacrifices, the ancient Fathers used to call Sacrifices without Blood. [S. Iren. l. iv. c. 34; Athenag. Apol. pro Christ. Euseb. Demonst. Evang. l. i. c. ult. anaimaktoV qusia] We must also celebrate, and in a manner offer to God, and expose and lay before Him, the holy memorials of that great Sacrifice on the cross, the only foundation of God's mercies, and of our hopes: in like manner, as faithful Israelites did, at every occasion, represent unto God that covenant of his with Abraham their Father, as the original conveyance of blessings settled on his posterity. And this is the sacramental priestly office in the Areopagite; [Dionys. Areop. Eccl. Hierarch. c. 3. sumbolikh ierourgia] the commemorative Sacrifice in St. Chrysostom; [Chrysost. Hebr. c. 20.] and the Sacrifice after the order of Melchisedek in St. Theodoret, [Theodoret. Psal. 110.] which we solemnly do offer in the celebrating of holy mysteries. All these things I say, and whatsoever else depends on them, it is our duty to offer to God, and to Christ, or rather to God by Christ: but that we should offer also Christ Himself, our Lord and our God, to whom we must offer ourselves, it is a piece of devotion never heard of among men, till the Mass came in to bring such news unto the world.
We have heard, and by the grace of God we do believe, that God so loved the world, that He sent down his Son. John iii. 16. and that God the Son likewise so loved the Church, that He gave Himself for her. Ephes. v. 25. But Mass sets here upon the stage another kind of tragedy; for God must take his Son again, whenever Romish priests make it their business to send Him back. And therefore what they do, if you will believe some of them, [H__g. de S. Victor. de Sacram. l. ii. p. 8. c. ult. ap. Vasquem.] is called Mass, upon this double account. 1. Because God sends down his Son to the priest at the consecration. And 2. Because the priest sends Him up to Him back again by Mass oblation. Therefore it is worth inquiring, when, and where, and by whom this reverse, and Antipodes of the Gospel was ever preached in the world, that whensoever God gives a Saviour to men, men must return Him back up to God.
As in religion, so in justice, men ought not to make vows or sacrifices, but of what is both their own, and in their own actual power. King David once made it a point of conscience, to consecrate what was his neighbour's, although he would have given it him. 2 Sam. xxiv. 24. No right Israelite would have taken his brother's lamb; nor no good subject his prince's meanest servant, therewith to pay any of his vows. And let the best Roman Catholic consult a little with his own heart, whether it would be meritorious to dedicate, much less to sacrifice to the order of St. Francis, the least of his pope's nephews, (unless he happens to be his father.) This familiar instance, it may be, will enable him to judge what manner of devotion it is, to lay hands on the Son of God, over whom he hath no propriety, and to make Him his offering.
But suppose a man be so unwise, as to reckon the Lord of glory among his other possessions, whereof he may lawfully dispose, (which certainly is no small folly), yet this kind of disposing, whether lawful or unlawful, is no actual oblation, and therefore no Mass, till he have his gift in his hand, to lay it down actually upon the altar. No man in Israel could have been thought to offer actually pigeons or lambs, though by right they were his, as long as these were running in the fields, and those flying in the air. And will Romanists be so fond, as to pretend on earth to make an actual Sacrifice of that eternal God and Man, who sits and reigns above the highest heavens?
To make this good, they fancy that these few words, This is my Body, being seconded with ten miracles, [See here after Chap. 6.] can bring down the Son of God at any time within their reach; and this depth of absurdity must be called in to help the other. But, yet suppose, (for this is not the place to dispute it,) that these few words, and many miracles, will either stretch the hands of a Romish priest up to Christ; or bring our Lord and Saviour Christ down into the hand of the priest: yet would this enchantment, though it were as true, as it is frivolous, but heap up incredible things, to support a most useless and most ridiculous offering. For what idle business is this, to fetch down expressly the Son of God for this purpose, that, according to their prayer, [Can. Miss. Supplices te.] an angel may carry Him up, whence He came? Were ever Jews so mad, as, when they had their bulls and rams at Jerusalem, to drive them thence as far as Dan, in order to have them so removed, that after this circulation they might be presented in Jerusalem again? Must we think, (as we must, if this transportation be not idle,) that the precious body of Christ can become more acceptable, by being upon a Mass altar, than it can be above at the right hand of his Father? Is that adorable Saviour like those imperfect objects, that will appear more lovely when they are seen at the nearest distance? Or doth the, whether holy or unholy, hand of a priest offering our Saviour here below, make his intercessions more gracious in our behalf, than they are above in heaven, where He continually offers Himself? Shall that most adorable Sacrifice become either more holy in itself, or more propitiatory for us, when a sinner doth present it? Or is not the Son of God near and present enough to his Father, by his sitting at his right hand, unless He be brought yet nearer by priests, who are farther from Him?
Besides all this; it is a thing never heard of in Israel, that the blood of any lawful Sacrifice, after it had been carried by the high priest into the sanctuary, was ever brought out thence again to the altar: it remained in that holy place; and what was returned for that blood, was not the blood itself, but the blessing which that Blood had procured. That whole economy was indeed an admirable representation of our Saviour's priesthood and sacrifice. The whole fabric of the universe is his great temple. The earth and air abroad, where He was crucified, is the outward court, where He offered Himself for sacrifice. The highest heaven, which is the proper seat of God, whether at his ascension He carried the blood of this sacrifice, is his true sanctuary. Thence, according to the manner of Aaron the high-priest, who represented Him, He was to send down (and so He did) on his disciples, not his body which He offered, but his Spirit, the fruit of his oblation: and thence, being high-priest for ever after the order of Melchísedek, He dispenses continually upon the Church, the gracious effects of his still powerful and lasting intercessions. Otherwise it hath never been heard or seen, that any part of the Sacrifice that was carried up from the altar through the air toward heaven, or by the priest into the sanctuary, which was the figure of heaven, should return down upon the earth; unless it were in unacceptable sacrifices, which God by this token would shew he did abominate, when the smoke and perfume, which was to ascend and disappear, was blown down back towards the altar. Thus Mass begins in the degrading the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ to the oblation of Abel; [Canon Miss. Supra quae.] and afterward brings it as low as the sacrifice of Cain.
This new circulation of one and the same sacrifice, tossed up and down from heaven to earth, and from the earth to heaven again, is as clearly against the Gospel, as against all Levitical laws. It is a fundamental failance, and very uncomfortable in essential points of worship, to have no warrant from God's Word, to support us in what we do. For alas! what can men expect from services, which they have forged to themselves, upon no other ground than their own fancies? But it is a great deal worse, even dangerous and fatal, to affront clear and indubitable declarations of God in Scripture. And it. is clear and express in Scripture, (Hebr. ix. 25, 28, &c.) that Christ never offered Himself but once; and as clear in the Roman Church, that mass pretends to offer Him up twenty thousand times every day.
To take off this open contradiction, and to save mass from impiety in this attempt, Mass-priests are driven to say, what sober ears may tingle to hear; that Christ [Bell. de Miss. l. i. c. 25. §. Ad loca ex Paulo.] indeed never was offered more than once, under his own form and figure, and that was upon the cross when He shed blood; but that He may be for all this, and is, offered, as really as He was that once on the cross, upon their altars twenty thousand times in one day, under the form and figure of a wafer, under the which He sheds no blood. But here sense and reason, as well as all lights and helps of Scripture, must stand aloof, and not approach near these mysteries. As in former times the Manichees, an infamous sort of heretics, did believe, that the body of Christ [St. August. l. 20. cont. Faust. c. 11.] was in the sun, and in the moon, and on the top of every tree: papists bring it lower, to every little crumb of bread, and drop of wine, which they have consecrated after their way. And as if you could fancy David, with his proportionable and comely body, such as you may probably conceive he had, running before his enemies under the skin of a small flea, because he said once, "the king of Israel," that is Saul, "is come out to seek a flea," that is David. 1 Sam. xxvi. 20. These men believe, at least they teach, that the natural body of Christ, being still as entire and as big, as either it was upon the cross, or as it is now in heaven, lies hidden under the figure, and within the quantity of small wafers: and that, these being consecrated it may be on thousand altars, and every one of them bruised into as many pieces, the said body both is entire and whole in every one of them, and for all this, is one in all. This is it, which they call to be under the sacramental forms; which the Apostle never meant, as they say, (and they say true, nor ever did a sober man) when he said so expressly that Christ never was offered but once. And these sayings (call them, and think of them what you please) are the main proofs, that do support the most solemn worship of Rome.
Certainly it is very hard, that Catholic worship must fall, unless it be kept up by these Manichean fancies and dreams. Yet can they not serve half the turn; nor reconcile the Mass with Scripture. For how could the Apostle, with any either discretion or candour, absolutely deny, that Christ was ever offered more than once, reserving in his own breast these limitations, which no man could have guessed at, videlicet, in his own shape, or with effusion of blood, or to redeem; if He be as really offered every day a thousand times at Mass, under the Sacramental shape of bread, (and under his natural one too, for that excludes not this) or without shedding blood, or with an intention of applying, what He hath done, when He offered Himself for to redeem? Will any conscientious and sincere man affirm positively, that he never went, or went but once to Rome, if he go thither effectually every year under the habit of a pilgrim? Or will any true and judicious historian, say again and again, that Alexander never fought but once in his life, because he was wounded but once? Or will this wounded prince, persuade his chirurgeon, that he never came to him but once, to wit when he made him a plaster, when as it is most certain, that since that time he came to him every morning to apply it? Such mental reservations may be easily allowed in one, who never went to Rome above once in very deed, or never fought above one battle in the field; although he had made many such journeys at night in a dream, and fought several battles upon the stage. In like manner one may affirm very honestly, that he never saw the, king but once, though he sees him often in his picture: and that Christ never was offered but once, to wit really upon the cross, though He be offered every day mystically in the holy Communion. But in voyages, and battles, and offerings equally real and true, (for they make Mass to be as real and true an offering of Christ, as that on the cross) such a distinction as this is too equivocal for an Apostle; it is scarce fit for a Jesuit. But what more follows is yet worse.