Chapter V.--What vile and low value the true sacrifice of Christ upon the cross is reduced to, by this continually reiterated Mass offering.
This Mass-oblation, which by its strange pre-supposal contradicts both sense and reason; and by its pretended reiteration affronts the express words of holy Scripture, as I have shewed, dishonours also, and visibly destroys the infinite worth and dignity of that everlasting sacrifice, which it pretends to reiterate.
For, if that first and eternal sacrifice, which Christ by his eternal spirit offered once upon the cross, have all that both sufficiency and efficacy, which can be procured by a sacrifice; nothing is left, that can be done by a second, and so Mass-sacrifice is out of doors: or if this second be needful, it must be needful to supply somewhat that wanted in the first. For "if the first," says the Apostle, (whether covenant, or sacrifice, it is all one) "had been faultless, then should no place be sought for the second." Heb. viii. 7. St. Chrysostom [St. Chrysost. Heb. 10. Hom. 17.] is full and eloquent to this purpose. "To be offered," says he, "is a conviction against the sinner: but to be offered more than once, is an evidence of weakness against the oblation itself, &c." So Roman Mass is a reproach to the infinite value of Christ's oblation, being visibly grounded on this plain blasphemy, that Christ's oblation upon the cross was defective.
To this Mass-priests confess, that the oblation upon the cross is all-sufficient, and so needs not to be reiterated, as far as to redeem: but they maintain withal, [Bellarm. de Miss. l. 1. c. 25. § Sed neque admittimus.] that this redeeming is beneficial to nobody, unless it be applied by Mass.
Hitherto this doctrine hath been the most successful piece of wisdom, that Roman clergy could have thought of. For as they have this Mass-offering in their own hands, thereby they pretend to distribute to whom they please, that vast treasure of redemption, which the Sacrifice of Christ hath purchased, and which their Mass (as they say) must apply. For, says Biel, [Gab. Biel. in Can. Lect. 26.] "as the Pope hath by "virtue of his supremacy the power of managing the treasure of the Church, and of giving sometimes a most plenary indulgence, sometimes an indulgence for the third part of men's sins, &c., so may bishops and priests, because of the noble office, which they have in the Church, apply either to this, or that man, the fruit and virtue of the sacrifices, which they offer." Scotus had said as much before. [Scot. Quodlib. q. 20.] "It belongs not," says he, "to God alone, but also to the priest, to distribute the benefit gotten by the sacrifice; because as it is in his power to determine his intention, whether he will offer for this, or that man; so it belongs to him to determine, to whom he will communicate, what is gotten by virtue of that sacrifice." And the Angelical Sum in fewer words; "Mass is beneficial to them to whom the priest hath an intention to apply it." So by virtue of this applying sacrifice, hath the Church of Rome easily got into her hand, another virtue of applying unto herself, all the earthly emoluments, which men, standing in need of mercy, are tempted upon this account, to exchange for such hopeful applications. Hence came these brave intentions to be bought at the dearest rate; and altars fit for that purpose, as best attractives of blessings, to multiply. And the use of holy Communion by the due participation of it, as difficult and dangerous to grow out of common fashion, and in a great measure to cease.
It is pity that this prosperous policy hath neither common justice, nor common sense, nor tincture of divinity to colour itself.
1. No justice; for the sacrifice of the cross, being by Christ offered unto God by way of redemption, and payment for men kept in prison for debt; if another sacrifice be needful, then are two full payments required for one debt; and Christ, having fully satisfied divine justice by one Sacrifice, must again offer a second, as good as the first, that this first may be applied to whom it is intended just as if, after I had paid the whole sum that my friend is pursued for, his creditor would have him or me pay again the like sum, that the first may be his discharge. The ways of God are infinitely juster than man's, and yet no man is so unjust.
2. No common sense. For how can any thing be properly applied to a man by being offered and, in a manner, applied to God? Is that balm well applied to one's wounds who lies sick in Samaria, by being sent back again to the Physician who lives and prepares it in Gilead? Or can my soul be made clean with that blood which I desire the priest, not to wash me with, but to carry to the altar? Or if you go to legal applications, which I suppose in this matter are more considerable; who ever heard that gifts and legacies (and such are the mercies, which we acquire by the sacrifice of Christ Jesus) can be made sure to any man, when he returns the will, or other deeds containing these favours, into the hands of the giver? Liberties, privileges and graces, conferred in general, are certainly applied to this or that particular man, when he both thankfully accepts of them, and besides the accepting, performs the conditions, which are required by the grant. For example, "God hath so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in Him, &c. John iii. 16." "Repent and be baptized, and you shall receive remission, &c. Acts ii. 38." "If we walk in the light, the Blood of Christ cleanses, &c. 1 John i. 7." These are general donations granted to men, which, besides the general grant, are first determined by God Himself to such among all men, as will believe, repent, and walk in the light: and so applied to every singular person by himself, by constant acts or. habits of believing, repenting, &c. And thus these duties, and not the Mass, are the proper means of applying and appropriating to our souls, whatever God the Father hath given, or the sacrifice of his Son hath purchased. But as for offering the Body and Blood of Christ to God, if it were recommended as proper to do any thing, it could not be to apply it to the person who offers it, but to God whom it is offered unto, and who hath no need of that blood.
3. Finally, I say that this applying oblation cannot consist with any true divinity. Among so many sorts of offerings, which were prescribed by God's Law, you cannot find a sacrifice whereof the fruit and benefit was ever applied by a reference to a person or thing entirely foreign to, or distant from, the votary. The worshipper had it applied, either by the sprinkling of the blood, which the priest sprinkled down upon him, not thrown upwards to God: or by the eating some of the flesh, which in some sacrifices was given him: or by his own proper acts before and after the sacrifice, as washing, laying of hands on the victim: or farther, he perfected his propitiation by confessions and prayers: to which allude and correspond the sprinkling of the blood, Heb. xii. 24; the blood of sprinkling; I Pet. ii., wherewith the saints make their robes white. Rev. vii. 14. And therefore it is a sprinkling that falls down from God upon man, who stands in need to be made clean; and not from man upwards to God, who, to be clean, needs no washing. Or else by the act of believing, men recommend themselves; which both under and after the Law, hath been allowed to be the best way of either eating or laying hands on the sacrifice. And lastly, with all these proper applying acts, and methods of procuring grace and favour, is the use of the holy sacraments, which the Roman priests cannot deny to be the proper means instituted purposely by Christ, [Suarez. in Comment. ac Dispt. in Thomam Aquin. de Euch. Disp. 79. Sect. 3. § Ex his ergo omnibus.] both for the remission of sins, and sanctifying of the sinner. But herein, either forgetting themselves, or being forced by plain truth, they will sometimes confess, [Ib. § Dico secundo. Hor.] that their pretended sacrifice is instituted for somewhat else, rather than either for applying remission of sins, no not these very small ones, which they use to call venial: or for investing the sinner, with any first or second graces, (which are the two main benefits of the Sacrifice on the cross) and are so ingenuous as to acknowledge, that in all the Scripture there is not one word spoken of any such institution or promise.
But should we suppose, though it be against all reason, that this sacrifice of Mass is absolutely necessary to the applying that of the cross; yet, since Romish priests make them equal and infinite in their intrinsical value, [Becan. de Sacrif. q. 5.] the same Christ being, as they say, [Concil. Trident. Sess. 22. can. 2.] both here and there the principal sacrifice offered, and the principal priest offering, it is as much against the infinite dignity of the one, as of the other, to be offered more than once.
They plead, that on the cross Christ immediately made an oblation of Himself; [Bellarm. de Miss. l. ii. c. 4. § Secunda igitur ratio.] whereas at Mass He offers Himself by the mediation of an inferior priest, who is not of the same worth with Christ. Therefore I say, since it is so, they should do well, to leave to Christ the whole administration of his priesthood, at the right hand of his Father; where without any help of men, or angels, He is by Himself both entirely present, and infinitely endeared to God; and not to invade this abominable office of reducing the immense dignity of his Son's all-sufficient Sacrifice, to the low and narrow compass of a Mass-priest's oblation. Certain it is, the Mass must be a most deep and black mystery, if it be more effectual through the unworthiness of a poor priest officiating, to restrain the infinite merits of Christ, than are the merits of Christ therein exhibited, towards the enlarging the little worth of the said priest. Hitherto no man hath seen a high mountain brought down to the small dimensions of a grain of mustard seed by any appendant circumstance; nor a jewel worth all the world when it is given by the master, fall to the vileness of a straw, for being presented by a servant.
Yet suppose, if you please, that the infinite intrinsical value of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ could be swallowed up so, and depressed at Mass by the means of the priests, who now officiate; certainly that first Mass, which, they say, Christ celebrated at his last supper, could not be so. Since then the sacrifice on the cross cannot be reiterated without a prodigious sacrilege, because it was infinite, and so left nothing to be done by another redeeming sacrifice; how is it possible, that this applying sacrifice, which, if true, is equal to the redeeming, both in respect of the thing offered, and of the priest offering, (that is, Christ offered there also by Himself,) instead of applying infinitely, as the other redeemed infinitely, should leave this work of application so incomplete, as to require a million of other sacrifices of the same kind to supply it?
If they reply, as Bellarmin and others do, out of their common doctrine, [Bellarm. de Miss. l. 2. c. 4. § Tertia ratio. Salmeron. de Miss. Privat. Tract. 33. §. Quod si urgeas.] that this infinite sacrifice produces no infinite application, because of the will and institution of God, who hath ordered it otherwise, they should do well, to produce some evidences, or at the least some words tending to this institution.
Jesuit Suarez [Suarez. de Sacrif. Disp. 79. Sect. 3. § Dico secundo.] maintains, that this applying sacrifice procures by itself no remission of mortal sins, "because," says he, "neither law nor promise can be shewed to this purpose; and that supernatural mysteries must not be rashly obtruded without some revealed principles." And he says well. Therefore I ask on this same ground, where is the law or revealed principle, that doth restrain the virtue of a sacrifice, which is originally infinite, to the weak and uncertain remission of some few temporal punishments in the other world, or, but with much ado, of some few venial sins in this? Is it a thing easily to be imagined, that God should refuse to take this oblation of his Son for what it is really worth; and that our heavenly Father, who is so gracious toward all his other children, as to set a high rate on the smallest thing they can give, (witness the widow's mite, and the disciple's cup of cold water,) is so severe to his only Son, as to take at an under value his very body and blood? Certainly God the Father hath abundantly asserted his love and respect for his Son in this behalf, when He hath accepted of one oblation of his upon the cross, for a sacrifice of an everlasting virtue, to satisfy the most implacable justice, to expiate the foulest sins, to wipe off the guilt of the whole world, and to redeem without any exception all men, who come to Him. So that if any one man perish, it is not for any want in the sacrifice, which either some other, or the same being reiterated, must supply; but it is for want of coming, that is, of faith and repentance in the sinner, to make use of the sacrifice. Therefore if the sacrifice of the altar, as they call Mass, were the same body and blood, as they pretend, which the same priest our Lord Christ had offered at his last supper for application of his merits, that one application should as well serve for all, in the eyes of God Almighty, as one redemption hath done.
And when they allege, that men do fall and sin daily, and therefore stand in need of daily applying; it is certain, that both infinite redemption, and infinite application may equally co-extend themselves to the daily wants of sinners, in what time and place soever they live. At least, when they are gone to purgatory, where, as they say, they sin. no more, one application after their departing might do the deed, and spare a million of masses, which are daily paid for in behalf of those distressed souls.
This multiplication of masses must in all reason depress Christ's sacrifice, as much beneath that of Aaron, as by the Apostles account, Hebr. ix. and x., its unity raises it above the Levitical oblations. And if the apostle's argumentation was well grounded, to demonstrate the excellency of Christ's sacrifice above that of Aaron, because that was offered but once for all, and this once every year; I may, on the same ground, demonstrate as well the excellency of the sacrifice of Aaron above that of Melchisedek, (which in their account is mass) because that was offered but once a year, whereas this is offered every day.
In the order of Aaron, one lamb was thought sufficient for one morning: one oblation of shewbread, for one week: one sacrifice at the new moon, for one month: one sacrifice of expiation, for one whole year: and if a man, in a private capacity had transgressed against the Law, most commonly one sacrifice was thought sufficient for the legal transgressions of this one man. But here by the present Roman law, the Lamb of God, the antitype and completion of all Aaron's sacrifices, which, according to the order of Melchisedek, should be offered but once, and by one priest, is, as they pretend, really offered more times in one morning, than there were lambs or goats throughout all Judaea yeaned or fallen in one year: more masses sung, that is, as they take it, more offerings of Christ's body made, it may be for one single man, than either bulls or rams were offered heretofore at any time for the whole people of Israel. And, which is worse, when all this is done, that is, when for these many thousand masses, ten times as many thousand miracles have been wrought, (so slender opinion have they of the body of Christ thus offered) they are not sure that all is done: because the rate of the infinite worth of Christ thus offered by them, as it stands depreciated by the interposition of the priest, is both so uncertain and so small, that the Roman Church must supply this great defect, by great numbers. Insomuch that whosoever will impartially consider, how many churches, and altars sometimes are taken up about one soul, will rather take these sacrifices to be after the order of Balak; who offered upon every top of hill he could get, Num. xxiii. 1. 14. 27., and withal did avail nothing, than after the order of Melchisedek and of Christ, who, as far as Scripture can teach us, never offered but once, and in one place.
It is a most sad thing, to see Christ, and his whole sacrifice, to be made less, than a Pope's bull that is able, at one blow, to remove all punishments from one, and, as some think also, sweep off clear all his sins. It is worse than sad, for it is abominable what some say, that of twenty-eight steps or stones, which once were in the house of Pilate, and now in a Chapel at Rome, any one, if it be humbly kneeled upon, hath the privilege of delivering one soul, because Christ's feet, they say, touched it once; and yet Christ's whole body and blood at Mass hath it not.
As for Impetration, which is the proper end, that, as some [Bell. de. Miss. l. 2. c. 4. § Secundo probatur.] say, Mass is directly good for; it is as short, and as narrow, as this pretended application. Roman priests spare no words that can exalt in general Mass-sacrifice; for they make it to be satisfactory, propitiatory, impetratory, &c. But when they come in particular to consider the business, they are constrained to make it as thin in every particular, as in general they made it full. For they will tell you plainly, first, that Christ, whether as offering, or offered, is not there in a condition of either deserving, or satisfying: [Becanus de Sacr. q. ii. n. 6. Tertia conclus.] and so, upon this account, Mass is neither a meritorious, nor satisfactory sacrifice. Secondly, that of two effects, that Mass can produce, to wit applying, and impetrating, the first is much short of remitting [Suarez in 3. p. Disp. 79. sect. 6.] any one sin; and that it can go no further, than removing of some temporal punishments; and yet how far those are removed they cannot tell. The second, that is impetration, is uncertain; [Suarez ibid. sect. 2. § Tertia differentia. Becan. de Sacríf. q. 12. Dices fundatur.] and if it chance to be certain, it is not by virtue of Mass sacrifice, but of the good prayer that attends it. So it is the good prayer that doth the deed, because it is grounded upon promise, (and Mass is not); and what Mass contributes, is only, in general to make prayer more solemn, and more favourable. "This is the goodly price that Christ is prised at of them. Zachar. ii. 13." Amongst many reasons Roman Priests have to bring their Mass to this uncertain and low rate, the most probable are, because otherwise, if a Mass could produce an effect answerable to the infinite worth of Christ there both offering, and offered, 1. Una missa totum evacuaret purgatorium: [Alph. Salmero de Privatis Miss. Tract. 33. § Quarto probatur a poster.] that is, one Mass alone would make clean work in purgatory, and pull out thence all living souls: which Thomas takes for an inconvenient absurdity. [Salmero ibid. Thom. in 4. Dist. 45. q. 2.] 2. Monasteries, chapels, and altars, founded for continual singing of Masses, would be altogether insignificant and useless. 3. Priests, who are paid for three hundred Masses, might do all what they have to do in one, and thereby fall to idleness: and on the other side, the people coming to understand this mystery, would never buy more than one Mass.
To avoid these and many other like inconveniences, they have so well ordered the value, of Christ's Body and Blood, that unless a privileged altar, or some indulgence help it forwards, it amounts not to the virtue of the Virgin Mary's small office: [Al. Gazaeus Offic. B. M. p. 69.] nor to the worth of a pilgrimage to Loretta: nor of a piece of the old cross: nor scarce of an Agnus Dei [L. i. Ceremon. Cur. Rom. titul. 7. sub fin. § Balsamus, and munda, &c.] made of wax: nor to one sprinkling of holy-water, if that be true, which Thomas Aquinas thinks probable, [Thom. p. 3. q. 83. a. 3. § Ad tertiam. Gratian. de Consecr. dist. 3. Aquam sale.] that either the very going into a consecrated church, or the sprinkling of this blessed water, is enough to remit venial sins. And so among the twelve remedies prescribed against this sort of light offences, [Petr. de Pa. dist. 6. Quarti.] Digna communio, and, aquae benedictae aspersio, that is, the Blood of Christ worthily received, and holy water march together. But, however, all these things are so admirably well contrived and as it were compacted, that though Mass be commended (which is sufficient to invite buyers) in the beginning, as a most propitiatory sacrifice, these propitiations are (when paid for) reduced to such a compass, that four thousand of these celestial victims (as they call them) well said, and well paid for in the behalf of one soul, shall make but such a progress, as will not stop the sale of as many more.
To such idle purposes is the blessed Saviour fetched down, and offered up, at every ordinary Mass. I say ordinary, for there are some altars, as at St. Peter's in the Vatican for example, and also some signal days; as when the heads of St. Peter and St. Paul are shewed; or when such and such churches, at Rome especially, were consecrated; which, by the liberality of Popes, out of the public stock or treasure, may enrich one Mass, that is one real offering of Christ's Body and Blood, with more blessings, and pardons, than thousand other oblations, of the same both nature and worth, could procure upon any ordinary occasion. Thus popes make good, what some Jews dream, that the Son of Joseph lies still hidden within the gates of the Romans. They might have said, within their churches; since there He lies in a condition of being helped up with the additional satisfactions of his own Apostles, and, which is more shameful, of begging monks, who make up that treasure whence He gets this supply. And thus much concerning Mass as pretending to offer Christ.