Chapter VI.--The greater impiety of Mass sacrifice: and what a horrid mystery it were, if it were true.
Because it was the general custom of primitive Christians, never to receive the Holy Sacrament, but after they had made their offerings; out of which the two elements of bread and wine, being set apart, [Ordo Rom. Qualiter celebrandum sit.] and consecrated, and then by an ordinary manner of speech, called the Body and Blood of Christ; [St. Aug. Ep. 23. ad Bonif. Facund. Hermian. l. 9, c, ult.] the word, as well as the act, of offering, got so large and common a use in two distinct offices, as to signify the whole service, which St. Augustine more distinctly calls offering and receiving: [St. August. Ep, 118. ad Januar.] that is, offering the bread and wine before, and receiving part of it after it was consecrated. And really the whole service was little more than a continued oblation. For Christians before the Sacrament offered their gifts, and after it, offered their prayers, their praises, and themselves. And this was the constant and solemn oblation of the Church, until dark and stupid ages, which by degrees have hatched transubstantiation in the bosom of the Roman Church, have at last improved it to this horrid direful service, which mainly aims at this, to offer upon an altar, not the bread and the wine as before, but the very Body and Blood of Christ.
And because these public offices about the Holy Sacrament, are in antiquity commonly called sacrifices, [S. Chrysost. Hebr. Hom. 17. Constitut. Apost. l. 5. c. 13. Euseb. de Demonst. Evang. l. i. c. ult. Greg. Nazianz. Oratione. ii. de Sorore.] as being standing memorials of the true sacrifice of Christ; the Church of Rome is now pleased to mistake these antitypes and representations, as the ancient Church calls them, of the sufferings of Christ, for Christ Himself represented by these antitypes: and upon this mistake she now builds up altars in every corner of her temples, thereon not only to offer, but also to sacrifice the Son of God.
This act of sacrificing goes much further than that of offering; and I make no doubt but it will amaze any man, whether Christian or Turk, whosoever will but consider what it is properly and really to sacrifice.
Sacrifice doth require, besides and above offering, these three things especially, as Bellarmin and others, confess. 1. An altar, whereon to lay the sacrifice. 2. A priest solemnly ordained to offer it. 3. A real change and DESTRUCTION of the thing sacrificed. [Bellarm. de Miss. l. i. c. 2. § Id vero probat__r.] For example, the Israelites in the wilderness did offer to God many things, as gold, brass, wool, &c., which none can properly say to have been sacrificed, these men being no priests. And Aaron, who was a priest, is said (Num. viii.) to have offered the Levites, as an oblation to the Lord, and not to have sacrificed them, because these men were only appointed to serve the Lord; but not appointed to be slain. Whereas all things, without exception, that were properly sacrificed, were in order thereunto, destroyed one way or other, either by being killed, if they had life: or by being burned, as frankincense, and such other solid inanimate substances: or by being shed, as water, wine, &c. And the true reason, wherefore such things as are sacrificed, are thus destroyed, is, as Bellarmin himself confesses, [Bell. ibid. § Octavo dicitur. Gabr. Vasq. 3. p. Disp. 220. c. 3. nu. 22.] because sacrifice is the highest declaration, we are able to give of our subjection to God, as sovereign Master of life and death: and so this great service requires, that not only the use, but also the very being of the thing, should be both made his, and protested to be so, by being really destroyed.
I am the more willing to borrow this piece of divinity out of Roman priests, both because it is very true, and because thereby they declare, that when they say, that their Mass is a true real sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, they do not unadvisedly, and at random speak it, but fully understand, and consider what they say.
First, an altar must be set up. For sacrifices and altars are such relatives, as cannot subsist [Bell. de Miss. l. i. c. 2. § Sextum Argumentum.] one without the other. The foundation of this altar, [Pontif. Rom. de Conf Eccles.] must be some choice relics; as the skull, or arm of a saint. The lime and sand must be consecrated by a bishop, whilst the masons are laying it on. Then the stone being set as it should, holy water, salt, ashes, wine, and hyssop, and such other things as are conceived good for cleansing, must be fetched in. After that, all sorts of oils, wax, incense, fire, &c. to qualify this table of stone toward a consecration. Then with many kneelings and signs of the cross, God the Father Almighty is most solemnly called upon, [Pontif. Rom. edit. Lugd. de Consecr. Altar. fol. 146.] to enlighten or clarify propitiously that stone, and to bless it with eternal light, and so enrich it with all graces, that He afterwards may be pleased to bless the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of his Son that shall thereon be administered. Finally, come forth indulgences, which sometimes will enable the altar towards the sanctifying of the gifts, in such a large manner, that one Mass sung (that is in their account, one sacrifice of Christ offered) thereon, may be worth, as to the benefit, some hundred other of the same Christ, when He is offered upon an ordinary parish altar.
Secondly, to wait at this altar enters a Roman priest, not with bread and wine in his hands, as did once Melchisedek: nor with the blood of bulls or goats, as did the High Priest of Israel: nor with his own body and blood, as Christ once did: nor with the holy mysteries and sacraments of that precious body and blood, as the priests and ministers of his gospel must: but with a most special and extraordinary commission, which no priests nor men had before, to sacrifice that very Body and Blood of Christ.
That this body and blood may be ready at hand when it is tailed for, the priest still hath about him an infallible character, wherewith he works, at any time he pleases to speak but five words, ten great miracles. [Durant. Rational. l. 4, de sexta part. can. § Notandum est autem.] Some reckon more, but these may serve for the most part. For, 1. He must destroy and turn into nothing, (which is against the whole course of nature) or, which is worse, turn into the body of Christ, the whole substance of that bread which is before him. 2. He must make all the forms, colours, and dimensions, that once did belong to the bread, subsist by themselves. 3. He must contract the blessed body of Christ into the smallness of the least crumb of bread, that he can possibly break it to. 4. That same body which is in the priest's hands, must at the same time be in heaven, and in thousand other remote places. The 5th, which is extremely considerable, is, after the body is once got into that room, which the destroyed substance hath left empty, there to fasten it so close to these thin forms, which it is wrapt with, that it may never get out thence, as long as these accidents are in being. And this is the miraculous union, which Cardinal Cajetan, [Cajet. Richard.] and others call inconceivable and ineffable: and [Alan. l. 1. c. 34.] some, almost hypostatical: and others, who will speak more soberly, [Suarez. Disp. 52. Sect. i.] take it for a supernatural power, which God gives to these weak creatures, to keep and draw along with them the whole body of Christ, and consequently Christ Himself; that by this means the priests may be sure, that they lift up over their heads, or eat, or carry about that body, which they and the people are to worship, whensoever and wheresoever they carry about these accidents. And certainly it is a great wonder, that these poor weak colours and figures, which cannot naturally subsist without substance, should be so strong when they have none. Five other like wonders go to the wine.
Then by the strength of these miracles, comes up the priest to celebrate, with these five words, Hoc est enim corpus meum, and lays Christ down upon his altar. The strength of these words (with the miracles that attend them) is so great, and the character of the priest (holy or unholy, [Suar. Disp. 61. Sect. 3. § Ultimo addendum.] it is all one) so infallible; that, whensoever he pronounces them all five, and with due intention, presently [Ibid. sect. 2. §. Dicendum vero est primo.] they do thrust out all substance of bread and wine, (let there be never so much of each [Thomas. 4 Sent. Dist. 11. It. s. 3. p. q. 74. a. 2. Biel. Lect. 35.] in a house, or in a tun, so the quantity be both certain, and limited to what the first word hoc [Durand. q. 6. nu. 6.] can signify) and in the place of this thus evacuated substance, forthwith the same words both thrust in and unite, that is, make the Son of God there so fast, that the priest afterwards may handle and order, as he pleases, this his celestial victim.
But first, there arise great difficulties about. the manner of conveying this victim, from so high a seat as the right hand of God, down so low as the priest's altar. 1. Some, as Scotus, [Scotus 4. Dist. ii. q. 3. a. 2.] and Bellarmine, and the whole Order of St. Francis, would have it done by adduction, that is, that Christ. should be really brought down from above where He is, and remain still above nevertheless: but then this would not make what they call transubstantiation, but a translocation rather. 2. Some, as Dominicus [Dom. Soto. 4. Dist. ii. q. 2. a. 4.] a Soto, will have it by production, that is, by an act so powerful, as to produce effectually the body of Christ, if it were not already produced; or, as Suarez, [Suarez Disp. 50. Sect. 5, § Quintus ergo.] by such a real producing act, as really produces the Body and Blood of Christ, by keeping it under the sacramental forms: which way, in other schoolmen's judgment, is both [Greg. de Valent. de Praesent. Christ. Disp. 6. q. 3. Punct. 3.] false and impertinent. 3. Other men devise other ways, which their own fellow priests justly [Gabr. Vasquez. Disp. 181. cap. 12. nu. 141.] condemn, both as impossible, and as apt to expose their religion to the scoffing of heretics.
However, though they cannot agree about the manner of coming by this body, yet they agree among themselves, that one way or other they will have it. So after that Christ is thus taken, the main business that remains more, is about the act (a horrible one, if it be true,) of bringing Him to that destruction, which, as we have shewed before, a true real sacrifice doth most essentially require.
Here the priest at every Mass hath [Bell. de Miss. l. 1. c. 27.] five or six [Suarez de Sacrif. Disp. 75. Sect. 2.] several things to do. 1. To offer the bread and wine. 2. To consecrate it, and by this consecration to transubstantiate them into the Body and Blood of Christ. 3. By certain express and formal words to offer up this body and blood. 4. To break and mingle them together. 5. To have them be eaten. Now, which of these five acts it is that gives the blow which properly makes the sacrifice, is the great, and I think, indeterminable question among these tragical actors.
The first of them, the oblation of bread and wine, cannot be it; for so, say they, the great and ineffable sacrifice of Mass, could be no more than a mere sacrifice of bread.
The third, that is the oblation of the body, which comes after consecration, is not it neither; because, say they, and they say true, when Christ had consecrated his body, He gave it his disciples to eat, (" take and eat, this is my body,") so He had not time to offer it up to God his Father. I speak all this out of their mouth.
Neither is it the fourth, that is the breaking and mingling of the body and blood together. For they say, it was broken only that it might be distributed to the disciples. Hence it is, that if the wafer happen to fall into the cup, when the sign of the cross is made over it, the priest hath no need to take it thence for to break it. So they must seek their sacrificing act, either in the second, or in the fifth, that is, either in transubstantiating, or in eating what they have transubstantiated.
Some will have it in the priest's eating. [Ledesma. 1. par. 4. q. 23. a. 4. Cano. 12. de Locis. c. 13. Soto. in 4. Dist. xiii. q. 1. Bell. de Miss. l. 1. c. 27.] But others bring weighty reasons against it; [Becan, de Sacr. q. 6. Conclus. 7. Quill. Alan. de Sacr. l. 2. c. 25. Cathar. Opuse. de Sacrif. Palac. 4. Dist. viii. Disp. 1.] as for example, that Christ, who first celebrated this sacrifice, appears not in Scripture to have eaten what He had consecrated: and that the Priest cannot do this in the person of Christ, but in his own, because he cannot represent Christ eating Himself. Therefore Jesuit Becan, and others think, that their Mass-sacrifice must needs be done and perfected by their act of consecrating.
But here comes Bellarmine, and many more before and after him, who reject this, and say, that consecration or transubstantiation, considered as an act bringing or producing the Body and Blood of Christ under the forms of bread and wine, is rather a necessary antecedent to the sacrifice, as incarnation was to the passion, than the sacrifice itself: and that to sacrifice a thing, is a great deal more than producing or setting it upon the altar. Witness the pope, whom they set sometimes upon the high altar, there only to adore His Holiness more solemnly. Witness the very sacrament, which, for being upon the altar all the holy Friday, is nevertheless no sacrifice. Witness in a word all lambs and goats in Israel, which, for being either yeaned and fallen, or brought about the temple, were not reputed actual victims or sacrifices till they were slain. And if transubstantiation be considered under another notion, as it sets the body by itself, and the blood likewise by itself, and by this separation, would really make that perfect destruction, which the sacrifice requires, (were it not for another miracle which they do call concomitancy, whereby body and blood follow one another perpetually,) Cardinal Bellarmine says to this most wisely, that, since the concomitancy hinders the real separation and destruction, it hinders the real sacrifice: and that the angel, Gen. xxii. 12, who kept Abraham from slaying his son Isaac, though set and tied on the altar, and thus far made an oblation, kept him likewise from making him a sacrifice. They also say, that transubstantiation, is not an external visible act, such as an external public sacrifice must needs be; nothing appearing more visible during the transubstantiation than before: therefore, both this visible appearance and this destruction must be sought for in the eating. The truth is, that which is necessary to make Mass a real sacrifice is in neither; and they themselves most clearly demonstrate it one against another. So, none of these five acts aforesaid, being taken one by one, can serve their turn, as to that real destruction, which they stand for.
Nevertheless rather than to be put to a stand, and want a sacrifice, they will put all these acts together, and order one way or other the whole matter so dexterously, that, before their Mass be over, the Son of the living God (here both Melchisedek and Aaron may rend their clothes) shall lie under their hands, mortuo modo, [Maerat. Disp. 25. sect. 2. Vega de Miss. Thes. 22. et 23.] that is, in the most pitiful condition of a dead man: and though the Priest doth not radically destroy his life, when by his consecration, he sets the body in one place, and the blood in another, because concomitancy prevents that actual separation, which otherwise would be to [Ap. Bell. de Miss. l. 1. c. 27. § Alii volunt.] Him an actual death: yet he takes from Him so perfectly, all sense [Suarez Disp. 53. sect. 3.] and use of life, that without a continual miracle, as long as He is in his hand, or in his pix (that is a box which they keep Him in) He can neither breathe, nor feel, nor move, [Becan. de Sacram. c. 19. q. 3. concl. 2. Suarez Disp 52. sect. 1, § Dico tertio.] so much as one finger. All his internal [Bec. ibid. q. 5. prima conclusio.] senses and faculties are so mortified and bound up, that He apprehends nothing, nor can make any ordinary use of his understanding [Suarez Disp. 53. sect. 3. § Ultimo constat.] or reason. This poor victim can see neither the hand that holds Him up, nor the poor people that kneel about Him, nor the altar He lies upon: a church or a dunghill is all one as to his knowledge. He cannot [Suarez Disp. 52. sect. 3. § Dico tamen primo.] so much as see Himself; or if it be imagined He doth, by virtue of the feigned concomitancy, it is to make Him so much the worse, by seeing and feeling this sad condition which Mass pretends to bring Him to. He hath no manner of strength left to help Himself. He falls unless He be held up; and when [Miss. Rom. De Defectibus in Ministerio. n. 15. Suar. Disp. 46. sect. 8. § Sequitur secundo.] He is fallen into the dirt, as it may happen, there He must lie, unless some body takes Him up; or a puff of wind [Miss. Rom. De Defectu panis. n. 7. Suar. Disp. 85. sect. 1. § Sexto, evenire potest.] blows Him away; or a bird, or a mouse catches Him: for it is among Mass-priests a clear case, [Gabr. Vasquez. p. 3. Disp. 195. c. 5. § Verum non est quod neg.] that any kind of beasts, as rats, dogs, &c., that care for bread, may as really eat the blessed Body of Christ, as they can themselves. To this pass comes the best and highest service of Roman Church, and thus is Christ honoured at Mass.