Chapter VII.--That this pretended sacrifice cannot be really performed, without a fearful and barbarous cruelty against Christ.
As when Absalom attempted to rebel against his own father, and in order to this rebellion, had invited as many friends as he could, to a sacrifice and festival, the Scripture says, 2 Sam. xv. 11, that two hundred of them followed him in the simplicity of their hearts, knowing nothing of his design; it is certain that the Church of Rome hath thousands, who know no more of what is intended at Mass, than did these two hundred of Absalom's horrid attempt, when they went after him to Hebron. They commonly hear or know about Mass, as much as these good words, real presence, public worship, most holy sacrament, high mysteries, and such like engaging expressions, may dispose their minds to imagine. Their leaders will not fail to acquaint them, with what is more plausible in every part of their religion; but, as some say of the Jesuits, that they make Christians in the East Indies, without telling them one word of Christ suffering, which is the true foundation of godliness, Roman priests are as wise in these parts, and keep their followers as great strangers to all particulars, which might justly scandalize them, though these particulars make the very essence of their Mass.
Certainly Roman Catholics may be as good and tender hearted as other people; and if they were well persuaded, that, whensoever they go to Mass, it is to see others, if not themselves, swallowing up a man alive, they would not less abhor that cyclopical action, than their priests do sometimes, those who dare not do it, [Thomas in 4. Dist. x. q. 1. a. 4.] whensoever by some illusion or other, their wafers do appear to them as man's flesh.
But whether it appears so, or not, if it be really so, no mother would eat the least bit of the flesh of her son, if she thinks it minced with other meat much less would an honest Christian the whole body, with bones and all, of his Saviour, though he saw it not, yet thought it disguised, and really hidden under the white colour of a wafer. Nor may we palliate this horrid attempt with thinking, that Christ commands us to eat Him, St. John vi., in any other manner than to taste God, Psa1. xxxiv. 8, nor that we must at the Holy Communion eat Christ, in any other guise, than we are both said and bidden at the holy Baptism to put on Christ; Rom. xiii. 14, and Galat. iii. 27, for neither is here Christ a mantle to be put about our shoulders, nor there, any sort of flesh or meat to be swallowed down our stomachs: this is no work, says St. Augustin, [St. August. in Psal. 98. ut sup. in Joh. Tract. 26. et 27.] either for the palate, or for the teeth. "By this manner of speech," says the same holy Father, [Id. de Doct. Christ. l. _. c. 16.] "Christ doth not enjoin us, to eat the flesh of the Son of Man, (for He should seem thereby, to enjoin a cruel action) but to partake his passion, and to let this sweet and saving meditation sink deeply into our minds, that his flesh was crucified for us." And if they were most brutish men, who could thus mistake his meaning at Capernaum, where then it was not so apparently impossible, but He might be eaten by mad men; what madness should this be, now to mistake it thus again, and to think that after his ascension, which takes away this possibility, (as He did allege it, as St. Augustin [Id. in Joh. Tract. 27.] takes it, both to clear his meaning, and to undeceive them) He should be eaten every day by Christian and sober men? And I would ask of them, who like well this eating, and do call it spiritual, because it neither bruises, nor mangles what they eat; whether the whale, that devoured a whole man (namely Jonah) at one bit, was a less beastly devourer, than the bears, that in the time of Elisha, did tear and eat children in small pieces?
However I do still entertain this honest opinion of the Romish laity, that when they go to Mass, their desire is not to see their God and Saviour Jesus Christ thus really sacrificed into the condition of a dead man; nor thus eaten presently after, either by their priests, or themselves: since this kind of worship, besides troubling the whole course of nature, by that prodigious set of miracles that it is to be done with, makes both reason and piety tremble and stagger under its horror.
A grave and learned Pagan used to say, that among all the religions of his time, [Cicero de Nat. Deor. l. 3. n. 40.] there was of none any one so brutish, as to pretend to eat his God. And a grave and learned Father of the primitive Church, [St. Theodor. in Levitic. quaest. 1. Id. in Genes. quaest. 55.] gives it more than once for a piece of ancient divinity, that the reason why, in the law, God divided so exactly all kinds of beasts, into clean that could be sacrificed and eaten, and unclean that could not, was purposely to keep his people from that beastly worship which they had seen so long in Egypt. "For," says the Father, "they will abominate to worship them that are unclean: and they will be ashamed to take them that are clean for their Gods; since they do sacrifice and eat them, this being the uttermost degree of madness, for one to adore what he eats."
It seems there was then in the whole world no example of worshippers so barbarous, as to make it their religion, either to eat what they did adore, or to make their God their victim. And the holy fathers could not foresee, in the after times of the Church, this which they call extreme brutishness, of Catholics, in good earnest laying down their Saviour on altars, and drowning all known principles of common honesty and true piety under this horrible Sacrifice; that Christ being exalted to the God of all flesh, Master of angels, and Saviour of all mankind, should every day, at the sound of five words fall down senseless, under the hand of a Mass-priest, and lie as long as this enchantment is upon Him, open to more dishonour and disgraces, for small or no purpose at all, than ever He suffered on the cross for the salvation of all mankind.
1. For, when He suffered on the cross, that one suffering of few hours, was requited with this honour, that it wrought out eternal salvation for all men who, from the beginning to the end of all the generations of the world, would faithfully rely upon that eternal sacrifice. And now, when thousands of Masses have sacrificed Him thousands of times; it is not certain whether He has rescued (out of purgatory) one soul; or obtained pardon for one simple venial sin.
2. When He suffered upon the cross, He suffered neither the least infirmity from his nature, nor the least injury from men but it was, both destinated to a great expiation by Providence; and (lest offence might be taken at it) it was marked and foretold by prophecy. If an insolent man doth but touch Him; if another opens his mouth, or shakes his head, or stretches his hand to abuse Him; there are clear predictions to guide the hand, order the very words, and to direct the rod, the lance, the nails where they should go. At Mass, what Scripture can priests shew, for all the shameful accidents that happen to Him, as they confess themselves, either upon, or from their altars? What either figures or oracles are extant in Holy Writ, to forewarn sincere Christians, not to be startled at all, when they shall see their dear Saviour, after his glorious ascension, brought or produced down every morning into the figure of a thin wafer, and shrunk to an indivisible atom; [Suarez Disp. 52. sect. 1.] and then in this slight equipage, flying sometimes like dust and stubble in the air, [Miss. Rom. De Defect. panis. n. 7.] or keeping close to the prison, whilst the Mass-priest is about a murder? [Fascicul. Temp. An. 1082. Platina in Clement. V. Compil. Chronol. An. 1086.]
3. When our Saviour was on the cross, though both his pains and ignominies were very great, yet the glorious effects of his power and majesty, were at that very time much greater. The whole earth quaked under his feet. Above, the very heavens did mourn. The graves did open to yield up their dead; and so much strength was left with Him, in the very depth of his weakness, that even then and there, as the apostle doth observe, Coloss. i. 15., He could triumph over all the powers and the principalities of hell. At Mass the case is quite altered; for there He lies, if not quite dead, yet without use of life or strength: there a Mass-priest either keeps, or gives Him away, or carries Him about, just as be pleases: and before He be thus disposed of, He may be eaten by some vermin, [Miss. Rom. De Defectu. 5. Si Musea. Gratian. de Consecr. Dist. 2. Qui bene non.] or vomited up [Miss. Rom. n. 14. Si Sacerdos evomat.] out of a weak or drunken stomach. [Gratian. de Consecr. Dist. ii. Si quis per ebrietatem.]
The very devils, who were defeated by Him upon his cross, have the better of Him at Mass. Sometimes a witch lays hold on Him, [Thom. 4. Sent. Dist. xi. Biel in Can. Lection. 35.] to bring about some ill design. Sometimes a monk will do the like, [Fascicul. Tempor. supr.] to get by Him a fair occasion to kill a king. A modest man would blush to read, what ugly sports devils and magicians make of Him, in their infamous conventicles. It is easy to prove all this by good and authentic records. [Regist. Rothom. Inform., Magdal. Bavan.]
The Lord liveth, and blessed is the rock of our salvation. He certainly is exalted above the reach of men and devils. But if Mass was, what they pretend; neither Jew nor Roman soldier did ever commit greater outrage about his cross, than what a Roman priest doth continually at his altar.
Mass-priests will say that Christ suffers no pain at this altar, being there in a condition both insensible and senseless. But first, it is something, to bring their Saviour to this pass that He may feel nothing more than do rotten carcases. Secondly, though He suffers no pain, He suffers such shameful abuses, as are much worse than any pain. No man, that hath any principle, either of good nature, or common sense, could be glad to see his father's body torn among dogs, or his bones digged out of his grave, and thence thrown upon a dunghill, although neither body nor bones be in a condition to feel it. And can men full of pretensions to piety and zeal, without any manner of horror, expose their Saviour to worse abuses; and do this by the Mass, that with show of duty and devotion handles Him thus? and thereupon pray God the Father, to be gracious unto them; and strongly persuade Him to it, by showing to Him his own Son, whom they do serve in this manner?
These men do what is in their power, to disguise these absurdities, by pleading [Bellarm. de Euchar. l. 3. c. 10. § Ac primum apud.] the example of God Himself, who is really present every where, without any disparagement to his essence; as if the true flesh, that Christ had out of the loins of Abraham, and which He keeps still in heaven, were of the same condition, with that eternal Spirit, whom no corporeal thing can affect: and, as if there were no difference between that glorious immensity, wherewith God holds and governs all, and this sad imprisonment, which doth keep in, as they suppose, the whole nature of a complete man, within the small compass of a thin wafer. Wheresoever God's immense presence is, there is his infinite power; there is his throne, and there, even in hell, the very devils obey and tremble. And wheresoever the Mass-priest shuts up Christ, there He lies, left as it were in the shadow of death, with destitution and impotence, to attend Him; there the least mouse, that can but bite a crumb of bread, is strong enough to master Him: much more can those damned spirits, who were conquered by his cross, take shameful revenges of Him, when they get Him on His altar. And it is an easy thing to get Him there, since all sorts of priests both good and bad, can consecrate; and since their consecration, when they make it either for sport, [Thom. 3. p. q. 74. § Ad secundum. Suarez, ibid.] or for witchcraft, is as powerful to shut in Christ, as if it were wholly intended for the salvation of men's souls.
It is to as little purpose to say, [Cardin. Perronius, de Euchar. l. 3. c. 20.] that when Christ was wounded on the cross, some drops of his blood fell to the ground, and there perhaps were sucked by some worms. For 1. Some drops of blood are not Christ. And 2. If He suffered upon the cross both death and curse, and therewith some shedding of blood, during the days of his flesh upon earth there is no reason now, that He should suffer any such either punishment, or dishonour, after all his sufferings are over, and this same nature that suffered so, is highly exalted above the heavens. And Bellarmine wrongs much himself, and betrays as much his weak cause, when he is driven to defend it with this impertinent, and, I may say, blasphemous inquiry. "Since there are some," says he, [Bellarm. de Euch. l. 3. c. 10. § Denique quia nonnulli.] "that cannot endure, that Christ in any wise, should either be shut up in a pix, or devoured by a beast: I would fain know of them, whether they do not believe that He was once before inclosed within the narrow and dark compass of a woman's womb, and after tied with swaddling clothes." For we believe, that Christ once was in the womb of the holy Virgin; first because the Scripture says so, and cannot be understood otherwise. Secondly, because it was altogether needful it should be so: both for the truth of God, that had promised and foretold it: and for the redemption of mankind, that could not be saved without "a man made of a woman, and made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law." Gal. iv.4. And we cannot believe that after He is exalted up into heaven, He can be eaten by earthly beasts, first, because Scripture says it no where: secondly, because to be lodged so in beasts' bellies, were as impertinent to our salvation, as it is inconsistent with his glory. "The earth," saith "Anastasius [Anast. Sinait. de Resurrect. Christ.] the Sinaite, (much less the belly and guts of beasts) "was not a fit place for his body, after he had laid down the gross infirmity of the flesh." Besides, when the truth and the justice, and the mercy, and the wisdom of God did require absolutely, that the Saviour should be made like unto us in all things, sin excepted; for fear any tincture of sin should come near Him, the Holy Ghost took care before hand to sanctify that flesh and blood, and womb, out of which He was to be born: and, since He was to die, and to be buried for our sins, Providence designed Him a sepulchre which no dead body had infected. So both the womb of the Virgin Mary, and that other womb of the earth, were made clean and fit to receive that Holy One of Israel. I hope Mass-priests will not say so much, either of the belly and guts of beasts, which, as Bellarmine supposes here, can swallow that, which they call Christ: or of the stomachs of sinners, who, as their rules for penance [Gratianus. Consecr. Dist. ii. Si quis per voracitatem.] presuppose also, may be gorged with drink, when they eat Him. I am sure that Christ is here twice most horribly blasphemed, first by their comparing that sanctuary and sacred womb, where He was pleased to be conceived, with the dirty guts of vermin: secondly, by comparing those precious sufferings of his, which wrought out our salvation, and which in order thereunto, were laid on Him by God his Father, with Roman impertinencies, that are of their proper making; and that in their own estimation, [Soto d. ii. q. 2. a. 5. Lindan. l. 4. Panopl. c. 51. Suarez, Disp. 79. Sect. 5.] are scarce able to remit venial sins.
Lastly, they think well to shift off all ugly consequences by saying, that [Bell. de Euch. l. 3. c. 10.] what seems to be unseemly for Christ to suffer at Mass, He suffers it not in his own natural species or forms, but in the forms of bread and wine only. They call species or forms sacramental, all qualities, figures, colours, &c. which were in the bread and wine. But this shifting is a mere cheat, or rather an open untruth. For Christ can be no where under the sacramental species, without being there also within his natural ones; since transubstantiation [Becan. de. Euch. c. 19. q. 2.] strips them not off: and if it did, concomitancy would restore them. Christ then, I say, cannot be brought down under their hands, in that manner which they fancy, without being and suffering in propria specie, that is, in most of his natural forms. He suffers for example, in his own stature, shape, and bigness, which, from a proportion becoming a proper body, must shrink sometimes to the compass of the smallest drop of wine. And although this reduction be nothing in large wide sheets, which a Dutchwoman can fold into small bundles, or in many yards of pack-thread, that may be winded into a bottom; yet it is very considerable, or rather extremely ugly and unsuitable in a man, when these dimensions, which are given him of God, to extend his body to a decent and natural proportion, both are contracted, and contract him, to such an unnatural hideous smallness, that, as it must need happen at Mass, eyes and heels, breast and back, head and feet are together. He suffers in his external senses, which by this prodigious posture are made useless. He suffers in all his internal faculties, which there are stopped: in his understanding and memory, which then fail Him; in his strength and sinews and bones, which then prove as fluid and weak as water. For otherwise, how could they be drunk.
As to the consecrated species of bread and wine, in which they tell us that Christ suffers, (as if He did not suffer in his own) they are so far from sheltering Him against this unworthy usage, that contrariwise they object Him to much worse. It is by their attractive virtue, that (as they say) Christ must follow their motion, when they are tossed or blown up and down: unless the rapidus ventus, that is the Wind that tosses them, be a whirlwind, that wheels them about; for in a circular agitation these masters allow Him to stand still. [Greg Valent. De modo quo Christ. Disp. 6. q. 4.] But upon any other occasion, as he, who holds the belt, if he be strong enough, holds the soldier; what kind of creature soever can lay hold of a consecrated wafer, pulls the body, that it contains; pulls it, I say, more infallibly: for the strongest belt may break, as the mantle of Samuel did tear. 1. Sam. xv. 27, and then both soldier and prophet have some possibility to escape: but. in this case, if the wafer breaks to twenty pieces, whosoever gets the least [Ibid.] fragment hath as much as if he had all. [Suarez, Disp. 52. sect. 1. § Tertio modo contingít. Thomas. 3. p. q. 76. a. 3.] For here an usual, and withal a most strange miracle, multiplies still that one body, into as many the same bodies, as there are crumbs in the whole wafer. So man, or beasts that have a mind to abuse Christ, can never miss. And therefore these very accidents, or consecrated species, which here they plead to be shelters, that should fence Christ all about, are the unhappy means that expose Him to foul indignities: for if there were no such consecrated species to stick so fast [Suarez, Disp. 53. Sect. 1. § Dico ultimo.] to Him, and to drag Him along with them, I do not know, what evil spirits may do; but I am sure neither rats, nor mice could reach Him.
I have met with some Protestants, who thought it uncharitable to believe of Papists, that they believe any such horrible doctrines: or that they make of Mass any thing more than the representation of Christ's death. Doubtless a great many who go to Mass, think of no more: and I confess, it is most strange that these two monsters should really sink into any rational man's brain. 1. That Christ must be sacrificed at the Altar to represent that He was sacrificed upon the Cross: as if pictures could not represent men, unless the men themselves be standing within or behind their own pictures. 2. That Christ, who is supposed to be so well hidden under a condition, where neither men nor angels see Him, [Thom. 3. p. q. 76. a. 7. Bonavent. 4. Sent. d. 10. q. ult.] can represent both Himself and His sufferings, without being seen. We take always things that are seen, to represent them that are not so: but here contrariwise, things we see not, must represent them that were seen. Surely nothing less than a dereliction and judgment from Almighty God, can give over understanding men to such senseless delusions. But, notwithstanding, it is most certain gross incongruities are so far from being imposed, and falsely fathered on Papists, that the most solemn, and the most Catholic worship the Roman Church charges her children with, even all those who have no mind to be charged with heresy, is this, (and if I deceive them, or myself, their answer will undeceive us all) namely, to go every morning to Mass, and there apply their hearty devotions to that service wherein a priest pretends,
1. To offer our Saviour to God his Father, as really as He offered Himself upon the cross.
2. Not to offer Him up only, as a father may offer his son, and a master may really and justly too offer his servant; but to sacrifice Him also, as a priest doth, when he sacrifices his victim.
3. Because this sacrificing requires a real charge, and even, as some confess it, a real destruction; the priest with his five words, and at the least, ten miracles, must bring down the blessed Saviour under the despicable quantity of the wafers and wine consecrated, where He is shut up for as long time as these consecrated accidents do last, [Thomas. 3. p. q. 76. a. 6. Durand. d. 9. q. 3. Suarez, Disp. 46. sect. 8. § Dicendum est tertio.] in such a senseless and stupid manner, that He hath no more use of life and strength to help Himself, if any villain will catch Him, than that very white shape of bread, under which He lies hidden, is endued with.
4. To complete this sacrifice, the priest must either eat Him, or rather swallow Him down, for fear if he did chew the wafer, that chewing might leave some small crumbs, and consequently the whole body, either in the gums, or in some hollow tooth of the priest.
5. This done, both priest and people must move God to bless them, in consideration of this sacrifice, whereby He sees they have so well ordered his Son. If the priest had the power really to order Him thus, there is no man that sees him doing it, but should make it his utmost endeavour, to have him hold his hand: nor, no true Christian heart, but would have all his venial sins forgiven him by some other way, as whipping, confessing, and lying in purgatory for a while, rather than by such shameful and contumelious handling of Christ. As concerning the priest, though what he doth be in effect an empty pageantry, yet since he intends to throw his Saviour's body and soul into that horrible condition of death, this detestable intention makes him as really guilty of a flagitious and abominable crime, as is that of a parricide, who intended to kill his father, but missed his blow, and smote a post.
6. Both priest and people adore what they have thus sacrificed.
In this whole business you may observe chiefly these two general things. The attempt, and the object attempted upon. The attempt doth consist in three savage acts. The first, to remember and represent the death of the Lord, by plunging the Lord Himself into an invisible and real condition of death. The second, to adore what one eats, and to sacrifice what one adores; the whole world affording no example of any one worshipper, that ever bowed to his victim, except the Roman priests at Mass, and the Jews at the Passion; where these worshipped Christ in raillery, and after that crucified Him. The third, a barbarous thinking of well serving and pleasing God, by thus abusing his dear Son.
2. As to the object of this attempt, if it is the true Son of God whom Roman priests thus offer and devour, Mass is an open cruelty. And if it be not the true but a false and imaginary Christ whom they adore thus solemnly, Mass is open idolatry.