Chapter XII.--That neither Roman priests, nor Roman sacrifice have so much as any probable ground in Scripture.
I have the longer insisted upon the sacrifice and priesthood of Melchisedek, both because generally it is not so well understood by reformed, and grossly abused and insisted upon by Roman Catholics; although these, in good truth, may rather therewith destroy their Mass, than in any appearance establish it. For if Melchisedek did offer to God bread and wine, that might be a signification of that sacrifice on the cross, where are to be sought both the true bread of eternal life, and the true wine of eternal joy. And if you refer it to the Holy Communion, where the holy Fathers say, our Saviour offered to his disciples the same thing which Melchisedek gave to Abraham; [S. Cyprian. l. 2. Ep. 3. ad Cecil. S. August. de Civ. l. 17. c. 17.] then, as Melchisedek gave true substantial bread and wine, it is a folly to conclude thence, that Christ should have given true substantial flesh and blood. For, what simplicity is it, if not worse than simplicity, because Melchisedek hath given bread and wine, hence to conclude, therefore Christ gives at the Communion flesh and blood under the show of bread and wine? May I not conclude as wisely, out of the paschal lamb, (which most Papists do make use of for to prove their Mass sacrifice [Alph. de Castro. cont. Heres. l. 10. Titut. Missa. Bell. de Miss. l. 1. c. 7.]), because Moses gave flesh and blood, therefore Christ gave upon the cross, or upon his table, true bread and wine, under the show of flesh and blood? And if the paschal lamb of Moses proves the Communion to be flesh, why shall not the sacrifice of Melchisedek prove as strongly the same Communion to be bread? If Moses, (Gen. xiv.), or David (Psalm cx.) or the apostle, (Heb. chaps. v. vi. vii. viii: ix. x.) who are the three authors only whom we may consult upon this point, had given the Church any ground to think, first, that Melchisedek offered himself as a victim among his loaves; secondly, that, presently after, some of his slaves took him also, bound him to the altar, and at last offered him under that great heap of bread, and within the vessels of wine; and, thirdly, that this office was settled upon them, or others whom they should name for successors, as long as Melchisedek should be priest: these three articles (and nothing less) might have helped the Roman affairs with some pretence.
To supply it to the utmost of their power, some stretch their wit beyond reason: for, on one part, they flay off all the outside, which of nature belongs to the paschal lamb, to have flesh without accidents: on the other part, they pick off the entire inward being of bread and wine from within their natural outside, to have thereby the accidents of these bodies without substance: and so taking the flesh and blood of Moses' lamb, and the empty shows and accidents of Melchisedek's bread and wine, and sorting those with these, as well as they can together, [Bell. de Miss. l. 1. c. 7. §. Respondeo Eucharistia.] they make up the compound which must fill up all types and figures. And this sorting and compounding is what they call consecrating, and singing Mass.
Naturally few men can think, but it were a lesser inconveniency once to admit of an usual figure into our Saviour's speech, "This is my body," than to forge and bring in continually such an unnatural disfiguration against his creatures, of bread and wine, flesh and blood. But when this prodigy is like to fall upon the Saviour Himself, who can be so unchristian as not to keep it off from Him, with admitting rather, if need would require it; all sorts of both usual and unusual figures one could think of? It is an infallible rule in St. Augustine, [St. August. de Relig. Christ. l. 3. c. 10. Idem. c. 12, 13, 14, & 15.] "That whatsoever we find in the Word of God that cannot properly be referred, either to holiness of life, or truth of faith; as when Christ says, Unless we eat his flesh, and drink his blood, you shall not have life, &c., we must understand it with a figure." You may be sure that Abraham would not have carried away his son, nor tied him upon an altar, in order to sacrifice him, unless the voice of God had been so express and so clear for Isaac, Gen. xxii., that nothing could help this loving father to understand that hard saying of anything else than "his son, his son Isaac, his only son, whom he loved." Therefore, whensoever Roman priests go about to sacrifice the Son of God, and to bind Him, not hand and foot only, but sense and soul, to and within the capacity of a thin wafer, (a weak prison for a mighty Saviour) they must needs show the command they have of doing it, expressed in terms so plain and strong, that there is no possibility left to either ordinary sense, or usual figures of men, to understand it otherwise. Aaron, and all his successors, though it was but to offer rams and goats, yet had they a whole set of instructions and commands for this service, so full and so often repeated, that it had been both stark blindness to doubt of it, and open rebellion not to do it: therefore, no less can be expected of Roman Popes and priests, but since they will take upon them to sacrifice the Son of God, and to bring, by their sacrifice, that living both God and Saviour to a sad condition of death, they bring as express order for this, as either Abraham had for his son, or Aaron or Eleazer for their beasts.
Now, therefore, we must see what clear warrant, what absolute command, and what irresistible arguments Mass-priests have out of Holy Scripture, to enforce and countenance such a stupendous office as is the sacrificing a great God. First, they are either so obscure, or so weak and uncertain in their own opinion, that the Mass-priests themselves, who have a visible interest to think them good, do either contradict or suspect them. Secondly, They are so weak and so uncertain in themselves, (whatever Roman priests may think of them) that to prop up Mass-sacrifice with such reasons, is to uphold plain impiety with plain folly.
I begin with what these reasons are in their own opinion. 1. Their first and main one is taken out of the figure of Melchisedek, and David's oracle with it, "Thou art a priest for ever, &c.," which words some take as a full proof of the standing continuation of Mass-priesthood and sacrifice. [Mart. Becan. de Sacrif. p. 4. § Melchisedek non solum repraesentavit. Bellar. de Miss. l. 1. c. 6. § Est etiam alia.] But in the judgment of others, this proof is not only weak, but also false. For, says Vasques, [Gabr. Vasq. t. 3. Disp. 225. c. 2. § Verum quamvis.] "Christ hath no need of this continuing sacrifice; for He shall be priest still, even after the end of the world; when there will be no such sacrifice."
2. Another proof they most insist upon, is the sacrifice of the passover, which they plead to have been intended, as a figure to represent, Mass, and to be accomplished at Mass. But [Bell. de Miss. l. 1. c. 7. § Illud autem alterum.] Bellarmine betrays unluckily the weakness of this argument, by a clear demonstration out of St. John xix. 36. "A bone of him shall not be broken," which says Bellarmine most truly, was foretold of the Paschal Lamb, and fulfilled in the passion.
3. The same flaw is notoriously to be found in their manner of arguing out of the sacrifice, Exod. xxiv., and other Mosaical oblations, that the communion, which Christ instituted, and consequently their Mass is a most real sacrifice, supposing that all [Bell. de Miss. l. 1. c. 8. § Huc referti possunt.] or most of them, were figures to be fulfilled in this. For Pope Leo destroys such reasons, [Leo magnus. Serm. 3. de Passione Domini.] and teaches solemnly, That all the mysteries of former ages, and all sorts of sacrifices, were shadows and figures, that both pointed at, and ended in the Sacrifice of the cross. Therefore this argument [Suarez. Disp 74. sect. 2. § Illum autem alterum.] is taken by other school-men for a mere probable conjecture.
4. Of all prophets, Malalachi is the man, whom they think [Suarez. Disp. 74. sect. 1. § Sed praecipuum. Bell. de Miss. l. 1. c. 10. Sed insigne.] to have most clearly foretold Mass. "In every place shall be offered unto my Name a pure oblation." Malach. c. 1. Yet Arias Montanus, [Suarez. Ibid. § Quocirca saepe miratus.] whom they acknowledge to be a right pious and learned man, cannot see it; nor doth he find any thing in this prophet, that can satisfy his fellow priests. And these are the likeliest proofs which the Old Testament can afford them, which their own men thus contradict. The New Testament helps them as ill or worse. 1. After that they have screwed what they can, out of Christ's institution, which should be the proper seat of Mass, some do ingenuously confess, [Ibid. sect. 2. § Secundo principaliter colligenda.] that, what all the Gospels have said concerning it, can by itself convince no man. Only they guess it to be very consonant with the words, and acts of Christ. Therefore instead of clear and invincible demonstrations, (for nothing less can evince this strange sacrifice) they must be contented with such reasons, as themselves acknowledge to be no better, than probabilities [Suarez. Disp. 74. sect. 1. § Secundo potest. Id. § Ultimo loco adjungere.] and conjectures.
2. The like fate have the two words "do this," whereupon yet they dare build two sacraments, and one sacrifice, that is, three high and large mysteries, which were sufficient of themselves, without any more addition, to take up the whole Church of Rome. Some would fain interpret it, sacrifice this; because sometimes the same words, in Hebrew, seem to signify it, but others reject it [Bell. de Miss. l. 1. c. 12. § Sed errant.], as ridiculous in matter of proof.
3. The threefold argument, which they will squeeze out of the institution, Matt. xxvi. &c., is quite as bad; though it be more relied upon, to demonstrate, that that which Christ did, and commanded to do, is their very Mass-sacrifice, because He says in the present tense, this is my body, which is given, which is broken; and this is my blood, which is shed. And therefore they [Jansen. Concord. Evang. c. 131. pag. 903. Canus de Loeis l. 12. c. 13. A. a. Castro. l. 10. Tit. Missa. Salmero de Euchar. Tract. 27. p. 203. Bell. de Miss. l. 1. c. 12.] conclude that his body was broken, and his blood shed, at the communion, and so it was a sacrifice. But others reject these three arguments: [Titelmac. in Matth. 26. Cajetan. 1. Corinh. 11. Pie. mirand. Apolog. q. 6.] and apply (as well they may) this giving, breaking, and shedding, to the sacrifice upon the cross, which was to be done the next day; wishing [Vasques. t. 3. Disp. 199. c. 1. § De verbo autem effundetur.] their companions not to stand upon subtleties, and to seek some stronger, reasons for their Mass.
4. Finally, come we now to the stronghold, and seat of Mass, "this is my Body." What clear proof can be made out hence, a sober man can easily guess, by their wranglings among themselves, about every one of these words. They confess [Catharinus. de Verbis quib. Tract. 2. § Lector consideret.] that the very reading of all they say, or unsay, about the first word, hoc, that is, this, were enough to overturn one's brain, or, at the least, to tire out his patience. No less contradicting shall you find among them upon est, that is, is. And very near as much about body. For though all have the same interest to find out Mass, and transubstantiation, in these. words; this work is so hard to compass, that, they must seek it out several ways; and, at last, after they have tortured and turned these words on all sides, the ablest and acutest of them must say, [Gabr. Biel. Lect. 40. Cajetan. q. 75. a. 1. Contaren. De sacra. l. ii. c. 3.] that what they sought for is not expressed in Holy; Scripture, nor can be proved by Scripture. [Occam. Quod l. 4. q. 34. et 35.] Cardinal Bellarmine himself, though a Goliah in this camp, is forced to yield. Scotus dicit, &c., [Bell. de Enchar. l. iii. c. 23. § Secundo dicit, non exstare locum ullum Scripturae tam planum, ut sine Ecclesiae declaratione evidenter cogat transubstantiationem admittere, atque id non omnino est improbabile.] that is, "Scotus says," says he, "that there is no place in, Scripture, that can oblige one to admit of transubstantiation, without the declaration of the Church: and this is not unlikely, since most learned and acute men, such as Scotus was, have been of this opinion."
The whole business amounts to this: There conies a gallant soldier sent from court, as he says, with a commission both to govern a frontier town, and to put in a garrison. The town, wanting no allegiance, is ready to receive this new governor, only desires to see his power. Then he produces divers papers, which certainly have the king's hand, but speak never one plain word of either garrison or governor. Or, if you please, there comes a bold monk, like father Escobar, or Bauny, with bulls from his holiness, in order, as be says, to fulminate all Jansenists, because they stand too stiff for the doctrine of St. Augustin, and too remiss for the sovereignty of the Pope. Great stir is made in all the Churches, for the execution of these bulls: but, when they come to be well read, and examined, in order to execution, not one word is in them found, that tends plainly and directly towards excommunicating Jansenists; unless you be pleased to take every word, as his friars will interpret it, who neither agree among themselves about their interpretations, nor dare say that there is any thing express against any one Jansenist. What then hath a wise magistrate to do, but to keep his people quiet, and to put these fellows in the gaol?
The case in hand is worse than both these. The Church of Christ hath been happy, during many hundred years, with the pure unbloody sacrifice of prayer, and alms, &c., and the sacraments, types, antitypes, that is, sacred images, representing by their institution, and applying by God's spirit, the Body and Blood of Christ offered to God upon the cross. The apologies and confessions of ancient Fathers speak of no more, and they who came next after them interpret it word for word so. A long while after, swarms about a rabble of monks, crying, that these were but hollow services; that neither the figures of the law, nor the oracles of prophets, could be fulfilled with such offerings, and in a word, that to perform well the institution of the sacrament, which Christ hath left with his holy Church, she must both offer and sacrifice Jesus Christ Himself. It was not hard for priests, who then were reputed to have all the learning and the holiness of mankind, and the secular power of Rome besides, to make a great bustle among men, such, especially, as they were then, most ignorant, and most zealous. But now, when the heat is somewhat over, if you will inquire into the grounds which these men had to amaze the world, and fill the Church with desperate proposals, of converting bread into flesh, and of sacrificing Christ alive, by lodging Him within the quantity of a thin wafer, &c., with a whole set of continual invisible miracles; you shall not find one syllable in the whole institution, which is pretended for all this. And though they raise Moses, Melchisedek, Isaiah, Malachi, out of the Old Testament to foretell Mass; and all the Holy Evangelists out of the New to confirm it; at last, they are forced to confess, that all these holy men have not one express word to this purpose; but that the Church, that is, themselves, popes and Mass-priests, declared it so. For that no better Church did it, appears by their confession, who put transubstantiation, [Alph. a Castro. l. viii. Tit. Indulgenter. Edit. Parisiensi. 1571. p. 578.] indulgences, and purgatory, among the things mostly unknown to ancient Fathers.
Now, if all the reasons that can be brought in behalf of the Mass, be so weak in their judgment, who have a visible interest to believe, and to make them strong, how weak must they be in themselves?
I begin with the words of the institution, which, or nothing, must be the seat, and, as they think, the very institution of Mass. Christ took Bread, and blessed it, and gave to His disciples to eat, saying this is my Body. And therefore, as they conclude, He sacrificed and offered his Body to his Father, under the shape of that same Bread. Is giving bread to men either a signification, or a means, of offering flesh to God? And where is in all this the least intimation of a sacrifice?
1. Where is that address and adoration to God, which is inseparable from every lawful sacrifice? They go about [Bell. de Miss. l. 1. c. 11.] to prove out of St. John iv. that there would be sacrifices under the Gospel, because there will be worshipping: but now methinks they should do better, to shew us here any act, or any word, that belongs to worshipping, before they think of sacrifice, for certainly one may worship without sacrificing: witness the Pharisee and Publican who prayed in the temple, Luke x. But it is impossible to sacrifice without worshipping. Where then is that necessary and decent action observed? Is speaking to men, and bidding them to eat, a likely way of praying to God? If you say, that when Christ blessed the bread, and gave thanks, He prayed to God; you say true, but not to the purpose. For this blessing the bread, and giving thanks to God, is the ancient Eucharist and sacrifice of the old Church, which in the Roman had the fortune (not unlike the fat kine, that were devoured by the lean, Genes. xli. 20,) not to be better esteemed than a preface and an accidental ceremony to the grand Mass-sacrifice, [Becan. de Sacrif. q. 6. § Prima Couclusio. Alanus de Sacrif. l. 3. c. 18.] that comes after, and is consecrated to God, by words directly spoken to men. "Take eat," &c.
2. Where is the altar, which they will allege sometimes, [Bellar. de Miss. l. 1. c. 2. § Sextum Argum. ut. toto cap. 16.] as an infallible demonstration of sacrifices? Were the portative altars of itinerant priests then in use? And did the disciples find it ready in, or did they bring it with them, into the upper room, where Christ, as they think, said the first Mass?
3. Since they confess, that their sacrifice must be [Bell. ibid. c. 2. Betan. de Sacrif. q. 2. § Quinta Conclusio.] visible, and the act of offering it external and exposed to sense; and the end of it, to be acknowledging both of human infirmity, and the highest honour, that can be done to God: for God's sake, how are these three or four things, either expressed, or involved at Mass by this saying, "This is my body?"
1. Was the flesh of Jesus Christ, which they pretend to be offered, to be seen in the bread, while he was consecrating? Can any priest perceive, whether this flesh be, or be not, in a consecrated wafer? And with what reason can they say, as [Becan. ibid. q. 6. § Secunda Objectio.] they do, that Christ is seen in the form and colour of the wafer, which is the very covering, that hides it, and keeps it from being seen? 2. Is the transubstantiating the bread and wine into Christ's flesh and blood (wherein they say the real immolation consists) external and exposed to any sense? Do priests, and communicants, either see the stirring, or hear the noise, when either the substance of bread is screwed out of its accidents, or when the flesh of Christ is screwed into them? And when they answer, [Becan. ibid.] it is enough if it be heard in the uttering of the words; why do they not therefore say as well, and upon the same or better ground, that the blessed Trinity, the souls and thoughts of men, and the very substance of angels, when we speak of them, are things sensible, yea far more sensible than what they do, because we preach loud enough of immaterial substances; when as, for certain good consideration, the Mass consecration is uttered exceeding low? [Durant Ration. l. 4. de Canone.] 3. How comes this sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, to be a proper means of exalting Divine Majesty, and acknowledging human infirmity? For this they make to be the main end, wherefore they sing Mass. Is God the Father most highly pleased, and exalted, when He sees his dear Son either flung down into the stomach of a priest, or sucked into the belly of a spider? And is this a fit expression of human infirmity, to see one priest, at an altar, appear with more power than all angels together have? And whensoever he will be pleased but to say five words, to be able to shew ten miracles? Such proofs, and such doctrines, are well-met together in point of inconceivableness: and I suspect that men must transubstantiate their brains into what I am loth to say, before they can believe Mass and transubstantiation upon such grounds.
All their other reasons are as unlikely to be sound. I will instance but in these five, which the council [Concil. Trident. Sess. 22, c. i.] of Trent hath made choice of to assert their new priesthood, before they curse [Ibid. Can. 1 and 2.] those willful people, that will not submit unto it.
The first is the figure of Melchisedek, which, as it hath been already demonstrated, under what notion soever it be considered, can prejudice, but cannot serve Mass. For as a sacrifice, that bread could never be dried and heated at any other fire, than at that of divine vengeance upon the cross; or as a sacrament, it signifies that strength, and that refreshment of grace, wherewith Christ, the true Melchisedek, would from above bless his people in all their travellings and marches, until his first coming; as the holy Communion promises us the like blessing, till the second. According to that of St. Peter, Acts iii. 26, God hath raised his Son to bless us. If the Roman Church can transubstantiate the history of Moses, concerning Melchisedek offering bread, into a legend, concerning Melchisedek's slaves offering their king and master, under the shape of empty loaves; that figure will serve somewhat to their purpose: and then it will be time we look for another answer.
The second is the figure of the paschal lamb, which, as they say, was fulfilled at the Lord's Supper. For, out of the bread and wine which Melchisedek did offer, taking only the accidents, and leaving aside the substance; and out of the lamb which Moses offered, taking the whole flesh and substance, and leaving the accidents and skin behind; thus, in great wisdom, have they got something to represent the Roman Mass. But here I find most visibly that general Councils, even when his holiness hath confirmed them, can err both in reason, and much more in divinity, if this Tridentine really meant to make of this lamb, what Bellarmine [Bell de Miss. l. c. 7.] and others do make of it.
The council of Trent errs grievously in good logic and reason; for the strength of this reasoning, as Jesuit Becan [Becan: de Sacrif. q. 4. § Tertio probatur.] contracts it, comes to this. The paschal lamb was a figure of the Mass; the paschal lamb was a sacrifice; therefore Mass is a sacrifice. Just as if I did reason thus. Sarah and Agar, (as St. Paul, says, Galat. iv.) were two figures, that of the Gospel, this of the law; Sarah and Agar, were two women; therefore the Gospel and the law are two women. With this logic I may better argue. The paschal lamb, as Mass-priests say, was the figure of Mass; the paschal lamb was a bloody sacrifice, once, and no more, to be offered in a year, in the evening, and then not a drop of the blood must be drunk, but all must be sprinkled about the doors; therefore Mass is a bloody sacrifice, that must not be sung every day, nor any day in the morning, and there the priest must not drink more of the cup than a layman. Such strong reasonings well become the Mass. Bellarmine upon the same argument bungles yet worse. He presupposes [Bell de Miss. l. 1. c. 7. § Dicent enim Adversarii.] what he should prove, namely, that the disciples did eat the flesh of their master, at his supper; and hence he concludes (as well he might upon such a presupposal) that, therefore, he had been then sacrificed. The reverend fathers of Trent [Concil. Trident. Sess. 22. c. i.] allow themselves the same liberty. And they do well, for certainly it is much an easier task, to presuppose Mass, than to prove it.
But secondly, their divinity is full as bad as their logic. For that the figure of the paschal lamb relates properly to the passion, and not to the Eucharist, can be demonstrated by three infallible evidences. 1. By the testimony of St. John, chap, xix., who says expressly, that that was fulfilled upon the cross, which was ordered about the passover, Exod. xii. 46, and Num. ix. 12, "A bone of him shall not be broken." 2. The paschal lamb, which took away the sins of that house where it was slain, represented the Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world; which was done upon the cross, by that sacrifice, wherein lies the original and primitive fountain of propitiation for sin, not by the sacrifice of Mass, which can procure no pardon for mortal, and scarce any far venial sins. 3. By a demonstration of the fact. It was at his passion, and no where else, that this Lamb of God was, according to the law, Exod. xii. 8, 9, roasted with the fire of vengeance and judgment, and kept from being burned, not by any extrinsical help, as flesh is when sodden in water, but by his own juice and liquor, that is, his own strength and holiness. For I presuppose, that if Roman priests be confident to say, and some of them perchance simple enough to believe, that Christ at his last supper had all his body and blood in his hand, and so put Himself whole in the mouth of his disciples; yet none of them will say, that the heat of their mouths or stomachs, did scorch him so, as to make him feel any part of what hath been prefigured by roasting.
This one reason is enough to destroy the fifth ground, which the said Council takes from all other sacrifices and offerings under the laws, as if the truth and the accomplishment of all these figures were found at Mass. There was not one propitiatory sacrifice under the law, but was put to a violent and painful destruction, both to represent under the law what sinners did deserve, and to prefigure what, against the times of the Gospel, our Saviour Christ was to suffer. This suffering was clearly seen and heard in the violent death upon the cross, and in the strong cries and tears, Heb: v. 7; which are the ordinary expressions both of trouble and torment. But as to that easy and senseless shadow of death, wherein they make Christ lie at Mass, Moses hath neither roasted lambs, nor burnt sacrifices to represent it; or if he have, the Tridentine fathers may do their cause a great deal of right to shew where. For it is not to be imagined, that every petty circumstance of Christ's sacrifice on the cross, should be both foretold by prophecies, and foreshewed by types and figures, and that these miracles and stupendous passages which, ever since above sixteen hundred years, happen every, day to Christ, at Mass, should not be so much as once hinted at, if they were true.
The fourth proof for Mass is taken out of the prophet Malachi, i. 11, "From the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles: and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name and a pure offering." Upon which words, the paraphrase or interpretation of Jesuit Becan is good enough. [Martin Becan. de Sacrif. q. 4, § Verba Malachiae sic.] The Christians, who, from being Gentiles, shall be converted to the faith, will serve me better through the whole world, than you (Jews) have hitherto done in Judea: and everywhere shall be offered to me, by Christians, not an unclean sacrifice such as yours is, but a pure one. Hence, by an admirable logic, they will draw this conclusion, that therefore Christ's Body and Blood shall be really destroyed, and sacrificed to God at Mass. Bellarmine spends a whole chapter to make good this strange inference: whereas, all that can be made out either of this, or of other like prophecies, as Isaiah xix. 21, and xxvi. 21, and Jeremiah xxxiii. 17, is this only, That God shall be served under the Gospel, as well and better than under the Law, with sacrifices and pure oblations. All the difficulty therefore remains to know, what these sacrifices and pure oblations under the Gospel must be. The most ancient fathers say, they are sacrifices of praise: [Tert. cont. Jud. c. 5, and Marc. l. 4. c. 1.] of prayer, with pure conscience: and of an humble contrite heart: an incense by devotion: [Euseb. de Dem. l. i. c. 4.] a pure oblation and sacrifice made with good works: and the blessed Communion [Iren. l. 4. 32.] besides, as the proper seat and centre of all these pure and spiritual oblations. We offer (say they upon these words of Malachi [Euseb. de Dem. l. 4. c. ult. Theod. 1. Mal.]) to the high God the sacrifice of thanksgiving, the most divine and celestial sacrifice. We offer after a new manner the pure oblation of the new covenant: this sacrifice is a contrite heart. We burn also before Him the oblation here mentioned by the prophet; in every place, with our prayers, offering to God the sweet fruits of holy knowledge. We offer, and incense likewise, the memorial of the great sacrifice; celebrating the mysteries which He hath prescribed to us, and consecrating ourselves both in body and soul to Him, &c. To this add the oblation of the Gentiles, as it is intimated by St. Paul, Romans xv. 16, and interpreted by St. Chrysostom, Hom. xxix., [Chrysost. Hom. 20. in Rom. xv. 17.] and foretold by Isaiah, lxvi. 19, 20, in a prophecy quite parallel to this: "I will send unto the nations that have not heard my fame, and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles," (which is the commentary of Tertullian [Tert. l. 3. cont. Marc.] upon Malachi) "and they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord." "Wherefore," says St. Chrysostom, "My priesthood or sacerdotal function, is to preach the Gospel, and by preaching to bring such victims to Christ," and not to bring and sacrifice Christ to Christ. This is the full sense and interpretation of the holy fathers. When they of Trent or Rome, shall have shewed us, that to offer and destroy Christ, at Mass, by a real sacrifice, is, under the Gospel, a very pure oblation, and not a visible sacrilege, and a cruel abomination, it will be time enough then to consider, whether the prophet Malachi meant otherwise.
The fifth proof for Mass, out of 1 Cor. x. 20, "You cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord, and of the table of devils," pulls down what the Tridentine fathers would fain build up. For there the apostle concludes against the Corinthians, that by eating of the table, that is, of the festivals, and remainders of sacrifices offered to devils, they fall into a communion with those devils, upon the like account, as by eating of the table, that is, of the holy festival and Sacrament of Christ's Sacrifice, we thereby obtain a Communion with Christ: since both tables and eatings, are of meats consecrated; these, to the honour of Christ, those, to the honour of the devils. Which reason cannot be true, unless Mass and transubstantiation prove false: for a Corinthian might soon reply, that at those tables of the heathen, he neither eats nor drinks the very substance of the devils; as it is certain, if Mass and transubstantiation be not false, he eats at the table of Christ, the very Body and Blood of Christ. Whereas, if you take the blessed Eucharist for what it is, to wit, both corporally, in its own natural elements, bread which we break, and wine which we drink; and spiritually, in its institution and holy use, a memorial, a sacrament, and, as it were, a sacred relic of the sacrifice upon the cross; the apostle's exhortation, or conclusion, is most strong and rational. The eating of bread consecrated into a memorial of the death and sacrifice of Christ, is both a profession and a means of our communion with Christ: therefore, or rather much more, the eating and feasting upon meats, first offered to devils, and then brought down from their altars to tables set up in their temples, for idolaters, who keep those festivals to their honour, is a real profession, whatsoever men verbally say, of communion and fellowship with these devils. And hence follows besides a second evidence, against both transubstantiation and Mass; that as these meats, however polluted and relating to devils, are neither devils, nor substance of devils: so the bread which we break, and the cup of blessing which we bless, however sacred and relative to Christ, are neither Christ, nor the Body and Blood of Christ. And if the Council of Trent think much to help up Mass sacrifice, by mistaking a table for an altar [Concil. Trid. Sess. 22. c. 1.] (wherein Cornelius a Lapide, who takes a table for a table [Cornel. a Lapid. 1 Corinth. 10.], is more ingenuous than his brother Bellarmine [Bell. de Miss. l. 1. c. 14.]) let them also pre-suppose, that the table of Corinthian idolaters was an altar, whereon they were used to eat their devils. Then how far honest Christians may be persuaded by this laudable example to have altars, whereupon they may sacrifice and eat their Saviour, let all, whether reformed or unreformed Catholics, be the judges.
These are the best reasons the council of Trent could get, to prove or countenance Mass sacrifice.
Some other reasons there are, nevertheless, scattered here and there among less considerable authors, but either so ridiculous, that, if it were not upon a serious and sad subject, they might rather tempt one to laugh, than to think of any answer as for example, that of Psal. lxxii. 16, "There shall be a handful of corn upon the top of the mountains," that is, says one, [Eckius.] the bread of life over the crowns of the priests' heads: or otherwise, so light and weak, [Bell. de Miss. l. 1. c. 11. et c. 13.] as when that they will prove Mass out of St. John iv. 23, where our Saviour speaks of worshipping; or out of Acts xiii. 2, where Barnabas and Simeon were ministering unto the Lord; [Bell. de Euch. l. 1. c. 3. Becan. c. 15. q. 5. Suarez. Disp. 41. n. 73. a. 6. Salmero. Tract. 21.] that one may very well think to see jugglers undertaking to raise a huge tower upon a handful of dry sticks. When they do find but anything that hath relation to bread, as the offering of corn, Levit. xxiii; the cake baked upon the coals, 1 Kings xix; the morsel of bread set before the angel, Genes. xviii; the shew bread, Levit. xxiv; the manna of the wilderness, &c. presently they think to have found transubstantiation and all. And if they chance to light anywhere upon the least hint of sacrifice, priest, oblation, or altar, (table sometimes, as here, will serve their turn) then presently they fancy Mass; just as will those purblind fowlers, who take any dry stick for a woodcock: or like our more elevated alchymists, who, wheresoever they hear in Scripture, Moses or Solomon speaking of gold, think that there lies the mystery of their philosophical stone. But God be praised for it, the Holy Ghost hath taken so good care of securing Holy Communion against these unhappy surprisings, that no sincere and understanding Christian need to fear what first befell the Jews, and now lies heavy on Roman priests, that their table be made a snare to take themselves withal: nor the holy things that Christ hath intended for their good, be made to them an occasion of falling.
All men somewhat versed in holy Scripture, cannot but observe, how the apostles in their writings are apt to express all duties and services which belong to the times of the Gospel, with words and phrases that are proper to the law. Thus the subjecting ourselves to Christ, [Rom. xii. 1.] the doing of any good work in Christ's name, [Heb. xiii. 16.] all duties of liberality and charity, [Philip. iv. 18.] the preaching of the gospel, and converting of infidels, [Rom. xv. 16.] the dying in the faith of Christ, [2 Tim. iv. 6.] the venturing our life for his truth; [Philip. ii. 17.] the very believing on Him, [Ibid.] and glorifying of his name, [1 Pet. ii. 5.] &c., are called oblations, and sacrifices. Only the Lord's Supper, (which in the Roman account is Mass) though it deserves it best, is never called so. All holy acts of religion, which Papists can admit but for metaphorical and improper sacrifices, are honoured in Scripture with the title of sacrifices; and that which they take for the only proper and true Evangelical sacrifice, hath not so much as the bare name of it, but goes, among Evangelical writers, under no other name or notion, than Lord's Supper, communion, breaking of bread. If there had been among the Apostles such a visible, fundamental, daily, and proper sacrifice known in the Church, how, both having a being then, and being known, could it then have wanted a name?
The same wonder and observation may be made about the office of a priest, as it signifies a sacrificer. It is certain, that our Saviour rather confirmed, than altered in his Church, that way of government which had been established in the temple of Israel. For what Aaron the high-priest, his Sons the inferior priests, and the Levites were in the temple, says St. Jerome; [St. Hieron. Epist. ad Evagrium.] the same office have now the bishops, the priests, and the deacons in the Church. And, therefore, the persons employed, whether under this, or that government, are (as to the matter) commonly qualified with the same titles. All the ministers of the gospel, whom now we call bishops, priests, doctors, deacons, &c., were the ancient Pakidim, Zakenim, Rabbim, Mesharethim, in the congregation of Israel. How then comes this order of sacrificing priests (if any such had been allowed by Jesus Christ, and his Apostles) to be quite left out? For these whom we now call priests, and whom St. Paul often mentions in his epistles, are not sacrificers at all, but elders properly, that is, spiritual rulers, and magistrates in the Church, (such as may be senators and aldermen in a city) established, within a limited compass, about the affairs of Christ their master, and about helping and directing men to his service. Their commission reaches so far as, in God's name, to bless and dispense holy ordinances; to declare all his revealed will; and according to this, to absolve sinners, if they repent; and to bind them, if they do not; and so in a manner to be ambassadors from God to men: their power reaches also so far, as both to recommend and to reconcile men to God. Thus far have they a sacerdotal dignity, as Aaron and his sons, being priests, had. They have, moreover, a most noble commission, to do their utmost endeavours to offer men as holy sacrifices to God; to destroy (like as Aaron did his rams and goats) whatsover is sensual in them; and to raise up their souls, their prayers and their life towards God, as Aaron did his heave-offerings, Rom. xv. 16. But to offer up Christ Himself, and to rear up altars in order to sacrifice the Son of God, in as real (though not the same) manner, as Aaron did a kid or a lamb, is no more commanded, and is less commendable, than sacrificing harmless children: and if that crime be not expressly forbidden as this is, it is upon this account, that there have been men, when holy Scripture was written, so cruel, as to sacrifice their own children; but none so detestably barbarous and mad, as to think of sacrificing their own Saviour.
There is both clear and frequent mention made in the New Testament, of all offices somewhat considerable in the Church. They, who perhaps, did but upon some few occasions foretell any thing that was to come, are absolutely called prophets: they who could work some miracles, although but for a time, have every one their titles, of powers, &c. 1 Cor. xii. 28, 29. I need not mention apostles, evangelists, rulers, deacons of both sexes, &c. Both ordinary, and extraordinary offices, in the New Testament have names. How comes this alone (which is more admirable than the most extraordinary, and more frequent in the Roman Church than the most ordinary) to have none? How comes the title of sacrificing priest, so honourable, and so common under the law, not to pass over among the rest, and in the crowd, to the gospel, where they say this sacrificing work is more considerable, and more common? How came St. Peter and St. Paul, &c., to be commonly called teachers, &c., for preaching the gospel of Christ, and never sacrificing priests for their daily singing Christ's Mass, and sacrificing Christ's body? Once more, how comes it to pass that any other act of Christian religion, for the most part, is honoured with some sacerdotal expression, and that this about the Holy Communion, though more capable of this honour, not once ? That a work of charity, for example, is called an oblation of sweet smell, Philip. iv. 18, and the Holy Sacrament never but breaking of bread, or eating the Lord's Supper? And that a sacerdotal function should be given to preaching to, and converting of men, and constantly and purposely waived off from that holy office, which in many respects might better go under the name of oblation or sacrifice?
The reasons of this constant waiving, must evidently be these two. 1. These sacrificers of Mass, like hewers of wood, or drawers of water, (once so common in Israel) have not any name in the Apostolical Church, because they have therein neither employment nor being. 2. The holy offices and duties about Holy Communion, are not so much as once hinted at by any sacrificing allusion, because the Holy Ghost did foresee what would be done in the after times; that Roman priests would take on them to make the Saviour their victim; pack him up soul and body within the quantity of a small wafer; expose him to the hazard of falling, as the lunatic did, Matth. xvii. 15, sometimes into the fire, sometimes into the water, into a worse place; take the great name, and almighty power of God in vain, and pretend ten or twelve of his miracles to assist them, whensoever they were pleased to sacrifice his Son in this manner, at any time, and for the least occasion, as a hen and a hog, or the abominablest, as when they intend nothing so much by their consecration, and sacrificing of Christ; [Thom. in 4. dist. 11, q. 2. A. 1. sect. Dicendum qd. sacramenta.] as either profane sports, or witchcraft: the Holy Ghost, I say, foreseeing all these abuses, moved the hands and hearts of holy writers, to pen nothing that might give the least countenance to that abominable character, which in the latter days was to be pretended for this; and so, allowing these sacerdotal and venerable expressions only to those offices and duties, which were of a nature not to be drawn into such misconstructions; did, by this care, secure from abomination all such persons, as would not delight themselves with inventing sacrifices without Scripture.