Chapter XIV.--That therefore the Roman priesthood, as far as it attempts to offer and sacrifice really the Son of God, is a most sacrilegious office.
Besides the many errors intrinsical to Mass-sacrifice, which I have already observed: and the many more and worse, which I have purposely omitted, lest this book should swell with them into too great a volume; it appears by what I have already said, that Mass is a sacrifice made of four inseparable and capital heads. The first is, in putting our Saviour to a shameful condition of death, and therewith exposing Him to the hazard both of falling, during that time, into the power of devils, and of being made instrumental to their wicked works and service. The second, in a barbarous opinion that God the Father is well pleased and honoured by Christians, when his beloved Son is abused in that manner: and that this infamous usage is the supremest degree of worship, which can be bestowed upon Him. The third is a grosser idolatry than Pagans were ever guilty of, in worshiping for God, what they do both eat and sacrifice, and therefore what is neither God, nor anything like God. The fourth, which now I am to speak of, is in setting up in the holiest place, and among the holiest mysteries, of Christ's Church, a sacrifice which God never instituted, and invading a priesthood which God never called Roman priests to.
This open and, presumptuous sacrilege is, if not worse than the other three, (for nothing can be worse) yet more wretched and dangerous, because God hath in former times declared his detestation against all the degrees of this sin, with more terrible and exemplary vengeances. It is certain, that of all parts and duties belonging to divine worship, altars and sacrifices are that, which God ever owned most to belong to his special institution, and ever punished them most grievously, whosoever durst venture to transgress it. The sin of those barbarous fathers, who made their children pass as a sacrifice through the fire, although most abominable in its intrinsical act, yet is made out more odious by the prophets with this character, that the Lord never thought, nor spake of it. Jerem. vii. 31. The sacrifices on the high places, though otherwise legal enough as to both priests and victims, were abhorred for nothing else, but for being offered in a place which was not of God's appointing. Nadab and Abihu, Sons of Aaron, fell down dead before their altar, for this one sin, viz. for burning their oblation with that fire, which the Lord had not commanded them. Levit. x. 1. 12. The wrath of God brake out as fierce against those others, who failed in the lawful calling of priesthood. Azariah, or Uzziah, was both a king, and one of the good kings of Judah; 2 Kings v. 3, yet God smote him with an incurable plague, and cut him off both from his house and his throne all the days of his life, for once daring to venture upon the office that he was not consecrated to, of burning incense in the temple. 2 Chron. xxvi. And before him Korah, although son of Levi, upon as good a title as Aaron: and Dathan, and Abiram, though famous men in the congregation of Israel, and besides pretending some title to the priesthood, which of course their great uncle Reuben should have had, were, together with an hundred and fifty other valiant men, partly burned, partly swallowed up alive by a miraculous earthquake, for assuming unto themselves that character which God had conferred on Aaron.
The offering of Mass-sacrifices is not one of these sins alone; it is an accumulation of all, and of worse. Aaron, with all his privileges dares, not lay hand upon a kid, nor his sons meddle with ordinary fire, in order to a sacrifice, without a special command of God; and Roman priests think it lawful for them to seize upon the Son of God, (so far as their intention can reach, and certainly their guilt reaches as far) to lay Him upon their altars; to bind Him there hand and foot, and which is worse, soul and body, in order to an offering, without the least intimation of God. Therefore, if pretending to a holy order, which was but the order of Aaron, is an abomination in Korah, how can invading a holier and higher order, namely that of Melchisedek, be in Mass-priests a lesser sin: and if the sacred person of a good king must be branded with plague and dishonour for being rash with a censer; what must these men deserve, who commit infinitely worse? It were in vain to say, that these judgments happened but once, and therefore were extraordinary; for neither were the Sodomites burnt more than once; nor were all murderers punished in old times like Cain: nor all sacrilegious liars struck down dead like Sapphira: nor to come nearer this matter, do all profaners of the blessed Eucharist fall sick, or dead sometimes, as they did often in the time of the apostles. 1 Corinth. xi. 30. Nevertheless Sodomites, or other lewd persons, who are escaped for a time, are still involved in the same guilt, and may expect the same punishment. This being a point of known divinity, and attested by holy fathers, that God's way is to assert both the majesty and the holiness of his laws by exemplary punishments on the first trespassers, that whosoever shall sin after their example, may see both what he deserves, and what sooner or later he must suffer, unless God give him grace to repent. [St. Chrysost. in Psal. vi. pag. 1549. Edit. Eton. St. Theodoret in Num. Interrog. 30.] Therefore, if between former and later transgressors may be observed some difference, it shall be this, that these must look for worse than those, for three reasons; the first, because besides their common transgression, they have neglected, and as it were affronted, the judgments that should have restrained them from transgressing: the second, because they sin against the gospel, which sins are far more punishable; witness both the judge himself, "I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable, &c." Math. xi. 22, and his blessed Apostle, Heb. xii. 25, "If they escaped not, who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him, that speaketh from heaven:" The third, because this boldness against Christ is far worse than against Aaron. From hence you may take a full prospect of the Church of Rome, from the Second Lateran Council in the year 1215, (where transubstantiation was, I do not know how, canonized in the crowd) to the last times, since the Council of Trent hath absolutely completed Mass, by seating it more formally and more conspicuously than it was before, upon the back of transubstantiation. Here you may see the prodigy, which six hundred years of darkness have at last cast into the world, not behind doors and in corners, where the reprobates of Israel did keep their abominations hidden; Ezekiel, viii. 5., &c.; nor only in the frontispiece, and as it were the front of churches, where wretched Uzziah carried and shewed his leprosy; but also to the very heart, and most vital entrails of their temple, whence it diffuses and blows its poison over all the parts of what they call their Catholic religion. If churches stand, if priests officiate, if doctors preach, if bishops rule, if popes reign, if people pray; Mass is the beginning and the end, the centre, and the soul, that gives motion to all those things. The best character that priests have, tends to transubstantiate a wafer into Christ, or to bring Christ within the form of a transubstantiated wafer; and there to keep Him close to that place, where some substance of bread was before, till man or beast come to eat Him. The study and learning of doctors is employed to shew God is highly pleased, when He sees his Son so well dealt with that it is no disparagement to Him, if He falls into privy houses, or be danced about among witches, or there be sported with sometimes in that way, that no civil man or woman can so much as fancy without blushing: [See the informations before the Parliament of Normandy recorded at Rouen, and since printed, concerning a Nun by name Magdalen Bavan.] that either concomitancy, or impossibility, may cover all this infamy: and that though some heathen were abominable idolaters, when they did worship for gods mice and rats, yet Papists are good Christians, when they worship for their Saviour, what these vermin do sometimes eat: and the best devotion of poor souls, in the mean while, is to go duly to Mass, to see and to adore these mysteries, and to be persuaded withal, that no body can be saved, without believing as they do.
2. It appears, by these impieties, thus generally diffused through all the veins of Roman worship, how far that Church is a true Church. And to this purpose I advise all, whosoever will not be seduced with vain words and empty titles, to lay by what Rome hath been heretofore: and then, impartially, to look into what she is in these present times. And lest they should reject a Church for some particular abuse, (which were not better than to cut off a tree, because of some few withered leaves,) let them look into what Rome is, by what Mass is, which is no leaf or branch, but the main stem and bulk of that tree. Mass-priests love to adorn their corrupt Church, with all the commendations and honours that she deserved when she was right: the Scribes did the like with Moses's chair., and Caphas with Aaron's robes. Thus, it is no wonder if Scribes and Popes appear to silly men as great prelates under that dress. But the illusion will soon disappear by discerning both past, and present states. Desperate old sinners may have had once good birth and breeding: and, without any exception, all lewd women, have for some years been pure virgins.
3. Hence it appears, how extremely dangerous it is to live and die in the Church of Rome. Neither my commission, nor my temper, lead me so far, as to meddle with the eternal damning of men. Such fearful judgments are still; what Sinai was once, thundering and flaming, and yet dark mountains: so, though Moses had set my tails, I would by no means advance too near. Yet, without rashness this I may say, that they, who are saved in the Roman Church (which, I pray to God, they be many) are not saved with less danger, than the seven thousand were, 1 Kings, xix. 1, among the idolatry of the ten tribes: or the Korites, Numb. xxvi. 11, in the tents of Korah their father. Neither those were saved, by worshipping the calves of Dan nor these, by aspiring to Aaron's priesthood: it was an extraordinary mercy of God, who preserved these, and; I cannot tell how, rescued the other. However, the worshipping in Dan was a damning idolatry; and the sacrilegious tents of Korah, a desperate fearful abode: out of which though some escaped, as through fire, 1 Cor. iii. 15, yet it is both a great sin, and no less folly, to venture on extraordinary mercies by tempting God, and to neglect his express word, who calls us out of all peril, by separating ourselves from that congregation and abode, Num. xvi. 21.
I confess it is not every sin, whether taught, or tolerated in a Church, that can justify, much less enforce a separation from it: and, certainly, that titan is barbarously churlish, who will forsake a good ancient house, because he finds it not quite clean swept. Our Saviour shewed us a better example, when neither tables of money-changers, nor fond traditions of Pharisees, could dissuade Him from going Himself, and leading his disciples, into the temple. Christ could pass by all these abuses, when he was suffered to keep close to the holy laws of God his Father, that were still taught in Moses his chair; and to his holy sacrifices, that were still offered on Aaron's altar. But when the case was otherwise; as when the altar of God was laid aside, and that of Ahaz, put in its place, 2 Kings xvi. 10, or, when Antiochus left indeed the Lord's altar where it was, but built thereon another for the service of a strange god or, when the Roman Emperor Adrian [Dio. 69.] built a new temple upon the foundation of the old, for the worship of Jupiter; [Joseph. Antiquit. l. 12. c. 7.] then, no sincere Israelite was to be such a fond lover of the honours and privileges bestowed on Jerusalem and the old temple, as to be therewith inveigled to the worshiping of a new, god. Now the sacrifice of Mass alone heaps these three cases together, and so may frighten worse true Christians from the Roman Church, than either Ahaz, or Adrian might have frighted true Israelites from the temple. I say worse, because neither the privileges bestowed on the best days of the Roman Church, ever were considerable: nor the new services of Ahaz, Antiochus, and Adrian, ushered in upon the ancient credit of Jerusalem, more abominable. First as to Ahaz, his case; the altars of the Roman Church are far more contrary to the holiness and will of God, in order to such an attempt as the sacrificing of his Son, than were all the altars of Damascus, in order to the sacrifices and ablations of Israel. And we do read that neither Ahaz, nor Urijah ever taught any worshipper this blasphemy, that their altar had a privilege (which Roman altars often have) of making sacrifices of beasts; much less of Christ, more beneficial than God's institution makes them to be upon any other altar.
Secondly, as to the abomination of Antiochus and Adrian, it is a sad spectacle to see Mass-service so far beyond, it. I do not use hyperboles, or excess of expression in such odious matters as these. It is most true, that the everlasting sacrifice and altar of Jesus Christ is made by Roman Catholics, a foundation and countenance to worse purposes, than ever was the worst Pagan idolatry. Once, it was a great sin of Roman Pagans to worship devils in the temple and upon the altars of God, but now far greater in Roman Catholics, to abuse Christ in his own Church. It is bad enough for a son to feed at home the worst enemies of his father; but it is infinitely more barbarous for him to abuse the father himself in his own house, and at his table. And let Mass-priests say now, whether this is not exactly true; that, whereas the law thinks it an unkindness to choke and boil a lamb, with that milk that should have fed him; and, whereas, common reason cannot but judge it an unnatural piety, to abuse God, in that very temple and with those holy utensils, that were consecrated to honor him in; they do make use at every Mass, of the holy words of Scripture, and of the Almighty power of God, to bring down his dear Son as a victim on their altars. Let them say whether it be not true, that, in order to a sacrifice, they hold him there body and soul in the condition of a dead man. Then, when they have thus deprived Him of all actual use of life and strength; let them answer, whether in this sad equipage they do not give Him up sometimes to be eaten by mad men, or men they think possessed with devils. Thus, the holy table of the Lord consecrated to the praising of his holy name, and to the sacramental distributing of his mercies, is made an altar and stage for all these tragical acts against him. It is true nothing of all this can be put to real execution: but, however, it is done by them, as much as their utmost power, and earnest intention can do it: and, therefore, it is as impious and as cruel, being thus intended, as if it were really done. To complete all absurdity, and to make a cloak for it of some fig leaves; God, and his Christ, they say, are best served on earth, when they are thus served in their churches. And when, as another good excuse, they allege that Christ suffers no wrong, for being trussed up into a wafer, and there deprived of actual life and motion, because He enjoys in the mean while always his glorious being in heaven; I may as probably answer, that He enjoys no kind of glory in heaven, because He lies still under a weak and pitiful condition upon the earth: seeing, especially, that He enjoys but one glorious being in one place, which is the right hand of his Father and for this one happy and good being, he suffers twenty thousand Shameful others, in twenty thousand other places, where He must lie, as really as He doth stand anywhere else, under the disposal of a priest, or of a witch, or of a devil. The Lord Jesus be eternally praised, who hath rescued some churches from embracing such abominations for gospel, and hath not given over his whole Christian Israel to follow without reservation the worship of Jeroboam.