Romanism: or an answer to the pamphlet of a Romish Priest, entitled "The Law and the Testimony."

J. N. Darby.

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65 Your chapter on tradition is hardly worth an answer. Every one knows that tradition in scripture always means a doctrine delivered, and never has the Romish sense of it. A passage you quote shews it: "The traditions you have learned by word or by our epistle." The apostle had preached to them by word of mouth, and written an epistle to them: they were to mind all he had taught them. Next, your arguments are a mere nullity. You urge that the apostles taught by word of mouth before they wrote to the churches. Undoubtedly. Who ever doubted it? The question is, whether, since they wrote, what men have retailed for seventeen centuries can be relied upon — a question you do not so much as touch upon. You refer to Timothy's committing the truths Paul had taught him to faithful men: an excellent service, a thing which is done, be it well or ill, among different sects of Christians in their theological schools and colleges, and I doubt not was very well done by Timothy. But how does this make it authoritative teaching? No man's teaching is held, even by Rome, to be infallibly authoritative, save that Ultramontanes hold the popes to be infallible, which the Council of Constance, as we have seen, held them not to be. The question is not, whether Timothy taught or whether you do, but whether you have got what he taught besides what is written. You have no authentic truth by tradition. In the very epistle you cite we have the proof of it: "And now ye know what withholdeth," says the apostle; for when he was yet with them he had told them of these things. Now, here is an instruction given by word of mouth, which we have not got. Can you produce any authenticated church statement of what it was?

66 Tradition is very convenient to say (I leave something you can have no proof of), in which you must obey me blindly; but when we come to ask what are they, they are not to be had. The Rabbis, to whom you refer for purgatory, keep the poor Jews in blindness by the same means. The early church was frightened by the warnings of the apostle, and thought the final judgments would come after the revelation of antichrist, on the fall of the Roman empire; but this consent of the Fathers as to the millennial scheme and Christ's soon reigning at Jerusalem (for scarce could any topic be found more generally believed by them), this sure tradition belied itself; and already in Augustine's time, and after it passed off into a more general spiritualization, and the faith of the early church (which is declared positively by Justin Martyr, in his dialogue with Trypho, to be held by all the orthodox) was cast off as a fable, and the early Fathers left on these points in oblivion and forgetfulness; and the account between tradition, universal tradition, and an orthodoxy founded on tradition, having been thus far falsified by fact, had to be settled by modern orthodoxy, passing as lightly over its grave as it could. Though they misapplied it, I believe, in the substance, Papias, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Nepos, and the orthodox of those days, were right, and not Origen and Dionysius and the moderns. But I believe it, because scripture is clear upon it.

67 But you mention two things in particular, which you say are founded on tradition, and which are not in scripture — Lent and Sunday. The apostles, you say, instituted the solemn fast of Lent. If they did, certainly it is not found in Scripture. But let us see what the facts are. I need only quote Irenaeus, a godly Father of the church, who had heard Polycarp, who had heard John. There was a dispute between Victor, the bishop of Rome, and the churches of Asia, as to the celebrating of Easter. Victor would have it on Sunday, and the Asiatic churches celebrated it (as did all the old British, till the sixth or seventh century, if I remember right) on the day of the resurrection, whatever day of the week it fell upon. For the Passover was computed by moons, and was held upon the fourteenth day after the new moon, and the resurrection was three days of course after, and this did not always fall on a Sunday. The Easterns went by the days of the month, the Westerns by the days of the week. Well, Victor refused to own them as Christians at all. Irenaeus agreed, it seems, with Victor in opinion as to the day it should be kept upon. But earlier than this, some thirty or forty years before, the aged Polycarp, himself a disciple of John, came from Asia to Rome, to confer with Anicetus, bishop of Rome, about it.

Think of a disciple of John himself (and a most blessed old man he was, and a martyr too) going all wrong, and insisting on a tradition derived from John himself, contrary to the pope's tradition and his authority too! Well, Polycarp would not give in, nor Anicetus either; but they agreed, it seems, to part in peace, and each go his own way. But Victor, a more energetic and less Christian man than Anicetus, orders all the Christians in Asia to change their rules in this respect, and follow Rome, and give up their apostolic tradition. However, they would not; and then he excommunicated them all in mass, as far at least as Rome was concerned. It was thunder, however, not lightning, for they did not obey; and the bishops elsewhere continued in communion with them. This did not please all the bishops, says Eusebius, some of them writing pretty sharply to him (Victor); and Irenaeus warned him not to cut off whole churches who observed the tradition of their ancient customs. This was at the end of the second century; and then he adds (says Eusebius), not only was the controversy about the day, but about the form itself of the fast; for some think they ought to fast one day, others two, and others more, and some measure this day forty hours, day and night; and this variety of observance had not its birth first in our age, but began long before, with those who went before us … And then he adds, and thus the disagreement as to the fast commends the unanimity of the faith. — (Euseb. 5:24).

68 Now this little bit of ecclesiastical history gives occasion for one or two remarks: first, how the Roman bishop sought to satisfy his ambition, not quite two centuries after Christ; but, secondly, at the same time, not only Polycrates at Ephesus and others, but other bishops besides paid no attention to his orders, and even rebuked him sharply; thirdly, what a slippery thing tradition is! Here, as to this very Lent, which is adduced as a proof of apostolic tradition, Polycarp, who conversed with John, has one from him which he will not give up; because he who leaned on the Lord's bosom, he says, had so kept it and taught. But Victor, who professed to have Peter's and Paul's too, excommunicates whole churches, because, after Polycarp's clear tradition, they kept John's. Could not tradition secure certainty on such a trifle as this? The conflict was maintained till the fourth century, and even long after that the Asiatic way was maintained in certain churches derived from that country.

It is urged that the Holy Ghost was to teach things the apostles could not receive while Christ was alive. No doubt; but what has this to do with tradition? Further, that the Holy Ghost was still teaching. This would tend to shew that tradition was not needed; for, in that case, the church had always the same teaching as the apostles themselves, and did not want theirs by word or letter. There is a passage or two important to cite, as regards tradition and apostolic succession.

But I must give the reader a few more quotations from the Fathers as to this Lent, which is not in scripture, says the author, in which he is surely perfectly right, but is observed by tradition from the apostles. The Romans in the fourth or fifth century observed Saturday as a fast, and the Easterns and many of the Africans dined and ate as usual, and did not think of fasting. A hot Roman in St. Augustine's time attacked all the churches for not following the Roman custom. It was alleged, as the origin of the custom, that Peter, having to contend with Simon Magus, fasted along with all the Roman church on Saturday. If he did, I am sure it was a very godly and excellent thought and act for that time; hence the Romans did it every Saturday, when there was no Simon Magus at all. St. Augustine wrote a letter to a presbyter, Casnelanus, on this hot-headed Roman's book. He gives a pleasant reply enough to the Simon Magus reason, that, if he was a figure of the devil as they said, they would have that work every day of the week.

69 But in replying to this we have from him general remarks on fasts which touch our present point of tradition. He says, it was the opinion of the most, that it was a mere Roman custom in reference to Peter's conflict with Simon Magus. "But if," he continues, "it be answered, James taught this at Jerusalem, John at Ephesus, others in other places, which Peter taught at Rome, that is, that men should fast the Saturday, but that other lands had deviated from this doctrine, and that Rome had remained firm in it; and, on the contrary, it is replied, that rather certain places of the West, among which is Rome, have not kept what the apostles delivered, but that the lands of the East, whence the gospel itself began to be preached, have continued, without ever varying, in what was delivered by all the apostles along with Peter, that they should not fast on the Sabbath (Saturday), that dispute is interminable, generating strifes, not finishing questions." — (Augustine, Ep. 36). And then he says that the unity of the faith was the point, for that the glory of the church, according to the psalm, was within: "The king's daughter is all glorious within"; that the observance was only the garments, and that she was in golden fringes, clothed around with variety: so the Vulgate, circumcincta varietate, after the Seventy. — Psalm 44 (Heb. 45).

What a testimony this bright light (as the author alleges, and justly, compared with much of the Fathers) affords of the certainty of tradition, and about fasting, and about Roman tradition too! It was a source of interminable disputes, he says. In the same letter we have another statement, which I will quote, on the point: "But since we have not found, as I have above remarked, in the evangelical and apostolic letters, which properly belong to the revelation of the New Testament, that it is clearly prescribed that fasts should be observed on any certain days, and therefore, that thing also, like many others which it is difficult to enumerate, has found in the garments of the daughter of the king, that is the church, room for variety, I will tell you what the revered Ambrose answered me when I asked him about this." And then he relates how his mother was uneasy, because at Milan they did not fast the same days as at Rome; and was she to follow the custom of her city, or that of Milan where she then was? Ambrose, a light too among the Fathers, told her he could not teach her better than he practised — a good deal to say too, if he went beyond fasts; and so she was to do at Milan as they did at Milan, and to do at Rome, in such matters, as they did at Rome. So Augustine recommends in the beginning of the letter: "In those things, concerning which divine scripture has settled nothing certain (and we have seen he states that it had not settled any certain day for fasting), the customs of the people of God, or the institutions of those of old (majorum), are to be considered as a law." This is a strange way to talk, if these are apostolic traditions too. We see, however, the real source of it — following old habits which were made a law of.

70 However, we have something about Lent itself from Augustine. "The quadragesimal period of fasts, indeed, has authority (that is, scriptural) both in the old books — in the fact of Moses and Elias — and from the gospel, because the Lord fasted so many days, shewing the gospel not to depart from the law and the prophets. In the person of Moses, namely, the law, in the person of Elias the prophets are found … In what part of the year, therefore, could the observation of quadragesima be established more suitably than on the confines of, and close to, the Lord's passion?" And then he shews many wonderful mysteries in the number 40. But where is the apostolic tradition here?

But we have something more from the Fathers on quadragesima. We have seen Irenaeus telling us that some fasted one day, some two, some several, some forty hours continuously. Now, this last is the real secret of this number forty. Tertullian is a Father who lived in the end of the second century, an upright and able man; so that the famous Cyprian used to call him "the master," saying, Bring me the books of the master. This was the famous Cyprian who wrote a celebrated book about the unity of the church; though he would not yield to Rome on what both thought a vital point, namely, re-baptizing heretics. But this Cyprian tells us that the church in his day (Cyprian. de Lapsis) was corrupt to the last degree; that professing Christians were bent upon money-making, men luxurious in their habits, women painting their faces and adorning their hair, cheating going on in a shameful way, marriages with heathens taking place, bishops leaving their sees and flocks to carry on secular affairs, and making long journeys to gain money, not helping their hungry brethren, but seeking large fortunes, seizing on property by insidious frauds, and employing usury to enrich themselves. In other treatises he insists on the evil state of Christendom.

71 Such a state of things seemed to have moved Tertullian, who lived just before Cyprian, and driven him (Jerome says it was the envy the Roman clergy bore — to him) to believe in the rhapsodies of Montanus and his two prophetesses of Phrygia, who were much stricter in their lives and fastings. The pope was on the point of receiving them too (already acknowledging is the term used), when a certain Praxeas, afterwards a famous heretic, came to Rome, and put the pope off it, who then excommunicated and rejected them. Our famous Tertullian would not give them up, and said they were rejected, not because of the spirit they alleged they had, but because of the fasts they gave themselves up to. However, this led him to say something of these fasts; and from him we learn that the Catholic party had their quadragesimal fasts from this — the forty hours that Christ passed, as was alleged, in the grave; and that the scriptural authority (for none of them knew anything of apostolic tradition) they had for it was this: "When the Bridegroom shall be taken away, then shall they fast in those days"; and that as Christ was taken away till His resurrection, therefore they fasted these forty hours — a curious reason, by the bye, for doing so, when He was, according-to this theory, restored to them. But let that pass. Here we have, from the two earliest Fathers who speak of it (Irenaeus and Tertullian), the original of quadragesima, that is, forty.

But you shall have, reader, a specimen from history also. After relating what we have stated as to the observation of Easter, and that the Quartodecimans (the Asiatics who kept it the third day after the fourteenth of the moon) alleged that John had taught them; and the Romans boast that they had received their way from Peter and Paul, but that neither could bring a writing to prove it (he does not seem to have valued oral tradition much), he goes on to speak of Lent. Socrates, lib. 5, c. 22. "For these who are of the same faith, the same differ among themselves in rites. It will not therefore be out of place to add somewhat about the various rites of the churches. First, therefore, those fasts which are kept before Easter you will find differently kept among different people; for those who are at Rome fast three weeks continuously, except the sabbath and the Lord's day (it is a question whether this does not apply to Novatians). Those who are in Illyria, and throughout Achaia, and those who live in Alexandria, fast six weeks before Easter, and call that the quadragesimal fast. Others, again, follow a different custom from that. They begin their fast the seventh week before Easter, and, fasting three only of five days with intervals, call the time nothing the less quadragesimal; and I cannot but wonder why, although they differ among themselves about the numbers of days, they still call it by the same name of quadragesimal."

72 "But of this appellation each different person, according to his own invention, gives a different reason: for not only in days alone, but also in abstinence from foods, they are found to differ. For some, indeed, abstain altogether from eating what has had life; others eat fish alone of such as have had life; some, with fishes, eat also of birds, affirming that they also are formed out of water, according to Moses; some abstain from fruit of trees, and from eggs; some eat only bread; others do not use even this. Some, fasting to the ninth hour, eat without distinction of every kind of food afterwards. There are other observances, again, in different nations, and innumerable causes are alleged for them; and since no one can produce a written precept concerning this matter, it appears that the apostles left to the choice and will of every one that each one might do what is good, neither from fear nor necessity." What a certainty of apostolical tradition we have here! Sozomen gives the same accounts. Lib. 7, c. 19. Cassian, too, tells us, as others state (I have not his works), the same thing. For a long time there were only thirty-six days' fast, even when six weeks or forty-two days were kept; because they never fasted on the Lord's day, till at last either Gregory the Great or Gregory II (in the close, that is, of the sixth, or beginning of the eighth, century, for it is disputed which) added Ash-Wednesday and the three following days to make it forty. Think of an apostolic tradition, arranged seven hundred years after Christ, and grown from forty hours to forty days, and all the original reasons gone!

73 But I have yet one extract more from this same Cassian, for which I am also indebted to another. Cassian was a monk, founded monasteries and nunneries, was ordained deacon by Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, and made priest by Innocent, pope of Rome. He will give us a sounder idea, perhaps, of this apostolic tradition. "It is, therefore, indeed to be remarked that, as long as the perfection of that primitive church remained inviolable, this observance of quadragesima (Lent) did not exist at all; but when the multitude of the faithful, abandoning that apostolic devotion, daily gave themselves up to their wealth, etc., it then pleased the body of priests, that men, bound by secular cares, and almost ignorant of continence or compunction, should be recalled to holy work by canonical obligation of fasting, and compel them by the necessity of a legal tenth (thirty-six days is tenth of 360, or nearly a year )".

What a history of Lent in the way of devotion! and think of apostolic tradition! The reader will not think that I attach great value to Lent or tradition; but I have quoted these passages because Lent has been selected as a point brought forward as a matter of apostolic tradition for a thing not in scripture. We have seen now what, in this carefully selected case, such an assertion is worth, and what solid authority the Fathers are.

I am now going to quote something in favour of what the author says; for you may generally find in the Fathers both sides of anything, except the truth itself. Jerome says (he is writing to Marcella against the Montanists, who had three Lents) that one Lent in the year is observed, according to the tradition of the apostles, and says just that much in passing. Leo calls it the apostolical institution of a forty days' fast, which the apostles instituted by the direction of the Holy Ghost. But then Jerome also says (to shew what a solid thing apostolic laws founded on tradition were in those days), "But I think you should be briefly put in mind, that ecclesiastical traditions are so to be observed (especially those which are not in opposition to the faith)" (how much such a reserve shews he could have thought them apostolic!) "as they have been delivered by our ancestors. But let each province abound in its own way as of thinking, and consider the precepts of their ancestors' apostolic laws"! Epist. 52, Ed. Benedict. 71, Ed. Veron.

74 As to Leo, Pagi (a very learned and highly-esteemed Roman Catholic commentator on Baronius's Annals, and another) tells us that Leo was used to call everything an apostolic law which he found either in the practice of his own church, or decreed in the archives of his predecessors, Damasus and Siricius. (Pagi, Critic. in Baron. an. 67, note 15.) I use another's quotation in this instance also.

You have now, reader, the authorities for Lent being proved by apostolic tradition, and for the Romish assertion to that effect.

I turn to the Lord's day, the other example selected by the author; it is old battle-ground. My answer to this is easy, a lighter and a happier task. It is always distinguished in the early church from the sabbath, which invariably means Saturday. As regards the law, the change of the whole system involved the abolition of the Jewish sabbath. The Jewish sabbath was the sign of their covenant; but this was broken on their part, and gone, and buried on God's part in Christ's grave. The sabbath, which was the public sign of it, Christ passed in the grave.

No establishment of any form of relationship with God took place under Moses without the sabbath being anew introduced — a very remarkable fact; and in Ezekiel 20:12 it is said, "And I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am Jehovah that sanctify them." Hence these sabbaths could not be preserved as a Jewish sabbath, according to the commandments; because, when once Christ was crucified, God did not sanctify the Jewish people any longer. This the Lord shewed beforehand, over and over again during His ministry, in the way He acted and spoke on the sabbath days.

But, further, the sabbath was the sign of the rest of the creation; and, sin having entered into the world, and man having rejected Jesus who had come into its sorrow, there could be no rest of creation in connection with the first Adam. So "If they shall enter into my rest, though the works were finished from the foundation of the world"; grace, and power, and redemption, must be the basis of rest and blessing. Hence, when they maliciously and unreasonably accused the Lord of not keeping the sabbath, He does not pay heed to their malice, but says (in the touching revelation of a grace which, if it could not find its rest where sin and misery were, could begin to work where all was ruined), "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." We can rest neither in sin nor sorrow, but can work in grace, where both are, and find occasion for work, if not rest, in it. The sabbath of the Jew, as the rest of man in creation, whatever physical mercy it may be to him as it is, could not remain spiritually as the valid sign of a state of things which was abrogated and passed away.

75 Is there no such witness of rest, and a better rest too, which remains for God's people? Surely there is. If now our rest is not on earth, because it is polluted, it is prepared in heaven, where we shall have our place in glory by resurrection (or an equivalent change), as Christ entered there by it. Hence, not God's rest in the first creation, but the day on which Christ rose from death, which had passed on Adam, the head of the first (and which He had in grace taken on Himself), became the witness, as far as a day is, of the church's hope of rest. She does not celebrate her joys and her hopes on the day her Lord was in the grave (how could she? It was the proof of the ruin of the old, of the first, Adam), but on the day on which He rose, the day of the triumph of the Second, who is the Lord from heaven. The Jewish sabbath fell with the whole system of which it formed part.

It was not the church changing a day, which was gone before the church existed; the cross abrogated it and all it was connected with. The church could not have existed, had the sign of the covenant made with Israel remained in force as a witness that the covenant remained entire. The sabbath was the witness of man having a share in God's rest under the first covenant; but he could not. The covenant was gone, and the sign with it. The resurrection inaugurated with divine power a new ground on which man could rest — a new scene in which he was to find blessing, when the ordinances of blessing were not to be imposed as law, but revealed in grace and spiritually understood.

Have we not proofs from scripture of the institution of the Lord's day not imposed as law, which would be contrary to the very nature of Christianity, but established in grace? The plainest. First, the Lord Jesus assembled on that day His disciples, and met them: two or three assembled in His name, and He in the midst of them. Next Lord's day He did the same thing. This the Gospels give. The Acts inform us that the disciples met on this day to break bread. In the Epistles the day is remarked as that in which the faithful were to lay by for the poor saints, as God had prospered them; and in the Revelation it is expressly called "the Lord's day" — "kuriake emera," the apostle being peculiarly blessed on it.

76 Such is the scriptural warrant, not for making a law, but for recognizing the Lord's day, the first day of the week, as one of worship and blessing; and so it has ever continued. The word of God gives it according to its unfailing perfection. It does not make a law of an ordinance where grace reigns, but it marks out distinctly the character and blessing of a day given us by grace, as the Lord's day, the day on which He began all things new for our eternal blessing. The Old Testament has, in more places than one, recognized the eighth — that is, the first day after the old week was closed — as the day of special blessing. This was a pertinent figure.

Thus we have seen what tradition affords on one of the topics produced by the author, and what scripture affords on the other; that tradition is obscure, variable, and establishes nothing — can demonstrate nothing — which scripture does not prove; and that scripture is clear and simple. For Lent there is no warrant, and it is not in scripture; and, as to the Lord's day, even to the very name, we have the clearest testimony possible of its observance in scripture.

But you say that the doctrine necessary for salvation was carried down by tradition from the expulsion of Adam from the garden to the time of Moses. If I am to believe tradition, there were writings. Seth, we are told, set up two pillars, and engraved what was necessary to be known, that it might not be lost; and we are told where, which, I am ashamed to say, I forget, and cannot now search for. However, though I judge it certain that the use of letters was far more ancient than is supposed, and that there was in those ancient times a mass of knowledge now lose, of which we have traces in heathen mythology and heathen notions (just shewing how insecure a means it is), and that God has given us just what is needed of it in the scriptures; yet I do not believe in Seth's pillars. At any rate nobody ever read what was on them. But your reference in the case is most untoward; because this tradition was so powerless, that the whole world departed from God, so that He had to bring in the flood to destroy men from off the face of the earth. And after the flood all was so wholly lost, that even Abraham's family were fallen into idolatry (Josh. 24:2), and God had to begin afresh by a new revelation of Himself to him. There were traces of truth which remained, as sacrifices; but the devil had got such complete hold of them that they offered them to him, not to God. Such was the effect of tradition in the case you quote. Your saying that the reference of sacrifice to a Redeemer to come was known to the Jews by tradition is monstrous. Their prophets are as clear on it as possible.

77 In fine, I do not certainly contest that Christ established a church on the earth; no doubt He did. As to her being known by the four marks, we have examined them. Unity is gone; and universality is gone with it, as you admit you only claim a majority, which upsets both; apostolicity breaks down, for the Greeks have it more than you (for they have not a double and treble line of popes for a long while, as Rome has had). As to sanctity, we will speak of it hereafter. And, moreover, the marks are not marks at all; for the church was as true when there had been no succession, no catholicity — that is in the days of the apostles — as any can be now. If these marks are a test, the church wanted them when it was truest and purest.

We are next told of the Fathers and of the unity of the church. Of the latter I have spoken already. It is natural that, when men are in possession of a wide field of power, they should not wish it to be broken up. We have already seen that the true church, the body of Christ, united livingly to Him by the power of the Holy Ghost, is, and must be, as seen of God, always one; and that it will shine forth as one in glory. And we have seen that what is called the church-Christendom — is divided; and that the boast of the Romish body of being one within itself proves nothing as to the unity of the whole church; while the truth is that nothing can be more evident than this, that it is not the true church at all but the most corrupt of any body that pretends to the name; its marks fallacious; while, as to truth and holiness and spiritual union with a heavenly Head, she avoids the test of truth, belies in practice the test of holiness, as every honest conscience knows and as I shall shew hereafter, and has another head of unity on earth in place of Christ.

78 I will now, therefore, speak a little of the Fathers whom you adduce as witnesses. Only remark, that the Fathers cannot tell us whether the visible church is one now (the only really important point), for the plainest of all reasons, that they lived centuries ago. If they only tell us that it began in unity, we do not want them for that, because the scriptures are plain enough upon it, historically and doctrinally. Only that unity they shew to us was composed of real saints quickened of God, though false brethren were already creeping in unawares, as we learn from Jude, and the mystery of iniquity already at work, as Paul teaches us. They shew divisions always ready to break out, restrained by God's grace and apostolic care; they shew that there ought to be unity, but a unity which is called the unity of the Spirit; the power of God by the Holy Ghost, keeping the true members of Christ bound together in one body — not a vast body of persons, three-quarters of them infidels, and few of the rest doing more than going through a routine of forms. The scriptures shew us such a unity as God can create and own. The Fathers may echo it as a duty, but cannot tell us what is now.

But we will spend a word on them. The name sounds well and seems to claim respect. Some of them were godly men, a very few martyrs for the Lord's name, a few more confessors in persecution — a real crown of glory for a Christian; but as to doctrine, they (and in particular some of those who suffered) are the loosest, wildest, most absurd, writers that ever wrote a book, to make sober men wonder how any one could possibly read such a mass of nonsense, bad morals, and heresy. If books containing such doctrine as is found for the most part in the Fathers, notions with such an absence of common sense, and such morals, were written now, every honest Christian in the country would forbid them to his children, or they would lie a lumber, so as to render such a prohibition unnecessary; while, as for the doctrine of some of them, Christians would be apt to burn the books, and Romanists the writers. This will scandalize some people, perhaps; but as people are talking so much about the Fathers, it is better the truth should be told. I admit piety is found in some, and, on some points, doctrinal truth in part of others; but there is not a child's religious book in these days which would not contain more and sounder truth than a whole folio of the "Fathers."

79 All the early Fathers held the millennial reign of Christ, which is now rejected by Romanists, to shew how much their authority weighs where it does not suit. Most of the Antenicene Fathers were unsound as to the Person of Christ, and corrupted by Platonism.

You may think that this is mere Protestant abuse of authorities which are against us; but we have already seen that you are not much acquainted with them, and I shall produce the highest Romanist authority for what I say. The very learned Petau, a Jesuit, a man whose theological works are of standard reputation in the Romish body, after speaking of heretics, says, "Others were indeed Christians, and Catholics, and saints; but as the times then were, that mystery (of the divinity of Christ) being not yet sufficiently clearly known, they threw out some things dangerously said" — (Pet. de Trin., lib. 1, c. 3, s. 1.) Poor Jerome, at a loss to maintain their orthodoxy, says, "It may have been that they have erred through simplicity (simpliciter), or have written in another sense, or that by unskilled editors (copyists) their writings have been by degrees corrupted, or at least, before Arius, as a mid-day demon, was born, they have said things innocently and less cautiously, and which cannot escape the calumny of perverse men" — (Hierom. Cont. Ruffinum, lib. 2, 17, Ver.)

Now I have no objection to take the excuses of Jerome; but if, in such a fundamental point as the divinity of the Lord Jesus, such excuses have to be made for them, what can be said of their authority? This is said by Jerome, when the famous Clement of Alexandria, presbyter, and Dionysius, patriarch of Alexandria, were stated by another Father, the first to have said that the Son of God was a created being, and the latter to have fallen into Arianism, as he surely did when writing against the Sabellians; and, when it was objected against him, said he did not mean it. Jerome will not allow that their writings were corrupted by heretics. The title of this chapter of Petavius is this: "The opinions of certain of the ancients on the Trinity, who flourished in the Christian profession before the times of Arius, discordant from the Catholic rule, at least in the manner of speaking, are set forth; as of Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Tatian, Theophilus, Irenaeus, Clemens Romanus." Think of all these eminent Fathers, if we except perhaps Tatian, holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith on the subject of the divinity of Christ, or at least expressing themselves so! What a comfortable security for right interpretation! I do not pretend that Petavius is warranted in all he says;* but if so very learned a Jesuit judges the Antenicene Fathers thus, even if some of them may be speciously defended (as the Protestant bishop Bull, and the Jesuit Zacharia, and Horsley, and Burton, have attempted to do), while some certainly cannot, what possible reliance can be placed on them? And remember, that it is on the capital point of the divinity of Christ.

{*Clement calls Christ "the sceptre of the majesty of God"; and he quotes the Old Testament as calling Him "the Holy of Holies." He says, on the other hand, that God had chosen the Lord Jesus Christ; and this is all on the subject. Petavius, I apprehend, had it only secondhand, and refers to both epistles, one not being authentic; but they are now published.}

80 Let us now give a few details. Justin Martyr, and, it seems, Athenagoras (and it was a common notion) held that Christ existed in the Father as His word or reason, and became a distinct person only for the purpose of creation. Justin denies the possibility of the supreme omnipotent God coming, going, acting, descending, or shutting Himself up in a narrow body, as described in Genesis; and that Abraham, Isaac, etc., never saw the Father, and Ineffable, and of Himself Lord of all things aplos, and therefore of Christ Himself, who is God by His will, His son and messenger, because He is the minister of His will. — (Dial. c. Tryph. 282, 286.) This is Arianism; yet, in other places, he speaks of Him clearly as God. Clement of Alexandria uses language which makes his doctrine as to the Godhead of Christ uncertain. He says that He had a nature nearest or very near (parechestate) to the Father; and, as to the humanity of Christ, he writes what is utterly heterodox, denying that Christ could possibly be nourished by food, and saying that He only ate that people might not think He only appeared to have a body.

As to Origen, he was as heretical as he well could be. He unequivocally declares the Son to be inferior to the Father, and the Spirit to the Son; and held that all men had lived before they were born, and were born here according to their previous merits, could recover themselves here, and be saved, as could the devil, and, as it seems, when in a heavenly state fall, for all that, afterwards: in a word, every wild notion that might grace a Mormon.

81 Tertullian received Montanus and the Phrygian prophetesses as having or being the Paraclete, and treated the Catholics as carnal. The term by which Arius was finally condemned, and which had been condemned as heretical by the previous Council of Antioch, was withdrawn after the Council of Nice, and Arius was thereupon received into, and died in the communion of, what is called the Catholic church, this famous word being revoked; and Athanasius died in banishment, deposed from his see by the Council of Tyre. Now, I am satisfied that Arius's views are the most deadly error possible. But what, then, can I think of the Fathers, if compelled to think of them?

Hermas, who is presented as an apostolic Father, tells us, in his Similitudes, that the Son (seen in his vision) was the Holy Ghost; and that God took counsel with the angels what to do with Him; and He made a pure body, and put Him into it, and that was the Christ. Yet this book, we are assured, was read in the churches.

And now for one or two further details. Ignatius, you tell us, was bishop of Antioch after Peter had fixed his chair at Rome. You are aware that it is contested that Peter was at Rome. It seems, indeed, almost impossible. However the succession of the bishopric of Antioch is nearly in the same obscurity as that of Rome, probably because they had not at the beginning such bishops as afterwards. Euodias is alleged to be the first at Antioch: some say Peter put him into it, others Paul. The most authentic histories declare he became bishop of it after the death of both. Some, to clear up matters, say that Ignatius had the Gentiles, and Euodias the Jews, and then Ignatius both. If this were the case, it is possible this may have created difficulties in his own path, and this is that which makes him speak so feelingly of adhering to the bishop, for such is his principal subject. His exhortations to unity and avoiding heresy are all very well, though there is evidently an excessive excitement produced by the thought of a man just going to martyrdom, and very full of it, and (I must say) not very full of Christ. Blessed as his end may have been, Polycarp and the Vienne martyrs shine, it seems to me, much more brightly. There is more peace, more calmness, more humility. Still it was given to Ignatius to honour his Lord by giving up his life for Him, and every true Christian will honour him.

82 I have already remarked that you have taken Clement of Alexandria for Clement of Rome, and I have said what is needed on the former, who was the head of the school at Alexandria, and not a bishop at all. He avows that he must conceal all the highest parts of Christianity as known to the initiated, and only say what suits the public. He was more a philosopher than anything else. Tertullian, as I have said, was forced out of what is called the Catholic church by its worldliness and evil, and, after having written to prove it right by prescription, left it as a hopeless case. Cyprian in the main was a bright specimen of the Fathers, and a martyr; but he resisted Rome energetically, and never yielded, maintaining a correspondence with a famous bishop of Asia Minor, Firmilian, to resist its principles. Even he speaks of the Father commanding us to worship Christ, just as Socinus did. As to what is quoted from Hilary, one of the best of the Fathers, I cordially agree with his very scriptural statement. Whether Rome be that church is another question. No such unity as he speaks of exists now at all. St. Augustine too was a bright light for the times — I have nothing to object to what is quoted from him. That modern Rome is the church is our question. The church redeemed by Christ's blood He purifies by the word, and presents to Himself a glorious church. All its members are members of Christ, and will be in glory; but this no Romanist ever pretends to be the case with Rome.

As regards what I have stated as to the Antenicene Fathers being obscure as to fundamentals, I do not deny that passages may be found shewing that they held Christ to be God — there are many. But it is not denied that there are many which deny that He was the God over all, o epi panton Theos, that being ascribed to the one supreme God. It cannot be denied that Justin Martyr, for example, teaches, in reasoning with Trypho as to the Being who visited Abraham, that it could not be the supreme God, who is the Lord of the Lord on earth (that is, of Christ in these appearances to the old Fathers) as being Father and God, and is the cause of His being both powerful and Lord and God (I use the translation of a learned and orthodox theologian). The passage is to be found in Dial. c. Tryph. 388 E. Justin declares (Dial. c. T. 283 A.), that it was not the supreme God who appeared to Moses in the bush. Trypho had said there was an angel and God there. Justin answers, that even so it was not God the Creator of all things. On the other hand, he declares, pages 227-8, that there neither is, nor ever was, any other God than He who created all things, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who led the Jews out of Egypt. He held (and it is not denied to have been the general doctrine of the Antenicene Fathers) that the wisdom of God, which dwelt in Him always, came out, as it were, into distinct existence, in order to the creation by the will of the supreme God. They owned Him to be God, but His eternal existence was endiathetos and not prophorikos. There was more than one source of this. First, they had only the Septuagint Greek translation, which in Proverbs 8 reads, "The Lord created me in the beginning of his ways," ektise (not possessed me, ektesato). Secondly, Platonism, to which indeed Justin refers, and the efforts to meet the accusations of the heathens as to God the Son, to which the Platonic doctrine of the logos afforded a reply.

83 Now I do not desire to accuse these Fathers of heresy, save Origen. But I am forced to read a mass of barbarous folio volumes to know what they do hold, and there I find Platonism in abundance. There I find it denied, over and over again, that Christ is God over all. There I find Him spoken of as having personal existence only just before the creation, and existing by the will of the supreme God as His minister or servant. I find indeed, when they are not philosophising or meeting difficulties, that their own faith was for the most part more orthodox. But if I want to make orthodox theology out of them, I am obliged to read another set of volumes, in which Romanists deny and affirm their orthodoxy, as in Zacharia's edition of Petavius' Dogm. Theol.; and Protestants labour honestly, as Bull, and Burton, and Horsley, and Kaye, to prove they are all right and orthodox against Romanists and Unitarians; declaring that these learned Romanists undermine the orthodoxy of the Fathers, that there may be no resource but the church, and proving very clearly that the Unitarians are utterly unfounded in what they have said. But what security does this afford for the truth? — what reliance can be placed on the Fathers?

If I turn to scripture, nothing can be plainer. I may try to reason against it; but there I find, without any discussion or philosophy at all, that Christ is "God over all blessed for evermore"; that He and the Father are one; that He "was in the beginning with God, and was God." I find that when Isaiah (chap. 6) saw the glory of Jehovah of hosts, he saw the glory of Christ. In 1 John 5 I find that He is the true God and eternal life. I find that He created all things; Heb. 1; Col. 1; John 1. In a word, I find the proper eternal divinity of the Lord Jesus, and His distinct personality, taught as plainly as any truth possibly can be. John the baptist goes before Jehovah's face, but it is before Christ. God with us, who saves the people, is Christ, the God-man (an expression, by the bye, condemned as heretical by an early council — men were to say God and man) revealed as plainly as testimony can make it; yet the unity of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) shining through every page, from Genesis to Revelation. I am not, of course, bringing all the proofs of the Trinity in unity here (it would be out of place?; I quote only a few passages to shew the positiveness and clearness of scripture, which gives these great foundations without a cloud and without hesitation.

84 The author quotes the Fathers on the sanctity of the church. I have not need to say much here. The Fathers cannot tell us what the Romish body is now. No one denies in the abstract that holiness is a characteristic of the true church of God. But the manner in which this truth is treated is singularly characteristic. The Fathers shew "the sanctity of the Catholic church in her origin, in her first preachers, in her doctrine, and in her sacraments." Now is it not singular that her practice is left out here? I should have thought that the first thing holiness would have to be sought in was practice. That the church's origin is holy is certain, for it is God Himself; and, as to power, the Holy Ghost glorifying Christ in the gospel. That her first preachers were is no less sure, for they were apostles, and prophets, and saintly evangelists; that her doctrine was is doubtless true, for we have it in the scriptures from God Himself, and are assured that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord"; that her sacraments, as moderns call them, were, no Christian will dispute either, if the term be rightly used. But then this only leads us to inquire, since this was so in the beginning, whether the doctrine and practice of Rome be like this; and if it be not, then we must conclude that she is not the true church, nor even like it.

But this question of practice our author avoids; it is too practical a one. Only, after a quotation from Tertullian on apostolic succession as a security for doctrine, which has nothing to say to holiness (Tertullian, who broke with the Catholic church, so called, because of its looseness), we just find "holy" in the virtuous lives of her children who observe her precepts. That reserve saves a good deal. We are told too, that the Fathers say there cannot be sanctity out of the Catholic church; but would it not be better to shew that there was in what called itself so? Now I have already given a quotation from Cyprian (and others could be added) which shews that, in some two hundred years after Christ, the self-called Catholic church was sunk into the lowest excesses of vanity, corruption, fraud, and avarice, bishops and all; so that God, he says, treated them most gently in sending the Decian persecution. Indeed the choice of bishops was more than once the occasion of bloodshed and war; yet Cyprian was a great stickler for unity.

85 On the catholicity of the church I have already spoken. That the Fathers used the testimony of the church universal against heretics is quite true; nor, though not a final authority, are they to be much blamed, when it was universal. But we have seen they were not preserved by it themselves, nor was the church; and the question still remains, Is the Romish system in the truth? The Fathers, with their usual inconsistency, when not pressed by the heretics, equally declared that the scriptures alone were authority. They argued, and argued as it suited them. Thus Cyprian, against those who deserted what he belonged to, preached unity as obligatory. But this same Cyprian was exceedingly opposed to the pope and Romans on the re-baptizing of heretics, and wrote against the pope, and never would yield to him. Stephen, the said pope, urged "Let nothing be innovated on what has been handed down" (traditum). Hereupon our good Father changes all his language. "Whence," he cries out, "is that tradition? Does it descend from the authority of the Lord* and the Gospels (Evangelica), and come from the commandments and Epistles of the apostles? For God bears witness that these things are to be done which are written, and speaks to Joshua, the son of Nun, saying, 'The book of this law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate in it day and night, that thou mayest observe to do all things that are written therein.' If, therefore, it is commanded in the Gospels, or contained in the Epistles of the apostles, or the Acts, that those coming from whatever heresy should not be baptized, but only hands imposed on him in penance, let this divine and holy tradition be observed. … What obstinacy is that! [in the pope, remember.] What presumption to prefer human tradition to a divine disposition, and not take notice that God is indignant and angry, as often as human tradition sets aside, and passes by, divine precepts, as He cries out and says by Esaias the prophet, 'This people honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.' Also the Lord, in the Gospel, reproving and blaming, lays it down, and says, 'Ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may establish your tradition,' mindful of which precept the blessed apostle Paul himself also warns and instructs, saying, 'If any one teach otherwise, and do not acquiesce in the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and His doctrine, he is puffed up with pride, knowing nothing: from such turn away.'" — (Ep. 74, ed. Oxon.) Here every tradition is to be judged by scripture. O si sic omnia! and this is a pope!

{* De Dominica et Evangelice autoritate, which I have translated Gospels, because we have apostles and their epistles in the next phrase.}

86 The truth is, the Fathers were men, and reasoned as it suited them. The scriptures are the word of God, and speak plainly. "He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." But the letter of our good prelate affords us some further and excellent advice — "It is simple with religious and simple minds, both to lay aside error, and find and dig out the truth. For if we revert to the head and origin of divine tradition, human error ceases [we must remember that tradition means any doctrine delivered by word or writing]; and the principle (ratione) of the celestial sacraments being considered, whatever lay hid in obscurity and a cloud of darkness, it will be brought out into the light of truth. If a canal, which conducts water that before flowed copiously and abundantly, suddenly fails, do not men go to the fountain, that there the reason of the failure may be known — whether, the veins being dried up, the water has dried up at the source? or whether, being perfect there and full, running forward, failed mid-way? that if it be caused by the fault of an interrupted or leaky canal, which hinders the water from flowing constantly and without interruption, the canal being re-made and strengthened, the water collected for the use and drinking of the city may be re-presented with the same richness and purity as it flows from the fountain, which now is what the priests of God, keeping the divine precepts, have to do. And if in any one (or any thing) the truths have tottered or vacillated, let us return to the original of the Lord, and the gospel (originem Dominicam et Evangelicam), and the apostolic teaching (traditionem), and let the principle of our acting spring from that whence its order and origin has sprung." Here, remark, tradition does not mean what is now received; for the truth was tottering and lost, and he insists on going back from that to what was originally delivered.

87 Now we have gone up to the fountain, as Cyprian recommends, and we have found a rich and inexhaustible fountain of pure water of life in the very same source which he urged men to go to. We have found that the canal has been choked with filth; so that, though a little water has oozed through, the result has been mud, undrinkable and contaminated — that the little that trickled through the filth, which has gradually filled up the channel, is utterly tainted; but when the grace of God had led us to the fountain, we have found the water as pure, as fresh, as abundant as ever, and only the more delicious from having found it again. We have found the truth easily discovered and dug out, as Cyprian has said, once arrived at the treasures of the scriptures which God gave. I have already quoted from Irenaeus a passage, where he states that, if we cannot find the solution of all that is in scripture, we are not to look for another God, but leave these things to God, because the scriptures are perfect as spoken by the word of God and His Spirit.

You quote the famous saying of Augustine — that he would not believe the gospel, if the church did not move him to do so. He speaks rather of what led him to do it than as authority. Still it is a very serious statement to find uttered. We will examine it; but you must forgive me for increased hesitation as to your having looked at the original. I am not aware what 2 T. Ep. 53 means exactly; but this passage is in a treatise against a letter of a Manichean, which was called Fundamenti. The old and new editions of epistles have neither of them, in number 53, anything to do with it. However, it may appear as an Ep. in some edition I do not know of. But I have another reason for my hesitation. One would think, from your extract, that it was a continuous passage. This is in nowise the case. You read — "Lastly, the name itself of Catholic. These so many and so great ties bind the believing man to the Catholic church; and unless the authority of the church induced me to it, I would not believe the gospel." Between "Catholic" and "these" there is nearly as much as you have quoted; but that is no matter, for it does not change the sense. But when you say, "These so many and so great ties," I can hardly suppose you translate for yourself. It runs — "These so many and so great (tanta), most dear or cherished, ties of the Christian name bind."

88 Now, the sentiment is left out in what you say. His affections were in play, and this he expressly speaks of in what follows in contrast with the certainty of truth; and the last and famous phrase is in quite another connection — nearly half a page of my copy farther on, and in another section. Nor have you ever finished the phrase which you end with "Catholic church." This I will do for you. You see you cannot be surprised if I believe you did not read the passage which you quote; for certainly your manner of quoting it would lead your reader to suppose it was one continuous paragraph. St. Augustine writes — "Lib. Cont. Epist. Manichaei quam vocant Fundamenti, sec. iv" (v. in another edition) — "These, therefore, so many and so great most dear* ties of the Christian name keep the believing man in the Catholic church, though, on account of the slowness of our intelligence or the merit of our life, the truth does not yet clearly (or openly) shew itself." That is, his affections — perhaps I might say superstitions — linked him to the church, though he did not see the truth clear. What a different thing from being a security for the truth! And so little was it intelligence of the truth that he is speaking of, that he begins his reasoning by saying, that simplicity of faith keeps the crowd safe, not vivacity of intelligence; and therefore, if he leaves aside the wisdom which Manicheans did not believe to be in the Catholic church, many other things would hold him quietly in its bosom. This shews what the dear ties were, and how little it had to do with the certainty of truth.

{*One or two manuscripts read "clarissima," instead of "charissima," but the Benedictine editors do not receive it.}

But this is clearer still, if we cite all that follows the words, "the believing man to the Catholic church." I finished that phrase for you just now; I will now add what comes after the close of it — "But with you" [Manicheans, who were not Christians at all, held there was a good God and a bad one; they had a gospel of their own, Manes having, as was pretended, perfected with far clearer light what Christ had taught, and rejecting much of the scriptures] "but with you, where there is nothing of these things (the most dear ties) which should invite or hold me, the promise of the truth alone resounds; which indeed, if it be so manifestly shewn that nothing can come into doubt, is to be preferred to all those things by which I am held in the Catholic [church]. But if it is only promised, and not exhibited, no man shall move me from that faith which binds me, by so many and such bonds, to the Christian religion."

89 Now here the bonds which did hold him were of no force if the truth was elsewhere, so that he does not look at them as themselves the truth. But, further, however confident he was that it was not the case, yet, if the truth were clearly shewn elsewhere, they lost their power, so that they did not in themselves secure the truth. Is it not singular all this part should be left out? But he proceeds to reason with the Manichean, to see if he has the truth. It is a mere argumentation to put the Manichean out of the field by beating his argument; and here it is we find the famous phrase you and others quote. This piece, called Fundamenti, began — "Manichaeus, apostle of Jesus Christ by the providence of God the Father. These are healthful words from the perennial and living fountain." "Bear with me," says Augustine, "if I do not believe he is an apostle. I ask, who is he? You will answer, an apostle of Christ. I do not believe it. You will have nothing you can say or do. You promised me the knowledge of the truth, and now you compel me to believe what I am ignorant of. Perhaps you will read me the gospel, and thence you will maintain the character assumed by Manichaeus. If, then, you will find any one who does not yet believe the gospel, what will you do with him when he says, 'I do not believe'? But I would not believe the gospel if the authority of the Catholic church did not move me to it. To those, therefore, to whom I have yielded, saying, 'Believe the gospel,' why should I not yield when they say, 'Do not believe Manicheans'? Take your choice. If you say, believe the Catholics, they themselves warn me not to yield any faith to you; wherefore I cannot believe them unless I disbelieve you. If you say, do not believe the Catholics, you will not do right in compelling me by the gospel to [embrace] the faith of Manichaeus, because I believe the gospel by Catholics preaching it."

90 We see at once here, that to put the Manicheans out of court, he insists, that when he attempted to use the gospel to make him receive Manichaeus (Manes) and his doctrine, it could not take effect, because he had believed in the gospel by means of the very Catholics who condemned Manichaeus. Now it is a very foolish and bad sentence; but is merely a reasoning used in an argument ad hominem to frustrate the Manichean by taking the ground from under his feet; and it supposes a person refusing to believe the very gospel he appealed to, and then insisting he could not use the gospel against Catholics, because it was through Catholics he had believed. It is no business of mine to defend Augustine, though he were a bright testimony to the grace of God. His reasonings are often weak and foolish enough, and admitted to be so by Romanists, and I may almost say by himself, for he excuses himself as writing in haste, and admits that, not having been able to meet Manes in the plain sense of scripture, he had turned it into allegories. But the close of the chapter shews clearly what he meant. He had been led to believe the gospel by the preaching of Catholics, and, thus led to it by them, he could not read it as condemning them — an argument which has no force. It is in no way a quiet dogmatic sentence as it is presented. It is to be hoped that he did not mean that when, through the instrumentality of the preaching of the Catholics, he had been brought to believe in it as the word of God, he still held it merely by their authority; because if he really believed it to be God's word, and that he had really faith in it as such, however brought to that conviction, he must believe it, because God had spoken it: otherwise there was no divine faith.

He who received Christ's testimony set to his seal that God is true. Anybody may move me and lead me to receive the Bible; but when I receive it, I have faith in it because God has spoken: otherwise it is mere human faith. It cannot be doubted — for we have his account of it — that the word of God had reached his heart with deep conviction within. It had its own title in his heart. Did he rest this on the church's authority? I hen it was human faith. A man may bring me my father's letter; I recognize it as his. Its authority is not the bringer's, but the writer's, though the fidelity of the messenger may have been necessary for my getting it. Once received, it has my father's authority — the authority of him who wrote it. There is no pretence that "commoveret," the word Augustine uses, can mean the authority. It proves that the church had a practical influence over his mind, which led him to do it; all very well. It was Catholics' preaching which had led him to faith; he was converted from heathen wickedness and Manicheanism; but it was not their previous authority on which the scriptures rested, but an authority over his mind.

91 But I take higher ground than shewing it was a mere argumentative phrase to excuse Augustine. If the principle be the sober judgment of Augustine, that he would not believe unless on the authority of the church, this is not believing because God has spoken, but because the church had. If one tells me something, and another accredits him, and I believe the first because the other declares what he says is true, it is clear I do not believe the former, though I believe the fact he relates; for I do so because I trust another, not him. That is, if I believe the gospel because the church authenticates it, it is because I do not believe it without: that is, God's saying it is insufficient. I do not believe God in it at all. There is no faith in God's word.

But see what ground the Romanists set me on here, for this is the real truth of the matter. God has spoken; the apostles and evangelists have recorded His revelation: if they deny it, they are infidels, not Christians. I am to believe God, because the church accredits what He has revealed. I am to believe the church because Augustine accredits it; that is, the authority of God Himself (who, in sovereign grace, has spoken to us) is reduced to the opinion I may form of the judgment of Augustine. What a favourable position! as if God, when He has spoken, cannot give proof that He has, so as to bind the Christian's, nay, every man's conscience! Now I have a very poor opinion of the judgment of Augustine, and I shall tell you why; but what a foundation on which to rest belief-in what God has said! I must have Augustine's authority for its being true; for if the church accredits the scripture and Augustine accredits the church, the judgment and authority of Augustine is my stay, and the base of the whole. I say, if God has spoken, His word obliges to believe because He has spoken: woe be to him who does not! You plead Augustine's word, that though he has spoken (for you dare not deny this, or you are an infidel) — though God has spoken, you would not believe Him unless the church guaranteed it. Is this faith? God speaks; I cannot believe what He says till some one else accredits it! It is as awful ground to go on as it is unstable and insecure; and this is all the ground that the Romish body can give as security of our faith!

92 The truth is, Augustine was first attracted by Ambrose's preaching, by his kindness and eloquence, and began to doubt his own Manicheanism; but he was converted by the scriptures, and established in the faith by the scriptures. "Therefore," he says, "as we were infirm in finding the truth by mere reason, and the authority of the holy letters was needful for us, I began now to believe that thou wouldst in nowise have given so excellent an authority to the scriptures in all lands, unless thou hadst written that by it I should believe in thee, and by it I should seek thee." This accordingly he did, passing through much conflict; and at last abandoning himself to tears under a fig-tree, he heard a voice saying, "Take and read, take and read"; and he arose, took up the Epistles to look at the first thing he opened at, and found a passage which was his deliverance. Such is his own account in his Confessions when he is relating the facts, not reasoning with Manicheans. He was not very nice in reasoning with these. He wrote a book against them early in his career; and when he could not make any proper sense out of the scriptures literally, or none could be made (so he says), he turned it into an allegory to get out of the scrape, hoping he might do better afterwards; and so, indeed, he tried to do in a treatise on Genesis according to the letter.

As to St. Vincent of Lerins (not Sernis), there is a sentence of his almost as famous as St. Augustine's. It is this, that we were to believe quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus, what was believed always, everywhere, and by all. May I guess that you did not quote this famous rule, because you have only, as you allege, a majority — really just half; the Greek church, older than you, thinking you all wrong, and the Protestants thinking you Babylon? If man's opinion and agreement is to be the ground of faith, according to Vincentius Lirinensis, we can have none at all in these days. But the passage you do quote is an unfortunate one, because it was just the very order of Pope Stephanus, which the holy martyr, and the African church, and Firmilian, and Asia Minor, and the East, resisted as subverting the church, and condemned by scripture, in a letter of which I have given an extract.

93 Allow me also to quote a passage of St. Jerome: "Hear another testimony, by which it is most manifestly proved that a presbyter is the same as a bishop" (Titus 1:5, seqq.); and then he quotes other passages. "But that afterwards we should be shewn who should have the pre-eminence over the rest, it was done as a remedy for schism, lest every one drawing [people] to himself should break up the church of Christ; for at Alexandria also, from Mark the Evangelist to bishops Heraclus and Dionysius, the presbyters always named as bishop one chosen from among themselves, and placed in a higher grade." … "Nor is the church of the Roman city to be esteemed one, and that of all the earth another. Both the Gauls, and Britains, and Africa, and Persia, and the East, and India, and all barbarous nations, adore one Christ, observe one rule of truth. If authority be sought, the world is greater than a city. Wherever there is a bishop, Rome, or Eugubium, or Constantinople, or Rhegium, or Alexandria, or Tanis, he is of the same worth, he is of the same priesthood. The power of riches and the humility of poverty make neither a higher nor an inferior bishop; but all are successors of the apostles." Am I attaching any authority to Jerome? The learned but irascible and superstitious monk is one of the last to whom I should; but it is just a proof that these Fathers said what suited them at the moment of writing, as other poor mortals do sometimes — indeed rather more, so that there was a name for their way of reasoning. It was called economical; that is, they used reasoning proper to confute their adversary, without the least believing it was the truth themselves (like Augustine's allegories).

But we are arrived at the sacraments.

As to baptism, except Quakers, all own it as a Christian ordinance, so that the scriptures you quote for that are freely accepted. Moreover every true or even orthodox Christian admits we are all born in sin: only I do not admit the application of John 3 to baptism. There is an allusion to what you have quoted from Ezekiel, which has nothing to do with baptism; but from the very words you quote (and reading the whole passage makes it still plainer), it refers to the restoration of the Jews; and the figure of baptism refers to the reality; just as John 3 does also, where the Lord is telling Nicodemus that he must not marvel because He said to him that they, Jews, who thought themselves already children of the kingdom, must be born again. It was a sovereign operation of God, going like the wind, and hence could embrace Gentiles; but he, as a master in Israel, ought, from his own prophets, to have known that such new birth was needed for Israel, as the passage from Ezekiel, for example, shews. The Lord tells us that the water which really cleanses is the word: "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" (John 12:48; ch. 15:3); and Paul, "that he might sanctify and cleanse it [the church] by the washing of water by the word," Eph. 5. Baptism refers to this true cleansing, and so does John 3.

94 As to confirmation, you have produced scriptures which shew that the apostles, and apostles alone, conferred the Holy Ghost by laying on their hands; as to "the bishop, the successor of the apostles in the ministry," complete and absolute silence. In the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, in which, according to your system, we might have expected it, not a word is to be found. The laying on of the apostles' hands conferred it, and that it might be clear that Paul was as great an apostle as the rest (Acts 19), a case is recorded in which he also did so. You have quoted some other passages which prove anything but this. "He who hath confirmed or established us with you in Christ" — was Paul confirmed along with them? This is too ridiculous. He, at least, says he never went near the other apostles to be confirmed, nor ever received anything from them. When, therefore, he says, "confirmeth us with you in Christ," it is pre-eminently clear he was speaking of nothing of the kind. Besides, bebaion is not the rite of confirmation. And further, it is God here, not an apostle or a bishop, who has done it.

As to anointing, we read, "Ye have the unction of the Holy one, and ye know all things." Again, why not finish Ephesians 1, "in whom also … ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise which is the earnest of our inheritance, till the redemption of the purchased possession"? Is confirmation the earnest of the inheritance? But if you say that it is the thing itself which is, and that confirmation is the sacrament by which it is received, then the text speaks of the thing (as it surely does), and not of any sacrament at all. That is, it has nothing to do with the matter. Now that sealing and anointing are the reality of the thing, and not any rite, we have the certainty, because the word of God says, that "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power," Acts 10:38. And again, speaking of Him, "Him hath God the Father sealed," John 6:27. No one will have the folly to say it could mean a sacrament as to Christ.

95 The history of confirmation is clear enough; we hear of it first early in the third century, yet not separate from baptism, but conferred at the same time and with nothing to say to a bishop. In the next, however, it was soon left to the bishop to do. This separation of it from baptism, and leaving it to the bishop, was not established in the East nearly so soon. It continued an act of the baptizing minister, and is treated even by Jerome as that part of baptism by which the Holy Ghost is received, only left to the bishop in order to maintain his dignity. I give some quotations which shew this.

First, there is Tertullian (De Baptismo, 7, 8). Having spoken of the water, he says, "Next going out of the laver we are anointed with the blessed unction, according to the former discipline (that is, the Jewish), with which they were accustomed to anoint with oil out of a horn for the priesthood, with which Aaron was anointed by Moses, whence Christ has His name from chrism, which means anointing … Then the hand is imposed, calling and inviting the Holy Ghost, in the way of blessing." We see it is distinctly given as a part of baptism, without thinking of a bishop, and that the laying on of the apostles' hands as its source never entered his mind.

In a commentary, commonly attributed to Ambrose, in 4 Ep. ad Eph. (given in Keble's note to Hooker), we read, In Egypt presbyters sealed or signed (that is, confirmed), if the bishop is not present. And in the Apostolic Constitutions, lib. 7:43-44 (cap. 28 in ed. J. G. Cotel.) the form of baptism and prayer to be used by the priest is given, and then it is said, And after this, when he shall have baptized him in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Ghost, he shall anoint him with myrrh, adding, Lord God unbegotten, etc., cause that this anointing may be efficacious in the baptized, so that the fragrance of thy Christ may remain firm and stable in him, etc. Afterwards there is a prayer for purity, vigilance, etc., by the coming of the Holy Ghost. Now, the Apostolical Constitutions are of the fifth century,* so that the anointing and confirmation was still the baptizing minister's office. When they were composed, it is very possible they were Alexandrian, certainly Greek and Eastern.

{*They are quoted farther on, as being of Clemens Romanus of the first; but that is a mere false pretence.}

96 In Cyprian's time (256) they were brought in the west to the bishop, but on their baptism. Referring to the case of Samaria, he says, "which also is done among us now; that those who are baptized in the church are offered to the presidents of the church, that by our prayer and the imposition of hands they should obtain the Holy Ghost, and be perfected by the Lord's mark" (Ad. Jub. 73, p. 202). And so much was it held to be a part of baptism, that (Ep. 72) the African council say to Pope Stephen, insisting that heretics should be rebaptized as well as have hands imposed, 'Then indeed at length they are fully sanctified, and can be sons of God, if they are born of both sacraments, since it is written, "unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."' Every one knows that all solemn acts or mysteries were called a sacrament in those days; there were seventy or even a hundred of them, for aught any one can tell, if we take the word. I cite this to shew that it was considered as part of baptism. Eusebius quotes a letter of Cornelius (Pope) to the same effect, as to a baptism of Novatus,* on what seemed a death-bed; "for he," the dying man, "did not get the other things which it is necessary to receive according to the rule of the church, nor was sealed by the bishop; and not having got this, how should he get the Holy Ghost?" That is, this was the part of baptism by which, on their system, men got the Holy Ghost — (Euseb. lib. 6:43, p. 244). We have already seen that these same bishops (to whom Cyprian says persons were brought to be confirmed and anointed, so as to receive the Holy Ghost), he also says, were running through all the provinces to make money by fraud. What a picture of the "Catholic church"!

{*Novatus was sound in the faith, but separated from the so-called Catholic church for its low state of morals, which now began to trouble many consciences.}

But there remains a quotation from Jerome, which will complete the history of this rite* — "I do not, indeed, deny that this is the custom of the churches, that the bishop runs off to those who have been baptized, far from the greater cities, by presbyters and deacons, to lay on his hands for the invocation of the Holy Ghost." … "But if you ask in this place why we, baptized in the church, should not receive the Holy Ghost, unless by the hands of the bishop, which we assert to be given in true baptism, learn that this rite descends from that authority, that after the ascension of the Lord the Holy Ghost descended on the apostles; and in many places we find the same practised … Otherwise, if the Holy Ghost came down only on the demand of a bishop, they are to be pitied who, baptized by presbyters or deacons, in small towns or castles, or in remote places, have fallen asleep before they have been visited by bishops."

{*Adv. Lucifer, col. 181, vol. 2.}

97 Remark here, that he overthrows entirely the doctrine of Pope Cornelius, just cited from Eusebius. What a mess these Fathers make of it! "But sometimes the safety of the church depends on the dignity of the chief priests, for if a certain extraordinary power, eminent above all, were not given to him, there would be as many schisms in the church as priests. Thence it happens, that without anointing, and the command of the bishop, neither a presbyter nor a deacon has the right of baptizing, which, however, frequently, if necessity compels, we know to be lawful for the laity to do. For, as one receives anything, so also he is able to give it, unless also the eunuch indeed, baptized by Philip, is to be believed to be without the Holy Ghost." I quote this as shewing — first, that it was a part of baptism; next, that the bishop did it merely as a matter of order and human arrangement, and that after all it was all as good without him, if need was, being reserved merely to maintain order and his dignity, and that even Jerome had not the smallest idea of his conferring the Holy Ghost exclusively as the successor of the apostles. He goes into the case of Samaria; but his reasoning, though to the point as to Lucifer, his adversary, has nothing to do with our subject. For this he only refers to its coming on the apostles (of course, therefore, without laying on of hands), and insists, if the bishop was not there, it was had all the same, quoting as a proof the eunuch of Ethiopia.

I thought a plain history of the facts would be the best means of dispelling the mists and halo which surround the word "Fathers." The earliest, Tertullian, "a most ancient writer, and a man of great erudition," according to the author, speaks of it as a part of baptism done in imitation of Judaism. Gradually this part was reserved to the bishops, for order's sake, but declared by Jerome not to be essential, but a matter of order, and got established gradually, like other superstitious corruptions of early practices, as it is now used. St. Jerome, "that most learned Father and doctor of the church," is unfortunate, for he very satisfactorily refutes on the point what the pope had laid down. Indeed, as I have said, you may prove anything but the truth by the Fathers. They said what suited them in their controversies.

98 But I have another little word to add here. The author, in the quotation alleged to be from Jerome, after the words, "And having invoked the Holy Ghost, lays his hands on them," continues, "Where, will you ask, is this written? In the Acts of the Apostles," etc. Not a word of this latter part is in what Jerome says; on the contrary, he goes on to prove it can be had without it. The author, I suppose from quoting secondhand, without reading the Fathers, has fallen into a sad mistake here. It is the adversary of the orthodox — namely, Lucifer, or a Luciferian — whom Jerome, under the name of "Orthodox," is confuting, who says this. It gives us such a due to the origin of these different rites, that I will quote it. Indeed, Lucifer has in many things, perhaps, the best of it. "Are you ignorant," says this honest but stern resister of Arianism in every shape (Jerome, it appears, rather agreed with Cyprian that heretics should be re-baptized, which the pope would not allow), "that this is the custom of the churches, that hands should be afterwards laid upon the baptized, and that the Holy Ghost should be invoked? Do you ask, Where is it written? In the Acts of the Apostles. Even if the authority of the scripture was not to be had, the consent of all the world on this point would have the force of a precept. For many other things also, which, through tradition, are observed in the churches, have assumed (usurpaverunt) to themselves the authority of a written law."* That is just it. Lucifer was a very faithful, but, as it appears, rigid and somewhat violent man. He was banished by Constantius for refusing to condemn Athanasius. He refused to receive Arian bishops as bishops on retracting their error, and said they must come as laymen. However, Jerome is refuting him in the work quoted from; and the author has quoted Jerome's adversary as Jerome himself. What security for the faith!

{*I may add that the learned editors of Vallarsius' edition, after the Benedictine, acknowledge that Jerome holds that a presbyter can confirm and do all, unless ordain; and they cite different passages I have referred to, and add Pope Innocent's declaration to the contrary, pretty much on the ground of the Luciferian. I add here, Cyril, in his catechism, shews that it was a part of baptism instituted after the analogy of Christ's, who received the Holy Ghost after his. It was always done immediately. See "Life of Basil," by Amphilochus Dionysius, St. Ambrose, Opatus, etc. In confirmation of what I have said of the Greek church, a canon is cited. A presbyter may not sign infants in the presence of the bishop, unless, indeed, he has been desired by the bishop to do it. Infants were confirmed at their baptism. I quote all this note secondhand from Bingham. See Gennadius de Dog. c. 52.}

99 I turn to penance. Your quotations of scripture prove that you have as little consulted it as you have the Fathers. You say, "St. Matthew and St. John record the same event," namely, Christ's coming to His apostles after His resurrection. John states a part of the communication Christ made to His disciples at this interview — the power of forgiving sins; Matthew another part — the power of baptizing and teaching all nations whatsoever Christ had commanded them; and in conclusion, Jesus Christ assures them that He would remain with them to "the end of the world." This you do, in order to shew that the power to forgive sins remains to the end of the world. How can you expose your own ignorance to such a degree, or presume on that of others? The interview mentioned in John 20 was in Jerusalem, the day of the resurrection; and Matthew 28, in Galilee afterwards, the last thing recorded by him before the Lord's ascension. The whole fabric falls, being incorrect in every part.

Now how comes it that for other things the bishops are successors of the apostles, as you tell us? and here "a person must have a very perverse heart, and covered with a dense spiritual blindness," not to see that, on the contrary, all priests are their successors, proving both by the same text of Matthew, which says nothing about either, and thus can be arbitrarily applied to one as well as the other? Again, you quote, "Hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation," as referring to penance; 2 Cor. 5. But the apostle declares that this was preaching the gospel. "Now we are ambassadors for Christ; as though God did beseech by us, we pray in Christ's stead be reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Yet you dare to say, "Can language convey more expressively, more definitively, or more clearly, the power which God gave to the priests, of reconciling the world to Him by the ministry of religion?" All this is foolish trifling. What do you mean by the ministry of religion? The apostle speaks of beseeching by the gospel in Christ's name; you of penance. Are you going to put the world under penance? Is this your embassy?

100 But, further, you have not given a correct account of penance, as Romanists teach it.

You say, "the necessary dispositions — namely, contrition of heart, and a firm purpose of turning from his evil ways." This is not a real account of Romish penance. The Catechism of the Council of Trent, according to which you are ordered to teach your parishioners, states the contrary. The "integral parts are contrition, confession, and satisfaction." "We sin against God by thought, word, and deed; when recurring to the power of the keys, we should, therefore, endeavour to appease His wrath, and obtain the pardon of our sins by the very same means by which we offended His supreme Majesty. In further explanation, we may also add, that penance is, as it were, a compensation for offences which proceed from the free will of the person offending." Again — "On the part of the penitent, therefore, a willingness to make this compensation is required, and in this willingness chiefly consists contrition." But still more clearly, after quoting the Council of Trent, it is said: "From this definition, therefore, the faithful will perceive that contrition does not simply consist in ceasing to sin, purposing to enter, or having actually entered, on a new life: it supposes, first of all, a hatred for sin, and a desire of atoning for past transgressions." You have left all this out. It is easy to talk of contrition of heart; but it chiefly consists in the willingness to make compensation, satisfaction — to atone by one's own free will.

But there is another part of the doctrine you have omitted. "Contrition" (it is still the Catechism which is instructing us), "it is true, blots out sin; but who is ignorant that, to effect this, it must be so intense, so ardent, so vehement, as to bear a proportion to the magnitude of the crimes which it effaces? This is a degree of contrition which few reach; and hence, through perfect contrition alone, very few indeed could hope to obtain the pardon of their sins" (by that they could do without a priest or confession). "It therefore became necessary that the Almighty, in His mercy, should afford a less precarious and less difficult means of reconciliation and of salvation; and this He has done, in His admirable wisdom, by giving to His church the keys of the kingdom of heaven. According to the doctrine of the Catholic church — a doctrine firmly to be believed and professed by all her children — if the sinner have recourse to the tribunal of penance, with a sincere sorrow for his sins, and a firm resolution of avoiding them in future, although he bring not with him that contrition which may be sufficient of itself to obtain the pardon of sin, his sins are forgiven by the minister of religion through the power of the keys."

101 Justly, then, do the holy Fathers proclaim that "by the keys of the church the gate of heaven is thrown open," that is, to sinners who have not repented as they ought: those who have do not want the keys. Penance, then, is substitution for adequate and right repentance — it is making the conscience easy when it has not properly repented, that is, hardening it. Who does not know this to be the case? A conscientious soul, grieved with sin, is miserable because it has not done its penance in a right spirit; a careless, sin-loving heart goes to confession in order to receive at Easter, as they say, and begins its score of sins again merrily, when the old one is wiped out. It is sorry, no doubt, for having committed them when they are over — who would not be? — and afraid not to receive when Easter comes round, and for the moment proposes to do no more such. Real, thorough contrition is not required; penance supplies its place. Contrition, he is taught by his "church," chiefly consists in this willingness to make satisfaction or compensation; and so he gets absolution for the past, and begins over again. Can there be a more iniquitous system? It is not a notion, taken up by the ignorance of these poor sinners, but established by the deliberate teaching of what calls itself the "church." Now, I believe that remission of sins is, or ought to be, administered in the church of God still: first, in reconciling the world — which has nothing to say to the matter we are on now, even as to ordinances, because restoration or penance, whatever form it has, belongs to the church. Heathens are received by baptism, not by penance: whenever a poor Jew or heathen is received into the church, he receives, as to his present manifest standing, forgiveness; he stands before God as a forgiven man: all recognize that he enters by baptism. Further, if a person be justly excommunicated for sin, being a Christian, he is, on restoration, forgiven his sin as to his public standing before God; so that the forgiveness of sins, in this sense of the word, as to a man's manifest standing and condition on the earth, does continue, and will, as long as the church subsists.

102 The history of confession I have already given. Auricular confession is a very modern introduction; it was needed when an easy way of letting off sin was wanted coincidently with the growth of priestly power.* The passage of James, "Confess your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed," is the plain proof that confession to a priest was unknown. It was a useful mutual exercise of charity, so that chastisement might be removed, when the heart was right before God. Was it to priests that many came and confessed their deeds in the passage cited from the Acts, when they burned their books of magic? The reason why baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is valid, and "I absolve thee from thy sins, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" is not, is a very simple one; it is this — Christ positively ordained one, and did not so much as hint at the other. Besides, you know very well that in case of necessity a layman, nay, a woman, can baptize a child: will you allow the same power in penance? If not, why do you assimilate them, as if one proved the other?

{*Leo shews this epoch when in the West they began to give up public confession for private (Ep. 136, 1, 719); yet he treats public as allowing more faith.}

You quote St. Chrysostom. But he wrote urgently against confession to a priest, as we have already seen. I do not deny that Christ gave power to His church to forgive sins in the sense I have explained it. I believe it to be a glorious truth, that whosoever is rightly in the church is enjoying the absolute, full, unlimited, forgiveness of all his sins. But we are talking of auricular confession to a priest, and of satisfaction and penance substituted for real full contrition, in order to have it.

I come now to the Eucharist. I have already remarked that you have not ventured to say one word for the mass; you seek to justify transubstantiation, not the sacrifice. You quote John 6. There are three points in this chapter as to Christ: He is the bread come down from heaven (that is, the incarnation); there is His flesh and blood (that is, His death); and His ascending up where He was before. In all we are to own Him. The Lord's supper most preciously presents Him in one of these. It presents a dead Christ, the body broken, and the blood shed. You say the Jews took Him literally; but they certainly knew nothing about the Lord's supper. "The disciples," you add, "knew likewise that Christ meant what He said." … "The sublime mystery they did not comprehend." But then they did not understand Christ at all, but took Him quite wrong; and therefore the Lord corrects them, and says, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing." He takes care they should understand He did not mean them to rest in the letter of what He said. They took Him according to the letter. They were quite wrong. Many, supposing He meant it literally, went away. The rest held to Him, because His words were eternal life.

103 You urge that God could make man out of slime, Eve out of a rib, and a pillar of salt out of Lot's wife. No doubt; but when He made a man, he was a man in form. He did transubstantiate the mud. But a man was a man to all intents and purposes, not to all intents and purposes (save your telling us otherwise) unchanged mud. He did not look or taste like slime, remain unable to move, speak, think, and go on as before. So of Eve: nobody, when she was changed, could take her for a rib. God gave proof to man of the change. So in the case of Lot's wife. Here there is none — no sign of God's power of any kind. We must believe, we are told, not reason. Yes, if God has taught it.

You quote John 6, and you quote, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven," words as plain as "this is my body." Am I to believe that Christ was transubstantiated into living bread? The words are just as plain, just as positive: why not believe them? Are we to eat Him incarnate and alive on earth? Where? Yet "he that eateth of that bread shall live for ever." In the Lord's supper I cannot, for His body is presented broken, not whole; His blood shed, not in His body. But again, the Lord declares that whosoever eats Him, as He describes, is fully and finally saved.* They "shall live for ever." They "have everlasting life, and he will raise them up at the last day." "They abide in Christ, and Christ in them." That is, it is the real vital saving possession of Christ by faith in the perfect efficacy of His life and work, in which those who possess will abide, and Christ raise them up, consequently, at the last day. But this is confessedly not true of all who partake of the Eucharist. That is, the passage does not refer to it; it refers to what the Eucharist refers to. Further, the terms of the institution preclude the literal sense; for, whatever image He employed, it could not then be literally Himself; because His body was not yet given, His blood was not yet shed, and this is what it is expressly a sacrament of. The Lord plainly shews what He meant in saying, "This cup is the new testament in my blood," which is clearly a figure; and "I will not drink of this fruit of the vine," Matt. 26. Nothing can be plainer. But the Lord did not really hold in His hand a broken body and shed blood; for His body was not broken and His blood was not shed. Yet that is of the very essence of the truth, for it was shed for the remission of sins, and there was no remission without it. In a word, the testimony is as plain as possibly can be, that the literal sense is untrue and impossible; shed blood there was none. Now Christ is glorified. There is no dead Christ; it cannot be He in reality — He in the letter; for there is no such Christ in reality as broken and His blood shed. He is alive for evermore. 1 Corinthians 10 is the plainest of all in reality;** it speaks of the body as broken.

{*Had not the Vulgate unquestionably given a false translation, another proof would here suggest itself: "Except ye eat the flesh and drink the blood, ye have no life." In the Romish system they have life by baptism. The Vulgate reads, Ye shall have no life; still, as addressed to Jews, as it was, the force is the same. For it was not by the Eucharist they were to get life, but by baptism.}

{**The Vulgate, in all these passages, has unequivocally corrupted the text (at least translated it untruly), but it changes nothing of the substance of the argument. See the previous note. To say a Jew should not have life but by eating the Eucharist is denying his having life by baptism. Take it as feeding by faith on Christ's death, and all is clear.}

104 As regards a mouse eating it, I am not fond of such arguments; because, though I do not believe lifeless bread to be my living Lord, save as faith realizes Him, yet it is a memorial of Him, and there is no profit in irreverent associations. Yet you have in nothing met the argument in the smallest degree. According to your system, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ are there; yet it cannot help itself against a mouse. The argument has the same bearing as Isaiah's. The idolater makes a fire with part of a tree, warms himself, roasts at it, and says of the rest, It is a god, and worships it. Here a mouse eats it; it is turned into corruption; and you adore the rest as God. The argument may be a painful one, but it is complete. He cannot deliver himself, says Isaiah: a deceived heart has turned him aside; he cannot say, I have a lie in my right hand. When the Lord says, "Do this in remembrance of me," it was saying it was a memorial of Him when He was gone, not His presence. But there is no life in the wafer. It is monstrous to say it is God, and eat it literally, let Fathers say what they may. It is not a living Christ; were it so, it were no sacrifice either, nor shedding of blood. I live by the life of a living Christ; I feed, commemoratively, on a dying one (such as, blessed be God, He can be no more, and is not now). Hence the cup, and drinking the cup, are essential to the import of the sacrament, and that the blood be nowhere else; for, if not shed, there is no remission.

105 And now mark the amazing import of this point. The Romanist as such does not partake of the cup. The reason, as is alleged, that it is all the same, is what is called the doctrine of concomitancy — that each element contains all — that in the bread the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ are all found. Now, if the blood be in the body, there is no sacrifice, no redemption, no remission of sins. Without shedding of blood, says the Holy Ghost (Heb. 9), there is no remission. Now, if the blood be in the body, it is not shed. That is, the poor Romanist — and with it I do not reproach him but what calls itself the Catholic church, and the enemy of souls — the poor Romanist has the sacrament of there being no redemption, or no remission of sins; for, as he receives it, His blood is yet in the body. Think how the enemy has mocked his poor soul! No doubt the Fathers spoke of it as the flesh and blood of Christ; but they say plainly now — I repeat I do not cite them as of weight, for there is no one less worthy of authority than they — but, as an historical fact, they say sufficient (not certainly to shew that they were not superstitious enough, but) that superstition had not travelled in five centuries as far as it had in fifteen. It went faster with the people than even the clergy, in some respects, for they brought in their heathen habits. Of this anon. I will quote enough from them to shew that, when it suited them in argument, they say the contrary of Romish doctrine: it is very possible, when it suits them or their imagination is at work, they teach it too. It just shews what they are worth. The mere saying, "flesh and blood," means nothing.

106 But to the point. First; when the controversies as to the two natures of Christ were on foot, and yet earlier, on the possibility of His taking flesh, which the Gnostic heretics denied, they insist on the bread being there when He is spiritually or divinely present, as a proof that the two things can be together. Here their whole point was, that it was still bread; just as His flesh, as a living man, was true flesh, which the heretics denied. Thus Tertullian: "He made the bread, received and distributed to His disciples His body, saying, This is my body, that is, the figure of my body; but it would not have been a figure unless the body was truly such; for an empty thing, which is a phantasm, cannot have a figure." The reader must know that early heretics denied that Christ had a real body: Tertullian argues, from the Eucharist being a figure of His body, that the body must be real. Irenaeus argues in the same way, and is very positive as to the bread being there after the consecration, of which he speaks: "For when the bread, which is from the earth, receives the invocation of God, it is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two things, earthly and heavenly; so our bodies," etc.

So Augustine (after saying that people said Christ was immolated at Easter, and constantly, though He never was but once long ago, and could be but once) says, "For if the sacrament had not a certain similitude of these things whereof they are sacraments, they would not be sacraments at all; but from this similitude they receive, for the most part, even the name of the things themselves." What can be plainer? "For the Lord did not hesitate to say, This is my body, when He gave the sign of His body." "The feast at which He commended and delivered to His disciples the figure of His body and of His blood" (on Psalm 3). "He who abides not in Christ, and in whom Christ does not abide, beyond all doubt neither eats His flesh nor drinks His blood, although he eats and drinks for judgment on himself the sacrament of so great a thing" (in Joann. Tract. 26:18). Chrysostom is quoted also, as saying, "Before the bread is sanctified we call it bread; but, divine grace sanctifying it through the ministry of the priest, it is freed from the name of bread, and judged worthy of the appellation of the Lord's body, although the nature of bread remains in it" (Epist. ad Caesarium).

This last quotation has a very curious history. It was quoted by Peter Martyr. The Romanists cried, Forgery. Peter Martyr deposited it at Lambeth. It was taken away in Queen Mary's reign. Bigot published it at Paris (he was a Romanist). The edition was suppressed, but the Archbishop of Canterbury got the sheets as they passed through the press, and published it in England; and others have done so.

107 These may suffice to shew that, rapidly as superstition grew, four or five centuries (that is, as long ago as Edward III) had not sufficed to obliterate the original doctrine of the church of God. It was made a dogma of the church only in the thirteenth century, in the Lateran Council, under Innocent III, the bloody instigator of the crusades against the Albigenses in the south of France, and the establisher of the Inquisition. In the tenth it was openly disputed, many prelates supporting the writer; and in the ninth was openly maintained, and the author not condemned as heretical at all, that transubstantiation did not take place. The reader may remark that several of the quotations I have given are from writers whom the author has quoted, shewing, when speaking soberly, how little they attributed to their own words the force which is attributed to them; or rather they spoke rhetorically about it in discourse, and shewed at other times it was only rhetoric. Again, what a ground to put our faith upon in order to receive it!

But I will add some other passages of the Fathers, shewing distinctly, as a learned Romanist has admitted, that, up to Chrysostom, the church did not really hold transubstantiation as a doctrine, however rhetorically individuals may have spoken. I attach no kind of importance to their opinion but historically, as the Romanists lean on them; it shews what a broken reed his way of assuring true doctrine is, and that is our point now.

The passage of Justin Martyr quoted by the author proves the contrary of that for which he cites it. Justin treats the Eucharist as bread, wine, and water, and as nothing else literally. The author has not, as so often has occurred, given the whole passage. "This food," he begins. What food? Hear Justin. "Those called among us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread, and wine, and water, over which thanks have been given, and carry it away to the absent, and this food is called among us Eucharist … For we do not receive these things as common bread nor as common drink; but in the same way." (This the author has entirely changed; I suppose, as usual, quoting from a text-book. How honest they are — that is, the instructors of the Romish body — we have seen by this time.) "As by the word of God, Jesus Christ, our Saviour, being made flesh, had flesh and blood for our salvation, so also the nourishment by which flesh and blood, through change [into them], are nourished, over which thanks have been given, through prayer of the word which is from Him, we have been taught to be the flesh and blood of that Jesus made flesh." Now here, whatever it was to their faith, it was really and substantially bread, and wine, and water, such as nourished the natural body. No Romanist could say that bread and wine and water were given to be partaken of by each person present, nor that they took what nourished their body, on being changed into it. Hence the author, or his text-book, omits it.

108 Theodoret, in answering the Eutychians who held that there was only one nature in Christ, says, "He that called His own natural body wheat and bread, and gave it the name of a vine, He also honoured the visible symbols or elements with the name of His body and blood, not changing their nature, but adding grace to nature" (Dial. 1, tom. 4, p. 17). The Eutychian heretic Eranistes (Dial. 2, P. 85, ed. Schulze 4:126) says, "As the symbols of the Lord's body and blood are one thing before the invocation of the priest, but after invocation are changed, and become another thing, so also the body of our Lord, after its assumption, was changed into the divine substance." Theodoret replies, "Thou art taken in thine own net which thou hast made; for neither do the mystical symbols depart from their own nature after consecration, for they remain in their former substance, figure, and form," ousias kai tou schematos kai tou eidous. This is most unequivocal. Indeed, the controversy with the Eutychians and Monophysites, who confounded the divine and human natures in Christ, proves clearly that transubstantiation was not believed in. They used the fact of its being still bread and wine against the Eutychian doctrine, as they had against the Gnostics the fact of their being material creatures.

So Ephrem of Antioch, "The body of Christ which is received by the faithful does not depart from its own sensible substance, and yet it is united to spiritual grace; and so baptism, though it becomes wholly a spiritual thing and but one thing, yet it preserves the property of its sensible substance, I mean water, and does not lose what it was before." (Quoted by Photius, cod. 1:229.)

109 Pope Gelasius writing also against Nestorians and Eutychians on the two natures in Christ, says, "Doubtless, the sacraments of the body and blood of Christ which we receive are a divine thing, on account of which, by them, we become partakers of the divine nature, and yet the substance or nature of bread and wine does not cease to exist." (Facund. lib. 9, c. 5.) "As the sacrament of His body and of His blood, which is in the bread and consecrated cup, we call His body and blood, not that the bread is properly His body, and the cup His blood, but because they contain in them the mystery of His body and blood. Hence the Lord also Himself called the bread He had blessed, and the cup which He delivered to His disciples, His body and blood."

This may suffice. The real historical truth is that, when they departed from the simplicity of scripture, they got into the doctrine of a union of grace and bread in the sacrament, and then into a kind of consubstantiation, such as Luther held. When Paschasius Radbert had taught something more than this, he was violently opposed by many church authorities. Berengarius, who taught the contrary, was at last, and indeed more than once (though supported by church authorities), being persecuted by Hincmar, forced to retract; and at last, as I have said, in 1215 transubstantiation was made a dogma of the faith, but never before.