OF THE PIOUS AND ORTHODOX FAITH CONCERNING THE SACRAMENTS, IN ANSWER TO THE CALUMNIES OF JOACHIM WESTPHAL.
How unwillingly I am again dragged into this contest, which from the first till now I endeavored to shun, I deem it unnecessary to declare in many words. For all who have read my writings must be aware of my moderation in handling a subject which in our day had excited bitter contests among pious and learned men. In this respect at least I cannot have giver serious offense. For though I have not framed my method of teaching with a view to the favor of men, yet as I have always candidly and sincerely made profession according to the genuine convictions of my mind, it was of a kind which ought to have had the effect rather of appeasing men’s minds than of increasing strife. The fervor of contention to which I have alluded had in some measure calmed down, and writings composed in a placid spirit were beginning to give a purer exposition of the subject. I feel proud to think that while the disputants were thus drawing nearer to each other, their consent, though not yet full and complete, was considerably helped forward by me.
For when on beginning to emerge from the darkness of Papacy, and after receiving a slight taste of sound doctrine, I read in Luther that Zuinglius and Oecolompadius left nothing in the sacraments but hare and empty figures, I confess I took such a dislike for their writings that I long refrained from reading them. Moreover, before I engaged in writing, the ministers of Marpurg having held s, conference together, had laid aside somewhat of their former vehemence, so that if the atmosphere was not altogether clear, the denser mists had to a considerable extent disappeared.
What I justly claim for myself is, that I newer by employing an ambiguous mode of expression captiously brought forward any thing different from my real sentiment. After I thus made my appearance without disguise, none of the dissentients then in highest fame and authority gave any sign of offense. For I was afterwards brought into familiar intercourse with the leading advocates and keenest defenders of Luther’s opinions, and they all vied in showing me friendship. Nay, what opinion Luther himself formed of me, after he had inspected my writings, can be proved by competent witnesses. One will serve me for many — Philip Melancthon.
It happened afterwards unfortunately that Luther, kindled by the very bellows by which the quiet of the Church is now disturbed, was in private again flaming against the Zurichers. For although the vehemence of his nature sometimes carried him farther than was meet; he never would have hurried spontaneously into the old strife had not excessive ardor been supplied by pestiferous torches. To myself, as to very many other worshippers of God and ministers of Christ, it gave no little grief that the wounds were thus opened afresh. I did, however, the only thing that was left for me, I lamented in my own breast in silence. Meanwhile, lest any semblance of dissension might rend the churches in these quarters, or a suspicion might arise that diverse opinions were here and there entertained, and as some were muttering that there was not a proper agreement between myself and the excellent men and faithful ministers of Christ, the teachers of the Church of Zurich, it was thought well on both sides that a testimony of our mutual agreement should be published. We accordingly drew up a brief summary of the doctrine in controversy, to remain as a simple and perspicuous confession of our faith.
Who can call this fuel for a new conflagration? One Joachim Westphal started up, and as if it were an intolerable crime to efface all remembrance of offenses, in order that there might be no hidden rancor among brethren, shouting to arms, threw every thing into confusion. Let his farrago be read, and the reader will find that the thing purposed by him was not so much to impugn the doctrine comprehended in our formula of Agreement as agreement itself. Is the name of peace so odious to a preacher of the gospel that he cannot bear to see a remedy for abolishing discord attempted?
While he touches slightly on doctrine, the main thing urged by him is, that agreement shall not be entertained. Accordingly where any repugnance in doctrine had formerly appeared, he drags it out of darkness and turbulently holds it up to view. If from error or oversight contradictory opinions (as occasionally happens) had escaped from different writers, why should they not be permitted on better consideration to express their meaning more appropriately? How malicious is it not to be quiet on any other condition than that innumerable dissensions shall everywhere prevail? And what insane fury is it to force into unwilling conflict those who not only agree among themselves but speak the same thing?
Granting that in the heat of discussion a temperate mode of expression was not always observed, it is now desired that those in whom there was some diversity, should adopt the same method of teaching. If the reason is asked, it is because we wish to guard against troubling the ignorant and weak, by presenting them with any semblance of contradiction. Will you, Westphal, as your passion leads you in a different direction, force us to fight against our will to the public ruin? But in the books formerly published, something discordant is detected. This will afterwards be considered in its own place; but now what envy or malice instigates you to call for thunder from all quarters to rend agreement? You say you must fight strenuously against any conspiracy to establish an impious dogma. I admit, that if any cover were used to cloak imposture, there would be good cause for reclaiming. I would also readily admit that all means ought to be employed, to prevent any congeries of errors from shrouding themselves under the pretext of concord. But when our simple and perspicuous Confession is brought forward, if it contains any thing false, it can be impugned with less trouble.
In every debate, nothing is more desired by honest and ingenuous men, than to be able to confine themselves within certain limits, to keep without ambiguity to one subject, and be able in treating that one. to know, as it were, where to fix their foot. Why such a state of matters is displeasing to Westphal, I see not, unless, that distrustful of his cause, he has sought for plausibility in equivocation.
If the doctrine which we profess is false, let him, after furnishing himself with the oracles of Scripture, strong arguments and the consent of the Church, come forward as its enemy and overthrow it. But now, declining fair fight, he rides up and down in a tortuous course, crying that the heretics are at variance among themselves. Were he persuaded that he has a sufficient defense in the truth itself, how much better would it be to come to close quarters at once, than to continue his winding circuits? I again repeat, that our Confession, if it contains any error, is naked and open why does not Westphal make a direct attack upon it, but just in order to obscure the clear light by smoke?
I wished to call the reads attention to this, to let every one see how strong a necessity has compelled me to the defense of our Agreement, which this hot-headed zealot, without any just cause to induce him, has attempted to overthrow. And yet the excuse he now makes is, that he is undertaking the defense of himself and a good cause against my accusation. Nay, to give his tract currency among the ill-in-formed, he has inserted this in the title.
What if I rejoin, (it is easy for me to do so, and the fact shows without my saying it,) that my tract (which he absurdly slanders under the name of an accusation) had no other aim than to dissipate his calumnies. He indeed complains vehemently, and not without great obloquy to me, if there were any color for it, of my evil speaking; but the only thing necessary to refute this, is for the reader to judge from his intemperance how mercifully I spared him.
Into my tract I confess that I put a sprinkling of salt. I did so, because it grieved me that one who calls himself a preacher of the gospel was so savorless. I now see that I lost my labor in attempting to cure an incurable disease. But where does he find my bitter and wanton invective? He is not ashamed falsely to assert, that all imaginable vituperation has been heaped by me into a few pages, when the fact is, that I have there inserted without any contention much more pure doctrine than he and those like him give in large volumes. His reply is, at least, thrice as long as my tract. How skillfully or learnedly he discourses in it, I do not now say; only let the reader collect all the calm doctrine he can find, and it will scarcely amount to a tenth of what is contained in my very brief compendium. With the same modesty, one of ibis companions lately sporting ill the character of a dreamer, ventured to give out, among other follies, that my Commentary on Genesis is filled with fierce invectives against Luther, though there, from respect to him, I refrained more than a hundred times from mentioning his name; and if anywhere I do allude to him, there is so far from any thing like contumely in my censure, that I am confident all sound and pious readers will give me credit for having treated him with no less honor than was due to an illustrious servant of Christ.
The first charge by which Westphal endeavors to bring me into odium is, that I have vented my rage against him in all kinds of invective. I only ask my readers, first, to consider what he deserved, and how much more severely it was easy to have handled him, and then conclude how very moderate I have been. But because he was, perhaps, afraid lest if he himself only was hurt, he should find few to condole with a private grievance, he incites all his countrymen to a common fight, as it I had brought a general charge of drunkenness against all Germans. Were it so, I would not even pardon myself. But attend to the proof which he immediately after gives. He says, I bring this charge against him once and again, as if he were given to drink, and could not get drunk without boon companions. That he may not here annoy himself for nothing, let him know that I made no war on his cups; let him know that I spoke of another kind of drunkenness, namely, that which the prophet Isaiah says is not from wine. I with, however, that he would not plunge himself so deep into the mire, or rush headlong with such violent impetus, as to make his jejune ebriety too notorious to all.
With no less absurdity does he digress into the commonplace, that he has the same lot with Christ and his apostles, in being loaded, without cause, with falsehoods and reproaches. His writings testify that his lungs are as large and strong in venting these, as his complaints declare that his stomach is delicate in bearing and digesting them. What has most grievously wounded him, it is not difficult to perceive. I had reminded him, that if he were conscious of his own ignorance, he would not believe so confidently. Nothing, certainly, was farther from my intention than to inflict so sharp a wound. Now, by ever and anon repeating in a rage that he is held to be unlearned, he betrays where the sore lies.
To let you understand, Westphal, that I did not previously make it my endeavor to find out something that might sting you, and that even now I have no pleasure in your pain, I shall cease henceforth to call you unlearned; only do you in your turn show yourself to be a candid and upright man. But though you should, after your fashion, give full vent to your unbridled license of evil speaking, I will not contend with you in reproaches. Were it true, however, that I chide you harshly, in order to repress your audacity, you are wrong in thinking or pretending that I employed the cunning artifice of trying to overwhelm you by my invectives, and compel you to be quiet as if I did not know what a fine rhetorician you are, as far as evil speaking goes, and what copiousness of such material flows in upon you.
But while by your mode of dealing, if I glance at you in a single word, I am a scold, and you lay yourself under no restraint as to lacerating me, how shall I be able to manage my pen? The best and shortest course to follow will be to speak simply of the subject. The prudent reader will observe, that whenever I was compelled to address you in strong language, I never went beyond grave and serious admonition. You, inflated by what spirit I know not, seem, until you have sent forth your foam from full cheeks, to have your stomach charged with some kind of oppressive load. The more strange it is, that you, with the greatest confidence, repudiate a vice which notoriously exists in you, in its ugliest form, as if you were perfectly free from it.
But that there may be no suspicion of my making a fictitious charge, I must again briefly remind the reader, how ingenuous you are in accusing me of petulance. You produce, as a memorable specimen of it, that I employed the sharpness of my tongue against the name of Luther. In what does this sharpness consist? You answer, that I charged him with being fickle, vehement, and contentious. Why in two of these epithets you choose to lie, I know not; I never called him fickle and contentious. If you take it ill that his vehemence in this ,cause was remarked, contend that at mid-day the sun does not shine.
How eagerly Westphal runs away from his subject into commonplaces, and as musty rhetoricians do wander away into declamation, is sufficiently clear from this, that in order not to seem to trust in numbers, he invents the empty fiction, that I boast of immense hosts which I threaten to lead forth from all corners. He accordingly adds, that I, trusting to this great force, despise his unwarlike crowd. Were Eck or Cochlmus to vent such silliness, I would with less regret hold it up to the derision of boys; but now when a professor of the gospel prostitutes himself so flagitiously, my readers must pardon me, if I am moderate in my refutation, because the disgraceful spectacle both shames and pains me. I see, however, what it is.
Having nothing like Athanasius but the fewness of his adherents, he has seized on this mark of resemblance to make himself orthodox.
I had said that while the learned and right-hearted were quiet, a few unlearned individuals were disturbing the Church by their clamor. I hoped that thus admonished, they would cease from their turbulence; their fewness being an indication of their folly. Here, indeed, we do not simply contend about number. But while I show that many whom he boasts to be of his opinion, though in every way much more competent and better instructed, yet remain silent and cultivate peace with us, if there was a grain of modesty in Westphal, he would throw away the spear, leave off conflict, and return to his post.
Again, I had added, that if he was so desirous to maintain the proper nature of the sacraments, that was no reason why he should make a rush at us, because the sacraments are not only mentioned by us, in the most honorable terms, but should any one say that they are empty figures, many of us are prepared strenuously to refute his error. Let the reader look at my words, and it will appear how sillily the declaimer here seeks for adventitious coloring. That he may not be thought inferior in numbers, he hesitates not to drag into his faction those pear sons in France and Italy who have embraced the pure doctrine of the gospel, but are withheld by fear alone from freely professing it.
Here, though I fain would, I cannot be silent, lest by perfidious dissimulation I should seem, knowingly and willingly, to suppress the confession made by Christ’s holy martyrs. Since you are so stupid, Westphal, as to count for nothing that sacred blood by which the truth of our profession has been sealed, know that whet, about fifteen years ago one hundred or even more in France offered themselves to the most terrific death with no less alacrity than you sit spouting at your ease, there was not one who did not subscribe with us. Go now and set a higher price on your ink than on their blood.
More than two years ago, five persons were burnt at Lyons on one day, and that nothing might be wanting to the cruelty of the torture, they were consumed by a slow fire. Shortly after these, others followed in the same city, and two in neighboring towns. Four months have not yet elapsed since at Chambery (a city not one day’s journey from this) five were burnt together on one day. How skilfully they acquitted themselves in discussion is attested by documents written by their own hand, and I doubt not of equal authenticity with public records. Undoubtedly any one who reads them will not only acknowledge that they talked moderately and wisely of the leading articles of the faith, but also admire their erudition, that none; may say they were misled by ignorance or the fervor of rash zeal and so intrepid was the constancy which shone forth in their serene looks till their last breath, that even the wretched Papists were amazed. Their confession declared what all the godly under the tyranny of Antichrist everywhere believe. Henceforth, therefore, never pretend that they are your supporters. They all with one consent repudiate your doctrine, and with silent wishes abominate the intemperance of yourself and your companions. This hot-headed man forces me to go farther than I would. I take heaven and earth to witness that I speak of a fact well ascertained. Where cruelty has hitherto raged against numerous martyrs of Christ, the fire in which they were consumed was heated as it were by blasts from the mouths of those men whose greatest piety consists in vociferating against the Sacramentarians.
As Westphal was debating with a Frenchman, he has produced one of my countrymen to cover me with odium. He says flint we have revived the heresy of Berengarius. If you hold him to be a heretic, why do you not take up your banner and go over to the camp of the Pope? It is not indeed of much consequence where you settle, as you insinuate yourself among the band of Antichrist. An hundred and fourteen horned bishops, with Pope Nicolas for president, force Berengarius to recant. You, without hesitation, give your assent to their tyranny, as if they had justly condemned a heresy. And what was the confession extorted from the unhappy man? (Be Conse. Distinct. 2 cap. Ego Berengarius.) That after consecration, the true body and blood of Christ is sensibly and in truth handled and broken by the hands of the priests, and chewed by the teeth of the faithful. Such, verbatim, are the terms of the form of recantation dictated by the Council.
If Westphal cannot, be appeased unless we confess that Christ is sensibly chewed by the teeth, were not an hundred deaths to be chosen sooner than implicate ourselves in such monstrous sacrilege? The Canonists themselves were so much ashamed of it, that they confessed there was a greater heresy in the words, unless they referred to the species of bread and wine, than in saying that the bread and wine are bare signs. See why our Westphal behoved to borrow the name of Berengarius to fill us with dismay. It is not strange that the new satellites of the Pope, who are ever and anon venting mere anathemas at us, lay hold at hazard of weapons from his tyrannical forge. This, no doubt, is the humanity with which these good fellow-soldiers hold me up to view, while I daily stand in the line of battle exposed to the first strokes of the enemy. It is not enough for Joachim to whet their rage against me by virulent calumnies. Trampling me under foot, because I presume freely to rebuke him, he brings a charge against me of extreme petulance, while regardless of the bad words which he sends forth, he acquits himself of the same charge — no doubt because any thing is lawful against a heretic. But, as the only ground of his rage is, that the truth of my doctrine and faith is proof against his teeth, what weight does he hope to give to such a futile calumny If under this pretext he is so eager to obtain full license for his talk, let him openly symbolize with the Papists, with whom heretic is only another name for enemy of the Roman See. As to his declaring so disdainfully that we have been condemned by the Churches, when looked to more closely it comes, like his other sayings, to nothing; unless indeed he is to arm himself with the Council of Trent as a shield of Ajax, or confine the Churches of Christ to his companions who boil with the same impetuosity. For I always except grave and right-hearted teachers who, mingled with them, not only keep themselves calm, but though differing somewhat with us, decline not brotherly fellowship; because agreeing with us in the main, they willingly cherish and cultivate peace with us, and are most anxious for reconcilement among the Churches. Of their wish in this respect, should an occasion offer, I think they will give no obscure proof.
Westphal, with all his importunity, will not prevail so far as to gain either their suffrage or assent to the accursed schism at which he aims, so far are they from giving their sanction to his wicked league to vex us by hostility.
Nay, while he opposes to us all who subscribe the Confession of Augsburg, readers cannot soon fail to discover that this is mere pretense.
Put the question to whoever may be the ablest defender of that Confession, and I doubt not he will answer that the peace is disturbed under, evil auspices. This desire to maintain peace is not disguised by persons who deserve to have somewhat more authority in Saxony than an hundred Westphals.
When he enumerates the reasons which induced him to write, he says he was very anxious to defend his good name, lest the ministry he discharges should fall into contempt, and the credit of his writings be diminished. If a good name is dear to you, what evil genius impelled you to prostitute it, when by your silence you might have kept it safe and entire? You have brought infamy upon yourself, which will not be so easily effaced, and you will increase it until you desist from your hateful love of quarreling. I repeat, you could not have consulted better for yourself at first, and cannot even now, than by holding your peace. As to your anxiety lest the eredish of your writing be lost, estimate from your feeling with regard to one, how much more grievously all the pious must be tortured when they see you making violent efforts to impair the credit of the valuable writings of so many great and excellent men.
Hold that I am not one of those whose credit you have attempted to impair. But while all see it to be your purpose completely to destroy the reputation of Oecolompadius, Zuinglius, Bucer, Peter Martyr, Bullinger, John a Lascus, do you think there is any pious and impartial man in the world who does not feel indignant at your malicious detraction? What flattering applause your books receive from your own herd, I know not; what do you yourself think of them? You will not say that injustice is done you if I give the preference over you to every one of those whom I have mentioned. And yet if your foolish self-love so blinds you, that you are desirous to be higher in honor than those whom you follow far behind in learning, we who are not bound to you by any law, must pay greater regard to the public good.
The mention of books which you repeatedly introduce, implies that you scribble sometimes. Whatever it be, were it to perish the loss of the Church would be less than that of any one of the many books, all of which it was in your mind to destroy. Hence, even on your own showing, I have a good defense for interposing my credit and labor to prevent you from robbing the Church of her noble riches.
He divides his book into four chapters. First, he undertakes to refute my assertion, that we were wickedly and ignorantly traduced by him as contradicting each other in our writings; secondly, he undertakes to refute my assertion, that we were unjustly censured by him, as leaving nothing but empty symbols in the Lord’s Supper; thirdly, he assumes that he is not exciting discord while opposing the authors of disturbance; fourthly, he promises to reply to the charges made against him.
In the outset of the first part he charges me with proving our agreement from certain synonymous terms, as figure, sign, symbol and he wonders that I do not gather as much out of the syllables. But what if here children can detect him in manifest falsehood. It never came into my mind to bring forward this affinity of words in proof of our agreement. But as he himself had calumniously attacked those words, nay, had said that we had proved ourselves to be heretics by this mark of contradiction, I simply laughed at the man’s folly as it deserved. Now, however, as if he had escaped, he boasts that he makes a much more liberal concession, viz., that we agree not only in a few vocables, but in things and sentences. And to appear facetious, he says, that as they agree among themselves, he dignifies them all with the common name of Sacramentarians. His quibble is too gross to escape under this frivolous jactation.
He, with great asperity of language, traduced us as heretics for differing among ourselves. The demonstration seemed to him the very best. One calling the bread a symbol of the Supper, another calling it a figure, another a sign, made our disagreement most palpable; and to give his sophistry a more showy appearance, he exhibited it in a table. What could I do? Was I to omit what is obvious to all before a word is said, via, that our agreement could not have been better proved? I will go farther, and say, that when at any time I would throw light on my doctrine, I will seek an explanation in these words. Will he pretend that I speak contradictions, or am contrary to myself, because I study to interpret one thing more conveniently by several methods?
Coming to close quarters, I will press him harder. All who expound the words of Christ otherwise than according to the letter, as it is called, he hesitates not to style Sacramentarians. I am pleased with the terms for in this way Augustine is brought into our ranks. He wrote, in answer to Faustus, that our Lord said, “This is my body,” when he was giving a sign of his body. Seeing he expounds the words of Christ figuratively, he will no doubt be regarded as a Sacramentarian. He elsewhere says, that on account of their resemblance to the thing signified, the sacrament of the body and blood are called the body and blood. Is not this, according to Westphal, an abominable rending of the words of Christ? He elsewhere writes, that our Lord, in the Supper, committed and delivered the figure of his body and blood to the disciples. Will he find two of us who differ more from each other than Augustine does from himself? It is vain, therefore, for Westphal to deny that he played the fool when he held, up an example of dreadful dissension in the use of terms almost synonymous.
He denies the soundness of an argument drawn a particulari, as if we were agreed in every thing, because we think and speak, alike in some things. I deny that I ever so argued as it was sufficient to have simply refuted his absurd delirium, that we were proved manifest heretics by a single mark of disagreement, viz., one using the term figure, another sign, another symbol.
If he produce nothing more, I conclude that there is no disagreement. As if he were afraid that his impudence might not be visible enough, he pursues the same idea, at greater length, introducing me as speaking thus “I write mutual agreements with the Zurichers; our opinion is one; we give our mutual labor at no time, therefore, was there ever any discrepancy among the Sacramentarians.” The whole of this, while it is a naughty fiction, immediately involves him in another falsehood, viz., that he neither indicates persons nor time, but speaks indefinitely of our differences.
Trifler, where, then, is that farrago extracted from our books, with the name of each writer designated?
He utters a fouler falsehood against us, which it is right should fall back on its author’s rate. Mixing us up with the Anabaptists, Davidians, and almost all other fanatics, he forms them into one sect, like a hydra, because they all profess the dogma of Zuinglius. I will not say, what is amply attested by public documents, that none have been more strenuous than we in opposing sects, whether those he names, or any others that have sprung up in our age. But by what bands does he bind us all up into one bundle? Is it enough to say, in one word, that all are involved in one and the same error? Need I call angels to witness, when the very devils expose the dishonesty of Westphal? If sectaries be inquired after, it will be found that they approach nearer to himself. Servetus, who was both an Anabaptist and the worst of heretics, agreed entirely with Westphal; and on this article of doctrine annoyed Oecolompadius and Zuinglius with his writings, just as if he had hired himself out to Westphal.
The former method not having succeeded, he attempts to show our contradictions by another and he premises, that as the same thing was attempted by Luther, it is lawful also for him. But whatever be the example under which he cloaks himself, we must look at the thing. The attempt to throw darkness on the subject by an imagination of Carlostadt, as it is evidently far-fetched, I labor not to refute. Although I know not whence he took his other interpretations, nothing can be more vile than such calumnies as these, that the context and the order of our Savior’s words are unbecomingly and violently wrested, because some one understands that the body of Christ is spiritual food, and another transposes it thus — This, which is delivered for you, is my body. What absurdity is here, pray, in a spiritual feast preceding, in order, a sacrifice of death?
But as these frivolous reasons also fail him, he has recourse, after his fashion, to fables, and relates that a preacher of approved faith wrote to him, that in Friesland the words of Christ are mutilated; for when the bread is held forth, the minister supplies these words: “Eat, believe, and call to mind that the body of our Lord, offered on the cross, is a true sacrifice for your sins.” A great crime, no doubt, to celebrate the memory of Christ’s death in the holy Supper. If the minister, in the very act of distribution, calls upon the people to meditate on the benefit of Christ’s death, is the ordinance of Christ therefore passed by? Nay, since Westphal elsewhere contends that two things are distinctly enjoined us — to eat the body, and cultivate the memory of the death of Christ — why does he lash our brethren of Friesland merely for obeying the divine command?
He next proceeds to say that this scheme originated with Suenckfeldius, who ordered the words, “This is my body,” to be kept out of sight as if we had any thing in common with Suenckfeldius, or had to pay the penalty of his raving. Nay, where is the fairness, that after we, while these little fathers were asleep, diligently exerted ourselves in opposing the errors of Suenckfeldius, they, who bore no part in the labor, should suddenly awake and hurl at us every thing odious which they find in our adversary? Of the same nature is his subsequent remark — that feeling offended because our deceptions are put to shame by the clear words of Christ, we throw them aside with contempt, and murmur that we are objected to for only three words once spoken. Should I here complain that odium is wickedly thrown upon me by an invented slander, he will forthwith rejoin that he speaks indefinitely. But where is the candour of bringing a charge of blasphemy against an indefinite number of persons without mentioning one of them as its author? We do not pay so little reverence to the words of our heavenly Master as not to regard it as sufficient authority that any thing has been once spoken by him. And to make it more apparent that we have no need of such quibbles, I retort, that the Ark of the Covenant is more than forty times called the presence of God, and yet in. no other sense than that in which the bread is called the body. You see, that so far from shunning the light, we hesitate not to throw ourselves right in your way, with this for our shield — that in Scripture the name of God is everywhere transferred to the visible symbol of the presence of God. On this subject we have to treat more fully.
The contradictions against which he thundered being not yet apparent, he begins to weave his web anew, saying, that the words are violently wrested to different meanings, which are not at all consistent with each other. And he again invidiously brings forward the gloss of Carlostadt, which all of us long ago distinctly repudiated. Afterwards, to deceive the eyes of the simple by a semblance of repugnance, he says that this absurd fiction is rejected by me as if it were a tragical crime to throw off obloquy falsely cast upon us. What would you have, you quarrelsome man? I have said that Carlostadt improperly interpreted the words of Christ. In this you agree with me. How, then, can you concoct a charge out of a repugnance which is common to me with yourself?
He next attacks our venerable brother, John a Lascus, for saying that the whole action is denoted by the demonstrative pronoun as if it were not easy to defend this by the suffrage of Luther. According to Luther, the bread, exclusive of its use in the Supper, is nothing but bread, and, therefore, the pointing out of the material is included within the limits of the action. Shall the same doctrine, then, be regarded as an oracle in the mouth of Luther, and be stigmatized as heresy if it come from any other quarter?
In the fourth place, he inveighs against Oecolompadius, who understands the pronoun which, in the words of Christ, not relatively but causally as if it were unlawful for an interpreter to explain in a simpler manner what otherwise gives unnecessary trouble. Oecolompadius said that the body of Christ is not offered to believers to be eaten, inasmuch as it was once offered to expiate sins; in other words, to acquaint us that the previous parts are attributed to the sacrifice. Westphal now asks what will become of Matthew and Mark, by whom the relative pronoun is not added, as if that brevity was to take away the principal thing in the use of the Supper.
Paul, before exhorting us to feast, tells us that Christ our passover is sacrificed. I confess, indeed, that in that passage he is not treating of the Supper; but as the reason is the same, why should Westphal fall foul of a holy man for having wisely remarked this quality, without which the utility of the Supper is lost to us? This, forsooth, is the reason why, with inflated lungs, he exclaims — “In what color will the Sacramentarians paint, with what gloss will they cover the manifest repugnance?” I answer, that no man is so blind as not to see through your dreams.
As he sees that he has not yet gained what he wished, or at least not performed what he had professed, he heaps together certain mutilated expressions, and says — that the bread of the Supper is at one time called by us flesh; at another time, the figure of the body; at another, the passion; at another, the death; at another, the memorial of the passion; at another, faith; at another, the vigor; at another, the virtue of Christ; at another, the merits; at another, the quality of the body; at another, the action and form of the Supper that it is likewise called the fellowship of the Church; the right of partaking the body of Christ; the festival; and many other things besides. What can you make of this man, who, given over to a reprobate mind, sees not that he is venting things which render his malice universally detestable? The brief and simple answer to all this is, that by different modes of speech, without any repugnance, a description is given of the end for which the bread is called body.
I agree with him, that the question chiefly relates to the meaning of the words of Christ — this is my body. I also agree with him, that in this controversy the thing asked is not what this or that man dreams, and that consciences are not satisfied by the fictions of men, but by showing them the clear and indubitable truth. When he requires some certain definition explaining wherein faith consists, I object not. Let this then be shown to us by these strict or rather morose censors, who disdain all interpretation.
They urge the literal sense, that the bread is truly and naturally the body of Christ. But when they in their turn are urged to say whether the body is properly bread, they temper their previous inflexible rigidity, and say that the body is given under the bread or with the bread. And certainly did they not concede this, the cup, of whatever material fabricated, would be the blood of Christ. Therefore, while they allow themselves to say that the body of Christ is contained by the bread as wine by a goblet, how comes it that a desire to discover a convenient interpretation so stirs up their bile?
When he says that in the words a uniform style is observed by Paul, what can he gain by the puerile falsehood? It is superfluous to observe how much wider the difference is between blood and covenant in blood, than between sign and symbol. But Westphal, who is delighted with uniformity in blood and covenant in blood, shows what a peculiar taste he has, by nauseating the disagreement between sign and symbol. Now, however, he begins to speak more cautiously, affirming that he blames difference not in words, but things and opinions. I, however, feeling confident that readers of sense see clearly how he distorts, mutilates, and obscures various modes of expression, which tend to demonstrate the use and end of the Supper, no longer dwell upon it.
He adds, that overcome by the clear truth, I acknowledge a contrariety in the things. But in what terms? Just because I said, that one party, while they discuss an obscure and intricate question, although they do not differ in fact, present an appearance of difference. Here is candour worthy of a divine — candor which among profane rhetoricians would not escape being stigmatized as vile and frigid quibbling. When he afterwards says, jestingly, that each of them was inspired by a prophetical spirit when they first entered on this subject, I leave him to enjoy his pertness sooner than take up my time in refuting it. When he next asserts, that I look about for another evasion when I bring forward what was only observed in passing, and seize upon it as if it were a full explanation, it is obvious that he does not quote, simply because he is aware that he would make himself doubly ridiculous. Is there any evasion, when, if you. believe him, I have imprudently submitted the thing to the view of all? Who does not see his malignity in mutilating sentences? To omit the examples to which I lately referred, whom can he persuade that what was said of the fellowship of the Church was intended for a full definition, as if there were no other fellowship koinwnia of the body of Christ? And yet in the tangled forest of our discord he finds nothing more plausible than that koinwnia is interpreted by some, the right of fellowship which has been given us in the body of Christ, and by others, the mystical fellowship of the Church.
Were I to carp in this way at the expressions of ancient writers, a far more serious difference would be found among them. But my mind has no love for it, and my will abhors to make ill-natured and illiberal attacks on every one whom he drags into his party.
Meanwhile, how dexterously and honestly he amplifies the charge, thinking it would be productive of odium, the reader must be briefly informed. His words are As often as they take up the passage in Paul, the Sacramentarians make the utmost efforts to corrupt his words. And he inserts on the margin to draw attention, What, according to Sacramentarians, is the koinwnia of the body of Christ. What? Ought he not at least to have excepted those who speak differently? Let him turn over my Commentaries, where he will find not an intricate but a genuine interpretation, which, let him do his utmost to the contrary, he will be forced to receive. Nor do I affirm this of myself alone, for well-informed readers are not ignorant that this passage has been lucidly and fully handled by others whom he defames, making it plain, that under an insatiable lust for quarrelling, he is too eager in his hunt after endless materials for strife. Certainly, when calling upon me by name, he ought not to have forgotten what I have written on that passage.
My words are It is true that believers are associated by the blood of Christ, so as to become one body; it is true, also, that this kind of unity is properly called koinwnia. I say the same thing of the bread. I hear also what Paul adds, as if by way of explanation, that we who communicate in the same bread are all made one body. And whence, I ask, is that koinwnia between us, but just that we are together made one with Christ, under the condition that we are flesh of his flesh and bones of his bones?
For to be incorporated, so to speak, in Christ, we must first be made one amongst ourselves. Add that Paul is now discoursing not only of mutual communion among men, but of the spiritual union of Christ and believers, in order thence to infer that it is intolerable sacrilege for them to be mingled with idols. From the whole connection of the passage, therefore, we may infer that koinwnia of the blood is the fellowship which we have with the blood of Christ when he ingrafts us altogether into his body, that he may live in us and we in him. I admit that the mode of expression is figurative, provided only that the reality of the figure be not taken away; in other words, provided the thing itself also be present, and the soul receive the communion of the blood not less than the mouth receives the wine.
After raging at will, he at length, in a short clause, admits that the definition given by our people is not bad, when they call it a distinguished memorial of purchased redemption, but says that it explains only the half of it, not the whole as if heaven and earth were to be confounded whenever a complete definition is not given. He allows us to use the expression, that the unity of the Church is represented by symbols; but if ever he observes that any of our people has so spoken, he gets into a passion, as if the body of Christ were according to us nothing but the fellowship of the Church, although they all with one consent declare that the whole body is joined together by the head; in other words, that believers are formed into one body in no other way than by being united with Christ. When he denies absolutely that the name body can be applied to the mystical body ,of the Church, let him settle the matter with Paul, who has ventured so to apply it.
From my having charged Westphal with senselessness for having first condemned all tropes, and then found it impossible to disentangle himself without a trope, he beseeches all his readers to attend and see what a grievous fault I have committed. And not contented with simple objurgation, he asks at himself, What fury drives me on to presume to launch such a calumny at him? Let the reader then attend and see with what dexterity he wards off my javeline. I said, I admit that there was as much consistency in the deliriums of a frantic person, as in the two things, viz., saying that the words of Christ are clear and need no interpretation, and then admitting a trope, which, however, does not prevent the bread from being properly the body of Christ. He answers, that he has indefinitely opposed a true trope, which the nature of the passage rendered necessary to a false trope. As if I had lain in wait to catch him at fault in a single word, and had not rather made his gross error palpable.
He keeps ever crying that all are heretics who, in attempting to explain the words of Christ, differ from each other. He cannot get off without giving his own exposition, and yet he differs from us. What then follows, but just that he must be classed among heretics? If the body of Christ is given in the bread, and through the bread, and is received with the bread, it is clear that the bread is figuratively called the body, as containing the body in it, but is not naturally and properly that which it is said to be. I am aware how doggedly he sometimes insists on the words, maintaining that a clearer sentence is not to be found in Scripture. But when he comes to the point, he, along with his masters, admits of this exposition — that the body of Christ is contained under the bread, is held forth in the bread, and is received with the bread. For what could be more monstrous than to deny that the bread is a symbol of the body, and not distinguish the earthly sign from its heavenly mystery? The words cannot be taken in an absolutely literal sense without holding that the bread is converted into the body, so that the visible bread is the invisible body; without holding, in short, that the two propositions are equally literal — Christ is the beloved Son of God, and the bread is the body of Christ.
But there is no need to discuss the matter as if there were any doubt about it, when nothing is more common or more generally received among them than that the body of Christ is given under the bread. The Papists could better evade the necessity of a trope by their transubstantiation. How can he, who acknowledges that the bread and the body are different things, get rid of a figure in the words, This is my body? What? When the cup is called blood, are they not forward to explain that the thing containing is taken from the thing contained? I am not therefore playing the heroics in trifles when I say, I care not with whom it is that this frantic man, who so beautifully mauls himself, contends. This it was absolutely necessary to say, if I would not knowingly betray the cause. Let him learn henceforth not to trifle so in a serious matter.
I again freely repeat, that unless he can show that his trope is sanctioned by public consent, he, out of his own mouth, stands condemned of heresy, having boldly pronounced all without exception to be heretics who, in explaining the words of Christ, admit a figure. He artfully gets off by upbraiding me with wishing to appear facetious. See, Joachim, which of the two is fourier of facetiousness — I who, without any affectation, used that expression which was naturally suggested by the circumstances, or you who, without any wit, go far to seek your frigid buffoonery? But your triumph, that your trope was sanctioned by Christ and his Apostles, is not chanted by you before victory; for you cease not to applaud yourself for having already vanquished me and laid me prostrate. Your boast is that you agree with Christ — a sure and invincible argument, if the fact is conceded to you. But on what principle do you assume it to be more in accordance with the words of Christ, to hold that the bread is called the body, because the body is given with it, than because it is a visible symbol of the body, and a symbol conjoined with its reality?
As you allege that Scripture is not tied down to the laws of logicians or grammarians, which we willingly grant you, I will ask, with what conscience, or even with what face, you, in the same page, charge us with contradiction, because in the words of Christ some of us say there is a synecdoche, others a metaphor, others a metonymy; for if all these figures are Mike respectful, every man should be left to his freedom. But as Joachim concludes, that though our people agree in defending their doctrine, and there is some consonance in their words, they yet write contradictorily, I, in my turn, am at liberty to conclude from clear demonstration, that he acts neither honestly nor ingenuously, when, from an insatiable love of contention, he, for the purpose of making out a difference, fastens upon things which could very easily be reconciled, wrests much in a calumnious spirit from its true meaning, and converts every slight variation into a serious disagreement: that in endeavoring as far as he can to darken and mystify our Agreement, in which all differences are buried, he is the enemy of peace and concord: and that it is mere impudence which makes him bring into the arena of conflict men who have explained this article of doctrine in the same words with greater consent than has hitherto been done by any out of the herd of those whom he opposes to us as enemies.
I come now to the second part, in which he endeavors to clear himself from the charge of having uttered a calumny, in saying that we leave nothing in the sacraments but empty signs. Here there is an opportunity of seeing how stupidly obstinate he is. We uniformly testify in our writings, that the sacraments which the Lord has left us as seals and testimonies of his grace, differ widely from empty figures. Our Agreement distinctly declares, that the Lord, who is true, performs inwardly by his Spirit that which the sacraments figure to the eye, and that when we distinguish between the signs and the thing signified, we do not disjoin the reality from the sign. This view is followed out more clearly and fully in my Defense.
The substance, however, is, that Christ is truly offered to us by the sacraments, in order that being made partakers of him, we may obtain possession of all his blessings; in short, in order that he may live in us and we in him. Does not he who, on the other hired, keeps crying out that we convert them into empty signs, plainly reduce Christ and all his virtue to nothing? For if Christ is any thing, and any value is set on his spiritual riches, the pledge by which he communicates himself to us must not be called empty and void. Should I now rejoin, as I am perfectly entitled to do, that Christ is nothing at all to Westphal, he would complain of grievous injustice being done him. And not to waste more words in debt to, let him simply tell me, if he contends that signs which carry with them the true fruition of Christ are empty, what value he puts upon Christ? If a complete fullness of spiritual blessings does not make the signs to contain something real and solid, is not the virtue of the Holy Spirit, according to him, evanescent? What impostures can he employ so as to prevent this execrable blasphemy from becoming instantly apparent? His attempt to obscure the light, by covering it over, is mere childishness.
He says that tropes have been discovered even in the word is and the term body, in order to prove the absence of Christ. But according to us, the bread means body in such a sense, that it effectually and in reality invites us to communion with Christ. For we say that the reality which the promise contains is there exhibited, and that the effect is annexed to the external symbol. The trope, therefore, by no means makes void the sign, but rather shows how it is not void. No more does the absence of a local body make void the sign, because Christ ceases not to offer himself to be enjoyed by his faithful followers, though he descend not to the earth.
In vain does he endeavor to find a subterfuge in my acknowledgment, that Oecolompadius and Zuinglius, at the commencement of the dispute, from being too intent on refuting superstition, did not speak of the sacraments in sufficiently honorable terms, and discourse of their effect, and that the churches were now to be distinctly informed how far, and in what things agreement has been made. We stated the matter articulately, in order that no part of the controversy might be omitted. A clearer and fuller exposition was added afterwards. What else then is this but to remain blind in light, which even the blind may see? Will he here again tell me theft I have a two-edged sword; that if he produces clear passages, I accuse him of uttering contradictions; and if he omits them, charge him with perfidy? I was perfectly entitled to charge him with perfidy, for having laid hold of mutilated passages, to make them the ground of a calumnious charge; and I showed at the same time, that his absurdity could not be better established than by the passages which he had quoted, and which would remove every ground of suspicion.
In one place he takes away the half of a sentence, and picks a quarrel with us as to the other half. I refer my readers to the book; an inspection of it detects and proves the malice of Joachim. While the passages produced by him clear us from his calumnies, why should I disguise that in other passages he is at war with himself? There is no reason, therefore, why he should upbraid me with having a two-edged sword, seeing he cuts his wretched self in two, and furnishes me with two swords whose edge he would fan have taken off by his blunt dilemma. Assuredly though no blow should be struck by me, he is proved to have been every way a calumniator, when seeking to bring groundless obloquy upon us, he alleged that we left nothing in the sacraments but bare and empty signs.
If he has any thing in common with Luther, he thinks he has in his authority a complete exculpation from the charge. He says then, that Luther wrote that all who refuse to believe that the true and natural body of Christ is in the sacred Supper, are ranked by him in the same place.
Luther was too imperious in this, not deigning to distinguish between opinions most remote from each other, and confounding them contrary to their nature. This passage amply proves that I did not speak rashly in saying that Luther, inflamed by false informers, pleaded this matter too vehemently. Who does not see that he would have laid more restraint upon himself had he not been urged to this extravagance by a foreign impulse?
Westphal certainly pays little honor to Luther, and would have others pay little, by denying him the slight degree of judgment necessary to distinguish between an empty and imaginary phantom, and a spiritual partaking of Christ. We assert that in the sacred Supper we are truly made partakers of Christ, so that by the sacred agency of the Spirit, he instills life into our souls from his flesh. Thus the bread is not the empty picture of an absent thing, but a true and faithful pledge of our union with Christ.
Some one will say, that the symbol of bread does not shadow forth the body of Christ any otherwise than a lifeless statue represents Hercules or Mercury. This fiction is certainly not less remote from our doctrine than profane is from sacred. Does not he, then, who, pulling us from our place, precipitates us into the same condemnation, destroy the distinctions of things, as if by shutting his eyes he could pluck the sun from the sky?
Though I said that we comprehended in our Agreement what the Confession of Augsburg contains, there is no ground for charging me with deceit; for I subscribe to the words which I there quoted. As to their meaning, since Westphal is no competent judge, to whom can I better appeal than to the author himself? If he declares that I deviate in the smallest from his idea, I will immediately submit. The case is different with Luther. I have always candidly declared what I felt wanting in his words, so far am I from having bound myself to them. I care not for the great delicacy of Westphal, who seems to think it an intolerable affront to Luther to say, that in the dispute he was carried beyond just bounds. He asks, Do you call the servant of God contentious? I do not; but as it happens even to the most moderate men to exceed the proper limit in debate, if I deplore this in Luther, whose vehemence is known to all, there is nothing strange in it. Westphal is sorry without cause, that I attempted a fallacious reconciliation between Luther and Zuinglius, when I wished to bury their unhappy conflicts. Granting that their views were repugnant, what forbids us, warned by their example, both to weigh the matter in calm temper and deliver the sound doctrine in a more temperate style?
Westphal, who will not hear of this, only gives readers of sense a proof of his sour rigidity.
He infers that if I still continue in the belief which I professed about twenty years ago, there is nothing I less believe than that the body of Christ is given substantially in the Supper. Though I confess that our souls are truly fed by the substance of Christ’s flesh, I certainly do this day, not less than formerly, repudiate the substantial presence which Westphal imagines: for though the flesh of Christ gives us life, it does not follow that his substance must be transferred into us. This fiction of transfusion being taken out of the way, it never came into my mind to raise a debate about the term substance. Nor will I ever hesitate to acknowledge that, by the secret virtue of the Holy Spirit, life is infused into us from the substance of his flesh, which not without reason is called heavenly food.
In constantly affirming this, my simplicity was always too great for your calumnies to have the least effect in obscuring its light or destroying its credit. I said that the body of Christ is exhibited in the Supper effectually, not naturally, — in respect of virtue, not in respect of substance. In this last term I referred to a local infusion of substance. At the same time, however, I said that Christ does not communicate his blessings to us except in so far as he is himself ours. In this doctrine I still persist, and therefore Westphal is no less ignorant than unjust in comparing me to an eel. What does he find dubious or equivocating in the doctrine, that the body of Christ is truly spiritual food, by whose substance our souls are fed and live, and that this is fulfilled to us in the Supper not less really than it is figured by the external symbols? Only let no one falsely imagine that the body is as it were brought down from heaven and enclosed in the bread. This exception offends Westphal, and he exclaims that I am an eel which cannot be held by the tail.
He says that I was more guarded in my Commentaries, and tempered my colors so that some, though not stupid or obtuse, could scarcely divine what I meant. As to my desire, this much I sacredly declare, that while I most religiously endeavored to deliver divine truth purely and sincerely, it was no less nay care to express myself in a manner distinguished by its simplicity and perspicuity. What I gained by my diligence is declared by the books themselves, which he pretends to have been more acceptable from my seeming to be of the same sentiments with his party; whereas now since the Agreement has brought me forth from my lurking-places into the light, they have fallen into disrepute. What favor my Commentaries acquired with Westphal and his fellows, and what the Agreement has cost them, I know not. But what if it can be properly shown that every article which he censures in the Agreement was taken from my Commentaries, or stands there in almost as many words?
Whence this new alienation? What he aims at no man is so dull as not to scent. Indeed, in another place he does not disguise that he is aiming with his fellows to exterminate my books in all quarters. With what fairness, let themselves see; since it is not probable that they were acceptable to pious readers without being fit and useful for the edification of the Church. I believe that honest men, and men of sound judgment who have experienced this, will not be so fastidious, as for one article to deprive themselves of the benefit of manifold instruction.
How beautifully consistent he is, let the reader judge from two of his sentences. He says, that in writing my Defense I had again recourse to subterfuges, that I might walk about incognito, covered by a cloud; while, in the next page, he declares it unnecessary to furnish proofs to convict me of holding different sentiments, because the Defense alone supplies them in abundance. Where, then, is the cloud in which I wished to be shrouded?
He says, that I am not so concealed by my disguises as not to betray myself. Had I been attempting any thing fraudulent, a slight degree of caution might have enabled me to be on my guard. But the reader will find that nothing has been my greater care than, in absence of all ambiguity, to deliver distinctly what I daily profess and teach in the Church, and what God is my best witness and judge that I sincerely believe. Westphal having divided whatever he deemed deserving of censure, or at least wished to carp at, into nine heads, I will follow the same order.
FIRST, Because I say, that Christ dwelling in us raises us to himself, and transfuses the life-giving rigor of his flesh into us, just as we are invigorated by the vital warmth of the rays of the sun; and again, that Christ, while remaining in heaven, descends to us by his virtue, he charges me with overturning the faith of the Church, as if I were denying that Christ gives us his body. But when I say that Christ descends to us by his virtue:, I deny that I am substituting something different, which is to have the effect of abolishing the gift of the body, for I am simply explaining the mode in which it is given. He rejoins, that I am deceiving by using the term body in an ambiguous sense. But I thought I had sufficiently obviated such cavils by so often repeating, that it was the true and natural body which was offered on the cross. From what forge the fiction of a twofold body proceeded, I know not: this I know, that I hold it detestable impiety to imagine Christ with two bodies. I know, indeed, that the mortal body which Christ once assumed is now endued with new qualities of celestial glory, which, however, do not prevent it from being in substance the same body. I say, then, that. by that body which hung on the cross our souls are invigorated with spiritual life, just as our bodies are nourished by earthly bread. But as distance of place seems to be an obstacle, preventing the virtue of Christ’s flesh from reaching us, I explain the difficulty by saying, that Christ, without changing place, descends to us by his virtue. Is it to use subterfuge, when I simply define the mode of that eating which others mystify by a perplexed mode of teaching it?
Westphal insists that the body of Christ is given in the Supper to be eaten, and. thinks it impious to inquire into the mode. Should any one object that, according to Peter, Christ is contained in heaven until he appear to judge the world, he does not admit the clear evidence of Scripture. I again, leaving Christ ill his heavenly seat, am contented to be fed with his flesh by the secret influence of his Spirit. Which of the two is it that sports in tortuous courses? But when I inculcate that the reality is conjoined with the signs, I mean the virtue of the sacrament, not the substance of the flesh. Granting it to be so, still it will not be a bare sign if it is not devoid of virtue and effect. But from what does he infer, that I take away the substance of the flesh? Just because I say, that so far as spiritual effect goes, we become partakers of the body of Christ not less truly than we eat bread. For he infers that I manifestly deny the presence of the substance of the body, if the body is only exhibited, inasmuch as its spiritual virtue is exerted on believers.
If he is contending for a local presence, I assuredly confess that I abhor that gross fiction. For I hold that Christ is not present in the Supper in any other way than this because the minds of believers (this being an heavenly act) are raised by faith above the world, and Christ, by the agency of his Spirit, removing the obstacle which distance of space might occasion, conjoins us with his members. Westphal objects that the merits or benefits of Christ are not his body. But why does he maliciously extenuate the force of an expression by which I highly extol our communion with Christ? For I not only say that his merits are applied, but that our souls receive nourishment from the very body of Christ in the same way as the body eats earthly bread. In adding the proviso, “ as far as spiritual effect goes,” my object is to prevent any one from dreaming that Christ cannot be offered to us in the Supper without being locally enclosed. He is offended at my opposing a real to an imaginary communion. What more, then, does he ask? That I should oppose it to one in figure. This I might easily grant, provided he would not deny what ought to be known to all pious men as one of the first elements of the faith — that the bread is a sign or figure of the body. Provided there is agreement as to this, I now again confirm what I have hitherto professed, that as the thing itself is present, a bare figure is not to be imagined. Thai; Bucer, of blessed memory, took the same view, I can easily prove by clear evidence.
Though I have classed among opinions to be rejected the idea that the body of Christ is really and substantially present in the Supper, this is not at all repugnant to a true and real communion, which consists in our ascent to heaven, and requires no other descent in Christ than that of spiritual grace. It is not necessary for him to move his body from its place in order to infuse his vivifying virtue into us. Wishing to point out the difference between the two modes of presence, he calls the former physical, and stammers as to the other, merely saying that the presence of the body is asserted by his party. But a division is vicious when the members coincide with each other. Westphal insists on the presence of the flesh of Christ in the Supper: we do not deny it, provided he will rise upwards with us by faith. But if he means, that Christ is placed there in a corporeal manner, let him seek other supporters.
We do not shelter ourselves under the ambiguity of the term physical, for we object no less decidedly to a fictitious ubiquity than to a mathematical circumscription under the bread. Westphal will deny that he imagines a physical presence of Christ, because he does not include the body lineally under the bread. I rejoin, that he does no less erroneously when assigning an immense body to Christ, he contends that it is present wherever the Supper is celebrated. For to say that the body which the Son of God once assumed, and which, after being once crucified, he raised to heavenly glory, is atopov (without place,) is indeed very atopov (absurd.) What he afterwards triflingly says about a spiritual body, he falsely and without color applies to us. Let him with his band dream as they will of a spiritual body, which has no affinity with a real body, I deem it unlawful to think or speak of any other body than that which was offered on the cross to expiate the sins of the world, and has been received into heaven. If Westphal cannot, without indignation, hear of that body as spiritual nourishment, who can labor to appease him? He says, that it is fallaciously opposed to the presence and reception of a true body. I rejoin, that if he is not craftily glossing the matter, he is under a gross delusion, as the controversy with us is not as to reception, but only the; mode of reception.
He conceives that there is no bodily presence if the body lurk not everywhere diffused under the bread; and if believers do not swallow the body, he thinks that they are denied the eating of it. We teach that Christ is to be sought by faith, that he may manifest his presence; and the mode of eating which we hold is, that by the gift of his Spirit he transfuses into us the vivifying influence of his flesh. This is not to bring down the mysteries of faith to carnal sense, or measure them by natural reason, as Westphal falsely pretends, but is to make the sacred ordinance of the Supper conformable to the rule of faith. Westphal objects, that whatever is done according to the word of God and faith is done spiritually, without considering that the word of God itself prescribes to us how we are to behave in regard to spiritual ordinances.
Of old the fathers were commanded to prostrate themselves before the ark of the covenant, and there worship God. I ask, if it would have been sufficient to fasten upon the mere word, and pay no regard to the kind of worship. Gross and brutish men, as a pretext for superstition, might easily have alleged, that as they were obeying the precept of the law, they were worshipping God spiritually. But the servants of God were prepared with the answer, that they, by blindly and absurdly wresting the word of God, were feeling and acting carnally. Wherefore if Westphal would prove himself spiritual, let him cease to insist on his own sense, with which, when a man is fascinated, he will never come to the proper end. Whom can he persuade that we treat the holy Supper carnally, by wresting the Scriptures contrary to the word and to faith? I confess, if it were conceded to him that the bread is the body of Christ, but not a symbol, all err from the faith who say that the body is represented under the symbol of bread.
But in order to wrest the word from us, he wildly tears up the first elements of piety. He says, that all we preach about spiritual eating, goes to aggravate our crime, because, according to him, it shamefully sports with Christ’s little ones. Our exposition is, that the flesh of Christ is spiritually eaten by us, because he vivifies our souls in the very manner in which our bodies are invigorated by food: only we exclude a transfusion of substance. According to Westphal, the flesh of Christ is not vivifying unless its substance is devoured. Our crime then is, that we do not open our arms to the embrace of such a monster.
His SECOND HEAD is, That; the presence and taking of the body and blood, is made by me to consist in the spiritual fruition of Christ, so that eating the flesh and drinking the blood is nothing else than believing in Christ.
And yet my writings everywhere proclaim, that eating differs from faith, inasmuch as it is an effect of faith. I did not begin only three days ago, to say that we eat Christ by believing, because being made truly partakers of him, we grow up into one body, and have a common life with him. Years have now elapsed since I began, and have never ceased to repeat this. How base then was it in Westphal, while my words distinctly declare that eating is something else than believing, impudently to obtrude, what I strenuously deny, upon his readers, as if it had been actually uttered by me? The reason, no doubt, is, that in his eagerness to misrepresent me, he would rather be detected in falsehood than not do something to excite prejudice against me. This vile fiction he cloaks by saying, that according to me the body of Christ is eaten by us in the present day in no other manner than it anciently was by the Fathers, as all communicate with Christ and enjoy him. Therefore, according to me, to eat the flesh of Christ is nothing else than to believe. Perhaps he thinks that fruition and communion are to go for nothing.
Desiring to throw obloquy upon me, he now, with the same sincerity, substitutes looking in the room of fruition, as if I taught that Christ is eaten in no other way than when faith looks to him as having died for us.
Why should I now attempt to refute this calumny, from which an hundred passages in my books are my vindicators? But since Westphal more than acquits me in the same page, I will not go farther for my defense: for he quotes my words, that the spiritual mode of communion consists in our really enjoying Christ; that the bread is a symbol of Christ’s body; so that those who receive the sign by the mouth, and the promise by faith, are truly made partakers of Christ. Does he, by these words, prove it to be my doctrine, that the fruition of Christ is nothing else than the look of faith? Here, then, the reader perceives by what glosses the obscures my doctrine, or rather, how he manifests his own impurity, and employs it in foully bespattering the clearest truth.
Of the same nature is his next assertion, that if my words are taken, to eat the body of Christ is equivalent to receiving the promise by faith. But how dare he so prostitute himself? Taking himself as. witness, I distinctly affirm, that those who receive the promise by faith, become truly partakers of Christ, and are fed by his flesh. Therefore, the eating of Christ is something else than the receiving of the promise, if indeed he admits that the cause differs from its effect. For who will not infer from my words, that it is the incomparable fruit of faith to make the flesh of Christ spiritual aliment to us? Lest any one should think that the promise by which the body of Christ is offered to us is without efficacy, I deny that any who receive the promise by faith go away from the Supper empty and void, for they truly enjoy Christ who was once offered. How will he invert the thing, so as to make readers who have eyes believe that I deny what I distinctly affirm? When he imputes it to me as a crime, that I teach that nothing is received by the mouth but the sign, I am so far from refusing to take it so, that I am willing that the whole controversy shall be decided on these terms. ‘The ground of Westphal’s quarrel with me is revealed and laid open by this one word; for he acknowledges none as brethren but those who come with mouth and stomach to devour Christ.’ I deny not, indeed, that those who exclude the substance of vivifying flesh and blood from the communion, defraud themselves of the use of the Supper. I only object, that things devised by Westphal’s own brain are made a ground of charge against us. For although we bring not down the substance of Christ’s body from heaven to give us life, yet we are far from excluding it from the Supper, as we testify that from it life flows into us.
His THIRD HEAD is, That I deny the true presence of the body and blood when I infer the absence of Christ in respect of body. My readers will pardon me for being forced to go over the same ground so often in refuting the prattle of this man. How distance of place does not prevent Christ from being present with his people in the Supper, I formerly considered.
The principle I always hold is, that in order to gain possession of Christ, he must be sought in heaven, not only that we may not have any earthly imagination concerning him, but because the body in which the Redeemer appeared to the world, and which he once offered in sacrifice, must now be contained in heaven, as Peter declares. I acknowledge, however, that by the virtue, of his Spirit and his own divine essence, he not only fills heaven and earth, but also miraculously unites us with himself in one body, so that that flesh, although it remain in heaven, is our food. Thus I teach that Christ, though absent in body, is nevertheless not only present with us by his divine energy, which is everywhere diffused, but also makes his flesh give life to us. For seeing he penetrates to us by the secret influence of his Spirit, it is not necessary, as we have elsewhere said, that he should descend bodily.
Westphal here exclaims that I am opposing the presence of the Spirit to the presence of the flesh; but any one not blinded by malevolence sees that the same passage makes it clearly evident how far I do so. For I do not simply teach that Christ dwells in us by his Spirit, but that he so raises us to himself as to transfuse the vivifying rigor of his flesh into us. Does not this assert a species of presence, viz., that our souls draw life from the flesh of Christ, although, in regard to space, it is far distant from us?
Westphal cannot bear to hear it said that Christ, while wholly remaining in heaven, descends to us by his virtue. His reason is, that the Church believes that; wherever the Supper is celebrated his body is present.
Provided he hold the mode of presence which I explained, I object not to this view. But if he insists on bringing Christ down from heaven, as Numa Pompilius did his Jupiter, he is the Church to himself. When he admits that Christ is not now conversant on the earth as he was in the time of his public ministry, what does it imply but. just that he supposes him still to dwell on earth, though invisibly? When Scripture speaks of the ascension of Christ, it declares, at the same time, that he will come again. If he now occupies the whole world in respect of his body, what else was his ascension, and what will his descent be, but a fallacious and empty show?
If he is so near us in respect of body, was it not absurd that the heavens should be opened to let Stephen see him sitting in his glory?
I know how they are wont to quibble, that by the term heaven nothing more is meant than his boundless glory. But if he was expressly taken up from the earth, and a cloud was interposed, in order that pious minds might rise upwards, it is absurd to introduce an invisible habitation, which, preventing the ascent of faith, causes us to rest on the earth. Westphal must therefore have done with his pretended judgment of the Church, making it a deviation from sound faith not to admit that Christ is bodily present in the Supper. No man will place such an one as he on the throne of judgment, and thereby eject Augustine from the Church. For Augustine clearly affirms with us, (in Joann. Tract. 50,) that “Christ, in respect of the presence of his majesty, is always present with believers, but that in respect of the presence of his flesh, it was rightly said to the disciples, ‘ Me ye have not always.’” And lest the term flesh should be captiously laid hold of as a subterfuge, he more fully explains it to be his meaning that Christ has taken his crucified body to heaven, and therefore it does not continue with us. Westphal, on the other hand, objects that we separate the Church, the Word, and the Sacraments, from the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us. Let him then quit the Church, whose faith he professes in my words. He has said, more than an hundred times, that the Supper is the sacred bond of our union with Christ. In defending our Agreement, I openly maintain that Christ effectually uses this instrument, in order to dwell in us. While Westphal borrows my words to expound the faith of the Church, he at least gives me some place in the Church. What new asylum, then, will he seek for himself? For who will consent to his fiction in regard to a gross partaking of the body? We, too, admit as well as he, that Christ denies his Spirit to all who reject the participation of his flesh.
The only question between us here is, whether or not the partaking of the Spirit is carnal?
In the FOURTH HEAD, Westphal plainly lets out that he acknowledges none but a carnal presence of the flesh. Let him have done, then, with those bad names which he employs to darken the cause. At the outset I am called a Sacramentarian. I am said to defame those who hold that the true flesh of Christ is distributed in the Supper: as if I did not uniformly declare, in distinct terms, that nourishment from the true flesh of Christ is set before us in the Supper. What, then, does he gain by employing the mists of lies to darken the light which clearly removes all difficulty from the case? If any sincerely and distinctly teach that the flesh of Christ is set before us to be eaten by us, I, too, am of the number: I only explain the manner, viz., that Christ overcomes the distance of space by employing the agency of his Spirit to inspire life into us from his flesh. Which of the two speaks and thinks more honorably of Christ — I, who surmount all impediments by faith, or Westphal, to whom the flesh of Christ gives no life, if it be not introduced into his mouth and stomach? There is nothing to perplex in my statement. If he insists that the flesh of Christ is distributed, I assent; and when the question relates to the mode, I set it before the eye, while he involves it in ambiguity. If my readers bear this in mind, Westphal will henceforth gain nothing by falsely pretending that our quarrel is about the partaking of the flesh of Christ. He could not say this through ignorance, after being so carefully warned by me. Merely to make the ignorant think he was gaining a victory, he, without any reverence or modesty, has tried to darken what is clear as day.
Equally paltry is the figment he subjoins, that we do not think the real body can be given to us unless we see and handle the flesh and the bones.
Nay, rather, instead of dragging the body down from heaven, we believe that it is given to us so as to nourish and invigorate our souls unto spiritual life. Thus, when he introduces his objection, that we, in explaining the mode, measure the mystery of the Supper by geometrical reasons, it is; obvious and easy to answer, that it is clear, on his own showing, that we rather hang on the lips of Christ, since he is perpetually crying that we wrest our Savior’s words, Handle and see: a Spirit has not flesh and bones.
What are we to think of the body of Christ, but just what he himself says of it? We do not call in the aid of Euclid to assist us, but acquiesce in the declaration of the Son of God, from whom we can best learn what the nature of his body is. Westphal, feeling it impossible to twist this in any way, has recourse to a most perverse fiction, viz., that Christ spoke thus to prove the truth of his resurrection, but that the object of the Supper is different. My answer is, that though the Lord instituted the Supper for a different purpose, yet his declaration concerning the nature of his body always remains true.
To take off the apparent absurdity of teaching that the body is everywhere invisibly present — the very body which we know to have been enclosed in the Virgin’s womb, suspended on the cross, and laid in the sepulcher — they tell us, that the immensity of which they speak is competent to a heavenly and glorious body. Our answer is obvious, that the body was glorious at the time when our Savior gave it to the disciples to be felt and seen. This answer is certainly relevant, and there is therefore no ground for what Westphal trumpets forth with regard to a conflict between theology and philosophy. For it is not philosophy that dictates to us either that human flesh is endued with spiritual virtue, so as to give life to our souls, or that this life breathes from heaven, or that we gain effectual possession of the same life under the external symbol of bread.
Nothing of this kind lies within the reach of common sense, or can come forth from schools of philosophy. Hence it appears how careful we are to extol the mystery of the Supper, as transcending the reach of human intellect;.
But Westphal introduces ‘the Author of nature as speaking on the opposite side. And what does he say? That he gives his body. Let our antagonist himself then come forth and overturn the belief of this promise which we reverently embrace. For although our eyes see nothing but bread and wine, yet by faith we apprehend the life which, emanating from the flesh and blood of Christ, penetrates even to our souls. He orders us by the mouth of Christ to answer, whether credit is to be given to carnal reason or to the Son of God? I would rather perish an hundred times than put one little word of Christ into, the balance, and counterweigh it by the whole body of philosophy, as Westphal demands. ‘We hold the authority of Christ not only sacred and complete in itself, autopistov but amply sufficient to subdue all the wisdom of the world. The question to be decided is very different. It is, whether credit is to be given to the heavenly oracles which declare that we are to hope for a resurrection which shall make our mean and corruptible body like unto the glorious body of Christ — that the Son of man shall come on the clouds of heaven to judge the world — that Jesus of Nazareth, after ascending to heaven, will come in like manner as he was seen to ascend?
Let Westphal say whether he thinks that anybody will be immense at the last day. For when Paul asks us to form an estimate of the power of Christ from the fact of his transforming our bodies into the same glory, either that power is reduced to nothing, or we must believe that the body of Christ is not more immense now than ours will then be. Our inference drawn from what Scripture says concerning the ascent of Christ to heaven and his second advent, Westphal confidently derides, as if the body of Christ, which was taken up to heaven in visible shape, for the sake of proving the resurrection, had afterwards laid aside its form and dimension. But the angels speak of its remaining in the same state from its ascension until the last day.
He ultimately tries to evade us by a silly quibble. He says that our physical notion is at variance with Paul’s, when he declares that Christ ascended above all heavens. What? Do we place Christ midway among the spheres? or do we build a cottage for him among the planets? Heaven we regard as the magnificent palace of God, far outstripping all this world’s fabric. Westphal makes a great talk about our making Christ dwell without having any locality: as if we had not taken care to obviate this quibble. Our reason for denying that Christ is concealed under the bread is, not because he is not properly enclosed by place, but because superior to all elements he dwells beyond the world. He rejoins, that it is not more contradictory of physical ideas to hold that the body is in several places, than that it is contained by no place. I again repeat that we have no dispute about physical ideas, but only contend for the reality of the body as asserted by Scripture. Though the body carried above the heavens is exempt from the common order of nature, it does not however cease to be a true body: though deprived of earthly qualities, it still retains its proper substance.
Unjustly, therefore, does Westphal charge us with leaning more on the dictates of philosophy than on the word of God. I in my turn admonish him to lay aside his petulance, and allow himself to be instructed in the genuine meaning. of the word of God. If he will not, I must. leave him and the phantom which he absurdly discovers in the words of Christ.
The FIFTH HEAD relates to the transfusion of substance, where, after his manner, he begins with stating that I regard the faith of the Church as a dream. I wonder why he had not at least learned from Luther, whom he always pretends to be his master, to use the name of the Church more sparingly and modestly; for I have never yet seen any Papist use it more wantonly and with more unbridled audacity. I ask, not indignantly but on the strongest reason, whether we ought to dream that the substance of Christ is transfused into us and thereby defiled by our impurities? This rare orator, who without any color talks of my rage, flames out as if I were imputing my own dreams to him. I have no wish to throw such grave suspicion either on him individually or on his party; my purpose being rather to dispose of the suspicion implied in his value words. And I will now show by my example how much better it. is civilly to embrace what is rightly said, than, as he is wont, to reject it disdainfully and in the slump.
Laying aside contention, then, I willingly take ,what he grants me, viz., that the flesh of Christ is neither transfused into us, nor placed in the bread, nor conjoined with the bread. As far as I am concerned, he shall hear: no more of those forms of expression, which he complains to have been falsely devised by us to distort the contrary dogma. I wish that the modesty and sobriety which he pretends were apparent in their books, in which nothing else is thought of than the urging of their fiction, that the body of Christ is in the bread. However, I make it perfectly free for Westphal to give utterance to his convictions in whatever terms he pleases. He says, it is enough for him that the wisdom of the Eternal Father declares, that the body is given, that the body is actually present in the Supper; but as to the mode of presence, seeing it is incomprehensible, he does not inquire. My sure and simple defense is, that to the giving of the body, its presence is not at all requisite: for as I have already explained, the obstacle arising from distance of space is surmounted by the boundless energy of the Spirit. We both acknowledge that the body is given; but I hold that a bodily presence is thence erroneously inferred. Still I deny not that there is a mystery, surpassing human comprehension, in the fact, that Christ in heaven feeds us on earth with his flesh, provided he refuse not to obviate the absurdities which he carelessly passes by with his eyes shut What can be more tyrannical than to urge the presence in a single word, and then make it unlawful to inquire into it farther; to send forth monosyllables as edicts, and then enslave every mind, as well as stop every mouth Westphal says, that our talk about the mixture of Christ’s substance with our own. is supposititious. Let him, therefore, explain how the bread which is eaten by the mouth is the body of Christ. He refuses, nay, pronounces wo on those who presume to inquire. Such is his magisterial theology. With the same imperiousness, he declares it to be my custom to hold all as dreamers who believe that the true body of Christ is given. If he allow us to discuss the matter rationally with him, how will he prove the existence of a custom which is nowhere to be found in my writings? In another place, though he mentions my assertion, that the bread of the Supper is not a bare figure, but is conjoined with its reality and substance, he still contends that I deny all substance in the Supper. In what sense he here uses the term substance, I know not, and do not much care. Let it suffice to remind my readers, that Christ is uniformly called by me the substance of baptism and of the Supper. And that there may be no room for misconception, I say that two things are offered to us, viz., Christ and the gifts which we receive from him. Thus, as the sacred Supper consists of the earthly symbols of bread and wine, so Christ I hold to be, as it were, the spiritual material which corresponds to the symbols. But when we have grown into sacred union with Christ, the fruit and utility of spiritual gifts flows from this, that his blood washes us, the sacrifice of his death reconciles us to God, his obedience produces righteousness and all the benefits which the heavenly Father bestows by his hands.
While this distinction is clearly expressed in the Agreement, Westphal pretends that I transfer the name of substance to the use and virtue of the flesh of Christ, abstracting the substance itself. There is little modesty in this, unless he can persuade others that that to which I assign the first place is reduced to nothing. Still I disguise not that my doctrine differs widely from his fiction of the present substance of the body. It is one thing to say that the substance of Christ is present in the bread to give life to us, and another to say, that the flesh of Christ gives us life, because life flows from its substance into our souls.
Under the SIXTH HEAD he assails me for making the bread and wine to be the body and blood of Christ in the same sense that to the fathers of old the manna was spiritual food, and the rock was Christ. But why is he angry at me rather than at the Apostle? Surely I was entitled to quote his words. But he says the manna and the water were only figures. Let him settle the matter with St. Paul as he will: it is enough for me to be wise according to the rule of the Holy Spirit. Here, at least, he will not object a physical meaning. In regard to the ordinance of the Supper, I dare not form any conception that is not dictated from heaven. Paul, comparing the Jews with us, says, that they ate of the same spiritual meat, and drink of the same spiritual drink. Let Westphal now cry out that there is no obscurity in the words, This is my body. The interpretation of the Apostle is far clearer in my support: for it does not tell us simply that the manna was spiritual food to the fathers, but the same as that which is given us in the Supper.
It cannot be denied that St. Paul there compares the two sacraments.
Unless Westphal holds Paul not to be a competent interpreter, he must admit that the comparison I have made is fairly drawn from it. But then the Son of God had not yet become incarnate. Had he any candor he would not conceal that this difficulty has been solved by me in my Commentary, where I say that the mode in which the fathers ate differed from ours in this, that the eating is now substantial, and could not be so then: Christ now feeding us with the flesh sacrificed for us, that we may draw life from its substance. As the Lamb is said to have been slain from the foundation of the world, so must the fathers under the law have sought spiritual food from the flesh and blood which, in the present day, we enjoy more abundantly not only from the larger measure of revelation, but also because the flesh once offered in sacrifice is daily set before us to be enjoyed. Therefore, when Westphal concludes that we make the figure equal to the reality, he only exposes the extent of his malice, as he is perfectly aware of the different degrees having been observed by me.
How it came into his mind, that I leave nothing to the ancient fathers but a shadow, I cannot conjecture. For although we acknowledge that the whole of the administration of the law was shadowy, yet it is neither lawful nor fight to deny the fathers the reality of the signs which they used. How much better does Augustine, who, distinguishing the species of one symbol from the species of another, places Christ in the middle, as common to both. But if the comparison of things dissimilar shows that we, neglecting the nature of Christ’s ordinance and words, as Westphal alleges, imagine a Supper that is devoid of his flesh and blood; the same charge will fall upon the head of Paul, from whom we derived the view.
Westphal tells us it was not said of the manna, This is the body of Christ that is to come, nor of the water, This is the blood of the new covenant.
But the answer is easy; for he must either deny that there was the game spiritual food under both signs, or admit that what is said of the bread and cup is applicable in its own measure to that legal sacrament. For although Christ, by the substance of the flesh in which he has been manifested, vivifies us more fully than he did the fathers under the law, yet this disparity does not prevent their being partakers in common with us.
Let us see then what cause he has for here exulting so proudly. As these inexorable masters fix us down so closely to words, I said that the bread is called the body and the wine the blood, just as the manna is called Christ and a dove is called the Spirit. We have a dispute as to the expression, our adversaries seizing upon the letter and holding it fast. I produce similar expression, which are the same in effect. If Westphal now objects, that it was said of the bread, This is my body, why may not I in my turn object, that it was said of the old sacrament, (the rock,) This is Christ, and of the dove, This is the Holy Spirit? Until he proves that the rule of grammar is applicable to one passage only, and not to all others, he will not convince sound judges of more than this, that the bread is the body, just as the dove is stiled the Holy Spirit.
Under the SEVENTH HEAD. he resumes the web which he began to weave under the fourth. The repetition will not be disagreeable to me, as It will make more manifest to, the reader what the point is for which he is contending. He alleges that I exhibit a Supper devoid of Christ, because I shut up Christ in heaven, just as Zuinglius did, who insisted that he was to be sought in heaven, and taught that he is received into heaven until he shall appear in judgment. Our good censor perceives not that the words he is lashing, as if they had proceeded from. Zuinglius, were uttered by the Apostle Peter. I omit, that because Zuinglius in explaining his sentiment wrote, Nos volumus, the expression is taken up and criticized, as if that faithful and strenuous teacher of the Church were thereby subjecting Christ to his authority. Trifler, if you know not that the word which Latin writers use, simply to express their meaning, and that without any feeling akin to haughtiness, is volo, where is your erudition which you are so tortured with anxiety to maintain, as is visible from your book? If you know, where is your integrity and candor?
But to come to the point, If, Westphal insists that Christ is not to be sought in heaven, let him explain how, according to Peter, it is necessary that the heavens should receive him. Shutting his eyes to the testimony of Peter, he diverges into a commonplace, that he is not to be sought where men wish, but where he has promised that he will be present: as if we were fighting, him with our own or any human decisions, and not with the oracles of heaven. But Christ exhibits himself in the word and sacraments.
This we deny not: only let the nature of the exhibition be explained. As Westphal here points to the promises, he must necessarily admit that the presence of Christ is manifested without the use of the Supper as well as in the Supper. The promise of Christ is, “I am with you always, even to the end of the world;” and again, “Where two or three are met together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” He will say that there is no mention of flesh and blood. What? Is not the whole and entire Christ, God manifest in the flesh? I hold, therefore, that there also Christ is in a certain sense to be sought.
If we transfer the same thing to the Supper, Westphal puts on his buskins, and getting into the heroics, exclaims, that credit is refused to the words of Christ. Let us have no doubt, says he, that the heaven and earth of God are in the Sacraments, and ‘that Christ is there certainly found. As if it were not an expression of very frequent occurrence, God sitteth between the cherubim. Hence it follows that the holy fathers of old ought there also to have sought him. And indeed when David exhorts them to seek his face, he brings forward the ark of the covenant with the altar and whole sanctuary.
Nor in the present day, when bidding pious minds rise up to heaven, do we turn them away from Baptism and the holy Supper. Nay, rather, we carefully admonish them to take heed that they do not rush upon a precipice, or lose themselves in vague speculations, if they fail to climb up to heaven by those ladders which were not without cause set up for us by God. We teach, therefore, that if believers would find Christ in heaven, they must begin with the word and sacraments. We turn their view to Baptism and the Supper, that in this way they may rise to the full height of celestial glory. Thus Jacob called Bethel the gate of heaven, because aided by vision he did not fix down his mind upon the earth, but learned to penetrate by faith to heaven.
Let Westphal, then, cease to exclaim that it is a total mistake to seek God in any other way than he has revealed. This we teach with greater luster than he can attain to. Let him rather consider with himself what as yet he has not at all apprehended, viz., that God from the first manifested himself by visible symbols that he might gradually raise believers to himself, and conduct them by earthly rudiments to spiritual knowledge. He is far wrong in thinking himself free from all blame, because he preaches that Christ is present where his word and promise are. When the Jews, abusing the word of God, sought him superstitiously in the temple, Scripture rebuked them as severely as if they had gone beyond the limits of the word. It is true, indeed, that Christ is present wherever his promise appears, (it being his living image,) provided we follow where it leads. But Westphal urges us beyond this, to fancy that Christ is present in the Supper in another way than he has expressed in his word; because we deny that he is present with his body and blood, and are dissatisfied with a corporeal presence. Hence also he infers that we have abandoned the true and retain only a void and empty Supper.
It was easy for Westphal with his usual audacity to blurt out something of this kind but who will give him any credit until he has explained how Christ holds forth the bread in the Supper, and yet invites believers upwards, in order to receive his body? This we assert, not trusting to any philosophical speculation, or to the fallacious pretext of any single word, but to the whole doctrine of Scripture. Let this acknowledgment of ours be tested by the analogy of faith, and I have no fear that it will be found to vary from it. If a corporeal presence, the product of a source by no means legitimate, displeases us, does it follow that we do not subscribe to the express words of Christ? The Son of God promises to give his body, and we at once give full credit to his word. And though carnal sense murmurs, and nature receives not a sublime mystery, wonderful even to angels, yet we firmly believe that he, by his celestial energy, accomplishes what the visible symbol figures. While we are thus perfectly at one with our Master, Westphal comes between and raises a disturbance, and, as if we were abolishing the holy Supper by refusing to acknowledge that the bread is substantially the body, declares that, on our view, he gives nothing, and we receive nothing but bread. What? If Christ grants his body to unbelievers, whence this new austerity which denies it to us? He contends, that Christ is accused of falsehood if Judas does not receive his flesh and blood equally as much as Peter. Assume that we, from the small measure of our faith, do not yet understand the miracle which these doctors allege, what so great crime do we commit that they thrust us farther away than Judas? Such, forsooth, is their reverence for Christ that his sacred ordinance has no value for them, unless it rest on their decision. If any filthy fornicator, perjurer, poisoner, robber, any one guilty of atrocious wickedness, any half heathen, comes to the holy Supper, let him bring to it his defilements of iniquity or superstition, these men prostitute Christ’s sacred body to him. To us, because we do not consent to their mode of receiving, they leave nothing but bread and wine.
Westphal also declares, with open mouth, that it can do us no good to talk of spiritual eating, as if the single article about the presence of the flesh were of more consequence than a full and solid faith. In regard to the nature, virtue, and all the benefits of Christ; in regard to the two-fold nature of Christ, his function and office, the efficacy both of his death and resurrection, and his spiritual kingdom, he is forced to admit that my faith is orthodox. He also denies not that the end and use of the Supper is rightly explained by me. All this he values not a straw, because of one little doubt — our refusal to believe that the substance of the flesh is swallowed by the mouth. He says that, as the two things — Do this in remembrance of me, This is my body — are conjoined, we must believe both: it is of no use to believe the one and disbelieve the other. To what end is this wordy denunciation, while the only thing discussed is not the authority of Christ, but only the meaning of the words? I long ago taught with sufficient copiousness that the command and the promise are inseparable. Why then does this declaimer perversely insist, that the form of expression in the words of Christ is not sacramental, and does not at all agree with the other passages of Scripture which treat of the sacraments, and betray his absurdity and heartlessness by calling us unbelievers?
Under the EIGHTH HEAD he maintains, from the absurdities with which I charge the carnal presence, that it is perfectly plain I have no belief at all in any real distribution of the flesh of Christ in the Supper. My answer is, that it is one thing to believe that the body of Christ is truly given to us, and another, that his substance is placed under the earthly elements. This assertion, therefore, as to true partaking, will not prevent me from showing the folly of those who hold that they cannot be the members of Christ in any other way than by having the body of Christ substantially under the bread. But our Westphal, no doubt to show how acute and provident a man he is, takes a short method of saving himself from all the annoyance of discussion, by declaring it unlawful to touch on any absurdity in his idea. His pretense is the clearness of the words, This is my body. Are they clearer than innumerable passages which attribute feet, hands, eyes, and ears to God? Let some anthropomorphite now come forward, and perversely assert that God is corporeal; let him vociferate that there is nothing ambiguous in the words — The eyes of the Lord have seen, The Lord has lifted up his hand, The cry has gone up to the ears of the Lord of hosts: must we be overwhelmed by this series of passages, hold our peace, and allow fanatics to convert spirit into body? It is surely just as tolerable to clothe God with a body as to divest the body of Christ of its proper nature; and just as plausible to support that view by numerous passages of Scripture. There is nothing more in the verbose declaration of Westphal on this part of the subject than there would be in the assertion of an anthropomorphite, that all who deny God to be corporeal are disbelievers in Scripture.
He scolds us roundly for presuming to inquire how we are to reconcile the passages of Scripture which declare that Christ, by his ascension into heaven, has withdrawn his bodily presence, so as no longer to dwell on the earth, and that yet his body is truly offered to believers in the Supper. To any one who gives due attention, and does not exclude the entrance of true knowledge by obstinacy or morose rigidity, the mode of reconciling the passages at once occurs, viz., that Christ, by the incomprehensible agency of his Spirit, perfectly unites things disjoined by space, and thus feeds our souls with his flesh, though his flesh does not leave heaven, and we keep creeping on the earth. Here Westphal, seized by some kind of whirlwind, inveighs against us, denying that we have faith in Christ if we allow ourselves to inquire whether Christ is to be brought down from his heavenly throne to be enclosed in a little bit of bread, or if we object that the bread is not properly the body unless Christ be made bread, just as much as he was made man. I admit it to be impious curiosity to scrutinize the mysteries of God, which lie beyond the reach of our own reason; but we must prudently distinguish between different kinds of questions. For in what labyrinth shall we not be involved if, without taking care to avoid absurdity, we seize at random on every thing that is said. All are aware of the allegory which the ancient Fathers drew from its being required in clean beasts that they should cleave the hoof. They said, that in the same way, if discretion did not guide our faith, we should, under a show of humility, allow ourselves to give foolish and easy credence to the most monstrous dreams.
It remains, therefore, for the reader to examine what the questions are which Westphal so bitterly denounces. At the same time, I would have him observe how tyrannically silence is imposed on us by men who stigmatize an investigation which is absolutely necessary, calling it curiosity, the parent of blasphemy. When he says that we have taken up a wrong beginning, in refusing to believe the words of Christ, he only betrays his excessive stupidity; our diligence in inquiry being rather the proper offspring of faith. When the people of Capernaum regarded the words which fell from the lips of Christ as fabulous, they asked, in scorn, how he could give them his flesh to eat;? It was not more unbelief than a gross imagination that impelled them thus to murmur. A thing which their sense does not comprehend they judge to be impossible. Why so? Just because they foolishly imagine that the flesh of Christ will not be food to them without being eaten in the ordinary way. We, because we reverently embrace the words of Christ, and are firmly persuaded that Christ does not deceive us when he calls the bread which he holds forth to us in the Supper his body, inquire after a mode which may not be at variance with the rule of faith. Westphal, therefore, in inveighing against curious questions, cannot fix any stigma on us, who are evidently compelled clearly to explain what the nature of our participation in the flesh and blood of Christ is, if we would not, under the influence of a brutish stupor, confound heaven with earth. When he says that the Arians fell into horrid blasphemy by philosophically investigating the generation of the Son of God, what resemblance has it, I ask, to any thing we do? Having resolved avowedly to detract from the eternal essence of Christ, they endeavored, by various cavils, to evade whatever favored an opposite view. We, without any craft and without gloss, acknowledge that Christ performs in the Supper what he figures, and explain that the words contain a metonymy which occurs uniformly in all the passages of Scripture which relate to the sacraments. We say that the sacramental mode of expression is to transfer the name of the thing signified to the sign. We make this plain, not by one passage or two, but prove, from the uniform usage of Scripture, that all who are moderately versant in it must regard this as a common axiom.
Were I disposed to amass heresies with that rashness with which Westphal, who makes stupidity the director of our faith, has introduced them, how much more copiously might I be supplied? But not to go farther, I hurl back his Arians at him, and tell him, that the error by which they overthrew the majesty of Christ was the same as that by which he rends his body, by extending it over heaven and earth. Why did the Arians regard Christ as inferior to the Father, but just because they disdainfully rejected the distinction between the divine and the human nature? Arming themselves with the expression, “My Father is greater than I,” they maintained that blasphemous injustice was done to the Supreme God by admitting Christ to an equality of rank. The reason assigned by holy Fathers would have satisfied them if they would only have listened to the fact that Christ was speaking in his character of Mediator. In as far as the mere expression went, they had the advantage; but it was an expression which they had no right to misinterpret and pervert to a vile purpose. If Westphal does not yet recognize himself, the readers, at least, have a mirror in which they can see his living image. We neither imagine monstrosities, when we point out the method by which pious minds may free themselves from difficulty, nor impute to others the offspring of our own house, when we obviate the absurdities which Westphal holds forth for us to swallow without judgment. Far less do we pave the way for the prostitution of religion, while we act so as to place undoubted faith in our Savior’s words, and exhibit the heavenly mystery in its full splendor, yet rejecting all vicious fancies, and maintaining within ourselves, in full rigor, that spiritual communion which comprehends the whole efficacy and fruit of the holy Supper.
Under the NINTH HEAD, Westphal pugnaciously contends that I make void the Supper, because I send unbelievers empty away. He boasts that this is a clear argument, not an uncertain conjecture; for he infers from my words, that I speak only of the virtue and effect of the sacrament whenever I assert that the reality is combined with the sign. To confirm the thing, he adds, that I teach, that though the Lord offers his grace to all, it is received by believers only. I presume, that to the mind of no man, however acute, would this ingenious ratiocination of Westphal have occurred. And who could have guessed that, in using the term grace, I was abolishing the primary head and source of all grace? In speaking of the free mercies of God, I am always accustomed to begin with Christ, and justly; for, until he become ours, we must necessarily be devoid of all the graces, the fullness of which is contained in himself. How far I am from desiring to escape by a sophism, let the passage itself declare.
I have there said, generally, that whatever free gifts God offers us for eternal salvation are received only by faith. Hence it follows, that believers alone are partakers of Christ and his spiritual blessings. Westphal’s clear argument finds what no man would have suspected to be contained in my words. Beginning thus shrewdly, he calumniously misrepresents my doctrine to be, that if a wicked man approaches the table, virtue is no longer connected with the signs, though I have never said any thing of the kind. When he asks, what, then, will become of the word of the Lord which sets the same sacrament before all, whether good or bad, the same page contains an answer, which any man who has eyes may see, nay, which even ‘the blind may feel. Besides, in the Agreement it is distinctly stated that the unbelief of men does not overthrow the faith of God, because the sacraments always retain their virtue; that thus, on the part of God, nothing is changed, whereas, in regard to men, every one receives according to the me sure of his faith. How careful I am to guard against any idea that the truth of God depends on men, let the reader, after perusal, determine.
The substance of what I say is, that there is a wide difference between the two propositions, that the faithfulness of God consists in performing what he demonstrates by a sign, and that man, in order to enjoy the offered grace, makes room for the promise. I think it is now evident to all, that in our doctrine the authority of the word is as stable as the ordinance of the sacrament is firm and efficacious. But Westphal insists that the sacrament remains the same to both as regards the substance, of the flesh, but not as regards the effect. What? Does this mean that unbelievers eat the dead body of Christ? Not at all, he says; for though he who does not use the sacrament; duly receives no gift from the Spirit, still he enjoys the flesh and blood of Christ. Who sees not that Christ is rendered lifeless and is dissevered by sacrilegious divorce from his; Spirit and all his virtue?
He pretends that the sacrament is made by the word, not by our faith.
Were I to grant this, it does not enable him to prove that Christ is prostituted indiscriminately to dogs and swine that they may eat his flesh.
God ceases not to send rain from heaven, though the, moisture is not received by stones and rocks. There is here a strange stupidity. He himself denies the effect of the Supper to unbelievers, without once considering that what he claims for them is the first part of the effect; unless indeed he holds that communion with Christ has nothing to do with the effect of the Supper.
It is worth while here to observe his wondrous shrewdness. He says, that in the Supper, when the word of Christ is added to the bread, the bread becomes a sacrament. Be it so provided he would not add the presence of the flesh. But I willingly allow that the sacrament of flesh and blood is constituted by the words of Christ. Does it therefore follow that the body of Christ is received by unbelievers? Nay; we are always brought back to the same point, that there is a wide difference between offering and receiving.
Westphal adds, that when faith is added to the word, the fruit of the sacrament is received, because we enjoy the benefits of Christ.. What is this but to say that we gain possession of Christ without faith, and yet by faith become partakers of his blessings, thus making Christ inferior to his gifts? He says, that though unbelievers defraud themselves of the benefit, the bread does not however cease to be to them an entire sacrament. Thus the integrity of the sacrament, according to Westphal, consists only in a lifeless Christ. His words are, that in regard to the integrity of the sacrament, the unworthy receive in the very same way as the worthy.
Wherein then will the integrity of baptism consist, if the washing and regeneration are not taken into account?
When Augustine teaches that by the addition of the word the element becomes a sacrament, he is expressly treating of baptism. His words are, Wherefore Christ says not, ye are clean because of the baptism wherewith ye have been washed, but because of the word which I have spoken unto you. The context clearly shows his meaning to be, that by the word the element becomes a sacrament, so that its virtue or effect may reach us.
Westphal, excluding the effect, wrests the meaning, and applies it to some strange figment of substance. Augustine adds, Whence such virtue in water to touch the body and clean the heart, but just from the operation of the word? Such is Augustine’s idea of the integrity of a sacrament, viz., that it is an effectual instrument of grace to us. Westphal imagines this operation of the word to take place without grace. But his disgraceful forging of a false meaning is exposed by the clause which Augustine immediately subjoins, viz., This is done by the word, not because it is said, but because it is believed; whereas Westphal contends that the efficacy there spoken of is effectual without faith, and feigns a word with which faith has nothing to do. And yet, after all this, he dares to lay claim to the support of Augustine: for he asserts, that in several passages free from all ambiguity he says that Judas ate the real body of Christ. He might at least have produced one, or let him even now produce it. It is more than vain to pretend that I have intentionally omitted it. Can any one wonder at my producing him as a witness in support of my opinion, when he comes forward of his own accord, and not only gives us his support, but as it were leads the way?
Westphal concludes that no alleged absurdities can induce him to depart from the words of Christ and Paul, and the firm consent of the Church: as if this were not the trite and common excuse for all errors. If it is to be received, I should like to know what answer he will make to the Anabaptists, whose regular custom it is to hold it forth as a shield, and carry it aloft as a banner — that baptism cannot be lawfully conferred on infants, because it is a symbol of faith and repentance. What then can we infer from his words, but just that he and his band remain fixed in error, being prevented by mere obstinacy from yielding obedience to the truth?
And yet by way of attempt to rid himself of some of his many absurdities, he says that there cannot be a falser accusation than that which charges his doctrine with dissevering Christ from his Spirit. It were better to have been silent, than to have exposed his wretched nakedness by so shabby a refutation. For what is his answer? That the same baptism is received by unbelievers, though they do not obtain the virtue of baptism, nor partake of the Spirit of Christ: and yet he upbraids others with a dissimulation which has no existence, while he is plainly evading the question, and substituting a stone for a tree.
The matter now. converted between us, viz., Whether unbelievers receive the substance of the flesh of Christ without his Spirit, is peculiarly applicable to the Supper. It has no resemblance in this respect with baptism. Westphal, indeed, would fain steal away front the Supper, but feeling that his craft is detected, he, at once, without hesitation, leaps off to baptism. But we, too, maintain that baptism always remains the same, be the minister or receiver who he may. The hinge of the whole controversy is simply this, — Do unbelievers become substantially partakers of the flesh of Christ? To this let Westphal reply, if he would not, by his silence, stand convicted of prevarication. If he acknowledges it in regard to the substance of the flesh, he debates about nothing. I have openly declared, that the body of Christ is offered and given to unbelievers as well as to believers, and that the obstacle which prevents enjoyment is in themselves. Westphal rests not, but insists that the real flesh of Christ is eaten by unbelievers, though they taste not a particle of his Spirit. Is not this to deprive Christ of his Spirit, and make him the prey of unbelievers?
He feels that he is giving way in the middle of the act, and therefore drawing up the curtain, he presents his readers with another play, promising them some little book or other. How dexterously he there acquits himself I neither know nor care, but as he here shamefully turns his back, all can see that he is absolutely without an answer.
He then passes over to another subject, and says it is now clear how beautifully I agree with the Confession of Augsburg, and how cunningly I changed the subject of controversy, when I pretended that the only thing for which Luther contended was to show that the sacred and divinely ordained signs were not vain or empty figures. As to the former point, I repeat what it was sufficient to have once adverted to, that in the Confession, as published at Ratisbon, there is not a word contrary to our doctrine. If any ambiguity occurs in the meaning, there is no fitter interpreter than the author of it; and this honor, as due to his merit, all pious and learned men will readily confer upon him. While I thus boldly appeal to him, what becomes of Westphal’s impertinent garrulity? As to the latter point, I again answer, that Luther had any other end than that which I have said was chiefly contemplated by him, it will be difficult to keep him free from stigma.. There is nothing which he more frequently inculcates in all his writings, than that he is fighting for the sacraments, to prevent their being stripped of all their effect, and reduced to frigid and empty figures. If he pretended, what was not really the case, only to throw odium on his opponents, who will approve of such a proceeding?
Moreover, I did not affirm absolutely that he went no farther with his hyperboles. I simply stated in his own words why it was that he took up the matter so keenly, and, therefore, there is the less excuse for Westphal, who, coming forward under the name of scholar, throws no little contumely on his teacher. That Luther disagreed with us in regard to substantial eating, and also when carried by the heat of debate beyond the limits of just moderation, uttered several things from which I dissent, it was never my intention to deny. Why, indeed, should I wish to deny what I have freely declared? We are speaking only of the principal point in dispute, which Westphal places in a substantial presence, thus making only an unimportant accessory of the other point, viz., that the sacraments are not empty figures, but true pledges of spiritual grace, and living organs of the Holy Spirit.
He labors in vain to prove the same thing by the words of Oecolompadius.
That holy man wisely and appropriately urged against his opponent when they would not admit the bread to be a sign of the body, the inevitable consequence, that the bread is substantially the body, that he might horrify them at the gross absurdity, and thus bring them to a sounder mind. But this remark does not do away with the many earnest declarations in which Luther and his followers state the great cause of their zeal to be, that they cannot permit the sacraments to be reduced to nothing, and made to differ in no respect from profane theatrical shows.
What aid does Westphal find in my words? Before quoting them he inserts a preface, to serve as a kind of cloak to conceal his fallacy. I had said, that Oecolompadius and Zuin-glius were induced by the best of reasons, nay, compelled by urgent necessity, to refute a gross error which had long before become inveterate and was connected with impious idolatry, but that while intent on this one object, they, as often happens in debate, lost sight of another. This passage Westphal endeavors to blacken, as if I had said, that they contended for the empty symbols, without thinking that the reality was combined with them. This is the reason why he asks pardon for using my own testimony against me.
I say nothing as to his insisting so strongly that Luther was alike the enemy of all who denied the substantial presence of Christ in the Supper.
This will do me little prejudice, as all know the excessive heat which Luther showed in pleading this cause. And yet in private so far was he from wishing to be my enemy, that though not ignorant of my opinion, he declined not to address me in his own hand in terms of respect, (reverenter.) The dishonesty of Westphal makes so much a fool of me, that I state the very term which he used. As I wish his honor safe, it certainly grieves me to see his good faith so rashly traduced by Westphal.
He affirms, that after a reconciliation had been half effected at Marpurg, he left the meeting with the same feeling which he had before against Oecolompadius and Zuinglius, though he had then solemnly promised that he would in future regard them as brethren. Both parties having there agreed that they would cultivate mutual peace, either Luther must have been softened, or he entered into a paction at variance with his real sentiments; a paction, too, which was reduced to a regular deed.
As if my evidence had served Westphal’s purpose, (so he boasts,) he proceeds to quote several passages from the different writings of Zuinglius, and from these at last infers, that if our doctrine prevail the holy Supper is made void. He premises that in order that ‘the thing may be established in the mouth of two witnesses, he gives me Zuinglius as a companion, and one too who is by no means to be despised. But although the defense of Zuinglius would be just, and not difficult, I must make my readers aware of the malice with which he attempts to bring me into this arena. Fifteen years ago I publicly stated wherein I was dissatisfied with the pleadings of both parties. I added, that nothing was more desired by all good and pious men than that this unhappy dispute were buried in perpetual oblivion. Should I now appear as the defender of Zuinglius, before I proceed to plead, Westphal will ask me, with what conscience, nay, with what face, I dare to defend what I do not approve? He will object that I am reviving that which I formerly devoted to eternal darkness: in short, he will overwhelm me with reproaches. Being thus brought into a doubtful and slippery place, not by the hidden craft, but the open effrontery of my enemy, in whatever direction I move I shall be exposed to his malediction. The truth, however, opens up a way in which I can walk secure from his invective.
He thinks he has gained some very great point when he finds Zuinglius declaring, that the Swiss Churches do not agree with those of Saxony in expounding the passage, “This is my body.” As if the dispute were not perfectly notorious, which so long occupied such great and celebrated men, whose books proclaim the dissension in such a way as to show that when Satan saw the gospel revived or restored to its ancient rights, he, in order to retard its course, not only hired professed enemies, but by an old artifice stirred up intestine strife among the very servants of Christ. Nay, another thing is to be observed, which Westphal labors to suppress: How came it that to other dogmas Satan only opposed the Papists, but on this article engaged Luther in a quarrel with excellent men and right-hearted teachers, who, but for this, would have been his faithful coadjutors, unless because he saw that every extremity was to be tried to prevent the world from returning from mad superstition? I confess that under the Papacy men were miserably infatuated in innumerable ways, but the most fearful and monstrous fascination was that of stupidly adoring the bread in place of God. When Westphal invidiously says, that Zuinglius left nothing in respect of substance but bread and wine, it is easy to answer, that he was only contending against a carnal presence, which we are determined to oppose with our last breath.
I am not to be so deterred by the silly reproach of Westphal, as to desert the defense of the truth, when he charges Zuinglius with blasphemy, for having called the substantial union of the bread and the flesh a fiction. He might have more correctly and not less truly have called it a dream. The eating which has been revealed by the Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, we holily and reverently observe, though our faith has no resemblance to the Scythian barbarity of Westphal. tie is not less wrong in pretending that we insist on adhering to common sense. We have not profired so little in the school of Christ as not to have learned to bring all our thoughts into the obedience of the faith. Nay, our doctrine, as I have already observed, and any one may easily perceive, is as far removed from carnal sense as Westphal and his party are from the sense of the Holy Spirit, when they produce monstrous fictions to establish their error.
Is it common sense that tells us to seek the immortal life of the soul from human flesh? Is it natural reason which declares that the living virtue of Christ’s flesh penetrates from heaven to earth, and is in a wondrous manner infused into our souls? Is it in accordance with philosophical speculation, that a lifeless earthly element, should be the effectual organ of the Holy Spirit? Is it from natural principles we learn that whatever the minister pronounces with his lips according to the word of God and figures by a sign, Christ inwardly performs? Certainly did we not regard the holy Supper as a heavenly mystery, we should not attribute to it effects so distinguished and incredible to carnal reason. Wherefore, as far as we are concerned, we are willing to have done with that common sense which Westphal repudiates, though he still perversely insists on having us for his antagonists. Who will seek the nourishment of his soul from the flesh of Christ, and persuade himself that he has a true and certain pledge of it in the bread, if he has not previously brought down his own feelings to the foolishness of the cross? Any one may see how absurdly Westphal wanders about and deals in commonplace whenever he charges us with measuring the power of God by our carnal reason. But though I have good reason for wishing to bury in silence the things which long ago fell in dispute from Zuinglius and Luther, as it is rare and difficult to regulate one’s words in the heat of conflict, still on a fair and civil interpretation of what Joachim so bitterly assails, the substance will be found to be, that the body of Christ neither lies hid under the bread, nor is held forth by the minister, nor in short, is present in its substance when the Supper is celebrated.
Thus far Westphal thinks, or at least in word boasts, that he has proved that we distort the words of the Supper, and differ in opinion amongst ourselves. In one thing he contends that we are of the same mind, though from varying in word we would not have it seem so, and that thing is in denying the substance of present flesh and blood in the communion of the Supper. As to our variance with each other, we leave sound and impartial readers to judge. The presence of the substance of flesh, as he imagines it, I have no reason to disguise that I deny, seeing this is what I uniformly teach, and am not ashamed of having hitherto from the beginning constantly professed. Was the immensity of Christ’s flesh ever repudiated by me in an obscure manner? Did I not openly testify that Marcion was brought up from the lower regions, if in the first Supper the body of Christ, mortal, visible, and circumscribed by space, stood in one place, and was at the same time stretched forth by his hand, invisible, glorious, and immense? Were not believers always distinctly enjoined to rise to heaven, in order to feed on the flesh and blood of Christ? The sincerity of our faith here certainly needs no disguise. Nor meanwhile does Christ cease to be ours, though he is not placed in our hand any more than the true communion of his flesh ceases to be offered to us under the bread, that he may invigorate our souls by his substance, though the bread be not substantially body.
Westphal, as if his part here were now well performed, says, that he must descend to deal with a different kind of grievance, namely, to repel charges, in which, if he is to be believed, I exhibit a canine eloquence. Although I long not for the praise of eloquence, I am not so devoid of the gift of speaking as to be obliged to be eloquent by barking. Westphal ought either to change his mode of writing, or take back the epithet which properly describes it. From the withered flowers which he sheds over his discourse, it is plain how very jejune a rhetorician he is, while his intemperance sounds more of the Cyclops than any thing human. One thing I deny not: I am not less alert in pursuing the sacrilegious, than the faithful dog in hunting off thieves.
In the first place, he endeavors to get rid of the charge of disturbing the peace:, by saying that the contention did not begin with him: as if I had said, that disturbance had now, for the first time, only commenced. I rather distinctly complained that, when, by the special goodness of God, it had been calmed for a time, it was now kindled anew by those restless men. I did not charge Westphal, in absolute terms, with having excited commotion, lest he should retort, as he does, that many had used our doctrine as an occasion for tumult. I certainly admit, nay, I glory before angels, in having said, that as soon as that gross error about the impanation of Christ began to be discussed, Satan had risen to throw every thing into confusion, and prevent the truth from shining forth. And the numerous martyrdoms of holy men in the present day attest the height of madness and fury to which that doctrine impels all unbelievers. But while Westphal and his fellows keep throwing oil on the fire, after they have armed the rage of Papists against us, it is exceedingly unjust to give us the blame of the disturbance. If the first origin of the strife be inquired into, Luther, when opposing transubstantiation, so to speak, blew the trumpet. Here I am, so far from blaming him, that, among his many virtues deserving of the highest praise, I give not the lowest place to the magnanimity with which, undismayed by commotions, he proceeded boldly to root up that preposterous fiction. Therefore, whenever disturbances arise, the point to be determined is, which of the parties has justice on his side.
My complaint as to the revival of disturbance Westphal chooses to take up and, without cause, apply in a different sense. While, among the Churches which have embraced a purer doctrine, and serve under the one banner of Christ against the Papacy, there was reason to lament that the flame of an unhappy dissension which was sopited had again suddenly burst forth, I said, justly, that it was excited under bad auspices by the instigation of the devil. On this Westphal absurdly asks, “If the devil, twenty-five years ago, brought the tragedy on board, with what face can I charge him with being the mover of discord?” I spoke not of the first assault, but only of the renewal of the war, and of that he, after the devil, bears the blame. Why should I have accused Thomas Muntzer, Melchior Pelletier, and Nicolas Pelagius, men whom I do not know, and who had long ago lost the power of doing mischief? When I am squeezed in a crowd, it were foolish to expostulate with any but those who are squeezing me. ‘.He wittily compares me to an incendiary, who not only secretly supplies materials, but openly, by throwing brands, sets houses on fire, and prevents those who come running up from extinguishing the flames. Is this now to be my reward, for having ever exerted myself in favor of sound and pious conciliation? What new thing has lately proceeded from me? Nay, my agreement with the brethren of Zurich ought rather to have softened the exasperated minds of the opposite party, as I can show, by a letter of Virus Theodorus, that it was a thing he more wished than hoped for.
I had advised him not to taint the works of Luther with any mention of that unhappy contest. He answered, that provided I could prevail with my friends to give effect to the doctrine contained in our Agreement, he would have a good reason for keeping quiet. Gasper Cruciger subscribed with me in sentiment, and privately declared it as much as those who openly gave their names. I speak only of the dead, lest, if I should mention the living, Westphal should make a more furious onset on them. And yet judging from the tempers of many others, I hoped, when our Agreement was published, that many who had previously been rather keen would become pacified, and be more friendly with us. This hope, if Westphal has disappointed, impartial and moderate men will bear me witness that I had not conceived it on slight grounds.
It was not, as he babbles, a conspiracy to establish error, but a candid declaration of our sentiment, which seemed admirably fitted to remove offenses. Pious men were long tortured with thinking, that the sacred signs in which God offers his favor, were put with a footing with the profane insignia of earthly warfare, and with theatrical shows. A suspicion, no less grave, as to making void the efficacy, was removed. If any thing in this testimony displeases Westphal, we make him perfectly free to show it.
But when he lays aside the office of censuring, and turns to inveigh against our Agreement, who can. pardon his malice? Our preface bears ample evidence that we had no intention to bind any one to our words. Let Westphal only do what we then modestly requested. Nay, he makes it a ground of charge, that while candidly declaring our sentiment, we promise to be docile, if any one produces what is better, and to comply with the request of all who may desire fuller explanation. If he did not deem it right to subscribe to our doctrine, he was at liberty openly to show what it was he disapproved. All we asked was, that he would not deal roughly with a newly cured sore.
Let him have done, then, with his unseasonable declamation, that peace purchased at the expense of truth is cursed. We desire no other peace than one, of which the pure truth of Christ may be the sacred bond, I had taken away all handle for censure, had not Westphal been determined, by wandering up and down, to draw off the reader’s attention from the cause.
Moreover, with regard to the discussions which have taken place in England, I would rather leave it to Peter Martyr, a faithful teacher of the church of Strasburg, to give the answer, which, I trust, he is now preparing. Here I must only, in a few words, call attention to the no less cruel and barbarous than sacrilegious insults of our censor.
He grins ferociously at all the worshippers of God, who had promised themselves that the state of the church in England would prove lasting.
Who can now pity you, should it ever be your lot to be reduced to the last extremity? It is not enough for you to sit at ease, while all pious men are in mourning, but. you must turn your insolent invectives against the Church, while undergoing a miserable and mournful wasting. Did not the sacred blood of so many martrys calm your fury — blood which, with its sweetest odor, breathes strength and rigor into faithful souls in the remotest regions of the earth, as it delights God himself and the angels in heaven? A king, of the highest promise, being suddenly cut off, the edifice of piety which had begun to rise, is overthrown; Satan and his adherents are triumphing over the extinguished light of pious doctrine; the most fearful cruelty rages against the children of God; distinguished men, dragged to the flames, seal the truth with the invincible constancy with which they had embraced it: Joachim not only puts out his tongue in scorn against the afflicted daughter of Zion, but savagely derides the hope which had been entertained of a happier issue. This one specimen will, I hope, suffice to give the reader a full idea of the man’s temper.
But he says he has good cause to be indignant while our books are everywhere flying about. Let him attack them, then, if he finds any thing in them deserving of censure: we will reply, and the Church will judge. He does not disguise that these conditions do not suit him, as it seems a shorter method to put all the books into the fire, and so prevent them from giving further trouble. For nothing could be more odious to him than our offer to discuss, or to subject to discussion, a doctrine to which he insists that all shall be bound to submit without controversy. Where is now the generous and indefatigable soldier of Christ, who elsewhere is so loud in heralding his combats? We come down prepared to render an account of our doctrine, and we humbly beg to be heard. ‘The sum of our wishes is, that judgment be given according to the word of the Lord. Not only are we excluded, but Westphal barbarously upbraids us, telling us that nothing is more unjust than to discuss a doctrine so generally received. Is it more generally received than transubstantiation, the sacrifice of the Mass, and the withholding of the cup? If Westphal’s censure is to hold good, Luther must have been guilty of sacrilegious audacity when he dared to root up those figments which had received the suffrages of almost the whole world. That the bread is substantially the body of Christ, is a recent decision, formerly never heard of. For Westphal trifles when he boasts the consent of the Catholic Church. But while some of his companions have thought that this ought to be maintained to the last, he thinks it sufficient not to admit of discussion. This is truly ridiculous, until he has gone with his herd, and made a surrender of themselves to the Pope. If consent is to be gloried in, which of the two, I ask, has the greater plausibility — the Pope, who holds a great part of Europe so astricted that no man dare mutter against him, or Westphal, who holds up a little parasol to keep off the light Here I appeal to all the children of God, whom Scripture declares to be endowed with the spirit of meekness and obedience. We beg audience both of Westphal and of the Pope. Both refuse on the ground that having already obtained possession by general consent, they are unwilling to yield it up. This is no plea of mine: it is Westphal’s naked defense. But if the thing is to depend on numbers, why should not a place be also given to us?
Westphal pronounces us heretics, of whom no account is to be taken. Let us now hear the Pope, who has the largest number of votes. What will he decide with regard to him as well as us? We, however, can rejoin that we stand always ready for discussion. Such too has been the conduct hitherto pursued by the advocates of the Confession of Augsburg, whose name I wonder that Joachim so boldly uses, while he is so far from imitating them.
The German princes who had undertaken to defend the gospel thought they had duly performed their duty when, so far as depended on them, they were willing that due investigation should be made, and they always complained that this was denied them. This too was our method of acting whenever we were called to plead the cause of religion, and no diets of the empire were held in which our people did not call for discussion. At some of them I was personally present. What they were wont to do formally appears from the public records. To go farther, both in this city and elsewhere, I have repeatedly had to discuss doctrine with turbulent men, and also with heretics. So far from refusing to discuss, I have been the first spontaneously to offer it. The goodness of the cause gave me confidence, and made me have no fear of coming to the light. Whence then this new fastidiousness on the part of Westphal, who not only refuses all investigation to heretics, but obstinately denies evidence to pious worshippers of God, to whom has been given more skill than to such as he to illustrate the glory of the gospel, and who by beneficial labors have not deserved ill of the Church?
Were the sacred majesty of the word of God to be called in question, such license, I admit, ought to be withstood; but here, Westphal, it is not Scripture, but an opinion of your own that is brought under discussion.
The question is not whether Christ truly and correctly called the bread his body, but what he meant to say, and what his words, which we reverently embrace, signify. You contend that they are too clear to need exposition.
We assert the same thing as to their clearness, provided you refuse not to open your eyes. When you pretend that all men will deride our Agreement as futile, it is not worth my while to refute you harshly, while the anxiety with which you labor to discredit my writings only betrays your malignity and envy too clearly to require any lengthened demonstration. This much, indeed, I hold. Were he not distrustful of his cause, being in other respects more than pugnacious enough, he would not be so ready to take flight.
For the same reason he digresses from the subject, and gathers together rhapsodies of calumny, that he may bring us into discredit with the simple. And the first charge which he brings against us is, that we make every thing new in our Churches, and abolish customs that are not without use. I wish he had mentioned particulars, or at least instanced one or two, not to leave readers in suspense. We can, however, easily remove any doubt. We celebrate the sacred Supper without histrionic robes; we do not light tapers at mid-day; we do not by sound of bell invite the populace to worship the bread when, in the manner prescribed by the law of Moses, it is lifted up like a sacrifice. Other things, which he afterwards enumerates, I purposely omit until the proper time comes.
What is it, Westphal? For what rites, pray, are you so zealous, but just for those which are in use with you? But what presumption is it for any man to insist that his custom shall everywhere be regarded as a law? It grieves you that we omit what you observe: as if we had not the same ground for expostulation. For why are we not angry at your neglect of our ceremonies, while you would imperiously bind us to the observance of yours, unless it be that from fraternal meekness, we tolerate faults which cannot be corrected, while you and yours cannot lie still in the mud without dragging others in along with you?
Who sees not that the tapers savor of Judaism’? We may add, that no man inveighed more harshly against those follies than Luther, though he retained them because of the weakness of the times. Why did he censure them so severely, but just because he saw that they were the offspring of absurd superstition, and noxious from abuse; and not only so, but that the world was so infatuated that the error could not easily be rooted out of their minds? The use of such vehemence is laudable when necessity so demands. His not immediately removing them we pardon; you, not contented with such equity, hold us criminal for having allowed them to fall into desuetude.
Not to be tedious, let the reader consider that the contest which we have with Joachim and his friends at the present day is the same which ]Paul once had with the semi-Jews, who, coming down from Jerusalem, and wishing to admit nothing different from received custom, attempted to impose their yoke on the Gentiles. While they magnified the Apostles, in whose school, and as it were lap, they boasted of having been brought up, they invidiously assailed Paul for pursuing a different course. In short, they regarded him as all but an apostate, who had presumed to abolish Apostolic customs among the Gentiles. Joachim, as if he were trumpeting with their mouth, says, that by our change of customs we have separated from Churches which agreement in Catholic doctrine and the manifold graces of the Holy Spirit declare to be Churches of Christ. Shall Wittemberg then, or Hamburg, be of more consequence in the present day than at the first preaching of the gospel was Jerusalem, from which, as from a fountain, salvation was diffused over the whole world? For what was the objection which some of the Galatians took to Paul, but just that he did not observe the ceremonies retained by the first ministers of Christ?
Whence the vitious emulation which made them obtrude the same custom everywhere, but just from proud disdain? Those who contumeliously spurn the custom of others cannot but be excessively addicted to their own. The more insolently Westphal conducts himself, the better right have we to put down his vile boasting.
He boasts that the Churches, whose rites we do not observe, are adorned with manifold gifts of the Spirit: as if our Churches were devoid of such gifts. For here not merely Switzerland and the Grisons are concerned, but all Upper Germany is condemned by one vote: and yet, heralding his own modesty, he tells us that no man is farther removed from Thrasonic boasting than he who thus, from his quiet corner, insults so many distinguished Churches. Strasburg, Augsburg, Frankfort, and several other cities, are reduced to nothing by one blast from his mouth. O Ishmael, thy hand is against every man, and every man’s hand against thee. The more praise Luther deserves for magnanimity, in not hesitating, single-handed, to attack the whole Papacy, the more detestable, is thy moroseness in seeking materials for dissension among the people of God in very trifles.
It is here worth while to touch, in passing, on the particular things at which he expressly carps. The first is, that we sometimes allow children to die unbaptized What is the fault he finds here, but just that we do not resign the office of baptizing to silly women? Assuredly, if any one neglects to present his children early to baptism, he is severely rebuked for his negligence. The church is open every day. If any man’s child die without baptism, because he did not embrace the opportunity, he is censured. The only thing wanting to us is, that women do not, without any command from Christ, seize upon the solemn office of pastors.
Joachim holds the necessity for baptism to be so absolute, that he would sooner have it profaned by illicit usurpation, than omitted when the lawful use is denied. The thing that offends him he immediately after discloses. It is because we give hopes that infants may obtain salvation without baptism, because we hold, that baptism, instead of regenerating or saving them, only seals the salvation of which they were previously partakers.
As I have elsewhere refuted these gross errors at full length, I shall here be brief with my answer. If the salvation of infants is included in the element of water, then the covenant, by which the Lord adopts them, is made void.
Let Joachim say, in one word, what weight he attaches to the promise, — I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed. If God do not ingraft into the body of his people those on whom he bestows this high privilege, not only is injury done to his word, but infants ought to be denied the external sign. Let an Anabaptist come forward and maintain that the symbol of regeneration is improperly conferred on the cursed children of Adam whom the Lord has not yet called to the fellowship of his grace. Either Westphal must remain dumb, or the only defense that can avail him is, that the grace which was offered in the person of their parents is common to them. Hence it follows, that they are not absolutely regenerated by baptism, from which they ought to be debarred, did not God rank them among the members of his Son. With what face can he deny infants the title of holy, by which Paul distinguishes them? If the reader will look at. this passage as it is explained in our Catechism, they will pronounce, while I am silent, that our children trained in such rudiments, have much sounder views than this veteran theologian has derived from his speculations.
His second objection is, that the Lord’s Supper is not given to the sick at their homes. I wish that they had gone before us in this with a purer example. Had they been careful to adapt their practice to the genuine rule of Christ, we would willingly have followed them. But since nothing is less accordant with the doctrine of our heavenly Master than that the bread should be carried about in procession like cakes in a fair, and then that one individual should receive in private and eat apart, disregarding the law of communicating, pious and learned men were from the very first much averse to private dispensations of the Supper. Nothing, therefore, can be more absurd than Westphal’s calumny, that owing to the crafty counsel of Satan, poor souls are deprived of consolation. For we carefully recall to the remembrance of the sick the pledge of life which was once deposited with us, that they may thence confirm their faith, and borrow weapons for the spiritual combat. In short, we herein profit so far that the Supper received in the public assembly, according to the ordinance of Christ, supports them with present consolation not less effectually than if they were to enjoy it privately without communion.
He goes on to add (thirdly) that we admit to the Supper without previous examination, and without private absolution. I deny not that we everywhere do wrong from excessive facility. The rule is, that the young do not come forward to the sacred table till they have given an account of their faith. Elder persons are examined, if they are not of known and ascertained piety. I admit, however, that we gain less by this discipline than I could wish, though it is most false to say that we knowingly and willingly offer the Supper indiscriminately to strangers and persons not approved. This, however, is not the thing with which Westphal finds fault: it is because we omit private absolution. If he can find an origin for this practice anywhere else than in the fetid lagoons of the Pope, I will readily acknowledge the fault.
The utility of private absolution it is not my purpose to deny. But as in several passages of my writings I commend the use of it, provided it is optional, and free from superstition, so it is neither lawful, nor even expedient, to bind it upon consciences by a law. Let Westphal show, that at a time when the Church flourished, and pure religion prospered, private absolution was sanctioned by any law. But if it is perfectly notorious that it was made imperative by a device of the devil at the time when the whole state of the Church was corrupted, nay, piety completely overthrown, there is no ground for pretending that the abrogation of it was a crime.
Westphal is wrong, too, in inferring, that because we do not absolve every individual in private, we admit to the Supper without previous examination: as if there were an inseparable connection between trial of faith and private absolution; the former of which was always maintained in holy vigor among believers, whereas the latter, in regard to its being made a law, crept, in among degenerate rites after things had gone to confusion.
His fourth head of accusation is, that in order to defend the image-war of Carlostadt, we divide the first commandment into two. I wish that the heat of his frenzy would not drive him headlong to expose his own disgrace and that of his party, which, for us, would remain buried. That the ten commandments are rightly and regularly divided by us, we have shown by solid and clear arguments: we have also the support of antiquity. Westphal and his party, to keep the commandment which distinctly prohibits idolatry in the shade, improperly make two commandments of the tenth: and yet on this occasion he hesitates not to throw the blame of schism upon us. Hence it is easy to infer what the terms of peace are which these implacable masters would impose. Let him rather see, or, if blindness prevents him, let the reader observe whether it was not by a fatal artifice of Satan that the second commandment of the law was removed from its place and hidden, in order that the people of God might not have idolatry in so much horror and detestation. The less excuse is to be made for Westphal, who, in an error equally gross and noxious, not only contumaciously plumes himself, but stigmatizes all who dissent from him.
I come to his fifth charge, which is the abrogation of feast-days, and also of the divisions of the Gospel and Epistles, which were in common use. He says, that the distinction of feast-days is alike ancient and useful. But I should like this good antiquary to point out the period when feast-days first began to be dedicated in honor of the Virgin Mary and the Saints. I am not unaware that the memory of the Martyrs has been celebrated for more than thirteen hundred years, the object being to give a greater stimulus to the faithful to imitate them. Among other corruptions which afterwards followed, we ought justly to class this one of instituting holidays and feast-days. And yet to Joachim Christianity is gone, brotherly communion destroyed, and a nefarious schism introduced, if the observance of days is not looked out in the calendar of Hamburg. Surely Augustine, who deplores that the liberty of the Church was oppressed in his day by the excessive number of rites, plainly testifies that very few feast-days were handed down from his forefathers. This makes it apparent, that in the correction which we have made, nothing more was attended to than to renew that pure antiquity.
In regard to the division of the Gospels and Epistles, it is evident from all the Homilies of Ancient Writers that the Books of Scripture were expounded to the people in one uninterrupted series. A custom gradually prevailed of extracting from the Gospels and Epistles passages for reading suitable to the season. Hence arose those divisions for which Westphal contends, as if it were for altars and hearths; though a perusal shows that they were made ineptly and without any judgment. Certainly if portions were to be selected to be read each Lord’s day, a very different selection should have been made. Lest any one suppose that Westphal is flaming for nothing, I must inform the reader that it is about the Postils he is anxious; for how could a great part of those whom he is courting get on without the Postils? LUTHER, who, while matters were yet unsettled, accommodated himself to the common custom, must be pardoned. Nay, in adopting this compendious method of disseminating the Gospels, his care and diligence are to be praised. But. it is very absurd in Westphal, who, determined always to stick in the same mire, makes the rudiments of Luther the pretext; just as if one, after entering on the right path, no sooner sees the person who had shown it to him turn back, than he obstinately takes up his station and refuses to advance another step. Let Westphal, then, celebrating the Martinalia with the Papists, join them in singing out the Gospel and Epistles according to the form prescribed in the Mass, provided we be at liberty to arrange the doctrine of the Gospel as the Apostles delivered it to us for the use of our people. Our censor does not permit this; but, getting into heroics, exclaims, that no doubt this is done by us at the suggestion of the devil, in order that no good may be got out of the Gospel! as if the Gospel were lost by not being cut into pieces. Can any one doubt that this man has got too little to do in his retirement, and has therefore set about giving trouble for nothing to those who are busily employed?
Perhaps his excuse is, that he is busy in the sense in which Cataline threatened to be so — that he is employing fire to put fire out. As I had said that the torch of discord was now kindled by him under evil auspices, the only kind of defense he is able to make, is to give the name of torches and furies to all who do not decorate their churches with idols, who regard baptism as an appendage of the promise, and a means of confirming grace, but not a cause of salvation, who do not whisper a form of absolution into every ear, nor keep holiday in honor of saints, nor follow the Missal in breaking down Scripture into lessons. Such is his reason for saying that he was obliged to make a wound and prevent hidden putridity from lurking within: as if he could not cherish and practice holy peace with us unless we slavishly defile ourselves with other men’s impurities. Of those apes who take such delight in preposterous imitation, Horace truly exclaims, O imitators, servile herd! When I said that the fire was smothered, I acknowledge I was deceived by attributing too much sense to those who are now raving without measure. Since the hope of peace has been destroyed by their unseasonable rage, may God quell these furies and retort on their own heads the reproaches which they vent against us with no less insolence than injustice.
As if he had admirably disposed of the charge of having disturbed the peace, he now attempts to assert his erudition. But, to prove that he is modest, he premises that my impudence has forced him to exceed the bounds of modesty. How can he prove me to be impudent but just for having said that he is unlearned? But he is welcome for me to enjoy his titles of Master and Doctor, provided he aspire not too eagerly to a place among the learned to the common injury of the Church. I pass his insipid irony, in which he jeers at me for thinking of him less honorably than he wished. If any gift has been given me, I study to employ it usefully, without show or ostentation, for the edification of the Church; and my books are clear evidence, that so far from striving for the palm of talent or learning, I avoid nothing more carefully than display. Nor was there any reason why he should drag me into comparison, as without any mention of myself I only advised him to give place to more competent defenders of his cause, and not incur the disgrace of presumption. Let him now compare himself with the men of his own party, and claim the first place for himself, if he is desirous to refute me. To this he comes at last, when he boasts that he yields to no pillars, and not even to heavenly angels. O Luther! how few imitators of your excellence have you left, how many apes of your holy boasting! It is not wonderful that this expression was ever and anon in the mouth of him who could not fight boldly for Christ without despising all the powers of the world. Now, when the same sound comes from drones, who are only disturbing the hive, it is absolutely insufferable.
I wish he would show these pillars to which he says he would not yield.
Paul might speak thus when certain vagrants endeavored to overwhelm him with the splendid names of Peter and others. We have lately seen how con-tumeliously he has discarded all churches in which he finds any thing in the least degree at variance with his rules. Let him take heed, then, that he do not, when raising himself against pillars, stumble against a stone of offense. For whom does he expect to give him credit for power bestowed by God unless he produce his diploma? He no more approaches to Paul, whose character he ridiculously borrows, than a player to a king. I wish he would prove himself an apostle of Christ by true testimonials. Of what use is it for a man, filled with wind or folly, to boast himself a defender of the faith as if he had come from heaven? If we are to believe Westphal, it was necessary for him to put to his shoulder that the integrity of the faith might not fail This is true, if we grant that faith stands supported by the absurd fictions by which he deludes, himself and others.
In the same way we dispose of his boast, that he has not made so little progress as not to discern the voice of the shepherd from the howling of wolves. Why then does he with his howling tumultuously disturb the Church, and prevent the voice of Christ from being calmly heard? And whom will he persuade of our howling, while it is well known that night and day we do and aim at nothing else than see the scattered sheep ,gathered together by the voice of the heavenly shepherd? How faithfully I labor to make the whole world hang on the lips of Christ alone, I may not only take my writings and sermons to witness, but all who see me in my daily occupations will bear a sure testimony. The Lord seals my labors with his blessing too dearly to allow the benefit derived from them to be contemptible to ten Westphals. This commendation of my calling I have in common with Paul. Where will he seek for his, while heralding his own companions only, he calls for reciprocal heralding from them? He seems to himself a fit discerner of spirits; but while all hiss him, is the opinion which he has inwardly conceived of himself to operate as a previous judgment in his favor?
He tells us, that he not unsuccessfully devotes to sacred literature good hours which others waste in play or trifling. Whom he means to upbraid, I see not, unless it be that he wished to frighten me by a display of his studies. At Witternberg and elsewhere he was a hearer of faithful teachers, but just as those had been disciples of Peter and the Apostles, who endeavored by their mists to obscure the Gospel when far and widely spread. Nor does he omit to mention among his praises, that in his own country he holds the office of Doctor; and he thinks he has found a plausible ground for exulting over me that I am an exile from my country.
It is strange he does not also direct his jeers against Paul, for not having been bishop of Tarsus. So far am I from being ashamed of voluntary exile, that I by no means envy those delicate apostles the quiet of their nest. In short, whoever will attend closely to his narrative will, without my saying a word, clearly perceive in it the living image of a false apostle, as portrayed by Paul in both Epistles to the Corinthians. Although he set out with humbly declaring that he was conscious of his own weakness, and left the praise of his talents and learning to others, shortly after, forgetting this reigned modesty, he is forced to discover how much sour leaven his stomach contains. “Unlearned!” he exclaims, “I should like to know what idea that man has of learned.” As if it were necessary to have recourse to Platonic ideas, when any learned man, besides Westphal, is looked for in the world. That you may not trouble yourself to no purpose with long speculation, I declare that at Leipsic and Wittemberg, and places adjacent, are many who, in my judgment, deserve a place in a catalogue of the learned. You have no pretext for charging me with holding none to be learned who have not been taught in the school of Zuinglius. Though Luther differed from us, did we ever contemn his erudition? Nay, what is the whole drift of my language, which Westphal is now assailing, but just that he has been rash in pushing himself forward, while learned and grave men keep back? When he sees me applying the epithets of learned and grave to men of his party, how shamefully is his charge at variance with fact? The reason no doubt is, that he allows none to be called learned, if he be not of the number.
Accordingly, he thinks that no blemish of ignorance can be discovered in him, unless it be that he does not measure the body of Christ geometrically. Perhaps he thinks of himself so highly, that he does not see any thing deserving of contempt. But if he supposes that all the learned will be provoked by one little expression, to declare war on me, he is greatly mistaken. His silly talk about geometrical measurement, I have already shown to be mere calumny. That the body of Christ, which has been received into the heavens, is absent from the earth, we did not learn in the school of Archimedes, but believe as it is delivered in the clear oracles of Scripture. From what philosophy he drew, that, in the first celebration of the Supper, Christ had a twofold body, the one mortal, visible, occupying its own place, the other invisible, immortal, and immense, I, in my ignorance, am unable to divine.
When decking himself in illustrious titles, he contends, that he deserves a place in the album of the learned, because out of the Scriptures he produces things new and old, observes the leading scope of Scripture, and with simple faith assents to the word of God, he certainly adduces nothing which is not common to myself. I wish he would show by fact that he possesses this skill and dexterity. He is ridiculous in this also, though it is just. his way, that after professing to be contented with the lowest place, he immediately raises himself to the summit, applying to himself the words, “I am wise above all my teachers.” What place will be assigned to Luther, if he who occupies the lowest is above him? At last he says, that there is no cause to fear that he would retain the title of Doctor, if he were not learned. Little is wanting to extort from him a confession of the desire by which he is strangely tortured. He asks, why do I labor to prevent an unlearned man from disturbing Europe, a danger which could come from none but able and literary men endued with authority and eloquence? As if no harm were to be dreaded or guarded against from the foolish and insane.
He says there is good ground for the common proverb, The unlearned make no heresies. What then did the Anabaptists do? What Muntzer?
What the Libertines? Nay, in the whole crew, of whom Irenseus, Epiphanius, and Augustine speak, how many more were involved in error by gross ignorance than by erudition? More correctly and wisely does Augustine say, that the mother of all heresies is pride, by which we often see that the most ignorant are most highly swollen:
Westphal next makes me a deceiver, because I professed it to be my care not to deceive the simple; and he compares me to the Jews, who said the same thing of Christ before Pilate. Let him, then, show himself to be like Christ, if he wishes to thrust me among that crew. That there is no deception in the word of God, I confess no less sincerely and from the heart, than Westphal does windily with the tongue. But where is the expression for which he has so reproachfully assailed me? Just as if he were some comic Jupiter carrying a Minerva in his skull, he boldly masks all his fictions with the word of God. Had it not of old been the ordinary practice for false prophets to make louder pretense of the name of Sod the more they were estranged from him, he might perhaps gain something by his airs; but now, when devoid of all evidence, he argues as if it were after proof, who is to be moved by his futile trifling? The word of God he has constantly in his mouth, but it is only in word, just as Marcion, when assigning a heavenly body to Christ, denounced all as enemies of the word who believed that he was born of the seed of Abraham, because it is written, The second Adam is heavenly from heaven. But since, on better evidence than Westphal can produce from his party, we have been enable to testify the reverence which we feel for the word of God; since even our books furnish clear proof that we are faithful and honest interpreters, Westphal will be a wondrous juggler if he can impose upon the eye of the reader, so as to convert obvious reality into an empty phantom.
Let him have done, then, with his unseasonable garrulity, from which it is apparent that the only thing he is hunting after is to delude the unskillful, and prevent them from knowing the fact. Of what use is it to charge us with folly, as if we did not. believe Moses and the prophets? If we interpret the words of Christ as the common usage of Scripture demands, we are not, on that account, to be forthwith regarded as unbelievers. Did we not feel astricted to the truth of Christ; did not religion bind us, why should we stand continually in the line of battle? We know, indeed, what it is to be foolish in our own eyes, so as soberly, and in the spirit of meekness, to embrace what God teaches to babes; and we trust we understand the wisdom which, as Paul declares, comprehends heaven and earth in its breadth and length, its depth and height. But to Westphal there is nothing in the inestimable love wherewith God has embraced us in his only-begotten Son — nothing in the whole mystery of redemption, the boundless virtue of Christ, and his glorious resurrection, if the bread be not substantially the body. To him, too, there is nothing in our doctrine that Christ, by his Spirit, infuses into us the vivifying virtue of his flesh and blood, that in a wonderful manner he performs within what the bread figures to the eye, so that we are united to his life, and our souls are invigorated by the substance of his flesh. Wherefore let him be a monitor to himself rather than to: others, and not deceive himself by thinking he is somewhat when he is nothing. Were he not intoxicated with inconceivable pride, he would not, in comparison with himself, despise all others who do not humbly yield to his obstinacy.
The same pride dictates his querulous assertion, that to charge him with insanity is to blaspheme God. If it is so, it is clear that he is not; animated by any zeal for the glory of God, as he shows no desire to return to sanity; but until he be joined to God by a more sacred tie, there is no reason at all to fear that any thing deservedly said of him can offer contumely to God. The Apostles were derided on the day of Pentecost as being intoxicated. This Westphal transfers to himself with no better right than sibyls and bacchanalians might. He certainly could not offer a greater affront to the Apostles than by introducing himself into their order; until imbued with a new spirit, and transformed to other manners, he has ceased to be like himself. As it was sacrilegious scorn to regard the inspiration of the Spirit as drunkenness, so to use the name of God as a pretext for intemperate raving is a worse evil than drunkenness. But although sober and impartial men desiderate moderation in the vehemence of Luther, Westphal is too far distant from him to be able to hide his disgrace under Luther’s shade. We grant that in Scripture the corrupt in the faith are condemned as insane; but when he infers from this that therefore we will not be sane before we detest our error, I wonder where he gets his therefore. When he here inserts, as if by stealth, that in the celebration of the Supper some, struck with Satanic fury, omit the words of Christ, “ This is my body,” we must just take it as if some abandoned person were to go about giving bad names at hazard to everybody he should chance to meet.
The charge of arrogance he disposes of by denying it in word, and then proving, by solid evidence, that he is a very Thraso. He thinks he is doing nothing inconsistent with his profession while he professes himself a defender of the orthodox faith. First, what does he mean by saying he professes nothing inconsistent with his profession? Assuredly I deny not that by professing he professes: only I wish he would do it truly. Nay, if the hot corresponded to the word, he would get us all to subscribe, instead of being forced, as we now are, publicly to oppose his false fictions. But where is that stammering simplicity for which he commends himself?
Nothing like simplicity will be found throughout his book, and for stammerers to be so loquacious is against nature. When he alleges that he is doing the work of the Church, he would have spoken more truly had he said that he is undoing it, his whole object being to give annoyance to the children of God.
He would have it thought that he might, in another way, consult better for his own quiet: as if it would not also suit me better to desist from writing if this restless man would not force me to it, and drag me away from other useful studies. I may indeed truly declare, that as I might remain silent without being’ hurt, and the weapons of Westphal cannot wound me individually, the good of the Church is the only motive that induces me to write. What place he would hold among his people, did he not make a name for himself by exciting disturbance, I leave all men to judge. He raises his notes louder, and says, that were he to declare that he is contending not only for the, Churches of Saxony, but others, however remote, it would be no vain boast. And yet a little after, as if he had forgotten himself, he adds, very inconsiderately, that I cannot produce a page in which he gives out that he is fighting for Saxony. I have no need to turn over each of his pages. Let the book itself be brought forth, and display its author’s vanity.
And I know not what modesty it is that prevents one who embraces the whole globe from professing himself the defender of Saxony. For, as if he alone were sustaining the whole weight, he says, that he writes in Latin with a view to foreign countries. In the common name of all, I affirm that there is not a man of sound brain who will not most willingly free him of his labor. If he continues to go on, he will gain nothing for his pains but malediction from all whose favor he is courting.
If he is to be believed, he is from nature and habit a great lover of modesty and bashfulness, so much so that these virtues from his youth up have always been his chosen attendants. Would that they had rather been his guides, and not as we see remained behind to punish his contempt. The blush of shame (verecundia) must certainly be a common attendant of the Westphals; for it cannot but be that God will cast down in disgrace those who exalt themselves so highly. He so transfigures himself as to make it difficult to select the proper point of attack. Modesty and liberty are, I admit, most becoming in the servants of Christ; but two things remain for Westphal to prove — first, that the cause he pleads is the cause of Christ; and secondly, that the frantic impetus with which he is carried and hurried along, differs in no respect from the spirit of liberty with which the sons of God are endowed. For what can he gain by a prolix commendation of his office, unless the fact be distinctly ascertained? He says that he has been forced into this warfare by a heavenly guide, whereas we, under no legitimate auspices, fight against God, take up arms against Christ sitting on the right hand of the Father, and bear hostile standards against his soldiers. In other words, a stolid braggart arrogates every thing to himself; an impure calumniator vents at hazard invectives which fall of their own accord before they reach us; a profane man shamefully and licentiously abuses passages of Scripture, just as sorcerers distort sound words in impious incantations. And yet he quarrels with me for rebuking him, for combating instead of encouraging him; for I cannot give any other meaning to his words, that good leaders are wont to encourage their soldiers by praises and promises, not to rebuke them for fighting.
I wish he would conduct himself so that one might feel at liberty to encourage him as one of the soldiers of Christ. As I admonished him to retire from a war improperly begun, he vainly tries to wrest my words, and make me mean that I despise common soldiers and seek to raise a noble trophy to some great leader. Have I challenged any one? Do I not rather study to offer myself as a coadjutor, that we may with one mind extend the kingdom of Christ? It is worth while to attend to his next remark, that it were a kind of Thrasonic boasting to undertake to contend with the leaders. This is completely proved by Westphal’s example. How numerous and how distinguished are the individuals whom he has presumed to engage at once! Throwing them all, living and dead, into one bundle, he has attempted to put them all to route by one little book.
Meanwhile, his honor, as to which he is on other occasions more than duly anxious, he lays too low when he charges me with being unwilling to fight with him, because I regard him as too insignificant an opponent. He then passes to another subject, and says, that we did not yield to the chief men.
If it was wrong not to do so, with what face did he, without any provocation, presume to rise against the chief men? It is less excusable audacity voluntarily to make war on those who are quiet and silent, than to defend ourselves against those who assail us. But to spare him, now that he flees to his common asylum, (the regular custom of those men being to take shelter under the name of Luther, and hold it up as the shield of Ajax,) how shall he excuse the unbridled impudence which he blurts forth against us?
He assigns us for patrons Carolstadt, Suinckfeldius, and others of like stamp, whom he calls satellites of Satan. What I long ago wrote concerning Suinckfeldius he is not ignorant, and the whole world is my witness. In speaking of profane men who make void the sacraments, I have set him down as the standard bearer. (Commentary, 1 Corinthians 10.) See the spiritual power with which Westphal has been armed to lie by any one rather than by Christ. Let the reader now judge whether I did him injustice when I said that he sported at his ease, seeing it is evident that, for the sake of beguiling the time, he and his fellows not only licentiously talk what they please against us, but also introduce it into published writings.
He says he is not exempted from the common lot of all who bear the pastoral office. Certainly if he contrasts my cares with his seat, he may justly hold himself to be a Cathedral bishop. In this I do not envy him: only I would not have him to pursue hostility to us for his mere gratification. Were he to employ his vehemence to some useful purpose, I would rather stimulate his holy zeal by applause and congratulation than check it by rebuke.
Why does he now complain that his calumnies have met with their just reward? His boast of zeal for the house of God must be classed among the other boasts by which he foully profanes all that is sacred. When he says that he sometimes feels keenly against obstinate men, but by employing moderation takes care that his fervor does not become a fault, you would say that Cato the Censor is speaking, and the stern gravity of that sage would produce a kind of terror did not the long ears immediately appear and show it to be only Westphal. There is great truth in the words he quotes from Nanzianzen, that the soldiers of Christ, though meek in other things, must be pugnacious for the faith. But not only common experience, but this man’s intemperance, shows it to be equally true that the servants of the devil are more than pugnacious against the faith. Therefore if he would escape the charge of perverse violence, let him not deck himself in another’s feathers, but begin to show himself the servant of God, instead of continuing as hitherto to be too strenuous a soldier of the father of discord. When he bids me compare my letter with all his writings, and holds his violence excused by the comparison, I refuse not the offer, only let the reader judge from his farrago which I discussed, how much he deserved, and how far I am from having done him injustice by my sharpness. Moreover, in order that he may not bear the whole burden of obloquy, he throws part of it on tale-bearers. But lest any one should suppose that these words; go to my exculpation, he immediately after adds, that there is little difference between the fault of those who hurt the reputation of others by their tales, and those who, lending too ready an ear, bring charges against the persons thus defamed, because God forbids us no less to receive false evidence than to give it. Why then does he in each of his pages lie so licentiously against an unoffending multitude, and tear me so atrociously?
He dares to cite me before the bar of God. Had he any thought of divine judgment, he would either spare a man who has deserved well of the Church of God, or at least treat him more humanely. But why do I ask any regard to be paid to me, when I see such indignity and invective against illustrious servants of God, who either spent their whole life in maintaining his glory and promoting the kingdom of Christ, or still surviving, hold on the same course? His truculence appears in strong colors when he inveighs against fugitives. He deems it not sufficient to have denied them hospitality and driven them away amidst the rigor of a most severe winter, when they wished to breathe a little, unless he also endeavors, by all the means in his power, to exterminate them from the face of the earth. Although just indignation was then wrung from me by the pity with which, if I am not of iron, I behoved to be touched at the sad calamities of my brethren, still I now see and confess that I was deceived. I thought that Westphal and his fellows had had some cause oz’ other for being more than ordinarily exasperated. Now I see that to exercise unbounded severity against all of us indiscriminately, it is enough for them that we do not subscribe at their dictation. With such virulent hatred do they inveigh against us, that they would sooner make peace with the Turks, and fraternize with Papists, than keep truce with us. If this indignity stirs my bile, no man need wonder. If I have exceeded bounds, the goodness of the cause will, I trust, procure my pardon with equitable judges.
But Westphal does not leave me this excuse; for he says, first, that the cause I plead is not good; and secondly, that I have given loose reins to my passions in order that I might obscure the light of truth. As to the cause, I presume that all pious men are satisfied. I think I have defended it by strong arguments, as well as discussed it in a regular manner; for to call in the aid of invective is a thing which the case did not require, and which my mind never thought of. While he harangues rhetorically that any cause, be it what it may, is rendered suspicious’, by mingling invective with it, why does he not exercise some self-restraint? How comes it that he is ever and anon calling out heresy and blasphemy? How comes it, in short, that he never abstains from any kind of insolence? And yet, as if it were sufficient to wipe his mouth, he pretends that the only purpose he had was to repel my assault. See why he charges me with having adorned a bad cause with declamation, as a kind of adventitious coloring, though it is plain that, after taking a firm grasp of the subject, I have said nothing that was not relevant to it, while he, touching it sparingly and meagerly, keeps wandering and winding about in commonplace. Assuredly he will never be so eloquent a rhetorician as to persuade others that I am a declaimer. My concise brevity in writing, and the firm stand I take in handling argument, are known to all.
Westphal has made the conclusion of his book consist of certain cavils, by which he has endeavored to excite suspicion, and detract from the credit of what was correctly stated. At the outset, indeed:, he does not dare openly to censure, but pretends to call for the examination of the Church; at length, collecting courage, he ventures to condemn. It is something, indeed, that by his confession I pay more honor to the sacraments, and speak of their virtue, use, and dignity with more reverence than most others. If it is so, wily did this moderation of mine not soften him? So far from having had any effect in soothing his anger, it would seem rather to have exasperated him. If by my doctrine, which he declares to be moderate, his moroseness could not be entirely appeased nor his asperity softened, what cause was there for assaulting me so violently? For although mixing me up with a crowd of others he did not select a single enemy, yet he has conceived more bitterness from our Agreement than from all other writings whatever. Let us proceed, however, to his censures.
He acknowledges with me that the sacraments were instituted to lead us to the communion of Christ, and be helps by which we may be ingrafted into the body of Christ, or, being ingrafted, be united more and more. He asks why I say that infants begotten of believers are holy and members of the Church before they are baptized? I answer, that they may grow up the more into communion with Christ. He thinks he is arguing acutely in denying that they are ingrafted into the Church before baptism,, if they are ingrafted by baptism. I easily retort the objection. For if I am right as to the effect of the sacraments, viz., that it makes those who are already ingrafted into the body of Christ to be united to him more and more, what forbids the application oft his to baptism? I do not, however, insist on this answer.
I admit that the proper office of baptism is to ingraft us into the body of Christ, not that those who are baptized should be altogether aliens from ]him, but because God attests that he thus receives them. There is a wellknown saying of Augustine, that there are many sheep of Christ without the Church, just as there are many wolves dwelling within; in other words, those whom God invites to himself by the Spirit of adoption, were known to him before they knew him by faith. Therefore, although God acknowledges as in his Church persons who seem to be strangers, and are so in so far as they themselves are concerned, he is justly said to ingraft them into his Church when he enlightens them unto faith, which is their first entrance into the hope of eternal life.
I admit that the difficulty of the question is not yet solved. I only adverted to these principles to let Westphal see there is no absurdity in saying, that persons who were formerly members of the Church are afterwards ingrafted into the Church. Before I give my answer with regard to children and infants, I should like to have his as to the four thousand men whom Peter gained over to Christ by his first sermon: also as to Cornelius and others. If he denies that they were members of the Church before baptism, then, according to him, faith and repentance have no effect. If those whom God has regenerated by his word--whom he has formed again after his image--whom he has honored with the celestial light of faith--whom he has enriched with the gifts of his Spirit, belong not to the body of the Church, by what marks can the children of God be distinguished from the rest of the world? What, then, remains but for Westphal to concede, that in some measure, or secundum quid, (in some respect,) as it is called, there were members of the Church who were afterwards initiated into its society by baptism? Thus the sins of Paul were washed away in baptism, though he had previously obtained pardon of them by faith.
There is nothing to prevent our applying this to infants, whose case is not unlike; for either the covenant by which God adopts them is vain, and the promise void, or those whom God declares to be of his flock are not wholly strangers.
God gives the name of sons to those to whom the inheritance of salvation has been promised in the person of their parents. By what title can he be their Father if they in no way belong to the Church? There is nothing, however, to prevent his sealing ‘this grace, and confirming anew the same thing that he had given before. It is strange that Westphal denies this right to infants, though without it he could not properly admit them to baptism.
But while I acknowledge that we become members of the Church by baptism, I deny that any are duly baptized if they do not belong to the body of the Church. It is not ours to confer the sacraments on all and sundry; but we must dispense them according to the rule prescribed by God. Who authorized you, Westphal, to bestow the pledge of eternal life, the symbol of righteousness and renovation, on a profane person lying under curse? Were an Anabaptist to debate with you, I presume your only valid defense would be, that baptism is rightly administered to those whom God adopted before they were born, and to whom he has promised that he will be a Father. Did not God transmit his grace from parents to children, to admit new-born infants into the Church would be a mere profanation of baptism. But if the promise of God under the law caused holy branches to proceed from a holy root, will you restrict the grace of God under the gospel, or diminish its efficacy by withholding the testimony of adoption by which God distinguishes infants?
The law ordered infants to be circumcised on the eighth day. I ask, whether that was a legitimate ingrafting into the Church of God? Who dares deny that it was? But Scripture declares them to have been holy from the womb, as being the offspring of a holy race; in other words, for the reason for which Paul teaches, that the children of believers are now holy. Westphal argues as if God were not at liberty gradually to perfect the faith of his people. I again say, that they are in some respect ingrafted into the Church, though in a different respect they were previously ingrafted. The promise of God must not be deemed of no moment, as if it were insufficient for the salvation of those whom he calls sons and heirs.
Confiding in it, I hold that those whom God has already set apart for himself are rightly brought for baptism. We are not now speaking of secret election, but of an adoption manifested by the word, which sanctifies infant not yet born. But as baptism is a solemn recognition by which God introduces his children into the possession of life, a true and effectual sealing of the promise, a pledge of sacred union with Christ, it is justly said to be the entrance and reception into the Church. And as the instruments of the Holy Spirit are not dead, God truly performs and effects by baptism what he figures.
If Westphal do not admit this rule, the Apostles waited foolishly, and against reason, till those whom they were afterwards to admit to baptism should be made sons of God. According to his dogma, they ought to have baptized first, lest the Church, by receiving theta into her bosom as already holy, should render baptism superfluous: unless, indeed, with the same equity with which he denied hospitality to the pious exiles of Christ, he expunge those who are regenerated by the Spirit from the kingdom of heaven. Cornelius, before he was baptized with his household, having received the Holy Spirit, being adorned with the badges of saints, justly held some place among the children of God. The baptism which was afterwards added Westphal must hold to be preposterous, if he insists that none are to be admitted to it but strangers.
It is a frivolous cavil to say that I am sporting with an ambiguous expression, as if the reception which is given by baptism were nothing else thorn an external distinction before men, since I plainly affirm, that in baptism we have to do with God, who, not only by testifying his paternal love, pledges his faith to us, so as to give us a sure persuasion of our salvation, but also inward he ratifies by his divine agency that which he figures by the hand of his minister.
This disposes of another calumny, where he says, that some of us, while holding that infants, who, before eternal Ages, had been adopted as sons, are afterwards visibly in-grafted into the body of Christ, introduce paradoxes which are repugnant to the words of Christ, “Whoso believeth and is baptized shall be saved;” and again, “Unless ye be born of water and of the Spirit,” etc. No one, I believe, ever proposed to dissever the sanction of grace from baptism, that the covenant might be ratified which God made by his word. Here the reader sees how little he cares to defile the Scripture with unwashen hands. The question between us turns on infants He contends, that by baptism they become members of Christ and. heirs of life. By what passage does he confirm this view? Just by one, by which infants would be cut off from the hope of salvation, were it not clear that: it is to be understood as only referring to adults, who from age are already fit to believe. When fanatical men impugn Paedobaptism, they argue from this passage, not without plausibility, that the order appointed by Christ is overthrown if faith do not precede baptism. Their error is properly refuted, by observing, that Christ there treats expressly of the preaching of the gospel, which is addressed to none but adults. Westphal breaks forth, and extracts from it, like oil from stone, that salvation is given to infants by baptism. The other passage, when he has more carefully examined it, he will cease improperly to apply to baptism.
Again, he asks, if the sacraments are instruments by which God acts efficaciously, and testifies and seals his grace to us, why do we deny, that by the washing of baptism men are born again? As if our alleged denial were not a fiction of his own. Having distinctly asserted, that men are regenerated by baptism, just as they are by the word, I early obviated the impudence of the man, and left nothing for his invective to strike at but his own shadow. When he expostulates with me for having charged him and his companions with blindness, because they erroneously affix their confidence of salvation to the sacraments, and transfer to them what properly belongs to God alone, he either is actuated by strange eagerness for quarreling, or he has determined for once to carry all the superstitions in the world into his own stye.
We know how gross the errors on the sacraments are which prevail in the Papacy, how the minds of all, being fascinated by a kind of magical enchantments, pass by Christ, and fix their confidence of salvation on the elements. We know, that so far from applying the sacraments to their proper end, they rather make them the cause of grace. Nothing of all this does Westphal allow to be touched, without crying out that he is hurt: as if to please him, so many vile elements were to be fostered; whereas, had he one particle of true piety in his mind, he would use his utmost endeavor to purge them away. But it is obvious, that under the influence of some incredible perversity, he would sooner immerse himself in the deepest pools of the Papacy than make any approach to us. He denies that he transfers any part of salvation to creatures, because the question is concerning the presence of God working by means which he has appointed. I assent. What he afterwards adds, being borrowed from us almost verbatim, why should I repudiate? Nay, I am rather obliged to him for agreeing and subscribing to my words so far, until, in accordance with his nature, he falls back again upon his calumnies.
He infers, I know not from what principles, that I in ignorance partly destroy the effect of baptism, partly bring it into doubt. How do I destroy it? He answers, Because I deny that the benefit derived from the sacraments is confined to the time at which they are administered. What says he to the contrary? He confesses with me that the virtue of baptism extends to the whole of life, and that infants who have been washed at the sacred font often show no benefit from it after some progress of years.
But he rejoins, that their baptism was not therefore void and without effect. By these words he thinks he solves the difficulty. He certainly frees me: only he adds shortly after, that they are always truly regenerated and sanctified in baptism, though afterwards, from want of due training, they relapse into the defilements of sin. In these words he insinuates something teo gross to be tolerated by the ordinance of God.
I ask, if Simon Magus was truly sanctified at the same moment when he was washed with the water? It is not likely that the hypocrisy for which he is so severely rebuked by Peter was ever eradicated from his mind: hence it followed, that the effect of baptism did not immediately appear.
But had he repented at Peter’s admonition, would not the grace of baptism have resumed its place? And how many daily approach the holy table who by negligence and luke-warmness are deprived of present benefit, and yet, when afterwards aroused, begin to receive it? Who dare say that none partake of Christ but those who receive him in the very act of the Supper?
Westphal’s rejoinder, that this does not imply that the sacraments do no good when they are administered, is easily answered. They do good just as a seed when thrown into the ground, though it may not take root and germinate at the very moment, is not without its use. Had it not been sown in this manner it would not in process of time have sent forth its shoot.. Baptism becomes at last effectual, though it does not work effectually at the same moment at which it is performed. Westphal objects, that its virtue is not to ‘be put off to distant years, as if God did not regenerate infants when they are baptized. Granting this, he has still to prove that they are always regenerated. For as I do not hold it to be a universal rule, so the exception which I adduce is manifest, that the nature of baptism or the Supper must not be tied down to an instant of time.
God, whenever he sees meet, fulfills and exhibits in immediate effect that; which he figures in the sacrament. But no necessity must be imagined so as to prevent his grace from sometimes preceding, sometimes following, the use of the sign. The dispensation of it, its Author so tempers as not to separate the virtue of his Spirit from the sacred symbol.
It is easy to show how groundlessly he presses a passage of Augustine into his service. Augustine is arguing against the Manichees, that perfection is not to be looked for in the very commencement of regeneration, because renovation begun by the sacred laver is perfected by progress, sooner in some, later in others. What can any one infer from this but just that the ordinary method in which God accomplishes our salvation is by beginning it in baptism and carrying it gradually forward during, the whole course of life? Thus he shows, (De Trinit. Cont. Oath. et Donat. 14,) that full and entire regeneration is not, conferred at the same instant when entire forgiveness of sins is received. Hence it follows, that it is not always received at the very moment when it is offered. For though there can be no doubt that on the part of God, (to use a common expression,) this is the perpetual virtue and utility of baptism, and this, too, the ordinary method of dispensing grace, it is erroneous to infer that the free course of Divine grace is tied down to instants of time.
I come now to the second branch of the calumny. He says, that the effect of baptism is brought into doubt by me, because I suspend it on predestination, whereas Scripture directs us to the word and sacraments, and leads by this way to the certainty of predestination and salvation. But had he not here introduced a fiction of his own, which never came into my mind, there ‘was no occasion for dispute. I have written much, and the Lord has employed me in various kinds of discussion. If out of my lucubrations he can produce a syllable in which I teach that we ought to begin with predestination in seeking assurance of salvation, I am ready to remain dumb. That secret election was mentioned by me in passing, I admit. But to what end? Was it either to lead pious minds away from hearing the promise or looking at the signs? There was nothing of which I was more careful than to confine them entirely within the word. What?
While I so often inculcate that grace is offered by the sacraments, do I not invite them there to seek the seal of their salvation? I only said that the Spirit of God does not work indiscriminately in all, but as he enlightens the elect only unto faith, so he also provides that they do not use the sacraments in vain. Should I say that the promises are common to all, and that eternal salvation is offered in common to all, but that the ratification of them is the special gift of the Spirit, who seals the offered grace in the elect, would Westphal say that the word is removed from its place? And what does he himself daily declare to the people from the pulpit, but just that faith comes by hearing, and yet that those only obey to whom the arm of the Lord is revealed? The reason is, that while God invites all by the word, he inwardly gives an effectual call to those whom he has chosen.
Let him cease then to cavil and pretend that I render the effect of baptism doubtful when I show that election is the source from which the profit found in the sacraments flows to those to whom it has been specially given. For while, according to the common proverb, things standing to each other in the relation of superior and inferior are not contradictory, an inferior sealing of grace by the sacraments is not denied, while the Spirit; is called the prior and more internal seal; and the cause is at the same time stated, viz., because God has elected those whom he honors with the badge of adoption.
Not less unworthy is his last cavil, by which he distorts a sentiment that is most true, and not more true than useful. I said that those act foolishly who look only to the bare signs and not also to the promises annexed to them. He admits that it was rightly said, and he freely gives it his support.
Shortly after, as if some new wasp had stung him, he murmurs that caution must be used, otherwise the promise may be dissevered from the sacraments. What? Was not the promise distinctly admitted when I joined it to them by an indissoluble tie? I observed that a sacrilegious divorce was made if any one should insist on having the bare sign, and that dissevered from the promise. Westphal cries out that we must beware of separating the promise from the signs, just as if he were to keep scolding and calling to the builder of a cistern, who was carefully stopping up the chinks, to take care that the water did not escape through them.
What am I endeavoring to do, but just to make those who desire benefit from the sacraments confine themselves within the word? Westphal comes upon me while so employed, and finds fault with me, as if I were maintaining that baptism is nothing but water, and that in the Supper there is nothing but bread and wine. Why then did I quote the testimony of Augustine — that without the word the water is nothing but an element, and that with the word it begins to become a sacrament — but just to show that the sacraments derive their value from the word with which they are so closely connected, that on being dissevered from it they lose their nature? Westphal’s motive, no doubt, was this. He did not think that his hostility to us would seem fierce enough if he did not out of mere spite attack the plainest truth, seize upon the minutest particles as materials for strife, and infect honejr itself with his bitter. He chose to publish his disgrace betbre the whole world sooner than not prove to the little brothers who kept soothing and flattering him, that he is our declared enemy out and out.