TO JOACHIM WESTPHAL,
Who, If He Heeds It Not, Must Hencefokth Be Treated In The Way Which Paul Prescribes For Obstinate Heretics; Herein Also Are Refuted The Censures By Which Those Of Magdeburg And Elsewhere Have Tried To Overturn Heaven And Earth.
JOACHIM WESTPHAL has published a letter, written to one of his friends, whose name shame makes him conceal. Having there promised that he is going to answer the charges of John Calvin, he mournfully deplores that I have treated him more harshly than the Anabaptists, Libertines, and Papists. Were I to grant this, (though he here shamefully exposes his vanity,) wily does he not sit down calmly and consider with himself, what he has deserved both by his atrocious attacks on sound doctrine, and his barbarous cruelty towards pious and unoffending individuals? He asks if he deserves no mercy, while others are more mildly treated, as if one who has violated all the rights of humanity, and been seen, of set purpose, making war on equity and modesty, had not precluded himself from all title to expostulate. Why does he not rather attend to the declaration of our heavenly Master, “ With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again?” As if he had been brought up in the Roman court during his whole life, and learned nothing but anathema, he surpasses all the scribes and clerks of the Pope, by fulminating against us in almost every sentence.
When argument fails him, he overwhelms the best cause, by damnatory sentences and reproaches. Nay, as in comedies wicked slaves, driven to despair, throw every thing into confusion, so he by his clamor mingles light and darkness.
Why should I not give this insanity its proper name? Nay, as I had to do with a hard and stubborn head, why should I not be permitted to use a hard wedge for a bad knot? Unless, indeed, he can show that he is protected by some new privilege, which entitles him petulantly to employ his bad tongue on others, without hearing a harsh word in reply.
This, no doubt, is the reason why both those censors pronounce my book full of sting and virulence. I am not surprised at the former epithet, nor am I sorry that men so stupid have, at least, felt some pricks. As to virulence, they will find more of it in themselves than in the book. Still, whatever contumely Westphal may deserve, I ought not, it seems, to toss him about so violently. Accordingly, he exclaims, that all covering, gloss, and pretext are removed, and my temper stands disclosed by this one book: nay, he pretends that I have hitherto gone about personating a different character from my own. The character which God gave me, I, by his grace, so bear, that the sincerity of my faith is abundantly manifest. I wish the integrity of Westphal and his fellows were half as well proved by similar fruit. I do not envy others, though they should surpass me an hundredfold, but it is intolerable to hear lazy drones crying down the industry which they cannot imitate.
To prove that I am devoid of all fear of God, modesty, humility, patience — that, in short, I have nothing becoming a servant of Christ, he alleges, that unmoved by the dreadful denunciation of Christ, “Whoso shall say to his brother, Thou fool, shall be liable to hell fire,” I have filled numerous sheets with more than six hundred reproaches. One would say; that we have here Julian the apostate, while he cruelly rages against the whole Christian name, discoursing in mockery about bearing the cross. He who has hitherto allowed himself a thousand times to vociferate, without measure or restraint, against the faithful servants of Christ, ever and anon calling them heretical, impious, blasphemous, crafty, forgers, plagues, and devils, cannot bear to have one word of condemnation uttered against his presumption. If, in rebuking the Galatians for fickleness and thoughtlessness in being too easy and ,credulous, Paul did not hesitate to employ the term madness, with what vehemence should not the presumption of one who, with frenzied impetus, attacks the doctrine of Christ and his true worshippers, be repressed? The only wish I have is, that the rebuke had so touched the mind of Joachim as not to leave him guilty before that heavenly tribunal, the terror of which he holds out to others.
But the precept of Christ is, to love our enemies, and bless those that curse us. Why, then, has he of his own accord made a hostile assault on his friends, and those who were desirous to cultivate fraternal goodwill with him? Why did he pronounce maledictions on those who were quiet, and had never harmed him by a single word? He denies both charges. Let his writings be read, that one especially in which he attacks our Agreement.
Till that time I had never touched him or one of his faction, but had rather humbly begged, that if any thing in our doctrine did not please, it might not be deemed too troublesome to correct it by placid admonition. And, indeed, as experience afterwards showed, some then justly derided me for being so simple as to hope that those who had previously forgotten the rights of humanity, and vehemently flamed out against us, would be calmed down. Why did Joachim, when so mildly requested, choose to cry out heresy, rather than to point out the error, if any there was? Thus unworthily treated, not in the heat of passion, as he falsely imagines, but to curb the excessive ferocity in which he was indulging, I applied the remedy somewhat more sharply than I could desire. I wish the pain had stung him to repentance. But since he is so much exasperated, and has, ill no degree, laid aside his perverse conduct, I console myself with another good result, viz., that others will understand how insipidly he has defended his error against the clear light of sound doctrine. Meanwhile, if from blind hatred he is. unable to perceive my intention, Christ the common Judge recognises it, and, in his own time, will make it manifest that I am not so given to avenge private injuries, as not to be ready, when any hope of cure appears, to lay aside all remembrance of them, and try all methods of brotherly pacification.
When he says in another place that I have anxiously labored not to omit any kind of insult, how much he is mistaken will best appear from the fact. Many can bear me witness that the book was hastily written. What the case required, and occurred spontaneously at the time, I dictated without any lengthened meditation, and with a feeling so remote from gall, (with which, he says, I am thoroughly infected,) that I afterwards wondered how harsher terms had fallen from me while I had no bitterness in my heart. But, perhaps, the unworthy conduct of the man, while indulging his proud moroseness, required that he should be made to feel that the defenders of the truth were not without sharp weapons. It is easy for Joachim to attribute to me the black salt of absurd scurrility and sycophantish mendacity; but it is equally easy for me in one word to dispose of the calumny, by defying him to find any thing that can justify his hateful charge. Though I should be silent, the candid reader will alike detest his impudence and deride his folly. With the same modesty he alleges, that I hunt in words and syllables for absurd and insipid squibs, while it is plain that so far from being on the watch for bitter terms, I have purposely omitted those which spontaneously presented themselves. In short, if the reader will consider to what derision Westphal has exposed himself, and how much subject for irony his stupidity affords, none will be so unjust or prejudiced as not to say, that in this matter I have spared him and used restraint. If I am a dealer in reproaches, because I have held up the mirror to Joachim, who was winking too much at his faults, and made him at last begin to feel ashamed of his conduct, he must also bestow the same epithet on the Prophets, and the Apostles, and Christ himself, whose practice it was to administer severe reproof to the enemies of sound doctrine, those of them especially whom they saw to be proud and obstinate. Nay, laying hold of commonplace, without modification and selection, as if it were unlawful to charge the wicked defenders of error as they deserve, he avowedly undertakes the defense of all false prophets, seeking to augment their licentiousness by impunity.
Westphal’s complaint, that, I have treated him more unmercifully than Papists, Libertines, and Anabaptists, the reader will perceive from my writings to be most false. To render their pernicious errors by which all religion is corrupted detestable to all the pious, I depict them in their true colors. In this matter, Westphal does not. disapprove of my severity by censuring it; but as soon as he himself is touched, he cries out that all charity is disregarded. That bitter reproaches and scurrilous witticisms are unbecoming in Christians, both sides agree. But as the Prophets did not refrain from derision, and our Savior himself speaks in cutting terms of perverse and deceitful teachers, and the Holy Spirit everywhere inveighs with full freedom against this class of men, it is thoughtless and foolish to raise the question, whether it be lawful gravely and sternly to rebuke those who expose themselves to shame and disgrace; for this is to bring a charge against the servants of God, whom holy zeal often impelled to harsh and bitter speeches. No doubt every individual is always bound to look well to the cause for which he either takes fire or speaks keenly.
After our Agreement was published, and Westphal had full liberty to correct any thing that was faulty, calumniously searching in all quarters for an appearance of repugnance, he in savage mood lashed the living and the dead. I, in repelling this savage attack, refrained from giving his name, in order that if he was of a temper that admitted of cure his ignominy might be buried. Repudiating this by a violent, not to say cyclopical production, he attempted not only to confound heaven and earth, but to stir up Acheron. Considering that this obstinate intemperance was not to be cured by gentle remedies, I took the liberty to sharpen my pen. What could I do?
I must either by silence betray the truth, or by soft and placid pleading, give signs of timidity and diffidence. As if he had wrested all the thunder out of the hand of God to hurl it fearfully at our heads, he endeavored by the sound of words to strike us with dismay. A graver refutation having dissipated the terrors of his ridiculous anathemas, he has vented all his petulance and fury against us, pretending it to be very sweetness, and then alleges that I have forgotten all humanity and modesty. Since his ferocity has proved intractable, it is easy to see the frivolousness and puerility of all his declamation. As if lions and bears, after rushing madly at every one in their way, should complain that they do not meet with soothing treatment, this delicate little man, after atrociously attacking the doctrine of Christ and his ministers, regards it as a great crime that he is not treated like a brother.
The whole question turns upon this — Did I attempt to avenge a private injury, or was it in the defense of a public cause that I strenuously opposed Westphal? Any private injury he did me I was bound patiently to bear. But if the whole aim of my vehemence was to prevent a good cause, even the sacred truth of Christ, from being overwhelmed by the loud clam ours of Westphal, why should it be imputed to me as a fault? I wish this perverse censor could have any slight idea of what is meant; by the words, “The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee fell upon me.” Had he any such idea, he would not so preposterously, as if in mockery, wrest the holy admonition of Peter to his own purpose. Peter exhorts us, by the example of Christ, to submit calmly to all kinds of contumely and reproach. Westphal therefore insists that such silence as Christ kept when unjustly accused, should be observed by his ministers whenever the truth is assailed: as if instead of the injunction to all to cry aloud, the Apostle were there imposing a law of perfidious tolerance on the preachers of the gospel. Wherefore, until Westphal show that I retaliated private wrongs, and was more devoted to my own cause than to the defense of doctrine, the reader will understand that it is the veriest trifling for him to talk of patience and silence.
He also accuses me of not having studied to gain my enemy. At first I followed the method best fitted to remove offenses, and now if he wishes reconciliation, though he has so often injured me, I decline not. I appeal to Christ’s Judge, and call all angels to witness, that the moment Westphal shall turn from his perverseness there will be no delay in me in maintaining brotherly good-will with him. Nay, if he can now put on the mind of a brotherly I in my turn am prepared to embrace him as a brother. But the iniquitous condition is imposed, that I shall renounce the confession of true and holy doctrine — a price for which I would not purchase the peace even of the whole world. And not to go on debating to weariness and without any profit, let the reader attend to one leading point on which the whole controversy turns. Joachim insists that any thing is lawful to him against us, because, as he says, he is defending true doctrine against impious error. When once he shall have proved this, I acknowledge that we must be quiet. But if I teach and show that what he falsely arrogates to himself truly belongs to me — that I am the faithful defender of pure and holy doctrine, and faithfully exert myself not only in refuting impious error, but in wiping off atrocious calumnies, why should not I have the same liberty he claims? Let judgment then be first given on the cause, that neither he nor I may keep beating the air. What prevents the reader from drawing a sure distinction between holy zeal and licentious invective, but just the attempt of Westphal to darken the clear light, by clamoring that my book is stuffed with bitter words?
Here it is worth while in passing to notice the combined stupidity and impudence of the man. In my former writings, wishing to bring Mm back to a moderate discussion of the subject, I said it was base and absurd to attack us with so much pride and petulance. He fiercely replied, that it was necessary to fight; with the utmost keenness against heretics, and that, therefore, a composed or sedate style was not to be used — that the more ardor any man felt in such a contest the better he proved himself a zealous soldier of Christ. In short, he used all the coloring he could to excuse not only the vehemence but the fury of passion. What does he now do? Paul, he says, wished not that the disobedient should be regarded as enemies, but be corrected as brethren, he also quotes recommendations of meekness from Ambrose and Gregory Nazianzen. Whoever will compare these two passages together, will not only say that this man, who so varies and differs from himself, has lost his memory and his senses, but, will easily see that possessing no ingenuousness, he sophistically catches now at this defense, now at that, and endeavors by empty froth to convert virtues into vices.
Tell me, Joachim, if you ever were in earnest when you said that severity was by no means to be spared in condemning error, or whether by now singing a disgraceful palinode, you would condemn the rigor which you lauded as holy zeal, in order to be able to throw obloquy on me Meanwhile, this worthy assertor and teacher of charity, who denies that it is to be violated by the smallest word, cries out that all persons whatsoever who are found to favor us ought to be driven from the face of the earth, boasts of having written that we ought to be refuted by the sword of the magistrate rather than by the pen, and advises the magistrates to pronounce interdict from fire and water, not only against the professors but even the approvers of our doctrine. Westphal’s definition of charity therefore is, that he is to rage at will with fire and sword against us, and then to pronounce that we have fallen from Christianity, if we use any freedom in speaking of him. To omit other things, what gave him this great confidence, this atrocious censorship, worthy of Phalaris, to be ever and anon styling us heretics, a name which start up not only in every page but almost in every sentence, but just our refraining hitherto to use invective in reply? Assuredly, it was nothing but our mildness that added so much to his ferocity. What say you to this, good teacher of modesty? While it is perfectly clear that you abuse our patience in venting your anathemas, what ground can you have for charging us with treating you with harshness and austerity?
He again entangles himself, by denying that he was warned. After he had raged like a bacchanalian against the living and the dead, and not hesitated to form a catalogue of heretics out of our names, and I, suppressing his name, had showed my indignation, so little did I succeed, that he proceeded much more violently to fulminate at us with all kinds of curses and execrations. And yet the worthy man thinks that the time had not yet arrived for severe rebuke. When he again returns to his vulgar song, that he was not yet convicted of error, whereas he had, by solid reasons and arguments drawn from sacred Scripture, proved our heresy to be damnable, of what use is it to pollute our sheets with the odor of such falsehoods? To remove all ambiguity, let my book be brought forward and vindicate itself from the haughty charge. Assuredly, if I get it to be read, it will soon appear how he upbraids me with being more a buffoon than a divine, and how far from candor he is in asserting that it is filled with nothing but empty invective. I would not object here to give a short summary of it did not its brevity spare both the reader and myself this trouble. Westphal has produced no argument which was not there solidly refuted. I also adduced arguments which neither he not his whole band, do what they may, will ever be able to shake off. This, too, I venture to assert, that all endued with any moderate degree of impartiality will at once, on reading the book, admit that a doctrine so tolerable could not without the greatest injustice be so invidiously traduced.
But however some may embrace the doctrine of my book, and others at least think it deserving of excuse, it would seem I am not to gain any thing by it. For Westphal has fallen upon a witty device to elude me, and sit quiet while he calls in others to bear the brunt of the battle. In order to prove that we overturn the Confession of Augsburg, he introduces as our opponent Philip Melancthon, its most distinguished author — a man alike admirable for piety and learning. In another writing he brings us into controversy with the ancient Church under the name of Augustine. And lastly, he draws a dense phalanx from different places in the neighborhood of Saxony. By this splendid array he hopes to dazzle the eyes of the simple. As I have to deal with a man of no modesty, but of the greatest loquacity, I must ask my readers, first, to put aside all circumlocution, and look at the bare facts; and second]y, to use prudence and impartiality in judging.
As the Confession of Augsburg has obtained favor with the pious, Joachim, with his faction, began long ago to do as is common with men destitute of argument, to obtrude it upon us as a shield of authority. If he could show that we are opposed to the general consent given to it, he thought that he would in a manner becloud the sky, or at least bring a thick mist over the eyes of the simple, so as to prevent one ray of light from appearing even at noon-day. To free ourselves from the prejudice thus craftily sought to be excited, I appealed, I admit, to the author of the Confession, and I do not repent having done so. What does Westphal do?
With his gross barbarism he represents me as making the victory to depend upon Philip’s subscribing to us. Let not my readers wait till he himself becomes ashamed of this falsehood; there is too much brass in his brow: let them only judge what such vile talk deserves.
My words are: in regard to the Confession of Augsburg my answer is, that (as it was published at Ratisbon) it does not contain a word contrary to our doctrine. If there is any ambiguity in its meaning, there cannot be a more competent interpreter than its author, to whom, as his due, all pious and learned men will readily pay this honor. To him I boldly appeal; and thus Westphal with his vile garrulity lies prostrate.
Let him extract from these words, if he can, that I made the victory, to depend on the subscription of any single man. No less sordid is the vanity which makes him wonder exceedingly that such a stigma was; fastened on his master, though, from Philip’s answer, he has learned the fact of our agreement more clearly than I ventured to declare it. But what need is there of words? If Joachim wishes once for all to rid himself of all trouble and put an end to the controversy, let him extract one word in his favor from Philip’s lips. The means of access are open, and the journey is not so very laborious, to visit one whose consent he boasts so loftily, and with whom he may thus have familiar intercourse. If I shall be found to have used Philip’s name rashly, there is no stamp of ignominy to which I am not willing to submit.
The passage which Westphal quotes it is not mine to refute, nor do I regard what, during the first conflict, before the matter was clearly and lucidly explained, the importunity of some may have extorted from one who was then too backward in giving a denial. It were too harsh to lay it down as a law on literary men, that after they have given a specimen of their talent and learning, they are never after to go beyond it in the course of their lives. Assuredly, whosoever shall say that Philip has added nothing by the labor of forty years, does great wrong to him individually, and to the whole Church. The only thing I said, and, if need be, a hundred times repeat, is, that in this matter Philip can no more be torn from me than he can from his own bowels. But although fearing the thunder which threatened to burst from violent men, (those who know the boisterous blasts of Luther understand what I mean,) he did not always speak out so openly as I could have wished, there is no reason why Westphal, while pretending differently, should indirectly charge him with having begun to incline to us only after Luther was dead. For when more than seventeen years ago we conferred together on this point of doctrine, at our first meeting not a syllable required to be changed. Nor should I omit to mention Gaspar Cruciger, who, from his excellent talents and learning, stood next after Philip highest in Luther’s estimation, and far beyond all others. He so cordially embraced what Westphal now impugns, that nothing can be imagined more perfectly accordant than our opinions. But if there is still any doubt as to Philip, do I not make a sufficient offer when I wait silent and confident for his answer, assured that it will make manifest the dishonesty which has falsely sheltered itself under the venerable name of that most excellent man?
I come to Augustine, whom, though all his writings proclaim him to be wholly ours, Westphal, not content with wresting from us, obtrudes as an adversary, not hesitating to claim him for himself with the same audacity with which he uniformly turns light into darkness. What view James Bording, to whom he dedicates his farrago, now takes, I know not; certainly if he has not greatly changed his mind, he would rather that an office fraught with dishonor had not been conferred on him. At the time when I knew him he was distinguished not less by ingenuous modesty than by learning. It is now only worth while briefly to advert to what the Letter contains, not that I am going to expose all its loquacity, but to enable my readers to form an estimate of the temper of the man, as it will be easy to do from a few heads. First, he maintains:, that to prevent the contagion from spreading, sectaries and heretics are to be banished or otherwise subjected to punishment. As we are both agreed on that matter, all he had to do was to subscribe to us. It would certainly have been more honest to have quoted our books, from which he borrows any arguments he adduces, than, while pretending to make war upon us, to fight with our own weapons. In this way he would not have given a disgraceful specimen of stupidity, which the man’s unreasonable conduct compels me to notice.
As in the twenty-fourth Psalm, the Vulgate Version has improperly rendered, “ Lift up your doors, ye Princes,” instead of “Lift up your heads, O ye doors,” a certain learned man, who has deserved well of the Church, from lapse of memory, as often happens, wishing to exhort princes to defend piety, had used this passage. The error might be tolerated. Westphal, quoting exactly “Lift up your heads, O ye doors,” says, the passage enjoins magistrates to open the doors to the Lord, and shut them against false prophets. From this the reader may infer what reverence these men show in handling Scripture, which they so impurely and presumptuously lacerate. Yet the worthy man, in his eagerness to throw obloquy on me, was not ashamed to insert in the farrago, to which he gives; the name of Confessions, the letter of some follower of Servetus, in which I am called an incendiary for having taught that heretics are justly punished. Let the letter be read. It brings no other charge against me than that. I teach that rulers are armed with the sword not less to punish impiety than other crimes. The only difference between me and Westphal is, that I say there is no room for severity unless the case has been previously discussed. Nay, as it is usual with the Papists in the present day to inflict cruelties on the innocent without any investigation, I justly condemn the barbarity, and recommend that no severe measure be ever adopted until after due cognizance; and I carefully warn them against being too credulous, lest they may defile their hands by indiscriminate slaughter.
I then complain and lament that the world has been reduced to such slavery that no discussion takes place, and those who domineer under the name of prelates will not hear a word at variance with their decrees; nay, will not even allow doubt or inquiry. I say that it is barbarity not to be tolerated, when without cognizance mere possession, unsupported by right or reason, is maintained by the sword. Certainly as, according to an ancient saying, ignorance is audacious, so in this preposterous zeal cruelty is added to audacity. I therefore enjoin the true worshippers of God to take heed not rashly to undertake the defense of an unknown cause, nor be hurried by intemperance into severity; for as, in earthly causes, a judge who, himself in ignorance of the whole matter, lazily passes sentence on the opinion of others, is justly condemned; so, how much more deserving are judges of condemnation when, in the cause of piety, they, from disdain, omit to investigate?
And I have not taught in word any thing that I have not confirmed by act.
For when Servetus was, by nefarious blasphemies, overthrowing whatever piety exists in the world, I, nevertheless, called him to discussion; and not only came prepared to give an account of my own doctrine, but chose rather to swallow the reproaches of that vilest of men, than furnish a bad example, by enabling any one afterwards to object that he was crushed without being heard. Westphal deems it enough for magistrates to oppose the sword in place of discussion; and it is no wonder that a man, whose only hope of victory is placed in darkness, should tyrannically rage while suppressing the light of truth.
He is not ashamed to, employ the name of Augustine, as if he had any thing in common with that mild spirit. It is strange, however, that; while he professes in his book to speak almost in the very words of Augustine, he so securely differs from him at the very outset, both in words and meaning. Augustine’s words, in the forty-eighth Letter to Vincentius, are, “If they are frightened, and not taught, it will seem wicked tyranny.” And yet he is speaking of heretics, who, impelled only by proud moroseness, had made a schism from the Church. He therefore wishes, in order to make the fear useful, that salutary doctrine be added. Again, he says, (Epist. ad Fest. 167,) “ Perverseness in heretics ought not to be driven out by terror merely, but their mind and intellect should be instructed by the authority of the word of God. And, indeed, as the Church seeks the confession of her faith at the mouth of God, so, in order not to act preposterously, she tempers her zeal according to the same rule.” Westphal, however, that he might not seem to have nothing to say, shuts us out from all access to a lawful judgment, by declaring that we have been convicted! Very differently does Augustine, who was always prepared to refute error, before calling in the aid of the magistrate. When any one rose against the purity of the faith, he did not call him to the bar of the judge without a previous fair investigation before the people. Accordingly, his recorded discussions testify, that he never acted more willingly than when he entered the field of contest armed with the sword of the word. Nor was he ever so tired out by conflict as not to be ready to refute all the most pestilential heretics, while the Church stood witness and judge.
What does Westphal do? To shake himself free of all annoyance by a single word, he puts a black mark on any of his colleagues that he chooses, and forthwith contends that they are to be driven into exile. If they request to be heard, he says, that the unseasonable application is not to he listened to, because they are already more than convicted. If he did not distrust his cause, would not some sense of shame force him even against his will into discussion? For however specious he deems it to pretend that we have been convicted, it is a miserable and shabby cowardice to admit no investigation. But how, pray, does he prove that we were convicted? The consent of many churches ought, he says, to suffice for condemnation.
Why, then, does not he in his turn acquiesce in the judgment of our churches, by which he is condemned? Is it because he is near to the frozen ocean, and while he beholds its shore, considers it the utmost limit of the globe, that he regards all other churches wherever dispersed as nonentities?
Let him learn, if he would not make himself ridiculous, to give a place to churches of some note, whose suffrages approve our doctrine.
He adds, that a council was held at Smalcald, in which we were condemned. What was done at Smalcald I dispute not, nor do I think that Westphal knows. The only thing certain is, that a convention of princes was there held for the purpose of entering into a League, and that nothing was decreed on the subject of Religion, unless that all who then professed the Confession of Augsburg bound themselves to mutual defense. A few learned men were present, among others, Bucer, whom, though dead, Westphal assigns to our party. If these men had the chief authority, as Westphal declares, certainly he among them, who was ours to the day of his death, did not pass a censure upon us. Melancthon, second to none, still survives, and will not acknowledge that he passed so grave a sentence against us. Nor will Westphal by all his furious uproar cause the Church of Wittemberg to pronounce against us so harshly. Meanwhile, I wonder that the Synod of Marpurg is passed over, in which Luther and the opposite party did not hesitate to acknowledge us as brethren, though the controversy was not so fully and lucidly explained as in the present day.
When Westphal knows this, and conceals it, what can he gain with prudent and sober readers by babbling about fictitious synods?
But he is driven much further by his desperate impudence, when he is not ashamed to invite the patronage of Nicolas II. and Gregory VII. Though I should not say one word as to this, I cannot doubt that all good men would detest his blind rage. So far am I from being annoyed, that in a Roman Council, over which Nicolas II. presided, and in that of Vercelli, which was assembled under the auspices of Gregory VII., the doctrine which I follow was condemned, that I consider it a ground of the highest congratulation, as showing that our doctrine was always hated by the manifest enemies of God and by Antichrists. Certainly, in my eyes, their approbation would throw some suspicion on it. But who is not horrified at the monstrous blindness of Westphal, who seeks a color for his doctrine from suffrages which might rather cover the sun with darkness? Since he has chosen this vile pig-stye for his school, let him regale himself on the husks which are fit for him: only let the reader remember the proof he gives of his shameful poverty when he is forced to bring his judges from the lowest dregs of the Papacy.
As to the Council of Ephesus, the answer is not very difficult. Let Westphal produce from its decrees one sentence which is in the least degree adverse to us. If he cannot, let him cease to take out of it indirect charges, which he absurdly hurls at us. The confession there inserted, when duly and impartially weighed, so far from bearing hard upon us, rather discloses the untameable perverseness of Westphal, who, in his malignant temper, fabricates dissensions out of nothing. But as Paul orders us to hear all prophets who are endued with the gift of the Spirit, and patiently examine whatever any of them may have produced, Westphal, to wrest this testimony from us., first strips us of all gifts of the Spirit, and then restricts the liberty which Paul claims for the prophets to the Doctors of Saxony. As it will here be easy for any reader, however little versed in Scripture, to detect the wild raving of the man, I feel at liberty to contemn it. Westphal, forsooth, by whom not one iota of a letter of Scripture was ever properly illustrated, will be deemed a prophet, and we, whose labors are well known to have at least yielded fruit to the Church, shall not be permitted to occupy the lowest seat. Surely, if faith and religious reverence in the interpretation of Scripture, if learning, and judgment, and dexterity show that a man has been divinely called, let not Westphal arrogate to himself an ounce of the prophetical spirit, but leave it in full tale to his betters. When he says that we speak to destruction and not to edification, whether it be so or not, let those who are competent judge.
After this dexterous and happy preface, he begins to draw Auguastine to his party; and that he may obtrude his lies more securely, and with more impunity, he, with much bluster, heralds his ancient lore. Undoubtedly, unskillful or less cautious readers would think that he not only has all that Augustine ever wrote in his memory, but that, by long and familiar use, he has almost imbibed his mind, and all his hidden meanings. For he declares, contemptuously, that most of us either never saw the writings of Augustine, or have only looked at them slightly, and from a distance, as he expresses it. There is no reason for his doleful complaint, that I had presumed to address him as an unlearned man, now that he has completely wiped away the suspicion; for who will dare to think a man unlearned to whom the whole theology of Augustine is as well known as his own fingers? Whether or not I have looked front a distance at the writings of this holy teacher, I presume I have given evidence to all. If Westphal is in doubt, let him ask his master, Philip Melancthon, who assuredly will scarcely refrain from giving a crushing reproof to his petulance. But why do I spend time in superfluous matters? Let the passages which Westphal hurls at us from Augustine be brought forward.
Augustine refutes the gross error of those who took offense at our Savior’s discourse in Capernaum, because they imagined that his flesh was to be eaten and his blood drunk in an earthly manner. Westphal contends that this passage condemns us because we are like the Capernaumires. But there is a well-known refutation by Augustine, “Why do you prepare your teeth and your stomach? Believe, and you have eaten.” This passage clearly teaches that Augustine’s Capernaumires were those who pretend that the body of Christ is chewed by the teeth, and swallowed by the stomach. How can Westphal deny’ that he is of this class while he regards the decree of a Roman Council under Nicolas as a kind of oracle? A little ago he insisted, on the authority of that Council, that we were convicted of heresy! That worthy prelate of Westphal’s, in the recantation which Berengarius was forced to read, gave vent to this decree, “I consent to the Holy Roman Church and the Apostolic See; and I profess that I hold the same faith which my Lord and venerable Pope Nicolas, and this Holy Synod, has affirmed to me, viz., that the Bread and Wine, which are placed on the altar, are, after consecration, not only a Sacrament, but also the true Body and Blood of our Lord; and that sensibly, not only a Sacrament, but the reality is handled and broken by the priests, and chewed by the teeth of the faithful.” — Let Westphal, according to whom the glorified body of Christ is broken, sensibly handled, and chewed by the teeth, now see how he is to disengage himself from the Capernaumires.
He next accumulates all the passages in which the bread of the sacred Supper is called the body of Christ. Any one endued with moderate judgment will not only laugh at the silly garrulity of the man, but also feel indignant that such a show is made out of nothing. So far am I from having to think how to make my escape, that I have rather to fear I may rouse the reader’s indignation by occupying him with a matter so frivolous.
Augustine writes, that the victim which was offered for us, viz., the body of Christ, is dispensed, and his blood is exhibited to us in the holy Supper: as if similar modes of expression were not in use amongst ourselves. And yet Westphal acts inconsiderately in huddling together those passages in which Augustine indiscriminately calls the holy bread, at one time the body of Christ, at another, the Eucharist or Sacrament. I ask what he means by triumphing over us, because in one passage the body of Christ is said to be distributed, and in another, the sacrament of the body and blood to be given?
If Westphal puts his confidence in a single expression, how much greater will the authority of Christ be than that of Augustine? And beyond all controversy, our Lord himself declared of the bread, “This is my body.”
The only question is, Whether he means that the bread is his body properly and without figure, or whether he transfers the name of the tiling signified to the symbol? Westphal, interposing the opinion of Augustine with a view to end the dispute, produces nothing more than that the body of Christ is communicated to us in the Supper. Founding on this, he hesitates not to exclaim, that all are heretical who hold that the bread is called the body, because it is a figure of the body. What does Augustine himself say? “Had not the sacraments,” he says, (Ad Bonif. epist. 23,) “some resemblance to the things of which they are sacraments, they should not be sacraments at all. From this resemblance they generally take the names of the things themselves. As then, after a certain manner, the sacrament of the body of Christ is the body of Christ, and the sacrament of the blood is his blood, so the sacrament of faith is faith.” What does Westphal understand in this passage by a certain manner? What is the resemblance of the sign to the thing signified, because of which the name is transferred? Now, though the name of body should occur an hundred times in Augustine, we understand what the holy man meant by the form of expression. He will assuredly always acknowledge the metonymy which he once asserted, and which he shows to be in daily use in the Church. (Cont. Adimanth. Manich. c. 12.) And it is not strange that this rule is laid down by him, as he distinctly affirms, that when Christ gave the sign of his body, he expressly called it his body.
But Augustine distinctly says, that the body of Christ falls to the earth and enters the mouth. Yes, but in the same sense in which he affirms that it is consumed. Will Westphal acknowledge, that after the celebration of the ordinance is over, the body of Christ is consumed? It is from thoughtlessness he quotes these words from Augustine. I add what immediately follows in the same place. (Lib. 3, de Trinit. c. 10.) After saying, that after the ordinance is over bread is consumed, he adds, Because these things are known to men, because they are done by men, they may receive honor as being religious, they cannot produce astonishment as being miraculous. If we admit Westphal’s fiction, that the body of ,Christ lies hid, and is enclosed under a little bit of bread, who, can deny the existence of a miracle fit to excite astonishment? Let him cease then to dazzle the eyes of the simple., by collecting the ancient passages which say, that Christ i,3 received by the mouth, just as he is believed by the heart, it being sufficiently evident that though they were accustomed to the sacramental mode of expression, they still knew wherein the reality differed from the sign. We are not displeased at the magnificent terms in which the ordinance is extolled, though Westphal, after his usual fashion, charges us with speaking of it contemptuously.
The passage which he quotes from the thirty-third Psalm, (his book gives a wrong number, but we presume it is an error of the printer,) is easily disposed of. Augustine says, that when Christ instituted the sacred Supper, he was carried in his own hands. Does Westphal think there is no importance in the correction, which he immediately subjoins, when he inserts the word quodammodo, (in a manner,) which means that the expression is not strictly proper? But just as the hungry dog catches at the shadow instead of the flesh, so Westphal feeds on his own imagination.
Let him not attempt to carry readers of sense along with him in his deception. Christ then, in a manner, carried himself in his own hands, because on holding out the bread, he offered his own body and blood in a mystery or spiritually. And that candid readers may the more thoroughly scorn his vile impudence, let them observe, that Westphal, to draw attention to this sentence, prints it twice over in capital letters, and yet omits the word quodammodo, which removes all ambiguity. For who, on hearing that a figure or similitude is distinctly expressed, can doubt what the writer means?
To pass to another point, I should like Westphal to tell me whether the term oblation, which occurs in Augustine a thousand times, admits of no satisfactory interpretation? or, whether, when the Papists allege that the Mass is truly and properly a sacrifice, a full solution is not given by the passage in which Augustine says, that the only sacrifice of which we now celebrate the remembrance was shown by the old sacraments? (Cont.
Faust. Manich. 1. 6, c. 9.) How much akin to this expression that which follows is, let the reader judge: Of this sacrifice, he says, the flesh and blood, before the advent of Christ, was promised by typical victims; in the passion of Christ, was exhibited by the reality; since the ascension, is celebrated by a sacrament of remembrance. Let Joachim see how he is to reconcile these words with his dogma, that the body which was once exhibited in reality on the cross, is celebrated by itself (nudum ) by a sacrament of remembrance. And to omit this testimony, who sees not that every thing which he has attempted to produce is more than frivolous, and that Augustine, though no body should force him out of his hands, slips from him of his own accord? I may add, that in repeatedly giving out that he was only making a selection, he frees me from all further trouble. For seeing he is so continually versant in his writings, and holds his whole doctrine to a tittle, it is not to be believed that he has omitted any thing.
The substance of the whole passage is, that Christ is given in the Supper.
But it: an expression is contended for, I rejoin that it is repeatedly called the sacrament of the body: hence it follows, that all Westphal’s proof comes to nothing. For when he replies, that it is not less called the body in some passages, than the sacrament of the body in others, I leave children to judge how sillily he argues. Meanwhile, let the reader remember that there is nothing in these words at variance with our doctrine, that the body of Christ is truly exhibited to us in the holy Supper, as the whole dispute relates to the mode.
Thus we refute over and over the silly talk in which Westphal endeavors to throw odium on us by drawing false contrasts, and representing us as holding that the sacred Supper is destitute of its reality. He says that the Supper of the Lord was held in high honor and estimation, and regarded with great reverence, and hence it was that they went to it fasting, some every day, others more seldom, and that great anxiety was showing to prevent the body of the Lord from falling to the ground. As if we were withheld by no reverence from prostituting the Supper; as if we did not study to maintain it in the highest splendor; as if, previous to the celebration of it, we did not employ serious and anxious exhortation to raise the minds of the pious to heaven; as if we did not hold forth the dreadful crime of sacrilege, in order to debar any from approaching rashly; as if, in short, we did not publicly testify that such persons are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, communion in which is here held forth to us. The following words, assuredly not Westphal’s, I willingly borrow from Chrysostom — Christ in laying this table, does not feed us from any other source, but gives himself for food. I think it is now sufficiently plain, that if the mode of communion be properly explained, we agree perfectly with the holy Fathers, but that their words, when adapted to the gross dream of Westphal, are in a manner torn to tatters.
On another ground, Westphal thinks he has a plausible cause, viz., from its being said by Augustine, that the body of Christ is given alike to good and bad. Hence he infers, that the holy teacher makes no distinction between the two, in regard to the thing itself; but places the whole difference in the end, or use, or effect.. How true this is, the reader must judge from Augustine’s own words, as it is not safe to trust to the quotations of a man whose shameless audacity makes him capable of any fiction. That the body of Christ is given indiscriminately to the good and bad, I uniformly teach, because the liberality or faithfulness of Christ depends not on the worthiness of man, but is founded in himself. Whatever, therefore, be the character of him who approaches, because Christ always remains like himself, he truly invites him to partake of his body and blood, he truly fulfils what he figures, he truly exhibits what he promises. The only controversy is as to the receiving, which, if Augustine seems anywhere to assert, let him be his own interpreter, and it will soon appear that he speaks metonymically.
A candid and impartial judge will be freed from all doubt by a single passage, in which he declares that the good and the bad communicate in the signs. (Cont. Faust. 1. 13, c. 16.) If the unworthy received the thing, he would not have omitted altogether to mention what was more appropriate to the subject. In another passage he speaks much more clearly, (De Verbis Apostoli, sec. 33,) Prepare not your palate, but your heart: for that was the Supper recommended. Lo! we believe in Christ when we receive him by faith; in receiving we know what we think: we receive a little, and our heart is filled. It is not therefore what is seen but what is believed that feeds. According to Westphal unbelief also receives, and yet is not fed; whereas Augustine teaches that there is no receiving except by faith. This is the reason why, in numerous passages, as if explaining himself, he says that the sacraments are common to the good and the bad.
He was not unaware ‘that many who are not members of the body of Christ intrude themselves unworthily at the sacred table, nor was he of such perverted intellect as to imagine that those who belong in no way to the body of Christ are partakers of his body. Westphal restricts this to the effect, but how frivolously is manifest from other passages.
Augustine distinguishes between a sacrament and its virtue. (In Joann.
Tract. 26.) If the distinction consisted of three members Westphal might sing his paeans with full throat. His fiction implies that in the holy Supper there is a visible element; there is the body of Christ without fruit; there is the body combined with its use and end. But as Augustine confines himself to two members only, our doctrine needs no other defense. The Fathers, he says, did not die who understood the visible food spiritually, hungered spiritually, tasted spiritually, that they might be spiritually filled. We see how, opposing the intelligence of faith to the external sign, he says, that nothing but the bare sign is taken by unbelievers. If Westphal objects that he is speaking of the manna, this quibble is easily disposed of by the context, for he immediately subjoins, that these sacraments were different in the signs, but alike in the thing signified; and immediately after, repeating what he had said of the virtue of the sacrament and the visible sacrament, he teaches, that believers alone do not die who eat inwardly, not outwardly, who eat with the heart, not chew with the teeth. If nothing is left to unbelievers but the visible sacrament, where is Westphal’s hidden and celestial body?
We therefore rightly infer, that when Augustine says that unbelievers receive the body of Christ, it ought to be no otherwise understood than as he himself explains, namely, only as a sacrament. That there may be no doubt as to this, it should be known, Westphal himself being witness, that the two things — the body of Christ, and the vivifying food — are synonymous. For in order to prove that the body lurks enclosed under the bread, Westphal adduces the latter expression, arguing, that if the bread were not the body of Christ, it would not be vivifying food. Let him now say whether the bread of the Supper vivifies the wicked. If it does not bestow life, I will immediately infer that they have not the body of Christ.
When among other passages he quotes one from De Civitate Dei, lib. 19:c. 20, I would willingly set it down as art error of the press, did not the wicked cunning of the man betray itself. He quotes the twentieth chapter of the twenty-first book, where Augustine is giving the view of others, not his own. The twenty-fifth chapter, where Augustine answers the objection, he passes in silence. In the words which he has produced, there is so far from any thing adverse to us, that we need go no farther for a sure and clear proof of our doctrine. For what is meant by saying that those who are in the very body of Christ, take the body of Christ not only by sacrament but in reality, unless it be that which plainly appears, that the body of Christ is taken in two ways — sacramentally and in reality. If the reality is taken away, certainly nothing remains but the sign. From this too, we without doubt infer that the wicked do not eat the body of Christ in any other way than in respect of the sign, because they are deprived of the reality.
The explanation which follows in the twenty-fifth chapter is much more clear, where he strenuously maintains that those who are not to be classed among the members of Christ do not eat his body, because they cannot be at the same time the members of Christ and the members of a harlot. And immediately after, Christ himself saying, “ Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me and I in him,” he shows what it is to eat the body of Christ and drink his blood not sacramentally but in reality; for this is to dwell in Christ that Christ also may dwell in him. For it is as if he had said, Let not him who dwelleth not in me, and in whom I dwell not, say or think that he eats my body or drinks my blood. If this does not sting Westphal to the quick, he is more impervious than the cattle of his fields.
Out of the first book, against the Letters of Petilian, he quotes a sentence in which we are enjoined to distinguish the visible sacrament from the invisible unction of charity. Augustine is there discussing Baptism. If Christ baptizes not with the Spirit all who are dipped in water, will it immediately follow that Judas ate the body of Christ? But if the discourse were about the Supper, I would say that it gives the strongest support to us, because nothing is conceded to the wicked but the visible sacrament, which Westphal, according to his phantasm, will certainly admit to differ from the invisible flesh of Christ. The passage from the first book against Cresconius Grammaticus (the place is erroneously given, the twenty-third chapter being set down for the twenty-fifth) goes no farther than to say that the wicked corrupt the use of God’s gifts by abusing them. Nay, the whole drift of Augustine in writing against the Donatists, is to show that things which are good do not change their nature by the fault of those who use them improperly, and that therefore baptism is not to be considered null because unbelievers from abusing get no benefit from it. In this way it is not strange for Augustine to say that Judas was a partaker of the body of Christ, provided you restrict this to the visible sign. This he elsewhere states to be his view. Nor can we in any other way understand his distinction, (Tract. in Joann. 59,) that others took the bread the Lord, Judas nothing but the bread of the Lord. Nay, Westphal himself, as if he were changing sides, assists us by mentioning that Peter and Judas ate of the same bread.
Proceeding now as if he had made good his claim to Augustine, he attempts to dispose of the passages, which he says that we have quoted in a perfidious and garbled manner. But I should like to know where is the perfidy or garbling. Is it that any change is made on the words, and so, as Westphal is constantly doing, one thing is substituted for another? Is it that our people, by wresting those passages to their own purpose improperly, give them a meaning’ different from the true one? Westphal will perhaps say, that a syllable has been falsely produced by them. In that respect, therefore, it follows that things which Augustine wished to be understood differently, are improperly and irrelevantly quoted. But, should any one not very appositely adduce Augustine as a witness in his favor, is he to be regarded of course as a perfidious garbler? So, indeed, Westphal chooses to say. This law, however hard it be, I refuse not. Let us bear the charge of perfidy, then, while he only alleges our want of skill.
In this part of the subject the good man uses tergiversation. For what could he do? As a shorter method of disentangling himself, he says, that we overturn the local presence of Christ in the Supper in three ways — either by feigning a figure, or by pretending that the eating is spiritual, or by denying that the body of Christ is immense. We having undertaken to prove these three articles out of Augustine, let us see by what artifice Westphal refutes them. Talking of the figure, he denies that Augustine ever interpreted the words of Christ, This is my body, so as to show that the bread signified body. Is it in this way he is to convict us of perfidy, when we ingenuously come forward provided with expressions that are not in the least degree obscure? Augustine’s words are: The Lord hesitated not to say, This is my body, when he was giving the sign of his body. And with what view does he say so? To prove that Scripture often speaks figuratively. He elsewhere says, that Christ admitted Judas to the first feast, in which he commended and delivered the figure of his body to the disciples. He also says that tinge bread is in a manner the body of Christ, because it is a sacrament of the body. Producing a passage from the Third Book on Christian Doctrine, how dexterously does he escape? He says, Augustine is in a general way admonishing believers not to fasten upon signs, but rather to attend to the things signified. Although I deny not that this was the holy man’s purpose, I would yet have it carefully considered how it may be said to be carnal bondage or servile weakness to take the signs for the thing. If it were not preposterous to confound the signs with the things, there would be no ground for condemning it as superstition.
When Westphal rejoins, that still the reality ought not to be disjoined from the signs, he says nothing that is at all adverse to us. He indeed pretends the contrary, but with little modesty, as it is perfectly notorious that we call the bread a sign of the body of Christ, inasmuch as it is a badge of the communion, and truly exhibits the spiritual food which it figures.
This much remains fixed, that in the words of Christ the mode of speaking is sacramental, and the sign must be distinguished from the reality, if we would not continue servilely grovelling on the earth. Hence, too, it is clearly inferred that Augustine gives his full sanction to that interpretation which Westphal so bitterly assails. As neither the substance nor the principal effects of the Supper are taken away by the word signifying:, let Westphal seek some new color for his quarrel. But by no means contented with this, he clings with desperation to the word essential, maintaining that the bread is truly and properly called the body of Christ. I say that in this he abandons the view of Augustine. He maintains that he does not.
But how does he evade the passages? Because the words of Christ, This is my body, are not quoted for the express purpose. What matters it, so long as we have Augustine’s authority for the mode of expression, viz., that Christ said, This is my body, when he was giving a sign of his body? Then when Augustine teaches generally that the name of the thing signified is transferred to the sign whenever the names of flesh and blood are applied to the external symbols of the Supper, who can hesitate to follow that rule in seeking for the sense In the epistle to Evedins, when Augustine says, that in the sacraments there is a frequent and trite metonymy, Westphal seeks a frivolous subterfuge, by saying that the Supper is not mentioned, because he could not argue in this way from the genus to the species. Why should the observation of Augustine as to all the signs not be applied to the Supper? A dove is called the Holy Spirit. Augustine tells us that this ought to be understood in etonymically, for it is not new or unusual for signs to take the name of the thing signified. The case of the Supper is exactly the same. Westphal will on no account allow it to be touched. But it is not strange that he cavils so frigidly about that matter, as he is not ashamed with more pertness to elude the words of St. Paul.
St. Paul says that the rock which accompanied the people in the wilderness was Christ;. Westphal admits no interpretation, because Christ was truly and properly a spiritual rock. But it is clear, nay palpable to the very blind, that Paul is there speaking of an external sign, no less than Christ is when he says of the bread, This is my body. No other view would be consistent with the context, in which Paul compares our Baptism and Supper to the, ancient signs, so that it is out of Westphal’s power to deny that the rock is called Christ in the same sense in which the bread is called his body. Here at least he must make room for the term signifying. I do not ask him to make the holy Supper void of its reality.
This is the falsehood by which he so iniquitously attempts to bring us into odium with the simple. I would only have the distinction to be carefully drawn between the thing and the sign, so that a transition may be made from the earthly element to heaven. The bread is put into ,our hands. We know that Christ is true, and will in reality exhibit what he testifies, viz., his body, but only if we rise by faith above the world. As this cannot take place without the help of a figure or sign, what right Westphal has to object I leave sober and candid readers to judge. Though he should protest a hundred times over, we certainly have the support of Augustine in regard to the term signifying. I may add, that if in the discourse of Christ, where he says that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood, the expression is figurative, as Westphal is forced to admit, the same thing must be said of the holy Supper. Nay, a term of significance will be much more adapted to a sacrament than to simple doctrine. Were I to go over his absurdities in detail, there would be no end: nor is there any occasion for it, unless indeed there be so much weight in his words that the reader, after being taught and convinced by so many arguments, should still believe that there is no figure in the expression, This is my body, merely because Westphal so declares.
Spiritual eating is held by us in such a manner as by no means excludes sacramental eating, provided always that Westphal do not by his vague dream dissever things that are conjoined. But the reader ought to understand what the sacramental eating of this good theologian is, namely, that unbelievers without faith, without any sense of piety, gulp down the body of Christ. He dreams that Christ is spiritually eaten when the stomach not only swallows his body, but the soul also receives the secret gift of the Spirit. We maintain that in the sacrament Christ is eaten in no way but spiritually, because that gross gulping down which the Papists devised, and Westphal too greedily drinks in from them, is abhorrent to our sense of piety. The substance of our doctrine is, that the flesh of Christ is vivifying bread, because when we are united to it by faith, it nourishes and feeds our souls. We teach that this is done in a spiritual manner, only because the bond of this sacred union is the secret and incomprehensible virtue of the Holy Spirit. In this way, we say, that our souls are assisted by the sacred symbol of the Supper, to receive nourishment from the flesh of Christ. We even add, that therein is fulfilled and exhibited all that Christ declares in the sixth chapter of John. But although believers have spiritual communion with Christ without the use of the sacrament, still we distinctly declare that Christ, who instituted the Supper, works effectually by its means.
Westphal confines spiritual eating to the fruit merely, regarding it a means by which the salvation obtained by the death of Christ is applied to us, while his sacramental eating, as I have observed, is nothing more than a gulping down of Christ’s flesh. What does Augustine say? He teaches that the body of Christ is eaten sacramentally only when it is not eaten in reality. In two passages this antithesis is distinctly expressed by him.
Hence we surely gather that the sacramental is equivalent merely to the visible or external use, when unbelief precludes access to the reality.
Westphal, therefore, acts calumniously in charging our spiritual eating as a fallacious pretext for destroying the true communion which takes place in the Supper. For if spiritual is to be separated from sacramental eating, what are we to make of the following passage of Augustine? (In Psalm 98.) You are not about to eat the body which you see and to drink the blood which those who are to crucify me will shed. I have committed a sacrament to you: when spiritually understood, it will give you life. Now, if it is clear that in the Supper, when the body is not spiritually eaten, nothing is left but a void and empty sign, and we infer from the words of Christ that spiritual eating takes place when faith corresponds to the mystical and spiritual doctrine, there is no ground for Westphal’s attempt to dissever things which cannot be divided. I admit it to be certain that the same body which Christ offered on the cross is eaten, because we do not imagine that Christ has two bodies, nor is aliment for spiritual life to be sought anywhere else than in that victim. How does Augustine deny it to be the same body, but just in respect that having been received into heaven it inspires life into us by the secret virtue of the Spirit? Therefore a different mode of eating is denoted, viz., that though the body remains entire in heaven, it quickens us by its miraculous and heavenly virtue. In short, Augustine’s only reason for denying that the body on which the disciples were looking is given in the Supper, was to let us know that the mode of communion is not at all carnal, that we become partakers of flesh and blood in a mystery, our teeth not consuming that grace, as he elsewhere expresses it. Thus Westphal gains nothing by his quibbling. He is also detected in a manifest calumny, when he charges us with wresting this passage to mean that the Supper gives us nothing but an empty figure.
But how does Westphal excuse the term spiritually? By reason of faith, he says. If so, how does he pretend that there is an eating without faith? For to prove that there is nothing carnal in his gross fiction, he denies that Christ is carnally eaten, unless he is cut into pieces like a carcass, and palpably chewed by the teeth; and he says, that while the body is offered to be taken invisibly, it is spiritually eaten, because it is received by faith.
The more he attempts to get out of this dilemma the faster it will hold him — the dilemma that profane men, endued only with carnal sense, when they rashly and unworthily intrude themselves at the Lord’s table, eat spiritually without faith, and yet there is no such eating except in respect of faith.
I do not however admit what he stammers out on no authority but his own, viz., that when the flesh of Christ is consumed in the bread the mode of eating is spiritual, because it is invisible. The exception is too weak, that, according to the definition of Augustine, those only taste carnally who think that the body of Christ is to be torn as in the shambles.
Although gross men imagine that Christ intends to prepare a supper of the Cyclops out of his flesh, we must adopt another definition, viz., that he is spiritually eaten, though not taken into the stomach, because he quickens us by the secret virtue of the Spirit. Nor can Westphal make his escape by the term faith, for our Savior not only distinctly requires faith to be given to his words, but, recalling us to their force and nature, declares them to be spiritual. These two things, it is apparent, are not less distant from each other than heaven is from earth.
Westphal contends that the body of Christ is truly and properly eaten, because, we must believe the plain and literal expression, This is my body, which admits no figure, and thus the Spirit, which Christ distinctly places in his own words, he places only in faith. With the same license he afterwards fabricates a twofold spiritual eating, one of substance, another of fruit, as if the latter could be separated from the former. He pretends that Augustine, when he treats of spiritual eating, at one time joins the two together, at another points to each of them separately. He says, that we eat the body of Christ spiritually in regard to the fruit, when the forgiveness of sins obtained by his death is received by us by faith unto salvation; and yet that this kind of eating does not prevent our spiritually swallowing the invisible substance of the flesh in the Supper. Hence he infers that we act sophistically when under pretext of the fruit we take away the substance: as if we said that any are partakers of the blessings of Christ who do not partake of his flesh and blood. We hold that every thing which the death and resurrection of Christ confer on us flows from this source — that he is truly ours, and that his flesh is spiritual meat. Still we admit not any gross mode of swallowing, nor dissever what our Lord has expressly joined. He did not order us to receive any body but that which was offered on the cross for our reconciliation, nor to drink any blood but that which was shed for the remission of sins.
It is clear that this connection of substance and fruit is perversely and barbarously dissevered, when the wicked, without faith, are said to receive the lifeless body of Christ. Nay, why does Augustine (Tract. in Joann. 26) oppose visible appearance to spiritual virtue in the Supper, if, when this virtue is wanting, the body of Christ is still truly and substantially eaten?
He certainly explains the matter very differently when he says a little farther on: A sacrament of this thing, I mean of the union of the body and’ blood of Christ, is in some places daily, in others at certain intervals, prepared on the Lord’s table, and taken from the Lord’s table by some unto life, by others unto destruction, whereas the thing itself of which there is a sacrament, is taken by those who partake of it, unto life by all, unto destruction by none. Certainly when the reality of the sign is considered, no man of sound mind will exclude secret communion in the body and blood of Christ. Augustine holds, that this is not common to unbelievers, and hence it follows, that as they reject it when offered, nothing is left thean but the bare sign. To make this clearer, I disguise not that those who simply explain, that we eat the flesh of Christ and drink his blood, when we believe that our sins have been expiated by his death, speak too narrowly and stringently. This faith flows from a higher principle. If Christ is our head, and dwells in us, he communicates to us his life; and we have nothing to hope from him until we are united to his body. The whole reality of the sacred Supper consists in this — Christ, by ingrafting us into his body, not only makes us partakers of his body and blood, but infuses into us the life whose fullness resides in himself: for his flesh is not eaten for any other end than to give us life.
This doctrine Satan will in vain endeavor to pluck up by a thousand Westphals. For when Augustine says, that none truly and in reality eat the flesh of Christ but those who abide in him, to refer the terms truly and in reality, not to the reality of the body, but the reality of comnmnion, as Westphal contends, is nugatory. As Augustine distinctly denies that any eat the flesh of Christ but those who, endued with living faith, abide in him, what is meant by saying, that not the reality of the body, but only real communion is denied? The only account of the matter doubtless is, that monstrous things bring monstrous terms along with them. Westphal holds, that persons who do truly swallow the body of Christ, have no communion with him. For according to him, the reality of the body is nothing else than substantial swallowing. Now communion is enjoyment of the spiritual gifts which come to us from Christ. I should like then to know to what end Christ invites us to partake of his flesh and blood in the Supper, if it be not that he may feed our souls. Should the body of Christ cease to be food, of what avail would the swallowing of it be?
With similar artifice he cuts a knot which he could not untie, evading the passage in which Augustine teaches, that Judas ate the bread of the Lord, while others ate the bread the Lord. He says, that; a twofold eating is there implied. That indeed is clear. But when he says that Judas ate Christ substantially, I desire to know how he reconciles it with Augustine’s words. If Judas is distinguished from the other disciples by this mark, that he did not eat the bread the Lord, it follows that he received nothing but the naked symbol. I wish that Westphal had an ounce of sound brain to weigh the words which he quotes from Augustine. He asserts that the twofold communion is nowhere more clearly distinguished titan in this sentence, (Serra. 2, de Verb. Apost.,) “Then will the body and blood of Christ be life to every one, if that which is taken visibly in the sacrament is eaten spiritually in the reality.” So willingly do I embrace this passage, that I am contented with it alone to refute Westphal’s absurdity.
Spiritual eating is so despised by Westphal, that he deems it an execrable heresy to insist on it alone. For why does he inveigh so fiercely against us, and keep crying that we ought to be corrected by the sword rather than the pen, but just because we rest satisfied with spiritual eating? Let us now see what the other kind of eating is, without which, according to those censors, no man in heaven or earth can be saved. Augustine says that it is visible. With what eyes did Westphal ever behold his imaginary swallowing of the substance of Christ? Augustine teaches, that every thing which is received in the sacrament beyond spiritual eating is taken visibly.
Let Westphal then open his eyes, and at length recognize what is meant by sacramental eating. But he objects that the sacrament would not be entire if the body of Christ were not eaten. Just as if the body of Christ were less real, because unbelievers reject what he offers. We admit that he offers his body at the same time to the worthy and the unworthy, and that no depravity of man hinders the bread from being a true and, as it is called, exhibitory pledge of his flesh; but it is absurd and fatuous to infer that it is received promiscuously by all.
Equally absurd is the following syllogism of Westphal: Those things which the Lord by his word declares to be, truly are — therefore the body of Christ must be taken by the wicked under the bread. Who knows not that the doctrine of Christ was fatal to the apostates to whom it seemed a hard saying? Yet he, with his own lips, declared, “The words I speak unto you are, Spirit and life.” But not to detain the reader longer, let it be sufficient to advert to Westphal’s famous conclusion of this head, in which he says, that the matter of the sacrament, in Augustine’s sense, is not the body and blood of the Lord, but the reality, grace, and fruit. These are his very words. If so, he is certainly contending about nothing, and seeking some imagination of his own away from the subject. If the body and blood are not the reality of the sacrament, why does he everywhere style us falsifiers, especially while he is forced to confess that we detract in no way from this reality of the sacrament?
The third head which he has undertaken to refute is, That we communicate in the flesh and blood of Christ, but in such manner, that the reality of his human nature remains entire. Our people, after showing, from numerous passages of Scripture, that God has taught them this doctrine, have also proved that it is held by Augustine. Westphal, put-posing to deprive us of this support, but feeling it somewhat more troublesome that he could wish, goes beating about, and saying, that in the mysteries of the faith we are not to depend on human reason or physical arguments. Granting all this, I say that our argument is derived not from philosophy, but from the heavenly oracles of God. Scripture uniformly teaches that we are to wait for Christ from heaven, from whence he will come as our Redeemer. And there is no obscurity in the doctrine of Paul, that the image and model of future redemption is displayed in the person of Christ, who will transform our poor body, so as to be like his own glorious body. Have done, then, with the futile evasion, that philosophy should not be the mistress of our faith, since we hold nothing in regard to the reality of our flesh that was not delivered by Christ himself, the highest and the only teacher.
But as it properly belongs to this place, let the reader hear how finely Westphal forces Augustine away from us. That holy teacher says, that against nature Christ came in to the disciples when the doors were shut, just as against nature he walked on the water, because with God all things are possible. If Christ, by his ,divine energy, miraculously opened the doors when they were shut, does it therefore follow that his body is immense? But Augustine forbids the reason to be asked here, where faith ought to reign: in other words, we must surely believe what the Evangelist has testified, that the Son of God was not prevented by any obstacles from giving that astonishing display of his power. Therefore Westphal stolidly exults, calling it a theological demonstration of what he and his party falsely pretend as to the omnipotence of God. God is not subject to our fictions, to fulfill whatever we imagine; but his power must be conjoined with his good pleasure, as the Prophet also reminds us, — Our God in heaven hath done whatever he hath pleased.
His will, says Westphal:, has been sufficiently manifested in the ordinance of the Supper. But this is a begging of the question. For who told him that Christ, in holding forth the sacred bread, changed the nature of his body, and made it immense; nay, that at the same moment he made the same body double, so that it was visible in one place, and invisible in another; immense, and yet of limited dimensions? At the first Supper Christ is seen incarnate; he retains the condition of human nature: then, however, if we are to believe Westphal, he carried in his hands the same body, invisible and immense, If Augustine saw this miracle of divine power in the Supper, why did he nowhere mention, in a single word, that against nature the body of Christ lurked invisible in the bread, filled heaven and earth, and was a thousand times entire in a thousand places, because nothing is impossible with God? His remark, therefore, that in miracles which transcend the reach of the human mind, Augustine is wont to bring forward the power of God, I:retort upon him; for had that holy man imagined such a presence as Westphal fabricates, he could never have had a fitter opportunity to proclaim the power of God; and therefore we may infer from his silence, that he had no knowledge of the fiction which the devil afterwards suggested under the Papacy.
And not to dwell on a superfluous matter, if the omnipotence of God may be turned hither and thither, the fanatics who deny the resurrection of the body will have a specious color for their delirious dream. They produce the words of Peter, that we are called to be partakers of the Divine nature, and infer that the restitution of the human race will be of such a sort that the spiritual essence of God will absorb the corporeal nature. Why may they not, when any one objects, follow the example of Westphal, and exclaim that the power of God is not to be pent up in a corner? As there is thus no use in asserting that God can do it, while it does not appear that he will, all Westphal’s loquacity on this head falls to the ground, unless he can prove that Christ has deprived his flesh of the common nature of flesh.
When Westphal comes, as he pretends, to dispose of the passages which our party have employed, his affected talk is puerile and shameful in the extreme. Tell us, Joachim, what use there was to fill several pages with buffoonery, but just to lead the minds of the simple to wander away with you from the subject? The simple argument of our party is, that Augustine plainly asserts that our Savior, in respect of his human nature, is in heaven, whence he will come at the last day; that in respect of human nature, he is not everywhere diffused, because though he gave immortality to his flesh, he did not take away its nature; that therefore we must beware of raising the divinity of the man so as to destroy the reality of the body; that if we take away locality from bodies they will be situated nowhere, and consequently not exist; that Christ is everywhere present as God, but in respect of the nature of a real body occupies some place in heaven.
After Westphal has amused himself to satiety with his wanderings, lest he should seem to have nothing to say, he at first tells his readers that when Augustine thus speaks he was not treating professedly of the Lord’s Supper. What? When you lately quoted his words in celebration of the power of God, did you remember flint then, too, he was not treating of the Supper? I there showed that you were presumptuously involving Augustine in your own errors. Here, however, the case is very different.
Augustine clearly declares that the nature of Christ’s body does not admit of its being everywhere diffused, and that therefore it is contained in heaven. If so, how will he subscribe to you when you say that it is immense? You are just doing like the Papists, who tell us that nothing which we produce from Scripture against their fictitious worship and tyrannical laws has any application to them, because nothing of theirs is denounced by the Spirit in express terms. Thus when we quote the words of Christ, In vain do they worship me with the commandments of men, etc., they disentangle themselves without any trouble — Christ was then directing his speech against the Pharisees. With what face have you dared to obtrude such absurdity on the world, making it obvious that you, with the proudest disdain, despise all men’s judgments? Had you thought that the readers of your farrago were possessed of common sense, you must have seen they would certainly argue either that what Augustine says is false, or that the body of Christ does not, as you dream, lie everywhere diffused. I will again repeat, that if what Augustine says holds invariably true, there will be no body of Christ without a local habitation, and therefore in respect of its nature as body it is contained ill heaven. It certainly cannot occupy a thousand places on the earth, far less be everywhere without being circumscribed by space. What then will become of that integrity which you confidently assert?
Joachim afterwards adds, that Augustine had no other intention than to teach that the body of Christ is in heaven, and we have no other than to deny that he is in the Eucharist. How brazen-faced this dishonesty that would get rid of so clear a matter by a manifest falsehood? Augustine teaches clearly, that Christ is nowhere else than in heaven, in as far as he is man, and is falsely supposed to be everywhere diffused in respect of his flesh, which he did not deprive of its properties. When we teach the same thing in as many words and syllables, who can say that we have a different end in view? Westphal says, that Augustine’s object is to prevent the reality of the human nature from being destroyed. Just because he never could have thought that out of such presence of the flesh as the sophists have imagined, such a monster would arise, and, being contented with the true and genuine meaning of the words of Christ, he did not advert to those fatuous speculations. When Joachim subjoins, that the reality of human nature is not destroyed if the body of Christ is distributed in the Supper, his assertion is most absurd. The reality Augustine being witness, consists in the body being contained by some place in heaven. Westphal is too oblivious. After expressing his utter detestation of this physical argument, he now pretends to embrace it. Were he to hear from me the very thing which he has been forced to quote from Augustine, he would cry out sacrilege. Now, as he has determined to drag Augustine into his party in whatever manner, provided he can avoid the semblance of selfcontradiction, there is no shape which he is not willing to assume.
But abandoning all circuitous paths, we must now determine once for all, whether the ‘true nature of the flesh is destroyed if it is believed to be in several places at the same time, nay, to occupy no place. Westphal confidently takes the negative. What Augustine holds, it is unnecessary to weary the reader with repeating. We may add, that this man who catches at everything, now changing his style, pretends that the human nature of Christ is not wholly taken away, that is, destroyed, because it remains entire and unharmed in heaven. Just as when it is immerged in profane stomachs, he pretends that it is everywhere unharmed on the earth.
Westphal cannot help himself by the promise of perpetual presence which Christ made to the Church. We believe that he is always present with his people, and ever dwells in them, not merely in respect of his being God, as Westphal perversely misrepresents, but as the members must always be united to their head, so we hold that the Mediator who assumed our nature is present with believers: For he sits at the Father’s right hand for the very purpose of holding and exercising universal empire. If the mode of his presence is asked, we hold that it must be attributed to his grace and virtue.
Though Westphal uses the same terms, he immediately falls back on the flesh, because he reckons grace as nothing if the body of Christ be not substantially before him in the celebration of the Supper. It is a strange metamorphosis to convert what was said of the boundless virtue of the Holy Spirit into a finite substance of flesh. Let the reader remember the state of the question to be, Whether or not Christ exhibits himself present by his grace in any other way than by having his body present on the earth and everywhere? Our view is, that though Christ in respect of his human nature is in heaven, yet distance of place does not prevent him from communicating himself to us that he not only sustains and governs us by his Spirit, but renders that flesh in which he fulfilled our righteousness vivifying to us. Without any change of place, his virtue penetrates to us by the secret operation of his Spirit, so that our souls obtain spiritual life from his substance. Nothing suffices Westphal but to exclude the body of Christ from any particular locality and extend it over all space.
It is worth while to see how very consistent he is when he insists that the presence of grace is corporeal, and yet understands it to be referred to in the law, in these words, Wherever I shall make record of my name, there will I come to you. ( Exodus 20:24.) I ask, whether he thinks that the essence of God then dwelt between the cherubim in the same manner in which the body of Christ is now supposed to lie hid under the bread?
To the same effect, according to him, is the promise, — I and my Father will come unto him, and make our abode with him. Does he think then that the essence of the Godhead descends to us in the same way as he affirms of the flesh of Christ, that it enters under the consecrated bread to be there devoured? How has he so soon fallen away from what he had quoted from Augustine in the same page, that God is everywhere by the presence of his essence, not everywhere by indwelling grace; where this holy teacher distinctly opposes the essence of God, in regard to the nature of its presence, to grace! But if such a descent as Westphal inculcates in respect to the flesh of Christ is not at all applicable to the essence of the Father, let him loose a knot of his own tying.
Having a little before repeatedly declared that he acknowledges with Augustine that Christ, in respect of the nature of his flesh, is in heaven, at. last, as if he had forgotten himself, he says that the two natures are inseparably conjoined, so that the Son of God is nowhere without flesh.
Where then is the nature of the flesh, if the divinity of Christ extends it in proportion to his own immensity? I confess indeed, that we may not conceive of the Son of God in any other way than as clothed with flesh.
But this did not prevent him, while filling heaven and earth with his divine essence, from wearing his flesh in the womb of his mother, on the cross, in the sepulcher. Though then the Son of God, he was, nevertheless, man in heaven as well as on earth. Should any one infer from this that his flesh was then in heaven, he will confound every thing by arguing absurdly, and be brought at last to rob Christ of his human nature, and divest him of his office of Redeemer. Nay, if the flesh of Christ is so conjoined to the Godhead that there is no distinction between the immensity of the one and the finite mode of existence of the other, why does Westphal contend that Christ is present by his grace in any other way than by his Deity? If it is not lawful to separate the flesh from the divine essence, as soon as it is conceded that Christ in respect of Deity is everywhere, the same will also hold true in regard to the flesh. But if this is conceded, the mouth of the profane will be opened, and they may freely assert that Christ, by his habitation on the earth, and, in like manner, by his ascent into heaven, passed off a mere imposture. See what it is to defend a bad cause obstinately and without any conscience!
Shortly after he gives a new coloring to what he had previously said, alleging that the body of Christ is defined by a visible form in heaven, but lies invisible under the bread, and that in this way should be understood what Augustine teaches in his Epistle to Dardanus, as well as numerous other places. But by what mechanism is he to adapt to his fiction Augustine’s doctrine, that there would be no body if local space were taken away, and that the nature of the flesh requires that it occupy some locality in heaven, If the body can exist invisible without place, Augustine’s argument, that unless it be bounded by its circumference it no longer exists, is unsound. Unsound also would be the general proposition, that the nature of a true body requires that it occupy some locality in heaven. In short, throughout the whole of that discussion, Augustine would have omitted the principal point, that Christ is in an invisible manner diffused through heaven and earth in respect of his flesh, although he is visible in one place.
The question is concerning the divine presence. Augustine answers, that the divine nature is everywhere, that the human nature is confined to a certain place. How careless would it have been, supposing the body to fill all things in the same manner as the Godhead, that is, invisibly, to say nothing about it? Westphal contends, that the doctrine of Scripture is perfectly true: but how does he prove it? When Christ says that he is going to his Father, and will no more be in the world; when Luke relates that he was taken up in a cloud; when the angels say, that he will come in like manner as he was seen to ascend, he restricts it all to the visible form.
This I, too, admit, provided he would at the same time add, that wherever the body of Christ is, it is, according to its nature, visible. When he comes to the invisible mode, he repeats the passages which he had formerly produced concerning the presence of grace: as if it followed, that when Christ comes to us with the Father he is placed bodily on the earth, whereas all Scripture proclaims, that he penetrates to us by the virtue of his Spirit. The flesh of Christ, which we see not with the eye, we experience to be vivifying in us by the discernment of faith. If no operation of the Spirit were here interposed, Westphal might justly boast that he is victor; but if it is evidently owing to the secret agency of the Spirit that our souls are fed by the flesh of Christ, the inference is certain, that in no other way than a celestial mode of presence can his fresh descend to us. These few observations expose the poverty of Westphal, who cannot produce a single syllable out of Scripture in support of his error.
What shall we say of the contrast which Augustine draws between the word and the flesh, when he is treating of the absence and presence of Christ? What,. but just that it utterly excludes Westphal’s fiction?
Augustine says, that Christ is to be heard, as if he were bodily present,, because although his body must be in one place, his real presence is everywhere diffused. Certainly if the Lord, through his word, exhibited himself present in the flesh in an invisible manner, Augustine would be in error in saying, that he is absent in the flesh, while he is present with us in his word; and he would be in error, when in distinguishing between presence and absence, he opposed the body to the word. Whatever mists Westphal may here employ, the thing is too clear for the reader to be mystified by his trifling. When he is held perplexed, he says, facetiously, that the common exposition of Augustine’s sentiment, in regard to the Eucharist is that he held that the real presence of Christ is everywhere diffused, as if any man, not frantic, could wrest his words to any thing else than. the doctrine of the gospel, to which Augustine there avowedly pays reverence. He pretends, that in a like sense in another passage, the sacrifice of the body of Christ is said to be diffused over the whole world, as if, because Christ invites the nations everywhere to partake in the benefit of his cross, it follows that his body is immense. And though the term diffusing should apply to the celebration of the Supper, whom can he persuade, as he intends, that the body of Christ is wherever the Supper is celebrated? What Augustine distinctly declares concerning the benefit of his death, Westphal contends to be said of the Supper: and when this holy doctor teaches that the sacrifice which Christ performed is celebrated everywhere, alluding to the Church diffused over the whole world, is it not absurd to apply this which is said of the body of the faithful to their head?
Westphal, after long, turning, comes at last to this, that violence is done to the words of Augustine, if we are deprived of the bodily presence of Christ which he elsewhere asserts. But though he has hitherto labored to prove this, it has only been at a snail’s speed. It accordingly stands fixed, that the Son of God, though present with his word, is above with his body. Still, however, he persists, and says that Augustine (Tract. in Joann. 50) distinctly affirms the invisible presence. The presence of flesh or of power? If of flesh, let the passage be produced, and I retire vanquished; but if the flesh is expressly distinguished from grace and virtue, what can be imagined more impudent than Westphal, who assigns that invisible mode of presence properly to the flesh? I may add, that Augustine makes Christ present not less in the sign of the cross than in the celebration of the Supper; but if he thinks fit to apply this to the essence of the flesh, then the moment that any one makes a cross with his finger the body of Christ will be formed.
The passage from Sermon 140, as to time, answers for itself, without my saying a word. “ The Lord was unwilling to be acknowledged except in the breaking of bread, on account of us who were not to see him in the flesh, and yet were to eat his flesh.” For the method of eating, as the writer himself elsewhere explains it, will, when it is known, remove all question.
But here Westphal acts too liberally in supplying us with shields to ward off his attacks. For he tells us out of Augustine how we may possess Christ though absent, via, because while he has introduced his body into heaven, he has not withdrawn his majesty from the world; and again, that while he said in regard to the presence of his body, Me ye shall not always have, he said in respect of his majesty, in respect of his providence, in respect of his ineffable and invisible grace, I am with you even to the end of the world. We see how Augustine, in. speaking of the invisible presence, always excludes the body, and shows without ambiguity float it is to be looked for only in heaven.
Similar in meaning is the passage from the forty-seventh Psalm, that Christ is felt to ‘be present by his hidden mercy. Were there any obscurity in this passage, another from Tract. in Joann. 92, is more luminous, viz., that Christ left his disciples in corporeal presence, but will always be with his people in spiritual presence; unless indeed the epithet corporeal is to be held equivalent to visible. Westphal would like this, but nothing is clearer than ‘that the essence of the flesh is distinguished from the virtue of the Spirit. And yet, as if he had gained the victory, he exclaims that the spiritual is opposed to the visible presence. In this he betrays no less folly than impudence, as Augustine uniformly asserts that Christ is absent in the flesh. If to Westphal the expression — that provided faith be present, he whom we see not is with us — is clear, why does he throw darkness on the light? And yet he gains nothing by it; for Augustine admirably explains himself by saying that we are to send up to heaven not our hands but faith, in order to possess Christ; because although Christ has taken his body to heaven, he has not deserted us; his majesty remains in the world.
Though these words do not awaken Westphal, it is no wonder, as he has no shame. After quoting the words of Augustine: In respect of the flesh which the Son of God assumed, in respect of his being born of a virgin, in respect of his being apprehended by the Jews, he is no longer with us, — he raises a shout of triumph, as if he had proved by this that Christ remains with us invisible. But Augustine declares that Christ, in respect of the flesh which he once assumed, is absent from us. If he deludes himself with the fallacious principle that Christ as God and man is wholly everywhere, let him at least spare Augustine, whose view is more correct.
He will not allow this, but pretends that he clearly delivers the same doctrine. In what words? Why, that the same Christ was in respect of unity of person in heaven when he spake on earth. The Son of Man was in heaven as the Son of God was on earth, in his assumed flesh Son of Man, in heaven by oneness of person. I wish Westphal’s ears were not so, very long, as to make him when he quotes only hear himself. So far is Augustine from saying that God and man was entire in heaven at the time when he sojourned on earth, that he distinctly affirms that he was then in respect of his flesh nowhere else than on the earth, and that it was in respect of oneness of person it was said, The Son of Man who is in heaven. Hence, too, we infer that whenever he says he will be present, it is by a proper attribute of Godhead. For although he adheres to his body as Mediator, yet the Spirit is the bond of sacred union, who, raising our souls upwards by faith, infuses life into us from the heavenly head. Were any one to go over the whole of Augustine, he would find nothing else than that though Christ, in respect of oneness of person, was in heaven as Son of Man, while he also dwelt as Son of God on earth, still he was nowhere but; on the earth in respect of his flesh.
As it is by the resemblance between our flesh and that of Christ that we are wont to refute the fiction of ubiquity, Westphal assails this argument at great length and with much fierceness. At first he exclaims that it is detestable blasphemy to make the flesh of Christ wholly like our own. It would be easy to appease the man were his rage sincere, but when he maliciously stirs up fictitious disturbance about nothing, what kind of treatment does he deserve? He says that the contamination of sin is excepted. Which of us does not say so? He says that the flesh of Christ has this special privilege, that it was the temple of divinity, and the victim to expiate the sins of the world. What has this to do with the property of essence? When from the resemblance we infer that the body of Christ is finite, and has its dimensions just like our own, we have no intention to annihilate the excellent endowments with which it was adorned: we only show that the hope of future resurrection is overthrown, if a model of it is not exhibited in the flesh of Christ. For it has no other foundation than the fellowship of the members with their head. Here we introduce nothing of our own: we only ask ,due weight to be given to the doctrine of Paul in the fifteenth chapter of first Corinthians. We also appeal to the unambiguous declaration in the second chapter of the Philippians, that we look for Christ our Redeemer from heaven, who will transform our vile body, and make it like his own glorious body. If Westphal detect any blasphemy in this comparison, he may impose upon himself, but the imposture will not harm any other person. Moreover, unless he hold that after the resurrection we shall be everywhere, the flesh of Christ, as Paul testifies, cannot now possess any immensity.
As we quote a passage from Augustine, in which he declares that the sacraments under the law, though differing from ours in signs, were the same in reality, Westphal thought it. would gain applause for the concluding act of his play, if he could deprive us of this support, and he accordingly makes his refutation the conclusion of his book. But what does he accomplish? lie says that we craftily produce maimed and garbled passages. And yet the only way in which he corrects our fault is by quoting verbatim what our writings contain. Surely the whole controversy lies in these few words: The Fathers ate the same spiritual food in the manna that is now offered to us in the Supper; for the sacraments are different in the signs, alike in the thing: they differ in visible form, are the same in spiritual virtue. Westphal quibbles that Augustine is speaking of the spiritual mode of eating. But nothing is clearer than that describing the nature of the signs, as ascertained from the ordinance, he holds that while the signs are different the thing is one. What avails it then to apply to man what is thus delivered in explaining the force and efficacy of the signs?
The question is, What is the Supper to us now, or what its effect?
Augustine answers, that in it we enjoy the same spiritual food which the Fathers anciently received from the manna. This certainly is not to discuss how either the fathers used the symbol of the law, or we now use ours; but what the Lord anciently instituted under the law, and what Christ afterwards instituted in the gospel. But as the substance, efficacy, and reality of the signs depend on the word, we certainly infer that the promises given are the same, as according to the word we have the fruition of Christ in both. But as it was; not safe for Westphal to take his stand on the meaning of Augustine, he wanders and winds about, and yet all his windings only bring him back to this, that we argue vitiously from the genus to the species. But such mode of arguing is allowed by logicians. For what prevents us from applying to the Supper that which is truly said of all the sacraments? He afterwards, however, explains himself a little, more exactly, perversely objecting that we confound things that are different, or omit to mention wherein the species differ from each other, or employ not proper but only accidental differences. How unjust this charge is may easily be made palpable from our books.
First, from want of skill or from malice, he represents it as our general proposition, that sacraments, which are different in the signs, are alike in the thing, whereas in that passage the manna only is compared with our Supper. It is needless, therefore, to talk of sacrifices and other ceremonies.
He asks, Must we equal the ancient sacrifices to the sacraments instituted by Christ, merely because it appears that they were signs? As if we were deriving an argument from the term signs, when we say that Augustine makes out this resemblance between the manna and the Supper — that under different signs they contain one thing or the same spiritual virtue, Here, indeed, he brings a most pernicious error into the very elements of piety; when wishing to show the difference, he denies that the ancient sacraments, with the sole exception of circumcision, contained any promise of the forgiveness of sins.. How dares he to call himself a theologian, while he knows not or sets at nought a statement which Moses makes a hundred times, viz., that by the offering of sacrifice iniquity will be expiated? Meanwhile, let the reader observe how malignantly he perverts the equality which we assert out of Augustine: because in assuming the principle, that while our Supper differs from the manna in visible form, the thing and[spiritual reality is the same, we do not assert that the mode of communication is altogether equal. Nay, on the contrary, I uniformly declare that the same Christ who was held forth under the law is now exhibited to us more fully and richly. I also add, that we are now substantially fed on the flesh of Christ, which in the case of the fathers only exerted its virtue before it actually existed. This more clearly establishes Westphal’s dishonesty in charging us with confounding degrees, which; as we justly ought, we carefully distinguish.
But that inequality does not at all prevent the same Christ, who now communicates himself to us, from having communicated himself to the fathers under the signs of the law. This makes Westphal’s impiety more intolerable in maintaining that the manna and the rock were figures, whereas the reality is the body of Christ given us in the Supper. I omit to say, how injurious he is to the fathers in robbing them of the communion of Christ. Is it not sacrilegious audacity to make void the effect of a sacrament ordained by God? And to treat him with more leniency, it is preposterous to talk so frigidly and jejunely of a sacrament which Paul adorns with the noblest title. The words of Paul are, that the same spiritual food which we receive in the Supper was given to the fathers.
Westphal mutters, that they ate and drank in a figure, many of them even without faith: as if this latter remark were not applicable also to the Supper, or as if the context of Paul would admit that when a comparison of parts is made, the substance and reality is placed in one, and the figure remains in another. Westphal tells us, it was not said of the manna or the water, This is my body, This is my blood: as if there were not the same force in Paul’s declaration that the rock was Christ. This, let Westphal do what he will, must be understood of the external sign. For it were altogether inconsistent with the exhortation not to bring on ourselves by abusing the gifts of God the same destruction which befell them, should we confine to believers alone that which Paul expressly applies to unbelievers.
The substance of what he says is, that as the communication of Christ was formerly offered to the whole ancient people under the manna and water, and yet many of them did not please God, we must not now plume ourselves too highly on the invitation which Christ gives us to partake of the same, but must endeavor to make a due and pious use of the inestimable gift. Any differences which Westphal produces out of Augustine tend only to show that the spiritual gifts which the fathers tasted under the law, or possessed only according to the measure of that time, are fully exhibited in the gospel. The two distinctly teach, that our sacraments and those of the fathers differ in respect of the degrees of more or less, because though Christ is the substance of both, he is not equally manifested in both. This again overthrows the impiety, as the words which he quotes from Augustine prove the impudence of Westphal, in maintaining that tl]ey were the same in meaning not in reality, the figure being then but the truth now; as if either Paul were opposing the figure to the reality when he makes us common partakers of the same spiritual grace under similar signs, or as if Augustine were placing the dissimilarity anywhere else than in the mode of signifying. When he says, that if it may be denied that the body of Christ is received in the Supper, because the ancients had Christ present in figure, it may equally be denied that the Apostles saw Christ in the Supper, because he was present to the fathers by faith, he proves himself to be just as acute a logician as he had previously proved himself to be an honest and faithful divine. For since it is clear that under the figure of bread the same Christ is offered to us who was formerly given under the figure of manna, the nature of the difference is as great as that between ocular inspection and faith.
It is of no use to go farther in pursuit of the follies of this man, which vanish of their own accord. He occupies six pages in enumerating the differences in degree between the sacraments of the law and those of the gospel, as observed by Augustine, and at length concludes that they are the same in respect of the things signified, but not in respect of the exhibition of the things, as if significance without effect were any thing more than a mere fallacy. After twisting himself about with the tortuosity of a snake, he endeavors to cloak his absurdity; but any one who attends to the scope will see that there is not less difference between his fiction and the doctrine of Augustine, than there is between that holy teacher and Scotus, or any other of the band of the Sophists. I will therefore leave all his vain boastings, because they disappear with the same idle wind which brought them.
I come now to The. Confessions of the Saxons, either elicited by the flattery or extorted by the importunity of Westphal, as appears, I do not say from his own statement, but from letters which he could not keep to himself. I would only have the reader to observe how servilely he fawns on his acquaintance when supplicating their suffrage, and how harshly he insults others. I say nothing as to his scamperings up or down, the rumor of which has reached even as far as this. Certainly as he has chosen to leave none ignorant of the means ]by which he has drawn his party into subscription, or impelled them to speak evil of the opposite view, we are at liberty to infer what degree of credit is due to their testimony; and yet this good man is brazen-faced enough to write, that for four years I have been seeking suffrages in support of my error, in Germany as well as Switzerland: as if this labor were necessary among the Swiss, none of whom conceal that they hold the doctrine which I have defended in common with me. No doubt those who to a man were ready to lend me their aid, had to be humbly entreated not to spurn what I offered! As to the Germans, I wait calmly for the witnesses by whom he is to prove my importunity. Meanwhile his beggary is notorious to all. As to the men whom he has found to declare with long ears that they are my enemies, he makes a loud boast that nothing now remains for me but to sing dumb, because all Saxony is against me. But while I have learned modestly to cultivate connection with the pious and faithful servants of Christ, I do not depend on their decisions. Being persuaded that there are not a few learned and right-hearted men, and men of sound judgment in Saxony, among whom truth and reason would have some effect, I offered my book to the inspection of all. Westphal proudly upbraids me with having been repulsed; as if I were responsible for the continuance of our mutual civility.
Since Westphal makes such a boast of the number of his supporters, as to imagine that my tongue is tied, I may be permitted to answer in a few words, that I had no occasion, in order to obtain favor to my cause, to pay a high price for the purchase of any man’s stolidity. I have hitherto thought, according to what is everywhere believed, that Wittenberg and Leipsic are the two eyes of Saxony. Westphal will not deny that he tried these churches. Nay, the fawning letters to N. and N., which he has published, proclaim more loudly than his distinct acknowledgment could have done that he met with a repulse. Now that, after having plucked out the eyes of a remainder, consisting perhaps of the tenth pan; of Saxony, he is not ashamed to give them the name of the whole, I am confident that no man is so stupid as not to feel disgust at his trifling. I may add, that distrusting his own strength, and feeling a want of better support, he has been compelled to insert the letter of some follower of Servetus, as if he had been building up a wall with dirt collected from all quarters. It is probable, indeed, that any sprinkling of praise which was formerly bestowed on a man who was famishing for it, has been raked together by him to take off the stigma of ignorance.
There is one letter, the purpose of which it is not easy to conjecture.
Westphal himself proclaims, that it was sent him from La Babylove, as if it were not apparent, without interposing the Italian article, that the author is a Babylonian. Accordingly, some acute persons guess that it comes from a Piedmontese lawyer, who, in many places, has plainly acknowledged that he is an advocate of the impious and execrable dogmas of Servetus. If this conjecture is true, he has put an amusing hoax on Westphal, as it is certain that nothing gives him greater pleasure than to look on while we fight. Be this ~:s it may, I make the subscribers to Westphal welcome to enjoy this associate, since by publishing their shame, they have not refused to submit to this ignominy, which I wish it had been in my power to hide: only I am not sorry that their blind impetus has thus been rewarded from above. Ilk their writings I also observe the perfect truth of an obserw3~tion made to me in a letter from a friend of distinguished learning and eloquence, that in that maritime district some men are so wondrously wise, that if the Sibyl of Cumae were still alive, she should be sent to them to learn to divine. For those little fathers pronounce on this cause no less confidently than the Roman Pontiff from his chair hurls thunderbolts of anathema at the whole doctrine of the gospel: and not contented with this arrogance, they assail a man on friendly terms with them with barbarous invective, as if the best method of gaining a reputation for strict gravity were to spare no contumely or reproach. But as this is not to speak but to spit, it is better to contemn their ridiculous censures than to take the spittle with which they have defiled none but themselves and throw it back into their face.
But as those of Magdeburg seem not to attach such sovereign authority to their opinion as not to fight with argument also, and observe some method in their doctrine, I must discuss their confession, which, if overthrown, will easily involve all the others in its downfall. But to leave them no ground for the smallest, self-complacency, I hope soon to make it manifest to all that it is a compound of futile quibbles. The truculence of the style, which might at first give some fear to the simple, afterwards degenerates into mere scurrility, and therefore does not greatly move me. It might, however, have been decent, in remembrance of their own calamity, to deal a little more mercifully with the many churches by which, as God is witness, anxious and earnest prayers were during three whole years constantly offered for their deliverance. The severity of my defense against Westphal displeased them, and they pronounce his rage to be necessary zeal. It is enough for me to appeal from their unjust and savage intemperance to the tribunal of God. Meanwhile, though I were silent all see that it is perverse hatred to Philip (Melancthon)which makes them humbly, not to say sordidly, flatter Westphal. Matthins of Illyria seemed to act modestly in withdrawing his name, but has consulted ill for his reparation by again subscribing. However he may now put a black mark upon me, it is not very long since in his own hand he deigned to address me with respect. The same is to be said of Erasmus Sarcerius, who, after addressing me by letter as his ever to be respected preceptor, places me by his censure among detestable heretics. I freely forgive him the title of preceptor, but I regret a want of constancy of faith in the cultivation of brotherly good-will to which noth:ing should put an end but change of doctrine, which cannot be said of me. Henceforth, not to seem too much occupied with my own case, I shall advert only to the doctrine.
When they say that Christ is the author of his own Supper, and thence infer that he is its efficient cause, they mention what is not the subject of any controversy. When they enumerate two material causes, viz., the outward elements of bread and wine, and also the body and blood of Christ, in this also I assent to them. For to say that we utterly remove the true and natural body of Christ from the Supper, is false and calumnious.
Their petulance is less tolerable when they charge us with making types, shadows, phantasms, and deceptions of the body of Christ. Perhaps they suppose that by a futile falsehood they can obliterate what I long ago declared in my Institutes, as well as repeatedly elsewhere, not only that Christ was from the first the matter of all the sacraments in general, but was especially so in the holy Supper. Nor have I passed this in silence in my reply to Westphal. How the body and blood of Christ are the matter of the Supper, we shall afterwards explain more fully. This only I must now say, that the men of Magdeburg, in throwing obloquy upon us, maliciously darken the cause at the very threshold.
In regard to the formal cause, there is no wonder if I differ from them.
They say that there is a coupling of the bread and wine, first with the flesh and blood of Christ; and secondly, with the promise of salvation and the command which enjoins all to take the sacrament. I willingly embrace the sentiment of Augustine, that the element becomes a sacrament as soon as the word is added; but the Magdeburgians confusedly and erroneously confound the effect or fruit of the Supper with the matter itself. But it is perfectly clear from the context that they fall from their distinction: for wishing shortly after to mark the distinction between themselves and us, they say that we take away part of the matter. In this they betray their want of thought. How dexterously they infer, that according to us figures only and symbols are held forth, will appear more fitly in its own place.
At present, let the reader only observe that these methodical doctors understand not what it is they are speaking of, nor attend to a distinction which they themselves had laid down three sentences before. When they add that we differ from their sentiment, inasmuch as we insist that faith has reference to the promise and to the corporeal presence of Christ, they say something and yet do not say the whole. The promise to which we direct the faithful, does not exclude the communion of the flesh and blood of Christ which it offers; but as the exhibition of what is promised depends on it, we bid them keep their minds fixed on in. In this way we acknowledge that the promises in the sacraments are not naked but clothed with the exhibition of the things, seeing they make us truly partakers of Christ. The miracle which the Magdeburgians pretend is well enough known to be foreign from our doctrine, — I mean that the Lord places his body under the bread and his blood under the wine; but it is equally well known that we hold the mode of communication to be miraculous and supernatural. But as the whole of this belongs to the second head, and is irrelevantly introduced here, I will not follow it farther.
When they add, that not only is the audible word to be attended to, but the visible, signs also, which for this reason Augustine terms visible words, there is nothing in it opposed to us in the least, as we uniformly teach that the signs are appendages and seals of the word. The formal cause may, therefore, be more simply and correctly defined to be the command (with the addition of the promise) by which Christ invites us to partake of the sacred symbol. In the final cause the perplexity caused by their introduction of various things is repugnant to their proposed method.
Their titles promise a beautiful and harmonious arrangement of topics, but what follows is an indigested mass. But as my purpose is not to attack the method in which they deliver their doctrine, it will be sufficient briefly to dispose of the calumnies by which we are unjustly assailed.
They wish it to be carefully observed, that the promise of grace is not. given to the eating of bread alone, but to the body of Christ, in order to teach contrary to us, that the forgiveness of sins is not applied by symbols merely. But the world is witness, that many years before they thus spoke I had written that as we do not communicate in the blessings of Christ till he himself is ours, those who would receive due fruit from the Supper should begin with Christ himself, that being ingrafted into his body they may be reconciled to God by his sacrifice. The calumny goes the further length of declaring that we deny the application of the forgiveness o£ sins in the Supper, as if I did not use the term application in its proper and genuine meaning. They represent us as reasoning thus: We are justified by faith alone, therefore not by the sacraments. But we are not so raw as not to know that the sacraments, inasmuch as they are the helps of faith, also offer us righteousness in Christ. Nay, as we are perfectly agreed that t~he sacraments are to be ranked in the same place as the word, so while the gospel is called the power of God unto salvation to every, one that believers, we hesitate not to transfer the same title to the sacraments.
Therefore did not a lust for carping and biting impel them to attack us in any way, there was no reason for their here putting themselves into so great a passion. I care not for their evil speaking, provided I make it manifest to the reader that we are loaded undeservedly with alien and fictitious charges. Seeing we everywhere teach, as the true end of the Supper, that being reconciled to God by the sacrifice of Christ we may obtain salvation, it. cannot be doubtful or obscure to any’ one how unworthily they deny us the elements of piety.
Before I proceed farther., I must again remind the reader, in a few words, that as the Magdeburgians in various ways obscure or explain away our doctrine, they must not take it on their statement. Whether it be from error or malice, I know not; and yet as the tendency of their account is to throw obloquy upon us, it is probable that being more intent on fighting than on teaching, they have not dealt with us sincerely or faithfully. Wherefore, lest the eye of the reader should be blinded either by their tortuous sophistry, or by the odious sentiments which they ascribe to us, I would here declare that in separating the external symbols from Christ’s flesh and blood, we still hold that he truly and in reality performs and fulfills what he figures under the bread and wine, namely, that his flesh is meat to us and his blood is drink. We accordingly teach, that believers have true communion with Christ in the holy Supper, and receive the spiritual food which is there offered. Away, then, with the vile calumny that we leave nothing but an empty phantom, as we have hitherto candidly declared, that the truth is so conjoined with the signs, that our souls are fed with spiritual food not less than our tongues taste bread and wine. The difference is only in the mode, we holding that the visible bread is held forth on the earth, in order that believers may climb upwards by faith and be united with Christ their head, by the secret agency of the Spirit.
But although Christ infuses life into us from his flesh and blood, we deny that there is any mingling of substance, because, while we receive life from the substance of the flesh and blood, still the entire man Christ remains in heaven. In this way we repudiate the bodily immensity which others feign.
In order that Christ may feed and invigorate us by his flesh, it is not necessary that it should be inclosed under the bread and swallowed by us.
Meanwhile we teach that nothing else than the true and natural body is there held forth, so that here too it plainly appears that, our enemies act disingenuously, while they so much contend that the same body which hang on the cross is communicated to us: as if we pretended, that Christ has two bodies, instead of testifying by our writings, that life is to be sought from the same flesh which was once offered in sacrifice.
The whole question turns on this — Are we fed by the flesh and blood of Christ, when by them he infuses life into us; or is it necessary that ‘the substance of his flesh should be swallowed up by us in order to be meat, and that the blood should be substantially’ quaffed in order to be drink?
The other head of controversy relates to promiscuous eating, we asserting that the bloodand flesh of Christ are offered to all, and yet that believers alone enjoy the inestimable treasure. Yet though unbelief precludes the entrance of Christ, and deprives those who approach the Supper impurely of any benefit from it, we deny that any thing is lost to the nature of the Sacrament, inasmuch as the bread is always a true pledge of the flesh of Christ, and the wine of his blood, and there is always a true exhibition of both on the part of God. Our opponents so include the body and blood under the bread and wine, as to hold that they are swallowed by the wicked without any faith. It is not now my purpose to establish our faith on its own grounds, but I wished to make this declaration, in order that if at any time the reader should see us invidiously assailed by the false cavils of the Magdeburgians, he may always carry back his eyes to this mirror.
What I shall afterwards add will not only tend to clear explanation, but suffice for solid confirmation, and prevent the fumes of calumny which the Magdeburgians have sent abroad from casting a shade on the noonday sun.
As the Magdeburgians contend that we must abide by the literal sense of the words of Christ, they insist that the bread is without figure substantially the body; and to prove this opinion they collect twentyeight reasons, which they call foundations. So they would have them thought; but their readers discover that what at the outset they count three are in fact only one. I ask what they are to gain by this show of multiplying their number? The sum of all they say is, that a sincere, proper, and certain understanding of this controversy, and a plain and firm decision must be sought from the ipsissima verba of Christ, from their clear and native meaning, not from the will or gloss of man; and as the natural man receiveth not the things which are of God, and carnal reason is blind, being involved in darkness, that which Christ asserts in distinct and perspicuous terms must be apprehended by faith; for though an owl cannot see the sun’s rays, the sun does not therefore cease to shine. We must therefore hold the thing simply implied in the words, This is my body.
That the whole of this is not less frivolous than they deemed it plausible, will readily appear in three sentences. We are perfectly agreed that we must acquiesce in the words of Christ: the only question is as to their genuine meaning. But when it is inquired into, our masters of the letter admit of interpretation. Away, then, with all this cunning, and leave us at liberty to ask what our Savior meant. Let the ipsissima verba remain, only let them not be fastened on without judgment, just as if one crying out that in Scripture he finds eyes, ears, hands, and feet attributed to God, should insist that God is corporeal. We do not fasten extraneous glosses on the word of God. but only wish to ascertain from the common and received usage of Scripture what is meant by the sentence, This is my body. Nor do we measure the recondite mystery of the Supper by our sense, but with modesty and pious docility we desire to learn what Christ promises to us. In the meantime, if we adapt the sacramental mode of expression to the analogy of faith, surely the sun does not therefore cease to shine.
While I admit the fourth reason adduced to be true, I deny its relevancy.
Christ does not make a parable of his ordinance. Who ever said so? But neither does Paul make a parable when he says that the rock was Christ; and in all the passages which treat of sacraments, we say not that parables are delivered, but that there are sacramental modes of speaking, by which an analogy is expressed between the thing and the sign. When they add, that Christ does the very thing which he shows, and ratifies what he does, I willingly admit it; but from this it is erroneously inferred that there is no mystery to which the sacramental mode of expression applies. Though our Lord did not speak in parables when he told his disciples of his ascension to heaven, it does not follow that the bread is not a symbol of the body.
In the fifth reason they inculcate what they had said before, that they found on the simple words and oppose them to the wisdom not only of men but of angels, because we are enjoined by the heavenly oracle to hear the Son of God. With equal malice and dishonesty do they object to us the authority of Christ, as if it were our purpose to deviate one iota from pure and genuine doctrine, whereas we have shown not less strongly by facts than they pretend by words that we receive with reverence every thing that fell from the sacred lips of our Lord Therefore let the Son of God be, without controversy, our supreme, perfect, only Master, in whose doctrine it is not lawful to change one word or syllable. But the obedience of faith does not hinder us from giving attention to the sound meaning of his words. How many of his expressions are on record, the harsh souud of which cannot be softened in any other way than by skillful and appropriate interpretation? Nay, if we are to be bound by a law to receive the simple sound of the words, there is no kind of absurdity for which profane men may not defame and scoff at his doctrine. The Magdeburgians then have no ground for making it their boast to the unskillful that they hear Christ according to the command of God. So far are we from desiring to be wise above his teaching, that in ingenuously defending it many of our brethren daily meet death. We, too, stand daily in the field while arrows fly around.
Their sixth objection, that we are forced without any necessity to feign a trope, will be sustained, when they shall have disposed of all the arguments by which we have shown a hundred times, that this passage cannot be duly expounded without admitting a trope. Nay, if we grant them all they ask or imperiously demand, the bread will not be properly called the body. Therefore, let them twist themselves and the words of Christ as they may, they will never logically conjoin the body of Christ to the bread, as the predicate to the subject: and hence they cannot avoid the metonymy by which it is strange they are so much offended, seeing the body of Christ cannot be;in the Supper, unless it be given under the symbol of bread. The words, they say, are clear, and are not an image of the sun, but the sun himself. Why they speak of an image of the sun, I know not. The clearness of the words, did not their obstinacy interpose a cloud, would be manifest to us by itself; but if they choose to wink in the light, why do they insult sound and candid interpreters?
How solid their seventh reason is, let the reader determine for himself.
They say that the ordinance of the Supper is new, having been ordained by Christ only in the New Testament, and that there is nowhere else any mode of expression similar to this, Eat, this is my body: as if Paul, after premising that not similar, but the same spiritual food was given to the fathers, and immediately adding, That rock was Christ, had not used an expression admirably accordant with it. When in another passage Paul calls baptism the laver of regeneration, is there no resemblance in the words?
But if baptism washes us, how in the blood of Christ elsewhere termed our ablution? If they answer that baptism instrumentally cleanses our defilements, I, in my turn, rejoin, that the bread is sacramentally the body of Christ. however incensed they may be, they cannot deprive us of the weapons furnished by the Spirit of God.
The eighth reason is, that it is contrary to the usage of all languages to make the demonstrative pronoun in this passage point out any thing but that which is held forth. I never could have thought there was such audacity outside the cloisters of monks. For why, pray, should it be lawful in other passages to expound the demonstrative pronoun otherwise than is lawful here? And even were this granted, how will they prove the restriction from the common use of all languages? It is a trite and common usage in the languages of all nations, to denote absent things by the demonstrative pronoun. If they deny this, let them go to boys to learn their first rudiments, nay, let them recall to mind what they learned from their nurses, provided they were nursed on mothers’ milk. If this is generally true, why in one passage only shall all languages lose their force and nature? Still we deny not, that under the symbol of bread we are called to partake of the flesh of Christ: I only show how disgracefully absurd it is to insist, that the pronoun this refers entirely to the body. It signifies no more in respect of the bread, than the fuller expression in the other part of the Supper, This cup. For what else does This cup mean, but just This?
As, therefore, the term cup means the cup which is held forth, so it is plain that the pronoun, This, is affirmed of the bread which is offered with the hand; unless, indeed, they make out that we have two grammars in the one Supper of Christ.
The ninth reason is, that Christ used the substantive verb. How long are we to have the same thing? Just as the rustic host made many dishes out of the same pig, when he wished to hide his poverty; so those men, while they only insist on one reason, compound their heap out of various colors.
Moreover, if this is the nature and property of the substantive verb, why should it not take effect in all the other words of Christ? He certainly used the substantive verb in all his parables. If they object that parables are to be kept by themselves, yet Christ everywhere uses them. The words, “I am the true vine, ye are the branches, my Father is the husbandman,” fell from the lips of Christ, not less than those for which they contend so rigidly. What if I should also urge the words of John, “ As yet the Holy Spirit was not, for Christ was not yet glorified.” The substantive verb is there used, and ought to have the same force in denying as in affirming.
Had the essence of the Holy Spirit then its first origin in the resurrection of Christ? They will say that the words are used of the manifestation of the Spirit. Let them cease, then, to obtrude the substantive verb upon us in a different sense, as admitting of no interpretation.
They say that Christ, who was the eternal Word ( Logov) of God, might have spoken differently if he choose, e.g., This figures, symbolizes, shadows forth my body. As if to catch favor it were sufficient to play the buffoon, they invent monstrous terms. To bear us down, they without any shame put forth what must produce shame in candid and right-hearted readers. That Christ meant to speak most clearly, deny not, nor do I see wily the Magdeburgians should extort from him the grossest expression, unless it be that under the shadow of it their gross delirium may find a lurking place. And though Christ were adapting himself to our capacity in these words, I deny that in the sacramental mode of expression there was any great danger. They complain that they are led into a pernicious error, if Christ does not give his body. I answer, that although Christ gives what he promises, and performs in reality what he figures, his words are not to be astricted to the grossness of those who insist, that the bread differs in no respect from the body. My last remark with regard to the substantive verb will be this, Christ is in the New Testament called the Church, just as much as the bread is called the body. Paul’s words are, “ As the members of our’ body being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” If this is a new expression, to which none similar is found, let them show me a difference preventing me from maintaining, that we all are truly and properly Christ, on the very ground on which they maintain that the bread is his body..
Paul declares, that Christ is such as is the connection of one body with its different members. Is Christ found such in himself? Unless they would form a confused chaos, and plunge themselves into a fearful labyrinth, they must become somewhat more moderate in regard to the admission of tropes.
The tenth reason is, that Christ did not call it a figure of the body. Nor did Moses say’ that the lamb was a figure of the passover, and yet unless any one chooses voluntarily to betray his own madness, it is clear, by the consent of all men, that the lamb which is called the passover is a figure.
Whenever it is said of the old sacraments, This will be an expiation, none will presume to deny that the expression is to be understood figuratively.
The Evangelist hesitates not to call a dove the Holy Spirit, evidently on the same ground on which the name of body is transferred to the bread.
Still more insipid is their next observation, that Christ, when he discourses of his body, does not call it a figure; as if such a monstrous expression ever fell from any one, as that the body is a figure of the body. Had the Lord pointed to his own body, there would have been no dispute; but when, in pointing to the bread, he uses the name of body, we must doubtless look for an analogy between the thing and the thing signified.
On the eleventh head, repeating the same thing, they perhaps think, I know not how, that they are doing some good to their cause. He said, My body, not the figure of a body which will be elsewhere: I, says he, exhibit myself present to you, this body which I have! As I have already declared that no other body of Christ is offered in the Supper than that which was once offered on the cross, let them have done with the calumny’ which they are so eager to concoct out of the term figure. But as the figure does not exclude the thing signified, so neither does the reality repudiate the figure. What is to prevent the Son of God, while he invites us to partake of his flesh and blood, from consulting at the same time for our weakness, by holding forth the external symbol? We, holding that the Lord does not deal deceitfully with us, certainly infer that the body is given to us when he exhibits a figure of it before our eyes. Let them explain how the Lord gave to his disciples, under the bread, the same body which was visibly before them. If they insist that he was substantially swallowed under the bread, his nature was double. In one place it was visible and mortal; and it was elsewhere, or nowhere, and yet at the same time lurked everywhere, hidden and endued with celestial glory. Meanwhile, we hold a different mode of presence from that of which the Magdeburgians dream; for, in order to our gaining possession of the flesh and blood of the Lord, it is not necessary to imagine that both descend to us, the secret agency of the Spirit sufficing to form the connection.
The twelfth foundation totters miserably. Their words are: “In the other part of this Supper he does not vary in the words, but again lucidly and distinctly repeats the same, This is my blood. Here at least our Savior would have figured somewhat had he not delivered the very things of which he speaks. He is ordaining a matter of the utmost importance: he accordingly speaks seriously, not feignedly; openly, not in parables. We neither attribute dissimulation to the Son of God, when we willingly acknowledge that this mystery is accomplished by the incomprehensible agency of the Holy Spirit, nor do we make any pretense of parables: and hence, without our saying a word, it is very obvious that those who prate thus are mere buffoons. But with what face do they dare to affirm that there is no variation of expression in holding forth the cup. Luke and Paul, as if from the lips of Christ, narrate, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Had the Magdeburgians been contented with their somewhat, so clear a difference would not have affected them. The ordinance of the Supper is expounded by four witnesses sent down from heaven under the guidance and teaching of the same Spirit. Two of them call the cup the blood of the new covenant; the other two call it the covenant in the blood.
If these words differ nothing in meaning, why do we not immediately give up our debate. If the Magdeburgians insist that the meaning is different, there will be a variation in the thing, not to say in the words. I might wonder at their being so oblivious, did not their supine security always carry them to the same license. But as all the evangelists delivered the same thing in the same words, we justly hold it as contest that the body of Christ is not given in the Supper in any other way than the nature of the new covenant admits, namely, that he is our head, and we are his members.
Not to expatiate longer, no other communion of the flesh and blood must be sought in the Supper than that which is described in the sixth chapter of John — communion very different from ‘the carnal eating of which these gross doctors dream.
The thirteenth objection proves them to be nothing better than falsifiers and wicked calumniators. As Christ says that the body which he gives is no other than that which was shortly after to be sacrificed on the cross, they infer that it is not a spiritual body, in other words, not the Church; as if we took the mystical body in the Supper for the Church. Whether they will or not, this principle is certainly common to us both, that by the words of Christ is designated the true body, whose immolation has reconciled us to God. The only question is how it is designated. The Magdeburgians say, that it retains its native signification. That is, it lets us know that that body on which our souls are spiritually fed is tike same which hung on the cross, but not that the bread becomes body, or that the body lies hid under the bread. What need was there to represent Christ as prudent and explicit, in order to guard against transferring his words to another new body? They say that by prudence and a learned tongue he took care that no falsifier should be able to say that shadows only, types, figures, masks, or magical impostures were given. This is the reason why I said that their falsity is here made manifest. For as we are the last to teach that naked or empty figures are given, so there is nothing to prevent the true exhibition of the thing from having the figure annexed. The Supper of Christ without type or figure would not be a sacrament. Magical impostures we leave to those who are not ashamed to make a bi-corporeal Christ, who, while exhibiting his body present before their eyes, gave it to each of them invisible under the bread.
On the fourteenth head I cannot make out their meaning. They say that the natural, not spiritual blood of Christ was shed on the cross, and is; therefore given in the Supper; as if we imagined any other blood of Christ than that which he assumed on becoming man. Only, when wishing to express the manner of drinking, seeing it is not drunk in a human manner, we call it spiritual drink. Thus pious and sound teachers have always spoken, and in this the Magdeburgians, however much they may murmur, will not find any thing absurd. Nay, Irenseus says, that whatever is given in the Supper besides bread and wine is spiritual. In the same way I interpret the expression of Jerome — (In Cap. 1. ad Ephes.) — “The flesh of Christ is understood in a twofold sense, the one spiritual and divine, of which he says, my flesh is meat indeed, and that which was crucified; not that he makes it twofold in reality, but because the mode of participation raises us above heaven.” Not unlike is the passage which we have elsewhere quoted from Augustine, (in Psalm 98,) that the body given to the disciples was not that which hung upon the cross. As he in another place teaches, that the Jews when converted drank the blood which they had shed, how comes it that he now denies it to be the same, but just because the spiritual communion could not otherwise be expressed?
In the fifteenth foundation, they infer that the proper body and blood of Christ are undoubtedly communicated in the Supper, because he meant to institute a thing difficult, miraculous, and new, like nothing previously in the world, and that purposely, and no doubt with the counsel of the Father and the Spirit, in order that there might be a most evident and most transparent and most certain application of his love and merits in so precious and arduous a pledge. Were I to concede all this, the doctrine which they impugn would still remain entire. For we deny not that the flesh and blood of Christ are communicated to us. We only explain the mode, lest carnal eating should either derogate in any respect from the heavenly glory of Christ, or overthrow the reality of his human nature.
But these men are not to be satisfied, unless that which is received only by virtue of faith be devoured by the mouth. The real aim of this miraculous and arduous, I know not what, is not to leave a place for faith or the secret operation of the Spirit.
The magniloquence which bursts from them on the sixteenth head, easily falls and[vanishes of itself. They premise that the Evangelists and Apostles are most worthy of belief, and have a testimony that they spoke by the Holy Spirit, and do not err. What, pray, do they produce after this long breath? They all. say, This is my body. They point to the bread and the cup, and use the substantive verb. But there is no controversy as to this. The only thing is to see whether, as Christ instituted a sacrament, we are not at liberty to say, by way of interpretation, that the bread is the body sacramentally. It is indeed certain that Christ is called the Son of God in another and different sense from that in which the bread is called the body. For after all the thunder of their clamor, they are forced to confess that the bread is a symbol of the thing which it figures. Moreover, how much they are fascinated by their fiction appears from this, that to them the covenant in the blood is equivalent to the blood inclosed in the cup.
The same argument is repeated in the seventeenth head. They oppose to us great and approved witnesses; as if our interpretation were detracting one iota from their authority. They ask, If the bread and wine were shadows, symbols, and figures of absent things, would not the Evangelists have made out of one Is one Signifies? Would not the Holy Spirit, the guide of hearts and tongues, have somehow suggested one vocable of symbol or figure ~ Since he was to suggest all things that Christ taught, I answer that they act rigidly and presumptuously in daring to dictate words to the Holy Spirit. A mode of expression uniformly employed in treating of the sacraments, is to give the sign the name of the thing signified. It, was anciently said that God dwelt between the cherubim; and Moses declared that God was present in the sanctuary, that the lamb was the passover, that circumcision was a covenant, that the sacrifices were expiations for sins, just as much as it was said that the bread and the cup are the body and blood of Christ. In all these modes of expression there is no obscurity or harshness, would not the Magdeburgians disdainfully reject every thing that is not said according to their rule. It is repeatedly said of circumcision, This is my covenant, as it is said of the bread, This is my body. While in the old sacraments, the name of the thing signified is metonymically transferred to the sign, the substantive verb occurs an hundred times; the word symbol or figure not once. Why should the Holy Spirit not now have the; same freedom? Is he to be forced to change his language at the dictation of men of Magdeburg?
They proceed still further in the eighteenth head, and subject the Apostles to their laws. They say, If the Apostles did not dare to mutilate any thing in the narration itself, on the ground that witnesses may not take away or add any thing, they ought at lea,st in some other place to have explained the true view. But what if the truth has been sufficiently explained to the teachable in the words? For who can doubt that in all the sacraments we are to rise from the external and earthly sign to the heavenly reality? I hear a dove called the Holy Spirit. I do not quarrel with the Evangelists for not expressly telling me it was a figure, because on attending to the analogy between the sign and the thing signified, all ambiguity is removed. Thus in the words of Christ, on attending to what the nature of a sacrament requires, though I hold it certain that that which the words imply is truly fulfilled, yet I reject not the figure by which Christ has been pleased to help the weakness of my faith. Thus, too, a proper transition is made from the bread and the cup to the flesh and the blood. Nor in this way is the doctrine of Christ concealed — a doctrine which, if the Magdeburgians were so desirous to illustrate as they pretend, they would not so preposterously involve and confound things which, when kept. distinct, throw full light upon it. They insist that the bread is substantially the body: we teach that it is a symbol to which, the true exhibition of the thing is annexed, because the Lord does not fallaciously figure that his flesh is meat to us, but shows to the eye what he truly performs within by the energy of his Spirit. This simple doctrine the Magdeburgians in vain endeavor to distort by monstrous terms, when, like silly buffoons, they attribute to us the spurious word figurizing. They ought rather, while they relate that Paul:speaks as well of the elements as of the body and blood of the Lord, to consider more attentively what place the elements hold. For unless they are regarded as symbols, and figures, and signs, and types, of spiritual things, the action will be not only ludicrous but absurd.
The nineteenth foundation will for me remain untouched. For who can deny that the true body of Christ is celebrated by Paul, just as I hold, that riot a fallacious, or imaginary, or shadowy body is given us in the Supper, but that natural body, by the sacrifice of which on the cross sins were expiated? If ubiquity is no more applicable to it than opaque density or earthly ponderousness to the sun, it follows, that by the fiction of the Magdeburgians, we are drawn away from the true body of Christ to some indescribable phantom. For in vain do they exclaim that it is the true body of Christ, while they make it a, false body. Because Paul charges those with sacrilege who eat the bread of Christ unworthily, not discerning the Lord’s body, they coolly and absurdly infer that the substance of the flesh lies hid under the bread. Though it is not given to be chewed by the teeth, this does not excuse the impious profanation of those who contemn what is spiritually offered.
The passage which they quote in the twentieth head plainly supports us.
Paul says, that the bread which we break is the fellowship (koinwnai ) of the Lord’s body. They interpret this to mean dispensing, as if it could be said that fellowship is any thing but distribution. The meaning of (koinwnia ) is made perfectly clear from the context, when he says, that those who sacrifice are partakers (koinwnoi ) of the altar, and forbids believers to become (koinwnoi ) with devils. If (koinwnia ) of the altar and with devils means dispensation, the meaning will be the same in regard to the body of Christ. But if all agree, that fellowship is denoted, why do the men of Magdeburg carry their heads so high? They contend that nothing more significant or expressive can be said of the material cause of the Supper. Verily so be it. Nay, I assist them, for I teach that no term could better explain the mode in which the body of Christ is given to us, than the term communion, implying that we become one with him, and being ingrafted into him, truly enjoy his life. It is clear and certain, that this is done not naturally, but by the secret agency of the Spirit. I hold that the spiritual matter of the Supper is the body and blood of Christ, just as the earthly matter is the bread and wine. The only question is, whether the body of Christ becomes ours by our devouring it? Paul points out a different mode, by directing us to the fellowship by’ which we are made one with him. They object that Paul does not term the elements of bread and wine figures or symbols. But if they are bare elements and not signs of spiritual things, the Supper will cease to be a sacrament.
Such is the result of the material theology to which they remain so fixed, that from hatred to signs, they take away all significancy from the sacraments. In order to make an impression on the unskillful, they say that Paul, with full and clear voice, declares that the bread is (koinwnia ), not a shadow or type. And of what thing? Not of the bread, but of the body; as if it had been possible to call the bread the communion of the bread. When, pray, is this trifling to end? Did it require such a wide mouth to declare that we communicate with Christ in the Supper? I should like to know whether, according to them, this communion belongs indiscriminately to unbelievers as well as to believers. This they assert with their usual confidence. How admirably are those said to communicate with Christ who are altogether aliens from him! That the body of Christ is devoured by the wicked, monstrous though it be, may be easily said; but no man not actually turned into a trunk can believe that he who is not a member of Christ can partake of Christ.
When, on the twenty-first, head, they say that the final cause ought not to be confounded with the matter, I grant it. There was no need of calling in Jerome as a witness to a point sufficiently agreed between us, unless, perhaps, they imagine that they are the only custodiers of logic, and none but themselves know how to distinguish between the end and the matter.
On the twenty-second head they again exaggerate, saying, that as the Supper of Christ is a testament, it cannot lawfully be violated or corrupted by a different meaning. Which of the two pays more respect to the testament, I leave the impartial to judge. The Magdeburgians expose the body of Christ to the wicked and sacrilegious without faith, without the Spirit; as if the Son of God had by testament appointed the profane despisers of his grace the lords of his body and blood. Our doctrine is, that whosoever receives the promise of the Supper in faith truly becomes a partaker of the body and blood of Christ, because he never meant to deceive when he plainly declared that it was his body. What violation can be discovered here? Surely, while contented with external signs and earthly pledges, we firmly believe that the body of Christ is vivifying bread to us, and that every thing which the sign represents to the eye is truly performed, we by no means rescind the testimony of Christ. The charge which they falsely bring against us I retort on their own head, viz., that the sacrament is abolished and extinguished, if the spiritual truth is not figured by external symbols.
In the twenty-third head they call the ancient and orthodox fathers to their support; as if it were not easy to dispose of all their glosses by a single word. Nor had Philip (Melancthon) any other intention than to prove the communion, as to which he entirely agrees with us. What Westphal has gained by his farrago I leave the reader to judge.
In the twenty-fourth head they excuse themselves by saying that they believe no other mode of presence than that which Christ appointed. If this were true, there would be no reason for debating. But when they add, that the body of Christ is everywhere present, before they obtain what they want, they will have to prove that this dream of theirs is the heavenly oracle of Christ. How unseasonably they introduce the power of Christ, methinks I have sufficiently shown in my defense against Westphal. I admit that it is Christ who reveals hidden things to us. Why, then, do they throw darkness on his revelations? In regard to Christ, we acknowledge that the Father commands from heaven that all are to hear him. Why, then, do they make a turmoil, and pretend that no interpretation of his words is to be admitted? We acknowledge that with Christ nothing is impossible. Why, then, do they themselves not believe, that though he is in heaven, he can, notwithstanding, by the wondrous virtue of his Spirit, give us his flesh and blood for spiritual nourishment? It is certainly a proof of truly divine and incomprehensible power, that how remote soever he may be from us, he infuses life, from the substance of his flesh and blood, into our souls, so that no distance of place can impede the union of the head and members. Hence it clearly appears how vain and calumnious it is to say that we measure this mystery by human reason.
But as the Magdeburgians, from the proud obstinacy of their own brain, despise the work of Christ, they pretend that all must give way who depend not on their pleasure. I wish that they themselves would stand on some solid foundation, rather than cast others down headlong by their empty thunder. They croak the same thing in the twenty-fifth article. How can I otherwise describe it? They pretend to be horrified at our theology, as savoring of nothing but what is carnal; as if it were a dictate of the flesh that the boundless virtue of Christ penetrates through heaven and earth, in order to feed us with his flesh from heaven: that the flesh, which by nature was mortal, is to us the fountain of life: that every thing which he figures by the visible symbol is truly fulfilled by him: and that, therefore, the flesh of Christ in the Supper is spiritual food, just as our bodies are daily fed with bread. There is something worse, when, in order to condemn what they pretend to be our carnal sense, they quote a passage from the eighth chapter of the Romans, in which Paul says that the flesh is enmity against God. This, no doubt, is their reverence in handling Scripture; and lest any thing should be wanting to complete their fatuity, they append, as if from Paul, Likewise, he who receives with the faith of the Sacramentarians is guilty of the body and blood of Christ. But were I disposed to sport after their fashion, I could extract from their words, that there is therefore no need of carnal eating, in order to be guilty of the body and blood of Christ; for our faith excludes their carnal eating, which they, however, pretend to extract from the words of Paul.
In the twenty-sixth head, they most unjustly charge us with explaining away the dignity of this sacrament. Every thing belonging to the sacred Supper is set forth in the most honorable manner by us: only we do not give the body of Christ to be swallowed by Judas as well as by Peter. In order to prove their charge, they affirm that we do not distinguish between bare promises and those clothed with sacraments: as if after they have produced their best, the reader could not learn more clearly and fully from our writings, how Christ works effectually in the Supper and in baptism.
In the twenty-seventh head, they object that the person of Christ is dissolved by us, because we deny that he can be in his human nature wheresoever he pleases. If this is to dissolve the person, it will be necessary to rob the human nature of every thing that is most proper to it, in order to his continuing to be Mediator. What can be imagined more absurd than that the flesh of Christ was in heaven while he hung upon the cross? Yet undoubtedly the whole Christ, God and man, was then also in heaven. But those proud censors must be taught a vulgar distinction which was not unknown either to Peter Lombard (Lib. 3. Sentent. dist. 22) or the sophists who came after him, viz., that Christ, the Mediator, God and man, is whole everywhere, but not wholly, (totus ubique, sed non totum,) because in respect of his flesh he continued some time on earth and now dwells in heaven. It is strange how these men fly so petulantly in the face of the primitive Church. Let those who are inclined see a full and clear proof of this, by that faithful minister of Christ, our venerable brother Bullinger. They say that Christ, by these words, This is my body, intends to be present with the whole Church. Be it so, only let them not append to it this most wicked falsehood, that we upset this will and presence of Christ on philosophical principles, since it is perfectly notorious, that there is no article of Christian doctrine which we support by more numerous passages of Scripture.
No less perversely do they, in the last place, bring the calumnious charge against us of taking away the credit due to Christ, together with his omnipotence: as if any of us had ever before raised the question, or now disputes whether it is possible for Christ to fulfill what he promises, or whether he deludes us by fallacious phantoms. Our method of doctrine so reconciles the w ill of Christ with all the principles of the faith, that the presence and communion of his flesh which we enjoy is tied down to no space, and he performs what he promises in a wonderful manner, transcending the comprehension of our mind. In short, we so harmonize the analogy of the sign and the thing signified, that to the word and visible symbol are annexed not only the fruit or effect of the grace which we receive from Christ, but also the reality of secret communion with his flesh and blood.
We must now see how dexterously they dispose of our arguments which they pretend to be woven of sand, because Irenaesus so spoke of heretics.
The first of the fifty-nine arguments which they enumerate is amply sufficient to dispose of all the objections with which they have hitherto imagined themselves to be completely fortified. On looking more closely at what they advance, the substance amounts to this, that we must reject all interpretation, and simply adhere to what the words contain. This, however, is our wall of brass — As Christ instituted a sacrament, his words ought to be expounded sacramentally according to the common usage of Scripture. For a kind of perpetual rule in regard to all the sacraments is, that the sign receives the name of the thing signified. What do the Magdeburgians say to this They say, that this may be conceded, on the condition, that the sacrament be taken as it was ordained in clear terms by Christ, not as it is measured by human reason. I accept the condition, provided they do not obscure the clearness of the terms by their obstinacy’. For if the sacramental mode of expression is admitted, the metonymy and the analogy which ought always to be maintained between the sign and the thing signified will dissipate all doubts. How then will the bread be the body? Just in the sense in which a sacrament implies, viz., our faith must rise from the earthly symbol to the celestial gift. There is no measuring by human reason when it is said:, that the spiritual reality transcends the whole order of nature. We do not here imagine some kind of theatrical exhibition, but look up with reverence to the secret agency of the Spirit in effecting this mystery, inasmuch as it cannot be comprehended by our capacity. The Magdeburgians, indeed, dare not deny, that the words of Christ ought to be taken sacramentally. This being granted, they have no longer any cause to plume themselves. Their allegation., that we strenuously abuse the term sacrament, is nugatory; for, according to them, many teachers in the Church hold a sacrament to be a kind of mystical allegory. I rejoin, that there is no ambiguity in the common rule, that the sacramental form of speech ought to receive effect in the sacraments.
Having thus finely explained, they say they are going to enter more particular labyrinths: as if they had disentangled themselves from the first, Our second argument, to which they refer, is, That if the expression in the words of the Supper were to be strictly urged, the Evangelists would not have varied, nor have themselves used any trope: But they do vary, and speak figuratively; for Luke and Paul, while the others use the term blood, say, “a covenant in the blood.” The Magdeburgians reply, that the major might be conceded, had the Evangelists always, and everywhere in the same case, spoken figuratively, but. that as they do not heap up various figures and allegories it is raise. We contend, that the figure is everywhere; for the bread is called body, and the wine blood metonymically. As they perversely deny this, we compel them to acknowledge a variation, at least in one part, and thus rightly conclude that they ought not to insist rigidly on the words. It was said of the bread, This is my body, in no other sense than it is added of the cup, This is my blood. Luke and Paul, who wrote after the others, interpret the blood more fully and clearly as the covenant in the blood. Reason requires that the same thing should be transferred to the bread also, so as to make it a covenant in the body. The reader will find no sophistry in this.
The reply which they make to the minor proposition is the same, viz., that as the variation is only in the second part, it ought not to be transferred to the first: as if there were any difference in the reason. But they allege a rule, that what is clear and properly expressed, must not be expounded by figurative expressions: as if the bread were called the body properly, and without figure, or as if there were any obscure trope, in the expression, This cup is the covenant in my blood. Hence it appears how securely they keep chattering in their nests. We hold that the words of Christ, because they contain a figure, need interpretation. This is, in some measure, supplied by Luke and Paul, who, as they wrote after the others, probably made an addition to interpret what had been previously written.
The Magdeburgians answer, that obscure and figurative expressions ought to be explained by those which are clear and simple. We, too, contend for this. As we have to do with hard and obstinate heads, I leave the reader to judge which of the two expressions is the more clear — This cup is my blood, or, This cup is the covenant in my blood. Surely as brevity always tends towards obscurity, the fuller expression naturally gives more light.
Luke and Paul might justly be charged with culpable thoughtlessness, had they, after a thing was clearly expressed by their colleagues,, purposely darkened it by a circumlocution.
Our third argument is, That the words of the Supper ought not to be separated from others, which Christ uttered almost at the same instant of time: Now, he at that time repeatedly declared, that he was leaving the world. The solution of the Magdeburgians is, that however the major might have been tolerated, nothing is said of the mystery of the Supper:in that lengthened discourse from which we have made quotations concerning the departure of Christ. What then? This much, in the meanwhile,, remains fixed, that as the Son of God, when about to institute the Supper, distinctly pro-raised that he was leaving the world to go to the Father, and when the Supper was ever, frequently repeated the same thing, the intermediate action ought to be understood in a sense which leads us to seek him afterwards only in heaven. We do not in this way confound all the actions and sentiments of Christ. Though he instituted the sacrament separately, it is certain that his discourse depends on it so far, that he speaks to his disciples of his departure more freely, because of the distinguished consolation he had just given them.
There is no ground for the remark, that it is all over with us if Christ has actually left us. For while we loudly proclaim the spiritual presence of Christ, which with them goes for almost nothing, they only betray their shamelessness by such silly calumnies. Accordingly we hold, that though by Christ’s ascension into heaven the presence of his flesh has been taken from us, still he fills all things by his virtue and grace, and extends the rigor of his empire over the whole globe. Nor does he only defend us by present aid. He also truly dwells in us; nay, feeds our souls by his flesh and blood.
In this way there is no repugnance between the expressions, “I go to the Father,” and, “ Take, this is my body;” because, while we are reminded that Christ is not to be sought on the earth, we climb by faith to heaven in order to enjoy him. The Magdeburgians insist, that Christ is not in the world in visible shape, but is invisibly hid under the bread. So they say; but who will believe them? No less absurd is their additional remark, that this departure commenced at death itself, because he then said, “I go to the Father.” I wish they were as literary as they long to be literal. Nothing in Hebrew phraseology is more trite than the use of the present tense for the future. They, disregarding all reason, restrict the departure of Christ to the moment at which he said, I go. This ignorance might, perhaps, be pardoned, did it not carry with it the other impious dream, that when Christ truly ascended to heaven, a departure was exhibited to the Apostles which had previously taken place. As if Luke were telling of some phantom, and making void one of the leading articles of our faith.
The fourth argument is, Luke makes the Supper of the paschal lamb precede the Lord’s Supper: the supper of the paschal lamb is a mystery or figure: therefore the Lord’s Supper is mystical or figurative. Whether anybody has argued in this way, I know not; I certainly do not think it likely. What they have turned to suit their own purpose I will restore thus, Christ ordained the Supper to be substituted in the place of the paschal lamb: but the nature and end of both sacraments is alike: therefore it is not strange if they bear a mutual affinity to each other, and also a resemblance in the words. What do the Magdeburgians now say? They say that the argument drawn from unequals is not good. But I neither urge their equality nor infer any necessity that what is said of the one should be as applicable to the other. I only extort from them, whether they will or not, that it is reasonable to expect that a comparison with the paschal lamb will assist us in understanding the Supper. It is a frigid quibble to say, that the passover was then abolished. Though the use of the ceremony ceased, still the doctrine and the reality remain entire; otherwise when baptism is considered, there would be no room to refer to circumcision. Nor are they helped by the distinction, that the sacraments of the law designed Christ who was to come, whereas ours exhibit him present; provided the presence be referred as it ought to be to the advent of Christ, by which God fulfilled what he had promised under the law.
The fifth argument is, If the mode of expression in the Supper were different from that of other sacraments, as when the lamb is called the passover, the Apostles would have interrogated their Lord as they were wont to do on other occasions; this they did not; therefore they understood the Supper mystically, the expressions being such as they were used to. The Magdeburgians answer, that a. consequence drawn from symptoms not necessary is not valid. Still they do not make out that it is not a probable conjecture. We know that not only were they accustomed to interrogate Christ in difficulty or perplexity, but as often as their ignorance threw them into any doubt. If, as these men pretend, something new and miraculous had then been suddenly declared concerning the invisible presence of the flesh, was there such perfection of Faith in the disciples that no doubt arose in any one mind? Who, I ask, will believe that men slow of heart and doubtful in the smallest matters, on the unheard of announcement, hastened with readiness and alacrity to swallow the immense and invisible body of Christ under the bread? Wherefore we not unaptly argue from probability, that as they were accustomed to sacramental modes of expression, they raised no question on a matter that was known. I will not honor with a reply their rejoinder, viz., that Christ clearly and without tropes uttered the sentence, This is my body, and hence the Apostles being contented did not think of tropes, figures, and allegories; otherwise, from their desire to learn, they would have interrogated their Lord. First, seeing that the clearness of the words depends on the figure, in order to perceive the former it is not proper to exclude the latter. Secondly, seeing that the thing was plain, what use was there, according to the common expression, to seek a knot in a thorn?. The question only arises when the bread is said to be properly and substantially the body of Christ.
In regard to the sixth argument, as it was only produced k r a calumnious purpose, I give a brief reply. We hold, indeed, that it is not only to pervert the whole order of Christ, but to rob the Holy Spirit of freedom of utterance, to insist literally on the controverted terms, This is my body, as if it were unlawful to add a syllable in the way of interpretation. They ask whether is and signifies are always to be equivalent, and whether the Holy Spirit nowhere speaks properly? as if we were laying down an universal rule, and not rather holding, from the circumstance of place and subject, that we ought to consider what is most appropriate. In this ordinance we wish to give effect to that which those who are moderately versant in Scripture know to be common to all the sacraments. We insist on the intervention of a symbol which may enable us to make a transition to the spiritual reality. These new doctors protest that it is unlawful to deviate one hair’s-breadth from the words and syllables. What is this but to rise up and imperiously forbid freedom of speech to the Holy Spirit?
They next ask more petulantly, whether the term body, is always to be held equivalent to phantasm of the body? Must we hold, then, that as the Apostle teaches that throughout the worship of the law there were figures of spiritual blessings, we are at liberty to substitute phantasms for figures?
See what they gain by throwing their ugly squibs at us. No one ever said that the body is taken for the figure of the body, but that the bread is called the body symbolically, being interposed as a kind of visible pledge when Christ would make us partakers of his flesh. Let their subsequent reproaches be left to their own nostrils. Their ever and anon recurring to the same thing is a sign of weakness and poverty. They contend that the words of Christ, This is my body, are plain, because he says not symbol or specter. As to specter, of what use is it again to utter a disgraceful falsehood? We maintain that the analogy between the sign and the thing signified is to be observed, in order that the reality may be conjoined with the visible element. If in this way we make a spectre of the bread of the Supper, much more may the same be said of the ark of the covenant. Their question, Where will there be any religion, if it be lawful to substitute shadows and types for the realities, I retort upon them. If it be lawful to substitute realities for types and shadows, where will religion be? No longer the blood of Christ, but corruptible water will be our ablution.
The seventh argument they quote is, Explanation must be sought from the words of Christ — but he declares that the flesh profiteth nothing — whence it follows that the eating delivered by him in the Supper is not carnal but spiritual. They admit the major, provided what is more obscure receives light from what is clearer. Now, in order to put an end to the controversy, if we believe them, we must abide by the very institution of the Supper. I object that when our Lord instituted the Supper, he spoke briefly, as is usually done in federal acts, whereas in the sixth chapter of John he discourses copiously and professedly of that mystery of sacred conjunction, of which he afterwards held forth a mirror in the Supper. In vain will they now keep crying that we must go to the fountain-head: just as an Anabaptist, by laying hold at random of the words, Preach and baptize, He who believes and is baptized, would, by the same pretext, preclude all entrance to argument. Wherefore no man of sound mind can now doubt which of the two passages is fitter and more convenient to illustrate the subject. When they come to the minor, they show how much they are perplexed. At first they object that the words are clear and manifest, The bread which I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world. I wish they had been less accustomed to unbridled license in lacerating Scripture. I not only admit their postulate, that the bread is truly flesh, but I go farther, and add what they injuriously and shamefully omit, that this bread is given daily, as the flesh was offered once on the cross for the salvation of the world. Nor is the repetition of the expression, I will give, superfluous. The bread, therefore, is truly and properly the flesh of Christ, inasmuch as he is there speaking not of a corruptible or fading but of heavenly aliment.
The Magdeburgians subjoin, that Christ speaks explicitly in these words, Unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you have no life abiding in you. Again, My flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink indeed. They tell us he might as easily have said, The bread signifies my flesh; but that no one might dream of any figure, he was pleased to speak simply, and thus early obviate all fictions: as if he had then used a visible symbol instead of having spoken of his flesh as meat or bread metaphorically — there being no other way in which our souls can be nourished unto eternal life. It is just as if any contentious person, laying hold of the term water in Isaiah and Ezekiel, should deny that in baptism the external symbol of water is annexed to spiritual washing. Christ had not instituted the Supper when he thus discoursed in Capernaum. What he then said he was pleased afterwards to seal in the Supper by a visible figure. What madness is it to confound the spiritual bread with a corruptible element? The Magdeburgians proceed, that the same offense at which we stumble was objected by the people of Capernaum, because they robbed Christ of divine virtue. What limit, pray, will there be to falsehoods? Did a carnal eating of Christ ever come into our mind? If their associates, whose obstreperous unbelief is there condemned, complain, let those come forward who differ with them in one thing only, pretending that the flesh of Christ is devoured in an invisible and yet carnal manner.
Our eating is.just that which the words of Christ express.
It cannot be doubted that the language of Christ is metaphorical. He gives the name of bread not to that which is composed of flour; he gives the name of meat not to that which is baked in an oven or dish, but to spiritual aliment, by which our souls are fed for the heavenly life. Therefore, the eating and drinking which he mentions does not at all require the teeth, palate:, throat, or stomach, but hungering of soul; for we do not in compliance with that commandment of Christ, eat his flesh or drink his blood in any other way than by being made one with him by faith, so that he, dwelling in us, may truly give us life. Why he claims the office of nourishing for his flesh and blood is by no means obscure. It was to let us know that our life is to be sought nowhere else than in the sacrifice by which he has reconciled the Father to us. Many ill their pride would willingly pass by the flesh in which the expiation was made, and climb beyond the clouds. Therefore, as Christ was humbled for us, he, in order to keep our faith humble, recommending the mystery of redemption, declares that his flesh gives us life. How, pray, can the Magdeburgians disentangle themselves, in insisting that the flesh is received carnally?
They also stumble more grossly, in teaching that there is an antithesis which is of very common occurrence in St. Paul. But as it is a regular practice for them to corrupt Scripture, by quoting it inconsiderately, let their error here, so far as I am concerned, remain buried, it would only have their answer in regard to a declaration of Christ. If the quickening Spirit is nothing else than the gift of understanding, what does our Savior mean by immediately after adding, The words which I speak unto you are spirit and life? Will they deny that the words are called spirit, because they are spiritual? This being granted, it will be easy to infer that the eating of which he speaks is of the same nature.
The eighth argument they produce from us is, All sacramental modes of expression have a like principle: the principle is, that the name of the thing is transferred to the sign; therefore there is such a metonymy in the words of the Supper. The major they restrict by adding to it, When they are of the same kind and time. But they deny that the sacraments of the Old and ~ew Testament are of the same kind, because, in the Old Testament, figures and shadows were brought forward; whereas, in the New, the thing itself is clearly exhibited, as is expressly implied by the words, This is my body. If the dispute is as to the words, the same are read in the Old Testament also: nor is the form of expression, This is my body, more transparent than, The lamb is the passover; Circumcision is my covenant.
Let them cease then to attempt to excite a vain prejudice in their favor from the words, the sense and meaning of which forms the subject of dispute. The diversity which they pretend savors of the delirium of Servetus; as if the holy fathers, contented with bare figures, had had no fellowship with us in spiritual gifts. I admit that the shadows of future things were then held forth; only let it be understood that Christ also was held forth to them, that we may not think they were deluded by empty figures. Surely to them the lamb was the passover, and circumcision a covenant, in the same way in which the bread is now body to us. Their allegation, that ever since Christ was exhibited to the world, there is no more room for types, not only originates in disgraceful ignorance, but shows, that from proud contempt, they spurn the grace of Christ. Is their faith so perfect that they can reject the aid of types, and receive Christ present? And to what end did Christ institute the Supper and Baptism, but just in accommodation to our weakness, to raise us upwards to himself by the vehicles of types? I confess, indeed, that the body and substance of those things which the law shadowed forth now exist in Christ, as Paul plainly teaches; only let this be referred to the different modes of signifying, and let us not be altogether deprived of the use of signs, which experience shows to be no less necessary to us than to the ancient fathers.
The Magdeburgtans, to disentangle themselves, make a childish play upon the term sin, the victim being called sin: as if we did not use this passage.
Why do they not rather reply to the other points:, to dispose of which no amount of mere talk will suffice? The blood of a beast is said to be expiation, and Christ is called circumcision. Here it will do them no good to philosophize on guilt and punishment. But feeling that they are still held fast, they devise what, if we believe them, is a good interpretation, viz., that the lamb is the passover not figuratively but in reality just as Christ is called our passover, not by way of memorial, but because he redeemed us. I thought that Christ was called the passover, because that legal sacrifice was a type of him, and represented in a mystery the redemption for which they hoped. If so, that lamb was to the ancient people a sign and pledge of an entire and eternal deliverance, just as the bread of the Supper is to us now.
But if it be asked whether they admit no figure in the Supper, they answer, Let the thing itself remain, and away with tropes, shadows, and all darkness, as suited only to the Old Testament. Let the reader remember that we are here treating of figure. These literal masters utterly repudiate it, and though they use invidious names, they annihilate the most essential property of a sacrament. For what is a sacrament without type or figure?
Their absurdity afterwards betrays itself more plainly. They say the things themselves being safe, that is, the material, and formal, and principal ends being exhibited, some, figures may be admitted, at least soberly.
When they place a twofold matter in the Supper, they insist that there are lifeless and profane elements there, as if Christ were shutting up his body in a little chest. Do they think that the body is coupled with the bread by magical incantation, so that the faithful are deprived of all doctrine? What then will be the use of the word if there is no figure? If the visible word be not engraven on the element, away with an empty and worthless spectacle. Whether types and figures are suitable to the Old Testament only, let the Holy Spirit answer for himself, who appeared twice in the form of a dove, and a third time in tongues of fire, unless indeed he used those external appearances without any view to teaching; as a kind of boyish show, or something still more ridiculous and insipid. I omit the gross contumely which they offer to God, when they give the name of darkness to the exercises of piety, by which he guided the pious under the law to the Sun of Righteousness. Did they say that the persons were in darkness, the expression would be rough and harsh; but to stigmatize the lamps which showed them the way as darkness, is altogether intolerable blasphemy. But on the decision of the Magdeburgians, what figure will remain? The Supper will denote the union of the Church, and that it is exposed to the cross and to trials. They have therefore already forgotten what they said of the final cause. For if it was the purpose of Christ to hold forth his body under the bread to be eaten for the forgiveness of sins, this doctrine ought certainly to be taken into account. For to what end or to whom did Christ direct the words? Was it that they might vanish uselessly away? And what is more plain than that the bread being offered before their eyes, taught that his flesh was spiritual meat? Let them go now and deny being so fascinated with their error, that though veteran theologians, they understand not what children learn in their catechism.
The ninth argument is, That since the ark of the covenant is above four hundred times called the presence of God, it is not strange if in the same way the bread be called the body. They deny the antecedent, as if by denying they did not palpably augment their disgrace. Whenever it is said in the law, Thou shalt not come into the presence of God empty; again, When thou shalt have appeared before the face of thy God; again, 0 God, that dwellest in the sanctuary; again, God sitting between the cherubim, they must grant that the presence of God is denoted. If they are to contend for words, nothing can be found in the Supper more distinctly expressed than these. If in all the passages of the law there is a figure, why do they decline to admit it in a similar place? They say that in strict propriety the ark is not so called, but the better thing which was added to the ark by the word of God. The solution is subtle, but it is one by which they put a rope about their own necks. On their own authority I now say that the bread is improperly called body. The thing denoted is the better thing adjoined to it by the word of God.
The tenth argument is taken from a comparison of the manna with the Supper. They answer, that the things are dissimilar, because the manna was not a sacrament. Paul, therefore, is mistaken ill making the fathers like us in this respect, that they ate spiritual food. For how could food be spiritual without a mystery? Nay, how could it be spiritual, except in so far as it represented Christ in a mystery? They afterwards add, that the manna was food by feeding the stomach, and that the spiritual thing farther denoted by it was not the principal. It is enough for me, that inasmuch as the manna was a sacred symbol of Christ, it was spiritual food to the fathers, and the same with that which Christ now sets before us. For from this I will immediately infer, that those act perversely who imagine any other spiritual food at the sacred table of Christ, although the mode of eating be different, the, condition of the fathers being inferior to ours.
In regard to the sentence which is immediately subjoined, there is need of no ordinary attention. I will not say, that Turks, Saracens, in short, the worshippers of Ceres and Bacchus, speak more honorably of their sacred rites; but seldom did any thing so delirious and profane fall from a man in a frenzy as that which the Magdeburgians here send forth as an oracle. We deny not, they say, that the Eucharist and the other sacraments were, in a certain way, spiritual. Is it come to this, that the mysteries of our salvation, which raise us from the earth above the heavens, they are ashamed to call spiritual without inserting a modification? One might rather expect to hear that every thing contained in them must be regarded as spiritual. Their carnal dream now so absorbs all their senses, that they are averse to the distinguishing epithet of the kingdom of Christ. In what can they say that the gospel differs from the law, except that the spiritual reality of the ancient shadows has been exhibited in Christ? Why then are they so much afraid of this mark, without which Christ is not Christ? This doubtless is the just reward of those who defend a bad cause with a bad conscience — their boldness undoes them. For the reader will uniformly observe, that the name of mystery, or mystical virtue, is not less frightful to them than spiritual reality is irksome.
The example which they afterwards append from baptism is wholly in our favor. Baptism is external washing, and yet is a spiritual laver. But how skillfully do they apply this to the Supper? They say it is not corporeal aliment, though the body of Christ is taken by the external mouth. So anxious are they about the palate, throat, and stomach, that they dare not to call the Supper a spiritual mystery, lest the body of Christ should escape their teeth. They say they do not understand it to be spiritual, so as to mean only some invisible thought or fantasy, or such a spiritual eating as Abraham ate, who knew nothing of this sacrament. You would say that they are muttering something or other in Arabic, still more to stupefy their stupid disciples. What is an invisible thought? As if they could produce a visible one. We leave them the fantasy. Contented with the true and vivifying participation of Christ, we have no need of their erratic fiction, which only goes to replenish the gullet. Then what is it to eat an eating? Perhaps they mean to say, that as Abraham had not the internal sign, he was not a partaker of Christ. Than this nothing can be imagined more unbecoming or more preposterous: for though we now excel in abundance of grace, it was common to all the sacraments to engraft all believers into Christ.
The eleventh argument, which either from ignorance or malice, they construct badly, we frame thus, — No conception is to be formed concerning the mystery of the Supper, except what is dictated from heaven: Paul saying that the Jews ate the same spiritual food with us, adds by way of interpretation, That rock was Christ: Therefore this divine declaration should be held to prove, that the bread and wine in the Supper are the body and blood of the Lord to feed us spiritually. The Magdeburgians wonder that we insist so incautiously on what they call gross and inconvenient foundations, after they have so often told us, that Paul is speaking of a spiritual rock I am aware of their usual talk on the subject, but the proof is required. The rock, they say, did not accompany the Jews through the wilderness. I answer, that their own information ruins them. Paul gives the name of rock, not to the stone composing it, but to the drink flowing from it. Were it otherwise, the clauses would not correspond with each other. Then unless reference is made to the external and visible symbol, Paul’s reasoning would be maimed, for this would make him speak of persons who ate a spiritual sacrament, not spiritually.
They hold the expression clearly to mean, The spiritual rock was Christ.
But Paul’s argument does not allow any application of the rock to any thing else than the drink which he compares to our mystical cup. They add in concluding, Most of the expressions of the Old Testament differ from the words of the Lord’s Supper: as if Paul, after speaking a little before of the Supper of Christ, had intended to employ a different discourse to banish the remembrance of it from the hearts of the pious.
The twelfth argument is, The letter of the words of the Supper ought not to be pertinaciously retained, since, in most other passages of Scripture, great absurdity would follow from pressing the precise terms. They afterwards quote examples, as if we had produced them from our bosom, — The bread was made flesh; The Father is greater than I; He who sees me sees the Father also. Where they got the two latter examples, I know not; but as they are by no means apposite to the present cause, I prefer selecting from a countless number others that are more appropriate. It is certain, that were Scripture pressed so violently as they insist, almost as many absurdities would spring up as it contains verses. God will be a man of war; he will repent; he will come down from heaven to know the deeds of men; he will desire revenge; he will at one time be carried away by anger, at another he will smile appeased; at one time he will sleep, at another he will rise, as if awakened from a debauch; at one time he will turn away his eyes, at another he will remember. Let the Magdeburgians say whether they mean to insist on all the syllables in these sentences. There is no room here for tortuous windings. For I have already said, what all perceive to be strictly true, that when they reject all interpretation, and insist simply on the expression, This is my body, they take up a cause not unlike that which the old Anthropomorphites had, when from his cars, eyes, and feet, they proved that God was corporeal. For what is more manifest than the numerous passages of Scripture which attribute nostrils, eyes, feet, and hands to God? The odor of the incense of Noah’s sacrifice was grateful to God. How could he smell it without possessing nostrils?
The Magdeburgians, in continuing the same strain after we have warned them of the consequence, show any thing but candor.
They afterwards add, Some passages are to be taken, not according to the letter to< rJh~ton but the meaning, dia>noian ; but they are unwilling to place the words of the Supper in this class, because it would be necessary to prove from the words themselves that they ought to be understood differently from their literal meaning. We find no difficulty in drawing the proof, as well from the common nature of sacraments, as from the ordinance of the Supper itself, and this has been shown by us too distinctly to be answered by the silly gibe, that it is too hard a nut for our tooth. As yet, they say, no sacramentarian has descended into this arena, to which Luther challenged them, viz., to show by sure and strong reasons, that the words of the Supper are to be understood figuratively: as if the reasons were not strong, which they have hitherto in vain endeavored to overthrow. But it is well. If we have sung to the deaf, we have recovered, at least, three hundred thousand men from error. Surely when our Catechism has been subscribed by two hundred thousand, exclusive of German, Swiss, Italians, and English, it is ridiculous in men of Magdeburg to attempt to overthrow our arguments by their deafness or stupidity.
The thirteenth argument is drawn from the authority or consent of the primitive Church. The Magdeburgians answer that the primary antiquity is in Christ. This we willingly admit, but as we had to, remove the charge of novelty which they invidiously and unjustly brought against us, it was not out of place to produce passages from pious writers to show that the doctrine which we now deliver is none else than that which was anciently received without controversy. But Christ distinctly said, This is my body.
Yes, as we too distinctly say it. While we are enjoined implicitly to obey the words of Christ, we are also permitted to seek the interpretation of them. Wherein then is the clearness of this sentence, but just in its accommodation to the nature of a sacrament? Were it otherwise it would not only be puzzling but replete with absurdity. But the fathers themselves often call the bread the body of the Lord, and the wine his blood. Provided they agree as to the sense, we are perfectly pleased with this mode of expression; if it is clear that they considered the bread as symbolically the body, their authority will undoubtedly go to our support.
If we believe the Magdeburgians, the fathers never explain their mind without letting some inconsistency escape them. One would say that these censors assume so much authority that their mere breath is to dim the eyes of the whole world. What they forthwith adduce concerning allegories is wholly irrelevant. I admit that the fathers were too much addicted to allegory; but the question here is, how did they expound the words of the Supper. Then, though it is clear enough that they admirably accord with each other, the Magdeburgians, by talking to no purpose, endeavor to obscure their consent. The glossing of a few ancient passages is all they think necessary for victory. Justin says, that the bread and wine, by the word of prayer and thanksgiving, become the flesh and blood of Christ.
We, too, say the same thing, provided the mode of communion, which was then known to the Church, be added. Cyril teaches, that by virtue of the mystical benediction Christ dwells in us bodily. If the mystical benediction effects this, why have they hitherto so strongly maintained that the Lord’s Supper, inasmuch as his body is therein given to us, is not mystical? Why, according to them, does mystery differ from corporeal eating? Cyril says in another place, When we eat the flesh of Christ, which is vivifying by the conjunction of the word, we have life in us; why then do they maintain that unbelievers eat of it without benefit? If the flesh of Christ when it is eaten gives life, it is incongruous to say that it is promiscuously eaten by those who remain in death. Here, however, we must inform the reader, that, as Cyril was contending against the Arians, he is led into hyperbole, and teaches that believers become substantially one with Christ, just as he is one with the Father. The same was the case with Hilary, whose words, however, are so far from being contrary to our doctrine that I appositely retort them on the Magdeburgians.
That saint contends, that the real nature of flesh and blood is proved by the words, My flesh is meat indeed. And on what point have we at this day a debate with the Magdeburgians, but just that while they feign an immense fantasy instead of the flesh, we defend the reality of the human nature on which our faith is founded. Hilary adds, These received and taken make us to be in Christ and Christ to be in us. What say the Magdeburgians? That unbelievers, though eating the body of Christ and drinking his blood, remain in a state of complete alienation from him.
Irenaeus says, When the cup is mingled and the bread broken the word of God causes it to become the Eucharist of the flesh and blood of Christ, by which the substance of our flesh is increased and consists. What is to be gathered from the term Eucharist let the Magdeburgians show. I hold it to be equivalent to mystery. This they recoil from as if it were some dire omen. That our flesh is refreshed by that spiritual meat and drink I deny not. For we have communion with Christ in the hope of a blessed resurrection, and therefore we must be one with him not in soul only but in flesh; just as each of us in respect of the flesh is said to be a member of Christ, and the body of each a temple of the Holy Spirit.
They quote the words of Cyprian, That this common bread being changed into flesh and blood, procures life to our bodies. This they do inconsiderately or with wicked guile, since the difference of style plainly shows that the expression is not Cyprian’s. But granting that it is, why do they craftily withhold the exposition, which immediately follows, That the Son alone is consubstantial with the Father, whereas our connection with him neither mingles persons nor unites substances, but associates affections and confederates wills? Were I to speak in this way, would they not exclaim that the matter of the Supper is taken away? Shortly after, in the same discourse, it is added, “The eating of this flesh is a kind of greediness and appetite to remain in him; by this we so impress and melt within us the sweetness of charity that it adheres to our palate, and the savor of love is infused into our bowels, penetrating and imbuing all the recesses of soul and body. Drinking and eating are of the same nature. As by them the bodily substance is nourished and lives and continues safe, so the life of the spirit is nourished by this proper aliment. The same that eating is to the flesh is faith to the soul; the same that food is to the body is the word to the Spirit, by its more excellent virtue performing eternally what corporeal elements do temporally.” When he professedly explains the mode of eating, where is the swallowing? Nay, in place of it he substitutes faith and spirit. This the Magdeburgians hold in the greatest detestation. Theodoret quotes the words of Ambrose to Theodosius, “With what eyes will you behold the temple of our common Lord? With what feet will you tread his holy pavement? How will you stretch out hands from which innocent blood is still dropping? How with such hands will you receive the holy body of the Lord, and drink with your mouth the cup of precious blood?” Is it strange if the holy man, to make his rebuke more stinging, spoke in the highest and most splendid terms he could use of that sacred ordinance? But had any one asked Ambrose whether the body of Christ was actually handled in the Supper, he undoubtedly would have abominated the gross delirium. Therefore, when he says that it is handled by the hands, every sober and sensible man sees the metonymy.
The communion mentioned by Augustine is not in the least adverse to us, to whom the Supper is the true and spiritual communion of the flesh and blood of Christ. In the second passage, where he says, that Christ, when he handed the Supper to his disciples, was in a manner carried in their hands, their impudence and falsehood are detected, inasmuch as they wickedly omit the expression, in a manner, which entirely removes any difficulty. When Augustine elsewhere says, that in the bread is received that which hung upon the cross, and in the cup is drunk that which was shed upon the cross, I have no objection to receive it, provided the method of eating and drinking is explained in other words of Augustine. Let the Magdeburgians, therefore, cease henceforth to vend their smoke to the simple. It has been so often dissipated, that there is no place for it in the clear light. They substitute Westphal as a pledge or surety in their stead, but his nakedness has lately been so completely exposed by me that it is vain to look to him for any help.
The fourteenth argument is, As our opponents admit a trope in the words of Christ, they must also allow us to do the same. They deny that they acknowledge a figure in the words, This is my body, holding that they ought to be taken most strictly. What? When they would express their own meaning most strictly, do they not say that the body of Christ is given under the bread or with the bread? They answer, that when a man is said to be under his clothes there is no figure: as if this quibble will avail them unless they can show that a man is most strictly and without figure his clothes. Whence do they gather that the body of Christ is under the bread or with the bread, unless from our Lord himself having declared of the bread, This is my body? But if this expression is to be taken so strictly, not only are they wrong in extracting from it more than they ought, but they are falsifiers and corrupters in introducing so far-fetched a metamorphosis. The body with the bread is a thing of heaven with a thing of earth: to hold that the bread is the body is nothing else than to confound heaven and earth together.
Akin to this argument is the fifteenth. Our opponents confess, that the bread and the body are different things: therefore they admit a trope. They say the consequence does not hold. Whether it holds or not, let the reader consider. They say that the major is not good in the syllogism, viz., Whenever the things are different, there is a trope. What can they gain by this puerile quibbling? It is certain that whenever the predicate does not correspond strictly with the subject, the expression is either false or figurative. If the proposition, The bread is the body, is taken without a figure, it will be monstrously false: inasmuch as that will be predicated of the essence of bread, which is altogether different.
The sixteenth argument, as they give it, states feebly and frigidly, The Papists admit no trope; therefore let those who agree with them take up their banner and go over to their camp. When Westphal was not ashamed to obtrude a decree of Hildebrand, and to say that our doctrine was sufficiently condemned by the judgment of that sacrilegious miscreant, I answered that there was nothing now to hinder him from going over to the Papists. Whether I was right or wrong in this let the reader judge. These Magdeburgians, therefore, have no ground for their invidious answer, that they do not admit squibs and sarcasms to be arguments. I ask, where was there any affectation of wit or sarcasm in my simple remark? I wish rather they would refrain from their squibs and not make themselves ridiculous by excessive eagerness to raise a laugh. Of this nature is their absurd irony, that we are not only tropologists but tenebrists; and again, their representing us as saying that the bread is not the body, but symbolizes, umbrizes it. They boast that they employ their vigils, their cares, and labors in opposing the Pope, as if no struggles were to be borne by us, over whose necks the violence of the Papacy is specially impending.
Whether I fight for worldly glory, the Son of God, under whose auspices I serve, will be my witness and judge on that day. Those to whom my condition is better known, see clearly that if I were not intent on that tribunal nothing would be more desirable for me than quiet retirement. But it was not enough for the Magdeburgians to take up the common defense of a foul error, without hastening to patronize all the wild sayings of a madman.
The seventeenth argument is, Circumcision was a sign, and yet the thing was at the same time offered — there is nothing therefore to prevent a visible sign in the Lord’s Supper, and the spiritual reality from being at the same time annexed to it. They answer, that it is not sound to argue from things unlike. The question here is not what pleases us, but what the Son of God, the author of the Supper, has ordained. We do not pass in silence any dissimilarity which there may be in the sacraments, nor do we introduce our own decisions to abolish the faith of Christ, whose authority is not less reverently maintained, nor doctrine less faithfully expounded by us, than is proudly pretended and imagined to be skillfully achieved by the Magdeburgians. In what respect circumcision differs from the Supper the reader will fully learn from our writings. This much they certainly have in common, that a spiritual reality was conjoined with a visible symbol. God, who was pleased to give circumcision to his ancient people as a pledge of his adoption, did not deceive his children. Now, I say that there is nothing to prevent our Savior from employing the symbols of bread and wine in the Supper to figure what he there means to testify, and truly accomplishing the reality signified by them. If the spiritual reality of the Supper is different from that which I have attributed to circumcision, the Magdeburgians will be entitled to insist that the difference ought to be observed. But there is no controversy as to this, nor have I profited so ill in the school of Christ as not to point out the different modes and degrees.
I hold, then, that just as by circumcision the fathers were engrafted as a sacred people, in order that trusting to the paternal love of God they might be heirs of heavenly life, so we now receive a figure, symbol, badge, and pledge of sacred union with the Son of God. But as Christ does not act deceitfully with us, the symbols truly represent what they signify, so that the flesh and blood of Christ in reality feed and give life to us by their substance.
Nothing, therefore, can be imagined more absurd than the conduct of the Magdeburgians, who falsely assert, that instead of a spiritual reality we substitute a figure of the forgiveness of sins and of divine grace: and that it is clear from our words, that the sign of a sign only is given, and not the things themselves; as if I did not say a hundred times over, that the matter of the Supper differs from the effect or fruit, inasmuch as the graces which we receive from Christ are preceded in order by spiritual communion with his flesh and blood. Nay, so shameless are they, that they clamor against us as leaving only a sign of the forgiveness of sins. When they at last add, that we introduce only the signs of signs, the shadows of shadows, and nothing but mere dreams and phantoms, it is not only sarcasm, but vile pertness mingled with virulent mendacity, and nothing better than the snarling of dogs. Immediately after they betray themselves by quoting my words, viz., that the flesh of Christ, by the secret agency of the Spirit, penetrates to us, and effectually inspires life into our souls. Is this a mere fantasy or the shadow of a shadow? Though I do not make the mode of communication to be the same as the Magde-burgians make it, am I therefore to be subjected to the twofold calumny of not only taking away the reality but also the sign of the reality, and leaving only the sign of a sign? They rejoin, that it is not what man utters, but what Christ asserts that is to be looked to: and Christ does not say, I, sitting in heaven, will operate in you the virtue of my flesh, but, This is my body: as if the eating of the body were to do us any good without our knowing that it is given us for spiritual food as being vivifying. What the effect, what the aim of the Supper, are things of which these dull men have no idea. The words of Christ will yield us no fruit unless they speak to our hearts thus: This bread is my body, and this cup is my blood, because my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. There is no swallowing here, but the life which we receive is obtained by secret communion.
And yet the Magdeburgians hesitate not to attack us again with their falsehoods, charging us with a most violent rending of the Supper, as urging the promise alone, and even it not sincerely, or as urging the spiritual operation of Christ in us in such a manner that the Supper only signifies the forgiveness of sins, but does not apply it. They must, therefore, regard it as a kind of disgraceful thing to insist on the promises. I always supposed it the highest praise of faith and piety to rest in the promises of God. All their fulminations and vain clamor have too little effect to make me desirous for more than the promise of Christ offers me.
Of the application of grace, I have elsewhere said as much as was sufficient, viz., that it is as highly celebrated, by us as any ability of theirs enables them to do. Let them as they will explain away the kind of communion which I teach, their malignity will not prevent all the pious from recognizing that I omit nothing which tends to the advancement of faith. Wherefore no man of sound brain will be moved in the slightest degree by their cruel calumny, that we altogether take away the earnest of the assurance of faith from the Supper, inasmuch as we take away the matter, viz., the body of Christ, and make the whole effect of the Supper depend on the secret, communion of flesh and blood, to which it is owing that he infuses his own life into us and we become one with him. But what kind of earnest of assurance will the body be if all men, however wicked, may swallow it indiscriminately? They, making carnal eating their prow and anchor, care not one straw for spiritual life.
The eighteenth argument they state is, No interpretation contrary to faith ought to be admitted — but this interpretation, that Christ gives his own body to be eaten substantially and in an invisible manner, is not agreeable to the analogy of faith — it is therefore to be rejected. Although there is no difficulty in the major, they mutter, however, that false teachers bring forward many things for the sake of giving a color. Our proof of the minor is, that when he held forth the bread, his body was visibly before his disciples, and therefore it must, according to this view, be bicorporal. But it is absurd and repugnant to the principles of faith to give Christ a double body. They answer, Although human reason, dashing violently against the rock of offense, makes shipwreck, faith rests satisfied with the distinct words of Christ: as if any thing delivered clearly in Scripture were a device of human reason. Human reason did not dictate to us that the Son of God, to reconcile us to the Father by the sacrifice of his death, assumed our flesh: and in order to become our brother, was made like unto us, sin excepted. That true flesh, by which the sins of the world were shortly after to be taken away, was then before the eyes of the Apostles, and they behooved to fix their faith on the view of it, so as not to hope for salvation anywhere else. For their minds to fly off to some kind of invisible body, had been nothing else than to avert their eyes from the true and only price of redemption. There is no ground for obstreperously asserting that thus the power of Christ is diminished, and that he is accused of falsehood.
They themselves do not believe him to be true, except by supposing that he was a sorcerer. To us his reality is entire, while we hold that he gave the natural body with which he was invested to be eaten in the Supper. We must call the reader’s attention to the sincerity with which these men deal with us in falsely attributing to us a fiction of their own. Whether there was a true and natural body, which, subject to death, was seen by the eye in one place, and elsewhere a celestial and invisible body lurking at the same moment in the Supper, let not common sense answer, but faith instructed according to the word of God. Assuredly no pious mind can doubt that a twofold body destroys the true nature of a single body. They contend that it is the same; as if the Son of God had practiced a delusion in assuming our flesh, that he might therein procure righteousness. And yet they hesitate not to asperse us with the stigma of denying that the true and natural body of Christ is given us in the Supper.
They mention as the nineteenth argument, As the Supper is a heavenly action, the minds of believers ought to be raised up to heaven. They object to this reasoning an the ground of ambiguity. For though the action is heavenly, as Christ is the dispenser, still we are not enjoined to perform it in the heavens. By heavenly action, we mean nothing more than must immediately occur to the mind of any man, viz., that it is a spiritual mystery, and ought, according to the nature of Christ’s kingdom, to be separated from earthly actions. It is strange that these men, who pretend to be fighting for the dignity and excellence of the sacred Supper, can scarcely concede what tends especially to recommend it. In short, the term heavenly is understood in no other sense than is no less truly than skillfully described in the words of Augustine, viz., that it is performed on earth but in a heavenly, by man but in a divine manner. If the Magdeburgians hesitate to admit this, let them have shambles for their temple.
But they object, that though the mind ought to have respect to the heavenly promises, it ought also to be directed to the present action, by which Christ, as with outstretched hand, brings us his body. I admit that any one who passes by the external sign cannot be benefited by this sacrament. But how can we reconcile the two propositions, that the sacraments are a kind of ladders by which believers climb upwards to heaven, and yet that we ought to stop at the elements themselves, or remain fixed, as if Christ were to be sought on earth? It is preposterous in them to pretend that Christ holds out his hand to us, while they overlook the end for which he does it, viz., to raise us upwards. For we must remember that our Lord descends to us, not to indulge our body, or keep our senses fixed on the world, but rather to draw us to himself, and hence the preamble of the ancient Church, Hearts upward, as Chrysostom interprets. But if the Magdeburgians repudiate him, let us be contented with the authority of Paul, who raises us upwards, in order that we may be conjoined with Christ. Though they tell us a hundred times that heaven does not mean the visible concave firmament, it remains certain that none duly enjoy Christ but those who seek him above.
The twentieth argument is, Whatever is not in something qualitatively or quantitatively, or in place, is present not corporally but spiritually — will admit that the body is not under the bread in these modes — therefore the mode of presence is spiritual. They answer, that an argument is not good that is drawn a non distributo ad distributum, meaning by these terms, when there is not a full enumeration of parts. Let them, therefore, divide more subtilely, if any thing seems imperfect. They are satisfied, however, with saying, in one word, that more modes of existence might be produced.
But though they cut and mutilate, they can never find a fourth member.
Driven from this resource, they flee to their ordinary pretext, that God is not bound by physical principles. I admit he is not, except in so far as he has so ordained. They rejoin, that this order takes effect only in the common course of nature, but not at all in theology. That is true, unless indeed part of theology be the very order of nature, as it is in the present case. For we do not simply assert that Christ’s body is in one place, because it is natural, but because God was pleased to give a true body to his Son, and one finite in its dimensions, and he himself was pleased to sojourn for a time on earth under the tabernacle of this body, and with the same, body to ascend into heaven, from whence he bids us look for him.
Do not the words of the angel bear, Christ is not in the sepulcher in respect of his flesh, for he is risen? Shall we charge the angel with falsehood in openly denying immensity to the body of Christ? They reply, that the special actions of God are to be distinguished from common and natural actions. Well, be it so; only let not the alleged specialty be a fiction devised by a human brain. But the expression, This is my body, is very far from proving its immensity. For though the body retain its quality, it will not cease to be truly offered in a mystery. How Christ entered when the doors were shut, has been elsewhere stated. He was able to open the doors for himself as he was to remove the stone that closed the sepulcher. It was not necessary to deprive his body of its nature in order that he might penetrate through wood or stone. Accordingly the reasoning founded on a perverse interpretation is frivolous.
When they say that sacramental actions ought not to be compared with nature, they state what is true, provided they would not use the incomparable power of God as a pretext for imagining monstrosities contrary to his word. Our faith rests in the saying, “This is my body,” so far as to have no doubt that the communion of Christ is truly offered. In this way there is no need of subtle arguments as to the quantity of the body. These we are forced to use by the extravagance of those who, depriving Christ of the reality of his flesh, transform him into a phantom.
When we say that we are made partakers, of Christ spiritually, we do not mean that his body is held forth to be eaten only in a figurative, symbolical, and allegorical sense. This vile falsehood, like the others, sufficiently declares that these men who thus assume a license of making anything out of anything, have not one particle of ingenuous shame. The spiritual mode we oppose to the carnal, because the Holy Spirit, who is the bond of our union with Christ, infuses life into us from the substance of his flesh and blood.
I know not where they got the twenty-first argument. It is, That which is perceived ineffably is not perceived corporeally. I do not believe that any of us have spoken thus. Some, perhaps, may have objected, as I confess I have done myself, that an ineffable mode is rather spiritual than carnal.
Seeing, then, they found on an ineffable miracle, they are justly condemned for their perverseness, in not allowing the intervention of the secret agency of the Spirit to unite us to Christ.
The twenty-second argument is, It is the saying of a theologian, not a philosopher, Take away a local position from bodies, and they will be nowhere, and being nowhere, will not exist, — therefore the body of Christ cannot be present in the Supper, unless a place be assigned to it.
They answer, that though the sentiment was advanced by a theologian, it is, however, physical, and is ineptly applied to divine things. They add, that the fathers often unseasonably mixed up human with divine things, and in this way shamefully diluted theology. This, no doubt, means, that as they dare not deprive Augustine of the name of theologian, they think it less contumeltous to charge him with a shameful corruption, which makes it difficult to excuse him from blasphemy. Augustine is there professedly treating of the flesh of Christ; and he mentions, that in order to be real, it must have its finite dimensions. The Magdeburgians answer, that theology has been shamefully corrupted by physical arguments; as if they had persuaded themselves that in divine things they see much more acutely than that holy man, than whom all antiquity has not produced one who taught ecclesiastical doctrines with more solidity and moderation. No wonder that those who treat Augustine pertly trample down little men like us with magisterial superciliousness.
The twenty-third argument is not produced sincerely. It will be found that none of our party ever used it. It is, Baptism retains its efficacy, though the water is not converted into the blood of Christ; therefore the Supper also will retain its efficacy though the true body of Christ be not eaten under the bread. That they may not torture themselves with a nugatory answer, we must tell them that we compare the Supper with Baptism for a different purpose. To baptism is attributed a property which belongs only to the blood of Christ and the Holy Spirit; and yet it must not therefore be said that water is changed into blood or Spirit. Hence there is no absurdity in transferring to bread that which does not properly belong to it. If they object that the cases are unlike, because the water is nowhere called either blood or Spirit, it is enough for my purpose that it is adorned with the proper epithets of both, as being a symbol of both. I may add, that Paul’s expression, That we put on Christ in baptism, is not a whit more obscure than, This is my body. Let them tell me how we put on Christ. Is it in a corporeal manner, as they contend in regard to the Supper? If so, it will follow that Christ is not less included under the water than under the bread. They will betake themselves to their asylum, that it is not said of baptism, This is; as if he who says that we put on Christ were asserting nothing at all. This certainly disposes of their frivolous answer, that the difference between the Supper and Baptism consists in this, — that the Supper was instituted, in order that therein the body of Christ might be given us under the bread; Baptism, that we might be washed in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is at variance with Paul’s definition, from which it plainly appears that we no less put on Christ in baptism than eat him in the Supper.
The twenty-fourth argument, which they maliciously corrupt and mutilate, I thus frame,—Christ dwells in the hearts of the pious, so as to be their life, by a different method from that of carnal presence, and, therefore, it is of no use to contend so much for carnal presence. Here our censors not only charge us with presumption, but add, that we deserve something more severe for daring to reform God: as if we were denying that the body of Christ is substantially eaten, by insisting, that he can effect our salvation in a different manner by the agency of his Spirit. Our argument is, first, that when a thing is net necessary, it ought not to be pertinaciously contended for; and, secondly, that the mode of communication must be learned from the common doctrine of Scripture.
They will object, as usual, that there is something special in the Supper.
Were I to admit this to be true, still we must hold that it has no other end in view than that which is elsewhere described. The perfection and crown of our felicity is, when Christ; dwelling in our hearts by faith not only makes us sharers and associates in all the blessings bestowed upon him by the Father, but also infuses his own life into us, and so becomes one with us. As this is the goal beyond which we may not go, we hold that the Supper was instituted with no other intention than that by means of it we might be united to the body of Christ. Here the Magdeburgians foolishly restrict the promise of eating the flesh of Christ to the carnal mouth, because it was said, “Take, eat, this is my body;” for although a promise was annexed to the ordinance, we must carefully consider what the nature of the ordinance itself implies. The external and sacramental act was indeed annexed to the promise, but in such a manner, that nothing is more preposterous than to confound that act with spiritual eating. When Paul was discoursing of the perfect communion or union of believers with Christ, had there been anything more excellent in the Supper, he was not so oblivious as to have omitted it. On the whole, since the special end of the holy Supper is to communicate Christ and his life to us, we should consider in what way Christ is our life: if there is any deviation from this mark, there is an impious laceration of the holy ordinance.
The twenty-fifth argument is, The promises of the gospel are spiritual, and as they are to be received by faith, so they are made effectual by faith — but all the sacraments depend on the promise — therefore, the Supper is spiritual, and is made effectual only by faith — if so, it is not necessary that Christ should be eaten corporeally. They answer, that either the definition is faulty, or that the enumeration of parts is not complete. They insist, that the major is to be understood only of bare promises, exclusive of the sacraments. But who except themselves ever attempted to disjoin the Spirit and faith from the sacraments? If we adopt their view, it will be necessary to say, that the promises annexed to the signs are carnal and efficacious without faith. Though they should protest a hundred times, I say that the promise of the forgiveness of sins, in the very same way as that of eating, has been connected with the act of the Supper, since the two things are mentioned conjointly, and are united by an indissoluble tie, when it is said, This is the blood which is shed for the remission of sins.
How portentous the result, were God to reconcile carnal men to himself without faith. Though they say that that is not their view, it matters not.
Their perverse speculation certainly binds them to it by a knot which they cannot untie.
Then how do they say that the enumeration is incomplete, because the corporeal action is omitted? Can we judge of it in any other way than from its promise? What else is the bread and wine of the Supper than a visible word? Therefore, if the Supper is separated from the word, it differs in no respect from a profane feast. We are right, then, in contending, that it ought not to be viewed in any other way than is implied in the promises from which all its importance is derived. But the spiritual promise and corporeal eating ought not to be dissevered! Certainly no more than faith and the word should be dissevered from the external sign, when the name of sacrament is mentioned. But corporeal eating is to be defined differently, namely, from the promise. Here we see their reason for attacking a sentiment which we have advanced, and which is not less true than useful, viz., that Christ does not impart to us the matter of bread and wine, but rather would have us to look to the promise. They object that we dissever things which are conjoined. On the contrary, we fitly explain the nature of the conjunction, when we teach, that we are not to look to the bare elements, which, in themselves, can do nothing for spiritual life, but to turn our eyes to the view of the word there engraven. Should any one, discarding the bread and wine from the Supper, (this some fanatics have done,) make the Supper allegorical, the Magdeburgians might, not without reason, insist that the sign is visible. But how does this apply to us, whose object is to show whence the utility of the signs is to be sought, in order to prevent; a judgment from being formed of their virtue from their corruptible nature? Therefore, that the meaning may be true and effectual, and the reality may be exhibited, we recall the minds of the pious to the promise. To this Augustine refers, when he says, Let the word be added to the element, and it will become a sacrament. Hence it appears with what good faith the Magdeburgians charge us with guile, and how modestly and civilly they upbraid us with imperiously ordering what never came into our mind. For who sees not, that the use of signs is truly held to profit in piety, when due honor is given to the promise, without which the whole action degenerates into a kind of ludicrous show?
The twenty-sixth argument is, The Lord’s Supper is received by faith: Faith applies to things absent: Therefore, in the Supper the body of Christ is not actually present. It might be more correctly stated thus, The Supper was instituted that we might by faith seek Christ seated in his heavenly glory; for in this way is fulfilled the Apostle’s declaration, that faith is in things absent: Christ, therefore, is locally absent in respect of his human nature. I use the term locally, because distance is no obstacle to such presence as faith desires. Here there is no room for the answer of the Magdeburgians, that faith is sometimes conversant with corporeal objects; for though it apprehends Christ as born of the Virgin, and crucified, it does not draw him down from heaven and make him locally present. We acknowledge in the Supper such a presence as is accordant with faith, and confine the absence to the real human nature. In this way believers recognize, in a manner which surpasses hope, that though they are pilgrims on the earth, they have life in common with their head.
The twenty-seventh argument is, The human body is definite, and cannot be everywhere: Christ truly assumed a human body, and still retains it:
Therefore, he cannot, in respect of his human nature, be everywhere. It appears that the Magdeburgians have played into each other’s hands; and while wishing to overturn the sacred and inviolable symbol of Christ, have each brought their own symbols, as it were, to market. I wish here to forewarn my readers, that when they afterwards see that what has now been said of place is repeated even to weariness, they should infer from the confused mass that our opponents have digested nothing with judgment or reason, but, while mutually indulging themselves, have received every absurdity which each individual may have been pleased to advance. To omit other things, what is meant by inculcating the very same thing under the thirtieth head, but just that he who had first advanced it did not like to repudiate it when it was afterwards advanced by his fellow?
I come now to their reply. They say that we argue from the special to the absolute, (a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter.) How do they prove it? Because the major contains a physical principle which is understood of bodies, in which there is nothing more than the creature.
They accordingly ask, Was the body in which God appeared to Abraham infinite or not? Had they any shame, they would here certainly be dumb, and not, by their childish talk, expose the profane ambition which they cherish among themselves. To the minor they answer, that Christ is endued not only with the human, but also with the divine nature, the two natures being united in an ineffable manner. What, pray, can they make out of this? Certainly they cannot construct the monster which they have imagined, since unity of person neither mingles nor confounds the natures.
When they cite the Church as a witness, they ought at least to have attended to the difference which there is according to ordinary usage between the terms unity and union. Unity of person in Christ is received without controversy by all the orthodox. If an unity of the divine with the human nature is affirmed, there is no pious person who will not abhor it.
In the union, therefore, it is necessary that each nature retain its own properties.
When they ask how Christ passed through his tomb without breaking the seal, and how he came in to the disciples while the doors were shut, there is no need of any new explanation. How can any barriers, constructed by human art, prevent God from making a passage for himself. He who made all things of nothing may for a time annihilate whatever seems to impede the progress of his operations. And, indeed, what shall we say became of the bodies in which he clothed both himself and his angels, after his purpose was accomplished? These bodies appeared at the command of God, and afterwards vanished; and yet it must be confessed that they were real bodies. Here we do not pry more than we ought into the power of God, as those men accuse us of doing. I wish that they would duly reverence that power instead of using it merely as a cloak. Let them have done, then, with their glossing pretexts, that Christ raised his own body into the air: for we are not here considering what miracles Christ performed in the flesh, but what the true nature of body necessarily requires. Peter walked upon the water. Did he therefore cease to have a true body? This would have been the case had he at the same moment sat either in the vessel or in the harbor; for whatever had appeared, would have been a phantom and imagination. When Peter came out of prison he did not pass through doors that were shut; and yet, as he did come out after the doors were locked and barred, we acknowledge that a miracle was performed beyond the ordinary power of nature; but that he was in two places at the same time, we deny; just as we would deny that he had two bodies. This explanation shows that we have no need to accuse Christ of falsehood, a charge which the Magdeburgians, with their usual insolence, bring against us. We know that our faith by which we rest in the words of Christ, is a sacrifice of sweet savor in heaven. While they throw out the hyperboles of Luther to gain favor, at one, time with the populace, at another with their little brethren, contented with the applause of this popular theater, they care little either for the judgment of God or angels. It was this which made me formerly say that Luther has had many apes, but few imitators.
As if they had put on their buskins and got into the heroics, they say, We leave it to himself to explain how it is possible for a definite body to be present wherever the Supper is celebrated: sufficient for us the sure command to hang on his lips. But Christ himself has sufficiently explained, and it is in vain for them, while spontaneously closing their eyes, to throw the blame of their ignorance upon him. When they endeavor to shelter themselves by saying, that the one person of Christ is God and man, we have elsewhere shown how inept it is. After they have said all they can say, this doctrine stands approved by the consent of the primitive Church, that Christ as Mediator is everywhere, and inasmuch as he is one person, he, as God and man, or God manifest in the flesh, fills all things, although in respect of his flesh he is in heaven. Whether they are entitled to say that we put an affront on Christ, the supreme king and high-priest, by refusing to extend his body to a fantastical immensity, we leave it to all, high and low, to judge. Their sovereign oracle is a reply of Luther, One body cannot be in different places, according to human reason, but it may according to the power of God: because whatever God says, he is able to perform, and nothing is impossible with God. This is just as if one were to prove that the world was created from eternity, because God is eternal: or that the same sun may at the same time give light and no light, because God can do all things.
In the twenty-eighth place, they construct an argument at their own pleasure, that they may at their own pleasure overthrow it. It would seem that they have made it their business to frame something which might catch applause under the form of a negative. They state it thus, God can only do what he wills: He only wills things whatever is accordant with the nature of things: It is not accordant with the body of Christ to be at the same time in the Supper and in heaven: Therefore, Christ cannot make his body to be received corporeally in the Supper. Such, I perceive, is the kind of prattle they have among themselves. Our mode of reasoning is different.
It is, As God does whatever he wills, his power is not to be separated from his will: It is therefore foolish, irrelevant, and preposterous, to dispute about what he can do without taking his will into account: But as he has nowhere shown that he wishes to make the true and natural body of his Son immense, those are preposterous and perverse heralds of his power who insist on proving from the immense power of God, that there is an immensity of flesh in Christ. The only remaining solution left to the Magdeburgians is, that the will of God is clear, from the words of Christ, This is my body. This might perhaps be listened to were the use of prophecy and the gift of interpretation entirely abolished. Such is all their victory.
The twenty-ninth argument is, Christ ascending into heaven and leaving this world cannot be everywhere: But he did ascend into heaven: Therefore, he is not bodily on the earth. They answer, that the major holds in regard to mere creatures. Did the angel then say of a mere creature, He is not here; he is risen? When Mark speaks of his withdrawing, or when Peter declares that the heavens must receive him at the last day, are, we to understand it of a new creature? I wish these men would rather confine themselves to their rudiments, than prove by bad logic that they are very bad theologians! They afterwards reply to the minor, that the invisible presence of Christ is not destroyed by his visible ascent to heaven, because there are clear passages of Scripture in favor of both. The testimony of God in regard to the local absence of the body, I hear through the angel: He is not here; he is risen. Unless the logic they have learned be better than that of angels, the argument will hold good that the assigning of one place is the denial of any other. The same is to be said of the words of Peter, that the heavens must contain him. Peter is not there speaking of a visible form, and yet he fixes the abode of Christ in heaven, which he says must contain him. If there were not dimensions, where were the containing? (comprehensio.) We hold, therefore, that as the body of Christ is contained it is not immense. Will they say that the doctrine of godliness has been shamefully corrupted by Peter also?
They seem to think they have fallen on the best evasion when they compare the visible ascension of Christ with the visible exhibition of the Spirit. They say, The Spirit, though he was everywhere invisible, appeared under the form of tongues of fire, and therefore the visible ascension of Christ does not take away his invisible presence. This is just as if they were to argue, God appeared in visible form in the tabernacle, and in other places, and yet was everywhere invisibly: therefore there is nothing in the visible form of the world to prevent the world from being invisible. They will reply, that the same thing has not been declared of the world that was declared of the flesh of Christ. But I am only speaking of their comparison, which vanishes without refutation.
It is no new thing for God, who is invisible by nature, to assume whatever forms he pleases, whenever he would in this way manifest himself to men.
This preternatural manifestation makes no change on the nature of God.
But how does this apply to Christ? A manifest repugnance appears at once. The body of Chest, which was naturally visible, was taken up to heaven while the Apostles beheld. The Magdeburgians insist that contrary to its nature it remained invisible on earth. Let them now, discarding a comparison which does not assist them in the least, prove that though Christ is in heaven he may in respect of his flesh be invisibly wherever he pleases. It is easy for them to say he is, but the pious are not to be driven by empty sound out of what Scripture affirms concerning the ascension of Christ to heaven. They say that Christ ascended to heaven in a visible manner, in order to show by some external act that he was truly risen, that he had thrown open the kingdom of heaven to all believers, and would be their high-priest in the heavenly sanctuary. This is some part, but not the whole. He declared to the Apostles that his departure was expedient for them, because if he did not go away the Spirit would not come. Could the Spirit not come while he was present? The meaning is, that it was necessary that their minds should be raised upwards to receive his divine influence. Of the same import is his saying to Mary, — Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. Why, do we suppose, was Christ unwilling that his feet should be embraced, but just that he wished henceforth to be touched by faith only? This too is the reason why a cloud received him out of their sight. Had they been persuaded that he was in the bread invisibly they would not have stood gazing up to heaven.
The thirtieth, argument is, He who is in a place is not everywhere: Christ being received into the heavens is in a kind of place: Therefore, he is not corporeally in the Supper. They reject the major as being a physical principle; as if theology were to perish if in deference to God, the Author of nature, we refuse to violate the order which he has made. Away with the absurd cavils which flow in too large a stream from these men. For the principle which we assume is the same in effect as if we were to prove that Christ was really man, because he felt hunger, was fatigued by traveling, feared, was sorrowful, in short, because he grew up from infancy to manhood and died. If the Magdeburgians grin here and say, that these are nothing but physical principles, will their perverseness be endurable?
Nature dictates that the sun is warm and bright; in short, that the sun is the sun is a natural principle. Must we, in order to be theologians, deny that it is an illustrious specimen of the admirable wisdom of God? To be in a place and everywhere is the same in effect as that a place is no place.
There is nothing however which the hyperbolical faith of the Magdeburgians does not overleap, not even excepting the incomprehensible depths of divine wisdom. This is apparent from their words.
When by passages of Scripture, as well as of the fathers, we prove that Christ is in heaven as in a place, they answer in regard to the fathers, that their sayings are towers of paper. Away then with all human authority, provided these masters will concede that we make common cause with the fathers, and provided also they will refrain henceforth from fuming so indignantly against the heresy of Berengarius. They object the saying of Christ, This is my body, and tell us, that no reason, not even that of angels, can overthrow it; as if we were either Platonics, or of some other sect opposed to Christ. But what do they gain by rejecting interpretation and boasting the authority of Christ while giving his words a perverse and alien sense? That the fiction of the invisible presence, of Christ was known to the father all readers sound and foolish will believe when it is shown to have the support of Scripture. They say, it is not to be inferred that Christ is tied to heaven, how spacious soever it may be. Let us leave the tying, and content ourselves with Peter’s expression, where he says that he must be contained (comprehendi) by heaven. What more do they desire? Let them also add the words of the angel, He is not here, he is risen; it is in vain for the Apostles to keep gazing up to heaven, for Jesus will come on the last day as he has been seen to ascend. They rejoin, that he will come in visible form; as if the angel had omitted the far more appropriate consolation, which, had he been educated in the school of Magdeburg, he would undoubtedly have given, namely, that if he lies invisible under the bread it was not necessary to go far to find him.
When they insist on our proving that Christ spoke falsely when he said, This is my body, their raving is too detestable to detain us long in refuting it. As if they were advancing something great or new they call upon their readers to observe that he did not say, This is a symbol, figure, shadow, phantasm; as if we held the body to be a phantom such as that which they fabricate in their own forge. We acknowledge that it is a true body communion which is offered under the bread. Although the communion be mystical, the words of Christ cease not to maintain their credit and truth, did not they indirectly charge him with falsehood by trampling his ordinance under their feet, and subjecting him to their gross delirium. But as Christ has promised to be with us to the end of the world, they say that they are only believing his word; as if he could not be present with believers by his boundless energy without including a fantastical body under the bread.
As the thirty-first argument is perfectly identical with the previous one and the twenty-seventh, I am unwilling to waste words upon it.
In the thirty-second place they attribute to us what I readily allow them to refute. It is: Christ sitteth on the right hand of the Father, and therefore cannot be everywhere. While they avowedly direct their whole virulence against me, of what use was it to catch at applause with the unlearned by a thing of nought? Nor is the answer given in any other than my own words, except that they insert their own fiction regarding the ubiquity of human nature. Therefore, if their purpose is to attack me, let there be an end on both sides to this dispute about the right hand. My mode of expressing the doctrine is this: As Christ is in heaven in respect of the substance of his flesh, so he sits in his flesh on the right hand of the Father, yet filling the whole world with his power and virtue. Hence it appears that Christ the Mediator is God and man everywhere whole, not wholly, (totus non totum,) because his empire and the secret power of his grace are not confined within any limits.
The thirty-third argument is, Scripture declares, that Christ, after his resurrection, retained the body which he had formerly had, and that its nature was not changed: The same thing is taught with great uniformity by the Fathers: Therefore Christ cannot be corporeally in the Eucharist. They answer, that every thing which we assert concerning the nature of the body springs from a bad fountain: because the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit. But it is most false to say, that we judge by carnal sense, when we quote words which certainly proceeded from God himself.
The angels said, that Christ was not to be sought in the tomb, when no mention was made of the Supper. Did they not speak of the very body which the Magdeburgians enclose in a tomb, as often as they bury him under the bread? Christ, speaking of his flesh, uttered two expressions between which there is an apparent repugnance — the one, Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones; and the other, Take, eat, this is my body. The question is, how are they to be reconciled? As if the former expression were of no moment, the Magdeburgians take desperate hold of the second, and reject all interpretation; as if the same credit were not due to Christ in everything. They are unable to disentangle themselves without feigning a twofold mode of presence, and obtruding upon us a fiction not more repugnant to reason than to faith, viz., that the body which Christ gave to be handled and seen, was of a different nature from that which lies hid under the bread.
The thirty-fourth argument is, Scripture declares that our bodies will be made conformable to the glorious body of Christ; but our bodies will not then be everywhere: Therefore, neither is the body of Christ everywhere.
They answer, that it is vicious to argue from the special to the absolute, (a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter.) But let them show where the dissimilarity is in the present case. I admit that the degrees of glory in the head and members will not be equal; but in so far as pertains to the nature of the body, there will be no conformity unless that flesh which is the type and model of our resurrection retains its dimensions. They object, that it was not said of the flesh of Peter or Paul, Take, this is my body.
But as the point in dispute is the sense in which these words ought to be taken, the interpretation of them must be sought from other passage. The Magdeburgians become furious, and will not hear of this, as if there was to be no freedom of interpretation without their permission. But when the Holy Spirit declares, that Christ was transported to celestial glory, in order to make our bodies conformable to his own body, who will adopt the distinction which these new masters prescribe? Add, that Paul celebrating the virtue of Christ, by which he can do all things, extols the miracle which the Magdeburgians would explain away, extols it too highly for sound and pious readers to allow themselves to be driven out of so sure a doctrine by their objection of dictum secundum quid.
The thirty-fifth argument is, Among the early Christians there was no contention as to the Lord’s Supper: Therefore, they all understood Christ’s words figuratively. They retort, that as there was no controversy, they all unanimously embraced the literal sense. But as nothing is more silly than to sport in disposing of some jejune argument which they have themselves chosen to concoct, let the readers allow me to give them the true argument. — As some early writers taught freely that Christ said, This is my body, when he was giving a sign of his body, and also, that the bread is the body of Christ, because a sacrament is regarded as in a manner the thing itself; as others taught, that the body of which a sign was given in the Supper was the true body of Christ, while others called the bread a type, of which the body was the antitype, there is no probability that the error of a corporeal presence under the bread prevailed at that time, as in that case the controversy must have immediately arisen. Here there is no reason why they should compare us to the Philistines, unless, according to the practice often adopted in plays, they would suddenly break off the pleading by the crashing sound of broken benches, and thus disappoint the readers.
The thirty-sixth argument relates to novelty, which ought justly to be suspected of error, and states as a good ground for condemning the figment of a corporeal presence, that it originated at no ancient date among the gross corruptions of ignorance and superstition. They answer, that it is a regular practice with the advocates of bad causes to lay hold of some kindred subject on which they may declaim plausibly, and make great tragic display; that in this way we transfer to the corporeal presence what applies only to transubstantiation, which they themselves strenuously condemn. So they say. But, first, I deny that we vociferate tragically in this matter, when we simply say, that the fiction which they venerate as a heavenly oracle, was fabricated by sophists, who knew nothing of a purer theology; and, secondly, I deny that we court applause by fastening on a kindred subject. How strenuously they oppose transubstantiation, appears from the writings of Westphal, who hesitates not to rank Councils held under Nicolas and Gregory VII, as orthodox. But let us have done with transubstantiation. We accuse them of feeling and speaking more grossly of the corporeal presence than the Papists. There is no reason why they should get into the heroics, and exult so furiously on producing the words, This is my body. We deny not that these are the words of Christ, though this they, with little modesty, make a ground of charge against us.
Neither can they deny the following to be the words of God, The earth is my footstool, though from them, if we adopt their method of judging, it will follow, that the feet of God rest upon the earth, and support his body. The novelty is not in the words, but in insisting on their being understood strictly according to the letter.
In the thirty-seventh place, they mention as an argument adduced by us, that as ancient writers were accustomed to use both modes of expression — to say that the bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ, and also that they are signs, and symbols, and sacraments of the body and blood, it may hence be inferred that the words were not understood by them without a figure. Here they exult over us, for having lately contended that the ancients were ignorant of the corporeal presence, and now distinctly admitting that they call the bread the body: as if it were not common to us both so to call it. But here we are considering the meaning.
No man objects to use a form of expression of which the Son of God, our heavenly Master, is the author. We only maintain, that as often as the fathers call the bread and wine signs, symbols, and sacraments of the body and blood, they sufficiently explain their meaning, as this implies that clear distinction between the sign and the thing signified for which we contend.
Nay, a distinct reason is given why the terms flesh and blood are applied to the bread and the wine. Here the Magdeburgians pertinaciously insist, that it is enough for them, that, according to the ancients, the bread is the body: as if the other expression, as being fuller and more explicit, were not to be added by way of interpretation. Paul says in one passage, that he supplies what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for his Church: in another passage, repeating the same thing, he says, it is for the confirmation of believers. If a question is raised as to Paul’s meaning, (as under pretext of the former passage the Papists transfer part of our redemption to apostles and martyrs,) are we to overlook the explanation which is volunteered in the latter passage. To say, therefore, in regard to a matter so clear and notorious, that they appeal to the Son of God, is absurd.
No less futile is their rhetoric, that Christ is not an unlearned, raw, or stammering judge, being on account of his utterance called the Logos: that he is not crafty, not double-tongued, not corrupted by bribery, no respecter of persons. Of what use is this loquacity but to show how well and at what length the Magdeburgians can prattle? Everything which proceeded from the sacred lips of Christ we reverently adore as well as implicitly embrace: but his authority, which is above all exception, is injuriously impaired when they continue to assert it out of season, as if it were doubtful.
They manifest similar folly in citing their witnesses. Of what use was it, pray, when adducing passages of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul, to add the ridiculous proviso, Always excepting the judgment of their superior, that is, Christ himself; as if there were a danger lest Christ should deny himself in the organs of his Spirit. Let the thing then be distinctly announced. We, acknowledge that those four authentic scribes of God have, with the most perfect good faith, stated the ordinance of Christ — an ordinance so clearly mystical, that any one denying it to be so is fit only for Anticyra. We are entitled then to inquire what analogy the bread bears to the body. The Magdeburgians, however, in order to have the flesh of Christ inclosed under the bread, refuse to admit that there is any mystery. What is to be gained by omitting the state of the question, and giving only a bare narrative? How vain and futile the attempt to conceal the real controversy: by calling the evangelists clear, eloquent, and true.
Surely he who seeks an interpretation of these words does not charge them with any want of utterance. Nay, the true respect for them is not to fasten at random and without consideration on everything they say, as if we would tie them down to individual words and syllables, but attentively to consider their meaning, in order that by a proper exposition of their words we may without controversy embrace what they truly intended.
It is, therefore, mere, petulance and falsehood to assert that we appeal from Christ and the apostles to third parties. Hence it is no wonder, if intoxicated with scurrility, they expose their own disgrace when they say that they will come with us to a third set of judges. Will they then, to gratify us, do Christ the wrong of abandoning his tribunal and consenting to leave the final decision to mortals? They premise that they stand by the two former judges, and will never yield, though angels from heaven should give a contrary decision. Still if they saw that men were erecting a tribunal to overturn the judgment of Christ, they ought not to have moved one foot. I willingly relieve them from their offer of sacrilegious submission, for we ought sooner by a hundred deaths to confirm the authority of Christ than yield to any human judgments.
Nothing of the kind, however, is done when the name of interpreters is given to the fathers. If for them to perform this office is to make them judges over Christ, let their writings, as thus derogating from the sovereign authority of the Son of God, be accursed. Meanwhile they declare that they have no doubt of the support of the fathers, though they deny the accordance of the phraseology employed by them with the words of Christ. They do well and providently, however, in leaving the decision to children of four years old. Had they appealed to children of seven, they would easily have detected such silly trifling as the following: “Let neither part here have recourse to mere jangling, but let us set down the words of Christ and his Apostles on the one hand, and compare them with those of the fathers on the other, in this way: Christ says, This is my body, and the Apostles repeat the same thing; the fathers affirm that the bread is the body. Child of four years old, guess and say whether these modes of expression differ widely from each other. To continue the comparison, Christ says, This is my body; the fathers affirm that the bread is a symbol, sign, and figure of the body. Again, child of four years old, judge whether these phrases agree.”
Surely if religion had any serious hold of their minds they would scarcely have stooped to such puerile trifling. The fathers occasionally in this ordinance retain the mode of expression used by Christ, as when the majesty of the doctrine is to be asserted, they quote the passages of Scripture verbatim, and yet they do not omit the office of interpreters as often as the occasion requires. Hence their fuller and more explicit statement, that as the bread is a sacrament of the body, it is in a manner the body. If there is any doubt as to their meaning, whether is it to be removed by the concise statement or by the added light of interpretation?
How then dare the Magdeburgians, under the pretext of one expression, obscure a clear statement and explanatory paraphrase?
The thirty-eighth argument is taken from Augustine, who terms it a foul affair to eat the flesh of Christ corporeally. They answer, that Christ having ordered this, there is nothing flagitious in it. Were the antithesis real, woe to Augustine for having dared thus to asperse the Judge of the world. But as that holy man was no less commendable for modesty than piety and erudition, we must see whether he has indeed charged Christ with a crime. On the contrary, being aware that wicked and profane men were calumniating every expression of a harsher nature which occurs in Scripture, and that the foolish often without judgment and choice insisted too rigidly on the mere words, he, in order to defeat the malice of the former, and cure the error of the latter, prescribes a rule of sound interpretation. And as when Christ orders us to eat his flesh, there would be manifest absurdity in the literal sense, he teaches that the expression is not simple but figurative. The Magdeburgians, to disentangle themselves, must therefore prove two things — that Christ ordered his body to be eaten corporeally, and that Augustine does not speak of this corporeal eating.
In the thirtieth place, they relate a statement which I have made, that seeing the opposite party say that Christ is contained by the bread, just as wine is by a tankard, we too may be permitted to give an appropriate interpretation of the words of Christ. Here they accuse us of calumny; as if their books were not extant. Although I attack no one, and would rather suppress this than furnish materials for new strife, the simile was not invented by me, but certainly proceeded from certain among themselves who thought it plausible. The fortieth argument; as set down by them is faulty. It is, Christ will return to final judgment as he was seen to ascend: Therefore, he is not corporeally present in the Supper. The complete statement should be, The same Christ, who was withdrawn from the view of man and taken up to heaven, will, as the angel declares, come in like manner as he was seen to ascend, and is, as Paul declares, to be looked for as the Redeemer from heaven: Therefore, he is not now on the earth bodily. The Magdeburgians answer, that he will come in a visible form. But there is no such distinction in the words either of Paul or the angel, and yet nothing would have been more appropriate than to have added the comforting consideration of his invisible presence, were it real. As their language speaks of Christ simply, how presumptuous is it to imagine that he is at the same time visible and invisible? The sense in which he promises to be present with his disciples, I have elsewhere expounded in the words of Augustine; though the expression itself is too clear to require an interpreter. For what can be more preposterous than to wrest what is said of grace, virtue, and assistance to the essence of flesh?
The forty-first argument is, Stephen sees Christ sitting in heaven:
Therefore, he does not dwell bodily on earth. The Magdeburgians answer, that that which Christ instituted in the Supper is not taken away by a special revelation. Nay, but that which was revealed to Stephen most completely refutes their fictitious error. For if at that time the presence of Christ alone could give Stephen invincible constancy of faith, it would have been much better to set him before him, so that he had only to stretch forth his hand, than to exhibit him at a distance. Therefore, just as the heavens were then opened, let the Magdeburgians learn to open their eyes and recognize that Christ though sitting in heaven is yet united to believers on earth by the, boundless and incomprehensible energy of his Spirit.
Their idea that Christ’s dwelling in Stephen at the time when he saw him in heaven cannot be otherwise reconciled, is too ridiculous, Christ having himself distinctly stated that in the same manner in which his Father dwells in us, he too dwells. This manner Paul explains to be by faith.
There is nothing to perplex in the doctrine that Christ dwelling in heaven in respect of his flesh, still as Mediator fills the whole world, and is truly one with his members, as their life is common.
The forty-second argument is, The body of Christ was inclosed in the womb of Mary, suspended on the cross, and laid in the tomb: Therefore it is not immense and everywhere. They answer that it is just as Christ declares, and therefore that he both wills and can make it to be in one place and at the same time in every part of the world. But this is no better than if some anthropomorphite were babblingly to say that God has nostrils because he declares that he smells sacrifice. Here indeed they are finely caught. They say that we often reason fallaciously and sophistically from the properties of body in the abstract to the person of Christ. This calumny is easily disposed of. We do not teach that because the body of Christ is finite, he is himself confined within the same dimensions; nay, we assert that he fills all things, because it were impious to separate him from his members. But as the question is concerning the flesh, we insist on it. In short, we fully illustrate the distinction between the flesh of Christ in the abstract and his person, while they most perversely confound it. For in order to prove that the flesh of Christ is immense and everywhere, they are ever and anon insisting that there is one person in Christ, and that he therefore fills heaven and earth in respect of his flesh as well as his divinity. Do they not drag the body of Christ in the abstract as it were by the hair, in making it follow the divinity wherever it extends?
The forty-third argument; I will state somewhat more faithfully than they do, thus: Christ’s promise to be in the midst of us should be understood of his spiritual presence: but the thing promised, is of all others the most desirable; therefore faith can rest satisfied with spiritual presence. They answer, that we finish ourselves by this clear sentence, by inferring from it that Christ is present with us as he then was, that is, both as God and man. What if I maintain, on the contrary, that he is not corporeally present as he then was, unless he is present visibly; for, if I mistake not, this is to be ranked as a most proper and inseparable quality of body? But as nothing is plainer than that Christ there joins himself to us as our Mediator and Head, the whole dispute is at an end the moment it is agreed that Christ, in the person of Mediator, or, if they prefer it, the whole person of the Mediator, is truly and essentially in the midst of us, although the flesh of Christ, or, which is the same thing, Christ is, in respect of his flesh, in heaven. For when mention is made by us of the spiritual presence, the other ought to be restricted to the flesh. After they have emptied themselves of a large stream of words, the whole comes to this, that the flesh of Christ remains in heaven though he dwells in us in his capacity of Mediator.
The forty-fourth argument is, If the substantial body of Christ is given in the Supper, it is received and swallowed indiscriminately by believers and unbelievers. Who has spoken in this way, I know not. I, for my part, would attach no weight to this argument. All the time I was under the strange delusion that the very substance of the flesh was given under the bread, I shuddered at the idea of its being prostituted to the ungodly. And the monstrous results with which that error is replete, nay, swollen even to bursting, I think I have elsewhere more than sufficiently demonstrated.
Christ said, Eat, this is my body. What if the sacred bread is devoured in mockery by a Turk or a Jew? Will it be no profanation of the body of Christ to allow it to pass into the stomach of a despiser? The Magdeburgians answer, that as the words of Christ imply that it does so, they are not moved by any absurdity. But I supposed, that as the promise and the command are united to each other by an indissoluble tie, the former is not fulfilled unless the latter is obeyed. And, indeed, since Luther taught that the bread is the body only during the act of celebration, while they themselves insist that the bread is not a symbol, but the true and substantial body, I should like to know how they are to escape from this dilemma? Suppose that, according to their custom, one hundred morsels are prepared for the use of the Supper, and the number of actual guests is fewer than an hundred; when the celebration is finished, is that which remains over the body of Christ, or does it, at the conclusion of the ordinance, cease to be body? Provided I am allowed to enjoy the body of Christ with all the pious, I will make them welcome to share their imaginary body with Judas.
The forty-fifth argument is, We teach nothing at variance with the confession of Augsburg, and therefore they have no cause for quarreling so bitterly, or rather, so savagely. If there is any doubt as to this, we appeal to Philip (Melancthon) who wrote it. As the Magdeburgians speak hesitatingly in their reply, I, trusting to a good conscience, venture freely to repeat what I said. Let Philip, as often as it is thought proper, be called upon to explain his own meaning. Meanwhile, they only prove themselves contumacious by dissenting from their confession.
The forty-sixth argument is, If Christ is believed to be corporeally in the Supper, the transubstantiation of the Papists cannot be firmly opposed.
They answer, they are not to do evil, that good may come. Where they got this argument, I know not; but I willingly give it entirely up to them: nay, its futility is apparent from our writings. For while we refute transubstantiation by other valid arguments, we hold this one to be amply sufficient, that it destroys the analogy between the sign and the thing signified; for if there be not in the sacrament a visible and earthly sign corresponding to the spiritual gift, the nature of a sacrament is lost.
The forty-seventh argument is, As the imagination of a corporeal presence gave occasion to the idolatry of the Papists, and still confirms it, it ought not to be maintained. They answer, that a consequence drawn from an accidental vitiation is not valid. But what if we assert that the two things are connected? We not only deny the corporeal presence for the purpose of discountenancing idolatry, but the better to make it manifest how detestable the fiction of a corporeal presence is, we show that it necessarily carries an impious idolatry along with it. When they affirm that the body of Jesus Christ is not to be worshipped although it be in the bread, because Christ does not receive worship there, their answer would be good if all men would admit its validity. They pretend that no command has anywhere been given as to worshipping the body of Christ.
It is certainly said properly of Christ as man, God hath exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. Accordingly, Augustine justly and shrewdly infers from this, that the flesh of Christ is to be worshipped in the person of the Mediator. But I am surprised that the Magdeburgians so liberally concede to us what the rest of their party tenaciously retain. What does Luther mean in writing against the doctors of Louvain, by speaking of the holy and adorable sacrament, if the body is not to be worshipped in the bread? Here let them at least agree among themselves, and subscribe once more to their friend Westphal, if they would not deal deceitfully with the cause of which they are advocates.
The forty-eighth argument is stated incorrectly and unfaithfully. For we do not infer that there would be one substance (hypostasis) of the flesh and bread, if the flesh is in the bread, but if the bread is the flesh, as they insist, properly and without figure. For while they constantly inculcate, that it is only with a view to explanation they say that the flesh is given under the bread, but that in the meantime we must hold by the words of Christ, that the bread is flesh, I should like them to tell me how the subject and predicate are to be reconciled if there is not one substance. Therefore, however closely they study concealment, their secret will be forced out of them. They stand convicted of a manifest contradiction in now admitting what they formerly denied, viz., that the body is conjoined with the bread.
For, under their twelfth head, they compared together the two passages, The word was made flesh, and, This is my body.
In the forty-ninth place, in order to accuse us of mendicity, they give utterance to, some strange fabrication of their own, — Nothing useless is true; the doctrine of a corporeal presence is useless: therefore it is not true.
Here they tell us, that like persons famishing for hunger, we scrape together food not only from the abodes of dialecticians, but from the fields of rhetoricians also. As I would be ashamed to be rhetorical in such a style, I leave them what is their own. Meanwhile let them defend themselves against Paul; who condemns all questions from which no edification arises.
Certainly if their doctrine is useless, it follows that they are wrong in raising such contests about it. It is evident that they are more friendly to the Papists than to us. If it is because of a frivolous question, let them consider how they shall one day render an account of their truculence.
Wherefore, in order to refute the major, there was no need to vent foul blasphemy against the law of God. But they contend that what is useless is sometimes true. To prove a thing to be without doubt the law of God, is of no use to them. The Apostle had said that the ceremonies, as being shadows, did not profit the worshippers — that is, did not profit by themselves. Is therefore the whole law useless, while its utility is apparent even in passing sentence of condemnation on men? It remains now to see what benefit is produced by the figment which they obtrude upon us. The passage, “The flesh profiteth nothing,” has already been expounded. But though we were not to found on any passages of Scripture, still as our doctrine contains the entire union of Christ with his members, in which our whole salvation and felicity consist, while they insist on a promiscuous eating by Peter and Judas, it is clear that they are quarreling for nothing.
In the fiftieth argument they employ a gloss, and hence it is easy for them to dissipate shadows of their own raising; but I should like them to answer the argument when I state it thus, The communion of the substance of the flesh of Christ which they maintain, is either temporary or perpetual. If they say it is perpetual, Christ will remain in the most abandoned, in the fornicator, the murderer, the man stained by abominable crimes. If it is temporary and only for a moment, of what avail is it to receive Christ, and leave him in the same place the moment you withdraw your foot from the table? Assuredly if there be not a perpetual communication beyond the act of communicating, nothing more will be conferred than the remembrance of something lost. And it is certain, that what the Lord elsewhere affirms of his perpetual abiding in us, and what Paul teaches as to his dwelling in our hearts by faith, is sealed in the Supper. Hence we infer that the communion of which we are partakers in the Supper is perpetual. I may now therefore argue thus, The promise of Christ’s dwelling in us is special, and is addressed to believers only; therefore none but believers obtain possession of Christ in the Supper. See how attentive our good censors are to the cause, while they tell us to give it a more attentive consideration.
The fifty-first argument is, A doctrine carrying many absurdities with it is not true: the doctrine of the corporeal presence of Christ is involved in many absurdities; therefore it follows that it is not true. The major they deny to hold universally, because there are various species of absurdities, and in theology every thing is not to be held absurd which is repugnant to human reason. But whether or not those which we produce are of that description, let our readers judge from the following:
In the fifty-second head they mention the first absurdity. It is absurd that the body and blood of Christ should be everywhere: but the corporeal presence in the Supper requires ubiquity. The Magdeburgians answer, that it is absurd to human reason only, not to faith, because it never can be absurd to believe Christ. Had they proved that we have not to attend to what is suited to the nature of the sacrament, they might now perhaps produce a doubt, but as we have proved a hundred times, that though the presence of the flesh of Christ does not lurk under the bread, due reverence and credit are given to his words, the difficulty is not yet removed. An argument which they obscure by stating it in brief and equivocal terms, is very stringent against them. Either the whole body of Christ is given under the bread or only a part: if the whole, the bread is no less blood than flesh.
The same may be applied to the cup, so that the wine is not less body than blood. If they pretend that the body of Christ is without blood, and hold that the blood is extracted apart from the flesh, could any thing be more monstrous? We are not here speaking of common meat and drink. I ask, in what way they suppose that they eat the body and drink the flesh of Christ in the Supper? If they answer that the whole is in every part, why do they consider the bread rather than the wine to be the body? and why the wine rather than the bread to be the blood? If they answer, that the mode has not been revealed, why do they decide so boldly on the presence of the substance? It is this which plunges them into the abyss.
Should they choose to mutter that the absurdity is merely physical, none but those who are more than fatuous will be persuaded that the substance of the blood can be dissevered by Christ from the substance of the flesh. It is said that their union is repugnant to the words. But though Christ remain entire in heaven, there is nothing to prevent him from giving his flesh as meat and his blood as drink, and from nourishing and vivifying us separately by each.
As in the fifty-third place they mutilate and corrupt our words, let the reader attend to the following absurdity. Seeing it is derogatory to the celestial glory of Christ that his body should be inclosed under earthly elements, he is insulted when he is placed corporeally in the bread. The Magdeburgians will perhaps object, that in a natural view this may seem insulting to Christ, but in a theological it is not so. What? When that is asserted of Christ, which no mortal man but God himself declares respecting him, will they not be ashamed to flee to that miserable asylum?
I know that it was not disgraceful to Christ to be suspended on the cross, on which, triumphing over death and the devil, he sat as it were sublime in a triumphal chariot. But here, when he is drawn down from his celestial seat and fastened to an earthly and corruptible element, how different is the case? When he was hanging on the cross it was not the Father’s pleasure that he should yet enjoy a blessed immortality in heaven, but now he has removed him from the earth that he may be exalted above all heavens. Wherefore let the Magdeburgians cease from telling us that the wisdom of God is foolishness to the world — let them not, under the blinding influence of their own sense, presume to throw everything into confusion.
They follow their usual practice under the fifty-fourth head, but the sum is, Any doctrine, which leads to contradiction in the Scriptures, is false; but if the corporeal presence of Christ in the Supper is admitted, the Scriptures will contradict themselves; this error therefore is justly repudiated. As to the major, they mention that disputes often arise from true doctrine; as if we were saying that the doctrine is vicious for any other reason than for making Scripture self-contradictory. Their denial that Scripture is set at variance by their fiction is not to be wondered at; for nothing is easier for them than to reconcile heaven with hell. When they deny that there is any contradiction in saying that the body of Christ is everywhere and yet in a particular place, that it is finite and immense, visible and invisible, mortal and immortal, whole and partial, in what else can any contradiction be found? But I beseech pious and sober readers not to allow giddy men to seize upon the Spirit of concord and unity, to set him at variance with himself, and rend the Scriptures, that they may be able thereby to fabricate a multiform Christ.
The fifty-fifth argument it pains me to mention, but I must briefly inform the reader of their incredible impudence in presuming to construct an absurd argument without any plausibility, and then throwing it in our face.
For who ever thought of arguing, that as Christ assumed our flesh he does not give it to us to eat? On the contrary, our uniform doctrine is, that he assumed our flesh for the very purpose of giving life to our souls by communication with it. We teach that, inasmuch as he was made man, he is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. Let the Magdeburgians then assail their own falsehood as they will, but let not us be burdened with any share of the obloquy or disgrace.
The fifty-sixth argument is, It, is a contradiction to say, that Christ in his flesh left the world and was received into heaven, and to say also, that in his flesh he lies hid under the bread. They answer, that there is no variance between these things in the view of faith, though, by our spirit of giddiness, they become what is easily said but not so easily proved. When they say that faith does not measure the works of God by the capacity of reason, but renders praise to his truth and omnipotence, although we admit it to be true, yet seeing the truth of God is simple and undivided, it does not follow that faith transfigures God, and makes him at variance with himself. The testimony of God is, that Christ was received into the heavens, and behooves to be contained by the heavens until he is to come as Redeemer, and that we should seek him there. As this doctrine is altogether inconsistent with the fiction of a corporeal presence, what can they gain by attempting to disguise the inconsistency? Place must be given to the omnipotence of God, especially when a simple and easy explanation tells us how Christ sitting in heaven may give himself to be enjoyed by us on earth. With how much greater plausibility are we entitled to maintain that it is preposterous to exercise faith in a carnal eating of Christ, seeing it is far more congruous to his nature that we should rise upwards in order to enjoy Christ spiritually?
The fifty-seventh argument is akin to the last. It is, There is an inconsistency in the assertion that there is a flesh of Christ which, invisible in heaven, is invisibly and insensibly eaten under the bread. Their statement, that it is incongruous to hold that Christ who has flesh and bones is eaten without flesh and bones, though they represent it as ours, we leave to themselves. For what has this to do with debate as to the eating of his flesh? When they answer, that there is no repugnance as far as faith is concerned, it is just as if the anthropomorphites were to allege that when they believe, on the words of Scripture, that God has eyes, nose, mouth, ears, arms, and feet, they shut their eyes to all absurdities, because faith surmounts all contradiction.
In the fifty-eighth place they betray their absurdity not less than their malice. I had said that the petulance of Westphal and his fellows could not but be odious to learned and right-hearted men; all the most learned of Luther’s friends and disciples having declared their satisfaction with my doctrine. I mentioned two, Gaspar Cruciger and Vittus Theodorus. Here the Magdeburgians fix me in a dilemma, as if I had actually drawn the inference that we have therefore a good cause, and all the Saxon doctors ought at once to pass over to our view. These worthy men, who so roll themselves in the mire, are grieved forsooth at the stigma which I have thus thrown on the dead. Now, that they may not appeal in vain to the Church of which Theodore was minister, I again repeat that I said nothing which I cannot prove by his own handwriting whenever it shall be necessary. As to Cruciger’s consent, not to go further, I take Philip himself to witness, whose authority with his disciples ought to be above exception.
The last of the arguments enumerated is, We sacramentarians have written on this subject more splendidly than those of the opposite opinion are able to do; we therefore hold the truth, and our opponents should be silent. First, in pretending that we admit the name which they themselves have wickedly imposed upon us as a stigma, nothing can be more senseless than their trifling. Let them call me sacramentarian whenever they please, it shall move me no more than the barking of a dog. But they even employ themselves in bringing a charge against us to which they are truly and justly liable. For as those who insert false legacies or substitute false heirs are called Testamentarii, do not these worthy men, when they substitute a fictitious body contrary to the mind of the testator, deserve the same name? There is certainly no color for applying it to us. But without regarding their absurdity I come to the subject. I said, I admit, and I do not repent having said, that I have spoken more splendidly of the sacred Supper and its entire virtue, that I have explained its dignity and efficacy better and more faithfully than all who are like Westphal, and that therefore it is unjust for any one to pretend that he is fighting against me in defense of the Supper. And indeed what can be more unworthy than for turbulent men, induced by mere moroseness to disturb the Church of God, to come forward under the fallacious pretense of defending the sacred Supper against us, who no less honorably assert its dignity than lucidly treat of its whole nature and virtue? To omit all my books, in which I distinctly teach that Christ by no means deceives us with bare, and empty signs, but truly performs what he figures, does not our Agreement contain the same thing? And yet these men cease not to cry that we make void the holy Supper.
At present they furthermore object that I am not serious in leaving them to decide. But if they would look more closely to the judges to whom I have appealed, they would see that there is no place for them in the list.
Faithful servants of Christ, grave and moderate men, I decline not as judges, but no reason admits of such authority being given to proud, obstinate, and contumacious despisers of the brethren. And yet they compare themselves to infants by whom God perfects praise, while they calumniously charge us with a vile attempt to terrify them by vile ostentation. I wish they were endued with a spirit of meekness and modesty, so as to prove themselves at least to be men. Where can greater and vainer ostentation be found than in themselves? Hence their Thrasonic boast in this very place, that they will make our ears tingle and our hearts tremble by their cries. See the humble children who so arrogate everything to themselves, that they leave not a particle of the Spirit to servants of Christ by whose labors, if they possessed one particle of docility, they ought to profit. Still harsher is their calumny that we resist the truth contrary to conscience. That the iniquity of this calumny may be known to the whole world, I appeal to thee, O Christ, the Son of God, supreme Judge of the world, whose authority is dreaded by devils themselves, that thou wouldst make it manifest now and on that day whether my mind has ever entertained the mad thought of tainting thy doctrine by any falsehood or corruption. But if thou seest me to be free and most remote from this crime; nay, if thou art my faithful witness, that I sincerely and from the heart profess the faith which I have learned from thy sacred holy gospel, be pleased to suppress the diabolical slander of men who are so blinded by obstinacy or pride as to be incapable of any discrimination.
I again address my speech to you, pious readers, and beseech you all not to allow your senses to be stupified by that tingling of which the Magdeburgians boast. An expression constantly in their months is, that there is no room for discussion, when Christ the only Master and Teacher has clearly taught what is to be believed — no room for debate, when the same supreme Judge has distinctly given forth his decision. This they say, because they see that nothing would subject us to greater odium or be more plausible in their favor than to persuade the unskillful that no question can be raised as to this ordinance without overthrowing the authority of Christ. It is part of the same artifice to keep ever and anon crying that there is no less danger in listening to human reason than is incurred by him who listens to the blandishments of a harlot and gets entangled in her deadly snares. Though they use this language for the sake of procuring favor, we have no cause to fear that a knowledge of the fact will not wipe away all their glosses, and therefore there is nothing we more desire than that all should be able to form their judgment from the case itself. In this way it will at once be seen that our only reason for seeking an interpretation for the words of Christ is, that they may be engraved with due reverence on our hearts; that discarding human reason, and raising our minds above the world, we receive this high mystery with due faith, and hold it in the highest admiration. The smoke by which they would most iniquitously blind the eyes of the simple being thus dispersed, the false and invidious charges in which our opponents place the substance of their defense, quickly disappear.
But what do the men of Bremen on their part adduce? To retain quiet possession of their status, they pronounce high eulogiums on the magnanimity of Luther. These I readily admit, provided they do not wickedly and unworthily abuse the name of this justly celebrated teacher for their own advantage, or rather their own caprice. If any defect mingled with the lofty virtues of Luther, I would bury it in oblivion. Whatever it may have been, reverence and love for the gifts with which he was endowed would make me refrain from exposing it; but to extol his defects as if they were virtues is foolish and preposterous affectation. Still less excusable is the fervor of their rash zeal in basely and shamefully corrupting Scripture in order to adorn LUTHER with the spoils of John the Baptist. For though they deny not that in John the Baptist; was fulfilled what Malachi had foretold of Elias that was to come, they insist that this prophecy is also to be understood of Luther, who is that Elias who was to restore all things, and that that which was once accomplished by John the Baptist, the prophets as well as the testimony of Christ not obscurely intimate to have been again repeated in Luther. By this false assertion they dishonor the name of Luther not less than the Egyptians did the body of Jeremiah by worshipping his sepulcher. Admitting that the name of Elias may be given to Luther, it is sacrilegious temerity to assert that he is the last Elias, as if the hand of God were shortened, and he were unable hereafter to send forth an equal or a greater. What oracle revealed to them that the treasures of divine power were so exhausted or impaired by the formation of one individual, that none like him can come forth from his boundless and incomprehensible fullness? I have no doubt that Satan purposely excites these insane eulogists in order to furnish profane scoffers with a longed-for opportunity of slander. I wish that the hand of him who could only subscribe by the single letter T, had been as unable for the whole writing as for that one word. LUTHER having always held the principle, that it was not permitted either to himself or to any other mortal to be wise above the word of God, it is strange and lamentable that the Church of God should be so imperiously bound down to his decrees. They will deny that they intend this.
Therefore let the name of Luther rest for a little until we have discussed the point with calm and placid reason. Their caution to beware of false teachers I too give, the object of our admonition being to guard the children of God against their pestiferous delusion. But what of the thing itself?
They pronounce magisterially that they receive the words of Christ, This is my body, not symbolically or metonymically, but in the meaning which they naturally import. I hold that there is a metonymy, because the name of body cannot apply to the bread, unless in respect of its being a symbol.
This view is completely confirmed by the analogy which the Scriptures uniformly preserve between the sign and the thing signified. If you ask the reason why, with gross absurdity they fasten upon the bare literal sense, they answer that nothing is more unjust or foolish than the question. Of what use is it for them daily to lift up their voice in the pulpit, if the interpretation of Scripture is denied to the Church? But they say that a clear text needs no exposition. Certainly not, provided they would admit that a sacrament is a sacrament. When Paul declares, that the Church is cleansed by the washing of water, the truth of the declaration is universally admitted. If they infer from it that the impurities of the soul are cleansed by the corruptible element of water, the Sun of righteousness himself will be obscured. Another declaration by Paul, that believers put on Christ, will be assented to by all. But if the men of Bremen transfigure Christ into a garment, what darkness will be substituted for clearness?
And yet we hear what the words literally import. Moreover, in regard to the interpretation I should like them to point out the hostile standards under which they falsely pretend that we are at war among ourselves: although any diversity in the teaching of some from that of others is nothing to the point.
Let the reader then consider whether the sacramental mode of expression, because it does not please the men of Bremen, is to be altogether repudiated. There are four reasons which will not allow them to give up their opinion. The first is, that Jesus Christ, true and perfect God and man, is inseparably united in one person. But the union of the human nature with the divine does not confound the unity of both, nor does unity of person mix up the divine nature with the human, so as not to leave each its peculiar properties. Surely the soul of Christ approached nearer to divinity than his body, and yet Luther did not on this account admit that Christ, as man, had always a foreknowledge of all things. Their second reason is, that the right hand of God, on which Christ sits, is everywhere; as if we denied that Christ, the Mediator between God and man, fills all things in an ineffable manner, so as to be everywhere entire, and yet in respect of his flesh occupies a seat in heaven. Their third reason is, that the word of God is not fallacious or lying. But the question is not as to any falsehood in the word, but as to their stubborn obstinacy which prevents them from giving any place even to the first rudiments of Scripture. For would they peaceably allow a place for the rule, which, whether they will or not, is observed in regard to all the sacraments, all disputes would at once terminate. Their fourth reason is, that God has manifold and various ways of existing in a place. But this variety cannot have made the body of Christ, when he instituted the Supper, to be in one place visible, finite, and mortal, and at the same time in several places, invisible, immense, and immortal. See how truly they boast that the reasons which they adduce to establish their error are certain, firm, and unrefutable. It is stupor only that makes them acquiesce in it; they certainly cannot rest in it in safety. When they object that the figure of the body was not delivered, nor the sign of the blood poured out, we have a still clearer proof how boldly these little fathers fight with their own shadow. For what is the effect of the metonymy on which we insist, but just to make the bread to be in a sacramental manner the true body of Christ. that was sacrificed for us, and thus be truly communicated to us.
We do not found merely on physical arguments, but wish that which Scripture plainly teaches concerning the flesh of Christ to remain firm and inviolable; just as I a little ago observed, that we do not give the words of Christ a forced meaning, but that which similar passages demand.
The men of Bremen get finely out of the difficulty by saying, that as it is written, “In vain do they worship with the commandments of men,” the door is shut against all arguments. How irrelevantly they arm themselves with the specious dictum, that the word of God must always be opposed to human reason, I think I have already clearly shown. For as we willingly follow without lifting our eyes any course to which God by his own voice calls us, so we are unwilling by a brutish stupor to confound ourselves with the unclean animals which do not cleave the hoof. That this memorable epistle might not be without its due weight, Christian Haveman appends his name. To him is added another who subscribes himself John T., A., and by his single celebrity supports all the others. For the words are: To take advantage of the opportunity of sending by the faithful members of Christ who were to visit you by the way, we could not procure the written subscriptions of all the pious brethren. Some were out of town, others not at home: meanwhile, that the truth may be confirmed in the mouth of two witnesses, I declare, etc. I am not now surprised at their lifting their heads so disdainfully under pretext of the words of Christ, since they hold the whole world bound to believe them on the first letters of their names. In another place, however, the same individual is not only more literal in expressing his name, but also by a silly and absurd addition, wishing to be thought facetious, says, I, John Teman of Amsterdam, pastor of the Church of Bremen, in Martin’s Church, or, if the Sacramentarians will, in the Church of St. Martin, Bishop of Tours.
This specimen of gravity will doubtless have the effect of procuring credit to the man.
Weary of all this folly, I would now pass to others, were I not detained for a little by another confession, which they say has been absolutely forced from them, by my having dedicated my trifles to them. As I perceive, that not only the men of Bremen, but others also of the same faction, are very indignant at my having performed my duty towards them. I must briefly tell them that they have put themselves into a passion for nothing. They glamorously express their high displeasure at my having dared, under a show of respect, to obtrude my book on the churches of Saxony. I may be pardoned for having thought them men, though they now breathe nothing but the ferocity of wild beasts. I have, however, a better excuse. I had no intention to dedicate my book to the followers of Westphal, nor have I, by any expression, manifested such an intention. The dedication is, To all honest ministers of Christ, and sincere worshippers of God, who observe and follow the pure doctrine of the gospel in the churches of Saxony and Lower Germany. To this class they certainly do not prove themselves to belong. With them, pride occupies the place of piety, ferocity is substituted, for every humane feeling, and mere obstinacy leaves no room for any thing like moderation. Their confession is, That the true body of Christ is given to be substantially eaten in the Supper. We not less distinctly maintain true communion koinwnia with the flesh of Christ of which Paul speaks. The only question is as to the mode. They say they care not how the thing is done, because they simply believe the words of Christ. I answer, that we too simply believe the words of Christ, but do not voluntarily quench the light of the Spirit by neglecting the gift of interpretation. This disposes of their specious excuse, that they feel constrained by the testimonies of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul. Our doctrine does not refuse credit to their testimony, but faithfully and fully elucidates what others absurdly involve in darkness. Whether or not all four affirm distinctly and without any interpretation that the bread is the true and natural body of Christ, let their words show. The men of Bremen extract this meaning from the context. We too therefore, may extract from the same context that the body and blood of Christ are offered to us in the Supper in a different way from that which they imagine. What do Luke and Paul affirm to be given in the cup? A covenant in the blood. As the same thing must be true of the body, it follows that nothing else can be inferred from the words of Christ., than that under the bread there is the ratification of a covenant in the body of the Son of God which was crucified for us. We are ordered to eat the body which was crucified for us; in other words, to become partakers of the sacrifice by which the sins of the world were expiated. If they insist that the two things are conjoined, viz., the fruit of the sacrifice and the communion of the flesh, I myself press the very same point — that since by the same law and in the same words the Son of God offers his body, and the covenant in the body, the one is not to be taken without the other. As it was said, Eat, this is my body, they insist that the body of Christ is eaten substantially by all men whatsoever. Why might not I, on the other hand, insist that all men whatsoever receive the covenant by drinking of the cup? From this it would follow, that all who approach the table truly and spiritually communicate with Christ. Let the men of Bremen loose this knot if they would not be strangled by it.
But although the true body of Christ is eaten in the Supper, this is no ground for holding, as they do, that spiritual interpretation is excluded.
This interpretation would define the mode, and show the two things to be perfectly reconcilable, viz., that the same body which was once offered as a victim is given to us, and yet is not eaten in a carnal manner. Certainly in the age of Augustine and Jerome no man doubted that the body of Christ was one. The former, however, to obviate a gross imagination, introduces Christ as saying, I have committed, an ordinance to you, which, spiritually understood, will give you life. The latter declares more harshly, that the flesh of Christ which we eat in the Supper is different from that which was offered on the cross, and the blood drunk different from that which was offered; not that he really thought the natures of the flesh and blood to be different, but that he might more distinctly express that they are eaten in a mystery, that is, that it is owing to the secret agency of the Spirit that the true and spiritual flesh of Christ gives life to us. Formerly, it was sometimes denied that the body of Christ, which is given us for spiritual food is spiritual; as if the dignity of Christ’s glorious body at present were inferior to that which will one day be possessed by all his members. Paul, speaking of the general resurrection of the righteous, says, that that which is now an animal body will then become a spiritual body, because mortality will be swallowed up of life. But the perverseness of the men of Bremen, not contented with one error, wholly excludes the spiritual mode and interpretation.
Still more grossly do they infer from the term breaking, that the bread which is distributed in the Supper is the true and natural body of Christ.
Paul, I admit, says in one place, that the bread is broken, and in another, This is my body which is broken for you. But I wonder that those worthy teachers of the Hebrew tongue, who shortly after convert the pronoun Hoc into the masculine Hic, because the Hebrew has no neuter, do not understand what boys learn in their rudiments, that the present tense should be resolved into the future. Paul certainly says the same thing as the evangelists, who make no mention of daily breaking, but speak merely of a delivery which took place on the cross. The breaking of Paul is therefore equivalent to immolating, except that he alludes to the mystical act, which is a vivid mirror of the death of Christ. The fiction which the men of Bremen obtrude for the genuine sense, viz., This is my body which is broken for you or distributed in the bread, is nothing better than a brutish profanation, which will I hope excite the disgust; of all the godly against them and their error, which they cannot defend without perverting every thing.
There is no reason why they should insist so much on the term koinwnia.
It signifies participation. What then? If they infer from this that the body of Christ is substantially eaten, we in our turn will say that the substance of the altar was devoured by the priests, and the idol swallowed substantially by its worshippers, as Paul applies the term koinwnia to both in the same passage. They altogether scout the introduction of the symbols and figures of the Old Testament; but while I admit that the distinction should be observed between shadows and the body, still I hold that we ought not to disregard a resemblance which the Holy Spirit distinctly asserts. Above I have fully shown with what justice they pretend to have the support of the primitive and more modern Church: nor is it necessary to give a new refutation of what they allege in regard to the omnipotence of Christ. Their assertion that all who teach that the words of Christ contain a metonymy, which gives the sign the name of the thing signified, and makes the bread to be symbolically the body of Christ, charge Christ himself with falsehood, is barbarous in the extreme: especially when they at the same time give utterance to a furious anathema, consigning to the lower regions all who say that it is by virtue of the Holy Spirit that our souls are spiritually fed by the substance of the flesh of Christ, and who bid us rise to heaven in order to be admitted to this communion. In this way they certainly doom to perdition the whole primitive Church, which, in celebrating this mystery, regularly began with exhorting those present to raise their minds upwards. If the metonymy is not only accursed, but teems with blasphemy, what will become of poor Augustine, whose, words we formerly quoted, viz., that the bread of the Supper is in a manner the body of Christ, because the sacraments, if they did not receive the name of things which they figure, would not be sacraments? The sense in which ancient writers occasionally say, that the body of Christ is taken, by the carnal mouth, we have elsewhere explained to be the same as the sense in which they at the same time add that it is consumed. Should the men of Bremen, trusting to these words, follow out the process of digestion to the last, who would not be revolted by the monstrous idea? To conclude, If from the words of Christ, This is my body, it is inferred, that the substantial body of Christ is received by the carnal mouth, it might with equal force be argued that the divine essence of the Spirit was seen by the carnal eye, because it was said, Upon whom ye shall see the Spirit of God descending. Hence it will follow, that the Spirit of God was transformed into a visible dove.
Next come the men of Hildesheim, who say that they approach the cause with great confidence, because they are supporting Christ, and denounce impending destruction on us whose minds they describe as swollen with self-admiration, and completely carried away by pride, a magnificent exordium, provided the result corresponds with the outset. But we shall soon see that this sounding boast comes to nothing. The confession which they subjoin, that Christ instituted the Supper to be used as a perpetual ordinance in the Church, I could regard as tolerable, did they not immediately after corrupt it by a vile commentary. That a command and a promise are therein contained, that the corruptible material of bread and wine is set before the eye, and that the true body of Christ is at the same time given, is beyond controversy, and therefore the whole dispute relates to the definition. As they attack me directly, by defending Westphal, all I have to do is to maintain my cause. Away, then, with the odious names of sects. With what face do they say that I leave no mystery, no spiritual fruit, in the Supper, but hold only that there are bare elements, which differ in no respect from other bread and wine? I uniformly testify, that as Christ is by no means fallacious in his signs, so the reality is annexed to the visible element; and the thing which the bread and wine figure is truly performed inwardly by the secret virtue of the Spirit. Shortly after they are forced to confess that there is much which we properly teach concerning spiritual eating, in which, if there is no consolation or fruit, where can consolation be found? If they do not perceive this, how disgraceful is their stupor? But the advocates of a bad cause, having their confidence only in calumny, must of necessity be thus carried to and fro, If their purpose is to amuse one another with silly jests, and try who can utter the greatest falsehoods against us, let them, if they will, enjoy the sport to satiety. But how blind is it not to see, that by disseminating and publishing their falsehoods, all they gain is to make the whole obloquy, which they would fain throw upon us, fall back upon themselves.
It is notorious, that we do not strip the ordinance of Christ of its reality, nor give the name of simple bread to that which has been sanctified for a peculiar use. For we clearly teach that whosoever receives the sacred bread with true faith is nourished unto spiritual life by the flesh of Christ, just as the body is sustained by earthly bread. Of what use, then, is it to darken the cause, by raising smoke which can be so easily dissipated? Why do they not rather ingenuously maintain that our sentiments are plainly repugnant to each other? We acknowledge, on both sides, that the true communion of the flesh and blood of Christ is held forth in the Supper; but when, in explanation of the mode, we add, that it is owing to the secret and incomprehensible virtue of the Spirit that Christ truly feeds our souls from heaven with the substance of his flesh and blood, and that the bread and wine are true pledges of the heavenly things which they figure, because everything which the minister promises according to the command of Christ is fulfilled by its author, the men of Hildesheim here begin to recoil. As it is no wish of mine to retaliate injury, I acknowledge that they speak with more moderation and modesty than those we have hitherto heard. Worship, and kneeling at the sacrament, are distinctly condemned by them: they hold it superstitious to be in terror of conscience, lest the bread fall to the ground, or any similar accident occur: and they do not, like the Magdeburgians, dread the terms mystery and symbol. In short, whether they allow it or not, they have many things in common with us.
Our whole controversy with them hinges on their affirmation of the two following things — that the body of Christ is not only spiritually eaten in the Supper, but is also substantially enclosed under the bread, and is received not by believers only, but promiscuously by all. If their purpose is to discuss with me, let them hereafter confine themselves within these limits. If they assail me with calumny, I presume that the dishonesty of so doing has already been sufficiently established. They are, therefore, the less to be borne with in charging us with craft, the only charge by which they attempt to give a plausibility to their cause; though the impudence is too gross to deceive any man of sound mind.
Let us now attend to the terms in which they oppose me. It is blasphemous derision, they say, to represent that the body is called and invited forth from heaven, or is fixed to the bread. Were we speaking of the ordinance of Christ, I admit there would be an impious scoffing in these words; but what blasphemy can there be in stigmatizing gross errors?
They insist that the flesh of Christ is taken by the carnal mouth and chewed by the teeth; they contend that the same body is immense, and lies invisible under the bread; and they will have it that the bread is truly and properly the body. May not one, without blasphemy, attack these monstrous errors? Wherefore there is no ground for charging us with impudence, when we employ some marks to distinguish the sacred ordinance of Christ from their senseless and absurd figments. As to the ordinance itself, they will not find any among their party who speak of it more reverently. How do they prove us to be blasphemers? Because Paul teaches that the bodies of the pious are temples of God, and that Christ dwells in their hearts by faith; as if in these cases where God the Father and Christ have chosen us as mansions for themselves, the mode of inhabitation were not spiritual. If there is any doubt as to this let Paul be the interpreter of his own expression. He says, Ye are the temples of God, for his Spirit dwelleth in you. A third passage shows what religious reverence they have in quoting Scripture. That Christ is the hope of glory to the Colossians Paul terms a mystery hid from eyes. Is he here including the substance of the flesh of Christ in us? It is not either in imagination only, or by general power, that Christ dwells in us, though we do not eat the substance of his flesh with our mouths. For that peculiar method not only more than distinguishes us from brute beasts (a charge which those Cyclops, with their usual candor, bring against us,) but from all the profane, while God sanctifies us as temples for himself, and Christ engrafts us into union with his own body, so as to give us a common life with himself.
Were we disposed to vie with them in giving bad names, we should not want words, but our nature is averse to it, and our soul utterly abhors it. I would far rather be tongueless than rival these people in evil speaking.
They make themselves chaste and uncorrupted virgins, and liken us to harlots who proclaim their shame. They exclaim that we are unworthy of a place on the earth; that if we are not suddenly exterminated from the world, the mildest treatment that can be given will be to banish us to the Scythians or Indians: they accuse princes of slothfulness, in not employing the sword forthwith to cut off our memory, because we say that Christ, having left the earth in respect of his flesh, has been received into heaven. Though from thinking in their petulance that any liberty may be taken with us, they misrepresent our words, still let them foam as they may, they will not prevent our doctrine from standing forth clear, viz., that though Christ as God and man, and the Mediator between God and men, whole and undivided, fills heaven and earth, yet in respect of his flesh, he is only in heaven. I have elsewhere mentioned the common saying of the schools, that Christ is everywhere whole, but not wholly, (Lib. 3.
Sentent. distin. 23.) Had this been known to these good theologians, it might have calmed their rage. What insult, I ask, is offered to Christ, when the flesh which he assumed, and in which he suffered, is said to have been taken up to heaven just as it was enclosed in the sepulcher? They exclaim, that nothing more atrocious could have been said by Jews or Saracens.
Why then do they not turn their rage against the angels, for having presumed to argue that Christ was not in the tomb after he had risen? If Christ is everywhere in the flesh, because of his Divine nature, it was a foolish answer, He is risen, he is not here. Peter, too, deserves to be more severely punished than all blasphemers, for having given utterance to the worst of all blasphemies, viz., that Christ must be contained in the heavens. What shall I say in regard to antiquity? It is certain that all ancient writers, for five centuries downwards from the Apostles, with one consent support our view. Here they bedaub us with the slime of their own Osiander, as if we had any kind of affinity with him. Be it that Osiander, in his insane pride, despised a humiliated Christ; what is that to us, whose piety is so well known to be defamed by such vile falsehoods?
Nay, with the best right I throw back the empty talk at their own heads.
By denying a humiliated Christ, they extinguish the whole substance of our salvation, and impiously abolish an incomparable pledge of the Divine love toward us. If Christ was not emptied of his glory when he hung on the cross and lay in the sepulcher, where is the humiliation? They pretend that he was then possessed of celestial blessedness, and not only so, but that that flesh in which he suffered sat immortal in the heavens. All this shows that their only purpose is to stupify the mere populace by the noise of their thunder. They say that the Son of God, our only glory and salvation, reigns in heaven, is most free, is not affixed to the bread, nor tied to the spheres. This, too, is our faith and profession; only let them concede, that the flesh of Christ is invested with heavenly glory, not divested of its own nature. Hence it is that the same man, Christ, who endured a most painful and horrible kind of death for us on the cross, now obtains a name which is above every name, that before him every knee should bow. Herein consists the true and full liberty of his authority and power, that as head of the Church he fills all things. But it is preposterous to wrest this into a proof of the immensity of his flesh. It is much more august while inhabiting heaven, in respect of his flesh, to exhibit his presence both above and below, by the agency of his Spirit, as seems to him good, than to have his power of working necessarily astricted to the presence of his flesh. We say, that Christ, the Mediator, is not prevented by distance of place from infusing life into us from his flesh, and exerting the present efficacy of that flesh in which he once reconciled us to the Father: we declare that flesh gives life to us, just as our body is nourished by earthly bread. This proud faction of giants acknowledges no presence of Christ, unless his flesh is actually placed before them. Is not this to force him into narrow limits? How he came out of the tomb, when it was closed, and came in to the disciples when the doors were shut, I have elsewhere explained, making it clear that they argue ignorantly and erroneously, in inferring from hence, that the ascension of Christ was a mere delusion. And yet while they set no limits to their slanders, they pretend that the thing on which they are wholly intent; is to lead us to a knowledge of the subject.
Meanwhile, some one having happened to charge them with Scythian barbarity, they boil so tumultuously at the expression as to lose sight of the cause, saying, that they are thus unworthily charged because of that doctrine in which they are supported by Christ, the Apostles, and all orthodox writers. But the first point to have considered was, first, whether Christ by saying, Eat, this is my body, transformed his own body so as to make it at the same moment mortal and immortal, visible and invisible, circumscribed by place and yet immense; and, secondly, whether posterity were entitled to employ the words of Christ in support of the monstrous fiction, that those to whom the bread is given in the Supper eat substantially of the flesh of Christ. Until they prove this they are not liberated from the charge. But what can be more impudent than their shameless boast of the consent of the primitive Church, which has so often been shown to be against them? They refuse to admit any trope, alleging, that there cannot be one in words so clear as, This is my body; as if there was not equal clearness in the words, On whom you shall see the Holy Spirit. Were we disposed to indulge in such empty garrulity, what might we not make of the term see, and the name of Spirit? If they say that the form of a dove was the Spirit, nothing can be more absurd. They here falsely accuse us of devising a trope, because the extent of our reason is not equal to the height of the mystery. Does that incomprehensible communion which we assert fall within the reach of sense? If they cease not to indulge in such impostures, I fear they will only expose their disgrace, which had better remain hid. So far am I from taking pleasure in exposing their folly, that I feel ashamed of it. I can easily allow all the opprobrious epithets which they vent against us to be read without any defense on our part; only let our doctrine be at the same time borne in mind, as from it will at once appear how causelessly they charge us with introducing a trope into the words of Christ merely in deference to human reason. As I have always loudly enough declared that. Christ is communicated to us in the Supper in an incomprehensible manner, and that we ought accordingly to adore this mystery which far surpasses our highest conceptions, what is meant by the rabid and dishonest assertion that we believe nothing but what human reason dictates? I have already shown, that we hold there is a metonymy in the sacraments, in accordance with the common and perpetual usage of holy Scripture, and that, consequently, we have been compelled to adopt the interpretation which they impugn, not so much by physical arguments as by the heavenly oracles. It seems to them plausible to exclaim: Do you hear, O flesh? Do you hear, O reason? Consider the letter, consider the sense — that those who eat unworthily, while they comply with the ordinance, are called guilty of the body and blood of the Lord: the Spirit lies not, but every man is a liar; every one who would dissever the reality from the sign should be placed in this class. But while it is agreed that the body of Christ is truly offered under the symbol of bread, and that his blood is truly offered under the cup, it is mere childish talk to inveigh with so much vehemence against the flesh and reason. How much more appropriately might we reply, Do you hear, O barker? Do you hear, O frantic, O brutish man? We assert a true communion of the flesh and blood of Christ in the holy Supper. To what end then all your tumultuous clamor? How can you expect to pluck the eyes out of your readers, and prevent them from seeing what is so manifest?
In regard to promiscuous eating, their error has been refuted too clearly to make it necessary to add a word. I hold that profaners of the Supper are guilty of the body of Christ; that is, his offered body, though they receive it not; just as the Apostle testifies, that the despiser of the gospel tramples the blood of Christ under foot, for no other reason than because Christ by his own voice invites us to a participation with himself. In repeating so often, that the unbelieving and perfidious obey the ordinance of Christ, though they think it acute, they merely trifle. This no doubt is the reason why at the outset they separated the ordinance from the command and the promise; as if Christ in instituting the Supper did not add the other two things along with it. Nay, what else was the institution of the supper than a command to perform the ordinance, with the intervention of a promise? Certainly the institution of Christ is the true law and rule for performing the Supper. But who can say that the rule prescribed by Christ is followed by those who, passing by the command and suppressing the promise, feign some imaginary thing of their own? It would seem that the obedience of these worthy theologians consists in the illusory and fallacious performance of a naked ceremony without faith.
Tileman Cragius boasts that he is happy at having written these frivolities.
I wish that instead of being so carried away to vapid clamor, by the immoderate tide of his joy, he had handled this very serious topic with becoming sobriety and temperance. He flatters his companion Westphal for having incurred so much odium by collecting the passages of Augustine against us. Let him look at the contrary passages which I have here adduced, and it will be strange if he does not fall down from very shame.
Though from my love of rectitude and true candor, I confess that I am disgusted with such perverse tempers, yet this trifler is false in alleging that I hate men for whose salvation I purposely consult in the very sharpness of the terms which I employ. For having formerly tried in a friendly epistle what effect meekness and lenity might have upon them, I think I can now only hope for their repentance by repressing their insane pride more harshly.
I believe I have now performed my part in regard to all, unless I were to weary out the reader by repeating the same thing ten times over; indeed I fear I have already prolonged my discourse more than I ought. For what need was there to refute the men of Bremen, who had brought forward almost nothing except an inclination to hurt? After violently oppressing their colleagues at home, the only reason they pretend for spouting their venom upon me at a distance is, because I have condemned the Saxons as drunkards. But if they are not of the number, of what use was it for them to put themselves into such a passion? From this, however, it is apparent that these good Areopagites to save themselves the annoyance of seeing the light, write their decisions in the dark. I had chanced somewhere to speak of Westphal as temulent, having no intention, as I have already explained, to charge him with drunkenness, but merely to apply the language of the Prophet, who speaks of certain persons as drunken but not with wine, namely those who struck with stupor or seized with giddiness, have fallen from a sound mind.
To wrest this which was said of an individual and apply it to a whole nation, is truly a mark of blind temulence.
Let, them henceforth learn to be more cautious and not to be borne headlong by blind revenge. How secure they have felt in handling this cause is clear from the simple fact that they lay claim to the victory merely from having proved the eating of the true body without saying anything of the mode. I never made it a question, whether the true body of Christ is eaten in the Supper: I only wish them to consider how it is done.
How ridiculously they have paid their court to Westphal, is manifest from the silliness of the subscriptions, on which it pains me to animadvert. In particular, that mall of Hildesheim who exults with insane joy, was not worthy of a word, which would have made my replies cumulative by adding two more than was required. Let the others, when they see that any objection which seemed to them plausible has been fully refuted, though they may not have been specially replied to, set it down as an advantage.
How eager they are for contests to disturb the whole world, appears from their furious incentives: for they do not disguise that nothing vexes them more than their inability to involve as many as they could wish in the quarrel. The only thing which prevents them from charging all who differ from us with treachery, is the fear of incurring disgrace by disclosing the fewness of their own numbers. Though we should not remark it, the silence of those who, notwithstanding of their disagreement from us, cherish peace, is a sufficient condemnation of Westphal’s faction. For they prudently consider what indeed is true, that when we are agreed on both sides that Christ in the Supper offers us his body and blood that our souls may be fed with their substance, and differ in sentiment only as to the mode of eating, there is no just ground for fierce quarrel. Were a just comparison made, there are many things which might impel us to fight more keenly. But so long as any hope of pacification appears, it will not be my fault if mutual goodwill is not maintained. Though from being unworthily provoked I have been more vehement in this writing than I was inclined to be, still were a time and place appointed for friendly discussion, I declare and promise that I will be ready to attend, and manifest a spirit of lenity which will not retard the desired success of a pious and holy concord. I am not one who delights in intestine dissension, nor am I so tickled by the gratulations of those who subscribe to me, as to catch at strife as furnishing the materials of victory. On the contrary, I lament that those who ought to have interposed their authority to repress contention have by their delay left me no alternative.
Rumors of some pacificatory convention have been often circulated: and it cannot be believed that princes are so careless as not to feel solicitous to provide some remedy for this calamitous rending of the Church. Therefore as I have no doubt that the subject has been repeatedly agitated in their councils, so I know not what has caused the delay; only with great sorrow I see that while some pertinaciously cleave to their own views, and others indulge in uncharitable suspicions, this most useful measure is neglected or even spurned. But I feel assured that in the event of a friendly conference, those who can now tolerate a candid defense of the truth would become still more impartial. Henceforth, therefore, let these men rage as they will, my determination is by delivering sound doctrine calmly and without contention, rather to consult for the sober, docile, and modest, than waste words on the petulant, disdainful, and obstinate. Meanwhile, I will beseech my Savior, whose proper office it is to gather together all that lies scattered throughout the world, that while our adversaries give no hope, he himself would find a remedy for this unhappy dissension.