I MUST patiently submit to this condition which providence has assigned me — petulant, dishonest, rabid men, as if they had conspired together, must make me the special object of their virulence. Other most excellent men indeed they do not spare, assailing the living and lacerating the names of the dead; but the only cause of the more violent onset which they make on me, is, because Satan, whose slaves they are, the more useful he sees my labors to be to the Church of Christ, stimulates them the more strongly to attack me. I say nothing of the old ravers, whose calumnies are already obsolete. A foul apostate of the name ofSTAPHYLUS has lately started up, and without a word of provocation, has uttered more calumnies against me than against all the others who had depicted his perfidy, bad morals, and depraved disposition. From another quarter one named NICOLAS LE COQ, has begun to neigh against me. At length from another sink comes forth TILEMAN HESHUSIUS, of whom I would rather have the reader to form a judgment from fact and from his writings than express my own opinion.
OPHILIP MELANCTHON! for I appeal to thee who art living in the presence of God with Christ, and waiting for us there until we are united with thee in beatific rest: Thou hast said a hundred times, when weary with labor and oppressed with sadness, thou didst lay thy head familiarly on my bosom, Would, would that I could die on this bosom! Since then, I have wished a thousand times that it had been our lot to be together! Certainly, thou hadst been readier to maintain contests, and stronger to despise obloquy, and set at nought false accusations. Thus, too, a check had been put on the naughtiness of many who were emboldened in insult by what they termed thy softness. The growlings of Staphylus, indeed, were severely chastised by thee; but though thou didst complain to me privately of Le Coq, as thy own letter to me testifies, yet thou didst neglect to repress his insolence and that of his fellows. I have not indeed forgotten what thou didst write. I will give the very words: I know that with your admirable prudence you judge from the writings of your opponents what their natures are, and to what stage of display they look.
I also remember what I wrote in reply, and will in like manner quote the words: Rightly and prudently dost thou remind me that the object; of our antagonists is to exhibit themselves on a stage. But though their expectation will, as I hope and believe, greatly disappoint them, yet were they to carry the applause of the whole world along with them, the more intently must we be fixed on the heavenly Captain under whose eyes we fight. What? will the sacred company of angels, who both animate us by their favor, and show us how to act strenuously by their example, allow us to grow sluggish or advance with hesitation? What of the whole band of holy fathers? will they add no stimulus? What, moreover, of the Church of God which is in the world? When we know that she both aids us by her prayers, and is animated by our example, will her suffrage have no effect upon us? Mine be this stage. Contented with its approbation, though the whole world should hiss me, I will never be discouraged. So far am I from envying their senseless clamor, that I make them welcome to the stale glory of their obscure corner for a brief season. I am not unaware what it is that the world applauds and dislikes, but to me nothing is of more consequence than to follow the rule prescribed by the Master. And I have no doubt that this ingenuousness will ultimately be more acceptable to men of sense and piety, than a soft and equivocal mode of teaching betokening empty fear. As thou acknowledgest that thou owest thyself to God and the Church, I beseech thee to pay the debt as soon as possible. I do not insist in this way, because I trust to throw part of the obloquy upon thee, and so far ease myself. Nay, rather from the love and respect I bear thee, I would willingly, were it allowable, take part of thy burden on my own shoulders. But it is thy own business to consider without any suggestion from me, that if thou do not quickly remove the doubts of all the pious who look up to thee, the debt will scarcely ever be paid at all. I may add, that if this late and evening crowing of the cock does not awaken thee, all men will justly cry out against thee as lazy.
For this appeal to his promise, he had furnished me with an occasion by the following words: I hear that a cock from the banks of the Ister is printing a large volume against me; if it shall be published, I have determined to reply simply and without ambiguity this labor I think I owe to God and the Church; nor in my old age have I any dread of exile and other dangers. This is ingenuously and manfully said; but in another letter he had confessed, that a temper naturally mild made him desirous of peace and quietness. His words are: As in your last letter you urge me to repress the ignorant clamor of those who are renewing the contest about the worship of bread, ajrtolatrei>a I must tell you that some of those who do so are chiefly instigated by hatred to me, thinking it a plausible occasion for oppressing me. The same love of quiet prevented him from discoursing freely of other matters, the explanation of which was either unpleasant to delicate palates or liable to perverse construction. But how much this saint was displeased with the restlessness of those men who still cease not to rage against us is very apparent from another passage.
After congratulating me on my refutation of the blasphemies of Servetus, and declaring that the Church now owed and would to posterity owe me gratitude, and that he entirely assented to my judgment, he adds, that these things were of the greatest importance, and most necessary to be known, and then jestingly subjoins, in speaking of their frivolities, All this is nothing to the Artolatria. Writing to me at Worms, he laments that his Saxon neighbors, who had been sent as colleagues, had left after exhibiting a condemnation of our Churches, and adds: Now they will celebrate their triumphs at. home, as if they had gained a Cadmean victory. In another letter, weary of their madness and fury, he does not conceal his desire to be with me.
The things last mentioned are of no consequence to Staphylus, who hires out his petulant tongue to the Roman Antichrist, and for the professed purpose of establishing his tyranny, confounds heaven and earth after the manner of the giants. This miscreant, whose base defection from the faith has left him no sense of shame, I do not deem of importance enough to occupy much time in refuting his errors. The hypothesis on which he places the whole sum and substance of his cause openly discovers his profane contempt of all religion. The whole doctrine which we profess he would bring into suspicion, and so render disreputable, on the simple ground, that since the Papal darkness was dissipated, and eternal truth shone forth, many errors also have sprung up, which he attributes to the revival of the gospel: as if he were not thus raising a quarrel with Christ and his Apostles, rather than with us. The devil never stalked about so much at large, vexing both the bodies and souls of men, as when the heavenly and saving doctrine of Christ gave forth its light. Let him therefore calumniously charge Christ with having come to make demoniacs of those who were formerly sane. Shortly after the first promulgation of the gospel, an incredible number of errors poured in like a deluge on the world. Let Staphylus, the hireling rhetorician of the Pope, keep prating that they flowed from the gospel as their source. Assuredly, if this futile calumny has any effect on futile erring spirits, it will have none on those on whose hearts Paul’s admonition is impressed, There must be heresics, in order that those who are approved may be made manifest. ( Corinthians 11:19.) Of this, Staphylus himself is a striking proof. His brutish rage, which plainly enough is the just reward of his perfidy, confirms all the pious in the sincere fear of God. The main object of this impure man, who is evidently an infidel, is to destroy all reverence for heavenly doctrine: nay, the tendency of his efforts is not only to vilify religion, but to banish all care and zeal for it. Hence his dishonesty not only fails by its own demerits, but is detested, like its author, by all good men. Meanwhile, the false charge, by which he would throw obloquy on us, is easily retorted on himself. Many perverse errors have arisen during the last forty years, starting up in succession, one after another. The reason is, because Satan saw, that by the light of the gospel the impostures by which he had long fascinated the world were overthrown, and therefore plied all his efforts, and employed all his engines, in short, all his infernal powers, either to overthrow the doctrine of Christ, or defeat its progress.
It was no slight attestation to the truth of God that it was thus violently assaulted by the lies of Satan. While the sudden emergence of so many impious dogmas thus gives certainty to our doctrine, what will Staphylus gain by spitting at it, unless it be with fickle men, who would fain destroy all distinction between good and evil?
I ask, whether of the many errors about which, for the purpose of throwing obloquy upon us, he makes so much noise, there was no mention made before Luther? He himself enumerates many by which the Church was disturbed at its very commencement. Had the Apostles been charged with engendering all the sects which then sprung up, would they have had no defense? But any concession thus made to them will be good to us also.
An easier mode, however, of disposing of the reproach of Staphylus is to reply, that the delirious dreams by which Satan formerly endeavored to obscure the light of the gospel are now in a great measure suppressed; certainly, scarce a tenth of them has been renewed. Since Staphylus has advertised himself for sale, were any one to pay more for him than the Pope, would he not be ready, in his licentious spirit, to upbraid Christ?
Whenever the gospel is brought forward, it brings along with it or engenders numerous errors. Never was the world more troubled with perverse and impious dogmas than at his first advent. But Christ the eternal truth of God will acquit himself without defense from us.
Meanwhile, a sufficient answer to the vile charge is to be found in the fact, that there is no ground for imputing to the servants of God any part of that leaven with which Satan, by his ministers, corrupts pure doctrine; and that, therefore, to form a right judgment in such a case, it is always necessary to attend to the source in which the error originates.
Immediately after Luther began to stir up the camarilla of the Papacy, many monstrous men and monstrous opinions suddenly appeared. What affinity with Luther had the Munsterians, the Anabaptists, the Adamites, the Heblerites, the Sabbatarians, the Clancularians, that they should be regarded as his disciples? Did he ever lend them his support? Did he subscribe their most absurd fictions? Nay, with what vehemence did he oppose them, in order to prevent the spreading of the contagion? He had the discernment at once to perceive what noxious pests they would prove.
And will this hog still keep grunting, that the errors which were put to flight by our exertion, while the Popish clergy did not at all bestir themselves, proceeded from us? Though he is hardened in effrontery, the futility of the charge will not henceforth impose even on children, who will at once perceive how false and unjust it is to blame us for evils which we most vehemently oppose. As it is perfectly notorious that neither Luther nor any of us ever gave the least countenance to those who, under the impulse of a fanatical spirit, disseminated impious and detestable errors, we are no more bound to bear the odium of their impiety than Paul was to bear that of Hermogenes and Philetus, who taught that the resurrection was past, and all farther hope at an end. ( 1 Timothy 2:17.)
Moreover, what are the errors by which our whole doctrine is to be covered with ignominy? The wicked falsehoods which he utters against others I need not refer to: he assigns to me one sect of his own invention.
He gives the name of Energists to those who hold that the virtue of Christ’s body only, and not the body itself, is in the Supper. He, however, gives me Philip Melancthon for an associate, and to establish both assertions, refers to my writings against Westphal, where the reader will find that in the Supper our souls are nourished by the real body of Christ, which was crucified for us, nay, that spiritual life is transferred into us from the substance of his body. When I teach that the body of Christ is given us for food by the secret energy of the Spirit, do I thereby deny that the Supper is a communion of the body? See how foully he employs his mouth to please his patrons.
There is another monstrous term which he has invented for the purpose of throwing a stigma upon me. He calls me Bisacramental. But if he would make it a charge against me that I affirm that two sacraments only were instituted by Christ, he should first of all prove that he makes them septeplex, as the Papists express it. The Papists obtrude seven sacraments. I do not find that Christ committed to us more than two.
Staphylus should prove that four more emanated from Christ, or allow us both to hold and speak the truth. He cannot expect that his bombast is to make heretics of us, while we found on the sure and clear authority of God. He classes Luther, Melancthon, myself, and many others, as new Manichees, and afterwards, to lengthen the catalogue, repeats that the Calvinists are Manichees and Marcionites. It is easy indeed to pick up these reproaches like stones from the street, and throw them at the heads of unoffending passengers. He, however, gives his reasons for comparing us to the Manichees, but they are borrowed partly from a catamite, partly from a cynical buffoon. Of what use then were it for me to clear myself from the most absurd figments in which he indulges? I have no objection, however, to the challenge with which he concludes, namely, to let my treatise on Predestination decide the dispute: for in this way it will soon appear what kind of thistles (staphyli) are produced by this wild vine.
I come now to the Cock, (Le Coq,) who with his vile beak declares me a corrupter of the Confession of Augsburg, because denying that in the holy Supper we are made partakers of the substance of the flesh and blood of Christ. But it is declared in my writings more than a hundred times, that so far am I from rejecting the term substance, that I ingenuously and readily declare, that by the incomprehensible agency of the Spirit, spiritual life is infused into us from the substance of the flesh of Christ. I also constantly admit that we are substantially fed on the flesh and blood of Christ, though I discard the gross fiction of a local intermingling. What then?
Because a cock has thought proper to name his feathers against me, are, all minds to be so terror-struck as to be incapable of judgment? Not to make myself ridiculous, I decline to give a lengthened refutation of a writing which proves its author to be no less absurd than its stolid audacity proves him drunk. It certainly proclaims that when he wrote he was not compos mentis.
But what shall I do with Tileman Heshusius, who, magnificently provided with a superb and sonorous vocabulary, is confident of prostrating by the breath of his mouth anything that withstands his assault? I am also told by worthy persons who know him better, that another kind of confidence inflates him; that he has made it his special determination to acquire fame by advancing paradoxes and absurd opinions. It may be either because an intemperate nature so hurries him, or because a moderate course of doctrine leaves him no place for applause, on which his whole soul is bent even to madness. His tract certainly proves him to be a man of turbulent temper, as well as headlong audacity and presumption. To give the reader a sample, I will only mention a few things from the preface. He does the very same thing which Cicero describes to have been done by the silly ranters of his day, when, by a plausible exordium stolen from some ancient oration, they gave hopes of gaining the prize. In like manner this fine writer, to seize upon the minds of the readers, collects from his matter Melancthon apt and elegant sentences by which he may ingratiate himself or give an air of majesty, just as if an ape were to get clothed in purple, or an ass to cover himself with a lion’s skin. He harangues about the huge dangers he has run, though he has always hugged his delicacies no less securely than luxuriously. He talks of his manifold toils, though he has large treasures laid up at home, has always sold his labors at a high rate, and by himself alone consumes the whole. It is true, indeed, that from many places where he wished to make a quiet nest for himself, he has been repeatedly driven by his own restlessness. Thus expelled from Gossler, Rostoch, Heidelberg, Bremen, he lately withdrew to Magdeburg. Such expulsions were meritorious, had he been forced repeatedly to change his soil from a constant adherence to the truth; but when a man full of insatiable ambition, addicted to strife and quarreling, makes himself everywhere intolerable by his savage temper, there is no ground for this complaining of having been injuriously harassed by others, when his luxurious habits were disturbed by his own unseasonable conduct. Still, however, he was provident enough to take care that his migrations should not be attended with damage; nay, riches only stimulated him.
He next bewails the vast barbarism which appears to be impending; as if any greater or worse barbarism were to be feared than that from him and his fellows. To go no further for a proof, let the reader consider how fiercely he sneers and tears at his master, Philip Melancthon, whose memory he ought sacredly to revere. He does not indeed mention him by name, but whom does he mean by the supporters of our doctrine who stand high in the Church for influence and learning, and are most distinguished theologians? Indeed, not to leave the matter to conjecture, he, by his opprobrious epithets, points to Philip as it were with the finger, and even seems, in writing his book, to have gone out of his way in search of materials for traducing him. Well, he could not treat his preceptor more modestly than by charging him with perfidy and sacrilege! He hesitates not to accuse him of deceit in employing ambiguous terms in order to please both parties, and thus attempting to settle strife by the arts of Theramenes. Then comes the heavier charge, that he incurred the guilt of a most pernicious crime in aiming to extinguish the confession of faith, which ought to be conspicuous in the Church. Such is the pious gratitude of the scholar not only towards the master to whom he owes any little learning he may possess, but towards a man who has deserved so highly of the whole Church.
When he charges me with having introduced perplexity into the discussion by my subtleties, the discussion itself will show what foundation there is for the charge; but when he gives the name of Epicurean dogma to the explanation which we give, no less religiously than usefully, in regard to the ordinance of the Supper, what else is it than to vie in licentious talk with pimps and debauchees? Let him look for Epicurism in his own habits.
Assuredly both our frugality and assiduous labors for the Church, our constancy amid danger, diligence in the discharge of our office, unwearied zeal in propagating the kingdom of Christ, and integrity in asserting the doctrine of piety — in short, our serious exercise in meditating on the heavenly life, will testify that there is nothing less accordant with our disposition than a profane contempt of God, of which it would be well if the conscience of this Thraso did not accuse him. But I have said more of the man than I intended.
Leaving him, therefore, I purpose briefly to discuss the cause, feeling, that with such as he a more accurate discussion were superfluous. For though there is some show about him, he does nothing more by his magniloquence than vend the old follies and frivolities of Westphal and his fellows. He harangues loftily on the omnipotence of God, on putting implicit faith in his word, and subduing human reason, in terms he may have learned from other sources, of which I believe myself also to be one. I have no doubt, from his childish stolidity in glorying, that he imagines himself to combine the qualities of Melancthon and Luther. From the one he ineptly borrows flowers, and having no better way of rivaling the vehemence of the other, he substitutes bombast and sound. But we have no dispute as to the boundless power of God; and all my writings declare, that far from measuring the mystery of the Supper by human reason, I look up to it with devout admiration. All who in the present day contend strenuously for the candid defense of the truth, will readily admit me into their society.
I have proved by fact, that in treating the mystery of the Holy Supper, I do not refuse credit to the word of God; and therefore when Heshusius vociferates against me for doing so, he only in the most offensive manner makes all good men witnesses to his malice and ingratitude. Were it possible to bring him back from vague and sportive flights to a serious discussion of the subject, a few words would suffice.
When he alleges the sluggishness of princes as the obstacle which prevents a holy synod from being assembled to settle disputes, I wish that he himself, and similar furies, did not obstruct all means of concord. This he does not disguise a little farther on, when he denies the expediency of any discussion between us. What pious synod then would suit his choice, unless it were one in which two hundred of his companions or thereabouts, well-fed to make their zeal more fervent, should, according to a custom which has long been common with them, declare us to be worse and more execrable than the Papists. The only confession which they want is a rejection of all inquiry, and an obstinate defense of any random fiction which may have fallen from them. It is perfectly obvious, though the devil has fascinated their minds in a fearful manner, that it is pride more than error that makes them so pertinacious in assailing our doctrine.
As he pretends that he is an advocate of the Church, and in order to deceive the simple by fallacious masks, is ever and anon arrogating to himself the common character of all who teach rightly, I should like to know who authorized him to assume this office. He is ever exclaiming: We teach; This is our opinion; Thus we, speak; So we assert. Let the farrago which Westphal has huddled together be read, and a strange repugnance will be found. Not to go farther for an example, Westphal boldly affirms that the body of Christ is chewed by the teeth, and confirms it by quoting with approbation the recantation of Berengarius, as given by Gratian. This does not please Heshusius, who insists that it is eaten by the mouth but not touched by the teeth, and greatly disapproves those gross modes of eating. And yet he reiterates his Asserimus, (we assert,) just as if he were the representative of an university. This worthy son of Jena repeatedly charges me with subtleties, sophisms, nay, impostures: as if there were any equivocation or ambiguity, or any kind of obscurity in my mode of expression. When I say that the flesh and blood of Christ are substantially offered and exhibited to us in the Supper, I at the same time explain the mode, namely, that the flesh of Christ becomes vivifying to us, inasmuch as Christ, by the incomprehensible agency of his Spirit, transfuses his own proper life into us from the substance of his flesh, so that he himself lives in us, and his life is common to us. Who will be persuaded by Heshusius that there is any sophistry in this clear statement, in which I both use popular terms and satisfy the ear of the learned? Would he only desist from the futile calumnies by which he darkens the cause, the whole point would at once be decided.
After Heshusius has exhausted all his bombast, the whole question hinges on this, Does he who denies that the body of Christ is eaten by the mouth, take away the substance of his body from the sacred Supper? I come to close quarters at once with the man who maintains that we are not partakers of the substance of the flesh of Christ unless we eat it with our mouths. His expression is, that the very substance of the flesh and blood must be taken by the mouth; whereas I define the mode of communication without ambiguity, by saying, that Christ by his boundless and wondrous power unites us into the same life with himself, and not only applies the fruit of his passion to us, but becomes truly ours by communicating his blessings to us, and accordingly conjoins us to himself in the same way in which head and members unite to form one body. I do not restrict this union to the divine essence, but affirm that it belongs to the flesh and blood, inasmuch as it was not simply said, My Spirit, but, My flesh is meat indeed; nor was it simply said, My Divinity, but, My blood is drink indeed.
Moreover, I do not interpret this communion of flesh and blood as applying only to the common nature, in respect that Christ, by becoming man, made us sons of God with himself by virtue of fraternal fellowship; but I distinctly affirm, that our flesh which he assumed is vivifying by becoming the material of spiritual life to us. And I willingly embrace the saying of Augustine, As Eve was formed out of a rib of Adam, so the origin and beginning of life to us flowed from the side of Christ. And although I distinguish between the sign and the thing signified, I do not teach that there is only a bare and shadowy figure, but distinctly declare that the bread is a sure pledge of that communion with the flesh and blood of Christ which it figures. For Christ is neither a painter, nor a player, nor a kind of Archimedes, who presents an empty image to amuse the eye, but he truly and in reality performs what he promises by an external symbol.
Hence I conclude that the bread which we break is truly the communion of the body of Christ. But as this connection of Christ with his members depends on his incomprehensible energy, I am not ashamed to admire this mystery which I feel and acknowledge to transcend the reach of my mind.
Here our Thraso makes an uproar, and cries out that it is great impudence as well as sacrilegious audacity to corrupt the plain word of God, which declares, This is my body — that one might as well deny the Son of God to be man. But I rejoin, that if he would evade this very charge of sacrilegious audacity, he must on his own terms become an anthropomorphite.
He insists that no amount of absurdity shall induce us to change one syllable. Hence as the Scripture distinctly attributes to God feet, hands, eyes, and ears, a throne, and a footstool, it follows that he is corporeal. As he is said in the song of Miriam to be a man of war, (Exodus 15,) it will not be lawful by any congruous exposition to soften this harsh mode of expression. Let Heshusius get into the heroics if he will, his insolence cannot withstand this strong and invulnerable argument. The ark of the covenant is distinctly called the Lord of hosts, and indeed with such asseveration that the Prophet emphatically exclaims, (Psalm 24,) Who is this king of glory? Jehovah himself is king of hosts.
Here we do not say that the Prophet inconsiderately gave utterance to that which at first glance is seen to be absurd, as this fellow wickedly babbles; but after reverently embracing what he says, we no less piously than aptly interpret that the name of God is transferred to a symbol because of its inseparable connection with the thing and reality. Nay, this is a general rule in regard to all the sacraments, which not only human reason compels us to adopt, but which a sense of piety and the uniform usage of piety dictate. No man is so ignorant or senseless as not to know that in all the sacraments the Spirit of God by the Prophets and Apostles employs this peculiar form of expression. Nay, one who will dispute this should be sent to his rudiments. Jacob saw the Lord of hosts sitting on a ladder. Moses saw him both in a burning bush and in the flame of Mount Horeb. If the letter is pertinaciously clung to, how could God, who is invisible, be seen?
Heshusius repudiates examination, and leaves us no other resource than to shut our eyes and acknowledge that God is visible and invisible. But an explanation at once clear and accordant with piety, and in fact necessary, spontaneously presents itself, viz., that God is never seen as he is, but gives manifest signs of his presence adapted to the capacity of believers.
In this way there is no exclusion of the presence of the divine essence when the name of God is metonymically applied to the symbol by which God represents himself truly — not figuratively merely but substantially.
A dove is called the Spirit. Is this to be strictly taken, just as when Christ declares that God is a Spirit? ( Matthew 3:13; John 4:24.)
Surely a manifest difference is apparent. For although the Spirit was then truly and essentially present, he however displayed the presence both of his virtue and his essence by a visible symbol. How wicked it is in Heshusius to accuse us of feigning a symbolical body is clear from this, that no candid man infers that a symbolical Spirit was seen in the baptism of Christ, from his having truly appeared under the symbol or external appearance of a dove. We acknowledge then, that in the Supper we eat the same body which was crucified, although the expression in regard to the bread is metonymical, so that it may be truly said to be symbolically the real body of Christ, by the sacrifice of which we have been reconciled to God. And though there is some diversity in the expressions, The bread is a sign, or figure, or symbol of the body; and the bread signifies the body, or is a metaphorical, or metonymical, or synecdochical expression for it, they perfectly agree in substance, and therefore it is mere trifling in Westphal and Heshusius to start difficulties where none exist.
A little farther on he starts off in a different direction, and says, that whatever may be the variety in expression, we all hold the very same sentiments, but that I alone deceive the simple by ambiguities. But where are the ambiguities, on the removal of which my deceit is to stand detected? Perhaps his rhetoric can furnish a new kind of perspicuity which will clearly manifest my alleged equivocation. Meanwhile he unworthily includes us all in the charge of teaching that the bread is the sign, of the absent body, as if I had not long ago distinctly admonished my readers of two kinds of absence, to acquaint them that the body of Christ is indeed absent in respect of place, but that we enjoy a spiritual participation in it, every obstacle from distance being surmounted by his divine energy.
Hence it follows, that our dispute relates neither to presence nor to substantial eating, but only as to the mode of both. We neither admit a local presence, nor that gross or rather brutish eating of which Heshusius talks so absurdly when he says, that Christ in respect of his human nature is present on the earth in the substance of his body and blood, so that he is not only eaten in faith by his saints, but also by the mouth bodily without faith by the wicked.
Without adverting at present to the absurdities here involved, I ask, where is the true touchstone, the express declaration of the word of God?
Assuredly it cannot be found in the barbarous terms now quoted. Let us see, however, what the explanation is which he thinks sufficient to stop the mouths of the Calvinists — an explanation so senseless that it must rather open their mouths to protest against it. He vindicates himself and the churches of his party from the error of transubstantiation with which he falsely alleges that we charge them. For though they have many things in common with the Papists, we do not therefore confound them together and leave no distinction. I should rather say, it is long since I showed that the Papists in their dreams are considerably more modest and more sober.
And what does he himself say? As the words are joined together contrary to the order of nature, it is right to maintain the literal sense by which the bread is properly the body. The words therefore, to be accordant with the thing, behoove to be pronounced contrary to the order of nature.
He afterwards excuses their different forms of expression, when they assert that the body is under the bread or with the bread. But how will he persuade any one that it is under the bread, unless it be in respect that the bread is a sign? How, too, will he persuade any one that the bread is not to be worshipped if it be properly Christ? The expression, that the body is; in the bread or under the bread, he calls improper, because the substantial word has its proper and genuine signification in the union of the bread and Christ. In vain, therefore, does he refute the inference that the body is in the bread, and therefore the bread should be worshipped. This inference is the invention of his own brain. The argument we have always used is this, If Christ is in the bread, he should be worshipped under the bread. Much more might we argue, that the bread should be worshipped if it be truly and properly Christ.
He thinks he gets out of the difficulty by saying, that the union is not hypostatical. But who will concede to a hundred or a thousand Heshusiuses the right to lay worship under whatever restrictions they please? Assuredly no man of sense will be satisfied in conscience with the silly quibble, that the bread, though it is truly and properly Christ, is not to be worshipped, because they are not hypostatically one. The answer will instantly occur, that things must be the same when the one is substantially predicated of the other. The words of Christ do not speak of anything accidental to the bread, but if we are to believe Heshusius and his fellows, they plainly and unambiguously assert, that the bread is the body of Christ, and therefore Christ himself. Nay, they affirm more of the bread than can be lawfully affirmed of the human nature of Christ. But how monstrous is it to give more honor to the bread than to our Savior’s sacred flesh? Of this flesh it cannot truly be affirmed, as they insist on affirming in regard to the bread, that it is properly Christ. Though he may deny that he imagines any community of being metousia I will always force him to admit, that if the bread is properly the body, it is one and the same with the body. He subscribes to the sentiment of Iranaeus, that there are two different things in the Supper — an earthly and a heavenly, namely, the bread and the body. But I not do see how this can be reconciled with the fictitious identity, which, though he does not express it in a word, he certainly asserts in fact, inasmuch as things must be the same whenever we can say of them, That is this, This is that.
The same reasoning applies to the local enclosing which Heshusius pretends to repudiate, when he says, that Christ is not contained by place, and can be at the same time in several places. To vindicate himself, he says, that the bread is the body not only properly, truly, and really, but also definitively. Should I answer that I cannot give any meaning to these monstrous contradictions, he will meet me with what he and his fellows bring forward on all occasions as a shield of Ajax — that reason is inimical to faith. This I readily grant if he is to be regarded as a rational animal.
Three kinds of reason are to be considered, but he at one bound overleaps them all. There is a reason naturally implanted which cannot be condemned without insult to God, but it has limits which it cannot overstep without being immediately lost. Of this we have a sad proof in the fall of Adam. There is another kind of reason which is vicious, especially in a corrupt nature, and is manifested when mortal man, instead of receiving divine things with reverence, would subject them to his own judgment. This reason is mental intoxication, or pleasing insanity, and is at eternal variance with the obedience of faith, since we must become fools in ourselves before we can begin to be wise unto God. In regard to heavenly mysteries, therefore, we must abjure this reason, which is nothing better than mere fatuity, and if accompanied with arrogance, grows to the height of madness. But there is a third kind of reason, which both the Spirit of God and Scripture sanction. Heshusius, however, disregarding all distinction, confidently condemns, under the name of human reason, everything which is opposed to the frenzied dream of his own mind.
He charges us with paying more deference to reason than to the word of God. But what if we adduce no reason that is not derived from the word of God and founded on it? Let him show that we profanely philosophize on the mysteries of God, that we measure his heavenly kingdom by our sense, that we subject the oracles of the Holy Spirit to the judgment of the flesh, that we admit nothing that does not approve itself to our own wisdom. The fact is far otherwise. For what is more repugnant to human reason than that souls immortal by creation, should derive life from mortal flesh? This we assert. What is less accordant with earthly wisdom, than that the flesh of Christ should infuse its vivifying energy into us from heaven? What is more foreign to our sense, than that corruptible and fading bread should be an undoubted pledge of spiritual life? What more remote from philosophy, than that the Son of God, who in respect of human nature is in heaven, so dwells in us, that everything which has been given him of the Father is common to us, and hence the immortality with which his flesh has been endowed is ours? All these things we clearly testify, while Heshusius has nothing to urge but his delirious dream, That the flesh of Christ is eaten by unbelievers, and yet is not vivifying. If he refuses to believe that there is any reason without philosophy, let him learn from a short syllogism: He who does not. observe the analogy between the sign and the thing signified, is an unclean animal, not cleaving the hoof; he who asserts that the bread is truly and properly the body of Christ, destroys the analogy between the sign and the thing signified; therefore, he who asserts that the bread is properly the body, is an unclean animal, not cleaving the hoof.
From this syllogism let him know, that even though there were no philosophy in the world, he is an unclean animal. But his object in this indiscriminate condemnation of reason, no doubt was to procure license to his own darkness, and give effect to the inference, that as when mention is made of the crucifixion, and of the benefits which the living and substantial body of Christ procured, the body referred to cannot be understood to be symbolical, typical, or allegorical, so the words of Christ, This is my body, This is my blood, cannot be understood symbolically or metonymically, but substantially. As if mere tyros did not see that the term symbol is applied to the bread, not to the body, and that the metonyomy is not in the substance of the body, but in the texture of the words. And yet he here exults as if he were an Olympic victor, and bids us try the whole force of our intellect on this argument—an argument so absurd, that I will not deign to refute it even in jest. For while he says, that we turn our backs, and, at the same time, stimulates himself to press forward, his own procedure betrays his manifest inconsistency. He admits that we understand that the substance of the body of Christ is given, seeing that Christ is wholly ours by faith. It is well that he harmlessly butts at the air with his own horns, and makes it unnecessary for us to be on our guard. I would ask, if we turn our backs when we thus distinctly expose his calumny in regard to an allegorical body? But as if he had fallen into a fit of forgetfulness, after he has come to himself, he brings a new plea, and charges us with holding the absence of the body, telling us that the giving of which we speak, has no more effect than the giving of a field to one who was to be immediately removed from it. How dare he thus liken the incomparable virtue of the Holy Spirit to lifeless things, and represent the gathering of the produce of a field, as equivalent to that union with the Son of God, which enables our souls to obtain life from his body and blood? Surely in this matter he overacts the rustic. I may add, that it is false to say that we expound the words of Christ as if the thing were absent, when it is perfectly well known that the absence of which we speak is confined to place and actual sight. Although Christ does not exhibit his flesh as present to our eyes, nor by change of place descend from his celestial glory, we maintain that there is nothing in this distance to prevent him from being truly united to us.
But let us attend to the kind of presence for which he insists. At first sight his view seems calm and sensible. He admits that Christ is everywhere by a communication of properties, as was taught by the fathers, and that, accordingly, it is not the body of Christ that is everywhere, the ubiquity being ascribed in the concrete to the whole person in respect of the union of the Divine nature. This is so exactly our doctrine, that one is tempted to think he means to curry favor with us: by disguising his own. Nor have we any difficulty in agreeing with him, when he adds, that it is impossible to comprehend how the body of Christ is in a certain part of heaven, above the heavens, and yet the person of Christ is everywhere, ruling in equal power with the Father. Nay, it is notorious to all, how violently I have been assailed by his party for the defense of this very doctrine. And, in order to express this in a still more palpable form, I employed the trite dictum of the schools, that Christ is whole everywhere, but not wholly, (torus ubique sed non totum;) in other words, in his entire person of Mediator he fills heaven and earth, though in his flesh he is in heaven, which he has chosen as the abode of his human nature, until he appear to judgment.. What then prevents us from adopting this evident distinction, and agreeing with each other? Simply, because Heshusius immediately perverts what he had said, and insists that Christ did not exclude his human nature when he promised to be present on the earth. Shortly after, he says, that Christ is present with his Church, dispersed in different places, and this in respect not only of his Divine, but also of his human nature. In a third passage he is still plainer, and maintains, that there is no absurdity in holding that he may, in respect, of his human nature, exist in different places wherever he pleases. And he rudely rejects what he terms the physical axiom, that one body cannot be in different places. What can now be clearer than that he holds the body of Christ to be immense, and imagines a monstrous ubiquity? A little before he had admitted, that the body is in a certain place in heaven, now he assigns it different places.
This is to lacerate the body, and refuse to raise his heart upwards.
He objects that Stephen was not carried above all heavens to see Jesus; as if I had not repeatedly disposed of this quibble. As Christ was not recognized by his two disciples when he sat familiarly with them at the same table, not on account of any metamorphosis, but because their eyes were holden; so eyes were given to Stephen to penetrate even to the heavens. Surely it is not without cause mentioned by Luke, that he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and beheld the glory of God. Nor without cause does Stephen himself declare, that the heavens were opened to him, so that he beheld Jesus standing on the right hand of his Father. This, I presume, makes it plain, how absurdly Heshusius endeavors to bring him down to the earth. With equal shrewdness he infers, that Christ was on the earth when he showed himself to Paul; as if we had never heard of that carrying up to the third heaven, which Paul himself so magnificently proclaims.
What says Heshusius to this? His words are: Paul could not be translated above all heavens, whither the Son of God ascended. I have nothing to add, but that no degree of contempt can be too great for the man who thus dares to give the lie to Paul when testifying of himself. But it is said, that as Christ distinctly offers his body in the bread, and his blood in the wine, all pertness and curiosity must be curbed. This I admit; but it does not follow that we are to shut our eyes in order to exclude the rays of the sun.
Nay, rather, if the mystery is deserving of contemplation, it becomes us to consider in what way Christ can give us his body and blood for meat and drink. For if the whole Christ is in the bread, nay, if the bread itself is Christ, we may with more truth affirm, that the body is Christ — an affirmation not more abhorrent to piety than to common sense. But if we refuse not to raise our hearts upwards, we shall feed on Christ entire, as well as expressly on his flesh and blood. And indeed when Christ invites us to eat his body, and to drink his blood, there is no necessity to bring him down from heaven, or require his actual presence in several places, in order to put his body and his blood within our lips. Amply sufficient for this purpose is the sacred bond of union with him, when we are united into one body by the secret agency of the Spirit. Hence I agree with Augustine, that in the bread we receive that which hung upon the cross; but I utterly abhor the delirious fancy of Heshusius and his fellows, that it is not received unless it is introduced into the carnal mouth. The communion of which Paul discourses does not require any local presence, unless we are to hold, that Paul, in teaching that we are called to communion with Christ, ( 1 Corinthians 1:9,) either speaks of a nonentity, or places Christ locally wherever the gospel is preached.
The dishonesty of this babbler is intolerable, when he says, that I confine the term koinwnia to the fellowship which we have with Christ, by partaking of his benefits. But before proceeding to discuss this point, it is necessary to see how ingeniously he escapes from us. When Paul says, that those who eat the sacrifice are partakers of the altar, ( Corinthians 9:13,) this skillful expounder gives as the reason, that each receives a part from the altar, and from this he concludes, that my interpretation is false. But what interpretation? Only that which he has coined out of his own brain; communion, as stated by me, being not only in the fruit of Christ’s death, but also in his body offered for our salvation.
But this interpretation also, which he regards as different from the other, is rejected by him as excluding the presence of Christ in the Supper. Here let my readers carefully attend to the kind of presence which he imagines, and to which he clings so doggedly, that he can almost regard the communion which John the Baptist had with Christ as a mere nullity, provided he is allowed to hold that the body of Christ was swallowed by Judas. I would ask this reverend doctor how, if those are partakers of the altar who divide the sacrifice into parts, he can exonerate himself from the charge of rending while he gives each his part? If he answers, that this is not what he means, let him correct his expression. He must, at all events, surrender what he regarded as the citadel of his defense, and desist from asserting that I leave nothing in the Supper but a right to a thing that is absent, seeing I uniformly maintain, that through the agency of the Spirit there is a present exhibition of the thing, though it is absent in respect of place. Still, while I refuse to subscribe to the barbarous eating, by which he insists that Christ is swallowed by the truth, he will continue, as before, to give vent in invective to his implacable fury. Verbally, indeed, he denies that he inquires concerning the mode of presence, and yet he insists no less absurdly than imperiously on the reception of his monstrous dogma, that the body of Christ is eaten corporeally by the mouth. These, indeed, are the very words he employs. In another passage, he says, We assert not only that we become partakers of the body of Christ by faith, but that also by our mouths we receive Christ essentially or corporeally within us; and in this way we testify that we give credit to the words of St. Paul and the evangelists.
But we, too, reject the sentiments of all who deny the presence of Christ in the Supper, and I therefore ask what the kind of presence is for which he quarrels with us? Obviously that which is dreamt by himself and others who share in his frenzy. To cloak such gross fancies with the names of Paul and the evangelists is the height of effrontery. With them for his witnesses, how will he prove that the body of Christ is taken by the mouth both corporeally and internally? He has elsewhere acknowledged that it is not chewed by the teeth nor touched by the palate. Why should he be so afraid of the touch of the palate or throat, while he ventures to assert that it is absorbed by the bowels? What does he mean by the expression “within us?” (intra nos.) By what is the body of Christ received after it has passed the mouth? After the mouth, if I mistake not, the passage of the body is to the viscera or intestines. If he say that we are calumniously throwing odium on him by the use of offensive terms, I should like to know what difference there is between saying that that which is received by the mouth is taken corporeally within, and saying that it passes into the viscera or intestines? Henceforth let the reader understand, and be careful to remember, that whenever Heshusius charges me with denying the presence of Christ in the Supper, the only thing for which he blames me is for thinking it absurd to hold that Christ is swallowed by the mouth, and passes bodily into the stomach. And yet he complains that I sport ambiguous expressions; as if it were not my perspicuity that maddens him and his associates. Of what ambiguity can he convict me? He admits that I assert the true and substantial eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood of Christ; but he says, that when my meaning is investigated, I speak of the receiving of merit, fruit, efficacy, virtue, and power, descending from heaven. Here his malignant absurdity is seen not darkly, but as in open day, while he confounds virtue and power with merit and fruit. Is it usual for any one to say that merit descends from heaven? Had he one particle of candor, he would have quoted me as either speaking or writing in such terms as these, — To our having substantial communion with the flesh of Christ there is no necessity for any change of place, since, by the secret, virtue of the Spirit, he infuses his life into us from heaven. Distance does not at all prevent Christ from dwelling in us, or us from being one with him, since the efficacy of the Spirit surmounts all natural obstacles.
A little farther on we shall see how shamefully he contradicts himself when he quotes my words, The blessings of Christ do not belong to us until he has himself become ours. Let him go now, and by employing the term merit mystify the nature of the communion which I clearly teach. He argues that if Christ is in heaven he is not in the Supper, that instead of him we have symbols merely; as if the Supper were not to the true worshippers of God a heavenly action, or a kind of vehicle which carries them above the world. But what is this to Heshusius, who not only halts on the earth, but does all he can to keep groveling in the mire? Paul teaches that in baptism we, put on Christ. ( Galatians 3:27.) How acutely will Heshusius argue that this cannot be if Christ remain in heaven? When Paul spoke thus it never occurred to him that Christ must be brought down from heaven, because he knew that he is united to us in a different manner, and that his blood is not less present to cleanse our souls than water to cleanse our bodies. If he rejoins that there is a difference between “eating” and “putting on,” I answer, that to surround us with clothing is as necessary in the latter case as the internal reception of food is in the former. Indeed, nothing more is needed to prove the folly or malice of the man than his refusal to admit any but a local presence. Though he denies it to be physical, and even quibbles upon the point, he however places the body of Christ wherever the bread is, and accordingly maintains that it is in several places at the same time. As he does not hesitate so to express himself, why may not the presence for which he insists be termed local?
Of a similar nature is his objection that the body is not received truly if it is received symbolically; as if by a true symbol we excluded the exhibition of the reality. He ultimately says it is mere imposture, unless a twofold eating is asserted, viz., a spiritual and a corporeal. How ignorantly and erroneously he wrests the passages which relate to spiritual eating, I need not observe, as children may see how ridiculous he makes himself. In regard to the subject itself, if a division is vicious when its members coincide with each other, (and this is one of the first lessons which boys learn from their rudiments,) how will he escape the charge of having thus blundered? For if there is any eating which is not spiritual, it will follow that in the ordinance of the Supper there is no operation of the Spirit.
Thus it will naturally be called the flesh of Christ, just as if it were a fading and corruptible food, and the chief earnest of eternal salvation will be unaccompanied by the Spirit. Should even this not overcome his effrontery, I ask, whether independently of the use of the Supper, there be no other eating than spiritual, which according to him is opposed to corporeal? He distinctly affirms that this is nothing else than faith, by which we apply to ourselves the benefits of Christ’s death. What then becomes of the declaration of Paul, That we are flesh of the flesh of Christ, and bone of his bones? ( Ephesians 5:30.) What will become of the exclamation, This is a great mystery? For if with the exception of the application of merit, nothing is left to believers beyond the present use of the Supper, the head will always be separated from the members, except at the particular moment when the bread is put into the mouth and throat.
We may add on the testimony of Paul, (1 Corinthians 1) that fellowship with Christ is the result of the gospel no less than of the Supper. We saw a little ago in what terms Heshusius speaks of this fellowship: but the same thing which Paul affirms of the Supper he had previously affirmed of the doctrine of the gospel. Were we to listen to this trifler, what would become of that noble discourse in which our Savior promises that his disciples should be one with him, as he and the Father were one? There cannot be a doubt that he there speaks of a perpetual union.
In making this absurd division, Heshusius is not ashamed to represent himself as an imitator of the fathers. He quotes a passage from Cyril on the fifteenth chapter of John: as if Cyril did not there plainly contend that the participation which we have of Christ in the Supper proves that we are united with him in respect of the flesh. He is disputing with the Arians, who, quoting the words of Christ, That they may be one, as thou Father art in me and I in thee, pretended to infer from thence that the unity of Christ with the Father was not in reality and essence, but only in consent. Cyril, to dispose of this quibble, answers, that we are essentially one with Christ, and in proof of it, instances the force of the mystical benediction. Were he contending only for a momentary communion, what could be more irrelevant? But it is no wonder that Heshusius thus betrays his utter want of shame, since he even claims the support of Augustine, who, as all the world knows, is diametrically opposed to him. He says, that Augustine distinctly admits (Serm. 2 de Verb. Dom.) that there are different modes of eating the flesh, and warns that Judas and other hypocrites ate the true flesh of Christ. But if it shall turn out that the epithet true is interpolated, how will Heshusius exonerate himself from a charge of forgery? Let the passage then be read, and without a word from me, it will be seen that Heshusius in using the term true flesh, has falsified.
But he will say that a twofold eating is there mentioned: as if the same distinction did not everywhere occur in our writings also. Augustine there employs the terms flesh and sacrament of flesh indiscriminately in the same sense. (Ep. 23, ad Bonif.) This he has also done in several other passages. If an explanation is asked, there cannot be a clearer interpreter than himself. He says, that from the resemblance which the sacraments have to the things, they often receive their names; for which reason the sacrament of the body of Christ is in a manner the body of Christ. Could he testify more clearly that the bread is termed the body of Christ not properly, but because of the resemblance? He elsewhere says, that the body of Christ falls on the ground, but this is in the same sense in which he says that it is consumed: Did we not here apply the resemblance formerly noticed, what could be more absurd? nay, what a calumny would it be against this holy writer to represent him as holding that the body of Christ is taken into the intestines? It is long since I accurately explained what Augustine means by a twofold eating, namely, that while some receive the virtue of the sacrament, others receive only a visible sacrament; that it is one thing to take inwardly, another outwardly; one thing to eat with the heart, another to chew with the teeth. And he at last concludes that the sacrament which is placed on the Lord’s table is taken by some unto destruction, by others unto life — that the reality of which the Supper is the sign, gives life to all who partake of it. In another passage, also, treating in express terms of this question, he distinctly refutes those who pretended that the wicked eat the body of Christ not only sacramentally but in reality. (August. Hom. 26 in Joan; De Civit. Dei, 21, c. 25; Contra Faust. 50:13, c. 13; see also in Joan. Tract, 25-27, 59.) To show our entire agreement with this holy writer, we say that those who are united by faith, so as to be his members, eat his body truly or in reality, whereas those who receive nothing but the visible sign, eat only sacramentally. He often expresses himself in the very same way.
But as Heshusius by his importunity compels us so often to repeat, let us bring forward the passage in which Augustine says that Judas ate, the bread of the Lord against the Lord, whereas the other disciples ate the bread of the Lord. It is certain that that pious teacher never makes a threefold division. But why mention him alone? Not one of the fathers has taught that in the Supper we receive anything but that which remains with us after the use of the Supper. Heshusius will exclaim, that the Supper is therefore useless to us; for his words are, “Why does Christ by a new commandment enjoin us to eat his body in the Supper, and even give us bread, since not only himself, but all the prophets, urge us to eat the flesh of Christ by faith? Does he then in the Supper command nothing new?” I in my turn ask him, Why God anciently enjoined circumcision and sacrifice, and all the exercises of faith, and also why he instituted baptism?
Without his answer, the explanation is sufficiently simple, viz., that God gives no more by visible signs than by his word, but gives in a different manner, because our weakness stands in need of a variety of helps. He asks, How very improper must; the expression be, “This cup is the New Testament in my blood,” if the whole is not corporeal? To this we all long ago answered, that that which is offered to us by the gospel without the Supper is sealed to us by the Supper, and hence communion with Christ is no less truly conferred upon us by the gospel than by the Supper. He asks, How it is called the Supper of the “New Testament,” if types only are exhibited in it as under the Old Testament? First, I would beg my readers to oppose to these silly objections the clear statements which I have delivered in my writings; — then they will not only find what distinction ought to be made between the sacraments of the new and of the ancient Church, but will detect Heshusius in the very act of theft, stealing everything but his own ignorant idea, that nothing was given to the ancients except types. As if God had deluded them with empty figures, or as if Paul’s doctrines were nugatory, when he teaches, that they ate the same spiritual food with us, and drank the same spiritual drink. ( Corinthians 10:3) Heshusius at last concludes — “If the blood of Christ be not given substantially in the Supper, it is absurd and contrary to the sacred writings to give the name of ‘new covenant’ to wine, and therefore there must be two kinds of eating, one spiritual and metaphorical, which was common to the fathers, and another corporeal, which is proper to us.”
It were enough for me to deny the inference which might move even children: to laughter, but how profane the talk which contemptuously applies the term metaphorical to that which is spiritual; as if he would subject the mystical and incomprehensible virtue of the Spirit to grammarians.
Lest he should allege that he has not been completely answered, I must again repeat. As God is always true, the figures were not fallaciously which he promised his ancient people life and salvation in his only begotten Son. Now, however, he plainly represents to us in Christ the things which he then showed as from a distance, and hence Baptism and the Supper not only set Christ before us more fully and clearly than the legal rites did, but exhibit him as present. Paul accordingly teaches, that we now have the body instead of shadows, ( Colossians 2:18;) not only because Christ has been once manifested, but because Baptism and the Supper, like sure pledges, confirm his presence with us. Hence appears the great distinction between our sacraments and those of the ancient people.
This, however, by no means deprives them of the reality of the things which Christ now exhibits more fully, clearly, and perfectly, as might be expected from his presence.
His insisting so keenly and obstinately that the unworthy eat Christ I would leave as undeserving of refutation, were it not that he regards this as the chief bulwark of his cause. He calls it a grave matter, and one fit for pious and learned men to make the subject of a mutual conference. If I grant this, how comes it that hitherto it has been impossible to obtain from his party a calm discussion of the question? If discussion is allowed, there will be no difficulty in arranging it. The arguments of Heshusius are, first:
Paul distinguishes the blessed bread from common bread, not only by the article but by the demonstrative pronoun: as if the same distinction were not sufficiently made by those who call the sacred and spiritual feast a pledge and badge of our union with Christ. The second argument is: Paul more manifestly asserts, that the unworthy eat the flesh of Christ when he says, that they become guilty of the body and blood of Christ. But I ask, whether he makes them guilty of the body as offered or as received? There is not one syllable about receiving. I admit, that by partaking of the sign they insult the body of Christ, inasmuch as they reject the inestimable boon which is offered them. This disposes of the objection of Heshusius, that Paul is not speaking of the general guilt under which all the wicked lie, but teaches that the wicked by the actual taking of the body bring down a heavier judgment on themselves. It is indeed true, that contumely is offered to the flesh of Christ by those who with impious disdain and contempt reject it when it is held forth for food; for we maintain, that in the Supper Christ holds forth his body to reprobates as well as to believers, but in such manner that those who profane the Sacrament by unworthy receiving make no change on its nature, nor in any respect impair the effect of the promise. But although Christ remains like to himself and true to his promises, it does not follow that that which is given is received by all indiscriminately.
Heshusius amplifies and says, that Paul does not speak of a slight fault.
Nor is it a slight fault which an Apostle denounces when he says, that the wicked, even though they do not approach the Supper, crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put him to an open shame, and trample his sacred blood under their feet. ( Hebrews 6:6; 10:29.) They can do all this without swallowing Christ. The reader sees, whether, according to the silly talk of Heshusius, I twist wondrously about, and involve myself in darkness from a hatred of the light, when I say that men are guilty of the body and blood of Christ when they repudiate both the gifts, to a participation in which eternal truth invites them. But he rejoins, that this sophism is brushed away like a spider’s web by the words of Paul, when he says, that they eat and drink judgment to themselves: as if unbelievers under the law did not also eat judgment to themselves, by presuming while impure and polluted to eat the paschal lamb. And yet Heshusius, after his own fashion, vaunts of having made it clear that the body of Christ is taken by the wicked. How much more correct is the sentiment of Augustine, that many in the crowd press on Christ without ever touching him? Still he insists, and exclaims that nothing can be clearer than the declaration, that the wicked do not discern the. Lord’s body, and that darkness is violently and intentionally thrown on the clearest truth by all who refuse to admit that the body of Christ is taken by the unworthy.
He might have some color for this, if I denied that the body of Christ is given to the unworthy; but as they impiously reject what is liberally offered to them, they are deservedly condemned for profane and brutish contempt, inasmuch as they set at nought that victim by which the sins of the world were expiated, and men reconciled to God.
Meanwhile, let the reader observe how warm Heshusius has waxed. He lately began by saying, that the subject was a proper one for mutual conference between pious and learned men, but here he flames fiercely against all who shall presume to doubt or inquire. In the same way he is enraged at us for maintaining that the thing which the bread figures is conferred and performed not by the minister but by Christ. Why is he not rather enraged at Augustine and Chrysostom, the one of whom teaches that it is administered by man, but in a divine manner — on earth, but in a heavenly manner, while the other speaks verbatim thus, Now Christ is ready; he who spread the table at which he sat now consecrates this one.
For the body and blood of Christ are not made by him who has been appointed to consecrate the Lord’s table, but by him who was crucified for us, etc. I have no concern with the subsequent remark of Heshusius.
He says it is a fanatical and sophistical corruption to hold, that by the unworthy are meant the weak and those possessed of little faith, though not wholly aliens from Christ. I hope he will find some to answer him. But he twists about, and tries to engage me in the defense of another cause, in order to overwhelm me with the crime of a sacrilegious and most cruel parricide, (such is his language,) because by my doctrine timid consciences are murdered and driven to despair.
He asks Calvinists with what faith they can approach the Supper — whether with a great or a little faith? It is easy to give the answer furnished by the Institutes, where I distinctly refute the error of those who require a perfection which is nowhere to be found, and by this severity keep back from the use of the Supper not the weak only, but those best qualified to receive it. Nay, even our children, by the form which is in common use, are fully instructed how to refute the silly calumny. It is vain for him therefore to display his loquacity by running away from the subject. That he might not plume himself by his performance in this respect, we think it proper to insert this much by the way. He says the two things are diametrically opposed, viz., forgiveness of sins and guilt before the tribunal of God; as if the least instructed did not know that believers in the same act provoke the wrath of God, and yet by his indulgence obtain favor. We all condemn the craft of Rebecca in substituting Jacob in the place of Esau, and there cannot be a doubt that in the eye of God the act was deserving of severe punishment; yet he so mercifully forgave it, that by means of it Jacob obtained the blessing. It is worth while to observe in passing, with what acuteness he disposes of my objection, that Christ cannot be separated from his Spirit. His answer is, that as the words of Paul are clear, he assents to them. Does he mean to astonish us by a miracle when he tells us that the blind see it? It has been clearly enough shown that nothing of the kind is to be seen in the words of Paul. He endeavors to disentangle himself by saying, that Christ is present with his creatures in many ways. But the first thing to be explained is, how Christ is present with unbelievers, as being the spiritual food of souls, and, in short, the life and salvation of the world. And as he adheres so doggedly to the words, I should like to know how the wicked can eat the flesh of Christ which was not crucified for them? and how they can drink the blood which was not shed to expiate their sins? I agree with him, that Christ is present as a strict judge when his Supper is profaned. But it is one thing to be eaten, and another to be a judge. When he afterwards says that the Holy Spirit dwelt in Saul, we must send him to his rudiments, that he may learn how to discriminate between the sanctification which is proper only to the elect and the children of God, and the general power which even the reprobate possess. These quibbles, therefore, do not in the slightest degree affect my axiom, that Christ, considered as the living bread and the victim immolated on the cross, cannot enter any human body which is devoid of his Spirit.
I presume that sufficient proof has been given of the ignorance as well as the effrontery, stolidity, and petulance of Heshusius — such proof as must not only make him offensive to men of worth and sound judgment, but make his own party blush at so incompetent a champion. But as he pretends to give a confirmation of his dogma, it may be worth while briefly to discuss what he advances, lest his loud boasting should impose upon the simple. I have shown elsewhere, and indeed oftener than once, how irrelevant it is here to introduce harangues on the boundless power of God, since the question is not what God can do, but what kind of communion with his flesh the Author of the Supper has taught us to believe. He comes, however, to the point when he brings forward the expressions of Paul and the Evangelists; only he indulges his loquacity in giving vent to the absurdest calumnies, as if it were our purpose to subvert the ordinance of Christ. We have always declared, with equal good faith, sincerity, and candor, that we reverently embrace what Paul and the three Evangelists teach, provided only that the meaning of their words be inquired into with becoming soberness and modesty. Heshusius says, that they all speak the same thing, so much so, that there is scarcely a syllable of difference; as if, in their most perfect agreement, there were not an apparent variety in the form of expression which may well raise a question. Two of them call the cup the blood of the new covenant; the other two call it a new covenant in the blood. Is there here not one syllable of difference? But let us grant that the four employ the same words, and almost the same syllables, must we forthwith concede, as Heshusius demands, that there is no figure in the words? Scripture makes mention, not four, but almost a thousand times, of the ears, eyes, and right hand of God. If the same expression, four times repeated, excludes all figures, win a thousand passages have no effect at all, or a less effect? Be it that the question relates not to the fruit of Christ’s passion, but to the presence of his body, provided the term presence be not confined to place. Though I should grant this, I deny that the point on which the question turns is, whether the words, This is my body, are used in a proper sense or metonymically, and therefore I hold that it is absurd in Heshusius to infer the one from the other. Were any one to concede to him, that the bread is called the body of Christ, because it is an exhibitive sign, and at the same time to add, that it is called body, essentially and corporeally, what ground of quarrel would he have with him?
The proper question, therefore, regards the mode of communication, though if he chooses to insist on the words I have no objection. We must therefore see whether they are to be understood sacramentally, or as implying actual devouring. There is no dispute as to the body which Christ designates, for I have declared again and again that I have no idea of a two-bodied Christ, and that therefore the body which was once crucified is given in the Supper. Nay, it is plain from my Commentaries how I have expounded the passage, The bread which I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
My exposition is, that there are two kinds of giving, because the same body which Christ once offered for our salvation, he offers to us every day as spiritual food. All therefore that he talks about a symbolical body is nothing better than the slander of a low buffoon. It is insufferable to see him blinding the eye of the reader, while fighting with the masks and shadows of his own imagination. Equally futile is he, when he says, that I keep talking only of fruit and efficacy. I uniformly assert a substantial communion, and only discard a local presence and the figment of an immensity of flesh. But this blundering expositor cannot be appeased unless we concede to him, that the words of Paul, “the cup is the new covenant in my blood,” are equivalent to “the blood is contained in the cup.” If this be granted, he must submit to the disgrace of retracting what he has so pertinaciously asserted in regard to the proper and natural meaning of the words. For who will be persuaded by him that there is no figure when the cup is called a covenant in blood, because it contains blood? I do not disguise, however, that I reject this senseless exposition. It does not follow from it that we are redeemed by wine, and that the saying of Christ is false; since, in order to drink the blood of Christ by faith, the thing necessary is not that he should come down to earth, but that we should climb up to heaven, or rather, the blood of Christ must remain in heaven, in order that believers may share it among themselves.
Heshusius, to deprive us of all sacramental modes of expression, maintains that we must learn, not from the institution of the passover, but from the words of Christ, what it is that is given to us in the Supper; and yet, in his giddy way, he immediately flies off in another direction, and finds a proper phrase in the words, Circumcision is a covenant. But can anything be more insufferable than a pertinacious denial, that in accordance with the constant usage of Scripture the words of the Supper are to be interpreted in a sacramental manner? Christ was a rock; for he was spiritual food. A dove was the Holy Spirit. The water in baptism is both the Spirit and the blood of Christ, (otherwise it would not be the laver of the soul.) Christ himself is our passover. While we are agreed as to all these passages, and Heshusius does not dare to deny that the forms of speech in these sacraments are similar, why does he kick so obstinately when we come to the Supper? But he says that the words of Christ are dear. What greater obscurity is there in the others?
On the whole, I think I have made it plain that he has entirely failed, with all his empty noise, to force the words of Christ into the support of his delirious dream. As little effect will he produce on men of sense by his arguments which he deems to be irresistible. He says, that under the Old Testament all things were shadowed by types and figures, but that in the New, figures being abolished, or rather fulfilled, the reality is exhibited. So be it; but can he hence infer that the water of baptism is truly, properly, really, and substantially the blood of Christ? Far more accurate is St. Paul, who, while he teaches that the body is now substituted for the old figures, does not mean, that what was then shadowed forth was completed by signs, but holds that it was in Christ himself that the substance and reality were to be sought. Accordingly, a little before, after saying that believers were circumcised in Christ by the circumcision not made with hands, he immediately adds, that a pledge and testimony of this is given in baptism, making the new sacrament to correspond with the old. Heshusius, after his own fashion, quotes from the Epistle to the Hebrews, that the sacrifices of the Old Testament were types of the true. But the term true is there applied not to Baptism and the Supper, but to the death and resurrection of Christ. I have acknowledged already, that in Baptism and the Supper Christ is offered otherwise than in the legal figures; but if the reality, of which the, Apostle there speaks, is not sought for in a higher quarter than the sacraments, it will not be found at all. Therefore, when the presence of Christ is contrasted with the legal shadows, it is wrong to confine it to the Supper, since the thing referred to is the superior manifestation wherein the perfection of our salvation consists. Even were I to grant that the presence of Christ spoken of is to be referred to the sacraments of the New Testament, this would still place Baptism and the Supper on the same footing; and therefore, when Heshusius argues thus:
The sacraments of the gospel require the presence of Christ: The Supper is a sacrament of the gospel, Therefore, it requires the presence of Christ: I, in my turn, rejoin: Baptism is a sacrament of the gospel, Therefore, it requires the presence of Christ.
If he betakes himself to his last shift, and tell us that it was not said in baptism, “This is my body,” I answer, that it is nothing to the point, which entirely depends on the distinction between the Old Testament and the New. Let him cease, then, from his foolish talk, that if the bread of the Supper is the symbol of an absent thing, it is therefore a symbol of the Old Testament. The reader must, moreover, remember that the controversy is not regarding every kind of absence, but only local absence.
Heshusius will not allow Christ to be present with us, unless by making himself present in several places, wherever the Supper is administered.
Hence, too, it appears that he talks absurdly when he opposes presence to fruit. The two things perfectly agree. Although Christ is distant from us in respect of place, he is yet present by the boundless energy of his Spirit, so that his flesh can give us life. He is still more absurd when he says that we differ in no respect from those under the Old Testament in regard to spiritual eating, because the mode of vivifying is one and the same; and they received just as much as we. But what had he said a little before?
That in the New Testament are offered not the shadows of things, but the reality itself, true righteousness, light, and life, the true High-Priest; that this testament is established, and the wrath of God appeased by true, not by typical blood. What does he understand by spiritual, but just the reality, true righteousness, light, and life? Now he insists that all these were common to the fathers, than which nothing can be more absurd, if they are peculiar to the New Testament.
But lest I may seem more intent on refuting my opponent than on instructing my readers, I must briefly remind them that everything is subverted when he makes the fathers equal to us in the mode of eating; for though they had Christ in common with. us, the measure of revelation was by no means equal. Were it otherwise, there would have been no ground for the exclamation, Blessed are the eyes which see the things which ye see, ( Matthew 13:16;) and again, The law and the prophets were until John; Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. ( John 1:17; Matthew 11:13.) If he answer, that this its his understanding, I ask whence spiritual eating is derived? If he admits that it is from faith, there is a manifest difference in the very doctrine from which faith springs: for the question here relates not to the quantity of faith which was in individuals, but to the nature of the promises under the law. Who then can tolerate him when, snarling like a dog, he endeavors to stir up odium against us, because we say that the light of faith now is greater than it was under the ancient people? He objects by quoting our Savior’s complaint, When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? ( Luke 18:8) To what end does he quote, unless he would on this pretext obtain pardon for his unbelief? So be it. Christ will not find faith in a thousand Heshusiuses, nor in the whole of his crew. Is it not true that John the Baptist was greater than all the Prophets, and yet that the least among the preachers of the gospel was greater than he? ( Luke 7:28.) The faith of the Galatians was not only small but almost stifled, and yet Paul, while he compares the Prophets to children, says, that the Galatians and other believers had no longer any need of a pedagogue, ( Galatians 3:25,) as they had grown up; that is, in respect of doctrine and sacraments, but not of men.
So far from having profited in the gospel, Heshusius, like an ape decked out in silk and gold, surpasses all the monks in barbarism.
In regard to the eating of the flesh of Christ, how much better our condition is than that of the fathers, I have shown in expounding the tenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians. Still I differ widely from those who dream of a corporeal eating: for although life might be infused from the substance of a flesh which as yet did not exist, so that there was truly a spiritual eating, such as we now have, still a pledge was given them of the same communion. Hence it follows, that the expression of Augustine is strictly true, viz., that the signs which they had differed from ours in visible form, not in reality. I add, however, that the mode of signifying was different, and the measure of grace not equal, because the communion of Christ now exhibited is fuller and more abundant, and likewise substantial.
When Heshusius says that his controversy with me relates to the pledge, not to the reality, I wish my readers to understand what his meaning is. He admits that the fathers were partakers of spiritual eating in an equal degree with us, whereas I hold that it was proportional to the nature and mode of the dispensation. But it is evident that a pledge being interposed, their faith was confirmed by signs as far as the absence of Christ admitted. We have already said how our pledges exhibit Christ present, not indeed in place, but because they set visibly before us the death and resurrection of Christ, wherein consist the entire fullness of salvation. Meanwhile, Heshusius, contradicting himself, disapproves of the distinction which I make between faith and spiritual eating. If we are to believe him, it is a mere sophism. Accordingly, there is no part of it. which he allows to pass without carping and censure. In this way it must be a mere sophism when Paul says that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith — that we are engrafted into his body — that we are crucified and buried with him — in fine, that we are bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh, so that his life is ours. He who sees not that these things are the fruits and effects of faith, and therefore different from faith, is more than blind. Equally blind is it to deny that the inestimable blessing of a vivifying communion with Christ is obtained by us by faith. But he cares not what confusion he causes, provided he is not forced to acknowledge that believers without the Supper have the very thing Which they receive in the Supper. But he says that eating must differ from sealing. It does, but just in the same way as the sealing which takes place in baptism differs from spiritual washing.
Are we not, independently of baptism, cleansed by the blood of Christ and regenerated by the Spirit? It is true, that to help our infirmity a visible testimony is added, the better to confirm the thing signified, and not only so, but to bestow in truth and more fully that which we receive by the faith of the gospel even without any external action.
He here gives a display of the malignity of his temper, by making it a ground of charge against me, that I teach in the catechism, that the use of the Supper is not unnecessary, because we there receive Christ more fully, though already, by the faith of the gospel, he is so far ours and dwells in us. This doctrine, if we are to believe Heshusius, is not only absurd, but insults the whole ministry of the gospel. Let him then accuse Paul of blasphemy for saying that Christ is formed in us like the foetus in the womb. His well-known words to the Galatians are, My little children, for whom I again travail as in birth until Christ Jesus be formed in you. ( Galatians 4:19) This is not unlike what he says in another place, Until ye grow up into a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. There is no need of many words to prove this; for if Christ dwells in us by faith, it is certain that he in a manner grows up in us in proportion to the increase of faith. The objection of Heshusius is, What then is to become of an infant which, immediately after being baptized, dies without having received the Supper? as if I were imposing a law on God, or denying his power of working when he pleases, without the aid of the Supper. For I hold with Augustine, that there may be invisible sanctification without the visible sign, just as, on the other hand, there may be the visible sign without true sanctification. John the Baptist was never admitted to the Supper, and yet surely this did not prevent him from possessing Christ. All I teach is, that we attain to communion with Christ gradually, and that thus it was not without cause he added the Supper to the gospel and to baptism. Hence, though God calls suddenly away from the world many who are children:, not in age merely but in faith, yet one spark from the Spirit, is sufficient to give them a life which swallows up all that was mortal in them, as Paul, too, elsewhere declares.
But in the eyes of Heshusius, Paul seems to be but a mean authority, since he charges him with teaching a doctrine which is absurd and impious. He indeed charges him in my name, but where is the difference, if the doctrine is taught in Paul’s words? There is no ground therefore for his attack upon me for saying that the communion of Christ is conferred upon us in different degrees not merely in the Supper, but independently of it.
Though I deem it notorious to the whole world that our doctrine is dearly approved by the consent of the primitive Church, Heshusius has again opened up the question, and introduced certain ancient writers as opposed to us and in favor of his opinion. Hitherto, indeed, I have not handled this matter professedly, that I might not do what has been done already. This was first performed with accuracy and skill by OEcolompadius, who clearly showed that the figment of a local presence was unknown to the early Church. He was succeeded by Bullinger, who performed the task with equal felicity. The whole was crowned by Peter Martyr, who has left nothing to be desired. As far as Westphal’s importunity compelled me, I believe I have satisfied sound and impartial readers in regard to the consent of antiquity, nay, I have said what ought to have stopped the mouths even of the contentious. But however solid the reasons by which they are confuted, it is like talking to the deaf, and I shall therefore be contented with a few brief remarks, to let my readers see that this new antiquarian is no less absurd and barren than Westphal was. It is rather strange that while he is ashamed to use the authority of Joannes Damascenus and Theophylact, he calls them not the least among ecclesiastical writers.
Sound and modest readers will find more learning and piety in a single commentary on Matthew, which is falsely alleged to be an unfinished work of Chrysostom, than in all the theology of Damascenus. The writer, whoever he may have been, distinctly says that the body of Christ is only given to us ministerially. I thought it proper to mention this much, lest any one might suppose that Heshusius was acting liberally in declining the support of Damascenus. While I grant that he also repudiates Clement Alexandrinus and Origen, I wish my readers to remember that he has it in his power to select from antiquity whatever suits his purpose. He begins with Ignatius. I wish his writings were extant to prevent his name from being so frequently employed as a cloak by impostors like Servetus and Heshusius. For where is the candor in quoting an epistle which scarcely one of the monkish herd would acknowledge to be genuine? Those who have read that silly production know that it speaks only of Lent, and chrism, and tapers, and fast and festival days, which began to creep in under the influence of superstition and ignorance long after the days of Ignatius. But what of this fictitious Ignatius? He says that some reject the Supper and oblations because they deny that the eucharist is the flesh of Christ which was sacrificed for us. But what kindred or community with those heretics have we who look up with reverence to the eucharist, in which we know that Christ gives us his flesh to eat? But he will rejoin, that the eucharist is styled the flesh. It is, but we must see that it is so stated improperly, if we would not shut our eyes against the clearest light.
The name of eucharist is derived either from the act of celebration or from both parts of the sacrament. Take which you please, certainly the literal meaning cannot be urged. That we may not be obliged repeatedly to dispose of the same cavil, let it be understood once for all that we have no quarrel with the usual forms of expression. Early writers everywhere call the consecrated bread the body of Christ: for why should they not be at liberty to imitate the only begotten Son of God, on whose lips we ought to hang and learn wisdom? But how very different is this from the barbarous fiction, that the bread is properly the body which is therein corporeally eaten.
With the same probity he classes us with Messalians and enthusiasts, who denied that the use of the holy Supper does either good or harm: as if I had not from the first spoken of the utility of this mystery in loftier terms than the whole crew who disturb the world by raging like bacchanalians against me. Nay, they had kept perfect silence as to the end for which the Supper was instituted and the benefit which believers derive from it, until the reproaches of the godly compelled them to in make an extract from my writings in order to escape from the odium of suppressing the most important thing contained in it. But he does not hesitate to give us Schuencfeldius for an associate. Why do you, like a cowardly dog, who is afraid of the wolves, only attack unoffending guests? When Schuencfeldius was infecting Germany with his poison, we withstood him boldly, and thus incurred his deepest hatred; but now, if Heshusius is to be believed, it was we that fostered him. Then, when he involves us in the impious dogma of Nestorius, what answer can I give, but just that one who slanders so wickedly refutes himself?
He next comes down to Justin Martyr, whose authority I willingly allow to be great. But what in him is adverse to our cause? He says, that the bread of the Supper is not common. The reason is, that he had previously explained that none are admitted to partake of it but those who have been washed by baptism and have embraced the gospel. He afterwards goes farther, As Christ was made flesh, so we are taught that the food which was blessed by him by the word of prayer, and by which our flesh and blood are nourished through transmutation, is the flesh and blood of Christ himself. The comparison of the mystical consecration in the Supper with the incarnation of Christ, seems to Heshusius sufficient to carry the victory: as if Justin were making out that the one was as miraculous as the other, while all he meant was, that the flesh which Christ once assumed from us is daily given us for food. For in confirming this opinion, he is satisfied with simply quoting the words of Christ, and contends for no more than that this benefit is imparted to the disciples of Christ alone who have been initiated into true piety.
I grant, Heshusius, that Irenaeus is a clearer expounder of what is thus briefly stated by Justin. I will not quote all his words, but will not omit anything which is pertinent. He inveighs against heretics who maintained that flesh is not capable of incorruption. If so, he says, neither has the Lord redeemed us by his own blood, nor is the cup of the eucharist the communion of his blood, nor the bread which we break the communion of his body. The blood comes only from the veins and other substance of the man in which the Son of God truly redeemed us. And since we are his members, and are nourished by the creature, and he himself confers the creature upon us, making his sun to rise and rain to descend as it pleaseth him, he declared that that cup which is a creature is his body by which he nourishes our bodies. Therefore when the mingled cup and broken bread have the word of God pronounced, there is formed a eucharist of the body and blood of Christ, by which the substance of our flesh is nourished and consists. How is it denied that the flesh is capable of the gift of God which is eternal life, seeing it is nourished by the body and blood of Christ and is his member, as the Apostle, says, We are members of his body and of his bones, etc.
Let the reader attend to the design of Irenaeus. He is not discussing whether or not we eat Christ corporeally: he is only contending that his flesh and blood are meat and drink to us, so as to infuse spiritual life into our flesh and blood. The whole question cannot be better solved than by attending to the context. The only communion which we are there asserted to have with Christ in the Supper is spiritual, which is both perpetual, and is given to us independently of the use of the Supper. Heshusius insists that the only way in which we receive the body of Christ is corporeally and within us, and there is nothing he can less tolerate than the doctrine, that believers are substantially conjoined with Christ. For throughout the whole book he insists on it as a capital article, that spiritual eating is nothing but faith, and that the Supper would be an empty show, were not corporeal eating added, and only at that moment when the bread is introduced into the mouth. This he repeats a hundred times. But what does Irenaeus say? Surely all see, that in regard to the communion which we enjoy in the Supper, he neither thinks nor speaks differently from Paul, when he says, that believers, both in life and in death, are the members of Christ, flesh of his flesh and bone of his bones. To overcome his stupidity, I must speak in still plainer terms. He wishes to prove, from the words of Irenaeus, that the body of Christ is received not only in a spiritual manner, but corporeally by the mouth, and that it is heretical to acknowledge only the spiritual eating of which our Savior discourses in the sixth chapter of John, and Paul in the fifth chapter of the Ephesians; because corporeal eating cannot lawfully be disjoined from bread. What does Irenaeus answer? That we are nourished by bread and wine in the sacred Supper, as Paul declares, that we are members of Christ. There is an end, therefore, to that distinction between corporeal and spiritual eating in which he boasted and gloried as the hingeing point of the whole controversy. Who will believe him, when he says, that this is sophistry?
Irenaeus affirms that the two propositions, This is my body, and, We are the members of Christ, are the same both in degree and quality, whereas our censor exclaims, that unless the two be separated, all piety is subverted and God is denied. Nay, he distinctly applies the term Epicureans to those who think that nothing more is conferred in the Supper than to make us one body with Christ.
Our view is not affected by the doctrine delivered on the subject, with one consent, by Tertullian and Hilary, viz., that our flesh is nourished by the flesh of Christ, in hope of eternal life; for they do not point to such a mode as Heshusius imagines. On the contrary, they remove all ambiguity, by referring to the perpetual union which we have with Christ, and teaching that it is the effect of faith, whereas, according to Heshusius, corporeal eating is confined to the Supper, and is as different from spiritual as earth is from heaven. Hilary says, (Lib. 8, de Trinitate,) As to the reality of the flesh and blood, there is no room left for ambiguity. For now, both by the declaration of our Lord himself, and our faith, they are meat indeed and drink indeed: and these when received and taken, cause us to be in Christ and Christ to be in us. Is not this reality? He himself then is in us through his flesh, and we are in him, while that which we are with him is in God. That we are in him by the sacrament of communicated flesh and blood, he himself declares when he says, The world now seeth me not, but ye shall see me; because I live, ye shall live also; because I am in the Father, and you in me. ( John 14:19) If he wished unity of will only to be understood, why did he point out a certain degree and order of completing the union? Just because, while he is in the Father by the nature of his divinity, we are in him by his corporeal nativity, and he, on the other hand, is in us by the mystery of the sacraments. Thus perfect union was taught by the Mediator: while, we remaining in him, he remained in the Father, and remaining in the Father, remained in us — thus, advancing us to unity with the Father, since while he is naturally in the Father in respect of nativity, we are naturally in him, and he remains naturally in us. That there is this natural unity in us, he himself thus declared, Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. ( John 6:56.)
For none will be in him save those in whom he himself shall have been, having in himself only the assumed flesh of him who has taken his own.
Shortly after he says, This is the cause of our life, that we who are in ourselves carnal, have life abiding in us by the flesh of Christ. Although he repeatedly says, that we are naturally united to Christ, it is apparent from this short sentence, that his only object is to prove that the life of Christ abides in us, because we are one with him.
No less clearly does Irenaeus show that he is speaking of the perpetual union which is spiritual. He says, (Lib. 4, c. 34,) Our opinion is consonant to the eucharist, and the eucharist confirms our opinion. For we offer to him the things which are his, when consistently proclaiming the communion and union of flesh and spirit. For as that which is earthly bread, on being set apart by God is no longer common bread, but a eucharist consisting of two things, an earthly and a heavenly, so likewise our bodies, receiving the eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but have hope of resurrection. In the fifth book he explains more fully, that we are the members of Christ, and united to his flesh because of his Spirit dwelling in us. The reason why Heshusius charges us with extreme effrontery is, just because we deny that propositions which perfectly agree with our doctrine are adverse to it. If a more familiar exposition is required Cyril will supply it; for, in his third book, when explaining our Savior’s discourse contained in the 6th chapter of John, he acknowledges that there is no other eating in the Supper than that by which the body of Christ gives life to us, and by our participation in it leads us back to interruption.
And in his fourth book (cap. 13) he says: Our Lord gave his body for the life of all, and by it again infuses life into us: how he does this I will briefly explain, according to my ability. For when the life-giving Son of God dwelt in the flesh, and was in whole, so to speak, united to the ineffable whole by the mode of union, he made the flesh itself vivifying, and hence this flesh gives life to those who partake of it. As he asserts that this takes place both in the Supper, and without the Supper, let Heshusius explain what is meant by “sending life into us.” In the seventeenth chapter he says, Were any one to pour wax on melted wax, the one must become intermingled with the other. In like manner, when any one receives the flesh and blood of the Lord, he must be united with him: he must be in Christ and Christ in him. In the twenty-fourth chapter he distinctly maintains, that the flesh of Christ is made vivifying by the agency of the Spirit, so that Christ is in us because the Spirit of God dwells in us.
Heshusius, after making a vain and ridiculous boast of those holy writers, insolently applauds himself for leaving Clement Alexandrinus, because he is borne down by his authority. He also boasts, that he not unfrequently acts as our advocate and representative, by enhancing and amplifying, according to the best of his ability, everything advanced by us, that he may know whether anything forcible, etc. If this is true, he must not only be feeble, but altogether nerveless and broken down. Still, did he employ his abilities injudging aright, instead of using them entirely for quarreling and invective, much of the intemperate rage with which he burns would cease. He certainly would not charge me with maintaining an allegorical eating, while I acknowledge that allegory is condemned by the words of Christ. But it is right that those whose pertinacious ambition hurries them into contest should be smitten from above with a spirit of giddiness, which makes them prostitute both their modesty and their faith.
It is strange, that while he is such a severe censor of Origen, that he will not class him among writers worthy of credit, he does not make a similar attack on Tertullian. We see with what implacable rage he burns against all who presume to interpret the words of Christ, This is my body, in any other but the strict and natural sense, holding those who do so guilty of a sacrilegious corruption. But when he feels himself struck by the words of Tertullian, instead of attempting to bear him down by violence, he rather tries to escape from him by means of tergiversation. Tertullian says:
Christ made the bread, received and distributed to the disciples his own body, by saying, This is my body, that is, the figure of my body. Now it could not have been the figure were it not the body of the reality: for an empty thing, as a phantom is, could not take a figure. Or, if he made the bread to be his body, because it wanted the reality of body, then he must have delivered bread for us. The vanity of Marcion would be gratified if the bread were crucified. Tertullian proves, that the bread was the true substance of the flesh of Christ, because it could not be a figure without being the figure of a true substance. Heshusius is dissatisfied with this mode of expression, because it seems dangerous; but, as if he had forgotten himself, he admits it, provided there is no deception under it. By deception he means, calling the bread the sign or figure of the absent flesh.
That he may not gloss over the term absence in his usual manner, let the reader remember, as I formerly reminded him, that though Christ, in respect of place and actual inspection, is absent, still believers truly enjoy and are nourished by the present substance of his flesh.
All his quibbles, however, cannot deprive us of the support of Tertullian.
For when he says, that the bread was made body, the meaning can only be ascertained from the context. To consecrate the blood in wine cannot be equivalent to the expression, To annex the blood to wine; but corresponds to the next sentence, where he says, that Christ confirmed the substance of his flesh when he delivered a covenant sealed with his own blood, because it cannot be blood unless it belong to true flesh. No man can doubt that the sealing which was performed on the cross is compared with the consecration by which Christ enters into an eternal covenant with his people. Heshusius makes no more out of the other passage, in which he says, that our flesh eats the body and blood of Christ, in order that it may be fed on God, in other words, be made a partaker of the Godhead. The sum is, that it, is absurd and impious to exclude our flesh, from the hope of resurrection, seeing that Christ deigns to bestow upon it the symbols of spiritual life. Accordingly, he ranks in the same class not only baptism but anointing, the sign of the cross, and the laying on of hands. But with strange stupidity, in order to prove that we do not become partakers of the flesh of Christ by faith alone, Heshusius quotes a passage from a tract on the Lord’s Prayer, in which Tertullian says, That the petition for daily bread may be understood spiritually, inasmuch as Christ is our bread, inasmuch as Christ is our life, inasmuch as he is the word of the living God, who came down from heaven, and his body is held to be in the bread.
Whence he concludes, that we seek perpetuity from Christ and individuality from his body. I ask whether, if it had been his intention to change sides, he could have given better support to our cause? See what ground he has for glowing in antiquity.
With similar dexterity he obtains the support of Cyprian. Cyprian contends that the blood of Christ is not to be denied to believers who are called to the service of Christ under the obligation to shed their own blood.
What can he evince by this but just that the blood of Christ is given us by the cup as the body is given under the symbol of bread? In another passage, when disputing against the Aquarii, he says, that the vivifying blood of Christ cannot be thought to be in the cup if the wine is wanting, by which the blood itself is shown, he clearly confirms our doctrine. For what is meant by the blood being represented by the wine, but just that the wine is a sign or figure of the blood? Shortly after he repeats the same thing, saying, that water alone cannot express the blood of Christ, that is, designate it. But he says, at the same time, that the blood is in the cup: as if the idea of local enclosing ever came into the mind of this holy martyr, who is only occupied with the question, Whether the mystical cup should be mixed with water only to represent the blood of Christ?
Another passage quoted by Heshusius is, How can they dare to give the eucharist to the abandoned, that is, profane the holy body of Christ, seeing it is written, Whoso eateth or drinketh unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord? I neither think differently, nor am I wont to speak differently. But by what logic did this good man learn from these words that the body of Christ is given to the unworthy? All see that the word giving applies to the eucharist. Cyprian holds that if all are admitted indiscriminately, there is a profanation of the sacred body. See the ground on which our Thraso composes paeans. In another passage Cyprian says, That the wicked who, with impious hands, intrude to the Supper, invade the body of Christ; and he inveighs bitterly against the sacrilegious persons who take offense at priests for not at once receiving the body of the Lord with polluted hands, or drinking his blood with polluted lips: as if it were not hitherto known that this mode of speaking is common with early writers, or as if I had any objection to the same style, having many years ago quoted the same passage, and another similar to it, from Ambrose. Heshusius does not see the absurdity in which he is involving himself: for it will follow that Christ himself is exposed to the licentiousness and violence of the ungodly, since Cyprian there also says that they do violence to his flesh and blood.
Eusebius quotes a passage in which Dionysius of Alexandria maintains that it is not lawful to initiate, by a new baptism, any one who has long been a partaker of the flesh and blood of the Lord, and has received the sacred food. Heshusius argues, that if he who was baptized by heretics has received the body of Christ, it must be eaten without faith and repentance: as if there were no difference between thoughtlessness or error and impiety. He imagined that he was to gain much by pronouncing lofty encomiums on the ancient writers whose names he obtrudes, but he has only made himself more than ridiculous. He thunders forth their praises, and then, on coming to the point, finds they give him no support.
Athanasius, he says, is a divine writer worthy of immortal praise. Who denies it? But what is this to the point? Why, in stating that Christ; was a high-priest by means of his own body, and by means of the same delivered a mystery to us, saying, This is my body, and, This is the blood of the New, not of the Old Testament, it is evident that he speaks of the true body and blood in the Supper. Do we then imagine it to be false blood, when we maintain that it is impossible without nefarious divorce to separate the words, The body which is delivered for you, and, The blood which is shed for the remission of sins? Rightly then does Athanasius teach that a mystery has been consecrated for us by the flesh and blood of Christ, nor could anything be said that was better fitted to explain our view; for had not Christ been possessed of true flesh and true blood, (the only point there delivered,) the consecration by which our salvation is placed in them would have been vain.
I have already shown how preposterously he opposes us with Hilary, when he distinctly treats of the vivifying participation of Christ, which demands not the external use of the Supper, but maintains perpetual rigor in believers. Heshusius says, that that is not the subject of dispute. Of what use then is it for him to twist his words against us, while they have no bearing on the point? Still more absurdly does he say that we are refuted by the single expression, that we receive the flesh of Christ under a mystery. As if under a mystery were not just equivalent to sacramentally.
This again is most apposite for the confirmation of our doctrine. But lest any one should think that he errs through folly merely, he afterwards shows his malice by adding, that, according to us, divinity alone is given us in the Supper. This is his reason for saying that that one passage should suffice in the judgment of all to settle the controversy.
He exposes himself in the same way in quoting Epiphanius. That writer, discoursing how man is created in the image of God, says that, If it is understood of the body, there cannot be a proper likeness between what is visible and palpable, and the Spirit which is invisible and incomprehensible; whereas, if it refers to the soul, there is a wide distance, because the soul being liable to many weaknesses and defects, does not contain the divinity within itself. He therefore concludes, that God, who is incomprehensible, truly performs what he bestows upon men in respect of his image. He afterwards adds, And how many things are deduced from the like! For we see how our Savior took into his hands, as it is contained in the gospel, how he rose up at the Supper, and took, and after giving thanks, said, That is this of mine. But we see that it is not equal or like either to a corporeal shape, or an invisible deity, or the figures of members.
For this is round, and in regard to feeling, insensible. He meant to say, that by grace, That is this of mine; and no man refuses credit to his words. For he who believes not that he is true in what he said, has fallen from grace and from faith. Let the reader attend to the state of the case. Epiphanius contends, that though nothing like is the same, yet the image of God truly shines in man, just as the bread is truly called body. Hence it is plain that nothing is less accordant with the mind of this writer than the dream of Heshusius, that the bread is truly and substantially body. He asks, why does Epiphanius insist on faith in the words of the Supper, if the bread of the eucharist is not the body? Just because it is only by faith we comprehend that corruptible food is the pledge of eternal life.
Meat for the body, says Paul, and the body for meat, but God will destroy both. ( 2 Corinthians 6:13) In the bread and wine we seek a spiritual aliment, which may quicken our souls to the hope of a blessed resurrection. We ask Christ that we may be united to him, that he may dwell in us and be one with us. But Epiphanius treats not of the fruit or efficacy of the Supper, but of the substance of the body. How true this is, let the reader judge from his concluding words.
Before speaking of the ordinance of the Supper, he says, The figure began with Moses, the figure was opened by John, but the gift was perfected in Christ. All therefore have that which is according to the image, but not according to nature. For in having that which is according to the image, they have it not in respect of equality with God. For God is incomprehensible, a Spirit above all spirit, light above all light. He is not, however, devoid of these things which he has defined. I wonder how Heshusius dares to make mention of faith, while he maintains that the body of Christ is eaten without faith, and bitterly assails us for requiring faith.
He boasts that Basil is on his side, because he applies the terms abandoned and impious to those who dare with uncleanness of soul to touch the body of Christ. This expression he uses in the same sense as that in which early writers often say that the body of Christ falls to the earth and is consumed, because they never hesitated to transfer the name of the thing to the symbol. I formerly acknowledged, that Ambrose has spoken in the same way, but in what sense is apparent from his interpretation of the words of Christ. He says, (in 1 Corinthians 11,) Having been redeemed by the death of Christ, we commemorating this event by eating the flesh and blood which were offered for us, signify, etc. Shortly after he says, The covenant was therefore established by blood, because blood is a witness of Divine grace, as a type of which we receive the mystical cup of blood.
Again, What is it to be guilty of the body, but just to be punished for the death of the Lord? He, accordingly, enjoins us to come to the communion with a devout mind, recollecting that reverence is due to him whose body we approach to take. For each ought to consider with himself, that it is the Lord whose blood he drinks in a mystery. Heshusius has the effrontery to produce this passage against us, though it supports us, as if we had actually borrowed the expression of our doctrine from it.
But Heshusius opposes us even with verse. Because Gregory Nazianzen, indulging the poetic vein, says, that priests carry in their hands the plasma of the great God, he boldly infers that the bread is properly the body of Christ. My answer, which I am confident will be approved by all men of sense, is simply this, that Gregory meant nothing more than Augustine has expressed somewhat more familiarly, when speaking of Christ holding forth the bread to his disciples, he says, He bore himself in a manner in his hands, an expression by which the difficulty is completely solved. For when he says, (Serra. de Pasch.,) Be not impiously deluded when hearing of the blood, and passion, and death of God, but confidently eat the body and drink the blood, if thou desirest life, Heshusius absurdly wrests his words to a meaning foreign to them, since he is not there speaking of the ordination of the Supper, but of our Savior’s incarnation and death, though I deny not that Gregory, in the words eating and drinking, in which, however, he recommends faith, alludes to the Supper.
In regard to Jerome, there is no occasion to say much. Heshusius quotes a passage, in which he says, that the bread is the body of Christ. (In Malach. c. 1.) I make him welcome to more. For he writes to Heliodorus, that the clergy make the body of Christ. Elsewhere, also, he says, that they distribute his blood to the people. The only question is, in what sense does he say this? If we add the clause, in a mystery, will not the controversy be at an end, since it is clear, that in a mystery and Corporeally are antithetical? (In Ecclesiast.) As Jerome removes all doubt by expressing this exception, what is to be gained by sophistical caviling? I admit, that in another passage, (in Malach. c. 1,) Jerome says, that the wicked eat the body of Christ, but, as he adds, that they in this way pollute it, why seek for a difficulty where there is none? Unless, indeed, Heshusius is to make Christ so subject to the licentiousness of the ungodly as to have his pure and holy flesh polluted by infection from them. But in another passage Jerome speaks more clearly: for he distinctly denies that the wicked eat the flesh of Christ, or drink his blood. In like manner, he says, (in Hosea c. 9,) The wicked sacrifice many victims, and eat the flesh of them, deserting the one sacrifice of Christ, and not eating his flesh, though his flesh is meat to them that believe. Why does Heshusius childishly cavil about a word, while the thing intended is so transparent? The substance of all his sophistical jargon may be formed into a syllogism thus:
Whatever is called the body of Christ is his body substantially and in reality.
Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Justin, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and several others, call the bread of the sacred Supper the body of Christ:
Therefore, the bread of the Supper is the body of Christ substantially and in reality.
While Heshusius talks thus confidently, I should like to hear his answer to a distinction, by which Jerome so completely dissipates and upsets his dream, that his words require to be softened down in an opposite direction. He says, (in Ephes. c. 1,) The flesh and blood of Christ is taken in a twofold sense; either that spiritual and divine, of which he himself said, My flesh is meat indeed; or the flesh which was crucified, and the blood which was shed by the soldier’s spear. I do not suppose, indeed, that Jerome imagined a twofold flesh; and yet I presume that he took notice of a spiritual, and therefore different mode of communicating, to guard against the fiction of a corporeal eating.
The passage which Heshusius has produced from Chrysostom I will run over slightly. Because that pious teacher enjoins us to approach with faith, that we may not only receive the body when held forth, but much more touch it with a clean heart, this able expositor infers that some receive without faith with an unclean heart; as if Chrysostom were hinting at the corporeal reception of a substantial body, and not under the term body, commending the dignity of the ordinance. What if he elsewhere explains himself, and at the same time clearly unfolds the mind of Paul. He asks, (in 1 Corinthians Hom. 27,) What is it for one to be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord? Since he has shed it, he shows that it was murder also, and not merely sacrifice. As his enemies did not pierce him that they might drink, but that they might shed, so he who communicates unworthily obtains no benefit. Surely even the blind may now see that Chrysostom holds the wicked guilty, not of drinking, but of shedding the blood. With greater folly Heshusius transfers what was said by Chrysostom concerning the spiritual eating of the soul to the stomach and intestines.
The words are, The body is set before us, not only that we may touch it, but that we may eat and be filled. Heshusius holds this to be equivalent to saying that it is received into the bowels.
In producing Augustine as an advocate or witness, he passes the height of impudence. That holy person tells us to receive in the bread that which hung on the cross. According to Heshusius, nothing can be clearer than these words. They, no doubt, are so, if we are agreed as to the mode of receiving. Thus, when he says, in his Epistle to Januarius, that the order of the Church should be approved, requiring us to go fasting to the sacred table, in order that the body of Christ may enter the mouth before any other food, if we add, in a mystery, or sacramentally, all contention will cease. But Heshusius, absurdly laying hold of an ambiguous term, loses sight of the point in dispute. In his sermon on the words of the Apostle, by speaking of a twofold eating, namely, a spiritual and a sacramental, he distinctly declares, that the wicked who partake of the Supper eat the flesh of Christ. Yes; but, as he elsewhere teaches, sacramentally. Let Heshusius say that we may as well deny that the sun shines at mid-day, as that these passages clearly refute our doctrine; I feel confident, that in my answer to Westphal, I so completely disposed of his calumnious charges, and those of his fellows, that even the contentious, in whom there are any remains of candor, would rather choose to be silent than to incur derision by imitating the petulance of Heshusius. He pretends that Augustine asserts the true presence of the body of Christ in the eucharist, because he says that the body is given in the bread, and the blood in the cup, distributed by the hands of the priests, and taken not only by faith, but by the mouth also; not only by the pious, but also by the wicked. I answer, that unless a clear definition is given of the sense in which Augustine uses the term body, Heshusius is acting deceitfully. But where can we find a better expounder than Augustine himself? Besides using the term eucharist or sacrament of the body promiscuously in the same, passages, there is one which clearly explains his meaning, in which he says, that the sacraments, in respect of resemblance, receive the names of the things which they signify, and, accordingly, that the sacrament of the body is in a manner the body. (Ep. 23, ad Bonif.) Wherefore, as often as Heshusius obtrudes the ambiguous expression, it will be easy to rejoin, that Augustine, in so speaking, did not forget himself, but follows the rule which he prescribes to others. (Crontra Adimant.) To the same effect, he elsewhere (in Psalm 1) calls the sign of the body a figure. Again, he says, (in Psalm 33,) that Christ in a manner carried himself in his own hands.
Even were I silent, Augustine would clear himself of the calumnious charge. It is because of resemblance he transfers the name of the thing signified to the external symbol, and, accordingly, calls the bread the body of Christ, not properly or substantially, as Heshusius pretends, but in a certain manner.
The view which the pious, writer took of the presence is perfectly apparent from the Epistle to Dardanus, where he says, Christ gave immortality to his flesh, did not destroy its nature. We are not to think that in respect of this nature he is everywhere diffused; for we must beware of so elevating the divinity of the man as to destroy the reality of the body. It does not follow that that which is in God is everywhere as God. At length he concludes, that he who is the only-begotten Son of God, and at the same time the Son of Man, is everywhere wholly present as God, and in the temple of God, that is, the Church, is as it were the inhabiting God, and is in a certain place in heaven in respect of the nature of a true body. Of the same purport is the following passage, (in Joan. Tr. 50,) In respect of the presence of his majesty we have Christ always; in respect of the presence of his flesh it was truly said, Me ye have not always. There are similar passages in which, the holy writer declares how abhorrent he is to the idea of a local presence. How miserably Heshusius quibbles, in regard to his assertion that the body of Christ is eaten by the wicked, is plain from a variety of passages. First, he opposes the virtue of the sacrament to the visible sacrament; he makes an antithesis of eating inwardly and outwardly, of eating with the heart and chewing with the teeth. Were there any invisible eating of the body different from spiritual eating, he ought in expounding it to have used a threefold division. Shortly after he repeats the same antithesis, (Tr. in Joann. 26,) He who abides not in Christ, and in whom Christ abides not, unquestionably neither spiritually eats his flesh nor drinks his blood, although he press the sacrament of the body carnally and visibly with his teeth. Had Augustine approved of the fiction of Heshusius, he would have said, “although he eat the body corporeally.” But the pious teacher is always consistent with himself, and here delivers nothing different from what he afterwards teaches when he says, (Tract. in Joan. 59,) That the other disciples ate the bread the Lord, whereas Judas ate the bread of the Lord against the Lord.
This is well confirmed by another passage, (Contr. Faust. 1. 3, c. 16,) where he again opposes, as things contrary to each other, sacramentally and truly eating the flesh of Christ. Hence it follows that it is not truly eaten by the wicked. In fine, what he understands by the expression sacramentally, (sacramento tenus,) he shows more fully when he declares that good and bad communicate in the signs. He says elsewhere, (Serra. de Vert. Apost,) Then has every one the body and blood of Christ, when that which is taken visibly in the sacrament is in reality spiritually eaten and drunk. If Heshusius objects that the wicked do not eat spiritually, I ask what Augustine means by the reality of which he makes believers only to partake? Moreover, if Augustine thought that the body of Christ is substantially eaten by the wicked, he ought to have represented it as visible, since nothing is attributed to the wicked but a visible taking. If, as Heshusius pretends, one sentence of Augustine is worth more in his estimation than ten prolix harangues of other fathers, every one must see that he is worse than a senseless trunk if these striking passages make no impression on him. And indeed when I see himself engaged with such a buffoon, I am almost ashamed at spending my time in discussing his frivolities.
Having performed this part of the play, he again flies off, and endeavors to lead us away from the subject. And, no doubt, while he goes up and down gathering invectives, as if he were making up a garland of flowers, he seems to himself a very showy rhetorician, while I, when I hear his frivolous loquacity, cannot help thinking of the shabbiest of orators. He pretends to discern in us the special characteristics of heretics, viz., that when we are unable to defend our error we clothe it with deceitful words. But when we come to the point, what deceptions does he discover, what subterfuges, what frauds, or cavils, or tricks does he detect? I omit the Greek terms which he would not omit, and in regard to which, by substituting adjectives for substantives, he betrays his ignorance. He admits that I reject metaphors and allegory, and have recourse to metonymy. As yet he has shown no cavil. Next he says, that I repudiate the sentiment of those who affirm that that the body of Christ is nothing else than to embrace his benefits by faith. This distinction also does not by any means substitute smoke for light, but is an apt and significant exposition of the subject. My maintaining that spiritually to eat the flesh of Christ is something greater and more excellent than to believe, he calls a chimera. What answer shall I give to this impudent assertion, but just that he is mentally blind, since he cannot understand what is so plain and obvious? When he represents me as substituting merit and benefit for flesh and blood, and shortly afterwards adds, that I acknowledge no other presence in the Supper than that of the Deity, my writings without a word from me refute the impudent calumny. For not to mention many other passages, after treating familiarly in my Catechism of the whole ordinance, the following passage occurs:— “M. Have we in the Supper only a sign of the blessings which you have mentioned, or are they there exhibited to us in reality? “S. Seeing that our Lord Jesus Christ is truth itself, there cannot be a doubt that; he at the same time fulfills the promises which he there gives us, and adds the reality to the figures. Wherefore, I doubt not, that as he testifies by words and signs, so he also makes us partakers of his own substance, by which we grow up into one life with him. “M. But how can this be, seeing that Christ is in heaven, and that we are still pilgrims on the earth? “S. He effects this by the miraculous and secret agency of his Spirit, to whom it is not difficult to unite things otherwise disjoined by distance of place.”
Moreover, I say in my Institutes, “I am not satisfied with those who, when they would show the mode of communion, teach that we are partakers of the Spirit of Christ, omitting all mention of the flesh and blood: as if it were said to no purpose, ‘My flesh is meat indeed,’” etc.
This is followed by a lengthened explanation of the subject. Something, too, had been said on it previously. In the Second Book I had refuted, as I suppose, with no less perspicuity than care, the fiction of Osiander, which he falsely accuses me with following. Osiander imagined that righteousness is conferred on us by the Deity of Christ. I showed, on the contrary, that salvation and life are to be sought from the flesh of Christ in which he sanctified himself, and in which he consecrates Baptism and the Supper. It will be there also seen how completely I have disposed of his dream of essential righteousness. I have got the same return from Heshusius that he made to his preceptor Melancthon. The laws make false witnesses infamous, and enact severe punishments against calumniators. The more criminal it is to corrupt public records, the more severely ought the miscreant to be punished who, in one passage, is convicted of three crimes — gross calumny, false testimony, and corruption of written documents.
Why he so eagerly assails me with bitter invective, I know not, unless it be that he has no fear of being paid back in kind. I insist on the thing itself, which he would by no means wish me to do. I say that although Christ is absent from the earth in respect of the flesh, yet in the Supper we truly feed on his body and blood — that owing to the secret agency of the Spirit we enjoy the presence of both. I say that distance of place is no obstacle to prevent the flesh, which was once crucified, from being given to us for food. Heshusius supposes, what is far from being the fact, that I imagine a presence of deity only. All the dispute is with regard to place; but because I will not allow that Christ is inclosed under the bread, is swallowed, and passes into the stomach, he alleges that I involve, my doctrine in ambiguous expressions. And to pretend some zeal for the piety he never tasted, he brings forward Paul’s exhortation to retain the form of sound words. As in Paul’s doctrine were expressed to the life, or could have any affinity with such monstrous dogmas as these — that the bread is properly and substantially the body of Christ — that the body itself is eaten corporeally by the mouth and passes into us. This worthy imitator of Paul, in a very short treatise, misinterprets about sixty passages of Scripture so absurdly, as to make it manifest that not one particle of that living exhibition of which Paul speaks had ever entered his mind.
In vain, too, does he endeavor to obtain greater license for his petulance, by opposing us with the churches of Saxony, and complaining of our having unjustly accused him. For to omit many things which are obvious, I only wish to know whether or not he and his fellows have not been endeavoring for several years to pluck out the two eyes of Saxony, the school of Wittemberg and Leipsic. After extinguishing these two lights, why, I ask, would he boast the empty name of Saxony? With regard to the accusation, my answer is, that I do net repent of having compared to Marcion and the Capernaumites all who maintain the immensity or ubiquity of the flesh of Christ, and insist that he is in several places at the same time. When he compares the two sentences, The bread is the sign of the absent body, and, The body is truly and substantially present and is given under the bread, it is easy to answer that there is a medium between these extremes, that the body is indeed given by the external symbol, but is not sisted locally. See why he exclaims that we are Epicureans and inured to security. But the more causeless noise he makes, the more clearly he discloses his temper, feelings, and manners. If any man has in this age been exposed to great and perilous contests, many know that it is I. And while we are still as sheep destined to slaughter, this meek doctor of the gospel insults in mockery over the terrors which press us on every side, as if he were envying our quiet. But perhaps this provident man, who is carefully treasuring up the means of luxury for a whole life, derides us for our security in living from hand to mouth, and being contented with our humble means. With the same shamelessness he fabricates strange understandings between me and all those whose errors I withstood singlehanded, while he was sleeping or feasting. And to make it apparent how eagerly he is bent on calumny, having heard of the name of Velsius, which it is well known that I assumed and bore at Frankfort, he substitutes the name of Felsius, that he may be able to make me an associate of the man whom he allowed to go about raving at Heidelberg, because he dared not to engage with such a combatant. With the same, candor and modesty he estimates our doctrine by its fruit, saying, that it induces contempt of the sacred Supper. Would that he and his fellows would come to it with equal reverence! When he charges us with setting no value on the use of it, I leave him to be put down by my Institutes, from which I quote the following passage verbatim: — “What we have hitherto said of this sacrament abundantly shows that it was not instituted to be received once a year, and that perfunctorily, as is now the common custom, but to be in frequent use among all Christians.” After mentioning the fruits of it, I proceed thus: — “That such was the practice of the Apostolic Church, Luke tells us in the Acts, when he says, that the believers were persevering in doctrine, in communion, in the breaking of bread, etc.
Matters were to be so managed that there should be no meeting of the Church without the word, prayer, and the communion of the Supper.”
After severely condemning this corruption, as it deserved, by quotations from early writers, I next say, “This custom of requiring men to communicate once a year was most assuredly an invention of the devil.”
Again, “The practice ought to be very different. The table of the Lord ought to be spread in the sacred assembly at least once a week. No one should be compelled, but all should be exhorted and stimulated: the torpor of those who keep away should also be reproved. Hence it was not without cause I complained at the outset that it was the wile of the devil which intruded the custom of prescribing one day in the year, and leaving it unused during all the rest.” And yet this dog will still bark at me, as having cut the sinews of the sweetest consolation, and prevented believers from recognizing that Christ dwells in them — a subject on which if he has any right views, he has stolen them from me. But the proof which he has added sufficiently declares the frantic nature of his attacks: since the very thing which he had detested he now seizes upon as an axiom of faith, viz., that the hypostatic union of the divine and human natures in the person of Christ cannot exist unless the flesh be at the same time in several places.
How could he prove more plainly that he has no belief than by thus contradicting himself? This levity and inconstancy indicates either excessive heat of brain, or variety of cups.
A still further degree of tedium must be endured, while I make it plain to the reader, how acute, faithful, and dexterous he shows himself in refuting our objections. After deluding the minds of the simple in the way jugglers do, he says, that among our objections the one which seems most specious is,—that a true and physical body cannot in substance be in several different places at the same time, that Christ has a true and physical body in which he ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father in a certain definite place until he appear to judge the world, and that therefore this body, which is circumscribed in heaven by a certain space, cannot be in its substance in the Supper. He adds, moreover, that there is no argument in which I place equal confidence. First, how naughtily he lies in saying that I thus confine the right hand of the Father to a narrow space, is attested by several passages of my writings. But to forgive him this, what is more futile than to make the state of the question to depend on a physical body, since often before this I have declared that in this case I pay no regard to physical arguments, nor insist on the decisions of philosophers, but acquiesce in the testimony of Scripture. From Scripture, it is plain that the body of Christ is finite, and has its proper dimensions. Geometry did not teach us this; but we do not allow what the Holy Spirit taught by the Apostles to be wrested from us. Heshusius foolishly and not without inconsistency objects that Christ sits in both natures at the right hand of the Father. We deny not that the whole and entire Christ in the person of the Mediator fills heaven and earth. I say whole, not wholly, (totus, non totum,) because it were absurd to apply this to his flesh. The hypostatic union of the two natures is not equivalent to a communication of the immensity of the Godhead to the flesh, since the peculiar properties of both natures are perfectly accordant with unity of person. He rejoins, that sitting at the right hand of the Father is, according to the testimony of Paul, to be understood of eternal and divine majesty and equal power. And what do, I say? More than twelve years ago, my exposition, which quotes the very words of Paul, was published throughout the world, and bears, “This passage shows plainly, if any one does, what is meant by the right hand of God, namely, not a place, but the power which the Father has bestowed upon Christ to administer the government of heaven and earth.
For seeing that the right hand of God fills heaven and earth, it follows, that the kingdom and also the virtue of Christ are everywhere diffused. Hence it is an error to endeavor to prove that Christ, from his sitting on the right hand of God, is only in heaven. It is indeed most true that the humanity of Christ is in heaven, and is not on the earth, but the other proof does not hold. For the words, in heavenly places, which immediately follow, are, not meant to confine the right hand of God to heaven,” etc.
He boldly persists in his impudence, and adding another passage from the same Epistle, pretends that it is adverse to me. But my exposition is in the hands of the public. I here insert the substance of it: Since to fill often means to perform, it may be so taken here. For Christ by his ascension to heaven entered on possession of the dominion given him by the Father, viz., to rule all things by his power. The meaning, however, will in my judgment be more elegant, if the two things, which though contrary in appearance agree in reality, are joined together. For when we hear of the ascension of Christ, the idea which immediately rises in our minds is, that he is far removed from us. And so indeed he is in respect of his body and human presence. Paul, however, reminds us, that though withdrawn in respect of bodily presence, he yet fills all things, namely, by the agency of his Spirit. For wherever the right hand of God, which embraces heaven and earth, is diffused, there the spiritual presence of Christ, and Christ himself is present by his boundless energy, though his body must be contained in heaven, according to the declaration of Peter. Should any one ask, whether the body of Christ is infinite, like the Godhead, he answers, that it is not, because the body of Christ, his humanity being considered in itself, is not in stones, and seeds, and plants. What is meant by this clause or exception, but just that the body of Christ naturally, when his humanity is considered by itself, is not infinite, but is so in respect of the hypostatic union? But ancient writers, when they say that the flesh of Christ, in order to be vivifying, borrows from his Divine Spirit, say not a word of this immensity, because nothing so monstrous ever came into their thoughts.
While Heshusius admits that this is a difficulty which he cannot explain, he gets off by representing things most dissimilar as alike. How the simple essence of God consists of three persons: how the Creator and the creature are one person: how the dead, who a thousand years ago were reduced to nothing, are to rise again, he says he cannot comprehend; but it is enough for him, that the two natures are hypostatically united in Christ and cannot be dissevered: nor can it be piously thought that the person of the Logos is without the body of Christ.
While I willingly grant all this, I wonder whence he draws the inference that the obscurity in the sacred Supper is the same. For who that is moderately versant in Scripture does not know what is and what is not the force of sacramental union? Moreover, as local presence cannot exist without ubiquity, he impugns my declaration, that the body of Christ is in the pious by the agency of the Spirit. This he does not in precise terms.
He rather acknowledges that it is perfectly true, and yet he insists that the human nature of Christ is not less everywhere, or in several places, than his divine nature. I here ask, seeing that the habitation of Christ in believers is perpetual, why he denies that he dwells bodily without the use of the Supper? It seems to me there cannot be a firmer inference than this, If it is unlawful to dissever the flesh of Christ from his divinity, wherever the divinity dwells the flesh also dwells corporeally. But the deity of Christ always dwells in believers as well in life as in death; therefore so dwells the flesh. Let Heshusius, if he can, dispose of this syllogism, and I will easily explain the rest.
I again repeat, As the divine majesty and essence of Christ fills heaven and earth, and this is extended to the flesh; therefore, independently of the use of the Supper, the flesh of Christ dwells essentially in believers, because they possess the presence of his deity. Let him not cry that we dissever the indivisible person of Christ by not attributing the same qualities to both natures. For this being established, it will follow that the substance of the flesh is no more found under the bread than in the mere virtue of faith.
I may add, that he declares his assent to Cyril, who contends that by the communion of the flesh and blood of Christ we become one with him, while Heshusius uniformly maintains that the wicked by no means become one with Christ, though they are corporeally intermixed with him; and bringing together two passages from Paul, concludes that the presence of Christ, on which alone he insists, is not idle. There is still more ridiculous fatuity in what follows; for from a passage in which Paul affirms that Christ speaketh in him, he infers that Christ is lacerated if we imagine him to speak by his divinity alone, to the exclusion of his flesh. After granting this, might I not justly infer that Christ was not less corporeally in Paul when he was writing than when he received the bread of the Supper?
I have therefore gained all I wished, viz., that we become substantially partakers of the flesh of Christ not by an external sign but by the simple faith of the gospel. His quibbling objection, that the flesh is excluded from the Supper and from all divine acts when we teach that it is contained in heaven, is easily disposed of, since local absence does not exclude the mystical and incomprehensible operation of the flesh. Heshusius is under a very absurd hallucination when he imagines that fixture to a place implies exclusion, unless the body be inclosed under the bread. But he says, the Spirit is not without the Son, and therefore not without the flesh. I, in my turn, retort, that the Son is not without the Spirit, and that therefore the dead body of Christ by no means passes into the stomach of the reprobate. From this let the reader judge where the absurdity lies. Nay, in order to drag the body of Christ under early elements, he is forced to ascribe an immensity to the bodies of all believers, and tries to play off his wit upon us, saying, that if each retain his own dimensions, those who sit nearest to Christ after the resurrection will be the happiest. Resting satisfied with the reply of Christ, we wait for that day when our heavenly Father will give each his proper station. Meanwhile we abominate the delirium of Servetus, which Heshusius again obtrudes.
His conclusion is, If the boundless wisdom and power of God is not limited by physical laws; if the right hand of God does not mean some small place in heaven, but equal glory with the Father; if the human nature of Christ, from being united to the Logos, has sublime prerogatives, and some properties common to the divine essence; if Christ, not only in respect of the Spirit, but inasmuch as he is, God and man, dwells in the breasts of believers, then by the ascension of Christ into heaven his presence in the eucharist is secured and firmly established. I, on the other hand, rejoin, If our dispute is not philosophical, and we do not subject Christ to physical laws, but reverently show from passages of Scripture what is the nature and property of his flesh, it is absurd in Heshusius to gather from false principles whatever meets his view. Again I infer, If it is plain, as I have most clearly demonstrated, that whatever he has produced as adverse to me concerning the right hand of God, he has borrowed from my writings, he is proved to be a wicked calumniator. When he says, that certain properties are common to the flesh of Christ and to the Godhead, I call for a demonstration which he has not yet attempted. Finally, I conclude, If Christ, in respect of both natures, dwells naturally or substantially in believers, there is no other eating in the Supper than that which is received by faith without a symbol. He at last says, in a cursory way, that all our objections with regard to the departure of Christ, are easily solved, because they ought to be understood not of absence of person but only of the mode of absence, namely, that we have him present not visibly but invisibly. The solution is indeed trite, being not unknown even to some old wives in the Papacy; and yet it is a solution which escaped Augustine, by the admission of Heshusius himself, the chief, and best, and most faithful of ancient teachers. For in expounding that passage, he says, (in Joann. Tr. 50,) In respect of his majesty, in respect of his providence, in respect of his ineffable and invisible grace, is fulfilled what he said, I am with you. always; but in respect of the flesh which the Word assumed, in respect of his being born of the Virgin, in respect of his being apprehended by the Jews, fixed to the tree, laid in the sepulcher, and manifested in the resurrection, ye Shall not have me with you always.
Wherefore? After he was conversant, in respect of the presence of his body, for forty days with the disciples, and they conducting him, seeing, but not following, he ascended into heaven, and is not here. He sits then at the right hand of the Father, and yet he is here; for the presence of his majesty has not retired. Otherwise thus: In respect of the presence of his majesty we have Christ always: in respect of the presence of his flesh, it was truly said to the disciples, Me ye shall not have always.
With what modesty, moreover, Heshusius says that I prove the eating of the flesh of Christ to be useless from the words of Christ, The flesh profiteth nothing; while I am silent let my Commentary demonstrate, in which I speak verbatim thus: Nor is it correct to say that the flesh of Christ profits, inasmuch as it was crucified, but the eating of it gives us nothing: we should rather say that it is necessary to eat it in order that we may derive profit from its having been crucified. Augustine thinks that we ought to supply the words alone, and by itself, because it ought to be conjoined with the Spirit. This is consonant to fact: for Christ has respect simply to the mode of eating. He does not therefore exclude every kind of utility, as if none could be derived from his flesh, but he only declares that it will be useless, if it is separated from the Spirit. How then has flesh the power of vivifying, but just by being spiritual? Whosoever therefore stops short at the earthly nature of flesh will find nothing in it but what is dead; but those who raise their eyes to the virtue of the Spirit with which the flesh is pervaded, will learn by the result and the experience of faith, that it is not without good cause said to be vivifying. The reader may there find more to the same purpose if he desires it. See why this Thraso calls upon the Calvinists to say whether the flesh of the Son of God be useless: Nay, why do you not rather call upon yourself, and awake at length from your sluggishness?
Our third objection, according to him, is, The peculiar property of all the sacraments is to be signs and pledges testifying somewhat: and therefore in the Supper it is not the body of Christ, but only the symbol of an absent body that is given. Caesar, boasting of the rapidity of an eastern victory, is said to have written, Vidi, Vici, I have seen, I have conquered; but our Thraso boasts of having conquered by keeping his eyes shut. In our Agreement it is twice or thrice, distinctly stated, that since the testimonies and seals which the Lord has given us of his grace are true, he, without doubt, inwardly performs that which the sacraments figure to the eye, and in them accordingly we obtain possession of Christ, and spiritually receive him with his gifts: nay, he is certainly offered in common to all, to unbelievers as well as to believers. As much as the exhibition of the reality differs from a bare and empty figure does Heshusius differ from our sentiments, when he pretends to extract from our writings falsehoods of his own devising. Hence as he is sole author of the silly quibble which he falsely attributes to us, I admit that he argues ill; and as what he says of the absence of the body is cobbled by his own brain, though he is a bad cobbler, the fittest thing for him is to send him to his shoes with his; frigid witticisms. Meanwhile I would have my readers to remember what was formerly said of a twofold absence; for from thence it will be plain, that things which are absent in respect of place and of the eye, are not, however, far remote. These two kinds of absence Heshusius, from ignorance or malice, improperly confounds. It is at the same time worth while to observe how admirably he extracts the presence of Christ from the passage in which Peter calls baptism the answer eperwthsiv of a good conscience, though the Apostle there expressly distinguishes between the external symbol of baptism and the reality, saying, that our baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the trial of a good conscience by the resurrection of Christ, is similar to the ancient figure.
According to Heshusius, our fourth objection is, The sacraments of the New Testament, viz., Baptism and the Supper, are of the same nature, and entirely agree with each other: Therefore as in Baptism the water is not called the Holy Spirit except by a metaphor, so neither can the bread of the Supper be called the body of Christ, except allegorically, or, according to Calvin, metonymically. Our method of arguing will shortly be seen.
Meanwhile let the reader observe, that Heshusius has again fabricated expressions which may furnish materials for fighting with shadows.
Accordingly the “entirely agree” which he refutes is altogether his own; we have nothing to do with it, and hence I could easily allow him to knock down his own men of straw, provided he would cease from deluding the simple.
I now come to our argument. Since Scripture plainly declares ( Corinthians 3:23) that we put on Christ in baptism, and are washed by his blood, we remark that there is no reason why he should be said to be more present in the Supper than in Baptism. The resemblance therefore is not placed in their being both sacraments of the New Testament, but in this, that Baptism requires the presence of Christ not less than the Supper.
There was another reason. As they boldly rejected everything which was produced from the Old Testament, we showed that there was no room for this evasion in baptism. It is plain that they endeavored to escape by a subterfuge, when they objected that there were only shadows under the law. The distinction was not unknown to us, nor was it destroyed by our doctrine, but we were thus forced to show, from the constant usage of Scripture, what was the force of sacramental modes of expression. But since their perverseness could not be overcome in any other way than by leaving the law out of view, and showing to these new Manichees, that in Baptism and the Supper, as being the sacraments of the New Testament, an analogy was to be observed, we clearly demonstrated, as was easy to do, that baptism is called the washing of regeneration and renovation in no other sense than that in which Christ called the bread his body. I do not state all which the reader will find in my last admonition to Westphal, as at present it is sufficient to have pointed to the objections which Heshusius dilutes. And yet I ought not to omit, that though he had read in the twenty-third article against the objectors of Magdeburg, what should have been more than sufficient to refute all his subtleties, he turns it over as if nothing had ever been written.
Next comes the fifth objection, in which he introduces us as speaking thus: — In the phrase, This is my body, we must have recourse to a trope, just as those phrases, Circumcision is a Covenant, The Lamb is a Passover, The Rock was Christ, cannot be explained without the help of trope, metaphor, or metonymy. This may perhaps pass for wit with his boon companions, but all men of sense and piety must regard him as a falsifier, since this trifling is not to be found in our writings. We simply say, that in considering the sacraments, a certain and peculiar mode of expression is to be observed in accordance with the perpetual usage of Scripture. Here we escape by no evasion or help of trope: we only produce what is notorious to all but brutish minds that would darken the sun. I acknowledge, then, our principle to be, that in Scripture there is a form of expression common to all the sacraments, and though each sacrament has something peculiar to itself, distinct from the others, yet all of them contain a metonymy, which transfers the name of the thing signified to the sign. Let Heshusius now answer. His words are: It is not easy to admit that there is a trope in the words, The rock was Christ. Still out of his facility he grants us this. Here the reader will observe his difficult facility. But how can he deny that the rock is figuratively called Christ? Is this all his great liberality; to concede to us that Christ, strictly speaking, was not the mass of stone from which the water in the wilderness flowed? He goes farther, and says, it does not follow from this that all the articles of faith are to be explained metaphorically. But the question was concerning the sacraments. Let the pious and diligent reader turn over the whole of Scripture, and he will find that what we say of the sacraments always holds, viz., that the name of the thing signified is given to the sign. This is what is called by grammarians a figurative expression; nor will theologians, when they express themselves, invert the order of nature. With what propriety Heshusius flies off from Baptism and the Supper to all the articles of faith, I leave others to judge: every one must see, that like an unruly steed, he overleaps the goal. His answer, that individual examples do not form a general rule, is nothing to the purpose, because we do not produce any single example, but adhere to a rule which is common to all the sacraments, and which he in vain endeavors to overturn.
He is not a whit more successful in solving the other difficulty. We say with Augustine, that when a manifest absurdity occurs, there is a trope or figure in the expression. He answers, that in the judgment of reason nothing is more absurd than that there are three hypostases in the one essence of God, and yet no remedy of a trope is required; as if it were our intention, or had been that of Augustine, to measure absurdity by our carnal sense. On the contrary, we declare that we reverently embrace what human reason repudiates. We only shun absurdities abhorrent to piety and faith. To give a literal meaning to the words, This is my body, we hold to be contrary to the analogy of faith, and we, at the same time, maintain that it is remote from the common usage of Scripture wherever sacraments are spoken of. When Heshusius says that this opinion of ours is refuted by the name of New Testament, it is with no greater reason than if he were to deny that the Holy Spirit is metonymically termed a dove. He says, falsely and nugatorily, that insult is offered to Paul, as if we were rejecting his explanation, The bread is the communion of the body, whereas this communion is nowhere more fully illustrated than in our writings. The rules of rhetoricians adduced by him show that he has never mastered the rudiments of any liberal study. But not to make myself ridiculous by imitating his silliness, I give the only answer which becomes a theologian, that although a figurative expression is not so distinct, it gives a more elegant and significant expression than if the thing were said simply, and without figure. Hence figures are called the eyes of speech, not that they explain the matter more easily than simple ordinary language, but because they attract attention by their elegance, and arouse the mind by their luster, and by their lively similitude make a deeper impression. I ask Heshusius, whether in our Savior’s discourse in the sixth chapter of John there is no figure? Surely, whether he will or not, he will be forced to confess that it was metaphorically said, Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of God, and drink his blood. All, however, see more clearly what our Savior meant to express, viz., that our souls, by a spiritual partaking of his flesh and blood, are nourished unto heavenly life,. He makes it a ground of loud triumph over me, that when I saw that the grosser metaphors of others were exposed by the judgment of Luther, I craftily carved out a metaphor, which, however, is not at all consistent. He indeed admits the truth of what I teach, viz., that the sign is aptly expressed by the name of the thing signified, but holds that things unlike are here conjoined by a marvelous mode of expression. I hear what he would say; but by what authority does he prove it? He not only despises us, but rejects the interpretation of Brentius as confidently as he does ours.
Now then, although he persuade himself that, like another Pythagoras, he is to be believed on his own assertion, autopistov in what way does he hold the body of Christ to be one with the bread? He answers, in the same way as the Holy Spirit was a flame resting on the heads of the Apostles, and a dove which appeared to the Baptist. He means, then, that in an unwonted manner tongues of fire were the Spirit, and a dove was the Spirit. What need is there here for long discussion, as if the reader could not easily judge for himself which of the two is more consistent — that the name of the thing should be applied to the sign, or that the sign should be, strictly speaking, the very thing? The dove, under the form of which the Holy Spirit appeared, immediately vanished: but as it was a sure symbol of the presence of the Spirit, we say that the name of the Spirit. was correctly and aptly imposed on it. Although this is displeasing to Heshusius, who maintains that however metonymy may be twisted, it cannot be made to apply; there is now no wonder that he is so much in love with all kinds of absurdity, and hugs them as they were his children, as he seems to be borne away by some monstrous fondness for paradox, and can only approve of what is absurd. Meanwhile, I receive what he grants, viz., that the bread of the eucharist is called the body of Christ for the same reason for which the dove is called the Spirit. I cannot have the least; doubt, that in regard to the latter expression, all will at once agree with me that there is a metonymy. When, to defend his pride, he glories in mere ignorance, the only thing fit for him is Paul’s answer, He that is ignorant, let him be ignorant.
If he feels that weariness, by which, according to Juvenal, Occidit miseros crambe repetita magistros, why does he, in his sixth objection, inflict spontaneous misery upon himself, not only by useless repetition, but also by vain fiction? Our mode of arguing, though nothing of the kind was ever in our thoughts, he pretends to be as follows: Were the presence of Christ in the Supper corporeal, the wicked would, equally with believers, be partakers of the body of Christ. This inference, which Heshusius draws, I reject as absurd.
Hence it appears in what kind of wrestling he is exercising himself. But the reason is, that he was unwilling to lose a verse of Menander, which formerly, when talking tediously on this article, he had forgotten to insert.
I think I have clearly demonstrated how nugatorily he attempts to make a gloss of the immensity of God, that he may thus separate Christ from his Spirit. God, he says, fills all things, and yet does not sanctify all things by his Spirit. But the reason is, that God does not work everywhere as Redeemer. The case is different with Christ, who, in his character as Mediator, never comes forth without the Spirit of holiness. For this reason, wherever he is, there is life. Therefore, not to wander in vain beyond our bounds, let Heshusius show that Christ, considered as born of the Virgin to be the Redeemer of the world, is devoid of the Spirit of regeneration.
In the seventh objection he makes it plain how truly I said that those who enclose the body of Christ in the bread, and his blood in the cup, cannot, by any tergiversation, avoid dissevering the one from the other: for seeing no means of evasion, he breaks out into invective, and calls me an Epicurean. It is of no consequence to observe what kind of scholars his own school has produced. It is certain that the stye of Epicurus does not send forth men who boldly offer their lives in sacrifice, that they may confirm the ordinance of the Supper by their own blood. Six hundred martyrs will stand before God to plead in defense of my doctrine. For the same cause three hundred thousand men are this day in peril. Heshusius and his fellows will one day feel how intolerable, before the tribunal of God, and in presence of all the angels, is the sacrilege of not only fiercely lacerating the living servants of God, whose piety is placed beyond a doubt by pious labors, watchings, and wrestlings, but also of dishonoring innocent blood, sacred even to God, by cruelly assailing the dead. This is my brief answer to his reproaches.
As to the subject, let him at last give his own answer. He says, that without disseveration the flesh of Christ is eaten in the bread, and his blood drunk in the wine, but that the mode in which this is done is unknown to him. In other words, while he advances the most manifest contradictions, he will not allow them to be examined. But I press him more closely, As Christ does not say of the bread, This I am, but calls it his body, and separately offers the blood in the cup, it necessarily follows that the blood must be separated from the body. It is a frigid sophism of the Papists, that the body is in the cup, and the blood in the bread, by concomitance. Distinct symbols were not used without cause, when he gave his flesh for meat, and his blood for drink, If the same thing is given by both symbols, then substantially the bread is blood, and the wine is body; and the bread, as well as the cup, will each be the whole Christ twice over. But if it was the purpose of Christ to feed his believers separately on spiritual meat and drink, it follows that there is neither flesh in the bread, nor blood in the wine, but that by these symbols our minds are to be carried upwards, that by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ we may enjoy solid nourishment, and yet not dissever Christ.
Though Heshusius, to darken this light, boldly defames, under the name of philosophy, a doctrine derived from pure theology, he gains no more than to make his obstinacy and arrogance detestable to all men of sense and moderation.
The eighth objection, concerning the worship of the bread, artolatreia though not faithfully stated, he adopts a very silly method of refuting. He maintains that the bread is not to be worshipped, because it is not the body of Christ by hypostatic union. Surely Philip Melancthon was not so ignorant of things and words as not to perceive this distinction. He saw, however, that if the bread was the body, it was to be worshipped without any reservation. Indeed, I have already shown, that were we to grant to Heshusius that it does not follow from his error that the bread is to be worshipped, he cannot, however, evade the charge of latreia, because he cannot deny that Christ is to be worshipped in the bread, or under the bread. It is certain, that wherever Christ is, he cannot be lawfully defrauded of his honor and worship. What, then, is more preposterous than to place him in the bread and then refuse to worship him? Nor have we to dispute about the matter, as if it were doubtful. For to what end is the bread lifted up among them? Why do they fall on their knees before the bread? If such gross superstition is excusable, the prophets did grievous wrong to the Gentiles when they said that they worshipped gold, silver, wood, and stones. All infidels thought that they were venerating the celestial Deity when they supplicated statues and images. They had no hypostatic union, but only a resemblance; and though, they annexed the power of God to images, they would never have ventured to assert that a piece of wood was substantially God. Shall we suppose that those who unblushingly affirm the same thing of the bread are not worshippers of the bread?
His next sentence gives no obscure indication of the reverence with which he contemplates the boundless essence of God. If it is so, he says, let us worship wood and stones in which the true essence of God is. For although God fills heaven and earth, and his essence is everywhere diffused, the perverse fiction which Heshusius appends to this, and his profane language concerning it, are abhorrent to piety. The Spirit of God, he says, dwelt in Elias: why did not the followers of Elias worship him?
But what resemblance is there between all the forms of divine presence of which Scripture speaks, and this for which Heshusius contends? He is not entitled proudly to despise objections which he is so unsuccessful in obviating. It is strange also why he represents the arguments which overthrow his error as so few in number. He is not ignorant that the objectors of Magdeburg set them down at fifty-nine. Why then does he pass the greater part of them without notice, but just because he would not advert to difficulties which he could not solve without disgracing himself, and, seeing how the others had been handled, the best course seemed to be to dissemble.
Though at greater length than I anticipated, I am not sorry at having discussed the silly production of a man not less wicked than absurd, if modest and worthy readers derive all the profit which I hope from my labor. It was for their sakes I submitted to the weary task. The slanderer himself was undeserving of an answer. That the whole world may in future know more certainly with what title turbulent men so violently assail our doctrine, with what truth they charge us with equivocation and imposture, with what civility they load us with words of contumely, it has seemed proper to append a brief summary of my doctrine. Perhaps this right and true no less than lucid exposition may have the effect of appeasing some individuals; at all events, I am confident that it will fully satisfy all the sincere servants of God, since nothing has been omitted in it which the dignity and reverence due to this ordinance demands. The paltry censures by which Heshusius has endeavored to excite hatred or suspicion of my writings, I regard not, nor labor to refute, but rather am pleased that there should exist a notable specimen of the depravity and malevolence with which he is imbued, the stolid pride, and insolent audacity with which he swells. I do not now question his title to assume the office of censor against me. It is enough for me that while I am silent all sensible and moderate men will recognize under the character of the censor one who has the spirit of an executioner; so foully does he adulterate, corrupt, wrest, garble, lacerate, and subvert everything. Had he anything like candor or docility, I would clear myself from his calumnies, but as he is like an untamed bull I leave it to Beza to prune his wantonness, and bring him into due subjection.