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it before he gave it to his disciples ; that he gave it to them before he said, “TAKE, EAT ;” and that he said, “TAKE, EAT,” before he said, " THIS IS MY BODY:" consequently, from anything we can learn from scripture, it appears that he had blessed, or consecrated the bread, some time before he said, “THIS IS MY BODY;" and therefore, to say that the words “THIS IS MY BODI” is the form by which Christ transubstantiated the bread, in other words, to say that Christ pronounced the words twice, is to depart from the letter of the history, and to give up the literal meaning of the scripture as irreconcileable with the theory of transubstantiation, Now, the church of Rome is not only unable to take the evangelical history literally as it stands, but she confesses that she is unable. She confesses that, to make out her theory, she is obliged to give it a figurative interpretation, and to suppose something which is not to be found in the text of the evangelists. In proving “from reason," that the words “THIS IS MY BODY," are the form, the catechism says—" For the form is that by which that is signified which is effected in this sacrament; but since these words signify and declare that which is made, that is, the conversion of the bread into the very body of our Lord, it follows that the form must be placed in these very words : in which meaning it is lawful to take what is said by the evangelist, He blessed.' seems it should be understood just as if he had said, taking bread, he blessed, saying, This is my body.” “ Nam forma ea est, quâ illud significatur quod in hoc sacramento efficitur : cum autem hæc verba id quod fit significent, ac declarent, hoc est, panis conversionem in verum Domini nostri corpus, sequitur, formam in illis ipsis verbis constituendam esse; in quam sententiam, quod ab evungelista dictum est, Benedixit, licet accipere. Perinde enim videtur intelligendum, ac si dirisset, accipiens panem benedixit, dicens : Hoc est corpus meum. And thus the catechism is explained by Bellarinus, in his “ Doctrine of the Sacred Council of Trent, and of the Roman Catechism,” &c., a work dedicated to the inquisitor-general of Milan. His words are these :-“ Does not that word (benedixit), he blessed, signify consecration ? Ans. It signifies thus : taking bread, he blessed it
, saying, that is, he blessed in these words : This is my body.” “ Illud verbum, benedixit, nonne significat consecrationem ? Res. Significat ita ; Accipiens panem benedixit illum dicens, id est benedixit his verbis : Hoc est corpus meum.”+ Now, what is this but a direct and explicit avowal that the doctrine of transubstantiation cannot be made out from the literal and grammatical meaning of the words of scripture ? As far as we can learn from the words of the evangelist, there is not the slightest reason for supposing that Christ pronounced the words, " THIS IS MY BODY,” twice. From anything we can gather from the text, there is not a shadow of ground for the notion. On the con. trary, the plain meaning of the words would lead any unprejudiced person, who knew nothing of the controversy, to conclude that Christ did not pronounce the words (at least it could never occur to him to suppose that he had pronounced them) before he had given, or at least, was in the very act of giving, the bread to his disciples. I may be asked, is such a person as I have here supposed a competent judge of such a question ? No doubt he is.
* Ibid. § Sed ratione. † Doctrina S. Concilii Tridentini et Catechismi Romani, etc. Fideliter collecta distincta, et ubi opus est, explicata per R, D. Joann. Bellarinum, Cler. Reg. Cong. S. Pauli. De Eucharistia. 'l'ract, i, cap. iii. num. 2, p. 99. Lugd. 1664 Cum approbatione et permissione. 8vo.
No doubt he is. Nay, he is precisely the very most competent that can be imagined. If it were a question of exposition or church history, we should need the assistance of learning and critical acumen; but we are told that the doctrine of transubstantiation is proved by the literal meaning of the words. Surely, to decide this, a man of plain unsophisticated common sense, who knows nothing of the controversy, is just the very best person that can be imagined. This is not a question of doctrine or research ; it is a question of facts. It is not an appeal to scholarship; but to common sense. And consequently, the less a man knew of the controversy, the more likely he would be to give fair play to his understanding. It requires no learning to discover that the church of Rome is already, in the very outset, compelled to abandon the literal and proper sense of the words as untenable, and to wrest them from their natural sense, to something very like what the Council of Trent calls “a fictitious and imaginary trope.” She is obliged to confess that she is compelled to understand the evangelist to mean, not what he has said, but “just as if he had said” (“ perinde ac si dixisset”) something which he has not said, and something which, without wresting of some sort or other, his words could never have been imagined to signify.
2. But, secondly, this contrivance only increases the difficulty; for the words, “THIS IS MY BODY,” if taken apart from their con nexion, are, in their plain and literal sense, declaratory and signifi. cative. They are, then, simply a statement of the actual condition of a thing; and therefore their literal meaning implies, that the thing, whatever it may be, was in that condition before the statement was made. And this absolutely follows from the doctrine of transubstantiation. For, unless that which Christ commanded his disciples to take and eat was his body before he gave the command, he must have commanded them to eat either what was not his body, or else what was his body only in the eating and use of it ; both of which suppositions are flatly contradictory of the whole doctrine of the Roman church. And hence it follows, that, on their own shewing, the words as recorded by the evangelists must be declaratory. This is the express statement of the decree of the Council of Trent:–« This indeed is common to the most holy eucharist with the other sacraments, to be a symbol of a sacred thing, and a visible form of an invisible grace; but that is found in it excellent and singular, that the rest of the sacraments then first have the power of sanctifying, when any one uses them; but the author of sanctity himself is in the eucharist before the use, for the apostles had not received the eucharist from the hand of the Lord, when, notwithstanding, he himself affirmed that it was truly his body which he was giving them; and this has ever been the faith in the church of God, that immediately after consecration the very body of our Lord, and his very blood, along with his soul and divinity, exist under the appearance of bread and wine, &c." 66 Commune hoc quidem est sanctissimæ eucharistiæ cum cæteris sacramentis, symbolum esse rei sacræ, et invisibilis gratiæ formam visibilem : verum illud in ea excellens et singulare reperitur, quod reliqua sacramenta tunc primum sanctificandi vim habent, cum quis illis utitur : ut in eucharistia ipse sanctitatis auctor ante usum est, nondum enim eucharistiam de manu Domini Apostoli susceperant, cum vere tamen ipse affirmaret corpus suum esse quod præbebat : et semper hæc fides in ecclesia Dei fuit, statim post consecrationem verum Domini nostri corpus, verumque ejus sanguinem sub panis et vini specie una cum ipsius apima et divinitate exsistere, etc.
According to the Council of Trent, therefore, the words of our Saviour,“THIS IS MY BODY,” in all the places where they are found in the New Testament, have no force whatever beyond the affirmation of a fact already in existence; because they simply declare to the apostles that what they were commanded to take, but (according to the Council of Trent) had not yet taken, had been already transubstantiated. How then can they be that instrument by which the miracle of transubstantiation had been performed ? How can they be the form of the sacrament? How can they be that, on the utterance of which the conversion of the substance took place, and the body of Christ was made ? Clearly, they cannot. For, as the form of the sacrament, they do not produce their consecratory and converting effect until the last syllable has been pronounced. This Bellarmine expressly states :—“These consecratory words (like any other sentence whatever) have not a perfect signification unless in the last instant, in which the last word is uttered; for the meaning is in suspense, until we come to the end : but in the same last instant is placed the actual effect of the words, that is, the conversion of the bread into the body of Christ.” “Verba illa consecratoria (ut quamvis aliam sententiam) non habere perfectam significationem, nisi in ultimo instanti, quo profertur ultima vox; pendet enim intellectus, donec ad finem veniatur : in eodem autem ultimo instanti ponitur effectus verborum in esse, id est, conversio panis in corpus Christi.”+. So that the words, in their literal meaning, as they stand in the evangelists, are not the form of the sacrament. They are not effective; they are not consecratory : except indeed in a sense fatal to the doctrine of transubstantiation. They are declaratory; and can be understood no otherwise by any one who believes that doctrine to be true. To meet this difficulty, therefore, it is not sufficient to depart from the letter of the text, by the invention noticed in the preceding section ; for as the words, in that which must be their literal significancy, according to the Romish doctrine, are not consecratory, it would do anything but remove the difficulty to suppose that they were twice pronounced by Christ in the same sense. And this must be true, whichever sense be attributed to them; for, on the one hand, if Christ pronounced them twice in
Sess. xiii, cap. iii. '
the declaratory and inoperative sense which the Romanist attaches to them in the words of distribution, as recorded in scripture, then either they were not the form of consecration, or else the bread was consecrated by a form merely declaratory, and consequently was not transubstantiated. While, on the other hand, if Christ had twice pronounced them in an operative and consecratory sense, then there would be a double consecration and transubstantiation of the same sacrament, which is impossible and absurd. So that, in order to escape one difficulty, the church of Rome has created another; and by making one departure from the literal meaning of the text, she has been obliged to make a second; for as the words “THIS IS MY BODY" are, as Bellarmine tells us, “ the principal foundation of this whole controversy, and thus of the whole of this most deep mystery," (“præcipuum fundamentum est totius controversiæ, atque adeo totius hujus altissimi mysterii,"'*) and as their literal meaning, as they are found in the context of the history, is utterly irreconcileable with the Roman doctrine, it follows that the Romanists are obliged to assume, first, that Christ pronounced the words twice; secondly, that he pronounced them on these several occasions in two totally different senses_namely, at the benediction, in a consecratory and transubstantiative sense ; and at the distribution, in a sense purely historical and declarative; and thirdly, the sense in which they are obliged to assume that Christ pronounced the words on the purely imaginary occasion on which they are obliged to assume that he did pronounce them, is not the literal sense, but totally the reverse of it.
§ 3. But there is another reason why the form of the sacrament is confined to the words “THIS IS MY BODY.” It is evident that, taking the words of the evangelist as they stand, there is nothing whatever in their literal meaning which could lead any one to imagine that these four words should be dissevered from their connexion, and interpreted as if they were of a different sort and character from those that precede and follow them. The contrary is plainly the impression that must be made on the mind of any one who should consider their natural and grammatical import, without suffering his judgment to be warped by sectarian prejudice. Take the words in St. Matthew's gospel : “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body." The literal meaning of this passage never could by possibility excite a suspicion that the words, “TAKE, EAT,” were of one sort of character, and the words, “THIS IS MY BODY," of a totally different one; the natural meaning of the words, considered as words of institution, is plainly this, to command the use of the sacrament, and to promise the presence of Christ's body in the use. But such an interpretation is fatal to the doctrine of the Roman church, because it confines the presence of Christ's body to the use of the sacrament; and by consequence, renders it improper to consecrate the sacrament, or rather impossible, except for the purposes of use and communion.
• De Sacr. Euch. lib. i. cap. viii. § 1.
The literal meaning of the words is this, that, in taking and eating the consecrated bread, it is the body of Christ. But the church of Romne cannot take it in this sense ; for plainly that would be to concede the unlawfulness of solitary masses, and to abandon the notion of the bread being converted into the body of Christ previous to communion, and irrespective of the necessity of any communion whatever. I repeat, that the meaning which the church of Rome is compelled to assign to these words is utterly at variance with the literal and grammatical sense. In order to harmonise with the doctrine of transubstantiation, it is necessary to paraphrase them somewhat in this manner :-" “ Take, eat, for, by the words of consecration already pronounced, the substance of bread has been converted into the natural body of Christ ; but not indeed primarily or necessarily for the purpose of being taken and eaten : since, whether it be taken and eaten, or not, it is the body of Christ." Now, to give this meaning, which is the only one that can consist with the Roman theory, two things must be assumed, which never could have been gathered from the literal meaning of the text: first, that the words, “TAKE, EAT,” though proper to be repeated by the priest, are unnecessary to the consecration of the sacrament; and secondly, that the words, “THIS IS MY BODY," having first been pronounced as the form of the sacrament, were afterwards repeated to the apostles, as the reason why they should take and eat the sacrament; and, consequently, that the word “FOR,” or some such particle, must be expressed or understood in order to give them their proper signification.
Now these departures from the literal sense are not only necessary to the system of the church of Rome, but she herself confesses their necessity. Let us return to the Roman Catechism. I shall be obliged to repeat some of the words I had already cited :-"For the form is that, by which that is signified which is effected in this sacrament; but since these words signify and declare that which is made, that is, the conversion of the bread into the very body of our Lord, it follows that the form should be placed in these very words: in which sense it is lawful to take what is said by the evangelist," he blessed ;' for it
appears it should be understood just as if he had said, taking bread he blessed, saying, This is my body. Note. For although the evangelist has prefixed those words, TAKE, AND Eat, yet it is plain that by them is signified not the consecration of the matter but only the use ; wherefore they ought indeed by all means to be pronounced by the priest, but they are not necessary to the making of the sacrament. Note
. In like manner also is pronounced the conjunction FOR, [ENIM,)in the consecration of the body and blood; for otherwise the consequence will be, that, if this sacrament is not to be administered to any one, it rught not, or indeed cannot be made; when, however, it is not lawful to doubt that the priest, by pronouncing the words of the Lord according to the custom and institution of holy church, truly consecrates the fit matter of bread; although it may afterwards happen, that the holy eucharist should never be administered to any one.”
« Nam for ea est, etc. (ut supra.) Nota, Quamvis enim evangelista verba illa,
VOL. XVIII.--July, 1840.