“This is my body”
Custom: I marvel much what madness is creeping into those men’s hearts, which now-a-days are not ashamed so violently to tread down the lively word of God, yea, and impudently to deny God himself.
Verity: God forbid there should be any such! Indeed I remember that the Romish bishop was wont to have the bible for his footstool, and so to tread down God’s word evermore, when he stood at his mass. But thanks be to God! he is now detected, and his abominations be opened and blown throughout all the world: and I hear of no more that oppresseth God’s word.
Custom: No more! say you? Yes, doubtless, there are a hundred thousand more; and your part it is, Verity, to withstand them.
Verity: As touching my part, you know it agreeth not with my nature to stand with falsehood. But what are they? Disclose them, if you will have them reprimanded.
Custom: What! Are you so great a stranger in these quarters? Hear you not, how that men do daily speak against the sacrament of the altar, denying it to be the real body of Christ?
Verity: In good sooth, I have been a great while abroad, and returned but of late into this country: wherefore you must pardon me, if my answer be to seek in such questions. But go forth in your tale. You have been here longer, and are better acquainted than I. What say they more than this?
Custom: Than this? Why, what can they possibly say more?
Verity: Yes, there are many things worse than this: for this seemeth in some part to be tolerable.
Custom: What! Me Thinketh you dally with me. Seemeth it tolerable to deny the sacrament?
Verity: They deny it not, so much as I can gather by your words.
Custom: Nay, then, fare you well I perceive you will take their part.
Verity: I am not partial, but indifferent to all parties: for I never go further than the truth.
Custom: I can scarcely believe you. But what is more true than Christ, which is truth itself? or who ever was so hardy, before this time, to charge Christ with a lie for saying these words “This is my body?” The words are evident and words plain there is in them not so much as one obscure or dark letter; there is no cause for any man to cavil. And yet, that notwithstanding, whereas Christ himself affirmed it to be his body, men now-a-days are not abashed to say, Christ lied, it is not his body. The evangelists agree all in one; the old writers stand of our side; the universal and catholic church church has been in this mind these fifteen hundred year and more. And shall we think that Christ himself, his evangelists, all the whole catholic church, have been so long deceived, and the truth now at length begotten and born in these days?
Verity: You have moved a matter of great force and weight, and whereto without many words I can make no full answer. Notwithstanding, because you provoke me thereto, if the doctrine you will give me license, I will take part with them of whom you have made a false report; for none of them ever reproved Christ of any lie but contrariwise they say, that many men reports of late days, not understanding Christ’s words, have built and set up many fond lies upon his name. Wherefore first the sense will declare the meaning of these words, “This is my body” corpus and next, in what sense the church and the old fathers have pounded, evermore taken them. First, therefore, you shall understand, that scripture is not so to be taken always as the letter soundeth, but as the intent and purpose of the Holy Ghost was, by whom the scripture was uttered. For if you follow the bare words, you will soon shake down and overthrow the greatest part of the Christian faith. What is plainer than these words, Pater major me est, “My father is greater than I am.” Of those plain words sprang up the heresy of the Arians, which denied Christ to be equal with his Father. What is more evident than this saying, “I and my Father are both one?” There arose the heresy of them that denied three distinct persons. “They all had one soul and one heart, was spoken by the apostles: yet had each of them a soul and heart peculiar to himself. ” They are now not two, but one flesh,” is spoken by the man and his wife: yet hath both the man and the wife his several body. “He is our very flesh,” said Reuben of Joseph his brother; which, notwithstanding was not their real flesh. “I am the bread,” said Christ; yet was he flesh, and no bread, ” Christ was the stone,” saith Paul; and was indeed no material stone. “Melchizedek had neither father nor mother;” and yet [Hebrews 7:3] indeed he had both. “Behold the Lamb of God,” saith John Baptist by Christ: notwithstanding Christ was a man, and not a lamb. Circumcision was called the covenant, whereas it was [Gen. 17 but a token of the covenant. The lamb was named the pass- over; and yet was it eaten in remembrance only of the pass- over. Jacob raised up an altar, and called it, being made but of lime and stone, ” The mighty God of Israel.” Moses, when [Gen.xxxiii. he had conquered the Amalekites, set up an altar, and called it 2 by the names of God, ” Jehovah” and Tetragrammaton. (Exodus 17) ” We are all one loaf of bread,” saith Paul; yet were they not 1 Corinthians 10 thereby turned into a loaf of bread. Christ, hanging upon the cross, appointed St John to his mother, saying, “Lo! there is thy son:” and yet was he not her son. “So many as be baptized into Christ,” saith Paul, ” have put on Christ;” and ” so Gal. in. many as are baptized into Christ, are washed with the blood of Christ:” notwithstanding no man took the font-water to be the natural blood of Christ. “The cup is the new testament,” Luke 22. saith Paul; and yet is not the cup indeed the very new testament. You see, therefore, that it is not strange, nor a thing unwanted in the scriptures, to call one thing by another’s name. So that you can no more, of necessity, enforce the changing of the bread into Christ’s body in the sacrament, because the words be plain, ” This is my body;” than the wife s flesh to be the natural and real body and flesh of the husband, because it is written, ” They are not two, but one flesh;” or the altar of stone to be very God, because Moses with evident and plain words pronounced it to be “The mighty God of Israel.” Notwithstanding, if you will needs cleave to the letter, you make for me, and hinder your own cause: for thus I will reason, and use your own weapon against you. The scripture calleth it bread. The evangelists agree in the same. Paul nameth it so five times in one place. The Holy Ghost may not be set to school to learn to speak. Wherefore I conclude by your own argument, that we ought not only to say, but also to believe, that in the sacrament there remaineth bread.
Custom: Methinketh your answer is reasonable, yet I can not be satisfied. Declare you, therefore, more at large, what moveth you to think this of the sacrament. I think you would not withstand a doctrine so long holden and taught, unless you were enforced by some strong and likely reasons.
Verity: First, in examining the words of Christ, I get me to the meaning and purpose for which they were spoken. And in this behalf I see that Christ meant to have his death and passion kept in remembrance. For men of themselves be, and evermore were, forgetful of the benefits of God. And therefore it was behoveful, that they should be admonished and stirred up with some visible and outward tokens; as with the passover lamb, the brazen serpent, and other like. For the brazen serpent was a token that, when the Jews were stinged and wounded with serpents, God restored them and made them whole. The passover lamb was a memory of the great benefit of God, which, when he destroyed the Egyptians, saved the Jews, whose doors were sprinkled with the blood of a lamb. So likewise Christ left us a memorial and remembrance of his death and passion in outward tokens, that when the child should demand of his father, what the breaking of the bread and drinking of the cup meaneth, he might answer him, that like as the bread is broken, so Christ was broken and rent upon the cross for to redeem the soul of man; and like as wine fosters and comforts the body, so doth the blood of Christ cherish and relieve the soul. And this do I gather by the words of Christ, and by the institution and order of the sacrament: for Christ charged the apostles to do this in remembrance of him. Whereupon thus I conclude:
- Nothing is done in remembrance of itself:
- But the sacrament is used in the remembrance of Christ:
- Therefore the sacrament is not Christ.
- Christ never devoured himself:
- Christ did eat the sacrament with his apostles:
- Ergo, the sacrament is not Christ himself.
Beside this, I see that Christ ordained not his body, but a sacrament of his body. A sacrament (as St Augustine declareth) is an outward sign of an invisible grace (City of God 10.5). His words are, Sacramentum est invisibilis gratia visible signum. Out of which words I gather two arguments. The first is this: the token of the body of Christ is not the thing tokened; wherefore they are not one. The second is this:
- One thing cannot be both visible and invisible:
- But the sacrament is visible, and the body of Christ
- Therefore they are not one.
Which thing St Augustine openeth very well by these words, Aliud est sacramentum, aliud res sacramenti. Sacramentum est quod in corpus vadit: res autem sacramenti est corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi “The sacrament is one thing, the matter of the sacrament is another. The sacrament is that which goeth into the body: but the matter of the sacrament is the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (St Augustine on John Tract 26.11). Moreover, I remember that Christ ministered this sacrament not to great and deep philosophers, but to a sort of ignorant and unlearned fishers; which notwithstanding understood Christ’s meaning right well, and delivered it, even as they took it at Christ’s hand, to the vulgar and lay people, and fully declared unto them the meaning thereof. But [neither] the lay people, nor scarcely the apostles themselves, could understand what is meant by transubstantiation, impanation, dimensions, qualitates, quantitates, accidens sine subjecto, terminus a quo, et terminus ad quern, per modum quanti. This is no learning for the unlearned and rude people; wherefore it is likely that Christ meant some other Christ is nothing than hath been taught of late days. Furthermore, Christ’s body is food, not for the body but for the soul; and therefore it must be received with the instrument of the soul, which is faith. For as ye receive sustenance for your body by your bodily mouth, so the food of your soul must be received by faith, which is the mouth of the soul. And for that St Augustine sharply rebuked them that think to eat Christ August. with their mouth, saying, Quid paras dentem et ventrem? Crede, et manducasti: “Why makest thou ready thy tooth and thy belly? Believe, and thou hast eaten Christ.” (Augustine, Tract 25 on the Gospel of John) Likewise, speaking of eating the selfsame body, he saith to the Capernaites (John 6), which took him grossly, as men do now-a-days: “The words that I speak are spirit and life. It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.” And St Augustine upon these words of Christ saith, Non hoc corpus quod videtis manducaturi estis, neque bibituri sanguinem, quern effasuri sunt qui me crucifigent. Sacramentum aliquod vobis trado. Id spiritualiter acceptum vivificat: caro autem non prodest quicquam. That is to say: “You shall not eat the body which you see, and drink that blood which they shall shed that shall crucify me. I have commended to you a sacrament. Understand it spiritually, and it shall give you life: the flesh profiteth nothing.” (S. August, in Psalmum xcviii. Tom. viii. col. 1105)
Custom: What mean you by this spirit, and by spiritual eating? I pray you, utter your mind more plainly. For I know well that Christ hath a body, and therefore must be eaten (as I think) with the mouth of the body. For the spirit and the soul, as it hath no body and flesh, so it hath no mouth.
Verity: You must understand, that a man is shaped of two parts, of the body and of the soul; and each of them hath his life and his death, his mouth, his teeth, his food, and abstinence. For like as the body is nourished and fostered with bodily meats, or else cannot endure; so must the soul have his cherishing, otherwise will it decay and pine away. And therefore we do and may justly say, that the Turks, Jews, and heathen be dead, because they lack the lively food of the soul. But how then, or by what mean, will you feed the soul? Doubtless, not by the instrument of the body, but of the soul; for that which is received into the body, hath no passage from thence into the soul. For Christ saith, “That whatso entereth into the belly, is conveyed into the draught.” (Matthew 15) And whereas you say that the spirit hath no mouth, like as it hath no body or bones, you are deceived; for the spirit hath a mouth, in his kind; or else how could a man eat and drink justice? For undoubtedly his bodily mouth is no fit instrument for it. Yet Christ saith, that he is blessed that “hungereth and thirsteth for justice.” (Matthew 5) If he hunger and thirst for justice, belike he both eateth and drinketh it; or otherwise he neither abateth his hunger, nor quenched his thirst. Now, if a man may eat and drink righteousness with his spirit, no doubt his spirit hath a mouth. Whereof I will reason thus:
- Of whatsoever sort the mouth is, such is his food:
- But the mouth of the spirit is spiritual, not bodily:
- Therefore it receiveth Christ’s body spiritually, not bodily.
And in like manner Christ, speaking of the eating of his body, nameth himself the bread, not for the body, but of life, for the soul; and saith: “He that cometh to me shall not hunger; and he that believeth in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) Wherefore, whoso will be relieved by the body of Christ, must receive him as he will be received, with the instrument of faith appointed thereunto, not with his teeth or mouth. And whereas I say that Christ’s body must be received and taken with faith, I mean not that you shall pluck down Christ from heaven, and put him in your faith, as in a visible place; but that you must with your faith rise and spring up to him, and, leaving this world, dwell above in heaven; putting all your trust, comfort, and consolation in him, which suffered grievous bondage to set you at liberty and to make you free; creeping into his wounds, which were so cruelly pierced and dented for your sake. So shall you feed on the body of Christ; so shall you suck the blood that was poured out and shed for you. This is the spiritual, the very true, the only eating of Christ’s body: and therefore St Gregory calleth it, Cibum mentis non ventri: “The food of the mind, and not of the belly.” And St Cyprian saith likewise, Non acuimus dentem, nee ventrem paramus: that is, “We sharpen not our tooth, nor prepare our belly.”
Now, to return to our former purpose: seeing it is plain that Christ’s body is meat for our spirit, and hath nothing to do with our body, I will gather thereof this reason. The sacrament is bodily food, and increaseth the body: ergo, the sacrament is not the very body of Christ. That it nourishes the body, it is evident; for Christ calleth it the fruit of the vine, whose duty is to nourish. And for proof, if you consecrate a whole loaf, it will feed you as well as your table-bread: and if a little mouse gets a host, he will crave no more meat to his dinner.
But you will say, these are worldly reasons. What then if the old fathers record the same? Irenaeus saith, Quando mixtus calix et fractus panis percipit verbum Dei, fit eucharistia corporis et sanguinis Domini, ex quibus augetur et consistit carnis nostrae substantia (“When, therefore, the mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist of the blood and the body of Christ is made, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported” – Irenaeus, Against Heresies Book 5, Chapter 2, Paragraph 3). Bede witnesseth the same by these words: Quia panis carnem confirmat, et vinum sanguinem operatur in carne, hic ad corpus Christi mystice, illud ad sanguinem refertur (” Be cause bread confirms the flesh, and wine produces blood in the flesh, the former is mystically referred to the body, the latter to the blood of Christ.” – Lucam, cap. 22. Colon. 1612. Tom. v. col. 424). Wherefore, as I said before, seeing that Christ’s body is spiritual meat, and the bread of the sacrament bodily, I may conclude that the sacrament is not Christ’s body. Beside this, whereas it was forbidden in the old law, that any man should eat or drink blood, the apostles notwithstanding took the cup at Christ’s hands, and drank of it; and never staggered, or shrank at the matter: whereby it may be gathered, that they took it for a mystery, for a token and a remembrance, far otherwise than it hath of late been taken.
Again, when the sacrament was dealt, none of them all crouched down, and took it for his God, forgetting him that sat there present before their eyes; but took it, and ate it, knowing that it was a sacrament and remembrance of Christ’s body. Yea, the old councils commanded that no man should kneel down at the time of the communion, fearing; that it should be an occasion of idolatry. And long after the apostles old councils, time, as Tertullian writeth, women were suffered to take it home with them, and to lap it up in their chests (Tertullian, To His Wife, Book 2, Chapter 5). And the priests many times sent it to sick persons by a child; (Eusebius, Church History, Book 6, Chapter 44, Paragraph 4) which, no doubt, would have given more reverence thereto, if they had taken it for their God. But a great while after, about three hundred years agone, Honorius the Third (Decret. Gregor. IX. Lib. in. tit. 41. cap. 10. Corp. Jur. Can. Lugd. 1671. Tom. n. col. 3178), the of bishop of Rome, took him and hanged him up, and caused
men to kneel and crouch down and all-to be-god him.
Furthermore, if the bread be turned and altered into the body of Christ, doubtless it is the greatest miracle that ever God wrought. But the apostles saw no miracle in it. Nazianzenus, an old writer, and st Augustine, entreating of all the miracles that are in the scripture, number the sacrament for none. As for the apostles, it appeareth well that they ment – had it for no marvel, for they never mused at it, neither demanded how it might be; whereas, in other things, they ever more were full of questions. As touching St Augustine, he not only overtrippeth it, as no wonder, but by plain and express words testifieth that there is no marvel in it. For speaking of the Lord’s supper, and of the other sacraments, he saith these words: Hie sacramenta honorem ut religiose habere possunt, stupor em autem ut mira non possunt”: that is to say, “Sacraments here may have their honour as things religious, but they are not to be wondered at as miracles.” (Augustine, On The Trinity, Book 3, Chapter 10, Paragraph 20) Moreover, a little before the institution of the sacrament Christ spake of his ascension, saying, “I leave the world: I tarry but a little while with you. Let not your hearts be troubled, because I go from you: I tell you truth, it is for your profit that I go from you; for if I go not, the Spirit of comfort cannot come to you.” (John 16:7) with many other like warnings of his. departure. St Stephen saw him sitting at the right hand of his Father, (Acts 7:56) and thought it a special revelation of God: but he never said, that he saw him at the communion, or that he: made him every day himself. And in the Acts of the Apostles St Peter saith, that Christ must needs keep the heaven till all be ended (Acts 3). Isaiah, Solomon, and St. Stephen say, that God dwelleth not in temples made with man’s hand (Isaiah 66:1, 1 Kings 8:27, Acts 7:48). St Paul wisheth that he were dissolved and dead, and were with Christ: (Philippians 1:23) not in the altar, doubtless, where he might be daily; but in heaven. And, to be brief, it is in our “Credo,” and we do constantly believe that “Christ is ascended into heaven, and sitteth at his Father s right hand;” and no promise have we, that he will come jumping down at every priest’s calling. Hereof I gather this reason:
- Christ’s body cannot both be gone, and be here:
- But he is gone, and hath left the world:
- Therefore it is folly to seek him in the world.
Custom: Fie! you be far deceived, I cannot in no wise brook these words. You shut up Christ too straitly, and imprison him in one corner of heaven, not suffering him to go at large. No, doubtless, he hath deserved more gentleness at your hand, than to be tied up so short.
Verity: I do neither lock up neither imprison Christ in heaven, but according to the scriptures declare that he hath chosen a blessed place, and most worthy to receive his majesty; in which place whoso is inclosed, thinketh not himself (as I suppose) to be a prisoner. But if you take it for so heinous a thing, that Christ should sit resident in heaven in the glory of his Father, what think you of them that imprison him in a little box; yea, and keep him in captivity so long, until he be mouldy and overgrown with in a box, and vermin; and when he is past men’s meat, be not contented to hang him till he stink, but will have him to a new execution, and burn him too?
This is wonderful and extreme cruel imprisoning. But to return to the matter: we are certainly persuaded by the word of God, that Christ, the very Son of God, vouchsafed to take upon him the body and shape of man; and that he walked and was conversant amongst men in that same one, and not, in many bodies; and that he suffered death, arose again, and ascended to heaven in the self same body; and that he sitteth at his Father s right hand in his manhood, in the nature and substance of the said one body. This is our belief, this is the very word of God. Wherefore they are far deceived, which, leaving heaven, will grope for Christ’s body upon the earth.
Custom: Nay, sir, but I see now you are far out of the way. For Christ hath not so gross and fleshly, as you think, but a spiritual and ghostly body; and therefore, without repugnance, it may be in many places at once.
Verity: You say right well, and do grant that Christ’s body is spiritual. But, I pray you, answer me by the way, can any other body than that which is spiritual be at one time in sundry places?
Custom: No, truly.
Verity: Have we that self same sacrament, that Christ gave to his disciples at his maundy (feast), or no?
Custom: Doubtless we have the same.
Verity: When became Christ’s body spiritual? Was it so even from his birth?
Custom: No: for doubtless, before he arose from death, his body was earthly, as other men’s bodies are.
Verity: Well, but when gave Christ the sacrament to his disciples? before he rose from death, or after?
Custom: You know yourself, he gave it before his resurrection, the night before he suffered his passion.
Verity: Why then, me thinketh he gave the sacrament at that time when his body was not spiritual.
Custom: Even so.
Verity: And was every portion of the sacrament, dealt to the apostles and received into their mouths, the very real and substantial body of Christ?
Custom: Yea, doubtless.
Verity: Mark well what ve have said, for you have granted me great repugnance. First, you say that no body, repugnant being not spiritual, can be in sundry places at once. Then say you, that at the maundy Christ’s body was not spiritual: and yet hold you, that he was there present visible before the apostles eyes, and in each of their hands and mouths all at one time: which grants of yours are not agreeable. But I will gather a better and a more formal reason of your own words, in this sort:
- No body, being real, natural, and organic, and not spiritual, can be in many places at once:
- Christ’s body in the sacrament was in the apostles hands and mouths at one time, which were many places:
- Ergo, Christ’s body in the sacrament was not a real, natural, and organic body, but spiritual.
Custom: Indeed you have driven me into the straits, before I was aware of you; and I know not how I may escape your hands honestly. But the best refuge that I have is this; I will not believe you.
Verity: I desire you not to give credence to me. Believe the word of God; yea, believe your own belief: for they will both witness against you, that Christ’s body is taken up into heaven, and there shall remain until he come to judge.
Custom: Tush, what say you of the word of God? There be many dark sayings therein, which every man cannot attain to.
Verity: I grant you, there be certain obscure places in scripture; yet not so obscure, but that a man with the grace of God may perceive: for it was written not for angels, but for men. But, as I understand, Custom meddleth but little with scripture. How say you by St Augustine, St Jerome, St Ambrose? What, if they stand on our side?
Custom: No, no; I know them well enough.
Verity: So well as you know them, for all old acquaintance, if they be called to witness, they will give evidence against you. For St Augustine commonly, in every of his books, but chiefly in an epistle to his friend Dardanus, declareth that Christ’s body is placed in one room. I marvel you be not nearer of his counsel. His words are these: Noli dubitare ibi nunc esse hominem Christum Jesum, unde venturus est: memoriterque recole et fideliter crede christi- anam confessionem; quoniam resurrexit, ascendit in coelum, sedet a dextris Dei Patris, nee aliunde quam inde venturus est ad vivos mortuosque judicandos.’ Et venturus est in eadem corporis substantia, cui immortalitatem dedit, naturam non abstulit. Secundum hanc formam non est putandus ubique dif- fusus: cavendum enim est, ne ita divinitatem astruamus hominis, ut humanitatem amittamus Dei. (S. August. Epist. LVII. ad Dardanum) ” Do not doubt the man Jesus Christ to be there, from whence he shall come. And remember well, and faithfully believe, the Christian confession, that he is risen, ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father, and from thence shall come, and from no other place, to judge the quick and dead and shall come in the same substance of body, to which he gave immortality, and took not the nature from it. After this form he is to be thought not to be dispersed in all places; for we must beware so to defend his divinity, that we destroy not his humanity.” And in another place of the same epistle: Una persona Deus et homo; et utrumque est unus Christus. Ubique per id quod Deus, in coelo autem per id quod homo (Ibid) “One person is God and Man; and both together are one Christ. As God, he is everywhere; but as Man, he is in heaven”. Likewise upon the sixth Psalm: Donec seculum finiatur, sursum est Dominus: sed etiam hic nobiscum est veritas Domini. Corpus enim in quo resurrexit in uno loco esse oportet; veritas autem ejus ubique diffusa est. (This is actually from Augustine’s Tract 30 on John) ” While the world shall last, the Lord is above, and also the verity of the Lord is with us. For the body wherein he rose again must be in one place; but the verity of him is everywhere dispersed.” In like manner writeth Damasus, an old bishop of Rome, in his Credo: Devictis mortis imperiis, cum ea carne in qua natus et passus est et resurrexit, ascendit in coelum, manente eadem natura carnis in qua natus et passus est. (Theodoret, Church History, Book Chapter, Chapter 11) “If any one says that the Son of God, living in the flesh when he was on the earth, was not in heaven and with the Father, let him be anathema” St Ambrose, writing in the sixth chapter of Luke, recorded the same: Ergo nec supra terram, nec in terra, nee secundum terram, quaerere debemus Dominum, si columns invenire. Non enim supra terram quaesivit, qui stantem ad Dei dextram mdit. Maria qucerebat in terra tangere Christum, et non potuit; Stephanus tetigit, quia quaerebat in caelo. “Wherefore neither above the earth, nor upon the earth, nor according to the earth, we ought to seek the Lord, if we will find him; for he did not seek him above the earth, which did see him sitting at the right hand of God. And Mary sought upon the earth to touch Christ and could not: Stephen touched him, because he sought him in heaven.” St Jerome, in an epistle to Marcella, proveth that the body of Christ must needs be contained in some place for he saith: Veri Dei est ubique esse; veri hominis alicubi esse. “The property of God is to be everywhere; the property of man is to be in one place.” The same Jerome, in another place, calleth it a foolish thing to seek for him in a narrow place, or in a corner, which is the light of all the world: Stultum est eum parvo in loco vel abscondito quaerere, qui totius mundi est lumen. “Foolishness it is, in a small place or in a hid corner to seek him which is the light of the whole world.” (Hieron. ad Marcellam) Origen saith likewise: Audiendi non sunt, qui Christum demonstrant in cedibus. (Orig, in Matth. cap. XXIV. Tract, XXX) “They are not to be heard, which shew Christ in houses.”
The same also recorded by Bede, writing upon these words of Christ: “Now a little while shall you see me.” (Homily on John 16:16) He speaketh in Christ’s person. “Therefore,” saith he, “shall you see me but a little while after my resurrection, because I will not still abide in the earth bodily; but in the manhood which I have taken will ascend up to heaven.” What needeth more words? All the old fathers witness the same. You may by these soon judge the rest. Now to return to the matter: Seeing that the word of God in many and sundry places, the “Credo,” and the Abridgement of the Faith; seeing all the old fathers do constantly agree in one, that the body of Christ is ascended into heaven, and there remaineth at the right hand of the Father, and cannot be in more than one place; I do conclude, that the sacrament is not the body of Christ; first, because it is not in heaven, neither sitteth at the Father’s right hand; moreover, because it is in a hundred thousand boxes, whereas Christ’s body filleth but one place: furthermore, if the bread were turned into the body of Christ, then would it necessarily follow, that sinners and impenitent persons receive the body of Christ.
Custom: Marry, and so they do. For Paul saith plainly, that they receive the body of Christ to their own confusion.
Verity: No, not so. These are not Paul’s words, but he The wicked saith, “Whoso eateth of this bread, and drinketh of this cup the body of unworthily, eateth and drinketh his own condemnation, not judging the body of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:29) Here he calleth it, in plain words, bread. And although the sacrament be very bread, yet doth the injury redound to the body of Christ. As if a man break the king’s mace, or tread the broad seal under his foot, although he have broken and defaced nothing but silver and wax, yet is the injury the king’s, and the doer shall be taken as a traitor. St Ambrose declareth the meaning of St Paul by Ambroses, these words: Bern est corporis Domini, qui poenas dabit mortis Christi, quoniam irritam fecit mortem Domini. (Ambrose on 1 Corinthians 11) The cause of the ordinance thereof was the remembrance of the death of Christ, which whoso forgetteth, receiveth the sacrament to their condemnation. That same witnesseth St Augustine: “For the sacrament,” saith he, ” is an outward token of love and charity. For like as many grains of corn are become one piece of bread, even so they that receive it ought to be one.” Then saith he, Mysterium pads ac unitatis nobis Christus in mensa sua consecravit. Qui accepit mysterium unitatis, et non servat unitatem, non mysterium accepit pro se, sed testimonium contra se. (In Sermone ad Infantes, apud Fulgentium, p. 612. Paris. 1671. Cf. Cyprian. Epist. ad Magnum) “In the table the mystery of Christ is consecrated to us in unity and peace. He that hath received the sacrament of unity, and does not preserve the unity of all, has not received the mystery for his benefit but rather evidence against himself” He that readeth the gospel, wherein is declared the passion and death of Christ, and liveth contrary to the gospel, shall doubtless be the more guilty of the death of Christ, because he heareth and readeth the word of God, and regardeth it not.
The place of In a certain country the manner is, that when the gospel is receiving read, the king shall stand up with a naked sword in his hand, expounded, declaring thereby that he beareth his sword in defence of the gospel. But if he himself oppresseth the gospel, he beareth the sword against himself; for the gospel shall turn to his judgment and condemnation. So will Christ so much more extremely punish a man, which, knowing himself to be wicked and without repentance, and therefore none of the flock of Christ, yet notwithstanding will impudently creep into the company of Christian men, and receive the sacraments with them, as though he were one of the number. And this meant St Paul by the unworthy receiving of a sacrament of Christ’s body. Wherefore a man may unworthily take the sacrament, and be guilty of the death of Christ, although he receive not Christ’s body into his mouth, and chew it with his teeth. But what, if I prove that every massing priest is guilty of the body and blood of Christ?
Custom: I dare say you cannot prove it.
Verity: But if I do prove it, will you believe me?
Custom: I may well enough, for it is impossible to do it: for priests commonly are confessed before they go to mass; and how can they then take the sacrament unworthily?
Verity: Indeed confession, if it be discreetly used, is a laudable custom, and to the unlearned man and feeble conscience so good as a sermon: but notwithstanding, because it was never neither commanded of Christ, nor received of the apostles, nor much spoken of the old doctors, it cannot make much for the receiving of the sacrament. But how like ye these words of St Ambrose? Is indigne sumit, qui aliter Ambroses. sumit quam Christus instituit. “He taketh it unworthily, that taketh it otherwise than Christ ordained it.” (S. Ambr. in 1 Cor. XI.)
Custom: This liketh me very well. But what gather you of it?
Verity: This will I gather. The massing priest taketh the sacrament otherwise than Christ either commanded or taught: ergo, he taketh it unworthily, and so consequently to his condemnation.
Custom: That is not so; for he doth altogether as Christ unworthily, commanded him.
Verity: That shall appear; for Christ commanded it to be done in his remembrance: the priest doth it in remembrance of dead men. Christ took bread, and left it bread: the priest taketh bread and conjureth it away. Christ took bread and gave thanks: the priest taketh bread and breatheth upon it. Christ took bread and brake it: the priest taketh bread and the priests hangeth it up. Christ took bread and dealt to his apostles: the priest, because he is an apostle himself, taketh bread and eateth it every whit alone. Christ in a sacrament gave his “own body to be eaten in faith: the priest, for lack of faith, receiveth accidents and dimensions. Christ gave a sacrament to strengthen men’s faith: the priest giveth a sacrifice to redeem men’s souls. Christ gave it to be eaten: the priest giveth it to be worshipped. And to conclude, Christ gave bread: the priest saith he giveth a God. Here is difference enough between Christ and the priest. Yet moreover, Christ at his supper spoke his words out, and in a plain tongue: the priest speaketh nothing but Latin or Greek, which tongues he oft-times perceiveth not; and much he whispered, lest any other poor man should perhaps perceive him. So it cometh to pass, that the priest knoweth no more what he himself saith, than what he doth. Thus you may see, that the massing priest receiveth the sacrament of Christ’s body far otherwise than ever Christ minded; and so therefore unworthily, and to his condemnation.
Now, if you think yourself satisfied, I will return to my former question, and prove more at large, that Christ’s body cannot be eaten of the wicked; which thing must necessarily ensue, if the bread were turned into the body of Christ. Christ, in the 6th of John, speaking of the eating of his body, saith, “He that eateth of this bread shall live forever.” Whereof I gather thus: But sinful men take the sacrament to their condemnation, and live not for ever; Ergo, in the sacrament they receive not the body of Christ. Again, Christ saith, “He that eateth me shall live for my sake.” (John 6:57) Hereof I conclude thus: But impenitent persons cannot live for Christ’s sake. Moreover, Christ’s body must be received with faith, and not with the mouth, as Gregory recordeth, saying, that it is eaten with the teeth of the soul, not of the body; as I have above more largely declared: but wicked and impenitent persons lack faith: wherefore they cannot eat the body of Christ. Again, Christ’s body cannot be divided from his spirit: but wicked men have not the spirit of God: ergo, they have not Christ’s body. Hereunto agree all the old writers, affirming constantly, that the unfaithful be no meet vessels to receive the body of Christ. St Augustine saith: Qui non manet in Christo, et in quo non manet Christus, procul dubio non manducat carnem Christi, nee bibit ejus sanguinem, quamvis tantce rei mysterium ad judicium suum manducet ac bibat. (St Augustine on John Tract 26.18) “He that dwells not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwells not, doubtless neither eats His flesh [spiritually] nor drinks His blood [although he may press the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ carnally and visibly with his teeth], but rather does he eat and drink the sacrament of so great a thing to his own judgment” And in the person of Christ, he saith likewise: Qui non manet in me, et in quo ego non maneo, ne se dicat aut existimet manducare corpus meum, aut sanguinem meum bibere. Ambrose avoweth the same by these words: Qui discordat a Christo non manducat carnem ejus, nee bibit sanguinem, etsi tantae rei sacramentum accipiat. “He who does not eat of the flesh of his disagrees with Christ, and drink His Blood, even if they may receive the sacrament of so great a thing.” In like manner writeth Prosper: Qui discordat a Christo, nee carnem Christi edit, nee sanguinem bibit, etsi tantae rei sacramentum adjudicium suce prcesumptionis quotidie acci piat. “He who disagrees with Christ, does not eat the flesh of Christ, nor drinks his blood, but receives the sacrament of so great a thing to judgment on his own will, even if every day he may receive with presumption” And therefore St Augustine saith: Mali sacramentum habent, rem autem sacramenti non habent. (Augustine, City of God, Book 21, Chapter 25) “able to receive the same sacrament, but with no profit to themselves” Thus by the word of God, by reason, and by the old fathers it is plain, that sinful men eat not the body of Christ, receive they the sacrament never so oft: which thing could not be, if in the sacrament there remained nothing but the body of Christ.
The sacrament in the scriptures is named fractio panis, “the breaking of bread;” which, to say the truth, were but a breaking of cold breaking, if there remained no bread to break, but certain fantasies of white and round. Yet whereas they, with words, crossings, blessings, breathings, leapings, and much ado, can scarcely make one god, they have such virtue in their fingers, that at one cross they be able to make twenty gods; for if they break the sacrament, every portion, yea, every mite, must needs be a god. After the apostles time there arose up heretics (Gnostics and Docetists), which said that Christ, walking here amongst men bodily upon the earth, had no very body, but a thing like a body, and so therewith dimmed men’s sight. Against whom the old fathers used these arguments. Christ increased in growing, fasted, hungered, eat, wept, sweat, was weary, and in conclusion died, and had all other properties of a very body: wherefore he had a body. I will use the same kind of reasoning: It feedeth, it tastes like bread, it looked like bread, the poor little mouse taketh it for bread, and (to be short) it hath all the properties and tokens of bread: ergo, it is bread. The old fathers, when there remained any part of the sacrament more than was spent at the communion, they used to burn it, and of it there came ashes. But there is nothing in the sacrament that can turn to ashes but only bread, (for I think they burned not Christ’s body to ashes:) ergo, in the sacrament there remaineth bread. Henry the emperor, the seventh of that name, was poisoned in the host, and Victor III the bishop of Rome (1088) in the chalice. But poison cannot hang in God’s body and blood: wherefore there remaineth bread and wine. What Reasons needeth many words in a matter so evident? If you demand bread in either God’s word, or the doctors and the ancient writers, or sacrament,
your reason, or your eyes, or nose, or tongue, or fingers, or the cat, or the ape, or the mouse, all these agree in one, and answer together, “There is bread.” Wherefore, if you reject so many and so constant witnesses, and so well agreeing in their tale, especially being such as will lie for no man’s pleasure, I will appeal from you, and take you as no indifferent judge. If all these witnesses suffice you not, I will call the sacrament itself to record. It crieth unto you, and plainly doth advertise witness that you, what you should think of it. “I am,” it saith, “grated with the tooth; I am conveyed into the belly; I perish; I can endure no space; I canker; I suffer green mould, blue mould, red mould; I breed worms; I am kept in a box for fear of bats. If you leave me out all night, I shall be devoured before morning; for if the mouse get me, I am gone. I am bread; I am no God: believe them not.” This crieth the sacrament daily, and beareth witness itself.
Custom: The devil on such-like reasons; and therefore I will never trouble my brains to make you answer but if it be true that you have said, why is the sacrament so well of Christ himself, as of his apostles and the old fathers, called the body of Christ?
Verity: Because it is no strange thing in scripture so to speak; as I have declared before. But will you stand to St Augustine’s arbitrement in the matter?
Custom: To no man sooner.
Verity: St Augustine, in an epistle to his friend Bonifacius, giveth a good cause why the sacrament, although it scripture be not the body of Christ, is notwithstanding called the body sacrament of Christ. His words be these: Si sacramenta quandam similitudinem earum rerum quarum sacramenta sunt non haberent, omnino sacramenta non essent. Ex hac autem similitudine pierumque earum rerum nomina accipiunt. Ergo, secundum quendam modum, sacramentum corporis Christi corpus Christi est, sacramentum sanguinis Christi sanguis Christi est. (Augustine, Letter 98, To Boniface) “If sacraments had not a certain similitude of those things whereof they be sacraments, then were they no sacraments; of the which similitude many times they take their name. Wherefore, after a certain manner, the sacrament of the body of Christ is the body of Christ; and the sacrament of the blood of Christ is the blood of Christ,” &c. And upon psalm 33 he writeth likewise: Christus quodammodo se ferebat in manibus suis, cum dicer et, Hoc est corpus meum. (Augustine, Exposition on Psalm 33) “Christ, after a certain manner and fashion, as it were, did bear himself in his own hands, when he said, This is my body.” “In [a] manner,” he saith, and after a fashion;” not in very deed.
Again, when faithful men receive the sacrament, they think not of the bread, nor mark the wine, but they look further, and behold the very body of Christ spread upon the cross, and his very blood poured down for their sakes. So in baptism men regard not greatly the water, but account themselves washed with the blood of Christ. So saith St Paul: ” Whatsoever we be that are baptized, we are washed in the blood of Christ.” (Romans 6) Wherefore to the faithful receivers you may say, that the water of baptism is the blood of Christ, and the bread and wine the body and blood of Christ: for to them it is no less than if the natures were altered and changed. Which thing you may very well learn of Chrysostom, whose words are these: Hysteria omnia interioribus oculis consideranda sunt, hoc est, spintuahter. Intenores autem oculi, postquam panem vident, creaturas transcolant, neque de illo pane a pistore cocto cogitant, sed de eo qui se dixit panem esse aeternae vitae. (Chrysostom, Homily 47 on the Gospel of John. John 6) “All mysteries must be considered with inward eyes, that is to say, spiritually. As [but] the inward eyes, when they see the bread, they pass over the creatures, neither do they think of that bread which is baked of the baker, but of him which called himself the bread of eternal life.” For these two causes the bread and wine are called the body and blood of Christ. Now I think you are satisfied concerning the meaning of these words, “This is my body.”
Custom: Yet one thing moveth me very much.
Verity: What is that?
Custom: The doctors and old writers, men inspired by the Holy Ghost, have evermore been against your doctrine; yea, and in these days the wisest men and best learned call you heretics, and your learning heresy.
Verity: As touching the old writers, I remember well meaning of the doctors they speak reverently of the sacraments, like as every man ought to do; but whereas they deliver their mind with their keepers, right hand, you, Custom, receive it with the left. For whereas they say, that it is the body of Christ, and that it must be verily eaten, meaning that it doth effectually lay before
the eyes Christ’s body, and that it is to the faithful man no less than if it were Christ himself, and that Christ must be eaten in faith, not torn nor rent with the teeth; you say that, howsoever it be taken, it is Christ’s body, and that there is none other eating but with the mouth.
And that the fathers meant no other thing than I have said, it shall appear by their words. But as touching the learned and wise men of these days, I cannot blame them if they call my doctrine heresy; for they would condemn all ancient writers of heresy, if they were now alive. But I will answer you to them anon. In the meanwhile mark you how well their learning agreeth. They say, ” You must follow the letter; you must stick to the letter.” But Origenes saith: Si secundum literam sequaris id quod scriptum est, Nisi manducaveritis carnem Filii hominis, non erit vita in volis, ea liter a occidit. (Origen on Leviticus cap. X. Hom. VII) “If ye follow, after the letter, that which is written, Unless ye shall eat the flesh of the Son of man, there shall be no life in you; this letter killeth.”
Augustine in the third book, “De Doctrina Christiana:” Doctrina de Principio cavendum est (ne) figuratam dictionem secundum literam accipias. Ad hoc enim pertinet id quod ait apostolus, “Litera occidit.” Cum enim figurate dictum sic accipitur tanquam proprie dictum sit, carnaliter sapitur; neque utta animae mors congruentius appellatur. (Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Book 3, Chapter 5) “First, thou must beware that thou take not a figurative speech after the letter. For thereto pertaineth that the apostle saith, The letter killeth. For when a thing is spiritually meant, and the same is taken literally as properly spoken, that is a carnal taking: neither can any other be called the killing of the soul, rather than that.” And in the same book he teacheth a man to know the plain sense from a figure, saying thus: Si prceceptiva locutio est flagitium jubens, aut beneficentiam vetans, figurata est: Nisi manducaveritis carnem Filii hominis, et biberitis ejus sanguinem, non erit vita in vobis. Flagitium, videtur jubere: ergo figura est praecipiens passioni Domini esse communicandum, et suaviter in memoria recondendum, quod pro nobis caro ejus crucifixa sit. (Ibid Chapter 16) ” If the commanding speech be such as commandeth a thing wicked and horrible to be done, or a charitable thing to be undone, then this is a figurative speech: ‘Unless ye shall eat the flesh of the Son of man, and shall drink his blood, there shall be no life in you.’ Because in this speech seemeth to command a wicked thing, it is therefore a figurative speech, commanding that we should communicate with the passion of our Lord, and sweetly to retain it in our remembrance.”
In like manner Chrysostom plucketh you from the plain letter and the bare words by this saying: Caro non prodest hoc est, secundum spiritum verba mea intelligenda sunt; quia qui secundum carnem audit, nihil lucratur. Quid est autem carnaliter intelligere? Simpliciter, ut res dicuntur, neque aliud quippiam cogitare. Non enim ita judicanda sunt quce videntur; sed mysteria omnia interioribus oculis videnda sunt, hoc est, spiritualiter. (Chrysostom, Homily 47 on the Gospel of John. John 6:63) “’The flesh profiteth not’ that is to say, My words must be taken and expounded after the Spirit: for he that heareth after the flesh, gaineth nothing. Now what is it to understand carnally? To take things simply as they be spoken, and not to consider any meaning further therein. For things must not be judged as they are seen; but all mysteries must be seen with inward eyes, that is to say, spiritually.”
What is so heinous in these days, as to call the sacrament the token or the remembrance of Christ’s body? Yet did the old writers in manner never call it other. Tertullian in the fourth book against the Marcionists: Christus accepit panem, et corpus suum ilium jecit, < ‘Hoc est corpus meum’ dicendo, id est, figura corporis mei. (Tertullian, Against Marcion, Book 4, Chapter 40) “Christ took bread and made it his body, saying, This is my body, that is to say, a figure of my body.” Ambrose, upon the eleventh to the Corinthians: Quiet, morte Domini libemti sumus, hujus rei memores, in edendo et potando carnem et sanguinem quce pro nobis ollata sunt, significamus. (S. Ambros. Oper. Tom. V) “Because we are delivered by the Lord’s death, in the remembrance of the same by eating and drinking we signify the body and blood which were offered up for us.” Chrysostom, in the eighty-second Homily upon the gospel of Matthew: Quando dicunt, Unde patet Christum immolatum fuisse? haec adferentes eorum ora consuimus. Si enim mortuus Christus non est, cujus symbolum ac signum hoc sacrificium est? (Chrysostom Homily 82.1 on Matthew 26:26-28) “When they object unto us, and ask, How know you that Christ was offered up? then, alleging these things, we stop their mouths. For if Christ died not, then whose sign or token is this sacrifice?” Augustine to Adimantus: Non dubitavit Christus dicere, Hoc est corpus meum, cum daret signum corporis sui. (Augustine Contra Adimantus 12.3) “Christ doubted not to say, This is my body, when he gave but a sign of his body.” Augustine upon the third psalm: Christus adhibuit Judam ad convivium, in quo corporis et sanguinis sui figuram discipulis suis commendamt et tradidit. (Augustine’s Exposition on Psalm 3.1) “Christ received Judas to the supper, in which he commended and delivered a figure of his body and blood unto his disciples.” Rabanus: Quia panis corpus confirmat, ideo itte corpus Christi congruenter nuncupatur. Vinum autem, qma sangumem operatur in ciericonim. carne, ideo ad sanguinem Christi refertur. (The Formation of Clerics Book 1 Chapter 31) “Because the bread strengthened the body, therefore it is aptly called Christ’s body. And likewise the wine, because it increaseth blood in the flesh, it doth resemble the blood of Christ.”
Druthmarus Monachus in Matthaeum: Vinum Icetificat et sanguinem auget, et idea non inconvenienter per hoc sanguis Christi figuratur. (Druthmari Monachi, Expositions in Matthew) “Wine maketh glad the heart, and increaseth blood; and therefore the blood of Christ is not inaptly signified thereby.” Irenaeus witnesseth plainly, that in the sacrament remaineth bread and wine, by these words: Quemadmodum terrenus panis, percipiens wcationem Dei, jam non communis panis est, sed eucharistia, ex duabus rebus constans, terrena et caelesti.”As the earthly bread, receiving the vocation of God, is now no common bread, but the eucharist, consisting of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly.” (Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book 4 Chapter 18.5) Here he recorded that there remaineth in the sacrament an earthly nature, which is either bread, or nothing. Gelasius, writing against Nestorius, avoweth the same, saying: In euchiaristia non esse desinit substantia panis, et natura vim. Etenim imago et similitudo corporis et sanguinis Domini in actione mysteriorum celebratur. (On Two Natures in Christ, against the Nestorians and Eutychians) “In the eucharist the substance of the bread and nature of the wine cease not to be. For the image and similitude of the body and blood of the Lord is celebrated in the action of the mysteries.” Chrysostom, in his twentieth homily upon the second epistle to the Corinthians, preferred a poor man before the sacrament, and calleth him the body of Christ, rather than the other. Whereof I may gather this reason:
- The poor man is not the natural and real body of Christ
- Every poor member of Christ is the body of Christ, rather than the sacrament
- Ergo, the sacrament is not the natural and real body of Christ.
His words are: Hoc altare veneraris, quoniam in eo proponitur corpus Christi; eum autem, qui re ipsa corpus est Christi, afficis contumelia, et negligis pereuntem. “This altar thou dost reverence, because the body of Christ therein is set before thee: but him that is the body of Christ indeed, thou dost spitefully entreat, and dost neglect him ready to perish.” Chrysostom in the eleventh homily on Matthew: Quod si haec vasa sanctificata ad privatos usus est transferre pericutosum, in qmous non verum corpus Ulinsti, sea mysterium corporis Christi continetur, quanto magis vasa corporis nostri? “If it be so perilous a matter to translate these sanctified vessels unto private uses, in the which not the true body of Christ, but a mystery of the body of Christ is contained, how much more then these vessels of our body?” Athanasius upon these words, “Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man,” saith: Ea quce Christus dicit non sunt carnaiia. sea spiritulia. Quod enim comeaentibus suffecisset corpus, ut totius munch, fieret alimonia? Sed idcirco meminit ascensionis Filii hominis in caelum, ut eos a corporali cogitatione avelleret. “The words that Christ here speaketh, be not carnal, but spiritual. For what body might have sufficed for all that should eat, to be a nourishment of the whole world? But therefore he maketh mention of the ascension of the Son of man into heaven, to the intent to pluck them away from that corporal cogitation.” Augustine, to Marcellinus: In illis carnalibus victimis figuratio fuit carnis Christi, quam pro peccatis nostris erat oblaturus, et sanguinis quern erat effusurus: in isto autem sacrificio gratiarum actio atque commemoratio est carnis Christi quam pro nobis obiulit et sanguinis quern pro nobis effudit. In illo ergo sacrificio quid nobis sit donandum figurate significatur; in hoc autem sacrificio quid nobis donatum sit evidenter ostenditur. In illis sacrificiis praenunciabatur Filius Dei occidendus: in hoc pro impiis annunciatur occisus. (The passage in the text is not from Augustine, but from a work of Fulgentius. Liber ad Petrum de fide, cap. 19. Ed. Raynaudi. Paris. 1671) “In those carnal oblations the flesh of Christ was figured which he should offer for our sins, and the blood which he should bestow for us; but in this sacrifice is the giving of thanks and memorial of the flesh of Christ which he hath offered for us, and of the blood which he hath shed for us. In that sacrifice, therefore, is signified figuratively what should be given for us; in this sacrifice what is given to us is evidently declared. In those sacrifices the Son of God was before preached to be slain; in this sacrifice he is shewed to be slain already for the wicked.” Origenes, upon Matthew, expounding these words, “This is my body” saith: Panis iste, quern Christus corpus suum fatetur esse, verbum est nutritorium animarum. (Origen, in Matth. cap. XXVI. tract. 35) “The bread, which Christ confesseth to be his body, is a nutritive word for our souls.” Augustinus: Nulli aliquatenus dubitandum, unumquemque fidelium corporis et sanguinis Domini tune esse participem, quando in baptismate membrum efficitur Christi. Sacramenti quippe illius participation ac beneficio non privabitur, quando in se hoc invenit quod sacramentutn significat. “No man ought in any wise to doubt but that every faithful man is then partaker of the body and blood of the Lord, when in baptism he is made a member of Christ. For he shall not be deprived of the participation and benefit of that sacrament, when he findeth in himself that thing which the sacrament doth signify.” Ambrosius: Tanta est vis verbi, ut panis Ambroses. et vinum maneant quce sunt, et mutentur in aliud. (Ambrose, On The Sacraments Book 4) “Such is the force and strength of the word, that the bread and wine remain the same as they were, and yet are changed into another thing.” For it is not any longer common bread, but it is turned into a sacrament; yet notwithstanding there remaineth bread and wine. Tertullian writing against an heretic named Marcion, which taught that the creatures ofMarcion. God, as flesh, bread, and wine, and such like, were naught and uncleanly: Non abjecit Deus creaturam suam, sed ea repraesentavit corpus suum.” (Tertullian, Against Marcion, Book 1, Chapter 14) God hath not cast away his creature, but by it he hath represented his body.” Origenes upon Leviticus, speaking of the drinking of Christ’s blood, saith: Non sanguinem carnis expetimus, sed sanguinem verbi. (Origen, Homily 9 on Leviticus 16) “We do not desire the blood of the flesh, but the blood of the word.” Ambrose called the sacrament, typum corporis Christi, and Basilius antitypum; which is as much as to say, as a token, a figure, a remembrance, and example of Christ’s body. Origenes upon Matthew XV: In isto pane quod est materiale ejicitur in secessum : id autem quod fit per verbum Dei pro fidei ratione prodest. (Origen, Commentary on Matthew, Book 11 Chapter 14) “In this bread that thing which is material passeth through man’s body: but that which is made by the word of God by means of faith doth profit.” And lest perhaps you think that he spake those words of our common table-bread, he concludes the matter himself with these words: Haec diximus de pane symbolico. “These things we have spoken of the mystical bread.” Augustinus declareth, that it must needs be a figure and a remembrance of the body of Christ: Ista secundum sanae fidei contra adversarium requlam figurate intelliguntur. Nam aloqui horribilius videtur esse humanam carnem wrare quam penmere, et humanum sanguinem potare quam fundere. (Against An Opponent Of The Law and The Prophets. Book 2 Chapter 9) “These things are understood figuratively, according to the rule of sound and true faith. For otherwise it seemeth to be more horrible to eat man’s flesh, than to kill a man; and more horrible to drink man’s blood, than to shed it.”
And therefore he saith upon Psalm 98: Non hoc corpus quod videtis estis manducaturi, nec bibitun sanguinem quem fundent qui me crucifigent. Sacramentum aliquod vobis trado. “Ye shall not eat this body which you see, and drink that blood which they shall shed that shall crucify me. I commend unto you a sacrament.” Tertullian: Aliud a pane corpus Jesus liabet; nee pro nobis panis traditus, sed ipsum Christi veruin corpus traditum est in crucem, quod panis figura in ccena exhibitum est. (Tertullian, Against Marcion, Book 4, Chapter 40) “Jesus hath another body than bread; for bread was not given for us, but the very true body of Christ was given upon the cross; which body was exhibited in the supper under the figure of bread. This recorded Theodoret, an ancient writer, and avowed that there is no turning or altering of the bread in the sacrament. His words are these: Symbola msibilia corporis et sanguinis sui appellatione honor avit, non mutans naturam, sed natures addens gratiam. (Theodoret, Dialogues Book 1) ” He hath honoured and dignified the visible signs with the name of his body and of his blood, not changing the nature, but adding grace to nature.” And in another place, where he maketh a true Christian man to reason with a heretic, he giveth to the heretic this part, to hold with the turning of bread and wine into the natural body and blood of Christ. The heretic’s words are these: Sacramenta Dominici corporis et sanguinis alia sunt ante sacram invacationem; post invocationem vero mutantur, et alia fiunt. (Theodoret, Dialogues Book 2) “The sacraments of the Lord’s body and blood before the holy invocation are one thing; but after invocation they are changed and made another.” This maketh Theodoret to be the heretic’s part. Then bringeth he forth the true Christian man, which reproveth the heretic for so saying: Incidisti in laqueos quos ipse struxeras: neque enim sancta ilia symbola post consecrationem discedunt a natura sua: manent enim in priori et substantia et figura; etenim et oculis mderi et digitis palpasi, ut ante, possunt. (Ibid) “Thou art fallen into the snares which thou thyself hast laid. For those self same holy signs, after the consecration, do not go from their nature; for they abide still both in their former substance and figure, and may be both with eyes seen, and felt with hands, as before.” To the same agreeth well Chrysostom, saying: Postquam sanctificatur panis, non amplius appettatur panis, tametsi maneat natura panis. (Chrysostom, Letter to the Monk Caesarius) “After the bread is sanctified, it is called bread no more, although the nature of bread still remain.” (This quote was initially denounced as a forgery by the Roman Catholic Church but current consensus seems to suggest that whilst this might not be attributed to Chrysostom represents an orthodox view of the period and is quoted by other Fathers as authentic See more here) Hereby you may understand, how and in what sort the old fathers, how the primitive and beginning church, how the apostles, how Christ himself, took these words, “This is my body.”
Now, to withstand and stoutly to go against, not only ancient writers, or the congregation of Christian people, which at that time was not overgrown, no, neither spotted with covetousness and worldly honour, but the apostles also, and God himself, no doubt it is great fondness. But what speak of the old fathers? It is not long since the sacrament grew out of his right understanding. For this word transubstantiatio, whereby they signify turning of the bread into the body was never neither spoken, neither heard, neither thought of among the ancient fathers or in the old church.
But about five hundred years past, Pope Nicholas II in a council holden at the Lateran in Rome (Second Lateran Council), confirmed that opinion of the changing of bread, and would have made an article of the faith, and placed it in the “Credo.” After which time ensued Corpus Christi day, masses of Corpus Christi (This occured at the Fourth Lateran Council), reservation of the sacrament with honour, with canopies, with censing, with kneeling, with worshipping and adoration, and with so much as any man could devise. For they thought they could not do too much to him, after that the bishop of Rome had allowed him for a God.
But not fully two hundred year before that time, when this doctrine first began to bud (and yet notwithstanding had not prevailed, but that a great number of learned and good men could know the sacrament to be a sacrament, and not [Christ] himself), Charles the Great, king of France and emperor of Rome (Charles the Bald, not Charlemange), demanded of a great learned man, whose name was Ratramnus, what he thought by that strange kind of calling down Christ from heaven, and turning a little gobbet of bread into his natural body. To whom Ratramnus made answer in this wise: Dicimus quod multa differentia separantur corpus in quo passus est Christus et sanguis quern in cruce pendens fudit, et hoc corpus quod in mysterio passionis Christi quotidie a fidelibus celebratur … Etenim hoc corpus pignus et species est, illud autem ipsa veritas Apparet ergo … quod tarn multa differentia separentur, quantum est inter pignus et earn rem pro qua pignus traditur, et quantum inter imaginem et rem earn cujus imago est, et quantum inter speciem et veritatem. (Ratramnus, On The Body and Blood Of Our Lord) “This we say, That there is a great difference and separation betwixt the body in the which Christ suffered, and the blood which he shed upon the cross, and this body which every day is celebrated in the mystery of the passion of Christ. For this body is a pledge and a similitude, but the other is the very truth itself. Ergo, it appeareth that these two are separated asunder by no less difference than is between a pledge, and the thing whereof the pledge is given; or than is between an image of a thing, and the thing itself whereof the image is; or than is between the form of a thing and the verity itself.” This wrote Ratramnus, Druthmarus, and many others; and yet were never once, in all their time, reproved of heresy. This wrote Johannes Scotus also, in whose lifetime men had not eyes to espy his heresies: but also two hundred years after his death he was judged and condemned for a heretic, and his books burned, in a council holden at Vercelli in Lombardy, in the year of our Lord God 1050. Since that time even until this day, although idolatry had great increase, yet there never wanted some good men, which boldly would profess and set forth the truth; although they were well assured that their worldly reward should be spite, malice, imprisoning, sword, fire, and all kinds of torments.
Thus, so shortly and in so few words as I could, I have declared to you what Christ meant by these words, ” This is my body;” what the apostles thought therein, and in what sort they delivered them to their successors; in what sense and meaning the holy fathers and old writers, and the universal and catholic church, hath evermore taken them.