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There are three kinds of ministers acknowledged in the church, each kind including many subordinate gradations. Of these the first and lowest are simple labourers. The second and intermediate class is composed of potentates, the defenders of the ordinances of Christ in the church; but the last and highest are the priests of Christ, who rightly preach his Gospel. This portion should be as the soul unto the body of our mother the church. Among these, however, there is most deception, for Antichrist hath, in the guise of clergy, twelve agents, who machinate against Christ’s church, commonly called popes, cardinals, patriarchs, archpræsuls, bishops, archdeacons, officials, deacons, monks, canons, false brethren lately introduced, and questors.
The faithful might urge with sufficient reason, that this holy apostle does not specify the last sickness, but merely says that consolation should be administered by the presbyter when anyone is sick; and as it is in the nature of oil, in those parts of the world, to promote the health of the body, so he mentions this anointing; not that the oil affects the soul, but the prayer of a devout priest poured forth, hath a healing effect, so that God helps the sickness of the soul.
It appears, that so long as we are in this life, we ought to be the subjects of grief for sin, in act or habits, since we protract our grief for temporal calamities to a great length. From all this, it further appears, that the true penitent does not return to his past sin; so that the doctors say, with truth, that to be penitent, is to mourn over past sins, and not to commit again the sins so regarded. Hence it further appears, that it is only the man who is contrite, that will be saved from his sin; the reprobate, by the sudden termination of his sorrow, shows that there is in him no contrition.
(Confession to a priest) is injurious to many, and is the cause of many evils to both parties, (the priest and the confessing,) nevertheless it brings many good results to the church, and since it might possibly be well conducted, it appears to me that it may be, by supposition, necessary, and so really necessary, forasmuch as many, through shame of being obliged to confess the sin, and of submitting to the penance enjoined, and from the fear of being obliged to make confession of what they have done elsewhere, are deterred from repeating their sin.
For Christ, in rebuking the priests of the temple, made use often of this kingly power, ejecting, in person, the buyers and sellers. And on many occasions, by his sufferings and his reproofs, Christ condemned the conduct of the priests, as may be seen at the time of his seizure and passion. And he afterwards awfully chastised that priesthood, by the hand of Titus and Vespasian his servants, as Luke had prophesied.
In my view, it is plain, from the Scriptures before alleged, which we believe the mouth of the Lord hath spoken, that our clergy, especially under the law of grace, are bound to live in the manner which I have set forth. And since this is an injunction, laid on us by the God-man, Christ, it is clear that he who manifestly despiseth it cannot love Christ, and, therefore, must fall under the sentence of a most fearful excommunication; for the apostle saith, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha.” And this excommunication, inflicted by the Holy Spirit, does not admit of being evaded by the precautions of men, but is sure to be inflicted where guilt is incurred, and is a matter greatly more to be feared, than any damnation or condemnation for heresy, which Cæsarean prelates are wont to send forth.
One thing I confidently assert, that in the primitive church, or the time of Paul, two orders were held sufficient,—those of priests and deacons. No less certain am I, that in the time of Paul, presbyter and bishop were the same, as is shown in 1 Timothy 3. and Titus 1. That profound theologian Jerome attests the same fact, see lxxxvii. Dis. ca. Olim. For there were not then the distinctions of pope and cardinals, patriarchs and archbishops, bishops, archdeacons, officials, and deacons, with other officers and religious bodies, without number or rule.
Still further it appears, that this confirmation, thus unauthorised by the apostles, is a blasphemy against God, since it stoutly asserts that the bishops confer the Holy Ghost anew, or that they strengthen and confirm that gift. But this is to do more than give the Holy Spirit. The apostles dared not so to teach, but prayed for themselves that they might receive the Holy Spirit. Has the Cæsarean endowment exalted our bishops to such a pitch of dignity that they are thus endowed with the singular power of conferring the Holy Ghost?
It is commonly said that the church hath a threefold baptism,—the baptism of water, of blood, and of fire. The baptism of water, is the baptism with that material element, of which mention is most frequently made. The baptism of blood is the washing wherewith the souls of the martyrs are cleansed. Nor do I dare assert that the infants slain for Christ (Matthew 2.) who, not having reached the eighth day, had not been circumcised, are lost. And I believe the Bishop of Armagh spoke on supposition only, not positively, when he said that this was the case. The baptism of fire is the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which is absolutely necessary to every man if he is to be saved.
In the last chapter of Matthew Christ commands his disciples, saying, “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” And accordingly Philip, when about to baptize the eunuch, Acts 8., first instructed him in the faith, as did the apostles, Acts 2., when they baptized the people. John the Baptist, however, had no need to instruct Christ, Luke 3., but, on the contrary, was instructed in humility and other virtues by our Lord. On account of the words in the last chapter of Matthew, our church introduces believers, who answer for the infant which has not yet arrived at years of discretion. Those who have attained years of discretion, while yet under instruction, are called, before baptism, catechumens.
The body of Christ is not co-extensive with the body of the bread, as was shown to you before, in the distinction between formal, essential, and figurative predication. With regard to your second instance, it hath been stated already that the body of Christ is there spiritually, in the same manner in which it is distinguished essentially from the body of the bread. Accordingly, when you say, that we know not whether to say that the body of Christ be there essentially, corporeally, or dimensionally, it seems to me, that we can say with probability, the body of Christ is there a body, because the same body that is extended in heaven. But is it there corporeally or dimensionally? It seems to me that many labour vainly and equivocally on this subject. For by understanding this adverb in a reduplicative sense, it appears to me that the body of Christ is in that same place as a body, but not corporeally; but, with the analogous adverbs, it should be granted, that the body of Christ is there, beautifully, and really. Yet I dare not say, that it is there dimensionally, or in extent, though it may be bread which is there dimensionally, and in extent.
In the matter of universals, there is no need for quarrelling about examples, for though a human species may include Peter, and the same species may include Paul, it doth not hence follow that Peter is Paul, but only that they are the same in species. And so, you can only prove, by means of your proposition, that if this bread is eaten by a mouse, and this bread is the body of Christ, then that which is the body of Christ is eaten by a mouse, &c.
The body of Christ, therefore, extends to every part of this world, since by virtue from that body every part of the world is pervaded, beyond any power an earthly king has of pervading the parts of his kingdom. Nevertheless we must believe, that the body of Christ is far otherwise present in the consecrated host, since it is the host itself figuratively: and, according to the nature of spiritual and virtual existence, it is different in every part of it.
Trialogus. Chapter 6. In What Way the Bread Is the Body of Our Lord, and Not the Identical Body Itself
For, as Augustine teaches, in what he says on John—corn is collected of a multitude of grain, and ground; secondly, water is poured on it, and it is kneaded; and thirdly, it is taken as the food of the body for nourishment. In a similar way believers receive the sacramental bread in fragments; it is afterwards watered by evangelical faith, and kneaded in the heart; and when baked by the fire of charity, is spiritually eaten. Accordingly, Augustine says, on John, “Believe with a faith moulded by charity, and thou hast eaten;” and this must be understood of eating spiritually.
Trialogus. Chapter 5. How and from What Cause the Heresy Concerning the Sacrament of the Eucharist Hath Grown Up
I am pleased to hear you express yourself so boldly in behalf of evangelical truths, and that you have so far unfolded them by argument. But I would fain know how, and from what cause it was, that this heresy took its rise, even supposing it to have been introduced by Satan and his followers into the church.
For since this sacrament, which is always the same, is found at one time hard, at another soft; at one time brittle, at another tough; the philosopher plainly sees, that there must be a subject of some sort besides, as the seat of qualities, which undergoes these respective changes, (for, otherwise, all distinction between such accidents must be denied,) or else, in such a transmutation, a new sacrament is continually created. But if the first be granted, then no accident is distinguished from a material substance; and since those accidents remain, they would then become the material substance, as in the first instance.
For I am certain, that even heathens, who make their own gods, are perfectly aware of what they are in their own proper nature, though they pretend that a portion of divinity is bestowed upon them supernaturally by the highest God of all. The believer, therefore, hesitates not to affirm, that these heretics are more ignorant, not only than mice and other animals, but than pagans themselves; while on the other hand, our aforementioned conclusion, that this venerable sacrament is, in its own nature, veritable bread, and sacramentally Christ’s body, is shown to be the true one.
Thus, then, is this three-fold doctrine annihilated, a doctrine contemptible and erroneous, after the manner of all other heresies which affect to be the doctrine of Christ. We must abide, then, by the opinion of the learned and acute Jerome, who says, that the bread, by virtue of Christ’s word, is, sacramentally, the body of our Saviour. Of what sort that bread is, and of what it is in its own nature, the true theologian can see by observation of other hosts, not consecrated.
I wish, brother Phronesis, you would speak of the Eucharist, the last sacrament but one, because it is regarded with greater reverence than the other sacraments, and appears to have most foundation in Scripture, especially as in our own day this matter has been the subject of so much intricate discussion. And to prevent our being entangled in equivocal terms, it will be necessary to specify the quiddity of this venerable sacrament.
Contemplative life hath two parts, the lower consists in meditation, or thinking of holy scripture, and in other sweet thoughts of Jesus, and in the sweetness of prayers. The higher part is in the beholding of heavenly things, having the eye of the heart among the heavenly citizens, thinking on God, the beauty of angels, and holy souls. Contemplation is a wonderful joy in God’s love, which joy is a loving of God that cannot be told. And that wonderful love is in the soul, and for an abundance of joy and sweetness it ascends into the mouth; so that heart, tongue, body, and soul, joy together in God.
Truly in the will is the root and beginning of all deeds which are in our power. And if we must not do the thing that we would do, each man is denied of God his own proper will. Therefore behold you not only what you do, but as much what you would do. Not more what are your works than what is your will? Through just will, man is called just; and through an unjust will, man is said to be unrighteous.
To any degree of true love to Jesus, no soul can attain unless he is truly meek. For a proud soul seeks to have his own will, and so shall he never comes to any degree of God’s love. However, the lower that a soul sits in the valley of meekness, so many more streams of grace and love come thereto. And if the soul be high in the hills of pride, the wind of the fiend blows away all manner of goodness therefrom.
There are three degrees of Christ’s love, in which those that are chosen to God’s love go from one to another. The first is called insuperable; the second is inseparable; the third is called singular. Love is insuperable when it cannot be overcome with any other affection or love, no trial or temptation — when it gladly casts down all other hindrances, and all temptations, and quenches fleshly desires. When man suffers gladly and meekly all anguish for Christ, and is not overcome with any delight or flattering, so that whether thou art in ease or in anguish, in sickness or in health, that thou wouldest not, to have all the world, anger God at any time. And blessed is the soul that is in this state; every labour is light to him that loves truly, neither can any man better overcome travail than by love.
This name, Jesus, truly held in mind, roots up vices, plants virtues, brings charity or love to men, gets men savouring heavenly things, wastes discord, informs peace, gives everlasting rest, or does away heaviness of fleshly desires. All earthly desires, all earthly things, it turns into heaviness. It fills those that it loves with spiritual joy; so that worthily it may be said. All shall be glorified in thee, that love thy name, for thou shalt bless the righteous. The righteous deserved to be blessed, for he hath truly loved this name, Jesus. He is called righteous, because he seeks earnestly to love Jesus. What can fail to him who unceasingly covets to love Jesus? He loves and he desires to love, for thus we know the love of God to stand; for the more we love, the more we covet to love.