Old Anglicanism and Modern Ritualism. Chapter 5: Bishop Jeremy Taylor
37 min read
37 min read
Bishop Taylor is the most rhetorical of our English divines the Chrysostom or GoldenMouth of the seventeenth century. In consequence of this characteristic an eloquent clause here or a rhetorical flourish there lends itself to a misrepresentation of the general views of the writer, and this peculiarity is taken advantage of by men of disloyal sentiments to present Bishop Taylor as a supporter of opinions which he was energetically combating. We have seen an instance of this treatment of the Bishop lately. A Declaration of Doctrine, professing to be Catholic, but really Roman, was issued. This Declaration was supported and justified by a number of quotations, the majority, if not all, of which were at once shown to misrepresent the authors quoted. Among them the most striking was a passage from Jeremy Taylor, the fallacious character of which was immediately demonstrated by the Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, the Bishop of Edinburgh, and others. The props on which the Declaration was supported were struck away, and not one effort has been made by those who issued the Declaration to show either that they were honestly though mistakenly trusted to at the first, or that other props can be supplied in their places.
The following passages will show what were Jeremy Taylor s real sentiments on points at issue between the Roman Church and ourselves.
If we inquire upon what grounds the primitive Church did rely for their whole religion, we shall find they knew none else but the Scriptures. Ubi Scriptum? was their first inquiry. “Do the prophets and the Apostles, the Evangelists or the Epistles, say so ?” Read it there, and then teach it, else reject it ; they call upon their charges in the words of Christ “Search the Scriptures.” They affirm that the Scriptures are full, that they are a perfect rule, that they contain all things necessary to salvation, and from hence they confuted all heresies. This I shall clearly prove by abundant testimonies (Dissuasive, Part II. I, ii.7)
The Bishop then quotes Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine. By the concourse of these testimonies of so many learned, orthodox, and ancient Fathers we are abundantly confirmed in that rule and principle upon which the whole Protestant and Christian religion is established. From hence we learn all things, and by these we prove all things, and by these we confute heresies and prove every article of our faith. According to this we live, and on these we ground our hope, and whatsoever is not in these we reject from our canon (ibid.). That the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament do contain the whole will and law of God is affirmed by the primitive Fathers and by all the reformed Churches. That the Scriptures are not a perfect rule of faith and manners, but that tradition is to be added to make it a full repository of the Divine Will is affirmed by the Church of Rome (Ductor Dubitantium, ii. 3, 14).
God hath made the Scriptures plain and easy to all people that are willing and obedient. The Fathers say that in things in which our salvation is concerned the Scriptures need no interpreter, but a man may find them out for himself. The way of the ancient and primitive Church was to expound the Scriptures by the Scriptures. In pursuance of this, the ancient Fathers took this way, and taught us to do so too, to expound difficult places by the plain. … If you inquire where or which is the Church, from human teachings you can never find her; she is only demonstrated in the divine oracles (ibid., ii. 3, 14).
Having stated that tradition is any way of communicating the notice of a thing to us, the Bishop points out that there may be a tradition or handing down of things true, of things in different, or of things false. All matters of faith, he argues, are now delivered to us in Scripture; indifferent things do not rest on Apostolical authority, and need not be observed. The third class of traditions he enumerates as follows :
There are, indeed, a great many pretended to be traditions, but they are false articles, or wicked practices, or uncertain sentences at the best. I reckon some of those which the Roman Church obtrudes, such as are invocation of saints and angels, adoration of them, and worshipping of images, the doctrine of Purgatory, prayer in the unknown tongue, the Pope’s power to depose kings and to absolve from lawful and rate oaths, the picturing of God the Father and the Holy Trinity, the half-communion, the doctrine and practice of indulgences, canon of the Mass, the doctrine of proper sacrifice in the Mass, monastical profession, the single life of priests and bishops. Now, these are so far from being Apostolical traditions that they are some of them apparently false, some of them expressly against Scripture, and others confessedly new, and either but of yesterday, or like the issue of the people, born where and when no man can tell (ibid., ii. 3, 14, 24).
There are very many more things in which the Church of Rome hath greatly turned aside from the doctrine of Scripture and the practice of the Catholic, Apostolic and Primitive Church. Such are these: The invocation of saints; the insufficiency of Scripture without the tradition of faith unto salvation; their absolving sinners before they have by canonical penance and the fruits of a good life testified their repentance; their giving leave to simple presbyters by papal dispensation to give confirmation of chrism; selling Masses for ninepence; circumgestation of the Eucharist to be adored; the dangerous doctrine of the necessity of the priest’s intention in collating Sacraments, by which device they have put it in the power of the priest to damn whom he pleases of his own parish; their affirming that the Mass is a proper and propitiatory sacrifice for the quick and dead; private Masses, or the Lord’s Supper without communion, which is against the doctrine and practice of the ancient Church of Rome itself, and contrary to the tradition of the Apostles, if we may believe Pope Calixtus, and is also forbidden under pain of excommunication. … We have done this the rather (verified the charge of novelty) because the Roman emissaries endeavour to prevail amongst the ignorant, and prejudicate by boasting of antiquity and calling their religion the “old religion” and the “Catholic,” so ensnaring others by ignorant words, in which is no truth; their religion, as it is distinguished from the religion of the Church of England and Ireland, being neither the old nor the Catholic religion, but new and superinduced by arts known to all who with sincerity and diligence have looked into their pretences. But they have taught every priest that can scarce understand his breviary (of which in Ireland there are too many), and very many of the people, to ask where our religion was before Luther, whereas it appears by the premises that it is much more easy for us to show our religion before Luther than for them to show theirs before Trent. And although they can show too much practice of their religion in the degenerate ages of the Church, yet we can, and do, clearly show ours in the purest and first ages, and can, and do, draw lines pointing to the times and places where the several rooms and storeys of their Babel was builded, and where polished, and where furnished (Dissuasive, I. i.11).
Some of the Roman doctrines are a state of temptation to all the reason of mankind, as the doctrine of transubstantiation; some are at least of a suspicious improbity, as worship of images and of the consecrated elements, and many others; some are of a nice and curious nature, as the doctrine of merit, of condignity and congruity; some are perfectly of human invention, without ground of Scripture or tradition, as the forms of ordination, absolution, etc. When men see that some things can never be believed heartily, and many not understood fully, and more not remembered or considered perfectly, and yet all imposed upon the same necessity, and as good believe nothing as not everything this way is apt to make men despise all religion or despair of their own salvation (ibid. II. i. 7).
You are gone to a Church in which you are to be a subject of the King so long as it pleases the Pope; in which you may be absolved from your vows made to God, your oaths to the King, your promises to men, your duties to your parents in some cases; a Church in which men pray to God, and to saints in the same form of words in which they pray to God; a Church in which men are taught to worship images with the same worship with which they worship God and Christ, or him or her whose image it is; a Church which pretends to be infallible, and yet is infinitely deceived; from receiving the whole Sacrament to receive it but half; from Christ’s institution to a human invention; from Scripture to uncertain traditions, and from ancient traditions to new pretences; from prayers which you understood to prayers which you understand not; from confidence in God to rely upon creatures; from entire dependence on inward acts to a dangerous temptation to resting too much in outward ministries, in the external work of Sacraments and sacramentals; to a Church where men’s consciences are loaded with a burden of ceremonies greater than that in the days of the Jewish religion; to a Church that seals up the fountain of God’s Word, and gives you drink by drops out of such cisterns as they first make, and then stain, and then reach out. It is now become part of your religion to be ignorant, to walk in blindness, to believe the man that hears your confessions, to hear none but him, not to hear God speaking but by him, and so you are liable to be abused by him, as he please, without remedy. You are taught to worship saints and angels with a worship at least dangerous and in some things proper to God; for your Church worships the Virgin Mary with burning incense and candles to her, and you give her presents, which by the consent of all nations used to be considered a worship peculiar to God; and it is the same thing which was condemned for heresy in the Collyridians, who offered a cake to the Virgin Mary. A candle and a cake make no difference in the worship (Letter to a Gentlewoman seduced to the Church of Rome).
This doctrine, though it be not so scandalous as their idolatry, so ridiculous as their superstitions, so unreasonable as their doctrine of transubstantiation, so easily reproved as their half-communion and service in an unknown tongue, yet it is as of dangerous and evil effect, and as false, and as certainly an innovation, as anything in their whole congregation of errors (Dissuasive, I. i. i).
The Pope hath power in omnia, per omnia, super omnia in all things, through all things, over all things; and “the sublimity and immensity of the supreme bishop is so great that no mortal man can comprehend it.” This is not the private opinion of a few, but the public doctrine owned and offered to be justified to all the world (ibid. iii. 3).
Since the Bishop of Rome by acts which all the world knows had raised an intolerable empire, he used it as violently as he got it, and made his little finger heavier than all the loins of princes. … Every bishop hath from Christ equal power, and there is no difference but what is introduced by men that is, by laws positive, by consent, or by violence. … From hence it must needs follow that by the law of Christ one bishop is not superior to another (Duct. Dub., III., iv. 16).
It were an endless labour to transcribe the horrible doctrines which are preached in the Jesuits school to the shaking of the regal power of such princes which are not of the Roman Communion. The whole economy of it is well described by Bellarmine, who affirms that “it does not belong to monks or other ecclesiastics to commit murders, neither do the popes care to proceed that way; but their manner is first fatherly to correct princes, then by ecclesiastical censures to deprive them of the communion, then to absolve their subjects from the oath of allegiance and to deprive them of their kingly dignity; and what then? The execution belongs to others.” This is the way of the popes, thus wisely and moderately to break kings in pieces (Dissuasive, I., iii. 3).
The doctrine of transubstantiation is so far from being primitive and apostolic that we know the very time it began to be owned publicly for an opinion, and the very Council in which it was said to be passed into a public doctrine, and by what arts it was promoted, and by what persons it was introduced. For all the world knows that by their own parties by Scotus, Ockam, Biel, Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, and divers others whom Bellarmine calls most learned and most acute men, it was declared that the doctrine of transubstantiation is not expressed in the canon of the Bible; that in the Scriptures there is no place so express as (without the Church’s declaration) to compel us to admit of transubstantiation; and therefore at least it is to be suspected of novelty. But, further, we know it was but a disputable question in the ninth and tenth centuries after Christ; that it was not pretended to be an article of faith till the Lateran Council in the time of Innocent III. twelve hundred years and more after Christ; that since that pretended determination divers of the chiefest teachers of their own side have been no more satisfied with the ground of it than they were before, but still have publicly affirmed that the article is not expressed in Scripture, particularly John de Bassolis, Cardinal Cajetan, and Melchior Canus, besides those above reckoned. And, therefore, if it was not expressed in Scripture, it will be too clear that they made their articles out of their own heads; for they could not declare it to be there, if it was not ; and if it was there but obscurely, then it ought to be taught accordingly, and at most it could be but a probable doctrine, and not certain, as an article of faith. But that we may put it past argument and probability, it is certain that as the doctrine was not taught in Scripture expressly, so it was not at all taught as a Catholic doctrine or an article of the faith by the primitive ages of the Church. Now for this we need no proof but the confession and acknowledgments of the greatest doctors of the Church of Rome. Having quoted Scotus, Peter Lombard, Durandus, Alphonsus a Castro, and from the first and best ages of the Church Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Origen, Eusebius, Macarius, Ephrem, Gregory Nazianzen, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Augustine, Theodoret, Gelasius ; and having put aside the horrid and blasphemous questions, such as, whether it may be said the priest is in some sense the creator of God Himself and whether a priest before he say his first Mass be the son of God, but afterwards the father of God and the creator of His body, against which a book was written by John Hugo, he lays down five propositions, the first two of which are:
1. That what the Church of Rome teaches of transubstantiation is absolutely impossible, and implies contradictions very many, to the belief of which no faith can oblige us and no reason can endure. For Christs body being in heaven, glorious, spiritual and impassible, cannot be broken. And since by the Roman doctrine nothing is broken but that which cannot be broken that is, the colour, the taste, and other accidents of the elements yet if they could be broken, since the accidents of bread and wine are not the substance of Christs body and blood, it is certain that on the altar Christs body naturally and properly cannot be broken.
2. And since they say that every consecrated wafer is Christs whole body, and yet this wafer is not that wafer, therefore either this or that is not Christs body, or else Christ hath two bodies, for there are two wafers (ibid. I. i. 5).
We may not render Divine worship to Him as present in the blessed Sacrament according to His human nature without danger of idolatry; because He is not there according to His human nature, and therefore you give Divine worship to a non ens, which must needs be idolatry; for idolum nihil est in mundo, saith St. Paul, and Christ, as present by His human nature in the Sacrament, is a non ens; for it is not true; there is no such thing. He is present there by His divine power and His divine blessing, and the fruits of His body, the real effective consequents of His passion; but for any other presence, it is idolum, it is nothing in the world. Adore Christ in heaven, for the heavens must contain Him till the time of the restitution of all things. (Fifth Letter to a Gentleman that was Tempted to the Communion of the Roman Church).
Since by the decree of the Council of Trent they are bound to exhibit to the Sacrament the same worship which they give to the true God, either this Sacrament is Jesus Christ or else they are very idolaters; I mean materially such, even while in their purpose they decline it. I will not quarrel with (dispute against) the words of the decree commanding to give Divine worship to the Sacrament, which by the definition of their own schools is an outward visible sign of an inward spiritual grace, and so they worship the sign and the grace with the worship due to God. But that which I insist upon is this: that if they be deceived in this difficult question, against which there lie such infinite presumptions and evidence of sense, and invincible reason and grounds of Scripture, and in which they are condemned by the primitive Church and by the common principles of all philosophy, and the nature of things and the analogy of the Sacrament; for which they had no warrant ever till they made one of their own, which themselves so little understand that they know not how to explicate it, nor agree in their own meaning, nor cannot tell well what they mean; if, I say, they be deceived in their own strict article (besides the strict sense of which there are so many ways of verifying the words of Christ, upon which all sides do rely), then it is certain they commit an act of idolatry in giving Divine honour to a mere creature, which is the image, the sacrament, and representment of the body of Christ. … The commandment to worship God alone is so express; the distance between God and bread dedicated to the service of God is so vast; the danger of worshipping that which is not God, or of not worshipping that which is God, is so formidable, that it is infinitely to be presumed that, if it had been intended that we should have worshipped the Holy Sacrament, the Holy Scripture would have called it God or Jesus Christ, or have bidden us in express terms to have adored it; that either by the first, as by a reason indicative, or by the second, as by a reason imperative, we might have had sufficient warrant, direct or consequent, to have paid a Divine worship. Now, that there is no implicit warrant in the sacramental words of “This is My body,” I have given very many reasons to evince, by proving the words to be sacramental and figurative.
Add to this that supposing Christ present in their senses, yet as they have acted the business, they have made it superstitious and idolatrical; for they declare “the Divine worship does also belong to the symbols of bread and wine as being one with Christ” they are the words of Bellarmine ; that “even the species also with Christ are to be adored ” so Suarez. But then let it be considered that since these species or accidents are nor inherent in the holy body, nor have their existence from it, but wholly subsist of themselves (as they dream), since between them and the holy body there is no substantial, no personal, union, it is not imaginable how they can pass Divine wor ship to those accidents which are not in the body, nor the same with the body, but (by an impossible supposition) subsist of themselves, and were proper to bread and now not communicable to Christ; and yet not commit idolatry.
At the best we may say to these men, as our blessed Saviour to the woman of Samaria, “Ye worship ye know not what ; but we know what we worship.” For concerning the action of adora tion, this I am to say, that it is a fit address in the day of solemnity, with a sursum corda, with our hearts lift up to heaven, where Christ sits (we are sure) at the right hand of the Father; for Nemo digne manducat nisi prius adoraverit, said St. Austin (” No man eats Christ’s body worthily but he that first adores Christ”). But to terminate the Divine worship to the Sacrament, to that which we eat, is so unreasonable and unnatural, and withal so scandalous, that Averroes, observing it to be usual among the Christians with whom he had the ill-fortune to converse, said these words: Quandoquidem Christiani adorant quod comedunt, sit anima mea cum philosophis (“Since Christians worship what they eat, let my soul be with the philosophers”). If the man had conversed with those who better understood the article and were more religious and wise in their worshippings, possibly he might have been invited by the excellency of the institution to become a Christian. But they that give scandal to Jews by their images and leaving out the Second Commandment from their Catechisms, give offence to the Turks by worshipping the Sacrament, and to all reasonable men by striving against two or three sciences and the notices (observation) of all man kind. We give no Divine honour to the signs; we do not call the Sacrament our God (Real Presence, xiii.).
This is a thing of infinite danger. God is a jealous God. He spake it in the matter of external worship and of idolatry, and therefore do nothing that is like worshipping a mere creature, nothing that is like worshipping that which you are not sure it is God. And if you can believe the bread, when it is blessed by the priest, is God Almighty, you can, if you please, believe anything else.
If it be transubstantiated, and you are sure of it, then you may pray to it and put your trust in it, and believe the holy bread to be co-eternal with the Father and with the Holy Ghost (Fifth Letter).
By “spiritually” they mean “present after the manner of a spirit”; by “spiritually” we mean “present to our spirits only” that is, so as Christ is not present to any other senses but that of faith or spiritual susception. But their way makes His body to be present no way but that which is impossible and implies a contradiction; a body not after the manner of a body; a body like a spirit; a body without a body; and a sacrifice of body and blood without blood; corpus incorporeum; cruor incruentus. They say that Christ’s body is truly present there as it was upon the cross, but not after the manner of all or any body, but after that manner of being as an angel is in a place. That’s their “spirituality”; but we by the “real spiritual presence” of Christ do understand Christ to be present, as the Spirit of God is present in the hearts of the faithful, by blessing and grace. And this is all which we mean, besides the typical and figurative presence (Real Presence, i.).
We think it our duty to give our own people caution and admonition. First, that they be not abused by the rhetorical words and high expressions alleged out of the Fathers calling the Sacrament” the body” or “the flesh of Christ,” for we all believe it is so, and rejoice in it ; but the question is after what manner it is so, whether after the manner of the flesh, or after the manner of spiritual grace and sacramental consequence. We with the Holy Scriptures and the primitive Fathers affirm the latter; the Church of Rome, against the words of Scripture and the explication of Christ and the doctrine of the primitive Church, affirm the former. Secondly, that they be careful not to admit such doctrines under the pretence of being ancient; since, although the Roman error hath been too long admitted and is ancient in respect of our days, yet it is an innovation in Christianity, and brought in by ignorance, power, and superstition very many ages after Christ. Thirdly, we exhort them that they remember the words of Christ when He explicates the doctrine of giving us His flesh for meat and His blood for drink, that He tells us “the flesh profiteth nothing, but the words which He speaks are spirit and they are life.” Fourthly, that if these ancient and primitive doctors above cited say true, and that the symbols still remain the same in their natural substance and properties, even after they are blessed and when they are received, and that Christ’s body and blood are only present to faith and to the spirit, that then whoever tempt them to give Divine honour to these symbols or elements (as the Church of Rome does) tempts them to give to a creature the due and incommunicable propriety of God, and that then this evil passes further than an error in the understanding, for it carries them to a dangerous practice, which cannot reasonably be excused from idolatry (Dissuasive, I., i. 5).
I have manifested the nature and operations and the whole ministry to be spiritual; and that not the natural body and blood of Christ is received by the mouth, but the word and the spirit of Christ by faith and a spiritual hand; and upon this account have discovered their mistake who think the secret lies in the outside, and suppose that we tear the natural flesh of Christ with our mouths.
This (His natural body) He gave us but once then, when upon the Cross He was broken for our sins; this body could die but once, and it could be but at one place at once, and heaven was the place appointed for it.
This body, being carried from us into heaven, cannot be touched or tasted by us on earth; but yet Christ left to us symbols and Sacraments of this natural body; not to be or to convey that natural body to us, but to do more and better for us to convey all the blessings and graces procured for us by the breaking of that body and the effusion of that blood; which blessings, being spiritual, are therefore called “His body” spiritually, be cause procured by that body which died for us, and are therefore called our food, because by them we live a new life in the Spirit, and Christ is our bread and our life, because by Him after this manner we are nourished up to life eternal.
The sum is this: The Sacraments and symbols, if they be considered in their own nature, are just such as they seem water, and bread and wine; they retain the names proper to their own natures; but because they are made to be signs of a secret mystery, and water is the symbol of purification of the soul from sin, and bread and wine of Christ’s body and blood, therefore the symbols and Sacraments receive the names of what themselves do sign (are signs of); they are the body and they are the blood of Christ they are metonymically such (The Worthy Communicant, i. 3).
They innovate in their doctrine of the half-communion. For they deprive the people of the chalice, and dismember the institution of Christ, and prevaricate His express law in this particular, and recede from the practice of the Apostles; and though they confess it was the practice of the primitive Church, yet they lay it aside and curse those who follow Christ and His Apostles and His Church, while themselves deny to follow them. Now for this we need no other testimony but their own words in the Council of Constance. Here is the acknowledgment both of Christ’s institution in both kinds, and Christ’s minister ing it in both kinds, and the practice of the primitive Church to give it in both kinds, yet the conclusion from these premisses is: “We command under the pain of excommunication that no priest communicate the people under both kinds of bread and wine.” The opposition is plain: Christ’s testament ordains it, the Church of Rome forbids it; it was the primitive custom to obey Christ in this, a later custom is by the Church of Rome introduced to the contrary. To say that the first practice and institution is necessary to be followed is called heretical, to refuse the latter subintroduced custom incurs the sentence of excommunication. And this they have passed not only into a law, but into an article of faith; and if this be not teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, and worshipping God in vain with men’s traditions, then there is, and there was, and there can be, no such thing in the world (Dissuasive, I. i. 6).
It is too much that any part of the Church should so much as in a single instance administer the Holy Sacrament otherwise than it is in the institution of Christ, there being no other warrant for doing the thing at all but Christ’s institution, and therefore no other way of learning how to do it but by the same institution by which all of it is done. But if a man alters what God appointed, he makes to himself a new institution, for which in this case there can be no necessity nor yet excuse. That men are not suffered to receive it in Christ’s way, that they are driven from it, that they are called heretic for saying it is their duty to receive it as Christ gave it and appointed it, that they should be excommunicated for desiring to communicate in Christ’s blood by the symbol of His blood, according to the order of Him that gave His blood this is such a strange piece of Christianity that it is not easy to imagine what Antichrist can do more against it unless he take it all away. I only desire those persons that are here concerned to weigh well the words of Christ and the consequents of them: “He that breaketh one of the least of My commandments, and shall teach men so (and what if he compel men so?), shall be called the least in the kingdom of God” (ibid., II., ii. 4).
I have already instanced in some particulars in which the Church of Rome hath suffered infirmity and fallen into error, and the errors are such which the Fathers of the Church (for we meddle not with any such judgment) call damnable. As for example:
1. “To add anything to Scriptures or to introduce into the faith anything that is not written,” or “to call anything divine that is not so on the authority of the holy Scriptures,” which Tertullian says whoever does “may fear the woe pronounced in Scripture against adders and detracters” ; and St. Basil says “is a manifest note of infidelity and a most certain sign of pride”; and others add “it is an evil heart of immodesty and most vehemently forbidden by the Apostles.”…
2. The same is the case in their άρτολάτρεια worshipping of consecrated bread, in which if they be not deceived, all the reason and all the sense of all the men in the world are deceived; and if they be deceived, then it is certain they give Divine worship to what they naturally eat and drink; and how great a provocation of God that is, they cannot but know by the whole analogy of the Old and New Testament, and even by natural reason itself and all the dictates of religion which God hath written in our hearts.…
3. The like of this is the practice of the Church of Rome in worshipping angels; which, as it is nowhere commanded in the New Testament, so it is expressly forbidden by an angel himself twice to St. John, adding an unalterable reason, “for I am thy fellow-servant; worship God.”…
4. And of the like danger is invocation of saints, which if it be no more than a mere desire to them to pray for us, why is it expressed in their public offices in words that differ not from our prayers to God? If it be more, it creates in us, or is apt to create in us, confidence in the creature; it relies upon that which St. Paul used as an argument against worship of angels, and that is,” intruding into those things we understand not”; for it pretends to know their present state, which is hid from our eyes; and it proceeds upon the very reason upon which the Gnostics and the Valentinians went that is, that it is fit to have mediators between God and us, that we may present our prayers to them, and they to God.…
5. What good does the worship of images do to the souls of Christians? What glory is done to God by being represented in little shapes and human or fantastic figures? What Scripture did ever command it? What prophet did not reprove it? Is it not in all appearance, and grammatical and proper understanding of words, forbidden by an express commandment of God? Is there any duty incumbent on us to do it? Certainly, all the arts of witty men of the Roman side are little enough, and much too little to prove that it is lawful to make and worship them; and the distinctions and elusions, the tricks and artifices, are so many that it is a great piece of impertinent learning to remember them, and no small trouble to understand them, and they that most need the distinction that is, the common people cannot use them; and at the best it is very hard to think it lawful but very easy to understand that it is forbidden, and most easy to be assured it is very innocent to let it alone.…
6. Thus also it must needs be confessed that it is more safe for the Church of God to give the Holy Communion in both kinds than in one; and Bellarmines foolish reason, of the wine sticking to laymens beards, is as ridiculous as the doctrine itself is unreasonable. The thing itself is no small matter, but of greatest concernment. It is the sacramental blood of Christ. The holy bread cannot be the Sacrament of the blood; and if Christ did not esteem it as necessary to have a Sacrament of His blood as of His body, He would not have done it; and if He did think it as necessary, certainly it was so. …
7. What a strange uncharitableness is it to believe and teach that poor babes, descending from Christian parents, if they die unbaptized, shall never see the face of God, and that of such is not the kingdom of heaven! The Church of England enjoins the parents to bring them, and her priests to baptize them, and punishes the neglect when it is criminal, and yet teaches no such fierce and uncharitable proposition, which can serve no end, but what may with less damage and affrightment be very well secured.…
I shall add no more; only I profess myself to wonder at the obstinacy of the Roman prelates, that will not consent that the Liturgy of their Church should be understood by the people. If the Church of England be not in this also of the surer side, then we know nothing, but all the reason of all mankind is fallen asleep.
For professing these things according to the Scriptures and Catholic tradition and right reason, they call us heretics and sentence us with damnation; with damnation, I say, for not worshipping of images; for not calling the sacramental bread our God and Saviour; for not teaching for doctrines the commandments of men; for not equalling the sayings of men with the sayings of God; for not worshipping angels; for not putting trust in saints and speaking to dead persons who are not present; and for offering to desire to receive the Communion as Christ gave it to His disciples, and they to all to whom they preached. If these be causes of damnation, what shall become of them that do worship images, and that do take away half of the Sacrament from the people to whom Christ left it, and keep knowledge from them and will not suffer the most of them to pray with the understanding, and worship angels, and make dead men their guardians, and erect altars and make vows, and give consumptive offerings to saints, real or imaginary? Now truly we know not what shall become of them; but we pray for them as men not without only as long as we can, we repeat the words of our blessed Saviour: “He that breaks one of the least commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” (ibid., II., i. 8).
The case is this: The religion of a Christian consists in faith and hope, repentance and charity, Divine worship and celebration of the Sacraments, and finally in keeping the commandments of God. Now in all these, both in doctrines and practices, the Church of Rome does dangerously err, and teaches men so to do.
They do injury to faith by creating new Articles, and enjoining them as of necessity to salvation. They spoil their hope by placing it upon creatures and devices of their own. They greatly sin against charity by damning all that are not of their opinion in things false or uncertain, right or wrong. They break in pieces the salutary doctrine of repentance, making it to be consistent with a wicked life and little or no amendment. They worship they know not what, and pray to them that hear them not, and trust on that which helps them not. And as for the commandments, they leave one of them out of their catechisms and manuals, and while they contend earnestly against some opponents for the possibility of keeping them all, they do not insist upon the necessity of keeping any in the course of their lives till the danger or article of their death. And concerning the Sacraments, they have egregiously prevaricated on two points. For, not to mention their reckoning of seven Sacraments (which we only reckon to be an unnecessary and unscholastical error), they take the one half of the principal away from the laity, and they institute little Sacraments of their own; they invent rites and annex spiritual graces to them, what they please themselves, of their own head, without a Divine warrant or institution; and at last persuade these people to that which can never be excused, at least from material idolatry (ibid., I. iii. 13).
The same also is the case in their worshipping the consecrated bread and wine; of which how far they will be excused before God by their ignorant pretensions and suppositions we know not; but they hope to save themselves harmless by saying that they believe the bread to be their Saviour, and that if they did not believe so they would not do so. We believe that they say true, but we are afraid that this will no more excuse them than it will excuse those who worship the sun and moon and the queen of heaven, whom they would not worship if they did not believe to have divinity in them. And it may be observed that they are very fond of that persuasion by which they are led into this worship. The error might be some excuse if it were probable, or if there were much temptation to it; but when they choose their persuasion, and have nothing for it but a tropical expression of Scripture, which rather than not believe in the natural, useless, and impossible sense, they will defy all their own reason, and four of the five operations of their soul seeing, smelling, tasting, and feeling and contradict the plain doctrine of the ancient Church, before they can consent to believe this error, that bread is changed into God and the priest can make his Maker; we have too much cause to fear that the error is too gross to admit an excuse; and it is hard to suppose it invincible and involuntary, because it is so hard and so untempting and so unnatural to admit the error. We do desire that God may find an excuse for it and that they would not (ibid. 12).
If to give honour to a creature be idolatry, then the doctors of the Church of Rome teach their people to commit idolatry; for they affirm that the same worship which is given to the prototype or principal, the same is to be given to the image of it. As we worship the Holy Trinity and Christ, so we may worship the images of the Trinity and Christ; that is, with latria, or “Divine honour.”
This is the constant sentence of the divines. “The image is to be worshipped with the same honour and worship with which we worship those whose image it is,” said Azorius, their great master of casuistical theology. And this is the doctrine of their great St. Thomas, of Alexander of Ales, Bonaventure, Albertus, Richardus, Capreolus, Cajetan, Coster, Valentia, Vasquez, the Jesuits of Cologne, Triers, and Mentz, approving Coster’s opinion (ibid., I., 12).
We complain greatly that this doctrine, which in all the parts of it is uncertain, and in the additions to it in Rome is certainly false, is yet, with all the faults of it, passed into an Article of faith by the Council of Trent. Besides what hath been said, it will be more than sufficient to oppose against it these clearest words of Scripture: “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; even so saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours.” If all the dead that die in Christ be at rest, and are in no more afflictions or labours, then the doctrine of the horrible pains of Purgatory is as false as it is uncomfortable. If the servant of Christ passeth from death to life, then not from death to the terminable pains of a part of hell (ibid. 4).
When the soul is gone out of the body, as death finds them, so shall the Day of Judgment find them. And this was the sense of the whole Church; for after death there is no change of state before the general trial, no passing from pain to rest in the state of separation, and therefore there are either no purgatory pains, or, if there be, there is no ease for them before the Day of Judgment, and the prayers and the Masses of the Church cannot give remedy to one poor soul (ibid. II. ii. 2).
If penances be never so great or never so little, yet it may be all supplied by indulgences, of which there are such a store in the Vatican at Rome that, as Pope Boniface said, no man is able to number them ; yet he confirmed them all. … A little alms to a priest, a small oblation to a church, a pilgrimage to the image or relics of a saint, wearing St. Francis’s cord, saying over the beads with an hallowed appendent, entering into a fraternity, praying at a privileged altar, leaving a legacy for a soul-Mass, visiting a privileged cemetery, and twenty other devices, will secure the sinner from suffering punishment here or hereafter, more than his friendly priest is pleased gently to impose. … The noise of penances need not trouble the greatest criminal, unless he be so unfortunate as to live in no country, and near no church, and without priest, or friend, or money, or notice of anything that is so loudly talked of in Christendom. If he be, he hath no help but one: he must live a holy and a severe life, which is the only great calamity which they are commanded to suffer in the Church of England; but if he be not, the case is plain: he may by their doctrine take his ease. … There is no foundation of truth in these new devices; but even the Roman doctors themselves, when they are pinched with an objection, let their hold go, and to escape, do in remarkable measures destroy their own new building (Dissuasive, I. ii. 3).
It is so wholly new, so merely devised, and forged by themselves, so newly erected out of nothing, from great mistakes of Scripture and dreams of shadows from antiquity, that we are to admonish our charges that they cannot reasonably expect many sayings of the primitive doctors against them, any more than against the new fancies of the Quakers which were born but yesterday (ibid. i. 3).
Attrition (which is a low and imperfect degree of sorrow for sin, or, as others say, a sorrow for sin commenced upon any reason of a religious hope, or fear, or desire, or anything else) is a sufficient disposition for a man in the Sacrament of Penance to receive absolution, and be justified before God by taking away the guilt of all his sins and the obligation to eternal pain. So that already the fear of hell is quite removed upon conditions so easy that many men take more pain to get a groat than by this doctrine we are obliged to for the curing and acquitting all the great sins of a whole life of the most vicious person in the world. And but that they affright their people with a fear of Purgatory, or with the severity of penances in case they will not venture for Purgatory (for by their doctrine they may choose or refuse either), there would be nothing in their doctrine or discipline to impede or slacken their proclivity to sin. But then they have as easy a cure for that too, with a little more charge sometimes, but most commonly with less trouble, for there so many confraternities, so many privileged churches, altars, monasteries, cemeteries, offices, festivals, and so free of concession of indulgences appendent to all these, and a thousand fine devices for taking away the fear of Purgatory, to commute or expiate penances, that in no sect of men do they with more ease and cheapness reconcile a wicked life with the hopes of heaven than in the Roman communion (Liberty of Prophesying 20).
My quarrel with the Church of Rome is greater and stronger upon such points that are not usually considered than it is upon the ordinary disputes, which have to no very great purpose so much disturbed Christendom; and I am more scandalized at her for teaching the sufficiency of attrition in the Sacrament, for indulging penances so frequently, for remitting all discipline, for making so great a part of religion to consist in externals and ceremonials, for putting more force and energy, and exacting with more severity the commandments of men than the precepts of justice and internal religion; lastly, besides many other things, for promising heaven to persons after a wicked life upon their impertinent cries and ceremonials transacted by the priests and the dying person. I confess I wish the zeal of Christendom were a little more active against these and the like doctrines, and that men would write and live more earnestly against them than as yet they have done (ibid.).
There is a proposition which indeed is new, but is now the general doctrine of the leading men in the Church of Rome, that if an opinion or speculation be “probable,” it may in practice be safely followed, and if it be inquired what is sufficient to make an opinion “probable,” the answer is easy. The opinion of anyone grave doctor is sufficient to make a matter “probable,” nay, ” the example and practice of good men,” that is, men who are so reputed; if they have done it, you may do so too and be safe. This is their great rule of conscience. And that is it which we complain of. And we have reason. For they suffer their casuists to determine all cases severely and gently, strictly and loosely, that so they may entertain all spirits, and please all dispositions, and govern them by their own inclinations and as they list to be governed by what may please them, not by that which profits them; that none may go away scandalized or grieved from their penitential chairs. But upon this account it is a sad reckoning which can be made concerning souls in the Church of Rome. Suppose one great doctor amongst them (as many do) shall say it is lawful to kill a king whom the Pope declares heretic. By the doctrine of “probability,” here is his warranty. And though the Church do not declare that doctrine that is, the Church do not make it certain in speculation yet it may be safely done in practice; here is enough to give peace of conscience to him that does it; nay, if the contrary be more safe, yet if the other be but “probable” by reason of authority, you may do the less safe and refuse what is more. For that also is the opinion of some grave doctors. If one doctor says it is safe to swear a thing as of our knowledge which we do not know, but believe it is so, it is therefore “probable” that it is so lawful to swear it because a grave doctor says it, and then it is safe enough to do so (Dissuasive, I. ii. 7).
“To him that asks you again for what you have paid him already, you may safely say you never had anything of him, meaning so as to owe it him now.” It is the doctrine of Emanuel Sa and Sanchez, which we understand to be a great lie and a great sin. If a man asks his wife if she be an adulteress, though she be, she may say she is not, if in her mind she secretly say, “Not with a purpose to tell you”; so Cardinal Tolet teaches. And if a man swears to a thief that he will give him twenty crowns, he may secretly say, “If I please to do so,” and then he is not bound. … Now, by these doctrines a man is taught how to be an honest thief, and to keep what he is bound to restore, and by them we may not only deceive our brother, but the law; and not the law only, but God also, even with an oath; if the matter be but small, it never makes God angry with you or puts you out of the state of grace; but if the matter be great, yet to prevent a great trouble to yourself, you may conceal a truth by saying that which is false, according to the general doctrine of the late casuists. … A man may do these vile things (for so we understand them to be) and find justification and warranty, and shall not be affrighted with the terrors of damnation, nor the imposition of penances; he may for all these things be a good Catholic, though, it may be, not a very good Christian (ibid. 3).
“The Pope can dispense supra jus, contra jus, above law and against law and right,” said Marconius in his book” Of the Majesty of the Militant Church”; “for the Pope’s tribunal and God’s is but one, and therefore every reasonable creature is subject to the Pope’s empire,” said the same author. … As the Pope by his dispensations undertakes to dissolve the ordinances of God, so also the most solemn contracts of men. … And now, if it be considered what influence these doctrines have upon societies and communities of men, they will need no further reproof than a mere enumeration of the mischiefs they produce. They by this means legitimate adulterous and incestuous marriages and disannul lawful contracts; they give leave to a spouse to break his or her vow and promise, and to children to disobey their parents, and perhaps to break their mother’s heart or to undo a family. No words can bind your faith, because you can be dispensed with; and if you swear you will not procure a dispensation, you can as well be dispensed with for that perjury as the other; and you cannot be tied so fast but the Pope can unloose you. So that there is no certainty in your promise to God or faith to man; in judicatories to magistrates, or in contract to merchants; not the duty of children to their parents, of husbands to their wives, or wives to their contracted husbands; of a Catholic to a heretic; and, last of all, a subject to his prince cannot be bound so strictly, but if the prince be not of the Pope’s persuasion, or be by him judged a tyrant, his subjects shall owe him no obedience (ibid. iii.).
As the Church of Rome does great injury to Christendom in taking from the people what Christ gave them in the matter of the Sacrament, so she also deprives them of very much of the benefit which they might receive by their holy prayers if they were suffered to pray in public in a language they understand; but that is denied to the common people, to their very great prejudice and injury, concerning which, although it is as possible to reconcile adultery with the seventh commandment as service in a language not understood to the fourteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, and that therefore, if we can suppose that the apostolical age did follow the apostolical rule, it must be concluded that the practice of the Church of Rome is contrary to the practice of the primitive Church; yet, besides this, we have thought fit to declare the plain sense and practice of the succeeding ages in a few testimonies, but so pregnant as not to be avoided.
The Bishop then quotes Origen, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Basil, Augustine, and refers to the translations of Jerome and Ulphilas, and continues:
Now, if the words of the Apostle and the practice of the primitive Church, the sayings of the Fathers, and the confessions of wise men among themselves, if the consent of nations and the piety of our forefathers, if right reason and the necessity of the thing, if the needs of the ignorant and the very inseparable conditions of holy prayers, if the laws of princes and the laws of the Church, which do require all our prayers to be said by them that understand what they say, if all these cannot prevail with the Church of Rome to do so much good to the people’s souls as to consent, they should understand what in particular they are to ask of God; certainly there is a great pertinacity of opinion, and but a little charity to those precious souls for whom Christ died, and for whom they must give account (ibid. i. 7).
They believe as their priest bids them, and go to Mass, which they understand not, and reckon their beads to tell the number and the tale of their prayers, and abstain from eggs and flesh in Lent, and visit St. Patrick’s well, and leave pins and ribbons, yarn or thread, in their holy wells, and pray to God, St. Mary and St. Patrick, St. Columbanus and St. Bridget, and desire to be buried with St. Francis’s cord about them, and to fast on Saturdays in honour of Our Lady. These and so many other things of like nature we see daily that we, being conscious of the infinite distance which these things have from the spirit of Christianity, know that no charity can be greater than to persuade the people to come to our churches, where they shall be taught all the ways of godly wisdom, of peace and safety to their souls, whereas now there are many of them that know not how to say their prayers, but mutter, like pyes and parrots, words which they are taught, but they do not pretend to understand … for the numerous companies of priests and friars amongst them take care they shall know nothing of religion but what they design for them. They use all means to keep them to the use of the Irish tongue, lest if they learn English, they might be supplied with persons fitter to instruct them. The people are taught to make that also their excuse for not coming to our churches to hear our advices, or converse with us on religious intercourses, because they understand us not; and they will not understand us, neither will they learn that they may understand and live. And this and many other evils are made greater and more irremediable by the affrightment which their priests put upon them; by the issue of ecclesiastical jurisdiction (they are now exercising it too publicly) they give them laws not only for religion, but even for temporal things. So that as it is certain that the Roman religion, as it stands in distinction and separation from us, is a body of strange propositions, having but little relish of true primitive Christianity; so it is here amongst us a faction and a State party, and design to recover their old laws and barbarous manner of living, a device to enable them to live alone, and to be a people of one language and unmingled with others. And if this be religion, it is such a one as ought to be reproved by all the severities of reason and religion, but the people perish, and their souls be cheaply given away to them that make merchandize of souls, who were the purchase and price of Christ’s blood (Preface to Dissuasive).
When the keepers of the field slept and the enemy had sown tares, and they had choked the wheat and almost destroyed it when the world complained of the infinite errors in the Church, and being oppressed by a violent power, durst not complain so much as they had cause … then it was that divers Christian kingdoms, and particularly the Church of England, being ashamed of the errors, superstitions, heresies, and impieties which had deturpated the face of the Church, looked in the glass of Scripture and pure antiquity, and washed away those stains with which time and inadvertency and tyranny had besmeared her, and being thus cleansed and washed, is accused by the Roman parties of novelty, and condemned because she refuses to run into the same excess of riot and deordination. But we cannot deserve blame who return to our ancient and first health by preferring a new cure before an old sore (Dissuasive, I. i. ii).
To the Churches of the Roman communion we can say that ours is reformed; to the reformed Churches we can say that ours is orderly and decent; for we were freed from the imposition and lasting errors of a tyrranical spirit, and yet from the extravagancies of a popular spirit too. Our reformation was done without tumult, and yet we saw it necessary to reform; we were zealous to throw away the old errors, but our zeal was balanced with consideration and the results of authority; but, like women or children when they are affrighted with fire in their clothes, we shaked off the coal indeed, but not our garments, lest we should have exposed our Churches to their nakedness which the excellent men of our sister Churches complained to be among themselves. And indeed it is no small advantage to our Liturgy that it was the offspring of all that authority which was to prescribe in matters of religion. The King and the priest, which are the antistites religionis and the preservers of both the tables, joined in this work, and the people, as it was represented in Parliament, were advised withal in authorising the form after much deliberation; for the rule,” Quod spectat ad omnes ab omnibus tractari debet” was here observed with strictness (Preface to Apology for Authorized and Set Forms of Liturgy).
If these things can consist with the duty of Christians not only to eat what they worship, but to adore those things with divine worship which are not God; to reconcile a wicked life with certain hopes and expectations of heaven at last, and to place these hopes upon other things than God, and to damn all the world that are not Christians, at this rate, then we have lost the true measure of Christianity; and the doctrine and discipline of Christ is not a natural and rational religion, not a religion that makes men holy, but a confederacy under the conduct of a sect; and it must rest in forms and ceremonies and devices of man’s invention. And although we do not doubt but that the goodness of God does so prevail over all the follies and malice of mankind that there are in the Roman communion many very good Christians, yet they are not such as they are Papists, but by something that is higher and before that, something that is of an abstract or more sublime consideration. And though the good people among them are what they are by the grace and goodness of God, yet by all or any of these opinions they are not so; but the very best suffer diminution and alloy by these things, and very many more are wholly subverted and destroyed (Dissuasive, I. i. 2).
Bishop Jeremy Taylor, speaking of St. Augustine’s teaching on the Holy Communion, says that it is so evident that he was a Protestant in this article that truly it is a strange boldness to deny it; and upon equal terms no man’s mind in the world could be known; for if all that he says in this question shall be reconcilable to transubstantiation, I know no reason but it may be possible but a witty man may pretend when I am dead that in this discourse I have pleaded for the doctrines of the Roman Church (Real Presence, xii. 30). What the good Bishop thought so impossible has come about. Not merely a witty man, but a society, professing to consist of men, women, and children, communicants or members of the Church of England, has pretended that in this discourse the Bishop has pleaded for the doctrines of the Roman Church, namely, that in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper the Bread and Wine through the operation of the Holy Ghost become, in and by consecration, verily and indeed the Body and Blood of Christ, and that Christ present in the same Most Holy Sacrament of the altar under the form of Bread and Wine, is to be worshipped and adored. Being shown that they have misrepresented Bishop Taylor (as they have misquoted Bishop Andrewes and misrepresented other authorities whom they cite), they have made no apology, no explanation, no sign. They allow judgment to go by default. How entirely opposed the Bishop is to the doctrine of the E.C.U. Declaration (which doctrine in several places he pronounces idolatrous) may be seen from the extracts given in this chapter. Further proof may be found in sections iv. to vii. of the treatise on the Real Presence.