Old Anglicanism and Modern Ritualism. Chapter 7: Bishop Beveridge and Others
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Bishop Bull and Bishop Beveridge are two of the latest of the Caroline divines, as Bishop Andrewes and Archbishop Laud are among the earliest of them. Bull and Beveridge carry us over into the eighteenth century, as Hooker, the originator of the school, with whom our series began, belongs in part to the sixteenth. From the first to the last no difference is to be found in the seventeenth-century divines in their attitude towards Rome. It was an attitude of open hostility, which nothing but a reformation of the Roman Church in its head and its members, in its doctrine and its discipline, could remove or appease. Beveridge was born in 1638, and died Bishop of St. Asaph in 1708. His two greatest works are his Pandectae Canonum SS. Apostolorum et Conciliorum and his Codex Canonum Ecclesiae Primitivae. No fewer than 128 of his sermons have been preserved, most of which might be preached in our pulpits of the present day. The following extracts are taken from his Discourse upon the Thirty-nine Articles :
Holy Scripture containeth nothing but the will of God, so that there is nothing necessary to be believed concerning God, nor done in obedience unto God by us, but what is here revealed to us; and therefore all traditions of men which are contrary to this Word of God are necessarily to be abhorred, and all traditions of men not recorded in this Word of God are not necessarily to be believed. What is here written we are bound to believe, because it is written; and what is not here written we are not bound to believe, because it is not written (Discourse, etc., p. 191).
Whatsoever other things the Papists would obtrude upon us as sacraments, it is certain that we find our Saviour solemnly instituting two, and but two, sacraments in the New Testament to wit, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. And therefore, when the Apostle compares the law with the Gospel, he instanceth in these two sacraments only, and none else (1 Corinthians 10:2, 3). And he again joins these two together (1 Corinthians 12:13). And if we look into the Fathers, we shall find them, when speaking of the sacraments of the New Testament, still mentioning neither fewer nor more than two, even Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (ibid. p. 441).
Scripture and Fathers holding forth so clearly that whosoever worthily receives the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper doth certainly partake of the body and blood of Christ, the devil thence took occasion to draw men into an opinion that the bread which is used in that sacrament is the very body that was crucified upon the cross, and the wine, after consecration, the very blood that gushed out of His pierced side. The time when this opinion was first broached was in the days of Gregory III. Pope of Rome. The persons that were the principal abettors of it were Damascen in the Eastern, and afterwards Amalarius in the Western Churches. But Rabanus Maurus, Ratramnus or Bertramnus, as also Johannes Scotus Erigena, not only stuck at it, but refused it, and wrote against it as a poisonous error. And after them Berengarius, too, who was not only written against by Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, but condemned for it. But in the Lateran Council, held an. 1215, the opinion of the real or carnal presence of Christ was not only confirmed, but the word “transubstantiated” was newly coined to express it by (ibid. p. 470).
Now, as Bellarmine himself acknowledgeth, this proposition, “This is My body,” cannot possibly be taken any other ways than significatively, so as that the sense should be, “This bread signifies My body, is a sign or sacrament of it,” it being absolutely impossible that bread should be the very body of Christ (Bell, “De Euchar.,” i. i); for if it be bread and yet the very body of Christ too, then bread and the body of Christ would be convertible terms. So that the very words of institution themselves are sufficient to convince any rational man, whose reason is not darkened by prejudice, that that of which our Lord said “This is My body” was real bread, and so His body only in a figurative or sacramental sense; and by consequence, that the bread was not turned into His body, but His body was only represented by the bread (ibid. p. 477).
The sacramental bread and wine being vainly fancied to be changed into the very body and blood of Christ, it was presently conceived that something more than ordinary honour should be conferred upon it yea, that it was not only to be eaten, but laid up privately yea, carried about publicly, lifted up and worshipped, too, and that with the same worship which is due to the true and living God; and therefore have they appointed a certain holy day too, which they call Corpus Christi day, whereon the sacramental bread might be annually carried about and religiously worshipped. Now we having proved that this bread is not the very body of Christ, but bread still, after as well as before consecration, we have overthrown the very foundations of their gross superstition (ibid. p. 487).
When our Lord Christ instituted the sacrament of His Supper, He was pleased to ordain two signs to be used in the administration of it, bread and wine, the one to represent His body, the other His blood. But about four hundred years ago the Church of Rome, for reasons best known to herself, thought good to make a countermand, that bread and wine should not be administered to all communicants, but that the lay people should be content with the bread only without the wine yea, and the clergy, too, if there were any present besides him that consecrated it. So that in few words they ordained and still use to deny the cup, and to administer the bread only to all the communicants, the priest that consecrates it reserving every drop of the wine for himself. Now against this wild practice of the Church of Rome our Church of England is pleased to set herself, determining that the cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay people. … We see how from our Saviour’s time, for thirteen or fourteen hundred years together, the cup was administered as well as the bread to all; and therefore we may well conclude it ought to be denied to none (ibid. p. 496).
The Papists avouch that in this Mass they offer up a true and perfect sacrifice to God, propitiatory for the sins of the people, even as Christ did when He offered up Himself to God as a propitiation for our sins. This is that which the Church of Rome confidently affirms, and which our Church doth as confidently deny. And that, first, because it is contrary to the Scriptures; for the Scriptures plainly hold forth Christ only as offering up Himself, and that once for all. … And as this doctrine is contrary to Scripture, so is it repugnant to reason too, there being so vast a difference between a sacrament and a sacrifice: for in a sacrament God offereth something to man, but in a sacrifice man offers something to God. What is offered in a sacrifice is wholly or in part destroyed (Bell., ” De Miss.,” i. 2), but what is offered in a sacrament still remaineth. … To which we might also add that, according to this opinion, Christ offered up Himself before He offered up Himself; I mean He offered up Himself in the sacrament before He offered up Himself on the Cross; which offering up Himself in the sacrament was either a perfect or an imperfect sacrifice or oblation. To say that Christ should offer up an imperfect sacrifice to God is next door to blasphemy; but yet a perfect one that sacrifice could not be, for then it need not have been repeated on the Cross. … If they will still call it a sacrifice, they must acknowledge it is such a sacrifice wherein there is nothing but bread and wine offered to God, and by consequence no propitiatory sacrifice. But neither is this doctrine contrary to Scripture and reason only, but to the Fathers also. … By this we may see in what sense the ancients called the Eucharist a sacrifice; not as if it was a true or proper sacrifice itself, but only the commemoration or representation of that one and only true and proper sacrifice offered up by Christ Himself. And so all the sacrifices of Mass are at the best but dangerous deceits (ibid. p. 505).
Although both Scripture, reason and the Fathers determine that we cannot merit any thing of ourselves from God, but that we are justified by Christ’s merits imputed to us, not by any works performed by ourselves, yet there are a sort of people in the world that would persuade us that we may not only merit for ourselves, but do and suffer more than in justice can be here required of us; and what we thus do or suffer more than we are bound to, though it be superfluous as to ourselves, being abundantly supplied by our other good works, yet it is not superfluous as to others : but whatsoever anyone thus doth or suffereth more and above his duty, it is thrown into the common stock or treasury of the Church, out of which such as lack may be supplied. And out of this common treasury or magazine it is that their Church doth fetch all their Indulgences, which are indeed nothing else but the distribution of the several satisfactions made by the supererogatory works of others to such as themselves see fit, viz., to such as will give most money for them. If I commit a great sin for which I must do great penance, this penance can by no means be pardoned or remitted to me, unless I make complete satisfaction for the sin committed some other ways. Now seeing there are several in the world (as they pretend) that have performed more works and suffered more penances and more punishments than were due to their own sins, if I will sue out for them, these supererogatory works and sufferings undergone and performed by them may be granted out to me; and so I, being looked upon as undergoing this penance in others, am freed from it in myself. They have done more than was required; I am loath to do as much as is required : and therefore what they have done more than is required of them, I buy, to satisfy for what I do less than is required of me. And so my defect is cured by their excess. Art XIV. is composed to awake us out of these profitable and pleasant but sinful dreams, it being both an arrogant, proud, and impious thing for anyone to say he can do more than God commands, and so be able to satisfy for others as well as for himself (ibid. p. 318).
We find it said in the Books of Indulgences or Pardons that “in the Chapel of the Saints there are twenty-eight stairs that stood before the house of Pilate in Jerusalem : whosoever shall ascend those stairs with devotion hath for every sin nine years of pardons; but he that ascends them kneeling shall free one soul out of Purgatory.” So that it seems the Pope can not only give me a pardon for sins past, but to come; yea, and not only give me a pardon for my own sins, but power too to pardon other men’s sins, else I could not redeem a soul from Purgatory.
I have been the larger in opening this great Romish mystery because I need do no more than open it; for it being thus opened shows itself to be a ridiculous and impious doctrine utterly repugnant to the Scriptures. For this doctrine thus explained is grounded upon works of supererogation; for it is from the treasury of these good works that the Romish Church fetcheth all her pardons. Now, this is but a bad foundation, contrary to Scripture, reason, and the Fathers; and if the foundation be rotten, the superstructure cannot be sound. Again, this doctrine supposes one man may and doth satisfy for another, whereas the Scripture holds forth Christ as our only propitiation. Lastly, this doctrine supposes that a Pope, a priest, a finite creature, can pardon sins, whereas the Scripture holds forth this as the prerogative only of the true God (ibid. p. 406).
I cannot see but that the heathens might have as much to say for their worshipping of idols as the Papists can have for their worshipping of images, for the heathens idols were most of them images ; and so are the Papists images all idols. And as images are not to be worshipped simply in themselves, so neither ought they to be worshipped relatively, as they represent that which we ought to worship, for it is impossible that anything which we ought to worship should be represented by an image; for there is no person or thing in the world that ought to be religiously worshipped but only God. … And if they will not stand to Scripture or reason, let them consult the Fathers. … Or if they will not stand to the determination of the Fathers, let them refer it to the Councils. … It is no new thing that our reverend Convocation did, when they deter mined that the worshipping of images is a fond thing, and repugnant to the Word of God (ibid. p. 411).
Let them tell me, Are these Relics creatures or no? If they will assert and prove them to be no creatures, they may well be worshipped; and if they worship them, they do in that assert them to be no creatures; for certainly none but God ought to be worshipped, and whatsoever may be truly worshipped is God. … Certainly, if there be any doctrines in the world repugnant to the Word of God, this and the former (image worship) are to be reckoned as the principal of them all; whereby not only creatures but the very images and relics of creatures are held to have the worship of the true God due unto them (ibid. p. 416).
It is God that is the only Person in the world that ought to be religiously worshipped; thence it plainly follows, that God is only to be prayed to; for invocation is the principal part of religious worship, insomuch that it is sometimes put for the whole. He alone may be worshipped that is to be called upon; and he alone may be called upon who may be worshipped. And so he that may not be worshipped ought not to be called upon; and therefore seeing it is not lawful to worship the saints, it cannot be lawful to call upon them. … Certainly we can do no less than conclude it to be a fond thing and repugnant to the Word of God, and say with the ancient Council of Frankfurt (794 AD Can. 42), That no saints should be either worshipped or invocated or prayed to by us (ibid., p. 420).
First, they decree Mass should be so performed that the people might not hear it, and then that it should be so performed that, if they did hear it, they might not understand it. Now against this vain and sinful custom and practice of the Church of Rome our Church doth set down Art. XXIV., that those public services should be administered in a language understood by the people, and that the contrary is repugnant to the Word of God and the practice of the Primitive Church. … But we have a generation now sprung up that think themselves wiser than their Maker and Redeemer, and know better what language His sacraments are to be administered in than Himself did. … By their own confession, it is a thing repugnant to the custom of the Primitive Church to have public prayers or the sacraments administered in an unknown tongue (ibid. p. 430).
St. Ambrose saith, ” All the Apostles are said to have had wives except St. John and St. Paul.” But Ignatius, that “Peter and Paul and others of the Apostles were married.” St. Basil, “Peter and the other Apostles.” … And if we consult the primitive Church in this particular we shall find it following of the Apostles steps. … The first that set himself against it was Pope Siricius, after him Innocent I., John XIII., Leo IX., and others; but the most implacable enemy was Gregory VII., or Pope Hildebrand, about the year 1073, about which time also it began to be prohibited here in England; after him Calixtus II., Alexander III., and others of the same rank; and as one of them succeeded another in the See of Rome, so still one excelled another in inveighing against this sacred truth, till they are now come to that height as not to be ashamed to say, “Sacerdos si fornicetur aut domi concubinam foveat, tametsi gravi sacrilegio se obstringat, gravius tamen peccat si matrimonium contrahat.” … This doctrine they stand so stiff for is but the doctrine of devils (q Timothy 4:2), which we who desire still to stand fast to the doctrine of God dare not but deny (ibid. p. 511).
Though they that went before St. Gregory in this bishopric had refused the title of Universal Bishop and himself had said so much against it (a “foolish, frivolous, proud, new, profane, pestiferous, superstitious, perverse, wicked, yea a blasphemous name ” Greg., ” Epist.”), yet they that came after him both sought for it and at length attained to it. For after that Gregory and his immediate successor Sabinian (who sat in the chair not wholly two years) were dead, Boniface III., his next successor, obtained of Phocas the Emperor (and murderer of Mauritius) that the Church of Rome should be called the head of all Churches and so the Bishop of that place an universal or oecumenical Bishop. And ever since that time hath the Church of Rome pretended to an universal authority over all the Churches in the world, her Bishop looking upon himself as an universal Bishop. The Bishop of Rome having thus stretched his name beyond his power, he presently labours to extend his power as far as his name, and having once got name of Universal Pope, he takes occasion from that to endeavour after an universal power. And for an accomplishment of his design, as the Emperor s power grew weaker and weaker in the East, he made his grow stronger in the West, till at the length, about the year 680, Benedict II. wholly shook off the Emperor’s jurisdiction; and afterwards by the help of the French Kings he much enlarged the territories both of his spiritual and temporal dominions : and at length, amongst other nations he had got footing in England too, yea so far that in the days of King John he had gotten an absolute surrender both of England and Ireland to himself, which were granted back again by him to the King, to hold of him and his successors in the see of Rome, in fee farm and vassalage. And so the Bishop of Rome for a while kept this nation in slavery, till at last his yoke grew so heavy that neither King nor people could endure it any longer, but both endeavoured to shake it off. And to this end were there laws made in the time of Edward I., II., III., Richard II., Henry IV. against this foreign usurpation; but it was not totally abolished till the time of Henry VI II in whose days there were several statutes made whereby all ecclesiastical as well as temporal power was reduced within his Majesty’s dominion, and no foreign power whatsoever suffered to have any jurisdiction in any of the territories belonging to him : which statutes were afterwards reviewed and confirmed again in the days of Queen Elizabeth; and for the further confirmation of it, we have it also inserted amongst our Articles that “the Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England.” He hath no jurisdiction, neither spiritual nor temporal (ibid. p. 573).
The above extracts are sufficient to show how Bishop Beveridge felt towards Rome. As an appendix I add a few passages taken from one and another of the remaining seventeenth-century theologians, indicative of their sentiments.
I make not the least doubt in the world but that the Church of England before the Reformation and the Church of England after the Reformation are as much the same Church as a garden before it is weeded and after it is weeded is the same garden; or a vine before it be pruned and after it be pruned and freed from the luxuriant branches is one and the same vine (Just Vindication, i. 2).
It is not only the abuse of some preachers of Indulgences, but much more the abuse of Indulgences themselves which we complain of: that a treasury should be composed of the Blood of Christ and the sufferings and supererogatory works of the saints, to be disposed of by the Pope for money. What is this but to mingle heaven and earth together, the imperfect works of man with the sacrificed blood of Christ ? Neither was it the doctrine and abuse of Indulgences alone, but the injunction to adore the sacrament also, and Communion in one kind, and the new Creed of Pius IV. or the new articles since comprised in the Creed, and the monarchy of the Pope by Divine right and sundry other abuses and innovations all put together, which gave just cause to some Protestants to separate themselves, so far as they were active in the separation. But we in England were first chased away by the Pope’s Bull (Replication to the Bishop of Chalcedon, i. 3).
The Church of Rome by infidelity may be cut off, as well as any other congregation, and yet the Catholic Church subsist for all that, as having for her foundation neither Rome nor Rome’s Bishop, but Jesus Christ the Son of the living God. And yet this proud dame and her daughters, the particular Church of Rome I mean, and that which they call the Catholic Roman (or the faction, rather, that prevaileth in them both) have in these latter ages confined the whole Church of Christ within themselves, and excluded all others, that were not under the Roman obedience, as aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise. … Popery is nothing else but the botch or the plague of the Church, which hazardeth the souls of those it seizeth upon, as much as any infection can do the body. And therefore if anyone will needs be so fool-hardy as to take up his lodging in such a pest-house, after warning given of the present danger, we in our charity may well say, “Lord, have mercy on him”; but he in the meantime hath great cause to fear that God in His justice will inflict that judgment upon him which in this case He had threatened against such as will not believe the truth, but take pleasure in unrighteousness.
“Where was your Church before Luther?” Even there where it now is. In all places of the world, where the ancient foundations were retained, and these common principles of faith, upon the profession whereof men have ever been wont to be admitted by baptism into the Church of Christ, there we doubt not but our Lord had His subjects and we our fellow-servants; for we bring in no new faith nor no new Church. That which in the time of the ancient Fathers was accounted to be ” truly, and properly Catholic,” namely, “that which was believed everywhere, always, and by all,” that in the succeeding ages hath evermore been preserved, and is at this day entirely professed by our Church (The Universality of the Church of Christ).
The Church of England, in whose motherhood we have all just cause to pride ourselves, hath in much wisdom and piety, delivered her judgment concerning all necessary points of religion in so complete a body of divinity as all hearts may rest in : these we read, these we write under, as professing not their truth only, but their sufficiency also. The voice of God our Father in His Scriptures, and (out of them) the voice of the Church our mother in her Articles, is that which must both guide and settle our resolutions; whatsoever is besides these is but either private or unnecessary and uncertain. Let us hate to think ourselves either wiser than the Church or better than our superiors; and if any man think that he sees further than his fellows in these
theological prospects, let his tongue keep the counsels of his eyes; lest while he affects the fame of deeper learning, he embroil the Church and raise his glory upon the public ruins. … Salvation consists not in a formality of profession, but in a soundness of belief. A true body may be full of mortal diseases; so is the Roman Church of this day, whom we have long pitied and laboured to cure in vain. If she will not be healed by us, let us not be infected by her; let us be no less jealous of her contagion than she is of our remedies. Hold fast that precious truth which hath been long taught you by faithful pastors, confirmed by clear evidences of Scriptures, evinced by sound reasons, sealed up by the blood of our blessed martyrs! (The Old Religion).
In the Roman Church, which prides itself on the specious title of antiquity and succession, ignorance derived from the barbarous ages, supported by the authority of one or two Councils, occupies the citadel where truth ought to be supreme. A piety made up of the pettiest observances and a vain desire of meriting God’s favour by the use of ill-conceived formulas, and an excessive admiration of a holiness invented by themselves, have introduced into Divine worship a veneration of angels and of men and of images, and have overwhelmed simple piety, by its association with novel religious practices and an infinite heap of ceremonies. The extravagant power of one chief Bishop has robbed all the other prelates of their rights and absorbed them, has diminished the rightful authority of the ancient canons by novel decretals, and has irremediably corrupted the wholesome discipline of the Church.
Happy was the Anglican Church in her Reformation, which, as impatient as others of a foreign yoke and tyranny, as warm in her love of truth, as quick-sighted for corruptions and errors, yet was not driven forward by a rash impetuosity or lust of novelty, but without tumult and without war, supported by the highest authority in the realm, and conscious of the importance and necessity of the work in hand, was no less concerned to preserve than to take away and alter. … Here, then, the mind that is zealous for the faith once delivered to the saints can freely, securely, and happily exert itself. Here the decrees of the Apostles, the discipline of the primitive Church, the uninterrupted succession of Bishops, the vigils and fasts of the earliest times and their very prayers, prevail; the courage of confessors, the glorious sufferings of martyrs, the disputes of the Catholics with heretics, are honoured and remembered. We accept whatever is redolent of the piety of the earliest Christians : we reject nothing except innovation, barbarism, and false sanctity (Oration at Cambridge).
It would not be difficult to select other passages; but I have done enough to show that till the present day there was no unwholesome tenderness towards the Church of Rome and her doctrines among the Highest Churchmen of the Anglican Communion.