Trialogus. Chapter 8. Showing That the Body of Christ Doth Not Corrupt
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3 min read
The follies to which you have been giving vent, have sent me into a long nap; but now I must awake a little, and confute them. In the first place, you cannot escape from this expository syllogism:—First, This bread becomes corrupt, or is eaten by a mouse. Second, The same bread is the body of Christ. Third, Therefore the body of Christ does thus become corrupt, and is thus eaten;—and thus you are involved in inconsistency.
It hath been a false sleep in which you have indulged, methinks, with but too much of the sophist and the fox in it. Think of what has been said before concerning the Trinity, and the incarnation, and concerning universals, and then you will blush in the midst of your subtleties. I deny, then, the argument which you call an expository syllogism. It is a deceptive paralogism. For, if in the matter of the Trinity it follows, not that this essence is the Father, and this same essence the Son, much more clearly, then, doth it not follow in the syllogising resorted to in your obscure reasoning? In the same manner, it doth not follow in the matter of the incarnation, that because this person is this humanity, and this same person is this Divinity, that, therefore, this humanity is this Divinity. And 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. And thus must the conclusion be adapted to all other paralogisms. An example of this is found in Scripture. It doth not follow because the Baptist is Elias, and this Baptist was at that time born of Zacharias and Elizabeth, that Elias was, therefore, so born. Accordingly, we must not, by reason of this word of Christ, true as it is, apply to the Baptist all that may be formally predicated of Elias, or the contrary. This becomes obvious, whenever we resolve propositions into their general signification. How can it be shown, that if that bread is sacramentally the figure of the body of Christ, and that bread has been baked, that the body of Christ was at that time baked?
Still will your heretical evasions be manifest, for according to your meaning, it must be granted, that writing, utterance, and anything that might be laid down as a sign of the body of Christ, would be so figuratively, and so really the very body of Christ. But who could ever enumerate all the incongruities that would follow from such a doctrine, for as regards the principle of symbolic predication, reason is in as much agreement with the one side as with the other?
The believer will yet escape many such arguments, because, unless you can prove that the being imposing the sign or term to be a sign of the body of Christ, or to be a sign of anything else, is He who spake and it was done, and cannot lie, your seeming argument must be defective. Accordingly, there is nothing you can identify with any other thing, until this paramount authority has been communicated to your ally, whoever he be, who imposes it; and since you cannot avail yourself of this power, you may blush at the baseness of your sophistry. Accordingly, I admit the authority of these words of Scripture, not because they are of human imposition, but because the Scripture in the first place so speaks. Thus, in consequence of maintaining this special reverence for Scripture, I humbly admit the aforesaid conclusion without reserve, being certain that no part of the Holy Writings can be false. What, therefore, is it to me, that signs or terms have been imposed with such a designation? I shall not, on that account, change my reply as to the doctrine on such subjects which I have learned from Scripture.