Trialogus. Chapter 9. Whether Two Bodies May Be at Once in the Same Place
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4 min read
I see that you blush not to oppose both philosophers and theologians, by propositions which carry their own refutation along with them; for all men of sound mind suppose that it is impossible for two bodies to be in the same place, which you, nevertheless, intimate as possible, in what you say about the body of the bread, and the body of Christ.
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.
But the second equivocation of the adverbs is of this sort, that they are understood sometimes simply, as a thing is said to be corporeally elsewhere, when it is there after the manner of the body. And so some understand that the body of Christ is, in the host, corporeally, substantially, and essentially. This mode of expression can be confirmed by the apostle (Colossians 2.) who says, that “in Christ dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily;”—not that the Godhead could exist bodily, but because many heretics shrink from the idea that Christ should be himself the Godhead, since he is body, the apostle tells us, that in Christ, existing bodily, that is, after the manner of the body, dwells the Godhead himself identically; and so the Godhead, though not in its nature a bodily existence, is yet a body, existing bodily in Christ. Let no one suppose, that by taking this reduplicatively, that Christ is corporeally the Godhead, since he is body, because, then, in as far as he was body, by consequence, the whole of his body would be the Godhead itself.
It seems to me, that you depart alike from the church and from Scripture, since, according to your statements, a layman might officiate in this sacrament as well as a priest, and the church would then be in doubt which host to worship.
I see that you do not apprehend the ulterior arguments in this matter, and thus you introduce difficulties foreign to the subject. For the church, owing to the great subtlety of the subject, and her zeal after temporal things, has given but too little attention to this point, the pope and all his cardinals having but a very imperfect notion concerning it. But, by the grace of Christ, I will maintain the sense of Scripture, and keep clear of the heresy which teaches, that “if the pope and cardinals assert them to be the sense of Scripture, therefore so it is,” because then they would be set up above the apostles. But, further, in regard to your logic, it seems probable, from many reasons, that for a layman to have the power of celebrating, and for a layman to have the power of rightly celebrating, are much the same thing. In the first place, this admission, according to your logic, must be conceded. And, again, many men consecrated as presbyters are imbecile; and so, at the pleasure of some, even the laity themselves often celebrate it. And, again, in the equivocation about the consecrating, it must, it seems, be granted, that the laity can officiate, and even consecrate, as the blessed Cecilia consecrated a house for her church. Nay, I believe you cannot show, that when the Christians brake bread from house to house, as we read, Acts 2., that the bread broken was not the body of Christ, and that the apostles or elders were the only persons who so did. But leaving this uncertain, it appears to me that this office becomes consecrated priests, since Christ specially enjoined upon them so to do, when he said, “As often as ye eat this bread,” &c. So, then, wherever Christ operateth with a man, then, and then only, doth he consummate the sacrament; and this should ever be admitted and remembered by our priests. Nevertheless, because this is not an article of faith, there is no necessity for its being believed by the church: but it may be left as a probable supposition, and there is no need of quarrelling, therefore, inasmuch as there are a number of things which may be proposed to the Christian, which he should neither admit, deny, nor doubt,—as, if I were asked whether I am destined to be saved; or about one who has sinned grievously, whether he will be damned, as finally obstinate,—about such things, I neither admit, deny, nor doubt. And so, on seeing the host, I worship it conditionally, and the body of the Lord above, I adore fully. And, so, my answer to the six preceding arguments may be used as a means of doing away with similar ones.