238. A FRUITFUL DIALOGUE DECLARING THESE WORDS OF CHRIST, THIS IS MY BODY.
Custom and Verity.
Custom.--"I marvel much what madness hath crept into those men's hearts, which now-a-days are not ashamed so violently to tread down the lively word of God, yea, and impudently to deny God himself."
Verity.--"God forbid there should be any such. Indeed I remember that the Romish bishop was wont to have the Bible for his footstool, and so to tread down God's word evermore, when he stood at his mass. But, thanks be to God, he is now detected, and his abominations he opened and blown throughout all the world. And I hear of no more that oppress God's word."
Custom.--"No more! say you? Yes, doubtless, there are a hundred thousand more, and your part it is, Verity, to withstand them."
Verity.--"As touching my part, you know it agreeth not with my nature to stand with falsehood. But what are they? Disclose them if you will have them reproved."
Custom.--"What! are you so great a stranger in these quarters? Hear you not how that men do daily speak against the sacrament of the altar, denying it to be the real body of Christ?"
Verity.--"In good sooth I have been a great while abroad, and returned but of late into this country: wherefore you must pardon me, if my answer be to seek in such questions. But go forth in your tale. You have been longer here, and are better acquainted than I. What say they more than this?"
Custom.--"Than this? Why, what can they possibly say more?"
Verity.--"Yes, there are many things worse than this: for this seemeth in some part to be tolerable."
Custom.--" What! me thinketh you dally with me. Seemeth it tolerable to deny the sacrament?"
Verity.--"They deny it not, so much as I can gather by your words."
Custom.--"Nay, then, fare you well: I perceive you will take their part."
Verity.--"I am not partial, but indifferent to all parties: for I never go further than the truth."
Custom.--"I can scarcely believe you. But what is more true than Christ, which is truth itself? or whoever was so hardy, before this time, to charge Christ with a lie for saying these words, This is my body? The words are evident and plain: there is in them not so much as one obscure or dark letter; there is no cause for any man to cavil. And yet, that notwithstanding, whereas Christ himself affirmed it to be his body, men now-a-days are not abashed to say, Christ lied, it is not his body. The evangelists agree all in one; the old writers stand of our side; the universal and catholic church hath been in this mind these fifteen hundred years and more. And shall we think that Christ himself, his evangelists, all the whole catholic church, have been so long deceived, and the truth now at length begotten and born in these days?"
Verity.--"You have moved a matter of great force and weight, and whereto, without many words, I can make no full answer. Notwithstanding, because you provoke me thereto, if you will give me licence, I will take part with them of whom you have made false report, for none of them ever reproved Christ of any lie: but, contrariwise, they say, that many men of late days, not understanding Christ's words, have builded and set up many fond lies upon his name. Wherefore, first I will declare the meaning of these words, This is my body; and next, in what sense the church and the old fathers have evermore taken them. First, therefore, you shall understand, that Scripture is not so to be taken always as the letter soundeth, but as the intent and purpose of the Holy Ghost was, by whom the Scripture was uttered. For, if you follow the bare words, you will soon shake down and overthrow the greatest part of the Christian faith. What is plainer than these words, My Father is greater than I am? Of those plain words sprang up the heresy of the Arians, which denied Christ to be equal with his Father. What is more evident than this saying, I and my Father are both one? Thereof arose the heresy of them that denied three distinct persons. They all had one soul and one heart, was spoken by the apostle: yet had each of them a soul and heart peculiar to himself. They are now not two, but one flesh, is spoken of the man and his wife: yet have both the man and the wife their several body. He is our very flesh, said Reuben by Joseph his brother; who, notwithstanding, was not their real flesh. I am bread, said Christ; yet was he flesh, and no bread. Christ was the stone, saith Paul; and was indeed no material stone. Melchizedek had neither father nor mother; and yet indeed he had both. Behold the Lamb of John, saith John Baptist by Christ: notwithstanding, Christ was a man, and not a lamb. Circumcision was called the covenant, whereas it was but a token of the covenant. The lamb named the passover, and yet was it eaten in remembrance only of the passover. Jacob raised up an altar, and called it, being made but of lime and stone, The mighty God of Israel. Moses, when he had conquered the Amalekites, set up an altar, and called it by the names of God, Jehovah, and Tetragramatum. We are all one loaf of bread, saith Paul; yet were they not thereby turned into a loaf of bread. Christ, hanging upon the cross, appointed St. John to his mother, saying, Lo! there is thy son; and yet was he not her son. So many as be baptized into Christ, saith Paul, have put on Christ; and so many as are baptized into Christ, are washed with the blood of Christ: notwithstanding no man took the font-water to be the natural blood of Christ. The cup is the new testament, saith Paul; and yet is not the cup indeed the very new testament. You see, therefore, that it is not strange, nor a thing unwont in the Scriptures, to call one thing by another's name. So that you can no more, of necessity, enforce the changing of the bread into Christ's body in the sacrament, because the words be plain, This is my body; than the wife's flesh to be the natural and real body and flesh of the husband, because it is written, They are not two but one flesh; or the altar of stone to be very God, because Moses, with evident and plain words, pronounced it to be the mighty God of Israel. Notwithstanding, if you will needs cleave to the letter, you make for me, and hinder your own cause: for thus I will reason, and use your own weapon against you. The Scripture calleth it bread. The evangelists agree in the same. Paul nameth it so five times in one place. The Holy Ghost may not be sent to school to learn to speak. Wherefore, I conclude by your own argument, that we ought not only to say, but also to believe, that in the sacrament there remaineth bread."
Custom.--"Methinketh your answer is reasonable, yet can I not be satisfied. Declare you, therefore, more at large, what moveth you to think this of the sacrament. For I think you would not withstand a doctrine so long holden and taught, unless you were enforced by some strong and likely reasons."
Verity.--"First, In examining the words of Christ, I get me to the meaning and purpose for which they were spoken. And in this behalf I see that Christ meant to have his death and passion kept in remembrance. For men, of themselves, be, and evermore were, forgetful of the benefits of God. And therefore it was behoveful, that they should be admonished and stirred up with some visible and outward tokens; as with the passover lamb, the brazen serpent, and the like. For the brazen serpent was a token, that when the Jews were stinged and wounded with serpents, God restored them and made them whole. The passover lamb was a memory of the great benefit of God, who, when he destroyed the Egyptians, saved the Jews, whose doors were sprinkled with the blood of a lamb. So likewise Christ left us a memorial and remembrance of his death and passion in outward tokens, that when the child should demand of his father, what the breaking of the bread, and drinking of the cup, meaneth, he might answer him, that like as the bread is broken, so Christ was broken and rent upon the cross, to redeem the soul of man. And likewise, as wine fostereth and comforteth the body, so doth the blood of Christ cherish and relieve the soul. And this do I gather by the words of Christ, and by the institution and order of the sacrament: for Christ charged the apostles to do this in the remembrance of him. Whereupon thus I conclude:
"No thing is done in remembrance of itself.
"But the sacrament is used in the remembrance of Christ:
"Therefore the sacrament is not Christ.
"Christ never devoured himself.
"Christ did eat the sacrament with his apostles:
"Ergo, the sacrament is not Christ himself.
"Besides this, I see that Christ ordained not his body, but a sacrament of his body. A sacrament (as St. Austin declareth) is an outward sign of an invisible grace. His words are, 'A sacrament is a visible sign of invisible grace.' Out of which words I gather two arguments. The first is this: the token of the body of Christ is not the thing tokened; wherefore they are not one. The second is this:
"One thing cannot be both visible and invisible. "But the sacrament is visible, and the body of Christ invisible:
"Therefore they are not one.
"Which thing St. Augustine openeth very well by these words, 'The sacrament is one thing, the substance another. The sacrament goes into the body, the substance is the body of Christ.' Moreover, I remember that Christ ministered this sacrament not to great and deep philosophers, but to a sort of ignorant and unlearned fishers, who, notwithstanding, understood Christ's meaning right well, and delivered it even as they took it at Christ's hand, to the vulgar and lay people, and fully declared unto them the meaning thereof. But neither the lay people, nor scarcely the apostles themselves, could understand what is meant by transubstantiation, impanation, dimensions, qualitates, quantitates, accidens sine subjecto, terminus a quo, et terminus ad quem, per modem quanti. This is no learning for the unlearned and rude people; wherefore it is likely that Christ meant some other thing than hath been taught of late days. Furthermore, Christ's body is food, not for the body, but for the soul; and therefore it must be received with the instrument of the soul, which is faith. For as ye receive sustenance for your body by your bodily mouth, so the food of your soul must be received by faith, which is the mouth of the soul. And for that St. Augustine sharply rebuketh them that think to eat Christ with their mouth, saying, 'Why makest thou ready thy tooth and thy belly? Believe, and thou hast eaten Christ.' Likewise, speaking of eating the selfsame body, he saith to the Capernaites, who took him grossly as men do now-a-days: The words that I speak, are spirit and life. It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing."
Custom.--"What mean you by this spirit, and by spiritual eating? I pray you utter your mind more plainly. For I know well that Christ hath a body, and therefore must be eaten (as I think) with the mouth of the body. For the spirit and the soul, as it hath no body and flesh, so it hath no month."
Verity.--"You must understand, that a man is shaped of two parts, of the body and of the soul; and each of them hath his life and his death, his mouth, his teeth, his food, and abstinence. For like as the body is nourished and fostered with bodily meats, or else cannot endure; so must the soul have his cherishing, otherwise it will decay and pine away. And therefore we do and may justly say, that the Turks, Jews, and heathen be dead, because they lack the lively food of the soul. But how then, or by what mean, will you feed the soul? Doubtless not by the instrument of the body, but of the soul; for that which is received into the body, hath no passage from thence into the soul. For Christ saith, Whatsoever entereth into the belly, is conveyed into the draught. And whereas you say that the spirit hath no mouth, like as it hath no body or bones, you are deceived; for the spirit hath a mouth, in his kind; or else how could a man eat and drink justice? For undoubtedly his bodily mouth is no fit instrument for it. Yet Christ saith, that he is blessed that hungereth and thirsteth for justice. If he hunger and thirst for justice, belike he both eateth and drinketh it; for otherwise he neither abateth his hunger, nor quencheth his thirst. Now, if a man may eat and drink righteousness with his spirit, no doubt his spirit hath a mouth. Whereof I will reason thus:
"Of whatsoever sort the mouth is, such is his food. "But the mouth of the spirit is spiritual, not bodily:
"Therefore it receiveth Christ's body spiritually, not bodily.
"And in like manner Christ, speaking of the eating of his body, nameth himself the bread, not for the body, but of life, for the soul; and saith, He that cometh to me, shall not hunger; and he that believeth in me, shall never thirst. Wherefore, whosoever will be relieved by the body of Christ, must receive him as he will he received, with the instrument of faith appointed thereunto, not with his teeth or mouth. And whereas I say that Christ's body must he received and taken with faith, I mean not that you shall pluck down Christ from heaven, and put him in your faith, as in a visible place; but that you must, with your faith, rise and spring up to him, and, leaving this world, dwell above in heaven; putting all your trust, comfort, and consolation in him, who suffered grievous bondage to set you at liberty and to make you free; creeping into his wounds, which were so cruelly pierced and dented for your sake. So shall you feed on the body of Christ; so shall you suck the blood that was poured out and shed for you. This is the spiritual, the very true, the only eating of Christ's body: and therefore St. Gregory calleth it, 'The food of the mind, and not of the belly.' And St. Cyprian saith likewise, 'We sharpen not our tooth, nor prepare our belly.'
"Now, to return to our former purpose: seeing it is plain that Christ's body is meat for our spirit, and hath nothing to do with our body, I will gather thereof this reason. The sacrament is bodily food, and increaseth the body: ergo, the sacrament is not the very body of Christ. That it nourisheth the body it is evident; for Christ calleth it the fruit of the vine, whose duty is to nourish. And, for a proof, if you consecrate a whole loaf, it will feed you as well as your table-bread. And if a little mouse get a host, he will crave no more meat to his dinner.
"But you will say, these are worldly reasons. What then if the old fathers record the same? Irenĉus saith, 'When the mingled cup and the broken bread receive the word of God, it is made the eucharist of the body and blood of the Lord, by which the substance of our flesh is made up and nourished.' Bede witnesseth the same by these words, 'Because bread supports our flesh, and wine our blood, the former is applied to the body, and the latter to the blood of Christ. Wherefore,as I said before, seeing that Christ's body is spiritual meat, and the bread of the sacrament bodily, I may conclude that the sacrament is not Christ's body. Beside this, whereas it was forbidden, in the old law, that any man should eat or drink blood, the apostles, notwithstanding, took the cup at Christ's hands, and drank of it; and never staggered, or shrank at the matter: whereby it may be gathered, that they took it for a mystery, for a token and a remembrance, far otherwise than it hath of late been taken.
"Again, when the sacrament was dealt, none of them all crouched down, and took it for his God, forgetting him that sat there present before their eyes; but took it, and ate it, knowing that it was a sacrament and remembrance of Christ's body. Yea, the old councils commanded that no man should kneel down at the time of the communion, fearing that it should be an occasion of idolatry. And long after the apostles' time, as Tertullian writeth, women were suffered to take it home with them, and lap it up in their chests. And the priests, many times, sent it to sick persons by a child; who, no doubt, would have given more reverence thereto, if they had taken it for their God. But a great while after, about three hundred years ago, Honorius the Third, bishop of Rome, took him and hanged him up, and caused men to kneel and crouch down, and all to begod him. A.D. 1220.
"Furthermore, if the bread be turned and altered into the body of Christ, doubtless it is the greatest miracle that ever God wrought. But the apostles saw no miracle in it. Nazianzen, an old writer, and Augustine, entreating of all the miracles that are in the Scripture, number the sacrament for none. As for the apostles, it appeareth well that they had it for no marvel, for they never mused at it, neither demanded how it might be; whereas, in other things, they evermore were full of questions. As touching St. Augustine, he not only overskipped it, as no wonder, but, by plain and express words, testifieth that there is no marvel in it. For speaking of the Lord's supper, and of the other sacraments, he saith these words: 'The sacraments demand honour as religious ordinances, but not wonder as miracles.' Moreover, a little before the institution of the sacrament, Christ spake of his ascension, saying, I leave the world: I tarry but a little while with you. Let not your hearts he troubled, because I go from you: I tell you truth, it is for your profit that I go from you, for if I go not, the Spirit of comfort cannot come to you; with many other like warnings of his departure. St. Stephen saw him sitting at the right hand of his Father, and thought it a special revelation of God: but he never said, that he saw him at the communion, or that he made him every day himself. And, in the Acts of the Apostles, St. Peter saith, that Christ must needs keep the heaven till all be ended. Isaiah, Solomon, and St. Stephen say, that God dwelleth not in temples made with man's hand. St. Paul wisheth that he were dissolved and dead, and were with Christ: not in the altar, doubtless, where he might be daily; but in heaven. And, to be brief, it is in our Credo, and we do constantly believe, that Christ is ascended into heaven, and sitteth at his Father's right hand; and no promise have we, that he will come jumping down at every priest's calling. Hereof I gather this reason:
"Christ's body cannot both be gone, and be here.
"But he is gone, and hath left the world:
"Therefore, it is folly to seek him in the world."
Custom.--"Fie, you be far deceived, I can in no wise brook these words. You shut up Christ too straitly, and imprison him in one corner of heaven, not suffering him to go at large. No, doubtless, he hath deserved more gentleness at your hand, than to be tied up so short."
Verity.--"I do neither lock up, nor imprison Christ in heaven; but, according to the Scriptures, declare that he hath chosen a blessed place, and most worthy to receive his Majesty; in which place whoso is enclosed, thinketh not himself (as I suppose) to be a prisoner. But, if you take it for so heinous a thing, that Christ should sit resident in heaven in the glory of his Father, what think you of them that imprison him in a little box; yea, and keep him in captivity so long, until he be mouldy and overgrown with vermin; and when he is past men's meat, be not contented to hang him till he stink, but will have him to a new execution, and burn him too? This is wonderful and extreme cruel imprisoning. But to return to the matter: we are certainly persuaded by the word of God, that Christ, the very Son of God, vouchsafed to take upon him the body and shape of man; and that he walked and was conversant amongst men in that same one, and not in many bodies; and that he suffered death, rose again, and ascended to heaven in the selfsame body; and that he sitteth at his Father's right hand in his manhood, in the nature and substance of the said one body. This is our belief, this is the very word of God. Wherefore they arc far deceived, who, leaving heaven, will grope for Christ's body upon the earth."
Custom.--"Nay, sir, but I see now you are far out of the way. For Christ hath not so gross and fleshly a body as you think, but a spiritual and ghostly body; and therefore, without repugnance, it may be in many places at once."
Verity.--"You say right well, and do grant that Christ's body is spiritual. But, I pray you, answer me by the way, can any other body than that which is spiritual, be, at one time, in sundry places?"
Verity.--"Have we that selfsame sacrament, that Christ gave to his disciples at his maundy, or no?
Custom.--"Doubtless we have the same."
Verity.--"When became Christ's body spiritual? was it so even from his birth?"
Custom.--" No: for, doubtless, before he arose from death, his body was earthly, as other men's bodies are."
Verity.--"Well, but when gave Christ the sacrament to his disciples? before he rose from death, or after?"
Custom.--"You know yourself he gave it before his resurrection, the night before he suffered his passion."
Verity.--"Why, then, methinketh he gave the sacrament at that time when his body was not spiritual."
Verity.--"And was every portion of the sacrament dealt to the apostles? and received they into their mouths the very real and substantial body of Christ?"
Verity.--"Mark well what ye have said, for you have granted me great repugnance. First, you say, that no body, being not spiritual, can be in sundry places at once. Then say you, that at the maundy Christ's body was not spiritual: and yet hold you, that he was there present visibly before the apostles' eyes, and in each of their hands and mouths, all at one time -- which grants of yours are not agreeable. But I will gather a better and a more formal reason of your words, in this sort:
"No body being real, natural, and organical, and not spiritual, can be in many places at once.
"Christ's body in the sacrament was in the apostles' hands and mouths at one time, which were many places:
"Ergo, Christ's body in the sacrament was not a real, natural, and organical body; but spiritual."
Custom.--"Indeed you have driven me into the straits, before I was aware of you; and I know not how I may escape your hands honestly. But the best refuge that I have is this, that I will not believe you."
Verity.--"I desire you not to give credence to me. Believe the word of God; yea, believe your own belief: for they both witness against you, that Christ's body is taken up into heaven, and there shall remain until he come to judge."
Custom.--"Tush, what speak you of the word of God? there be many dark sayings therein, which every man cannot attain to."
Verity.--"I grant you there be certain obscure places in the Scripture, yet not so obscure but that a man, with the grace of God, may perceive; for it was written not for angels, but for men, But, as I understand, Custom meddleth but little with the Scripture. How say you by St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose? what if they stand on our side?"
Custom.--"No, no, I know them well enough."
Verity.--"So well as you know them, for all old acquaintance, if they be called to witness, they will give evidence against you. For St. Austin commonly, in every of his books, but chiefly in an epistle to his friend Dardanus, declareth that Christ's body is placed in one room. I marvel you be not nearer of his counsel. His words are these: 'Do not doubt the man Jesus Christ to be there, from whence he shall come. And remember well, and faithfully believe, the Christian confession, that he is risen, ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father, and from thence he shall come, and from no other place, to judge the quick and the dead. And shall come in the same substance of body, to which he gave immortality, and took not the nature from it. After this form he is to be thought not to be dispersed in all places; for we must beware so to defend his Divinity that we destroy not his humanity.' And in another place of the same epistle, 'He is one person God and man, and both is one Christ. He is every where as God, but in heaven as man.' Likewise upon Psalm xiv.: 'While the world shall last, the Lord is above, and also the verity of the Lord is with us. For the body wherein he rose again must be in one place; but the verity of him is every where dispersed.' In like manner writeth Damasus, an old bishop of Rome, in his Credo, 'Having conquered the power of death, he rose and ascended into heaven with that flesh in which he was born and suffered, the same nature remaining.' St. Ambrose, writing upon Luke x., recordeth the same: Wherefore neither above the earth, nor upon the earth, nor according to the earth, we ought to seek the Lord, if we will find him; for he did not seek him above the earth, who did see him sitting at the right hand of God. And Mary sought upon the earth to touch Christ and could not. Stephen touched him, because he sought him in heaven.' St. Jerome, in an epistle to Marcella, proveth that the body of Christmust needs be contained in some place, for he saith, 'The property of God is to be every where; the property of man is to be in one place.' The same Jerome, in another place, calleth it a foolish thing to seek for him in a narrow place. or in a corner, who is the light of all the world; 'Foolishness it is, in a small place or in a hid corner to seek him who is the light of the whole world.' Origen saith likewise, 'They are not to be heard, who show Christ in houses.' The same also recordeth Bede, writing upon these words of Christ, Now a little while shall you see me. He speaketh in Christ's person. 'Therefore,' saith he, 'shall you see me but a little while after my resurrection; because I will not still abide in the earth bodily; but, in the manhood which I have taken, will ascend up to heaven.' What needeth more words? All the old fathers witness the same. You may by these soon judge the rest. Now to return to the matter: Seeing that the word of God in many and sundry places, the Credo, and the Abridgement of the Faith, seeing all the old fathers do constantly agree in one, that the body of Christ is ascended into heaven, and there remaineth at the right hand of the Father, and cannot be in more than in one place, I do conclude that the sacrament is not the body of Christ; first, because it is not in heaven, neither sitteth at the Father's right hand; moreover, because it is in a hundred thousand boxes, whereas Christ's body filleth but one place. Furthermore, if the bread were turned into the body of Christ, then would it necessarily follow, that sinners and unpenitent persons receive the body of Christ."
Custom.--"Marry, and so they do. For Paul saith plainly, that they receive the body of Christ to their own confusion."
Verity.--"No, not so. These are not Paul's words, but he saith, 'Whoso eateth of this bread, and drinketh of this cup unworthily, eateth and drinketh his own condemnation, not judging the body of the Lord.' Here he calleth it, in plain words, bread. And although the sacrament be very bread, yet doth the injury redound to the body of Christ. As if a man break the king's mace, or tread the broad seal under his foot, although he have broken and defaced nothing but silver and wax; yet is the injury the king's, and the doer shall be taken as a traitor. St. Ambrose declareth the meaning of St. Paul by these words, 'He is guilty of the body of the Lord, and shall suffer the punishment of the death of Christ, seeing he has made of none effect the death of Christ.' The cause of the ordinance thereof was the remembrance of the death of Christ, which whoso forgetteth, receiveth the sacrament to their condemnation. That same witnesseth St. Augustine: 'For the sacrament,' saith he, 'is an outward token of love and charity. For like as many grains of corn are become one piece of bread, even so they that receive it, ought to be one.' Then saith he, Mysterium pacis ac unitatis nobis Christus in mensa sua consecravit. Qui accepit mysterium unitatis et non servatp unitatem, non mysterium accepit pro se, sed testimonium contra se. He that readeth the gospel, wherein is declared the passion and death of Christ, and liveth contrary to the gospel, shall doubtless be the more cf the death of Christ, because he heareth and readeth the word of God, and regardeth it not.
"In a certain country the manner is, that when the gospel is read, the king shall stand up with a naked sword in his hand, declaring thereby that he beareth his sword in defence of the gospel. But if he himself oppresseth the gospel, he beareth the sword against himself; for the gospel shall turn to his judgment and condemnation. So will Christ so much more extremely punish a man, who, knowing himself to be wicked and without repentance, and therefore none of the flock of Christ, yet, notwithstanding, will impudently creep into the company of Christian men, and receive the sacraments with them, as though he were one of the number. And this meant St. Paul by the unworthy receiving of a sacrament of Christ's body. Wherefore a man may unworthily take the sacrament, and be guilty of the death of Christ, although he receive not Christ's body into his mouth, and chew it with his teeth.-- But what if I prove that every massing priest is guilty of the body and blood of Christ?"
Custom.--"I dare say you cannot prove it."
Verity.--"But if I do prove it, will you believe me?
Custom.--"I may well enough, for it is impossible to do it; for priests commonly are confessed before they go to mass; and how can they then take the sacrament unworthily?"
Verity.--"Indeed confession, if it be discreetly used, is a laudable custom, and to the unlearned man and feeble conscience so good as a sermon: but, notwithstanding, because it was never commanded of Christ, nor received of the apostles, nor much spoken of by the old doctors, it cannot make much for the due receiving of the sacrament. But how like ye these words of St. Ambrose? 'He taketh it unworthily, that taketh it otherwise than Christ ordained it.'"
Custom.--"This liketh me very well. But what gather you of it?"
Verity.--"This will I gather. The massing priest taketh the sacrament otherwise than Christ either commanded or taught: ergo, he taketh it unworthily, and so consequently to his condemnation."
Custom.--"That is not so, for he doth altogether as Christ commanded him."
Verity.--"That shall appear; for Christ commanded it to be done in his remembrance: the priest doth it in remembrance of dead men. Christ took bread, and left it bread: the priest taketh bread and conjureth it away. Christ took bread and gave thanks: the priest taketh bread and breatheth upon it. Christ took bread and brake it: the priest taketh bread and hangeth it up. Christ took bread and dealt it to his apostles: the priest, because he is an apostle himself, taketh bread and eateth it every whit alone. Christ, in a sacrament, gave his own body to be eaten in faith: the priest, for lack of faith, receiveth accidents, and dimensions. Christ gave a sacrament to strengthen men's faith: the priest giveth a sacrifice to redeem men's souls. Christ gave it to be eaten: the priest giveth it to be worshipped. And to conclude, Christ gave bread: the priest saith he giveth a God. Here is difference enough between Christ and the priest. Yet moreover, Christ, at his supper, spake his words out, and in a plain tongue: the priest speaketh nothing but Latin or Greek, which tongues he ofttimes perceiveth not; and much be whispereth, lest any poor man should perhaps perceive him. So it cometh to pass, that the priest knoweth no more what he himself saith, than what he doth. Thus you may see that the massing priest receiveth the sacrament of Christ's body far otherwise than ever Christ minded; and so therefore unworthily, and to his condemnation.
"Now, if you think yourself satisfied, I will return to my former question, and prove more at large, that Christ's body cannot be eaten of the wicked, which thing must necessarily ensue, if the bread were turned into the body of Christ. Christ, in John vi., speaking of the eating of his body, saith, He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. Whereof I gather thus: but sinful men take the sacrament to their condemnation, and live not for ever; ergo, in the sacrament they receive not the body of Christ. Again, Christ saith, He that eateth me shall live for my sake. Hereof I conclude thus: but impenitent persons cannot live for Christ's sake. Moreover Christ's body must be received, not with the mouth, as Gregory recordeth, saying, that it is eaten with the teeth of the soul, not of the body, as I have above more largely declared. But wicked and impenitent persons lack faith; wherefore they cannot eat the body of Christ. Again, Christ's body cannot be divided from his spirit; but wicked men have not the Spirit of God: God's word, or the doctors and the ancient writers, ergo, they have not Christ's body. Hereunto agree all the old writers, affirming constantly, that the unfaithful be no meet vessels to receive the body of Christ. St. Augustine saith, 'Whosoever does not remain in Christ, and in whom Christ does not remain, without doubt he neither eats his flesh nor drinks his blood, though he also eats and drinks so great a mystery to his own condemnation.' Ambrose avoweth the same by these words: 'He that departs from Christ neither eats his flesh nor drinks his blood, though he receive the sacrament of so great a thing.' And therefore St. Augustine saith, 'The wicked have the sacrament, but the substance of the sacrament they have not.' Thus by the word of God, by reason, and by the old fathers, it is plain, that sinful men eat not the body of Christ, receive they the sacrament never so oft: which thing could not be, if in the sacrament there remained nothing but the body of Christ.
"The sacrament in Holy Scripture is named, the breaking of bread; which, to say the truth, were but a cold breaking, if there remained no bread to break, but certain fantasies of white and round. Yet whereas they, with words, crossings, blessings, breathings, leapings, and much ado, can scarcely make one god, they have such virtue in their fingers, that at one cross they be able to make twenty gods; for if they break the sacrament, every portion, yea, every mite, must needs be a god. After the apostles' time there arose up heretics, who said that Christ, walking here amongst men bodily upon the earth, had no very body, but a thing like a body, and so therewith dimmed men's sight. Against whom the old fathers used these arguments: Christ increased in growing, fasted, hungered, eat, wept, sweat, was weary, and in conclusion died, and had all other properties of a very body: wherefore he had a body. I will use the same kind of reasoning: It feedeth, it tasteth like bread, it looketh like bread, the little silly mouse taketh it for bread, and, to be short, it hath all the properties and tokens of bread: ergo, it is bread. The old fathers, when there remained any part of the sacrament more than was spent at the communion, they used to burn it, and of it there came ashes. But there is nothing in the sacrament that can turn to ashes but only bread (for I think they burned not Christ's body to ashes): ergo, in the sacrament there remaineth bread. Henry the emperor, the sixth of that name, was poisoned in the host, and Victor the bishop of Rome in the chalice. But poison cannot hang in God's body and blood: wherefore there remaineth bread and wine. What needeth many words in a matter so evident? If you demand either or your reason, or your eyes, or nose, or tongue, or fingers, or the cat, or the ape, or the mouse, all these agree in one, and answer together, There is bread. Wherefore, if you reject so many and so constant witnesses, and so well agreeing in their tale, specially being such as will lie for no man's pleasure, I will appeal from you, and take you as no indifferent judge. If all these witnesses suffice you not, I will call the sacrament itself to record. It crieth unto you, and plainly doth advertise you, what you should think of it. 'I am,' it saith, 'grated with the tooth; I am conveyed into the belly; I perish; I can endure no space; I canker; I suffer green mould, blue mould, red mould; I breed worms; I am kept in a box for fear of rats. If you leave me out all night, I shall be devoured before morning, for if the mouse get me, I am gone. I am bread; I am no God: believe them not.' Thus crieth the sacrament daily, and beareth witness itself."
Custom.--"The devil on such like reasons! and therefore I will never trouble my brains to make you answer: but, if it be true that you have said, why is the sacrament so well of Christ himself, as of his apostles, and the old fathers, called the body of Christ?"
Verity.--"Because it is no strange thing in Scripture so to speak; as I have declared before.-- But will you stand to St. Augustine's arbitrement in the matter?"
Custom.--"To no man sooner."
Verity.--"St. Augustine, in an epistle to his friend Boniface, giveth a good cause why the sacrament, although it be not the body of Christ, is, notwithstanding, called the body of Christ. His words be these: 'If sacraments had not a certain similitude of those things whereof they be sacraments, then were they no sacraments; of the which similitude many times they take their name. Wherefore, after a certain manner the sacrament of the body of Christ is the body of Christ; and the sacrament of the blood of Christ is the blood of Christ,' &c. And upon Psalm xxiii. he writeth likewise, 'Christ after a certain manner and fashion, as it were, did bear himself in his own hand, when he said, This is my body.' 'In manner,' he saith, 'and after a fashion;' not in very deed. Again, when faithful men receive the sacrament, they think not of the bread, nor mark the wine, but they look further, and behold the very body of Christ spread upon the cross, and his very blood poured down for their sakes. So in baptism men regard not greatly the water, but account themselves washed with the blood of Christ. So saith St. Paul, Whatsoever we are that be baptized, we are washed in the blood of Christ. Wherefore to the faithful receivers you may say, that the water of baptism is the blood of Christ, and the bread and wine the body and blood of Christ: for to them it is no less than if the natures were altered and changed. Which thing you may very well learn of Chrysostom, whose words are these: 'All mysteries must be considered with inward eyes, that is to say, spiritually. But the inward eyes, when they see the bread, they pass over the creatures, neither do they think of that bread which is baked of the baker, but of him which called himself the bread of eternal life.' For these two causes the bread and wine are called the body and blood of Christ. Now I think you are satisfied concerning the meaning of these words, This is my body."
Custom.--"Yet one thing moveth me very much."
Verity.--"What is that?"
Custom.--"The doctors and old writers, men inspired with the Holy Ghost, have evermore been against your doctrine; yea, and in these days the wisest men and best learned call you heretics, and your learning heresy."
Verity.--"As touching the old writers, I remember well they speak reverently of the sacraments, like as every man ought to do; but whereas they deliver their mind with their right hand, you, Custom, receive it with the left. For whereas they say, that it is the body of Christ, and that it must be verily eaten, meaning that it doth effectually lay before the eyes Christ's body, and that it is to the faithful man no less than if it were Christ himself, and that Christ must be eaten in faith, not torn nor rent with the teeth: you say, that howsoever it be taken, it is Christ's body, and that there is none other eating but with the mouth.
"And that the fathers meant no other thing than I have said, it shall appear by their words. But as touching the learned and wise men of these days, I cannot blame them if they call my doctrine heresy; for they would condemn all ancient writers of heresy, if they were now alive. But I will answer you to them anon. In the mean while mark you how well their learning agreeth. They say, 'You must follow the letter; you must stick to the letter.' But Origen saith, 'If ye follow after the letter that which is written, Unless ye shall eat the flesh of the Son of man, there shall be no life in you -- this letter killeth.'
"Augustine, in the third book De Doctrine Christiana: 'First, thou must beware that thou take not a figurative speech after the letter. For thereto pertaineth that the apostle saith, The letter killeth. For when a thing is spiritually meant, and the same is taken literally as properly spoken, that is a carnal taking. Neither can any other be called the killing of the soul, rather than that.' And in the same book he teacheth a man to know the plain sense from a figure, saying thus: 'If the commanding speech be such as commandeth a thing wicked and horrible to be done, or a charitable thing to be undone, then this is a figurative speech, Unless ye shall eat the flesh of the Son of man, and shall drink his blood, there shall be no life in you. Because in this speech he seemeth to command a wicked thing, it is therefore a figurative speech, commanding that we should communicate with the passion of our Lord, and sweetly to retain it in our remembrance.'
"In like manner Chrysostom plucketh you from the plain letter and the bare words by this saying, The flesh profiteth not; that is to say, 'My words must be taken and expounded after the Spirit. For he that heareth after the flesh, gaineth nothing. Now what is it to understand carnally? To take things simply as they be spoken, and not to consider any meaning further therein. For things must not be judged as they are seen, but all mysteries must be seen with inward eyes, that is to say, spiritually.'
"What is so heinous in these days, as to call the sacrament the token or the remembrance of Christ's body? Yet did the old writers in manner never call it other. Tertullian, in the fourth book against the Marcionists: 'Christ took bread and made it his body, saying, This is my body; that is to say, a figure of my body.' Ambrose, upon 1 Corinthians xi.: 'Because we are delivered by the Lord's death, in the remembrance of the same by eating and drinking, we signify the body and blood which were offered up for us.' Chrysostom, in the eighty-third Homily upon the Gospel of Matthew: 'When they object unto us, and ask, How know you that Christ was offered up? then, alleging these things, we stop their mouths. For, if Christ died not, then whose sign or token is this sacrifice?' Augustine to Adimantus: 'Christ doubted not to say, This is my body, when he gave but a sign of his body.' Augustine, upon Psal. iii.: 'Christ received Judas to the supper, in which he commended and delivered a figure of his body and blood unto his disciples.' Rabanus: 'Because the bread strengtheneth the body, therefore it is aptly called Christ's body. And likewise the wine, because it increaseth blood in the flesh, it doth resemble the blood of Christ.' The monk Druthmar, on Matthew: 'Wine maketh glad the heart, and increaseth blood; and therefore the blood of Christ is not unaptly signified thereby.' Irenĉus witnesseth plainly, that in the sacrament remaineth bread and wine, by these words: 'As the earthly bread, receiving the vocation of God, is now no common bread, but the eucharist, consisting of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly.' Here he recordeth, that there remained in the sacrament an earthly nature, which is either bread or nothing. Gelasius writing against Nestorius avowed, the same, saying, 'In the eucharist the substance of bread and nature of the wine cease not to be. For the image and similitude of the body and blood of the Lord is celebrated in the action of the mysteries.' Chrysostom preferreth a poor man before the sacrament, and calleth him the body of Christ, rather than the other. Whereof I may gather this reason:
"The poor man is not the natural and real body of Christ.
"Every poor member of Christ is the body of Christ, rather than the sacrament:
"Ergo, the sacrament is not the natural and real body of Christ.
"His words are: 'This altar thou dost reverence, because the body of Christ therein is set before thee. But him that is the body of Christ indeed, thou dost spitefully entreat, and dost neglect him ready to perish.' Chrysostom, in the eleventh Homily upon Matthew: 'If it be so perilous a matter to translate these sanctified vessels unto private uses, in which not the true body of Christ, but a mystery of the body of Christ is contained, how much more then these vessels of our body!" Athanasius, upon these words, Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, saith: 'The words that Christ here speaketh, be not carnal, but spiritual. For what body might have sufficed for all that should eat, to be a nourishment of the whole world But therefore he maketh mention of the ascension of the Son of man into heaven, to the intent to pluck them away from that corporal cogitation.' Augustine to Marcellinus: 'In those carnal oblations the flesh of Christ was figured, which he should offer for our sins, and the blood which he should bestow on us; but, in this sacrifice, is the giving of thanks and memorial of the flesh of Christ which he hath offered for us, and of the blood which he hath shed for us. In that sacrifice, therefore, is signified figuratively what should be given for us; in this sacrifice what is given to us is evidently declared. In those sacrifices the Son of God was before preached to be slain; in this sacrifice he is showed to be slain already for the wicked.'
"Origen, upon Matthew, expounding these words, This is my body, saith: 'The bread which Christ confesseth to be his body, is a word nutritive of our souls.' Augustine: 'No man ought in any wise to doubt but that every faithful man is then partaker of the body and blood of the Lord, when in baptism he is made a member of Christ. For lieshall not be deprived of the participation and benefit of that sacrament, when he findeth in himself that thing which the sacrament loth signify.' Ambrose: 'Such is the force and strength of the word, that the bread and wine remain the same as they were, and yet are changed into another thing.' For it is not any longer common bread, but it is turned into a sacrament; yet notwithstanding there remained' bread and wine. Tertullian, writing against a heretic named Marcion, which taught that the creatures of God, as flesh, bread, and wine, and such like, were naught and uncleanly: God hath not cast away his creature, but by it he hath represented his body: Origen, upon Leviticus, speaking of the drinking of Christ's blood, saith, 'We do not desire the blood of the flesh, but the blood of the word.' Ambrose called the sacrament 'a type of the body of Christ,' and Basil, 'an antitype,' which is as much as to say, as a token, a figure, a remembrance, and example of Christ's body. Origen, upon Matthew xiv.: 'In this bread that thing which is material passeth through man's body: but that which is made by the word of God, by the means of faith doth profit.' And lest perhaps you think that be spake those words of our common table-bread, he concludeth the matter himself with these words: 'These things we have spoken of the mystical bread.' Augustine declareth, that it must needs be a figure and a remembrance of the body of Christ: 'These things are understood figuratively, according to the rule of sound and true faith. For otherwise it seemeth to be more horrible to eat man's flesh than to kill a man, and more horrible to drink man's blood than to shed it.' And therefore he saith upon Psalm xcviii.: 'Ye shall not eat this body which you see, and drink that blood which they shall shed that shall crucify me; I commend unto you a sacrament.' Tertullian: 'Jesus hath another body than bread; for bread was not given for us, but the very true body of Christ was given upon the cross; which body was exhibited in the supper under the figure of bread.' This recordeth Theodoret, an ancient writer, and avoweth, that there is no turning or altering of the bread in the sacrament. His words are these: 'He hath honoured and dignified the visible signs with the name of his body and of his blood, not changing the nature, but adding grace to nature.' And ill another place, where he maketh a true Christian man to reason with a heretic, he giveth to the heretic this part: to hold with the turning of bread and wine into the natural body and blood of Christ. The heretic's words are these: The sacraments of the Lord's body and blood before invocation are one thing; but after, they are changed and made another.' This maketh Theodoret to be on the heretic's part. Then he bringeth forth the true Christian man, who reproveth the heretic for so saying: "Thou art fallen into the snares which thou thyself hast laid. For those selfsame holy signs after the consecration, do not go from their nature, for they abide still, both in their former substance and figure; and may be both with eyes seen, and felt with hands, as before.' To the same agreeth well Chrysostom, saying, 'After the bread is sanctified, it is called bread no more, although the nature of the bread still remain.' Hereby you may understand, how and in what sort the old fathers, how the primitive and beginning church, how the apostles, and how Christ himself, took these words, This is my body.
"Now, to withstand and stoutly to go, not against only ancient writers, or the congregation of Christian people, (which at that time was not overgrown, no, neither spotted with covetousness and worldly honour,) but the apostles also, and God himself, no doubt it is great fondness. But what speak I of the old fathers? It is not long since the sacrament grew out of its right understanding. For this word transubstantiatio, whereby they signify the turning of the bread into the body of Christ, was never either spoken or heard or thought of, among the ancient fathers, or in the old church. But about five hundred years past, Pope Nicholas II., in a council holden at Lateran in Rome, confirmed that opinion of the changing of bread, and would have made an article of faith, and placed it in the Credo. After which time ensued Corpus Christi day, masses of Corpus Christi, reservation of the sacrament with honour, with canopies, with censing, with kneeling, with worshipping and adoration, and with so much as any man could devise. For they thought they could not do too much to him, after that the bishop of Rome had allowed him for a God.
"But not fully two hundred years before that time, when this doctrine first began to bud, (and yet notwithstanding had not so prevailed, but that a great number of learned and good men could know the sacrament to be a sacrament, and not Christ himself,) Charlemagne, king of France and emperor of Germany, demanded of a great learned man, whose name was Bertram, what he thought of that strange kind of calling down Christ from heaven, and turning a little gobbet of bread into his natural body. To whom Bertram made answer in this wise: 'This we say, That there is a great difference and separation betwixt the body in the which Christ suffered, and the blood which he shed upon the cross, and this body which every day is celebrated in the mystery of the passion of Christ. For this body is a pledge and similitude, but the other is the very truth itself. Ergo, it appeareth that these are separated asunder by no less difference than is between a pledge, and the thing whereof the pledge is given; or than is betwixt an image of a thing, and the thing itself whereof the image is; or than is between the form of a thing, and the verity itself.' This wrote Bertram, Druthmar, and many others, and yet were never in all their time once reproved of heresy. This wrote Johannes Scotus also, in whose lifetime men had not eyes to espy his heresies: but, about two hundred years after his death, he was judged and condemned for a heretic, and his books burned, in a council holden at Vercelli in Lombardy, in the year of our Lord God 1050. Since which time, even until this day, although idolatry had great increase, yet there never wanted some good men, which boldly would profess and set forth the truth; although they were well assured that their worldly reward should be spite, malice, imprisoning, sword, fire, and all kinds of torments. Thus, so shortly, and in so few words as I could, I have declared unto you what Christ meant by these words, This is my body; what the apostles taught therein, and in what sort they delivered them to their successors; in what sense and meaning the holy fathers and old writers, and the universal and catholic church, have evermore taken them."