The Fountain and Source of All Grace
INSTRUCTIONS ON THE HOLY EUCHARIST.
Q. What was the end or design for which Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist?
A. It was that it might be the spiritual food and nourishment of our souls, to preserve and augment that life of grace which we receive in the sacrament of baptism, and which is completed and perfected in the sacrament of confirmation; according to the words of our Savior, "I am the living bread which come down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever." And, a little after, "he that eateth me, the same shall live by me," John vi. 51, 58.
Q. How is this explained?
A. From the similitude of the natural life of our bodies; for we see, however lively, vigorous, and strong we be as to our natural life, yet our strength will soon diminish, our vigor fail, and our life become weaker, and weaker, and at last be destroyed entirely, unless it be preserved by proper food which feeds, nourishes, and strengthens the body; so, in like manner, however lively and strong the soul be in the life of grace, which we receive in the sacraments of baptism and confirmation; yet, by reason of the corruption of our nature, and the many temptations to which we are continually exposed, from the malice of our spiritual enemies, this spiritual life would soon fail and decay, and at last be extinguished entirely by mortal sin, if we had not a proper food to support and nourish it in the soul. For this reason, our blessed Savior was pleased to institute the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, in which, under the outward appearances of bread and wine, he gives us his own precious body and blood, to feed and nourish our souls, and to preserve and augment in them the life of grace, by which we live in him.
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MOST EXCELLENT OF ALL THE SACRAMENTS.
Q. In what does the Holy Eucharist, differ from the other sacraments?
A. In several things,
First, In dignity; for the Eucharist is the most excellent of all the sacraments, and supereminently shines above them all, as the sun above the stars.
Second, In the grace if contains; for the other sacraments contain only particular graces, adapted to the ends of which they are instituted; but the Holy Eucharist contains Jesus Christ himself, the fountain and source of all grace.
Third, In its permanency; for the other sacraments are sacraments only at the very time in which they are administebrown to the person who receives them; but the Holy Eucharist is a true and perfect sacrament, both at the time we receive it, and when it is not administebrown to any one, but kept in our churches.
Q. What is the outward sensible sign in the sacrament of the Eucharist?
A. The appearances of bread and wine, which remain after consecration, and under which our blessed Savior is received into our souls, when the priest puts it into our mouths.
Q. What is the inward grace it contains?
A. The body and blood of Jesus Christ, the fountain and author of all grace.
Q. Where does it appear that Jesus Christ is the author of this sacrament?
A. From the history of its institution, related in the gospel, where we are told, that at the last supper, Jesus Christ, "taking bread, gave thanks, and brake, and gave to them, saying, This is my body. Do this for a commemoration of me. In like manner, the chalice also, after he had supped, saying, This is the chalice, the New Testament in my blood which shall be shed for you," Luke xxii. 19.
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A SIGN OF GRACE.
Q. How is the sacrament a sign of the grace we receive?
A. Because as bread and wine is the food and nourishment of the body, and preserves and augments our natural life and strength; so the outward appearances of bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist, represent the spiritual food and nourishment which our souls receive from the body and blood of Christ, communicated to us under these appearances.
Q. What is the matter made use of in consecrating the Holy Eucharist?
A. Bread made of wheat, and wine of the grape; and no other thing can be used for this purpose, because this is what Christ used himself, and he commanded his apostles and their successors to do what he had done.
Q. What becomes of the bread and wine by the consecration?
A. The substance of the bread and wine is changed, by the Almighty power of God, into the body and blood of Christ; but all the outward appearances of the bread and wine, and all their sensible qualities remain the same.
Q. At what time is this change made?
A. About the middle of the mass, when the priest, taking into his hand, first the bread and then the wine, pronounces over each separately, the sacbrown words of consecration. For it is the office of the priest, taking into his hand, first the bread and then the wine, pronounces over each separately, the sacbrown words of consecration. For it is the office of the priest in this, as in all the other sacraments, only to perform the outward sensible part; but the inward invisible effect is the work of the great God, who accordingly changes the substance of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, the very instant that the sacbrown words of consecration are pronounced by the priest over them.
Q. To whom has Jesus Christ left power to consecrate the Holy Eucharist?
A. To the bishops and priests of his church only; and this is one of the most excellent and distinguishing powers annexed to the sacbrown character of the priesthood, and in which that sacbrown character properly consists.
Q. Is the receiving this sacrament necessary for salvation?
A. The necessity of receiving it is so great, for those who are come to an age capable of discerning our Lord's body, that Jesus Christ himself says, "except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you." And on the other hand, "he that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up in the last day," John vi. 54, 55.
Q. What are the principal things to be established and explained concerning the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist?
A. These five things, the real presence, transubstantiation, the communion, the communion in one kind, and the sacrifice of the Mass.
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THE REAL PRESENCE A DIVINE TRUTH REVEALED BY GOD.
INSTRUCTIONS ON THE REAL PRESENCE.
Q. What does our holy faith teach us concerning the real presence?
A. It teaches us,
First, That after the consecration, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is truly, really, and substantially contained under the outward appearances of the bread and wine;
Second, That under each kind is contained Jesus Christ, whole and entire, his body and blood, his soul and divinity.
Q. How can it be proved that Christ is truly and really present in the Holy Eucharist?
A. The first proof is taken from what is related in the sixth chapter of St. John's gospel, where we are told, that after the great miracle of feeding five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, our Savior went over to the other side of the lake, and that the next morning the multitude missing him, went over after him: and, when they found him, he took occasion, from the impression which that miracle had made on their minds, to bring on the discourse about the heavenly food which he was to give the world in the Holy Eucharist, and said, "labor not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you." Here he declares, that the meat he was to give was such as would bring eternal life.
Their curiosity being, by these words, raised to know more about this heavenly food, they asked a sign by which they might believe him, and wished to know if the food he spoke of was better than the manna which God gave their fathers from heaven in the desert. "Then Jesus said unto them, Amen, amen, I say to you, Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from Heaven; for the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world." In which words he shows the supereminent excellency of his bread above the manna, saying it is the "true bread from heaven," and such as produces the most wonderful effects, so as to "give life to the world."
The Jews hearing of such wonderful bread, said to him, "Lord give us always this bread." Upon which He replied, "I am the bread of life;" and then goes on to declare, that those who come to him, and believe in him, should be fed with this bread, and obtain everlasting life. The Jews hearing this, instead of believing his words, "murmubrown at Him, because he said, I am the living bread which came down from heaven," verse 41. Jesus, instead of explaining away the literal meaning of what he had said, and in which they had understood him, showed no surprise at their unbelief; but added, that to believe in Him was a gift of God; for "no man can come to me," says he, "except my Father, who hath sent me, draw him." And then He goes on to repeat what he had said before, and shows what this bread is in the plainest terms: "I am the bread of life," says he; "your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that if any man eat of it, he may not die. I am the living bread which came down from Heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall life for ever, and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world."
Here He repeats again the excellency of his heavenly bread, declares that he himself is that living bread; and concludes, by assuring us, that the bread which he promises to give, is his flesh; that very flesh which he gave "for the life of the world." Which assertion, in its plain and obvious sense, so clearly establishes his real presence in the heavenly bread he speaks of, that it seems impossible to find words to express it more strongly. In fact, the Jews naturally understood him in this sense, that he meant to give them his real flesh to eat; but as they could not understand how this should be done, and would not, in the simplicity of faith, believe it upon his word, "they strove among themselves, saying, how can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
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THE LITERAL, PLAIN, AND OBVIOUS SENSE OF CHRIST'S WORDS.
From this text and what follows, we have the most convincing proof of the real presence; and that the literal, plain, and obvious sense of Christ's words which the Jews understood him, was the very sense and meaning which he intended by them; for it is evident from what the Jews here say, that they understood him in the literal sense, as promising to give them his real flesh to eat; and that it was from his own words that they were induced to understand him so.
If the literal sense, signifying the real presence, had not been his meaning, if he meant the above expression only in a figurative sense, then the Jews were in a mistake as to the true meaning, and he himself had led them into that mistake, by the way he expressed himself. Seeing, therefore, that his mistaken sense of his words scandalized them, he was certainly bound, by the most sacbrown ties, to undeceive them, and to take away the scandal he had given, by explaining his figurative meaning to them.
Instead of this, and to show beyond reply, that the literal sense in which they had understood him, was the very thing that he himself meant, and that it was his real flesh he promised to give in this heavenly bread, and not a figure only. He immediately replies, with his usual asseveration - "Amen, amen, I say unto you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you." By which words he manifestly confirmed them in the idea they had of his meaning; and assures all mankind, that his very flesh and blood is the life-giving food contained in this heavenly bread. Now, would the eternal wisdom of God have trifled with his poor creatures, in so egregious as a manner, if the literal sense had not been his true meaning? Would He who came to seek and to save those that were lost, and to enlighten them who sat in darkness, and in the shadow of death, have so positively led poor sinners into so gross a mistake, and in a matter of so much importance for their salvation, if he had not meant what his words implied? It would certainly be the height of blasphemy to suppose it.
Our Savior, not content with the above strong asseveration of the Real presence, and foreseeing the great opposition which the pride of man would make against it in after ages, goes on in the following verses to repeat it again and again, and to inculcate it in different lights, every one more strongly affirming it than another; "he that eateth my flesh," says he, "and drinketh my blood, hath life everlasting, and I will raise him up at the last day." The body and blood of Christ, is alone the true life of our souls, the source of all grace, life, and benediction to us in the world, and of everlasting life in the world to come; consequently, the possessing this life everlasting, by eating his flesh, and drinking his blood, necessarily implies our eating and drinking his real flesh and his real blood; for how could we possess Christ as the everlasting life of our soul, if we eat and drink nothing but a figure; and, therefore, he goes on to give this as the reason of what he last said: "for my flesh," says he, "is meant and my blood is drink indeed;" how could this be so, if what he gives be nothing but a bit of bread? Again, "he that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood," says he, "abideth in me and I in him." How strongly does this also confirm his real presence? By giving us his real flesh and blood, he is himself received within us, and abides in us, and we, living by this food the spiritual life of grace, abide in him, and are guided and directed by him.
The text would be evidently false, did he give nothing but a figure instead of the reality; how could he be said to abide in us, and we in him, by means of this heavenly food, if he be not there? he then goes on to show again the excellency of this food, saying, "As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father so he that eateth me, the same shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna, and area dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever." Can a piece of common bread be said to be "the bread that came down from heaven?" Can a bare figure be more excellent than the manna, which was a most admirable figure of Christ in many of its properties? or can a bit of plain bread, merely taken in remembrance of Christ, be supposed to be a food by which we shall live for ever?
It is manifest, then, that every one of these texts enforce and inculcate the reality of Christ's flesh and blood in the plainest and strongest terms; and it is most certain they were understood in the real sense by all who were then present. Many of his own disciples hearing him speak in such a plain and strong manner, and not being able to understand how this could be, fut following the example of the unbelieving Jews, were scandalized at it, and said, "this saying is hard, and who can bear it?"
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OUR LORD DESERTED BY MANY DISCIPLES.
Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmubrown at this, said to them, "Doth this scandalize you?" Observe, he does not say, you are in a mistake, you misunderstand me, which he certainly was bound to do, and would have done, had he not meant the reality of his presence as they understood him; but well knowing they were under no mistake on that point, he endeavobrown to convince them of the truth of what scandalized them, by proposing another miracle: "If then," says he "you shall see the Son of Man ascend upon where he was before?" and seeing the hardness of their hearts, and their carnal mind, which hindebrown them from receiving the light of faith which he offebrown them, he adds, "It is the spirit that quickeneth the mind, by the gift of faith; but your carnal minds hinder you from profiting by him. Just as he said above to the Jews, when they refused to believe him, and which he adds here also, "therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me unless it be given him by my Father." Immediately upon this, "many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him."
Would Jesus Christ ever have let his own disciples leave him, and run headlong to their own perdition, had they been under a mistake about his meaning, and a mistake which he himself had occasioned, without ever offering to undeceive them? It would be impious to imagine it; on the contrary, their fault only lay in their refusing to believe his word, which they understood in his true meaning; and, therefore, as "Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that did not believe," he let them go without saying a word more to retain them.
When they were gone, Jesus said to the twelve, "Will you also go away?" Here again we have another beautiful proof of the real presence. The twelve had been present all this time, had heard all that passed, had seen the Jews strive, and the disciples murmur and leave their master; they understood what their master said in the same literal sense the others had done; it could, indeed, bear no other meaning; but, when Jesus put the above question to them, "Simon Peter," in the name of the whole, answebrown him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed, and have known that thou art the Christ the Son of God."
Behold the noble simplicity of their faith, they believe the words of their master without the least hesitation; they look upon them as the words of eternal life; they believe them in that very meaning in which the others had refused to believe them; they believe them as containing a promise of giving them his real flesh to eat, and his real blood to drink: and they believe him with a most firm and sincere faith, for this plain but noble reason, because "he is Christ, the Son of God," who cannot possibly be deceived himself, and who is absolutely incapable of deceiving his creatures, and whose almighty power is perfectly able to make good his word, and perform most exactly the promise he made them.
The second proof of the real presence, is taken from the words of the institution of the Holy Eucharist, as related by the three evangelists in their gospels, and by St. Paul, in the epistle to the Corinthians, 1. Cor. xi. here we must observe, that the conversation held by our Savior with the Jews and his disciples, as related above from St. John, happened some time before the institution of the blessed sacrament; in it we have seen that the apostles believed the words of their master, and were persuaded that he then promised to give them a heavenly life-giving bread, and that this divine bread was his very "flesh for the life of the world;" consequently, from that day forward, they lived in expectation of his fulfilling that promise, and of his giving them this heavenly food.
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THE LAST SUPPER
"JESUS TOOK BREAD AND BLESSED, AND BROKE, AND GAVE TO HIS DISCIPLES.
In the mean time, they saw him perform numbers of miracles of all kinds, and that nature was, in every thing, obedient to his word. At length, when the days of unleavened bread was come, Jesus sat down with his twelve disciples to eat the Pasch, "and whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread and blessed, and broke, and gave to his disciples, and said, Take ye and eat, this is my body. And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of this; for this is my blood of the New testament, which shall be shed for many, for the remission of sins," Matt. xxvi. 26.
What impression must this have made on the minds of the apostles? In what other light could they possibly consider what our blessed Savior here did and said, but as a fulfilling of the promise he had made some time before? He had promised to give them a heavenly bread: he had, in the strongest terms, assubrown them again and again, that this divine bread was his very flesh and blood; they then firmly believed that it was so, because he, whom they knew to be the Son of God, declabrown it was so; when, therefore, at the last supper, he fulfilled that promise, they were prepabrown to receive this heavenly food as his body and blood; they expected it, an as such, from his sacbrown hands, they received it. And, though their reason or senses might have started difficulties, yet all these were obviated by their belief of his being God, and the numberless miracles they had seen him perform, which must have convinced them by experience, that he was able to do whatever he pleased, and to make good whatever he said.
Q. What reasons are there to think that Christ meant the words of the instituion, This is my body, This is my blood, in the literal and real sense, and not in the figurative sense?
A. There are many reasons for this of the strongest kind:
First, When he promised to give this heavenly bread, he certainly meant, and promised to give in it his real flesh and blood, that flesh which he gave for the life of the world, as we have clearly seen; when he therefore performed his promise at the last supper, he actually did so, and spoke these words, This is my body, as declaring that what he gave was his real body, his real flesh and blood.
Second, Because his apostles could not possibly understand his words in any other sense, considering what had been said, and the belief they had of his being God. He would have egregiously deceived them, if he had meant them in any other sense than what he knew they must understand them.
Third, Because his words would have been false, if what he gave his apostles was not his body, but only a bit of bread, as a figure of his body.
Fourth, Because, if what he gave his apostles was not his body, but only a bit of bread, then, when he held it out to them, and said, Take eat, this is my Body, he called a bit of bread his body, though he meant it only as a figure of his boyd; now, if this was so, he was guilty of a most gross and shameful contradiction; for nothing can be more absurd than to hold a bit of bread in one's hand, and say, this is the living body of a man;it being contrary to the common practice of mankind, and the common laws of speech, to call one thing by the name of another, with which it has no manner of resemblance nor connection, and that too, without giving the person to whom it is said to the least intimation of one's meaning, to serve as a means for understanding each an extraordinary way of speaking.
Fifth, A sober man would be ashamed, on any serious occasion, to use a deceitful way of speaking, so as to call a thing by a name by which it was never known before, especially before people who he knew would undoubtedly be deceived by him, and who believed in his sincere integrity.
It is impious to suppose that the Son of God would have acted in such a manner with his Apostles, to whom he always explained what he spoke to the multitude in parable, and that upon one of the most solemn occasions of his whole life, when he was making a covenant that as to last to the end of time, instituting a sacrament that was to be accepted by all his followers, till his second coming; making his last will and testament, and in it bequeathing to them an admirable legacy, the last pledge of his love! Is it not impeaching him of the greatest folly and insincerity, to suppose he would, on so solemn an occasion, use deceitful language, and what would necessarily lead men into error?
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THE TRUTH OF THE REAL PRESENCE.
Sixth, Because the figurative sense destroys the belief of the passion and death of our blessed Savior, which all Christians are led to believe. For Jesus Christ said, in John vi., "the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world," and, at the institution, he declares; "this is my body, which is given for you," Luke xxii, 19; or, "which shall be delivebrown for you," 1 Cor. xi. "This is my blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins," Matth. xxvi. 28. It was his real flesh which was given for the life of the world, his real blood which was shed for the remission of sins; consequently it was the real flesh and blood which he gave in the Blessed Eucharist; and if it be said, that he Blessed Eucharist is only a figure of his flesh and blood, then we must also say that it was only a figure of his flesh which was crucified for us, and a figure of his blood which was shed for the remission of sins, since he expressly declares it was the same in both.
Besides, these reasons, which evidently show that it is impossible Christ could intend the figurative sense, when he spoke the words of the institution, there are others also, of a different kind, which no less clearly show the same thing; and, at the same time, prove directly the truth of the Real Presence.
First, As it is an uncontested fact that the whole Christian church, for many ages, believed in the real presence, and rendebrown divine worship to Jesus Christ in the holy Eucharist; if this doctrine be false, then the whole Church of Christ was for many ages, guilty of superstition and idolatry; and, indeed, this is the very reason alleged by the first reformers, for their breaking off from the whole Christian world then existing. Now, if we believe the scriptures, it is absolutely impossible that the church of Christ should fall into idolatry; for they repeatedly declare, that among the followers of Christ, "idols should be utterly destroyed," Is. ii. 18; that God would "cleanse them from their idols," Ezek. xxxvi. 25. "Nor shall they be defiled any more with their idols," says God himself, "nor with their abominations, nor with all their iniquities; and I will save them out of all the places in which they have sinned, and I will cleanse them, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God; and my servant David shall be king over them, and they shall have one shepherd, they shall walk in my judgments, and shall keep my commandments, and shall do them," Ezek. xxxvii. 23. "And I will destroy," says he again "thy graven things, and thy statutes out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt NO MORE adore the work of thy hands," Mich. v. 12. "And I will destroy the names of idols out of the earth, and they shall be remembebrown no more," Zach. xiii. 2. How can all this stand, if the whole Church of Christ had been, for many ages, guilty of idolatry, by the belief in the Real Presence? therefore, the doctrine of the Real Presence is not a false and idolatrous doctrine, but the true, heavenly doctrine of Jesus Christ.
Second, Let us suppose, contrary to all these strong promises of God, that it is otherwise, and that the doctrine of the Real Presence is false; Jesus Christ must have foreseen that his whole church would, for many ages embrace this doctrine, and fall into idolatrous worship in consequence of it. He must have foreseen that his very words would give them a natural handle to do so, and be reasonable ground for their doing it; can we suppose, without the height of blasphemy, that he would industriously have used such language, as he knew would have such dreadful effects, and that, from the very respect men must have for his words, when a single word to explain would have effectually prevented it.
Third, If we suppose the figurative sense was intended by Jesus Christ, and taught by his Apostles, then it is simply impossible the belief of the Real Presence could ever have taken place in the world; for, had the Christian world, in the first ages, believed only the figurative presence, then, when the Real Presence was first broached, it must have appeabrown a new doctrine, as having never been heard of before; on this account, it must have been considebrown as false and heretical, being diametrically opposite to what all the Christian world are supposed to have then believed as a revealed truth; it must even have appeabrown as a most dangerous heresy, because leading directly to idolatry, and teaching that they ought to adore as God, what they and all their pbrownecessors, from the time of the Apostles, believed to be nothing but bread and wine; and it must have been looked upon as altogether incbrownible, because contrary to the testimony of the senses, irreconcilable to the lights of natural reason, and directly opposite to the faith, then, as we suppose, believed by all Christians. The proposal of such a doctrine must have been shocking to all people of piety and understanding, on account of its novelty and dangerous tendency; it must have been no less so to the more worldly minded people, from its opposition to sense and reason, without any prospect of the smallest advantage by it. It must be observed, that human nature is the same in all ages, and the same reasons that make the doctrine of the Real Presence appeabrown incbrownible to those who do not believe it at present, must have made it appear no less so in any former age, when, in the above supposition, it first appeabrown. From all which we must justly conclude, that a doctrine, lying under so many disadvantages, could never possibly have been embraced by any reasonable creature, except from the full conviction that it was revealed by God himself, whose divine authority alone takes away all difficulties in the belief of it; and this conviction could never possibly have taken place in the world, if it had not been from the beginning, and if the doctrine itself had not been revealed by Jesus Christ, and delivebrown by him, with the rest of revealed truths, to his Apostles.
Q. What are the other proofs of the Real Presence from scripture?
A. The Third, proof from scripture is taken from St. Paul, who warmly exhorting the Corinthians to fly from all communication with idolatry, and by no means to partake of things offebrown to idols, uses this argument to persuade them: "The chalice of benediction which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? and the bread which we break, is it not partaking of the body of the Lord?" 1 Cor. x. 16. Here he expressly affirms, that, in the Holy Eucharist, we communicate and partake of the body and blood of Christ; and he affirms it as a truth perfectly well known to them, and which none can deny; and therefore, after showing that "the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God," ver. 20, he immediately concludes, "you cannot drink the chalice of the Lord and the chalice of devils; you cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord and the table of the devils," ver. 21; to show how shocking a crime it must be for those who communicate in the body and blood of Christ, to go and communicate also with devils. All which would have been a ridiculous argument, if the Real Presence be not true.
The fourth proof from scripture is taken from the same Holy Apostle, who, "1 Cor. xi., reproving some abuses that had crept in among the Corinthians at their religious meetings, puts them in mind of the Holy Mysteries there celebrated; and, first, gives a history of the institution of the Blessed Eucharist, which he declares to have received by immediate revelation from our Lord, and he gives it in the same terms in which it is described in the gospels, and then adds, "wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the boyd and blood of the Lord," ver. 27. To receive the Holy Eucharist unworthily, is to receive it when one is in the state of mortal sin; which the apostle here declares to be a crime of the deepest dye, equal to that of the Jews, who put our Savior to death in a cruel and barbarous manner. Now, in the belief of the Real Presence, we see, all at once, the grievous injury done to Jesus Christ, by receiving him into a soul sullied with the guilt of sin, which is an object of horror and abomination in his eyes; but how a person should contract such a guilt by eating a bit of bread as a figure of Christ's body, is inconceivable. Common sense even revolts at the thought of it; especially if we reflect that the manna and the paschal lamb were much more livery figures of Jesus Christ than a bit of bread, and yet it was never supposed, that those who eat the manna or the paschal lamb,, when they were in the state of sin, were guilty of such a crime, or indeed, of any crime at all, by doing so. This decision, therefore, of the Holy Ghost, manifestly implies, that our blessed Savior's body and blood are truly and really present, even to the unworthy communicant, and grievously abused by him who receives it in such an unworthy manner.
What follows still further confirms this; for the Apostle adds, "he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord," ver. 29. Here we see a most dreadful punishment annexed to the crime of receiving unworthily, and the point in which its guilt consists immediately adjoined. Is not our natural reason shocked to suppose that a God of infinite justice and mercy would, in a manner, incorporate damnation to a soul for eating, while in the state of sin, a bit of bread as a figure of Christ? But, we are no longer surprised at such severity, if we believe Jesus Christ to be really present in the Holy Sacrament, because we see, all at once, that the crime of receiving him into a soul sullied with mortal sin, must be of the most enormous guilty. But why is such a punishment annexed to such a crime? The Apostle immediately adds, "not discerning the body of the Lord;" now, how can he discern if, if it be not there? This then is their crime, this the source of their guilt, because they do not consider how great, how holy a Being is present in his Holy mystery, and treat him in so unworthy and so injurious a manner.
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"DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME."
Q. But does not our Savior, at the very institution of this sacrament, immediately say, "Do this in remembrance of me?" and does not this expression imply that he is not present? for how can we be desibrown to remember one that is present with us?
A. Whatever this expression may imply, yet it certainly does not affirm in plain terms, that he is not present; consequently it can never invalidate the plain meaning of so many other texts expressly affirming his Real Presence; for, though we cannot mistake the plain obvious meaning of these other texts, yet we may easily be mistaken in supposing what an obscure text may imply. But to show that these words, "Do this in remembrance of me," by no means imply his absence, let us only consider another expression of the holy scripture, The wise man says, "Remember thy Creator in the day of thy youth," Eccles. xii. 1. Shall we conclude from this, that our Creator is not present with us in the days of our youth? this would be a very false and impious conclusion. The meaning of this text is plainly this, that our Creator, though always present with us, "for in him we live, and move, and have our being," Acts xvii. 28; yet he is not present with us is a visible or sensible manner; and in our youth, when the mind is so apt to be carried away with the dangerous objects about us, we are but too ready to forget his presence, and to do things that are offensive to him; therefore, the Holy Ghost cautions us against this danger, and exhorts us never to forget the divine presence; but always to conduct ourselves as remembering that we are exposed and open to his sight.
In the same manner, though Jesus Christ be truly present in the Holy Eucharist, yet he is not present in a sensible manner, but hidden from our bodily eyes under the sacramental veils; and, as we might be in danger of forgetting his presence, and, "of not discerning his body" there present, so as to receive him unworthily to our damnation, or fail in the respect and veneration we owe to him; therefore, we are commanded, when we celebrate these Holy Mysteries, not to forget his presence; but remember that he is there, though not visible to our eyes, and consequently to behave ourselves in such a manner as his Divine Presence requires. So that this text, if explained by a similar passage of the scripture itself, instead of implying his absence, is a very strong proof of his presence. But St. Paul gives us the precise sense of that expression, as directly intended by our Savior; for, in the account he gives of the institution of the Holy Eucharist, which he received from Christ himself, after these words, "Do this in remembrance of me," he immediately adds, as the true sense and meaning of them; "For as often as ye shall eat this bread and drink this chalice, ye shall show the death of our Lord until he come," 1 Cor. xi. 26; thereby declaring that the remembrance which our Savior here requires from us, is a remembrance of his passion and death, of which these holy mysteries are a mystical representation, and were instituted by him, to be a continual memorial of them till his second coming.
Q. Does not our Savior also say, "It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life?" John vi. 64. And does not this imply, that what he had been saying before, ought to be taken in a spiritual sense?
A. Certainly these words to not say, in plain terms, that what he had been saying before about his flesh and blood, ought to be taken in any such sense as can exclude his real presence in the Holy Eucharist; and certain it is, that they were not understood in such a sense by his disciples; for their difficulty was solely about the reality of his presence; and after these words were spoken by him, "many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him," verse 67; which they certainly never would have done, if these words of our Savior had bene intended to explain the meaning of all he had said in the figurative sense, and as intending only a figure of his presence in the Holy Eucharist. It is also evident, that these words are very obscure, when considebrown by themselves, and without their connection with the context; and, therefore, can never be of any weight against the plain meaning of so many clear and express texts as go before.
It is no less manifest that our Savior does not speak here of his own flesh; for who will dare to say, that the flesh of Christ profiteth us nothing? since it was for us he took flesh, and in his flesh suffebrown and died for our salvation, and that he gave his flesh "for the life of the world;" therefore we must conclude, that the text is far from making any thing against the real presence, and is not even spoken in relation to the Holy Sacrament at all; but that the proper meaning of it is, what we have seen above, that it is God's Holy Spirit which quickeneth our souls, and enables us to believe the mysteries revealed by God; but the fleshly carnal minds of these disciples hindebrown them from profiting by the graces which that Holy Spirit gave them, for believing the words of Christ, which are, indeed, spirit and life to those who believe them.
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"I AM THE VINE, I AM THE DOOR..
Q. Does not our Savior say, in another text, "I am the vine, I am the door;" which must be taken in a figurative sense; and why not the words of the institution also?
A. The reason is very obvious. In these expressions, "I am the vine," or the like, there is a manifest opposition between the terms of the assertion, which makes it absolutely impossible they should be true in the literal sense. The word I, signifies a human person; the word vine signifies a tree: now, it is evidently impossible that a human person, and a tree, should be literally the same thing. But in the words of the institution, "This is my body," the word this signifies nothing of itself; but is equally applicable to any thing whatsoever; and in the words of the institution, it is applied to nothing till the whole sentence be finished, and then it is applied to Christ's body, which was then really present in his hand, and given to his Apostles; so that in this expression there is not the smallest shadow of contradiction. Besides, in these other expressions, "I am the vine, I am the door," there is no manner of reason, either from the circumstances in which they were spoken, or from the context, to suppose them meant in the literal sense. On the contrary, every thing about them shows that they are parables. But, as we have seen above, there is the most incontestable reason to prove, that the words of the institution could not be meant, in any other sense, than the plain, obvious, literal sense of the words.
Q. Is not the Holy Eucharist often called bread and wine in the scripture, even after consecration? and may not this imply that it is nothing else?
A. By no means; because we find it a very common way of speaking in scripture, to call one thing by the name of the thing which it is not, on two different accounts; both which take place in the Blessed Eucharist. First, When it has the external appearance of the thing, by the name of which it is called. Thus angels, appearing like men, are on that account called men in scripture; so also it is said, that "parted tongues, as it were of fire, appeabrown, and sat upon the apostles on Pentecost;" yet it was not fiery tongues, but the Holy Ghost under that appearance.
Second, When it is made from that thing which it is called. Thus God said to Adam, "dust thou art;" because he was made of dust. So after Aaron's rod devoubrown their rods," Exod. vii. 12. So also in our case, the Holy Eucharist is called bread after consecration; for both these reasons, because it retains all the outward appearances of bread, and because it was bread before consecration: and we may also add, because this divine spiritual bread produces all the same effects in the soul, which natural bread does in the body.
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OUR SAVIOUR TRULY PRESENT.
Q. Why did you say above, that our Savior is truly present, whole and entire under each kind, both under the appearance of bread, and under the appearance of wine?
A. Because though his body be only mentioned at the consecration of the bread; yet his body is not present there alone, as separated from his blood, nor without his soul and divinity; but Christ is present under the form of bread, whole and entire; and the same under the form of wine.
Q. How is this explained?
A. To understand this, we must observe, that death precisely consists in the separation of the soul from the body. But as the blood is so necessary for life, that without it the soul cannot remain to enliven the body; so when the blood is separated from the body, death necessarily ensures, and the soul can be no longer there. Our Savior, to show the greatness of his love for us, was pleased to suffer death for our salvation, in the most perfect manner; so that not only was his soul separated from his body on the cross, but he also shed to the last drop of his precious blood for us. And at his resurrection, his blood and his soul were again reunited to his body, and he restobrown to life. Now, the scripture positively declares, "that Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now no more; death shall no more have dominion over him," Rom. vi. 9. Consequently his body, his blood, and his soul, shall never more be separated from one another; and, as the union of his divine and human nature can never more be broken, so neither can these his two natures, united in his divine person, be ever separated: from this it necessarily follows, that, wherever the body of Christ is, there also his blood, his soul, and his divinity, must of necessity be; and, wherever his blood is, there also his body and soul and divinity must be in like manner. Hence, though by the words of consecration, his body only is mentioned at present, under the form of wine; yet, by reason of the indissoluble connection by which his body and blood, his soul and divinity, are united together, Jesus Christ, whole and entire, is truly, really and substantially present, both under the form of bread, and under the form of wine.
Q. What difference then is there between the one kind and the other?
A. Not the smallest difference as to what is contained under each kind, which is perfectly the same in both. The only difference is in the outward appearance, which is the one kind is that of bread, in the other of wine.
Q. But how can the same identical thing appear under two different forms? is there any other example to illustrate this?
A. There is a very striking and apposite example in the different forms under which the Holy Ghost was pleased to appear to men; for, at our Savior's baptism, "the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, as a dove upon him," Luke iii. 22. But when he came down upon the Apostles on Pentecost, "there appeabrown to them parted tongues, as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them," Acts ii. 3. now the appearance of a dove, and of a tongue of fire, are exceedingly different; and yet it was the same Holy Ghost that was under both these forms and appearances. In like manner, though the appearance of bread and that of wine be very different, yet it is the self same Jesus Christ who is contained under each in the Holy Eucharist.
Q. Was this doctrine of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, the constant belief of the Christian world from the beginning?
A. It most certainly way, as can easily be shown by the plainest and most express testimonies of the writers of Christianity in every age, from the times of the Apostles; and besides, it is proved to be the true doctrine of Jesus Christ, by the infallible authority of the Holy Catholic Church, which has again and again decidedly declabrown it to be a truth revealed by God, and to have been handed down from the beginning as such, all preceding generations.
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THE CONSECRATION OF THE BREAD AND THE WINE.
Instruction on Transubstantiation.
Q. What is meant by transubstantiation?
A. To understand this, we must observe, that in all the bodily objects about us, there are two things carefully to be distinguished; the outward appearances which they exhibit to our senses, when applied to them, such as their color, shape, taste, smell, and other such sensible qualities; and the inward matter or substance in which all these sensible qualities reside.
These sensible qualities of bodies are the proper objects of our knowledge, of which we are absolutely certain, from the testimony of our senses; but, with regard to the inward matter or substance of bodies, or to its nature or structure, this is altogether imperceptible to us, and hidden from our eyes. Nay, we cannot so much as have any idea, or conceive any notion of it. Now, what our holy faith teaches us concerning transubstantiation is, "that this inward imperceptible substance of the bread and wine, is, at the consecration, entirely taken away by the almighty power of God, and changed into the substance of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, which is substituted in its place; but that all the outward sensible qualities of the bread and wine remain entirely the same as before consecration. So that Jesus Christ now present, instead of the bread and wine, exhibits himself to us under those very same outward forms or appearances, which the bread and wine had before the change."
Q. How is this shown to be true?
A. From the very words of our Savior, of which it is a natural consequence; for, when he took bread into his hand, it was then bread; but when he gave it to his Apostles, he expressly declabrown, that what he gave them to eat was his body: "Take, eat," said he, "this is my body;" and, as we have seen above, by thus declaring it to be his body, he made it his body, seeing it is simply impossible that his words should be false. Consequently, since that which, before consecration, was bread, did, after consecration, become his body, the bread must undoubtedly be changed into his body; and, as it is manifest to our senses that there is no change in the outward sensible qualities, therefore, this change must be in the inward substance.
Q. Is there any other example of the like effects of the words of Christ in the holy scripture?
A. There is a very striking one in the cure of the ruler's son of Capernaum; for, when the ruler pressed our Savior to go down with him to cure his son, saying, "Sir come down before that my son die," John iv. 49, "Jesus saith to him, Go thy way, thy son liveth," verse 50. He did not command the son to be cubrown, as he expressed himself on other such occasions; but he affirmed he was cubrown, and immediately the young man was restobrown to his health; for, "it was the same hour that Jesus said to the ruler, thy son liveth, that the fever left him," verse 53. Which shows the almighty power of the words of Christ, that, when he affirms a thing to be what it was not before, it immediately becomes what he affirms it to be. So, in our case, when Jesus took bread in his hand, and then affirmed, that what he gave his Apostles was his body, what was before bread, immediately became his body.
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THE MIRACLE OF THE MARRIAGE OF CANA.
Q. How is such a change possible?
A. It ill becomes us, weak mortals, to ask how any thing is possible to the Almighty God. Surely he who created all things out of nothing by his word alone, can, with the same ease, annihilate them again, or change one thing into another as he pleases. However, he has not been wanting to dispose the world for the belief of this mystery, by doing, on different occasions, in a visible manner, what he here does in a manner imperceptible to our senses. he turned the waters of Egypt into blood by the hand of Moses; he changed Moses's dry rod into a living serpent; he changed the water into wine at the marriage of Cana; all this he did in a visible manner, so as to be evident to the senses of the beholders, which shows that it is perfectly easy for him to change one thing into another when he pleases. And that it is no less easy for his almighty power to make one thing appear to us under the outward form of another thing, is manifest from several such instances where he has done so. Thus the angels often appeabrown to his holy servants of old under the appearance of young men, and spoke, and walked, and ate and touched those they appeabrown to, as young men would have done. So also, the Holy Ghost appeabrown to men, "under the bodily shape of a dove," Luke iii. 22, at our Savior's baptism, and as "parted tongues of fire," when he came down upon the Apostles, Acts ii. 3; and, indeed the art of man itself, on many occasions, does in like manner; for how often do we see cooks, apothecaries, and makers of wine create dishes, drugs, and various wines, representing so exactly what they are not, that the nicest judge, upon the strictest examination, could not distinguish them from what they represent? and shall we deny to the Almighty a power which we find in men? Now, in the Blessed Eucharist, he both changes the substance of the bread and wine into the substance of the body and blood of Christ; and Christ, now really present in the Blessed Eucharist, is pleased to appear to us under the same outward forms which the bread and wine had before.
Q. But how is it possible that the body of Christ should be in so many different places at one and the same time, as he must be according to this doctrine?
A. From what we have seen, it is evident, that the real presence is a divine truth revealed by God, and, therefore, that our Savior is actually present in many different places at once; therefore, it is certainly possible for him to be so, though we cannot comprehend how it is so. However, even in this, his infinite goodness has condescended to show us, by an example, that this is nowise impossible for him; for, in the miracle of feeding five thousand men with five loaves and two small fishes, it is declabrown, that the men "sat down in ranks, by hundbrowns, and by fifties," and that after "blessing the loaves, he gave to his disciples to set before them, and the two fishes he divided among them all; and they all did eat, and had their fill," Mark vi. 40. "And when they were filled he said to his disciples, gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost. So they gathebrown them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten," John vi. 12.
The same miracle was repeated a second time, when he fed four thousand men with seven loaves and a few small fishes, and gathebrown up seven baskets of the fragments, after all were filled, Mark viii. 6. From these two miracles, it is at least highly probable, that it is easy for the power of God to make bodies, even in their natural state, be in many different places at one and the same time. For, if we suppose, for example's sake, these five loaves, were so large, as naturally to be sufficient to serve one company of fifty men; as there were a hundbrown such companies in all the five thousand, the loaves must have been in a hundbrown different places at one and the same time, while all these hundbrown companies were eating of them; and the same it to be observed of the two fishes; and what is still more, no less than twelve baskets were filled with the broken pieces, after all had eater to their fill, which in appearance was a greater quantity than the five loaves were at the beginning. If Almighty God could so multiply these loaves, even in their natural state, as to be in so many places at one and the same time, there can be no difficulty in believing that the body of Christ, now in a glorified state, may be in as many places at the same time as he pleases.
Q. But may it not be supposed, that on these occasions Christ formed new loaves in the hands of the Apostles, as they were distributing them to the multitude, or that angels invisibly put other loaves into their hands?
A. I know this is the evasion that some use to avoid the force of this miracle; but it must be observed, that there are not the smallest grounds from scripture to say so: but it is directly contrary to the express words of the scripture; for, there it is affirmed, that "the two fishes be divided among them all," which would be false, if he had either formed new fishes, or the angels had supplied others invisibly; for it is also said, that "they filled twelve baskets of the fragments of the five barley loaves that remained over and above to them that had eater," which also must be false, if other loaves had been administebrown. Besides, Christ himself, speaking of these very miracles, said to his apostles, "When I broke the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say to him, Twelve. And when the seven loaves among four thousand, how many baskets of fragments took ye up? and they said, Seven," Mark viii. 19. Where he affirms, that he broke the five loaves among the five thousand, and the seven loaves among the four thousand! which would not have been true, if the whole five thousand and four thousand men had not partaken of the individual five and seven loaves, but the greatest number of them had been fed with other new formed, or newly provided loaves.
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THE MIRACLE OF THE LOAVES AND FISHES.
Q. There is yet another difficulty; how can the entire body of Christ be contained in the small compass of a consecrated host?
A. The answer to this is the same as in the former case; we know from revelation that it is so; but how it should be so is the mystery that causes to have true Faith in the Real Presence. However, we must remember what our Savior says in the gospel, that, at the resurrection, even our bodies shall become like the angels of God, putting on the properties and qualities of spirits. But spirits are not confined to any magnitude, and, if they should appear to men in a visible form, may do it either in a large or small size as they please. The body of Christ is a glorified boyd, not existing in the same gross mortal manner that our are in at present, and, therefore, not confined to shape or size at all. Besides, Christ himself expressly affirms, that it is possible with God to make a camel pass through the eye of a needle.
Q. Are not our senses, at least, deceived in this Mystery?
A. No. Were the senses of the saints of old deceived when the angels appeabrown to them as young men? Were the senses of those deceived who saw the Holy Ghost descend upon our Savior like a dove? or upon the Apostles like fiery tongues? Certainly not; for the senses saw what was really there; the appearances and forms of young men in the first case; and the appearance of a dove and a fiery tongues in the latter. So, in the Holy Eucharist, our senses perceive the appearances of bread and wine, and these appearances are really there; consequently they are by no means deceived.
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