Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 142.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada


Obj. 1. The whole argument of this chapter amounts to no more, than a mere negative proof; and therefore is not conclusive.

Ans. That some negative arguments are as strong, as any positive demonstration; though there be others, that are frivolous and childish. As, for instance: it is as strong a proof as any positive demonstration, that Great Britain never was conquered by the Turks, because no history has ever made mention of it: and a man that should refuse to yield to such a proof, because it is but a negative one, would justly deserve to be cudgeled into better reason. But if any one should seriously maintain, that neither William the Conqueror, nor Henry the VIII. ever eat black puddings, because the fact is not recorded in any history; I believe he would not get the reputation of a profound wit by it. Now these two specimens may in some measure direct us to distinguish a good negative argument from a bad one: and I dare confidently say, that the universal silence of historians proves my points as effectually, as that Great Britain never was conquered by the Turks.

Obj. 2. Praying in an unknown tongue, jubilees, and celibacy of priests, were not practised in the ancient Church.

Ans. Though all this were true, the objection is impertinent: because no article of faith is concerned in it.

This, and the four following objections are taken out of a little anonymous book, entitled, " Friendly and seasonable advice to the Roman Catholics of England." But though the book be little in bulk, it contains the largest collection of bare-faced lies and calumnies, that ever were crowded together under one cover. The author, whoever he may be, has, perhaps, already accounted for it before the great tribunal ; for it was written full thirty years ago. But if he be still alive, I cannot do less than return the favor of his friendly and seasonable advice, by advising him to repent while it is yet time, and atone for the wrong he has done to truth.

Obj. 3. "The use of images," says this author, "can be derived no higher (as to its being decreed) than the second council of Nice, anno 787."

Ans. The consubstantiality of the Son can be derived no higher (as to its being decreed) than the first council of Nice, anno, 325. And is this a good proof that it was not the faith of the Church in the three first centuries ?

However, with the adviser's good leave, even the actual use of images was introduced into the Church long before the lawfulness of it was defined in the second Nicene-council. For how could it otherwise have occasioned the heresy of the Iconoclasts, or image-breakers, which was condemned in that council ? Though, in reality, it is nothing to the purpose to know, when the actual use of them first became the public practice: For it is certain the Church never obliged the faithful to it as a thing essential to Christianity. On the contrary, it is a point of discipline only, which was not universally practised, till idolatry was utterly extinguished in Christendom. But since that time, the Church had reason to declare, " That the images of Christ and his Saints are to be retained: And that a due honor, and veneration is to be given to them." Cone. Trid. Sess. 25. Nor do I see how any thing of moment can be objected against it. But to a thinking spectator, it cannot but appear somewhat odd, that the Church of England should admit the pictures of Moses and Aaron into her churches, and banish those of Jesus Christ, and his Apostles.

Obj. 4. " The administering the sacrament in one kind (says the friendly adviser, p. 15,) is no older than the council of Constance."

Ans. If he means, that the Church's faith before that council, was, that " administering the sacrament is one kind in contrary to Chrises institution." (as he must mean, if he pretends to speak to the purpose,) his assertion is flatly-false. But if his meaning be, that the council of Constance ordered, that the sacrament should from that time forward be administered to the laity in one kind only ; though the fact be true, the objection is foreign to the matter under debate; if it be made evident, that " receiving under one, or both kinds, is a point of discipline only."

Now, that it has always been regarded by the Church as such, is an undeniable truth; because it is without dispute, that in the primitive ages the sacrament was received sometimes in both kinds, sometimes in one. I shall not need to prove the former; and there are three undeniable instances of the latter from the practice of the primitive Church.

First. In the communion of infants, who were allowed to drink of the cup, without receiving the consecrated host. Cyp. L. de lapsis.

Secondly. In domestic communions : the faithful being permitted by reason of the persecution in the second and third age, to carry consecrated hosts to their own houses for private communions in one kind only. Tert. L. 2, and Uxoram. c. 5, S. Cyp. L. de lapsis.

And thirdly. In the manner frequently used of administering the sacrament, to the sick. Euseb. Lib. 6, Hist. c. 44, p. 246.

All which are unanswerable proofs, that the manner of receiving the communion either in one, or both kinds, was regarded by the primitive Church, as a point of discipline only; and, therefore, changeable according as the nature, or exigency of circumstances should require. And it cannot be questioned but the primitive Church understood the meaning of Christ's precept and institution somewhat better than our late reformers; and would never have allowed of a communion under one kind only, upon any exigency whatsoever, if they had looked upon it as a mangling of the sacrament, or a violation of Christ's ordinance.

And, therefore, what the friendly adviser says, p. 10, that the taking away the cup from the laity is contrary to our Saviour's institution, is more than he can make out. But what he adds, viz.: " That the very council of Constance, which first enjoined communion in one kind, confesses, that it is contrary to our Saviour's institution," is a calumny not to be matched but by many others of his own forging in the same book. For it is in effect to call the council an assembly either of Atheists, or of fools and madmen. For who but Atheists and madmen are capable of making a decree like this ? viz.: " Notwithstanding that Christ has commanded all men to receive the sacrament in both kinds, it shall be given in one kind only to the people." Surely a man must renounce his reason to judge, that an assembly of Christian bishops and pastors, in their senses, should make such a mad and impious decree in the face of the whole world.

As to the council's non obstante, etc. Which is made the pretence for this calumny, the obvious and genuine meaning of it is this, viz.: " Notwithstanding that our Saviour instituted the sacrament in both kinds, all are not commanded and bound to receive it in both kinds." Which is no less true, than to say, "that though God has instituted all sorts of meats for the use of mankind, yet all men are not commanded nor bound to eat of all sorts of meats." Nay, the Antichians were by the Apostles expressly forbid blood and things strangled. Both kinds, indeed, were consecrated by Christ, that both might be offered up in sacrifice, and be a perfect representation of his death by the mystical separation of his body and blood. But since neither laymen, nor women are priests, as they have no power to consecrate, so they are not within the command of receiving both kinds.