Friday, 9 September 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 144

Obj. 6. The adviser is likewise pleased to acquaint us, p. 14, that auricular confession to a priest was never imposed as necessary, till the Lateran council, anno, 1215, Can. 21.
Ans. I must here return upon him with my former argument, viz.: That no man of common sense will believe him, unless he can produce some history of the thirteenth century, giving an account of the opposition which this new odious article met with, and the disturbances it occasioned in the Church. For it is as incredible, that a new doctrine, so hateful and repugnant to human nature, as that of auricular confession, after its having been believed unnecessary to salvation for near twelve hundred years, should be imposed upon the Church as necessary, and submitted to without opposition, noise, or trouble; this I say, is as incredible as the most fabulous romance, that ever was invented. Since, therefore, the canon of the Lateran council relating to the point in question, was effectually received by the universal Church without any manner of opposition, or trouble, it is a demonstration, that it defined nothing but the ancient faith of the Church, nor imposed that as a necessary duty, which had been believed unnecessary before.
The naked truth of the whole matter is this. The obligation, or necessity of auricular confession, had always been the faith of the Church. But there was a great neglect in the practice of it among Christians; some delaying it from year to year, and others putting it off to their very last sickness. To put a stop to this evil, the Lateran council fixed the time; and by its twenty-first canon obliges all the faithful, "to confess once a year, and receive the sacrament at Easter." And let any one judge, whether this be imposing a new article of faith, as the adviser tells us. But it is his method to charge through thick and thin, and calumniate boldly, in hopes, that at least some part of the dirt he throws at us may stick.
Obj. 7. No man will at least deny, that the article of Transubstantiation, was first coined in the Lateran council.
Ans. I shall make bold both to deny it, and prove it to be false. The friendly adviser, p. 15, calls Transubstantiation the discriminating doctrine of our Church, yet at the same time, has the confidence to tell us, that our own doctrine acknowledges, that it was not held by the fathers. For which he quotes Valentia. Secondly, That our schoolmen confess, that Transubstantiation is not ancient. For which Suarez is quoted. And thirdly, that Scotus and Duranus plainly deny it. It is very strange, that four such eminent divines, and noted Papists should betray their own Church in a discriminating point of doctrine. But false quotations make as fine a show in the margin as true ones: and ignorant people, for whom alone the friendly adviser has calculated his treatise, will look upon him as a scholar of the 'first magnitude, and easily mistake bold forgeries, for deep learning.
But to give a direct answer to the objection, the Lateran council decreed nothing but the ancient faith of the Church. For there is a large difference between coining words, and coining articles of faith. All men of learning know, that the word consubstantial was first made use of in the great council of Nice, to express the divinity of Christ against the Arians. Was this, then, coining a new article of faith ? No, it was only coining a new word to express the ancient faith, and distinguish Catholics from Arians. In like manner, therefore, the word transubstantiation was first used in the fourth Lateran council, to express the ancient faith in relation to the mystery of the holy Eucharist, as appears from the writings of the ancient fathers.
The word transubstantiation signifies a change of one substance into another; and in relation to the Eucharist, it signifies a change of the bread into the body, and of the wine into the blood of our Saviour, Christ, made by the words of consecration: now let us see whether the ancient fathers have not very plainly taught this doctrine.
St. Cyril, of Jerusalem, in Catech. 4, myst. "Since therefore, Christ himself does thus affirm, and say of the bread, ' this is my body,' who from henceforward dares be so bold as to doubt of it? And since the same does assure us, and say, { This is my blood,' who I say, can doubt of it, and say it is not his blood? In Cana of Galilee, he once with his sole will turned water into wine, which much resembles blood. And does he not deserve to be credited that he changed wine into blood ? "
St. Greg. Nyssen. in Orat. Catec. c. 37. "I do, therefore, now rightly believe, that the bread sanctified by the word of God, is changed into the body of God the word. And here, likewise, the bread, as the Apostles say, is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. Not so, that by being eaten it becomes the body of the word, but because it is suddenly changed into his body, by this word, ( this is my body.' And this is effected by the virtue of benediction; by which the nature of those things, which appear, is transubstantiated into it."
St. Chrysost. Hom. 83, in Matt., " the things we propose, are not done by human power; he, that wrought these things, at his last supper, is the author of what is done here. We hold but the place of ministers, but he that sanctifies and changes them, is Christ himself."
St. Ambrose de his, qui Mysteries initiator, c. 9. " If Christ by his words was able to make something of nothing, shall he not be thought able to change one thing into another?"
St. Jerome, Epist. ad Heliod. " God forbid, that I should speak detractingly of those men, [bishops] who succeeding the Apostles in their functions, do make the body of Christ with their sacred mouth."
These are a small part of the testimonies of the ancient fathers, both Greek and Latin, who have explained the doctrine of Transubstantiation in as clear terms, as any Roman Catholic divine can now do. It is, therefore, a calumny to say, that it was imposed upon the Church by the Lateran council, which was held above seven hundred years after the fathers, quoted by me, explained it in their writings. The word was new indeed, but the doctrine is as ancient as the Church of Christ. Adamus Francisci (marg. Theol. p. 256) confesses, that" transubstantiation entered early into the Church." And Antonius de Ada. mo. another Protestant writer (Anat. Miss, p. 36) fairly owns, " that he has not hitherto been able to know, when this opinion of the real and bodily being of Christ in the sacrament did begin ;" which, according to St. Austin's maxim against the Donatists, is owning in effect, that it had its beginning from Christ and his Apostles.
But how could Transubstantiation be coined into an article of faith in the Lateran council, which was held, anno 1215, when all the world knows that Berengarius was the author of a heresy against it in the eleventh century ; and in that very century was condemned by no less than eleven national, or provincial councils. The last whereof, held at Placentia, anno 1094, defines, "That the bread and wine, when they are consecrated upon the altar, are truly and essentially changed into the body and blood of our Lord." Tom. 10, Cone. Lat. p. 502. And in the Roman council, anno 1079, Berengarius was obliged to make his retractation in this form.
"I, Berengarius, with my heart believe, and with my tongue confess, that the bread and wine, which are placed upon the altar, are by the mystery of holy prayer, and the words of our Redeemer, substantially changed into the true and proper, and life-giving flesh and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ." Both which are convincing proofs, that Dr. Cosen imposes upon his reader in his history of Transubstantiation; when he tells us, p. 159, "That it was invented about the middle of the twelfth century, and confirmed by no ecclesiastical, or papal decree before the year 1215, unless he means the word instead of the thing signified by it, which is trifling instead of proving.