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is, that such cautions never are, or can be observed by the multitude. Place sensible objects before them to direct their worship to: and in those objects their worship will terminate. This the primitive Christians saw too plainly in the Heathens, ever to think of imitating them. Accordingly neither images nor pictures were allowed in Churches for near 400 years. And when, after being more than once condemned, they came to be allowed, no honour was intended to be paid to them. On the contrary, when it began to be paid, which indeed was not long, it was severely censured, and particularly in the eighth century, by above 300 Bishops, assembled in council at Constantinople. But about thirty years after, the second council of Nice, (so ill did councils agree,) established it. Yet even this council held representations of God to be unlawful. And all the Western countries, except Italy, under the Pope's immediate direction, continued to condemn the worship of all representations, for some ages afterwards. But by degrees it first became general ; and then so grossly scandalous, that the Church of Rome, it seems, hath judged it the wisest way to leave the second Commandment, which too plainly forbids these things, out of their smaller books of devotion, under the absurd pretence of its being only a part, I suppose an insignificant one, of the first: though, since they have been charged with this, they have thought fit in some of them, but not in all, to restore it again. And here let us quit the article of imageworship, with the Psalmist's remark upon it. They that make them are like unto them : so is every one that trusteth in them. O Israel, trust thou in the Lord *.
But there still remains another object of Popish worship, the Sacramental bread and wine. For they
Psalm cxv. 8, 9.
have made it an article of faith, that the substance of these is, by the words of Consecration, intirely changed into the substance of the living body and blood of Christ: which change therefore, they call transubstantiation. Now, were this really the body of Christ, 'tis allowed we have no command to worship it under this disguise, and therefore commit no sin in letting such worship alone. But if it be really not so, they own themselves to pay that honour to a bit of bread, which belongs only to the eternal Son of God. And surely one should think it a question easily decided, whether a small wafer, which is the bread they use on these occasions, be the body of a man, and whether wine in a cup be blood. Almost every one of our senses will tell us it is not: and though, in some hasty or distant appearances of things, our senses may be deceived, yet, if, where there is all possible opportunity of examining the matter, we cannot be sure of what our own eyes and our own feeling, our smelling and tasting, all inform us of, then we can be sure of nothing. 'Tis only by such evidence that we know any thing in this world : 'tis by no other that we know we have a Revelation from God, and that this Sacrament is appointed in it. If therefore we are not to believe our senses, how are we to believe any thing at all ? But indeed what they tell us in this case, is as contrary to all reason, as it is to all sense.
That a human body in its full dimensions should be contained in the space of an inch or two, looks as like a contradiction as any thing well can do: that the substance of bread should not be in the Sacrament, where they own all the properties of bread are, and that the substance of flesh should be there, and not one of the properties of it appear, is very monstrous; and that the very same body of Christ, which is now in Heaven at the right hand of God, should at the same time be on earth in the right hand of the Priest; and that there should be several thousands of those bodies upon earth at many hundreds of miles distance from one another, and yet all these be that very same one body also, this is such talk, that for sober persons in their sober senses to use it, and keep their countenance, is very strange. If one and one be two, then one body of Christ here, and one body of Christ there, make two bodies of Christ, which they own he hath not. And if one body can be in more than one place at one time, we may all of us perhaps be now this very instant at Rome as well as here: a man may be at ever so many thousand miles distance from himself, and afterwards he may come and meet himself, (as two of their pretended real bodies of Christ often do ;) and then pass by himself and go away from himself to the same distance he was at before : he may in one place be standing still, in another be carried along, and so be in motion and not in motion at the same time. Men may say such things as these if they will : and they may believe them if they can. But in order to it, well do they direct their poor people to professs in their English manual of prayers before mass, 1725, p.
409. Herein I utterly renounce the judgment of my senses, and all human understanding.
Here therefore we fix our foot : if these things be to every man living evidently absurd and impossible, then let nobody ever regard the most specious pretences of proving such doctrines, or the authority of a Church that maintains them. It is no hard matter for an artful man, a little practised in disputing, so to confound a plain man upon almost any subject, that he shall not well know how to answer, though he sees himself to be right and the other wrong. This is an art which the Priests of the Church of Rome are well versed in. Indeed the chief part of their learning is to puzzle themselves first, and as many others as they can afterwards. But always observe this rule : stick to common sense against the world : and whenever a man would persuade you of any thing evidently contrary to that, never be moved by any tricks and fetches of sophistry, let him use ever so many. He will be for proving to you by round-about arguments, of which you are unqualified to judge, that his Church is infallible, and therefore transubstantiation is true. Do you answer him by a much plainer argument, of which you are very well qualified to judge: that transubstantiation cannot possibly be true, and therefore his Church is not infallible.
But they plead; with God all things are possible, and therefore this is so. Now we own that all things which are not impossible in themselves, are possible with him ; but God himself cannot do what in its own nature cannot be done. For instance, he cannot destroy his own Being, he cannot cease to be just and good, because this hath a contradiction in it; and for the same reason he cannot do any thing else that hath a contradiction in it; for that would be doing a thing and at the same time not doing it: to ascribe which to God is not to magnify, but mock his power.
But they say further, that transubstantiation hath no more difficulty than the Trinity hath. But surely the difference is very visible. The doctrine of the Trinity indeed is a mystery: that is, the whole of the subject cannot be fully understood by us. But in transubstantiation there is no mystery at all. For the most evident falshoods are just as clearly understood to be so as the most evident truths. In the Trinity there is nothing we see to be false; only we
do not see the particular manner in which some things said concerning it are true: but in transubstantiation there are many things we see to be false, and which can in no manner be true. Let them show us any contradiction in the doctrine of the Trinity, and we will believe it no longer. In the mean time, since we have shewn contradiction in transubstantiation, let them believe that no longer.
But they have Scripture to plead for it: now if this were a doctrine of Scripture, it would sooner prove Scripture to be false, than Scripture could prove it to be true; and therefore the Papists, by making such a monstrous absurdity an article of faith, have loaded their religion with a weight, which, did it belong to Christianity, were able to sink it. But, God be thanked, Scripture is no more on their side than reason. We know indeed that our Saviour said when he gave the Sacrament, this is my body. But so at another time he said, verily verily I am the door of the sheep: and at a third, I am the vine. And so have all mankind always called a representation of any thing by the name of what it represented. Why then is he not to be understood in the same figure here? How do we think the Apostles understood him but as they were used to do in such cases? They who were so backward at comprehending difficult things, and so ready to ask questions about them, did they without any surprize or any question apprehend that our Saviour then took his own body in his own hand, and gave that one body to each of his twelve Apostles at the same time, and that each of them swallowed him down their throats, though he was all the while sitting at the table along with them? Such things are too ridiculous to be mentioned in a serious place, and yet these men force us to it by gravely requiring