Familiar Conversations on Romanism

Eighth Conversation


J. N. Darby.

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N*. Good-evening all.

James. Pray sit down, gentlemen.

N*. Well, we are here again to pursue our inquiry into the subject we had arrived at, and examine whether the doctrine of the Romish creed can be held to be the truth. I suppose we may at once enter on the point which it was understood we should speak of — transubstantiation. Perhaps the best way, if our friends agree to it, would be to state from unquestionable Roman Catholic authorities, what the doctrine maintained by them is.

Mr. R. We could not pursue a better method. We can then follow out the proofs and testimony on which it is based, though the plain words of Scripture are the strongest, and it seems to me, conclusive.

N*. Well, we cannot take better authority than the Council of Trent to begin with. "But since Christ our Redeemer said that that which He offered under the form of bread, was truly His body, it has therefore been ever the persuasion of the church, and this holy Synod now anew declares, that, by the consecration of [the] bread and wine, conversion of the whole substance into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord takes place, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood. Which conversion is conveniently and properly called, by the holy Catholic church, transubstantiation." (Sess. 12, c. 4.)

That we may complete this account I may add the Canons 1 and 2 of the same Session 12.


"If any one shall have denied that in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist are contained truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently, a whole Christ; but shall have said that they only are in it as in a sign, or figure, or virtue, let him be anathema."


"If any shall have said that in the very sacred sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains together with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and shall have denied that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of bread into the body, and of the whole substance of wine into blood, the forms of bread and wine only remaining; which conversion indeed the Catholic church most aptly calls transubstantiation, let him be anathema."


"If any shall have denied that in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist under each form, and under every part of each form, when separation is made, a whole Christ is contained, let him be anathema."

Canon 6 declares it is to be adored with divine worship.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent, which explains and enlarges on it, is even more precise. (Part 2, c. 4, Sec. 33.) Not only the true body of Christ, and whatever belongs to the true body, as bones and nerves, but also a whole Christ is contained in the sacrament. It is then added, that, by the words of consecration, the bread becomes the body, and the wine the blood; but that, by concomitance the blood, soul and divinity will be with the body in the bread and so conversely of the wine (see 34). What I have now cited gives the doctrines to us on the highest authority, clearly enough. Any reasons of Bellarmine or others we can take up when needed.

R. This is quite sufficient for us as a statement of it.

N*. Well, I affirm all this to be a delusion and a fallacy.

R. That is strong language, Mr. N.; when so many Fathers and holy men have received and taught it, and when it is the common faith of the church in all ages. What you have to meet is the plain statement of Scripture, "This is my body" — words so definite that your own Luther could not get over them.

N*. We will take the statements of Scripture up first then. That it was always the persuasion of the church I wholly deny. That superstition and very high-flown statements are found in the Fathers as to what we receive, I freely admit. But not only was it not the uniform persuasion of the church, but the best known and most esteemed Fathers taught expressly the contrary, and it was not authoritatively established as a dogma in the West, for centuries; and, though gradually dropped into as a general persuasion after John Damascene, never in the Greek church as a body. This we will examine; but before we turn to the Fathers, we will turn to the Scriptures themselves, "This is my body," and chapter 6 of John's Gospel.

3 Allow me however to say that every Christian acknowledges the great and blessed privilege granted to us in the institution of the Lord's supper — that feeding on Him, though not there only, is the very way of life to the soul. Nor is there anything more touching, than that He, the blessed Saviour, should care that we should remember Him, and should even desire with desire to eat the last Paschal supper with His disciples before He suffered. This is not the question; but whether the bread and wine are physically changed into the body and blood of Christ, so that there is no bread and wine there at all; but that Christ, a whole Christ, and that expressed in a profane way, His bones and nerves, alone is there. They admit that it is called bread after consecration, and seek to account for it, saying it is so called, because it has the appearance of it; as when Abraham saw the three men who really were angels. And that it still retains the quality natural to bread, that of supporting and nourishing the body.

R. But where do you find that admitted?

N*. In Part 2, Section 40 of the catechism of the Council of Trent. The difficulty really is of answering what has no solid ground at all. They admit that "the exposition of this mystery is most difficult." At any rate, it is such that "the whole substance of the bread is changed by the power of God into the whole substance of the body of Christ, and the whole substance of the wine into the whole substance of the blood of Christ, without any change in our Lord" (41). Before we examine the positive statement of Scripture, which really presents no difficulty whatever, there are some difficulties on the Roman Catholic view of it, I should like to present to you. The pouring out the wine into the cup, is, you say, a kind of figure of Christ's shedding His blood. In Sec. 76 on the Eucharist too, the catechism of the Council of Trent declares that it is the same sacrifice with that of the cross. At any rate the essence of the doctrine we are treating is that the blood of Christ is really there, the wine being changed into it in the cup, and by concomitance the body, which is under the form of bread, also. First, it is inconsistent (and grossly so) to say it is in His body, and shed out of His body too; I have already remarked that if it is in the body, not shed, there is no redemption. Satan has mocked you with a sacrifice of non-redemption. But I go further: Did not Christ shed his blood on the cross for us?

4 R. Surely, it was a bloody sacrifice.

N*. And now He is entered into glory, though, thank God, and wondrous truth it is, still a man, and there according to the efficacy and power of His precious blood. But He is not there in His body and unshed blood in the state in which He lived on earth.

R. No; He has a spiritual and glorious body and dieth no more. His blood has been shed, and if we speak of His entering in, not without blood, it is as shed upon the cross.

N*. But then, how can we have the body, blood, soul and divinity all in one true present person? By the cup it celebrates His blood being shed. It is the very basis of our hopes. There is then no such whole living Christ, as the One into whom you profess to change the bread, and indeed the wine by concomitance too. As to the cup, it is a contradiction, for it is there professedly as shed, to shew it is, and yet it is in the body all the time. But there is no such Christ now, as a Christ living in flesh and unshed blood: He is glorified in heaven. The Eucharist or Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the cross: that of course (sacramentally if you please) includes shedding of blood of a Christ who. first offers Himself alive to God down here: and such you make the bread by consecration. But there is no such Christ; I do not mean merely that you do not put Christ to death now, but there is no Christ now who is such as could die, and shed His blood. He is actually, livingly, in a state in which He cannot be offered in sacrifice. The Christ which is now, though the same blessed Person, as to His state cannot be a Christ on the cross, nor the same sacrifice offered, nor a Christ living in flesh and blood on the earth, capable of being sacramentally or otherwise, so offered. A glorified Christ cannot be a Christ living on earth capable of dying, nor a Christ offered as a victim of propitiation by bloodshedding. You cannot in truth, life, or reality bring Him back into this condition in any sense. He is not now a Christ who can be sacrificed. If you transubstantiate the bread into the Christ that is now, He cannot be a sacrifice, nor one shedding blood, nor flesh and blood as He was: hence not the same sacrifice. You cannot either make Him again what He was on the cross. No such Christ can or ever will, exist.

5 Is He in the Mass an existing Christ, glorified?

R. No; we hold it is sacramentally His body broken, and blood shed, the sacrifice of the Mass.

N*. Then it is no true Christ. There is none such now. Can He be now truly, really, and substantially the dying Christ on the cross?

R. Well, Christ is now in glory, He cannot die, or be as He was on the cross.

N*. Then you have no Christ in the Eucharist; not a glorified one, for it is His death and blood-shedding which is there set before us, as we all know. Not a dying one on the cross, or the blood yet unshed in the body, for there is no such Christ now. Transubstantiation is a wicked fable, as Mr. D. once owned it. It is neither a glorified, nor a dying Christ, truly really and substantially. It is no Christ at all.

Bill M. Well, Mr. R., which do you think it is? for I do not think it can be Christ as He is now in glory, if we think of the cross, because He is not there now; nor such as He was then, and surely it is not a Christ glorified that we have set before us in the Mass, but the sacrifice of Christ. But that cannot be now. I do understand doing it in remembrance, but I cannot see how it can be a glorified Christ, if it be a sacrifice, nor how a Christ as He was on the cross can be really and truly there, for there is none such now. I begin to see into it more clearly than I did.

N*. You have lost a glorified Christ, for He cannot be in any sense a sacrifice again, and a crucified one you cannot have, for there is none such now; and in fact you have lost both.

D. But what then is taught and given to us there?

N*. I have all Christ's institution, and a most blessed one too. That which we do, as He told us to do in remembrance of Him, and find grace and refreshment, comfort and sanctifying power from Himself in doing it, to say nothing of the deep thanksgiving and deeper affections it awakens in us. I hold it to be as to institutions, the highest privilege. That is not the question, but this conversion of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, His soul and divinity being there, and as I quoted, and the catechism of the Council of Trent says, His bones and nerves.

6 D. But all the holy Fathers teach it.

N*. I am not concerned in what they teach, but they do nothing of the kind. I do not justify what they say, for the grossest superstition and immorality and heresy is found in them, but they do not teach that. The very doctrine of substance and accidents is scholastic Aristotelism. The system of seven sacraments is from Lombard. In the tenth century it was largely discussed, the greatest doctors denying it, and was never settled as a church dogma till 1215, by the same Pope and council that established the Inquisition, at the time the papacy was in its highest pitch of power, in fact governed the world, and all was in a state of infamous corruption, as we have seen. There is another thing which curiously points out how, when the Canon of the Mass was framed, I suppose substantially in the seventh century, there was no such thought. In consecrating the cup, following, I apprehend, the Vulgate, it reads in reciting Christ's words at the institution, "which shall be poured out." That is, it makes Christ not institute a sacrifice or offer Himself at the institution of the Eucharist, but declare that He was going to be sacrificed and His blood shed on the cross. Strange to say, the Canon of the Mass is a positive denial of the pretended sacrifice in the Eucharist. Christ speaks of it as a thing to take place afterwards, not as anything then accomplished in any sense. It is 'effundetur,' not 'effunditur.'

D. But in the Greek it is not so, it is to ekchunomenon.

N*. That merely gives it its character, for it certainly in fact was not poured out yet, and confirms really the general idea. It is the poured out blood which is represented there, and as we have said no such Christ (that is Christ in such state as dead upon the cross, his blood poured out), exists now, while the true spiritual commemoration of it is most precious. But it is not the question, what is in the Greek. First, the Vulgate is the authentic Bible of the Roman Catholics, not the Greek; and secondly, I am not yet inquiring what the truth of the institution is in itself, but shewing that the very Canon of the Mass treats it as no actual offering, but representing what was yet to be accomplished, saying not, "my blood poured out"; but "my blood which shall be poured out."

7 R. It is curious it should be so put, and the fact is unquestionable. The fact too that the living glorified Christ cannot be sacrificed, and that if it be now a real living true Christ, it must be a glorified One, perplexes me, but I fear reasoning about it. The blessings and benefits of it are more pressed upon us than its nature.

N*. I understand that. The pastor is directed in the catechism of the Council of Trent so to do, except with more mature members of his church. Nor would I deny that in receiving, however false the whole thing is, pious souls may think for themselves of the true sacrifice of Christ upon the cross, though not with intelligence. But if the service itself is false, it is a very serious thing. Your worship is all false, though it may be ignorantly so. If you have a true Christ, body, soul, and divinity there, the only true One is in glory, and cannot be a sacrifice at all: He cannot now in thought or sacramentally be a sacrifice. If it is what was on the cross, there is no such Christ in existence. And remember I am not now reasoning against the sacrifice of the Mass of which we have spoken; but you cannot convert the bread and wine into a true, real living Christ as now in this world and crucified when none such exists, nor into a dead one, for there is none such now. If into a glorious One, He is not in a condition to be a sacrifice. A commemoration of it, done in remembrance of Him, shewing forth His death till He come, that we can all understand, and wonderful grace too, that the Lord can care for such poor creatures remembering Him.

James. It is so indeed, wonderful grace. It seems all plain to me.

Bill M. I see it cannot be a real living Christ there, and it is hard to think that the priest should make Christ out of a piece of bread; but the passage, "This is my body," what do you make, sir, of that?

D. I was just going to ask the same question, and there are other passages as "the communion of the body of Christ," and John 6; the unworthy eaters being guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. And why should we cast a doubt on the omnipotency of God?

N*. It is not a question of God's omnipotency, which, in the true sense of it, no Christian denies. But God has revealed His ways of dealing and acts in grace and truth according to those ways. Thus, working by the Lord Himself or by His followers to confirm the blessed word of His grace, He gave miracles, sensible signs, works of power which all men could see and multitudes did see, so as to accredit those who announced the truth. The miracle was a plain proof of the senses to confirm the testimony. But here the alleged miracle, which is not the revelation of any new truth, is the thing we are called upon to believe; not only with no testimony to it, but with the fullest testimony against it in every possible way, to sight, taste, touch and smell, and even, as is admitted, nourishing powers, it is and remains bread and wine, can be eaten by an animal, decay, become corrupt, nay, we learn from Corinthians could make people drunk, in a word in every way contradicts the alleged miracle, the very idea of which is founded on a heathen philosophical system of substance and accidents adopted by the schoolmen in the middle ages, never dreamt of in the early church, and a chimera without any real foundation, a mere philosophical thing without proof. Some hidden essence clothed in various appearances, which essence was the substance of bread, while all we can see, taste, or feel, are accidents; the substance becomes, they say, Christ, and these accidents remain. Nor is Christ brought down from above, for then, they say, there would be a change of place* (Cat. Council of Trent, Euch. Part 2, 37 and 44), and space would be in question which, though they speak of a true body, bones and nerves, is not they admit, tenable. It is a creation of Christ** there taking the place of what was bread in this philosophical idea of abstract substance. And if Christ does not change His place and come there it must be a creation of His soul too or changing, if they prefer it, the bread into His soul. And is it then the same soul? If it be His soul as in glory, He does not change His place; if not, is it another? Is it His soul, if He has not changed His place? I am called upon, not to believe a divine truth helped by the confirmation of visible works of power addressed to my senses, but a contradiction and a philosophical fancy in admitted contradiction to the evidence of my senses. This is not what Scripture calls a miracle. What is the truth I learn there? Christ's sacrifice is a truth already revealed, only with a declaration that it cannot be repeated. There is no revelation of any truth in transubstantiation, and no proof of it; but every proof which God does use in miracles contradicting it. And the thing itself, a repetition of Christ's sacrifice forbidden to the believer by the word of God. It is the contrary to a miracle, and a mere fable. Your appeal to the omnipotence of God, which no one denies — though what is contrary to truth, to what He has revealed, to Himself, He cannot do — is only throwing dust in peoples' eyes, the wiles of the enemy. The question is what has He done, not what He can do, of which indeed we are no judges, morally speaking. For I repeat He can do nothing inconsistent with Himself or His wisdom. God, it is said, who cannot lie: and of His wisdom we are no competent judges, knowing it only as it is revealed in Christ. Further we know divine truth only as it is revealed. The question is: Has He revealed that in the Lord's supper He has, and that the priests can turn bread into the body, blood, and soul, and divinity of Christ, as our poor Irish friends say, "make God"? It is really a monstrous supposition, without any truth revealed in it, or any testimony to it. But we will examine what Scripture says. All the direct testimony for it is: "This is my body," and "This is my blood" of the New Testament, "which is," or as you say "which shall be shed for you and for many." Now in ordinary language, nobody would dream of such a use of the words as would make it a change of the bread into the body. Supposing there were two pictures, and I were to say, "That is my mother, and that her sister," who would dream that the pictures were transubstantiated into my mother and aunt?

{*One of the reasons for not keeping the wine with the bread is, that it might ferment and become acid.}

{**They allege it is not a creation, but a change; but to have the body and soul of Christ, really, where there was only bread, He not changing His place, is creation. For that exists which did not exist before. They call it, however, a change.}

9 D. Yes, but you have no power to do it, and the Lord had.

N*. I do not pretend to the power, nor raise any question as to what the Lord could do. The question is as to the force of the words He used, not His power. Such words are used every day without a thought of what is called by the name of a thing being the thing itself or changed into it. Nothing is commoner in the use of language. No one would think when the object named was not already actually materially what was named, that it meant anything but a representation of it. Nor would such a thought as transubstantiation enter into anybody's head when such language is used. When the thing named is there, it states the fact, as "That is my mother," when she is present; but it never means "is changed into." And it is actually certain that in the other part of the Eucharist the Lord does so speak according to usual language, not meaning any change. "This cup is the New Testament in my blood." No person dreams that the cup was changed into the New Testament. That is, the Lord uses the usual language of men in such cases. It is a fact that He does so, and they are, though insisting on the literal words, obliged to change them to make them answer: that is what the cup contains, not what is literally said; but even so the blood is not the New Testament, and another gospel gives it differently: "This is my blood of the New Testament," shewing that there is no thought of a literal application of the words. And note, in the Mass, the words used are, "This is the cup of my blood of the new and eternal covenant" — words, remark, never used by Christ at all; so that insisting on their literal accomplishment, because of His saying it, has no ground at all. Besides literally they cannot be used, as is admitted, if they were spoken by Him, because the cup itself is spoken of, not the wine, so that it is necessarily figurative, proving that all the Lord said, so far as the words are the Lord's, He spoke figuratively (just as we ever speak in such cases); for to say He spoke figuratively as to the wine, where they are forced to admit it, and not as to the bread, is absurd. But further as to the bread. It must be remembered Christ was sitting there with His disciples and held the bread in His hands, gave thanks and broke it. Were there two Christs, two bodies, in one of which He sat, the other which He Himself broke? I am aware that Augustine says we are to believe in a certain way Christ held Himself in His own hands. If it was literally, truly, and substantially, there were two Christs. God may be said to be everywhere; but were His body and blood and soul, for these are personal and individual, in the loaf as well as in Himself? Besides you now pretend, it is a glorified Christ, for there is no other living Christ now, but Christ was not glorified then. Was it one Christ, unglorified, sitting at table, and another glorified He held in His hand? But you say too it is the same sacrifice as the cross. But Christ was sitting at the table, and there was then no sacrifice on the cross at all, and so your own Mass puts it, "it shall be shed"; really it is "which is shed" (not that it was yet, but that it was the figure of it as so shed, was given to them in that character), but it was not so shed yet, shewing it was a figure. It was given to them as a memorial, and a figure; there was no sacrifice as yet, no blood shed. Christ was there a living Christ, not yet sacrificed, not yet of course risen and glorified. That He should institute it as a memorial before He went, as He says, "Do this in remembrance of Me": we can easily understand, but the elements could not be really and substantially a sacrificed Christ, for He was sitting there not sacrificed, His blood not shed. The notion of the Mass contradicts all the facts; all Christ said, all He did, and all He was. Is it not, Mr. R., the sacrifice of Christ we have in the Mass, the same as on the cross?

11 R. Surely, so we are taught.

N*. Was Christ sitting at the table such?

R. No, not yet. He was just on the point of being offered a sacrifice.

N*. Then how could "This is my body" constitute Him a sacrifice?

R. We hold it changed the substance of bread into His body. N*. Glorified?

R. No, He was not yet glorified.

N*. Sacrificed?

R. No, He was not yet sacrificed on the cross.

N*. But the cup was His blood poured out, was it not?

R. Yes.

N*. Then that part of it was as sacrificed on the cross.

R. Well, it was poured out in a figure.

N*. It certainly was not yet poured out in fact. Nay, your Mass says, "shall be shed." But we have now touched the truth of the matter. It is a figure and the bread a figure. You must make the two parts answer to one another, the blood shed, the body offered. But the Christ sitting at the table was not that; that is, it was not Himself. St. Augustine may talk of holding Himself in His own hand. If it be a mere figure and manner of speaking it is all very well, but He could not really hold Himself, and while alive on earth hold Himself as offered on the cross, and His blood poured out. And what He did, He told His disciples to do. If He did what represented Himself crucified, such He commanded them to do. The blood was shed blood, the body an offered body, and that Christ was not really. It was so as taking the place of the passover by a better redemption; Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. And so Israel was to say: "It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover," the memorial of a deliverance which had been wrought long ago; then a real sacrifice, repeated yearly: with us repetition is forbidden as denying the perfectness of Christ's once for all; but a blessed memorial which Christ Himself instituted of that which was fully accomplished on the cross.

12 But it is perfectly clear that the living unsacrificed Lord could not hold Himself in His own hand as crucified or glorified. The true living Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity, could not be truly and substantially in what is the same sacrifice as the cross, for He was there at the table, His body not offered, His blood not shed.

Bill M. But surely, Mr. R., you do not think the Lord held Himself in His own hand, and that with His blood shed out of His body too? I begin to see it is all an invention of men, or of the enemy, and a wicked one, to destroy simple faith in the one true offering of Christ upon the cross once for all.

R. Well, I am not prepared to solve the difficulties Mr. N. has raised: they had never been before my mind. I took it all piously I trust, for granted, and the grosser material part of it did not arrest my mind.

D. And surely it is much better so to take it. It was just the way the Jews were offended when the Lord spoke of eating His flesh, and drinking His blood.

R. I cannot quite see with you in that, Mr. D., because if it is false it is a very grave error, and what is false about the Lord especially cannot sanctify, and by error we always lose some truth which it displaces. I see this far with our friend M., that the abiding and unchanging efficacy of Christ's one sacrifice, which it is said, cannot be offered often, is in question in it, and it is this which makes it grave for me.

D. But I would not deny the efficacy of Christ's one sacrifice. The Mass, as you know, as held, is that same sacrifice, and the church by the Eucharist applies the benefit of it.

R. This does not satisfy me, because Christ upon this system does offer Himself often. It is not the church's applying it merely; that, as far as I see at present, would not trouble me, but we are taught that Christ offers Himself there, and for the living and dead, where there is no sacramental application. It is a truly propitiatory work. Can that be done now when Christ is in glory, and Christ be often offered? I begin to fear I am not in the truth, and I desire to be, and yet I am afraid too to be led away. But we have got back, Mr. N., to the sacrifice of the Mass.

13 N*. Never mind that, Mr. R.; as you said before, the subjects run into one another so much that it is hard to separate them, for transubstantiation is the very basis of the Mass, as is evident.

R. Perhaps you would take up the Scriptures; we may look into the Fathers afterwards. I cannot call to mind any answers in our writers to the objections you have raised, but they quote other scriptures. Milner attacks the established church and others for their inconsistency, but otherwise merely refers to the passages we are examining and turns to the Fathers.

N*. Milner takes care not to quote the Canon of the Mass: "This is the chalice of my blood of the new and eternal covenant!" He quotes Matthew and Mark, saying, "This is my blood of the New Testament," which is not in the Canon, and adds, "Luke is nearly the same." Otherwise he has no proofs at all, only he avoids the Canon of the Mass which shews the absurdity of taking it literally. Bellarmine really gives little else than a few words on John 6 to which we will refer.

But allow me to state what is the real truth as to this doctrine, before I examine the scriptural statements in order to shew negatively that it is not taught there. The doctrine of transubstantiation is simply the fruit of the scholastic use of Aristotle in the middle ages. It depends, on the face of it, on the difference of substance and accidents. The substance of bread is changed into the substance of the Lord's body, the accidents of bread remain. Without this theory, the idea could not exist. But this theory of a particular substance and accidents was a mere metaphysical theory, without any real foundation. We have got nowadays to molecules and atoms infinitely minute, which may be called perhaps substance or essential matter; but all this Aristotelian theory of an imaginary substance and accidents in material objects, is a mere groundless fancy. We see different qualities which awaken sensations in us; colour, form, hardness, etc., and the mind recognises there is something there. Of this conviction, which in relation to us creatures I do not dispute, Aristotle and the schoolmen, who were as a rule wholly under his influence, made a distinct but imaginary substratum in which the various qualities were inherent. There was the substance of bread, etc. But this was a mere philosophical notion, a mere theory of the heathen Aristotelian school, adopted by the schoolmen, and has no other foundation whatever. But the whole doctrine of transubstantiation, and even the word, depends on it, cannot exist without it, is the mere expression of it, only bringing in a miracle on the ground of it, as to the Lord's supper.

14 D. But do you mean to say that the Holy Catholic church, in its most solemn and essential rite, founds its doctrine on a piece of heathen metaphysics? It is a dreadful and irreverent thought.

N*. Most irreverent is the fact that they have done so, in itself, and it shews the wretched state into which the professing church had fallen. But I affirm it distinctly, and, what is more important, the Roman church affirms it. In the catechism of the Council of Trent, De Eucharistiae Sacramento, I read Section 26:* "There are these three things most deserving of admiration and veneration, which the Catholic faith unhesitatingly believes, and confesses to be accomplished in this sacrament by the words of consecration; the first, that the real body of Christ, the same that was born of the Virgin, and sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven, is contained in this sacrament; the second, that, however remote from and alien to the senses it may seem, no substance of the elements remains in the sacrament; the third, an easy consequence of the two preceding, although the words of consecration express it principally, that the accidents, which present themselves to the eyes or other senses exist in a wonderful and ineffable manner without a subject (sine ulla re subjecta esse). All the accidents of bread and wine we indeed may see: they inhere however in no substance, but exist by themselves; whereas the substance of the bread and wine is so changed into the body and blood of our Lord, that the substance of bread altogether ceases to exist." Now the Catechism is not content here with stating the real presence according to the Aristotelian and scholastic system, but formally, in the third wonder, bases the whole doctrine and alleged essence of the sacrament on that system. Part of the miracle is that the accidents, that is, all that man's mind can know, are all there without any substance or substratum to inhere in. They could not hold the colour, form, and other apparent qualities to be those of Christ, yet there they are. So they make a miracle of these sensible qualities being there without any existing substratum. They are sensible qualities of nothing, for Christ and no bread is there!** They have a thousand other subtleties to make it out. It is Christ's body, now at the Father's right hand, the body born of the Virgin Mary, but not as extended in space, nor divided when the bread is broken, but all a whole Christ as they say in each part. Now I agree that all this is most painfully irreverent; but it is the irreverence of Roman doctrine. And the whole of it founded, and avowedly founded, on the mediaeval adoption of Aristotelian doctrine of substance and accidents, on logical predicables, not on divine truth at all.

{*I give Donovan's translation printed at the Propaganda press, Rome, superiorum permissu, with the imprimatur of the Master of the sacred palace, and of the vicegerent of Rome.}

{**At the same time they admit an esse (something existing) in the accidents, so that, if one ate enough of the hostia, the body would be nourished by it [Thomas Aquinas, 3, 77, 6] and Cat. Conc. Trent 2. 40, already quoted.}

15 D. But it is not founded on this. It is founded on "This is my body," and "He that eateth my flesh," and other scriptures.

N*. We will look at these scriptures; but, taking them even as you now do, they only state the fact that it is Christ's body: but transubstantiation is what we speak of, and that is based and avowedly based on the false metaphysical notion of the middle ages. And they felt in a measure where this had brought them, for, in further expounding this third miracle, they tell the pastor in the Catechism to caution the people not to inquire into it too anxiously. But they repeat the wonder of the metaphysical miracle; it defies (see c. 43) our powers of conception, nor have we any example of it in natural changes, nor in the work itself of creation. The change itself is the object of our humble faith, the manner of that change is not to be the object of too curious inquiry. So he is to use the same caution in explaining the mysterious manner in which the body of the Lord is contained, whole and entire, under the least particles of the bread. I quote a part of Canon 44 to shew how completely it is this metaphysical theory which is in question. The pastor is to teach that Christ our Lord is not in this sacrament as in a place; for place regards things themselves inasmuch as they have magnitude; and we do not say that Christ is in the sacrament inasmuch as He is great or small — terms which belong to quantity; but inasmuch as He is a substance, for the substance of the bread is changed into the substance of Christ, not into His magnitude or quantity. Is not all this wretched and depraving irreverence and substitution of false metaphysics for divine teaching enough to drive away any spiritual mind from such doctrine? What is become of Christ for the soul? Irreverence, yes, it is; but where is it found? In what the pastor is told by Rome to teach his parishioners. But this was not all the abominable effect of this: it was laboriously discussed by the Roman Catholic doctors, if a mouse ate it, what became of Christ! or according to Matthew 15, or if it was burnt, or any other accident happened; and on this plea the wine was taken from adults.

16 D. But do you not think it very sad that thoughts so unworthy of this deep mystery should be put forth, as the Reformers did, in order more advantageously to pull down a holy doctrine held and taught by the holiest Fathers of the church? It tends to lower and degrade Christ, and it is painful to hear.

N*. Most painful, I admit; but you are altogether wrong in your statement. We will speak of the Fathers by-and-by. It does tend to degrade Christ. All spiritual apprehension is lost in this doctrine, and the Roman doctors, not liking to retain that in their knowledge, as the heathen of old the truth of the Godhead, have been allowed of God to fall into these degrading thoughts, and worship with divine worship that which a mouse can eat: and though the divinity is there with the soul, body and blood, it is all inert, and cannot hinder the mouse's eating it, nor move nor give a sign of life, and what ought to have been a symbol of Christ's dying love, and dealt with, in so using it, as being such. But they have carnalised and degraded everything in their sacramental system. But I was not thinking or speaking of the Reformers. I cannot say how they used it against the Roman Catholics, save as Bellarmine charges them and Berengarius with doing so. I speak of the most celebrated doctors and popes of the Romish church who discussed these questions elaborately: Peter Lombard, whose influence was supreme in theological schools, Innocent III, Alexander of Hales, and Thomas Aquinas who rivalled Lombard in his influence.

Lombard, after insisting at length that the unworthiness of the priest did not invalidate the consecration of the sacrament, adds, "That indeed it may be soundly said that the body of Christ is not taken by brute animals, though it may seem so. What, therefore, does the mouse take, or what does it eat, God knows." Pope Innocent 3 is more precise (de sacro altaris mysterio, c. 4, 2), "If it is sought what is eaten by the mouse when the sacrament is devoured, or what is consumed when the sacrament is burned, it is answered that as the substance of bread is miraculously converted when the Lord's body begins to be under the sacrament, so in a certain miraculous manner it returns, when itself (that is, the body) ceases to be there. Not that substance of bread returns which passed into flesh, but that in its place something is miraculously created, although its accidents may be thus devoured as well as eaten." Alexander of Hales, it seems, taught otherwise. Bonaventura, a more spiritually-minded man, a mystic, holds that however this opinion may be sustained, it can yet never be so sustained that pious ears should not have a horror in hearing that the body of Christ should be in the belly of a mouse, or in a sewer. No wonder. Yet the famous Thomas Aquinas supported this view, because the other derogates from the truth of the sacrament; and his authority prevailed. Now these are the highest authorities of that age: Lombard was some 400 years before the Reformation; Innocent, 300; Thomas Aquinas 50 or 60 years after Innocent. His statement will be found in Part 3 of his Summa, quaest. 80, Art. 3. His doctrine is that, as long as the species or form of bread and wine remains, the body of Christ is there, whether it be sinner or animal that has taken it. As to the subtleties as to species and accidents and substance, as to which we may read folio pages, I leave them. They only shew, when faith and spiritual perception are gone, the degradation to which the holiest things are reduced. Thomas Aquinas, and so Bellarmine, excuses what the more pious mystic Bonaventura says, and justly, cannot but give horror to a Christian mind, such as a mouse eating Christ, by comparing it to Christ's voluntary humiliation in going to the cross. Can any one go lower? This was not the Reformation, Mr. D., but the full bloom of Roman orthodoxy and learning.

17 R. This is all very distressing; it militates against all piety and right feeling.

N*. I entirely sympathise with you. I have referred to it that we may know what transubstantiation means, and Mr. D. may see whether what I have said as to its being based on the scholastic or Aristotelian distinction of substance and accidents be well founded or not. Any one who will take the unedifying trouble of reading Thomas Aquinas' Summa, Part 3, quaest. 74 to 80, will soon see whether it be so or not. It may be seen in other writers, but here you have it in its fullest development, and we have seen it laid down in the Catechism of the Council of Trent. I do not enter into the endless arguments of these reasoners, such as Thomas Aquinas and Bellarmine, as to how the change takes place. What is not cannot be changed into what is, neither can, according to their metaphysics, one substance be changed into another. They arrive at its being simply divine power, it being impossible that such a change can take place according to the nature of things. Secondly, they have endless discussions how Christ's body is in heaven and the same body in thousands of places on earth. This is settled partly by divine power, and partly by this doctrine of substance and accidents, that Christ is there not materially and in extended magnitude, but His substance, and so in every particle a whole Christ if the species of bread and wine remains.

18 They also discuss largely whether Christ is broken when the bread is broken: the more probable opinion is He is not, as He is only substantially (not materially) present, or in bodily extension, or by a change of place. Yet they say His body, blood, soul, and divinity are all there, but in a different way. For if the wine be changed into His blood, how, they inquire, can it be under the species of bread? They say it happens in a different way, that sacramentally the bread is changed into His body, but as His whole Person is there, the blood and divinity are there, not by sacramental transubstantiation, but by necessary concomitancy, and so the body and all else under the species of wine. The common expression in Ireland is that the priest "makes God." All this is the effect of the loss of true spiritual communion and feeding upon Christ, and turning to bad metaphysics. I have heard a poor peasant there striking his hand upon his stomach, say, "I have God in my belly, sir," and why not, if it can be in that of a mouse? And in a public argument on the subject, the Roman champion (being confounded by his adversary telling him he did not believe in transubstantiation, or as they say that the priest could make God) insisted he did, and the other confounded him by saying, "Why God cannot do that!" All this, you will say, is irreverent folly. I quite agree, but it is where this wretched heathen philosophy has led the followers of the Roman system. Well, I think we have sufficiently pursued the inquiry as to what transubstantiation means.

19 R. I feel so too: I had no idea such things were involved in it, but took it as it was taught.

N*. I do not doubt it, dear sir, and therefore it is I have thus far gone into it; for there are pages of subtleties all depending upon scholastic ideas of substance and accidents which we may leave untouched. But these poor Irish were as simple and sincere as you could be, ignorant if you please, but drawing a perfectly just conclusion, though a gross one, from this wretched materialising what is spiritual. But we will turn to Scripture.

R. By all means. After all, it is the only thing which gives us a sure resting-place.

Bill M. But simple souls, sir, do not know of all these shocking profane thoughts as to Christ being eaten by a mouse, and the like. They have only a kind of terror about the body and blood of Christ, but it is mortal sin if they do not receive it at Easter, and then they are absolved in order to do it, and then they are all right until the next time.

N*. They do not, M., I quite admit and thankfully too. But the effect even on them is what you say. Instead of spiritual persons with holy reverence celebrating the memorial of Christ's death, humbled in the sense of the infinite love which brought Him there for us, while they wait for Him who so loved them; but with holy joy and thanksgiving (which is the very name of the ordinance, eucharistia) that He has so loved them and washed them from their sins in His own blood, so that saved by Him they can wait for Him with joy, feeding on Him and living by Him meanwhile, they go on with dread if they have divine life, or, as generally is the case, get clear for a time as the Jews did with their repeated sacrifice, and then go on as carelessly as before with a conscience at ease but unpurged till the year comes round, and the same ceremony goes on again.

R. This is but too often the case, but some go with piety and love to the Lord.

N*. I do not deny it, but I have lived too much among the Roman Catholics, not to know what is habitually the case. And those who are pious go, as I have said, with dread. It is not the Eucharist, thanksgiving, for those whom the Lord has loved and saved by His precious death, and waiting for Him from heaven.

20 R. You speak as if a Christian were always confident and assured of his salvation.

N*. Certainly. If he fails in any way he has to humble himself and be heart-broken before God about his failure, and have his heart fully before God about it; but "we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father." We know our relationship as redeemed to God by Christ, by His Spirit dwelling in us. A disobedient child has to mourn over and confess his fault, but it does not raise the question if he is a child.

R. I cannot say I am there.

N*. The system you belong to cannot bring you there nor even allow it. It would destroy all its influence. But it is yours. For I have no right nor wish to doubt that you love the Lord: only you do not know the perfectness of His redemption.

R. But I do not doubt the Lord's having accomplished our redemption.

N*. I do not question it. But He says that those who believe are justified from all things. You say you believe, but do not know whether you are justified. How is that?

R. I am afraid of being presumptuous or thinking too well of myself.

N*. I do not assuredly ask you to think well of ourselves. It was just poor Job's case, and he had to learn to abhor himself; and so have we all. What gives peace is that God is satisfied with Christ's work who died for us, and His raising Him from the dead is the witness of that. And it is no presumption if He has borne your sins, and the terrible debt is paid: to believe it is and to own His love in doing it.

R. But what are we to do about the sins that we are guilty of since?

N*. Since when?

R. Since we were forgiven, since our baptism.

N*. In the outward sense, you had committed none before it, so that as to this it did not do much for you. But allow me to ask you how many of your sins did you commit since Christ bore them?

21 R. Why, all of them; I was not born, of course.

N*. All of them. That is the point. If Christ bore all my sins and I through grace believe in Him, the whole matter is settled as to their being put away. God works by His word and Spirit in us, so that we are brought to repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; we have a new life, are born of God; and there are various ministrations of grace by the way. But the matter is settled with God for my soul as to forgiveness and salvation. As the Lord said to the poor woman, "Thy sins are forgiven thee; thy faith hath saved thee"; and He did not deceive her, nor say it for her alone.

R. It is a serious question. Is it indeed so?

N*. Well, I can only leave and commend you to His grace who can make all clear to our souls. Shall we turn to John 6?

R. If you please.

N*. In the first place many Roman Catholic writers admit that it does not apply to the Eucharist. Bellarmine gives quite a list of them, only he says their motives were more right than the Protestants', and that as good Catholics they must hold it does, for the Roman Catechism and other church authorities hold it does. But he evidently feels he is on weak ground here. And it is perfectly certain, taking their own view of the Eucharist, that eating Christ's flesh and drinking His blood in John 6 does not apply to it. No Roman Catholic holds that every one that receives the Eucharist is finally saved: but this is positively affirmed of those who eat Christ as the act is spoken of in this chapter. It is not merely that they have life by it, nor that they live by it, but that He will raise them up on the last day. This is positively declared of every one who eats Christ's flesh and drinks Christ's blood as here spoken of.

R. Where is that?

N*. The Lord declares four times over in the chapter that He will raise up certain persons, to whom He has given eternal life, at the last day: verses 39, 40, 44; and lastly, verse 54, make it dependent on their eating His flesh and drinking His blood, and unfold this truth. They had no life in themselves without it, they dwelt in Him, and He in them, but he that ate of that bread was to live for ever. Christ was their life, and, as possessed of that life, they would never die. In a word, they who ate Christ as spoken of in that chapter would live for ever, and be raised up in blessing. No one pretends that all who partake of the Eucharist will live for ever. It is not of this rite then that the passage speaks, for those who eat as here spoken of will live for ever. Do you believe that everybody that partakes of the Eucharist is surely and eternally saved?

22 R. No, surely not.

D. Nor do I for a moment.

N*. Then it is perfectly certain that John 6 does not refer to the Eucharist, for the Lord says, "If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever." Again: "Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Now this leaves no loophole for controversy. He has everlasting life; this, a person may say, he may lose; but the Lord shuts out this evasion of the truth by adding, "I will raise him up at the last day." That is, He connects final blessing with the present possession of eternal life by those who eat His flesh and drink His blood. And all confirms it: "he that eateth me shall live by me." Now we all admit, that every one who receives the Eucharist is not necessarily finally saved, but the persons spoken of in John 6 are. It does not therefore apply to partaking of the Eucharist.

D. But this must be taken with the conditions attached to it in the gospel. He has this in eating the grace of eternal life; and if he perseveres, he will be raised up for glory.

N*. I find no "if he perseveres" in the passage. It attaches eternal life, and consequent raising up by Christ, to the eating, shewing that it is a real spiritual possession of Christ by faith through the Holy Ghost. And the whole chapter confirms this thought, that it is Christ personally, not Christ in the Eucharist. He is first spoken of as coming down from heaven, and then as sacrificed, giving His body and shedding His blood, and then as ascending up where He was before. Bellarmine, who has really very little to say on the point, insists on His saying, "I will give"; and that if it referred to spiritual feeding on Christ by faith, they could do it then or at any time, and He need not say, "I will give"; while in the institution He says, "This is my body." But this has no force whatever. First, in the Mass, we have seen it is "shall be shed," so that his argument falls to the ground. And when He says, "I will give," what does He refer to? Clearly to His death, His blood shed out, the sacrifice of Himself, as it is said, "He gave himself for our sins; loved us and gave himself for us." It is what He was going to do. He was the bread of life come down from heaven. That cannot be said of the Eucharist, nay, the Catechism of the Council of Trent (Euch. P. 2, 37, 44) denies it, even in the change which takes place, for then it would have to do with locality and space. It was the Son of God, come forth from the Father, the Word made flesh; and whoever believed on Him had everlasting life; He was that bread of life then: "I am that bread of life"; but He had yet to give Himself for the life of the world, and people to be saved must believe on Him as the crucified Saviour as well as the incarnate Saviour, but if they really did, He was a Saviour, and they were saved. And the grand testimony that He was such by His death was, that He ascended up whence He was before. Those taught of God came to Him; but He must die to save them. Nothing really can be simpler. Whoever ate of that bread, according to the sense of that chapter, would live for ever. Bread that came down from heaven (which is professedly denied of the Eucharist) and One giving Himself on the cross for the life of the world, and then ascending up where He was before, which is impossible to apply to the Eucharist: but it is the same Person of Christ spoken of all through. Nor could the Eucharist give itself and its life. When the thing is examined into, it is absurd nonsense to apply it to the Eucharist. This living Christ, body, soul, blood, divinity, has no sense or feeling, is as inert and helpless as the bread it appears to be, and the wine that can be drunk by the lips of men.

22 Bill M. We have never believed, Mr. R., that he who received the Mass would live for ever in eternal life.

R. No, that is not the doctrine of the church; his final state depends on what he does afterwards.

Bill M. But John 6 says, He who eats that bread will live for ever; so it cannot mean receiving at the Mass, but having Christ really in one's soul some other way. Whatever people get in the Mass, they do not get that.

R. They may get the grace of eternal life, and then lose it perhaps.

Bill M. But that is not "shall live for ever"; and eternal life and then being raised up as having eternal life.

R. No, it is not, nor do I deny that when you look through the chapter, it seems to refer to the Lord Jesus Christ personally; not to the sacrifice of the Mass.

23 N*. I really do not see how a person can doubt it. Especially when we see how the Lord speaks of coming down from heaven, giving His flesh and blood, and ascending up where He was before, which cannot apply to an ordinance, but plainly to Himself in Person. "The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." "I am that bread of life." He was it then personally, when no Eucharist could be in question. Then He says, "I will give," which He was going to do, and so introduces His flesh and blood separated in death, and then, as we have seen, His ascension. The Jews rejected both, would not own He came down from heaven, nor think they could eat His flesh and drink His blood, taking it in a carnal sense. You really give it this sense, though you cover it under the term sacramentally and species of bread and wine; for you say there is no bread there, but truly, really and substantially the body and blood of Christ with His soul and divinity. But we have nothing to do with Jewish unbelief, and the Lord treats the Jews there as hopeless reprobates, and indeed all through John's Gospel, for we take the words spiritually, as Christ in the chapter itself tells us to do (v. 63). "It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." As for Dr. Milner, he takes it all for granted, saying, "After which [the miracle] He took occasion to speak of this mystery, saying," etc. The extreme weakness of both Bellarmine and Milner on this point is most striking.

But it proves more. It proves that, in speaking of eating Him and drinking His blood, such language refers to spiritually feeding on Christ, not on any actual reception of the Lord's body and blood. A person who eats, as here spoken of, lives by the life of Christ, has eternal life, abides in Him, and is raised up into glory. But it proves more; it proves that the terms used on this subject by the Lord and recorded in the New Testament are used, not literally, but figuratively. Christ declares His Father gave them the true bread from heaven. Do the teachers of transubstantiation mean to say that Christ was really bread? Surely not. Yet He says, "I am that bread of life." "He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever." He was not physically nor substantially bread come down from heaven; that is, "is" was figuratively and spiritually used. Again, the bread which He gives is His flesh which He would give for the life of the world. As bread, as a figure, He was come down from heaven, incarnate in the world. The bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. This bread means Him who came forth from the Father, and came into the world, the Word made flesh, the Son of God. He was the living bread come down from heaven. But incarnation was not sufficient alone to save us. He must die, or He would have abode alone, and the bread He gives is His flesh which He had taken, and this He gives for the life of the world. Here we have the cross, the propitiation made for sin. The Eucharist is for believers, His people. This giving His flesh is for the world; and he that eats not this, and drinks not His blood, has no life in him. But the Lord's supper none can truly eat but those who have life in them already, and even if only formally, it is as Christians they do it, not as the unsaved world, to which He came that men might live and be forgiven through Him; and as we have seen he who does eat has eternal life, and will have part in the resurrection of life — he will live for ever. In a word, no eternal life without the cross, without shedding of blood. Hence the blood too must be drunk. It must be shed and taken into the heart, as shed, to be of any use. Without shedding of blood there is no remission. It was not a Messiah to the Jews they were to believe in, true as that was, but One come down from heaven incarnate in the world, and giving Himself and shedding His blood for the world. So must He be received, so fed upon, and thus men would have eternal life. Hence, having spoken of incarnation and death, He adds, "What and if ye see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" You make giving His flesh for the life of the world, after His ascension, contrary to the order of the chapter. Thus, when Christ is said to be bread, it is a mere figure. The bread was Christ in the flesh which He was going to give for the life of the world.

24 D. But then He speaks of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, which He gives for the life of the world.

N*. Surely. He gives Himself literally on the cross, His blood being poured out, for it is to be drunk. He actually gave Himself for the life of the world upon the cross, and there His blood was shed, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. And if this drinking of blood were literal, the poor Roman Catholics could not be saved; they never get it at all. They are told that they get it in the body, but that is not poured out; they must drink it to have life. And it refers to Christ as He then was in incarnation and so dying (before His ascension which comes afterwards); and such as do so eat Him, feed in heart on Him as incarnate and dying for us, are eternally saved (v. 54), and men have no spiritual life at all if they do not. That Christ's blood should be shed now that He is in glory is perfectly impossible, contrary to all truth and Scripture. And the blood-shedding here spoken of is after His incarnation as head come down from heaven, and before His return thither; in a word it is His blood as shed on the cross as incarnate down here, shed indeed for redemption, but closing all association with man in the flesh, given for the life of the world, none other. And indeed, whereas we know that He shed His blood for man on the cross, there is not a trace of His taking His blood again, though in its spiritual efficacy it is presented to God, but as shed, apart from Him who presents it on high. That His body was raised, every Christian believes — a man is no Christian who does not; but not that He took back His blood and went up to heaven, having it in Himself as if He had not shed it and died. And indeed it cannot be; for we are to be conformed to His image, that He may be the firstborn among many brethren: and it is said of us, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. But what is essential is that Christ's blood can in no sense be shed now. It must be drunk spiritually in memory that He did shed it, or not at all. Hence Christ puts eating His flesh and drinking His blood, and eating Him together, that is faith in His Person and death so as to live by them. Only the recognition of the shedding of His blood, and the drinking of it as so shed, is essential. We have no life else. Now it cannot be shed, and at the same time be in His body as the bread come down from heaven. If it be in His body, then there is no redemption at all. The words He spake were spirit and life: shed blood is salvation. If it be a glorified body, it is impossible. If it be looked at as His body down here, there is no redemption at all.

25 R. What you say I cannot resist the force of. But, as you have said, many esteemed Catholic authors do not apply John 6 to the sacrament of the altar. Still there are principles in what you say which go beyond John 6, and raise the whole question as to what that sacrament is, or what blood there can be for us to drink as spoken of in John 6, save as figuratively. That a glorified Christ cannot shed blood now is clear, and that He gave His flesh for the life of the world on the cross is certain. I confess I am perplexed, and it distresses me. We do, as Bill M. said, attach so much importance to the Mass and sacrament of the altar, and boast, as against Protestants, that we have a sacrifice and they have none.

27 N*. But, remark, Mr. R., if you believe that the blessed Lord gave His flesh and shed His blood on the cross for us, and in your heart feed on the bread which came down from heaven incarnate and sacrificed for us, you have exactly what Hebrews 9, 10, speak of, a sacrifice once offered of perpetual efficacy and never to be repeated, He being ascended on high and seated there now. You have eternal life, nay, shall live for ever. Whatever the privilege of partaking of the Eucharist, which I hold to be very great, it is by that one sacrifice once offered and blood once shed, as Scripture tells us, really received into the heart by faith, that we are sanctified and perfected in conscience, and have assurance, in John 6, of eternal life.

R. I see clearly what you mean, but it is, for us, if we are to receive it, an immense revolution in the mind.

N*. It is, Mr. R., but a blessed one. Only allow me to remark that the foundation of faith remains, only cleared of much that both obscures and mars it, the Person and work of the blessed Son of God; only so as to give peace to the conscience and joy to the heart, instead of dread and bondage.

But we may turn, I think, to the apostle Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 2:23-29. One thing is clear, that he calls it bread after the giving of thanks as before, has no idea of its being anything else (vv. 26, 27). For him it was bread and the cup after the Lord had said, "This is my body," as before. The words He uses as to the cup are that the cup is the new covenant, as in Luke. There is not a trace that He counted it anything but what it was, evidently. It is done in remembrance of Christ, which could not be if He was then giving Himself. Was Christ the offerer, doing it in remembrance of Himself? We shew forth the Lord's death, but He cannot die as now glorified: the notion of a sacramental putting to death a glorified Jesus is as horrible as it is contrary to all truth. It is a remembrance of what was His death, and His death is over for ever. All He says supposes it to be constantly bread and wine all through. That is what a man eats or drinks unworthily, when he is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. So that in saying this He has no idea it is not still bread.

28 R. Let us turn to the words of institution.

N*. We will. Let us, however, carry this with us, that the Lord, speaking in John 6, uses this figurative language. He was the bread come down from heaven. If we remember the occasion on which the rite was instituted, the phraseology is very easy to understand. God, when redeeming Israel out of Egypt, had had the blood of the lamb sprinkled on the doorposts and said, "When I see the blood, I will pass over …"; and they ate the lamb. Of this they were to keep up the memorial, and, if their children inquired, were to say "This is the Lord's passover," when He did not pass over at all; but they celebrated the memorial of it. Christ our passover has been sacrificed for us, where, note, the apostle has no idea but of the one sacrifice of Christ accomplished long ago; and we are to keep the feast with no renewed one, as indeed we have seen that there was to be no more sacrifice for sins; and our feeding on Him is not physically or materially, but spiritually in our souls, in thankful faith for what He has wrought, our conscience being, through the unchangeable efficacy of His blood, perfected for ever before God.

Now let us consider the supper itself. It was to be observed in remembrance of the true Paschal Lamb, Christ just about to be offered, not a memorial of redemption from Egypt as Jews, but from sin and the flesh and Satan by an "eternal redemption obtained" for us. This Christ clearly sets before them, speaking of His blood shed for many, His blood of the new covenant. It was the true passover sacrifice of the Lamb of God, and that, and not deliverance from Egypt, was to be perpetually remembered. Nothing can be clearer than this, and it gives its character to the whole scene. It was the Jewish passover, and another and better, for the whole world and eternity, was just going to be substituted for it in the sacrifice of the true Paschal Lamb, giving His flesh for the life of the world, shedding that blood which by faith cleanses from all sin, yea, by the shedding of which alone remission is obtained. He takes the elements furnished by the supper as symbols of this. And mark here, not one word, as Roman Catholics have admitted, is said in Scripture of changing anything in any way, no such thought is ever expressed in any way. He says, with the bread in His hands, This is my body.

29 D. But excuse me, sir, if it was His body, it must have been changed, for He had taken the bread into His hand.

N*. If it means literally His body. But as to this, your saying "it must," is the admission that there is nowhere any statement that there is a change. Can you refer to any actual statement that such a change takes place?

R. Well, I can call to mind no scripture, but I cannot pretend to know the Scriptures well.

Bill M. I never thought of that, and if there be none, it does make all the difference as to the doctrine. It is only man's way of explaining if it be really His body.

N*. They are not agreed how to explain it themselves. Many did not hold it to be a change, holding that a substance could not in the nature of things be changed and be not itself; they thought that the bread disappeared miraculously and the body came in its place without changing the appearance of the elements, but as the underlying substance. Into all this we need not enter. It is only important to shew that the whole was from human reasoning. But it is held by many schoolmen, and even by Cajetan, Luther's opponent, that it cannot be proved by Scripture. Bellarmine (3, 23) admits it may be so, "it is not altogether improbable," seeing most learned and acute men as Scotus have so held. Quoting Cameracensis, many others* whom I need not recall, might be cited. But let us turn to the words. Are we to believe that Christ held His body in His own hand and His blood poured out too? I know Augustine says He bore His body in a certain manner in His hand (quodammodo), but this "in a certain manner" just shews that it was not really and substantially in His hand, which would be grossly absurd. But what they call the real body of Christ He did hold in His hand and gave thanks and brake it. Did He hold His own body? Or did the living Christ hold the dead Christ with the blood shed out in His hand? Indeed, a bone of Him was not to be broken,** but did He break His own body in any sense? or was it bread?

{*The schoolmen Biel and Occam and the Bishop of Rochester are quoted by Cosins; so further Occam says, it is better and more scriptural to say the bread remains; and Scotus. It was no dogma of faith before Innocent 3.}

{**The word "broken" in 1 Corinthians 11:24 is not genuine.}

30 James. Surely, Mr. R., you do not think He took His own body in His hand, and broke it.

R. I do not wish to say much; we will continue our examination of the passage.

N*. The apostle Paul has at any rate settled it. In speaking of the communion of the body of Christ (that is, as the passage makes evident, our spiritual identification with Christ as the Gentiles were identified with their idols in partaking of the idol sacrifices, and the Jewish priests with the altar of Jehovah by eating of the sacrifices offered there), he declares what we break to be bread. Where this communion, that is, takes place, it is still bread. And so little does he attach the thought of any substantial change to it, that he is content to say, "The cup which we drink." He saw the broad plain fact which all saw and acted in before him. It was bread He broke, and a cup they drank of. The spiritual sense was communion with the body and blood of Christ, association with it, and if so they could not be associated with demons too. But remark further, it is "Christ crucified" which is in question. He is viewed in the Eucharist not as sitting, true as that may be, thank God at the right hand of God; but as often as we eat that bread and drink that cup, we shew forth the Lord's death till He come. What we eat is bread, and what we drink is the cup, the plain, sensible, evident fact; but what we set forth and declare in it, is Christ's death — His body given for us, His blood shed for us; we do it in remembrance of Him. There is no such Christ to be changed into. There is now no dead Christ, no shed blood substantially to be found. And this is no mere playing with words, it is the essence of the rite, what we shew forth. It is His blood as shed that is set forth, and His death. It is Christ's dying that is the meaning of the rite, and that must be remembrance. He cannot die now. Hence, as so presented in John 6, it comes after His coming down from heaven, and before His ascending up where He was before, as of course His death necessarily did. For in John His death itself, not the memorial of it, is spoken of. But it cannot be in remembrance of a present living Christ in heaven. It is in remembrance of Him once humbled and dying, a state passed and gone for ever. Further He could give no such Christ at the last supper: His blood was not then poured out. The state spoken of, He was not in. He could not say, "This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for many," as a present substantial real thing; there was none such. Giving it to be observed as a memorial of its shedding on the cross, that we can all understand; but He could not hold His own shed blood in His hand, for it was yet in His body. A figure of what would be is plain enough Hence, as we have seen, your Vulgate says, "which shall be poured out," acknowledging it was not so then. The truth is the word (ekchunomenon) does not say "had been" or "would be," but gives it that character; it was shed blood which was of any avail; that must be drunk, or there was no life, without that shedding there was no remission. When the Lord said, "Take eat," He had not yet consecrated it by the words said to do so by the Roman Catholic doctrine. As has long ago been urged, when He took and brake it, and said this, it was the bread He had taken in His hand. It was the bread which He took and brake they were to eat as such, as His body, but not a word of being changed into it, and do it in remembrance of Him who was gone, and to eat it in remembrance of that which, though the one foundation of every blessing, was a passing thing in His history; His death and blood-shedding could not be an abiding present thing. And this embarrasses their doctors. They say (Bellarm. 4, 22, 17) that the priest's drinking of the cup* is more for the sacrifice than the sacrament (a distinction unknown of old to Christendom), as the people get the blood in the body all the same, but that the shedding of blood is thus set forth. But then the priest takes it as shed, the people as in the body. And if the priest in eating the bread have taken it as in the body, it is before the shedding of the blood, and there is no sacrifice, no redemption, no remission: and according to Bellarmine, it is the priest's eating it which is his putting Him to death, a sad office to perform, so that he has taken Him to feed on Him before there was any sacrifice, and yet the consecration had taken place which turned it into His body. But such irreverent confusion is the necessary consequence where so holy and blessed a memorial of Christ's death is turned into a profane materialism; and yet after all, taken in sufficient quantity, it nourishes the body, yet there is no substance of bread at all: the accidents do it.

{*The officiating priest alone takes the cup in the Roman ritual.}

31 The note of the Rhemish translation of Matthew 26 also distinguishes the sacrifice and the sacrament, that the sacrament by concomitancy is the whole body, blood, soul, and divinity of the Lord, but that for the sacrifice it is the bread changed specifically into the body, and the wine into the blood — that being the condition of Christ in making the sacrifice,, so that His body is apart for the sacrifice and His blood apart, but all together in the sacrament. But Paul knows no such difference: the bread which we break is the communion of His body, and the cup which we bless, the communion of His blood, so that the distinction made in the alleged sacrificial part is yet by Paul declared to be the communion, and on the other hand, as often as we eat that bread and drink that cup, which is the alleged sacramental part, he says, we do shew forth the Lord's death till He come; but in His death it is admitted that the blood was separated from the body, shed for us, so that the attempt to make this difference to meet the evident testimony to death and the shedding of Christ's blood in the sacrament — for it was shed blood they were to drink — only brings in increased confusion. The use of "is" for "represents" is too common to dwell upon. That rock "was" Christ. The seven kine "are" seven years, the seven ears of corn "are" seven years. So we do constantly; I shew a picture and say, "That is my mother," and so on.

32 D. But we should look at it in faith, and take it, as really what the Lord called it.

N*. But what the Lord took and broke is called bread, and the cup the blood of the new covenant. Paul calls three times over what we eat bread, and I suppose he had faith. He says the bread they broke which is confessedly mere bread, was what was the communion of the body of Christ and the cup the communion of His blood. So that he formally puts the identification with the body and the blood of Christ in that which is confessedly mere bread. Nor, as I have said, is there anywhere a hint of any change. So that Bellarmine, as we have seen, admits that it is not improbable that it cannot be found in Scripture.

R. I feel that it stands on much less solid ground than I thought, and though I feel that it is an important principle to receive things in simplicity by faith, yet where it is our most solemn religious rite, and remission of sins depends upon it in this world and even in purgatory, one needs a sure foundation for that faith; and here our greatest doctors treat it as not improbable that it cannot be proved by Scripture, and in examining it by Scripture, and the reality of the sacrifice of the blessed Lord, it is difficult to see how they agree. We shew forth Christ's death and yet we are told the blood is in the body, and this is sought to be set straight by distinguishing the sacrifice from the sacrament. But I do not see that this separation has any solid-ground at all. But it is difficult to get rid of an impression or conviction which seemed to have been faith, and it is not only a matter of instruction and persuasion, but interwoven with every religious feeling we have. And then to think we have been worshipping what is only a little bread and water really. Still my comfort is that it was done supposing it was Christ, and Him my soul would worship still.

33 N*. Amen, dear Mr. R.! My spirit goes with everything you have said. I do not doubt a moment your having done it in the purpose of your heart to Christ, and, as your words suggest, that worship remains which turned — forgive me if I seem hard — not a bit of paste into Christ, but Christ into a bit of paste you could put into your mouth. God forbid we should ever lose heart-worship to Christ, alike due to Him, and the best treasure to us; only it is in spirit and in truth that worship is truly offered, not in outward things. And I can fully sympathise with you on the difficulty of getting rid of long cherished impressions. Only experience of human nature tells us that false ones of a superstitious nature are harder to get rid of than any. They are suited to human nature, and prop up human nature, whereas the truth is spiritually enjoyed and foreign to human nature. "Because I tell you the truth, therefore ye believe me not." The Jews were circumcised, the Gentiles not: that they could boast in and cherish, when all its value was gone. You have a sacrifice, you think, and we have not, and that does not humble you. To drink of the cup of Christ, where we had no part but our sins, and His infinite life-giving love was made good, always humbles. We have full liberty wit h the Father through it, not dread, but it bows down the soul in the sense of His goodness; and it is that, and Himself who did it, the Lord's supper brings to us, while we wait for Him till He comes. Blood taken as in the body is setting aside the whole force and meaning of the ordinance: and shed blood is not to be found, nor a Christ in death in existence then or now. There is no such Christ to be transubstantiated into, nor was there then. Your Mass not only pretends to be a sacrifice when there can be no more, but it sets aside the whole force and meaning of the Eucharistic rite, taken as received by the faithful.

34 R. But this is putting it in a very strong way, Mr. N.

N*. I do not doubt there may be personal piety in those receiving it, ignorant of what it involves; but I believe, as far as a rite can do it, the Roman Catholic rite involves the foundations of our relationship with God. It denies that one sacrifice once offered suffices for ever, and that there can be no more offering for sin, and hence, the true and perfect purging of the conscience once for all of those who receive that sacrifice by faith; and it gives a fancied presence of Christ in substance, when there is no such Christ at all, setting aside the spiritual feeding on Him as the bread come down from heaven, with the blessed remembrance of His dying and efficacious bloodshedding. You have the blood in the body, which is no shewing forth His death at all, but a denial of the very point and meaning of the rite so precious to true Christians.

R. I see it is very serious and makes Christianiy, as to its present reality, a different thing. But do you not think all things are possible with God?

N*. It is not a question of what is possible, or whether such things as we may imagine are not what God has instituted and revealed. The Mass and transubstantiation are contrary to what He has revealed and the historical facts of Scripture, and its fundamental doctrines too. According to Scripture there can be no more sacrifice for sin. According to you, Christ was holding His own shed blood in His hand when it was at that time unshed in His body.

Bill M. Why, Mr. R., it is as plain as possible: how could Christ give us His blood shed, when it was there in His body not shed? There could not be two, and if it was not shed, there is no redemption, and in heaven in glory He does not shed His blood. I never thought it was so plain, and then if John 6 refers to it, we never drink it at all, and have no life in us.

R. My dear Bill M., you do not take into account the effect of education and habit, and whatever piety you have being connected with it. You had not been brought up in this way; I was from a child.

Bill M. I hope I did not offend, sir; I only meant to say how clear it all seemed to me. I do not doubt, what you say makes a great difference. And I was brought in by thinking it was the church when I knew nothing about it, and was glad

to get forgiveness ready settled for me, for I knew I was a sinner.

35 R. Oh, I have not a thought of any offence. I am very glad you speak plainly what you feel about it. But it is to me an anxious serious thing, if I have been wrong all my life. I do not say I have, but I cannot answer what I have heard, and I see you are all happy and I am not.

D. But you seem to me to forget altogether the teaching and authority of the church of God.

N*. What church? Yours says that it cannot be proved by holy writ, but is repugnant to the plain word of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of the sacrament, etc. How you ritualists reconcile your maintenance of it to your conscience, honest people do not understand. I know they plead the "words in which it was commonly said," as not being against the formal doctrines of the Roman Catholics, but only against current notions; but that refers to the offering of Christ (Art. 31), and there is nothing of the kind in the one I have quoted. (Art. 28) So that the authority of the church, what you own to be such, will not help you here. As to the Roman Catholic body it was never decreed till 1215 in the fourth Lateran Council, and was rejected by the ablest doctors. So Scotus whom Bellarmine declares was a most acute and learned doctor, though he does not agree with him; but there were many others, as Rabanus Maurus, Bertram. As to the Greek church, indeed the whole church for centuries, it wholly rejected it, superstitious as it had become and disposed to magnify the Eucharist. And what all the early church held as alone consecrating the elements has to this day no place in the Roman service. Nothing can be more distinct than the testimony of the early Greek Fathers against transubstantiation, which we will look into just now. After John Damascene, the doctrine and at last the name gradually prevailed. It used to be called transelementalism.

But we have not quite done with Scripture: the Lord, speaking of the cup, says, "This is my blood of the new covenant shed for many," and again expressed in a different form, shewing that no importance was attached to the letter of the statement, as if it were a literal fact. "This cup is the new covenant in my blood." That is, He speaks of the import and value of the symbol. No one can say that the cup was a covenant. I might give deeds and say, "There is the house conveyed to you," and every one would understand it, and no one would think the parchment was a house. Yet if "This is my body" is literal, so is "This cup is the new covenant," and Paul, who received this directly by revelation from the Lord, gives it in this form: "This cup is the new covenant in my blood": has no thought of any literal blood. It suffices to him to speak of it as the new covenant in Christ's blood, and he calls it bread when thus given and broken, and not only when so broken but when eaten by the faithful (1 Cor. 2:26); they "eat this bread," and drink the cup, and shew forth the Lord's death. Yet they are associated or spiritually identified with Christ's body and blood, as the Jews with Jehovah their God, and the Gentiles with their gods in eating the sacrifices. But what the faithful did was to eat bread and drink of a cup, but both, the symbol of the Lord's death who gave His flesh and shed His blood for the life of the world. And even when doing it in the profane and unworthy manner which made the Corinthians guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, it was still eating of that bread and drinking of that cup. If one should spit on my mother's picture, he is insulting my mother, guilty of doing so to me. And there is a much deeper sense of the value of the blessed Lord's death, and realisation of union and communion with Him when spiritually realised, than when we materially take it into our mouths and stomachs. The truth is, the whole thing is a delusion.