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"christianity. For my mind is more touched with these words, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, than "with all the arguments of Aristotle and of all the philosophers, "by which they teach that the world had no beginning. If your "mind is agitated with doubts and perplexities, as you confess, it "is because you make no account of the popes and the councils. "My mind is confirmed in the faith, by the consent of the Catholic "Church. And if you are persuaded, that there is nothing more 66 in the Eucharist than bread and wine, 1 for my part must "declare to you, that I should prefer being torn in pieces limb " from limb, to following your opinion, and that there is no torment I would not willingly endure, rather than leave this "world after having committed so great a crime against the testi66 mony of my own conscience."


Perhaps you will reproach me for fatiguing you with so many quotations: but I can assure you that, to spare your patience, I have confined myself to a part only of those that have come under my observation. I conceived that these would suffice by their clearness and the eminence of the personages from whom they are taken, to remove every doubt from your mind respecting their particular belief. I am convinced that the most skilful of our divines, were they to attempt at this time to give you an explanation of our mysteries, would discover nothing to say more exact, powerful and energetic than what the greater part of these Fathers have said, and would only have to repeat the expressions of these great luminaries of the Church. I am convinced even that every protestant who, with honest sincerity, shall seek before God to ascertain, from the Fathers, the belief of the first ages respecting the Eucharist, must find it from their testimonies precisely the same, as catholics now profess and will continue to profess to the end of time.

And yet there are found in protestant communities men of great knowledge, who unfortunately employ the fertility of their genius and the subtlety of their mind in inventing turns and expla nations to elude the evidence of the force of these testimonies ! How omnipotent is the tyranny of prejudice over us! How lamentably are we influenced by vanity and the empty glory of supporting the cause in which we find ourselves engaged! Conscience and good sense are often subjected to their dominion, so that in our discussions, obstinacy takes the place of that candour of which we are so proud on other occasions, leads us to find doubt



in what would appear as irresistible evidence, were we engaged in the opposite cause. These skilful divines therefore have invented turns and modes of expression to explain what neither bears nor needs explanation, in order to substitute obscurities for that which is as clear as the day. They have ransacked all the writings of the Fathers, to oppose passage to passage, to combat whatever is found decisive and peremptory in them by what they have sometimes written doubtful and enigmatical. This manœuvre they have more particularly employed against St. Augustin. But how deserving of our pity is such a disposition! If, as they affirm, truth is the object of their enquiry, why not candidly acknowledge that a single passage of St. Augustin's evidently shews his own. doctrine and that of the whole Church, where he testifies that no one eats of this flesh who has not first adored it? Why not acknowledge that he was, more than the other Fathers, surrounded with pagans, whom his eloquence made most eager to hear him and read his writings that, consequently, he was more shackled by the discipline of secrecy, which he so frequently repeats, as if anxious to forewarn us of his embarrassment in developing his thoughts. On these critical and frequent occasions he covered the mysteries but did not annihilate them: he skilfully managed to speak of them so as to withhold them from the eyes of the uninitiated, while he left them open to the knowledge of the faithful. This is the truth and the real fact: this is what should be acknowledged. Why not acknowledge that he had a hundred times assisted at the liturgies of Milan that he himself at Hippo, had day by day repeated at the altar those pathetic and inflaming prayers in which every thing speaks of the oblation, of the sacrifice, of the adoration, of the victim present by the change of substance; that it was this he so often found himself obliged to conceal and which he effectually concealed, but with great skill and without detriment to the dogma? In fine, why not acknowledge, on the one hand, that this circumspection, these enigmas and veils, would have been without aim or object, if he had thought with the modern Calvinist, because, in that case, he would have had nothing to conceal, but every thing to discover: and, on the other hand, that he could not have rejected or disowned our mysteries without contradicting in his discourses and his writings what he was in the habit of practising with an angelic piety in the liturgy, and withont acting a character in the pulpit totally opposed to the ministry he was discharging at the altar.

The fact is, there exists not a single passage of this great bishop, or any of the Fathers, which goes beyond that obscurity

which circumstances required, not one who is not perfectly in agreement with the doctrine of the liturgies and of the Church. Of the correctness of this assertion you may easily satisfy yourself. When you feel disposed to do so, you will find the subject at great length and discussed in a masterly style by the two greatest controversialists that have ever written on the Eucharist, Arnauld and Nicole. (a)

A few words more, Sir, if you please, and I shall have completed what I had to lay before you respecting the Eucharist. My three last letters have clearly laid open to you the true sentiments of the primitive Church. Let us now compare them with those that your reformers have imputed to them; by this means we shall become convinced that they themselves were ignorant of the doctrines and sentiments of the antient Fathers, while they pretended to lead us back to them. We must not however be too hasty and severe in accusing them of an ignorance, which belonged to the age in which they lived, and which we ourselves should have shared, had we lived in their times. Let us ever bear in mind that it was then most easy to mislead or err, because their notions concerning christian antiquity must still have been very imperfect. Scarcely had men begun to study, and examine with curious and deep research the voluminous writings of the fathers and the acts of the councils. Their first attempts must needs have led to but very imperfect results. Few monuments had then come to light: they remained for the most part dispersed in manuscripts hard to be deciphered, scattered here and there in private libraries: and what a length of time has it taken to bring them forth to day! what criticism and examination has been necessary to ascertain their authenticity! what labour to class them methodically, to compare them with one another, and extract from them on every point a continuity of exact information respecting dogma and discipline! We now enjoy all these advantages: the reformation did not: it worked in obscurity, involved in the darkness and clouds that still were hanging upon the sixteenth century, and which were not entirely removed till the following century was far advanced. You must not therefore be surprised at discovering that the reformation, whilst it fondly considered itself as approaching nearer to the primitive doctrine, banished itself to so great a distance from it.

The general ignorance which prevailed at that time respecting

(a) Perpetuité de la foi défendue, 6 vol. in-4o. Paris, 1781.


christian antiquity, has been frankly acknowledged by one of the best informed, and perhaps the most learned men of his time among the followers of the reformation. Chatillon makes the acknowledgment in these terms (a): " Certainly, to speak the truth, our age is still buried in the thick darkness of ignorance. The ma"nifest proof of this appears in our important, obstinate and fatal discussions; in our numerous and ever unsuccessful conferences to settle our disputes: and, in fine, in the multitude of works "which are every day appearing, and which come to an agreement "upon nothing.If the pure day of truth," continues he, $6 was shining upon us, should we be still groping by the sombre "and dull light of these obscure productions ?"


But to confine ourselves to the Eucharistic dogmas, what more incontestable proof can there be of a general mistake, than to behold, as regards the real presence, a half of the reformed, and, as regards the change of substance, the whole reformation, imagining that these dogmas were unknown to the first ages, whereas it is so well proved in our days that the christians of that happy age, scrupulously cherished and fostered them in their hearts in the midst of the uninitiated; and whereas, in celebrating the liturgy among themselves, they proclaimed them by a lively and profound adoration, and taught and developed them to their neophytes, with all the clearness and energy of expression, at their command ?

How many particular examples might I not here produce of the errors and illusions, into which the most gifted of the reformers have fallen, for want of a sufficient acquaintance with antiquity? The few following appear to me rather striking. (5) "Ecolam"padius, having written to Melanchton that the opinion of the "Churches of Switzerland on the Eucharist was not contrary "either to the Holy Scripture or the Fathers, Melanchton made a "collection of passages from the Fathers, which he considered as "favourable to him, and addressed it to Frederick Myconius, "with a very warm epistle, in which he speaks with acrimony of "Carlostadtius, considering him as the head of the sacramenta"rians....and adding with an air of contempt that his adversaries "knew only of two passages from the fathers to allege in their "favour. Ecolampadius put an end to this boasting by a dialogue....in which he collected a quantity of passages from the


(a) Castalio, præf, Biblior.-(b) Histoire de la réformation de la Suisse, par Abraham Ruchat, professeur de belles-lettres à Lauzanne, Tom. III. p. 199, edit. Genève, 1727,

to prove

"Fathers, and some even which Melanchton had not seen, "that the opinion of our Churches was the same with that of the "ancient christians.



"This book of Ecolampadius," continues our historian and Swiss professor of the belles-lettres, " did much good and brought "back many persons of learning. It also softened down Melanch"ton, who was much moved by it. This great man began to open his eyes, and recover a little from the violence of his prejudices; so much so, that from this time he applied himself afresh to the "study of ecclesiastical antiquity, and scarcely did any thing "else for six years but consult the fathers upon this matter. Bucer pronounced this work of Ecolampadius's to be excellent, and was desirous that every person interested in this dispute should "take the trouble to read it and meditate carefully upon it."



He who is well acquainted with this subject, and you, Sir, who have just read our last letters, will consider it as beyond all doubt that Melanchton, although enveloped in the same obscurity with the rest, had nevertheless guessed right, and had caught a glimpse of the real sentiments of the fathers, while Ecolampadius, led astray by a heap of texts misunderstood, was blundering at every step. And how then did the matter end? Poor Melanchton conceives himself to be fairly refuted, returns from his prejudices, as they called them, and applies him again for six continued years to the study of the fathers: Bucer, Bolinger, with a host of other learned investigators, not to mention our rhetorician and historian M. Ruchat, stand in astonishment at Ecolampadius's wonderful production, and thenceforward are fully convinced that the holy Fathers had actually and unceasingly thought and taught according to the Swiss divinity. From this example you may form some judgment of the ecclesiastical knowledge with which the reformers were blessed at this epoch of confusion and uproar.

Again it is to be remarked, that Ecolampadius in vain attempted to convince these clear-sighted and fastidious theologians, for he never succeeded in satisfying and convincing himself. "As far as I can conjecture from the writings of the "Fathers" says he in a letter to Zuinglius (a), "the words, This " is my body, ought to be understood of the figure. Beseech "God that he would vouchsafe to open thy eyes, and mine also, "if I am misled, that we may not fall into error, with the peril of

(a) Lib. III. Epist. quoted in Florim. p. 175.

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