« PoprzedniaDalej »
of opinion, and have no influence neither on men's morals ART
XXVIII. nor their worship. We still hold communion with bodies ** of men, that, as we judge, think wrong, but yet do both live well, and maintain the purity of the worship of God. We know the great design of religion is to govern men's lives, and to give them right ideas of God, and of the ways of worshipping him. All opinions that do not break in upon these, are things in which great forbearance is to be used ; large allowances are to be made for men's notions in all other things; and therefore we think that neither consubstantiation nor transubstantiation, how ill grounded soever we take both to be, ought to dissolve the union and communion of churches : but it is quite another thing, if under either of these opinions an adoration of the elements is taught and practised.*
This we believe is plain idolatry, when an insensible piece of matter, such as bread and wine, has divine honours paid it: when it is believed to be God, when it is called God, and is in all respects worshipped with the same adoration that is offered up to Almighty God. This we think is gross idolatry. Many writers of the church of Rome have acknowledged, that if transubstantiation is not true, their worship is a strain of idolatry beyond any that is practised among the most depraved of all the heathens.
The only excuse that is offered in this matter is, that since the declared object of worship is Jesus Christ, believed to be there present, then, whether he is present or not, the worship terminates in him ; both the secret acts of the worshippers, and the professed doctrine of the church, do lodge it there. And therefore it may be said, that though he should not be actually present, yet the act of adoration being directed to him must be accepted of God, as right meant, and duly directed, even though there should happen to be a mistake in the outward application of it.t
See note, pp. 417, 418. + This vain pretence of worshipping on condition that the consecrated bread is Christ, is thus met and ably refuted by Bishop Taylor :
I will not censure the men that do it, or consider concerning the action whether it be formal idolatry or no. God is their judge and mine, and I beg he would be pleased to have mercy upon us all; but yet they that are interested, for their own particulars, ought to fear and consider these things. 1. That no man, without his own fault, can mistake a creature so far, as to suppose him to be a God. . 2. That when the heathens worshipped the sun and moon, they did it upon their confidence that they were gods, and would not have given to them divine honours, if they had thought otherwise. 3. That the distinction of material and formal idolatry, though it have a place in philosophy, because the understanding can consider an act with its error, and yet separate the parts of the consideration ; yet hath no place in divinity, because in things of so great concernment it cannot but be supposed highly agreeable to the goodness and justice of God, that every man be sufficiently instructed in his duty and convenient notices. 4. That no man in the world upon these grounds, except he that is malicious and spiteful, can be an idolater: for if he have an ignorance great enough to excuse him, he can be no idolater ; if he have not, he is spiteful and malicious; and then all the heathen are also excused as well as they.' 5. That if good intent and ignorance in such cases can take off
ART. In answer to this, we do not pretend to determine how far XXVIII. this may be pardoned by God; whose mercies are infinite,
and who does certainly consider chiefly the hearts of his creatures, and is merciful to their infirmities, and to such errors as arise out of their weakness, their hearts being sincere before him. We ought to consider this action as it is in itself, and not according to men's apprehensions and opinions about it. If the conceits that the ancient idolaters had both concerning their gods, and the idols that they worshipped, will excuse from idolatry, it will be very hard to say that there were ever any idolaters in the world. Those who worshipped the sun, thought that the great divinity was lodged there, as in a vehicle or temple; but yet they were not by reason of that misconception excused from being idolaters.
If a false opinion upon which a practice is founded, taken up without any good authority, will excuse men's sins, it will be easy for them to find apologies for every thing. If the worship of the elements had been commanded by God, then an opinion concerning it might excuse the carrying of that too far; but, there being no command for it, no hint given about it, nor any insinuation given of any such practice in the beginnings of Christianity, an opinion that men have taken up cannot justify a new practice, of which neither the first, nor a great many of the following ages knew any thing. An opinion cannot justify men's practice founded upon it, if that proves to be false. All the softening that can be given it is, that it is a sin of ignorance; but that does not change the nature of the action, how far soever it may go with relation to the judgments of God: if the opinion is rashly taken up
the crime, then the persecutors that killed the apostles, thinking they did God good service, and Saul in blaspheming the religion and persecuting the servants of Jesus, and the Jews themselves in crucifying the Lord of life, who did it ignoTantly as did also their rulers, have met with the excuse upon the same account. And therefore it is not safe for the men of the Roman communion to take anodyne medicines and narcotics to make them insensible of the pain ; for it will not cure their disease. Their doing it upon the cloak of error and ignorance, I hope will dispose them to receive a pardon : but yet also that supposes them criminal; and although I would not for all the world be their accuser, or the aggravator of the crime ; yet I am not unwilling to be the remembrancer, that themselves may avoid the danger. For though Jacob was innocent in lying with Leah instead of Rachel, because he had no cause to suspect the deception, yet if Penelope, who had not seen Ulysses in twenty years, should see one come to her nothing like Ulysses, but saying he were her husband, she should give but a poor account of her chastity if she should actually admit him to her bed, only saying, if you be Ulysses, or on supposition that you are Ulysses, I admit you. For if she certainly admits him, of whom she is uncertain, she certainly is an adultress ; because she having reason to doubt, ought first to be satisfied of her question. Since therefore besides the insuperable doubts of the main article itself, in the practice and particulars there are acknowledged so many ways of deception, and confessed that the actual failings are frequent, it will be but a weak excuse to say, I worship thee if thou be the Son of God; and I do not worship thee if thou beest not consecrated; and, in the mean time, the Divine worship is actually exhibited to what is set before us. At the best we may say to these men, as our blessed Saviour to the woman of Samaria, " ye worship ye know not what; but we know what to worship."'-[Ep.]
and stiffly maintained, the worship that is introduced upon it ART. is aggravated by the ill foundation that it is built upon. We XXVIII. know God by his essence is every where; but this will not justify our worshipping any material object upon this pretence, because God is in it; we ought never to worship him towards any visible object, unless he were evidently declaring his glory in it; as he did to Moses in the flaming bush; to the Israelites on mount Sinai, and in the cloud of glory; or to us Christians in a sublimer manner in the human nature of Jesus Christ.
But by this parity of reason, though we were sure that Christ were in the elements, yet since he is there invisible, as God is by his essence every where, we ought to direct no adoration to the elements; we ought only to worship God, and his Son Christ Jesus, in the grateful remembrance of his sufferings for us; which are therein commemorated. We ought not to suffer our worship to terminate on the visible elements; because if Christ is in them, yet he does not manifest that visibly to us: since therefore the opinion of the corporal presence, upon which this adoration is founded, is false, and since no such worship is so much as mentioned, much less commanded in scripture; and since there can scarce be any idolatry in the world so gross, as that it shall not excuse itself by some such doctrine, by which all the acts of worship are made to terminate finally in God; we must conclude that this plea cannot excuse the church of Rome from idolatry, even though their doctrine of the corporal presence were true; but much less if it is false. We do therefore condemn this worship as idolatry, without taking upon us to define the extent of the mercies of God towards all those who are involved in it.
If all the premises are true, then it is needless to insist longer on explaining the following paragraph of the Article ; that Christ's body is received in the sacrament in a heavenly and spiritual manner, and that the mean by which it is received is faith; for that is such a natural result of them, that it appears evident of itself, as being the conclusion that arises out of those premises.
The last paragraph is against the reserving, carrying about, the lifting up, or the worshipping, the sacrament. The point concerning the worship, which is the most essential of them, has been already considered. As for the reserving or carrying the sacrament about, it is very visible that the institution is, * Take, eat, and drink ye all of it;' which does import, that the consuming the elements is a part of the institution, and, by consequence, that they are a sacrament only as they are distributed and received. It is true, the practice of reserving or sending about the elements began very early; the state of things at first made it almost unavoidable. When there were yet but a few converted to Christianity, and when there
ART. were but few priests to serve them, they neither could nor XXVIII. durst meet altogether, especially in the times of persecution;
so some parts of the elements were sent to the absent, to those in prison, and particularly to the sick, as a symbol of their being parts of the body, and that they were in the peace and communion of the church. The bread was sent with the
wine, and it was sent about by any person whatsoever ; someEus. Hist. times by boys; as appears in the famous story of Serapion in V1.c. 44. the third century. So that the condition of the Christians in
that time made that necessary, to keep them all in the sense of their obligation to union and communion with the church; and that could not well be done in any other way. But we make a great difference between this practice, when taken up out of necessity, though not exactly conform to the first institution : and the continuing it out of superstition, when there is no need of it. Therefore instead of consecrating a larger portion of elements than is necessary for the occasion, and the reserving what is over and above; and the setting that out with great pomp on the altar, to be worshipped, or the carrying it about with a vast magnificence in a procession invented to put the more honour on it; or the sending it to the sick with solemnity; we choose rather to consecrate only so much as may be judged fit for the number of those who are to communicate. And when the sacrament is over, we do, in imitation of the practice of some of the ancients, consume what is left, that there may be no occasion given either to superstition or irreverence. And for the sick, or the prisoners, we think it is a greater mean to quicken their devotion, as well as it is a closer adhering to the words of the institution, to consecrate in their presence: for though we can bear with the practice of the Greek church, of reserving and sending about the eucharist, when there is no idolatry joined with it; yet we cannot but think that this is the continuance of a practice, which the state of the first ages introduced, and that was afterwards kept up, out of a too scrupulous imitation of that time; without considering that the difference of the state of the Christians, in the former and in the succeeding ages, made that what was at first innocently practised (since a real necessity may well excuse a want of exactness in some matters that are only positive) became afterwards an occasion of much superstition, and in conclusion ended in idolatry. Those ill effects that it had are more than is necessary to justify our practice in reducing this strictly to the first institution.
As for the lifting up of the eucharist, there is not a word of it in the gospel; nor is it mentioned by St. Paul: neither Justin Martyr nor Cyril of Jerusalem speak of it; there is nothing concerning it neither in the Constitutions, nor in the Areopagite. In those first ages all the elevation that is spoken of is, the lifting up of their hearts to God. The
elevation of the sacrament began to be practised in the sixth ART. century; for it is mentioned in the liturgy called St. Chry- XX sostom's, but believed to be much later than his time. Ger-Germ. man, a writer of the Greek church of the thirteenth century, Const. in is the first that descants upon it; he speaks not of it as done 1
Tit. 12. in order to the adoration of it, but makes it to represent both Bibl. patr. Christ's being lifted up on the cross, and also his resurrection. Ivo. Carn. Ivo of Chartres, who lived in the end of the eleventh century, Ep.deSacr. is the first of all the Latins that speaks of it; but then it was Bibl. pat. not commonly practised; for the author of the Micrologus, though he writ at the same time, yet does not mention it, who yet is very minute upon all particulars relating to this sacrament. Nor does Ivo speak of it as done in order to adoration, but only as a form of shewing it to the people. Durand, a writer of the thirteenth century, is the first that Dur. Rat. speaks of the elevation as done in order to the adoration. So div. O
lib. iv. de it appears that our church, by cutting off these abuses, has sexta parte restored this sacrament to its primitive simplicity, according Can. to the institution and the practice of the first ages.