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could not offend God, and in reason should not offend man! Or if the church do believe, that upon such a vain fear of irreverence (which we see moved not the ancient church at all) she may lawfully forbid such a general, perpetual, and necessary charity, certainly herein she commits a far greater error than the former. Secondly, from the council of Trent's anathema, denounced on all that hold the contrary, in these words: “If any man say, that the receiving of the eucharist is necessary for little children, before they come to years of discretion, let him be anathema." Concil. Trid. Sess. 21. De communione parvulorum, Cant. 4.
Now for the affirmative part of the contradiction, to make it evident that that was the doctrine of the ancient church, I will prove it, first, from the general practice of the ancient church, for several ages. Secondly, by the direct and formal testimonies of the fathers of those times. Thirdly, by the confession of the most learned antiquaries of the Roman church. My first argument I form thus: If to communicate infants was the general practice of the ancient church for many ages, then certainly the church then believed, that the eucharist was necessary for them, and very available for their spiritual benefit; but it is certain, that the communicating of infants was the general practice of the church for many ages; therefore the church of those times thought it necessary for them. To deny the consequence of the proposition is to charge the church with extreme folly, wilful superstition, and perpetual profanation of the blessed sacrament. As for the assumption, it is fully confirmed by Clemens Rom. Constit. Apost. 1. 3. c. 20. Dionysius Areopagita De Eccles. Hie
rar. cap. ult. S. Cyprian, and a council of African bishops with him, Ep. 59. ad Fidum; and in his treatise De lapsis, p. 137. edit. Pamel. Paulinus, bishop of Nola, in Italy, an. 353. in Ep. 12. ad Senem out of Ordo Romanus, cited by Alcuinus, S. Bede's scholar, and master to Charlemain, in his book De Divinis Officiis, cap. De. Sab. Sancto Pasc. Gennadius Massiliensis De Eccles. Dogmatibus. c. 52. Concil. Toletanum, 2 Can. 11. It continued in the western church unto the days of Lewis the debonnaire, witness Cardinal Perron Des Passages de St. Augustine, p. 100. Some footsteps of it remained there in the time of Hugo de S. Victore, as you may see lib. i. De Sacram. et Cerem. cap. 20. It was the practice of the church of the Armenians in Waldensis' time, as he relates out of Guido, the Carmelite, tom. ii. De Sacr. c. 91. De erroribus Armenorum. It is still in force in the church of the Abyssines, witness Franc. Alvarez, Hist. Æthiop. c. 22. et Thomas a Jesu de procuranda salute omnium gentium. It has continued without any interruption in the Greek church unto this present age, as may be evidently gathered out of Lyranus in ch. vi. John; Arcudius, 1. i. c. 14. et l. iii. c. 40. De Concord. Eccles. Orient, et Occident. in Sacram. Administratione; Card. Perron Des Passages de S. Augustine, p. 100. Where he also assures us of the primitive church in general, that she gave infants the eucharist as soon as they were baptized; and that the custom of giving this sacrament to little infants the church then observed; and before, p. 21, that in those ages it was always given to infants together with baptism. The same is likewise acknowledged by Contzen in John vi. ver. 54. and by Thomas a
Jesu de procuranda salute omnium gentium. So that this matter of the practice of the ancient church is sufficiently cleared. Seeing therefore the ancient church did use this custom, and could have no other ground for it, but their belief, that this sacrament was necessary for infants; it follows necessarily, that the church then did believe it necessary.
But deductions, though never so evident, are superfluous, and may be set aside; where there is such abundance of direct and formal authentical testimonies; whereof some spoke in thesi, of the necessity of the eucharist for all men, others in hypothesi, of the necessity of it for infants.
My second argument, from the testimonies of the fathers of those times, I form thus: That doctrine in the affirmative whereof the most eminent fathers of the ancient church agree, and which none of their contemporaries have opposed or condemned, ought to be taken for the catholic doctrine* of the church of those times; but the most eminent fathers of the ancient church agree in the affirmation of this doctrine, that the eucharist is necessary for infants, and none of their contemporaries have opposed or condemned it; ergo, it ought to be taken for the catholic doctrine of the
* The reader, when he meets with the phrase, catholic doctrine, in this and the following discourse, must remember, that it does not signify articles of faith determined in any general councils, which might be looked upon as the faith of the whole church; but the current and common opinion of the age, which obtained in it without any known opposition and contradiction. Neither need this be wondered at, since they are about matters far removed from the common faith of Christians, and have no necessary influence upon good life and manners, whatsoever necessity by mistake of some scriptures might be put upon them.
church of their times. The major of this syllogism is delivered and fully proved by Cardinal Perron, in his letter to Casaubon, 5. obs. and is indeed so reasonable a postulate, that none but a contentious spirit can reject it.
For confirmation of the minor, I will allege, first, their sentences, which in thesi affirm the eucharist to be generally necessary for all, and therefore for infants; and then their suffrages, who in hypothesi avouch the necessity of it for infants.
The most pregnant testimonies of the first rank are these: of Irenæus, lib. iv. cont. hæres. c. 34. where he makes our union to Christ by the eucharist the foundation of the hope of our resurrection, in these words: "As the bread of earth, after the invocation of God, is now not common bread, but the eucharist, consisting of two things, an earthly, and a heavenly; so our bodies receiving the eucharist, are not now corruptible (for ever) but have hope of resurrection." The like he hath, lib. v. c. 2. And hence in probability it is, that the Nicene council styled this sacrament, Symbolum Resurrectionis, the pledge of our resurrection : and Ignatius, Ep. ad Eph.-Pharmacum immortalitatis, the medicine of immortality.
Cyril. Aler. lib. iv. in Joan. "They shall never partake, nor so much as taste the life of holiness and happiness, which receive not the Son in the mystical benediction." Cyril. lib. x. in Joan. c. xiii. &. lib. xi. c. 27. "This corruptible nature of our body could not otherwise be brought to life and immortality, unless this body of natural life were conjoined to it." The very same things saith Gregory Nyssen. Orat. Catech. c. 37.
And that they both speak of our conjunction with Christ by the eucharist, the antecedents and consequents do fully manifest, and it is a thing confessed by learned catholics.
Cyprian, De cana Domini, and Tertullian, De resur. carnis, speak to the same purpose: but I have not their books by me, and therefore cannot set down their words. St. Chrysostom, Hom. 47. in Joh. on these words: Nisi manducaveritis, has many pregnant and plain speeches to our purpose. As, "The words here spoken are very terrible: Verily, saith he, if a man eat not my flesh, and drink not my blood, he hath no life in him for whereas they said before, this could not be done, he shews it not only not impossible, but also very necessary." And, a little after: "He often iterates his speech concerning the holy mysteries, shewing the necessity of the thing, and that by all things it must be done." And again : "What means that, which he says, My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed: either that this is the true meat, that saves the soul; or to confirm them in the faith of what he had spoken, that they should not think he spoke enigmatically, or parabolically; but know, that by all means they must eat his body."
But most clear and unanswerable is that place, lib. iii. De sacerdotio, where he saith, "If a man cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven, unless he be born again of water and the Holy Spirit; and if he which eats not the flesh of our Lord, and drinks not his blood, is cast out of eternal life; and all these things cannot be done by any other, but only by those holy hands, the hands, I say, of the priest; how then, without their help, can any