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forced to omit divers deep points concerning the priesthood of the new law. Among which (no doubt) the mystery of the sacrament and sacrifice of the altar, called Mass, was a principal and pertinent matter: which the apostles and fathers of the primitive church used not to treat of so largely and particularly in their writings, which might come to the hands of the unfaithful, who of all things took soonest scandal of the blessed sacrament, as we see, John vi. He spake to the Hebrews (saith S. Hierom, ep. 126) that is, to the Jews, and not to the faithful men to whom he might have been bold to utter the sacrament. And indeed it was not reasonable to talk much to them of that sacrifice which was the resemblance of Christ's death, when they thought not right of Christ's death itself. Much the apostle's wisdom and silence our adversaries wickedly abuse against the holy mass."
As I am one of those adversaries, whom nothing that the church of Rome has yet advanced in defence of her mass sacrifice will satisfy, I suppose I must be classed with those whom the reverend fathers call upon Christ Jesus to confound. But big words are not always great arguments; and without the least fear or dread of their great anathema, I maintain that the church of Rome has not produced the authority of any one of the ancient fathers in support of her mass sacrifice, as it is defined by the council of Trent, and taught in her catechisms. If the fathers had been such children as to believe and teach the doctrine of the mass, I would not give a farthing for their authority; and indeed, great men though some of them were, I attach no importance to their writings, further than as they bear witness to matters of fact which came within their own knowledge, and as affording specimens of the literature of their times. In matters of Christian doctrine, which are contained in the Bible, they had not better access to know the truth than we have, and few of them such good opportunities as we possess, with the entire volume of inspiration in our hands, and liberty to study it night and day if we please.
But in point of fact, I have seen nothing quoted from any of the ancient fathers which gives the least countenance to the popish doctrine of the mass. It is true, some of them use very improper and unscriptural language with regard to the Lord's supper, such, for instance, as, “ This tremendous sacrament.” “A host or sacrifice that cannot be consumed.” “An host which being taken away there would be no religion.” “A perpetual oblation and a redemption that runneth or continueth everlastingly." (Chrysostom, Cyprian, and others, as quoted by the Rhemish doctors, on Heb. vii. 17, and other annotations on this epistle.) Such expressions prove nothing more than that such authors had an erroneous view of the subject, and an absurd and fanciful way of speaking of it: but there is not the least hint of their having believed the bread and wine in the eucharist, as the Lord's supper was called, to be converted into the real body and blood of Christ, and, as such, offered to God as a propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead.
Besides, we ought to be very cautious in receiving any thing which Papists profess to give as the sentiments, or even the words, of the ancient fathers. We have in Glasgow a man who professes to know something of literature, who subscribes himself Amicus VERITATIS,
that is, a friend of the truth, and who follows one of the learned professions, who had the effrontery to give to the Glasgow public what he called an extract from the works of Luther, in which he broke off in the middle of a sentence, and substituted a period for a comma; by which means he made Luther speak very differently from what he intended : of which see an exposure in my second number. This writer had the still greater effrontery to refer me to the volume and folio of Luther's works, in the library of the Glasgow University, and to challenge me to go and see if Luther did not teach the lawfulness of adultery. I did go, and I found that the pretended friend of truth was a publisher of falsehood; for Luther's words, given entire, bear no such meaning.
Now, if such a circumstance could happen in the nineteenth century, in the enlightened city of Glasgow, what may not have happened in the comparative darkness of the sixteenth century, and in places where few could read ? In point of fact, there happened innumerable instances of forgery and imposition at an earlier period than this, of which I have in my possession a numerous catalogue, in a volume entitled “Roman Forgeries." Works were ascribed to certain fathers, and some even to apostles, which such a postles and fathers never saw or heard of; and the works of the fathers which are allowed to be genuine, have been so garbled, as in many instances to conceal their real meaning; of which take the following account from a lively and interesting pamphlet by the Rev. Mr. Carlile of Dublin.
Speaking of the authority which the church of Rome exercises, he says,-" They exercise a singular authority over the writings of the fathers. They have carefully examined them, and made out a list of passages that are to be expunged as erroneous, which they call the Inder Expurgatorius. They prohibit the publication of these passages; and when they get copies of the fathers within their reach, they correct them, as they call it, according to the Index. If any one wishes to see an instance of this with his own eyes, let him examine the copy of the edition of St. Hierom's works, published by Erasmus, in the library of Trinity college, Dublin. He will see on the titlepages of the different volumes, a certificate, signed in the name of the inquisitor general, who derives his authority from the pope, stating that the volume had been examined and corrected according to the Index Expurgatorius; and, on turning over the leaves of the book, he will find passages carefully blotted out with ink. He will also observe, that wherever the name of Erasmus occurs, he is styled a damned author, “auctor damnatus ;" and the reason of this title is stated to be his editing the book without purgation. There is a kind of melancholy pleasure in seeing the handwriting of an inquisitor in the execution of his office, when one is out of his reach-a similar pleasure to what one feels on seeing a tiger in his cage."
I have not quoted Mr. Carlile as an authority for the existence of the Index Expurgatorius, for this is known to every man who has read what is called church history; but for the information which he gives of an example of the manner in which books are garbled according to the Index, of which he was an eyewitness, and which may be seen by any person who will visit the library of Trinity college, Dublin. Now, it is very evident that no credit is due to what popish writers are pleased
to give as the words of the fathers ; for their works are mutilated by authority, so as not to speak what they did speak. If one of them, for instance, should have called the Lord's supper a sacrifice, and have added that he meant it only eucharistically and spiritually, and not as propitiatory; then, according to the rules of the Index, the last clause would be expunged, as not according to the faith of the church; and so, by suppressing the author's explanation of his meaning, they make him speak what he did not mean.
The clergy of the church of Rome were in possession of almost all the literature in Europe for several centuries. They alone had access to the writings of the fathers; and, in taking copies of them, before the art of printing was invented, it was easy for them to make such addi. tions and omissions as would represent the fathers as speaking whatever they pleased. Or, supposing that the monks and priests of the dark ages were men who had some conscience, and would not be guilty of such imposition, we know what villany was practised in a more enlightened age; when, after the invention of printing, the church of Rome was publicly and avowedly guilty of the very imposition above mentioned. By her Index Expurgatorius she makes the fathers teach what she pleases, though it should be the very opposite of what they actually did teach; and when an honest man, like Erasmus, (honest in this point I mean,) takes upon him to publish the genuine works of the fathers, without interpolation or omission, they call him a “ damned author.”
Without ceremony, therefore, I dismiss the fathers and their opinions, as adduced by the Rhemish translators and other popish authors, as of no weight whatever with regard to the point in hand; and I shall now take up the argument of the Rhemish doctors, in support of the mass, which they affect to find in the fifth of Hebrews, v. 8-11, above quoted.
They find out that the mass was a principal and pertinent matter" among those things which the apostle did not think proper to make known to the Hebrew believers. That he did not teach any such thing is certain; and that he had such a thing among many things which were hard to be uttered, and which he forbore teaching, remains to be proved. If the mass sacrifice were, as Papists represent it, the principal part of Christian worship; if it were, as they say, that essential and solemn rite, without which there is no Christianity, it would seem very strange that the apostle should be silent on the subject. He must have, in that case, departed from his usual course of integrity and faithfulness. To the Ephesian elders he could say, I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God; and therefore, as he says, he was pure from the blood of all men. Acts xx. 26, 27. But he did not declare the whole counsel of God to the Hebrews; he was not pure from their blood, if he allowed them to remain ignorant of the propitiatory sacrifice of the mass, and to die without the benefit of it; nay, if the mass sacrifice be of the counsel of God, and of such importance as the church of Rome says it is, then the apostle must have been guilty of the blood of those who died ignorant of it. But I hope every Christian will pronounce a verdict of not guilty, in favour of the apostle, till it be proved that he received a command from Christ to teach the doctrine of the mass.
But it will perhaps be objected, that the apostle did keep back something which he would have told the Hebrews had they been able to understand it; to which I reply, that no such thing appears from his own words. Concerning Melchisedec and his priesthood, as typical of that of Christ, he had much to say, not inexplicable, as the Rhemists make it, not a thing in itself unintelligible, but a thing difficult to be explained to persons whose minds were so imbued with Jewish prejudices as to give tardy and hesitating admittance to evangelical truths. There are many truths which appear to a mathematician as certain and evident as that two and three make five, which he would find it difficult, and even impossible, to bring down to the understanding of a person who had not studied mathematics. Though the apostle's own mind was perfectly clear upon the subject of Christ's priesthood, and the termination of that of Aaron, he found it hard to bring the subject down to the understanding of persons who were still wishing to cling to the priesthood of Aaron, and other Jewish institutions. Notwithstanding, however, the dulness of their apprehension, the apostle proposes nothing less than to lead them on to perfection ; and he does tell them all that he had to say about Melchisedec and his priesthood, in the seventh chapter of his epistle. It is therefore unjust and injurious to the memory of the apostle to say, that he kept any thing back that he was commissioned and inspired to teach.
But this is not all,—the Řhemish doctors represent the holy and faithful apostle as a time-server and a Jesuit; as teaching what was agreeable to the people, and keeping back what he supposed would be disagreeable and unpopular. The apostles and fathers of the primitive church, they say, "used not to treat so largely and particularly (of the mass) in their writings, which might come to the hands of the unfaithful, who of all things took soonest scandal of the blessed sacrament, as we see, John vi.” The passage in John vi. does not refer to the sacrament at all, as any one may see who will read it; but supposing the mass to have been a doctrine which the apostle was commissioned to teach, the circumstance of its being the soonest to excite scandal, so far from inducing him to keep it back, would only have led him to give it à more prominent place in his ministrations. He knew that the doctrine of Christ crucified was the most scandalous thing in Christianity. It was a stumblingblock to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles; but instead of keeping it back on that account, he declared that he would know nothing else—he would make it the sum and substance of all his discourses to both Gentiles and Jews. So he did; and had the mass been a part of Christianity, the more it was contemned by the world, the more zealously he would have maintained it. It is said indeed, that some Jesuits in China, and other heathen countries, conceal those parts of Christianity that are likely to be offensive to those whom they wish to convert; but the apostolical character was not formed upon the model of Jesuitism.
The Rhemish doctors seem to take it for granted, that the apostles were such men as themselves. They did not
, they say, treat largely and particularly of the mass sacrifice, lest their writings should come into the "hands of the unfaithful.” Here it is insinuated, that they had something to conceal from adversaries; something that would not bear the light. Now, though this may be true of the sacrifice of the
mass, it is most untrue of any thing that apostles preached and wrote. They had nothing to conceal. What Christ had told them in private, he commanded them to publish upon the house tops. The apostles addressed themselves to adversaries. They demanded their attention, and invited them to scrutinize, in the strictest manner, all that they spake and wrote. Had the mass, therefore, been a part of what they were commanded to teach, they would not have attempted to conceal it from adversaries. It is this smuggling, this attempt at concealment, that has given infidel writers such a footing in countries called Christian. It is the boast of such writers that Christianity cannot bear the light; that therefore it is an imposition; and those who see Christianity only in the light of popery, can scarcely come to any other conclusion. Thus the church of Rome has added to all her other guilt, that of the infidelity which her impieties and absurdities have produced. Infidels are without excuse, because they ought to view Christianity as it is laid down in the word of God; but the church of Rome has done what she could to keep this from them. Our grave
doctors of Rheims next introduce St. Hierom talking as great nonsense as themselves. The apostle, says he, “spake to the Hebrews, that is, to the Jews, and not to the faithful men to whom he might have been bold to utter the sacrament." The apostle was indeed speaking to Jews—to Jews who laboured under many mistakes, and who were very dull of apprehension with regard to many things; but who were, upon the whole, not enemies, but friends—real believers in Christ, concerning whom he says, "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which you have shown to his name." ch. vi. 10. Again, "ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing that ye have in heaven a better, and an enduring substance.” ch. x. 34. This is not such a speech as an apostle would have made to adversaries of the gospel; it was an address to friends, to whom he might, in the fullest confidence, bave opened up all the mysteries of the mass, had there been any such mysteries in his time; he might have been as bold as he pleased upon this subject; for he was speaking to faithful men, to whom he says many bold things, and things likely to have been more offensive than the doctrine of the mass, had he been authorized to teach such a doctrine.
“And indeed,” say the Rhemish doctors, “it was not reasonable to talk much to them of that sacrifice which was the resemblance of Christ's death, when they thought not rightly of Christ's death itself.” They proceed upon the notion that the epistle to the Hebrews was addressed to the unbelieving Jews, who were avowed enemies of Christ and his gospel; but this was not the case, as any man may see who reads the epistle itself. The apostle addresses the Hebrews as brethren in the faith of the gospel, notwithstanding their mistakes and imperfections. Indeed there are none of the apostolic epistles addressed to persons of an opposite character. The apostles preached the gospel to sinners of every description, in order that sinners, believing, might be saved; but all their letters are addressed to Christians—to individuals or churches who made a profession of the faith; and who were not therefore understood to be adversaries, to whom it would have been improper or unsafe to intrust any matter of divine revelation, or inculcate any Christian doctrine. It follows, therefore, inevitably, that as