by Thomas Wadsworth
But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down at the right hand of God.—Hebrews 10:12.
THE design of the apostle in this verse, with the verse foregoing, is to set forth the excellency and perfection of our Saviour's priesthood and his one sacrifice, above the Levitical priesthood and the plurality of sacrifices by them offered under the law.
This he doth by comparing them together, and by showing wherein they agree, and wherein they differ, that so he might clearly illustrate the pre-eminence of the one above the other.
Their agreement consisted,
1. In their office: they were both priests.
2. In the administration of their office: they both did sacrifice.
Their disagreement consisted in these things following:—
First. The Levitical priesthood consisted of a plurality of persons, therefore called "priests," (verse 11,) who, by reason of death, had many successors. But the evangelical priesthood consisted but of one single person, our Lord Jesus, called in the text, "this man."
Secondly. As the Levitical priesthood consisted of a plurality, so did their sacrifices; for they were also very many, and therefore called "sacrifices." (Verse 11.) Now you must understand, the apostle there speaketh not only of a plurality as to the number of them, but likewise as to their several kinds; for they offered not only several sorts of beasts, as bulls, lambs, goats, but of birds also, as turtle-doves and young pigeons, &c. But the sacrifice which Christ offered was but one as to the kind, which was that "body" which was "prepared." (Verse 5.)
Thirdly. The Levitical sacrifices were oftentimes offered; (verse 11;) but the sacrifice of Christ was but once offered. (Verse 12.)
Fourthly. The Levitical sacrifices could "never take away sin;" (verse 11;) but Christ by his one sacrifice, once offered, took away sins for ever; that is, took away sins fully and everlastingly. And herein it is, that the transcendent glory of the gospel-sacrifice out-shines all the legal sacrifices, as much as the sun doth all the stars in their greatest lustre: for all those sacrifices could never take away sin, which this one hath done perfectly.
From the words thus opened, I shall gather these four
PROPOSITION I. That Christ crucified is the only divine and proper sacrifice of the gospel.
PROP. II. That the sacrifice of Christ is but of one kind.
PROP. III. That this one sacrifice of Christ was but once offered.
PROP. IV. That this sacrifice of Christ once offered, was so completely efficacious, as that it took away sins fully and for ever.
THE FIRST PROPOSITION OPENED
That Christ crucified is the only divine and proper sacrifice of the gospel.
Here I shall explain, First, Why I say it is "divine:" Secondly, Why "a proper sacrifice:" Thirdly, Why "the only proper sacrifice of the gospel."
First. I call it "a divine sacrifice," because its institution and appointment are of God. Let the matter of a sacrifice be never so excellent and precious in the eyes of men, yet except God hath legitimated and sanctified it by his appointment, it would prove but an abomination in the eyes of God. As, suppose one should offer up "the fruit of his body for the sin of his soul," which is a kind of sacrifice, than the which there is nothing a man can more highly value, and more hardly part with; which yet Abraham was ready to have done in his Isaac at God's command, whereby he did wonderfully signalize his faith, and obtained favour with God. But when apostatized Israel essayed to give a like testimony of honour to a mistaken deity, the Lord by his prophet Jeremiah doth not only charge them with idolatry, but likewise with the kind of sacrifice that they offered, which was of their sons and daughters, of which he saith, "Which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination." (Jer. 32:35.) So that every sacrifice that hath not the stamp of divine authority to legitimate it, is not to be accounted of as divine, or of any worth or acceptance with God. But now I say, that this sacrifice of Christ crucified is of divine appointment, and so a divine sacrifice: this is clearly asserted by the apostle: "Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God." (Heb. 10:5–7; Psalm 40:6–8.) Mark that! Christ took up a body, in order to be sacrificed, instead of all legal sacrifices, and this in compliance to the will of God; which he farther explaineth in verse 10: "By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." The sum of what the apostle saith is this,—that God would be satisfied with no sacrifice but that of his Son; and that with this sacrifice he would be pleased, and therein would accept of all that should believe. The conclusion is this,—that because Christ was crucified at the appointment of God, (as I have proved,) therefore I call Christ crucified "a divine sacrifice."
Secondly. I say further, that Christ crucified is not only "a divine" but likewise "a proper sacrifice;" and that for this reason,—because the most essential properties of the most perfect sacrifices under the law, which were those that were expiatory; I say, the properties of such kind of sacrifices agree to this of Christ crucified.
There are four properties of an expiatory sacrifice, all of which, I shall show you, do agree with this of our Christ crucified.
1. The first property of such a sacrifice is, that it be of some living creature slain, and its blood shed, and offered up unto God.—This is so evident to any that hath but any knowledge in the laws of God concerning the nature of his sacrifices, that it will seem a needless matter to add any thing for the illustration or proof thereof. Certain it is, that the holy scriptures, both in the Hebrew and in the Greek, use such words for "a sacrifice" as do include "a slaughter" in them; the one being זָבַח, the other θυσια· and the apostle throughout this epistle speaking of sacrifices, whether they were of bulls, goats, or lambs,—he all along maketh mention of their blood shed, which cannot be but with their slaughter. So that there is nothing more evident, than that slaying and shedding of blood is the property of an expiatory sacrifice. Now it is as clear that our Christ crucified had this property; for he was nailed hands and feet to the cross, and through those wounds bled to death: besides, when dead, the. remainder of his blood issued from his side, pierced with a soldier's spear. This blood, thus shed, the apostle Peter calls "precious blood," and withal calls it "the blood of a lamb without blemish;" (1 Peter 1:19;) therein alluding to the sacrificed lamb under the law, of which shadow Christ, the Lamb of God, sacrificed under the gospel, is the substance. From what hath been said, it is evident that this first property of an expiatory sacrifice doth fully comport with the death of Christ.
2. The second property of a sacrifice is, that it was offered to God for the expiation of sin.—This was the end of the Levitical expiatory sacrifices, as the apostle tells us, when he saith, "Into the second tabernacle went the high priest alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:" (Heb. 9:7:) which is as much as if he had said, that the blood of those beasts he had sacrificed he took with him into the tabernacle, and there offered it to God for his own and the people's sins. Now though he tells us, that "it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin:" (Heb. 10:4:) which seems at first sight very harsh,—that those sacrifices were appointed to be offered for sin, and yet that they could not, when offered, possibly take sin away. But let the apostle answer for himself, as he is best able; which he doth in Heb. 9:9, compared with verse 13. In the ninth verse, he tells you in what sense they could not take away sin: "There were offered," saith he, "gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience." The meaning of which words I shall rather give you in the paraphrase of learned Dr. Hammond, than in my own; which is brief, full, and plain. "Thereby," saith he, "is meant, that all these legal performances will not be able to give any man confidence to pray unto God to bring him to heaven, or to obtain for him the pardon of any wilful or presumptuous sin in the sight of God, or free him from any sin that hath wasted his conscience, or give him grace to purge himself from such sin." In all these respects those legal sacrifices could not possibly take away sin. But you will say, "In what sense did they take away sin?" The apostle will tell you: "If the blood of bulls and goats sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh." (Verse 13.) He had told you before, that they could not make perfect "as pertaining to the conscience;" but now he saith, as to "the flesh," those sacrifices did purify, and so, in a sort, did take away sin. By "flesh" is here meant, the outward man, considered in his external privileges, as to his Judaical church-state, of which privileges this is the sum; namely, communion with that church in external ordinances of worship, from which upon every ceremonial uncleanness the Jew was excluded; but upon offering up of a sacrifice for his cleansing, his fault was passed by, and he was re-admitted to his former communion. And these were the errors of the priests and the people, from which upon their offering of sacrifices they were cleared. And now you see the objection removed, and yet the property of an expiatory sacrifice cleared; and that is, that it was offered for the taking away of sin. And now let us apply this property of a sacrifice to Christ crucified, and see whether it doth not thereto agree.
I say therefore, that answerably Christ was as a sacrifice crucified, and therein offered up to God for the expiation of sin. This is fully asserted by the apostle: "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 9:14.) That is, If the sacrifices of the law so far availed as to the purifying of the flesh, the sacrifice of Christ shall much more avail to purify the conscience; that is, so perfectly to settle and quiet the conscience from the fears of the wrath of God for sins committed, (which are the "dead works" the apostle speaketh of,) to this end, among the rest,—that the sinner, thus quieted, might "serve the living God," not slavishly, for fear of wrath, but from love, as becometh a gracious child, whom his merciful Father hath so freely pardoned through the sacrifice of his own Son. The consideration of this verse, with that of the text I am speaking from, is abundantly sufficient to clear up the second property of an expiatory sacrifice to belong to Christ crucified, which is this,—that every such sacrifice was offered for the taking away of sin.
3. A third property of an expiatory sacrifice is, that it was to be offered up by a priest ordained of God to that end.—To this very end, saith the apostle, was the high priest, under the law, ordained, "to offer gifts and sacrifices." (Heb. 8:3.) So that hence it is evident, that no sacrifice was to be offered but by a priest thus ordained: and was it not Saul's presumption in this kind that lost him his kingdom? (1 Sam. 13:9, 13, 14.)
Well, then, if every expiatory sacrifice must have a priest to offer it, so had our Christ crucified; for it was a sacrifice offered up to God by himself, our only High Priest, being appointed to that office by God. That Christ was appointed by God to this office, is manifest from Psalm 110:4: "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." That this is meant of Christ's being by God designed to this office, is clear from Heb. 7:17, where the apostle applies this prophecy to Jesus Christ. But, farther: as from what hath been said, it doth appear, that Christ is a Priest ordained of God, so likewise it doth further appear, that this our High Priest was he that did offer up himself as a sacrifice to God, if you consider John 6:51: "The bread," saith Christ, "that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Now this flesh was given in his death, which was given by himself when he voluntarily offered it up unto God a most holy sacrifice. So, in Heb. 7:27, it is said, Christ "offered up himself:" Christ was not only the sacrifice, but the sacrificer. So, Heb. 9:26: "Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Nothing more plain, than that Christ in these places is to be understood both as Priest and Sacrifice.
But it may be objected, "How can Christ be said to sacrifice himself, whenas he did not kill himself, or shed his own blood; for he was apprehended by order from the high priest, led away as a prisoner, arraigned and condemned unjustly, and in a violent, cruel manner crucified by his malicious enemies: he did not slay himself, but was slain by the Jews."
I answer: Though he did not slay himself, (for that had been self-murder, which had been a sin that had not become this spotless Lamb; but) yet this is evident, that he did offer up himself to be slain by them, in compliance with the counsel of his Father, and in compliance with all the prophecies of the Old Testament, that foretold, he must be cut off for the people. "O fools," saith Christ to his doubting disciples, "and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these thing?" (Luke 24:25, 26.) Ought he not—That is, Was it not his duty, in compliance with his Father's will, who had designed him thereto, and foretold this his designation by his prophets? But, from the history of the manner of his death, it is very clear, that Christ did very readily offer up himself as a victim to be slain for the sins of his people. For, first, he knew, when he went his last journey to Jerusalem, that his hour was come, and yet he went up. (John 12:23.) Then he knew also, that Judas at that time designed to betray him; but he was so far from seeking to prevent it, that he rather seems to hasten it, when he says to Judas, "What thou doest, do quickly." (John 13:27.) Then again, when his enemies came to apprehend him, he sought not to escape them, but, going forth, saith, "If ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, I am he." (John 18:4, 5.) And when he was in their hands, he could, as he tells them, but pray to his Father, and of him obtain an army of angels to his rescue, but would not; for having received a body for to sacrifice, and the hour of offering it up being come, he most willingly surrendered himself to his enemies for the slaughter: and this is agreeable to what he says in John 10:15, 18: "I lay down my life for the sheep. No man taketh it from me;" that is, "not against my will;" "but I lay it down of myself." And thus it became our High Priest to do, who had the sacrifice of himself to offer by himself.
And thus I have shown how the third property of an expiatory sacrifice belongs to Christ crucified: it was to be offered by a priest ordained by God; and such an ordained Priest was Christ, who at God's appointment offered up himself.
4. The fourth property of an expiatory sacrifice, regularly offered, is, that it was of a sweet savour unto God; that is, it was highly pleasing, and graciously accepted of by him. This is evident from what God himself hath said concerning such sacrifices: "The priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord." (Lev. 1:9.) This is repeated again and again. (Verses 13, 17.) Now, that this sacrifice of Christ crucified might in no case fall short of those legal sacrifices, the apostle doth apply the very same property to this sacrifice of Christ, in these words: "Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour." (Eph. 5:2.) And, certainly, there was never any thing in this world acted to a greater satisfaction to the most high God, than this of Christ's dying for sinners, of which God hath given this testimony, that he hath so highly exalted him, as a reward of these his sufferings; according to the apostle: "Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow," &c. (Phil. 2:8, 9.) And what signifies this honour God hath heaped on him for his sufferings, but that this his suffering death was highly pleasing and of a sweet savour to him? Thus have I in four things shown you how evident it is, that Christ crucified is a proper expiatory sacrifice, as having all the essentially necessary properties of such a sacrifice; which was the second point in the first proposition to be cleared.
Thirdly. There is one thing more in the first proposition to be cleared up and proved, which is, that "Christ crucified is the only proper gospel-sacrifice."
I say, "He is the only proper sacrifice of the gospel:"
First. That I might exclude all Judaical sacrifices, which till Christ were, of God, both commanded and accepted; but since his coming, and since he hath offered up himself, all those sacrifices are now abolished, God taking no longer any pleasure therein: "In burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hadst no pleasure. Then said I," (that is, Christ,) "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God;" (Heb. 10:6, 7;) that is, to sacrifice myself. In this latter he hath pleasure; but not in the former, which are therefore taken away.
Secondly. I call Christ crucified "the only proper sacrifice," to exclude the Romish Mass, which those pretended Catholics would fain have us believe to be a proper sacrifice, and the very same with that of Christ crucified; but how groundlessly, I shall show afterward.
Thirdly. I call it "the only proper sacrifice," to distinguish it from several other improper sacrifices under the gospel; as that of doing good and communicating, of which the apostle saith, "With such sacrifices God is well-pleased;" (Heb. 13:16;) such is that of devoting one's body to the service of God, called, "a living sacrifice;" (Rom. 12:1;) so is that of offering praise. (Heb. 13:15.) These I acknowledge have the name of "sacrifices" under the gospel; but there is no man doubteth, that they are improperly, and only by way of allusion, so called. For as a sacrifice is a holy thing offered up to the Lord, so are doing good, devoting one's self to God's service, and offering praise to God, holy things also, and so metaphorically called "sacrifices;" but in these performances, there is no slaying, or shedding of blood, or making atonement for sin, which were necessary to speak them proper sacrifices. Thus much shall suffice for the clearing-up of the third and last part of the first proposition, which now I conceive I have sufficiently proved, "That Christ crucified is the only divine and proper sacrifice of the gospel."
THE SECOND PROPOSITION
That this sacrifice is but of one kind.
Such is part of the meaning of the apostle in the text, when he saith, "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice;" he means not one only in number, but as to the kind: of this latter I shall now speak.
It is well known that the sacrifices of the law were of divers kinds of beasts, as bulls, goats, lambs; and of birds, as turtle-doves and young pigeons. But the sacrifice of the gospel is but of one kind, which is the blood of Jesus, which through the Eternal Spirit was offered up to God.
But it may be asked, why the sacrifices of the law were of divers sorts, since they were to shadow forth the gospel-sacrifice, which was to be but of one sort or kind?
I answer: It might be for this reason,—because that the gospel-sacrifice was to be of that absolute perfection, both as to its matter as well as ends, that no one kind of legal sacrifice could fully represent; and therefore it was, that several sorts of creatures that had very different qualities were elected and appointed by God, to typify out by parts what was summarily comprehended in that one sacrifice of Christ. As when God appointed the bull for the sacrifice, since that creature hath an excellency of strength superior to any other beast of the field, it might be to shadow forth the very great ability of our Lord Jesus for this undertaking. Then again, there was choice made of another sort of creature, which had not that eminency of strength as the bull, but was superior in meekness and innocency; such was the lamb, to set forth that remarkable meekness and innocency of our Saviour in the sacrificing of himself, of whom the prophet saith, "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." (Isai. 53:7.) So also was the goat called out for a sacrifice, not so much to signify any quality of Christ's own person, but rather the nature and qualities of those persons in whose stead he died, which were sinners; for as the goat is noted to be a beast of a very lustful nature, and of as ill a savour, such also are sinners, full of strong and loathsome lusts, of a very ill savour in the nostrils of the holy God. Now Christ, being to represent the persons of such in whose stead he died, was therefore typified forth by this sacrifice of a goat. To add to these, there were also sacrificed turtle-doves and young pigeons; now this is observable of this sort of birds, that there are no birds superior to them in love and faithfulness to their mates; by which might be shadowed forth the incomparable love and faithfulness of Jesus Christ to his church, whom he loved, and bought with his own blood: never was turtle-dove so tender of and faithful to his mate, as Christ hath been and is to his church. So that all the qualities of those several sorts of legal sacrifices meeting in our one sacrifice of Christ, they were fit in conjunction to be his type, and did more completely display the nature of his sacrifice, than if but any one of them had been appointed for that use. And this I conceive is the reason why the sacrifices of the law were of divers sorts, and yet they were all but the type of one single sacrifice of the gospel.
Thus have I briefly illustrated the second proposition.
THE THIRD PROPOSITION
That this one sacrifice of Christ was but once offered.
This is clear to them that consult these following scriptures: "He died unto sin once." (Rom. 6:10.) "He needeth not to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself." (Heb. 7:27.) "But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." (Heb. 9:26.) "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." (Verse 28.) "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Heb. 10:10.) "For Christ hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust." (1 Peter 3:18.) Now, certainly, the Holy Ghost would never have laid such an emphasis upon the singularity or oneness of Christ's sacrifice, as apparently he doth in those scriptures now named, were it not for very good and very great reason; and what is that but to signify, that this one sacrifice, once offered, was every way complete, and sufficient for the full obtaining of all the ends of a sacrifice?
That this sacrifice once offered was sufficient, I prove these three ways:
First. Because it was as often as God required.—"This commandment," saith our Lord, "have I received of my Father, that I should lay down my life for my sheep, and take it again." (John 10:15, 18.) Hence it is certain, that his Father would have him lay it down once, and then to take it again. But was it his intent [that] he should take it again to lay it down again? Not so; for then, since he hath not yet come to die again, it would be our duty to expect him a second time to die for us; but this we expect not. Indeed, he will come a "second time," but, as the apostle saith, "without sin;" that is, not to bear again the punishment of sin, as he did in his once dying: but then he will come "to salvation;" that is, to perfect that salvation to his saints for whom he purchased it by his once dying. (Heb. 9:28.) But our Saviour puts us out of doubt in this particular, inasmuch as he hath told us, he will die no more: "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore;" (Rev. 1:18;) which he could not have said, but that he knows that his Father requires no more deaths at his hand than what he hath already paid.
Secondly. This once was sufficient, because it was as much as the law required.—The law [which] was to Adam,—that "if thou eatest of the forbidden tree, thou shalt die the death threatened,"—was but once to be executed; and therefore Christ, being the sinner's Surety, could not be bound to pay more than the sinner's debt. This is clearly and fully asserted by the apostle: "As it is appointed" (that is, by the law) "unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many;" (Heb. 9:27, 28;) that is, Christ was once sacrificed to take off that curse of once dying that by the law was threatened to the sinner. The law being thus completely satisfied by Christ's thus once dying, it was a very needless matter upon this account for Christ to die a second time.
Thirdly. Christ's dying once was sufficient, because it was as much as the sinner needed.
This will be best understood, if we take an account of the sinner's wants.
1. It is evident that by sin the holy God was provoked to anger; and therefore the sinner wanted a reconciliation, which this one sacrifice once offered hath procured: Christ hath "reconciled both" (that is, Jew and Gentile) "unto God in one body by the cross;" (Eph. 2:16;) that is, he, by his once offering up himself in sacrifice to God, hath made the believing sinner's peace with God, whether he be Jew or Gentile.
2. Again: the sinner hath forfeited his life to the justice of God by sin; answerably, Christ by his once dying hath discharged the law of death, and procured for the believer a glorious resurrection to an eternal life.
3. Again: sin had blinded and hardened the sinner's mind and conscience as to the things of God, so that he became so utterly unable to help himself, that he neither knew the law of God, or if he had known it, he was not able to submit himself to that law, being at enmity thereto. But Christ, by his one sacrifice once offered, procured a new, gracious, and everlasting covenant; one of the principal promises whereof is, that God will put his laws "in their minds, and write them in their hearts;" (Heb. 8:10;) that is, he will so enlighten their minds and sanctify their hearts, as that they shall not only know but readily obey him in whatever he commandeth. Now this covenant and this promise, is the purchase of this one sacrifice once offered.
4. Lastly: sin had got into the sinner's conscience, and so fired it with the flashes of guilt, and alarmed it with the threatenings of the law, and so affrighted it with the wrath of God, that the poor sinner could find no ease or quiet. But this once-offered sacrifice hath so "purged the conscience from dead works," (Heb. 9:14,) that the soul finds itself at ease, that it can serve the Lord without distraction. For being fully persuaded (sin being pardoned, and God at peace, through his blood) that it shall never fall under condemnation, it hears no more of the boisterous storms of the law and conscience, but enjoys a great calm all its days.
Now if Christ's once-offered sacrifice hath both satisfied God, answered the law, and every way supplied the sinner's lacks, it cannot be imagined what room should be left for a repetition of the same sacrifice. And therefore, being [seeing] we are assured that Christ was to do nothing impertinent and in vain, we are, upon the same ground, assured, "That he was to be sacrificed but once;" which is the third proposition.
THE FOURTH PROPOSITION
That this sacrifice of Christ once offered was so perfectly efficacious, as to take away sins fully and for ever.
This proposition is clearly contained in the text. For when it is said, "This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever," the words "for ever" are certainly to be referred to the efficacy of this one sacrifice once offered; for it there stands opposed to the inefficacy of the legal sacrifices, of which he had said, "They can never take away sin." (Verse 11.) The meaning is, that what all the sorts of sacrifices often offered under the law could never do, that this one sacrifice of Christ once offered under the gospel hath done perfectly to the believer; that is, hath not left one sin unpardoned, but hath taken away every sin everlastingly.
1. I say, first, it was so efficacious as to take away all sins to the true believer, fully and completely; nor can the apostle mean any thing less, when he saith, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died." (Rom. 8:33, 34.) Certainly, if there is no judge to be found in heaven or earth that can justly condemn the believer, then there is no sin that the believer stands guilty of, but all must be pardoned. For was there but one sin unpardoned, there would be found judges enow to condemn him. But whence is it that the believer becomes so secure? The apostle tells you the reason, and that is, "Christ hath died." Again: this may farther be confirmed from Acts 13:38, 39: "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things," (that is, all sins,) "from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." The meaning is, that through the death of Christ is preached the remission of all sins, from which ye could not be freed by all the sacrifices of the law of Moses; what those sacrifices could not do, that the one sacrifice of Christ once offered hath done fully.
2. And not only so; for as his one sacrifice once offered took away or procured the pardon of all sins to the believer, so it took them away for ever. This it hath done by procuring the second covenant, which hath this promise: "I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Heb. 8:12.) To remember them no more, is as much as if it had been said, "They shall be everlastingly forgiven, so that not one of them shall ever rise up to the condemnation of the believer." The conclusion is this, that if all sins are eternally pardoned to the believer upon the merit of this one sacrifice once offered, then is this sacrifice a most complete and efficacious sacrifice; nor doth the believer stand in need of any other sacrifice, no, nor of the repetition of this very same sacrifice; which is the fourth proposition, and is now, I conceive, fully proved.
Having thus clearly and briefly confirmed the Protestant doctrine concerning that great article of the proper gospel expiatory sacrifice, which doth highly concern every sinner to understand, without which it is impossible for him to know how or which way he may attain to the remission of his sins, and the salvation of his soul, I come now at length to take a view of the Romish doctrine, concerning their vain, impertinent, blasphemous, and idolatrous sacrifice of the Mass. I call it "vain and impertinent," because by the one sacrifice of Christ once offered on the cross, God is sufficiently satisfied, and the sinner sufficiently secured: to what end then serves their pretended sacrifice of the Mass? I call it "blasphemous," because so derogatory to the sacrifice of Christ, as if Christ's death on the cross was not sufficient without the auxiliary of the Mass to make an atonement for sin, and save the sinner. I call it "idolatrous," because they have made it a mere idol, not only worshipping and adoring sacramental bread and wine as their true Saviour, but in trusting therein for salvation as in Christ himself; than the which there was never any thing invented by the devil himself that was more idolatrous.
But before I shall give you my arguments against this Popish doctrine of the Mass's being a proper sacrifice, since I write principally for the information and establishment of our weaker brethren, I shall first tell you what is meant by "the Mass," the doctrine whereof those cruel, bloody Papists have formerly endeavoured to impose on the faith of your forefathers, with racks, prisons, iron fetters, cruel mockings, fagots, and fire; and which assuredly they would, by the same methods of savageness, instead of arguments, endeavour to impose on you, if ever the Lord should be pleased to give you up into their hands for trial; which the good Lord in mercy prevent!
Know, then, that what we Protestants call, according to scripture, "the Lord's supper," that the Papists, according to the tradition of men, call "the Mass."
But this is not all; for we differ from them not only in the name, but in the explication of the nature of the thing itself; as thus:
We Protestants hold, that in the Lord's supper after consecration, there remains real bread and real wine. But the Papists believe, that after the consecration, or after the priest hath pronounced these words, "This is my body," and, "This is the new testament in my blood," &c., the bread and wine are by a certain miracle transubstantiated into the very same flesh and blood wherein Christ suffered on the cross.
Again: we Protestants believe, that this sacramental supper of bread and wine is a figure of the real sacrifice of Christ crucified, appointed by Christ for the remembrance thereof; and so we doubt not to call it "a figurative, metaphorical sacrifice." But this will not satisfy the Papists; for they believe that this bread and wine is so changed into the very same body of Christ which was nailed to the cross, and into that very blood that he there shed, and that consequently it is a real, proper, and true expiatory sacrifice for our sins, as that of Christ crucified on the cross; which is certainly the meaning of the council of Trent, in those words of the decree concerning this point. Speaking of the Mass, say they, Cujus oblatione Deum esse placatum, et pœnitentiæ donum concedere, et peccata omnia dimittere; that is, "That upon the offering of the Mass God is pacified, and repentance and remission of sins given." And what can be said more of the virtue and efficacy of Christ himself crucified?
In the next place: we Protestants believe, that in the receiving [of] this supper, as with our bodies we eat real bread and drink real wine, so our souls by faith do feed upon the real body and blood of Christ, that was once offered in sacrifice for the reconciling [of] us to God, for the remission of sins, and the salvation of our souls; which benefits we by faith apply to ourselves, for which we bless and praise God, who hath graciously bestowed them on us, for the merits' sake of that one sacrifice of Christ once offered. But the Papists believe, that not only their souls by faith, but likewise the mouths of their bodies, do eat and drink, in the Mass, the very body and blood of Christ, as really as if they had eaten him on the cross, or drunk his blood as it issued out of his pierced hands, feet, and side. In a word: the Papists have turned the Lord's supper into an abominable idol, and take the bread and wine to be the true and real Redeemer of the world, and do as devoutly worship and adore it as we do the God-man Jesus now at the right hand of the Majesty on high: which is idolatry with a witness.
Having now showed you what the Romish Mass is, I now come to lay down those arguments which I shall draw from the precedent discourse; by which I will prove, that this Mass is no proper gospel expiatory sacrifice, which the Romish church believes it to be.
The general argument is this:—
If the one sacrifice of Christ crucified, once offered on the cross, is the only divine and proper sacrifice of the gospel, as I have proved, then the Mass is no divine, proper gospel-sacrifice.
The reason of the consequence is this, because the Mass is another thing, of a very different nature from that of Christ crucified; and therefore, being not the very same thing, it cannot be the very same sacrifice; and if it be not the very same, it cannot be a proper gospel-sacrifice, because that only, as I have proved, is the only proper gospel-sacrifice. This is so evident, that I see no possibility of evading the force of its reason.
That, then, which remains to be proved is this,—that the Mass is not the very same thing and of the same nature with that of Christ crucified; and therefore cannot be the same sacrifice.
In this very point lies the very heart and life of the controversy betwixt us and them, as is evident from the words of the decree of the Trent-council, which are these: Idem ille Christus in hoc Missæ sacrificio incruentè immolatur, qui in arâ crucis cruentè sese obtulit; unâ eâdemque existente hostiâ, eo qui nunc sacerdotum ministerio offert, et qui seipsum tunc in cruce obtulit: [ratione] solâ offerendi diversâ.* The meaning whereof in short is this,—that there is no real difference betwixt the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and Christ in the Mass; it is the very same in both, only differing in the reason of offering: for in the cross he offered himself immediately; in the Mass he offers himself by the ministry of his under-priests.
So then, since the whole controversy lies on this one point, all my arguments shall be levelled against this their strong-hold.
This, then, I shall prove,—that the mass is not properly the very selfsame sacrifice with that of Christ crucified on the cross.
ARGUMENT I. The Mass cannot be the same sacrifice with that of Christ on the cross, because Christ crucified was a sacrifice of God's appointment, and so divine, which I proved in the first proposition: But so is not the Mass; for God never appointed it for a sacrifice: Therefore it cannot be the very same.—For were it the very same sacrifice, and yet never appointed of God to be a sacrifice, as Christ crucified was, then one and the same sacrifice might be appointed of God, and yet not appointed of God, which is a contradiction. That the Mass, which we call "the Lord's supper," was appointed by the Lord Jesus for the remembrance of that one sacrifice once offered on the cross, I deny not. Nor do I deny, that the Mass is a proper sacrifice by the authority of human tradition; a like authority to that of the Pharisees, by which they would not eat except they washed, or by which they thought it lawful to be cruel to their parents, in not relieving their wants, under pretext of their corban: but I deny it to be a sacrifice by any authority from God, or his Son Jesus. This was ingenuously confessed by Ataides Lusitanus, one of the Trent-council, who yet was stout enough in his belief of its being a sacrifice by apostolical tradition; as he says, Pro certo concludendum, doctrinam eam apostolicam esse traditionem:* this I mention to show he was a Papist. "But," saith he, "whoever goes about to prove it such from scripture, doth but as it were go about to build castles in the air." His words are, Verum autem hoc solidum argumentum debilitari ab his, qui aëria sibi struunt, e sacrâ scripturâ id elicere frustra conantibus quod nusquam ibi reperitur, atque adversariis veritatis calumniâ violandæ ansam præbentibus, dum rident eos arenâ laxâ ac instabili ædificare.† So far he. I know, hereby he disgusted the council; but that is nothing to me: so long as he speaks words of soberness, I value him not a jot the less, nor his testimony. But have they any scripture wherein the Mass is directly called "a sacrifice?" No; they pretend not thereto. But they say, there are many places of scripture from whence it may be directly gathered; the examination whereof I shall refer to the conclusion; for it were too long a business to speak to them all in this place. At present I conclude, that if they have no ground from scripture to conclude it a sacrifice, then they have no ground to believe it such by divine authority: But such ground we have to believe that of Christ crucified to be a sacrifice: Therefore they are not the very same sacrifice; at least they have no ground to believe so. But, as I said, for the proof of its having no divine authority for its being a sacrifice, I refer to the close.
ARGUMENT II. The Mass cannot be the same sacrifice with that of Christ crucified at Jerusalem, because Christ there crucified was a proper sacrifice, as I have proved in the first proposition: But the Mass cannot be a proper sacrifice: Therefore it is not the same, and so no gospel-sacrifice.—The reason of the consequence is this, that if the Mass is an improper sacrifice, and Christ crucified a proper sacrifice, and yet the Mass and Christ crucified were one and the same sacrifice, then the one and the same sacrifice of the gospel would be both a proper and an improper sacrifice, which is a contradiction. That the Mass, if it be a sacrifice, is not a proper sacrifice, I prove by these four following arguments:—
ARGUMENT (I.) A proper expiatory sacrifice hath this property,—it consists of some living creature slain, and its blood shed and offered up unto God: But the Mass consists of no living creature slain, and its blood shed and offered up to God.—The former I have proved in the first proposition; the latter I prove from the Papists' own confession. For they say not, that Christ is slain, and his blood shed, in the Mass: and therefore, in the fore-quoted article of the council of Trent, they say, that in the Mass, Christus incruentè immolatur, that is, they acknowledge the Mass is a sacrifice without blood. Which is absurd in the nature of the thing; for we may as well conceive of a fire without heat, as a sacrifice without blood; for as heat is of the essence of fire, so is blood of an expiatory sacrifice. Besides, it is flatly contradictory to that saying of the apostle, applied by him both to the expiatory sacrifices of the law, and that also of the gospel; of both which he saith, "Without shedding of blood there is no remission." (Heb. 9:22.) "Yea," say the Papists, "but there is," in contradiction to the apostle; "for the Mass is a sacrifice expiatory of sin, and yet therein there is no remission."* This is the first.
ARG. (II.) The Mass can be no proper expiatory sacrifice, because it wants the second property of such a sacrifice, which is this, that every such sacrifice takes away sin; and if it be a proper gospel-sacrifice, it takes away sin by virtue of its merit: But the Mass is no such sacrifice that takes away sin.—The former I have proved in the first proposition. The latter I thus prove: The Mass is not a gospel-sacrifice expiatory of sin, because if Christ hath by his one sacrifice once offered taken away sin fully and everlastingly, as I have proved, then is there no sin remaining for the Mass to expiate. Sin, as to the curse, is the sinner's debt: Christ hath paid that debt, in his being once offered, to the utmost farthing; for thereby, as I have proved, God was satisfied, the law discharged, and the sinner perfectly relieved: so then, if there is no sin left for the Mass to expiate, it is impossible that God, that appoints nothing in vain, should appoint the Mass as a sacrifice to no purpose. And therefore I say, it is no proper sacrifice.
ARG. (III.) The Mass can be no proper gospel-sacrifice, because it hath no priest assigned of God to offer it. The reason of this consequence is, because, as I have proved in the first proposition, that both the legal and also the evangelical sacrifice was by God's special appointment to be offered by a priest and none else: But the Mass hath no divinely-appointed priest to offer it as a sacrifice.—Which is thus proved: If the Mass hath any priest appointed of God to offer it as a proper sacrifice, this priest must either be the high priest, which is only Jesus Christ, or some other inferior priests, delegated by Jesus Christ as his substitutes: But the Lord Jesus doth not offer the Mass in sacrifice here on earth in his own person; for he is in heaven, and the Mass is offered on earth; nor indeed do the Papists say so much; for their belief is, that Christ offers himself now in the Mass, sacerdotum ministerio, "by the delegation of his priests" on earth. But this cannot be true, for these reasons:—
First. Because there is not so much as the name of "priest," throughout the New Testament, given to any such subordinate officer of Christ's church. We read indeed of apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders, presbyters, but not of priests; and this indeed the Jesuit Lorinus confesseth in Acts 14:22: Ab hoc abstinet Novum Testamentum, ut magis proprio antiqui legis sacrificii, concedo: (De Sacerdote:) that is, "I grant, the New Testament abstains from the word 'priest,' as more proper to the ancient sacrifice of the law." Indeed the apostle Peter calls the body of the church "a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices," (1 Peter 2:5,) as prayers and praises and themselves unto God, which are all improper sacrifices, and so is their priesthood improper also; but of any proper inferior priest, we read not so much as of the name, as I said, in the New Testament.
Secondly. Christ hath appointed no such inferior priest to offer him up as a proper sacrifice in the Mass, because there is no such thing given in commission by Jesus Christ to any officers on earth, to offer up a proper sacrifice. Indeed, we read, Christ sent them to teach and baptize, to feed the flock, and to rule and govern them in the Lord, &c.; but not a word of offering up any proper sacrifice. Some, indeed, of the Papists urge, Hoc facite, "Do this in remembrance of me," for to warrant them herein; but others of them are ashamed of such an interpretation, as I shall show afterwards. But if Hoc facite, "Do this," is as much as, "Sacrifice this in remembrance of me," then all to whom Christ said, "Do this," must be understood to lie under the command of sacrificing this: and so, instead of making some priests, we should make the whole church proper priests; for they are all bound to eat and drink the sacramental body and blood of Christ, in remembrance of him: but I know they are not willing to make their priesthood so common.
But yet again: There can be no inferior proper priests designed by God to offer up a proper sacrifice under the gospel; for if there be, they must be either after the order of Levi, or of Melchizedek. Not after the order of Levi; for that is no evangelical, but the legal, priesthood: nor after the order of Melchizedek; for that only is appropriate to the person of our Lord Jesus. (Heb. 7:3.) And if any inferior church-officers shall presume to assume to themselves a priesthood after that order, it is but reasonable, upon demand, that they should show us that they have the qualifications of that order, which are reckoned there by the apostle: as he must be such an one who is a king as well as priest; (verse 1;) then he must be "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life, made like unto the Son of God, and who abideth a priest continually." (Verse 3.) Such an one indeed is Jesus Christ; but show us such another on earth, and we will believe him to be of this order; but until then, we will be excused from believing any such inferior priests after that order: and if there be none such, then is there no such proper gospel-priest; and if there be no such proper gospel-priest, then is there no proper gospel-sacrifice for such to offer.
The Papists much deceive themselves, to think that the gospel-ministers execute this our Melchizedek's priesthood on earth; for as Melchizedek the type had no successor or delegate to officiate in his room, so neither hath Christ in this great act of his priesthood, which lies in offering up of a proper sacrifice. And, indeed, to what purpose should he have any successor in this act of his office, since his one sacrifice once offered hath been sufficient to pardon the sins of the whole world, upon their repentance and faith in him; and since he is now ever living in the Holy of Holies, as our High Priest, to make intercession through that same blood for us?
From what hath been said, it is evident, that under the gospel-dispensation there is no man or men whatever appointed by Christ as proper priests; therefore there is no proper sacrifice on earth to be offered, and consequently the Mass is no such sacrifice. For certainly, if he had ordained such a sacrifice, he would not have been unmindful of ordaining a proper priest for its oblation.
ARG. (IV.) The Mass can be no proper sacrifice expiatory of sin, because it is not of a sweet-smelling savour unto God; which, I have proved, is a property of every sacrifice rightly offered.
That the Mass is not of a sweet-smelling savour unto God, I prove,
First. Because it derogates from the all-sufficiency and perfection of Christ's one sacrifice once offered on the cross; as if that without the Mass could not expiate sin, and save the believing sinner. Such a derogation as this is blasphemy against the sacrifice of the Son of God, making it less perfect and efficacious than indeed it is: But a blasphemous sacrifice is not of a sweet savour unto God: Therefore the Mass is no proper sacrifice.
Secondly. The Mass is an idolatrous sacrifice; therefore no proper sacrifice of God's appointing, as being not of a sweet-smelling savour unto God. That it is idolatrous, is evident; for what else is making a piece of bread and a cup of wine the Redeemer of the world, and relying upon the oblation thereof unto God, as upon the Redeemer of the world, for life and salvation? Such idolatry as this is so far from being of a sweet savour unto God, that it is, as all other idolatry, an abomination to him.
I know, their reply is, "But if this bread and wine be truly the Son of God, then is it no idolatry:" which is as good an answer as if the Heathen, condemned for worshipping a stock or a stone, should reply, "But if this stock or stone be really and truly God, then are we no idolaters." "But," say the Papists, "their cause and ours are different: for when they suppose their stock or stone to be truly God, they have no revelation for what they say; but when we say, 'This piece of bread is turned into God-man,' we have a revelation." Well; and what is this revelation? "Why, this: Hoc est corpus meum, 'This is my body.' " But how, if you are mistaken, (as we confidently believe you are,) in taking a figurative expression for a proper expression? Then you are idolaters without doubt. But what a sad condition are these poor men in, in the mean time, that have nothing to secure them from damnable idolatry but the interpretation of a very ambiguous text! and I am confident therein, that they are mistaken.
Thus I have finished four arguments to prove the Mass is no proper gospel-sacrifice.
I return now to such sort of farther arguments, with which I began, to prove that the Mass is not the same sacrifice with that of Christ crucified, which is the only proper gospel-sacrifice, and that therefore the Mass is no proper gospel-sacrifice.
ARGUMENT III. The Mass is not a sacrifice of the same sort or kind with that of Christ crucified, and therefore it cannot be the same sacrifice; and if it cannot be the same, it cannot be a proper sacrifice of the gospel; for the proper gospel-sacrifice is but one, or of one kind, as I have proved in the second proposition.
That the Mass, if it be a sacrifice, as the Papists say it is, is a sacrifice of a different nature or kind from Christ crucified, I prove thus:
First: Because the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was the sacrifice of that very body that was born of a virgin, (and not of a piece of bread,) by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost: (Luke 1:35:) But the Mass, by the Papists' own confession, is the body of Christ made of a piece of bread, not born of a virgin, by the consecrating words of a priest, and not by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost. Now is it possible that one and the same body can be born of a virgin, and not made of a piece of bread, and yet be made of a piece of bread, and not born of a virgin; or that one and the same body can be begotten by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost without any consecrating words of a priest, and yet be produced by the consecrating words of a priest and without that same overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, by which he first received his body? Is it not a contradiction?
Again: The body of Christ sacrificed on the cross had blood, and blood which was shed; but the body of Christ in the Mass sheds no blood, by the Papists' own confession: for they say the Mass is sacrificium incruentum, "an unbloody sacrifice." Now can a bloody sacrifice and an unbloody sacrifice be the very same, or of the very same kind?
Once more: The body of Christ sacrificed on the cross, had the shape and proportion of a man; it was a body that had head, hands, sides, feet, at their due distances, as other human bodies have: but in the Mass there is no such body of Christ, in a like shape and proportion; for the Mass is a wafer about the bigness of a shilling, that is not capable of any such dimensions, shape, or proportion that belong to a human body. This doth so puzzle them, that it is a wonder to see into what confusions they run, when they are put upon explaining how the body of Christ, with his human dimensions and proportions, can be contained in so small a thing as a wafer. Some say, it is there with distinction of parts as it hung on the cross. Others think, that is not likely: but they conceive Christ's body is in the wafer as the soul in the body; that is, tota in toto, et tota in quâlibet parte; that is, "the whole body of Christ in the whole wafer, and the whole body of Christ in every minute part of the wafer." And what is this but to make Christ's body as a soul, a mere spirit, or else to make as many bodies of Christ in every wafer as it is divisible into parts, which will be almost, if not altogether, infinite? Others, to mend the matter, say, that Christ's body is in the wafer after the nature of other bodies; that is, it is aliquid quantum, but yet this quantum is sine modo quantitativo;* which is as absurd as the rest: for these will have Christ's body there to be some long, broad, deep thing; but yet that it is long without length, and broad without breadth, and deep without depth. And if this is not to put on a brasen face, and to talk nonsense impudently, I know not what is. If any shall consider these three differences, to mention no more, betwixt Christ's body on the cross, and Christ's body in the Mass, as the Papists hold it to be, and yet will believe it is one and the self-same body, and the very self-same sacrifice, without any real difference; I see not why they may not believe the veriest impossibilities and grossest figments that the mind of man can possibly conceive.
But, certainly, those three differences are sufficient to men in their wits to speak the sacrifice of the Mass, if it be a sacrifice, as they would have it, to be of a very different kind from that of Christ on the cross, and consequently to be no true, proper gospel-sacrifice; because, as I have proved, the true proper gospel-sacrifice is but of one kind. I would clear up this by a supposition of a like case. Suppose some persons, pretending to some great and infallible knowledge in the mysteries of nature, should show us a little, white, round thing like a halfpenny ball, (for I will put that instead of the little, round Popish wafer,) and should with as great confidence endeavour to impose upon our understandings, as the Papists do on our faith, that this little, round, white thing is a man, and that it hath flesh, blood, and bones, with all the distinct members of a man. Upon this, we examining the thing, as far as our senses and reason can judge, we find it looks like a ball; the cover, upon the touch, feels like leather; the inside seems to our feeling as if it were stuffed with hair or saw-dust; withal it hath the lightness and every other quality of a ball. Certainly, if these impostors should be able by their confidence so far to prevail as to persuade us that it is a man, yet, surely, we should say, "If it be a man, it is another kind of man than we are." So say I: suppose we should grant, that the Popish little wafer is the body of Christ, and a sacrifice; yet certainly it is another kind of body, and a sacrifice, than that which was offered on the cross. And, as I said, if it be but admitted to be a body and a sacrifice, but of another kind, it is certain it cannot be the proper gospel-sacrifice; which I have proved already to be but of one kind, in the second proposition.
ARGUMENT IV. The Mass cannot be the same proper gospel-sacrifice with that of Christ on the cross; because Christ on the cross was sacrificed but once; but the Mass hath been, by the Papists' own confession, offered as a sacrifice above a myriad of times.
That Christ, the true proper gospel-sacrifice, was offered but once, I have proved in the third proposition. That the Mass hath been and is offered a numberless number of times, the Papists will not deny. Now see what a contradiction follows: If Christ crucified, the only proper gospel-sacrifice, was and ought to be offered but once, and the Mass is the very same gospel proper sacrifice that is and ought to be offered infinite times; then may one and the self-same gospel-sacrifice be offered but one time, and yet infinite times; which is as much as to say, it is but once offered, and it is not but once offered.
Nor can they shift-off this contradiction, by telling us, that Christ's sacrifice was but once offered with the shedding of his blood, but it may be often offered without shedding of blood; I say, this will not serve them. First: Because a bloody sacrifice and an unbloody sacrifice cannot be the same. Nay, Secondly: I say, that an unbloody sacrifice is a contradiction in terminis ["in terms"]; for there can be no proper sacrifice without shedding of blood. Lastly: I say, it is a distinction without any grounded difference; for the scriptures do own a sacrifice of Christ with the shedding of blood, but own no sacrifice of Christ without shedding of blood.
ARGUMENT V. The Mass cannot be the same sacrifice with that of Christ crucified, because Christ crucified was a sacrifice that expiated sin fully, and took it away for ever, as I proved in the fourth proposition: But the Mass is not a sacrifice of that efficacy: Therefore it cannot be really the same with that of Christ crucified.—This latter I prove thus: First. Because the Mass takes away no sin as a sacrifice; for if Christ on the cross took away all sin from the believer everlastingly, (as I have proved in the fourth proposition, that it hath,) then is there no sin left for the sacrifice of the Mass to expiate. Secondly. The Mass doth not take away sin fully and for ever; for if it did, why is it so often repeated as it is by the Mass-priests? who, like the priests of Levi, "stand daily ministering;" which, as the apostle saith, was an argument that those Levitical sacrifices were weak, and could "never take away sin;" (Heb. 10:11;) and, by a parity of reason, so must be the Mass; if it be a sacrifice, it must be a very weak one that cannot remove sin, and therefore is so often repeated by them. I conclude therefore, that the Mass is not really the same sacrifice with that of Christ crucified; and therefore no proper gospel expiatory sacrifice. And thus I close-up my arguments against the Mass's being a proper sacrifice, all of them drawn from Heb. 10:12, whence I took the rise of my arguments, and with which I shall shut them up: "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sin, for ever sat down at the right hand of God."
THE POPISH ARGUMENTS FOR THE MASS'S BEING A PROPER GOSPEL EXPIATORY SACRIFICE PROPOSED AND ANSWERED
Let us now see what they can say for themselves, in the vindication of the Mass's being a proper expiatory sacrifice.
ARGUMENT I. Their first argument is this: "Melchizedek was a type of Christ: But the bread and wine Melchizedek brought forth, when he came out of Sodom to meet Abraham, (Gen. 14:18,) was a real, proper sacrifice: Therefore the bread and wine in the Mass," (or, as we say, "in the Lord's supper,") "is a proper sacrifice."
ANSWER. This is wonderfully far-fetched; but as it is, let us consider it.
I say then, First: It is but begged, when they say, that the bread and wine that Melchizedek brought forth was a proper sacrifice; for, first, the text calls it not so, nor was it of a nature capable of being a proper expiatory sacrifice; for that bread and wine had neither life to lose, nor blood to shed, which had been necessary to constitute it such a sacrifice. It is said indeed, "Melchizedek brought forth bread and wine;" but it is not said, he offered them up or sacrificed them. And, certainly, to bring forth bread and wine is a phrase more suited to an entertainment; and such most likely this was, if we consider the occasion of his bringing them forth, which was in his meeting of Abraham returning from the spoil of the spoilers of Sodom; it is likely he brought them forth for the refreshment of the tired victors.
Again: if there had been any such mystery in this bread and wine of Melchizedek, as to typify out the continuation of our heavenly Melchizedek's sacrifice in the Mass, is it likely that the apostle in his epistle to the Hebrews, when he is designedly unfolding the Old-Testament's types of Christ and his sacrifice, and then also when he singles out Melchizedek as an eminent type thereof, and says much concerning the priesthood of that Melchizedek, and of its likeness to that of Christ, as he doth in Heb. 7; I say, is it likely in that place he would have said nothing of this bread and wine, if it had been such a considerable type as the Papists would make it to be? And yet whoever consults that place, will not find one iota in it, nor in the whole epistle, relating to this same bread and wine; nor doth Augustine take any notice thereof in his comment on that text. I conclude, therefore, that this text serves them but as a wooden leg to a lame cause, which they use for want of a better.
ARGUMENT II. There is another argument they urge to prove the Mass is a proper sacrifice; and it is from Mal. 1:11. The words are: "From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense" (they read, but falsely, "a sacrifice") "shall be offered unto my name for a pure offering." "Now," say they, "this being a prophecy of gospel-times, there must needs remain some sacrifice with the Christian church that may be offered up in every place; which sacrifice can be only understood of the Mass; for there is never another sacrifice under the gospel that can stand in competition therewith."
ANSWER. The answer to this is as easy as the burning of hay and stubble; for the force of their argument depends on a false reading of the text; for it is certain, that the word מֻקְטָר, which they translate "sacrifice," signifies, not sacrifice, but "incense," as it is in our English translation. Now see the weakness of their argument: Incense shall be offered every where: Therefore the sacrifice of the Mass shall be offered every where. Now who knows not that incense is no sacrifice?
But if you ask, "What may the prophet mean by these words?" I answer, that by "incense" he means the prayers and other spiritual oblations of the Christian church; but especially prayers, according to that of Rev. 5:8: "The four-and-twenty elders fell down before the Lamb; having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints." By "odours" is to be understood "incense," which is odoriferous; thereby signifying how sweet and acceptable the prayers of the saints are to God. Now wherever Christ hath a church, there he hath these praying saints; so that this prophecy is exactly fulfilled therein, without the Mass's being a sacrifice.
ARGUMENT III. Their other argument is this: "The types and shadows of Christ's sacrifice, under the law, were proper sacrifices, as those of bulls and goats, &c.: Therefore the sacrament of the Lord's supper" (or the Mass, as they say) "must needs be a proper sacrifice; else the legal types will be more excellent than the evangelical type or sacrament."
ANSWER. I answer, This argument halts downright, both in its antecedent, consequence, and in the reason of the consequence.
1. As to the antecedent, which ought to have been universal, which it is not. For all the Old-Testament types of Christ's death were not proper sacrifices: for the brasen serpent, lifted up on a pole in the wilderness, was a type of Christ crucified, and so applied by Christ himself. (John 3:14.) But the brasen serpent was no proper sacrifice, which had no more life to lay down nor blood to shed than a brass nail hath, and therefore utterly uncapable of being a proper sacrifice. Now, say I, if but this one type of the law might represent Christ sacrificed, and yet itself be no proper sacrifice, by a parity of reason may the bread and wine in the Lord's supper be a shadow of Christ sacrificed, and yet neither the bread nor wine be a proper sacrifice.
2. Then for the consequence, it is as unsound as its fellow; for it follows not, that because the types of the law were proper sacrifices, representing the proper sacrifice of Christ crucified, therefore the sacraments of the gospel, shadowing forth the same Christ sacrificed, must be proper sacrifices also; because that baptism is a gospel-sacrament as well as the Lord's supper, and may typify Christ washing us from our sins in his blood, and so be a shadow of a sacrifice; and yet I know none that say that baptism is a proper sacrifice.
3. As for the reason of the consequence, that is very weak also, which is this, that if the Lord's supper be not a proper sacrifice as well as the legal types, then there is a greater excellency in the legal types than in the gospel-sacraments: and why so? "Because," say they, "proper sacrifices are more excellent than mere commemorative signs."
To this I say, The legal types, compared with the gospel-sacraments, fall under a three-fold consideration:
(1.) If you consider them absolutely, as to the nature of the things of which they consist.—The principal legal types of Christ consisted of the flesh and blood of slain beasts; under the gospel, the sacraments that shadow forth Christ's death, and our benefits thereby, consist of bread, wine, and water. Under this consideration, there is no greater excellency in these types one above the other, than there is in the nature of bread, wine, and water, above the flesh and blood of slain beasts.
(2.) They may be considered with respect to the sacrifice of Christ crucified, whom they all shadow forth; and in this respect they are equal; for they all were representative of the very same Christ crucified.
(3.) Lastly. They may be considered with respect to the different times, with the different advantages or disadvantages that respect their different administrations: as the law-types being before Christ was crucified, or the gospel clearly or fully preached; by reason whereof those types did more faintly and obscurely shadow forth this glorious sacrifice of Christ crucified, which the gospel-sacraments do more perspicuously perform, by reason of that clear gospel-light that accompanies them. And it is upon this account that there is a transcendent excellency in the gospel-sacraments above those legal types, because hereby is more fully represented the incomparable love of God to sinners in giving his Son to die for us, and thereby to purchase for us that full remission of sins, and that glorious eternal life, with all other gospel-privileges. So that gospel-sacraments cannot but influence our minds and hearts with more light and heat, and enravish our souls with more joys, than possibly the dark types of the law could do. I say, therefore, upon this account it is that the sacraments of the gospel transcend the sacrifices of the law, and not, as the Papists idly dream, because the sacrament of the gospel is a more excellent proper sacrifice than all the sacrifices of the law.
And thus much for answer to their third argument.
ARGUMENT IV. They have not done yet. In the next place they argue for the Mass's being a proper sacrifice, from 1 Cor. 5:7, 8. The words are these: "Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven." "Hence," say they, "if the apostle in this place speaks of the feast of the Mass, and withal says, that therein Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, then is the Mass a proper sacrifice."
ANSWER. To this I reply, First: It cannot be proved clearly, that the apostle in this chapter, or these verses, is speaking of the Lord's supper, or Mass, as the Papists call it. Or, Secondly. If that could be proved, it follows not, that therefore the Mass is a proper sacrifice.
First. It is not certain that the apostle speaks any thing in this place of the Lord's supper.—For though he mentions a feast, yet it is very doubtful what kind of feast he here means; for it may be only a metaphorical feast, and so Pareus and Dr. Hammond seem to understand it; that is, the continual jubilee of a Christian's life, which consists of the delicacies of sincerity, without all leaven of hypocrisy, and of the peace and joy that thence do arise, than the which there are no feasts so delicious. Or, secondly, whether by "feast" here he means "the love-feast," (that carries that title in scripture, and so doth not, as I remember, the Lord's supper, throughout the New Testament,) which I think probable; for I find the apostle Jude taking notice of this love-feast, upon a very like occasion to that of the apostle in this place to the Corinthians, as in Jude 12. The apostle there is complaining of a sort of men that had crept into the church, and thereby were admitted to the church's love-feasts; who made no other use thereof than to satisfy their luxury, "feeding themselves," as he saith, "without fear:" of which persons, and of which practice, he saith, "These are spots in your feasts of charity." Answerably, the apostle Paul is, in this chapter to the Corinthians, speaking of the incestuous Corinthian, exhorting the church to cast him out as old leaven; and one reason is, that they may be able to keep the feast without such old leaven as this Corinthian, who by his presence was likely to leaven others, by a secret infusion of that principle,—that such kind of incest of which he was guilty was very lawful,—and thereby might endanger others.
Secondly. Having said thus much, to show how very doubtful it is of what feast the apostle there speaks, let us now grant, that by "feast" is here meant the Lord's supper, yet it follows not that therefore the Mass is a proper sacrifice.—For the meaning of the apostle will be only this,—that since Christ our passover "hath been sacrificed" for us, (εθυθη,) and thereby hath, according to Eph. 5:25, 27, sanctified a church to himself, that he might present it "glorious, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing," that it might be "holy and blameless;" (Eph. 1:4;) therefore, saith he, "For this cause I exhort you to cast-out this incestuous Corinthian from among you, and with him all other leaven of malice and hypocrisy, that thereby, as becoming a church sanctified by Christ's sacrifice, ye may keep the feast of the Lord's supper in a pure and sincere manner, answerable to these holy ends of his being sacrificed for you." And what now, I pray, is in all this to prove this feast a sacrifice? For the text says not, that this feast is our passover sacrificed for us; but that Christ is our passover that hath been sacrificed for us, as the Greek word εθυθη should be rendered, of which this feast can be but the commemoration, according to the institution, where Christ saith, "Do this in remembrance of me."
And thus much for answer to their fourth argument.
ARGUMENT V. In the next place let us consider their argument for the Mass's being a proper sacrifice, drawn from the words of the institution. As, first, they say, "When Christ said in the institution, 'Do this in remembrance of me,' he meant, 'Sacrifice this.' " Bellarmine thinks he hath found out a demonstration of the point in the words, "Do this." "Certum est," saith he, "probari sacrificium Missæ his verbis, Hoc facite."* And why so, I pray? They tell us, because in some places the words "do" and "make" are used to signify sacrifice; as Lev. 15:15, 30, and 1 Kings 18:23.
ANSWER. But how weak and vain a reason is this to build a demonstration upon!—that because that in some places of scripture where the context speaks expressly of sacrificing, and the priests are commanded to do or make the sacrifice ready; that therefore in this place (where the context speaks not any thing of a sacrifice, to which "Do this" in this place is to be referred) it should signify "Sacrifice this," is a consequence, I had almost said, ridiculous! For if "Do this" in this place must be taken for "Sacrifice this," because "Do this" in some places signifies so much, why must not the same words in every place where they be found signify the same? And then see what absurdities will follow. As when Gideon destroyed the altar of Baal, the men of the city said, "Who hath done this thing?" (Judges 6:29:) the meaning must be, "Who hath sacrificed this?" and so the pulling down of Baal's altar must be the same with sacrificing on it. Again: when Christ saith to Judas, "What thou doest do quickly," Christ must thereby mean, "Judas, go sacrifice quickly;" as if Judas's betraying of his Master, and selling him for thirty pence, was a sacrificing act! What can be more absurd? But what should I say any more thereto? This interpretation is rejected by some of their great ones. Estius the Jesuit saith, by "Do this" the scripture means not "Sacrifice this:" his words are, Quòd verbum facere sit idem quod sacrificare, quomodò nonnulli interpretati sunt, præter mentem scripturæ. And says their learned Maldonate, Non quòd contendam illud verbum, Facite, illo loco idem significare quod sacrificare; as much as if he had said, "I believe, 'Do this' signifies no such matter as 'Sacrifice this.' " If then some of their own acknowledge the weakness of this argument, no wonder then if we reject it.
ARGUMENT VI. But they have another argument from the words of the institution, which is this: When Christ says of the bread, "This is my body broken for you," and of the cup, "This is the new testament in my blood, shed for remission of sins," they thence argue: "Where there is a body broken and blood shed for remission of sins, there is a proper sacrifice: But in the Mass, or Lord's supper, there is the breaking of Christ's body, and the shedding of his blood, for the remission of sins: Therefore."
ANSWER. The Papists themselves will save us the labour of answering this argument, being rightly stated, as thus: Where there is a proper breaking of a body, and a proper shedding of blood, for remission of sins, there is a proper sacrifice; this is true: But in the Mass there is a proper breaking of bread, and shedding of blood. This should be the assumption, which they themselves deny; for Suarez the Jesuit denies any proper breaking of the body in the Mass: "For," saith he, " 'breaking' in the proper and strict acceptation signifies 'a dividing of the body into parts;' but there is no such division of parts in the Mass." Besides, the Church of Rome hath left out of her Mass the word "broken," used in the institution; and Jansenius, a Papist, gives the reason why it is left out: Ne esset locus absurdæ intelligentiæ, quâ quis existimare possit verè frangi corpus Christi; that is, "Lest any should absurdly think, that Christ's body could be truly broken." And as to any proper shedding of blood in the eucharist, Bellarmine himself disowns it. Saith he, Sanguis Christi in missâ non reipsâ egreditur de corpore. So the Jesuit Coster: "The true effusion of blood," saith he, "which is by separating it from the body, was only on the cross." (De Sacrificio, cap. 9.) And this is as much as any Protestant can say, in dissolving this argument; for if breaking, and shedding of blood, in the supper, are to be taken improperly, then is the supper but an improper figurative sacrifice, representative of the true proper sacrifice; which we Protestants grant.
ARGUMENT VII. The last argument that (I shall take notice of) they urge for the Mass's being a proper sacrifice, is from 1 Cor. 10:21, where, say they, "the apostle is comparing the table of the Lord with the altar of devils, and the supper of the Lord with the sacrifices of Jews and Gentiles. Now," say they, "if the table of the Lord is as the altars of Jews and Gentiles, and the supper of the Lord, or Mass, is as the sacrifices of Jews and Gentiles, then is the Mass a proper sacrifice, because the sacrifices of Jews and Gentiles were proper sacrifices."
ANSWER. First: Whereas it is said, that the apostle here compares the table of the Lord with the altar of devils, that is false; for the comparison is made betwixt the table of the Lord and the table of devils. Now who knows not that there is a great difference betwixt a table and an altar? for on the table the worshippers did eat, on the altar they did sacrifice. And who ever said that eating was a sacrificing act? Nay, the Papists themselves will not dare to say, that eating of the Mass is a proper sacrificing act; except they have a mind to consecrate all the people priests; for they all eat of the Mass, and yet none may lawfully sacrifice but priests.
Again: Whereas they say, that the apostle doth here compare the Lord's supper to the sacrifices of Jews and Gentiles; this also is false, if you consider the sacrifices of either Jew or Gentile in the most proper and strict acceptation thereof. For the sacrifices of both the one and the other, strictly taken, was that part of the beast that was offered up unto God or devils on the altar, and not that part which either the priests or offering people did feed on upon their tables; though, by an improper way of speaking, those parts that were eaten may be called sacrifices, because they were parts of those beasts, some parts whereof were truly and properly sacrificed on an altar. That the meaning therefore of the apostle in this place may be cleared, I shall give you the plain sense of the text, and not in my own, but in a paraphrase of Ataides Lusitanus, one of the council of Trent: Quod Paulus dicit de participando sacrificio Judæorum et de mensâ dæmoniorum, si accipiantur ritus a Deo per Moysen instituti, et qui ab Ethnicis inter sacrificandum adhibiti, non inde effici eucharistiam esse sacrificium. Notum esse apud Moysen in sacrificiis votivis, totam victimam fuisse exhibitam Deo; atque unam partem ejus igni absumptam, quæ erat sacrificium: ex eo quod erat reliquum, partem fuisse sacerdotis et alteram partem offerentis; utrumque partem suam comedisse quîcum ipsi collibitum esset; neque id vocatum sacrificare, sed sacrificatum participare. Idipsum Ethnicos imitatos; etiam partem cam quæ in altari non absumebatur a nonnullis vendi solitam; atque hanc esse mensam quæ non est altare. Perspicuum ergo Pauli sensum hunc esse,—sicut Hebræi, partem eam manducantes quæ ad offerentem spectabat, nempe sacrificii reliquias, participes fiunt altaris, et Ethnici ad eundem modum; ita nos, comedentes eucharistiam, participare sacrificium crucis. In English thus: "When Paul speaks of partaking of the sacrifice of the Jews and of the table of devils, if those rites, as they are instituted of God by Moses, and accommodated by the Gentiles to their sacrifices, be rightly considered, it will not thence follow that the eucharist is a sacrifice. For it is to be noted, that, when Moses speaks of such sacrifices that belonged to vows, he declares that the whole victim or beast was to be brought before the Lord; one part of which was consumed by fire, which was the sacrifice: of the other parts that were left, they were divided betwixt the priest and the person that offered, both of whom did eat their several parts as it best pleased them; but that eating was not called 'sacrificing,' but 'partaking of that which was sacrificed.' This very custom the Gentiles imitated; for that part of the victim that was not consumed on the altar, by some was wont to be sold, and is that which Paul calls 'the table,' which is not an altar. The perspicuous meaning of Paul is, that as the Jews eating of that part which belonged to the offerers,—they thereby became partakers of the altar; so we, eating of the eucharist, do thereby partake of Christ crucified." Thus he: the sum whereof is this,—that the apostle doth, in this discourse of his to the Corinthians, prove, that he that did eat at the table of devils did thereby declare, that he religiously owned and worshipped those devils as gods to whom part of that beast of which they did eat was sacrificed; and that therefore he advised them, as all Christians, from a participation of those feasts, which, he says, is inconsistent with our eating of the Lord's table, which signifies that we own that God to be our God, to whom—not what we eat is sacrificed, but to whom—Christ was sacrificed for us; a remembrance whereof is by Christ's appointment to be had in his church in this supper. But this doth not at all prove the supper to be a proper sacrifice, any more than that what the Jews or Gentiles did eat at their tables were proper sacrifices.
And thus I have answered the most material arguments [which] the Papists have for the proof of the Mass's being a proper sacrifice.
From the whole discourse, let us make this
First. Let us be awakened hereby to observe what the apostle John hath cautioned us, when he saith, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." (1 John 5:21.)—For, certainly, there hath not been a more abominable idol ever invented than this Popish Mass, wherein, to the dishonour of our Lord Jesus, a piece of bread is made the Saviour of the world, and a proper sacrifice for the pardoning of the sins both of the living and the dead. And that which aggravates this kind of idolatry is, that they make Jesus Christ the institutor thereof, and the holy God to be the former and fashioner thereof, by the miracle of transubstantiation.
Secondly. Let us hereby be awakened into resolutions to keep close to Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, our only sacrifice, and Intercessor at the right hand of God; from whom so many thousand souls have gone a-whoring, under the great apostasy, after this filthy idol.—Christ sacrificed on the cross we know, and Christ at the right hand of God we know; but Christ made of a piece of bread, and again sacrificed in the Mass, we know not. You are certain Christ was once crucified, and that that once was enough to make your peace, and save you; look not after any other sacrifice; for doubtless, as the apostle says, "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins." (Heb. 10:26.)
Thirdly. Bless God night and day that hath kept you from this apostasy: and pray God night and day still to keep you, especially in these times, when there are so many seducers come abroad, to withdraw you from Jesus Christ to this dumb idol.
Many other things I might have added, but it is high time to make an end.