by John Calvin
A YEAR OR TWO AFTER THE WESTPHAL CONTROVERSY, there appeared another person to fish in the waters left troubled by the controversy, a certain Tilemannus Heshusius Vesalius. Bullinger seems first to have drawn Calvin's attention to the dispute in which he engaged when a teacher in Heidelberg, and later to have sent Calvin a copy of De praesentia corporis Christi in coena Domini contra sacramentarios, published by Heshusius when later resident in Magdeburg. Bullinger expressed himself unwilling to spend valuable time in refuting such trifles; and at first Calvin too seemed disinclined to accept challenge. A sudden change in opinion, however, impelled him to engage with this new adversary strenue et alacriter (C.R.), since "so great is the affront offered, that it would provoke the very stones". In 1561, accordingly, the Dilucida Explicatio was given to the world. It in turn provoked from Heshusius a Defensio against Calvin and other critics. But with this further development, the matter passes beyond the scope of this volume. (See C.R. IX, xli ff.)
The clear explanation of sound doctrine concerning the true partaking of the flesh and blood of Christ in the Holy Supper
to dissipate the mists of Tileman Heshusius
I must patiently submit to this condition which providence has assigned me, that petulant, dishonest and furious men, as if in conspiracy, pour out their virulence chiefly upon me. Other most excellent men indeed they do not spare, assailing the living and wounding the names of the dead; but the only cause of the more violent assault they make on me is because the more Satan, whose slaves they are, sees my labours to be useful to the Church of Christ, the more he stimulates them violently to attack me. I say nothing of the old pettifoggers, whose calumnies are already obsolete. A horrible apostate of the name of Staphylus has lately started up, and without a word of provocation has uttered more calumnies against me than against all the others who had described his perfidy, bad morals, and depraved disposition. From another quarter one named Nicolas Le Coq, has begun to screech against me. At length from another sink comes forth Tileman Heshusius. Of him I would rather have the reader form a judgment from the facts and his own writings than express my own opinion.
O Philip Melanchthon! for I appeal to you who live in the presence of God with Christ, and wait for us there until we are united with you in blessed rest. You said a hundred times, when, weary with labour and oppressed with sadness, you laid your head familiarly on my bosom: Would, would that I could die on this bosom! Since then, I have wished a thousand times that it had been our lot to be together. Certainly you would have been readier to maintain contests, and stronger to despise envy and make short work of false accusations. Thus too a check would have been put on the wickedness of many who grew more audacious in insult by what they called your softness. The growlings of Staphylus indeed were severely rebuked by you; but though you complained to me privately of Le Coq, as your own letter to me testifies, yet you neglected to repress his insolence and that of people like him. I have not indeed forgotten what you wrote. I will give the very words: I know that with admirable prudence you judge from the writings of your opponents what their natures are, and what audience they have in mind.
I remembered indeed what I wrote in reply to this and will quote the very words: Rightly and prudently do you remind me that the object of our antagonists is to exhibit themselves on a stage. But though their expectation will, as I hope and believe, greatly disappoint them, even if they were to win the applause of the whole world, with all the greater zeal should we be attentive to the heavenly Captain under whose eyes we fight. What? will the sacred company of angels, who both inspire us by their favour, and show us how to act strenuously by their example, allow us to grow indolent or advance hesitantly? What of the whole company of holy fathers? will they add no stimulus? What, moreover, of the Church of God which is in the world? When we know that she both aids us by her prayers, and is inspired by our example, will her assistance have no effect upon us? This be my theatre—contented with its approbation, though the whole world should hiss me, I shall never be discouraged. So far am I from envying their senseless clamour, let them enjoy their gingerbread glorifications in their obscure corner for a short time. I am not unaware what it is that the world applauds and dislikes; but to me nothing is of more consequence than to follow the rule prescribed by the Master. And I have no doubt that this ingenuousness will ultimately be more acceptable to men of sense and piety, than a soft and equivocal mode of teaching that displays empty fear. I beseech you, pay as soon as possible the debt you acknowledge is owing by you to God and the Church. I do not thus insist, because I trust some of the illwill will be thrown on you and that I shall be so far relieved. Not at all; rather for the love and respect I bear you, if it were allowable, I should willingly take part of your burden on my own shoulders. But it is for you to consider without any advice from me, that the debt will scarcely ever be paid at all, if you do not quickly remove the doubts of all the pious who look up to you. I may even add that if this late evening cockcrow does not awaken you, all men will justly cry out against you as lazy.
For this appeal to his promise, he had furnished me with an occasion by the following words: I hear that a cock from the banks of the Ister is printing a large much advertised3 volume against me; if it be published, I have determined to reply simply and without ambiguity. This labour I think I owe to God and the Church; nor in my old age have I any dread of exile and other dangers. This is ingenuously and manfully said; but in another letter he had confessed, that a temper naturally mild made him desirous of peace and quietness. His words are: As in your last letter you urge me to repress the ignorant clamour of those who renew the contest about worship of bread, I must tell you that some of those who do so are chiefly instigated by hatred to me, thinking it a plausible occasion for oppressing me. The same love of quiet prevented him from discoursing freely of other matters, whose explanation was either unpleasant to delicate palates or liable to perverse construction. But how much this saint was displeased with the importunity of those men who still cease not to rage against us is very apparent from another passage. After congratulating me on my refutation of the blasphemies of Servetus, and declaring that the Church now owed and would to posterity owe me gratitude, and that he entirely assented to my judgment, he adds that these things were of the greatest importance, and most requisite to be known, and then jestingly adds, in speaking of their silly frivolities: All this is nothing to the Artolatria.5 Writing to me at Worms, he deplores that his Saxon neighbours, who had been sent as colleagues, had left after exhibiting a condemnation of our Churches, and adds: Now they will celebrate their triumphs at home, as if for a Cadmean victory. In another letter, weary of their madness and fury, he does not conceal his desire to be with me.
The things last mentioned are of no consequence to Staphylus, who hires out his impudent tongue to the Roman Antichrist, and for the professed purpose of establishing his tyranny confounds heaven and earth after the manner of the giants. This rascal, whose base defection from the faith has left him no sense of shame, I do not regard of importance enough to occupy much time in refuting his errors. The hypothesis on which he places the whole sum and substance of his cause openly manifests his profane contempt of all religion. The whole doctrine which we profess he would bring into suspicion and so render disreputable, on the simple ground that, since the papal darkness was dissipated and eternal truth shone forth, many errors also have sprung up, which he attributes to the revival of the gospel—as if he were not thus picking a quarrel with Christ and his apostles rather than with us. The devil never stalked about so much at large, vexing both the bodies and souls of men, as when the heavenly and saving doctrine of Christ sent out its light. Let him therefore calumniously charge Christ with having come to make demoniacs of those who were formerly sane. Shortly after the first promulgation of the gospel, an incredible number of errors poured in like a deluge on the world. Let Staphylus, the hired orator of the pope, keep prating that they flowed from the gospel as their fountainhead. Assuredly if this futile calumny has any effect on feeble erring spirits, it will have none on those on whose hearts Paul's admonition is impressed: There must be heresies, in order that those who are approved may be made manifest (1 Cor. 11:19). Of this Staphylus himself is a striking proof. His brutal rage, which is plainly enough the just reward of his perfidy, confirms all the pious in the sincere fear of God. By and large the object of this vile and plainly licentious man is to destroy all reverence for heavenly doctrine; indeed the tendency of his efforts is not only to traduce religion, but to banish all care and zeal for it. Hence his dishonesty not only fails by its own demerits, but is, like its author, detested by all good men. Meanwhile, the false and ill-natured charge, by which he desired to overwhelm us, is easily rebutted on his own head. Many perverse errors have arisen during the last forty years, starting up in succession one after another. The reason is that Satan saw that by the light of the gospel the impostures by which he had long fascinated the world were overthrown, and therefore applied all his efforts and employed all his artifices, in short all his infernal powers, either to overthrow the doctrine of Christ, or interrupt its course. It was no slight attestation of the truth of God that it was thus violently assaulted by the lies of Satan. While the sudden emergence of so many impious dogmas thus gives certainty to our doctrine, what will Staphylus gain by spitting on it, unless perhaps with fickle men, who would fain destroy all distinction between good and evil?
I ask whether the many errors, about which he makes so much noise in order to vex us, went unnoticed before Luther? He himself enumerates many by which the Church was disturbed at its very beginning. If the apostles had been charged with engendering all the sects which then suddenly sprang up, would they have had no defence? But any concession thus made to them will be good for us also. However, an easier method of disposing of the reproach of Staphylus is to reply that the delirious dreams by which Satan formerly endeavoured to obscure the light of the gospel are now in a great measure suppressed; certainly scarce a tenth of them have been renewed. Since Staphylus has advertised himself for sale, were any one to pay more for him than the Pope, would he not be ready, in pure wilfulness, to reproach Christ whenever the gospel is brought forward, for bringing along with it or engendering out of it numerous errors? Never was the world more troubled with perverse and impious dogmas than at his first advent. But Christ the eternal truth of God will acquit himself without defence from us. Meanwhile, a sufficient answer to the vile charge is to be found here: there is no ground for imputing to the servants of God any part of that leaven with which Satan by his ministers corrupts pure doctrine; and therefore, to form a right judgment in such a case, it is always necessary to attend to the source in which the error originates.
Immediately after Luther began to stir up the papal cabal, many monstrous men and opinions suddenly appeared. What affinity with Luther had the Munsterians, the Anabaptists, the Adamites, the Steblerites, the Sabbatarians, the Clancularians, that they should be regarded as his disciples? Did he ever lend them his support? Did he subscribe their most absurd fictions? Rather with what vehemence did he oppose them lest the contagion spread farther? He had the discernment at once to perceive what harmful pests they would prove. And will this swine still keep grunting that the errors which were put to flight by our exertion, while all the popish clergy remained quiescent, proceeded from us? Though he is hardened in impudence, the futility of the charge will not impose itself even on children, who will at once perceive how false and unjust it is to blame us for evils which we most vehemently oppose. As it is perfectly notorious that neither Luther nor any of us ever gave the least support to those who, under the impulse of a fanatical spirit, disseminated impious and detestable errors, it is no more just that we should be blamed for their impiety than that Paul should be blamed for that of Hymenaeus and Philetus, who taught that the resurrection was past, and all further hope at an end (2 Tim. 2:17).
Moreover, what are the errors by which ignominy attaches to our whole doctrine? I need not mention how shamelessly he lies against others; to me he assigns a sect invented by himself. He gives the name of Energists to those who hold that only the virtue of Christ's body and not the body itself is in the Supper. However, he gives me Philip Melanchthon for an associate, and, to establish both assertions, refers to my writings against Westphal, where the reader will find that in the Supper our souls are nourished by the real body of Christ, which was crucified for us, and that indeed spiritual life is transferred into us from the substance of his body. When I teach that the body of Christ is given us for food by the secret energy of the Spirit, do I thereby deny that the Supper is a communion of the body? See how vilely he employs his mouth to please his patrons.
There is another monstrous term which he has invented for the purpose of inflicting a stigma upon me. He calls me bi-sacramental. But if he would make it a charge against me that I affirm that two sacraments only were instituted by Christ, he should first of all prove that he originally made them septeplex, as the papists express it. The papists obtrude seven sacraments. I do not find that Christ committed to us more than two. Staphylus should prove that all beyond these two emanated from Christ, or allow us both to hold and speak the truth. He cannot expect that his bombastic talk will make heretics of us, who rest on the sure and clear authority of the Son of God. He classes Luther, Melanchthon, myself, and many others as new Manichees, and afterwards to lengthen the catalogue repeats that the Calvinists are Manichees and Marcionites. It is easy indeed to pick up these reproaches like stones from the street, and throw them at the heads of unoffending passers-by. However, he gives his reasons for comparing us to the Manichees; but they are borrowed partly from a sodomite, partly from a cynical clown. What is the use of working to clear myself, when he indulges in the most absurd fabrications? I have no objection, however, to the challenge with which he concludes, namely to let my treatise on Predestination decide the dispute; for in this way it will soon appear what kind of thistles are produced by this wild vine.
I come now to the Cock, who with his mischievous beak declares me a corrupter of the Confession of Augsburg, denying that in the Holy Supper we are made partakers of the substance of the flesh and blood of Christ. But, as is declared in my writings more than a hundred times, I am so far from rejecting the term substance, that I simply and readily declare, that spiritual life, by the incomprehensible agency of the Spirit, is infused into us from the substance of the flesh of Christ. I also constantly admit that we are substantially fed on the flesh and blood of Christ, though I discard the gross fiction of a local compounding. What then? Because a cock is pleased to ruffle his comb against me, are all minds to be so terror-struck as to be incapable of judgment? Not to make myself ridiculous, I decline to give a long refutation of a writing which proves its author to be no less absurd than its stupid audacity proves him drunk. It certainly proclaims that when he wrote he was not in his right mind.
But what shall I do with Tileman Heshusius, who, magnificently provided with a superb and sonorous vocabulary, is confident by the breath of his mouth of laying anything flat that withstands his assault? I am also told by worthy persons who know him better that another kind of confidence inflates him: that he has made it his special determination to acquire fame by putting forward paradoxes and absurd opinions. It may be either because an intemperate nature so impels him, or because he sees in a moderate course of doctrine no place for applause left for him, for which the whole man is inflamed to madness. His tract certainly proves him to be a man of turbulent temper, as well as headlong audacity and presumption. To give the reader a sample, I shall only mention a few things from the preface. He does the very same thing as Cicero describes to have been done by the silly ranters of his day, when, by a plausible exordium stolen from some ancient oration, they aroused hope of gaining the prize. So this fine writer, to occupy the minds of his readers, collected from his master Melanchthon apt and elegant sentences by which to ingratiate himself or give an air of majesty, just as if an ape were to dress up in purple, or an ass to cover himself with a lion's skin. He harangues about the huge dangers he has run, though he has always revelled in delicacies and luxurious security. He talks of his manifold toils, though he has large treasures laid up at home, has always sold his labours at a good price, and by himself consumes all his gains. It is true, indeed, that from many places where he wished to make a quiet nest for himself, he has been repeatedly driven by his own restlessness. Thus expelled from Gossler, Rostock, Hiedelberg and Bremen, he lately withdrew to Magdeburg. Such expulsions would be meritorious, if, because of a steady adherence to truth, he had been repeatedly forced to change his habitation. But when a man full of insatiable ambition, addicted to strife and quarrelling, makes himself everywhere intolerable by his savage temper, there is no reason to complain of having been injuriously harassed by others, when by his rudeness he offered grave offence to men of right feeling. Still, however, he was provident enough to take care that his migrations should not be attended with loss; indeed riches only made him bolder.
He next bewails the vast barbarism which appears to be impending; as if any greater or more menacing barbarism were to be feared than from him and his fellows. To go no further for proof, let the reader consider how fiercely he insults and wounds his master, Philip Melanchthon, whose memory he ought to revere as sacred. He does not indeed mention him by name, but whom does he mean by the supporters of our doctrine who stand high in the Church for influence and learning, and are most distinguished theologians? Indeed, not to leave the matter to conjecture, by opprobrious epithets he points to Philip as it were with the finger, and even seems in writing his book to have been at pains to search for material for traducing him. How modest he shows himself to be in charging his preceptor with perfidy and sacrilege! He does not hesitate to accuse him of deceit in employing ambiguous terms in order to please both parties, and thus attempting to settle strife by the arts of Theramenes. Then comes the heavier charge, that he involved himself in a most pernicious crime; for the confession of faith, which ought to illumine the Church, he extinguished. Such is the pious gratitude of the scholar not only towards the master to whom he owes what learning he may possess, but towards a man who has deserved so highly of the whole Church.
When he charges me with having introduced perplexity into the discussion by my subtleties, the discussion itself will show what foundation there is for the charge. But when he calls Epicurean dogma the explanation which, both for its religious and its practical value, we give to the mystery of the Supper, what is this but to compete in scandalous libel with debauchees and pimps? Let him look for Epicurism in his own habits. Assuredly both our frugality and assiduous labours for the Church, our constancy in danger, diligence in the discharge of our office, unwearied zeal in propagating the kingdom of Christ, and integrity in asserting the doctrine of piety—in short, our serious exercise of meditation on the heavenly life, will testify that nothing is farther from us than profane contempt of God. Would that the conscience of this Thraso did not accuse him thus! But I have said more of the man than I intended.
Leaving him, therefore, my intention is to discuss briefly the matter at issue, since a more detailed discussion with him would be superfluous. For though he presents an ostentatious appearance, he does nothing more by his magniloquence than wave in the air the old follies and frivolities of Westphal and his fellows. He harangues loftily on the omnipotence of God, on putting implicit faith in his Word, and subduing human reason, as though he had learned from his betters, of whom I believe myself also to be one. From his childish and persistent self-glorification I have no doubt that he imagines himself to combine the qualities of Melanchthon and Luther. From the one he ineptly borrows flowers; and having no better way of emulating the vehemence of the other, he substitutes bombast and sound. But we have no dispute as to the boundless power of God; and all my writings declare that I do not measure the mystery of the Supper by human reason, but look up to it with devout admiration. All who in the present day contend strenuously for the honest defence of the truth, will readily admit me into their society. I have proved by fact that, in treating the mystery of the Holy Supper, I do not refuse credit to the Word of God; and therefore when Heshusius vociferates against me for doing so, he only makes all good men witnesses to his malice and ingratitude, not without grave offence. If it were possible to bring him back from vague and frivolous flights to a serious discussion of the subject, a few words would suffice.
When he alleges the sluggishness of princes as the obstacle which prevents a holy synod being assembled to settle disputes, I could wish that he himself, and similar furious individuals, did not obstruct all attempts at concord. This a little further on he does not disguise when he denies the expediency of any discussion between us. What pious synod then would suit his mind, unless one in which two hundred of his companions or thereabouts, well-fed to make their zeal more fervent, should, according to a custom which has long been common with them, declare us to be worse and more execrable than the papists? The only confession they want is the rejection of all inquiry, and the obstinate defence of any random fiction that may have fallen from them. It is perfectly obvious, though the devil has fascinated their minds in a fearful manner, that it is pride more than error that makes them so pertinacious in assailing our doctrine.
As he pretends that he is an advocate of the Church, and, in order to deceive the simple by specious masks, is always arrogating to himself the character common to all who teach rightly, I should like to know who authorized him to assume this office. He is always exclaiming: We teach; This is our opinion; Thus we speak; So we assert. Let the farrago which Westphal has huddled together be read, and a remarkable discrepancy will be found. Not to go farther for an example, Westphal boldly affirms that the body of Christ is chewed by the teeth, and confirms it by quoting with approbation the recantation of Berengarius, as given by Gratian. This does not please Heshusius, who insists that it is eaten by the mouth but not touched by the teeth, and strongly disapproves those gross modes of eating. Yet he reiterates his: We assert, just as if he were the representative of a university. This worthy son of Jena repeatedly charges me with subtleties, sophisms, even impostures: as if there were any equivocation or ambiguity, or any kind of obscurity in my mode of expression. When I say that the flesh and blood of Christ are substantially offered and exhibited to us in the Supper, I at the same time explain the mode, namely, that the flesh of Christ becomes vivifying to us, inasmuch as Christ, by the incomprehensible virtue of his Spirit, transfuses his own proper life into us from the substance of his flesh, so that he himself lives in us, and his life is common to us. Who will be persuaded by Heshusius that there is any sophistry in this clear statement, in which I at the same time use popular terms and satisfy the ear of the learned? If he would only desist from the futile calumnies by which he darkens the case, the whole point would at once be decided.
After Heshusius has exhausted all his bombast, the whole question hinges on this: Does he who denies that the body of Christ is eaten by the mouth, take away the substance of his body from the sacred Supper? I frankly engage at close quarters with the man who denies that we are partakers of the substance of the flesh of Christ, unless we eat it with our mouths. His expression is that the very substance of the flesh and blood must be taken by the mouth; but I define the mode of communication without ambiguity, by saying that Christ by his boundless and wondrous powers unites us into the same life with himself, and not only applies the fruit of his passion to us, but becomes truly ours by communicating his blessings to us, and accordingly joins us to himself, as head and members unite to form one body. I do not restrict this union to the divine essence, but affirm that it belongs to the flesh and blood, inasmuch as it was not simply said: My Spirit, but: My flesh is meat indeed; nor was it simply said: My Divinity, but: My blood is drink indeed.
Moreover, I do not interpret this communion of flesh and blood as referring only to the common nature, so that Christ, by becoming man, made us sons of God with himself by virtue of fraternal fellowship. I distinctly affirm that this flesh of ours which he assumed is vivifying for us, so that it becomes the material of spiritual life to us. I willingly embrace the saying of Augustine: As Eve was formed out of a rib of Adam, so the origin and beginning of life to us flowed from the side of Christ. And although I distinguish between the sign and the thing signified, I do not teach that there is only a bare and shadowy figure, but distinctly declare that the bread is a sure pledge of that communion with the flesh and blood of Christ which it figures. For Christ is neither a painter, nor an actor, nor a kind of Archimedes who presents an empty image to amuse the eye; but he truly and in reality performs what by external symbol he promises. Hence I conclude that the bread which we break is truly the communion of the body of Christ. But as this connection of Christ with his members depends on his incomprehensible virtue I am not ashamed to wonder at this mystery which I feel and acknowledge to transcend the reach of my mind.
Here our Thraso makes an uproar, and cries out that it is great impudence as well as sacrilegious audacity to corrupt the clear voice of God, which declares: This is my body—that one might as well deny the Son of God to be man. But I rejoin that if he would evade this very charge of sacrilegious audacity, he is on his own terms committed to anthropomorphism. He insists that no amount of absurdity must induce us to change one syllable of the words. Hence as the Scripture distinctly attributes to God feet, hands, eyes, and ears, a throne, and a footstool, it follows that he is corporeal. As he is said in the song of Miriam to be a man of war (Ex. 15:3), it will not be lawful by any fitting exposition to soften this harsh mode of expression. Let Heshusius pull on his stage boots9 if he will; his insolence must still be repressed by this strong and valid argument. The ark of the covenant is distinctly called the Lord of hosts, and indeed with such asseveration that the Prophet emphatically exclaims (Ps. 24:8): Who is this king of glory? Jehovah himself is king of hosts.
Here we do not say that the Prophet without consideration blurted out what at first glance seems absurd, as this rogue wickedly babbles. After reverently embracing what he says, piety and fittingness require the interpretation that the name of God is transferred to a symbol because of its inseparable connection with the thing and reality. Indeed this is a general rule for all the sacraments, which not only human reason compels us to adopt, but which a sense of piety and the uniform usage of Scripture dictate. No man is so ignorant or stupid as not to know that in all the sacraments the Spirit of God by the prophets and apostles employs this special form of expression. Anyone disputing this should be sent back to his rudiments. Jacob saw the Lord of hosts sitting on a ladder. Moses saw him both in a burning bush and in the flame of Mount Horeb. If the letter is tenaciously retained, how could God who is invisible be seen? Heshusius repudiates examination, and leaves us no other resource than to shut our eyes and acknowledge that God is visible and invisible. But an explanation at once clear and congruous with piety, and in fact necessary, spontaneously presents itself: that God is never seen as he is, but gives manifest signs of his presence adapted to the capacity of believers.
Thus the presence of the divine essence is not at all excluded when the name of God is by metonymy applied to the symbol by which God truly represents himself, not figuratively merely but substantially. A dove is called the Spirit. Is this to be taken strictly, as when Christ declares that God is a Spirit (Matt. 3:16; John 4:24)? Surely a manifest difference is apparent. For although the Spirit was then truly and essentially present, yet he displayed the presence both of his virtue and his essence by a visible symbol. How wicked it is of Heshusius to accuse us of inventing a symbolical body is clear from this, that no honest man infers that a symbolic Spirit was seen in the baptism of Christ because there he truly appeared under the symbol or external appearance of a dove. We declare then that in the Supper we eat the same body as was crucified, although the expression refers to the bread by metonymy, so that it may be truly said to be symbolically the real body of Christ, by whose sacrifice we have been reconciled to God. Though there is some diversity in the expressions: the bread is a sign or figure or symbol of the body, and: the bread signifies the body, or is a metaphorical or metonymical or synecdochical expression for it, they perfectly agree in substance, and therefore Westphal and Heshusius trifle when they thus look for a knot in a bulrush.
A little farther on this circus-rider says that, whatever be the variety in expression, we all hold the very same sentiments, but that I alone deceive the simple by ambiguities. But where are the ambiguities which he wants to remove and so reveal my deceit? Perhaps his rhetoric can furnish a new kind of perspicacity which will clearly manifest the alleged implications of my view. Meanwhile he unworthily includes us all in the charge of teaching that the bread is the sign of the absent body, as if I had not long ago expressly made my readers aware of two kinds of absence: they should know that the body of Christ is indeed absent in respect of place, but that we enjoy a spiritual participation in it, every obstacle on the score of distance being surmounted by his divine virtue. Hence it follows that the dispute is not about presence or about substantial eating, but about how both these are to be understood. We do not admit a presence in space, nor that gross or rather brutish eating of which Heshusius talks so absurdly, when he says that Christ in respect of his human nature is present on the earth in the substance of his body and blood, so that he is not only eaten in faith by his saints, but also by the mouth bodily without faith by the wicked.
Without adverting at present to the absurdities here involved, I ask where is the true touchstone, the express Word of God? Assuredly it cannot be found in this barbarism. Let us see, however, what the explanation is which he thinks sufficient to stop the mouths of the Calvinists—an explanation so stupid that it must rather open their mouths to protest against it. He vindicates himself and the churches of his party from the error of transubstantiation with which he falsely alleges that we charge them. For though they have many things in common with the papists, we do not therefore mix them without distinction. In fact a long time ago I showed that the papists are considerably more modest and more sober in their dreams. What does he say himself? As the words are joined together contrary to the order of nature, it is right to maintain the literal sense by which the bread is properly the body. The words therefore, to be in accordance with the thing, must be held to be contrary to the order of nature.
He afterwards excuses their different forms of expression when they assert that the body is under the bread or with the bread. But how will he convince any one that it is under the bread, except in so far as the bread is a sign? How, too, will he convince any one that the bread is not to be worshipped if it be properly Christ? The expression that the body is in the bread or under the bread, he calls improper, because the word "substantial" has its proper and genuine significance in the union of the bread and Christ. In vain, therefore, does he refute the inference that the body is in the bread, and therefore the bread should be worshipped. This inference is the invention of his own brain. The argument we have always used is this: If Christ is in the bread, he should be worshipped under the bread. Much more might we argue, that the bread should be worshipped if it be truly and properly Christ.
He thinks he gets out of the difficulty by saying, that the union is not hypostatic. But who will concede to a hundred or a thousand Heshusiuses the right to bind worship with whatever restrictions they please? Assuredly no man of sense will be satisfied in conscience with the silly quibble that the bread, though it is truly and properly Christ, is not to be worshipped, because they are not hypostatically one. The objection will at once be made that things must be the same when the one is substantially predicated of the other. The words of Christ do not teach that anything happens to the bread. But if we are to believe Heshusius and his fellows, they plainly and unambiguously assert that the bread is the body of Christ, and therefore Christ himself. Indeed they affirm more of the bread than is rightly said of the human nature of Christ. But how monstrous it is to give more honour to the bread than to the sacred flesh of Christ! Of this flesh it cannot truly be affirmed, as they insist in the case of the bread, that it is properly Christ. Though he may deny that he invents any common essence, I can always force this admission from him, that if the bread is properly the body, it is one and the same with the body. He subscribes to the sentiment of Irenaeus, that there are two different things in the Supper: an earthly and a heavenly, that is, the bread and the body. But I do not see how this can be reconciled with the fictitious identity, which, though not expressed in words, is certainly asserted in fact; for things must be the same when we can say of them: That is this, This is that.
The same reasoning applies to the local enclosing which Heshusius pretends to repudiate, when he says that Christ is not contained by place, and can be at the same time in several places. To clear himself of suspicion, he says that the bread is the body not only properly, truly, and really, but also definitively. Should I answer that I wonder what these monstrous contradictions really mean, he will meet me with the shield of Ajax—which he and his companions are accustomed to use—that reason is inimical to faith. This I readily grant if he himself is a rational animal.
Three kinds of reason are to be considered, but he at one bound leaps over them all. There is a reason naturally implanted in us which cannot be condemned without insult to God; but it has limits which it cannot overstep without being immediately lost. Of this we have a sad proof in the fall of Adam. There is another kind of vitiated reason, especially in a corrupt nature, manifested when mortal man, instead of receiving divine things with reverence, wants to subject them to his own judgment. This reason is intoxication of the mind, a kind of sweet insanity, at perpetual variance with the obedience of faith; for we must become fools in ourselves before we can begin to be wise unto God. In regard to heavenly mysteries, therefore, this reason must retire, for it is nothing better than mere fatuity, and if accompanied with arrogance rises to madness. But there is a third kind of reason, which both the Spirit of God and Scripture sanction. Heshusius, however, disregarding all distinction, confidently condemns, under the name of human reason, everything which is opposed to the frenzied dream of his own mind.
He charges us with paying more deference to reason than to the Word of God. But what if we adduce no reason that is not derived from the Word of God and founded on it? Let him show that we profanely philosophize about the mysteries of God, measure his heavenly kingdom by our sense, subject the oracles of the Holy Spirit to the judgment of the flesh, and admit nothing that does not approve itself to our own wisdom. The case is quite otherwise. For what is more repugnant to human reason than that souls, immortal by creation, should derive life from mortal flesh? This we assert. What is less in accordance with earthly wisdom, than that the flesh of Christ should infuse its vivifying virtue into us from heaven? What is more foreign to our sense, than that corruptible and fading bread should be an undoubted pledge of spiritual life? What more remote from philosophy, than that the Son of God, who in respect of human nature is in heaven, so dwells in us, that everything which has been given him of the Father is made ours, and hence the immortality with which his flesh has been endowed becomes ours? All these things we clearly testify, while Heshusius has nothing to urge but his delirious dream: the flesh of Christ is eaten by unbelievers, and yet is not vivifying. If he refuses to believe that there is any reason without philosophy, let him learn from a short syllogism:
He who does not observe the analogy between the sign and the thing signified, is an unclean animal, not having cloven hoofs;
he who asserts that the bread is truly and properly the body of Christ, destroys the analogy between the sign and the thing signified:
therefore, he who asserts that the bread is properly the body, is an unclean animal, not having cloven hoofs.
From this syllogism let him know that even though there were no philosophy in the world, he is an unclean animal. But his object in this indiscriminate condemnation of reason was no doubt to procure liberty in his own darkness, so that this inference might hold good: When mention is made of the crucifixion and of the benefits which the living and substantial body of Christ procured, the body referred to cannot be understood to be symbolical, typical, or allegorical; hence the words of Christ: This is my body, This is my blood, cannot be understood symbolically or metonymically, but substantially. As if elementary schoolboys would not see that the term symbol is applied to the bread, not to the body, and that the metonymy is not in the substance of the body, but in the context of the words. And yet he exults here as if he were an Olympic victor, and bids us try the whole force of our intellect on this argument—an argument so absurd, that I will not deign to refute it even in jest. For while he says that we turn our backs, and at the same time stimulates himself to press forward, his own procedure betrays his manifest inconsistency. He admits that we understand that the substance of the body of Christ is given, since Christ is wholly ours by faith. It is a good thing that this ox butts harmlessly at the air with his own horns, so that it is unnecessary for us to be on our guard. I would ask if we turn our backs when we thus distinctly expose his calumny in regard to an allegorical body? But as if he had fallen into a fit of forgetfulness, after he has come to himself he brings a new charge concerning absence, saying that the giving of which we speak has no more effect than the giving of a field to one who was to be immediately removed from it. How dare he thus liken the incomparable virtue of the Holy Spirit to lifeless things, and represent the gathering of the produce of a field as equivalent to that union with the Son of God, which enables our souls to obtain life from his body and blood? Surely in this matter he acts too much the rustic. I may add that it is false to say that we expound the words of Christ as if the thing were absent, when it is perfectly well known that the absence of which we speak is confined to place and actual sight. Although Christ does not exhibit his flesh as present to our eyes, nor by change of place descend from his celestial glory, we deny that this distance is an obstacle preventing him from being truly united to us.
But let us observe the kind of presence for which he contends. At first sight his view seems sane and sensible. He admits that Christ is everywhere by a communication of properties, as was taught by the fathers, and that accordingly it is not the body of Christ that is everywhere, the ubiquity being ascribed concretely to the whole person in respect of the union of the divine nature. This is so exactly our doctrine, that he might seem to be wanting by prevarication to win favour with us. Nor have we difficulty in accepting what he adds, that it is impossible to comprehend how the body of Christ is in a certain heavenly place, above the heavens, and yet the person of Christ is everywhere, ruling in equal power with the Father. Indeed the whole world knows how violently I have been assailed by his party for defending this very doctrine. To express this in a still more palpable form, I employed the trite phrase of the schools, that Christ is whole everywhere but not wholly. In other words, being entire in the person of Mediator, he fills heaven and earth, though in his flesh he be in heaven, which he has chosen as the abode of his human nature, until he appear for judgment. What then prevents us from adopting this evident distinction, and agreeing with each other? Simply that Heshusius immediately perverts what he had said, insisting that Christ did not exclude his human nature when he promised to be present on the earth. Shortly after, he says that Christ is present with his Church, dispersed in different places, and this in respect not only of his divine, but also of his human nature. In a third passage he is still plainer, and denies that there is absurdity in holding that he may, in respect of his human nature, exist in different places wherever he pleases. And he sharply rejects what he terms the physical axiom, that one body cannot be in different places. What can now be clearer than that he holds the body of Christ to be an immensity and to constitute a monstrous ubiquity? A little before he had admitted that the body is in a certain place in heaven; now he assigns it different places. This is to dismember the body, and refuse to lift up the heart.
He objects that Stephen was not carried above all the heavens to see Jesus; as if I had not repeatedly disposed of this quibble. As Christ was not recognized by his two disciples with whom he sat familiarly at the same table, not on account of any metamorphosis, but because their eyes were holden, so eyes were given to Stephen to penetrate even to the heavens. Surely it is not without cause mentioned by Luke that he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and beheld the glory of God. Nor without cause does Stephen himself declare the heavens were opened to him, that he might behold Jesus standing on the right hand of his Father. This, I fancy, makes it plain how absurdly Heshusius endeavours to bring him down to the earth. With equal shrewdness he infers that Christ was on the earth when he showed himself to Paul; as if we had never heard of that carrying up to the third heaven, which Paul himself so magnificently proclaims (2 Cor. 12:2). What does Heshusius say to this? His words are: Paul could not be translated above all heavens, whither the Son of God ascended. I have nothing to add, but that the man who thus dares to give the lie to Paul when testifying of himself merits the greatest contempt? But it is said, that as Christ distinctly offers his body in the bread, and his blood in the wine, all boldness and curiosity must be curbed. This I admit; but it does not follow that we are to shut our eyes in order to exclude the rays of the sun. Indeed, if the mystery is deserving of contemplation, it is fitting rather to consider in what way Christ can give us his body and blood for meat and drink. For if the whole Christ is in the bread, if indeed the bread itself is Christ, we may with more truth affirm that the body is Christ—an affirmation from which both piety and common sense shrink. But if we do not refuse to lift up our hearts, we shall feed on the whole Christ, as well as expressly on his flesh and blood. Indeed when Christ invites us to eat his body and to drink his blood, he need not be brought down from heaven, or required to place himself in several localities in order to put his body and his blood within our lips. The sacred bond of our union with him is amply sufficient for this purpose when by the secret virtue of the Spirit we are united into one body with him. Hence I agree with Augustine, that in the bread we receive that which hung upon the cross. But I utterly abhor the delirious fancy of Heshusius and those like him, that it is not received unless it is introduced into the carnal mouth. The communion17 of which Paul discourses does not require any local presence, unless indeed Paul, in teaching that we are called to communion with Christ (1 Cor. 1:9), either speaks of a nonentity or places Christ locally wherever the gospel is preached.
The dishonesty of this babbler is intolerable, when he says that I confine the term communion to the fellowship we have with Christ by partaking of his benefits. But before proceeding to discuss this point, it is necessary to see how ingeniously he escapes from us. When Paul says that those who eat the sacrifice are partakers17 of the altar (1 Cor. 9:13), this good fellow gives as reason, that each receives a part from the altar, and from this he concludes that my interpretation is false. But what a concoction from his own turbulent brain! Our communion, as stated by me, is not only in the fruit of Christ's death, but also in his body offered for our salvation. But this interpretation also, which he refutes as though it was different from the other, is rejected by him as excluding the presence of Christ in the Supper. Here let my readers carefully attend to the kind of presence which he imagines and to which he clings so doggedly, that he almost reduces to nothing the communion which John the Baptist had with Christ, provided he is allowed to hold that the body of Christ was swallowed by Judas. I ask this reverend doctor: if those are partakers of the altar who divide the sacrifice into parts, how can he exonerate himself from the charge of dismembering while he gives each his part? If he answers that this is not what he means, let him correct his expression. He is certainly driven from the stronghold in which all his defence was located, his assertion that I leave nothing in the Supper but a right to a thing that is absent, seeing that I uniformly maintain that through the virtue of the Spirit there is a present exhibition of a thing absent in respect of place. Still, while I refuse to subscribe to the barbarous eating by which he insists that Christ is swallowed by the mouth, he will always be swept on to abuse with his implacable fury. Verbally, indeed, he denies that he inquires concerning the mode of presence, and yet, imperiously as well as rudely, he insists on the monstrous dogma he has fabricated, that the body of Christ is eaten corporeally by the mouth. These indeed are his very words. In another passage he says: We assert not only that we become partakers of the body of Christ by faith, but that also by our mouths we receive Christ essentially or corporeally within us; and in this way we testify that we give credence to the words of Paul and the evangelists.
But we too reject the sentiments of all who deny the presence of Christ in the Supper. What then is the kind of presence for which he quarrels with us? Obviously something dreamt by himself and similar frenzied people. What impudence to cover up such gross fancies with the names of Paul and the evangelists! How will he prove to these witnesses that the body of Christ is taken by the mouth both corporeally and internally? He has elsewhere acknowledged that it is not chewed by the teeth nor touched by the palate. Why should he be so afraid of the touch of the palate or throat, while he ventures to assert that it is absorbed by the stomach? What does he mean by the expression "internally"? By what is the body of Christ received after it has passed the mouth? From the mouth, if I mistake not, the bodily passage is to the viscera or intestines. If he say that we are calumniously throwing odium on him by the use of offensive terms, I should like to know what difference there is between saying that what is received by the mouth is taken corporeally within, and saying that it passes into the viscera or intestines? Henceforth let the reader understand and be careful to remember, that whenever Heshusius charges me with denying the presence of Christ in the Supper, the only thing for which he blames me is something which seems absurd to me, that Christ is swallowed by the mouth so that he passes bodily into the stomach. Yet he complains that I play with ambiguous expressions; as if it were not my perspicuity that maddens him and his associates. Of what ambiguity can he convict me? He admits that I assert the true and substantial eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood of Christ. But, he says, when my meaning is investigated, I speak of the receiving of merit, fruit, efficacy, virtue, and power, descending from heaven. Here his malignant absurdity is not to be deduced but to be seen, when he confuses virtue and power with merit and fruit. Is it usual for any one to say that merit descends from heaven? Had he one particle of candour, he would have quoted me as either speaking or writing thus: For us to have substantial communion with the flesh of Christ, there is no necessity for any change of place, since by the secret virtue of the Spirit he infuses his life into us from heaven; nor does distance at all prevent Christ from dwelling in us, or us from being one with him, since the efficacy of the Spirit surmounts all natural obstacles.
A little farther on we shall see how shamefully he contradicts himself when he quotes my words: The blessings of Christ do not belong to us until he has himself become ours. Let him go now, and by the term merit obscure his account of the communion that I teach. He argues that if the body of Christ is in heaven he is not in the Supper, and we have symbols merely; as if the Supper were not to the true worshippers of God a heavenly action, or a kind of vehicle by which they transcend the world. But what is this to Heshusius, who not only halts on the earth, but does all he can to keep grovelling in the mud? Paul teaches that in baptism we put on Christ (Gal. 3:27). How persuasively will Heshusius argue that this cannot be if Christ remain in heaven! When Paul said this, it never occurred to him that Christ must be brought down from heaven, because he knew that he is united to us in a different manner, and that his blood is as much present to cleanse our souls as water to cleanse our bodies. If he rejoins that there is a difference between "eating" and "putting on", I answer that to put clothing on ourselves is as necessary as to take food into ourselves. Indeed the folly or malice of the man is proved by this one thing, that he admits none but a local presence. Though he denies it to be physical, and even quibbles upon the point, he yet places the body of Christ wherever the bread is, and accordingly maintains that it is in several places at the same time. As he does not hesitate so to express himself, why may not the presence to which he leads us be termed local?
Of similar stuff is his objection that the body is not received truly if it is received symbolically; as if by a true symbol we excluded the exhibition of the reality. He ultimately says it is mere imposture, unless a twofold eating is asserted, a spiritual and a corporeal. How ignorantly and erroneously he twists the passages referring to spiritual eating, I need not observe, when children can see how ridiculous he makes himself. As to the subject itself, if a division is vicious when its members coincide with each other as boys learn among the first rudiments, how will he escape the charge of having thus blundered? For if there is any eating which is not spiritual, it will follow that in the mystery of the Supper there is no operation of the Spirit. Thus it will naturally be called the flesh of Christ, just as if it were a perishable and corruptible food, and the chief earnest of eternal salvation will be unaccompanied by the Spirit. Should even this not overcome the stubborn front he offers, I ask whether independently of the use of the Supper there be no other eating than spiritual, which according to him is opposed to corporeal. He distinctly affirms that this is nothing else than faith, by which we apply to ourselves the benefits of Christ's death. What then becomes of the declaration of Paul, that we are flesh of the flesh of Christ, and bone of his bones? What will become of the exclamation: This is a great mystery (Eph. 5:30, 32)? For if beyond the application of merit, nothing is left to believers besides the present use of the Supper, the head will always be separated from the members, except at the particular moment when the bread is put into the mouth and throat. We may add on the testimony of Paul (1 Cor. 1), that fellowship with Christ is the result of the gospel no less than of the Supper. A little ago we saw Heshusius bragging of this fellowship; but what Paul affirms of the Supper he had previously affirmed of the doctrine of the gospel. If we listened to this trifler, what would become of that noble discourse in which our Saviour promises that his disciples should be one with him, as he and the Father are one? There cannot be any doubt that he there speaks of a perpetual union.
It is intolerable impudence for Heshusius to represent himself as an imitator of the fathers. He quotes a passage from Cyril on the fifteenth chapter of John; as if Cyril did not there plainly contend that the participation with Christ which is offered us in the Supper proves that we are united with him in respect of the flesh. He is disputing with the Arians, who, quoting the words of Christ: "That they may be one, as thou Father art in me and I in thee" (John 17:21), used them as pretext to deny that Christ is one with the Father in reality and essence, but only in consent. Cyril, to dispose of this quibble, answers that we are essentially one with Christ, and to prove it adduces the force of the mystical benediction. If he were contending only for a momentary communion, what could be more irrelevant? But it is no wonder that Heshusius thus betrays his utter want of shame, since he with equal confidence claims the support of Augustine, who, as all the world knows, is diametrically opposed to him. He says that Augustine distinctly admits (Serm. 2 de verb. Dom.) that there are different modes of eating the flesh, and affirms that Judas and other hypocrites ate the true flesh of Christ. But if it turn out that the epithet true is interpolated, how will Heshusius exonerate himself from a charge of forgery? Let the passage be read, and, without a word from me, it will be seen that Heshusius has forged the true flesh.
But he will say that a twofold eating is there mentioned; as if the same distinction did not everywhere occur in our writings also. Augustine there employs the terms flesh and sacrament of flesh indiscriminately in the same sense. This he has also done in several other passages. If an explanation is sought, there cannot be a clearer interpreter than himself. He says (Ep. 23 ad Bonif.) that from the resemblance which the sacraments have to the things, they often receive their names; for which reason the sacrament of the body of Christ is in a manner the body of Christ. Could he testify more clearly that the bread is termed the body of Christ indirectly because of resemblance? He elsewhere says that the body of Christ falls on the ground, but this is in the same sense in which he says that it is consumed (Hom. 26 in Joann.). Did we not here apply the resemblance formerly noticed, what could be more absurd? Indeed what a calumny it would be against this holy writer to represent him as holding that the body of Christ is taken into the stomach! It is long since I accurately explained what Augustine means by a twofold eating, namely that while some receive the virtue of the sacrament, others receive only a visible sacrament; that it is one thing to take inwardly, another outwardly; one thing to eat with the heart, another to bite with the teeth. And he finally concludes that the sacrament which is placed on the Lord's table is taken by some unto destruction and by others unto life, but the reality of which the Supper is the sign gives life to all who partake of it. In another passage also, treating in express terms of this question, he distinctly refutes those who imagined that the wicked eat the body of Christ not only sacramentally but in reality. To show our entire agreement with this holy writer, we say that those who are united by faith, so as to be his members, eat his body truly or in reality, whereas those who receive nothing but the visible sign eat only sacramentally. He often expresses himself in the very same way. (De civit. Dei, 21, ch. 25; Contra Faust. bk. 13, ch. 13; see also in Joann. ev. Tract. 25–27.)
But, as Heshusius by his importunity compels us so often to repeat, let us bring forward the passage in which Augustine says that Judas ate the bread of the Lord against the Lord, whereas the other disciples ate the bread of the Lord (in Joann. ev. Tract. 59). It is certain that this pious teacher never makes a threefold division. But why mention him alone? Not one of the fathers has taught that in the Supper we receive anything but that which remains with us after the use of the Supper.
Heshusius will exclaim that the Supper is therefore useless to us. For his words are: "Why does Christ by a new commandment enjoin us to eat his body in the Supper, and even give us bread, since not only himself but all the prophets urge us to eat the flesh of Christ by faith? Does he then in the Supper command nothing new?" I in my turn ask him: Why did God in ancient days enjoin circumcision and sacrifice and all the exercises of faith, and also why did he institute Baptism? Without his answer the explanation is quite simple: God gives no more by visible signs than by his Word, but gives in a different manner, because our weakness stands in need of a variety of helps. He asks: Will the expression not be very improper: "This cup is the New Testament in my blood," unless the whole is corporeal? To this we all answered long ago, that what is offered to us by the gospel outside the Supper is sealed to us by the Supper, and hence communion with Christ is no less truly conferred upon us by the gospel than by the Supper. He asks: How is it called the Supper of the "New Testament," if only types are exhibited in it as under the Old Testament? First, I would beg my readers to put against these silly objections the clear statements which I have made in my writings. Then they will not only find what distinction ought to be made between the sacraments of the new and of the ancient Church, but will detect Heshusius in the very act of theft, stealing everything except his own ignorant idea that nothing was given to the ancients except types. As if God had deluded the fathers with empty figures; or as if Paul's doctrine was futile, when he teaches that they ate the same spiritual food as we, and drank the same spiritual drink (1 Cor. 10:3). Heshusius at last concludes: "Unless the blood of Christ be given substantially in the Supper, it is absurd and contrary to the sacred writings to give the name of 'new covenant' to wine; and therefore there must be two kinds of eating, one spiritual and metaphorical common to the fathers, and another corporeal proper to us." It would be enough for me to deny the inference which might move even children to laughter; but how profane is the talk that contemptuously calls what is spiritual metaphorical! As if he would subject the mystical and incomprehensible virtue of the Spirit to grammarians.
Lest he should allege that he has not been completely answered, I must again repeat: As God is always true, the figures were not fallacious by which he promised his ancient people life and salvation in his only begotten Son; now, however, he plainly presents to us in Christ the things which he then showed as though from a distance. Hence Baptism and the Supper not only set Christ before us more fully and clearly than the legal rites did, but exhibit him as present. Paul accordingly teaches that we now have the body instead of shadows (Col. 2:17), not only because Christ has been once manifested, but because Baptism and the Supper, like assured pledges, confirm his presence with us. Hence appears the great distinction between, our sacraments and those of the ancient people. This, however, by no means robs them of the reality of the things which Christ today exhibits more fully, clearly, and perfectly, as from his presence one might expect.
The statement he makes so keenly and obstinately, that the unworthy eat Christ, I would leave as undeserving of refutation, except that he regards it as the chief defence of his cause. He calls it a grave matter, fit for pious and learned men to discuss together. If I grant this, how comes it that hitherto it has been impossible to obtain from his party a calm discussion of the question? If discussion is allowed, there will be no difficulty in arranging it. The arguments of Heshusius are: first, Paul distinguishes the blessed bread from common bread, not only by the article but by the demonstrative pronoun; as if the same distinction were not sufficiently made by those who call the sacred and spiritual feast a pledge and badge of our union with Christ. The second argument is: Paul more clearly asserts that the unworthy eat the flesh of Christ, when he says that they become guilty of the body and blood of Christ. But I ask whether he makes them guilty of the body as offered or as received? There is not one syllable about receiving. I admit that by partaking of the sign they insult the body of Christ, inasmuch as they reject the inestimable boon which is offered them. This disposes of the objection of Heshusius, that Paul is not speaking of the general guilt under which all the wicked lie, but teaches that the wicked by the actual taking of the body invoke a heavier judgment on themselves. It is indeed true that insult is offered to the flesh of Christ by those who with impious disdain and contempt reject it when it is held forth for food. For we maintain that in the Supper Christ holds forth his body to reprobates as well as to believers, but in such manner that those who profane the Sacrament by unworthy receiving make no change in its nature, nor in any respect impair the effect of the promise. But although Christ remains like to himself and true to his promises, it does not follow that what is given is received by all indiscriminately.
Heshusius amplifies and says that Paul does not speak of a slight fault. It is indeed no slight fault which an apostle denounces when he says that the wicked, even though they do not approach the Supper, crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put him to an open shame, and trample his sacred blood under their feet (Heb. 6:6; 10:29). They can do all this without swallowing Christ. The reader sees whether I marvellously twist and turn, as Heshusius foolishly says, involving myself in darkness from a hatred of the light, when I say that men are guilty of the body and blood of Christ in repudiating both the gifts, though eternal truth invites them to partake of them. But he rejoins that this sophism is brushed away like a spider's web by the words of Paul, when he says that they eat and drink judgment to themselves. As if unbelievers under the law did not also eat judgment to themselves, by presuming while impure and polluted to eat the paschal lamb. And yet Heshusius after his own fashion boasts of having made it clear that the body of Christ is taken by the wicked. How much more correct is the view of Augustine, that many in the crowd press on Christ without ever touching him! Still he persists, exclaiming that nothing can be clearer than the declaration that the wicked do not discern the Lord's body, and that darkness is violently and intentionally thrown on the clearest truth by all who deny that the body of Christ is taken by the unworthy. He might have some colour for this, if I denied that the body of Christ is given to the unworthy; but as they impiously reject what is liberally offered to them, they are deservedly condemned for profane and brutish contempt inasmuch as they set at nought the victim by which the sins of the world were expiated and men reconciled to God.
Meanwhile let the reader observe how suddenly heated Heshusius has become. He lately began by saying that the subject was a proper one for mutual conference between pious and learned men, but here he blazes out fiercely against all who dare to doubt or inquire. In the same way he is angry at us for maintaining that the thing which the bread figures is conferred and performed not by the minister but by Christ. Why is he not angry rather with Augustine and Chrysostom, the one teaching that it is administered by man but in a divine manner, on earth but in a heavenly manner; while the other speaks thus: Now Christ is ready; he who spread the table at which he sat now consecrates this one. For the body and blood of Christ are not made by him who has been appointed to consecrate the Lord's table, but by him who was crucified for us, and so on. I have no concern with what Heshusius adds. He says it is a fanatical and sophistical corruption to hold that by the unworthy are meant the weak and those possessed of little faith, though not wholly aliens from Christ. I hope he will find some one to answer him. But this contortionist draws me in to advocate an alien cause, in order to overwhelm me with the crime of a sacrilegious and most cruel parricide, because by my doctrine timid consciences are murdered and driven to despair.
He asks Calvinists with what faith they approach the Supper—with great or little? It is easy to give the answer furnished by the Institutes, where I distinctly refute the error of those who require a perfection nowhere to be found, and by this severity keep back from the use of the Supper, not the weak only, but those best qualified. Even children, by the form which we commonly use, are fully instructed how to refute the silly calumny. It is vain for him therefore to display his loquacity by running away from the subject. Lest he pride himself on his performance here, it is right to insert this much by the way. He says two things are diametrically opposed: forgiveness of sins and guilt before the tribunal of God. As if even the least instructed did not know that believers in the same act provoke the wrath of God, and yet by his indulgence obtain favour. We all condemn the craft of Rebecca in substituting Jacob in the place of Esau, and there is no doubt that before God the act deserved severe punishment; yet he so mercifully forgave it, that by means of it Jacob obtained the blessing. It is worth while to observe in passing how sharply he disposes of my objection as absurd, that Christ cannot be separated from his Spirit. His answer is that, since the words of Paul are clear, he assents to them. Does he mean to astonish us by a miracle when he tells us that the blind see? It has been clearly enough shown that nothing of the kind is to be seen in the words of Paul. He endeavours to disentangle himself by saying that Christ is present to his creatures in many ways. But the first thing to be explained is how Christ is present with unbelievers, to be the spiritual food of their souls, and in short the life and salvation of the world. As he adheres so doggedly to the words, I should like to know how the wicked can eat the flesh of Christ which was not crucified for them, and how they can drink the blood which was not shed to expiate their sins? I agree with him that Christ is present as a strict judge when his Supper is profaned. But it is one thing to be eaten, and another to be judge. When he later says that the Holy Spirit dwelt in Saul, we must send him back to his rudiments, that he may learn how to discriminate between the sanctification proper only to the elect and the children of God, and the general power which is proper even to the reprobate. These quibbles, therefore, do not in the slightest degree affect my axiom, that Christ, considered as the living bread and the victim immolated on the cross, cannot enter a human body devoid of his Spirit.
I think that sufficient proof has been given of the ignorance as well as the effrontery, stubbornness, and petulance of Heshusius—such proof as must not only render him offensive to men of worth and sound judgment, but make his own party ashamed of so incompetent a champion. But as he pretends to give a confirmation of his dogma, it may be worth while briefly to discuss what he advances, lest his loud boasting should impose upon the simple. I have shown elsewhere and oftener than once how irrelevant it is here to introduce harangues on the boundless power of God, since the question is not what God can do, but what kind of communion with his flesh the Author of the Supper has taught us to believe. He comes, however, to the point when he brings forward the expressions of Paul and the evangelists; only he exercises his loquacity in the absurdest calumnies, as if it were our purpose to subvert the ordinance of Christ. We have always declared, with equal good faith, sincerity and candour, that we reverently embrace what Paul and the three Evangelists teach, so long as the meaning of their words be investigated with proper soberness and modesty. Heshusius says that they all speak the same thing so much so that there is scarcely a syllable of difference. As if, in their most perfect agreement, there were not an evident variety in the form of expression which may well raise questions. Two of them call the cup the blood of the new covenant; the other two call it a new covenant in the blood. Is there here not one syllable of difference? But granting that the four employ the same words and almost the same syllables, must we forthwith concede what Heshusius affirms, that there is no figure in the words? Scripture makes mention not four times but almost a thousand times of the ears, eyes and right hand of God. If an expression four times repeated excludes all figures, will a thousand passages have no effect at all, or a less effect? Let it be that the question relates not to the fruit of Christ's passion, but to the presence of his body, provided the term presence be not restricted to place. Though I grant this, I deny that the point on which the question turns is whether the words: This is my body, are used in a proper sense or by metonymy; and therefore I hold that it is absurd of Heshusius to infer one from the other. Were any one to concede to him that the bread is called the body of Christ, because it is an exhibitive sign, and at the same time to add that it is called body, essentially and corporeally, what further ground for quarrel would he have?
The proper question, therefore, concerns the mode of communication. However, if he chooses to insist on the words, I have no objection. We must therefore see whether they are to be understood sacramentally, or as implying actual consumption. There is no dispute as to the body which Christ designates, for I have declared often enough above that I imagine no two-bodied Christ, and that therefore the body which was once crucified is given in the Supper. Indeed it is plain from my Commentaries how I have expounded the passage: "The bread which I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51).
My exposition is that there are two kinds of giving, because the same body which Christ once offered for our salvation he offers to us every day as spiritual food. All therefore that he says about a symbolical body is nothing better than the slander of a low-class buffoon. It is insufferable to see him blinding the eye of the reader, while fighting with the ghosts and shadows of his own imagination. Equally futile is he when he says that I keep talking only of fruit and efficacy. Everywhere I assert a substantial communion, and discard only a local presence and the figment of an immensity of flesh. But this perverse expositor cannot be appeased unless we concede to him that the words of Paul: "the cup is the new covenant in my blood," are equivalent to "the blood is contained in the cup." If this be granted, he must submit to the disgrace of retracting what he has so tenaciously asserted of the proper and natural meaning of the words. For who will be persuaded by him that there is no figure when the cup is called a covenant in blood, because it contains blood? I do not disguise, however, that I reject this foolish exposition. It does not follow from it that we are redeemed by wine, and that the saying of Christ is false; since, in order to drink the blood of Christ by faith, the thing necessary is not that he come down to earth, but that we rise up to heaven, or rather the blood of Christ must remain in heaven in order that believers may share it among themselves.
Heshusius, to deprive us of all sacramental modes of expression, maintains that we must learn, not from the institution of the passover, but from the words of Christ, what it is that is given to us in the Supper. Yet, in his dizzy way, he immediately flies off in another direction, and finds an appropriate phrase in the words: Circumcision is a covenant. But can anything be more intolerable than this pertinacious denial of the constant usage of Scripture, that the words of the Supper are to be interpreted in a sacramental manner? Christ was a rock; for he was spiritual food. The Holy Spirit was a dove. The water in Baptism is both the Spirit and the blood of Christ (otherwise it would not be the laver of the soul). Christ himself is our pass-over. While we are agreed as to all these passages, and Heshusius does not dare to deny that the forms of speech in these sacraments are similar, why, whenever the matter of the Supper is raised, does he offer such obstinate opposition? But he says that the words of Christ are clear. What greater obscurity is there in the others?
On the whole, I think I have made it clear how empty is the noise he makes, while trying to force the words of Christ to support his delirious dream. As little effect will he produce on men of sense by his arguments which he deems to be irresistible. He says that under the Old Testament all things were shadowed by types and figures, but that in the New, figures being abolished or rather fulfilled, the reality is exhibited. So be it; but can he hence infer that the water of Baptism is truly, properly, really and substantially the blood of Christ? Far more accurate is Paul (Col. 2:17), who, while he teaches that the body is now substituted for the old figures, does not mean that what was then adumbrated was completed by signs, but holds that it was in Christ himself that the substance and reality were to be sought. Accordingly, a little before, after saying that believers were circumcised in Christ by the circumcision not made with hands, he immediately adds that a pledge and testimony of this is given in Baptism, making the new sacrament correspond with the old. Heshusius after his own fashion quotes from the Epistle to the Hebrews, that the sacrifices of the Old Testament were types of the true. But the term true21 is there applied not to Baptism and the Supper, but to the death and resurrection of Christ. I have acknowledged already that in Baptism and the Supper Christ is offered otherwise than in the legal figures; but unless the reality of which the apostle there speaks is sought in a higher quarter than the sacraments, it will entirely vanish. Therefore, when the presence of Christ is contrasted with the legal shadows, it is wrong to confine it to the Supper, since the reference is to a superior manifestation wherein the perfection of our salvation consists. Even if I granted that the presence of Christ spoken of is to be referred to the sacraments of the New Testament, this would still place Baptism and the Supper on the same footing. Therefore, when Heshusius argues thus:
The sacraments of the gospel require the presence of Christ;
The Supper is a sacrament of the gospel:
Therefore, it requires the presence of Christ;
I in my turn rejoin:
Baptism is a sacrament of the gospel:
Therefore, it requires the presence of Christ.
If he resorts to his last refuge and tells us that it was not said in Baptism: This is my body, this is nothing to the point, which entirely depends on the distinction between the Old Testament and the New. Let him cease, then, from his foolish talk, that if the bread of the Supper is the symbol of an absent thing, it is therefore a symbol of the Old Testament. The reader must, moreover, remember that the controversy concerns not every kind of absence, but only local absence. Heshusius will not allow Christ to be present with us, except by making himself present in several places, wherever the Supper is administered. Hence, too, it appears that he talks absurdly when he opposes presence to fruit. The two things are quite in harmony. Although Christ is distant from us in respect of place, he is yet present by the boundless energy of his Spirit, so that his flesh can give us life. It is still more absurd when he says that we differ in no respect from those under the Old Testament in regard to spiritual eating, because the mode of vivifying is one and the same; and they received just as much as we. But what did he say a little before? That in the New Testament is offered, not the shadows of things, but the reality itself, true righteousness, light, and life, the true High-Priest; that this testament is established and the wrath of God appeased by blood in reality, not in type. What does he understand by spiritual but just the reality, true righteousness, light and life? Now he insists that all these were common to the fathers, which is very absurd, if they are peculiar to the New Testament.
But lest I may seem more intent on refuting my opponent than on instructing my readers, I must briefly remind them that he subverts everything by making the fathers equal to us in the mode of eating; for though they had Christ in common with us, the measure of revelation was by no means equal. Were it otherwise, there would have been no ground for the exclamation: "Blessed are the eyes which see the things which ye see" (Matt. 13:16); and again: "The law and the prophets were until John; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17; Matt. 11:13). If he answer that this is his understanding, I ask whence spiritual eating comes? If he admits that it is from faith, there is a manifest difference in the very doctrine from which faith springs. The question here concerns not the quantity of faith in individuals, but the nature of the promises under the law. Who then can put up with this snarling fellow, when he tries to stir up odium against us, because we say that the light of faith now is greater than it was among ancient people? He objects by quoting our Saviour's complaint: "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). To what end does he quote, unless on this pretext to obtain pardon for his unbelief? Let it be so. Christ will not find faith in a thousand Heshusiuses, nor in the whole of his band. Is it not true that John the Baptist was greater than all the prophets, and yet that the least among the preachers of the gospel was greater than he? (Luke 7:28). The faith of the Galatians was not only small but almost stifled, and yet Paul, while he compares the prophets to children, says that the Galatians and other believers had no longer any need of a pedagogue (Gal. 3:25), as they had grown up; that is, in respect of doctrine and sacraments, but not of men. So far from having profited in the gospel, Heshusius, like a monkey decked out in silk and gold, surpasses all the monks in barbarism.
Regarding the eating of the flesh of Christ, how much better our case is than that of the fathers I have shown in expounding the tenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians. Still I differ widely from those who dream of a corporeal eating. No doubt life might be infused from the substance of a flesh which as yet did not exist, so that there would be a spiritual eating the same as we now have; but in fact a pledge was given them of an identical communion. Hence it follows that the saying of Augustine is strictly true: that the signs which they had differed from ours in visible form, not in reality. I add, however, that the mode of signifying was different and the measure of grace unequal, because the communion of Christ now exhibited is fuller and more abundant, and also substantial.
When Heshusius says that his controversy with me concerns the pledge, not the reality, I wish my readers to understand what his meaning is. He declares that the fathers were partakers of spiritual eating in an equal degree with us; I hold that it was proportional to the nature and mode of the dispensation. But it is clear that by the interposition of a pledge their faith was confirmed in signs as far as the absence of Christ allowed. We have explained elsewhere how our pledges exhibit Christ present, not indeed in space, but because they set visibly before us the death and resurrection of Christ, wherein consists the entire fulness of salvation. Meanwhile Heshusius, contradicting himself, disapproves of my distinction between faith and spiritual eating. If we are to believe him, it is mere sophism. So no part of it is allowed to pass without criticism and censure. Thus it must be a mere sophism when Paul says that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, that we are ingrafted into his body, that we are crucified and buried with him, in short that we are bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, so that his life is ours. Whoever does not see that these things are the fruits and effects of faith, and therefore different from faith, is more than blind. Equally blind is it to deny that we obtain by faith the inestimable blessing of a vivifying communion with Christ. But he does not care what confusion he causes, provided he is not forced to acknowledge that believers have outside the Supper the very thing they receive in the Supper. But, he says, eating must be distinguished from sealing. Certainly; but just in the same way as the sealing which takes place in Baptism differs from spiritual washing. Are we not, outside Baptism, cleansed by the blood of Christ and regenerated by the Spirit? It is true that to help our infirmity a visible testimony is added, the better to confirm the thing signified; and not only so, but to bestow in greater truth and fulness what we receive by the faith of the gospel even without any external action.
Here he displays his malignant and vicious temper, by daring to charge me with teaching in the catechism that the use of the Supper is not unnecessary, because we there receive Christ more fully, though by the faith of the gospel Christ is already so far ours and dwells in us. This doctrine, if we are to believe Heshusius, is not only absurd, but insulting to the whole ministry of the gospel. Let him then accuse Paul of blasphemy for saying that Christ is formed in us like the foetus in the womb. His words to the Galatians are well-known: "My little children, for whom I again travail as in birth until Christ Jesus be formed in you" (Gal. 4:19). This is not unlike what he says in another place: "Until ye grow up into a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). There is no need of many words to prove this. For if Christ dwells in us by faith, it is certain that he in a manner grows up in us in proportion to the increase of faith. Heshusius objects: What then is to become of the infant which, immediately after being baptized, happens to die without having received the Supper? As if I were imposing some law or obligation on God, and denying that he works, when he pleases, without the aid of the Supper. For I hold with Augustine, that there may be invisible sanctification without the visible sign, just as on the other hand there may be the visible sign without true sanctification. John the Baptist was never admitted to the Supper, and yet surely this did not prevent him from possessing Christ. All I teach is that we attain to communion with Christ gradually, so that it is not without cause that he added the Supper to the gospel and to Baptism. Hence, though God calls suddenly away from the world many who are children, not in age merely but in faith, yet one spark from the Spirit is sufficient to give them a life which swallows up all that is mortal in them, as Paul also declares elsewhere (Rom. 8:11). But in the eyes of Heshusius, Paul appears only an inferior authority, since he charges him with teaching a doctrine which is absurd and impious. It is indeed under my name that he charges him; but where is the difference, if the impiety of which he accuses me be taught in Paul's words? What I teach, therefore, remains intact: that the communion of Christ is conferred upon us in different degrees, not merely in the Supper but independently of it.
Though I fancy it is very well known to the whole world that our doctrine is clearly approved by the consent of the primitive Church, Heshusius has again opened up the question, and introduced certain ancient writers as opposed to us and in favour of his opinion. Hitherto, indeed, I have intentionally not dealt with this matter, because I was unwilling to do what has been done already. This was first performed with accuracy and skill by Œcolampadius, who clearly showed that the figment of a local presence was unknown to the ancient Church. He was succeeded by Bullinger, who performed the task with equal felicity. The whole was crowned by Peter Martyr, who left nothing more to be done. As far as Westphal's importunity compelled me, I believe that to sound and impartial readers I have proved my agreement with antiquity. Indeed what I said ought to have stopped the mouths even of the contentious. But however solid the reasons by which they are confuted, it is like talking to the deaf, and I shall therefore be content with a few brief remarks, to let my readers see that this recent copyist is not less barren and foolish than Westphal was. It is rather strange that, while he is ashamed to use the authority of John of Damascus and Theophylact, he calls them not the least among ecclesiastical writers. Sound and sober readers will find more learning and piety in a single commentary on Matthew, which is falsely alleged to be an unfinished work of Chrysostom, than in all the theology of the Damascene. The writer, whoever he may have been, distinctly says that the body of Christ is only given to us by the ministry. I thought it proper to mention this briefly, lest any one might suppose that Heshusius was acting generously in declining the support of the Damascene. While I grant that he also repudiates Clement of Alexandria and Origen, let my readers remember that he can select at will from antiquity whatever writers suit his purpose. He begins with Ignatius. I wish his writings were extant to prevent his name from being so frequently employed as a disguise by impostors like Servetus and Heshusius. For what kind of candour is it that quotes an epistle which scarcely one of the monkish herd would acknowledge to be genuine? Those who have read this silly production know that it speaks only of Lent, and chrism, and tapers, and fast and festival days, which began to creep in under the influence of superstition and ignorance long after the days of Ignatius. But what then of this fictitious Ignatius? He says that some reject the Supper and oblations because they deny that the Eucharist is the flesh of Christ which was sacrificed for us. But what kinship or community can there be between those heretics and ourselves who regard with reverence the Eucharist in which we know Christ gives us his flesh to eat? But he will reply that the Eucharist is styled the flesh. It is; but improperly, unless we shut our eyes against the clearest light. The name of Eucharist is taken from the action of thanksgiving or from the whole Sacrament. Take which you please, certainly the literal meaning cannot be urged.
That we may not be obliged repeatedly to dispose of the same criticism, let it be understood once for all that we have no quarrel with the usual forms of expression. Early writers everywhere call the consecrated bread the body of Christ; for why may they not imitate the only begotten Son of God, on whose lips we ought to hang so as to learn wisdom? But how very different is this from the barbarous fiction, that the bread is literally the body which is there corporeally eaten. With equal honesty he classes us with Messalians and enthusiasts, who denied that the use of the Holy Supper does either good or harm; as if I had not from the first spoken of the utility of this mystery in loftier terms than all that crowd who disturb the world by raging like bacchanalians against me. Indeed they kept perfect silence as to the end for which the Supper was instituted and the benefit which believers derive from it, until the reproaches of many pious people compelled them to take excerpts from my writings, to avoid being always charged with suppressing what is most important in them. But he does not hesitate to give us Schwenkfeld for an associate. Why do you, like a cowardly dog afraid of the wolves, only attack unoffending guests? When Schuencfeldius was infecting Germany with his poison, we withstood him boldly, and thus incurred his deepest hatred; but now, if Heshusius is to be believed, it was we who fostered him. Then, when he involves us in the impious fancies of Nestorius, what answer can I give but just that so wicked a slanderer refutes himself?
He next comes down to Justin Martyr, whose authority I willingly allow to be great. But what damage does he do our cause? He says that the bread of the Supper is not ordinary bread. This is because he had previously explained that none are admitted to partake of it but those who have been washed by Baptism and have embraced the gospel. He afterwards goes farther: As Christ was made flesh, so we are taught that the food which was blessed by him by the word of prayer, and by which our flesh and blood are nourished through transmutation, is the flesh and blood of Christ himself. The comparison of the mystical consecration in the Supper with the incarnation of Christ seems to Heshusius enough for victory; as if Justin affirmed that the one was equally miraculous with the other, while all he meant is that the flesh which Christ once assumed from us is daily given us for food. For in confirming this opinion he is content simply to quote the words of Christ, and contends for no more than that this benefit is imparted only to the disciples of Christ who have been initiated into true piety.
I grant to Heshusius that Irenaeus is a clearer expounder of Justin's brief statement. I will not quote all his words, but will omit nothing relevant. He inveighs against heretics who denied that flesh is capable of incorruption. If so, he says, neither has the Lord redeemed us by his own blood, nor is the cup of the Eucharist the communion of his blood, nor the bread which we break the communion of his body. The blood comes only from the veins and other human substances in which the Son of God truly redeemed us. And since we are his members and are nourished by created things, and he himself confers created things upon us, making his sun to rise and rain to descend as it pleases him, he declared that this cup, which is a created thing, is his body by which he nourishes our bodies. Therefore when the Word of God is pronounced over the mingled cup and broken bread, there is formed a Eucharist of the body and blood of Christ, by which the substance of our flesh is nourished and edified. How is it denied that the flesh is capable of the gift of God who is eternal life, seeing it is nourished by the body and blood of Christ and is his member?—as the apostle says: We are members of his body and of his bones, and so on.
Let the reader attend to the intention of Irenaeus. He is not discussing whether we eat Christ corporeally; he only contends that his flesh and blood become meat and drink to us, so as to infuse spiritual life into our flesh and blood. The whole question cannot be better solved than by attending to the context. There is no communion of the flesh of Christ except a spiritual one, which is both perpetual and given to us independently of the use of the Supper. Heshusius insists that the only way in which we receive the body of Christ is corporeally and internally; there is nothing he can less tolerate than the doctrine that believers are substantially conjoined with Christ. For throughout the whole book he insists on this cardinal thesis, that spiritual eating is nothing but faith, and that the Supper would be an empty show, unless corporeal eating were added precisely at the moment when the bread is introduced into the mouth. This he repeats a hundred times. But what does Irenaeus say? Surely all see that of the communion we enjoy in the Supper, he neither thinks nor speaks differently from Paul, when he says that believers, both in life and in death, are the members of Christ, flesh of his flesh and bone of his bones (Eph. 5:30). To overcome his stupidity, I must speak in still plainer terms. He wishes to prove from the words of Irenaeus, that the body of Christ is received, not only in a spiritual manner, but corporeally by the mouth, and that it is heretical to acknowledge only the spiritual eating of which Christ discourses in the sixth chapter of John, and Paul in the fifth chapter of the Ephesians; because corporeal eating is not rightly disjoined from bread. What does Irenaeus answer? That we are nourished by bread and wine in the sacred Supper, that, as Paul declares, we are members of Christ. There is an end, therefore, to that distinction between corporeal and spiritual eating of which he bragged and boasted as the cardinal point of the whole controversy. Who will believe him when he says that this is sophistry? Irenaeus affirms that the two propositions: This is my body, and: We are the members of Christ, are the same both in degree and quality; whereas this censor of ours exclaims that unless the two be separated, all piety is subverted and God is denied. Indeed he distinctly calls Epicureans those who think that nothing more is conferred in the Supper than to make us one body with Christ.
Our view is not damaged by what is affirmed alike by Tertullian, Hilary and himself: that our flesh is nourished by the flesh of Christ, in hope of eternal life; for they do not refer to such a mode as Heshusius devises. On the contrary, they remove all ambiguity by referring to the perpetual union which we have with Christ and teaching that it is the effect of faith, whereas according to Heshusius corporeal eating is confined to the Supper, and is as different from spiritual eating as earth is from heaven. Hilary says (lib. 8, De Trinitate): As to the reality of the flesh and blood, there is no room left for ambiguity. For now, by the declaration of both our Lord himself and our faith, they are meat indeed and drink indeed; and these received and taken cause us to be in Christ and Christ in us. Is not this reality? He himself then is in us through his flesh, and we are in him, while what we are with him is in God. That we are in him by the sacrament of communicated flesh and blood, he himself declares when he says: "The world now seeth me not, but ye shall see me; because I live, ye shall live also; because I am in the Father, and you in me" (John 14:19 ff.). If he wished unity of will only to be understood, why did he point out a certain degree and order in completing the union? Just because, while he is in the Father by the nature of his divinity, we are in him by his corporeal nativity, and he on the other hand in us by the mystery of the sacraments. Thus perfect union through the Mediator is taught: we remaining in him, he remained in the Father, and remaining in the Father remained in us; and so we advance to unity with the Father, since while he is naturally in the Father according to birth, we are naturally in him, and he remains naturally in us. That there is this natural unity in us, he himself thus declared: "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him" (John 6:56). For none will be in him save those in whom he himself has been, having in himself the assumed flesh of them only who have taken his own. Shortly after he says: This is the cause of our life, that we who are in ourselves carnal have life abiding in us by the flesh of Christ. Although he repeatedly says that we are naturally united to Christ, it is apparent from this short sentence that his only object is to prove that the life of Christ abides in us, because we are one with him.
Irenaeus shows no less clearly that he is speaking of the perpetual union which is spiritual. He says (Bk. 4, ch. 34): Our opinion is congruous with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist confirms our opinion. For we offer to him the things which are his, in consistently proclaiming the communion and union of flesh and spirit. For as that which is earthly bread, on being set apart by God is no longer common bread but a Eucharist consisting of two things, an earthly and a heavenly, so similarly our bodies, receiving the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible but have hope of resurrection. In the fifth book he explains more fully that we are the members of Christ, and united to his flesh because of his Spirit dwelling in us. The reason why Heshusius charges us with the greatest impudence is precisely because we deny that propositions, which perfectly agree with our doctrine, are adverse to it.
If a more familiar exposition is required, Cyril will supply it. For in his third book, explaining our Saviour's discourse contained in the sixth chapter of John, he acknowledges that there is no other eating in the Supper than that by which the body of Christ gives life to us, and which by our participation in it leads us back to incorruption. In his fourth book (ch. 13) he says: Our Lord gave his body for the life of all, and by it again infuses life into us; how he does this I will briefly explain, according to my ability. For when the life-giving Son of God dwelt in the flesh, and was as a whole, so to speak, united to the ineffable whole by means of union, he made the flesh itself vivifying, and hence this flesh vivifies those who partake of it. As he asserts that this takes place both in the Supper and outside the Supper, let Heshusius explain what is meant by "infusing life into us." In the seventeenth chapter he says: Were any one to pour wax on melted wax, the one must become intermingled with the other; so if any one receives the flesh and blood of the Lord, he must be united with him, so that he be found in Christ and Christ in him. In the twenty-fourth chapter he distinctly maintains that the flesh of Christ is made vivifying by the virtue of the Spirit, so that Christ is in us because the Spirit of God dwells in us.
After celebrating vain and ridiculous triumphs over those holy writers, he insolently brags, since he cannot conceal it, of relinquishing Clement of Alexandria, because he is overwhelmed by his authority. He also boasts that he not infrequently acts as our advocate and representative, by enhancing and amplifying to the best of his ability everything advanced by us, that he may know whether there is any force—and so on. If this is true, he must not only be feeble, but altogether unnerved and broken down. Still, if he employed his abilities in judging aright, instead of devoting them entirely to quarrelling and invective, much of the intemperance with which he burns would abate. He certainly would not charge me with maintaining an allegorical eating, while I affirm that allegory is condemned by the words of Christ. But it is right that heaven should strike with such giddiness those whom pertinacious ambition drives into combat, so that they prostitute both modesty and faith.
It is strange that, while censuring Origen so severely that he will not class him among writers worthy of credit, he does not similarly strike out Tertullian. We see with what implacable rage he blazes against all who presume to interpret the words of Christ: This is my body, in any other but their proper and native sense, holding those who do so guilty of a sacrilegious corruption. But when he feels himself challenged by the words of Tertullian, instead of attempting to overwhelm him with violence, he rather tries to escape by flight. Tertullian says: Christ made his own body the bread received and distributed to the disciples, by saying: This is my body, that is, the figure of my body. Now it would not have been the figure, unless it were the body of the reality; for an empty thing, such as a spectre cannot receive a figure. Or if he made the bread his body because it lacked the reality of body, then he must have offered bread for us. But to hold that the bread was crucified would contribute to the vanity of Marcion. Tertullian proves that the bread was the true substance of the flesh of Christ, because it could not be a figure without being the figure of a true substance. Heshusius is dissatisfied with this mode of expression because it seems dangerous; but, as if he had forgotten himself, he admits it, provided there is no deception under it. By deception he means calling the bread the sign or figure of absent flesh. That he may not gloss over the term absence in his usual manner, let the reader remember, as I earlier reminded him, that though Christ in respect of place and actual observation is absent, still believers truly enjoy and are nourished by the present substance of his flesh.
All his quibbles, however, cannot wrest from us the support of Tertullian. For when he says that the bread was made body, the meaning can only be found in the context. To consecrate the blood in wine cannot be equivalent to the expression: to attach the blood to wine; it corresponds to the next sentence, where he says that Christ confirmed the substance of his flesh when he delivered a covenant sealed with his own blood, because it cannot be blood unless it belong to true flesh. No man can doubt that the sealing which was performed on the cross is compared with the consecration by which Christ enters into an eternal covenant with his people. Nor does Heshusius make anything of the other passage, in which he says that our flesh eats the body and blood of Christ, in order that it may be fed on God, in other words come to participation in the Godhead. The sum is that it is absurd and impious to exclude our flesh from the hope of resurrection, seeing that Christ dignifies it with the symbols of spiritual life. Accordingly he ranks in the same class not only Baptism but anointing, the sign of the cross, and the laying on of hands. But with strange stupidity, in order to prove that we do not by faith alone become partakers of the flesh of Christ, Heshusius quotes a passage from a tract on the Lord's Prayer, in which Tertullian says: the petition for daily bread may be understood spiritually, because Christ is our bread, because Christ is our life, because he is the Word of the living God who came down from heaven, and his body is held to be in the bread. Hence he concludes that we seek perpetuity from Christ and individuality from his body. I ask whether, if it had been his intention to play a double game, he could have given better support to our cause? Such is the ground he has for boasting in antiquity.
With similar dexterity he adopts Cyprian as his patron. Cyprian contends that the blood of Christ is not to be denied to believers who are called to the service of Christ and obliged to shed their own blood. What can he prove by this but just that the blood of Christ is given us by the cup as the body is given under the symbol of bread? In another passage, when disputing with the Aquarii he says that the vivifying blood of Christ cannot be regarded as being in the cup if there be wanting the wine by which the blood itself is shown, he clearly confirms our doctrine. For what is meant by the blood being represented by the wine, but just that the wine is a sign or figure of the blood? Shortly after he repeats the same thing, saying that water alone cannot express the blood of Christ, that is designate it. But he says at the same time that the blood is in the cup; as if the idea of local enclosing ever entered the mind of this holy martyr, who is only occupied with the question whether the mystical cup should be mixed with water alone to represent the blood of Christ?
Another passage quoted by Heshusius is this: How dare they give the Eucharist to the profane, that is desecrate the holy body of Christ, seeing it is written: "Whoso eateth or drinketh unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord?" I neither think differently, nor am I wont to speak differently. But by what logic did this good man learn to conclude from these words that the body of Christ is given to the unworthy? Everyone sees that the word giving applies to the Eucharist. Cyprian holds that to admit all indiscriminately is a profanation of the sacred body. This is the occasion for paeans on the part of our Thraso. In another passage Cyprian says that the wicked, who with impious hands intrude into the Supper, invade the body of Christ; and he attacks bitterly the sacrilegious persons who are incensed with priests for not at once receiving the body of the Lord with polluted hands, or drinking his blood with polluted lips; as if it were not known before this that this mode of speaking was common with early writers, or as if I had any objection to the same style, having many years ago quoted the same passage, and another similar to it, from Ambrose. Heshusius does not see the absurdity in which he involves himself; for it will follow that Christ himself is exposed to the licentiousness and violence of the ungodly, since Cyprian there also says that they do violence to his flesh and blood.
Eusebius quotes a passage in which Dionysius of Alexandria denies that it is lawful to initiate by a new Baptism any one who has long been a partaker of the flesh and blood of the Lord and has received the sacred food. From this Heshusius argues that, if he who was baptized by heretics has received the body of Christ, it must be eaten without faith and repentance; as if there were no difference between thoughtlessness or error and real impiety.
He imagined that he was to gain much by adorning with splendid encomiums the ancient writers whose names he falsely obtrudes; but he has only made himself more than ridiculous. With loud mouth he thunders forth their praises, and then, on coming to the point, he is found unsupported by them. Athanasius, he says, is a divine writer worthy of immortal praise. Who denies it? But what of it? Just this, that in stating that Christ was a high-priest by means of his own body, and by the same means delivered a mystery to us, saying: This is my body, and: This is the blood of the New, not of the Old Testament, it is evident that he speaks of the true body and blood in the Supper. We declare it impossible without inexcusable violence to separate the words: The body which is delivered for you, The blood which is shed for the remission of sins; are we then imagining the blood to be unreal? Athanasius then teaches rightly that a mystery has been consecrated for us by the flesh and blood of Christ; nor could anything be said that was better fitted to explain our view. For had not Christ been possessed of true flesh and true blood (the only point there concerned), the consecration of the Supper by which our salvation is placed in them would be vain.
I have already shown how preposterously he puts Hilary up against us. He distinctly treats of a vivifying participation of Christ, which does not demand the external use of the Supper, but maintains perpetual vigour in believers. Heshusius says that he does not dispute this. Of what use then is it for him to twist against us words which have no bearing on the point? Still more absurdly does he say that we are refuted by the single expression: we receive the flesh of Christ under a mystery. As if under a mystery were not just equivalent to sacramentally. This again is said most appositely for the confirmation of our doctrine. But lest any one should think that he errs through folly merely, he also adds, with supreme malice, that according to us divinity alone is given us in the Supper. This is his reason for saying that this one passage should in the judgment of all suffice to settle the controversy.
He betrays himself in the same way in quoting Epiphanius. This writer, discoursing on how man is created in the image of God, says: If it is understood of the body, there cannot be a proper likeness between what is visible and palpable, and the Spirit which is invisible and incomprehensible; whereas, if it refers to the soul, there is a great difference, because the soul, being liable to many weaknesses and defects, does not contain the divinity within itself. He therefore concludes that God, who is incomprehensible, truly performs what he bestows upon men in respect of his image. He afterwards adds: "And how many things are deduced from the like! For we see how our Saviour took the cup into his hands, as it is recorded in the Gospel, how he rose up at the Supper, and took, and after giving thanks said: That is this of mine. But we see that it is not equal to or like either a corporeal shape, or an invisible deity, or bodily members; for it is round and, as to feeling, insensible. He wished by grace to say: That is this of mine; and no man refuses credence to his words. For he who believes not that he is true in what he said, has fallen from grace and from faith." Let the reader attend to the state of the case. Epiphanius contends that, though not at all the same, yet the image of God truly shines in man, just as the bread is truly called body. Hence it is plain that nothing is less accordant with the mind of this writer than the dream of Heshusius, that the bread is truly and corporeally body. He asks why Epiphanius insists on faith in the words of the Supper, if the bread of the Eucharist is not the body. Just because it is only by faith we apprehend that corruptible food is the pledge of eternal life. Meat for the body, says Paul, and the body for meat, but God will destroy both (1 Cor. 6:13). In the bread and wine we seek a spiritual nourishment, to quicken our souls in the hope of a blessed resurrection. We ask Christ that we may be united to him, that he may dwell in us and be one with us. But Epiphanius deals not with the fruit or efficacy of the Supper, but with the substance of the body. How true this is, let the reader judge from his concluding words. Before speaking of the ordinance of the Supper, he says: The figure began with Moses; the figure was opened up by John; but the gift was perfected in Christ. All therefore have what is according to the image, but not according to nature. They have what is according to the image, but they have it not in respect of equality with God. For God is incomprehensible, a Spirit above all spirit, light above all light. He sets limits to things, but does not abandon them. I marvel how Heshusius dares to make mention of faith, while he maintains that the body of Christ is eaten without faith, and bitterly assails us for requiring faith.
He boasts that Basil is on his side, because he applies the terms profane and impious to those who dare with uncleanness of soul to touch the body of Christ, in just the sense in which early writers often say that the body of Christ falls to the earth and is consumed, because they never hesitated to transfer the name of the thing to the symbol.
I acknowledged earlier that Ambrose has spoken in the same way; but in what sense is apparent from his interpretation of the words of Christ. He says: Having been redeemed by the death of Christ, when commemorating this event by eating the flesh and blood which were offered for us, we signify—and so on. Shortly after he says: The covenant was therefore established by blood, because blood is a witness of divine grace, as a type of which we receive the mystical cup of blood. A little later: What is it to be guilty of the body, but just to be punished for the death of the Lord? He accordingly bids us come to the communion with a devout mind, recollecting that reverence is due to him whose body we approach to take. For each ought to consider with himself that it is the Lord whose blood he drinks in a mystery. Heshusius is shameless enough to produce this passage against us, though it supports us as if we had borrowed the expression of our doctrine from it.
Heshusius even opposes us with verse. Because Gregory Nazianzus, indulging in poetic style, says that priests carry in their hands the plasma of the great God, he boldly infers that the bread is properly the body of Christ. My answer, which I am confident will be approved by all men of sense, is simply this, that Gregory meant nothing more than Augustine has expressed somewhat more informally when, speaking of Christ holding forth the bread to his disciples, he says: He bore himself in a manner in his hands. By this expression the difficulty is completely solved. He says (Serm. de Pasch.): Be not impiously deluded when hearing of the blood, and passion, and death of God, but confidently eat the body and drink the blood, if thou desirest life. But Heshusius absurdly twists these words of his to a meaning foreign to them; for he is not there speaking of the mystery of the Supper, but of our Saviour's incarnation and death, though I do not deny that Gregory, in the words eating and drinking, where, however, he is recommending faith, alludes to the Supper.
About Jerome, there is no occasion to say much. Heshusius quotes a passage, in which he says that the bread is the body of Christ. I make him welcome to more. For he writes to Heliodorus that the clergy make the body of Christ. Elsewhere also he says that they distribute his blood to the people (in Malach. ch. 1). The only question is: in what sense does he say this? If we add the clause in a mystery, will not the controversy be at an end, since it is clear that in a mystery and corporeally are antithetical? As Jerome removes all doubt by expressing this exception, what is to be gained by sophistical objection? I admit that in another passage Jerome says that the wicked eat the body of Christ unworthily, but as he adds that they in this way pollute it, why seek for a difficulty where there is none? Unless, indeed, Heshusius will so subject Christ to the licentiousness of the ungodly that they pollute his pure and holy flesh with infection. Yet Jerome openly explains that, where it is impurely handled, the body of Christ is polluted bread. But in another passage Jerome speaks more clearly; for he distinctly denies that the wicked eat the flesh of Christ or drink his blood. So in Hos. ch. 9: The wicked sacrifice many victims and eat the flesh of them, deserting the one sacrifice of Christ, and not eating his flesh, though his flesh is meat to them that believe. Why does Heshusius childishly cavil about a word, when so transparent an explanation of the matter is provided?
The substance of all his sophistical jargon may be formed into a syllogism thus:
Whatever is called the body of Christ is his body in substance and reality;
Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Justin, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and several others, call the bread of the sacred Supper the body of Christ:
Therefore, the bread of the Supper is the body of Christ in substance and reality.
While Heshusius thus confidently extricates himself, I should like to hear his answer to a distinction by which Jerome so completely dissipates and disperses his dream, that his words require to be modified in an opposite direction. He says (Ep. ad Eph., ch. 1): The flesh and blood of Christ is taken in a twofold sense, either spiritual and divine, of which he himself said: My flesh is meat indeed; or the flesh which was crucified, and the blood which was shed by the soldier's spear. I do not suppose, indeed, that Jerome imagined a twofold flesh; yet I believe he points out a spiritual, and therefore different mode of communicating, lest a corporeal eating be invented.
The passage which Heshusius has produced from Chrysostom I will run over briefly. Because that pious teacher enjoins us to approach with faith, that we may not only receive the body when held forth, but much more touch it with a clean heart, this able expositor infers that some receive without faith and with an unclean heart; as if Chrysostom were hinting at the corporeal reception of a substantial body, and not by the term body commending the dignity of the ordinance. What if he elsewhere explains himself, and at the same time clearly unfolds the mind of Paul? He asks (Hom. 27 in 1 Cor.): What is it to be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord? Since it has been shed, he shows that murder was involved not merely sacrifice. As his enemies did not pierce him that they might drink, but that they might shed, so he who communicates unworthily obtains no benefit. Surely even the blind may now see that Chrysostom holds the wicked guilty, not of drinking, but of shedding the blood. With greater folly Heshusius transfers what was said by Chrysostom concerning the spiritual eating of the soul to the stomach and bowels. The words are: The body is set before us, not only that we may touch it, but that we may eat and be filled. Heshusius holds this to be equivalent to saying that it is received into the bowels.
In producing Augustine as an advocate or witness, he reaches the height of impudence. This holy man tells us to receive in the bread that which hung on the cross. According to Heshusius, nothing can be clearer than these words. Doubtless, if only we agreed about the mode of receiving. Thus when he says in his Epistle to Januarius that the order of the Church should be approved, that men go fasting to the sacred table, so that the body of Christ may enter the mouth before any other food, if we add: in a mystery, or: sacramentally, all contention will cease. But Heshusius, absurdly laying hold of an ambiguous term, loses sight of the point in dispute. In his sermon on the words of the apostle, by speaking of a twofold eating, namely a spiritual and a sacramental, he distinctly declares that the wicked who partake of the Supper eat the flesh of Christ. Yes; but, as he elsewhere teaches, sacramentally. Let Heshusius say he will deny that the sun shines at midday, if these passages do not clearly refute our doctrine; I still feel confident that in my answer to Westphal I so completely disposed of his calumnious charges and those of his companions, that even the contentious, who have any remnants of candour, would rather be silent than incur derision by imitating the petulance of Heshusius. He pretends that Augustine asserts the true presence of the body of Christ in the Eucharist, because he says that the body is given in the bread and the blood in the cup, distributed by the hands of the priests, and taken not only by faith but by the mouth also, not only by the pious but also by the wicked. I answer that unless a clear definition is given of the sense in which Augustine uses the term body, Heshusius is acting deceitfully. But where can we find a better expounder than Augustine himself? Besides using the term Eucharist or Sacrament of the body promiscuously in the same passages, he clearly explains his meaning in one where he says that the sacraments, in respect of resemblance, receive the names of the things which they signify, and accordingly that the Sacrament of the body is in a sense the body (Ep. 23 ad Bonif.). Wherefore, as often as Heshusius obtrudes the ambiguous expression, it will be easy to rejoin that Augustine in so speaking did not forget himself, but follows the rule which he prescribes to others (Contra Adimant.). To the same effect, he elsewhere (in Ps. 3) calls the sign of the body a figure. Again he says (in Ps. 33) that Christ in a manner carried himself in his own hands. Or let me be silent, and let Augustine clear himself of the calumny. It is because of resemblance he transfers the name of the thing signified to the external symbol, and accordingly calls the bread the body of Christ, not properly or substantially, as Heshusius pretends, but in a manner of speaking.
The view which the pious writer took of the presence is perfectly apparent from the Epistle to Dardanus, where he says Christ gave immortality to his flesh but did not destroy its nature. We are not to think that in respect of this nature he is everywhere diffused; for we must beware of so elevating the divinity of the man as to destroy the reality of the body. It does not follow that what is in God is everywhere as God. At length he concludes that he who is the only-begotten Son of God and at the same time the Son of Man, is everywhere wholly present as God, and in the temple of God, that is the Church, is as it were the inhabiting God, and is in a certain place in heaven in the manner of a real body. Of the same purport is the following passage (in Joann. ev. Tract. 50): We always have Christ present to us in majesty; in the flesh, he truly said: Me ye have not always. I pass over similar passages in which the holy writer declares how averse he is to the idea of a local presence. Several passages show how wretchedly Heshusius quibbles about his assertion that the body of Christ is eaten by the wicked. First, he opposes the virtue of the Sacrament to the visible Sacrament; he makes an antithesis of eating inwardly and outwardly, of eating with the heart and chewing with the teeth. Were there any invisible eating of the body different from spiritual eating, a threefold division would be required. Shortly after he repeats the same antithesis (in Joann. ev. Tract. 26): It is beyond question that he who does not abide in Christ, and in whom Christ does not abide neither eats his flesh nor drinks his blood spiritually, although he press the Sacrament of the body carnally and visibly with his teeth. If Augustine had approved of the fiction of Heshusius, he would have said: "although he eat the body corporeally." But the pious teacher is always consistent with himself, and here declares nothing different from what he afterwards teaches when he says (in Joann. ev. Tract. 59): The other disciples ate the bread as the Lord, whereas Judas ate the bread of the Lord against the Lord. This is well confirmed by another passage, where he again opposes as things contrary to each other sacramental and true eating of the flesh of Christ. Hence it follows that it is not truly eaten by the wicked. In short, what he understands by the expression sacramental he shows more fully when he declares that good and bad communicate in the signs (Contra Faustum, Bk. 13, ch. 16). He says elsewhere (Serm. 2 de verb. Apost.): Then the body and blood of Christ will be life to all, if what is taken visibly in the Sacrament is in reality spiritually eaten and drunk. If Heshusius objects that the wicked do not eat spiritually, I ask what Augustine means by the reality of which he makes believers only to partake? Moreover, if Augustine thought that the body of Christ is substantially eaten by the wicked, he ought to have represented it as visible, since nothing is attributed to the wicked but a visible taking. If, as Heshusius pretends, one sentence of Augustine is worth more in his estimation than ten prolix harangues of other fathers, any schoolboy must see that he is worse than a blockhead if these striking passages make no impression on him. And certainly when I see myself engaged with such a buffoon, it so displeases me that I am almost ashamed at spending my time in discussing his frivolities.
Having completed this part of the story, he again flies off, and tries to lead us away from the subject. No doubt while he goes up and down gathering invectives like little flowers, he seems to himself a very showy rhetorician; but when I hear his frivolous loquacity, I seem to be listening to a trashy street-crier. He pretends to discern in us the express and special characteristics of heretics: that when we are unable to defend our error we clothe it with deceitful words. But when we come to the point, what deceptions does he discover, or what subterfuges, what frauds, or cavils, or tricks does he detect? I omit the Greek terms of which he would not deprive himself; but he only betrays his ignorance by substituting adjectives for substantives. He admits that I reject metaphors and allegory and have recourse to metonymy, but his deceit is not yet apparent. Next he says that I repudiate the sentiment of those who affirm that to eat the body of Christ is nothing else than to embrace his benefits by faith. It is not true that this distinction yields more smoke than light; it is an apt and significant exposition of the subject. My thesis, that spiritually to eat the flesh of Christ is something greater and more excellent than to believe, he calls a chimera. What answer shall I give to this impudent assertion, but just that he is mentally blind, since he cannot understand what is so plain and obvious? When he represents me as substituting merit and benefit for flesh and blood, and shortly afterwards adds that I acknowledge no other presence in the Supper than that of the deity, my writings, without a word from me, refute the impudent calumny. For not to mention many other passages, after detailed treatment in my Catechism of the whole ordinance, the following passage occurs:
Minister: Have we in the Supper a mere symbol of those benefits you mention, or is their reality exhibited to us there?
Child: Since our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth itself, there can be no doubt but that the promises which he there gives us, he at the same time also implements, adding the reality to the symbol. Therefore I do not doubt but that, as testified by words and signs, he thus also makes us partakers of his substance, by which we are joined in one life with him.
Minister: But how can this be, when Christ's body is in heaven, and we are still pilgrims on earth?
Child: He accomplishes this by the miraculous and secret virtue of his Spirit, for whom it is not difficult to associate things that are otherwise separate by an interval of space.
Moreover, I say in my Institutes (Bk. IV, ch. 17, para. 7): "I am not satisfied with those who, when they would show the mode of communion, teach that we are partakers of the Spirit of Christ, omitting all mention of the flesh and blood; as if it were said to no purpose, 'My flesh is meat indeed'," and so on. This is followed by a lengthy explanation of the subject, and something too had been said on it earlier.
In the Second Book I fancy I had refuted with clarity and care the fiction of Osiander, which he falsely accuses me of following. Osiander imagined that righteousness is conferred on us by the deity of Christ. I showed, on the contrary, that salvation and life are to be sought from the flesh of Christ in which he sanctified himself, and in which he consecrates Baptism and the Supper. It will also be there seen how completely I have disposed of his dream of essential righteousness.
I have got the same return from Heshusius that he made to his preceptor Melanchthon. The laws make false witnesses infamous, and enact severe punishments against calumniators. If to corrupt public records is criminal, even more severely ought the miscreant to be punished who, in one passage, is convicted of three crimes: gross calumny, false testimony, and corruption of written documents. Why he so eagerly assails me with bitter invective I do not know, unless it be that he has no fear of being paid back in kind. I insist on the real thing, which he would by no means wish. I say that although Christ is absent from the earth in respect of the flesh, yet in the Supper we truly feed on his body and blood, and owing to the secret virtue of the Spirit, we enjoy the presence of both. I say that distance of place is no obstacle to prevent the flesh once crucified being given to us for food. Heshusius supposes what is far from being the fact, that I imagine a presence of deity only. But the dispute is about place only: because I will not allow that Christ is enclosed under the bread, swallowed, and passed into the stomach, he alleges that I involve my doctrine in ambiguous expressions. And to pretend some zeal for the piety he never practised, he brings forward Paul's exhortation to retain the form of sound words (2 Tim. 1:13). As if indeed such monstrous doctrines as the following bore any living or true resemblance to the Pauline doctrine, or had any affinity with it: that the bread is properly and corporeally the body of Christ; that the body itself is eaten corporeally by the mouth and passes into us. This worthy imitator of Paul in a very short treatise misinterprets about sixty passages of Scripture so absurdly, as to make it manifest that not one particle of that living representation of which Paul speaks had ever occurred to him.
In vain too, to give greater scope to his petulance, does he oppose the churches of Saxony to us and complain of our unjustly accusing him. For to omit many things which are obvious, I only wish to know whether he and his fellows have not been trying for several years to pluck out the two eyes of Saxony, the schools of Wittenberg and Leipzig. With these two lights extinguished, why, I ask, should he boast the empty name of Saxony? As to the accusation, my answer is that I have no reason to repent having compared with Marcion and the Capernaumites all who maintain the immensity or ubiquity of the flesh of Christ, and insist that he is in several places at the same time. When he compares the two sentences: The bread is the sign of the absent body, and: The body is truly and substantially present and is given under the bread, it is easy to answer that there is a medium between these extremes: the body is indeed given by the external symbol, but has no local position. This is why he exclaims that we are Epicureans and enervated by security. But the more unjustified noise he makes, the more clearly he discloses his temper, feelings, and manners. If God has exposed any man in this age to great and perilous contests, many know that it is I. And while we are still as sheep destined to slaughter, this meek doctor of the gospel exults in mockery over the terrors which press us on every side, as if he envied our quiet. But perhaps this provident man, carefully hoarding up the means of luxury for a whole lifetime, derides us for living from hand to mouth without anxiety, and being content with our humble means. With the same shamelessness he fabricates strange pacts between me and all those whose errors I withstood single-handed, while he was sleeping or feasting. To make it apparent how eagerly he is bent on calumny, having heard of the name of Velsius, which it is well known I assumed and bore at Frankfort, he substitutes the name of Felsius, so that at his will he may make me an associate of the man who was allowed to go about Heidelberg raving, because he dared not engage with such a combatant. With the same candour and modesty he estimates our doctrine by its fruit, saying that it induces contempt of the sacred Supper. Would that he and his companions would come to it with equal reverence! As to setting no value on its use, my Institutes easily refute the charge. I quote the following passage word for word: "What we have hitherto said of this sacrament abundantly shows that it was not instituted to be received once a year, and that perfunctorily, as is now the common custom, but to be in frequent use among all Christians." After mentioning the fruits of it, I proceed thus: "That this was the practice of the Apostolic Church, Luke tells us in the Acts, when he says that believers continued in doctrine, in communion, in the breaking of bread, and so on. Matters were to be so managed that there should be no meeting of the Church without the word, prayers, and the communion of the Supper." After severely condemning this corruption as it deserved by quotations from early writers, I next say: "This custom of requiring men to communicate once a year is most certainly an invention of the devil." Again: "The practice ought to be very different. The table of the Lord ought to be spread in the sacred assembly at least once a week. No one should be compelled, but all should be exhorted and stimulated, and the indolence of the absent reproved. Hence it was not without cause I complained at the outset that it was a device of the devil which intruded the custom of prescribing one day in the year, and left people negligent for all the rest." In face of this, will this dog still bark at me for having cut the nerve of the sweetest consolation, and prevented believers from recognizing that Christ dwells in them?—a subject on which, if he has any right views, he has stolen them from me. But the proof which he has added is enough to show the frantic nature of his attacks, since the very thing which he had detested he now seizes upon as an axiom of faith, that the hypostatic union of the divine and human natures in the person of Christ cannot exist unless the flesh be at the same time in several places. How could he prove more plainly that he has no belief than by thus contradicting himself? This levity and inconstancy suggests intemperateness of brain, or variety of cups.
Still more tedium must be endured, while I make it plain to the reader how acute, faithful, and dexterous he conducts himself in refuting our objections. After deluding the minds of the simple, as jugglers do, he says that among our objections the one which seems most specious is that a true and physical body cannot in substance be in several different places at the same time; that Christ has a true and physical body in which he ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father in a certain definite place until he appear to judge the world; and that therefore this body, which is circumscribed in heaven by a certain space, cannot in its substance be in the Supper. He adds, moreover, that there is no argument in which I place equal confidence. First, how basely he lies in saying that I thus confine the right hand of the Father to a narrow space, is attested by several passages of my writings. But let this be as he will; what is more futile than to frame the question in terms of physical body? since often before this I have declared that in this matter I pay no regard to physical arguments, nor insist on the opinions of philosophers, but acquiesce in the testimony of Scripture alone. It is plain from Scripture that the body of Christ is finite, and has its own dimensions. Geometry did not teach us this; but we will not allow what the Holy Spirit taught by the apostles to be wrested from us. Heshusius foolishly and with manifest inconsistency objects that Christ sits in both natures at the right hand of the Father. We do not deny that Christ, whole and entire, in the person of the Mediator, fills heaven and earth. I say whole, not wholly, because it would be absurd to apply this to his flesh. The hypostatic union of the two natures is not equivalent to a communication of the immensity of the Godhead to the flesh, since the properties of both natures are perfectly congruous with unity of person. He rejoins that sitting at the right hand of the Father is, according to the testimony of Paul, to be understood of eternal and divine majesty and equal power. And what do I say? More than twelve years ago, my exposition quoting the very words of Paul was published throughout the world, and runs thus (Comm. in Eph. 1.20): "This passage, if any, shows plainly what is meant by the right hand of God, namely not a place, but the power which the Father has bestowed upon Christ to administer the government of heaven and earth. For seeing that the right hand of God fills heaven and earth, it follows that the rule and also the virtue of Christ are everywhere diffused. Hence it is an error to try to prove that Christ, because of his sitting at the right hand of God, is only in heaven. It is indeed most true that the humanity of Christ is in heaven and is not on the earth, but the other proof does not hold. For the words in heavenly places immediately following, are not meant to confine the right hand of God to heaven," and so on.
He boldly persists in his impudence and, adding another passage from the same Epistle, pretends that it is adverse to me. But my exposition is in the hands of the public. I insert here the substance of it (ibid. ad 4.10): Since to fill often means to perform, it may be so taken here. For Christ by his ascension to heaven entered into possession of the dominion given him by the Father, that he might rule all things by his power. The meaning, however, will in my judgment be more correct, if the two things, which though contrary in appearance agree in reality, be joined together. For when we hear of the ascension of Christ, the idea which immediately rises in our minds is that he is far removed from us. So indeed he is in respect of his body and human presence. Paul, however, reminds us that, though withdrawn in respect of bodily presence, he yet fills all things, namely by the virtue of his Spirit. For wherever the right hand of God which embraces heaven and earth appears, there the spiritual presence of Christ is diffused, and Christ himself is present by his boundless virtue, though his body must be contained in heaven, according to the declaration of Peter (Acts 3:21). Should any one ask whether the body of Christ is infinite like the Godhead, he answers that it is not; because the body of Christ, his humanity considered in itself, is not in stones, and seeds, and plants. What is meant by this clause or exception, but just that the body of Christ naturally, when his humanity is considered by itself, is not infinite, but is so in respect of the hypostatic union? But the ancient writers, when they say that the flesh of Christ, in order to be vivifying, borrows from his divine Spirit, say not a word about this immensity, because nothing so monstrous ever entered their mind. While Heshusius admits that this is a difficulty which he cannot explain, he escapes by representing things quite unlike as like. How the simple essence of God consists of three persons; how the Creator and the creature are one person; how the dead, who a thousand years ago were reduced to nothing, are to rise again, he says he cannot comprehend. But it is enough for him that the two natures are hypostatically united in Christ and cannot be dissevered; nor can it be piously thought that the person of the Logos is outside the body of Christ.
While I willingly grant all this, I wonder whence he draws the inference that the obscurity in the sacred Supper is the same. For who that is moderately familiar with Scripture does not know what sacramental union is and in what it consists? Moreover, as local presence cannot exist without ubiquity, he attacks my declaration that the body of Christ is in the pious by the virtue of the Spirit. This he does not do in precise terms. He rather acknowledges that it is perfectly true, and yet he insists that the human nature of Christ is not less everywhere, or in several places, than his divine nature. I here ask, seeing that the habitation of Christ in believers is perpetual, why he denies that he dwells bodily outside the use of the Supper? It seems to me a certain inference that, if it is illegitimate to dissever the flesh of Christ from his divinity, wherever the divinity dwells the flesh also dwells corporeally. But the deity of Christ always dwells in believers, in life as well as in death; therefore so also the flesh. Let Heshusius, if he can, reckon with this syllogism, and I will easily explain the rest.
I again repeat: As the divine majesty and essence of Christ fills heaven and earth, and this is extended to the flesh; therefore, independently of the use of the Supper, the flesh of Christ dwells essentially in believers, because they possess the presence of his deity. Let him cry that those who do not attribute the same qualities to both natures dissever the indivisible person of Christ. This being established, it will follow that the substance of the flesh is no more found under the bread than in the mere virtue of faith. I may add that he declares his assent to Cyril, who contends that by the communion of the flesh and blood of Christ we become one with him, while Heshusius uniformly maintains that the wicked by no means become one with Christ, though they are corporeally compounded with him; and bringing together two passages from Paul, concludes that the presence of Christ, on which alone he insists, is not inactive There is still more ridiculous fatuity in what follows. For from a passage in which Paul affirms that Christ speaks in him, he infers that Christ is dismembered if we imagine him to speak by his divinity alone, to the exclusion of his flesh. This being granted, might I not justly infer that Christ was not less corporeally in Paul when he was writing than when he received the bread of the Supper?
I have therefore gained all I wished, that we become substantially partakers of the flesh of Christ not by an external sign but by the simple faith of the gospel. His quibbling objection, that the flesh is excluded from the Supper and from all divine acts when we teach that it is contained in heaven, is easily disposed of, since local absence does not exclude the mystical and incomprehensible operation of the flesh. Heshusius is under a very absurd hallucination when he fancies that location in a place implies exclusion, unless the body be enclosed under the bread. But, he says, the Spirit is not without the Son, and therefore not without the flesh. I in my turn retort that the Son is not without the Spirit, and that therefore the dead body of Christ by no means passes into the stomach of the reprobate. From this let the reader judge where the absurdity lies. Indeed, in order to drag the body of Christ under earthly elements, he is forced to ascribe an immensity to the bodies of all believers, and exercises his wit on us, saying that, if each retain his own dimensions, those who sit nearest to Christ after the resurrection will be the happiest. Resting satisfied with the reply of Christ, we wait for that day when our heavenly Father will give each his proper station. Meanwhile we execrate the delirium of Servetus, which Heshusius again puts forward.
His conclusion is: If the boundless wisdom and power of God is not limited by physical laws; if the right hand of God does not mean some small place in heaven, but equal glory with the Father; if the human nature of Christ, by being united to the Logos, has sublime prerogatives, and some properties common to the divine essence; if Christ, not only in respect of the Spirit, but inasmuch as he is God and man, dwells in the breasts of believers, then by the ascension of Christ into heaven his presence in the Eucharist is secured and firmly established. I, on the other hand, rejoin: If our dispute is not philosophical, and we do not subject Christ to physical laws, but reverently show from passages of Scripture what is the nature and property of his flesh, it is futile for Heshusius to gather from false principles whatever pleases him. Again I argue: If it is plain, as I have most clearly demonstrated, that whatever he has produced as adverse to me concerning the right hand of God, is borrowed from my writings, he is proved to be a wicked calumniator. When he says that certain properties are common to the flesh of Christ and to the Godhead, I call for a demonstration which he has not yet attempted. Finally, I conclude: If Christ in respect of both natures dwells naturally or substantially in believers, there is no other eating in the Supper than that which is received by faith without a symbol. He at last says in a cursory way that all our objections regarding the departure of Christ are easily solved, because they ought to be understood not of absence of person but only of the mode of absence, namely, that we have him present not visibly but invisibly. The solution is indeed trite, being not unknown even to some old wives in the papacy; and yet it is a solution which escaped Augustine, on the admission of Heshusius himself the chief, and best, and most faithful of ancient teachers. For in expounding that passage, he says (in Joann. ev. Tract. 50): In respect of his majesty, his providence, and his ineffable and invisible grace, is fulfilled what he said: I am with you always; but in respect of the flesh which the Word assumed, in respect of his being born of the Virgin, of his being apprehended by the Jews, fixed to the tree, laid in the sepulchre, and manifested in the resurrection, ye shall not have me with you always. Why? After he was familiarly present with the disciples in respect of his body for forty days, they retire, seeing but not following, while he ascended into heaven, and is here no more. He sits then at the right hand of the Father, and yet he is here; for the presence of his majesty has not retired. Or otherwise said: In respect of the presence of his majesty we have Christ always: in respect of the presence of his flesh, it was truly said to the disciples: Me ye shall not have always (Matt. 26:11).
With what modesty, moreover, Heshusius says that I prove the eating of the flesh of Christ to be useless from the words of Christ: The flesh profiteth nothing (John 6:63). While I keep silence, let my Commentary speak, in which I expressly say: Nor is it correct to say that the flesh of Christ profits, inasmuch as it was crucified, but the eating of it gives us nothing; we should rather say that it is necessary to eat it that we may profit from its having been crucified. Augustine thinks that we ought to supply the words alone, and by itself, because it ought to be conjoined with the Spirit. This is congruous with fact; for Christ has respect simply to the mode of eating. He does not therefore exclude every kind of usefulness, as if none could be derived from his flesh; he only declares that it will be useless if it is separated from the Spirit. How then has flesh the power of vivifying, except by being spiritual? Whoever therefore stops short at the earthly nature of flesh will find nothing in it but what is dead; but those who raise their eyes to the virtue of the Spirit with which the flesh is pervaded, will learn by the effect and experience of faith that it is not without good cause said to be vivifying. The reader may there find more if he wishes. See why this Thraso calls upon the Calvinists to say whether the flesh of the Son of God be useless. But why do you not rather call upon yourself, and awake at last from your dullness?
Our third offence according to him is: The peculiar property of all the sacraments is to be signs and pledges testifying something; and therefore in the Supper it is not the body of Christ, but only the symbol of an absent body that is given. Caesar, boasting of the rapidity of an eastern victory, is said to have written: Vidi, Vici. But our Thraso boasts of having conquered by keeping his eyes shut. In our Consensus, it is twice or thrice distinctly stated that, since the testimonies and seals which the Lord has given us of his grace are true, he without doubt inwardly performs what the sacraments figure to the eyes, and in them accordingly we possess Christ, and spiritually receive him with his gifts; indeed he is certainly offered in common to all, unbelievers as well as believers. As much as the exhibition of the reality differs from a bare and empty figure, Heshusius differs from our opinion, when he pretends to extract from our writings falsehoods of his own devising. Hence as he is sole author of the silly quibble which he falsely attributes to us, I declare that he argues ill; and as what he says of the absence of the body is cobbled30 by his own brain, though he is a bad cobbler, the best thing is to send him to his shoes30 with his feeble witticisms. Meanwhile I would have my readers remember what was earlier said of a twofold absence. From this it will be plain that things which are absent in respect of place and of the eye are not therefore far remote. These two kinds of absence Heshusius, from ignorance or malice, wrongly confuses. It is at the same time worthwhile to observe how admirably he elicits the presence of Christ from the passage in which Peter calls Baptism the "answer of a good conscience" (1 Pet. 3:21), though the apostle there expressly distinguishes between the external symbol of Baptism and the reality, saying that our Baptism is similar to the ancient figure—not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the examination of a good conscience by the resurrection of Christ.
There follows his fourth objection to us. The sacraments of the New Testament, Baptism and the Supper, are of the same nature, and entirely agree with each other. Therefore as in Baptism the water is not called the Holy Spirit except by a metaphor, so neither can the bread of the Supper be called the body of Christ, except allegorically, or, according to Calvin, by metonymy. Our method of arguing will shortly be seen. Meanwhile let the reader observe that Heshusius has again fabricated expressions which may furnish material for a shadow fight. Accordingly the "entirely agree" which he refutes is altogether his own; we have nothing to do with it. Hence I could easily allow him to shadow-fight with his own nursery rhymes, provided he would cease from deluding the simple.
I come now to our argument. Since Scripture plainly declares (Gal. 3:27) that we put on Christ in Baptism and are washed by his blood, we observe that there is no reason why he should be said to be present more in the Supper than in Baptism. The resemblance therefore lies not in their being both sacraments of the New Testament, but in this, that Baptism requires the presence of Christ not less than the Supper. There is another reason. As they boldly rejected whatever was produced from the Old Testament, we showed that there was no room for this evasion in Baptism. It is plain that they tried to escape by a subterfuge, when they objected that there were only shadows under the law. The distinction was not unknown to us, nor was it destroyed by our doctrine; but the matter itself forced us to show from the constant usage of Scripture what was the force of sacramental forms of speech. But since their perverseness could not be overcome in any other way than by leaving the law out of account, and showing to these new Manichees that in Baptism and the Supper, since they are sacraments of the New Testament, an analogy was to be observed, we clearly demonstrated, as was easy to do, that Baptism is called the washing of regeneration and renewal in no other sense than that in which Christ called the bread his body. I do not state all that the reader will find in my Last Admonition to Westphal, as at present it is sufficient to have pointed out the objections which Heshusius removes. Yet I ought not to omit that, though he had read in the twenty-third article against the objectors of Magdeburg, what should have been more than sufficient to refute all his subtleties, he turns it over, like a swine with its snout, as if nothing had ever been written.
Next comes the fifth objection, in which he introduces us as speaking thus: In the phrase: This is my body, we must resort to a figurative manner of speech, just as the phrases: Circumcision is a Covenant, the Lamb is a Passover, the Rock was Christ, cannot be explained without the help of trope, metaphor, or metonymy. Perhaps this seems agreeable chatter to his boon companions, but all men of sense and piety must regard him as a falsifier, since such trifling is not to be found in our writings. We simply say that, in considering the sacraments, a certain and peculiar mode of speech is to be observed in accordance with the perpetual usage of Scripture. Here we escape by no evasion or figurative help; we only produce what is familiar to all but minds so brutish that they darken the sun. I acknowledge our principle, then, to be that in Scripture there is a form of expression common to all the sacraments; and, though each sacrament has something peculiar to itself distinct from the others, yet in all there operates a metonymy, which transfers the name of the thing signified to the sign. Let Heshusius now answer. His words are: It is not easy to admit that there is a figure of speech in the words: The Rock was Christ. Still he is obliging enough to grant us this. Here the reader will observe how grudging his willingness is. But how can he deny that the Rock is figuratively called Christ? Is this all his great generosity, to concede to us that Christ, strictly speaking, was not the stone from which the water in the wilderness flowed? He goes farther and denies that it follows from this that all the articles of faith are to be explained metaphorically. But the question concerned the sacraments. Let the pious and diligent reader turn over the whole of Scripture, and he will find that what we say of the sacraments always holds: the name of the thing signified is given to the sign. This is what is called by grammarians a figure of speech; nor will theologians when they express themselves invert the order of nature. With what propriety Heshusius flies away from Baptism and the Supper to all the articles of faith, I leave others to judge; every one must see, that like an unruly steed, he overrides the mark. His answer, that individual examples do not form a general rule, effects nothing, because we produce no single example, but adhere to a rule which is common to all the sacraments and which he endeavours in vain to overturn.
He is no more successful in extricating himself from the other difficulty. We say with Augustine that when a manifest absurdity occurs, there is a trope or figure in the expression. He answers that in the judgment of reason nothing is more absurd than that there should be three hypostases in the one essence of God, and yet no figurative remedy be required; as if it were our intention or Augustine's to measure absurdity by our carnal sense. On the contrary, we declare that we reverently embrace what human reason repudiates. We flee only from absurdities abhorrent to piety and faith. To give a literal meaning to the words: This is my body, we deny to be an analogy of faith, and at the same time we maintain that it is remote from the common usage of Scripture wherever sacraments are mentioned. When Heshusius says that this opinion of ours is refuted by the name of New Testament, it is with no greater reason than if he were to deny that the Holy Spirit is termed a dove by metonymy. He falsely and frivolously says that insult is offered to Paul, as if we were rejecting his explanation: The bread is the communion of the body; whereas this communion is nowhere more fully illustrated than in our writings.
The rules of rhetoricians adduced by him show that he has never mastered the rudiments of any liberal study. But not to make myself ridiculous by imitating his foolishness, I give the only answer becoming to a theologian: that although a figurative expression is less distinct, it expresses with greater significance and elegance what, said simply and without figure, would have less force and address. Hence figures are called the eyes of speech, not that they explain the matter more easily than simple ordinary language, but because they win attention by their propriety, and arouse the mind by their lustre, and by their lively similitude so represent what is said that it enters more effectively into the heart. I ask Heshusius whether in our Saviour's discourse in the sixth chapter of John there is no figure? Surely, whether he will or not, he will be forced to confess that it is metaphorically said: Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of God, and drink his blood. But everyone sees more clearly what our Saviour meant to express: that our souls, by spiritual partaking of his flesh and blood, are nourished into heavenly life. He makes it a ground of loud triumph over me, that when I saw the grosser deceits of others exposed by the judgment of Luther, I cunningly carved out a metaphor which, however, is not at all consistent. He indeed admits the truth of what I teach: that the sign is aptly expressed by the name of the thing signified; but he holds that distinct things are here joined by a marvellous mode of expression. I hear what he would say; but by what authority does he prove it? He not only despises us, but rejects the interpretation of Brenz as confidently as he does ours.
Now then, although he may persuade himself that, like another Pythagoras, he is to be believed on his own assertion, in what way does he hold the body of Christ to be one with the bread? He answers: in the same way as the Holy Spirit was a flame resting on the heads of the Apostles, and a dove which appeared to the Baptist. He means, then, that in an unaccustomed manner tongues of fire were the Spirit, and a dove was the Spirit. What need is there here for long discussion, as if the reader could not easily judge for himself which of the two is more consistent: that the name of the thing should be applied to the sign, or that the sign should be, strictly speaking, the very thing? The dove, under which form the Holy Spirit appeared, immediately vanished; but as it was a sure symbol of the presence of the Spirit, we say that the name of the Spirit was correctly and aptly applied to it. This is displeasing to Heshusius, who denies that this metonymy is applicable, however it be twisted. It is now no wonder that he is so much in love with all kinds of absurdity, and hugs them as if they were his children; he seems to be carried away by some prodigious fondness for paradox, so that he approves only the absurd. Meanwhile, I accept what he grants, that the bread of the Eucharist is called the body of Christ for the same reason for which the dove is called the Spirit. I do not at all doubt that in the latter expression all will at once agree and assent that there is metonymy. When, to defend his pride, he glories in mere ignorance, he merits Paul's answer: He that is ignorant, let him be ignorant.
If he feels that aversion, by which, according to Juvenal (Sat. 7.154),
Occidit miseros crambe repetita magistros,
why in his sixth objection does he of his own accord inflict misery on himself, not only by useless repetition, but also by vain fiction? He pretends we argue thus, though nothing of the kind ever entered our mind: Were the presence of Christ in the Supper corporeal, the wicked would, equally with believers, be partakers of the body of Christ. This inference which Heshusius draws, I reject as absurd. Hence it is evident what kind of wrestling he practises. But doubtless he was unwilling to lose a verse of Menander, which, earlier, when tediously talking about this article, he had forgotten to insert. I think I have clearly demonstrated what a worthless deceit he makes of the immensity of God, so as to separate Christ from his Spirit. God, he says, fills all things, and yet does not sanctify all things by his Spirit. But the reason is that God does not work everywhere as Redeemer. The case is different with Christ, who, in his character as Mediator, never appears without the Spirit of sanctification. For this reason, wherever he is, there is life. Therefore, not to wander in vain beyond our limits, let Heshusius show that Christ, as born of the Virgin to be the Redeemer of the world, is devoid of the Spirit of regeneration.
In the seventh objection he makes it plain how truly I said that those who enclose the body of Christ in the bread and his blood in the cup, cannot by any evasion escape dissevering the one from the other. For seeing no means of flight, he breaks out into invective and calls me an Epicurean. It is of no consequence to observe what kind of pupils his own school has produced. It is certain that the pigsty of Epicurus does not send forth men who boldly offer their lives in sacrifice, that they may confirm the ordinance of the Supper by their own blood. Six hundred martyrs will stand before God to plead in defence of my doctrine. For the same cause three hundred thousand men are this day in peril. Heshusius and his fellows will one day feel how intolerable, before the tribunal of God and in presence of all the angels, is the sacrilege not only of fiercely mangling the living servants of God, whose piety appears beyond any doubt in their pious labours, watchings, and wrestlings, but also of dishonouring innocent blood, sacred to God, by cruelly assailing the dead. This is my brief answer to his reproaches.
As to the subject, let him at last give his own answer. He says that, without sundering, the flesh of Christ is eaten in the bread and his blood drunk in the wine, but that the mode in which this is done is unknown to him. In other words, while involving himself in the most manifest contradictions, he will not allow them to be examined. But I press him more closely. As Christ does not say of the bread: This I am, but calls it his body, and separately offers the blood in the cup, it follows that the blood must be separated from the body. It is a feeble sophism of the papists, that by concomitance the body is in the cup and the blood in the bread. Distinct symbols were not used without cause, when he gave his flesh for meat and his blood for drink. If the same thing is given by both symbols, then substantially the bread is blood and the wine is body; and the bread as well as the cup will each be the whole Christ twice over. But if it was the purpose of Christ to feed his believers separately on spiritual meat and drink, it follows that there is neither flesh in the bread nor blood in the wine, but that by these symbols our minds are to be lifted up, that by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ we may enjoy solid nourishment, and yet not sunder Christ. Though, to darken this light, Heshusius boldly deprecates under the name of philosophy a doctrine derived from pure theology, he gains no more than to make his obstinacy and arrogance detestable to all men of sense and moderation.
The eighth objection, concerning the worship of the bread, though not honestly stated, he solves feebly and foolishly. He maintains that the bread is not to be worshipped, because it is not the body of Christ by hypostatic union. Surely Philip Melanchthon was not so ignorant of things and words as not to perceive this distinction. Yet he saw the point, that if the bread is the body, it is to be worshipped without any reservation. Indeed I have already shown that, granting to Heshusius that his error does not lead to the bread being worshipped, yet he cannot evade the charge of reverencing35 it, because he cannot deny that Christ is to be worshipped in the bread or under the bread. It is certain that wherever Christ is he cannot be lawfully defrauded of his honour and worship. What then is more preposterous than to locate him in the bread and then refuse to worship him? Why do they fall on their knees before the bread? If such gross superstition be excusable, the prophets did Gentiles grievous wrong when they said that they worshipped gold, silver, wood, and stones. All infidels thought that they venerated the celestial majesty when they supplicated statues and images. They had no hypostatic union but only a resemblance; and though they attached the power of God to images, yet they would never have ventured to assert that a piece of wood was substantially God. Are we to suppose that those who shamelessly affirm the same thing of the bread are not worshippers of the bread?
His next sentence clearly shows how reverently he regards the boundless essence of God. If it is so, he says, let us worship wood and stones in which the true essence of God is. For although God fills heaven and earth and his essence is everywhere diffused, yet piety is shocked by the perverse fiction which Heshusius appends and by his profane language. The Spirit of God, he says, dwelt in Elias; why did not the followers of Elias worship him? But what resemblance is there between all the forms of divine presence of which Scripture speaks, and this for which Heshusius contends? He is not entitled proudly to despise objections from which he extricates himself so unsuccessfully.
It is strange also why he restricts the arguments which overthrow his error to so small a number. He is not ignorant that the objectors of Magdeburg put forward fifty-nine. Why then is no mention made of the greater part of them? Just because he would not refer to difficulties which he could not solve without disgracing himself, and, seeing how the others had been handled, the best course seemed to be to dissemble.
Though at greater length than I expected, I am not sorry to have discussed the nursery rhymes of a man both wicked and foolish, if modest and worthy readers derive the profit I hope from my labour. It was for their sakes I submitted to the weary task; the slanderer himself deserved no answer. That the whole world may in future know more certainly with what title unruly men so violently assail our doctrine, with what truth they charge us with equivocation and deception, with what civility they load us with words of contempt, it has seemed proper to append a brief summary of my doctrine. Perhaps this right and true and at the same time lucid exposition may have the effect of appeasing some individuals. At all events, I am confident that it will fully satisfy all the sincere servants of God, since nothing has been omitted in it which the dignity and reverence due to this mystery demands. The paltry censures by which Heshusius has tried to excite hatred or suspicion of my writings, I neither consider nor labour to refute. Rather I regard it as advantageous that there should exist a notable example of the depravity and malevolence with which he is saturated, the obtuse pride and insolent audacity with which he is inflated. I do not now question his right to assume the office of censor against me. It is enough for me that, while I am silent, all sensible and moderate men will recognize the savage hangman under the character of the censor. So foully does he adulterate, corrupt, wrest, garble, dismember, and subvert everything. Had he anything like candour or docility, I would clear myself from his calumnies; but as he is like an untamed bull I leave it to Beza to tame the insolence in which he too much exults.