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Saviour declares it to be altogether as dangerous to omit the drinking of his blood as the eating of his flesh;" and the correctness of the conclusion he draws as to the necessity of the cup, would be undeniable if the eucharist were the direct subject of the chapter. But that the divines of the council would allow this conclusion is quite another matter. The inference drawn from the indifferent use of the phrases eating the flesh and drinking the blood, and from the former alone, namely, that this comprehends the other, shows that they would not; and it is plain that the presiding cardinal expressly denies it. The result is irresistible, that the leading theologians of the Church of Rome, at that period, knew well that they could not claim a consent of fathers for the sacramental interpretation of John sixth.
A calm and candid attention to these particulars in the history of the interpretation of this chapter, and also in that of the Council of Trent, could not fail to be instructive to certain theologians, who, after assuming a consent of fathers in behalf of some favorite exposition, whereon some equally favorite dogma is thought to be sustained, ring the changes on their no less favorite, but no less ideal, catholicity. We limit the term ideal to that spurious catholicity which takes it for granted, that there is a regular, uniform stream of concurrent exposition running down from the apostolic times to the middle ages. A catholicity in the great and leading doctrines of the gospel, and in the facts and institutions which serve to develop and prove them, we delight to recognize and avow. It brings out the church of Christ as the glorious witness of God's truth, “the pillar and ground” of the faith, against which “ the gates of hell shall not prevail.” It sets up the standard for the nations,” and thus publicly calls thein to flock to the banner of that mighty Conqueror whose "rest shall be glorious." It kindles on the shore of the ever-troubled ocean of mistiness and doubt that lofty beaconlight, which, supplied with the holy oil of the sanctuary, shall never go out, but burn, and flame, and blaze, in its own celestial splendor, until its divine warmth and illumination shall have dissipated error, and it shall have animated and attracted to itself all the tempesttossed and perishing. But it is plain to every considerate person, that this catholicity must in the very nature of things be general. With the present constitution of the human mind, and the necessary diversity of education and circumstances, it would require a constant miracle to be otherwise. And a patient examination of authorities will show any one who will take the trouble to look for himself, that what à priori might be expected, is the real historical truth. On innumerable passages of the Bible the interpretations
of the fathers vary as much as those of modern times. Indeed, among the several instructive results of a careful study of the fathers, we consider it not the least, that it shows a wide diversity of opinion on many topics, highly important though not essential to the gospel scheme, to have been allowed to prevail without disturbing the harmony of the church. Herein we plainly see the true principle of toleration; and in this view, as well as in some others, the boasting self-sufficiency of the nineteenth century may profitably take a lesson from the modesty of the first three.
It is idle to talk of a universal consent of the church in the interpretation of Scripture, any further than in a general and popular way, so as to comprehend merely fundamental doctrines. “I see plainly and with mine own eyes," says the immortal Chillingworth, " that there are popes against popes, councils against councils, some fathers against others, the same fathers against themselves, a consent of fathers of one age against a consent of fathers of another age, the church of one age against the church of another age."* This is no mere flourish of rhetoric. It is the result of longcontinued and patient investigation, the solitary labor of which, the busy, bustling, go-ahead divines of the present day have no adequate conception of. It may be ridiculed; that needs neither knowledge nor study: it may be sneered at; that requires only impudence : it may be denied; that calls for nothing but hardihood. But to prove its untruth, -ah! hic labor, hoc opus est; and this we are well assured is too sudorific an exercise to be undertaken.
In truth, however the extpápara deodóya may talk about this matter, the thoughtful, serious, well-trained theologian, of whatever creed, will hardly deny the correctness of our position. Ex uno disce omnes. Even Moehler, who has contrived to throw a sort of charm over several of the errors of Popery, and, thus attired, to exhibit them in favorabie contrast with his caricature delineation of Protestantism, is candid enough to acknowledge, that Catholic interpretation does not extend beyond general topics. “The interpretation of the church does not descend to the details which must claim the attention of the scientific exegetist. Thus, for example, it does not hold it for a duty, nor include it in the compass of its rights, to determine when, by whom, and for what object the Book of Job was written, or what particular inducement engaged St.
Religion of Protestants a Safe Way to Salvation, chap. vi, sec. 56. Works, ninth ed. Lon. fol. 1727, p. 271.
† The translator might have employed the simple word expositor.
John to publish his Gospel, or the apostle Paul to address an Episile to the Romans. As little doth the church explain particular words and verses, their bearings one on the other, or the connection existing between larger portions of a sacred book. In short, the domain of her interpretation extends only to doctrines of faith and morals.”_"Whoever takes the pains to study the writings of the holy fathers, may without much penetration discover, that while agreeing perfectly on all ecclesiastical dogmas,(!)* they yet expatiate most variously on the doctrines of Christian faith and morality. The mode and form most strikingly evince the individuality of each writer.” “Except in the explanation of a very few classical passages,t we know not where we shall meet with a general uniformity of Scriptural interpretation among the fathers, further than that ALL DEDUCE FROM THE SACRED WRITINGS the same doctrines of faith and morality. More extensive philological acquirements, and the more abundant aids of every kind which modern times furnish, enable us, without in the least degree deviating from the unanimous interpretation of the fathers, to explain many things in a better and more solid manner than they did."I Better and in a more solid manner: no intelligent reader will entertain the least doubt of this.
After quotations from the primitive tomes, the essayist proceeds to present a splendid array of more modern authorities in favor of the anti-sacramental interpretation. Among which, not to mention the German reformers, stand the names of Whitby, Hammond, Beveridge, and even of some eminent critics in the Papal communion itself, as Erasmus, James Capel, and Cameron. We must pass them all by, however, and content ourselves with a small portion of that which he has produced from the writings of Archbishop Cranmer; "to which great and good man few divines of any age are comparable for acquaintance with patristical and scholastic theology, as well as for careful study of the Scriptures themselves, and whose representations of the views of the early writers of the church, therefore, merit very particular attention."
For example, Dr. Moehler, that of the true time of keeping Easter, the “perfect agreement” in which is illustrated by the controversy in the second century between Victor of Rome and the eastern bishops ; also, on the validity of heretical baptism, which gave rise to the disputes between Stephen of Rome and St. Cyprian of Carthage in the third!!
† That is, such as have a direct bearing on the subject to be proved or illustrated.
Symbolism, by JOHN ADAM MOEHLER, D.D., New York, 1844, pp. 367, 369, 372, 373.
In arguing against Dr. Richard Smyth, who alledged the sixth of John in defense of transubstantiation, Cranmer says :
“ There can be nothing more manifest than that, in this place, Christ spake not of the sacrament of his flesh, but of his very flesh. And that, as well for that the sacrament was not yet instituted, as also that Christ said not in the future tense, “The bread which I will give shall be my flesh,' but in the present tense, • The bread which I will give is my desh;' which sacramental bread was neither then his flesh, nor was then instituted for a sacrament, nor was asterward given to death for the life of the world.
“But as Christ, when he said unto the woman of Samaria, 'The water which I will give shall spring into everlasting life,' he meant it neither of material water nor of the accidents of water, but of the Holy Ghost, which is the heavenly fountain that springeth unto ever
, lasting life; so likewise, when he said, “The bread which I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world,' he meant it neither of the material bread, neither of the accidents of bread, but of his own flesh; which, although of itself it availeth nothing, yet being in unity of person joined to his divinity, it is the same heavenly bread which he gave to death upon the cross for the life of the world.”
“ But your understanding of the sixth chapter of John is such as was never uttered of any man before your time, and as declareth you to be utterly ignorant of God's mysteries. For who ever said or taught before this time, that the sacrament was the cause why Christ said, If we eat not the flesh of the Son of man, we have no life in us? The spiritual eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood by faith, by digesting his death in our minds as our only price, and ransom, and redemption from eternal damnation, is the cause wherefore Christ said, that if we eat not his flesh and drink not his blood, we have no life in us; and if we eat his flesh and drink his blood, we have everlasting life. And if Christ had never ordained this sacrament, yet should we have eaten his flesh and drunken his blood, and have had thereby everlasting life, as all the faithful did before it was ordained, and do daily when they receive not the sacrament. And so did the holy men that wandered in the wilderness, and in all their lifetime very seldom received the sacrament, and many holy martyrs, either exiled or kept in prison, did daily feed of the food of Christ's body, and drank daily the blood which sprang out of his side, (or else they could not have had everlasting life, as Christ himself said in the Gospel of St. John,) and yet they were not suffered, with other Christian people, to have the use of the sacrament.”—
R.C. Pitinane Art. III.-A Drama of Exile: and other Poems. By ELIZABETH
B. BARRETT. 2 vols. New-York: Henry G. Langley. 1845.
THERE are many who regard the chief end of poetry to be amusement or recreation. They think it well enough, in the intermissions of life's toil, to spend a few leisure moments in listening to the soft melody and the harmonious numbers of the poet's song. Now this is a most false and lamentably low estimate of the design and use of poetry. It is true, there are songs of a nature peculiarly fitted for the hour of the soul's repose from action; such as have magic power
“To quiet the restless pulse of care." But poetry has a higher object than this. It is the language of the soul's loftiest aspirations and its deepest feelings. It has power to nerve the warrior's heart to action in the great moral, as of old it did in the physical, strife; to support us when the agony of suffering is heaviest, and to cheer and elevate our spirits when life's mysteries envelop us in their darkest gloom. Nor is its ideal false. We all need that heart-faith in the ideal to which poetry lends strong aid. Every pure ideal of the soul is but a more distant real. Our brightest imaginings of it cannot deceive us. If earth never realizes what it calls our dreams, yet shall they all have a sure fulfillment in that better land, the extent of whose glories “it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive.” No: the imagination is not “a fraud upon the reason;" but the winged messenger of the soul, that in its flight stretches far out over the ocean of mystery, and brings from beyond a promise and assurance, bright, though but a symbol, of the future.
Greatly has man suffered from the separation of æsthetics and theology. The true and the beautiful are one. " What God hath joined together let not man put asunder.” Let poetry join herself to Christianity, and then shall she receive a depth, a sublimity, and a truth she never knew before; while she lends her own loveliness and beauty to Christianity. It is one of the most encouraging signs of the age, to find how much more earnest our literature, and especially our poetry, is becoming. Our best poets no longer content themselves with the stirring songs of battles; the old legends of chivalry; the oft-told tale of “lady won in courtly bower;" or the mere description of the outward beauties of nature;—but take man as their theme, and from the daily struggles, joys, sorrows, and hopes of life derive their inspiration. Humanity is the poet's sub