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off everything that did not come under rule, with the conclusion that this is put for that. As the really philosophical grammarian can think and feel how a sentence is thought, so can the real Theological investigator put himself in the position of one who holds different views, and perceive how his whole mental impressions, and his ultimate dogmatic formulæ, arise out of his intellectual character, his circumstances, and his predispositions. It is often by influences which sectarians and their apologists would not disclaim, that he accounts for their deflections from Orthodoxy. Thus the renunciation of everything like sacerdotal authority would be in general allowed and defended by the Calvinistic schools, while it serves materially to explain the line taken by Calvin himself, and seems to have given a special direction to his mind, or at least aided in fixing that direction when taken. A validity and real effect of consecration is the correlative of a true sacerdotal commission; and the denial of one of these will in general carry with it the denial of the other. The tracing out of such connections of thought will often help to explain seeming or even real inconsistencies, and to enable us to comprehend how one who held a given theory could yet use language, or entertain feelings, which in another might be incompatible with it.
The investigation to which we are invited is one of a most thorough and searching character, but if it is to lead to peace and unanimity, there must be some agreement with respect to the principles on which every decision is to proceed. If human reason alone is to judge, no fact can be received, all must be theory; for reason cannot prove facts without aids from without. And, in Theological argument, it is best to begin with the assumption of such external aids as Holy Scripture, and the interpretation of it by the undivided Church, except where the very principle of authority is the question under discussion. Men will differ, however, amongst ourselves, about the amount of authority to be allowed to the latter, some considering it conclusive, others as only a probable ground of belief. We cannot settle this question before proceeding to an argument with respect to a particular doctrine, and it will be better to review the actual evidence produced, and then to let each person draw his conclusion according to the principles he has previously learned, or it may be in that very review acquired. For the weight of evidence that belongs to the consent of Christian antiquity is not duly estimated à priori, especially where an impression prevails that Protestants are guided by Holy Scripture and right reason, and Romanists by Tradition. After reviewing carefully the evidence of the Fathers of the early centuries on such subjects as Baptism and the Holy Eucharist, many have been led to attribute more value to it than they would
have done beforehand on the mere supposition of its existence. It carries moral weight, from the evident simplicity and strength of their Faith; and the sentiments of Faith are catching, and spread into the mind of the reader, giving him new powers of receiving spiritual truth. And the very unanimity of so many witnesses, contrasted with the diversity of their characters, circumstances, and intellectual powers, affords a presumption of the existence of a common source of their doctrine, and goes far to distinguish it from the mere prevalent opinions which would arise sometimes in large sections of the Church from accidental causes, or from sources external to Christianity. It is when we read their actual words, and compare them with the context, and with the characters and history of the writers, that we feel their force, and see the distinction between what was real doctrine and what was mere opinion. When they are charged with absurdities, upon inquiry we find either that they were expressing their own individual opinions, or those of a small portion of the Church, or that, owing to translation, they read in their Bibles what modern Protestants reject as superstitious, or that there was some generally received doctrine of Heathen Philosophy which they retained. Where they agree in Doctrine, the chief difference between them and the present age is Faith, not mere credulity, but a strong and vivid realising of Divine Truth. Even the Medieval Faith is inferior to the Primitive in matter-of-fact simplicity.
It is true that it will bear any amount of logical deduction without surrender, but it is not without loss of vitality. In devotional writers it is found, perhaps, little deteriorated; but in Theologians, with few exceptions, it is unequal to the task of preserving reverence and love unimpaired in the midst of technicalities and distinctions. Some of these distinctions, indeed, are clearly beyond the province of faith; and it is, therefore, the less wonder that they are unfavourable to its operation. Those, for instance, which affect the mode, as distinct from the reality, of the presence of our Blessed Lord's Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist, are of late origin; and it may well be questioned whether they can be followed out with profit. Such is the view taken by Archdeacon Wilberforce, and accordingly he confines his inquiry to the points of which he finds notice in the early ages of Christianity, and which were then treated as matters of certain belief:
In the present work, then, the authorities cited are all previous to the time of Photius, before which the East and the West were not permanently divided; as well as to the time of Paschasius, when the Holy Eucharist first became a matter of dispute. The opinions of later writers are referred to by way of illustration, and not of authority. And in fact, it has hardly been found necessary to go lower than those eminent divines, who were contemporary with the four great Councils of the ancient Church. The value of
these writers is, not that they speak a different language from the anteNicene Fathers, but that the controversies of their times, and their own higher intellectual culture, gave a scientific form to those truths which had been believed from the beginning. And their authority ought on every ground to be admitted by English Churchmen; for the reference of our law on heresy to the four first Councils shows that the English Church supposes herself to accord in principle entirely with the Nicene. The authors, therefore, whose judgment is mainly appealed to in this work, besides the ante-Nicene Fathers, are S. Athanasius, the Gregories, the Cyrils, S. Basil, S. Chrysostom, S. Jerome, S. Gaudentius, S. Ambrose, S. Leo, and S. Augustin. These, and those who lived at about the same period, express a distinct and accordant view respecting the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, and supply a sufficient commentary upon the authoritative statements of Holy Writ.
It may be said, perhaps, that on so sacred a subject distinct views are scarcely desirable; and that it is better not to dogmatize upon topics on which revelation is silent, and which the mind is incompetent to discuss. No one is more sensible than the writer, that to Theology, more than to any other subject of human knowledge, applies the remark of Quintilian, "inter virtutes habebitur aliqua nescire?' But in this, as in every other part of divine truth, our ignorance must be based upon some fixed principle, and be bounded by some definite and intelligible limits. What can be more mysterious than the co-existence of the Three Persons in the glorious Godhead, or than the union of Godhead and manhood in the Person of Christ? Yet to make the depth of these truths a reason for refusing to accept them, would not be humility, but unbelief. There must be some limit, then, to the feeling which leads devout men to shrink from mysteries --some law which discriminates between presumptuous inquiry and reverential contemplation. And what can that limit be, save the very principle which has been already laid down-a reference to the declarations of Scripture, and to the teaching of the Church.
The present inquiry, therefore, will not enter upon any topic which there is not this sanction for considering. Whether Christ is truly present or not in the Holy Eucharist; whether we are to behave as though He were really with us, and are truly responsible for a divine gift; and again, whether in that holy ordinance there is a real sacrifice-these are in great measure practical questions, on which it is possible to produce distinct evidence from Scripture and the primitive Church. But the manner in which Christ's presence is bestowed, whether it be by transubstantiation, or according to any other law, is a point which did not come under consideration during the first eight centuries. On this subject, therefore, it will not be necessary to enter. But that Christ's presence in the Holy Eucharist is a real presence; that the blessings of the new life are truly bestowed in it through communion with the New Adam; that consecration is a real act, whereby the inward part or thing signified is joined to the outward and visible sign; and that the Eucharistic oblation is a real sacrifice-these points it will be attempted to prove by the testimony of Scripture and of the ancient Fathers. "Domine Deus une, Deus Trinitas, quæcunque dixi in his libris de Tuo, agnoscant et Tui: si qua de meo, et Tu ignosce et Tui." "Coram Te est scientia et ignorantia mea; ubi mihi aperuisti, suscipe intrantem ; ubi clausisti, aperi pulsanti. Meminerim Tui, intelligam Te, diligam Te."-Pp. 4-7.
Such is his aim, and he follows it out with a completeness rarely equalled in modern English theological treatises. He labours not merely to find passages in early approved writers
that fall in with his own views, but to harmonise or account for all the expressions they have used. Perhaps the most important class of passages usually quoted against the Catholic doctrine of a Real Presence is that in which the elements after consecration are spoken of as a figure or symbol of the thing signified. Such expressions are triumphantly quoted as showing clearly that the writers could not have believed that the Body and Blood of our Blessed Lord were truly present, because a thing cannot be a figure of itself. And an ordinary common-sense mind is not satisfied with the answer, that the substance is that of the thing signified, while that which is presented to the eye is but the accidents, which still maintain the appearance of the former substance, and may properly be called a figure of the present supernatural and invisible substance. The plain man may reject this as having, to him, no intelligible meaning; and the philosopher may question the philosophical truth of the distinction. And when they do so, the authority to be produced for it is not that of the primitive Church, nor even of the entire present Church, but simply that of the Council of Trent, without which Transubstantiation would be, even to Roman Catholics, only a highly probable and generally received opinion, not a dogma of the Faith. It has been the aim of Archdeacon Wilberforce to avoid any such theoretical statements, and to keep within what the early Church affirms with united voice, giving a name to its doctrine in the phrase of Sacramental Identity,' but not attempting too closely to define wherein that identity consists. He rather approaches to it on different sides, and defines it somewhat as a limiting ratio is defined in geometry, when it cannot be actually reached but by means of infinite or infinitesimal quantities. Only in this case it is impossible to produce finite terms that retain the exact analogy of the infinite, and the result is, therefore, not an absolute limit, but an inclusion between limits.
The presence of our Blessed Lord's Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist has been viewed by some as simply figurative, by others as virtual, by others, again, as real. The meaning of the first of these is clear; but the word virtual' is capable of different senses, and so is the word 'real.' They are not, in fact, contradictory to one another. Virtual' may be used in contradistinction to 'natural' only, and not to 'real;' or it may be used as opposed to real,' and 'real' may be used for 'natural,' or for anything short of, or different from 'natural,' that is yet in a true sense 'real.' And if the presence be not natural, nothing forbids us to speak of the elements, which are still naturally what they were, as a figure of that which they are after a supernatural manner. What that manner is we need
not say; but if we have reason to believe that there is such a manner of presence for the Body of our Lord, and such a kind of identity between it and the elements in the Holy Eucharist, there is no contradiction in speaking, at one time, of bread and wine,' and 'figure,' and at another of the Body and Blood of Christ,' and a 'real presence.' It is, however, a question whether, and in what sense, the term 'virtual' can be admitted as representing the primitive view of the Eucharistic presence. The word seems to be used in one sense by Calvinistic, in another by more Catholic writers. By tl.e former, it is taken to imply merely certain effects of a relation between the person receiving and the person of Christ in general, which relation is brought about solely through the thought of Christ and of His work, and consists solely in the obtaining of certain benefits from God in right of His sacrifice, the Body of Christ having in itself no more power than any other body.-See pp. 165, 218, &c.
The other sense of the word 'virtual 'connects itself rather with the idea of reality than that of mere figure, as it supposes an inherent power communicated to the Body of our Blessed Lord by the Godhead, and derived to us not merely from the Father's acceptance of the Sacrifice of His Body, but also from His Body itself, and from His human nature as taken into His person, and that through these very elements. The rationalistic mind objects to this view as having no exact analogy in nature, and being obscure to the natural understanding. And so, no doubt, it is; yet there can be no reasonable question but that such is the teaching of the whole primitive Church, and, if the sixth chapter of S. John really refers to the Holy Eucharist, of our Blessed Lord Himself. Thus much, at least, is affirmed in every passage that could be expected from its subject and context to affirm it. And in such a sense the word 'virtual' may be admitted by a maintainer of the reality of the Eucharistic Presence, or, as it is expressed in this work, the Sacramental Identity.'
The writings which have come down to us from the ages of persecution are far less voluminous than those of later date, and the writers were, in general, men of less intellectual culture than S. Augustine, S. Chrysostom, S. Cyril of Alexandria, S. Basil, or S. Ambrose; and Christian doctrine itself had not been discussed with so much of scholastic accuracy and minute investigation as was the case during and after the Arian Controversy; besides, it was then usual to write with reserve of mysteries not open to the Heathen. But there can be no question as to the importance attached by the early writers to Consecration, which is always the idea they seem to have of the thing done in the Holy Eucharist. The offering' or 'sacrifice' of which they