« PreviousContinue »
Is. This verb is interpretable according to the subject-matter; but where it is used of a sacrament, and joins the sign and thing signified together, and where another sense contended for is destructive to our senses, and against reason, and other scripture, it is reasonable to understand it to import the same with the word signifieth; and that is the present case. Nor is there any more common than this way of speaking in the holy scriptures, in other authors, and common conversation. This verb here cannot be understood in the sense of the church of Rome, as implying transubstantiation and the sacrifice of the mass; because that change of substance they speak of is not effected till these words, This is my body, are fully pronounced; and therefore this not being effected till the last syllable be pronounced, (according to our adversaries,) it cannot be said to be before it hath received its being. The pronunciation of the words must be precedent to the being of the thing; and therefore cannot be true before they are fully pronounced. According to our adversaries, the real presence of Christ in the sacrament (which they contend for) must be the cause and effect of the truth of this proposition, This is my body. If their doctrine be not true, the proposition is false in the sense they take it in. Again, if their doctrine be true, the proposition pronounced by a priest makes it so. And whereas elsewhere the existence of a thing makes good the proposition; here the proposition makes good the thing.
My body. By his body, our Lord must mean what was known to be so, and what had the properties of an human body. The disciples were gross, and apt enough to take spiritual things in a carnal sense, when the letter gave them any occasion so to do. They had not so quick an apprehension as to conquer all the difficulties of the Romish doctrine. They could not comprehend the miracles said to be wrought by the words of consecration. They were not easily convinced that Christ was risen from the dead, even after many proofs of it, and predictions to that purpose. It is not to be imagined that they would eat human flesh, and drink blood; and believe Jesus sacrificed, and alive at the same time; and at the same time entire, and yet consumed; and eaten entirely by each of them, and in every the least crumb of bread that was taken.
s Matt. xvi. 6, 11, 12. John iv. 32, 33.
The next place produced by cardinal Bellarmine for proof of the doctrine of the church of Rome, concerning the sacrifice of the mass, is Acts xiii. 2, As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, &c.; where by ministering must be meant sacrificing, and that must be understood of the sacrifice of the mass. I shall, before I sum up what the cardinal produceth from hence for proof of the doctrine of the Roman church in this matter, lay before the reader the annotation of the Rhemists upon these words. And their words are these: "If we should, as our adversaries do, boldly turn what text we list, and flee from one language to another for the advantage of our cause, we might have translated for ministering, sacrificing; for so the Greek doth signify, and so Erasmus translated; yea, we might have translated, saying mass; for so they did. And the Greek fathers hereof had their name Liturgy, which Erasmus translateth mass; saying, missa Chrysostomi. But we keep our text, as the translators of the scriptures should do, most religiously." I was much surprised when I first read this annotation: for it is so far from proving what it is produced for, that it is inconsistent with itself, and is an argument of a bad cause. For I would fain know what harm there is in "fleeing from one language to another for the advantage of our cause," whilst we flee from a translation to the original text? I would know for what reason he can be charged with "boldly turning the text as he listeth," who should turn it into what it really signifies, and in that place? If the Greek word signify sacrificing and saying mass, why might they not have turned it so? Had it been a fault to have translated truly? Erasmus did well in his version, or he did amiss: if he did amiss, to what purpose is his authority produced here? if he did well, why should they fear to do like him? If this text proves the sacrifice of the mass, it does so either as we have it in the Vulgar Latin, or as it is in the Greek. The Vulgar renders the word as we do, ministering, and that is so far from denoting the sacrifice of the mass, that it does not so much as insinuate any sacrifice at all. If it have any force then for proving their doctrine, it must be from the Greek; and these men lay it there: but then I would know, if they do not " flee from one language to another for the advantage of their cause?" And
then they blame what themselves practise; and their meaning must be this, that they would not have us flee from one language to another, though they do it in the mean time. These men pretend indeed great religion and sanctity: “We keep our text (say they) as the translators of the scriptures should do, most religiously." If by keeping the text, they mean the vulgar Latin, much good may it do them: let them keep here as close to it as they can; if they do, they will never find any proof of the sacrifice of the mass. There are others of the church of Rome, who, it seems, have not kept to the text religiously, as these pretend to do. Erasmus could not say he did it, when he used the word sacrificing. Menochius the Jesuit did not keep the text, when he interprets the Greek word by sacrificantibus. And the publishers of the Mons Testament did "boldly turn as they list, and flee from one language to another for the advantage of their cause,” when they render as they sacrificed.
But I return to cardinal Bellarmine *, and sum up what he hath to say from this text for the proof of the sacrifice of the mass. And thus it is: That the ministry or service exhibited to the Lord here y, "does not seem possible to be any thing else than a sacrifice, and the sacrifice of the mass;" and that because there is this sacrifice in the church, or there is none at all. He endeavours to confirm what he says, 1. from the Greek word, which (he says) is granted to import a public (not private) ministry, and therefore an external. Nor can it signify the ministry of the word and sacraments, because that service, though public, yet is not performed unto God, to whom we neither preach, nor dispense the sacraments. For though these things may be said to be for the honour of God, yet if for that reason St. Luke had thus expressed himself, he would not have added, and fasted. For fasting in that sense is for the honour of God, Rom. xiv. 6. 2. Because the Greek word Aerovpyéw, though it may be accommodated to sacred and profane services, yet when it is applied to sacred, and absolutely used in the scriptures, it is always taken for the service rendered by sacrifice. For proof of this, he refers the
t Menoch. in Act. xiii. 2.
u Qu'ils sacrifioient. Nov. Test. à Mons, 1672.
x Bellarm. de Sacr. Miss. 1. 1. c. 13. y Non videtur aliud esse potuisse quam sacrificium et sacrificium missæ.
reader to Luke i. and Heb. xi. 8, 9, 10. To this he adds the version of Erasmus, and that the Greeks call the celebration
of the mass λειτουργίαν.
Before I answer these pretences of the cardinal's, I shall premise two things:
First, That the cardinal is not of the mind with the Rhemists; he thinks it very convenient to "flee from one language to another for the advantage of his cause." He lays not the stress upon the Latin, but Greek word; in which he shewed much greater judgment than is to be found in the Rhemish annotation.
Secondly, As to the importance of the Greek word, there is a great difference between the Rhemists and the cardinal. They say they might have translated the Greek word sacrificing, or saying mass. The first, they say, the word signifies; the latter was practised here. But who told them that the Greek word signifies to sacrifice? Their vulgar Latin renders it by ministering 2. It would have been some support to their cause, or they would have thought it so, had it been in that ancient version rendered by sacrificing. To pretend that the Greek word signifies to sacrifice, is an argument of great impudence or ignorance. We have another account a from those who well understand this matter. They tell us that it signifies to toil, and to serve, and denotes some public ministry or service b. But cardinal Bellarmine hath more modesty and learning than to pretend to affirm that the word signifies to sacrifice. That it imports a public ministry or service, he and we are agreed in. He says of Erasmus, vertere ausus est, that he was so hardy as to turn the Greek word by the Latin signifying sacrificing. But he commends him not for it, and mentions it as an argument ad hominem, against those men who had an esteem for him. I now proceed to answer the cardinal.
First, There is no need that we understand this ministering of a proper sacrifice, or else of the ministry of the word and sacraments; because it may be understood of the public prayers of the church. Thus the Syriac version does. And prayer
z Ministrantibus autem illis V. L.
b Λειτουργία κυρίως, ἡ δημοσία ὑπερa Λειτουργεῖν, μοχθεῖν, δουλεύειν, ησία. Suid. Hesychius.
and fasting are often joined together: and in the very next words it is said, And when they had fasted and prayed, &c. (verse 3.) Prayers are offered to God; and, admitting this sense, the cardinal's way of arguing is spoiled. For though we do not preach, or minister the sacraments to God, yet we offer our prayers to him.
Secondly, That preaching the word however is not by this excluded: it may well be called ministering to the Lord. He that does it exerciseth his charge and function, and helps to prepare and make ready a people for the Lord. Both Chrysostom and Theophylact on this place expound what we render ministering, by preaching. And cardinal Cajetan upon the placed speaks to the same purpose: "The kind of ministry is not explained," says he, "but because doctors and prophets are mentioned, it is insinuated that they ministered to the Lord, docendo et prophetando, i. e. by teaching and prophesying."
Thirdly, That for the import of the Greek word we are contented to be determined by the scripture use of it in the Old Testament, where the LXXII. make use of it, and in the New. In the New Testament, it is far from being restrained to sacrificing their vulgar Latin, as hath been observed, renders it by ministrantibus, i. e. ministering, in this place. And elsewhere it represents the ministry of princes, Rom. xiii. 6, and that of angels, Heb. i. 14, and that of almsgiving to the poor, (which is but improperly a sacrifice,) 2 Cor. ix. 12. And when it is applied to sacrifice, it appears from the subjectmatter so to be. For the Old Testament, it is by the LXXII. made use of frequently; and it is used to interpret the Hebrew, which signifies service or ministry in general, and is accordingly rendered by the vulgar Latin ministerium et officium. And it is so far from being restrained to the office of sacrificing priests, that it is used very commonly and frequently to express the office or ministry of the Levites. For the truth of which, I refer the reader to the following texts in the LXXII. interpreters: Numb. iv. 24, 28, and vii. 5, and viii. 22, 25, and xvi. 9, and xviii. 6; 1 Chron. vi. 32.
Fourthly, Nor is there any shadow for understanding this
c Τί ἐστι λειτουργούντων· τουτέστι κηρυττόντων. d Cajetan. in Act. xiii. 2.