« PreviousContinue »
if he had said, "This is a great mystery; mistake me not, as if I looked upon the conjunction of man and wife to be a mystery, which is far from being such, being taught us, and implanted by the light of nature: no, my meaning is, that the union of Christ and his church is a great mystery."
Bellarmine was not content to prove Matrimony to be a sacrament from this text, but will needs see in it a promise of sanctifying grace too. I must confess some men's eyes are better than others'; however, I can give no reason why I should see nothing at all here. He will have it, that Matrimony signifies the spiritual union betwixt Christ and his church, and that it cannot signify except there be a spiritual union of their souls, and that there cannot be such a spiritual union without God give them grace.
But all this pleasant fancy hath no sort of foundation. And Matrimony hath not been hitherto proved a sacrament; and so all the rest falls to the ground. And further, why could not Matrimony signify the union of Christ and his church, without causing a sanctifying grace too? Cannot some things signify without effecting too? This is strange concluding, but what can help it, when men will be proving that which cannot be proved! He hath another text for his sanctifying grace of Matrimony, 1 Tim. ii. 15, Notwithstanding, she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
Here Bellarmine finds four great blessings of Matrimony, faith, charity, holiness, and sobriety; that the wives received these in matrimony, or else the apostle would not have talked of their continuing in them.
But did ever man dream before at this pleasant rate? Whence is it that Bellarmine gathers that the wives have these gifts bestowed on them in Matrimony? Is there any other thing required of these more than of virgins or any other, who must, if they will be saved, continue in faith, charity, holiness, and sobriety, as well as any of the wives? At this rate, every state and condition of life may be made a sacrament. The true sense of the place is, that though the woman was first in the transgression, and so ruined man, yet that she shall make amends by bearing children, and bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
His next text is 1 Cor. vii. 7, But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. He argues from this, that matrimony is a gift of God and what then? Must it for that reason be a sacrament, and have a sanctifying grace? At this rate, we should have sacraments enow: and to go no further than this text, virginity must be a sacrament too, since it is, as much as Matrimony, a gift of God.
His last text is 1 Thess. iv. 4, That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour. In sanctification (to wit, says Bellarmine) which they received in Matrimony. This he says indeed, but the text does not; and our business is to hear that speak, and not Bellarmine. It is in vain to argue with a man, who from a duty incumbent on all men, married and unmarried, will, contrary to all logic and sense, be inferring a particular grace annexed to a particular
And now what other judgment can be made of these things, than that Bellarmine was almost as much satisfied as any of us, that Matrimony can be no sacrament? He always used to insist on the Divine institution, on the outward sign or matter: we have had a great deal of ado about the grace, but nothing of news about institution, or the outward sign. Bellarmine knew his sacrament wanted these, and therefore was for making a great dust about the other. However, since Bellarmine cannot deny that no institution of this sacrament appears in the New Testament, that there is no outward sign, or matter, or form for it, to be met with there, and that his texts for a sanctifying grace were altogether forced and perverted from the sense given them by the best commentators; he ought to have concluded, if not with us, yet with their own canonists and Durandus, that Matrimony is not a true and proper sacra
Of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction.
We are now arrived to their last sacrament, that of Extreme Unction, which the council of Trent hath decreed to have been instituted by our Saviour himself, and published by his apostle St. James: it is called Extreme Unction, because it is the sacrament of those who are just dying, and is to be given to none but such as are looked upon to be past recovery. The matter
of it is oil blessed by a bishop, and the sanctifying grace, or effect of it, is the cleansing the person anointed from the remains of all sins, committed either by seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, or touching. This being the nature and a true account of this pretended sacrament of Extreme Unction, we must now see what texts the papists have to prove this sa
The first text mentioned by Bellarmine is Mark vi. 13, And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them: but this text is not insisted on by Bellarmine, and he tells us that their own writers are divided; some making the anointing here and that in St. James to be the same, while others are as earnest, that this anointing in St. Mark cannot be their sacramental unction, since it plainly refers to miraculous bodily cures, whereas sacramental unction belongs to the soul properly, and is concerned about remission of sins. Bellarmine himself espouses this latter opinion, and one of his wisest reasons for it is, because those vile heretics, Luther, Calvin, and Chemnitius, were of the other opinion and indeed it would have been very unseemly for a cardinal to be found in such company. We need trouble ourselves therefore no further with this text, than only to remark, that by the confession of our adversaries, the anointing in St. Mark was a ceremony of a miraculous cure of diseases, and that the effect of that anointing was a restoring the sick persons to bodily health; neither of which can by any means be brought to agree with the pretended sacrament of Extreme Unction; the anointing in which, according to the council of Trent, and Romish writers, respects the diseases of the soul, and the effect is a remission of sins.
But what was wanting in this will be fully supplied in the text from St. James, wherein Bellarmine tells us, we find all the requisites of a true sacrament laid down together: James v. 14, 15, Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Bellarmine triumphs with this text, but without any reason, since should it prove a sacrament, yet it does not prove their
sacrament of Extreme Unction: and there are these two plain differences visible betwixt this anointing in St. James, and the popish pretended sacrament of Extreme Unction: 1. That this anointing in St. James was to be administered to any that were sick; whereas the Romish Extreme Unction is to be administered only to those who are just a departing, and past all hopes of recovery: 2. The anointing in St. James was to restore them to bodily health primarily; but the Romish unction's design is primarily the cleansing of the soul, and remission of all the remainder of sins: and this is sufficient to shew, that the passage in St. James does not defend nor favour the pretended sacrament of Extreme Unction.
It is very easy to explain and evidence the two differences I have assigned. That the anointing in St. James was to be administered to any sick, is too plain: Is any sick among you? He does not say, Is any sick to death among you, but supposes all alike capable, if God pleased, of that anointing. I need not stay to shew that the Romish Extreme Unction is to be administered only to such as are looked upon as dying; upon which very reason they themselves call this extreme unction sacramentum exeuntium, the sacrament of the dying.
The truly remaining difficulty is, to prove that this anointing here did primarily respect bodily cures; that it did, cannot be denied us by those papists who make the anointing here and in St. Mark to relate to the same effects. Maldonate says they do: and then I am sure Bellarmine ought to grant us, that this anointing in St. James does relate to bodily cures, to a restoring the sick persons to health, since it is evident to a demonstration, that the anointing in St. Mark does relate to nothing else: it is plainly said there, that they ANOINTED WITH OIL many that were sick, and Healed them.
But there is no need of any of their concessions to prove this; the passage itself in St. James cannot without violence be interpreted to any other sense; for upon the sick man's calling for the elders, and their praying for and anointing him, the effect, we are told, should be, that the prayer of faith should save the sick; by which can be only meant, the restoring him to bodily health, since to save a sick man is, in propriety of speech, to save or rescue him from his sickness, which is throughly confirmed by the next expression in St.
James, and the Lord shall raise him up; that is, restore him to his former strength and health.
This fair interpretation might be further confirmed from those ancient offices in the church for anointing the sick, in which the old prayers run for a restitution (upon anointing) to bodily soundness, and deliverance from all pain and languor: this however is sufficient to shew, how altogether unlike Extreme Unction this anointing in St. James was; in Extreme Unction they own and declare, that its proper end and design is the cleansing the anointed person from all remainders of sin; and not only their prayers upon that occasion, but the form itself of administering that unction, do themselves tell it us. So that what can be more different than these two unctions? And what reason has the Romish Extreme Unction to plead for its being the unction mentioned in St. James?
There is but one objection to be made to this interpretation, that this passage cannot relate wholly to bodily cures, since in the last words of it it is said, and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. In answer to which, we say, that we do not affirm that the effect is wholly bodily cures, but that this anointing does primarily and chiefly relate to bodily cures. As for the forgiveness of sins, it was sometimes the consequence of such a restitution to bodily health; but did not always attend it, since the apostle makes it to be when the person hath committed sins; in which words he could not mean any ordinary sins, for all men are guilty of them, and therefore all that were cured must have been forgiven. Also the apostle's supposition doubtless does relate to some extraordinary sin the sick person might have been guilty of, and for which God might inflict that sickness: so that the sense of this must be, that if the sick person had been guilty of some sin for which God did inflict that disease upon him, it should for his comfort be forgiven him.
And this passage is far from helping the Romish writers for their Extreme Unction, since it is plain this remission was not general to all sick persons, but was limited to some who might have been guilty of such a sin as brought that bodily sickness for a punishment upon him; but theirs in Extreme Unction equally concerns all, and their anointing does equally good to all, if it do any good at all, which I am sure it does not,