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but his substantial, his corporeal, and his dimensional presence, is declared to pertain exclusively to his mode of being in the celestial state. The reformer then repeats the doctrine maintained by himself and his followers : denies the charge of their adoring the elements of bread and wine: and observes that he had detected the fallacies of his opponents, who, in citing the language of the fathers on this sacrament, were always disposed to confound the notion of a sacramental, with that of an identical presence.
The result of this mistake is affirmed to be, the insane fiction of an accident, or quality, without a subject,-a tenet declared to be equally insulting to the church, and injurious to God.
The english confession, if we discard its orthography, and something of its obsolete expression, will state his judgment on this important article more distinctly than any abridgment in other language. “ We believe,” he writes, “ as Christ “ and his apostles have taught us, that the sacra“ment of the altar, white and round, and like to “ our bread or host unconsecrated, is verily God's
body in the form of bread; and if it be broken “ into three parts, as is the custom of the church, “ or into a thousand, every one of these parts is in “ the same sense God's body. And just as the
person of Christ is very God, and very man, so “ the church through many hundred winters hath “ believed the same sacrament to be very God's
body, and very bread, since it is the form of “ God's body, and the form of bread, as Christ “ and his apostles taught. Hence, St. Paul nameth “ it never without calling it bread, and he, accord
ing to our belief, obtained his knowledge in this “ matter from God. And the arguments of here“ tics against this doctrine, a christian man may
easily answer. For just as it is heresy to “ believe that Christ is a spirit and no body, so “ is it heresy to suppose that this sacrament is “ God's body and no bread, for it is both together. “ But the greatest heresy which God has suffered “ to come to his church, is to suppose that this “ sacrament is an accident, or a mere quality “ without a substance, and may in no sense be “ God's body; for Christ himself, as witnessed by
John, said, “This is my body.' And if they say, " that according to this shewing holy church has “ been in heresy many hundred winters, in truth
so it is; and especially since the fiend was “ loosed, who is witnessed of by the angel to St.
John, as to be loosed in a thousand winters “ after Christ was ascended into heaven. But it o is also to suppose,
that many saints who died “ in the mean time, were purified from this error “ before their death. Mark. how great a diver
sity there is, between us who suppose that this “sacrament is very bread in its kind, and between “ heretics who tell us that it is an accident without
a subject. For before the fiend, the father of
falsehood, was loosed, this deceitful prating was “never invented. And how great diversity also “ there is between us who suppose that this sa“ crament which in its kind is very bread, and
sacramentally God's body; and heretics, who “ think and teach that this sacrament may in no “ wise be God's body. For I dare assuredly to " say, if this were true, Christ and his saints died
heretics, and that the greater part of holy CHAP. “ church now believeth heresy. Therefore de“ vout men suppose, that the council of friars in
London, was the cause of the earthquake. For
they put a heresy on Christ and on the saints in “ heaven: wherefore the earth trembled: the faith“ ful land answered the voice of man for God, as
it did in the time of his passion when he was
sentenced to bodily death. May Christ, and “ his mother, who in the beginning destroyed all “ heresies, keep his church in a right belief of this “sacrament; and move the king and his kingdom “ to ask sharply of his clerks this service—that “all his possessioners, on pain of loosing all their
temporalities, tell the king and his kingdom, " and with sufficient evidence, what this sacra“ ment is-and that all the orders of friars on
pain of loosing their allegiance, tell the king “ and his kingdom, and with good reason also, “ what is the nature of this sacrament.
For I am “certain that a third part of the clergy, who defend " this doutes that is here said, that they will de“ fend it on pain of their life.'
It will be remembered by the reader, that to affirm the existence of bread in the eucharist after the words of consecration were pronounced, was to deny the doctrine of transubstantiation. In these papers this assertion is not only made, but repeated, and that with a plainness of speech which is obvious on the slightest attention. In addition to which, and with his characteristic
Appendix, No. 7. The reformer is commonly understood as stating in the last sentence, that his doctrine on the eucharist was really that of a third among the clergy. The passage is obscure and difficult.
CHAP. hostility to whatever he saw as absurdity or error, w Wycliffe has gratuitously annexed to these ex
plicit statements of his own doctrine, an attack on that of his opponents; and one quite as uncompromising, as may be selected from any portion of his writings. We have previously remarked, that the properties of whiteness and roundness, pertaining to the sacramental bread before the act of consecration was performed, were acknowledged to exist afterwards ; but that it was, nevertheless, contended, that the bread itself had ceased to be. The reformer well knew that this assertion, offering as it did the most hardy insult both to the reason and the senses, was the formal doctrine of the men who were now before him as his judges. The doctrine, however, he affirms to be erroneous, heretical, a mockery of human perception, the imputing of blasphemy to Christ and to his saints; and of all the antichristian delusions which had been poured upon the church since the fatal hour of Satan's enlargement, this is declared to be the most repugnant to the religion of the Bible !
Walsingham felt himself obliged to concede, that Wycliffe's confession was a re-assertion instead of a renunciation of his doctrine; but the sagacious Henry Knighton, while inserting the above paper in his annals, describes the reformer as recanting his opinions to escape the pains of death. Under shelter too, of this feeble authority, the calumny has often been repeated ; and it still continues to be the ground of insinuations designed to fix upon Wycliffe the reproach of disingenuousness and timidity. This kind of proceeding may sometimes have arisen from weakness and misapprehension, CHAP. as would seem to have been the case with Knighton; in others, from indolence; and in many it is difficult to view it but as the effect of that imperfect reverence for truth, which, whether in politics or religion, is too commonly the result of party zeal. The denial, indeed, of transubstantiation in the above documents, is too evident to require farther notice ;" and if there are expressions in both which betray some hesitation of thought, as to the precise manner in which the body and blood of Christ, are really present with their visible emblems in the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, it is certain that these expressions were by no means peculiar to the present crisis. On the contrary, they had long been, and they continue ever after to be, of such constant occurrence in his numerous writings whenever this topic is referred to, that a volume might be filled with extracts, exhibiting every shade of sentiment and language observable in these more formal statements of his creed. 12
11 It will be remembered, that the chancellor, William de Berton, and his coadjutors, when condemning the doctrine of Wycliffe with such severe penalties, affirmed, in opposition to the reformer, that in this venerable sacrament, “ the very body of Christ and his blood are really "contained, not only figuratively or tropically, but essentially, substantially, “ and corporally; so that Christ is there verily in his own proper bodily “ presence.” The reader will perceive that the doctrine thus condemned is precisely that which Wycliffe re-asserts, and in the very terms of its former announcement. See c. iii. and Appendix, Nos. 2. 3.
12 Thus his work intitled, “ Against the Blasphemies of the Friars," a manuscript extending to about forty quarto pages, and written after this time, contains every thing to be found in his confessions. The same firmness in denying the doctrine of transubstantiation, and the same partial obscurity as to the real mode of the Saviour's presence in the eucharist.–Bibl. Bodi. Archi. A. 83. The first of their heresies is said to be “ of the sacrament." And as to the first we say, surely of our