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But we are principally concerned to know the CHAP. fate of this doctrine in England. Our Saxon

Not reancestors were in general sufficiently obedient to

cognized the opinions and customs of the papacy, and we by the may believe that the doctrine of transubstantiation saxon was not unknown, nor wholly unapproved, by their spiritual guides. We have, however, the most decisive proof that the dogma so named, formed no part of the national creed in the tenth century. Elfric, a contemporary of St. Dunstan, and the correspondent and associate of the principal ecclesiastics of that period, has adverted in one of his epistles to the elements of the eucharist


“ divided into parts? Whether the bread becomes the body of Christ, “ because then it will really be the body of Christ—that is to say, some

thing else than it is ? Whether the bread becomes the body of “ Christ; because if so, then bread will be the matter of Christ's body. Also after transubstantiation, the accidents remain; if so they must “ be in another subject--as for instance, in the air. But if it be there, " then some part of the air must be round, and savory, and white; " and as this form is carried through divers places, so the accidents “ change their subject. Again, these accidents abide in the same part “ of the air, and so solidity will be in the air ; because they are solid, “ and consequently the air will be solid. Hence it appears that these

accidents are not in the air, neither are they in the body of Christ, “ neither can any other body be assigned in its place in which they “ shall appear to be, and therefore the accidents do not merely seem “ to remain. Again, when the form or figure in which the body of Christ “ lieth; and is divided into parts, the body of Christ continues no longer “ in that figure which it had before-how, therefore, can the body of “ Christ be in every part of that host. Again, if the body of Christ be “ bid in that little form, where is the head, and where the foot ?-as a con

sequence his members must be undistinguishable. Again, Christ gave “bis body to his disciples before bis passion. Now he gave it them “ either mortal or immortal, yet if he gave it immortal, it is certain “ that then it was mortal, and consequently while it is really mortal it

was yet immortal, which is impossible.” Alanus contra Albigenses, &c. c. 50. cited in the latin from Alanus, by Dr. Allix, in his remarks on the churches of the Albigenses, c. xvi. 146. The above are a few only of the queries with which the heretics were accustomed to perplex the faith of the orthodox.



CHAP. in a manner which incidentally, but most distinctly, proscribes the doctrine of a “real pre

This letter was addressed to Wulfstan, archbishop of York, and as its translation into the vernacular language was in compliance with the request of that prelate, it must be admitted as a document of no mean authority. According to this writer, the “housel is Christ's body, '« not bodily but spiritually. Not the body “ which he suffered in, but the body of which he

spake when he blessed bread and wine, a night “ before his sufferings.” “ The apostle,” he observes, “ has said of the Hebrews, that they all did “ eat the same ghostly meat, and they all did drink “ the same ghostly drink. And this he said, not

bodily but ghostly, Christ being not yet born, nor his blood shed when that the people of

Israel ate that meat, and drank of that stone. “ And the stone was not bodily, though he so said. “ It was the same mystery in the old law, and

they did ghostly signify that ghostly housel' of

our Saviour's body which we consecrate now.” In his homily, “ appointed in the reign of the “ Saxons to be spoken unto the people at Easter," the doctrine of Elfric, and of the Anglo-saxon clergy in relation to this service, is more fully exhibited. He there repeats his allusion to the manna, and the rock of the wilderness, and speaks



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4 The work from which I quote has the following title page,“ A Testi“ monie of Antiquitie, showing the auncient fayth in the church of En“ gland, touching the sacrament of the body and blood of the Lord, “ here publicly preached, and also received in the Saxon tyme above “ 600 years ago. Printed by John Day, beneath St. Martyns, Cum

Privilegio Regiæ Maiestatio.” 1567.



of the bread in the christian sacrament as being CHAP. the body of Christ, but as the waters of baptism may be said to be the divinity of the Holy Spirit. In describing the difference between the body Christ suffered in, and the body that is hallowed to “ housel,” he states that the one was born of the flesh of Mary, and that the other is gathered of many corns, and that “nothing therefore is to be “ understood therein bodily, but all is ghostly to “ be understood.” The bread which is farther described, as having bodily shape, is again contrasted with the body of Christ, which is said to be present, but in its “ ghostly might.” The body also in which Christ rose from the dead never dieth, but the consecrated bread is declared to be temporal, not eternal. The latter is divided into parts, and some receive a larger portion, and some a less; but the body of Christ “after ghostly mystery” is undivided, and equally in all. This series of distinctions the writer concludes by observing, that the things appealing to the senses in the eucharist, are a pledge and figure, while Christ's body is truth itself.

The authenticity of this production is beyond suspicion, and that the printed copy is correctly given from the original is attested by archbishop Parker, by his brother of York, and by the suffragans of both.

But though it is thus certain that the mystery Defended of transubstantiation was not among the recog- frane. nised doctrines of the Anglo-saxon hierarchy, its general adoption was to be among the immediate results of the conquest. By the transfer of the english sceptre to the hand of a Norman,


by the


CHAP. the political ascendency of the pontiffs in relation

to this island, was for awhile indeed materially Espoused broken or impeded. But Lanfranc, who filled Anglo- the see of Canterbury, under the first William, clergy.

was the most distinguished opponent of Berengarius ; and from that period to the age of Wycliffe, the faith of the real presence was inculcated by the native clergy without opposition.”

In attempting the overthrow of this doctrine, our reformer must have been aware of the danger and the suffering which would be found attendant on the effort. And we must presume that evils so certain, and serious would hardly have been encountered, had not the error to be assailed appeared to him as fraught with impiety and abuses of the most revolting description. Of the steps which led him so to regard it, and which determined his hostile movements relating to it, we are but partially informed. It is, however, by no means, surprising, that a study of the scriptures, which had been devoutly pursued through so long an interval, and which had produced a renunciation of so many established opinions, should issue in the abandonment of a doctrine, containing the grossest of the insults, which priests in their insolence of triumph had bestowed on the prostrate capacities of their victims. Of the spirit with which Wycliffe addressed himself to this contest, we may judge from the following extract which forms the introduction to one of his most popular pieces on the subject.

« Foras“ much as our Saviour, Jesus Christ, with the

5 Mosheim, ii. 560.


prophets who were before him, and the apostles CHAP. who were presently with him, whom he also left “ after him, and whose hearts were mollified by “ the Holy Ghost-have warned us, and given us “ knowledge that there are two manners of ways, “ the one to life, the other to death--therefore pray

we heartily to God, that he, of his mere mercy, “ will so strengthen us with the grace and stedfast

ness of his Holy Spirit, as to make us strong in

spiritual living according to the gospel, that so “ the world-no not the very infidels, papists, nor

apostates, may gather any occasion to speak “evil of us; that we may enter into that strait “ gate as Christ our Saviour, and all that follow

him have done, not in idle living, but in diligent

labouring-yea in great sufferance of persecu“ tion even to the death."

It was with sentiments thus devout and thus fixed, that Wycliffe commenced his attack on the received doctrine concerning the eucharist. The weakness and the contradictions inseparable from that tenet, would have been of themselves sufficient to justify a zealous opposition; but in the view of the reformer, the sin of the officiating priest was less the result of inattention than of impiety, and such as rendered him a false guide to the community, conducting his followers into the snares of a ruinous idolatry. The doctrine promulgated by Wycliffe on this point, is of such frequent occurrence in the course of his sermons, as to render it


6 MS. Octiolum Wiclevi. This piece was printed at Norenberch, in 1546, under the title of Wycliffe's Wicket.

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