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rate that they matter not what becomes of all the rest: And rather than not have their will of us in that which is controverted, they will give up that which by their own confession is an undoubted article of the christian faith, and not controverted on either side; except only by the Socinians, who yet are hearty enemies to transubstantiation, and have exposed the absurdity of it with great advantage.
But I shall endeavour to return a more particular answer to this objection, and such a one as I hope will satisfy every considerate and unprejudiced mind, that after all this confidence and swaggering of theirs, there is by no means equal reason either for the receiving or for the rejecting of these two doctrines of the trinity and transubstantiation,
1st, There is not equal reason for the belief of these two doctrines. This objection, if it be of any force, must suppose that there is equal evidence and proof from scripture for these two doctrines: But this we utterly deny, and with great reason; because it is no more evident from the words of scripture, that the sacramental bread is substantially changed into Christ's natural body by virtue of those words, “ This is my Body,” than it is, that Christ is substantially changed into a natural Vine by virtue of those words, * I am the true Vine; or than the Rock in the Wilderness, of which the Israelites drank, was substantially changed into the person of Christ, because it is expressly said, “that rock was Christ;"> or than that the christian church is substantially chang· ed into the natural body of Christ, because it is in express terms said of the church, that it is his body.t
But besides this, several of their most learned writers have freely acknowledged that transubstantiation can * Joh. 15, 1.
Eph. 1, 23.
neither be directly proved, nor necessarily concluded from scripture: But this the writers of the christian church did never acknowledge concerning the trinity, and the divinity of Christ; but have always appealed to the clear and undeniable testimonies of scripture for the proof of these doctrines. And then the whole force of the objection amounts to this, that if I am bound to believe what I am sure God says, though I cannot comprehend it; then I am bound by the same reason to believe the greatest absurdity in the world, though I have no manner of assurance of any divine revelation concerning it.
And if this be their meaning, though we understand not transubstantiation, yet we very well understand what they would have, but cannot grant it; because there is not equal reason to believe two things, for one of which there is good proof, and for the other no proof at all.
2d. Neither is there equal reason for the rejecting of these two doctrines. This the objection supposes, which yet cannot be supposed but upon one or both of these two grounds: Either because these two doctrines are equally incomprehensible, or because they are equally loaded with Absurdities and Contradictions.
The first is no good ground of rejecting any doctrine, merely because it is incomprehensible, as I have abundantly shewed already. But besides this, there is a wide difference between plain matters of sense, and mysteries concerning God; and it does by no means follow, that, if a man do once admit any thing concerning God which he cannot comprehend, he hath no reason afterwards to believe what he himself sees. This is a most unreason. able and destructive way of arguing, because it strikes at the foundation of all certainty, and sets every man at liberty to deny the most plain and evident truths of christianity, if he may not be humoured in having the
absurdest things in the world admitted for true. The next step will be to persuade us, that we may as well deny the being of God because his nature is incomprehensible by our reason, as deny transubstantiation because it evidently contradicts our senses.
2d. Nor are these two doctrines loaded with the like absurdities and contradictions: So far from this, that the doctrine of the trinity, as it is delivered in the scriptures, and hath already been explained, hath no absurdity or contradiction either involved in it, or necessarily consequent upon it: But the doctrine of transubstantiation is big with all imaginable absurdity and contradiction. And their own schoolmen have sufficiently exposed it; especially Scotus, and he designed to do so, as any man that attentively reads him may plainly discov
For in his disputation about it, he treats this doctrine with the greatest contempt, as a new invention of the council of Lateran under Pope Innocent III. To the decree of which council concerning it, he seems to pay a formal submission, but really derides it as contrary to the common sense and reason of mankind, and not at all supported by scripture; as any one may easily discern that will carefully consider his manner of handling it and the result of his whole disputation about it.
And now suppose there were some appearance of absurdity and contradiction in the doctrine of the trinity as it is delivered in scripture, must we therefore believe a doctrine which is not at all revealed in scripture, and which hath certainly in it, all the absurdities in the world, and all the contradictions to sense and reason; and which once admitted, doth at once destroy all certainty? Yes, say they, why not? since we of the church of Rome are satisfied that this doctrine is revealed in scripture; or, if it be not, is defined by the church, which is every whit as good. But is this equal, to demand of us the belief of
a thing which hath always been controverted, not only between us and them, but even among themselves, at least till the council of Trent? And this upon reasonable terms, that we must either yield this point to them or else renounce a doctrine agreed on both sides to be revealed in scripture.
To shew the unreasonableness of this proceeding, let us suppose a priest of the church of Rome pressing a Jew or Turk to the belief of transubstantiation, and because one kindness deserves another, the Jew or Turk should demand of him the belief of all the fables in the Talmud, or in the Alcoran; since none of these, nor indeed all of them together, are near so absurd as transubstantiation: Would not this be much more reasonable and equal than what they demand of us? Since no absurdity, how monstrous and big soever, can be thought of, which may not enter into an understanding in which a breach hath been already made, wide enough to admit transubstantiation. The priests of Baal did not half so much déserve to be exposed by the Prophet for their superstition and folly, as the priests of the church of Rome do for this senseless and stupid doctrine of theirs with a hard name. I shall only add this one thing more, that if this doctrine were possible to be true, and clearly proved to be so; yet it would be evidently useless and to no purpose. For it pretends to change the substance of one thing into the substance of another thing that is already, and before this change is pretended to be made. But to what purpose? Not to make the body of Christ, for that was already in being; and the substance of the bread is lost, nothing of it remaineth but accidents, which are good for nothing, and indeed are nothing when the substance is destroyed and gone."