THE SENSE OF HOLY WRIT
Another thing to incite me to the encounter, and to disparage in my eyes the poor forces of the enemy, is the habit of mind which they continually display in their exposition of the Scriptures, full of deceit, void of wisdom. As philosophers, you would seize these points at once. Therefore I have desired to have you for my audience. Suppose, for example, we ask our adversaries on what ground they have concocted that novel and sectarian opinion which banishes Christ from the Mystic Supper. If they name the Gospel, we meet them promptly. On our side are the words, this is my body, this is my blood. This language seemed to Luther himself so forcible, that for all his strong desire to turn Zwinglian, thinking by that means to make it most awkward for the Pope, nevertheless he was caught and fast bound by this most open context, and gave in to it (Luther, epistol. ad Argent.), and confessed Christ truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament no less unwillingly than the demons of old, overcome by His miracles, cried aloud that He was Christ, the Son of God. Well then, the written text gives us the advantage: the dispute now turns on the sense of what is written. Let us examine this from the words in the context, my body which is given for you, my blood which hall be shed for many. Still the explanation on Calvin’s side is most hard, on ours easy and quite plain.
What further? Compare the Scriptures, they say, one with another. By all means. The Gospels agree, Paul concurs. The words, the clauses, the whole sentence reverently repeat living bread, signal miracle, heavenly food, flesh, body, blood. There is nothing enigmatical, nothing befogged with a mist of words. Still our adversaries hold on and make no end of altercation. What are we to do? I presume, Antiquity should be heard; and what we, two parties suspect of one another, cannot settle, let it be settled by the decision of venerable ancient men of all past ages, as being nearer Christ and further removed from this contention. They cannot stand that, they protest that they are being betrayed, they appeal to the word of God pure and simple, they turn away from the comments of men. Treacherous and fatuous excuse. We urge the word of God, they darken the meaning of it. We appeal to the witness of the Saints as interpreters, they withstand them. In short their position is that there shall be no trial, unless you stand by the judgment of the accused party. And so they behave in every controversy which we start. On infused grace, on inherent justice, on the visible Church, on the necessity of Baptism, on Sacraments and Sacrifice, on the merits of the good, on hope and fear, on the difference of guilt in sins, on the authority of Peter, on the keys, on vows, on the evangelical counsels, on other such points, we Catholics have cited and discussed Scripture texts not a few, and of much weight, everywhere in books, in meetings, in churches, in the Divinity School: they have eluded them. We have brought to bear upon them the scholia of the ancients, Greek and Latin: they have refused them. What then is their refuge? Doctor Martin Luther, or else Philip (Melancthon), or anyhow Zwingle, or beyond doubt Calvin and Besa have faithfully laid down the facts. Can I suppose any of you to be so dull of sense as not to perceive this artifice when he is told of it? Wherefore I must confess how earnestly I long for the University Schools as a place where, with you looking on, I could call those carpet-knights out of their delicious retreats into the heat and dust of action, and break their power, not by any strength of my own,—for I am not comparable, not one per cent., with the rest of our people;—but by force of strong case and most certain truth.
SACRARVM LITTERARVM SENTENTIA
Alterum est, quod me quidem ad congressum incitarit, et horum apud me copiolas elevarit, adversarii perpetuum in Scripturis exponendis ingenium, plenum fraudis, inane prudentiae. Statim haec, philosophi, tangeretis. Itaque vos auditores expetii.
Sciscitemur ab adversaras, exempli gratia, quidnam sequuti novam sectam intriverint, qua Christus excluditur e coena mystica? Si nominant Evangelium, accurrimus. A nobis verba sunt: “Hoc est corpus meum. Hic est calix meus.” Qui sermo visus est ipsi Luthero tam potens, ut quum etiam discuperet fieri Zuinglianus, quod ea re plurimum incommodare Pontifici potuisset, captus tamen et victus apertissimo contextu, cederet; neque minus invitus Christum vere praesentem in Sacramento sanctissimo fateretur, quam olim daemones, victi miraculis, Christum Dei Filium vociferati sunt. Agedum, pagella scripta superiores sumus; de sententia scripti contenditur. Hanc pervestigemus ex verbis adiacentibus: “Corpus meum, quod pro vobis tradetur. Sanguis meus, qui pro multis effundetur.” Adhuc durissimae partes Calvini sunt, nostrae faciles et explicatae. Quid amplius? Conferte Scripturas, inquiunt. Conspirant Evangelia, Paulus adstipulatur; voces, clausulae, tota connexio panem, vinum, insigne miraculum, coeleste pabulum, carnem, corpus, sanguinem, reverenter ingeminant. Nihil aenigmaticum, nihil offusum caligine loquendi.
Tamen perstant adversarii, neque finem faciunt altercandi. Quid agimus? Opinor, audiatur antiquitas; et quod nos alteris alteri suspecti non possumus, illud omnium saeculorum veneranda canities, Christo propior, ab hac lite remotior, decidat arbitrio. Non ferunt: prodi se aiunt. Dei verbum purum, purum, inclamant; hominum commentarios aversantur. Insidiose inepte. Dei verbum perurgemus, obscurant; Divos testamur interpretes, obsistunt. In summa, sic instituunt, nisi reorum iudicio steteris, nullum iudicium fore.
Atque ita se gerunt in omni, quam exercemus, controversia, de infusa gratia, de inhaerente iustitia, de Ecclesia conspicua, de necessitate Baptismatis, de Sacramentis et Sacrificio, de piorum meritis, de spe et timore, de peccatis imparibus, de auctoritate Petri, de clavibus, de votis, de conciliis evangelicis, de caeteris. Scripturas neque paucas et ponderosa catholici passim in libris, in colloquiis, in templis, in schola citavimus atque discussimus; eluserunt. Veterum scholia graecorum et latinorum admovimus; abnuerunt. Quid tum denique? Doctor Martinus Lutherus, aut vero Phillippus, aut certe Zuinglius, aut sine dubio Calvinus et Bezza, fideliter enarrarunt. Egone quemquam vestrum existimen tam esse mucosis naribus, qui hoc artificium, monitus, non persentiscat? Quare fateor me scholas Academicas cupide requirere, ut inspectantibus vobis, calamistratos istos milites, in solem et pulverem e suis umbraculis evocatos, non meis viribus, qui cum vestris centesima parte non sum conferendus, sed valentissima causa et certissima veritate debilitem.