SECT. III. Testimonies of the practise of the Church from 200. to 300.
FIrst Tertullian in his booke of the resurrecti∣on of the flesh. cap. 8. speaking of the pra∣ctise of Christians in generall, and not Ecclesi∣asticke onely, saith: yThe flesh feedeth vpon the body and blood of Christ, that the soule may be fatted, as it were of God.
z Cardinall Bellarmine → shifteth of this sen∣tence of Tertullian: by tithing minte and cummim, nicely distinguishing betweene feeding vpon Christs blood, & drinking it. The people may and do feede vpon Christs blood, though they Page 52 drinke it not, but eate it, or take it by way of meat, vnder the forme of bread.
This nicity will not serue the turne. First because Tertullian speaketh of the body and blood of Christ as distinct things, saying, corpo∣re et sanguine. Now the blood taken as a distinct thing from the body, cannot bee fed vpon, but by drinking: we feed vpon the blood of Christ in the Sacrament as shed for vs; and therefore necessarily as seuered from the body. And how is it possible, to take blood, or feede vpon it as shed and seuered from the body, without drin∣king of it? All faithfull Christians in Tertullian his time fed vpon Christs blood, as distingui∣shed from the body; they dranke it therefore. Why then doth Tertullian vse the Verbe, vesci, signifying to feed vpon, & not bibere, signifying to drinke? The reason is euident, because hee speaketh of the partaking of both the body and the blood, which he could not expresse by the word, Drinke, because wee drinke not the body; he vseth, therefore a common word Ves∣ci, to feed, which may be applied to both acts, eating and drinking; namely, eating the body, and drinking the blood. Feeding is as the Ge∣nus to both, and may bee affirmed of both, For which cause Tertullian speaking of both made choice of it, rather then of the Verbe, bi∣bere, which could not agree to Corpore, though Page 53 it were proper to sanguine.
Secondly, Tertullian himselfe elsewhere maketh mention of the Cup giuen to the Laie∣tie, and not only to Lay men, but women also. Tertul. adavxorem lib. 2. c. 6. shall the Lords Table heare any thing, or haue to doe with the Tauerne, or with hell? from whose hands, shall she desire (the Sa∣cramentall) bread, of whose Cup shall she participate? He speaketh of a Christian woman married to an infidell, and sheweth the inconueniencie of such a match, whereby the faithfull wife was like to be debarred of the comfort of receiuing the Sacrament, and drinking of the Lords Cup. Tert. then is cleere for the Laietie com∣municating in both kinds. And so is Origen.
Origen in 16.bHom. on Numb. maketh this question. What people is it, that is accustomed to drinke blood? and he answereth the faithfull people; the Christian people heareth these things, and embra∣ceth him, who saith, vnlesse you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drinke his blood, you haue no life in you. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drinke indeed. Marke the ingemination? The people, the faithfull people heareth these things, &c. Therefore in Origens time it was the peoples vse and cu∣stome, to drinke the blood of Christ.
c← Bellarmine → loc. sup. cita. saith to this testimo∣nie of Origen, that the people did drinke, but they had no command so to doe. It was their vse, it was not Christs precept. Secondly, hee saith, the people might haue such a vse or custome, to drinke at the Lords supper, though euery one dranke not, but some onely.
I need not refell this answer, because Bellar∣mine granteth all that, for which I produce this testimonie: that the practise of the Church in Origens time goeth for vs; and his mincing the matter, that some of the people might drinke, not all, and that they dranke it by custome, not by law, no way healpeth his bad cause.
For first, Origen in this very place alleageth Christs precept for this practise of the faithfull people, Iohn. 6. vnlesse ye drinke my blood, you haue no life in you.
Secondly, in the end of this homily, he tur∣neth his speech not to some of this people, but to his audience, and thus concludeth; dThou therefore art the true people of Israel, who knowest to drink the blood, and hast learned to eat the flesh of the Word of God, and to take a draught of the blood of that grape, which is of the true vine, & those branches of which the father purgeth. The euidence of this Page 55 truth is like the light of the morning: it grow∣eth cleerer and cleerer. For Origen is cleerer in this point then Tertullian, and Cyprian is yet cleerer, then Origen.
Cyprian that learned Bishop of Carthage, and blessed Martyr of Christ Iesus, not onely deliuereth but propugneth our assertion by a forcible argument. e epist. 54. How doe wee inuite them (Gods people) to shed their blood for Christ in the confession of his name, if when they set forth to fight for him, we denie them his blood? how shall wee fit them for the Cup of Martyrdome, if before we ad∣mit them not by right of Communion to drinke of the Lords Cup in his Church? in his 63. epistle *Be∣cause some men out of ignorance, or simplicitie in san∣ctifying the Cup of the Lord, and ministring it to the people; doe not that which Iesus Christ our Lord and God, the Author and Institutor of this Sacrifice did, and taught; I thought it both a matter of religi∣on, and necessity, to acquaint you herewith by letters: that, if any yet bee held in that error, the light of truth being now discouered vnto him; hee might re∣turne vnto the roote and beginning of our Lords in∣stitution.
← Bellarmine → in his answere to Saint Cyprian, makes good the Poets obseruation: Qui semel Page 56 verecundiae limites transiuerit, hunc grauiter impu∣dentem esse oportet: he that hath once passed the bounds of modesty, he must be stoutely impudent, and arme his forehead with brasse: for here he is not content to slight this allega∣tion, as he did the former: but is bold to chal∣lenge it for an euidence on his owne side. This place, saith hee, rather maketh for our opinion, then against it: for f Saint Cyprian spea∣keth of certaine Christians, that fell in time of persecution, from the profession of the true faith, and were therefore excommunicated by the Bishops, whom Saint Cyprian exhorteth, in regard of the eminent persecution, to re∣store these weake Christians to their former right and interest, which they had in the Lords body. The right therefore of the Laie∣tie to Communicate, is giuen by the Priests, and taken away by them. Now if the Priests or Prelates, may for certaine crimes take the right of Communicating from the Laietie, they may also dispose of the manner of Com∣municating vnder one kinde. To the second testimony he answereth, that Cyprian in that place handleth not the poynt, whether the Cup ought to bee deliuered to the people or no, but if it bee deliuered vnto them, hee will haue it deliuered not in water onely, but wine mingled with water. And this he saith, Christ taught vs.
Neither of these answeres will beare scale, both of them are to light by many graines: the first of these is liable to these exceptions.
First, it is impertinent: for we bring the te∣stimony to prooue the practise of the Primi∣tiue Church concerning the Laieties partici∣pating the Cup: But ← Bellarmine → craftily waues that poynt, and questioneth by what right the people did Communicate. Admit that, which is most falfe, that the Bishop or Priest gaue the people all the right they had to the Cup, yet they had it, and vsed it; their practise therefore maketh for vs.
Secondly, it is inconsequent: for first, when a'man is Excommunicated, and hath lost his right to the Lords Table, a Bishop vpon the parties submission, and sorrow for his sin, and humble intreatie, may restore him to his right againe, and set him where he was: yet this prooueth not, that the Laietie had their o∣riginall right of Communicating from them; as a Bishop may vpon iust cause suspend a Lay man, or Cleargie from the Communion, so he may also exclude him from hearing of the word, and publike prayer; yet no man will hence conclude, that the Laietie, or Priest haue no right at all to come into the Church, and to pray, and to heare Gods word, but from the Bishop. Albeit Cyprian in his owne Page 58 Church, and any other Bishop in his Diocesse may admit, or reiect some particular persons vpon iust cause from the Communion: yet it will not from hence follow, that the Bishop of Rome may take away either the Cup, or the Bread from Gods people in all Chur∣ches.
Thirdly, it is no good inference, that because the Bishop may depriue a man of the whole Sacrament vpon some causes, viz. for a great crime, or high misdemeanor, that therefore he may depriue him of a part of it without a∣ny fault at all, as the Romanists doe the Laie∣tie in generall.
Fourthly, a Bishop may dispence with his owne censures, or reuoke them; but he can∣not dispence with Gods law. To suspend a man from the whole Communion, if the de∣linquent deserue it, is agreeable to Christs and the Apostles discipline; but to admit him to one part of the Sacrament, and not to the other, is a manifest violation of Christs ordi∣nance, who instituted this Sacrament in two kinds, and said to the same, Drinke yee all of this, to whom before he said, Take, eate, this is my body.
Fifthly, and lastly, if it were sufficient rea∣son to redeliuer the Cup in these times to the Laietie, who haue been deseruedly depri∣ued of it, namely to arme them against emi∣nent persecution, why should not the faithfull people of God, especially those, who neuer Page 59 incurred the censure of Excommunication, or suspension, be much rather admitted to drinke of the Cup, to arme them against as great, or greater conflicts of temptations? The sinnew of Saint Cyprians reason is in the word milita∣turis: Those that are to fight the Lords bat∣tels, are to be strengthened thereunto, by ta∣king the Cup of Saluation, or drinking the Lords Blood. But I assume, all Christians in all ages were, are, and shall be militantes, or mi∣litaturi, such as haue fought, doe fight, or shall against their ghostly and bodily enemies; therefore according to Saint Cyprians military discipline, they are to be strengthened, and ar∣med thereunto, by participating of the Lords Cup.
The answere of ← Bellarmine to the second te∣stimony of Saint Cyprians 63. Epistle, com∣meth not home to the marke by many bowes: for albeit the maine scope of that Epistle be, to prooue the necessitie of administring the Sacrament in Wine, against the corrupt cu∣stome of the Aquarij, (certaine heretikes that administred it in meere water) yet on the by, he discouereth the practise of the Church in his time, to Communicate in both kinds; and in the words alleaged, be expresly faith, that the Cup was ministred, or deliuered to the people, which is all we produce this passage for.