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Against Consubstantiation

Francis Turretin (1623-1687) - The Most Precise Theologian of the Reformation Era

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“Every decree of God is eternal; therefore it cannot depend upon a condition which takes place only in time. (2) God’s decrees depend on his good pleasure (eudokia) (Mt. 11:26; Eph. 1:5; Rom. 9:11). Therefore they are not suspended upon any condition outside of God. (3) Every decree of God is immutable (Is. 46:10; Rom. 9:11).”

The Scholastic Reformer explains why Luther was wrong about his view of the Lord’s supper.


Is Christ corporeally present in the Eucharist, and is he eaten with the mouth by believers? We deny against the Romanists and Lutherans.

I. The fiction of transubstantiation having been overthrown, it remains to treat of his corporeal presence in the Supper and the oral eating of him, for the sake of which most especially it seems to have been devised. For since the Scrip­tures so often propose to us the communion of the body and blood of Christ as the foundation and source of all his blessings and our opponents could not con­ceive how such a communion could be obtained, unless the body of Christ was truly really present on earth. Hence they invented a local and corporeal presence in order that it might be eaten with the mouth.

II. Now because we have to deal here with the Romanists Opinion of the and Lutherans, the opinion of both must be distinctly Romanists und attended to. And as to the Romanists, it is known from of Lutherans what has already been said that they urge such a mode of concerning the corporeal presence as is made by a conversion of the real presence. bread into the body of Christ so that in the Eucharist it is no longer the substance of bread, but the very body of Christ which is offered to the communicants. But because this doctrine concern­ing transubstantiation is pressed by two most manifest disadvantages (namely, the conversion of the bread into the very body of Christ and the existence of accidents without a subject), therefore, Luther proposed a new mode of presence (to wit, the inclusion of Christ’s body in the bread and of his blood in the wine; the coexistence of the bread and the body, of the wine and the blood of Christ, which was called consubstantiation or synousia). It is not clearly ascertained who was the author of this opinion. Some ascribe it to Berengar, others to Walrom, others more truly to Guitmund. Peter d’Ailly, the Cambrian Cardinal, was so much pleased with it as plainly to declare that he would embrace it, if the authority of the church, thinking differently, would not oppose. Luther following his judgment, retained this opinion as the truer and delivered it to his disciples, and it is even now retained by them. This is the doctrine set forth in Article 10 of the Augsburg Confession: “Concerning the Lord’s Supper they teach that the body and blood of Christ are truly present and are distributed to the partakers in the Lord’s Supper; and they disapprove of those teaching otherwise” (cf. The Book of Concord [ed. T:G. Tappert, 1959], p. 34). It is true that in the copy first shown to the emperor at Augsburg, it was written: “The body and blood of Christ are present under the appearance of the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper” (ibid.) (which phrase Melanchthon seems to have used, in his effort to lessen the offense of the emperor and the Romanists in order that they might obtain the toleration they sought). But because it appeared to approach too nearly to the opinion of the Romanists, these words being left out in the edition of the confes­sion, it stood simply: “The body and blood of Christ are truly present and are dis­tributed in the Lord’s Supper” (ibid.). According to this many of our divines did not refuse to subscribe to that confession, provided it was understood in an orthodox way and according to the meaning of the author (as Zanchius, Peter Martyr and others) inasmuch as the body and blood of Christ are said to be truly present (namely, spiritually presented by the word of promise and received by faith). Afterwards in another edition (recognitione) of the confession, this article is expressed in these words: “Concerning the Lord’s Supper, they teach that, with the bread and wine the body and blood of Christ are truly bestowed upon the partakers in the Lord’s Supper” (cf. ibid., pp. 179-80). This opinion is held among Lutherans in our day.

III. However, because many mistakes occur in constituting the statement of the question, certain preliminaries must be settled which can throw light upon it. First, since the word “presence” is relative, it cannot be understood without the relation of the object which is said to be present, to the subject to which it is present, and it is nothing more in general than the application of the object to the faculty fitted to take cognizance of it. Hence a twofold presence ought to be distinguished according to the twofold nature of things: corporeal and sensible, or spiritual and intelligible. In corporeal things, that is said to be present which is so before the senses or pre-senses (prae sensibus) (as the force of the word implies) that by that very thing it can be perceived by the sense to which it offers itself; in spiritual things, things are said to be present when they are offered to the intellect in such a way that it can apprehend and enjoy them with its own power Second, presence is not to be confounded with propinquity. What is near is not always present, and what is present is not always neat For example, the sun is present to us (although it is situated far off) when it shines upon us with its rays and noth­ing intervenes between it and the eye. Yet it is said to be absent at night (although sometimes it is nearer to us than during the day) because we do not feel its power in the nocturnal darkness. In this sense, Augustine said that the light surrounding the eyes of a blind man as well as of one who could see was present to the latte5 absent from the former Hence it is evident that the pres­ence of created things is not to be measured either by propinquity or distance of places, but is to be estimated by that relation by which he to whom the thing is present can enjoy it suitably. Presence is opposed not to distance, but to absence. The latter, not the former, intercepts the use and the enjoyment of the object. Third, the presence of Christ’s body can be regarded either with respect to be­lievers (who use the sacraments) and to their union with Christ’s body; or with respect to the sacrament and the union which Christ’s body can have with the sacramental signs. In the former sense, Christ is said to be present to the mind of the believer in the celebration of this mystery; in the latter, he is said to be present with regard to place in the signs, while he is conceived to be in the bread or under it or under its species. Fourth, real presence can be understood in two ways: either by nearness and corporeal contact, as a body is said to be really present which is somewhere nearby and by reason of locality; or by efficacy and virtue which efficaciously operates somewhere. Fifth, a threefold presence must be accurately distinguished here: one symbolical and sacramental in the signs; another spiritual and mystical in the heart; and the other corporeal and of nearness. Sixth, there is an oral and corporeal manducation of Christ’s body which is said to be with the mouth of the body; and there is a spiritual and mystical which is the mouth of faith. For the body can no more eat spiritually, than the soul can eat corporeally The latter manducation, however is said to be spiritual not with regard to the object (as if the body of Christ could be converted into a spirit); but both from the principal efficient cause, which is the Holy Spirit, by whose virtue this eating is done, and from the instrumental, which is faith; and from the man­ner, which consists in spiritual actions; and from the subject, which is the soul immediately and primarily; and from the relation, under which the body to be eaten is exhibited, not simply as a body, but as a body dead and crucified (in which sense it cannot be apprehended by us except spiritually).

IV From what has been said the statement of the ques­tion is clearly gathered. First, it is not inquired about the presence of Christ in general-whether Christ is present in the Eucharist (which is asserted on both sides)-but concerning the mode of this presence: Is it corporeal and by indistancy (adiastasian) or is it spiritual? The Romanists and Lutherans hold the former; we hold the latte~ Second, the question is not whether the body of Christ is present to the mind of believers in the Eucharist, and whether it is united closely with them. Rather the question is whether it is united with the sacramental signs and locally pres­ent with them. This they maintain; we deny. Third, the question is not about the real and substantial presence as to efficacy and virtue; for thus we do not deny that Christ’s body is present in the sacrament, inasmuch as in the lawful use it exerts its power in the communicants according to God’s ordination. But the question (according to the sense of our opponents) concerns a real presence by nearness (indistantiam). Fourth, it is not inquired whether our union with Christ is necessary for salvation (which we acknowledge and urge); but concerning the mode and bond by which that union ought to be made-whether the body of Christ ought to enter into our bodies by a local conjunction (which they wish); or whether it is sufficient that this be done by the Spirit of Christ and by faith (as we assert). Fifth, it is not inquired concerning the symbolic and sacramental presence of Christ’s body in the signs, or concerning the spiritual and mystical in the heart (for we acknowledge and defend both); but concerning the local pres­ence and presence of nearness in the Eucharist, either under the species of the bread (as the transubstantiationists hold) or under the very bread (as the consubstantiationists assert and we deny). Finally, the question is not whether there is an eating of the body of Christ (which is acknowledged on both sides); but whether there is an oral eating of it. So that the question returns to these limits-­Is Christ’s body so present in the Eucharist that it may be said to be in the signs not only symbolically and is it truly and really (but spiritually) communicated to and united with the hearts of believers; but is it also corporeally and indistantly (indistanter) present in the sacrament, so that it can and ought to be received into and eaten with the mouth of the body? This they maintain and we deny.

V. The reasons are various. First, here belong all those which have been adduced against the proper sense and by transubstantiation, to which we add the following. (1) From the words of institution, which cannot admit that institution. corporeal presence; both because Christ’s body is proposed in the Supper to us and represented by the sacramental signs as dead and his blood as poured out of his veins (in which manner it is impossible for Christ’s body to be made present to us at this day corporeally and indistantly [adiastatos], since he can die no more); and because Christ commands us “to do this in remembrance of him” (Lk. 22:19). Now memory is only of things absent and past, not of those present; nor, if all things are said to be present to faith, is this understood of a local presence as to real being (which is beyond the intellect), but of an objective, as to intentional being and the spiritual hypostasis of faith. If we are commanded to remember God, his absence from our mind through thoughtlessness and oblivion is supposed (although he is always present to us as to himself by his essence). Now although that remembrance enjoined upon us must be extended to his suffering and death, which we are commanded to show forth, a remembrance of Christ himself ought no less on that account to be made, since Christ expressly affirms it and indeed even until he shall come, which necessarily supposes his absence now: Nor does that future advent exclude only the visible presence of his body and not the invisible, because it is gratu­itously supposed that there is an invisible presence of Christ’s body (as will be proved hereafter). Finally, Christ says that he will not drink any more from that time of the fruit of the vine. Hence it is evident that he did drink of it in partak­ing of the Eucharist. Now who can believe that Christ was carnally present there, so that he could be eaten and drunk by himself? That he could thus be at the same time the agent and patient; the food eaten and the mouth eating?

VI. (2) From the passages in which the departure of Christ from the world is spoken of. (a) Where he predicts that he will go out of the world and will no longer Christ. be present here in his body: “Ye have the poor always

with you; but me ye have not always” (Mt. 26:11); “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father” (Jn. 16:28); “I am no more” (i.e., will be, to wit, in my body) “in the world, but these” (namely, his disciples) “are in the world” (Jn. 17:11); “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come among you” (Jn. 16:7). Hence he elsewhere forbids us to believe in the miracles of false prophets, who show Christ either in a desert or include him in secret chambers (tameiois) and with these lies feed the faith of Christians. “If they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers” (or receptacles and hidden places) “believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Mt. 24:26, 27). (b) Where he is said to have gone from this world and to have ascended up to heaven. “It came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Lk. 24:51). So in Acts 1 and elsewhere. (c) Where he is said to be in heaven, there to remain even until the end of the world, at which time he will return. “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21),~; “They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds” (Mt. 24:30). “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with the voice of the archangel” (1 Thess. 4:16). “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1). From all these, an invincible argument is derived. He who departed in body from the earth and left the world that he might betake himself to heaven where he is to remain until the restitution of all things; who is sought in vain on earth where he no longer is; and must be sought in heaven, where he sits at the right hand of God, cannot be said to be carnally present in the sacrament. And yet all these things are said of Christ. Therefore…

VII. See the various objections of the Romanists and Lutherans discussed in Volume II, Topic XIII, Sections 8, Paragraphs 16, 17, 18 and Question 18, Sections 4, 5, 6. To these we add: ( 1 ) in vain is the visible corporeal presence and human conversation of Christ distinguished from his invisible presence, as if that only is excluded and not this. (a) Because it is gratuitously supposed that there is granted such an invisible presence of Christ’s body, besides the visible. This was to have been proved before all things, not to be supposed. For we maintain that it is a sheer invention, incompatible (asystaton) with the nature of a true body (b) It is repugnant to the words of Christ, which speak of his departure and leav­ing the world, not only concerning the disappearance and hiddenness of his body. But how can he be said to leave the world and to be raised up into heaven, if he as yet remains perpetually on earth? (c) Christ in consoling the minds of his sad disciples ought to have used this distinction-that he would indeed visibly depart, but still would be invisibly with them by the presence of his body, to such a degree that he could be both received into their hands and taken into their mouths. But he employed far different means (to wit, the substitution of the Holy Spirit in place of his bodily presence, whom he promised to send that he might remain with them forever as his vicar). Now what need was there of the invisible presence of the Holy Spirit if the flesh of Christ always remains in­visibly? Was that invisible (aorasia) presence to be supplied by anything visible? Nor ought it to be replied that Christ promised a new presence: “I will come again:’ This by no means favors an invisible presence, because it can best be ex­plained either with respect to the appearance of Christ after his resurrection, or with respect to his spiritual and mystical advent through the grace of the Spirit, or of his return to judgment. (2) No more rightly do they wish a distinction to be made between “a finite, created, definitive presence and a divine, illocal, un­created, infinite presence”; that by the former Christ is in heaven, while by the latter he is in the Supper The radical error (proton pseudos) is always assumed ­that there is a twofold kind of presence with respect to Christ’s body, which as impossible and contrary to the nature of a body-cannot be admitted.

VIII. (3) From the impossibility of such a presence be­ cause it overthrows the nature and properties of a true body. As possessed of quantity and extended, a true body such a presence. ought to be visible and palpable, located, impenetrable

and circumscribed; which is so in one place that it can­not be in another; so it has parts outside of parts, so that neither can it penetrate nor be penetrated by another body. Nevertheless, this would be done by Christ’s body if it were present in the Eucharist in the way supposed by our opponents. Nor did the exaltation of Christ (which gave glory and immortality to his body) take away its nature so that although it was destitute of the infirmities of animal life and of the conditions of a servile state, still it retained both the nature of a ‘ true body and all its properties. Nor do the examples brought forward sustain their view. Christ might have entered in to the disciples “the doors having been shut” (ton thyron kekleismeuon, Jn. 20:19) (i.e., at the time when they had closed the doors on account of their fear of the Jews), but not “through closed doors” (dia thyron). It denotes therefore the state in which the apostles were, but not the mode of entrance. For although the doors were shut, they could have yielded to the Creator and opened at his hand. The same is to be said about the stone placed at the mouth of his sepulchre The creature might have yielded willingly to the Creator without a penetration of its dimensions, although the angel of the Lord, since he had descended from heaven, had not removed the stone from the mouth of the sepulchre, as is said to have been done (Mt. 28:2). Christ is said “to have vanished out of their sight” (aphantos ap’ auton) (to wit, of the disciples at Emmaus, Lk. 24:31), not by vanishing into thin air, but either by holding together the eyes of the apostles that they might not see him going away; or by withdrawing himself very swiftly from them so that “he may be said to have been carried away from their sight,” as Beza translates it (Annotationes maiores in novum . . . testamentum: Pars priar [L594], p. 325 on Lk. 24:31). Christ is said to have passed into the heavens (Heb. 4:14), not by a penetration of heavenly bod­ies, but by a passing through them, the heavens being opened at his approach as they are said to have been opened at his baptism. Nor does the word dielelythota imply penetration anymore than when Paul and Barnabas “went through the island” (dielthontes ton neson, i.e., Cyprus, Acts 13:6) can they be said to have penetrated the island.

IX. (4) From its inutility. If there was any use for it, it ought to serve undoubtedly for oral manducation. But many things prove that no such thing, but only a spiritual is granted. (a) The nature of food which ought to be eaten by us; for the eating ought to be such as the food is. Now the food is not corporeal, but spiritual; both be­ cause it ought to be a nourishment of the mind not of the body, and because the life which is to be sustained is not animal and earthly but spiritual and heavenly (con­sisting in the remission of sins and the practice of sanctification), opposed to the death of sin (which consisted in the curse and corruption); and because the in­strument of eating is not the mouth of the body (because whatever enters into the mouth goes into the stomach and is thrown into the sewer, Mt. 15:17; 1 Cor. 6:13), but the mouth of faith, by which Christ dwells in our hearts (Eph. 3:17) and we apply to ourselves his flesh given for the life of the world by a living ap­prehension of his merit; and because the adjuncts and effects are spiritual, not corporeal. It is not corruptible food which perishes, but incorruptible which endures unto everlasting life (Jn. 6:27), whose effects are spiritual: our mystical union with Christ (Jn. 6:56), a glorious resurrection (v. 54) and the fruition of eternal life (vv. 47-49).

X. (b) All these are confirmed by Jn. 6, whence various arguments are drawn for spiritual eating against oral and Capemaitic (whatever our opponents may bring forward to the contrary). (i) It treats of the eating which gives eternal life: “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead” (v. 49*). “This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die” (v. 50); “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood… dwelleth in me, and I in him” (vv 54, 56). (ii) Of an eating which is absolutely necessary for the gaining of life: “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (v. 53). (iii) Of that which answers to spiritual hunger and thirst and which is performed by faith: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (v. 35). Here coming to Christ and believing on him are put for the true means of allaying hunger and slaking thirst (i.e., for the true eating, which Christ means). (iv) Of that for which faith alone is required. For since Christ had commanded the Jews to labour for enduring food, and the Jews had asked what they were to do that they might enjoy that food, he answers that faith alone is required: “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (v 29). (v) He speaks of the eating which could be done at that time because he speaks not in the future, but in the present and urges its perpetual necessity. And yet oral man­ducation had not as yet been instituted nor could it have had a place. (vi) Of the eating which should be done through the Spirit, “because the flesh profiteth nothing, but it is the Spirit which giveth life” (v. 63). (vii) Many of our oppo­nents confess that Christ treats in this chapter of spiritual manducation alone, among whom Bellarmine mentions Gabriel Biel (Canonis Misse Expositio 84 [ed. H. Oberman and W. Courtenay, 1967], 4:77-95), Cusanus, Cajetan, Tapper, Hessel, Comelius Jansen (“De Sacramento Eucharistiae,” 1.5 Opera, 3:255-57). To these must be added Aeneas Sylvius (or Pius II), who urging against the Taborites the restitution of the cup from these words, “except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood” (v. 53), copiously teaches that Christ speaks only of a spiritual manducation. However, they who urge the oral man­ducation confess that the discourse of Christ up to v. 51 is figurative and is to be understood of spiritual manducation (as Bellarmine, Salmeron, Maldonatus). But in vain is this distinction employed, since Christ uses the same words and treats of the same thing; nor is there any reason for a change in the discourse.

XI. If anyone seeks further for what purpose Christ employs this metaphorical kind of speaking in this whole chapter, representing communion with him by manducation, various reasons can be given. ( 1 ) This figurative manner of speak­ing is most familiar in the Scriptures and was often employed by Christ. It is his custom to adumbrate spiritual mysteries and his blessings under the covering of corporeal things and actions. As elsewhere he describes the grace of conversion by regeneration and the production of the new man; thus to this new man he attributes a new life and food by which he may be nourished and sustained. (2) It is the fittest mode of speaking to designate our communion with Christ, as is evi­dent from a manifold analogy. (3) Christ had a special occasion in this place for using such a metaphor from the miracle performed and a regard for the crowd which followed him. For as he had filled them with the loaves miraculously multiplied, so they came to him again to be fed by him. Hence he seized the opportunity of turning their minds away from earthly thoughts about material and corporeal bread and carrying them to the thought of and desire for his grace. This he designates under the same idea which then occupied their senses (namely, under the idea of meat and drink). “Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you” (Jn. 6:26, 27*). Nothing is more usual with Christ than to use the occasions offered for setting forth his mysteries. As from the occasion of the water to which the Samaritan woman approached, he repre­sents his grace under the symbol of water (Jn. 4:10). From the occasion of his dis­ciples exhorting him to take food, on which he speaks of doing the will of his Father as of food: “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me” (Jn. 4:34*). What wonder, therefore, if Christ, on the occasion of the miracle of the loaves, describes union with him under the symbol of eating? And for this reason the more, that he was drawing the answer of the crowd necessarily to that very thing (Jn. 6:30-32). When they speak of the manna given to their fathers, on that account he shows that he is the true celestial bread who gives life to the world and not the corruptible manna of the Israelites. (4) In this way, Christ also wished to contrast his body with the legal victims and especially with those which were offered for the expiation of sin, upon which it was not lawful to feed, neither as to the flesh, nor as to the blood. Assuredly this was not done without a mystery to designate the imperfection and insufficiency of such victims because they were so involved in the fire of divine justice that nothing could remain from them for the nourishment of the people. This was a sign that there was no power in them to appease the divinity and to fill with consolation the conscience of the offerer But Christ wishes to teach that this would not be the case with his sacri­fice. So far from its being consumed and absorbed by the fire of the divine wrath, that, a most full satisfaction having been rendered to his justice, we can be nourished by his body and blood (i.e., feel its efficacy in consoling and pacifying the soul). Thus while the Israelites had communion with the victims only in death (drawing them to the altar that they might die in their place), Christ wished not only to share in our death by receiving our sins upon himself, but he wishes that we may have communion of life with him and to that end gives us his flesh and blood for spiritual aliment.

XII. Our opponents can find nothing in this chapter which favors oral manducation. (1) Not what is said in v 55: “My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is “: drink indeed:’ For he is the true food; but of the mind, not of the stomach; of the heart and of faith, not of the mouth. Thus it denotes the truth of the similitude:. between corporeal food and spiritual and celestial food as to the efficacy of nutrition, but not as to the mode of eating. As “Why do you prepare teeth and stomach, be­lieve and thou hast eaten,” as Augustine says on John 6* (Tractate 25, On the Gospel of John* [NPNFI, 7:164; PL 35.1602]). Thus he is called “the true light” (Jn. 1:9), i.e., far truer than the visible light. Therefore he is called the true food, but spiritually, not corporeally; for his truth consists in spiritual no less than in ‘ corporeal things; yea, on this account, the more sure because they are wont to be ·: more `perfect than the latter In this sense, Christ is called “the true vine” (Jn. 15:1). “Truly the people is grass (Isa. 40:7). Thus Cajetan observes on the passage: To signify that his flesh, not deceptively, not by opinion, but according to the truth nourishes the soul, he says my flesh is truly meat” (“Commentarii in Evangelium secundum Ioannem,”quotquot in Sacrae Scripturae [1639], 4:335: on Jn. 5:56). So also Gabriel Biel: “My flesh is truly meat” (i.e., undoubtedly): “refreshing meat” (Canonis Misse Expositio 86 [ed. H. Oberman and W Courtenay, 1967], 4:135). (2) Not that Christ “distinguishes eating and drinking by which each species is most clearly distinguished; since in spiritual manducation by faith, to drink is the same as to eat.” Christ uses that twofold word, not for the reason that the one ought to be the act of spiritual eating, the other of spiritual drinking; but to signify that Christ is not our life and food except as he is dead and that we obtain full spiritual nourishment in his death and in communion with him, as full nutrition is attained by meat and drink. (3) Nor that he says, “I will give in the future and not I give in the present, because eating by faith belongs to all times.” For the verb “to give” in the future denotes his deliverance unto death (which was as yet future) not the giving at the feast (which is in the Eucharist). Thus to give the power of food to the body of Christ implies nothing but the sacrifice by which he was made the meat of our soul (which cannot be eaten except as a victim).

XIII. (4) Not that the Jews (understanding a carnal eating of Christ [v. 52], which they judged to be absurd and impossible) are not rebuked by Christ; yea, are the more confirmed, but are only informed of the mode of really eating, which they did not comprehend. It is gratuitously supposed that Christ did not reprehend them, since it is clear that he did: “Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?” (vv. 61, 62). Here he plainly condemns them because they were offended at his discourse improperly understood, drawing to an oral and corporeal manducation what he had said about a spiritual manducation. And in order to relieve them of this gross imagi­nation, he sets before them his future ascension into heaven, from which they might still more certainly gather that his words were to be understood not liter­ally, but figuratively and mystically (as Augustine observed, Tractate 27, On the Gospel of John [NPNFI, 7:174-78]). Thus they were not confirmed in their depraved sense concerning oral manducation (according to which the body of Christ would have to be present by nearness of place), but he recalls them from that error, his future ascension being proposed, by which the presence of his flesh having been withdrawn from the earth, there could be no method of eating it other than spiritual and by faith. Christ confirms this further when he adds: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (v. 63). Here he teaches that his flesh orally received conduces not to salvation, since it belongs to the Spirit alone to vivify us (i.e., he applies to our souls unto salvation the vivifying and nutritive power of Christ’s flesh by the merit of his sacrifice). Thus the words of Christ are Spirit and life (i.e., they are to be understood spiritually). (5) Not from this-that Christ promises “to give new food not as yet granted to men, which cannot be understood of spiritual manducation, which belongs to all times, but only of an oral:’ For Christ certainly promises something new (to wit, the oblation of his body as a victim for the life of the world), which had not as yet happened; but he did not on that account command a new method of eating, because there ought not to be granted a different method of salvation and of communion with Christ between the believers of the Old and New Testaments. And the fathers, believ­ing in Christ who was to come, could eat him spiritually, no less than we (as the following argument teaches).

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