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The Reign of Queen Mary Continued

The report of the disputation had and begun in the convocation house at London, appointed by the Queen, Oct. 18, 1553.

On October 18th, Dr. Weston, who had been chosen prolocutor, certified to the house, that it was the queen's pleasure the learned men there assembled should debate of matters of religion, and constitute laws, which her grace and the parliament would ratify. "And for that," said he "there is a book of late set forth, called the Catechism, bearing the name of this honourable synod, and yet put forth without your consents, as I have learned; being a book very pestiferous, and full of heresies; and likewise learned; being a book very pestiferous, and full of heresies; and likewise a book of Common Prayer very abominable," as it pleased him to term it. "I thought it therefore best, first to begin with the articles of the Catechism, concerning the sacrament of the altar, to confirm the natural presence of Christ in the same, and also transubstantiation. Wherefore, it shall be lawful, on Friday next, for all men freely to speak their conscience in these matters, that doubts may be removed, and they satisfied therein."

The Friday coming, being the 20th of October, when men had thought they should have entered disputations of the questions proposed, the prolocutor exhibited two bills to the house: the one for the natural presence of Christ in the sacrament of the altar, and the other concerning the Catechism, denying its being published by the consent of that house, requiring all them to subscribe to the same, as he himself had done. The whole house assented, except the deans of Rochester and Exeter, the archdeacons of Winchester, Hereford, and Buckingham, and one more.

And whilst the rest were about to subscribe these two articles, John Philpot spoke concerning the articles of the Catechism, and asserted that it had been composed by the order and authority of the convocation. Moreover, he said, as concerning the article of the natural presence in the sacrament, that it was against reason and order of learning, and also very prejudicial to the truth, that men should be moved to subscribe before the matter were thoroughly examined and discussed. But when he saw his allegation was to no purpose, he requested the prolocutor that there might be an equal number of persons of both sides concerned in this disputation, and desired that he would intercede with the lords, that some of those that were learned, and setters-forth of the same Catechism, might be admitted into the house; and that Dr. Ridley and Mr. Rogers, with two or three more, might be liberated to be present at this disputation, and to be associated with them. This request was thought reasonable, and was proposed to the bishops, who returned for answer, that it was out of their power to call such persons to the house, since some of them were prisoners; but they would petition the council in this behalf, and in case any of them were absent that ought to be of the house, they were agreeable to their admission. After this, they minding to have entered into disputation, there came a gentleman as messenger from the lord great master, signifying unto the prolocutor, that the lord great master and the earl of Devonshire would be present at the disputations, and therefore he deferred the same unto Monday, at one of the clock at afternoon. Upon that day, the prolocutor made a protestation, in the presence of many earls, lords, knights, gentlemen, and divers others of the court and of the city also, that they of the house had appointed this disputation, not to call in question the truth to which they had subscribed, but that those gainsayers might be resolved respecting their doubts.

Then he demanded of Mr. Haddon, whether he would reason against the questions proposed, or no. To whom he answered, that he had certified him before in writing that he would not, since the request of such learned men as were demanded to be assistant with them, would not be granted. Mr. Elmar was likewise asked, who made the like answer: adding that they had already too much injured the truth by their subscribing before the subjects were discussed. Mr. Weston, turning to Mr. Cheney, or Cheyney, desired to know whether he would propose his doubts concerning transubstantiation; when the latter answered, "I would gladly my doubts to be resolved which move me not to believe transubstantiation. The first is out of St. Paul to the Corinthians, who, speaking of the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, called it ofttimes bread, after the consecration. The second is out of Origen, who, speaking of this sacrament, saith that the material part thereof goeth down to the excrements. The third is out of Theodoret, who making mention of the sacramental bread and wine after the consecration, saith, that they go not out of their former substance, form, and shape. These be some of my doubts, among many others, wherein I require to be answered."

Then the prolocutor assigned Dr. Moreman to answer him, who to St. Paul answered him thus: "The sacrament is called by him, bread indeed; but it is thus to be understood: that it is the sacrament of bread; that is, the form of bread." Then Mr. Cheney alleged, that Hesychius called the sacrament both bread and flesh. "Yea," said Moreman, "Hesychius calleth it bread, because it was bread, and not because it is so." And, passing over Origen, he came to Theodoret, and said, that men mistook his authority by interpreting a general into a special, as Peter Martyr has done in the place of Theodoret, interpreting ovoia for substance, which is a special signification of the word; whereas ovoia is a general word, as well to accidents as to substance. "And therefore I answer thus unto Theodoret: that the sacramental bread and wine do not go out of their former substance, form, and shape; that is to say, not out of their accidental substance and shape."

After this Mr. Cheney sat down; and by and by Mr. Elmar rose, declaring that Moreman's answer to Theodoret was not just or sufficient, but an illusion and subtle evasion, contrary to Theodoret's meaning," etc. After this stood up John Philpot; and then began a further discussion, in which Dr. Moreman, the dean of Rochester, and Dr. Watson took part. The night coming on, the proculator broke up the disputation for that time; and appointed Philpot to be the first that should begin the disputation next day, concerning the presence of Christ in the sacrament.

On Wednesday, October 25th, John Philpot was prepared to enter upon the disputation, minding first to have made a certain oration in Latin, of the matter of Christ's presence which was then in question; which the prolocutor perceiving, he forbade him to make any declaration or oration in Latin, but to deliver his arguments in English. After reminding him of what he had appointed, and that his arguments were prepared in Latin, Philpot added, "You have sore disappointed me, thus suddenly to go from your former order: but I will accomplish your commandment, leaving mine oration apart; and I will come to my arguments, which, as well as so sudden a warning can serve, I will make in English. But, before I bring forth any argument, I will, in one word, declare what manner of presence I disallow in the sacrament, to the intent the hearers may the better understand to what end and effect mine arguments shall tend; not to deny utterly the presence of Christ in his sacrament, truly ministered according to his institution; but only that gross and carnal presence, which you of this house have already subscribed unto, to be in the sacrament of the altar, contrary to the truth and manifest meaning of the Scriptures: That by transubstantiation of the sacramental bread and wine, Christ's natural body should, by the virtue of the words pronounced by the priest, be contained and included under the forms of bread and wine. This kind of presence, imagined by men, I do deny, and against this I will reason."

But before he could end his speech, he was interrupted by the prolocutor, and commanded to descend to his argument. "I am about it," quoth Philpot, "if you will let me alone. But first I must needs ask a question of my respondent, Dr. Chedsey, concerning a word or two of your supposition; that is, of the sacrament of the mass to be all one. "Then," quoth Philpot, "the sacrament of the altar, which ye reckon to be all one with the mass, once justly abolished, and now put in full use again, is no sacrament, neither is Christ in any wise present in it." This he offered to prove before the whole house, the queen and her council, or before six of the most learned men of that house of a contrary opinion, and refused none. "And if I shall not be able to maintain, by God's word, that I have said, and confound those six which shall take upon them to withstand me in this point, let me be burned with as many fagots as be in London, before the court gates!" This he uttered with great vehemency of spirit.

The prolocutor, urged by some that were about him, consented that he should be allowed an argument, so that he would be brief therein. "I will be as brief," qouth Philpot, "as I may conveniently. And, first, I will ground my arguments upon the authority of Scripture, whereon all the buildings of our faith ought to be grounded; and after I shall confirm the same by ancient doctors of the church. And I take the occasion of my first argument out of Matthew xxviii., of the saying of the angel to the three Marys, seeking Christ at the sepulchre, saying, "He is risen, he is not here;" and, Luke xxiii., the angel asketh them, "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" Likewise the Scripture testifieth that Christ is risen, ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; all which is spoken of his natural body; therefore it is not on earth included in the sacrament. I will confirm this yet more effectually by the saying of Christ in John xvi.: "I came from my Father into the world, and now I leave the world and go away to my Father:" the which coming and going he meant of his natural body. Therefore we may affirm thereby, that it is not now in the world. But I look here to be answered with a blind distinction of visibly and invisibly, that he is visibly departed in his humanity, but invisibly he remaineth notwithstanding in the sacrament.--But I will prove that no such distinction ought to take away the force of that argument, by the answer which Christ's disciples gave unto him, speaking these words: 'Now thou speakest plainly, and utterest forth no proverb;' which words St. Cyril, interpreting, saith, 'That Christ spake without any manner of ambiguity and obscure speech.' And therefore I conclude hereby thus, that if Christ spake plainly and without parable, saying, 'I leave the world now, and go away to my Father,' then that obscure, dark, and imperceptible presence of Christ's natural body to remain in the sacrament upon earth invisibly, contrary to the plain words of Christ, ought not to be allowed; for nothing can be more uncertain, or more parabolical or insensible, than so to say. Here now will I attend what you will answer, and so descend to the confirmation of all that I have said, by ancient writers."

Then Dr. Chedsey took upon him to answer every point progressively. First to the saying of the angel, "Christ is not here;" and "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" he answered, that these sayings pertained nothing to the presence of Christ's natural body in the sacrament, but that they were spoken of Christ's body being in the sepulchre, when the three Marys thought him to have been in the grave still. And therefore, the angel said, "Why do ye seek him that liveth among the dead?" And to the authority of St. John, where Christ saith, "Now I leave the world and go to my Father;" he meant that of his ascension. And so likewise did Cyril, interpreting the saying of the disciples, who knew that Christ would visibly ascend to heaven; but that doth not exclude the invisible presence of his natural body in the sacrament. St. Chrysostom, writing to the people of Antioch, affirms the same, comparing Elias and Christ together, and Elias's cloak, and Christ's flesh. "When Elias," saith he, "was taken up in the fiery chariot, he left his cloak behind him unto his disciple Elisaeus. But Christ ascending into heaven, took his flesh with him, and left also his flesh behind him." From whence we may justly conclude, that Christ's flesh is visibly ascended into heaven, yet abideth invisibly in the sacrament of the altar.

Philpot replied, "You have not directly answered to the words of the angel, 'Christ is risen and is not here;' because you have omitted that which was the chief point. For I proceed further, as thus, He is risen, ascended, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father: therefore he is not remaining on earth. Neither is your explication of Cyril sufficient. But I will presently return to your interpretation of Cyril, and plainly declare it, after I have refuted the authority of Chrysostom, which is one of the chief principles that you adduce to support your carnal presence in the sacrament; which being well understood, pertaineth nothing thereunto." The prolocutor was irritated and started with impatience to think that one of the chief pillars on this point should be overthrown. He therefore recited the authority in Latin, and afterwards turned it into English, calling the attention of all present to remark that saying of Chrysostom which he thought invincible on their side. "But I will make it appear," said Philpot, "that it serves little for your purpose, for I have two objections to propose; one drawn from Scripture, the other from he very place of Chrysostom himself.

"First, where he seemeth to say, that Christ ascending took his flesh with him, and left his flesh also behind him, truth it is: for we all do confess and believe that Christ took on him our human nature in the Virgin Mary's womb, and through his passion in the same, hath united us to his flesh; and thereby are we become one flesh with him: so that Chrysostom might thereby right well say, that Christ, ascending, took his flesh, which he received of the Virgin Mary, away with him; and also left his flesh behind him, which are we that be his elect in the world, who are the members of Christ, and flesh of his flesh, as very aptly St. Paul to the Ephesians, chap. v., doth testify: 'We are flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones.' And if percase any man will reply that he entreateth there of the sacrament, so that this interpretation cannot so aptly be applied unto him in that place, then will I yet interpret Chrysostom another way by himself. For in that place, a few lines before those words which were here now lately read, are these words: that Christ, after he ascended into heaven, left unto us, endued with his sacraments, his flesh in mysteries--that is, sacramentally. And that mystical flesh Christ leaveth as well to his church in the sacrament of baptism, as in the sacramental bread and wine. St. Paul doth witness, 'As many of us as are baptized in Christ have put upon us Christ;' and thus you may understand that St. Chrysostom maketh nothing for your carnal, and gross presence in the sacrament."

The fifth day's debate was opened on Friday, October 27th. The prolocutor began with observing, that the convocation had spent two days in disputing about one father, which was Theodoret, and about one Greek word, (ovoia;) and now they were assembled to answer all things that could be objected; therefore, he desired they would shortly propound their arguments. Upon this Haddon, dean of exeter, requested leave to oppose Mr. Watson, who, with Morgan and Harpsfield, were appointed to answer him. Mr. Haddon then demanded, if any substance of bread and wine remained after consecration? To which Watson replied by asking another question, namely, whether he thought there was a real presence of Christ's body or not? Mr. Haddon said, it was a breach of order that one, who was appointed respondent, should be opponent; nor should he, whose business was to object, answer. Mr. Haddon then proceeded to shew, from the words of Theodoret, that the substance of bread and wine remained; for his words are; "The same they were before the sanctification, which they are after." Mr. Watson said, that Theodoret meant not the same substance, but the same essence. On this they were driven again to a discussion of the Greek word above mentioned; and Mr. Haddon proved it to mean a substance, both by its etymology, and by the words of Theodoret. He then asked Watson, when the bread and wine became symbols? Watson answered, "After consecration, and not before." Then Mr. Haddon raised out of his author the following syllogism:

"Theodoret saith, that the same thing the bread and wine were before they were symbols, the same they still remain, in nature and substance, after they are symbols. Bread and wine they were before. Therefore bread and wine they are after." Mr. Cheyney addressing himself particularly to Mr. Watson, began after this manner. "You said that Mr. Haddon was not fit to dispute, because he had not granted the natural and real presence, but you are much less fit to answer, because you take away the substance of the sacrament." Watson said, that he had subscribed to the real presence, and should not go from that; but he would explain what he meant by subscribing to the real presence, far otherwise than they supposed. He then prosecuted Haddon's argument, proving that the Greek word before discussed was a substance, using the same reason that Haddon did: and when he had received the same answer that was made to Haddon, he told them it was but a poor refuge, when they could not answer, to deny the author, and proved the author to be a catholic doctor; that being proved, he further confirmed what was said of the nature and substance.

The prolocutor perceiving that Mr. Watson was closely attacked, called upon Mr. Morgan to help him out, who said that Theodoret did no more than what was justifiable; for, first he granted the truth, and then, for fear of such as were not fully instructed in the faith, he spake mystically: he granted the truth, by calling the bread and wine the body and blood of Christ; after which he seems to give somewhat to the senses and to reason: but that Theodoret was of the same opinion with them, will appear from his words that follow, which are the cause of what went before; therefore he says, the immortality, &c. whereby it appears, that he meant the divine, and not the human nature.

Watson now said: "Suppose Theodoret be on your side, he is but one; and what is one against the consent of the whole church?" Cheyney affirmed, that not only Theodoret was of his opinion, that the substance of bread and wine do remain, but many others also, particularly Irenaeus, who making mention of this sacrament says: "When the cup which is mingled with wine, and the bread that is broken, do receive the word of God, it is made the Eucharist of the body and blood of Christ, by which the substance of our flesh is nourished and doth consist." From whence I infer, that if the thanksgiving doth nourish our body, then there is some substance besides Christ's body. To this both Watson and Morgan replied, observing, that the words, "by which," in that sentence of Irenaeus, were to be referred to the next antecedent, that is to the body and blood of Christ; and not to the wine which is in the cup, and the bread which is broken. Mr. Cheyney said, that it was not the body of Christ which nourished our bodies; and granting that the flesh of Christ nourisheth to immortality, yet it doth not make for their argument, although it might be true; no more than that answer which was made to the allegation out of St. Paul, 'the bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?' with many others; whereunto you answered, that bread was not to be taken there in its proper signification, that is, not for that it was bread, but for that it had been so; any more than the rod of Aaron was taken for a serpent, because it had been a serpent."

After this, Mr. Cheyney brought in Hesychius, and used the same reason that he did, of burning of symbols; and he asked them, What was burnt? Watson said we must not inquire; when Cheyney asked, Whereof came those ashes--not from substance? or can any substance arise from accidents?

Here Mr. Harpsfield was called to the assistance of Watson, and began with a fair preamble about the omnipotency of God, and the weakness of human reason as to the comprehension and attainment of religious matters; observing, that whatsoever we saw, or tasted, it was not convenient to trust our senses. He also related a curious legend out of St. Cyprian, how a woman saw the sacrament burning in her coffer! "Now that which burned there," said Harpsfield, "burneth here, and becometh ashes; but what that was which burnt we cannot tell." Mr. Cheyney continued still to force them with this question--"What was it that was burnt? it was either the substance of bread, or else the substance of the body of Christ--which is too great an absurdity to grant." At length they answered, it was a miracle. At this Mr. Cheyney smiling, said that he would then proceed no further.

Dr. Weston now asked the company, whether those men had not been sufficiently answered? Certain priests said, "Yes;" but the multitude exclaimed--"No, no!' Dr. Weston answered sharply, that he asked not the judgment of the rude multitude, but such as were members of that house. He then demanded of Mr. Haddon and his fellow-disputants, whether they would answer them other three days? Haddon, Cheyney, and Elmar all replied, "No." Upon which the archdeacon of Winchester, Mr. Philpot, said they should be answered; and though all others refused to answer, yet he would not; but would himself answer them all in turns. The prolocutor abused him, saying, that he should go to Bedlam; to whom the archdeacon seriously answered, that he himself was much more suited to the place.

On the sixth debate, October 30th, the prolocutor, addressing himself to Mr. Philpot, demanded whether, in the questions before propounded, he would answer their objections? Mr. Philpot said if they would answer but one of his arguments sufficiently, he would reply to all the objections they could bring. The prolocutor then bid him state his argument, and it should be resolutely controverted by some of them. Mr. Philpot then proceeded--"On Wednesday last, I was compelled to silence before I had prosecuted half my argument, the sum of which was, that the human body of Christ had ascended into heaven, and gone to the right hand of God the Father; wherefore, after the imagination of man, it could not be situated upon earth invisibly in the sacrament of the altar. My argument is this. One and the self-same nature receiveth not any thing that is contrary to itself. But the body of Christ is a human nature, distinct from the Deity, and is a proper nature of itself. I infer therefore that it cannot receive any thing that is contrary to that nature, and that varieth from itself. To be bodily present and to be bodily absent--to be on earth, and to be in heaven--and all at one time, are things incompatible with the nature of a human body. Therefore, it cannot be said of the human body of Christ, that the self-same body is both in heaven and on the earth at one instant, either visibly or invisibly." Morgan objected to the first part of the argument, which Philpot supported out of Vigilius, an ancient writer.

Morgan cavilled still, and said it was no scripture, and desired him to prove the same from thence; upon which Philpot quoted St. Paul, who says that "Christ is made like unto us in all points, except sin;" adding, "As one of our bodies cannot receive in itself anything contrary to the nature of a body, as to be in St. Paul's Church and in Westminister Abbey at one and the same instant; or to be in London visibly and in Lincoln invisibly at one time; whereof he concluded that the body of Christ might not be in more places than one, which is in heaven; and so consequently not to be contained in the sacrament of the altar." To this the prolocutor answered that it was not true that Christ was like unto us in all points, as Philpot took it, except sin. For that Christ was not conceived by the seed of man, as we be. Whereunto Philpot replied, that Christ's conception was prophesied before, by the angel, to be supernatural; but after he had received our nature by the operation of the Holy Ghost in the Virgin's womb, he became in all points like unto us, except sin.

Morgan again cavilled; when Philpot said that he was not destitute of other Scriptures to confirm his argument, quoting the words of St. Peter: "Whom heaven must receive until the consummation of all things," etc; which words were spoken of his humanity. "And if," said he, "heaven must hold Christ, then can he not be here on earth, in the sacrament, as is pretended."

After this the prolocutor spake to Philpot, and said, "Lest thou shouldest slander the house, and say that we will not suffer you to declare your mind, we are content that you shall come into the house as you have done before; so that you be apparelled in a long gown and a tippet, like as we be, and that you shall not speak but when I command you." "Then" quoth Philpot, "I had rather be absent altogether."

Thus did they reason, till at length, about the middle of December, queen Mary interfered, and sending to Bonner, bishop of London, commanded him to dissolve the convocation. Near the same time the parliament broke up, having first repealed all such statutes as concerned any alteration of religion, and administration of the sacraments, in the reign of Edward VI. In this session also the parliament were acquainted with the queen's intended marriage with Philip, the emperor's son. In the mean time, cardinal Pole, having been sent for by Mary, was requested by the emperor to stay with him, to the intent, according to general opinion and report, that the cardinal's presence in England should not be a bar to the marriage between his son and the queen; to accomplish which, he sent a most splendid embassy, with full power; which had such good success, that, after a few days, the marriage between Mary and Philip was settled on the following terms. The government to rest solely with the queen. Her hand alone to give authority to every thing. No Spaniard to be capable of any office. No change to be made in the law, nor the queen to be required to go out of England against her will, nor their issue but by consent of the nobility. The queen to have of jointure 60,000l. out of Spain. Their son to inherit Burgundy and the Netherlands, as well as England. Their daughters to succeed to her crown, and to have such portions from Spain as were generally given to king's daughters. The prince to have no share in the government after her death.