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In the earlier part of the ninth century, however, inquisitive minds were fixed upon this subject, in consequence of a work offered to the world by Paschasius Radbert, abbot of Corbey in Picardy. In this tract was maintained a doctrine very similar to that subsequently taught by Luther, but some of the positions were expressed in terms which occasioned a considerable sensation among divines; it being asserted, that the Lord's body, received at the Eucharistic feast, is the same body that was born of the Virgin. This doctrine, though it did not proceed to the length of asserting, that the elements were transubstantiated, but rather taught, that they were united with the incarnate Deity, was no sooner published than it encountered a violent opposition. Charles the Bald, anxious to form a sound opinion upon the controversy which Radbert had excited, applied to Ratramn' a monk and priest in the same abbey of Corbey, who as a divine had attained the highest reputation, for an elucidation of the doctrine under dispute. In obedience to this command, Ratramn composed a small work upon the
that no man has found any footsteps of opposition to it during at least six disputatious centuries, according to the chronology of its ablest friend ?
& “ Paschasius his book may be supposed to have been written A. D. 831.” Introd. to the Book of Bertram, or Ratramnus. Lond. 1686. p. 78.
Ibid. 80. Cosin, 86. I“ His true name was doubtless Ratramnus, which came afterwards to be changed into Bertramus by the error of some transcriber." Introd. to the Book of Bertram, 4.
Eucharist, still extant, and which is of great importance, because it shows incontrovertibly, that in the ninth century an eminent and honoured." member of the Romish communion inculcated, without exciting any censure, opinions utterly irreconcileable with modern Popery. The learned author begins, by complimenting Charles upon his desire to think like a Catholic upon the Eucharist'. He then observes, that upon one occasion, our Saviour designated himself as “ the living bread which came down from heaven";" upon another, addressing his disciples, the Lord said, “ I am the true vine, ye are the branches ". In both these cases one thing is expressed, another understood; for in substance, neither was Christ, bread or a vine, nor were the Apostles, branches'. Similarly figurative, he proceeds, were our Lord's words at the Last Supper;. hence our commemoration of it is called a sacrament or mystery, words inapplicable to that in
* “ It is an argument of his known abilities, that Charles the Bald chose to consult him upon points of so great moment as the predestination controversy, and that of Christ's presence in the Sacrament.” (Ibid. 9.) “Nay F. Cellot acknowledgeth, that Hincmarus himself had such an esteem for him, (long after his writing of the Sacrament and predestination,) that when at the desire of Pope Nicolaus I. he sought all France for learned men to write against the Greeks, he invited Ratramnus by name to undertake that service.” Ibid. 12.
1 “Quid enim dignius regali providentia quam de illius sacris Mysteriis Catholice sapere?" Ratramn, 4. m St. John, vi. 51.
» St. John, xv. 1. 5. Ratramn, 13.
which is nothing covered under a veil". Nothing, besides, can be more absurd, than to take bread for flesh, or to say, that wine is blood; and how can ordinary substances in which there is not any change known to be made, be styled Christ's body and blood ? Since, therefore, no change whatever in the elements appears, or indeed, under the circumstances of the case, is possible, philosophically speaking, the Eucharistie words of Christ are necessarily figurative. One and the same thing, in one respect, has the nature of bread and wine ; in another respect, it is the Saviour's body and blood. For both, as they are corporally handled, are in their nature corporeal creatures; but according to their virtue, and what they are spiritually made, they are mysteries of the body and blood of Christ'. In baptism also, the water used is only a corruptible fluid by which the body may be washed, but the Holy Ghost endues it with a power to purge away spiritual impurities, and to raise the soul from everlasting death. Thus in one and the same element, are seen two things contrary to each other; that which is corruptible gives incorruption, and that which is without life becomes the means of bestowing life. So in the Eucharist, the things seen feed a corruptible body, being corruptible them selves : but the things believed feed immortal souls, being themselves immortal. This sound
· Ibid. 25.
P Ratramn, 15. • Ibid. 27.
q Ibid. 19.
and rational doctrine is then enforced by other instances of figurative language occurring in Scripture, such as no man ever dreamt of expounding literally; and the author proceeds to shew, with great learning and acuteness, that the Eucharistic reveries which Radbert had been pleased to advocate upon paper are at variance with Scripture, with the fathers, with the nature of a sacrament, and with human reason. Thus no sooner had something closely bordering upon transubstantiation been tangibly broached, than one of the first divines of the age stepped forward, at his sovereign's desire, to explain what really was the voice of Holy Writ, and of the Catholic Church, upon this question. The result was, that a short, but a very able and explicit piece appeared " which proves, to the infinite perplexity of modern self-called Catholics, that in the time of Charles the Bald, this appellation which they have arrogated exclusively to themselves was considered the property of such as hold, upon a point of the first importance, the doctrine of most modern Protestants.
The sentiments of Ratramn were so far from
• Bishop Cosin assigns 860, as the date of Ratramn's work. The English translator places its composition, four or five years earlier. Ratramn is thought to have been preferred by Charles the Bald to the government of the monastery of Orbais, in the diocese of Soissons. Radbert resigned the abbacy of Corbey in 851, being harassed, as F. Mabillon conjectures, by the Eucharistic controversy which he had excited. Introd. to the Book of Bertram, 5, 6. 79.
giving offence to the more learned and judicious of his contemporaries, that we find them connected with almost every celebrated theological name by which the age was graced. Rabanus Maurus, the far-famed Archbishop of Mentz", Agobard, Archbishop of Lyons", Claudius, Bishop of Turin”, the illustrious John Scot, usually designated Erigena“, Druthmar, and several other authors of
* “ Cui, si Trithemium audimus, nec Italia similem, nec Germania peperit æqualem.” (Usser. de Success. 24.) Abp. Usher, and Bp. Cosin, the latter especially, have given a sufficient specimen of this illustrious prelate's opinion upon the Eucharist. He speaks indeed so plainly against the corporal presence that William of Malmsbury, and Thomas of Walden rejected his authority as undoubtedly erroneous; but as Bp. Cosin observes, these writers, in condemning Rabanus, have taken upon themselves to condemn all the doctors of the ancient Church.
In his work upon pictures and images ; in which he denies the propriety of allowing to these objects any religious honours whatever. The book is forbidden in the Romish Index Expurgatorius. Nevertheless Agobard passes for a saint among the Romanists; it being their usage to claim as belonging to themselves every celebrated name in ancient times. Allix on the Albigenses, 97.
2 Allix on the Piedmontese Churches, 67. 4 Cosin, 92.
A monk of Corbey. His sentiments upon the Eucharist are so completely opposed to modern Popery, that Sixtus of Sienna thought proper to qualify them by declaring, that his words, as generally received, do not agree exactly with a manuscript hitherto unused for the press. This manuscript, however, has not been produced, but the assertion of Sixtus has been placed in the margin of Druthmar's work, reprinted in the Bibliotheca Patrum, at Cologne. Cardinal Perron proceeds more boldly