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§ 123. The Articles of the Sorbonne with an Antidote. 1544.

Articuli a facultate s. theol. Parisiensi determinati super materiis fidei nostrae hodie controversis. Cum Antidoto (1543), 1544. Opera, VII. 1–44. A French edition appeared in the same year. English translation by Beveridge, in Calvin’s Tracts, I. 72–122.

The theological faculty of the University of Paris published, March 10, 1542, a summary of the most obnoxious doctrines of the Roman Church, in twenty-five articles, which were sanctioned by an edict of the king of France, and were to be subscribed by all candidates of the priesthood.888888    Bulaeus, Historia Univ. Paris., VI. 384, and the French text in Opera, vol, VII., Proleg., pp. ix-xii.

Calvin republished these articles, and accompanied each, first with an ironical defence, and then with a scriptural antidote. This reductio ad absurdum had probably more effect in Paris than a serious and sober mode of refutation. The following is a specimen: —

"Article VI. Of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

"The sacrifice of the Mass is, according to the institution of Christ, available for the living and the dead."

"Proof,—Because Christ says, ’This do.’ But to do is to sacrifice, according to the passage in Vergil: ’When I will do (make an offering) with a calf in place of produce, do you yourself come.’889889    " ’Hoc facite.’ Facere autem est sacrificare, justa illud Vergilii: Quum faciam vitulâpro frugibus, ipse venito.’ " (Verg.E. III. 77.) As to which signification, see Macrobius. But when the Lutherans deride that subtlety, because Christ spoke with the Apostles in the common Hebrew or Syriac tongue, and the Evangelists wrote in Greek, answer that the common Latin translation outweighs them. And it is well known that the sense of Scripture must be sought from the determination of the Church. But of the value of sacrifice for the living and the dead we have proof from experience. For many visions have appeared to certain holy monks when asleep, telling them that by means of masses souls had been delivered from Purgatory. Nay, St. Gregory redeemed the soul of Trajan from the infernal regions."890890    This refers to the mediaeval legend which has found its way into Dante’s Divina Comedia (Purg. X. 75; Par. XX. 109-111), that the Emperor Trajan, nearly five hundred years after his death, was disinterred, and his soul translated from hell to heaven by the prayers of Pope Gregory I., who had learned that he was a just emperor, although he persecuted the Christians. But the pope was punished for his interest in a heathen, and warned by an angel never to make a similar request. Trajan is the only pagan in Dante’s Paradise.

"Antidote to Article VI.

"The institution of Christ is, ’Take and eat’ (Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22; 1 Cor. 11:24), but not, offer. Therefore, sacrifice is not conformable to the institution of Christ, but is plainly repugnant to it. Besides, it is evident from Scripture that it is the peculiar and proper office of Christ to offer himself; as an apostle says, that by one offering he has forever perfected those that are sanctified (Heb. 10:14). Also, that ’once, in the end of the world, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself’ (9:26). Also, that after this sanctification, ’there remains no more a sacrifice for sins’ (10:26). For to this end also was he consecrated a priest after the order of Melchisdec, without successor or colleague (Heb. 5:6; 7:21).

"Christ, therefore, is robbed of the honor of the priesthood, when the right of offering is transferred to others. Lastly, no man ought to assume this honor unless called by God, as an apostle testifies. But we read of none having been called but Christ. On the other hand, since the promise is destined for those only who communicate in the sacrament, by what right can it belong to the dead?"

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