De Religione Christiana Fides
Confession of Christian Religion
Of the Resurrection of Christ Jesus from the Dead, his ascension into heaven, and sitting at God’s right hand, out of the first of Paul to the Ephesians.
God did effectually show the greatness of his power in Christ by raising him from the dead (Eph. 1). Therefore only God, by his infinite power, is the efficient cause of the resurrection of Christ and all the dead.
Yea but Christ also by his power raised himself from death; as he said, “destroy this temple, and in three days I will build it up: but he spake of the temple of his body:” (John 2:19 & 21) and that, “I lay down my life that I may take it again” (John 10:17). Christ therefore is no less God, than the Father, neither is he God of lesser might.
But one and the same cannot be, truly the raiser and the raised from the dead, unless he consist of diverse natures, of the divine, according to which he doth raise, and the human, according to which, he is raised. Therefore the same Christ, as he is true God coessential with the Father, so he is true man, coessential with his mother and his brethren.
Neither can any be truly said to be raised and to rise from the dead, unless the same be truly said to be dead and to have died. But death consisteth in a true separation of the soul from the body, whereby the body which dieth may presently be rightly called a dead carcass. Christ then if he truly rose from the dead, it can by no means be denied, but that he also truly died, his soul being truly separated from his body.
[Two Natures Not Confused.]
If then (since he truly died) neither his soul for that time of his death was in his body, neither (since he was truly buried) his body, while it hung upon the cross, was in the grave, or while it lay in the grave, hung upon the cross; neither since God truly raised him from the dead, either his soul recalled his body, or his body recalled himself from death to life: therefore the human nature in Christ was neither omnipotent, nor everywhere present in its own substance.
For as this consequence is not good: Christ Jesus himself was dead and buried, and rose again from the dead, therefore he was dead and buried and rose again according to both his natures. So neither is this: “behold I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Mat. 28:20), therefore not only in his deity, but also in the substance of his humanity, he is really present with us on the earth.
But as this consequence is good: Christ being God, suffered, therefore he suffered not according to his deity, but according to his humanity. So is this other: Christ Jesus being man is everywhere and simply omnipotent, therefore he is everywhere and omnipotent not according to his humanity, but according to his deity, seeing the divine nature is no less united to the human, than the human is to the divine, in the same person of Christ Jesus.
If God himself, and so the divine nature in Christ raised his body from the dead, not by the same body, but by itself: namely by the divine nature, then it is false, that the divine nature in Christ did all things and doeth not only in and with, but also by the human nature.
For the soul of Christ Jesus doth not work all things by the body, as neither do our minds understand or will things by our bodies: and that for this cause, that as the philosophers also taught, our mind dependeth not on the body. Much less then doth the deity of Christ work all things by the flesh which it took.
For doth the deity understand by the human understanding, or doth it will by the human will? Or doth it keep or sustain the human nature in the person of the Word by the very same human nature? Or doth it bear all things by the human flesh or rather by the word of its own virtue? Lastly, if the form of God do nothing but by the form of a servant, how can that saying of Leo be true: “Each form doth the property of itself with communion of the other“?
Like as therefore the form of God is one, and the form of a servant another, so the actions and proprieties of the one and of the other be diverse, though many times both the one and the other have one and the same work and operation.
Wherefore this is no consequence: to whomsoever Christ cometh with the Father, according to the form of God, to him he also cometh, and abideth in him in his own substance according to the form of a servant, much less that he is so everywhere.
[Christ’s Resurrected Body Did Not Put Off Qualities Proper to the Human Nature.]
Further, like as no other, but the very same Christ, rose from the dead, so he rose in no other but in the very same body, in which he suffered, died, and was buried.
For he could not be truly said to be raised and to rise from the dead, except that which truly died the very same quickened again should rise again.
Now the body wherein Christ suffered, died and was buried, was a true human body—visible, palpable, circumscribed. Therefore Christ after his resurrection had and retained no body but that which was circumscribed in a certain place, and wheresoever it was and is, might and may be seen and handled.
[“it is raised a spiritual body”]
Add also, that the Apostle carefully discoursing of the qualities with which our bodies being raised up to eternal life shall be endued (1 Cor. 15:42-44), he saith not, that they shall not be subject either to the eye, or to the touch, or not be circumscribed in a definite place, but he rehearseth only incorruption, glory, and power, as is the agility thereof, and that they shall rise spiritual, not that the corporeal substance shall be changed into an incorporeal, but that they shall be (as the Greeks call it) immortal, and shall be full of the Holy Spirit dwelling and working in them. The Apostle therefore taught that these are qualities never to be separated from the bodies, namely that they shall be circumscribed, visible, palpable. Wherefore neither did Christ’s body after his resurrection put off these qualities.
[“then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst”]
Neither is that exception anything, that Christ after he was risen came in to his disciples the doors being shut (John 20). For it was not therefore either made invisible or uncircumscribed or impalpable, seeing Christ being come in and seen of his disciples, presently said, Feel or “handle me, and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39). And therefore (as the fathers teach) there was no change made of Christ’s body, no more than there was, when he, or Peter, walked upon the waters; but by the omnipotence of his deity having power over all things, the doors gave place to the true and firm body of the Son of God.
Wherefore not without cause did the fathers condemn not only Marcion, the Manichees and others, which taught that Christ took not a true and firm human body, but a fantastical one [phantom-like], and did all things according to imagination and fantasy, but also the Originists, John of Jerusalem, and Eutychius of Constantinople, bishops, and others, which said that Christ’s body after his resurrection was made so spiritual that it was more thin than air, and therefore invisible and impalpable.
Seeing then that in the Supper no other body of Christ is given us to be eaten, but that which was broken for us, that is, truly suffered and died, it followeth that Christ’s body which we eat in the Supper is truly circumscribed, visible, and palpable. And consequently seeing nothing is seen, touched, or perceived in the Supper besides bread, the same body cannot in its own substance really be contained under the forms of bread and wine, or lie hidden in the very bread and wine.
[Christ’s resurrection and ours.]
Now we acknowledge the resurrection of Christ is both the cause and an example of our as well spiritual as corporeal resurrection. The cause of the spiritual, because the Apostle saith to the Romans (ch. 4) he “was raised again for our justification“; and an example, because he saith, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).
But that he is the cause of our corporeal resurrection, we doubt not, for that the Apostle saith, if Christ be risen again, we shall also rise again; and for that he also saith, Christ is the firstfruits of them that rise (1 Cor. 15). And an example, for that the same Apostle also writeth, he shall change our vile bodies, that they shall be like his glorious body (Phil. 3:21).
Whereupon it also followeth, either Christ’s body not to be invisible, impalpable, uncircumscribed, and so not spiritual bodies, but incorporeal spirits.
For where Christ saith, “Feel and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have,” he did not only conclude that himself was no spirit, but he especially taught this, that there is no flesh nor bones but may be seen and felt.
[Christ’s body is visible, palpable, and circumscribed.]
The Scripture teacheth, and the church confesseth, that our Lord Jesus Christ being raised from the dead, did shew unto his disciples, for forty days space, by many arguments, that he was truly risen, and then even in the beholding of the Apostles, that he was lifted up from the earth and ascended into heaven. Therefore like as no other Christ rose again than he which died, so no other ascended into heaven, nor in no other body, than he, and in which, that truly rose again from the dead, the Son of God, truly human, visible, palpable, and circumscribed.
[The locality of Christ’s human body.]
Wherefore as the conversation of the same Lord Jesus Christ, wherein he conversed among his Apostles after his resurrection for forty days space, was not fantastical, but real and true: so also his ascension was not only visible, but also truly (as the fathers say) local, when the Apostles saw him ascend from the earth up into heaven.
But such an ascension and moving, cannot agree to his divine nature, therefore he ascended according to his human nature.
Yet by the way we deny not this, but that Christ as God, like as he is said to have descended from heaven in respect that he abased himself, taking upon him the vile form of a servant, and suffered in it—so also it may rightly be said, that he is exalted and ascended up into heaven, namely in respect that in the very same form of a servant, when it was glorified, even the form of God was after a sort glorified by his ascension and after it, that is was made glorious in the whole world.
But it is apparent, that as this consequence is not good: Christ himself being God and man ascended into heaven in a local and visible moving, therefore he in the same sort ascended according to his deity. So neither is this good: Christ God and man is with us to the end of the world truly, and in his own essence, therefore he is present on earth as well in the substance of his body and soul, as in the essence of his deity.
[The locality of heaven.]
If also the Apostles saw with their eyes Christ in his own body, by change of place ascending from earth into heaven, then the heaven into which he did ascend, cannot be an ubiquitary [existing everywhere] heaven, but it must needs be far distant from the earth.
Moreover nature and all right requireth that for everything some certain place must be assigned, as we see God hath done in all the things which he created. Seeing then no created thing can be found more excellent than Christ’s body, both for the union with the Word, and for the wonderful gifts created in the same, and so also for the most perfect glory and happiness wherein he now liveth. It must needs be that this body must exist in some certain and most happy place.
Neither can it proceed but only from true piety, and from our true reverence, towards Christ, that we should believe that his body doth dwell, not under the earth, not in the earth, not in the waters, not in a piece of bread, not in every leaf of a tree, not in the air, or in the celestial spheres, but in a place, as the most happy, fair, and perfect, so the highest of all others: which we with Ambrose think the Apostle spake of, when he said, that he was caught up into the third heaven, and into paradise (2 Cor. 12:2-4).
To this, the same scripture also teacheth, and the catholic faith believeth and confesseth, that the same Jesus Christ shall come out of that heaven in the clouds, to judge the quick and the dead, and that we being raised from the dead, shall be caught up into the air to meet him in the clouds, and so shall be with him in that heaven for ever (Phil. 3:20; 1 Thes. 4:16-17).
And this heaven, which is called the Father’s house (John 14:2), and the heavenly city, and by many other names, the scripture proveth to be placed above all the visible and moveable heavens: saying that Christ is ascended “above all heavens” (Eph. 4:16), and that he is “in heaven” (Eph. 6:9; Col. 4:1; Heb. 8:1).
For this heaven wherein he is in his body, and wherein we shall be in our bodies and souls, cannot be some vast and I know not what, uncreated room—partly, because nothing is uncreated but God, partly, because it is plainly to the Hebrews said to be God’s workmanship (Heb. 11:10).
[How Christ ascended into heaven according to his human nature.]
Moreover the chief and principal efficient cause of that moving wherein his body was carried up into heaven was the divine nature remaining in him according to that, “God also hath highly exalted him,” and he was taken up (of God) into glory (Phil. 2:9). But a secondary efficient cause was the gift of agility, which followed his glorious resurrection, bestowed on the human nature by the deity, by which agility that flesh ascended up, not held and sustained by angels or by the clouds, as once Elias was in the fiery chariot, but of its own accord, and without trouble or difficulty—and therefore that motion was not a violent motion.
[Believers shall ascend into heaven as well.]
Now this ascension of Christ our head, was the cause and the example of our ascension which shall be into heaven. For since the head is ascended, it must needs be that the members shall ascend—and as his ascension was, so ours shall be. For he shall change our vile bodies to be like to his glorious body, and we shall be caught up into the clouds to meet Christ in the air, and so we shall be with the Lord for ever (1 Thes. 4:17).
If then ours shall be a true ascension, and that we shall truly be lifted from the earth into heaven, therefore Christ’s body also, did truly ascend from earth into heaven, not imaginarily or putatively.
[The doctrine of Christ’s bodily ascension is most profitable.]
And this doctrine of Christ’s true ascension into that highest heaven, and his perpetual abiding there, is most profitable and full of consolation.
For first it serveth to strengthen our faith about the certain place where, with the eyes and hands of our faith, we may behold, touch, and take hold of the body of Christ. Then, to establish our hope, namely that it shall be, that before the resurrection of our bodies, our souls being separated from our bodies, they shall neither descend beneath the earth, nor shall float in the waters or the air, nor roll about with the spheres, but shall be carried above all these heavens to that blessed and heavenly house of the Father, into which Christ in his body is already entered, that they may be ever with Christ. Lastly, to kindle in our hearts the love and desire of a heavenly life and conversation. As the Apostle saith, “If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, set your affections on things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1-2).
Of Christ’s sitting at the right hand of the Father thus speaketh the Apostle: “And hath set him” (Christ raised from the dead, and carried up into heaven) “at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principalities, and power, and might, and domination, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath made all things subject under his feet” etc. (Eph. 1:20-21). Whatsoever is read otherwise in the holy scripture, or confessed by the church in the creeds concerning this sitting is agreeable unto this.
But we can nowhere read that for this sitting at God’s right hand, either Christ Jesus took any other body, (call it howsoever) or that in his natural body, there was any change made of the substance of it, or of any of those natural qualities and essential properties, which it retained after his resurrection. It is therefore manifest that in what body Christ rose and ascended into heaven—namely, a visible, palpable, and circumscribed body—in the same he also sitteth at the Father’s right hand in the highest heavens. And wheresoever he is, or pleaseth to be, he keepeth still to himself such a body.
The Apostle also witnesseth, and the church confesseth in the creeds, that Christ first died, was buried, raised from the dead, and taken up into heaven, before he sat at the Father’s right hand. Therefore, either it is false that Christ’s human nature then first received a gift, for substance of his body to be really everywhere; or if it be true, then it received it not by the hypostatic union, which was made in his very incarnation.
Neither is this exception anything, that by the hypostatic union this was given him in the first act, as, that if he would, he might be present everywhere, but by the sitting at God’s right hand it was given him, in the second act, that is, that he was indeed present everywhere.
For besides that the terms of this distinction are terms not taken from the fountains of Israel, but out of the puddles of sophists, Christ himself also refelleth [refuted] this exception when speaking not of the first act, but of the second. That is, of his actual presence, he said both a little before his death, “Where two or three shall be gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mat. 8:20); and after his resurrection, before his ascension, he said, “Behold I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Mat. 28:20).
By those sayings it evidently appeareth that either Christ spake not of the real presence of his body, but only of the presence of his deity and power of his spirit, or that he is present to us in the same manner that he was to the Apostles, namely visibly, seeing he said not “I will be,” but “I am.” Neither is there any necessity to alter the sense of those words.
Add this, that if he speak of the same real presence of his body, and that this promise pertained not to the Apostles only, but also to all the faithful which were then in the world, Christ had not spoken a truth. For he was not before his death or after his resurrection present in a visible presence with all the faithful, which were then in the world, and which were gathered together in his name.
Wherefore the doctrine of the real and substantial, yet invisible, presence of the body of Christ Jesus on the earth and everywhere is not agreeable with the holy scriptures, but seemeth to come near to the Manichees, who (as Augustine sheweth against Faustus) say that Christ’s body doth invisibly hang on every tree.
If Christ also sat not at God’s right hand in his body before his resurrection and ascension into heaven, as the whole Church confesseth, then their doctrine is impious and heretical which teacheth that Christ Jesus, even from his mother’s womb (according to the flesh he took) hath sat at the right hand of God’s power.
If this also be true which the Apostle teacheth, and the whole scripture confirmeth, and the catholic Church confesseth, that Christ Jesus not only then sat at his Father’s right hand after he ascended into heaven, but also is so placed in the same at God’s right hand (as he is never read to sit at such a right hand in any other place than in heaven), therefore then it cannot only not be said according to the holy scripture, that Christ Jesus sitteth any other where at God the Father his right hand than in heaven. But also it is false that he also so sitteth in the earth, that he is no less present really in substance of his body in the bread of the Lord’s Supper and in every place than he is in heaven.
[“For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest… (Heb. 8:4)]
For the Apostle also in other places, and especially in the epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews denieth that he is upon the earth, namely in a corporeal presence, for as much as he sitting at the right hand of the throne of majesty in heaven, executeth his office of priesthood.
[God’s right hand—a figure of speech.]
Moreover we hold beyond all controversy that Christ sitting at God’s right hand is a figurative speech, seeing God, to speak properly, hath neither right hand nor left hand. Neither is it lawful to imagine any carnal thing concerning the seats and thrones in heaven, wherein they are said to sit. And often times in the scriptures this word sitting is used besides other significations, for dwelling, ruling, exercising judgment, and for resting.
But that the Apostle Paul meant not by this phrase that Christ Jesus in his own body is truly and substantially present in all places, besides that which hath been already said, it is also evident by that which for declaration sake he adjoineth.
For to this sitting of Christ at God’s right hand, the Apostle addeth for declaration sake three things (Eph. 1:20-23): First, that Christ is so placed at God’s right hand that he is above all principality, that is, that he hath no creature above him or equal to him. No not in heaven, but is made higher than the heavens, and all heavenly things. Then he addeth that all things are made subject to him, that is, that there is nothing beneath him over which he hath not power and authority. Thirdly, that he was given to be a Head of the Church.
[Exaltation of Christ’s human nature.]
Now as we said that whatsoever we have before spoken of the resurrection from the dead, and so of the ascension, ought to be understood according to the human nature of Christ—so we think with the sound fathers, that these things also must be understood especially according to the same human nature.
The exaltation of Christ’s human nature above all things may be understood two ways: either in respect of the local placing, as this, he “ascended up far above all heavens” (Eph. 4:10), that the meaning may be that the human nature was placed locally above all created things; or in respect of the excellent preeminence of the dignity and power thereof, and then the meaning may be, Christ even touching his human nature was set over all created things, and to him was given power and authority over all things. For in these two manners anything of the same kind is said to be over another, in place, or in dignity.
[Ubiquity cannot be proved from the exaltation of Christ’s human nature.]
If then this saying be understood the latter way, thereupon the ubiquity cannot be proved; seeing that Christ in his human nature may use his authority over all creatures, although he be not in substance of body everywhere. If the former way, then he is not everywhere, seeing that which is everywhere, is as well beneath, and at, and within, as above all creatures.
But Paul doth plainly teach, that Christ (touching his human nature) did so rise from the dead, that he was no longer among the dead, and so ascended into heaven, that he was no longer on earth. And so being exalted above all creatures, sitteth at the Father’s right hand, that he is neither beneath nor within created things, seeing all things are put under his feet.
Neither can the head be said to be, in its own substance, where the feet are, although it be in them in virtue and operation; and indeed as well the head to the feet, as the feet to the head, are joined together in their substance by the sinews and by the soul.
But the Apostle sayeth, Christ Jesus is given for a head of the Church, namely, according to his humanity, now the head is above all the body.
The Apostle therefore meant nothing less by his words of Christ’s sitting at God’s right hand than to conclude that Christ’s body in its own substance is present in all places. Wherefore they do great wrong to the Apostle, which by their cavils labour to conclude this out of his words.
[Ubiquity cannot be proved by necessary consequence.]
Neither can any such ubiquity be proved by any necessary consequence out of that article of faith.
[Omnipresence necessarily implies infinity.]
For although it were granted (which cannot be granted) that by the sitting at God’s right hand, the human nature is made truly by itself omnipotent, yet unless it be proved to be so made omnipotent that it is also made infinite and immeasurable, it can by no means be convinced that Christ’s body in its own substance is everywhere present.
For so is this the only cause why God also in his own essence is everywhere, that if ye take immeasurableness from him, he cannot be said to be everywhere in his own essence.
[Omnipresence necessarily implies simplicity.]
And if also ye fain an infinite body, and therefore everywhere, yet that it is wholly in all places at once, you shall never prove while the world stands, unless ye can shew that the same body is also a most simple essence, seeing God is therefore wholly everywhere, nor according to his parts, but because he is the most simple essence.
Wherefore whatsoever the Ubiquitaries do prate and babble, arguing either from the hypostatic union, or the right hand of God, or the words of the Supper, or the diverse kinds of being, or from the saying, “all power is given unto me,” and such like speeches, they evermore in this disputation infer one fallacy (to speak of none else at this time) which is called non causa pro causa, except by those arguments they could prove the substance of Christ’s body to be made immeasurable and infinite, and also most simple, such as is the essence of God.
[How Christ is truly present.]
Yet do we not for all this deny, but the body of Jesus Christ, though it remain in heaven yet it is truly present unto us, not only in his operation, but in substance also.
But how, or in what manner of presence? Surely a true presence, but so as he is really present in us by his spirit in us, and by our faith, and (if we may use similitudes) as the head is truly and really present to all the members, yea to the feet.
But how are these present one to another? Not in nearness of place (for so the head of a Pygmy were more present to his feet than the head of a giant), but by virtue of one soul, and the junctures of sinews and ligaments.
Seeing then according to the scriptures our bodies and Christ’s body are truly knit together by the same spirit, so that we are one and the same body under one and the same head, which God hath given to the Church, namely Christ, no man can deny this true presence without great blasphemy.
[True meaning of “sitting at the right hand.”]
But for the sitting at the right hand, we believe that the Apostle meant to signify by this phrase how Christ, according to his humanity, after many and most grievous labours rubbed through upon earth, and many troubles endured for our redemption sake, now gloriously resteth in heaven; and so being dearly beloved of his Father liveth in exceeding happiness, and appeareth in God’s sight on our behalf, and that his intercession and propitiation is most acceptable to his Father; and that he reigneth with his Father, and by him is appointed to be the judge which shall at length come to judge the quick and the dead, and is placed on the celestial throne.
For to sit (as Tertullian teacheth) is proper to one that resteth, and (as Augustine teacheth) to one that dwelleth, reigneth, and doth the office of a judge, neither are any said to sit at the right hand but such as are dearly beloved and near friends.
Augustine indeed thus interpreteth this place of the creed to the catechumen. He ascended into heaven, believe it; he sitteth at God’s right hand, believe it. To sit, understand to dwell, as we say of any man in such a country he hath sit three years. So therefore believe ye, that Christ dwelleth on the right hand of God, there he is. Let not your heart ask ye this question, what doth he? Do not seek for that which it is not lawful to find. There he is, it sufficeth us. He is blessed, and of this blessedness which is called the Father’s right hand, the name of this blessedness itself is called his Father’s right hand. For if we take it carnally, then because he is at the right hand, the father should be at the left hand, and is there any reason thou shouldest so set them, the Son at the right hand, and the Father at the left? There all is the right hand, seeing there is nothing but blessedness.
Also: this sitting of his beloved, ye must not take it to be meant of the human parts, as if the Father sat on the left hand, and the Son sat at the right hand. But by the right hand, understand that power, which that man being entertained of God, received; namely that he might afterward come to judge, which before came to be judged.
Also: who is he that sitteth at God’s right hand? The man Christ. For in that he is God, he was ever with the Father, and of the Father. And when he came forth unto us, he departed not from the Father, for to be God is to be wholly everywhere. Therefore the Son is wholly with the Father, whole in heaven, whole on earth, whole in the virgin’s womb, whole on the cross, whole in hell, whole in paradise, whither he brought the thief. Not at diverse times or diverse places do we say he is whole everywhere, as now whole in one place, and another time whole in another place, but he is whole always, and in all places.
Also: But by this that the Son is said to sit at the Father’s right hand, it is shewed that the man, whom Christ took upon him, hath received the power of a judge.
Also: The man, which Christ took on him, now reigneth sitting at the Father’s right hand.
Also: But in that he is God, and equal to the Father, and always judgeth, he is ever present, but he shall come a redeemer in that form wherein he ascended.
So far from it therefore is it that by the sitting at God’s right hand, the Apostle meant to signify that Christ in the substance of his body is on earth and everywhere, that he rather seemeth to teach them quite contrary—seeing that in heaven only, and not on this earth men’s blessedness consisteth, and God is said to dwell in heaven, not on earth, and rather that he reigneth in heaven than on earth. And it is said and believed that Christ shall come not from earth, but from heaven to judge both the quick and the dead.
Add this, that as God’s feet by a certain human affection or property at not said to be in heaven, but on earth, according to that saying, “heaven is my seat, and earth my footstool” (Acts 7:49), so also we may with good reason say that his right hand hath place in heaven rather than on earth.
We therefore conclude that, as by the Apostles doctrine of the resurrection from the dead and the ascension into heaven, the ubiquity of Christ cannot be proved, but is rather confuted—so neither, by the doctrine which is of his sitting at God’s right hand, can the same be necessarily inferred.
[Ubiquity overthrows the articles of faith.]
Nay if such an ubiquity be admitted, we do not only shake but even quite overthrow all these articles of faith—of his incarnation in the womb only of the virgin, of his true death, that is, the true separation of his soul and body, of his true resurrection of his flesh, of his true and visible ascension from the earth into heaven, of his true sitting at God’s right hand in the heavenly places, lastly, of his visible return from that place to judge both the quick and the dead.
For a body that is everywhere cannot be moved from place to place according to its whole self, as true philosophy teacheth and Christian theology confirmeth. Which sheweth that God therefore is not moved from place to place, because being immeasurable, he filleth all things.
Neither can that body also which is everywhere be rightly said to sit at the right hand or the left of another, but you must needs confound the substance of him that sitteth with the substance of the right hand, at which, and with the substance of him whose right hand he sitteth at. Seeing therefore even the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost filling heaven and earth, are everywhere, both all and each of them, because they are one and the same essence.
[Lutheran Doctrine of Ubiquity Neither True Nor Profitable.]
Finally, we think this doctrine of the invisible and impalpable presence of Christ’s flesh everywhere is neither true nor profitable.
Not true indeed, because we could never see the same shewed either by any manifest testimonies of holy scriptures, or any necessary consequences drawn out of them. Nay we have observed the same to be repugnant to the scriptures, and to the catholic consent of the old church, rightly expounded by the rule of faith, contained in the Apostle’s Creed.
Yea and we see it so contrary to the scriptures, that without a manifest implying of a contradiction, ye cannot grant both those things which the creed delivereth, and those things which the authors of this ubiquitary doctrine do deliver.
Neither is it profitable because that which is not agreeable with God’s Word, to propound, believe, and observe it as agreeable and necessary unto salvation, is a sin—the Lord saying, “Add not…nor diminish” (Deut. 12:32), and the Apostle, “All that is not of faith, is sin” (Rom. 14:23), and “the wages of sin, is death” (Rom. 6.23).
Finally, because if that opinion of the ubiquity of Christ’s body should be believed to be true, it would be a hindrance that a man could not apprehend and eat with a mind lifted up Christ to the true flesh of Christ Jesus being in heaven, whereunto notwithstanding, both the Apostle and the church calleth us, saying, “lift up your hearts” (sursum corda), and, “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).
They then do nothing less than eat Christ’s flesh, which do not behold the same in heaven, where indeed it is, but imagine him to be really present everywhere in his own substance. Aesop’s dog, leaving the true flesh, did foolishly catch at the vain shadow of the flesh because it seemed a bigger piece.
A Question out of 1 John 4:3.
St. John describing Antichrist, says: “every spirit, which confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the (true human) flesh, is not of God: and this is that spirit of Antichrist.”
And seeing that Christ, never laid aside that flesh which he once took, but carried it with him up into heaven, and shall return again in the clouds in the same, apparent unto all men, to judge the quick and the dead: The question is, of what spirit they are, and by what name to be called, who make no doubt with the old heretics, to forge for our Lord Jesus Christ, I know not what kind of invisible flesh, uncircumscribed, impalpable, whole, and in his whole substance; forsooth really existing in all places, in heaven, in the stars, in the air, in the earth, under the earth, in hell, in all the several parts of the world, and the parcels of the parts, yea and in the least parcels of the parcels: against Scripture and against the sound agreement of the whole catholic church.