765. It is absurd to say that Christ’s body and blood can be in a wafer made by nuns from flour and water.
“The fact that nuns make the wafers from flour and water has nothing to do with the case. No Catholic dreams that the Presence of Christ is due to any influence of the nuns, or those who make the wafers. Nor is it due to the activity of the flour and water employed. But God, Who is Omnipotent, can easily change the substance of bread into the substance of the human nature of Christ, leaving unchanged the appearances that are the object of our sense perceptions, should He so desire. No one can deny this power to God. The only point is, does God do so? He Himself says that He does. For the Gospels clearly show that Christ left Himself under the appearances of bread and wine in the Eucharist. Well I remember how a Wesleyan clergyman tried to convert a well-read Agnostic. The Agnostic asked him whether he believed in the Gospels and that God really did come to earth, and appear at Bethlehem under outward appearance of a little wriggling baby in Mary’s lap! ‘Of course, I do,’ replied the minister. ‘Then if I could believe that,’ said the Agnostic, ‘I would at once join the Catholic Church. It is no more difficult to believe that God is present in the Eucharist as Catholics believe, and their doctrine is equally clearly taught in the Gospels you say you accept.’ He was not a Christian, unfortunately. But he was logical in this particular matter. You profess to believe in Christianity but you are not logical.”
In connection with this answer, it is not a question of Divine power, what God is able or not able to do. Where does the Lord change anything into something else, so that the thing He changes remains exactly as it was? The Romish clergy here declares that God Himself says that He does in His Word. Where do we read in the Word of God that the bread and wine ARE CHANGED INTO THE BODY AND BLOOD OF OUR LORD? And that reference to the baby in Mary’s lap is supposed to establish the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation? How ridiculous! That baby in the lap of Mary is exclusively human as far as His human nature is concerned and as far as His being in Mary’s lap is concerned. Is that human nature of Christ also Divine? That would be pantheism.
766. It is totally against all Scripture teachings to say that the bread becomes actually the body of Christ.
“I fail to see how the teaching that it becomes His body is opposed to His words, ‘This is My body.’ In St. John VI, 47-67, you will find our Lord very emphatic about it. Like yourself, the Jews said, ‘How can this man give us His flesh to eat?; and Jesus did not begin to mitigate His doctrine and say, ‘Of course, I don’t really intend to do that. What I will give you will be ordinary bread in a kind of little memorial ceremony. You really won’t have to eat my flesh in reality.’ Listen to what our Lord did say, ‘Amen, Amen, I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life.’ And He goes on to drive home the actual sense of His words. ‘For My flesh is meat indeed: and My blood is drink indeed.’ You see how He left the Jews no loophole. Nor were they under any misapprehension. They knew what He meant, and He knew that they were thinking exactly what we Catholics hold now. They said, as you say, “This is a hard saying. Who can hear it? And many left Him from that moment. He saw them going, and knew why they were going. But He would not unsay His words in order to keep them. He let them go.”
We will occasion later to comment on the Romish interpretation of this passage from John 6. But, just one comment now. It is indeed true that Jesus knew why they were leaving Him. Because they had to eat and drink His flesh and blood in that literal sense of the word? If we understand these words in the purely literal, natural sense of the word, then they cannot mean anything else than that the Jews had to eat and drink the body and blood of the Lord as He then stood before them. But, Jesus certainly knew why they were leaving Him. BECAUSE NO MAN CAN COME TO HIM EXCEPT THE FATHER DRAW HIM, AND BECAUSE SALVATION IS STRICTLY DIVINELY SOVEREIGN, WHICH DOCTRINE, INCIDENTALLY, IS DENIED BY ROME.
767. If Jesus said, “This is My body,” He also said, “I am the true vine,” and “I am the door.” In those cases it was metaphorical, for our Lord is not a vine or a door in reality. Logically, therefore, we should say, “This represents My body.”
“That is not a logical conclusion. In fact, it is a dreadfully shallow fallacy, and quite opposed to our Lord’s clear statements which I have just given you. There is no logical parallel between the words, ‘This is My body,’ and ‘I am the vine’, or ‘I am the door.’ For the images of the vine and the door can have, of their very nature, a symbolical sense, Christ is like a vine because all the sap of my spiritual life comes from Him. He is like a door, since I go to heaven through Him. But a piece of bread is in no way like His flesh. Of its very nature it cannot symbolize the actual body of Christ. And He excludes that Himself by saying, ‘The bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world; and My flesh is meat indeed.’ That is, it is to be actually eaten, not merely commemorated in some symbolical way.”
In the first place, in connection with the above answer, it is not true, we must understand, that the Protestant conception of the Lord’s Supper is merely a feast at which we commemorate the death of our Lord. This may be the Zwinglian view of this sacrament, but it is surely not the Calvinistic conception of the same. In the second place, the reference to “question” 767 to the Scriptural figures of the vine and the door is pertinent and very well taken. And the answer of Rumble and Carty to this objection against the Romish view is pure sophistry. They surely evade the issue. The logical conclusion that we should therefore say, “This represents My body,” is indeed true and logical. Jesus is called in Scripture a door, because we must go through a door, and we. must also go through Jesus. Jesus is called the vine, say Rumble and Carty, because all the sap of our spiritual life comes from Jesus. True! But is Jesus the sap and is the sap Jesus, even as the bread and wine are Jesus according to the view of transubstantiation? Of course not! So Jesus calls Himself the Bread and Water of life. And this is supposed to mean that the bread and wine at Communion have changed into Jesus Himself? This is pure sophistry! If Jesus be the door and the vine symbolically, then He is also bread and wine in the symbolical sense.
768. The use of the word “is,” is explained by the fact that in the Aramaic language spoken by Jesus, there was no word for represents.
“That was a favorite argument of the early Protestants. But it has been abandoned now. For, firstly, research has shown that there were nearly forty different ways in which Christ could have said, ‘This represents My body,’ in the Aramaic language. Secondly, even prior to this research, the fact was pointed out that the Greek language abounded in symbolical expressions, and St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. Paul, who wrote in Greek under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, should have expressed the figurative sense in that language, had the figurative sense been intended by Christ. Instead, even while using Greek, they select words which exclude the symbolic sense.”
So, research has shown that there were nearly forty different ways in which Christ could have said, “This represents My body,” instead of saying: “This is My body”? But then it is also true, is it not, that there must have been about forty different ways in which He could have said: “I am the door or the vine.”
769. The Apostles must have taken the symbolical sense, for they did not remark on the repugnant literal sense.
“You overlook two points: At the Last Supper it is far more likely that the Apostles would have remarked upon our Lord’s words if He had meant them symbolically rather than in a literal sense. There were many other alternative expressions by which our Lord could have made it clear that He did not intend to give His actual body, but merely a symbolical memento. If Christ intended to give merely a symbol of His body, and not His body at all in reality, He chose the very worst words to convey His meaning when He said without any qualification, ‘This is My body.’ It was so unnecessary to choose that expression, and so absurd that the Apostles would certainly have demanded an explanation of what He meant. But they did not. They knew that He meant what He said. (Indeed, they knew that He meant what He ‘said. They knew that He did not mean that that bread and wine were His body and blood in the natural sense of the word. Jesus did not have to explain His words because they knew very well that He did not mean what Rome makes of those words. They knew this just as well as when He said to His disciples that He was the door and the vine. They knew very well that there is a figure of speech called the metaphor.—H.V.) You must remember that, long before the actual giving of His body to be eaten at the Last Supper, our Lord had given the Apostles the opportunity to express any notions of repugnance His doctrine might awaken within them. In John VI we read of our Lords promise to do what He did at the Last Supper. ‘The bread that I will give is My flesh.’ ‘Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man,’ etc. Many of His listeners, rightly understanding that He meant His actual flesh, expressed their repugnance. ‘This saying is’ hard. Who can hear it? And they left Him. Then Jesus turned to His Apostles, and gave them the opportunity to express their repugnance also, and to leave Him if they wished. Will you also go away? St. Peter replied, in magnificent faith, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.’ (And Peter also added: “We have believed and have known thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter, in his answer, does not say that they know that His body and blood are simply received through the mouth, as we eat and drink bread and wine, but that they have believed and have known. Peter, therefore, emphasizes that we receive this Christ only through faith.—H.V.) St. Peter did not pretend to comprehend the mystery. But he knew that our Lord meant to give His very flesh in the one way which those who went had understood, and he simply accepted our Lord’s assurance because of his firm faith in Christ (for this, we understand, there is not one iota of proof—H.V.). But the point to note is this: Having overcome any ideas of repugnance then when our Lord promised to give His very flesh as food, there is no reason to expect expressions of repugnance from the Apostles when the promise was fulfilled at the Last Supper.”
Just one remark here. Notice, please, what we read in John 6:63. The Romish fathers should also quote this verse. Here we read that the flesh profits nothing. And the Savior adds that the words He speaks are spirit and they are life. Hence, it is not simply a matter of eating His’ flesh and drinking His blood through the mouth.