A very strong refutation of the Romish conception of the Lord’s Supper is furnished by Hodge in his Systematic Theology, Volume III. First, he very ably denied the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation, pages 683-685, and we quote: “They further teach that baptism, which precedes the Eucharist, conveys all the saving benefits of Christ’s redemption; they therefore cannot make the Eucharist essential, and consequently they cannot, without contradicting Christ or themselves, interpret John 6:48-65 as referring to the Lord’s Supper.” (Rome contends that the passage in John 6 proves its doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, inasmuch as Jesus declares in this passage that we must eat His flesh. However, Jesus also declares in this passage of John 6 that this eating of His flesh is absolutely essential. But Rome does not maintain the essential significance of the Lord’s Supper. According to Rome, Baptism is essential but not the Lord’s Supper.—H.V.)
Appeal, of course, is also made to, the words of institution, “This is my body.” On this argument enough has already been said. There is no more necessity for understanding those words literally than the declaration of Christ; “I am the true bread,” or, “I am the door.” The elements are declared to be bread and wine both by Christ and by the Apostles, after as well as before consecration.”
Hereupon, Hodge, after establishing that Rome’s claim is wholly false, namely that its doctrine of transubstantiation is supported by Tradition, continues as follows: “It is a valid objection to this doctrine (namely, Transubstantiation, H.V.) that it involves an impossibility. The impossible cannot be true, and, therefore, cannot, rationally, be an object of faith. It is impossible that the accidents or sensible properties of the bread and wine should remain if the substance be changed. Such a proposition has no more meaning in it than the assertion that an act can be without an agent. Accidents or properties are the phenomena of substance; and it is self-evident that there can be no manifestations where there is not something to be manifested. In other words nothing, a “non-ens” cannot manifest itself. Romanists cannot turn to the theory that matter is not a substance; for that is not their doctrine. On the contrary, they assert that the substance of the bread is transmuted into the substance of Christ’s body. Nor can they help themselves by resorting to the pantheistic doctrine that all accidents are phenomena of God, for that would upset their whole system.
It is moreover impossible that the well-attested testimony of our senses should be deceptive. If it once be assumed that we cannot trust to the laws. of belief impressed on our nature, of which faith in our sense perceptions is one of the most important, then the foundation of all knowledge, faith, and religion is overturned (we understand, of course, that Hodge here refers to the Romish doctrine that what looks like bread, tastes like bread, acts as bread is not really bread.—H.V.). What has Catholicism to say for itself, if the people cannot trust their ears when they hear the teachings of the Church, or their eyes when they read its decrees? It has nothing to stand upon. It is engulfed with all things else in the abyss of nihilism. To believe in transubstantiation we must disbelieve our senses, and this God requires of no man. It involves disbelief in Him who is the author of our nature and of the laws which are impressed upon it. There is no more complete and destructive infidelity than the want of faith in the veracity of consciousness, whether it be consciousness of our sense perceptions, or of the truths involved in our rational, moral, or religious nature.
It is another objection to this doctrine that it logically leads, and in fact has led, to the greatest practical evils. It has led to superstitious, in the place of rational and Scriptural reverence for the sacrament; to the idolatrous worship of the consecrated wafer; to attributing to it magical, or supernatural virtue contrary to Scripture; to perverting a simple sacrament into a propitiatory sacrifice, and to investing the ministers of Christ with the character of sacrificing priests, empowered to offer, for money, a propitiatory oblation securing forgiveness even for the sins of the departed. It has been made a mine of wealth to the priesthood and the church. It was principally the popular belief in this great error, that secured the transfer of the greater part of the land and wealth of Europe into the hands of the clergy and gave them almost unlimited power over the people.”—end of quote of Hedge’s refutation of the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation.
Then, on pages 688-692, Hodge presents several arguments against the Romish conception of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, and we again quote: “No doctrine of the Church of Rome is more portentous or more fruitful of evil consequences than this doctrine of the mass; and no doctrine of that Church is more entirely destitute of even a semblance of Scriptural support. The words of Christ, “This do in remembrance of Me,” are made to mean, “Offer the sacrifice which I Myself have just offered.” These words constituted the Apostles and all their successors priests. The Council of Trent even anathematizes all who do not put that preposterous interpretation on those simple words. Romanists also appeal to the fact that Christ is said to be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, from which they infer that He continually repeats the sacrifice once offered on the cross. They even argue from such passages as Malachi 1:11, in which the universal spread of the true religion is predicted by saying that from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, “in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering.”
Protestants reject the doctrine that the Eucharist is a true propitiatory sacrifice,—
1. Because it is not only destitute of all support from the Scriptures, but is directly contrary to the whole nature of the ordinance, as exhibited in its original institution and in the practice of the apostolic church. There it is set forth as a sacred feast commemorative of the death of Christ.
2. Because it is founded on the monstrous doctrine of transubstantiation. If the whole substance of the bread be not changed into the substance of Christ’s body, and the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood, and if the whole Christ, body, soul, and divinity be not really and truly present under the form (or species) or appearance of the bread and wine, then the priest in the mass has nothing to offer. He in fact offers nothing, and the whole service is a deceit. Just so certainly, therefore, as the impossible and the unscriptural cannot be true, just so certain is it, that the mass is not a propitiatory sacrifice.
3. The Romish doctrine is that the -Apostles were priests, and were invested with authority and power to continue and perpetuate in the Church the priestly office by ordination and the imposition of hands by which the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit are conveyed. All this is unscriptural and false. First, because a priest is a man appointed to be mediator between God and other men, drawing near to Him in behalf of those who have not liberty of access for themselves, and whose function it is to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. But there is no such office under the Christian dispensation, save in the person of Jesus Christ. He is our only, and all sufficient priest; everywhere present and everywhere accessible, who has opened for us a new and living way of access to God, available to all sinners of the human race without the intervention of any of their fellow sinners. Every believer is as much a priest under the Gospel, as any other believer, for through Christ they all have equal freedom of access unto God. It subverts the whole nature of the gospel, to make the intervention of any human priest necessary to our reconciliation with God. Secondly, Christian ministers are never called priests in the New Testament. Every title of dignity, every term expressive of the nature of their office, is bestowed on them, but the title priest, so familiar to Jewish and Gentile ears, is never given to them. Nor is any priestly function ascribed to them. They are not mediators. They are not appointed to offer sacrifices for sin. Every priest is a mediator, but it is expressly declared that Christians have but one mediator, the man Christ Jesus. There is but one sacrifice for sin, the all-sufficient sacrifice of Christ upon the cross, who died once for all to bring us near to God. Thirdly, Christ Himself and the Apostles after Him in all their addresses to the people, instead of directing them to go to ministers as priests to obtain the benefits of redemption, uniformly assume that the way is open for the return of every sinner to God without human intervention. “Come unto me” is the invitation of Christ to every heavily laden sinner. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,” is the gospel preached by the Apostles both to Jews and Gentiles. The emancipation of the Christian world effected by the Reformation, consisted in large measure in freeing man froth the belief that Christian ministers are priests through whom alone sinners can draw near to God. It was preaching deliverance to captives, and the opening of the prison to those who were bound, to announce that believers through Christ are all made kings and priests unto God; subject to no authority but the authority of God (and of course to such as He has ordained), and all having access by one Spirit unto the Father. If then ministers are not priests, the Eucharist is not a sacrifice.
4. The Romish doctrine is derogatory to the sacrifice of the cross. It supposes that the work of Christ in making satisfaction for the sins of men, needs to be constantly repeated. This is directly contrary to Scripture, which teaches that by the one offering of Himself, He has forever perfected them that believe. His one sacrifice has done all that need be done, and all that a sacrifice can do. Romanists say that the same sacrifice which was made on the cross, is made in the mass. The only difference between the two is modal. It concerns only the matter of oblation. Then why is the latter needed? Why does not the one offering of Christ suffice? Certain it is the Bible refers us to nothing else: and the believer craves nothing else.”—end of quote.
Except for the conclusion of this quotation from Hodge, in which he ably denies and refutes the Roman Catholic doctrine of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, this concludes our presentation of the Romish view of this sacrament. And it is certainly true what we read in our Heidelberg Catechism, namely that the Romish view of this sacrament is nothing else than an accursed idolatry, worshipping as Divine that which is nothing else than bread and wine. How amazing, in our present day and age, that there are so many Protestants who laud the efforts of Rome as it seeks a unification of the Romish and Protestant worlds, a unification which will take place, of course, only upon the basis of Rome.