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Question 80. What difference is there between the Lord’s supper and the Popish mass?

Answer. The Lord’s supper testifies to us, that we have a full pardon of all sin by the only sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself has once accomplished on the cross; and that we by the Holy Ghost are ingrafted into Christ, who, according to his human nature, is now not on earth, but in heaven, at the right hand of God his Father, and will there be worshipped by us: but the mass teacheth that the living and the dead have not the pardon of sins, through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also daily offered for them by the priests; and further, that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so that the mass at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and suffering Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry.



This Question is necessary on account of the errors, and horrid abuses which the Mass has introduced into the Church. It is otherwise asked, Why is the mass to be abolished? This question, however, is contained in the above; because the differences which exist between the Lord’s supper and the Popish mass, constitute the reasons why the mass is to be abolished. For since the mass has so many things connected with it, which are in direct opposition to the Lord’s supper, it must not be confounded with it, nor substituted in the place of it, nor tolerated in the church by godly magistrates; but must be abolished. Before we proceed, however, to point out the differences between the Lord’s supper and the Popish mass, it is proper that we should say a few words in reference to the term, mass. And first, there are some who derive the word mass from the Hebrew masah, which signifies a tribute, or voluntary offering. The word has this meaning in Deut. 16:10, where it is said, “Thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the Lord thy God with a tribute of a free-will offering of thine hand.” This offering was so called, being as it were, a yearly tribute, which was given most willingly and cheerfully. It is also understood by some to signify a sufficiency, meaning that so much should be given as might be sufficient, which, perhaps, is the more correct interpretation, since God in Deut. 15:8, commanded the Israelites to open their hands wide unto the poor, and to lend that which was sufficient for their need. This the Chaldee paraphrast interprets missah; from which it is supposed that it is called mass, or missa, as if it were a tribute, and a free-will offering, which should every where be offered to God in the church for the living and the dead. But this is not probable. It is true, indeed, that the church has borrowed some words from the Hebrew; as Satan, sabaoth, hallelujah, &c.; but these and similar words were introduced into the Latin church through the Gre^k church, and were introduced into the Greek Testament when it was first written in the Greek language; nor have we any Hebrew words in our church which the Greek church had not before. Furthermore, if we examine the writings of the Greek Fathers it will be seen, that the word missa is never used by them; from which we are inclined to believe that the word missa was not derived from the Hebrew.

Therefore the term missa, which is doubtless a Latin word, seems to be taken from the Fathers, who used remissa for remissio. Turtullian says: “We have spoken of remission (remissa) of sins.” Cyprian says: “He who was to grant remission of sins, did not disdain to be baptized.” Again: “He who blasphemes against the Holy Ghost, obtains no remission of sins.” Hence, as the Latin Fathers used the term remissa for remissio , so they also seem to have used missa for missio, which is derived from mittendo. But here again there is a great diversity of sentiment For some will have it that missa is to be understood in the sense of missio, from an ancient custom of ecclesiastical rites, which was introduced into the Latin churches from the Greek, that when the sermon and lecture were over, the deacon, before the consecration of the mysteries, sent away or commanded the catechumens, the demoniacs, and such as were excommuncicated, to depart, saying, with a loud voice, “If there be any catechumen still remaining in the church, let him depart;” so that missa seems to be used in the sense of missio (sending away), because it was the last part of divine service. Others suppose that it is called missa in the sense of dismissa, or dismissio, from the manner in which the ecclesiastical assemblies, or congregations, were dismissed; because, when the prayers and other services were ended, the deacon exclaimed, “lie, missa est;” that is, Go, you may depart. Others, again, understand it thus: “Go, now is the collection of alms;” which they say were called missa, from being sent, or thrown in for the benefit of the poor. In short, it was that which was transacted in the church after the departure of the catechumens, or the collection of alms. Lombard has a different view of the subject: “It is called missa” says he, “because a heavenly messenger comes for the purpose of consecrating the vivifying body of Christ, according to the prayer of the priest: Almighty God, command that this be carried by the hand of thy holy angel to the high altar, &c. Therefore, unless an angel come, it cannot be properly called a mass.” Lo the folly of the man !  Again: “It is called mass either because the host is sent, of which mention is made in that service, where it is said, Ite, missa est; that is, follow the host which is gone up into heaven, go after it; or because an angel comes from heaven to consecrate the Lord’s body, by whom the host is carried to the heavenly altar; whence it is also said, Ite, missa est.” We reject the idea of the mass, and also the term itself, for the reason that it does not belong to the Lord’s supper, which has nothing in common with the mass, although some of the ancient writers employed the term.  Nor is there any necessity that we should use this term, inasmuch as we have other words which express this mystery in a more striking manner, which are extant in the Scriptures, which call it the Lord’s supper, the table of the Lord, the breaking of bread.

We may now, from what has been said, perceive the difference between the Lord’s supper and the Popish mass; which difference is so great as to require that the mass be wholly abolished. The Catechism points out three things in which the Lord’s supper and the Popish mass chiefly differ from each other:

1. The Lord’s supper testifies to us that we have a free pardon of all sin, by the only sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself has once ac complished on the cross, according as it is said: “The bread is the body of Christ, given for us.” “The cup is the blood of Christ, shed for you unto the remission of sins.” “This do in remembrance of me.” “Ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” “This he did once, when he offered up himself.” “By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” “For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” “By the which will we are sacrificed through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all.” “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sin, forever sat down on the right hand of God.” “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” 1 Cor. 11:26. Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 26; 10:10, 12, 14.)

The mass, on the other hand, teaches that the living and the dead have not the pardon of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also daily offered for them by the priests. Their Canon, which they call the less, thus teaches in reference to this subject: “Holy Father, Almighty and Eternal God, receive this immaculate host, which I, thine unworthy servant, offer unto thee, the living and true God, for my innumerable *ins, offences, and neglects, and for all round about me; yea, and for all faithful Christians, living and dead, that it may result in salvation to me and them unto everlasting life” Their greater Canon has the following: “Remember, Lord, thy servants and handmaidens N. JV., and all round about me, whose faith and acknowledged devotion are known unto thee, for whom we offer unto thee, or who present unto thee this sacrifice of praise for themselves and for all theirs, for the redemption of their souls, for the hope of their salvation and preservation,” &c. What need was there that Christ should offer himself, if the oblation of a sacrificing priest might avail for the redemption of souls? 2. The Lord’s supper testifies to us according to the articles of our faith, that Christ, as to his human nature, is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father, and not concealed under the accidents of the bread and wine; but that he exhibits to us in the Supper his body and blood, to be eaten and drunk by faith, and engrafts us into himself by the Holy Ghost, that we may abide in him, and have him abide in us, as it is said: “He that is joined to the Lord, is one Spirit.” “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” “We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” “For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest.” (1 Cor. 6:17; 10:16. Heb. 8:1, 4.)

The mass teaches, on the other hand, that the bread and wine, by virtue of the consecration, are changed into the body and blood of Christ, and that his body and blood, in the act of consecration, are brought down from heaven; that they are concealed, after a bodily manner, under the forms of bread and wine; that they are really handled by the hands of the minister, carried about, and eaten and received with the mouth by the communicants. These figments of the brain are opposed to the incarnation, the ascension, the intercession, and return of Christ to judgment; all of which are important articles of our faith, and also to the nature of sacraments, in which the signs must necessarily remain, and not lose their nature, as we have already demonstrated.

3. The Lord’s supper teaches that Christ is to be worshipped by us in heaven at the right hand of the Father: for it does not overthrow, but establishes the articles of our faith, and the doctrine of the whole gospel, which teaches that Christ is to be sought and worshipped ABOVE. “Seek those things which are ABOVE, WHERE Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Col. 3:1.) Stephen, when he was stoned, saw Christ and worshipped him ABOVE, standing at the right of God. (Acts 7:55.) The ancient church also sang in her service, or liturgy, SURSUM CORDA HABEMUS AD DOMINUM, we lift up our hearts unto the Lord.

The mass teaches, on the other hand, that Christ is to be worshipped in the bread, which worship is, without doubt, idolatrous. For to worship Christ in the bread, is to direct our worship in soul, mind, thought, and as much as may be, in the motion or gesture of the body, to the place where the bread is, and looking thither, pay homage and reverence to Christ, as though he were there more especially than elsewhere. It was in this way that God was anciently worshipped at the ark, in which worship the mind was not only directed to the ark, but the body was also inclined to it as much as possible. That this is idolatry, may be proven, 1. From this, that no creature has the power to restrict the worship of God to anything or place in which, or at which God has not expressly commanded us to worship him, or in which he has not promised to hear us. From this it is easy to see the cause of the difference, why the Jews, directing their worship to the Mercy Seat, did, nevertheless, at the same time worship the true God in spirit, and were assured by the divine promise of being heard; whilst those who worshipped in Dan and Bethel, and upon the high places, and in the temple of Samaria, were idolaters, worshipping what they knew not. The reason of this is explained more fully in 2 Kings, 17:9. 2. Because in the New Testament all worship which is tied, or limited to any particular place, is entirely abolished, whilst a spiritual worship is now required of us, kindled by the Holy Ghost, and offered up in true knowledge and faith. Christ himself plainly teaches this, in John 4:22, 23: “Ye worship, ye know not what; we know what we worship. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” When he says, that we shall worship in spirit, not in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem, he abolishes all worship which is restricted to any particular place. Hence we must abolish and hold in abhorrence the wicked device of the corporal presence of Christ in the bread, which is the foundation of the idolatrous worship of the Papists: for as long as Christ’s bodily presence in the bread is retained, whether it be by tran, or consubstantiation, so long the Popish worship will remain.  For as in former times, before the ascension of Christ into heaven, it was not only lawful, but even necessary to worship Christ in whatever place he was; so now, if he is in the bread, he must be worshipped in the bread, whether we see him or not. Yea, we ought rather to believe the word of God, than any of our senses, if it taught any such thing. But if, on the other hand, we reject the corporal presence of Christ in the bread, we also abolish, by the command of God himself, this shameful worship which the Papists are wont to bestow upon the body of Christ, which ,they say lies concealed under the forms of bread and wine.

The Ubiquitarians take exception against us here, and say that Christ is in the bread,, not to be adored, but to be eaten; neither does he give any command that he should be adored in the bread, but that he should be eaten. This, however, which they assert, is a mere begging of the question, for Christ commanded neither. If he is in the bread it is proper that he should be there worshipped, on account of the general command: “Let all the angels of God worship him.” “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God.” (Ps. 97:7. Heb. 1:6. Deut. 6:13; 10:20.) They imagine Christ, therefore, to be in the bread, and yet affirm that it is not lawful to worship him. Hence Musculus and others, to solve this difficulty, fall down before the bread, and worship Christ in it. Hesshuss argues against what we have affirmed, in this way: The Divinity, although it is present in all creatures, is, nevertheless, not to be adored in them. Therefore, neither is it necessary that the humanity of Christ should be adored in the bread, although it is corporally present in it. But the cases are different; for the adoration of the Divinity is not restricted to all creatures, but is joined to the humanity which he assumed, as to its own temple. Hence, wherever the humanity of Christ is, there the Divinity will be worshipped in it, and with it, so that the ubiquity of Christ’s humanity is entirely overthrown by this argument upon which they are wont to lay so much importance. For the humanity of Christ is not to be worshipped in all creatures, and every where, it follows that it is not present every where, in all pea-rs, apples, ropes, cheese, &c., as the Ubiquitarians write in reference to this subject.

These differences were enlarged by the addition of the following particulars, and delivered by Ursinus in the year 1669:

1. The Supper testifies, that the sacrifice of Christ alone justifies; the Popish priests affirm that the mass justifies, according to the work which is done.

2. The Supper teaches that Christ has redeemed us by offering himself for us; the Priests affirm that we are justified by Christ offered by them.

3. The Supper teaches that our salvation is accomplished by the one sacrifice which Christ offered for us upon the cross; the Priests affirm that it is accomplished by the mass being frequently repeated.

4. The Supper teaches that we are engrafted into Christ by means of the Holy Spirit, through faith; the mass deceives when it teaches that Christ enters into us corporally, or that we are engrafted into Christ by his entering into us corporally.

5. The Supper teaches that Christ ascended into heaven, after having accomplished his sacrifice; the mass-mongers will have it that he is upon the altar, as to his body.

6. The bread and wine remain in the Supper, and are not changed as to their substance, because the sacraments retain and do not change the substance of the signs; the mass-mongers teach that the substance of the bread and wine is annihilated, and that the accidents only remain.

7. The design of the Supper is the confirmation of our faith in Christ, and of his only sacrifice; the design of the mass is the confirmation of the opinion concerning works which are done, and a denial of the sacrifice of Christ.

8. The Supper teaches that Christ is to be adored in heaven; the mass-mongers adore him under the forms of bread and wine. These differences prove that the Popish mass is, in fact, nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice of Christ, and an accursed idolatry.

These differences, moreover, prove that there are many and weighty causes on account of which the Popish mass ought to be suppressed, abolished, and entirely discarded from the church, viz:

1. The Popish mass is a manifold corruption, or rather the abolishing of the whole rite instituted by Christ, that is, of the Lord’s supper. For it takes away the cup from the laity, and adds many foolish toys, unknown to the Apostles, and never practiced by the church in her early history; when, nevertheless, no creature has the power of instituting sacraments, or of changing or abolishing their divine constitution.

2. The mass destroys the sign, and the sacrament itself, inasmuch as it changes the sign into the thing signified. It denies that there is any bread and wine present, but declares it to be the flesh and blood of Christ substantially, which is repugnant to the nature of sacraments, which does not allow the substance of the signs to be destroyed, neither does it require any physical connection between the signs and the things signified, and so does not require any transubstantiation or corporal presence in the supper; but doubtless leads us to Christ crucified, and now reigning in heaven, and thence communicating himself unto us.

3. The opinion of merit attaching itself to that which is done, is grounded in the mass: because the priests feign that the mass is a propitiatory sacrifice, which merits, by its own dignity and virtue, the remission of sins, for them, and for others by the work which is done. But this virtue did not even belong to the Mosaic sacrifices. It belongs only to the one sacrifice which the Son of God offered once for us upon the cross, to which the Lord’s supper leads and directs us, whilst the mass withdraws and calls the mind away from it.  It is true that the Fathers do sometimes call the supper a sacrifice, but they meant a eucharistical, or thanksgiving sacrifice, and not a propitiatory sacrifice, as the Papists maintain. And indeed the supper is that sacrifice which Christ offered, as the bread is that body which he gave for us, which, however, is to be understood sacramentally. These mass-mongers, how ever, make the mass, not that very same sacrifice which Christ offered, but something different from it; for, say they, it is a sacrifice without blood, by which we obtain the forgiveness of sins. Hence they do in fact deny the sacrifice which Christ offered by the shedding of his blood, when they deny that Christ has perfectly merited the remission of sins, and imagine another sacrifice for sin, although they affirm that they offer no other sacrifice, than that which Christ offered. For it is one thing to offer one sacrifice once, and that sufficient to atone for all sin, which the Scriptures declare to be true of the sacrifice of Christ; and it is another thing for the same sacrifice to be frequently offered which does not agree with the sacrifice of Christ. They contradict themselves when they say, that this sacrifice alone is sufficient for the remission of sins, and this sacrifice, with others, is offered for sins.

4. There is another error concealed under this, that they should imagine themselves able to obtain the forgiveness of sins, and the deliverance of souls absent or dead and in purgatory, when the word of God declares, on the contrary, that we shall be clothed in heaven, if we are found clothed and not naked on earth; and that we shall be judged according to the characters which we have when we depart out of this life. Cyprian says, “When we have once departed this life, there is then no room for repentance, and no effect of satisfaction: here life is either lost or gained; here eternal salvation is obtained by the worship of God, and by the fruit of faith.”

5. There is also here another error, because they feign that, by the offering of the sacrifice in the mass, they do not only merit the forgiveness of sins, but also other benefits, as the healing of the sick, arid of sheep, horses, cattle, swine, &c. They imagine, therefore, that benefits are conferred in the mass of an entirely different character from those promised in the Gospel, and sealed by the sacraments.

6. The mass is opposed to the priesthood of Christ. Christ alone has the power of offering himself. These mass-mongers, however, imagine that the Son of God may be offered, not only by himself, but by others also; and that they offer him unto God the Father, when there is, nevertheless, no creature of such dignity as to be able to offer the So of God as a sacrifice. The priest is greater and more excellent than the sacrifice. Hence, as they affirm that they are the priests who offer Christ, they exalt themselves above him. To this they are wont to object, saying that they do not slay, but only offer and exhibit the Son to the Father, that he may remit unto us our sins for the sake of Christ, so that they merely in this way apply that one sacrifice of the Son of God. But that which they affirm is sufficient to convict them of error, that they offer Christ with their hands; for it remains that they make themselves the priests who offer the Son of God as a sacrifice, and so exalt themselves above him. Nor does that which they affirm, when they say that they do not slay Christ, avail any thing: for there were many things offered by the priests of old, which they nevertheless did not slay; but only sacrificed, or offered, as cakes, burnt offerings, &c. The Jews slew Christ, but they did not sacrifice him; but Christ was willingly slain, and, therefore sacrificed himself, “Who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God.  (Heb. 9:14.) Christ verily offered himself once a sacrifice to the Father for us. “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” “Christ, after he had offered one sacrifice for sin, for ever sat down on the right hand of God. ( Heb. 9:28; 10:12.) The Papists now, in opposition to these express declarations of Scripture, will have Christ offered often in the mass. They maintain that they sacrifice him often, but do not slay him. A propitiatory sacrifice, however, cannot be offered without the death of the victim; for, “without the shedding of blood, is no remission.”

7. The mass is in conflict with the articles of our faith respecting the true humanity of Christ, his true ascension into heaven, and his return to judgment; for it joins to Christ a body made of bread, and imagines that Christ is concealed corporally under the forms of bread and wine.

8. The Mass is opposed to the communion of saints with Christ: for it devises the horrible figment that Christ’s body is made to enter into our bodies, and to remain within us as long as the forms of bread and wine remain undigested. The Supper teaches, on the other hand, that we are members of Christ by the Holy Spirit and are engrafted into him.

9. Finally, the mass is repugnant to the true word of God, because it establishes the idolatrous worship of Christ in the bread, as we have already shown. The Papists restrict or bind the worship of Christ to a thing, to which Christ has not restricted it by any express command; and in this way they declare themselves idolaters, no less than if they were to worship Christ at a wall, or if they were to adore him falling down before a pillar.

From what has now been said, it is evident that the mass is an idol, formed by Anti-Christ out of various accursed errors and blasphemies, and substituted in the place of the Lord’s supper, which, for .this reason, is properly and necessarily abolished.

Obj. 1. The Mass is an application of the sacrifice of Christ. There fore it ought not to be abolished. Ans. We deny the antecedent, for the reason that the merits of Christ are applied unto us by faith alone, as it is said, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” (Eph. 3:17.)

Obj. 2. There must necessarily be a perpetual sacrifice in the church.  Isaiah foretold that it should be “from one Sabbath to another”; and Malachi says, “They shall offer a pure offering.” (Is. 66:23. Mal. 1:11.) Ans The sacrifices of the Christian church are eucharistical: and it is of such sacrifices that it is here declared that they shall be perpetual and pure. The Fathers call such a sacrifice of thanksgiving eucharistical, 1. Because it is a remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ. 2. Because, in the primitive church alms, which were a sacrifice, were offered and given to the poor, after the observance of the Lord’s supper. But the Fathers never dreamed that the Supper was a propitiatory sacrifice.


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