(Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 4, part 20)
Chapter 18. Of the Popish mass. How it not only profanes, but 
annihilates the Lord's Supper. 
    The principal heads of this chapter are, - I. The abomination 
of the Mass, sec. 1. Its manifold impiety included under five heads, 
sec. 2-7. Its origin described, sec. 8, 9. II. Of the name of 
sacrifice which the ancients gave to the holy Supper, sec. 10-12. An 
apposite discussion on sacrifice, refitting the arguments of the 
Papists for the sacrifice of the Mass, sec. 13-18. III. A summary of 
the doctrine of the Christian Church respecting the sacraments, 
paving the way for the subsequent discussion of the five sacraments, 
falsely so called, sec. 19, 20. 
1. The chief of all the abominations set up in opposition to the 
    Lord's Supper is the Papal Mass. A description of it. 
2. Its impiety is five-fold. 1. Its intolerable blasphemy in 
    substituting priests to him the only Priest. Objections of the 
    Papists answered. 
3. Impiety of the Mass continued. 2. It overthrows the cross of 
    Christ by setting up an altar. Objections answered. 
4. Other objections answered. 
5. Impiety of the Mass continued. 3. It banishes the remembrance of 
    Christ's death. It crucifies Christ afresh. Objections 
6. Impiety of the Mass continued. 4. It robs us of the benefit of 
    Christ's death. 
7. Impiety of the Mass continued. 5. It abolishes the Lord's Supper. 
    In the Supper the Father offers Christ to us; in the Mass, 
    priestlings offer Christ to the Father. The Supper is a 
    sacrament common to all Christians; the Mass confined to one 
8. The origin of the Mass. Private masses an impious profanation of 
    the Supper. 
9. This abomination unknown to the purer Church. It has no 
    foundation in the word of God. 
10. Second part of the chapter. Some of the ancients call the Supper 
    a sacrifice, but not propitiatory, as the Papists do the Mass. 
    This proved by passages from Augustine. 
11. Some of the ancients seem to have declined too much to the 
    shadows of the law. 
12. Great distinction to be made between the Mosaic sacrifices and 
    the Lord's Supper, which is called a eucharistic sacrifice. 
    Same rule in this discussion. 
13. The terms sacrifice and priest. Different kinds of sacrifices. 
    1. Propitiatory. 2. Eucharistic. None propitiatory but the 
    death of Christ. 
14. The Lord's Supper not properly called a propitiatory sacrifice, 
    still less can the Popish Mass be so called. Those who mutter 
    over the Mass cannot be called priests. 
15. Their vanity proved even by Plato. 
16. To the Eucharistic class of sacrifice belong all offices of 
    piety and charity. This species of sacrifice has no connection 
    with the appeasing of God. 
17. Prayer, thanksgiving, and other exercises of piety, called 
    sacrifices. In this sense the Lord's Supper called the 
    eucharist. In the same sense all believers are priests. 
18. Conclusion. Names given to the Mass. 
19. Last part of the chapter, recapitulating the views which ought 
    to be held concerning Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Why the 
    Lord's Supper is, and Baptism is not, repeated. 
20. Christians should be contented with these two sacraments. They 
    are abolished by the sacraments decreed by men. 
    1. By these and similar inventions, Satan has attempted to 
adulterate and envelop the sacred Supper of Christ as with thick 
darkness, that its purity might not be preserved in the Church. But 
the head of this horrid abomination was, when he raised a sign by 
which it was not only obscured and perverted, but altogether 
obliterated and abolished, vanished away and disappeared from the 
memory of man; namely, when, with most pestilential error, he 
blinded almost the whole world into the belief that the Mass was a 
sacrifice and oblation for obtaining the remission of sins. I say 
nothing as to the way in which the sounder schoolmen at first 
received this dogma. I leave them with their puzzling subtleties 
which, however they may be defended by cavilling, are to be 
repudiated by all good men, because all they do is to envelop the 
brightness of the Supper in great darkness. Bidding adieu to them, 
therefore, let my readers understand that I am here combating that 
opinion with which the Roman Antichrist and his prophets have imbued 
the whole world, viz., that the mass is a work by which the priest 
who offers Christ, and the others who in the oblation receive him, 
gain merit with God, or that it is an expiatory victim by which they 
regain the favour of God. And this is not merely the common opinion 
of the vulgar, but the very act has been so arranged as to be a kind 
of propitiation, by which satisfaction is made to God for the living 
and the dead. This is also expressed by the words employed, and the 
same thing may be inferred from daily practice. I am aware how 
deeply this plague has struck its roots; under what a semblance of 
good it conceals its true character, bearing the name of Christ 
before it, and making many believe that under the single name of 
Mass is comprehended the whole sum of faith. But when it shall have 
been most clearly proved by the word of God, that this mass, however 
glossed and splendid, offers the greatest insult to Christ, 
suppresses and buries his cross, consigns his death to oblivion, 
takes away the benefit which it was designed to convey, enervates 
and dissipates the sacrament, by which the remembrance of his death 
was retained, will its roots be so deep that this most powerful axe, 
the word of God, will not cut it down and destroy it? Will any 
semblance be so specious that this light will not expose the lurking 
    2. Let us show, therefore as was proposed in the first place, 
that in the mass intolerable blasphemy and insult are offered to 
Christ. For he was not appointed Priest and Pontiff by the Fathers 
for a time merely, as priests were appointed under the Old 
Testament. Since their life was mortal, their priesthood could not 
be immortal, and hence there was need of successors, who might ever 
and anon be substituted in the room of the dead. But Christ being 
immortal, had not the least occasion to have a vicar substituted for 
him. Wherefore he was appointed by his Father a priest for ever, 
after the order of Melchizedek, that he might eternally exercise a 
permanent priesthood. This mystery had been typified long before in 
Melchizedek, whom Scripture, after once introducing as the priest of 
the living God, never afterwards mentions, as if he had had no end 
of life. In this way Christ is said to be a priest after his order. 
But those who sacrifice daily must necessarily give the charge of 
their oblations to priests, whom they surrogate as the vicars and 
successors of Christ. By this subrogation they not only rob Christ 
of his honour, and take from him the prerogative of an eternal 
priesthood, but attempt to remove him from the right hand of his 
Father, where he cannot sit immortal without being an eternal 
priest. Nor let them allege that their priestlings are not 
substituted for Christ, as if he were dead, but are only substitutes 
in that eternal priesthood, which therefore ceases not to exist. The 
words of the apostle are too stringent to leave them any means of 
evasion, viz., "They truly were many priests, because they were not 
suffered to continue by reason of death: but this man, because he 
continueth ever, has an unchangeable priesthood," (Heb. 7: 23, 24.) 
Yet such is their dishonesty, that to defend their impiety they arm 
themselves with the example of Melchizedek. As he is said to have 
"brought forth (obtulisse) bread and wine," (Gen. 14: 18,) they 
infer that it was a prelude to their mass, as if there was any 
resemblance between him and Christ in the offering of bread and 
wine. This is too silly and frivolous to need refutation. 
Melchizedek gave bread and wine to Abraham and his companions, that 
he might refresh them when worn out with the march and the battle. 
What has this to do with sacrifice? The humanity of the holy king is 
praised by Moses: these men absurdly coin a mystery of which there 
is no mention. They, however, put another gloss upon their error, 
because it is immediately added, he was "priest of the most high 
God." I answer, that they erroneously wrest to bread and wine what 
the apostle refers to blessing. "This Melchizedek, king of Salem, 
priest of the most high God, who met Abraham," "and blessed him." 
Hence the same apostle (and a better interpreter cannot be desired) 
infers his excellence. "Without all contradiction, the less is 
blessed of the better." But if the oblation of Melchizedek was a 
figure of the sacrifice of the mass, I ask, would the apostle, who 
goes into the minutes details, have forgotten a matter so grave and 
serious? Now, however they quibble, it is in vain for them to 
attempt to destroy the argument which is adduced by the apostle 
himself viz., that the right and honour of the priesthood has ceased 
among mortal men, because Christ, who is immortal, is the one 
perpetual priest. 
    3. Another iniquity chargeable on the mass is, that it sinks 
and buries the cross and passion of Christ. This much, indeed, is 
most certain, - the cross of Christ is overthrown the moment an 
altar is erected. For if, on the cross, he offered himself in 
sacrifice that he might sanctify us for ever, and purchase eternal 
redemption for us, undoubtedly the power and efficacy of his 
sacrifice continues without end. Otherwise, we should not think more 
honourably of Christ than of the oxen and calves which were 
sacrificed under the law, the offering of which is proved to have 
been weak and inefficacious because often repeated. Wherefore, it 
must be admitted, either that the sacrifice which Christ offered on 
the cross wanted the power of eternal cleansing, or that he 
performed this once for ever by his one sacrifice. Accordingly, the 
apostle says, "Now once in the end of the world has he appeared to 
put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Again: "By the which act 
we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ 
once for all." Again: "For by one offering he has perfected for ever 
them that are sanctified." To this he subjoins the celebrated 
passage: "Now, where remission of these is, there is no more 
offering for sin." The same thing Christ intimated by his latest 
voice, when, on giving up the ghost, he exclaimed, "It is finished." 
We are accustomed to observe the last words of the dying as 
oracular. Christ, when dying, declares, that by his one sacrifice is 
perfected and fulfilled whatever was necessary to our salvation. To 
such a sacrifice, whose perfection he so clearly declared, shall we, 
as if it were imperfect, presume daily to append innumerable 
sacrifices? Since the sacred word of God not only affirms, but 
proclaims and protests, that this sacrifice was once accomplished, 
and remains eternally in force, do not those who demand another 
charge it with imperfection and weakness? But to what tends the mass 
which has been established, that a hundred thousand sacrifices may 
be performed every day, but just to bury and suppress the passion of 
our Lord, in which he offered himself to his Father as the only 
victim? Who but a blind man does not see that it was Satanic 
audacity to oppose a truth so clear and transparent? I am not 
unaware of the impostures by which the father of lies is wont to 
cloak his frauds viz., that the sacrifices are not different or 
various, but that the one sacrifice is repeated. Such smoke is 
easily dispersed. The apostle, during his whole discourse, contends 
not only that there are no other sacrifices, but that that one was 
once offered, and is no more to be repeated. The more subtle try to 
make their escape by a still narrower loophole, viz., that it is not 
repetition, but application. But there is no more difficulty in 
confuting this sophism also. For Christ did not offer himself once, 
in the view that his sacrifice should be daily ratified by new 
oblations, but that by the preaching of the gospel and the 
dispensation of the sacred Supper, the benefit of it should be 
communicated to us. Thus Paul says, that "Christ, our passover, is 
sacrificed for us," and bids us "keep the feast," (1 Cor. 5: 7, 8.) 
The method, I say, in which the cross of Christ is duly applied to 
us is when the enjoyment is communicated to us, and we receive it 
with true faith. 
    4. But it is worth while to hear on what other foundation 
besides they rear up their sacrifice of the mass. To this end they 
drag in the prophecy of Malachi, in which the Lord promises that "in 
every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure 
offering," (Mal. 1: 11.) As if it were new or unusual for the 
prophets, when they speak of the calling of the Gentiles, to 
designate the spiritual worship of God to which they call them, by 
the external rites of the law, more familiarly to intimate to the 
men of their age that they were to be called into the true 
fellowship of religion, just as in general they are wont to describe 
the truth which has been exhibited by the gospel by the types of 
their own age. Thus they use going up to Jerusalem for conversion to 
the Lord, the bringing of all kinds of gifts for the adoration of 
God - dreams and visions for the more ample knowledge with which 
believers were to he endued in the kingdom of Christ. The passage 
they quote from Malachi resembles one in Isaiah, in which the 
prophet speaks of three altars to be erected in Assyria, Egypt, and 
Judea. First, I ask, whether or not they grant that this prophecy is 
fulfilled in the kingdom of Christ? Secondly, Where are those 
altars, or when were they ever erected? Thirdly, Do they suppose 
that a single temple is destined for a single kingdom, as was that 
of Jerusalem? If they ponder these things, they will confess I 
think, that the prophets under types adapted to his age, prophesied 
concerning the propagation of the spiritual worship of God over the 
whole world. This is the answer which we give them; but, as obvious 
examples everywhere occur in the Scripture, I am not anxious to give 
a longer enumeration; although they are miserably deluded in this 
also, that they acknowledge no sacrifice but that of the mass, 
whereas in truth believers now sacrifice to God and offer him a pure 
offering, of which we shall speak by and by. 
    5. I now come to the third part of the mass, in regard to 
which, we are to explain how it obliterates the true and only death 
of Christ, and drives it from the memory of men. For as among men, 
the confirmation of a testament depends upon the death of the 
testator, so also the testament by which he has bequeathed to us 
remission of sins and eternal righteousness, our Lord has confirmed 
by his death. Those who dare to make any change or innovation on 
this testament deny his death, and hold it as of no moment. Now, 
what is the mass but a new and altogether different testament? What? 
Does not each mass promise a new forgiveness of sins, a new purchase 
of righteousness so that now there are as many testaments as there 
are masses? Therefore, let Christ come again, and, by another death, 
make this new testament; or rather, by innumerable deaths, ratify 
the innumerable testaments of the mass. Said I not true, then, at 
the outset, that the only true death of Christ is obliterated by the 
mass? For what is the direct aim of the mass but just to put Christ 
again to death, if that were possible? For, as the apostle says, 
"Where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of 
the testator," (Heb. 9: 16.) The novelty of the mass bears, on the 
face of it, to be a testament of Christ, and therefore demands his 
death. Besides, it is necessary that the victim which is offered be 
slain and immolated. If Christ is sacrificed at each mass, he must 
be cruelly slain every moment in a thousand places. This is not my 
argument, but the apostle's: "Nor yet that he should offer himself 
often;" "for then must he often have suffered since the foundation 
of the world," (Heb. 9: 25, 26.) I admit that they are ready with an 
answer, by which they even charge us with calumny; for they say that 
we object to them what they never thought, and could not even think. 
We know that the life and death of Christ are not at all in their 
hand. Whether they mean to slay him, we regard not: our intention is 
only to show the absurdity consequent on their impious and accursed 
dogma. This I demonstrate from the mouth of the apostle. Though they 
insist a hundred times that this sacrifice is bloodless, 
("anaimakton",) I will reply, that it depends not on the will of man 
to change the nature of sacrifice, for in this way the sacred and 
inviolable institution of God would fall. Hence it follows, that the 
principle of the apostle stands firm, "without shedding of blood is 
no remission," (Heb. 9: 22.) 
    6. The fourth property of the mass which we are to consider is, 
that it robs us of the benefit which redounded to us from the death 
of Christ, while it prevents us from recognising it and thinking of 
it. For who can think that he has been redeemed by the death of 
Christ when he sees a new redemption in the mass? Who can feel 
confident that his sins have been remitted when he sees a new 
remission? It will not do to say that the only ground on which we 
obtain forgiveness of sins in the mass is, because it has been 
already purchased by the death of Christ. For this is just 
equivalent to saying that we are redeemed by Christ on the condition 
that we redeem ourselves. For the doctrine which is disseminated by 
the ministers of Satan, and which, in the present day, they defend 
by clamour, fire, and sword, is, that when we offer Christ to the 
Father in the mass, we, by this work of oblation, obtain remission 
of sins, and become partakers of the sufferings of Christ. What is 
now left for the sufferings of Christ, but to be an example of 
redemption, that we may thereby learn to be our own redeemers? 
Christ himself when he seals our assurance of pardon in the Supper, 
does not bid his disciples stop short at that act, but sends them to 
the sacrifice of his death; intimating, that the Supper is the 
memento or, as it is commonly expressed, the memorial from which 
they may learn that the expiatory victim by which God was to be 
appeased was to be offered only once. For it is not sufficient to 
hold that Christ is the only victim, without adding that his is the 
only immolation, in order that our faith may be fixed to his cross. 
    7. I come now to the crowning point, viz., that the sacred 
Supper, on which the Lord left the memorial of his passion formed 
and engraved, was taken away, hidden and destroyed when the mass was 
erected. While the Supper itself is a gift of God, which was to be 
received with thanksgiving, the sacrifice of the mass pretends to 
give a price to God to be received as satisfaction. As widely as 
giving differs from receiving, does sacrifice differ from the 
sacrament of the Supper. But herein does the wretched ingratitude of 
man appear, - that wile a the liberality of the divine goodness 
ought to have been recognised, and thanks returned, he makes God to 
be his debtor. The sacrament promised that by the death of Christ we 
were not only restored to life once but constantly quickened, 
because all the parts of our salvation were then completed. The 
sacrifice of the mass uses a very different language, viz., that 
Christ must be sacrificed daily, in order that he may lend something 
to us. The Supper was to be dispensed at the public meeting of the 
Church, to remind us of the communion by which we are all united in 
Christ Jesus. This communion the sacrifice of the mass dissolves, 
and tears asunder. For after the heresy prevailed that there behaved 
to be priests to sacrifice for the people, as if the Supper had been 
handed over to them, it ceased to be communicated to the assembly of 
the faithful according to the command of the Lord. Entrance has been 
given to private masses, which more resemble a kind of 
excommunication than that communion ordained by the Lord, when the 
priestling, about to devour his victim apart, separates himself from 
the whole body of the faithful. That there may be no mistake, I call 
it a private mass whenever there is no partaking of the Lord's 
Supper among believers, though, at the same time, a great multitude 
of persons may be present. 
    8. The origin of the name of Mass I have never been able 
certainly to ascertain. It seems probable that it was derived from 
the offerings which were collected. Hence the ancients usually speak 
of it in the plural number. But without raising any controversy as 
to the name, I hold that private masses are diametrically opposed to 
the institution at Christ, and are, therefore, an impious 
profanation of the sacred Supper. For what did the Lord enjoin? Was 
it not to take and divide amongst ourselves? What does Paul teach as 
to the observance of this command? Is it not that the breaking of 
bread is the communion of body and blood? (1 Cor. 10: 16.) 
Therefore, when one person takes without distributing, where is the 
resemblance? But that one acts in the name of the whole Church. By 
what command? Is it not openly to mock God when one privately seizes 
for himself what ought to have been distributed among a number? But 
as the words both of our Saviour and of Paul, are sufficiently 
clear, we must briefly conclude, that wherever there is no breaking 
of bread for the communion of the faithful, there is no Supper of 
the Lord, but a false and preposterous imitation at the Supper. But 
false imitation is adulteration. Moreover, the adulteration of this 
high ordinance is not without impiety. In private masses, therefore, 
there is an impious abuse: and as in religion, one fault ever and 
anon begets another, after that custom of offering without communion 
once crept in, they began gradually to make innumerable masses in 
all the separate corners of the churches, and to draw the people 
hither and thither, when they ought to have formed one meeting, and 
thus recognised the mystery of their unity. Let them now go and deny 
their idolatry when they exhibit the bread in their masses, that it 
may be adored for Christ. In vain do they talk of those promises of 
the presence of Christ, which, however they may be understood, were 
certainly not given that impure and profane men might form the body 
of Christ as often as they please, and for whatever abuse they 
please; but that believers, while, with religious observance, they 
follow the command of Christ in celebrating the Supper, might enjoy 
the true participation of it. 
    9. We may add, that this perverse course was unknown to the 
purer Church. For however the more impudent among our opponents may 
attempt to gloss the matter, it is absolutely certain that all 
antiquity is opposed to them, as has been above demonstrated in 
other instances, and may be more surely known by the diligent 
reading of the Fathers. But before I conclude, I ask our missal 
doctors, seeing they know that obedience is better than sacrifice, 
and God commands us to listen to his voice rather than to offer 
sacrifice, (1 Sam. 15: 22,) - how they can believe this method of 
sacrificing to be pleasing, to God, since it is certain that he does 
not command it, and they cannot support it by one syllable of 
Scripture? Besides, when they hear the apostle declaring that "no 
man taketh this honour to himself, but he that is called of God, as 
was Aaron," so also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high 
priest, but he that said unto him, "Thou art my Son: this day have I 
begotten thee," (Heb. 5: 4, 5.) They must either prove God to be the 
author and founder of their priesthood, or confess that there is no 
honour from God in an office, into which, without being called, they 
have rushed with wicked temerity. They cannot produce one iota of 
Scripture in support of their priesthood. And must not the 
sacrifices be vain, since they cannot be offered without a priest? 
    10. Should any one here obtrude concise sentences of the 
ancients, and contend, on their authority, that the sacrifice which 
is performed in the Supper is to be understood differently from what 
we have explained it, let this be our brief reply, - that if the 
question relates to the approval of the fiction of sacrifice, as 
imagined by Papists in the mass, there is nothing in the Fathers to 
countenance the sacrilege. They indeed use the term sacrifice, but 
they, at the same time, explain that they mean nothing more than the 
commemoration of that one true sacrifice which Christ, our only 
sacrifice, (as they themselves everywhere proclaim,) performed on 
the cross. "The Hebrews," says Augustine, (Cont. Faust. Lib. 20 c, 
18,) "in the victims of beasts which they offered to God, celebrated 
the prediction of the future victim which Christ offered: Christians 
now celebrate the commemoration of a finished sacrifice by the 
sacred oblation and participation of the body of Christ." Here he 
certainly teaches the same doctrine which is delivered at greater 
length in the Treatise on Faith, addressed to Peter the deacon, 
whoever may have been the author. The words are, "Hold most firmly 
and have no doubt at all, that the Only Begotten became incarnate 
for us, that he offered himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to 
God for a sweet-smelling savour; to whom, with the Father and the 
Holy Spirit, in the time of the Old Testament, animals were 
sacrificed, and to whom now, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, 
(with whom there is one Godhead,) the holy Church, throughout the 
whole world, ceases not to offer the sacrifice of bread and wine. 
For, in those carnal victims, there was a typifying of the flesh of 
Christ, which he himself was to offer for our sins, and of the blood 
which he was to shed for the forgiveness of sins. But in that 
sacrifice there is thanksgiving and commemoration of the flesh of 
Christ which he offered for us, and of the blood which he shed for 
us." Hence Augustine himself, in several passages, (Ep. 120, ad 
Honorat. Cont. Advers. Legis.,) explains, that it is nothing else 
than a sacrifice of praise. In short, you will find in his writings, 
passim, that the only reason for which the Lord's Supper is called a 
sacrifice is, because it is a commemoration, an image, a testimonial 
of that singular, true, and only sacrifice by which Christ expiated 
our guilt. For there is a memorable passage, (De Trinitate, Lib. 4 
c. 24,) where, after discoursing of the only sacrifice, he thus 
concludes: "Since, in a sacrifice, four things are considered, viz., 
to whom it is offered, by whom, what and for whom, the same one true 
Mediator, reconciling us to God by the sacrifice of peace, remains 
one with him to whom he offered, made himself one with those for 
whom he offered, is himself the one who offered, and the one thing 
which he offered." Chrysostom speaks to the same effect. They so 
strongly claim the honour of the priesthood for Christ alone, that 
Augustine declares it would be equivalent to Antichrist for any one 
to make a bishop to be an intercessor between God and man, (August. 
Cont. Parmen. Lib. 2 c. 8.) 
    11. And yet we deny not that in the Supper the sacrifice of 
Christ is so vividly exhibited as almost to set the spectacle of the 
cross before our eyes, just as the apostle says to the Galatians, 
that Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth before their eyes, 
when the preaching of the crossway delivered to them, (Gal. 3: 1.) 
But because I see that those ancient writers have wrested this 
commemoration to a different purpose than was accordant to the 
divine institution, (the Supper somehow seemed to them to present 
the appearance of a repeated or at least renewed, immolation,) 
nothing can be safer for the pious than to rest satisfied with the 
pure and simple ordinance of God, whose Supper it is said to be just 
because his authority alone ought to appear in it. Seeing that they 
retained a pious and orthodoxy view of the whole ordinance, and I 
cannot discover that they wished to derogate in the least from the 
one sacrifice of the Lord, I cannot charge them with any impiety, 
and yet I think they cannot be excused from having erred somewhat in 
the mode of action. They imitated the Jewish mode of sacrificing 
more closely than either Christ had ordained, or the nature of the 
gospel allowed. The only thing, therefore for which they may be 
justly censured is, that preposterous analogy, that, not contented 
with the simple and genuine institution of Christ, they declined too 
much to the shadows of the law. 
    12. Any who will diligently consider, will perceive that the 
word of the Lord makes this distinction between the Mosaic 
sacrifices and our eucharist - that while the former represented to 
the Jewish people the same efficacy of the death of Christ which is 
now exhibited to us, in the Supper, yet the form of representation 
was different. There the Levitical priests were ordered to typify 
the sacrifice which Christ was to accomplish; a victim was placed to 
act as a substitute for Christ himself; an altar was erected on 
which it was to be sacrificed; the whole, in short, was so conducted 
as to bring under the eye an image of the sacrifice which was to be 
offered to God in expiation. But now that the sacrifice has been 
performed, the Lord has prescribed a different method to us, viz., 
to transmit the benefit of the sacrifice offered to him by his Son 
to his believing people, The Lord, therefore, has given us a table 
at which we may feast, not an altar on which a victim may be 
offered; he has not consecrated priests to sacrifice, but ministers 
to distribute a sacred feast. The more sublime and holy this mystery 
is the more religiously and reverently ought it to be treated. 
Nothing, therefore, is, safer than to banish all the boldness of 
human sense, and adhere solely to what Scripture delivers. And 
certainly, if we reflect that it is the Supper of the Lord and not 
of men, why do we allow ourselves to be turned aside one 
nail's-breadth from Scripture by any authority of man, or length of 
prescription? Accordingly, the apostle, in desiring completely to 
remove the vices which had crept into the Church of Corinth, as the 
most expeditious method recalls them to the institution itself, 
showing that thence a perpetual rule ought to be derived. 
    13. Lest any quarrelsome person should raise a dispute with us 
as to the terms, "sacrifice" and "priest", I will briefly explain 
what in the whole of this discussion we mean by sacrifice, and what 
by priest. Some, on what rational ground I see not, extend the term 
sacrifice to all sacred ceremonies and religious acts. We know that 
by the uniform use of Scripture, the name of sacrifice is given to 
what the Greeks call at one time "thusia", at another "prosfora", at 
another "telete". This, in its general acceptation, includes 
everything whatever that is offered to God. Wherefore, we ought to 
distinguish, but so that the distinction may derive its analogy from 
the sacrifices of the Mosaic Law, under whose shadows the Lord was 
pleased to represent to his people the whole reality of sacrifices. 
Though these were various in form, they may all be referred to two 
classes. For either an oblation for sin was made by a certain 
species of satisfaction, by which the penalty was redeemed before 
God, or it was a symbol and attestation of religion and divine 
worship, at one time in the way of supplication to demand the favour 
of God; at another, by way of thanksgiving, to testify gratitude to 
God for benefits received; at another as a simple exercise of piety 
to renew the sanction of the covenant, to which latter branch, 
burnt-offerings, and libations, oblations, first fruits, and 
peace-offerings, referred. Hence, let us also distribute them into 
two classes. The other class, with the view of explaining, let us 
call "latreutikon", and "sebastikon", as consisting of the 
veneration and worship which believers both owe and render to God; 
or, if you prefer it, let us call it "eucharistikon", since it is 
exhibited to God by none but those who, enriched with his boundless 
benefits, offer themselves and all their actions to him in return. 
The other class let us call propitiatory or expiatory. A sacrifice 
of expiation is one whose object is to appease the wrath of God, to 
satisfy his justice, and thereby wipe and wash away the sins, by 
which the sinner being cleansed and restored to purity, may return 
to favour with God. Hence the name which was given in the Law to the 
victims which were offered in expiation of sin, (Exod. 29: 36;) not 
that they were adequate to regain the favour of God, and wipe away 
guilt, but because they typified the true sacrifice of this nature, 
which was at length performed in reality by Christ alone; by him 
alone, because no other could, and once, because the efficacy and 
power of the one sacrifice performed by Christ is eternal, as he 
declared by his voice, when he said, "It is finished;" that is, that 
everything necessary to regain the favour of the Father, to procure 
forgiveness of sins, righteousness and salvation, that all this was 
performed and consummated by his one oblation, and that hence 
nothing was wanting. No place was left for another sacrifice. 
    14. Wherefore, I conclude, that it is an abominable insult and 
intolerable blasphemy, as well against Christ as the sacrifice, 
which, by his death, he performed for us on the cross, for any one 
to think of repeating the oblation, of purchasing the forgiveness of 
sins, of propitiating God, and obtaining justification. But what 
else is done in the Mass than to make us partakers of the sufferings 
of Christ by means of a new oblation? And that there might be no 
limit to their extravagance, they have deemed it little to say, that 
it properly becomes a common sacrifice for the whole Church, without 
adding, that it is at their pleasure to apply it specially to this 
one or that, as they choose; or rather, to any one who is willing to 
purchase their merchandise from them for a price paid. Moreover, as 
they could not come up to the estimate of Judas, still, that they 
might in some way refer to their author, they make the resemblance 
to consist in the member. He sold for thirty pieces of silver: they, 
according to the French method of computation, sell for thirty 
pieces of brass. He did it once: they as often as a purchaser is met 
with. We deny that they are priests in this sense, namely, that by 
such oblations they intercede with God for the people, that by 
propitiating God they make expiation for sins. Christ is the only 
Pontiff and Priest of the New Testament: to him all priestly offices 
were transferred, and in him they closed and terminated. Even had 
Scripture made no mention of the eternal priesthood of Christ, yet, 
as God, after abolishing those ancient sacrifices, appointed no new 
priest, the argument of the apostle remains invincible, "No man 
taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as 
was Aaron," (Heb. 5: 4.) How, then, can those sacrilegious men, who 
by their own account are murderers of Christ, dare to call 
themselves the priests of the living God? 
    15. There is a most elegant passage in the second book of 
Plato's Republic. Speaking of ancient expiations, and deriding the 
foolish confidence of wicked and iniquitous men, who thought that by 
them, as a kind of veils, they concealed their crimes from the gods; 
and, as if they had made a paction with the gods, indulged 
themselves more securely, he seems accurately to describe the use of 
the expiation of the mass, as it exists in the world in the present 
day. All know that it is unlawful to defraud and circumvent another. 
To do injustice to widows, to pillage pupils, to molest the poor, to 
seize the goods of others by wicked arts, to get possession of any 
mans succession by fraud and perjury, to oppress by violence and 
tyrannical terror, all admit to be impious. How then do so many, as 
if assured of impunity, dare to do all those things? Undoubtedly, if 
we duly consider, we will find that the only thing which gives them 
so much courage is, that by the sacrifice of the mass as a price 
paid, they trust that they will satisfy God, or at least will easily 
find a means of transacting with him. Plato next proceeds to deride 
the gross stupidity of those who think by such expiations to redeem 
the punishments which they must otherwise suffer after death. And 
what is meant by anniversaries and the greater part of masses in the 
present day, but just that those who through life have been the most 
cruel tyrants, or most rapacious plunderers or adepts in all kinds 
of wickedness, may, as if redeemed at this price, escape the fire of 
    16. Under the other kind of sacrifice, which we have called 
eucharistic, are included all the offices of charity, by which, 
while we embrace our brethren, we honour the Lord himself in his 
members; in fine, all our prayers, praises, thanksgivings, and every 
act of worship which we perform to God. All these depend on the 
greater sacrifice with which we dedicate ourselves, soul and body, 
to be a holy temple to the Lord. For it is not enough that our 
external acts be framed to obedience, but we must dedicate and 
consecrate first ourselves, and, secondly, all that we have, so that 
all which is in us may be subservient to his glory, and be stirred 
up to magnify it. This kind of sacrifice has nothing to do with 
appeasing God, with obtaining remission of sins, with procuring 
justification, but is wholly employed in magnifying and extolling 
God, since it cannot be grateful and acceptable to God unless at the 
hand of those who, having received forgiveness of sins, have already 
been reconciled and freed from guilt. This is so necessary to the 
Church, that it cannot be dispensed with. Therefore, it will endure 
for ever, so long as the people of God shall endure, as we have 
already seen above from the prophet. For in this sense we may 
understand the prophecy, "From the rising of the sun, even unto the 
going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; 
and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure 
offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the 
Lord of hosts," (Malachi 1: 11;) so far are we from doing away with 
this sacrifice. Thus Paul beseeches us, by the mercies of God, to 
present our bodies "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God," 
our "reasonable service," (Rom. 12: 1.) Here he speaks very 
significantly when he adds, that this service is reasonable, for he 
refers to the spiritual mode of worshipping God, and tacitly opposes 
it to the carnal sacrifices of the Mosaic Law. Thus to do good and 
communicate are called sacrifices with which God is well-pleased, 
(Heb. 13: 16.) Thus the kindness of the Philippians in relieving 
Paul's want is called "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice 
acceptable, well-pleasing to God," (Phil. 4: 18;) and thus all the 
good works of believers are called spiritual sacrifices. 
    17. And why do I enumerate? This form of expression is 
constantly occurring in Scripture. Nay, even while the people of God 
were kept under the external tutelage of the law, the prophets 
clearly expressed that under these carnal sacrifices there was a 
reality which is common both to the Jewish people and the Christian 
Church. For this reason David prayed, "Let my prayer ascend forth 
before thee as incense," (Psalm 141: 2.) And Hosea gives the name of 
"calves of the lips" (Hos. 14: 3) to thanksgivings, which David 
elsewhere calls "sacrifices of praise;" the apostle imitating him, 
speaks of offering "the sacrifice of praise," which he explains to 
mean, "the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name," (Heb. 13: 
15.) This kind of sacrifice is indispensable in the Lord's Supper, 
in which, while we show forth his death, and give him thanks, we 
offer nothing but the sacrifice of praise. From this office of 
sacrificing, all Christians are called "a royal priesthood," because 
by Christ we offer that sacrifice of praise of which the apostle 
speaks, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name, (1 Peter 
2: 9; Heb. 13: 15.) We do not appear with our gifts in the presence 
of God without an intercessor. Christ, our Mediator, by whose 
intervention we offer ourselves and our all to the Father; he is our 
High Priest, who, having entered into the upper sanctuary, opens up 
an access for us; he the altar on which we lay our gifts, that 
whatever we do attempts we may attempt in him; he it is, I say, who 
"has made us kings and priests unto God and his Father," (Rev. 1: 
    18. What remains but for the blind to see, the deaf to hear, 
children even to perceive this abomination of the mass, which, held 
forth in a golden cup, has so intoxicated all the kings and nations 
of the earth, from the highest to the lowest; so struck them with 
stupor and giddiness, that, duller than the lower animals, they have 
placed the vessel of their salvation in this fatal vortex. Certainly 
Satan never employed a more powerful engine to assail and storm the 
kingdom of Christ. This is the Helen for whom the enemies of the 
truth in the present day fight with so much rage, fury, and 
atrocity; and truly the Helen with whom they commit spiritual 
whoredom, the most execrable of all. I am not here laying my little 
finger on those gross abuses by which they might pretend that the 
purity of their sacred mass is profaned; on the base traffic which 
they ply; the sordid gain which they make; the rapacity with which 
they satiate their avarice. I only indicate, and that in few and 
simple terms, how very sacred the sanctity of the mass is, how well 
it has for several ages deserved to be admired and held in 
veneration! It were a greater work to illustrate these great 
mysteries as they deserve, and I am unwilling to meddle with their 
obscene impurities, which are daily before the eyes and faces of 
all, that it may be understood that the mass, taken in the most 
choice form in which it can be exhibited, without any appendages, 
teems from head to foot with all kinds of impiety, blasphemy, 
idolatry, and sacrilege. 
    19. My readers have here a compendious view of all that I have 
thought it of importance to know concerning these two sacraments 
which have been delivered to the Christian Church, to be used from 
the beginning of the new dispensation to the end of the world, 
Baptism being a kind of entrance into the Church, an initiation into 
the faith, and the Lord's Supper the constant ailment by which 
Christ spiritually feeds his family of believers. Wherefore, as 
there is but one God, one faith, one Christ, one Church, which is 
his body, so Baptism is one, and is not repeated. But the Supper is 
ever and anon dispensed, to intimate, that those who are once 
allured into the Church are constantly fed by Christ. Besides these 
two, no other has been instituted by God, and no other ought to be 
recognised by the assembly of the faithful. That sacraments are not 
to be instituted and set up by the will of men, is easily understood 
by him who remembers what has been above with sufficient plainness 
expounded, viz., that the sacraments have been appointed by God to 
instruct us in his promise, and testify his good-will towards us; 
and who, moreover, considers, that the Lord has no counsellor, (Isa. 
40: 13; Rom. 11: 34;) who can give us any certainty as to his will, 
or assure us how he is disposed towards us, what he is disposed to 
give, and what to deny? From this it follows, that no one can set 
forth a sign which is to be a testimonial of his will, and of some 
promise. He alone can give the sign, and bear witness to himself. I 
will express it more briefly perhaps in homelier, but also in 
clearer terms, - There never can be a sacrament without a promise of 
salvation. All men collected into one cannot, of themselves give us 
any promise of salvation. And, therefore, they cannot, of 
themselves, give out and set up a sacrament. 
    20. With these two, therefore, let the Christian Church be 
contented, and not only not admit or acknowledge any third at 
present, but not even desire or expect it even until the end of the 
world. For though to the Jews were given, besides his ordinary 
sacraments, others differing somewhat according to the nature of the 
times, (as the manna, the water gushing from the rock, the brazen 
serpent, and the like,) by this variety they were reminded not to 
stop short at such figures, the state of which could not be durable, 
but to expect from God something better, to endure without decay and 
without end. Our case is very different. To us Christ has been 
revealed. In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and 
knowledge, (Col. 2: 3,) in such richness and abundance, that to ask 
or hope for any new addition to these treasures is truly to offend 
God and provoke him against us. It behaves us to hunger after Christ 
only, to seek him, look to him, learn of him, and learn again, until 
the arrival of the great day on which the Lord will fully manifest 
the glory of his kingdom, and exhibit himself as he is to our 
admiring eyes (1 John 3: 2.) And, for this reason, this age of ours 
is designated in Scriptures by the last hour, the last days, the 
last times, that no one may deceive himself with the vain 
expectation of some new doctrine or revelations. Our heavenly 
Father, who "at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time 
past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken 
unto us" by his beloved Son, who alone can manifest, and, in fact, 
has fully manifested, the Father, in so far as is of importance to 
us, while we now see him through a mirror. Now since men have been 
denied the power of making new sacraments in the Church of God, it 
were to be wished that in those which are of God, there should be 
the least possible admixture of human invention. For just as when 
water is infused the wine is diluted and when leaven is put in, the 
whole mass is leavened, so the purity of the ordinances of God is 
impaired, whenever man makes any addition of his own. And yet we see 
how far the sacraments as at present used have degenerated from 
their genuine purity. There is everywhere more than enough of pomp, 
ceremony and gesticulation, while no account is taken or mention 
made, of the word of God, without which, even the sacraments 
themselves are not sacraments. Nay, in such a crowd, the very 
ceremonies ordained by God cannot raise their head, but lie as it 
were oppressed. In Baptism, as we have elsewhere justly complained, 
how little is seen of that which alone ought to shine and be 
conspicuous there, I mean Baptism itself? The Supper was altogether 
buried when it was turned into the Mass. The utmost is that it is 
seen once a year, but in a garbled, mutilated, and lacerated form. 

Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Volume 4
(continued in part 21...)

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