13. Transubstantiation as feigned by the Schoolmen. Refutation. The many superstitions introduced by their error.
The Schoolmen, horrified at this barbarous impiety, speak more modestly, though they do nothing more than amuse themselves with more subtle delusions. They admit that Christ is not contained in the sacrament circumscriptively, or in a bodily manner, but they afterwards devise a method which they themselves do not understand, and cannot explain to others. It, however, comes to this, that Christ may be sought in what they call the species of bread. What? When they say that the substance of bread is converted into Christ, do they not attach him to the white colour, which is all they leave of it? But they say, that though contained in the sacrament, he still remains in heaven, and has no other presence there than that of abode.
But, whatever be the terms in which they attempt to make a gloss, the sum of all is, that that which was formerly bread, by consecration becomes Christ: so that Christ thereafter lies hid under the colour of bread. This they are not ashamed distinctly to express. For Lombard’s words are, “The body of Christ, which is visible in itself, lurks and lies covered after the act of consecration under the species of bread” (Lombard. Sent. Lib. 4 Dist. 12). Thus the figure of the bread is nothing but a mask which conceals the view of the flesh from our eye. But there is no need of many conjectures to detect the snare which they intended to lay by these words, since the thing itself speaks clearly. It is easy to see how great is the superstition under which not only the vulgar but the leaders also, have laboured for many ages, and still labour, in Popish Churches.
Little solicitous as to true faith (by which alone we attain to the fellowship of Christ, and become one with him), provided they have his carnal presence, which they have fabricated without authority from the word, they think he is sufficiently present. Hence we see, that all which they have gained by their ingenious subtlety is to make bread to be regarded as God. (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book IV, 17:13)
On what grounds can Calvin or his followers argue that this is impossible? I don’t see at all that it is impossible for God or prohibited by the Bible. Colossians 3:11 states that “Christ is all, and in all.” The Bible refers to God being “in” physical things, such as fire and clouds (so why not also under the appearances of bread and wine?). All of this is exactly analogous to eucharistic adoration of the host:
GOD SPECIALLY PRESENT IN FIRE
Exodus 3:2-6 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.  And Moses said, “I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.”  When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here am I.”  Then he said, “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”  And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (cf. Acts 7:30-33; Dt. 4:12, 15; 5:4-5; Mk 12:26; Lk 20:37)
Exodus 13:21 And the LORD went before them . . . by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night; (cf. 14:24)
Exodus 19:18 And Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. (cf. 24:17)
Exodus 40:38 For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel. (cf. Num 14:14; Dt 1:32-33; Neh 9:12, 19)
Deuteronomy 4:12 Then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. (cf. 4:15)
Deuteronomy 5:22 These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, . . . (cf. 9:10; 10:4)GOD SPECIALLY PRESENT IN THE SHEKINAH CLOUD / “GLORY OF THE LORD”*
Exodus 13:21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, . . . (cf. 14:24; 16:10; Dt 1:33; 31:15)
Exodus 24:15-16 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.  The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
Exodus 33:9-11 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the door of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses.  And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the door of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, every man at his tent door.  Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tent. . . .  And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (cf. Num 14:10, 14; 16:19, 42)
Exodus 34:5 And the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.
Exodus 40:34-38 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would go onward;  but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not go onward till the day that it was taken up.  For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, . . . (cf. Lev 9:4-6, 23)
Leviticus 16:2 and the LORD said to Moses, . . . “I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.” [ark of the covenant]
Numbers 11:25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him . . .
Deuteronomy 5:22 These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of . . . the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice . . .
1 Kings 8:11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD. (cf. 2 Chr 5:14)
Psalm 99:7 He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud . . . (cf. Neh 9:12,19)
Ezekiel 10:4, 18 And the glory of the LORD went up from the cherubim to the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the glory of the LORD. . . . Then the glory of the LORD went forth from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim.
GOD SPECIALLY PRESENT ABOVE THE ARK OF THE COVENANT
Exodus 25:22 There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.
Exodus 30:6 And you shall put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with you. (cf. Lev 16:2)
Numbers 7:89 And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him. (cf. 1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2; 2 Ki 19:15; 1 Chron 13:6; Ps 80:1; 99:1; Is 37:16; Ezek 10:4; Heb 9:5)
GOD ADORED AND WORSHIPED THROUGH FIRE, THE CLOUD OF HIS GLORY, AND THE TABERNACLE (“TENT”) / TEMPLE
Exodus 33:9-11 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the door of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses.  And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the door of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, every man at his tent door.  Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. . . .
Numbers 20:6-7 Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tent of meeting, and fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them,  and the LORD said to Moses, . . . [this “glory” was manifested by a cloud, as proven by many passages seen above (Ex 24:16; 40:34-35; 1 Kgs 8:11; 2 Chr 5:14; Ezek 10:4) ]
2 Chronicles 7:1-3 When Solomon had ended his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.  And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house.  When all the children of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD upon the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the earth on the pavement, and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever.”
GOD ADORED AND WORSHIPED THROUGH THE ARK OF THE COVENANT
Joshua 7:6-8 Then Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust upon their heads.  And Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord GOD, why hast thou brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan!  O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies!”
2 Samuel 6:17 And they brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in its place, inside the tent which David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.
1 Kings 3:15 And Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream. Then he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.
1 Chronicles 16:1-2, 4 And they brought the ark of God, and set it inside the tent which David had pitched for it; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God.  And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD, . . .  Moreover he appointed certain of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the LORD, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel.
2 Chronicles 5:6 And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered.
Yet Calvin would have us believe that it is implausible or unbiblical or impossible that God (after the incarnation) could choose to be physically present in the consecrated elements of what was formerly bread and wine? He simply cannot do so. It is a mere false tradition of men that would dogmatically assert such a thing without biblical justification. As I’ve just shown, the Bible has many indications of a local presence of God in physical things, even apart from the incarnation (fire, smoke, ark of the covenant, and the tabernacle and temple), and of worship of God through those physical objects.
Now that God has taken on human flesh, it is not implausible at all that He can also choose to be present under the appearances of bread and wine, just as He did in pillars of cloud and fire and burning bushes. Why should one thing be actual and the other allegedly not even plausible or possible?
From the above biblical data we see that people including Moses, Aaron, Joshua, David, Solomon, and the Levite priests worshiped and adored God in fire, clouds, tabernacle, temple, and the ark of the covenant, and physically / bodily expressed adoration, as expressed in the Bible in the following ways:
“rise up and worship” (Ex 33:10: “pillar of cloud”)
“fell on their faces” (Num 20:6: “glory of the LORD” [cloud] )
“prayer, . . . burnt offering and the sacrifices, . . . they bowed down with their faces to the earth on the pavement, and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD” (2 Chr 7:1, 3: “fire”, “glory of the LORD” [cloud], “temple”)
“fell to the earth upon his face before ” (Josh 7:6: “ark of the LORD” [ark of the covenant] )
“offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD” (2 Sam 6:17: “ark of the LORD” [ark of the covenant] )
“stood before . . . and offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings” (I Kgs 3:15: “ark of the covenant”)
“offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. . . . invoke, to thank, and to praise the LORD” (1 Chr 16:1, 4: “ark of God” / “ark of the LORD” [ark of the covenant] )
“sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered” (2 Chr 5:6: “the ark” [ark of the covenant] )
It should also be noted that three of the five created things mentioned in this regard above were man-made (tabernacle, temple, and ark of the covenant). Some Protestants who don’t properly understand the Bible would say that this is worshiping a graven image, and idolatry. It’s not, or else God wouldn’t have permitted it. Moreover, the passages with the ark and temple also entail veneration or worship of God through (or, technically, in conjunction with) a statue. The cherubim on top of the ark of the covenant (where God was said to be present), are little statues of angels. Statuary was also present in Solomon’s temple.
Eucharistic presence is scarcely any essentially different than all these manifestations of His special presence. Levite priests thanked and praised God before the ark of the covenant (1 Chr 16:4), just as Catholics genuflect and bow before the Holy Eucharist, and adore the Lord therein. King David “offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD” next to the ark (2 Sam 6:17), which is a precursor of the Sacrifice of the Mass. King Solomon did the same (1 Kgs 3:15; 2 Chr 5:6), and so did the Levites (1 Chr 16:1). Catholic practices are essentially nothing that hadn’t been done 3,000 or more years ago. They are made far more meaningful, however, after the incarnation and crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.