In the Supper, Christ’s sacrifice is sacramentally present in the symbols and mentally present in the believing remembrance of communicants. But Perkins rejected the notion that the minister serves as a priest who offers a real, bodily sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of sins, for the Puritans recognized “only Christ’s oblation [offering] on the cross once offered.”
Papal Errors in the Lord’s Supper
The Puritans viewed transubstantiation as “repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense and reason.” John Owen (1616–1683) wrote, “This is one of the greatest mysteries of the Roman magic and juggling, that corporeal elements should have a power to forgive sins, and confer spiritual grace…. No part of Christian religion was ever so vilely contaminated and abused by profane wretches, as this pure, holy, plain action and institution of our Savior: witness the Popish horrid monster of transubstantiation, and their idolatrous mass.” Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) explained, “The end of the sacrament is not that we may eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ without a metaphor. And if we should suggest a thing so horrid and so monstrous as the papists do in their doctrine of transubstantiation, would that be any benefit to us?”
Perkins said the signs of the Supper do not change with respect to their “substance” but in their being set apart “from a common to a holy use.” He refuted the doctrine of transubstantiation with these arguments: (1) How could Christ’s body literally be eaten before He was crucified? His disciples ate the bread in the first institution of the Supper. (2) The bread is broken into parts, but every communicant receives the whole body of Christ. (3) The bread is the “communion” of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 10:16) and therefore is not itself the body.