« PreviousContinue »
and of what he is to us, and hath done for us; for how can we remember that which we have never known?
But there is another object in view in this ordinance. It is not only a memorial, but an open confession also of Christ, "for as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we do show the Lord's death till he come." Lord's supper is one of the grand peculiarities of our religion, by which we are to be distinguished from all other men. In it, we show forth the Lord's death, and declare our dependance upon that death for eternal life. Jesus crucified was a stumbling block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks. Worldly wisdom and worldly science spurned at the cross as contemptible, and derided the disciples of Christ, for following a Master who had been hanged upon a tree. Yet that despised tree in which the wisdom of man sees nothing but disgrace and infamy and scorn, is the joy and glory of the Christian's heart; for there he beholds in the riches of redeeming grace, the manifold wisdom of God. The great Apostle of the Gentiles writing to the learned and philosophical Greeks of the city of Corinth, singles out this despised subject as the only one he declares worthy of any serious attention. "I determined not to know any thing among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified;" and to the Ga
latians he says, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
This then we mean when we assemble to show forth the Lord's death, that instead of considering the ignominious and disgraceful death of our Master any reproach to his religion, we hail it as our glory, our joy, our dependance; that instead of the carnal policy of concealing our Lord's death, that his disgrace might not be remembered; we openly declare and rejoice in his death; we see his disgrace and our salvation linked together, and we hold his sufferings in everlasting endeared remembrance.
These are the leading objects in view in this ordinance: a commemoration and a confession.
III. Let us examine, thirdly, something of the nature of this ordinance. It is a communion. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? not only remember Christ and confess Christ, but also we have communion with Christ. When the Israelites kept the passover, they not only recorded their deliverance by the blood of the lamb, and made profession of their faith in the Lord God of their fathers: but they did also eat of the flesh of the sacrifice, they were
partakers of the altars." Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, therefore, let us keep the feast.
Communion with Christ is a spiritual feast. Christ is the Master of the feast, he sends the invitation and makes the provision. Christ is
also the substance of the feast. He is the bread of life. He says, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him." Christ is also the companion of the feast. He comes according to his own remarkable expression to "sup with us and we with him."* The Lord's supper is the outward and visible sign of this inward and spiritual feast. If therefore our souls do not see the Lord in it we have no proper Master at the table; if our souls have not fellowship with the Lord in it we have no proper companion at the table: if our souls do not discern the Lord's body, "although we do carnally and visibly press with our teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, yet in
*Rev. iii. 20.
no wise are we partakers of Christ, but rather, to our condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or sacrament of so great a thing."* God has. made use of outward and visible things to assist our faith, but they are to be considered as stepping stones, not as resting places. Christ is the only true resting place for the soul. As generally concerning every part of salvation, so here peculiarly in this supper it must be said, Christ is all and in all. Be not deceived, my beloved brethren. To say, that this ordinance is merely a memorial, is to overlook, if not to contradict, much of the scriptural language applied to it. While, on the other hand, to say that we receive in it, into our bodies, the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ, is to force upon that language an interpretation to the letter, such as is not contended for, in any other instance, even by those who are the most zealous supporters of this opinion. Neither should we wonder at this; for the same species of interpretation which proves the sacramental bread to be the body of Christ, would as conclusively prove that Christ is a door, and that Peter is a Rock.
But does it follow, that because we reject this extreme view of the subject, we therefore assert that there is no communion in the ordinance? Surely not. There is manifestly, act
* Article xxix.
ual and visible communion between our bodies and the bread and wine; and there ought to be spiritual invisible communion between our souls, and the body and blood of Christ; and therefore we say, that the body and blood of Christ, are verily and indeed taken and received, by the faithful in the Lord's supper. "By the faithful" because faith is that hidden principle by which the soul holds converse with an invisible Saviour. This invisible communion is the true support of the soul in all its necessities, and is therefore spoken of in figures borrowed from the manner in which the body is "As supported; that is,. by meat and drink. the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." The remarkable conversation (already referred to) in which these words occur, took place some time previous to the appointment of the Lord's supper.
The same important truth is presented to us in both. In the one by figurative language according to our Lord's usual custom, and in the other by the unusual addition of outward signs. The similar truths presented to us by language borrowed from the light and heat, the vineyards and sheepfolds of the natural world, have not been impressed by similar ordinances. The instruction of the Christian, the warmth