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ways of God. So if he prays to God, he rests in selfsatisfaction with the mere act of prayer, without regarding it in its true light, as a principal means of obtaining help from God for our many spiritual necessities. The same dangerous mistake is made by such persons respecting the Lord's Supper. They are ready to suppose that when they have prepared for it by a course of duties, and have received it in the appointed way, that then they have done all that is required, forgetting that it is a means for a further end advancement in piety.
The view of its benefits may be comprehended under the general term, A MEAN OF GRACE; a method appointed of God for communicating his grace, whether it refer to the actual enjoyment, or the due improvement of that grace.
It is not indeed appointed as a means to convey grace merely by the outward receiving of it, without suitable dispositions, and as a sort of charm. Neither are we to suppose God will pardon or save any, for their mere coming to it. “ God does not seem to have bound himself to this or any other ordinance in such a manner, that the immediate influences of his grace should necessarily be connected with it. We cannot say that he has thus invariably tied himself to it, nor does experience agree with such a notion; but, in a regular attendavce upon it, we may expect that God will meet and bless us.” The same thing is manifest in the preaching of the gospel, which has no power in itself; but God has appointed it, and blesses his own appointment as he sees fit.
It may be considered with reference to its bringing to our recollection a past transaction, and its being a
means of both enjoying benefits at the present time, and furnishing a pledge of future blessings.
1. IT BRINGS TO OUR RECOLLECTION A PAST TRANSACTION. It deeply impresses on our hearts the fact of the death of Christ for sin ; an event which it is of the utmost moment that we should never forget; an event which can never be affectionately remembered by the Christian without much advantage. We have seen that the bread and wine are apt figures of the Saviour's body which was broken, and of his blood which was shed for us. What is made visible and tangible, and obvious to all our senses, bas naturally a greater effect upon us than what is merely addressed to our understanding, or only treasured up in our memory. We are indeed too apt to rest in the outward sign, so that it was desirable that the sign should only be such a resemblance as may direct our minds to the thing signified; and for this end the emblems here used are peculiarly adapted.
By this sacrament, then, the remembrance of our Saviour's death is preserved with all its freshness in our minds; and the blessings connected with that remembrance are thus bestowed upon us.
It was not that he might gain our admiration and praise that our Lord appointed this ordinance; he needs not honour from man, for all the hosts of heaven worship him. But by this representation of his death, we ourselves are both edified and comforted.
“ Come here,” says Henry, " and see the victories of the cross. Christ's wounds are thy healing, his agonies thy repose, his conquests thy conflicts, his groans thy songs, his pains thine ease, his shame thy glory, his death thy life, his sufferings thy salvation.” And do not such recollections tend to produce mingled emotions of holy sorrow
and joy, cordial hatred of sin, and ardent love to Christ? We might enlarge on this part of the subject, had it not been in some measure anticipated in the preceding chapter, on the design of this Institution.
2. We should, however, have only a very inadequate view of its benefits, if we merely considered those which it has a natural tendency to produce, in bringing to our recollection the death of Christ; it must be regarded as a divinely-appointed MEANS OF ENJOYING SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS THE PRESENT TIME. “ Its chief excellence is, that it is not only a figure and resemblance of our living on a crucified Saviour, but also a precious instrument whereby Christ, the bread and drink of life, is really conveyed to us, and received by us through faith. Hereby God exhibits and gives sorth Christ and his salvation to true believers, and stirs up and strengthens them to receive and feed upon Christ, by present actings of faith, while they partake of the outward elements.”
The Apostle, speaking on this subject, states, 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 ? For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread. 1 Cor. x, 16, 17. This
* The sacramental cup seems called the cup of blessing, in allusion to the cup of wine used after the passover, to which the Jews gave this name. They called it so on account of the general blessings of God's providence, and of their redemption from Egypt. Christians have far more reason to call it the cup of blessing, as commemorating infinitely, greater benefits
cup is blessed, as it is set apart and consecrated to a holy use, even to be a memorial and symbol of the blood of Christ.
passage will furnish us with a scriptural guide as to the benefits to be expected at the Lord's Table. By communion (XOlvwVIA,) is meant a participation, à communication or enjoyment of the body and blood of Christ.
In order then rightly to discern the benefits which we obtain, we must consider what were the blessings obtained for us by the incarnation and death of Christ. His death obtained our PARDON; his blood being shed for the remission of sins. Through that blood we obtain the blessing of JUSTIFICATION, and accounted righteous before God; being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. The same sacrifice procures our PEACE, as St. Paul shews at length, Eph. ii, 13–17. Again, we receive the promise of THE SPIRIT through faith in him. Gal. iii, 14; John vii, 39. The gift of ETERNAL LIFE also comes in the same way-God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. These, with many other blessings which might be mentioned, we obtain by the death of Christ.
The real believer, through the mercy of God, in the right reception of the Lord's Supper, has the present enjoyment of those benefits which obtained by the sacrifice of Christ, and the strengthening of those graces, in the exercise of which that enjoyment is communicated. Thus the Lord's Supper is calculated to give him an assured hope that the blessings of redemption belong to him, as well as to increase his faith, and to advance his sanctification. It also affords him many social advantages. But, remember, that every blessing obtained here, as well as elsewhere, comes from the mercy of God alone, and through the influences of the Holy Spirit freely given according to
his own grace. If we depend only on the means, we may lose the blessing. If we use the means, looking up to the Lord for his promised grace therein, we shall most probably obtain the spiritual good which we desire, for the means are both adapted and appointed to produce that good.
The believer may obtain here AN ASSURED HOPE THAT THE BLESSINGS OF REDEMPTION BELONG TO HIM.* To have the communion of the body and blood of Christ is, in truth, to have pardon, justification, peace, the Holy Spirit, the gift of eternal life, and all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ Jesus. The Apostle's question in the passage already quoted, (1 Cor. x, 16, 17.) shews that the Lord's Supper both represents and is a divinely-appointed means for believers having that communion. By the exercises of faith at the Lord's table, therefore, we have the blessings of redemption assured to us, and thus really partake of his body and blood in that way in which only they can be received.t When in a journey on a winter's day, we are favoured with a clear sky, and a shining sun, we say,
we have the sun with us :" by which we mean the light,
* Our Church leads those who worship according to her ritual to say of the due reception of the Lord's Supper, to our Heavenly Father Thon dost assure us thereby of thy favour and goodness towards us." See Observations on this Prayer, chap. iv, part ii, of this Treatise.
* In the Catechism it is asserted, that “the body and blood of Christ are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper;" but the emphatic word faithful shews that they are not corporeally, but only spiritually received. If the real participation of the actual body and blood of Christ had been intended, “ the unfaithful, although unworthy com; municants, would have been partakers of the body and blood of Christ.'