Page images

away our sin." It has been observed, the very sufferings which, so far as we are concerned, were the effect of our crimes, were, by the mysterious council of God, the expiation of them.-Christ was weary, that we might rest; he hungered, that we might eat the bread of life ; and thirsted, that we might drink the water of life. He grieved, that we might rejoice; and became miserable, to make us happy. He was apprehended, that we might escape ; accursed, that we might be acquitted ; and condemned, that we might be absolved. He died, that we might live; and was crucified by men, that we might be justified before God.

Thus the Lord's Supper was designed to represent, commemorate, and shew forth the Lord's death as a sacrifice for sin. This is done for our own edification, as a testimony to the world, and as a prevailing mode of pleading his merits before God. It has been observed, that, “ What we more compendiously express in that general conclusion of our prayers, through Jesus Christ our Lord, we more fully and forcibly represent in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, wherein we plead the'virtue and merits of the same sacrifice here, that our great High Priest is continually urging for us in heaven."

Whenever, then, Christian reader, you celebrate this ordinance, we exhort you, in the expressive words of a late writer, “Look up to the offering of Jesus Christ once for all : look to him as dying for the remission of your sins, washing them away in his precious blood; suffering that you inight be saved. And while you are kneeling under his cross, touched with the utmost possible sense of God's love, who gave his only begotten Son, and affected with sentiments of the most tender devotion to him who gave

himself for you; embrace also with your good will all mankind who he loved for his sake. Then rise

up, by his grace, to the sober, continual practice of every thing that is good, and excellent, and praiseworthy, and comformable to such sentiments and affections, and the obligations laid on you by his infinite love."

The observance of the Lord's Supper contains also a virtual DECLARATION OF OUR EXPECTATION OF HIS COMING AGAIN. We shew forth the Lord's death, till he come as the Judge of all men. 1 Cor. iv, 6; xi, 26.

By this ordinance we acknowledge that Jesus Christ will come to JUDGE THE WORLD, We shew that we believe that a solemn day is approaching, when God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or evil—that all mankind shall then be divided into two classes, and only two, the righteous and the wicked-the future inhabitants of heaven and of hell--of everlasting punishment, and everlasting life. Partaking of the Lord's Supper, is an implied and public avowal of this expectation. How important is this avowal! How well calculated to restrain evil, and encourage righteousness! How suited to fill us with a holy reverence of God, and a just fear of displeasing bim!

But while this view inspires reverence, there is another consideration which should fill the servants of God with the liveliest hope and joy. He comes also as THE SAVIOUR OF HIS PEOPLE. Heb. ix, 28.

Had we no farther view than to remember and declare our Saviour's death, this ordinance would be full of comfort; but since we have not only to look back on what Christ has done, but forward to what he


[ocr errors]

will do, new beams of light and joy are shed around this blessed institution. It leads us to look up to Jesus as a living Redeemer, gone to prepare places for us in the mansions of his Father's house, (John xiv, 2, 3.) and to comfort each other with the animating hope that, notwithstanding all the dangers, trials, and sorrows of our present state, we shall soon be admitted into his presence, and then we shall ever be with the Lord. In receiving the Lord's Supper, we declare our hope that Christ will hereafter appear for us Deliverer; that however now we may be groaning under the burden of many sins, contending with our spiritual enemies, and often worsted in the contest: yet then he will have purified our souls, and will present us faultless before the presence of his glory with erceeding joy. We deelare our hope that however the christian may now be afflicted and despised, bis wisdom will one day be aniversally acknowledged; the justice of God perfectly cleared ; and his servants be openly owned by him, and for ever blessed with him.

When this happy day arrives, then, and not till then, will the observance of this solemn ordinance cease to be a duty. “Then his people will no longer need such memorials as these; for they will incessantly enjoy the brightest vision of his person, and the richest fruits of his death."


The Obligation to receive the Lord's Supper. WHEN we consider the very small proportion of the congregation assembling for public worship, which usually remains to partake of this ordinance, it cannot be deemed unnecessary to insist on the obligation which lies on the truly pious not to neglect it. Even in more religious congregations, where the ministry is most efficient, it has been calculated that not more than one fourth stay to partake of the Lord's Supper, while the proportion is, in general, much less.

The primitive Christians did not thus turn away from the Lord's table; the churches communicated every Lord's day, and it was the practice for All, both clergy and laity, to receive.*

What a blessing would it be to the Church, could it be again said of Christians, they continued daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house

See Bingham's Christian Antiquities, fol. vol. i, p. 824-826, and Acts xx, 7. Some have thought from the statement, they continued stedfastly in the Apostle's doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and prayers, (Acts ii, 42.) and from the expression coming together to eat, &c. (1 Cor. xi, 20, 33.) that the primitive Christians received the Lord's Supper whenever they assembled together for public worship.

to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people.

Observe the reasons which should induce sincére Christians to attend to this institution.

THE EXPRess COMMAND OP OUR SAVIOUR,This do in remembrance of me, Luke xxii, 19; 1 Cor. xi, 24, 25. Here we have a plain and positive precept. It is so express that it cannot easily be mistaken. It has been objected, that such a rite is inconsistent with the spirituality of the Gospel, and has no moral foundation ; but the very circumstance that the command rests on the ground of positive institution, and not of natural duty, makes the observance of it a direct acknowledgment of the authority of Christ, and the neglect of it a disregard of his precept. Hence, as Dr. Owen says, “ Faith and obedience here give special honour to Christ as our Sovereign. It is, in fact, the most direct profession of the subjection of our souls and consciences to the authority of Christ in all our religion. Our reason for it is, Christ would have it so." There is no uncertainty in the direction ; it is not conveyed in dark and obscure terms,-THIS DO.

The command is easy. No burdensome and costly sacrifices are required, no long and tedious rites and ceremonies are to be gone through. You cannot say it was designed for the twelve Apostles, or for the Jewish nation only; for the motive applies to all with increasing strength as time rolls on, and the practice of the primitive Gentile Church contradicts such an interpretation. It is also against the express revela- .. tion made to the great Apostle of the Gentile Church, for the instruction of the Gentiles. He begins his

« PreviousContinue »