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I make no apology for the length of this quotation. It is the concluding part of one of those excellent essays on the CHURCH OF GOD, published in the Christian's Magazine. The extract I have now favoured you with is in vol. 2nd, and begins on p.
I pray the Lord it may he sanctified to you!
The nature of the ordinance of the Supper unfolded by a consideration of the names applied to it inScripture.
HAVING proved, that the sacrament of the supper is an institution of the Lord Jesus Christ, which all who assume the Christian name are bound to observe, under pain of his displeasure; we now propose to direct your attention more particularly to the nature of this ordinance..
"The Lord's supper, (say the Westminster Divines,*) is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to the appointment of Jesus Christ, his death is shewed forth; and they that worthily communicate feed upon his body and blood, to their, * Larger Cat. Quest, clxviii
spiritual nourishment and growth in grace; have their union and communion with him confirmed; testify and renew their thankfulness, and engagement to God, and their mutual love and fellowship with each other, as members of the same mystical body." With this agrees the view given by Witsius of this ordinance. "The Lord's supper (says he,) is the sacrament of education or nourishment in the New Testament Church; wherein by the symbols of bread broken, and wine poured out, the dreadful sufferings of Christ are represented to believers; and the promises of the New Testament, and enlivening communion with Christ made perfect by sufferings, both in grace and glory, are signified and sealed to them."
The nature, design, and use of this holy ordinance, are well stated in the 35th article of our Confession of Faith. The length of the article forbids our transcribing it: We hope, however, that you will turn to it, and examine it attentively.
The definitions we have transcribed, place before you the nature of this ordinance in general. Much additional information may be gained, by noticing the various names and terms which Scripture employs in speaking on this interesting subject: all. which names and terms have reference to the nature of the ordinance, and collectively set before us its high excellence and vast importance.
1. The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, calls this ordinance Kupiaxov dsiπvov, the Lord's * On Cov. vol. iii. p. 417. † 1. Epist. xi. 20.
supper; and this, as you all know, is the name by which it is now ordinarily distinguished in the church. Lord's supper. This not only directs our attention to the Author; it being an institution of the Lord Jesus Christ, as we have already shown : but it also evidently alludes to the time when this ordinance was instituted-viz. at the usual time for eating suppers. It was in the evening of the same night in which Christ was betrayed, and immediately after the celebration of the Jewish passover.*
But another, and a very important idea, we conceive to be embraced under this appellation. The ancients, we are told, had their greatest feasts in the evening. Suppers were their choice meals, and social entertainments. This suggests an idea of excellence in this Christian institution. It is a feast. Hence the Apostle says,† "Let us keep the feast." The ancients had their feasts on their sacrifices. Christians, too, have their feast on a sacrifice, even that one great sacrifice by which the covenant of our God has been ratified-by which the guilt of myriads has been expiated-and the souls of myriads have been redeemed! O! how delightful to hold a feast on such a sacrifice! It is to the believer; hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and longing for communion with his Saviour; a feast indeed; more grateful and refreshing to the soul, than the choicest luxuries, collected from every clime, can possibly be to the taste. Such was the experience
* See Mat. xxvi. 20, &c. Also 1 Cor. xi. 23, &c. † 1 Cor. v. 8.
of the Spouse.* "I sat under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste." Similar to this is the prophetic description given of this ordinance in the writings of Isaiah: "And in this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things—a feast of wines on the lees; of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined."+ Accordingly the invitation of the Master of the feast is "Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money: Come ye, buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and wilk, without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."‡ "Eat, O friends: drink; yea, drink abundantly, O beloved."
These remarks on the term supper may well be summed up in the words of a celebrated Divine. "Besides, (says he,) the most sumptuous entertainments among the ancients, especially in the Jewish nation at least, their nuptial feasts-were generally in the evening. (Parable of the ten virgins, Mat. xxv.) And therefore it was proper, that the feast, which represents the unspeakable dainties of heaven, and is an earnest of the marriage supper of the Lamb, (Rev. xix. 9,) should be held forth to us under the name and emblem of a supper."
* Cant. ii. 3. Cant. v. 1.
+ Chap. xxv. 6.
Isa. lv. 1, 2. Witsius on the Cov. vol, iii. chap. 17, ◊ 2.
2. This sacrament is in 1 Cor. x. 16, called the communion of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. In this ordinance believers have communion with Christ as their mystical Head: "They sup with him, and he sups with them." They freely communicate to him all their wants, tell him all their distresses, and cast all their cares upon him while he no less freely communicates the supply of their wants, and gives them new assurance that his grace shall be sufficient for them, and that his strength shall be made perfect in their weakness. They feed upon Christ and his fulness; and receiving fresh confirmation of their union and communion with him, they severally exclaim "My beloved is mine, and I am his."
But believers not only have communion with their Saviour, in the use of the symbols of his body and blood: They have sweet and endearing communion with each other, as partakers of the same faith, members of the same family, and heir to the same blessings. Their common interest in the benefits of the Saviour's death is signified and sealed to them; and with kindred feelings, and with heart, knit to heart, they taste the sweets, and enjoy the consolations of the communion of the saints. With each other, as well as with Christ, believers have communion, ia the broken body and shed blood of their Lord.
3. This sacrament is called the breaking of bread and the table of the Lord. These expressions, used in reference to the supper, teach us that no a tar is necessary, and that wafers are improper, in * 1 Cor. 16, 21.