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ted, consists of two parts, an external sign or signs, of internal grace or blessings.
But, from the absurdity of transubstantiation, turn your attention for a moment to the impiety of the mass. We say the impiety of the mass; for the doctrine of the mass manifestly involves a denial of the atonement of Christ, and a positive vindication of the grossest idolatry! It teaches that, that one offering of Christ, by which, according to Paul, he has forever perfected them that are sanctified,* is not effectual to cleanse from sin, unless the offering be daily repeated in the sacrifice of the mass: And that, as the mass is a real offering of the body of Christ, the adoration of the host is a reasonable worship! The priest, by consecration, changes the elements into the body and blood of Christ; and then offers him up a sacrifice for sin. The communicant adores- then eats his Saviour! Our Catechism well describes the impiety of all this, when it declares, that "the mass at bottom is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice, and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry !"
But, some may enquire, 'How are we to understand the expressions of the Saviour This is my body-this is my blood?" I reply, we are to understand them, according to the established laws of sacramental phraseology. When circumcision is called the covenant, we all understand, that it was a sign of the covenant. When Paul says, "The Rock Heid. Cat. sect. xxx. Quest. 80, Gen. xvii. 10.
*Heb. x. 14.
was Christ," we readily perceive his meaning to be, that the rock prefigured, or signified Christ. The Jews were familiar with this mode of expression; and probably, as Witsius intimates, the very expression of our Saviour was borrowed from their paschal phrases. "For when the Israelites did eat their paschal bread, they were wont to say, This is that bread of affliction, which our fathers did eat in the land of Egypt. And what seems to come nearer the purpose, they called the roasted lamb, which. was served up in the paschal supper, the body of the passover. But no one understood, or even could understand it otherwise, but that the bread, which they yearly eat on the festival day, was a symbol and memorial of that bread which their ancestors were formerly fed with in Egypt."
In this same sense, the bread and the wine, used in the supper, are called the body and blood of Christ. They are the appointed signs or symbols of his body and blood. In justification of this phraseology, our Catechism assigns the following reasons, which, I presume, you will deem satisfactory. "Christ speaks thus, not without great reason—namely, not only thereby to teach us, that as bread and wine support this temporal life, so his crucified body, and shed blood, are the true meat and drink, whereby our souls are fed to eternal life; but more especially, by these visible signs and pledges, to assure us, that we are real partakers of his true body
1 Cor. x. 4.
Vol. iii. p. 429. § xix.
Sect. xxix. Quest. 79.
and blood (by the operation of the Holy Ghost,) as we receive by the mouths of our bodies these holy signs in remembrance of him; and that all his sufferings and obedience are as certainly ours, as if we had, in our own persons, suffered, and made satisfaction for our sins to God."
But this leads to another question, proper to be noticed here. 'Notwithstanding the elements are not changed into the body and blood of Christ-are we not to understand and believe, that he is, in some sense, present at the administration of the ordinance, in which his death is commemorated?' Most assuredly. Christ has promised to be with his church and people always, even unto the end of the world. And although," with respect to his human nature, he is no more on earth; with respect to his Godhead, majesty, grace, and spirit, he is at no time absent from us."t While the human nature of Christ is confined to heaven, his Divine nature is essentially present, at all times, in all places. Wherever his dying institution is observed, he, as a Divine person, is verily in that place.
Christ is also sacramentally present in the celebration of this ordinance. The elements exhibit him to our view: His sufferings and death are placed before us: He is symbolically present at the celebration of his death.
But, what is most comfortable to be known, Christ is present in the celebration of the supper by his grace and spirit, comforting the hearts of his Heid. Cat. Quest. 47.
*Mat. xxviii. 20.
people; reviving their languishing graces; and causing them, by faith, to eat his body, which is meat indeed; and drink his blood, which is drink indeed. Ah! did not the believer find at the table, him whom his soul loveth! it would be an unprofitable and an unmeaning ceremony. Saviour, thy people wish thee near! It is the presence of the Master of the feast that gives life and efficacy to the ordinance, which the Christian delights to celebrate. "He brought me to the banqueting-house; and his bauner over me was love."*
This convinces the believer that his Redeemer is present. He enjoys his presence: "He tastes and sees that the Lord is good." He holds communion with him, as a present friend; receives from him the evidence of his personal interest, in the provisions and benefits of the everlasting covenant; and the pledges of an unending fellowship in the world of glory, where the redeemed of all ages shall, in full view of their glorious Head, celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb.
That every returning communion may bring to your such blessedness, is my earnest prayer!
* Cant. ii. 4.
+ Ps. xxxiv. 8.
Design of the supper-Not to atone for sin, but io 'commemorate the death of Christ-to seal the blessings of the covenant-to strengthen the faith, and animate the hopes of believers-and to promote the exercise of brotherly affection.
I TRUST, that the two preceding letters have given you satisfactory information, concerning the nature of the Lord's supper; and that we are now prepared to take a view of its design-or, in other words, the purposes, it is intended to answer, in the Christian church.
You have already been cautioned against the impious doctrine of the Church of Rome, which represents this ordinance as a repeated sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, offered up by the priest, to make atonement for the sins of both the living and the dead! Scripture is so full and explicit in declaring the PERFECTIONt of the offering of Christ, and that it is never to be succeeded by any other offering for sin, that nothing appears necessary, in addition to what has already been stated, to guard you against this error.
There is, however, another error, somewhat allied to this, which prevails in a greater or less degree in
* Letter xvi.
x. 10, 11, 12, 14.
† Heb. ix. 11, 12, 14, 15, 25, 26, and Heb. x. 26, 27