« PrécédentContinuer »
to be firmly assured, that in this most exalted mystery, he does not partake of simple bread and common wine, but that under the sign of that holy bread, he partakes of the real body of Christ himself, who offered up himself a sacrifice upon the cross for our salvation, and by various sufferings was broken like bread; under the sign, also, of that holy wine, he communicates of the real blood of Christ which flowed from his holy side, and was shed for the remission of our sins. For our Lord, in giving the bread to his disciples, said, “ This is my body;" and in giving the wine, said, "This is my blood." Consequently, through this communion, a man becomes one in spirit with the Lord. "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him." John vi. 56,
The end which our Saviour had in view, in instituting this mystery, is clearly pointed out to us by his evangelists and by the apostle Paul; namely, that we in this holy ordinance might call to remembrance all his gracious acts, and the love which he shewed in delivering us, and in meriting for us, by his own death, the divine mercy and eternal life. "This do ye, in remembrance of me; for as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew forth the Lord's death till he come." And from thus commemo
rating the death of Christ, with pure faith, immediately follow its saving fruits; namely, the remission of sins, and the receiving a right to the inheritance of eternal life; for in receiving Christ you receive into yourself the fountain of all grace. Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." John vi. 53. *
How to prepare for partaking of the Com
"Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.” 1 Cor. xi. 28.
* The word Liturgy, in the Greek church, always signifies the communion service. The liturgy of St Chrysostom is in daily use in the Russian church; in which, as in the church of Rome, the priests communicate every day. The laity seldom partake of the communion more than once a year, which is always in the great fast before Easter; but there are many of the more serious who partake oftener. The eucharist is also administered to infants; for as soon as any one is baptized, of whatever age, he is admitted to this ordinance. The bread which is used is leavened, and it is bro ken or divided into small portions with great ceremony. For a particular account of this, I refer the reader to Dr King's work, formerly mentioned. The communicants receive the elements of both kinds standing, the bread being sopped in the cup. A little warm water is mixed among the wine; probably in reference to the blood and water which flowed from the side of our Saviour.
For such a mysterious spiritual communion, there ought to be a proper preparation; and this preparation, according to the apostolic doctrine, consists in self-examination, that is, in a trial of ourselves; how we spend our lives, whether we are careful about our salvation, and if we actually fulfil those duties which we engaged to perform at our baptism. Having found ourselves transgressors in many things, we ought to exercise heartfelt sorrow on account of it, and confessing ourselves worthy to suffer under the divine wrath, we ought in due time to make known our state to the servants of Christ, by confession. At the same time, in reflecting on the inexhaustible mercy of God towards sinners, we ought stedfastly to rely on the merits of Christ, and on the influence of his most precious death to wash us from our sins, and to preserve us from being excluded from the covenant of grace. This internal confession, joined to an open acknowledgment of our unworthiness, the church requireth of us, at the very moment of communicating, which we make in the following words. "I believe, O Lord, and confess, that thou art the true Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief." In consideration of this, Christians who live in the neglect of duty, as also evident workers of iniqui
ty, and hardened sinners, ought not to be admitted to this mysterious communion. For the command of the gospel thus directs us, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet," Matt. vii. 6. And if, notwithstanding all this, such persons approach to this mystery, they only thereby still more draw upon themselves the judgment of God, as despisers of the holiness of the Lord. "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."
Here it is necessary to remember, that, in consequence of the important fruits of communion, and of the excellency of Christ's benefits, every Christian ought frequently to communicate in this mystery. The Christians of the first churches partook of this spiritual food every week, and there was never a service without communicants. Afterwards, they approached to this ordinance, at least on every chief holiday. We ought to imitate their pious example, and to fear lest our very seldom communicating be not an indication of the coldness of our hearts towards Christ.
Repentance 'is a mystery in which the believer, on the sincere confession of his sins, and in a firm reliance on the merits of Christ, receiveth the remission of his sins from God, through the servant of Christ.
It is necessary to confess, with the holy divine, that "if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us," 1 John i. 8. Therefore, after being washed from our sins in baptism, and having entered thereby into the covenant of grace with God, the Christian, when he sins, has no other means of being restored to the grace and mercy of God but by repentance.
Repentance is a real and effective medicine, by which the wounds of the soul are healed. Real repentance requires, 1st, A confession of our sins, 2d, A condemning of ourselves before God. 3d, A representing to ourselves the mercy of God, which a repenting sinner does not reject, but desires to return to it, and to be feelingly alive to it. This is clearly pointed out to us in the gospel, by the parables of the prodigal son and the strayed sheep. 4th, Firmly to rest assured that Christ Jesus our Saviour died for us; and, by his death, procured the