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with water; others, that their bodies should be immersed.

On the subject of the Sacrament of the Supper, similar difficulties have occurred.

Jesus Christ unquestionably permitted his disciples to meet together, in remembrance of their last supper with him. But it is not clear that this was any other than a permission to those who were present, and who had known and loved him. The Disciples were not ordered to go into all nations, and to enjoin it to their converts to observe the same ceremony. Neither did the Apostles leave any command, by which it was enjoined as an ordinance of the Christian Church.

Another difficulty which has arisen on the subject of the supper, is, that Christians seem so little to have understood the nature of it, or in what it consisted, that they have had, in different ages, different views, and encouraged different doctrines concerning it. One has placed it in one thing, and another in another. Most of them, again, have attempted, in their explanation of it, to blend the enjoyment of the spiritual essence with that of the corporeal substance of the body


and blood of Christ, and thus to unite a spiritual with a ceremonial exercise of religion. Grasping therefore at things apparently irreconcileable, they have conceived the strangest notions; and, by giving these to the world, they have only afforded fuel for contention among themselves and others.

In the time of the Apostles it was the custom of converted persons, grounded on the circumstances that passed at the supper of the Passover, to meet in religious communion. They used on these occasions to break their bread, and take their refreshment and converse together. The object of these meetings was to imitate the last friendly supper of Jesus with his disciples, to bear a public memorial of his sufferings and of his death, and to promote their love for one another. But this custom was nothing more, as far as evidence can be had, than that of a brotherly breaking of their bread together, It was no sacramental eating. Neither was the body of Jesus supposed to be enjoyed, nor the spiritual enjoyment of it to consist in the partaking of this outward feast,

In process of time, after the days of the Apostles, when this simple custom had declined,

clined, we find another meeting of Christians in imitation of that at the Passoversupper, at which both bread and wine were introduced. This different commemoration of the same event had a new name given to it, for it was distinguished from the other by the name of Eucharist.

Alexander, the seventh bishop of Rome, who introduced holy water both into houses and churches for spiritual purposes, made some alterations in the ingredients of the Eucharist, by mixing water with the wine, and by substituting unleavened for common bread.

In the time of Irenæus, and Justin the Martyr, we find an account of the Eucharist as it was then thought of and celebrated. Great stress was then laid upon the bread and wine, as a holy and sacramental repast. Prayers were made that the Holy Ghost would descend into each of these substances. It was believed that it did so descend; and that, as soon as the bread and wine perceived it, the former operated virtually as the body, and the latter as the blood, of Jesus Christ. From this time the bread was considered to have great virtues; and on this


latter account, not only children but sucking infants were admitted to this sacrament. It was also given to persons on the approach of death. And many afterwards, who had great voyages to make at sea, carried it with them to preserve them both from temporal and spiritual dangers.

In the twelfth century, another notion, a little modified from the former, prevailed upon this subject; which was, that consecration by a priest had the power of abolishing the substance of the bread, and of substituting the very body of Jesus Christ. This was called the doctrine of transubstantiation.

This doctrine appeared to Luther, at the dawn of reformation, to be absurd; and he was of opinion, that the sacrament consisted of the substance of Christ's body and blood, together with the substance of the bread and wine; or, in other words, that the substance of the bread remained, but the body of Christ was inherent in it, so that the substance of the bread and of the body and blood of Christ was there also. This was called the doctrine of consubstantiation, in contradistinction to the former.


Calvin, again, considered the latter opinion às erroneous. He gave it out that the bread was not actually the body of Jesus Christ, nor the wine his blood, but that both his body and blood were sacramentally received by the faithful in the use of the bread and wine. Calvin, however, confessed himself unable to explain even this his own doctrine; for he says, "If it be asked me how it is, that is, how believers sacramentally receive Christ's body and blood, I shall not be ashamed to confess, that it is a secret too high for me to comprehend in my spirit, or explain in words.”

But, independently of the difficulties which have arisen from these different notions concerning the nature and constitution of the Lord's Supper, others have arisen concerning the time and the manner of the celebration of it.

The Christian Churches of the East, in the early times, justifying themselves by tradition and the custom of the Passover, maintained that the fourteenth day of the month Nissan ought to be observed as the day of the celebration of this feast, because the Jews were commanded to kill the paschal lamb


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