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pression of St. John, “ supper being ended," must mean the antepast, or first part of the paschal supper. After which, as the evangelist continues at the fourth verse, “He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” Now here again, this circumstance of washing his disciple's feet is not related at all by the other evangelists, and if we compare it with St. Luke, it may seem to agree with another circumstance in which he (St. Luke) stands alone in recording, namely, the contention of the disciples as to one being greater than another. Only supposing that St. Luke placed the circumstance of the contention after the antepast instead of the whole supper, and we shall then have a very consistent arrangement. And we may do so with great propriety, because we should hardly conceive it possible that the disciples should have this contention after so solemn an institution as the Eucharist,—an institution of peace, equality, and humility,– and, even setting that aside, that they should even do so, after the manifest rebuke conveyed, by the washing of their feet, by their own Master and Lord. Keeping, however, St. John in view_after the washing of the feet, and the conversation which arose in consequence of it, between our Saviour and Peter, which is con
tained between the 4th and 17th verses, the paschal lamb (the remaining part of the supper, which was yet unfinished) was then brought in. Then arises the conversation between Peter, John, and Jesus,* by which Judas is marked out as the betrayer of his Lord, and after this we find no further notice taken of the paschal supper. From the 14th to the 17th chapters, inclusive, the whole subject is occupied in conversations between Jesus and his disciples, prayers for their comfort, and assurances of his love. In the 18th chapter Jesus is betrayed, then arraigned, condemned, and crucified.
So that we see, from this short summary, that no mention whatever is made by St. John of the Eucharist. The supper itself is described even more minutely, and with greater circumstance than by the other evangelists, many conversations are given which were not related in the other gospels, and yet not one word of that ceremony, which was the last, and almost dying command, of our blessed Lord. Now how shall we account for this? We shall account for it by two observations : First, St. John wrote his gospel many years after the establishment of Christianity. It is probable that his gospel was not published until the year 97, nearly thirty years after the destruction of Jerusalem. Considering the number of years in which the Christian religion had been in existence, and knowing, as we do, from other parts of sacred scripture, that the Lord's Supper was then a regular and established custom, it would seem quite unnecessary that St. John should enter into any historical account of an institution, of which there were already four historical accounts published and known among Christians. I say four, because the account given by St. Paul, we must always remember, was antecedent to the time of St. John. The Eucharist was at that time daily celebrated in the Christian church. Every Christian knew what it was. The three previous gospels had amply explained its nature and its history, and therefore St. John naturally enough passes it over, as he does many other points which are given by his brother evangelists, as a thing well known and understood. Secondly, though St. John does not mention the institution in any direct manner, yet he describes a very remarkable conversation, in which our Saviour makes allusion to it, just as it might be supposed that a person would make allusion to an institution in daily use. In the sixth chapter, Jesus is described as saying to the Jews, “I am the living bread which came down from Heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."* And again,
* Verse 23.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
This is that bread that came down from Heaven, not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever."* Now what can be more apposite and decided than the whole of this passage? It is related with no comment or explanation, but as a thing well known to the Christians for whom the evangelist was writing; the flesh of Christ representing the bread, and the blood being signified by the wine in the Eucharist, and the eating and drinking of that flesh and blood causing mankind, through faith, to dwell in Christ, and Christ in them.
I take, therefore, the four gospels, and the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, as furnishing together the great evidence of our Sacrament of the Eucharist, and the sum of the whole amounts shortly to this :-Our Saviour knowing that he was about to be betrayed into the hands of the Jews, and foreseeing that he was about to suffer upon the cross an ignominious death, by which death the sins of mankind were to be remitted and forgiven, determined, before that event should take place, to leave among his disciples some ordinance or ceremony commemorative both of the death which he died, and of the benefits procured by that death. He had told his disciples that his body should be broken, and his blood poured out upon the cross; he therefore took bread, and brake it, and wine, and poured it out. Lastly, he commanded his followers perpetually and unceasingly to observe this ordinance, even unto the end of the world—the breaking of bread as a memorial of his broken body, the pouring out of wine as a remembrance of his blood shed upon the cross. He signified to them, by mentioning the words,
* John vi. 53–58. This expression is borrowed in our present service of the communion. See the prayer before the consecration,—“That we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us.”
My blood of the new testament,” that this eating and drinking the bread and wine was the sign of a new covenant between God and man, and that therefore from the time of his approaching death, the old covenant of the Jews would be at an end. The seal of the old covenant was, the blood of bulls and goats ;" but, as St. Paul says, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “It was not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin; " therefore, saith Christ, a “body” shall be prepared as a sacrifice—a human body-and that sacrifice shall be, once for all, continuous