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SECTION I.

THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY AND DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THE

LORD's SUPPER.

I Cor. XI. 24.This do in remembrance of me. The Apostles of our Lord, though acting immediately in his name, in no instance attempted to legislate for conscience, or to dictate the number or nature of those institutions which are to regulate the observance of the christian church. Their office consisted not in originating a single doctrine or ordinace; but in making known the express will of the great Master; at the same time confirming the divine authority of what they taught, in the name of their exalted Lord, by the unequivocal display of miraculous powers. What they received from the Lord Jesus that only did they deliver to the church. Of the figment of the church's authority, and of her power to bind conscience, inspired apostles knew nothing; and were ever careful to speak of her not as a legislative, but as an executive, body, destined to carry into effect the standing laws of the Redeemer's spiritual empire. If an apostle had pleaded his own personal authority for any particular doctrine or observance, it would have contained nothing in it to bind the human conscience, or to entitle it to rank among the institutions of the New Testament.

I have been led to make these remarks on two accounts: first, because the apostle of the Gentiles distinctly informs the Corinthian church that what he delivered to them respecting the ordinance of the Lord's Supper he received immediately from the church's sovereign; and, secondly, because I am of opinion that very erroneous and mistaken views obtain among thousands on this highly interesting topic of ministerial instruction.

To find out Christ's will, and to do it, must be the whole amount of a christian's duty. "We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.” It is not to establish our own lordship, but Christ's, that we declare unto you the gospel of God; and we are deeply persuaded that the reign of divine truth does not truly commence in any mind till it comes to feel that it is acting in direct homage to the Son of God.

To strengthen upon the consciences of men the authority of Christ, so as that in all things it may become paramount, should

37—Vol. IX.

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be the unceasing aim of the christian ministry, as it is the great design of revelation itself.

Fully aware of the transcendant force and excellence of these principles, the inspired apostle brings them to bear on the great, and sacred, and universal duty of showing forth the death of Christ. He reminds the Corinthians that, though their shameful abuse of the Lord's Supper had no shadow of countenance from the Master, the institution itself was the result of His own gracious appointment; at a crisis, too, when the act acquired an inconceivable interest and significance.

It is not imperfect and fallible man to whom we are introduced in these words; but the Son of God Himself, who has a right to command, and a claim to be obeyed. What He says to us, as He spreads before us the memorials of His death, is "Do this in remembrance of me." Let us, then, steadfastly looking at His authority, examine into the nature of this particular requirement, that we may learn His gracious will, and that, learning it, the language of our hearts may be—“Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" The subject naturally divides itself into three parts,—the claims of the lawgiver who here issues his mandate; the definiteness and peremptory character of the law prescribed; and the resistless force and tenderness of the motive urged.

I. THE CLAIMS OF THE LAWGIVER WHO HERE Issues His MANDATE.It is the Lord Jesus Christ who here says, “do this in remembrance of me.” In issuing the mandate He speaks in the character of the church's sovereign, and makes His appeal to all who, having heard the tidings of His death, look for redemption “through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” The question, then, which each one should ask himself is this, What is the nature of that right by which the Redeemer claims the prerogative of giving law to His church? Is it a right which all ought to feel, or which appeals only to the few? Is it a right which we may either regard or disavow as seemeth good to us? Is it a right which is absolute or conditional? To such interrogations as these we may reply by briefly illustrating the following propositions. 1. Christ's right to govern His Church, and to give law to it, is

divine. It is so, in respect to His own nature, and the appointment of the Father. As to His own nature, He was originally "in the form of God,” and “thought it not robbery to be equal with

God;"* and, as to the appointment of the Father, "all power is given to Him in heaven and in earth.”+ In the one instance we exclaim, with the Apostle John, "this is the true God and eternal life;"I and in the other we exult in seeing Christ raised to His Father's right hand, "far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also that which is to come;" and given "to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all."'S

Remember, then, that He who says, “do this in remembrance of me,” is “the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace;"** that He is the image of the invisible One, the first-born of every creature: for by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things He might have the pre-eminence; for it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell."17

The claim which Christ asserts when He says to us, do this in remembrance of me,” is the claim of one clothed in a divine nature, raised to universal dominion, constituted the only head of the church, and entitled to the supreme and grateful obedience of all intelligent creatures. If He who made us and sustains us, and if He who made and sustains the universe of being, has a right to appoint the laws of His empire, and to demand obedience to them, then Christ Jesus must have a right to say to each of us, “do this in remembrance of me;" nor dare I conceal my impression, that it is palpable rebellion against Christ, as a divine lawgiver, to neglect an immediate compliance with this express portion of His revealed will. 2. Christ's right to govern His Church, and to give law to it, has

been acquired by the greatest of all sacrifices. Do you ask, then, what is Christ's right to govern His church? I reply, HE DIED FOR IT. He "loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”I| By what an amazing act of condescension has Christ established His claim to rule His church! "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet, for your sakes, He became poor, that ye, through His poverty, might be rich."SS "He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and, being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. ."'* If He who redeemed the church has a right to prescribe laws for its government, assuredly Christ has acquired that right. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”+ Are we not "justified freely by divine grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus?"Ị Have we not “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace?''S Has not Christ "obtained eternal redemption for us?"|| Has He not "redeemed us unto God by His blood ?"*I Has He not delivered "us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us?"** Did He not give “Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all injury, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works?"+1 And is not the church that sacred, inalienable property "which He hath purchased with His own blood ?"

*Philip ii. 6.
† Matt. xxvii. 18. John xvii, 2.
11 John v. 20.

$ Eph. ii. 20-23.
**Isaiah ix. 6.
ti Col. i. 15-19.

If disinterested benevolence, such as has no parallel in the history of the universe—if the most surprising act of divine love ever put forth on the theatre of this globe—if the procurement of blessings which run parallel with eternity, and with the worth and value of the immortal spirit, can confer an inalienable title to the rule and government of the church, then that title, unquestionably, belongs to Him, who says, to all His subjects, "Do this in remembrance of me."

Oh, christian ! it is one who redeemed you who here addresses you. He has, indeed, a native right to your obedience; but, to this divine and original claim, He has added the unutterable obligations of redeeming love. He has become a man of sor

IfEph. v. 25-27.
$ $2 Cor. viii. 9.
*Philip. ii. 7, 8.
†1 Peter i. 18, 19.
Romans iii. 24.

Eph. i. 7.
||Heb. ix. 12.
**Rev. v. 9.
**Gal. iii. 13.
1 Tit. ii. 14.

rows for you; He has laid down His life for you; He has delivered you from the fearful pit, and from the miry clay, and set your feet upon a rock; He has rescued you from the captivity of sin, and brought you into the glorious liberty of the children of God; He has risen to His throne of glory for you, and on that throne He will continue to sit until all enemies are made His footstool. We may observe3. That Christ's right to govern His Church, and to give law to

it, is of a nature altogether exclusive. As there is no name but Christ's given among men whereby the guilty can be saved ;ff so there is no other Potentate with whom He will divide the rule of His Church. He claims the right of governing His church; and He claims it as His only, His eternal due. “Whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God and the Father by Him."$$ If only habit, or the force of public opinion, or the desire to be seen of others, or motives of self-interest, or submission to the ordinances and commandments of men,-if only these, or such as these, are the sources of our obedience, even to the most sacred laws of the kingdom of heaven, we are not paying express homage to Zion's great Lawgiver; nor will He regard that as a religious and christian act, which does not aim at His glory, and which is not performed in obedience to His revealed and gracious authority. Christ is sole Lord of conscience; and every sentiment, feeling, or observance, may be regarded as christian, in proportion as it terminates upon Him who laid the foundation of His empire in the blood of His great sacrifice. It is a most enviable state of mind to be enabled to feel, that all our religious duties are sacred because Christ has enjoined them. It is a state of mind most highly to be deprecated, when men take upon themselves to dispense with any part of His revealed will. One Lawgiver has issued every precept of the christian code; and he who practically tramples upon any one command, may, upon the same principle, dispense with all. Having contemplated Christ's claims as a Lawgiver, we may now proceed,

II. TO CALL YOUR ATTENTION TO THE DEFINITENESS AND PEREMPTORY CHARACTER OF THE LAW HERE PRESCRIBED—"Do this in remembrance of me." What can be more simple or more express ? Difficulties there may be in reference to some parts of Divine Truth, but here certainly there are none. It **Acts iv. 12.

88 Col. iii. 17.

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