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The End and Institution of the LORD'S SUPPER. YT. PAUL concludes his first Epistle to the
Corinthians with this remarkable direction : “If any man love not the Lord Jesus, let him be Anathema Maran-atha:”I that is, let him be separated from your communion, as one under the displeasure of God, and, without a timely repentance, in no possibility of being saved : nothing being more grievous in the sight of God, than for a sinner to slight the greatest instance of His mercy that was ever offered to man, as well as the only means of his salvation.
To prevent this, and to hinder sinners from forgetting (which they are but too apt to do) this token of God's infinite love, and to fix the love of Jesus Christ more surely in our hearts and memory, He Himself hath taken care, that His love and mercy should throughout all generations be remembered: He did therefore ordain this Sacrament as a memorial of our re
(1) 1 Cor. xvi. 22.
demption, and of His love for us; as a pledge to assure us of it; and as an outward means and sign of testifying, as well as increasing, our love to Him.
The holy Apostles of Christ, who were present when He first administered this Sacrament, give us the following account of its end and institution:
They signify to us, in the first place, that this Sacrament was ordained by Christ, the same night in which He was betrayed : and after they had observed the Passover, which had been ordained to preserve the memory of their great deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, and which did prefigure and was a prophecy of a much greater deliverance, which Jesus Christ was to be the Author of, not only for them, but for all mankind;--and which prophecy was surprisingly fulfilled by that people, without knowing what they were doing, when they crucified Jesus Christ, the true Paschal Lamb, the very same month, the very same day of the month, and the very same hour of the day, that the Paschal Lamb was first ordained to be sacrificed.
Now, after the Paschal Supper, as the Apostles
relate it, Jesus Christ “ took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, Take, eat; this is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me. He took also the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of this : for this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you, and for many,
for the remission of sins ; this do, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as oft as ye shall eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He come.
In obedience, therefore, to this command of Jesus Christ, who has delivered us from a much greater bondage than that of Egypt, the Christian Church keeps up the memory of His love, His sacrifice, and His sufferings and death, after this solemn manner.
First, as an acknowledgment that our lives, and all that we eat or drink to preserve them, are owing to the bounty of God, we present upon His Table, by the hands of His own minister, a portion of His creatures, the best we have for
(1) See Matt. xxvi. 26-28; Mark xiv. 22-24; Luke xxii. 19, 20; 1 Cor. xi. 23-26.
the support and comfort of our natural life, namely, bread and wine. After this the bread and wine are consecrated, the bread is broken, and the wine poured out, to represent the death of Christ, whose body was broken, and whose blood was shed for us.
Then the minister of God, as the steward of Christ's household, applies these blessings to every person who receives this Sacrament, in this devout prayer: “The Body and Blood of Christ, which were given and shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.”
And we may be assured of it, that this Sacrament will be to every worthy communicant, what the tree of life would have been unto Adam and Eve in Paradise ; and that as they, had they continued obedient, would have been in no danger of temporal death; even so we, while we feed on this bread, now endued with a life-giving Spirit, and live as we ought to do, are in no danger of death eternal.
These being pledges to assure us, that as certainly as bread and wine do nourish our bodies, so do these seal to us all the benefits which Jesus
Christ hath purchased for us by His sacrifice and death. And when
any Christian does wilfully, and for want of faith, deprive himself of this spiritual food, he falls, as our first parents did, into a state purely natural, and destitute of the means of grace
and salvation. For the happiness of the world, and of every soul in it, depends upon the sacrifice of Christ; of which we are bound to keep up the remembrance after this solemn manner: that, whenever we pray for any favour or blessing, we may remember to do it in His Name :—that whenever we are so unhappy as to have done anything which may displease God, we may remember to pray to be forgiven for Christ's sake.
For God grants whatever we ask, and which He sees to be for our good, when we ask "in faith, ,” that is, in His Son's Name; 1 and therefore the Church concludes all her prayers in these most prevailing words,—"for Jesus Christ's sake.”
In one word, we do by this Sacrament keep up a continual correspondence with our Lord in
(1) James i. 6; John xvi. 23.