« AnteriorContinuar »
With this impression on my mind, I wish now to address you on the subject of the Lord's Supper. In doing which, I shall speak, First, of the institution and nature of this sacrament; Secondly, of the obligation which we lie under to partake of it constantly ; and Thirdly, of the qualifications necessary in order to partake of it worthily.
I. The institution of the Lord's Supper is recorded in nearly the same terms by three of the Evangelists, and by St. Paul in his first Epistle to the Corinthians b. The substance of them all is given in the Communion Service of our Church, in which we are reminded, that “our Saviour Christ, in “ the same night that he was betrayed, took “ bread; and, when he had given thanks, “ he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, “ saying, Take, eat, this is my body which - is given for you: 'do this in remem« brance of me. Likewise after supper he “ took the cup; and, when he had given “ thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink “ye all of this; for this is my blood of the “ New Testament, which is shed for you,
* Chap. xi. 28–25.
66 and for many, for the remission of sins : “ do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in re“ membrance of me.”
From this account we find, that the Lord's Supper is to be looked upon as a memorial, or commemorative act. We are commanded to eat the bread and drink the wine in “ remembrance of Christ; to put us in mind, or make us remember, that his body was broken or wounded upon the cross, and his blood poured forth for our sakes. And while it puts us in remembrance of these things, it ought to excite in us those affections, those emotions of heart, and especially that thankfulness, which such a wonderful instance of mercy deserves.
But though the Lord's Supper is to be regarded as a memorial or commemorative right, yet if it were to be considered in this light only, it would hardly deserve to be called a sacrament. For a sacrament, as we are taught in the Church Catechism, is not only " an outward and visible sign of “ an inward and spiritual grace given unto “ us,” but also, “ a means whereby we re66 ceive that grace, and a pledge” or token, 66 to assure us” that we do receive it. Now
if the Lord's Supper were merely an act of remembrance, it would by no means come up to this definition of a sacrament; and accordingly it is the doctrine of our Church, that the Lord's Supper was instituted, not only for the continual remembrance of the - sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the “ benefits which we receive thereby,” but also as the means of conveying to the devout communicant the benefits which Christ's death was designed to procure ; as the “ means of strengthening and refresh
ing our souls, by the body and blood of
Christ, as our bodies are” strengthened and refreshed by eating bread and drinking wineb. “ The cup of blessing which we
bless,” says St. Paul, “ is it not the com66 munion of the blood of Christ? The - bread which we break, is it not the com“ munion of the body of Christo?” In compliance with this doctrine, the Lord's Supper is spoken of in the first exhortation in the Communion Service, as being to us
b See Waterland and Law, if this volume should fall into the hands of any who have access to such authors:
ci Cor. x. 16.
os spiritual food and sustenance;" and soon after, devout partakers of it are said " spi“ ritually to eat the flesh of Christ, and to “ drink his blood; to dwell in Christ, and 66 Christ in them; to be one with Christ, 66 and Christ with them.” In the same sense, in the prayer immediately before the prayer of consecration, we intreat, that “we “ may so eat the flesh of Jesus Christ, and " drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may
be made clean by his body, and our " souls washed through his most precious 66 blood, and that we may evermore dwell 66 in him and he in us." And thus we ask in the prayer of consecration, that “ we may 66 be partakers of the body and blood of “ Christ.” All these expressions of spiritually eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ, of dwelling in him and he in us, of being partakers of his body and blood, mean precisely the same thing. They are figurative modes of expressing our partaking in the benefits which Christ's death purchased for us; and these are, forgiveness of sins, and the assistance of the Holy Spirit. In the same sense are to be understood those strong expressions in the
Church Catechism, which assert, that "the
body and blood of Christ are verily and “ indeed taken and received by the faithful “ in the Lord's Supper;" which mean nothing more than that the faithful, those, who with hearty repentance and true faith receive the Lord's Supper, do verily and indeed partake of the benefits which the death of Christ purchased; the forgiveness of sin, and renewed strength from the Spirit of holiness.
A sacrament, however, is said to be not only the means of imparting divine grace, but also a pledge or token to assure us that we receive it. It is usual among men to accompany, with some outward sign or token, the appointment to any dignity, or office, or possession; or the conclusion of an agreement or bargain. In this country, for instance, in several of the high offices of state, the appointment to or relinquishing of them, is accompanied by the delivery or giving back of a seal, or wand, or staff: the conveyance of land is often completed by the conveyance of the writings relating to it, or by taking bodily posses
to adopt a still more familiar il