Изображения страниц



THE words of Scripture have hitherto been our guide in the statement of the doctrines connected with the Lord's Supper, and they furnish us with ample information as to its main design.* We have seen that

* This may be a suitable place to give a brief explanation of the NAMES applied to this institution.

SACRAMENT is a name given to it in common with Baptism. It is not a scriptural name, and it has been variously explained. Some derive it from "Sacramentum Militaire," the military oath of fidelity among the Romans, and so consider it as representing our solemn dedication of ourselves to be faithful soldiers of Christ. Others, from the circumstance of the most ancient translators of the Bible into Latin, usually rendering μvorηplov, mystery, by the word, "Sacramentum," think that it was adopted, in the early ages of the church, as an appropriate name for those ordinances in which there is a deep and hidden meaning veiled under a sign or figure. Augustine considers the word Sacrament as equivalent to a HOLY SIGN. He says, (see City of God, Book x. Chap. v.) "an external offering is a visible sacrament of an invisible sacrifice, that is, a holy sign." This is probably the true definition. The Church of England explains the meaning to be," an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof;" thus bringing it before us as a divinely appointed means of grace, whereby we receive an increase of grace, and a token of divine favour.

The BREAKING OF BREAD seems to have been the first and the scriptural name of this institution, taken from the principal outward action of this ordinance. See Acts ii. 42, 46; xx. 7.

The term COMMUNION was doubtless derived from St. Paul's account of this ordinance. 1 Cor. x. 16. It is descriptive of the fellowship which we then have with Christ, and with our Christian brethren.

The LORD'S SUPPER is (as is generally supposed) a name given to this institution by the apostle. 1 Cor. xi. 20. Being appointed by our Lord immediately after his last supper, and for his own more direct

the words of the appointment decidedly express the doctrine of our Saviour's atonement, and point out the ratification of the new covenant in his blood. The design of this institution, as it respects our practical conduct, will be more evident from the consideration of the expression of our Lord, This do in remembrance of me; and that of his apostle,-as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show forth the Lord's death till he come.

honour, it is so called with great propriety. It has the authority of Christ for its observance, and it brings before us the atonement of Christ as the chief nourishment of our souls. Some have supposed that the apostle alluded to the ancient love feasts, or to them and the communion, under the term Lord's Supper; but this is not very likely. EUCHARIST, that is thanksgiving. This is one of the most ancient names given to the Lord' Supper, apparently from the circumstance of our Lord giving thanks at the time of its institution. Chrysostom, in a Homily on the 8th of Matthew, says, "The dreadful mysteries, full of salvation, which we celebrate, in every assembly, are called the Eucharist, because they are a commemoration of many benefits, and show forth the principal price of divine providence, and dispose us always to give him thanks."

OBLATION, SACRIFICE, and MEMORIAL, were names anciently given to this institution, not in the Roman Catholic sense, as has been fully proved by Protestant writers, but as being a spiritual sacrifice of prayer and praise, or as representing the great sacrifice on the cross.

It is often called the CHRISTIAN FEAST; perhaps in allusion to 1 Cor. v. 8. The soul of the believer has that satisfaction, refreshment, and nourishment in the atonement of Christ, here exhibited, which the hungry person has in his food. Some have considered it as similar in its nature to the ancient feasts upon a sacrifice; and that as they were of old accustomed to partake of the victim in order to gain the benefit of the sacrifice, so we partake of the emblems of our great sacrifice, to show our hope in him; but on this, see Note, chapter i.

It is sometimes called THE SEAL OF THE COVENANT; but this is not a scriptural, and it does not appear to the author that it is a proper epithet. The idea is taken from Abraham's circumcision being a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised; (Rom. iv. 11.) but this by no means implies that the Lord's Supper may justly be called a seal of the covenant. In fact an unsealed covenant is of no validity. The new covenant was ratified and confirmed by the blood of Christ. As far as it relates to the confirmation of our own faith, it may be said, as Calvin remarks, to be renewed, or rather continued, whenever that sacred cup is presented to us.

The cross of Christ is the glory of the Christian religion. It is the bright centre in which all the rays of spiritual light unite, and from which they proceed. It is so stupendous a fact in itself, that the Creator of all worlds, the great Jehovah, in the person of his Son, should take our nature upon him to expiate the guilt of our sins, that it may well have our constant meditation. Such tremendous sufferings, and such never-ending sorrows, are averted by the completion of this grand system; and such incalculable, boundless, and eternal joys, are obtained by this sacrifice of himself, that we shall through eternity, regard with unspeakable joy this wonderful grace of God in Christ Jesus.

The Lord's Supper is a solemn ordinance, designed for a perpetual exhibition and commemoration of the atoning sacrifice of the death of Christ, and for our participation in the blessings of that sacrifice. It is a representation to the outward senses of this great truth, that the only Son of God became man, and died for our sins. It teaches us by signs and emblems, those doctrines which the preaching of the gospel brings before us expressly in words; and being a divine institution it is not a bare lesson to the senses, but an effectual means of grace to the soul. Herein Christ offers himself to us with all his benefits, and we receive him by faith.

Its great design is to represent, or place before us, to commemorate, and to shew forth the death of Christ as a sacrifice for sin, and to declare our expectation of his coming again; and the actual benefit which the faithful receive is the communion of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.



OF THE LORD'S DEATH, AS A SACRIFICE FOR SIN. This we have already shewn in former chaptersbut let us dwell more particularly on the design of this representation.

Dr. Owen, in his Treatise on the Lord's Supper, says in substance as follows:

'This sacrament is a more special and particular representation and setting forth of Christ as our Redeemer, than either the written or preached word. God has appointed him to be evidently crucified before our eyes, that every poor soul that is stung with sin, and ready to die by sin, should look up to him and be healed. John iii. 14, 15. Isaiah liii. 5. Let faith represent Christ to our souls as here exhibited of God and given unto us, as tendered to us and received by us, and incorporated with us. Let us not rest in the outward elements and the visible sign. Christ in his love; Christ in his blood-shedding, agony, and prayer; Christ in his death, is here proposed before us, even by him who has appointed the institution. It is a way of proposal full of tenderness and love. To every communicant there is, by the grace and faithfulness of God, and through his ministers, a tender of Jesus Christ in his death and all his benefits. The main question is, whether you will stir up your hearts to a new and fresh receiving of Jesus Christ, who is thus proposed and tendered to you by the love of your heavenly Father.'

This is a very refreshing view of the Lord's Supper. The promises and proposals which Almighty God makes to you by his word are more general, and have not that sensible and particular application to the individual, which is made by this affecting and

tender mode of proposing the blessings of the gospel. When the minister says to you individually, Take, eat; and gives you individually the bread and the wine, how delightful is the thought, that the blessings of salvation by Jesus Christ are graciously tendered to you! O let us stir up our hearts gladly to receive them!

The Lord's Supper is designed to COMMEMORATE CHRIST CRUCIFIED.* To commemorate is to preserve the memory of any thing by some public act. We find that God frequently appointed memorials of past transactions of magnitude, to declare to future generations his glorious works. Thus circumcision was appointed as a memorial of the covenant with Abraham; the stones taken out of Jordan were appointed as a memorial of Israel's passing across that river on dry land; the passover, (in addition to its typical design,) was appointed as a memorial, a perpetually-repeated memorial, of the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt. We should, if left to ourselves, soon forget our beneficent Deliverer, and the pride of our hearts is ever tending to lead us to rely on ourselves, rather than simply rest on his promises of salvation; and hence the need of this memorial. The connection of the precept in which we are required to do this in remembrance of Christ, shews that we are called on chiefly to remember his death and sufferings. Let us not remember, then, transiently and slightly, but deeply, seriously, and constantly.

* The word avaμvnois, used by our Lord, conveys the ideas of commemoration and memorial, as well as remembrance. It may be noticed as a marked distinction between the two covenants, that under the law of Moses there was a commemoration of sins. Heb. x. 3. While under the gospel there is a commemoration of a Saviour from sin.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »