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apprehended, that we might escape; accursed, that we might be acquitted; and condemned, that we might be absolved. He died, that we might live; and was crucified by men, that we might be justified before God.
Thus the Lord's Supper was designed to represent, commemorate, and show forth the Lord's death as a sacrifice for sin. This is done for our own edification, as a testimony to the world, and as a prevailing mode of pleading his merits before God. It has been observed, that," what we more compendiously express in that general conclusion of our prayers, "through Jesus Christ our Lord," we more fully and forcibly represent in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, wherein we plead the virtue and merits of the same sacrifice here, that our great High Priest is continually urging for us in heaven.”
Whenever, then, Christian reader, you celebrate this ordinance, we exhort you in the expressive words of a late writer, "Look up to the offering of Jesus Christ once for all: look to him as dying for the remission of your sins, washing them away in his precious blood; suffering that you might be saved. And while you are kneeling under his cross, touched with the utmost possible sense of God's love, who
* "Receiving the Lord's Supper, is," as Mr. Scott has remarked, "making a profession of those things in which genuine Christianity consists. It is saying, I believe that I am that lost sinner who must have perished if Christ had not come to save the lost: I believe him to be the Son of God; and that his blood, shed in immense love to lost sinners, is an all-sufficient atonement. In this persuasion I repent of all sin, renounce all other confidence, receive Christ as my Saviour, 'feed on him in my heart by faith and thanksgiving,' yield myself to his service, and join myself to his people; and in avowing this at the Lord's table, I avow that I put no trust in that act of obedience, but offer it as a sacrifice of thanksgiving, acceptable only through his sacrifice of atonement as signified by it." See Scott's Letters, p. 293.
gave his only begotten Son, and affected with sentiments of the most tender devotion to him who gave himself for you; embrace also with your good will all mankind, whom he loved for his sake. Then rise up, by his grace, to the sober, continual practice of every thing that is good, and excellent, and praiseworthy, and conformable to such sentiments and affections, and the obligations laid on you by his infinite love,"
The observance of the Lord's Supper contains also a virtual DECLARATION OF OUR EXPECTATION OF HIS COMING AGAIN. We show forth the Lord's death, till he come as the Judge of all men. 1 Cor. iv. 5; xi. 26.
By this ordinance we acknowledge that Jesus Christ will come to JUDGE THE WORLD. We show that we believe that a solemn day is approaching, when God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or evil-that all mankind shall then be divided into two classes, and only two, the righteous and the wicked-the future inhabitants of heaven and of hell-of everlasting punishment, and everlasting life. Partaking of the Lord's Supper is an implied and public avowal of this expectation. How important is this avowal! How well calculated to restrain evil, and encourage righteousness? How suited to fill us with a holy reverence of God, and a just fear of displeasing him!
But while this view inspires reverence, there is another consideration which should fill the servants of God with the liveliest hope and joy. He comes also as THE SAVIOUR OF HIS PEOPLE. Heb. ix. 28.
Had we no farther view than to remember and declare our Saviour's death, this ordinance would be full of comfort; but since we have not only to look
back on what Christ has done, but forward to what he will do, new beams of light and joy are shed around this blessed institution. It leads us to look up to Jesus as a living Redeemer, gone to prepare places for us in the mansions of his Father's house, (John xiv. 2, 3.) and to comfort each other with the animating hope that, notwithstanding all the dangers, trials, and sorrows of our present state, we shall soon be admitted into his presence, and then we shall ever be with the Lord. In receiving the Lord's Supper, we declare our hope that Christ will hereafter appear for us as our Deliverer; that however now we may be groaning under the burden of many sins, contend. ing with our spiritual enemies, and often worsted in the contest; yet then he will have purified our souls, and will present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. We declare our hope that however the Christian may now be afflicted and despised, his wisdom will one day be universally acknowledged; the justice of God perfectly cleared; and his servants be openly owned by him, and for ever blessed with him.
When this happy day arrives, then, and not till then, will the observance of this solemn ordinance cease to be a duty. "Then his people will no longer need such memorials as these; for they will incessantly enjoy the brightest vision of his person, and the richest fruits of his death."
THE OBLIGATION TO RECEIVE THE LORD'S SUPPER.
WHEN We consider the very small proportion of the congregation assembling for public worship, which usually remains to partake of this ordinance, it cannot be deemed unnecessary to insist on the obligation which lies on the truly pious not to neglect it. Even in more religious congregations, where the ministry is most efficient, it has been calculated that rarely anything like one fourth stay to partake of the Lord's Supper; and the proportion is, in general, much less.
The primitive Christians did not thus turn away from the Lord's table: the churches communicated every Lord's day, and it was the practice for ALL, both clergy, and laity, to receive.*
What a blessing would it be to the church, could it be again said of Christians, They continued daily
* See Bingham's Christian Antiquities, fol. vol. i. p. 824-826, and Acts xx. 7. Some have thought from the statement, they continued steadfastly in the Apostle's doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and prayers,' (Acts ii. 42.) and from the expression coming together to eat,' &c. (1 Cor. xi. 20, 33.) that the primitive Christians received the Lord's Supper whenever they assembled together for public worship.
with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart; praising God, and having favour with all the people.
Observe the reasons which should induce sincere Christians to attend to this institution.
THE EXPRESS COMMAND OF OUR SAVIOUR.-This do in remembrance of me. Lnke xxii. 19. 1 Cor. xi. 24, 25. Here we have a plain and positive precept.* It is so express that it cannot easily be mistaken. It has been objected, that such a rite is inconsistent with the spirituality of the gospel, and has no moral foundation; but the very circumstance that the command rests on the ground of positive institution, and not of natural duty, makes the observance of it a direct acknowledgment of the authority of Christ, and the neglect of it a disregard of HIS precept. Hence, as Dr. Owen says, "Faith and obedience here give special honour to Christ as our Sovereign. It is, in fact, the most direct profession of the subjection of our souls and consciences to the authority of Christ in all our religion. Our reason for it is, Christ would have it so." There is no uncertainty in the direction; it is not conveyed in dark and obscure terms,
* In answer to this it has been said, that the washing of feet might with equal propriety be now enjoined as a religious obligation on Christians, from the words of our Saviour, "Ye ought also to wash one another's feet, for I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you." John xiii. 12-15. But, (1) there are no traces in other parts of the word of God, or in the history of the Church, that washing of feet was observed as a religious ordinance among the first Christians. (2) This is an unsuitable service for all countries. It was an act of kindness and humility, and very refreshing in a warm country; but it would be an act of unkindness, and very troublesome and unpleasant, in a cold one. A practical lesson of humility was obviously the great design of our Lord in that instruction.