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OF THE LORD'S SUPPER.
1 Cor. xi. 23, 24, 25.--I have received of the Lord that
which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat : this is my body broken for you : this do in remembrance of
After the same manner, also he look the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testument in my blood : this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
THESE words afford us the answer to that question,
• What is the sacrament of the Lord's supper ?' and declare to us the nature of that holy ordinance which we are now in expectation of, and now falls to be explained ? For which we shall consider,
1. The author of it.
All these particulars are contained in the text and deserve a special consideration.
1. The author of this ordinance is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. It is not founded on man's authority, but on his own authority, who is the only King and Head of his church, ver. 23. I have received of the Lord Jesus, &c. which points out a twofold excellency in it. (1.) A character of divine authority upon it. The elements and actions, though they be mean in themselves, yet have a majesty in them to a spiritual eye, as bearing Christ's stamp on them, and being heaven's broad seal to the covenant. (2.) A holiness in it; it is a holy ordinance, as appointed
by the holy Jesus. The elements, though in themselves common things, are relatively holy, as appointed to represent, seal, and apply Christ and his benefits.
Here I shall shew,
First, When did Christ institute this sacrament? The same night in which he was betrayed, ver. 23. Yet this does not bind us to that tiine rather than to another, because that was an accidental circumstance, arising from something peculiar to the first institution and administration. For it could not be sooner, in regard it behoved to be after the passover, which was to be killed in the evening, Exod. xii. 6. and eaten that night, ver. 8. which was to be abrogated by this new institution. It could not be later, because quickly after he fell into his enemies hands, The time of its institution teaches us four things.
1. The most tender care and concern our Lord had and has for his people’s welfare and comfort, providing for these just while he was to launch forth into the sea of wrath. Admirable love and tenderness indeed!
2. That it is Christ's dying love-token to his friends, and therefore to be highly prized, and duly improved.
3. That it is of special use to fit the Lord's people for å time of trouble and trial. Now, the disciples were to meet with a storm which they had never seen the like of; and he reserves therefore the best wine till now.
4. That it is of special use to fit his people for grapling with death; the which we may learn from his example.
Secondly, For what time is this sacrament to continue? I answer, Till he come again, and so it is to last to the end of the world. While he is absent, we must make use of it, as a memorial, ver. 25, 26.
Thirdly, What do the words of institution contain? They contain Christ's blessing; which comprehends two things (1.) A command for the use of this sacrament. (2.) A promise of spiritual benefit by it to the worthy receivers, viz. that they shall partake of Christ's body and blood is the right use of it, ver. 24, 25. Take, eat : This is my body -This cup is the new Testament in my blood.
II. I proceed to consider the signifying things, or outward elements. These are bread and wine. The bread, ordinary bread, without any determination of what grain it is made, nor whether leavened or unleavened. Our Lord took such bread as came to hand, and so may we without scruple, though decency is to be observed. The wine, as to the colour of it, is also indifferent; and whether a little mixed with water, or unmixed, is so too. Necessity and decency must regulate these things, the church being no otherwise tied by divine institution,
Here let us consider,
2. The resembļance betwixt the signs and the things signified.
First, What is signified by the bread and wine? The body and blood of Christ, ver. 24, 25. even a whole Christ with all his benefits, forasmuch as the divine nature after the incarnation was never separated from the human, though the soul was separated from the body, and his precious blood from his flesh.
Secondly, The resemblance betwixt the signs and the things signified.
1. Consider the bread and wine separately.
1st, There is a resemblance betwixt the bread and Christ's body.
(1.) Bread is for nourishing of natural life: so is Christ's body for nourishment to the soul, John vi. 56. “For (says he), my flesh is meat indeed.' There the hungry may feed, and be nourished and strengthened, to grow up unto eternal life.
(2.) Bread must be prepared ere it can be bread, or fit nourishment for us, the grain ground, and baked with the fire. So Christ was grinded betwixt the upper
millstone of the Father's wrath, and the nether millstone of the ma. lice of men and devils, and cast into the fiery furnace of justice, that he might be bread to our souls, Psal. xxii. 14.
(3.) Bread is a common and cheap provision; it is for the poor as well as the rich. Christ's salvation is the comVOL. III.
mon salvation, Jude 3; free to all who will receive the same, Rev. xxii: 17.
(4.) Of all provision it is the most necessary. Nothing is so necessary for us as Christ; without him we die, we perish, we all perish, John vi. 53. * Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.'
(5.) Lastly, It is a sort of food which healthy people wilì never loath. So is Christ ever sweet to the soul that feeds on him, though distempered souls loath the bread of life.
2dly, There is a resemblance betwixt wine and Christ's blood.
(1.) The wine is squeezed out of the grapes forcibly by the wine-press. Thus was Christ's blood squeezed out of his body, by the wine-press of the Father's wrath, that it might be drink to our souls.
(2.) Wine has a medicinal virtue, Luke x. 34. Christ's blood is the great medicine for the wounds of the soul. There are no wounds so deep, or so hopeless, but an application of Christ's blood will cleanse them, and heal them too.
(3.) Wine is refreshing and strengthening to the body, 1 Tim. v. 23. A draught of this spiritual drink, exhibited to us in the sacrament, and to be received by faith, would make the soul pressed with guilt, and a sense of wrath, to stir as a giant refreshed with
wine, John vi. 55. • My blood is drink indeed.'
(4.) Lastly, It is of a cheering virtue, Prov. xxxi. 6. The blood of Christ is that whereof those who are of sor. rowful spirits, by reason of guilt, may drink by faith, and forget their sorrow, 1 Pet. i. 8.
2. Consider the bread and wine conjunctly, set before us in the sacrament. There is a threefold resemblance.
1st, There is both meat and drink, bread and wine, in the sacrament, In Jesus Christ we have a full feast for our souls, John vi. 55. My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. There is a fulness in him for all our wants, a fulness of merit and of Spirit.
2. The bread and wine are separate in the sacrament. So was Christ's blood separated from his body on the cross for us. Many vents were made in that blessed body by the nails and spear, through which that blood might gush out, for the redemption of an elect world.
3. The bread must be eaten, and the wine drunk, or they will not nourish. So Christ's body and blood must be by faith eaten and drunk, or it will not profit us to our salva. tion. It is union with him by faith that makes us partakers of his benefits.
III. Let us consider the signifying actions in this sacra. ment.
First, There are some signifying actions of the administrator about these elements, according to Christ's institution, which, being sacramental, are also significant.
1. Taking of the bread, and the cup into which the wine has been poured out, taking them into his hand, ver, 23, 24, 25. Nothing is more distinctly mentioned than this, Matth. xxvi. 26, 27. Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And be took the cup, and
gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it.' Whence it is evident, that it is taken to be consecrated. And this represents the Father's chusing and designing the Son to be Mediator, Psal. lxxxix. 19. I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.' So in this action we may see, (1.) Man perish. ing for want of spiritual food, Adam and all his posterity starving in their souls, and so their case crying for bread. (2.) God in his eternal love destinating bread for a starving world. (3.) The Son of God, as the
party on whom the lot fell, to be bread for them. Behold the bread the Father took, Isaiah xlii. 1. • Behold my servant whom Í uphold. He was God's choice, and shall he not be purs ?
2. Consecrating of the elements, ver. 24, 25, The consecrating of the bread and wine apart is reckoned to be an accidental circumstance in the first administration, a. greeable to the custom of the country where it was done, not obliging us, whose custom it is to bless all together, more than unleavened bread, &c. Nor does there appear any mystery further in the former than the latter.