Page images

Here consider,

(1.) How the elements are consecrated. By the word of institution, thanksgiving and prayer, they are consecrated, or set apart from common use, ver. 23, 24, 25. Our Lord Christ had power of himself to institute the ordinance, and did so, and blessed it, and solemnly gave thanks over it. The institution stands in the word, which therefore we read on that occasion, and, according to his example, pray over it, with thanksgiving. The Popish consecration, by muttering over these words, This is my body, hit not the mark; for these words, This is my body, were uttered by our Lord after the consecration.

(2-) What is the effect of the consecration on the elements ? Not a real change of them into the body and blood of Christ. This destroys the nature of a sacrament, leaving no sensible sign. It is contrary to the institution, where Christ's body was sitting at the table, and reached the disciples bread and wine. It is contrary to the doctrine of Christ's suffering once, his ascension, sitting at God's right hand, and coming again not till the last day. And so it is contrary to sense and reason.

Christ said indeed, This is my body, i. e. signifies my body, as the lamb is called the Lord's passover, Exod. xii. 11. It is by these words the Papists will have the bread changed into the real natural body of Christ. But these words suppose

it to be Christ's body before, since a thing cannot be truly said to be what it is not. So it is no otherwise Christ's body, but sacramentally.

The true effect is a relative change on the elements, so that they are no more to be looked upon as common bread and wine, but the sacred symbols of Christ's body and blood. So they are changed in respect of their use, being set apart for this holy use.

(3) The signification of this sacramental action. It represents the Father's setting apart and consecrating his own Son to, and investing him in, the Mediatory office. So Christ is said to be sealed, John vi. 27; sanctified and sent, chap. x. 36; and anointed to his office, Isa. Ixi. 1. So in this a believer may see these three things. (1.) The Father calling Christ to the Mediatory office, Heb. v. 4, 5; to do and to die for the perishing elect. (2.) The

Son's accepting of the call, though he knew how hard the work was, Psal. xl. 7. (3.) Christ completely furnished for all the ends of his mediation, actually entered on the office. The Father blessed him, and sent him on the work, and he goes about it, Isa. Ixi. 1.

3. Breaking of the bread, ver. 24. This is an essential rite of this sacrament, it being sometimes called by this very name, Acts xx. 7. It signifies the breaking of Christ's body for us, and consequently the shedding of his blood. In the sacrament there is not a word of pouring out the wine, though no doubt it was done : for the shedding of Christ's blood is sufficiently represented by breaking of his body. His body was broken to the shedding of his blood in his circumcision, in his soul-sufferings to the sweating of blood, in the plucking off his hair, Isa. I. 6. in his scourging, John xix. 1. crowning with thorns, and being smitten on the so crowned head, and in his crucifixion. And these his sufferings point to all the rest.

4. Giving of the bread, and then the wine, to the communicants, ver. 24, 25. This signifies Christ's giving himself, with all his benefits, to the worthy receiver, which is really done in the right use of this sacrament. This is plain from the words, Take, eat, &c.

Secondly, There are signifying actions of the coinmuni. cants.

1. Taking off the bread and wine with the hand, ib. This signifies their receiving of a whole Christ, as offered in the word, and exhibited in the sacrament, closing with him by faith.

2. Eating and drinking. The Papists destroy this last as to the people, with-holding the cup from them, contrary to Christ's express command, Matth. xxvi. 27. Drink ye all of it. These actions signify their feeding spiritually on Christ's body and blood, and uniting with him by faith.

These solemn sacramental actions not being accompanied with the things signified, namely, the duties, make them a solemn mocking of God, which makes unworthy communicating so great a sin.

IV. I proceed to consider the particular uses and ends of this sacrament. Besides the general ends of this sacrament, common to the other also, to wit, (1.) To be a sig. nifying sign, (2.) A sealing sign, (3.) An exhibiting sign, of Christ, and his benefits to believers; the particular ends

of it are,

1. To be a menorial of the death of Christ till he come again, ver, 24. And this is to be considered two ways. (1.) As a memorial of it before the world, 1 Cor. xi. 26. as Joshua set up the twelve stones. Hereby we keep up a standard for Christ, and openly avouch his dying, and our faith of it. (2.) As a memorial before our own eyes, to revive, quicken, and preserve the affectionate remembrance of his death in our own hearts. This respects Christ's honour and our duty.

2. To be a badge of and confirm our union and com. munion with Jesus Christ himself, i Cor. x. 16. What nearer union do we know on earth, than that betwixt us and our food, which incorporates with our substance ? So this sacrament signifies, seals, and confirms our union and communion with Christ, as eating his flesh and drinking his blood. This respects our privilege.

3. To be a spiritual feast for our spiritual nourishment and growth in grace. Take, eat, &c. For therein be lievers are made partakers of his body and blood, since they are really exhibited in this ordinance to the faith of the believer. They partake of it not after a corporal and carnal manner, eating and drinking of that blessed body and blood with the mouths of their bodies, but spiritually and most really by faith. This respects our benefit

4. Lastly, To be a public testimony of our communion with all saints, members of the same body, 1 Cor. x. 17. This respects the whole church of Christ, and the duties they owe to one another as members of the same body:

I shall now conclude this subject with an inference or two.

Inf. 1. Hence we may see the unparalleled goodness and bounty of a gracious God to his people, in covering a rich table for them in this wilderness, stored with the best meat and drink for their refreshment and nourishment in their pilgrimage-state, till they arrive at their Father's house in

the heavenly Canaan. With what an enlarged appetite ought they to come to and partake of this royal feast, designed only for those who are the King's friends! They should feed upon it in the exercise of faith, love, desire, wonder, and joy. They should welcome every opportunity that presents itself, to feast with their Redeemer, and give suitable reception to the entertainer, and the entertainment he provides.

2. This holy sacrament is children's bread. For none but gracious souls are capable of managing it to their own advantage. How shall they remember him who never knew him? declare their union with him, who are not di. vorced from their lusts and idols ? eat his flesh and drink his blood, who have no appetite for spiritual meat and drink? honour him whom they are daily dishonouring by their profane lives and conversations ? None but those who believe in Christ are fit guests for his table. Let all unbelievers be exhorted to receive and embrace Christ as their Saviour, to be clothed with the wedding-garment of his righteousness, and then they will be fit to sit at the King's table.

3. Prepare for this solemn ordinance, if God shall al. low us the opportunity. Delay not a moment to give your. selves to the Lord, by receiving and embracing the Lord Jesus as your Saviour and Redeemer, and vouching him as such in this holy sacrament. Let the mortality

* and

• This discourse was preached in April 1720, in which season a diftemper as mortal as epidemical raged in the parila of Ettrick. All the author's family, himself only excepted, were seized with it: but, through the goodness of God, happily recovered. It is to this distemper that the author here alludes. And as a careful observance of the course of providence in general, with a fingular dexterity in connecting particular provi. dences, was one of the most distinguishing traits in this great man's charac. ter; so it was his invariable practice, to adapt his public preaching to the course of providence, and to make use of God's dispensations towards his own parish in particular, to back and enforce his exhortations to his flock. Add to this, that it was a practice of his, not unusual, to observe a congregational fast when any thing appeared uncommon in the courte of providence, that his parishioners might be led to improve it properly ; which, from his diary and the sermons then preached, still preserved, it appears, he did on the occasion alluded to in the inference. This faft was observed on the 27th of April 1720. And as the sermons then delivered

sickness that so generally prevails, excite you to be more vigorous than ever in preparing for this solemn occasion, as perhaps it may be the last many of us may partake of. O then let us prepare to keep the feast in due manner!


1 Cor. xi. 28.But let a man examine himself, and so let

him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.


"HESE words contain a mean for preventing of the

great evil which men are apt to fall into with respect to the Lord's supper; and so for our purpose they offer two things to be considered.

1. An evil, a great evil, a heinous evil, which men must use means to prevent; that is, unworthy communicating. But let a man examine himself, &c. This looks back to the preceding verse, wherein the apostle had declared unwor. thy communicants to be guilty of Christ's body and blood.' But (says he, to prevent this, and that ye may worthily partake) let a man examine himself, &c.

2. The way to be taken to prevent unworthy communicating: Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, &c. A man, every man to whom the gospel comes, and who has access to this ordinance, must examine

may be useful on like occasions, which are not unfrequent, they shall be inserted at the end of this volume. And the propriety of giving them a place in this work will appear from this consideration, That while the serious reader is employed in perusing a discourse treating of the nature of the Lord's supper, in which there is a lively representation of the death of Christ, our passover sacrificed for us, it will be a profitable exercise for him at the same time to be thinking of his own death, and to be so eumbering his days, that he may apply his heart unto wisdom.

« PreviousContinue »