Imatges de pÓgina

Lord's Supper is a little different. While the outward part of the rite is by nature not less significant, and, combined with the circumstances which give it a conventional meaning, perhaps even more so than that of Baptism; the incidental references to it are much fewer, and of a very different character. There is not, either in the Acts or the whole range of the Epistles, a single direct exhortation to partake of it; while there is, we know, at least one very important warning against its abuse, and rectification of errors, which had found their way into its administration. The converts were exhorted to be baptized, as the indispensable method of admission into the Christian society. It was concluded, that, when baptized, they would conform to the religion which they had adopted; and in the natural course of things become partakers in a rite, like the Lord's Supper, appointed for the perpetual use and benefit of the members of the church.

In the character of the incidental notices of the two sacraments, indeed, we may trace yet further a corresponding difference, aris

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

ing out of the nature of things, and the different ends of the two appointments. It was, for instance, generally, a more obvious and natural appeal to those, of whom baptized persons was a description no less proper, than circumcised was of the Jews, not to disgrace the faith they had professed in Baptism, than not to act inconsistently with their participation in the body and blood of their Lord. The latter might, as indeed we find it did“, become, occasionally, the more prevailing topic of exhortation ; but it would not be the ordinary resource, nor do we find it so. And the general appeals, in which Baptism was naturally in the first instance resorted to, being necessarily more frequent than the particular occasions, for which a reference to the Lord's Supper would be most appropriate and effectual; this would, of itself, sufficiently account for the notices of the Lord's Supper in the New Testament being fewer, than those of Baptism.

Hence we shall find, that the significancy

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]



a 1 Cor. x.


of the outward action, the language made use of by our Lord in its institution, and the circumstances attending its first appointment, will be, in the case of the Lord's Supper, even more important in determining the nature of the benefits resulting from its use and administration, than we found them in the case of Baptism. While the texts, to which we shall subsequently have occasion to refer, though fewer in number, will be, I should hope, not less clear in their application, nor less determinate in their language.

The primary significancy of the action, in the case of the Lord's Supper, is sufficiently obvious. Eating and drinking, whatever be the viands, can be naturally significant but of one thing, the refreshment of him who participates in them. And eating and drinking together, can convey to the mind, whether naturally or conventionally, but one idea, that of a feast; it matters not for the present of what character; it may be commemorative, it may be federative, it may be simply expressive of general satisfaction or rejoicing for benefits, or blessings,

[ocr errors][merged small]

of the possession of which the partakers in the feast are conscious, and which they have a delight in manifesting openly to others. These are the natural and usual motives of such celebrations, and some of these might therefore be not unreasonably presumed to have influenced, in the appointment of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

But the specific character of the feast, cannot, it is plain, be determined from consi derations so general, either alone or princi pally. This must be ascertained from the declarations of the Founder, or the special circumstances, under which it was appointed. Generally however, and previously to the particular examination of these, we nayobserve, that the institution of a religious festival directs us at once to look for some spiritual end of the institution ; that it would be inconsistent in any case, and impossible in that before us, to imagine that a rite, enjoined by the Founder of the religion, and peremptorily enforced upon

all who should embrace it, should have reference to the support of our outward' frame only, or to the mere bodily gratification

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


consequent upon eating and drinking: some further object, and that of a spiritual nature, seems indispensable to give its due importance to an institution professedly divine.

With the leading idea, therefore, always present to our minds, that the rite we are investigating is of the nature of a feast, and with the recollection, that it was instituted for spiritual purposes, let us proceed to ascertain more precisely, from the words and circumstances of institution, the specific character of the sacrament; the more immediate end for which it was ordained; and the particular benefits flowing from its celebration.

The words of institution, as they are very remarkable, so they have been particularly handed down to us, not only by three of the Evangelists, in the regular course of their narratives in the Gospels, but by the Apostle Paul, in correcting some errors of administration into which the Corinthian converts had fallen.

It will be advisable, though generally familiar to us, to state them with such parti

« AnteriorContinua »