Imatges de pàgina
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cularity, as may enable us to make use of the whole information conveyed by them. For though there is no substantial difference in their accounts, yet in different parts of their narration some are more explicit than others. I will therefore go through the statement of St. Matthew, as the first occurring, and as coming from an eyewitness of the transaction ; and point out, as we go on, any additional or explanatory circumstances detailed to us by the other sacred historians.

St. Matthew says, that as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and

gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body b; to which St. Luke adds, which is given for you ; this do in remembrance of me". St. Paul agrees

with St. Luke, except in substituting which is broken , for which is given for you.

St. Matthew goes on, And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink

ye all of it, for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins o.

c Luke xxii. 19.

b Matt. xxvi. 26. d 1 Cor. xi. 24.

St. Luke varies the latter expression a little, making it, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. A variation recognized by St. Paul, who has, This

cup is the new testament in my blood; omitting any mention of the end for which that blood was to be shed, but with the addition, This do ye, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of mes. St. Mark subjoins to his narration, that they all drank of it"; and St. Paul adds the important information, that as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we do shew the Lord's death till he come i

Before we proceed to the more particular consideration of the words of our Lord on this occasion, let me briefly advert to a circumstance attending the celebration of the rite, which seems to afford a not unimportant confirmation of the conclusion already deduced from the religious character of the festival; namely, that the conveyance of some spiritual benefit, aptly represented by the refreshment taken in at our mouths, must be the purport of such an institution. The same conclusion, it would seem, presses

e Matt. xxvi. 27, 28.

f Luke xxii. 20. 81 Cor. xi. 25. h Mark xiv. 23. il Cor. xi. 26.

itself

upon us, when we consider, in what the actual feast (without for the present referring to any symbolic meaning of the elements) consists, in the distribution, that is, and joint participation, of small portions of bread and wine only; a mode of feasting, which however well calculated, as being made on the most excellent things of their kind, to represent the refreshment accompanying festive celebrations, would of itself constitute but a very indifferent entertainment. From the outward matter of the feast, therefore, and the mode of its celebration, no less than from the religious character of the appointment, we are led to a spiritual understanding of the rite, and consequently, to its being the channel, if of any, of spiritual benefits.

To return to the words of institution. From these we learn, first, that the feast was to be commemorative of Him who

founded it. It was to be done in remembrance, or for a remembrance, or memorial

, of Him. This last some have interpreted of a memorial offering to God of Christ's body in the sacrament; and without intending, or in fact really giving any countenance to the errors of the Romish church in the sacrifice of the mass, have in consequence considered the Eucharist as the Christian sacrifice; and as succeeding, in that sense, to the sacrifices of the Law. They have supposed, that as the efficacy and the meaning of the Levitical sacrifices was to be deduced from the anticipative reference to the sacrifice of Christ following of which they were in various degrees the types and the representations, so under the Christian system the Lord's Supper, deriving its meaning from the commemorative reference contained in it to the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, was to be considered as corresponding in nature to the sacrifices of the Law. Though in the one the commemoration was made in bloody, in the other, in unbloody symbols, yet the object referred to was in both the same;

the

one indeed looking forward, the other looking back, but both, after their capacity, representing to men, and presenting to God, in a material service, the one sacrifice of Christ. Some parts of this theory are undoubtedly very plausible, and the ingenuity and zeal which have been shewn in its

support by men, not less distinguished for piety than for learning and acuteness, are calculated to operate powerfully in its favour. The very refinement however of the interpretation of various passages of Scripture adduced in its support, and the depreciation of the sacrifice of the cross itself, which by the confession of its most strenuous advocates has in the rounding of the theory been almost unavoidably made a part of it", can, I think, hardly fail to impress the mind of

any one, who reads the controversies respecting it without prejudice, with a feeling of unsatisfactoriness; and, if it be permitted to speak of an individual experience, the

k See Johnson's Unbloody Sacrifice, Part I. chap. 2. §. 1. and Part II. Introduction : and Brett's True Scripture Account of the Nature and Benefits of the Holy Eucharist, in answer to Hoadley. 1736.---pp. 59–76.

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