Imatges de pÓgina
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receiving, according to our capacities, the gracious influences of that Spirit, which was poured out on him in his human nature without measure; and the communication of the principle of that eternal life, which we shall hereafter enjoy with him in hea

ven.

Lastly, we have observed, that the participation in the wine of the Sacrament has probably a yet further meaning, suggested indeed by the expressions used by our Lord himself in giving the cup, that of binding us, by the most solemn federal rite of antiquity, to the observance of the new covenant ratified in the blood of Jesus Christ, and by consequence assuring to us the communication of all the benefits resulting from the covenant, to which we are thus made parties.

It is to an inquiry, how far these ideas of the nature and benefits of the institution are in accordance with what we may elsewhere in the New Testament learn respecting the rite; how far they may be confirmed, or of what extension they may be capable, from the incidental notices of it to be found in the apostolical writings, or in the anticipative references to it in the Gospels, that I now proceed.

I pass over those passages in the Acts of the Apostles, in which, under the expression of breaking bread", the Lord's Supper is probably alluded to; not from

any

doubts in my own mind with respect to the allusion, in some at least of the places alleged, but because the passages themselves contain little bearing upon our immediate inquiry. They neither illustrate the nature of the rite, nor suggest any thing with respect to the benefits resulting from its celebration. The utmost use that we could make of them, would be to confirm that part of our primary view of the sacraments, which contemplated the institution of the Lord's Supper, as the rite of communion in the religion of the Redeemer. We may observe too, by the way,

a Acts ii. 42. 46. xx. 7. 11. Tertullian seems to understand Acts xxvii. 35. of the Lord's Supper. Speaking of St. Paul, he

says,

“ In navi coram omnibus Eucharistiam fecit.De Orat. cap. xxiv. But the allusion to the Lord's Supper is not quite certain. The old Syriac translates Acts ii. 42. and xx. 7. breaking the Eucharist. See Dr. A. Clarke's Discourse on the Holy Eucharist, pp. 74. 76. Waterland, Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist, chap. I. and Griesbach, notice only the former of these texts, in reference to the Syriac.

that
upon

the supposition of these passages alluding to the Eucharist, they furnish an irrefragable testimony to the frequency with which the rite was administered, and of the importance attached to it from the beginning, as an indispensable part of the religious service of the converts.

Except in these passages, the Lord's Supper

does not seem to be alluded to in the Acts of the Apostles; and I therefore proceed at once to the Epistles, in which the first, and perhaps the most important passage in the whole New Testament, bearing upon our particular investigation, occurs in the tenth chapter of St. Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians. It is valuable, not only for the doctrine it contains, but for the early date of the Epistle; from which it

appears, that abuses; sufficient to call for the animadversion of the Apostle, had in that early era grown up in the celebration of the rite: a proof at once of its importance, and of the attention it had attracted. The passage

itself is as follows: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ ? the bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ bq That the Lord's Supper is here spoken of cannot be made a question, but for the elucidation of the doctrine contained or implied in the passage,

and in order to enable us to derive, from it the support which it is capable of affording to the views of the sacrament already taken, a brief survey of St. Paul's argument, in the chapter in which it occurs, and in some preceding ones, will be found desirable.

The occasion of its introduction by St. Paul was this. In the seventh chapter of the Epistle, he begins to deliver to his Corinthian readers his judgment on sundry particulars, concerning which they had written to consult him : and in the eighth comes to the question concerning the eating of things offered in sacrifice to idols. In this chapter he shortly decides, that, though we may know an idol to be nothing,

b 1 Cor. x. 16.

yet that in charity we must not let our knowledge become a stumblingblock to them that are weak , nor lead them to transgress by acting in opposition to their conscience, though unreasonably scrupulous, or even erroneous.

In the ninth chapter he continues to urge the restraint, which in charity to others we ought often to put on our own actions, though otherwise justifiable; and to illustrate what ought in such cases to be our conduct by his own example: shewing, that the liberty he had, as an Apostle, he did not use to the uttermost, neither eating nor drinking at their expense, nor, like St. Peter and other of the Apostles, leading about a wifed to be chargeable to them : but, on the contrary, accommodating himself even to the prejudices of all men, if innocent in themselves, that so he might save some ® ; and subjecting himself to mortification, self-denial, and restraints of various kinds, to which nothing but charity, and his earnest desire of advancing the salva

c 1 Cor. viii. 9.

d 1 Cor. ix. 5.

e 1 Cor. ix. 22.

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