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and determine which of two interpretations is the right one, even though several single particles be illegible.
The Latin Church denominated this divine institution, “A Sacrament.” The Greek Church called it the “Eucharist,” or Thanksgiving ; it is thirdly called, the Communion;" and again, “the Lord's Supper,” which is the designation used by St. Paul. He also med it, “the Feast.” The Roman Catholic rite of the mass is founded on the Lord's Supper.
The word sacrament, which is applied both to baptism, and the Lord's Supper, is not a Scripture term; from its etymology and use in civil affairs, it would seem that it was applied to those rites by which we appear to dedicate ourselves to God. Amongst the Romans, where the word originaled, the military oath of allegiance was called a sacrament. But for myself, I do not see, from any thing that I remember, said by our Lord and his Apostles, how in the Lord's Supper we swear attachment to him. We must, by a belief in him, and obedience to him, shew our devotedness to him, ere we come to the Lord's table; and it can be said to shew our attachment more strongly than other religious exercises, only as he who takes every opportunity to commemorate the death of his Saviour, shews more attachment than he who neglects it.
As the word has long been in use, there is no material objection to it: it is only of importance not to burden the simple, pure, and spiritual institutions of Christ with buinan appendages.
The Greek term Eucharist, a thanksgiving, is thought by many very appropriate. Our Lord, when he instituted this observance, gave thanks. Was it not as our surety and in our name, that he gave thanks to the Father Almighty, for the soon-to-be-effected completion of the great work of buman redemption? O! what reason has every Christian for thanksgiving, when he remembers the death of Christ, as a sacrifice for his own and the sins of the world! By it, pardon is extended to us: and we have reason to hope for the eternal absence of evil. Surely, gratitude and thanksgiving should arise in our minds, when we commemorate the procuring cause of every good to us.
The term communion, you know, has arisen from a passage of St. Paul: he says, to the Corinthians, "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?” Communion denotes, having society amongst ourselves, and being common partakers of a thing: in the Lord's Supper, shewing forth his death together, we declare that we trust, and are, in common, partakers of the benefits of his crucifixion: which should serve to unite us more in the bonds of Christian friendship and charity.
Finally, it is called a supper, or a feast. “When you come together, says the Apostle Paul, to the Corinthian Christians, this
is not to eat the Lord's. Supper:” that is, by your improper conduct you destroy the very nature and end of the institution. The irreverence with which they seem to have gone about it is truly astonishing. The Corinthians seem to have assembled to a scene of riot, instead of to a religious solemnity. But on the other hand, when we see the irreverence which prevails in the performance of heathen rites, we shall be the less surprised. The Corinthians were but recently converted.
When the Apostle says,
“ Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, let us KEEP THE FEAST;" he is supposed to refer to the Lord's Supper. This also confirms what I mentioned respecting the atonement. It was the custom in Judea, and is still the custom in this country, (I mean China) to eat the animal sacrificed, after offering it to God, and the same language is retained to express the operation of the mind in reference to Christ. The mind feeds on him; the soul feasts, as it were, on the work of Christ. Thus it is, we eat his flesh and drink bis blood. We are not cannibals, as the idea of transubstantiation would make us, but intellectual guests enjoying at the Lord's Supper a spiritual and divine feast. I now pass to the third division.
III. But that I may not divert your minds from more profitable thought, I omit dwelling on the corruption of this ordinance in the popish mass, in which, instead of keeping to the intention of the ordinance, and making it a commemoration of the great sacrifice, offered, as St. Paul says, ONCE FOR ALL—they, having as they imagine, converted the bread and wine, or the consecrated wafer, into the real person of our Saviour, offer it up as a host: which term is from the Latin word “Hostia," i. e. a sacrifice; they offer up the elements of a sacrifice for the sins of mankind.
From this idea has arisen the custom of solitary masses, which denote the celebration of the Lord's Supper in secret by the Priest alone: an. perhaps also the practice of giving the sacrament to dying persons. With right views of the ordinance, i.e. considering it as a commemoration of the death and atonement of Jesus, I do not see, why a Minister and sick person should not together partake of it. However, generally it must be
considered a social ordinance. Finally, as to the fourth division, viz.
IV. The persons who are permitted, and in a certain sense required, to partake of the Lord's Supper.-Who are they?
The answer, I should think is, all who are sincerely and truly Christians, walking in the fear of God, and in the observance of the precepts of the Gospel. Those who, even in the judgment of the most liberal charity, can be considered Christians only by education, and in name; who do not think seriously what the will of God is; who perceive not their own sinfulness, nor the necessity of the work of Christ; who do not see that a Saviour is wanting; nor trust in Jesus as an allsufficient one; who do not value his atonement, nor obey his commands, in the general tenor of their lives; such are not fit persons to come to the Lord's table, nor could they find any
interest or satisfaction in joining in the communion.
To the person, who is thoroughly convinced of guilt, of his sinfulness in the sight of the Almighty, Christ is precious: the knowledge of his having given himself a sacrifice for the sins of men, of his having shed his blood for the remission of the sins of many, is infinitely important; and to commemorate that wonderful transaction, is at once a sacred duty, and a high pleasure.
It is said, that the Greek and Bohemian Churches admit infants to the ordinance of which we speak; and an English writer has contended for the propriety of it. This is argued for, from the Jewish children being permitted to eat of the passover and other sacrifices. But it is said, on the other hand, that they are incapable of understanding it, and discerning in the elements the representation of the Lord's body.
It was an ancient usage in the Christian church, to mix water with the wine, in commemoration of the water mingled with blood, which came out of the Saviour's side, when the Roman soldier pierced it.
But this admixture is not noticed in Scripture, and does not seem essential to the ordinance, any more than the posture and the time; our Sister Church kneels, not she says, as an act of adoration, but “for a signification of our humble acknowledgement of the benefits of Christ, therein given to all worthy receivers."
The practice of sitting reverently at a table has the sanction of our Lord's example; and if he did not require his disciples to kneel, when he delivered those symbols of his broken body, and shed blood to them, with his own hands, it is not probable, that it is required, (though it may be innocent to do so,) now when he is absent.
There is only one topic more, and which I shall not now enter on, viz. the frequency of observing this ordinance. In Scripture, nothing is said to determine the question.
As often as we keep the feast, may we do it with humility, with contrition, and with gratitude. AMEN.
CRITICAL REMARKS ON SCRIPTURE.
ORIGINAL AND SELECT. From the Interleaved Bible of a Deceased Clergymian.
GENESIS, CHAP. VII. 2. 24.* And the waters prevailed. These words are frequently repeated from the 17th to this * Accidentally omitted in the 7th chap. last month.