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3. The third design of this institution we shall mention, is the spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace of the followers of the Lord Jesus. The object of this ordinance is not to make the first communication of grace, by which the subject is regenerated, and made a new creature in Christ Jesus, although a sovereign God may occasionally employ it for that purpose. The sacrament of the supper presupposes the existence of grace in those who partake; and that they have examined themselves, and discovered comfortable evidence, that they are already in the faith:* And accordingly it only aims at giving additional vigour to spiritual life, previously imparted; and additional evidence and consolation to those who have before tasted that God is gracious.
The remark of Witsius is excellent: "The supper seals to us the conservation and nourishment, the strength, and increase of spiritual life, which flow from Christ. As by the use of bread and wine he, who communicates, experiences his bodily strength renewed; so, at the same time, it is intimated to the believing soul, that he shall not want that grace of Christ, which giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might increaseth strength."
The experience of many will support the assertion, that the believer is often sensibly refreshed and comforted at the Redeemer's table: Fed as with marrow and fatness; and strengthened with strength
*2 Cor. xiii. 5.
+ Vol. iii. p. 444.
+ Isa. xl. 29.
in the inner man: His graces are brought into livelier exercise. Faith is increased-hope is confirmed-love is ardent-joy is "unspeakable, and full of glory."
The communicant, having thus, by faith, feasted upon his Redeemer's body and blood, and drawn large supplies of grace out of his inexhaustible fulness, retires from the table; and says, with gratitude,
""Tis a rich banquet I have had!
"Lord, evermore give us this bread !"*
Of this use of the supper, our Form, for its administration, makes explicit mention: "And as certainly feed and nourish your hungry and thirsty soul with my crucified body, and shed blood, to everlasting life, as this bread is broken before your eyes, and this cup is given to you; and you eat and drink the same, with your mouth, in remembrance of me."
4. The fourth and last object I shall mention, as designed to be answered by this sacrament, is the cultivation of brotherly affection among the members of Christ's mystical body. The company of believers, in the celebration of the supper, meet as children of the same family around the table of their common Lord,-as members of the same body, united to the same Head, and therefore as members also one of another. They hold communion with. Christ; they hold communion with each other.
* Jo. vi. 34.
"Their hopes, their fears, their joys, are one." Oh! what a consideration to perpetuate among the body of Christ that sincere and tender affection, for which the primitive Christians were eminently distinguished. "See how these Christians love one another!" was an encomium which their very enemies were constrained to pass upon them. "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments. As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: For there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore."*
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another!"
The sacrament of the supper is admirably calculated to secure the exercise of such excellent dispositions; and this, as our Form declares, is one of its professed designs: "Besides that we, by the same spirit, may also be united, as members of one body, in true brotherly love; as the holy Apostle saith, For we, being many, are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread. For as out of many grains one meal is ground, and one bread baked; and out of many berries, being press† 1 Jo. v. 7, 8, 11.
ed together, one wine floweth, and mixeth itself together so shall we all, who, by a true faith, are ingrafted into Christ, be altogether one body, through brotherly love, for Christ's sake, our beloved Saviour, who hath so exceedingly loved us: And not only shew this in word, but also in very deed towards one another."
Much to be pitied (we cannot help here remarking,) is the communicant, who comes to the table of the Lord with enmity, hatred, and malice, rankling in his heart! and not less to be pitied is that professor, who stays back from the table, because his conscience tells him that he indulges those angry and unforgiving feelings, which disqualify him for a place at the feast of love!
Thus have we taken a view of the important ends designed to be answered by the ordinance of the supper. The view we have taken, I am disposed to think, must have left on your minds a conviction of the propriety and necessity of its repeated administration. Baptism being an initiatory rite, and a sign of regeneration, ought to be but once administered. The repetition of it is highly improper. But the supper, being a commemorative and confirming ordinance, ought to be frequently dispensed. How often it shall be administered, must, in every church, be determined by the prudence and experience of those who are entrusted with its government. Not one, I presume, will undertake to say, that quarterly communions are too frequent, when, to the important ends designed to be answered by
this ordinance, he adds the consideration, that the Apostles and primitive Christians, on the return of every Lord's day, engaged in this holy solemnity.
That all the important ends designed to be answered by this institution may be realized among us, is my ardent desire at the throne of God!
Qualifications for the supper-Assent to the doctrines of the church, one of the terms of communionNature of an acceptable approach to the table of the Lord.
THE Apostle Paul, in speaking of the sacrament of the supper, has given the following direction :* "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup."
This direction plainly implies, that certain qualifications are necessary, to render our approach to the table of the Lord, acceptable to him, and profitable to ourselves. We propose, therefore, in this letter, to enquire, what these qualifications are? and to make some additional remarks, immediately connected with the subject.
* 1 Cor. xi. es!