Imágenes de páginas


The Appointment of the Lord's Supper. THE

HE circumstances in wbich the Lord's Supper was. first appointed, are full of interest. Let us for a moment place ourselves at Jerusalem, at its first institution, amid the little company gathered round our Lord in the upper chamber, It was a solemn and impressive season. He had just foretold the speedy destruction of their beautiful city, and magnificent temple. He had clearly intimated to them that a scene of sorrow was at hand: but when he saw the anxiety which it occasioned, he laboured to support and encourage them. The disciples were deeply affected by the peculiar tenderness both of his discourses and of his conduct. He told them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you, I will not eat any more thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. He then washed their feet; and afterwards, troubled in spirit, he testified, one of you shall betray me. Exceedingly sorrowful, each of them asked, Lord, is it I?

A cloud of affliction evidently hung over their heads, and they knew not what was before them. With one exception, they deeply loved their Master, and were


determined to give up their all for his sake; but they were most of all troubled at the thoughts of losing the inestimable advantages of his presence, his converse, and his affectionate care and guidance.

In the midst of this lowly and despised company, observe the blessed Saviour. Affecting indeed must have been that paschal supper, which contained so lively a resemblance and picture of his own immediate sufferings. But laying aside all consideration for himself, unmindful of his own sorrows, he spent his time in comforting his disciples. “ His heart,” says one,

was filled with love to his people; and that love, which carried him to all the darkness and difficulty that he was to go through, moved him to institute the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, for the benefit and advantage of his Church. By appointing it at this affecting moment, he made the memorial of his death the more impressive, and increased our obligations to obey the command, this do, in remembrance of me.

In order to have distinct and clear views of that important fact of which this institution is the memorial, we must go yet farther back, and briefly retrace the history of God's dealings with man from the beginning.

Originally man was created pure and holy. Surrounded with every good, and enjoying the favour of God, he.dwelt in Eden: but, by disregarding the appointed test of obedience, he fell from that happy state, and became guilty and sinful. As springing from sinful parents, all are sinful, and under the sentence of death. In Adam all die; by one man's disobedience many were made sinners.

The extent of this corruption will be seen in the divine declaration, that the imagination of man's heart

[ocr errors]

is evil from his youth; and in the confession of his most devoted servants, behold, I was shapen in wickedness, and in sin did my mother conceive me :-I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.

But, God, who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he loved us, did not leave mạn without a hope. He promised a Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of this Deliverer was delayed for 4000 years. By this means all the natural tendencies of the human heart were displayed, and man's inability to work out his own restoration to holiness and happiness was fully proved. Hence the necessity of the redemption by Jesus Christ, was made manifest, men were prepared to expect some grand fulfilment of the splendid language of prophecy, and the faith of God's servants in his promises, was exercised and proved. But though the coming of our Lord was so long delayed, such clear intimations of his person, character, and work, were given, that no sincere enquirer could mistake the Messiah when at length he appeared.

In order to fulfil bis gracious design, it pleased God to set the people of Israel apart from other nations, and to enter into a covenant with them. With this national covenant was interwoven a variety of rites and ceremonies, typical of the promised Redeemer. Among these rites, SACRIFICES (which had been before appointed,) hold a distinguished place. When animals were offered in sacrifice, they were, in pursuance of God's direction, slain before his altar, and offered up to him by the Priest, as an atonement for the sins of the worshipper. Thus “he was reminded, on the one hand, for his humiliation, of the forfeiture of his own life, of the death which he deserved on account of

[ocr errors]

sin; and on the other, for his consolation, of the promised substitution of another in his stead, to bear his sin, to atone for his guilt, and to screen him from its deserved punishment.” A lamb was, according to the Mosaic law, slain every inorning and every evening. It is with reference to this that our Lord is called the Lamb, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world. These sacrifices of the Jewish Cuurch were then figurative of his death for our sins.

The Passover inust also be here particularly noticed. It was one of the three principal feasts of the Jews, appointed in remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt. At this feast, a lamb, after it had been presented and slain before the altar, (Deut. xvi, 5.) was roasted with fire, and eaten with unleavened bread.* The Jews were to shew their children at this

* Several learned men have supposed that the Lord's Supper was designed to be similar to the ancient Feasts on Sacrifices. Their general statement on the subject is as follows.

The Jews at the peace-offering sacrifices, (Lev. vii, 15--20.) as well as at the passover, were accustomed to feast on the victim that had been offered as a sacrifice, 1 Sam. ix, 13. The Heathen nations also retained the practice of eating a part of the victim which they sacrificed, (Exod. xxxiv, 15; Numb. xxv, 2; Psalm cvi, 8.) in order to participate in the propitiation supposed to be effected by the sacrifice. The custom of a feast upon a sacrifice was very general, and the idea was, that all who partook of the feast manifested an approval of the worship, and partook of the benefit of the sacrifice. Hence the Apostles forbid Christians to eat of meats offered to idols, (Acts xvi, 29.) and St. Paul shews the Corinthians how utterly inconsistent it was that they who went to the Lord's table should yet go to the table of idolaters; ye cannot drink of the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils ; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table and of the table of devils. Hence also St. John speaks strongly and repeatedly against those who eat of the sacrifices offered to idols. Rev. ii, 14, 20. Many think that in the institution of the Lord's Supper, our Lord therefore availed

himself of this ancient and general practice, in order by hayalogy to impress more forcibly on the minds of his disciples

the nature of his death as a sacrifice, the necessity of an

feast, how God had delivered them from Egypt. Exod. xii, 26; xiii, 8. The way in which the Jews observed the Passover, will illustrate some particulars in the appointment of the Lord's Supper. After they had used great diligence in putting away all the leavened bread froin their houses, at the time of eating the Passover, they were accustomed to take a piece of the unleavened bread, and bless, break it, and distribute it to those assembled. They drank wine together out of several distinct vessels, with grateful acknowledgments of God's goodness to them, declaring at this time the things which he had done for Israel. The whole was concluded with a hymn of praise. It is obvious how similar several of the rites observed at the Passover, were to those adopted in the Lord's Supper.

interest in it, and the duiy of professing before others our faith in his blood. For a further illustration of this view, the reader is referred to Cudworth, Waterland, Pelling, Warburton, Cleaver, Knox, A. Clarke, Card, and others whù have written at large on this point.

But the writer, after considering what has been written on this bject, seriously hesitates in adopting this view, on these grounds. We do not eat of the victim itself. What we do is in remembrance of him who was the victim. The sacrifice for sin is the principal point commemorated, and the Jewish sacrifice for sin was not to be eaten. The notion does not necessarily flow either from the Apostle's statement in the Epistle to the Corinthians, or our Lord's words in the appointment. For these reasons the writer cannot but think that those who make the Lord's Supper a feast on a sacrifice, go farther than the Scriptures bear them out— They have formed an ingenious analogy to the sentiments and rites of antiquity in many particulars; but they do not appear to him to have satisfactorily proved that it was our Lord's intention that this ordinance should be of a similar nature to the ancient feasts on a sacrifice. Nor is such a view by any means necessary in order to rescue this Institution from the statement, given by some, of its being a mere memorial, unattended with special benefits; as the subsequent part of this Treatise will sufficiently shew,

« AnteriorContinuar »