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exhibition of the grace of God; and the substance of the glad tidings is,—"God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." In the sacraments, we receive communications of this divine grace, and declare our acceptance of it. And we are farther assured, that he who established these sacraments, will accompany an humble and believing use of them with the gracious agency of his Holy Spirit; and they are thus pledges of his love, and tokens of the spiritual blessings therein communicated.
But the word sacrament signifies an oath, as well as a sign. The word originally implied, the oath which the Roman soldiers took to be faithful to their general: and from the resemblance between the enjrasreinent made to Christ by the communicants at the Lord's tabic, and the oath of fidelity made by the Roman soldiery to their general—this ordinance has been called a sacrament. This is, however, a name which it bears in common with the ordinance of baptism.
2. Again, the ordinance of the Lord's supper is frequently called the communion.
In this institution, Christians have communion with Christ their head. The language of the apostle is especially verified,—" Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." Here he peculiarly manifests himself to his people, and imparts his graces and his consolations; and they offer grateful returns of love and duty. Christ, by his word and Spirit, comes to us, and takes up his abode in our hearts; and thus " we dwell in Christ. and Christ in us—we are one with Christ, and Christ with us."
This communion likewise implies, communion with the universal church; even "with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." In its participation we profess and declare, that "we, being many, are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread." As a vast number of creatures make one world, so a great multitude of christians make one church; and all its members are animated by one Spirit, united to one Saviour, stamped with one and the same image, partakers of the same divine nature, entitled to one and the same inheritance, and they will join in one glorious song of praise to their Redeemer;—"Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."
3. Farther, this institution is often called the eucharist.
This word signifies literally the thanksgiving; and it was probably applied to the ordinance, because in all the accounts contained in the New Testament of its original institution, it is stated that the Lord gave thanks before he distributed the affecting memorials of his precious sacrifice. Though our blessed Lord had a full prospect of his approaching sufferings in all their bitter aggravation, yet he was not on this account indisposed for thanksgiving. As the Captain of our salvation, he was putting on his armour for the last conflict; but he gives thanks, as though he were putting it off, being confident of a complete victory. But the ordinance may be called the eucharist, because we are to give thanks in the participation of it, and joyfully to celebrate the Redeemer's praises. The sacrifice of atonement has indeed been once offered, and can never be repeated; but Christians are daily to offer sacrifices of acknowledgment. Hence the exhortation, " By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually; that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." And in this ordinance we are especially called to rejoice in our exalted Saviour, while we remember with grateful adoration, his dying love. This cup of salvation is truly a cup of blessing.
4. Fourthly, it is called a feast.
"Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast." The blessings of religion are not unfrequently spoken of in the scriptures as a feast. Thus, we read in the prophecies of Isaiah,— "In this mountain, shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things—a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow; of wines on the lees well refined." Hear also the words of our Saviour :—" A certain man made a great supper, and bade many; and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden—Come, for all things are now ready." The term may be applied with peculiar propriety to this ordinance. It is a royal feast, wherein Christ shews "the riches of his glorious kingdom, and the honour of his excellent
majesty." The treasures hid in him are set open, and his glories illustriously displayed. It is a marriage feast:—"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son. And he sent forth his servants, saying, Tell them -which are bidden, Behold I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed; and all things are ready: come unto the marriage." We, in this ordinance, celebrate the memorial of the virtual espousals of Christ with the church, which took place when he died upon the cross; the actual espousal of believing souls to him; and the pledge and earnest of the glorious consummation of those espousals, at the second coming of the Lord from heaven. It is a feast of remembrance, like that of the passover, which the Israelites were "to keep throughout their generations, by an ordinance for ever." The deliverance of the Israelites, of which the passover was the commemoration, was typical of our redemption by Christ Jesus, from worse than Egyptian bondage, and from eternal death. But it is also a feast upon a sacrifice. As the Israelites who eat of the sacrifices were partakers of the altar, so believers feast upon the sacrifice in which they receive the atonement.
5. Finally, this institution is called the Lord's supper.
Supper was a stated, principal meal for the body, and this is peculiarly such to the soul. Its special appointment by the Lord, and the gracious manifestation of his presence in this feast, make it
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truly great and honourable. The Lord sends the invitation, makes the provision, and gives the entertainment. In this ordinance we feed vpon Christ, for he is the living bread which came down from heaven; and he himself has declared, "If any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." And we feed uith him. This is our beloved, and this is our friend, who in conformity with his gracious declaration, conies in to us and sups with us, and we with him. Let our eyes then be upon Christ: for we see nothing here, unless we discern his beauty; we taste nothing unless we taste his love; he must be all in all; the "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."
Such is the nature of the Lord's supper, as understood by its names. I will make one remark respecting the time of its celebration. It was instituted in the evening; but the time now generally used is noon. This is, however, a circumstance which has been determined by mere convenience, and upon which the scriptures lay no stress; it cannot, therefore, be considered of any importance.
II. I proceed, in the second place, to consider the ends for which this holy supper was instituted.
Here it may be remarked, that it was instituted,
1. As a representation of the sufferings and death of Christ, by which he made atonement for sin.
The sufferings and death of Christ are strikingly represented by the breaking of bread, and the pour