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Christ speaks to us in our own language, and accommodates himself to the capacities of our present state. Man consists of body and soul ; and the soul admits impressions, and exerts its power by the body: here is an ordinance, therefore, which consists of body and soul too; wherein Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are, in the instituted elements of bread and wine, set before us, and offered to us. We live in a world of sense, not yet in the world of spirits ; and, because we therefore find it hard to look above the things that are seen, we are directed, in a sacrament, to look through them, to those things not seen, which are represented by them. That things merely sensible may not improve the advantage they have from our present state, wholly to engross our thoughts and cares, in compassion to our infirmity, spiritual things are in this ordinance made in a manner sensible.
Let us therefore rest contented with this sign which Christ hath appointed, in which he is evidently set forth crucified among us, (Gal. iii. 1.) and not think it can be any honor to him, or advantage to ourselves, but, on the contrary, a dishonor to him and an injury to ourselves, to represent, by images and pictures, the same things which this ordinance was designed to be the representation of. If infinite wisdom thought this sign sufficient, and most proper to affect the heart, and excite devotion, and stamp it accordingly with an. institution, let us acquiesce in it.
Yet let us not rest contented with the sign only, but converse by faith with the things signified, else we receive the grace of God in this appointment in vain ; and sacraments will be to us what parables were to them that were wilfully blind, blinding them the more....Mark iv. 11, 12. What will it avail us to have the shadow without the substance....the shell without the kernel....the letter without the Spirit ? As the body without the soul is dead, so our seeing and receiving bread and wine, if therein we see and receive not Christ crucified, is dead also.
2. It is an Oath. That is the ancient signification of the word sacrament. The Romans called the oath which soldiers took to be true to their general, sacra. mentum militare; and our law still uses it in this sense, dicunt super sacramentum suum...they say upon their oath: so that to take the sacrament is to take an oath ....a solemn oath, by which we bind our souls with a bond unto the Lord....Numb. xxx. 2. It is an oath of allegiance to the Lord Jesus, by which we engage ourselves to be his dutiful and loyal subjects, acknowledging him to be our rightful Lord and Sovereign. It is a freeman's oath, by which we enter ourselves members of Christ's mystical body, and oblige ourselves to observe the laws, and seek the good of that Jerusalem which is from above, that we may enjoy the privileges of that great charter by which it is incorporated. An oath is an appeal to God's knowl. edge of our sincerity and truth in what we assert or promise ; and in this ordinance we make such an appeal as St. Peter did, Lord, thou knowest all things thou knowest that I love thee.... John xxi. 17. An oath is an imprecation of God's wrath upon ourselves, if we deal falsely, and wilfully prevaricate ; and something of that, also, there is in this sacrament; for, if we continue in league with sin, while we pretend to covenant with God, we eat and drink judgment to ourselves....I Cor. xi. 29.
Let us, therefore, according to the character of a virtuous man, (Eccl. ix. 2.) fear this oath : Not fear to take it; for it is our duty, with all possible solemnity, to oblige ourselves to the Lord; but fear to break it-for oaths are not to be jested with. God hath said it, and hath sworn it by himself, Isa. xlv. 23....Unto me every tongue shall swear : But he hath said also, (Fer. iv. 2.) that we must swear to him in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and, having sworn, we must perform it....Psal. cxix. 106. If we come to this sacrament carelessly and inconsiderately, we incur the guilt of rash-swearing : if we go away from this sacrament, and walk contrary to the engagements of it, we incur the guilt of false swearing. Even natural religion teacheth men to make conscience of an oath ;-much more döth the Christian religion teach us to make conscience of this oath, to which God is. not only a witness, but a party.
Secondly, We call it the Lord's Supper, and very properly; for so the scripture calls it, (1 Cor. xi. 20) where the apostle, reproving the irregularities among the Corinthians, in the administration of this ordi. nance, tells them, This is not to eat the Lord's Supper.
1. It is a supper. A supper is a stated meal for the . body: this is so for the soul, which stands in as much need of its daily bread as the body doth. Supper was then accounted the principal meal : this ordinance is so among Christ's friends, and in his family ; it is the most solemn entertainment. It is called a supper, because it was first instituted in the evening, and at the close of the passover supper; which, though it tie not us always to administer it about that time, because it would be inconvenient for religious assemblies, yet it signifies, (1.) That Christ now, in the end of the world, in the declining part of its day, as the great evening sacrifice, hath appeared to put away sin'.... Heb. ix. 26. This glorious discovery was reserved for us, upon
whom the ends of the world are come'... I Cor. x. 11.-(2.) That comfort in Christ is intended for those only that dwell in God's house—that are nightlodgers there, and not only day-visitants; and for those only that have done the work of the day in its day, according as the duty of every day required. They only that work with Christ shall eat with him.---(3.) That the chief blessings of the new covenant are reserved for the evening of the day of our life. The everlasting feast is a supper designed for us when we have accomplished, as an hireling, our day, and come home at night.
2. It is the Lord's Supper--the Lord Christ's supper. The apostle, in his discourse concerning this or
dinance, (1 Cor. xi. 23, &c.) all along calls Christ the Lord, and seems to lay an emphasis upon it: for as the ordaining of this sacrament was an act of his dominion, and, as his church's Lord, he appointed it-so, inreceiving this sacrament, we own his dominion, and acknowledge him to be our Lord. This also puts an honor upon the ordinance, and makes it look truly great : however, to a carnal eye it hath no form nor comeliness, that it is the Supper of the Lord. The sanction of this ordinance is the authority of Christ ; the substance of this ordinance is the grace of Christ. It is celebrated in obedience to him in remembrance of him, and for his praise : Justly is it called the Lord's Supper; for it is the Lord Jesus that sends the invitation....makes the provision....gives the entertainment: in it we feed upon Christ; for he is the bread of life: we feed with Christ; for he is our beloved and our friend, and he it is that bids us welcome to his table. In it Christ sups with us, and we with him : he doth us the honor to sup with us, though he must bring his own entertainment along with him : he gives us the happiness of supping with him upon the dainties of heaven....Rev. iii. 20.
Let our eye, therefore, be to the Lord, to the Lord Christ, and to the remembrance of his name, in this ordinance. We see nothing here, if we see not the beauty of Christ ; we taste nothing here, if we taste not the love of Christ. The Lord must be looked upon as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and all in all, in this solemnity. If we receive not Christ Jesus the Lord here, we have the supper, but not the Lord's Supper.
Thirdly, We call it the Communion, the holy communion; and fitly do we call it so : for,
1. In this ordinance we have communion with Christ, our head. "Truly our fellowship is with him'... 1 Yohn, i. 3. He here manifests himself to us, and gives out to us his graces and comforts : we here set ourselves before him, and tender him the grateful re
turns of love and duty. A kind correspondence between Christ and our souls is kept up in this ordinance; such as our present state will admit. Christ, by his word and spirit, abides in us; we, by faith and love, abide in him ; here, therefore, where Christ seals his word and offers his spirit, and where we exercise our faith, and have our love enflamed, there is communion between us and Christ.
This communion supposeth union; this fellowship supposeth friendship : for, Can two walk together except they be agreed ??....Amos iii. 3. We must, therefore, in the bond of an everlasting covenant, join ourselves to the Lord, and twist interests with him and then, pursuant thereto, concern him in all the concerns of our happiness ; and concern ourselves in all the concerns of his glory, and this communion. 2. In this dinance we
ave communion with the universal church-even with all that in every place
call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours'....I Cor. i. 2. Hereby we profess, testify, and declare that we, being many, are one bread and 'one body,' by virtue of our common relation to our Lord Jesus Christ ; for we are all partakers of that
one bread... Christ, the bread of life,' signified and communicated in this sacramental bread.... I Cor.x. 13. All true Christians, though they are many, yet they are one, and we express our consent to, and complacency in that union, by partaking of the Lord's Supper :
I say, though they are many—that is, though they are numerous, yet, as a vast number of creatures make one world, governed by one Providence, so a vast number of Christians make one church, animated by one Spirit, the soul of that great body. Though they are various...far distant from each other in place ...of distinct societies, different attainments, and divers apprehensions in lesser things, yet, all meeting in Christ, they are one : they are all incorporated in one and the same church....all interested in one and the same covenant....all stainped with one and the same