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withstanding they come under the most solemn obligations to the great God, that they will train up their children in the ways of piety (for these obligations are implied in coming to the ordinance whether explicit promises be made, or not) and yet afterwards scarcely think of their engagements, and habitually live in the neglect of their most solemn promises, and even act directly contrary to them; and besides neither consider themselves amenable to the church for their conduct, nor their children subject to its instructions and discipline. With respect to such children our subject teaches, that their baptism can be of little or no service to them. For the great ends of baptism, the instructions and watch of the parents and of the church, are defeated. With respect to such we may say, in the language of the apostle in our context, their circumcision is made uncircumcision. Their baptism profiteth nothing. Yea, this solemn mockery (for it is no better, as the judgment bar will show) will increase the condemnation of those who are guilty of it. Brethren, baptism is a most solemn ordinance; it is a seal of God's holy covenant; and it becomes us to lay hold of this seal with reverence. Offering a child in baptism is a solemn covenanting with a heart-seaching God: and it therefore becomes us to come with great solemnity to this ordinance, and sacredly to keep our vows. And the prostitution of infant baptism is one leading cause, why so many minds are prejudiced against it.
5. From this subject we learn something of the qualifications, the church ought to look for in those who are admitted to baptism for their children. They ought to consider themselves as subject to the instruction, watch, and discipline of the church, and be willing to submit their children to the same; otherwise one great end of baptism is defeated. And they ought to have such a character, as that the church may have ground to believe that the child will be piously educated; for the child must be committed back again by the church to the offerer, to train it up. And if the offerer neglect the pious education of the child, one great end of baptism is defeated.
6. Again, we infer from our subject, that important duties are incumbent on the church. Let those of us my brethren who are officers in this church, be impressed with a sense of our charge. Let us see to it that the blood
of the lambs of this flock is not laid to our charge in the great day of account. Let us study to know our duty. And knowing, let us do it. And may God strengthen us to the performance of it, and add his blessing.
7. Finally, baptized children and youth-remember that you are the lambs of Christ's flock, and subjects of peculiar privileges. Improve these privileges. Cheerfully submit yourselves to the advice, instruction, and watch of the church. Profit by them, and avouch the Lord to be your God. As you have peculiar privileges, if you neglect or despise them, your guilt will be the greater in proportion to your privileges.
THE LORD'S SUPPER.
1 CORINTHIANS XI. 23, 24, 25, 26.
"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come."
Many abuses prevailed in the Corinthian church, in the celebration of the Lord's Supper. These abuses the apostle notices in our context. The members of this church came together divided among themselves. They convened in a disorderly manner. They waited not one for another; and while some were hungry, others ate and drank to excess and intoxication. For these abuses the apostle severely reproved them; and then to remedy these disorders, he referred them in our text
to the original appointment. This he had received of the Lord, most probably, by immediate revelation; and had faithfully delivered unto them.
The object of the ensuing discourse is to illustrate the nature of the Lord's Supper.
The doctrine as contained in our Catechism is as follows:
"The Lord's Supper is a sacrament, wherein by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ's appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith made partakers of his body and blood with all his benefits, unto their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.
This ordinance is called the Lord's Supper, because it was first instituted and observed in the evening, at the time of the meal called supper; and because it was instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ, and is not of human invention. This we learn from the history of the institution as recorded by the evangelists; and from the testimony of Paul in our text.
It was instituted by Christ at a very interesting season, and in peculiarly interesting circumstances. He instituted it in the same night in which he was betrayed by Judas, and entered upon the last scene of those sufferings which he endured for us; and when he knew the dreadful sufferings which were just before him.
It was instituted to be a sacrament of the New Testament. In it by sensible signs, spiritual blessings are sig nified and sealed to the worthy receiver.
It was instituted to be a perpetual ordinance in the church of Christ; and is still in force, and will be in force, down to the end of time; for from our text we learn that in this ordinance the disciples of Christ were to show forth is death until his second coming, whic will be at the end of the world. "As oft as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye do show the Lord's death till he come."Besides as it was instituted by Christ, he alone has the right to abrogate it, which he has no where done; and it was observed by the apostles and disciples after his death, and by the primitive church, and by the church in all ages down to the present time. And there is as much need of this ordinance now, as there was at the time it was first instituted. From all which, it is evident, this ordinance is still in full force.
The external elements in this sacrament are bread and wine. It has been made a question what kind of bread and what kind of wine, ought to be used. Some have supposed that the bread ought to be unleavened; and it is almost certain that it was first observed with unleavened bread, as it was instituted at the time of the passover, in which no leaven was fouud in the houses of the Jews. Butas it was kept with that kind of bread which they were then using, it is correct for us to do the same, and use that kind of bread which is in common use. As to the wine, some suppose it ought to be red, which colour, best resembles the blood of Christ, which it is intended to represent. But this is also a matter of indifference, as our Saviour gave no directions, and we know not what kind of wine he used, only that it was the fruit of the vine.
The administration of the elements should be by ministers of the gospel; for to them, as stewards in the house of God, belong the dispensing of his word and ordinances.
The sacramental actions on the part of the minister in this ordinance are, setting apart the elements by prayer and the words of institution, breaking the bread, and giving both the bread and the wine to the communicants. Thus our Saviour took the bread, and blessed it, and gave thanks, and gave it to his disciples. He gave them real bread and not wafers, as the Romish church do in this ordinance. After the same manner he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it unto them, directing them to divide it among themselves. And here it may be proper to notice a practice in the Roman Catholic church, of withholding the cup from the laity, in this ordinance, which first became a law in that church, by a decree of the council of Constance, about 100 years before the Reformation. This grew out of their doctrine of transubstantiation. For, supposing after consecration, the bread to be the real body of Christ, and the wine his blood; as flesh contains blood, they hold that both the flesh and blood of Christ are received, by partaking of the consecrated wafer, which they substitute in the place of bread; or rather by partaking of what they say appears to be the wafer. But why the priests receive the cup while it is withheld from the laity, is hard to determine. This withholding the cup from the common people in this ordinance, is without Scriptural warrant; yea in opposition to the
instructions of Scripture. The ordinance was administered in both elements at first. And although it is true they were all ministers who sat at the table, when the ordinance was first instituted; yet as the manner in which the ordinance was at that time observed, was to be an example in succeeding celebrations; and as no direction was then given to make any distinction between clergy and laity, it follows of course that the ministers of Christ, in administering the ordinance, should make no distinction. Besides the apostle in our text, to correct the abuses which had crept into the Corinthian church, refers them to the original institution, to teach them how they ought to keep this ordinance, in which he mentions the cup as to be given and received as well as the bread. And in a following verse, he exhorts, "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup." Here the exhortation is given to a man-any man, to examine himself; and then not only to eat of that bread, but also to drink of that cup. The minister is to give both the bread and the wine to the communicants, who are to receive them, and to eat the bread and drink the wine.
The posture in which the elements should be received, has also been made a question. Some receive them standing, some sitting, and others kneeling. I do not suppose that the posture is at all essential to the ordinance. But we hold sitting to be the best; because this is the table posture, and this was the posture in which the ordinance was first received, when our Lord himself was at the table. It was while sitting at the table, after having eaten the passover, that he instituted this ordinance; and we have in Scripture no precept or example for any other posture.
In this ordinance the bread and wine are only signs. The things signified are the body and blood of Christ. The bread represents his body which was broken for us ; and the wine his blood, which was shed for us. The bread and wine only represent the body and blood of Christ, and are not his real body and blood, as has been most absurdly held. The Roman Catholics hold to this opinion. They suppose, that after the words of consecration by the priest, the bread and wine are changed into the real body and blood of Christ; that although