« FöregåendeFortsätt »
neg In per
A SACRAMENT is defined by the church in our excellent though concise Catechism, to be the outward and “ visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, given unto us, 6 ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive “the same, and as a pledge to assure us thereof." In this Sacrament of the Lord's Supper the Bread and Wine are the outward signs, signifying that Body and Blood of Christ which is received into the heart by faith. The sign of the Bread sig. nifies Christ's broken Body, the Wine his blood shed for our Sins; and the sign is mutual, for it represents also our dependence upon and esteem of him, whose Body and Blood under these signs we spiritually partake of.
The original meaning of the word Sacrament signifies the oath by which the Roman soldiers bound themselves to their general. Thus it is our oath of allegiance, wherein we swear fidelity to JESUS the Captain of our salvation; as they swore that they would never desert their colours in the day of battle, we also herein solemnly engage to maintain irreconcileable war against all the enemies of Christ without and within us, fighting manfully under his banner against sin, the world, and the devil, and this at the peril of our eternal damnation. So that whenever we presumne to come to Christ's Table, without this war against sin maintained in our conversation, we become guilty of the body and blood of CHRIST; we incur the awful guilt of perjury; and “ eat and drink our own damnation, not
discerning the Lord's Body."
This Sacrament hath in scripture several particular names, which are expressive of the nature and design of it.
1. The Lord's Supper. It is a spiritual repast for the soul, as meat-is for the body; and as our Bodies are refreshed
by the Bread and Wine, so much more is the believing soul by the Body and Blood of CHRIST therein shewn forth. It is a chief banquet in the family of Christ, as supper was among the ancients; and therefore none of the children should be absent, unless upon very urgent occasions, lest they not only
lose their food, but incur the displeasure of their Father for their neglect and irregularities. And it is emphatically stiled the · Lord's Supper, forasmuch as it was instituted by him at supper time, the same night in which he was betrayed, and then a constant memorial of it commanded by him, and herein it is so highly distinguished from all common food, whether you consider the Master of the feast, the Lord of glory, or the spiritual nourishment contained under these consecrated elements.
2. It is called the Communion of the Blood of CHRIST. It represents the intercourse there is between Christ the head and the members of his body, called in the prayer after the communion, “the company of all faithful people.” He communicates to them herein his favour and grace, his blood and righteousness; and they communicate their thanksgiving, acceptance, love, and gratitude. So that no persons can at all partake in it, till they have a living union with him, and are a part of his mystical body; for then only the nourishment and support can be communicated to them. All who are not thus united to Christ are as branches cut off and withered, and can receive no more benefit by coming to the Lord's Table than a dead body can from meat and drink. It is also a communion with the members themselves, as well as with their head JEsus Christ, For we being many are but one body: and we eat of the same bread and drink of the same cup, in token that we derive our life from one common fountain; that we are all actuated by the same Spirit, and have as near an interest in and affection for one another as the members of the same body have, For we are the body of Christ, and members in particum lar. What a strange absurdity then would it be for an uncharitable soul, for one who is not influenced by brotherly love, to approach CHRIST's Table, who would be there only as a mortified limb cut off from all living communication with the rest, and full of putrefaction?
3. It is called the New Testament in CHRIST's Blood. Where a Testament is, there must of necessity, saith St. Paul, be the death of the testator ; for a testament or will is only in force after men are dead. In the Sacrament this Testament is opened: the Blood of CHRIST, here emblematically poured out of his heart, shews it is valid by his death; and all the leg. acies therein contained are to be applied for, and paid down, according to the purport of the will of the deceased; and it is sealed with blood, as, on the renovation of the old Covenant on Sinai, Moses sprinkled the blood of calves and goats with scarlet wool and hyssop on the book of the Law, signifying thereby the sealing of the Covenant; . so here God condescends, by this continual sign, to seal to us visibly, for the assistance of our faith, all the blessings of the Covenant of Grace in CHRIST JESUS. Assuring us by such an ordinance of his own appointment, that this shall be, as the rainbow in the clouds, the sure sign to us that no deluge of wrath shall ever again sweep away. those who come to him by Jesus Christ.
The design then of the Lord's Supper may be partly seen from these names, and is fully expressed in one of our answers in the Catechism; it was ordained “ for the continual remem“ brance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the ben“efits which we receive thereby.” To both of which points I shall speak a little.
1. It was ordained “ for the continual remembrance of the “ sacrifice of the death of CHRIST.” Here we are taught to look upon him as bleeding for us upon the accursed tree. Here the Lamb of God, as if he had been newly slain, is in the ordinance set forth as crucified among us. Here the broken Bread represents his inangled Body torn with scourgings and buffetings, pierced by the thorns, the nails, and the spear. Here we may see his agonies, remember his mockery, reproach, insults, and all the complicated miseries which made his sufferings the most afflictive that ever earth beheld; Behold and see, all ye that pass by, was there any sorrow like unto his sorror! Here also we see his Blood gushing as from his side, when the soldier's spear entered his heart, and forthwith came
thereout blood and water. This his bitter death we are to remember; and that it was a sacrifice for our sins. As under the Law the sinner laid his hand upon the victim's head in token of transferring the guilt of all his sins upon him, so here we must especially remember that the transaction before us is sacrificial and vicarious. That CHRIST gave himself an offer. ing for sin, made himself a curse for us, as it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree; so that we are to look upon him herein as taking away sin by the sacrifice of “ himself,” and bearing the burden of your and my iniquities in particular. And in this sacrifice of the death of CHRIST many things are represented to us, as included in the transaction, and which we are called at the same time to remember.
1. The great love of CHRIST towards us sinners. ever love indeed like his? well may it be called love which passeth knowledge. Angels are lost in wonder whilst they look into the mystery of redeeming love; and how then should we, to whom this love is shewn, be astonished whilst we are called to partake of it? he died not for angels but for men; and when? was it when we were faithful, affectionate, and obedient, that we gained his heart to such an expensive manifestation of his love? no; when we were enemies by wicked works, when we were without strength or power to love or obey him, even then in due time did Christ die for the ungodly: in us there was nothing but misery, we were lost in sin, wilfully lost by our disobedience, without power or inclination to seek for any favour at God's hands: and he wanted not our services, his glory would have been unsullied, if he had given us up to the fruit of our folly, and left us to our deserved ruin; neither can he receive any addition to his happiness by us, who is in in himself all-sufficient, and in his nature infinitely happy, exalted above all blessing and praise. But, freely moved by the mere benignity of his heart, and out of pure compassion to us, JESUS offered to stand in our stead; and since to save us he must be made man, his love stooped to every meanness of our condition, to the form of a servant, to the death of a slave. Love brought him down from the throne of glory, love clothed
him with a body like our own, love urged him on through all the painful steps of his afflicted life; the waters of trouble were never able to quench it, nor the floods of persecution to drown it. Love put the cup of trembling into his hand, love bid him drink the last drop of all its dregs; For having loved his own, he loved them unto the end; his love abode till he cried, It is finished; when having sealed with blood the sure and well ordered covenant, his soul was dismissed, and he went to begin his triumphs over death, hell, and the grave; and when he arose again love was his first expression, Go to my brethren and say, I ascend to my Father and your Father. Love carried him to the right hand of God, and there he is this moment shewing forth the unchangeableness of his affection by ever living to make intercession for us, and pleading before the throne the marks of love so deeply engraven in his hands and in his side. And when can we then be called so feelingly to remember this love as at an ordinance, where all its glory is made to pass before us?
2. We are here to call to mind the great evil of sin. Never was it seen in such glaring colours as when it was written in à Saviour's sweat, and tears, and blood. Here sin indeed appears exceeding sinful.. Its horrid nature and deep malignity are seen throughout the whole transaction, beyond what all the miseries which ever attended it before could possibly lead us to conceive. The cries of infants, the pains of sickness, the groans of wretchedness, the agonies of the expiring, and all the awful horrors of death, serve in some measure to tell us what an evil and bitter thing sin is, which could have occasioned such dire effects, and yet one glance at the glass of the sufferings of JESUS, will reflect the horrid image of sin in colours infinitely darker and deeper. There we see it black indeed, when an incarnate GoD agonizes under its load, when horror and darkness filled his soul with intolerable anguish, and pain tortured his body till sweat as great drops of blood fell down to the ground. Was this for sin? yes, brethren, it was sin, which made JESUS exceeding sorrowful even unto death; it was sin made him sore amazed and very heavy ; it was sin which ex