"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," &c.—1Co_11:23-26.
The holy ordinance of the Supper has been in high estimation by the followers of Christ, in every age of the church. The first Christians frequently attended to its celebration; indeed, it seems to have been the principal object of their meeting together, Act_20:7. In our days it has been abused in two different, indeed in two opposite ways. By some it has been considered as the substance of religion, to the neglect of a true, living faith, and obedient walk before God; others have treated it with neglect, and have excused themselves on the ground that they viewed it as a mere ceremony. The enlightened Christian considers it an ordinance of God, one bearing the impress of Divine authority, intimately connected with the grand leading doctrines of Christianity, and truly adapted to promote his growth in holiness and joy. Let us ascertain what estimate the apostle puts upon it in the text. He represents it,
I. As a Divine Ordinance.
"For I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered," &c. It was instituted immediately by Jesus, and enjoined by his divine authority. A service may be striking, splendid, and perhaps useful; but it cannot be binding, unless it is based on the direct authority of God. Being thus sanctioned, it is obligatory on all who profess his name. He represents it,
II. As a symbolical Ordinance.
"Took bread," &c.
The symbols are, bread and wine; the one referring to the Saviour's body, and the other to his precious blood. The breaking of the bread refers to the bruising of his sacred person; the pouring out of the wine, to the blood shed for our redemption. The eating of the bread, and the drinking of the cup, refer to our actual participation of the benefits of the Saviour's death. We must thus eat his flesh, and drink his blood, that we may live, and ultimately attain to everlasting life. Joh_6:56.
III. It is a commemorative Ordinance.
We are directed by Christ to do it "in remembrance of him." To keep up a lively remembrance of the Saviour; of his person—of his love—of his sufferings; especially of their end and design, and of our deep interest in them, and the duties which devolve upon us through them. Luk_22:19. He describes it,
IV. As a professional Ordinance.
In this we "do show forth the Lord's death," that is, we keep up the remembrance of that event in the world; we show our faith in it—our hope through it—our love and obedience to Christ—our separation and distinction from those who disbelieve, despise, or neglect it.
V. It is the Christian's social Ordinance.
Unlike secret duties, when we retire into solitude. Also unlike the public means, where saints and sinners, professors and profane, mingle indiscriminately. It is the family ordinance for all of the household of faith; for all those who are the spiritual kindred of the Saviour. Mar_3:35. It is represented in this passage.
VI. As a perpetual Ordinance.
"Ye do show the Lord's death till he come." From his first to his second coming, the gospel is to be preached; salvation's streams are to flow, prayer is to be continued, and the death of the Saviour is to be perpetuated. This sacrifice retains all its virtue and efficacy, and shall be accessible to all believing sinners, until he shall come the second time, without a sin-offering, unto the eternal salvation of his people
1. Who should approach the Lord's table? All sensible believing sinners. 2. In what way? In the spirit of selfabasement; love to the Saviour, and to mankind; and in the exercise of trust in the sacrifice of Christ. 3. What benefits may we expect to receive? Increased strength; comfort, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; and a greater meetness for the fellowship of heaven